Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Less words, more photos

Husband Vince has been begging me to get outside and take some photos of the garden, namely the clematis.   And here it is.

Oooooh, ahhhhhh.....

And then I got distracted by the begonias

And then even more, I loved the wisteria flowers against the brick

Oh, this is a dog blog?   Well there were certainly some of those out in the yard as well

Ein can't stay serious for too long!

And Molly is never serious to start with

Speaking of serious...

Unless there is a ball that needs to be squished

Balls really aren't for squishing though, they're for fetching

Or, levitating

Speaking of levitating, Molly is giving it her best try

But then she broke her foot when she landed!

Just kidding!

Once again, Perri says we need to be more serious

Seriously serious.

You see those weaves in the background?   Perri kept gleefully leaping out of the 10th pole so tonight I actually fun-scolded her and kept making her redo them until she got it right.  Remember, "if you could just weave, that would be greeeeeeeeeeeeat."   Since she was in a happy gimme-my-ball mood, she was willing to play along and finally buckled down and did all of the weaves.   I'm not giving away no tennis balls for no cheaters tonight!

And that concludes our Friday night fun, my arms are sore from playing snake tug with the suddenly seriously serious Molly.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bag Brain Day

The dogs and I have been enjoying our rest-of-May off of trialing, doing more training and hiking and relaxing.   This past weekend there was a lure coursing fun run being hosted semi-locally to us and since I was free I thought why not let Molly enjoy chasing the bag again?

Molly one million percent did not forget her bag, as soon as she saw it move she was shrieking and ready to get in the ring.   Her first run she was so overaroused she latched onto the plastic folding ring gate that was over the entrance through the snow fencing!   No video, but Molly enjoyed three runs - the last one a double - of pure bliss.

Since Perri comes along to nearly everything we do, even if she is not participating, I had signed her up for a run.   She would be there anyway and why not see if her opinion had changed?   This was the last time we tried, August 2014.   Perri was interested, but her fears overruled any interest she might have had that day.

Do I care if Perri chases a bag?   Not really.   Do I care if Perri can relax and enjoy herself?   Yes!   I got Perri out and started warming her up, trotting her around.   We actually went around the side of the snow fencing to get a geocache and while I was signing the log, we were sitting in the gazebo where it was hidden.   Perri was watching the lure with great interest.   Suddenly she erupted barking!   I still wasn't convinced, maybe she was just barking at the running dogs.

It was not the dogs.   We went and stood by the entrance and Perri was getting into a frenzy watching the lure zing around!   She was up on her rear legs, leaning back against me and doing some of her ridiculous yodel barking!   When we got into the ring she was dragging me towards the lure and when I unleashed her she followed it the whole way around the field barking her fool head off the entire way around.

I was floored.   

I have been crushed recently over Perri's backslide to some of her fearful behaviors, some of her actions of low confidence - all seeming to have stemmed from Molly's diagnosis and all of the stress and uncertainty of that time.  It started to feel as though all of the progress that she made on conquering her worries about the world was gone and while such is life when trying to help a complicated dog like Perri, it still did not feel very good.   Again, it's chasing a bag.   But it is something that Perri was too afraid to do a few years ago even if she might have wanted to.   Fear did not rule Perri on that field yesterday, Perri won.   And I so needed to see that.   I needed to see my girl win for a change.   Not win a ribbon or a Q, but to win the battle that wages in her brain all the time.

After her second run (yes, we did a second!) I did a cool down walk with Perri but she had other ideas.   She flopped down in the grass and panted with her eyes closed and I took this photo.   It might be my favorite Perri photo ever - totally blissed out and happy-exhausted after running full out and driven by nothing but pure prey drive instinct.   No tricky mind games, no puzzles, no worrying, just a normal dog out having a good day in the sun.     

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pro Photos from CRC Agility Trial

A quick post to share my latest crop of beautiful pro photos from Rich Knecht Photography, from last weekend's agility show.   From my very first agility trial where Molly and I did a solid day of NQs, I said "At least she looks good doing it!" when I saw the photographer's beautiful captures of her!

Here is Perri looking gorgeous and determined over the double jump.   I am happy to have a nice photo of her, her last at 24".

And I just adore this one of Molly!   Jumping into a turn, at the take off point and looking like she is having a great time with that smile on her face.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Training Fronts with Molly

A few nights ago I was "doodling around" as I think of it with Molly and her dumbbell retrieve.   Molly has gotten to the point, with much self control work, where we have a hold.  When I started to work on some short retrieves, it was pretty clear that Molly doesn't have the foggiest idea of what "front" position is.   Molly's knowledge of front is basically a "good enough for rally" call in with hand guidance.  Ein is a bit more advanced, we started off with the lure in with hands technique and have recently sharpened up with the use of platforms.   Perri has done well using a stationary sit platform, she absolutely adores platform work.

For Molly, a platform is more challenging for both of us, though we are working hard on that.   I thought a better fit for Molly would be a pivot platform.   She has been heavily rewarded for pivoting to heel position or just for spinning around, so we are working through that.   I have also been slipping on videoing my training sessions, but I decided tonight I needed to do so.  These are our 3rd and 4th sessions of working on this skill and we are enjoying ourselves.   I wanted to look at my timing as well as if I was clicking the position that I actually wanted.  

And I thought, why not post my unedited training sessions.   They aren't too long!  The camera angle kind of sucks.   By the second video I feel like Molly is definitely catching onto the concept of what I want.   She absolutely cannot handle me having the treats in my hands - they have to be in my sweatshirt pocket -it is just too distracting for her at this time.   I am trying to give multiple treats in the position I will eventually want her head to be in.   And I note that I need to do some reps with myself moving in the opposite direction (counter clockwise vs clockwise.)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Four Days of Nope.

I was really excited about my four day weekend.   Four days, all three of my dogs, three different sports.   It had the makings of an amazing weekend.  And then I got my ass handed to me.

Friday was AKC Agility with Perri and it was absolutely pouring down rain and freezing.   We were indoors but I still got wet and I was still freezing.   The last time we were at this trial site, Perri shut down, so I did not know what to expect.   In standard she was an absolute clown and refused to weave.   In JWW she fixated on The Door and shut down.  Okay.

We went on an awesome five hour long hike and found some really high rated geocaches and honestly.   It was probably the best part of my weekend.   One thing is for sure, Perri is an awesome trail dog.   She stays close, she never lags or runs out of energy and she clearly enjoys herself.

Saturday was supposed to be better.   Molly was joining us for more AKC Agility!   Standard was pretty good, with good focus but no weaves.   JWW she was hot and cold in the ring so we left early to preserve motivation.   Perri will take a month off of agility trials and will be dropped to Preferred 20" in AKC.   She seems to like that jump height better all around.   Perri used to love the trial site we were at, and now it just seems to make her worry.  

Molly had a "fun" day.   Wrong end of the tunnel in the FAST send, blew the dog walk to grab a wrong course tunnel in Standard and in JWW also made a beeline for a wrong course tunnel during a discrimination challenge.   I'm sure I was not clear enough to her, but Molly doesn't need much muddying of the handling to choose a tunnel over a jump.   Honestly, I had stopped expecting any Qs in AKC Agility.   It just didn't seem like something that happened for us.   So when Molly got a Standard Q last month, it sort of messed with my mind set.  No matter!   Molly was running fast and happy with decent weaves (missed entry in both classes, though.), so.   It's cool.

Sunday was Ein's turn in CDSP Obedience.   I felt really confident going into this trial.   Ein and I had worked on his rough spots from the last trial.   (To review: ticking broad jump, no down on the drop on recall, and anticipating the retrieve.)  We NQd both trials.
On my first dumbbell send I clipped Ein's nose when I gave him the hand signal to retrieve his dumbbell.   He gave me a wounded look but went out to the DB, did not retrieve it until I gave him a re-cue.   Same with the retrieve over jump.   With the Go Out, he acted like he had never ever heard of such a concept in his life.
The second trial, Ein broke his stay on the drop on recall.   I was floored.   Ein has always had rock solid stays and in nearly five years of Rally and obedience trialing he has only broken one stay and it was when he was very stressed.   Good retrieves, though I threw much shorter since we had already NQd.   The Go Out again, total confusion.

I was very shocked  by some of Ein's errors.   At first my brain started whirring: maybe we really should join a class to work on these exercises.   We do a lot of training at home and at parks or parking lots and stores, but never in a class room.   But here is the reality of it.   Ein is 12.   I don't want to amp up his training.   He loves working on exercises together and training, but at his age I don't really think it is right of me to intensify our training.   I am also starting to wonder about his eye sight.   Just this year he has started bumping into rally signs in the ring and that is something he absolutely never used to do.   And it seems like when I throw the DB too far out, he runs out after it but then loses track of it.   He runs around and around trying to find it and sometimes he does, but then he does a nervous nose touch on the DB.   I don't know.   And the Go Out, he just didn't seem to see his mark at all - just ran out a few feet and stressed.   Maybe he doesn't get the concept at all.   In brightly lit areas, though, he does not seem to struggle.  I suspect the judge's proximity was also a factor, she was standing very close.

So.   Right now I have decisions to make.   At this point, if I trial him again, it will be at our old training club.  Period.   He is familiar there, he was not stressed there in January.   In fact, he was clownishly anti-stressed!  And perhaps at 12 years old, the stress of a trial site he had never been to was a bit much.   No more new trial sites, buddy.  

Now I thought surely today, our bonus trial day of Barn Hunt with Molly would be a surefire Q on at least one run!   The Barn hunt trial was outdoors on the grounds of a hotel resort.   We were entered in two rounds of Open and up for Molly's title.  

Nope.  Not this weekend.

Molly would not indicate.   Then she false indicated.   Then she would not even think about sniffing the rat when I showed it to her.   Our second trial we did get one rat, but I called rat on a litter tube.   Molly gave it a good long sniff and I thought that was going to be as good as it got.   Molly had always been so reliable with her indication if I asked her about a tube.   She would not indicate on a litter tube if I asked her, and is always willing to check and indicate on a rat.   The only thing I can attribute this behavior to is the noisy construction site, complete with jackhammer and banging metal sounds, at the property neighboring the hotel resort.

So.   530 miles.   11 entries.   3 dogs.   Zero Qs.   Oof.

I'm good at rolling with the failures and accepting them.   It's not all successes and I never expect it to be!   But this was a bit embarrassing for me, I have to say.   I haven't felt this foolish since that September in 2014 when I entered Perri in Novice A and we were woefully unprepared.   Perri has developed a new, confusing and upsetting issue and we are going to work on that.  Molly was Molly in the agility ring, but her behavior in Barn Hunt really surprised me.  It is frustrating to continue fighting her noise phobia in the Barn Hunt setting and I am concerned she is developing a conditioned response due to how many times she has been shut down by gunshot or similar sounds when trying to play BH.   And with Ein, we worked hard on his problem areas but new ones came up - but now I am guilty of perhaps overlooking his age and taking advantage of his enthusiasm and not helping him respect his limitations.   It all caught me off guard.   I feel like a failure for not training my dogs well and for not assessing them properly.   Add in Perri's not so awesome nosework trial last weekend, and I'm feeling pretty low.  

Right now some retail therapy feels in order (I'm thinking a set of Fit Bones!) as well as a small break from trialing to enjoy some extra hiking time and reconfigure our minds.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nosework: Back in the Saddle

It didn't take me long to bounce back!  I did a bit of research on a different Nosework venue I had heard of, Performance Scent Dogs.   I think it will be a nice match for Perri and I!   I don't want to continue speaking negatively about NACSW.   Just because, at this time, I do not believe NACSW is a good fit for my team does not mean I will not ever try again or that I do not think it is a great organization.   I do!

I spent my down time at work today reading the rules of PSD and I have to say I am enthusiastic to give it a try.   What I find most attractive is that on a trial day you can attend and just do one element, or all of them.   You can title with three legs in an element, as well as working towards completing your level title.   They have their version of an ORT (Odor Recognition Test), it is called the TOT (Target Odor Test).   They are willing to transfer ORT passes from NACSW, so Perri would not have to repeat that.  But what I do love is that at trials, they offer the TOT test!   So you can do your dog's TOT test and then roll right into the trial if she passes.   Or, if she does not pass, you are permitted to still do your runs FEO.   Love it!  It seems a bit more laid back in general.   I was also fascinated by the containers that are used!   I've been watching some videos and seeing all sorts of funny containers.  Little plastic pieces on the ground, socks, items stuck up on the walls, easter eggs....just...all sorts of stuff.  And of course, white boxes.

I am definitely still learning about this great venue!   There is a trial within my driving range in June but I am not sure I want to jump on that just yet.   To be decided!

My research inspired me to do a little training with Perri when I got home.   Perri loves containers, because that is what we have done the most training on and it was what she learned on first.   I am also making myself put the leash on Perri for all searches, because leash handling is a very weak point of mine.   Perri does best off the leash because of her sensitivities so I tend to train her without it.   And then when I want to use it, it is awkward and in our way.   (I did cheat on the last search on this video and had the leash off.   Oops!)   I also should have rewarded Perri the first time she got to the "hot sock" but I was waiting for a more committed alert.   Still, not fair.   Her first time searching on a weird and new "container" like this I should not have waited that out.   Other than that we had a lot of fun!   I think it will build Perri's confidence and I sure will enjoy it, to just let her search on different containers.   And of course I plan to add in the traditional luggage and bag type containers that you see in NW2 and NW3 NACSW as well.  

And of course, Molly got some working time in as well.   Molly has come far.   Our training sessions are few and far between and they have largely been focused on: Don't smash the box.   A nose touch on every box is not what you get paid for.   I have slowly seen her starting to use her nose.   I love this set of three clips, especially the second one.   She goes past the hot box and starts sniffing a third box and then her head whips back to the hot box.   The light bulb is going on!   In the third clip she has a moment of stopping and staring at me.   I had the cookies!   I ignored her and waited instead of re-cuing and she got back to work right away.    I think Molly is going to be a lot of fun!   You know, because she always is!   I am hoping this will also translate to more independence in Molly's Barn Hunt searches.