Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Time Has Come...

Reese had a fabulous agility lesson last night. She ran a master standard course and did a great job.

She was focused, calm, working with her handler - she held her stays. 

And her handler did pretty well too. The only mistakes Reese made were handler error, but I am definitely getting better at figuring out how to run courses and I am getting better at remembering them.

Soooo....our trainer said we were ready....we could enter a trial.  Yeah!  Our trainer would not have told us we were ready unless we were.

So I am busy looking at trials to enter. I will have to learn some of the games but we will enter the Standard and Jumper runs even if I don't know the games yet. It should be fun, I can't wait. I will have to get out my old mental management books as I know I will be nervous but as long as Reese and I work as a team I'm sure we will be just fine.

After less than a year working with our awesome trainer I have a completely different dog. It will be so fun and such a dream come true to run Reese at a trial!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Furry Guests Pose For Photos! and One Creepy Crawly!

Random photos of some recent visitors.  First, Oliver the kitty.

Ming aka the harbor seal!

Sometimes it's hard to tell which end is which?

You talkin' about me?

Finally, my spider Ed, who protects the house from bugs. Note Ed lives outside, if he ever tries to come in he will be squashed. Likewise if Ed turns out to be an Edith and wants to lay eggs!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Reese and I were playing in the yard the other night. I wanted to work on some agility stuff. Tight turns and some direction changes with the jump uprights.

She however, had other ideas. She was not interested in the jumps or the tug in my hand. She wanted to sniff the grass, smell the clean fall air and gaze off into the distance. 

Hmmmm, not very connected to me at the time huh. And definitely not into the game.

So I decided to get her interested I would just play with her for awhile. Get her into the game first, then we'll add some agility to the mix. 

SO I moved the jump and just started playing with the tug, running around with her getting her to chase me a bit. Then we played fetch with the tug. Once she was tugging well and into playing and connected with me I pulled the jump back out and presto....

magic... we've got a focused, drivey dog on at the end of the tug.

So if the furry half of your team is not into the game you want to play, change it up and get them interested. Don't let them quit, make it fun, remind them how fun you are and get them into the game.

But beware of little goblins in the night, hiding out in black and white furry coats. The next time you are out, you may be goosed from behind from a wet nose with a tug in her mouth. Ready to play Mom....I am....lets play.....!!!!  Good girlie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New But Old Things.. (clarified)

I'm going to be getting busier for awhile. But even though my time will be more scheduled I am actually hoping to be posting more often if you can believe it. We'll see what happens.

Life has been oh, Going to change it up a bit. I'm going to start doing some things that I used to enjoy and see if I still enjoy them. Going to get a little more varied or a more balanced life as some people like to call it. 

Not that I don't like working, playing and training Reese. She is still my priority and if time for her gets too short then I'll have to reshuffle the schedule again. Might need to shorten our lessons or cut the frequency down to fit my schedule and the trainers especially since I have that stupid annoyance called work during the day. Will have to see what the Winter schedule brings.
I'm going to be taking a few photography classes and am also hoping to get back into some things I did back in college and before, things that I enjoyed.  20 years later who knows, but I won't know unless I try them again. No time like the present as I am certainly not getting any younger.

I figure being busier will help the winter go by quicker. I am also hoping that involving myself with some additional activities will help to to put up with work until I find something new either at my current location or elsewhere. Things have gone stagnant and my career has stalled, it's time to shake things up a bit.

Reese and I are going to try cani-cross and skijoring this winter - at least that is the plan. I have dusted off the piano keys and hope to be all tuned up in time from Christmas songs.  There is much more so we will see how it goes. Looking forward to some changes and hope things start to be better than

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Trust what you Train

So after a night of being bummed about what to do fence wise I woke up and started a new day. Something will get worked out for the fence and I just need to take a little time to figure out what is best for us right now.

"Things always work out in the end" is one of my favorite sayings.  A good friend used to tell me that a lot. I first heard her say it on my trip to Africa. I have come to find that it is usually true. While it doesn't always seem so at the time things do have a way of working out. Maybe not in the way you want, at that particular time, but usually in a way that ends up being best for you. It may take awhile to see that, but often that is the case. 

When I am worried about something or working through a problem I often give myself a time limit on how long I can feel bad, waste time worrying etc. Worrying is not going to solve any problem. Working through the problem will. Of course worrying is a valid emotion and one that is good for all of us to feel from time to time, but I don't find it any help to dwell on things endlessly. That doesn't do any good and just takes too much of my energy. So I put a time limit on it. Such as thinking about what to do with the fence. I was all confused last night, didn't know what I wanted to do, okay, fine. Worry about, think about, stew about it for awhile, but in the morning it's done. Will I have all the solutions then? No, but life goes on in the meantime, and as it does I may find some of the answers I was looking for.

Reese and I played fetch in the yard this morning and after we did that for awhile, I took her for a jog on my bike. I tried this for the first time last week, but this was the first time at home. I rode in the alley which helped because there were no cars or other distractions.

I took Reese to a local agility trial that was here in town. To walk around and give her a chance to be at a trial situation with the people, the noises and dogs. She sat ring side and watched small, medium, and large dogs all take their turns on the course. She was fine with all of it, stayed calm, layed down on her own as we walked around the trial site. I put her over the practice jump a few times to see if she would listen to me.

When a handler and dog would walk by she was more interested in the handler then the dog. I really liked that, because she used to think that every dog was put on earth just to play with her. So that shift in focus was nice to see. I put her in her kennel in the car and worked on her being calm using the Manners Minder as I increased my distance.

I also talked to some people that knew Reese before when she was a crazy, barking, lunging, I want to chase any dog running in the ring mess. These people didn't even know she was there until we walked up to them and started talking. Less than a year ago that would have never happened. They would have known we were there long before they ever saw us.

I've thought a lot about the changes in Reese in the past year and half, and I'm not really sure what has had the most effect, but I think it has been lots of little things we have learned. What ever it is I was proud to show off my distinctly different dog than I used to have.

Later, at home I got out our tunnel which has basically been in storage since I got it last Spring. I couldn't take it anymore, maybe we don't have a fence today, but I am not going to let that stop me anymore. I'll figure out a way that we can use the equipment I have.

So I put a long loose line on Reese and sent her through the tunnel, she came whipping out and back to my and stopped at my feet waiting for the tuggie. I added a set of jump uprights and we worked on turns with the tunnel for speed. Then I got out our weaves. Those don't work on a long line, jumps don't really work either.

So.....I decided to be brave, or.... to trust my dog.

My trainer always asks, "what would she do if she was off leash at home, do you really think she would run off?" So I decided to test a bit. See where we were on things.

It was a fairly quite day in the neighborhood, so I took the long line off Reese and put her leash on her and then promptly dropped it. I sent her through the weaves and over some jumps and into the was great. No, the jump bars didn't stay on so we left those down and worked on turns around the uprights and used the tunnel for speed. I also managed one face plant, luckily no one was here to witness it. Reese listened to me great, and had great attention while we were working. So we will get working on heavier distractions so that I can keep trusting my dog. Even though she was still dragging a leash I was really happy with her.

You can train all you want, but at some point you have to test it.

I was really proud of my dog today, and proud of myself for trusting what I trained.

To Fence or Not to Fence? That is the question (long and boring post as always)

To fence or not to fence that is the question. When I bought my house the intent was to fence it as soon as I got a dog. Well, due to some unforeseen things needing to be done with the house (there's always something) my fence money was eaten up by other projects that had to get done.

Four years later I still want a fence. I also want something different to do for 40 hours a week and would love to move to the country, but that is another post. Well not really as both have to do with how long I will be in this house. So....what to do. I had a big old tree cut down last Spring in anticipation that this was going to be the summer that I got my fence and because I kept waiting for it to fall on the house when it stormed. Well now it is Fall and I still don't have my fence.

Due to traffic in the area I am not comfortable having Reese completely off leash at my house. We are continuing to work on distractions but to be honest I haven't done much work on them these past few months as she has been doing so well at my agility trainers and she has sheep. Distractions don't get any higher than sheep for Reese. But now we need to step it up a bit and get back to recall work with other distractions like critters and running dogs that are loose things we are more apt to see around our neighborhood.

I don't know how long I'll be in this house but given the current real estate market probably longer than I want. One bummer with a fence is I have no back door but a side door that goes to a concrete walkway. So I won't be able to open the door and let Reese out to do her business. I will still have to take her out on leash when she needs to go. That's the way it's always been done so frankly it would be a little weird not to do it that way. It also helps to keep track of the poos since the goal here is to try to pick them up as soon as the drop is made....  okay enough about crap!

Then there is the issue of what kind of fence. Cyclone fencing is out. Too expensive and I don't care for the way it looks. Wood would be my first choice as you can buy the panels and after the posts are put in it is relatively quick to put up. The other option would be to use T-posts and welded wire. It is quick to put up but the corners still need to be either cemented in with posts or braced or both to keep it strong. This is the cheap and fast way to get a fence up and it could be easily removed. Reese would not ever be in the yard alone and it would prevent her from running after critters and other distractions if they really caught her eye. This would allow us to do agility work and play without the need for a long line which really cuts down on what you can do agility wise. Playing fetch and Frisbee would be much more fun without having to worry about getting tangled in a line or how far the throw can be.

I was all set to start building a fence today with the welded wire. I was hoping we could make due with T-posts for the corners even if we had to cement those in at least for now. But I spoke with a friend of mine who has done a lot of fence work who really confirmed all the things I keep reading. That the corners really make or break a fence. I don't think my dog is going to be slamming up against the wire, but if I am going to do all this work of pounding posts and attaching the wire I don't want it to come down before next Spring. I also want it to look decent and not full of sagging wire.

A wooden fence really isn't in the budget right now so I wanted to do what I could so we could get out there and train before the snow flies. But my friend is right I still need to take the time to do the corners right whatever kind of fence I build. I think the wire would work for us with supported corners and it would meet the purpose we want it for. But I would really like a wooden fence. So do I suck it up and find a way to do wood now? 

Or do I put up the wire one, and take it down when I am ready to put up the wooden. This would give me more time to watch the housing market and get an idea of how long I may be in this house, and it would give me time to sock away some funds. Since winter is just around the corner how long will we have to train in the back yard. Mother Nature isn't telling and in this state it's always a crap shoot anyway.

The other option is not to fence. Wait and see what next Spring brings and then decide. Keep working on the distractions and recall with the distractions etc. I will be doing this anyway, as a fence is in no way going to replace any walking, running or biking that we do for exercise.

I was really bummed out last night after thinking about all this as I was so excited to get the fence up. The future is unknown we don't know how long we will be anywhere. You can't live always thinking, 'what if I move, what if this or that.' Unfortunately, we do need to plan for some things though. Like when the furnace breaks and you need a new one, which mine has been going for about 10 years longer than expected so we are on borrowed time.

The thing I want the most though if I am honest with myself is to have a dog that is reliable off leash. So that we can go on hikes off leash and go to parks whether dog specific or not and play and run. I want my dog to be a dog. I grew up with leash laws in the city and always having dogs attached to you in some way.  Having seen the other side now, where dogs can run and play off leash it really makes me think that those dogs really do have a better life. They get to be dogs! I want that for my dog too. So we will keep working towards that goal. 

But I still want a fence.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Protect, Prepare and Bring Them Home....

Our pets are so important to us. We spend time training, walking and playing with our pets everyday. We spend money on our pets, sometimes a lot of money. There are vet bills, food, toys, treats, obedience or agility classes, herding lessons. Then comes the entry fees to the agility and herding trials, and the big ones the clinic fees, whether agility or herding and along with that the hotels and food, gas....oh, how we will spend the money for our pets.

It is a wonder to me that so many people will spend the money on the above things and yet pass up the opportunity to purchase a $2.00-$3.00 I.D. tag for their pet. Seriously people.  How hard is it to go to your local pet store, buy a tag and put it on their collar. It might be the best two or three bucks you spend on your pet. Better yet get them microchipped. Even better do both. Things happen, dogs get out, people let them out intentionally as awful as that sounds. The most prepared and best trained dogs can and sometimes do get lost or wonder off. 

The other thing I do that is very important is to keep a current picture of my pets handy. I keep mine printed off on a sheet of paper. If,  god forbid anything should happen to my pets and they get lost I have a picture all set to be made into posters and flyers. My brother who lives in town and my sister who is out of town, both have copies in case I am not there when something like this should happen. The quicker you can act the better chances of finding and saving your pet.

This happened to a friend of mine the other weekend. She was out of town, and one of her dogs went missing. No one had a current photo or picture and time was spent calling around to try to find one. Luckily this dog was found and was safely back home after a short time. But that short time will seem like eternity if it is your pet. Why not know that you did what you could to bring them home safe.

1. Buy a tag for your pets and have them wear them.
2. Get your pets microchipped, in case the collar comes off.
3. Have pictures available to use in the event that posters or flyers need to be made.

Play with your pet, love your pet and keep them safe!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Misc. stuff from the weekend.

Reese, her new bed and a bully stick what could be better than that?

A hike by the river.

One of our favorite places.
A fawn eating the neighbors flower bed, hehe

Can you guess what this is? If you guess correctly you win a prize. Hint: it is not an egg.