27 February 2012

Sheltie. So far, a lot like a border collie but with more yapping.

Late Monday night, my little pup was shipped from Alberta Canada. He travelled on 2 planes to get to me Tuesday afternoon. When we met him at the airport, he stood up, wagged at us, and said "Yap!" right there in the crate. On the way home, he ran around (on leash) and barked at trees.

The next day, Wednesday, he had to travel with me while I taught private lessons in NJ. He did fabulous, although I think he was still tired. He was brave about meeting new people. He was great in the car.

Thursday was our only day home, and so far my dogs are doing fine with him, although they aren't really playing yet, they don't seem to dislike him either. They do get jealous of the TOYS I have when I play with him, but that's about it.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday he went with me to Virginia where I was teaching all day, each day. This is inside a nice climate controlled, clean floored (no dirt!) facility, and so I told people who attended that they were free to get him out and walk him for me, to play with him, and cuddle him on their laps while I was teaching.

So basically my sheltie loves all people, will play pretty much anytime you ask him to, and is quiet in his crate. He slept through the  night in the new place, met new dogs and new people, and basically everybody loved him. He was gifted with several new toys! and he loved them all.

I don't know if you need to be my facebook friend to watch this video, but it's pretty funny, if you can.
And so far, he only yaps and barks when he's playing, which is fine. Recreational barking I would have to work on stopping, but I haven't seen any of that, thankfully!

As always, I enjoyed teaching at ACA, it's a fun group of people and they seem to like me which is nice too! Strafe did a bit of training on another new surface and tried his hand at some of the harder masters sequences during lunch, and as always he did great. He isn't perfect at everything yet, and he shouldn't be at this age, but he has a lot of natural talent and isn't pushy about things, which makes my life much easier!

This weekend we have another AKC trial. It is Drifter's first trial since December and he's a bit out of shape, but he's only running Friday and Sunday, and only 2 runs so I think he'll be fine. Hopefully we can get a QQ or 2 to chip away at MACH2.

22 February 2012

puppy daddy

3rd dog to run, starts at about 1:25

 1st dog in this video:

 and some runs from the AAC Regional:

21 February 2012


My very first small dog, ever! In 20 years of dog ownership!

Well, if you don't count Kiba. And he probably won't be a whole lot smaller than Kiba. But still, this is an actual "small dog"!

And everyone keeps asking me what his name will be. Because I wasn't planning on getting a puppy quite so soon, I've been kind of wishy-washy on names. Both of his parents have a "y" in their names in place of an "i", so I thought I might like to continue that trend. I could also use that sound because none of my current dogs have that "long i" sound so it won't sound like anybody else that I have - and in the same vein, no words that start with "S" or a C that sounds like an S, because Seri is pretty reactive to the S and she already gets excited if I begin to say her or Strafe's names.

So I rolled some sounds around a while and came up with a few I liked. One sounded too much like a common word said a lot by agility rings and so I ditched that one and I think I will stick what I ended up with, it's fairly unique (I know one dog with this name, properly spelled), it's easy to say, it shortens well...

The kennel name is Khirugai, and so I think this will be "Khirugai's Ryze Above", call name Ryze or perhaps Ryzer. I will shorten it to Ry around the house a lot and maybe I'll even call him Ryan affectionately, who knows!

Little Ry or Ryze or Ryzer will probably still be "pup-pup" for a little bit while I mentally attach his name to his face. He did really really well with the long ride from Alberta to Texas and then from Texas to Baltimore. He came out of the crate sassy, barked and wanted to play halfway home, and is currently alternating between napping and chewing a bully stick in his crate after a small meal. I think he is tired so I'm going to leave him in for an hour or so to let his food settle and let him de-stress a bit. My dogs met him outside and pretty much just said "another puppy? really? alright, whatever!"
i think he and Strafe will be good friends.

I will post some videos of his relatives running agility soon, but I have to reboot because Google Chrome and Shockwave Flash are having fights again and right now they are not getting along.

19 February 2012

Pics from FL.

In case you're not on facebook. These are the cropped versions, you know, to focus more on Strafe. Isn't that why you come here, after all, to ogle my pretty puppy?

a previously unpublished gem from FL
Triton, Trig, Strafe

This is funny because Triton's full name is Triton T. Davis, and he responds to Davis.

15 February 2012

The darker one, without the full white rough, is coming to be mine. The one that's continually attached to the blanket, tugging and growling like a maniac. Yup, that one ;)

I don't really NEED another dog (really, nobody NEEDS 5 dogs) but I believe I have time to train him. Why do I think that? Because despite all the other things I'm doing, I still found time to play a 35hour game of Mass Effect on the Xbox 360 last month. And I've been reading a lot. So if I cut down on leisure activities, I'll be fine. Money will be tight for a bit when he debuts in agility but I'll make do the same way I always do - by carefully picking which dog runs in which trial until they're all qualified for the things I want them to qualify for. It's been working well for me so far, and after this year Drifter will be fully retired and living the easy life.

Barring any issues, this growly little pup will be shipped to me on Tuesday. Once everything's settled I'll post more info about him.

Somehow, I keep ending up with tricolors. As the sire's owner pointed out, I sort of have the tri-fecta now...

Bird in hand

one of these MAY be coming to live with me... I am awaiting a final video of the mother to make sure her jumping looks OK (I am a freaky paranoid person about ETS), but if she does (and I think she will), one of these little monsters will be coming here. It is too early for a puppy, yes, but sometimes a good puppy just "falls into your lap" so to speak, and this one is nice enough that I feel I can't really turn it down. Plus the breeder actually WANTS me to take it! It's a boy puppy, tricolor, and his sire's family has a few really really nice agility dogs in it. The mother is mostly conformation lines up close but she also has some relatives owned and bred by famous agility handlers in the western US that are very nice dogs too. There is perhaps a bit more risk of ETS in an AOAC (Any Other Allowable Color - meaning not sable) litter, but I am reasonably sure this one will be OK.

Bird in the hand. Worth two in the bush, no?

13 February 2012

Trial video and frames

Here is video of Strafe's first 2 runs in Excellent Standard. Neither was a Q but he handled really well, continuing to act and run like a much older dog than 17 months. He only knocked 1 bar out of 5 runs all weekend too, which is phenomenal for such a youngster, in my opinion. And I'm starting to run harder and not baby him as much, although I'm clearly not pushing him yet. I'd like to let him run without a lot of pressure yet, just have fun and make sure he's listening nicely.

Although I usually don't like to train my dogs the day after a trial, I did work some contacts today with Kiba and Strafe because it is due to rain tomorrow and that means I won't be able to do it then. I didn't do any jumping - Kiba just ran around a standard and then up the frame, and Strafe worked with a bar on the ground and a u-shaped tunnel after the dogwalk. Strafe's session was telling - his mental state is a bit different now than when I first worked his dogwalks several months ago, and suddenly pulling in to the near side of the U-shaped tunnel is difficult. So we worked on that a bit, with a small stride regulator in place to prevent him from doing silly things on the downramp while he was focusing on the tunnel handling behavior. He did great and I know it needs more work, since I definitely got some failed responses at the beginning of the session (wrong end of the tunnel paired with funny dogwalk striding, exactly what he did at the trial).

Poor Kiba is undergoing aframe work, again. She was originally trained with a running aframe, it failed, so I did 4-on-the-floor, she hates doing it at trials so I tried to retrain running and then reverted back to 4otf several times during her career. She's now 7 years old, and while her retrained 4otf dogwalk is actually going  pretty well at trials, she still refuses to stop on the aframe. And the weight shifting she's doing while thinking about stopping is messing up her striding. So once again, with even more experience under my belt as a trainer, and with her being in probably the best shape of her life along with having a better mental state while training (better able to deal with failure, as she could not do when she was young), we are trying again.

One of the problems I have with her is that she just doesn't do a very nice rotary gallop. She bunny hops in the rear a bit, coupled with swinging her back feet out and away on every stride. Generally  her back feet hit the ground (or board) very close together when she pushes off - she doesn't do "split feet" in the back very well at all. This is just a weird structural flaw with her, and I've known about it for a while; it doesn't affect her most times but it DOES make running contacts harder. She runs off her forehand, and tends to want to balance the downramp almost exclusively with her front feet and shoulders rather than gathering her rear end under her properly. Anyway, here's a video of our work from today, in case you're interested. Overall I was pretty happy, and we will probably work with the regulator on for the next session to see if that helps her understand to use her rear end a little more and put a full stride on the down ramp. For a 26lb, 18" tall dog, she has the odd tendency to go sailing through the air and only hit once on the downramp. usually right above the contact...

And I filled out the entry form for Seri's re-re-redebut in agility. She's running in USDAA at CH 22. I will attempt to garner a GP and STP Q for her. We'll see. She may not be able to work that well after so long away from trialing, but it's worth a shot, and we definitely need to test out her shoulder under the more exciting environment of a trial. I'm limiting her to 3 runs over 2 days and I will keep a very sharp eye on her to see how she does.

12 February 2012


That's what I'll be practicing this week. First Trig released herself off a couple of them, then Strafe missed a dogwalk (OK, he actually missed 2!), and then Kiba missed an aframe. Since I've been quick releasing Trig's contacts a lot, I can undestand her doing that, so we'll proof that a bit this week. And poor Kiba is going through running aframe retraining rehash #4 or 5, so again understandable, although we threw away a Standard Q and 1st place by missing the aframe contact by about a toenail today. Strafe's issues this weekend were entirely due to his lack of dogwalk training on more complicated courses. Because we've been trialing and travelling and I was working on other skills, I really haven't "trained" the dogwalk since about October. We've run it in sequence a few times here and there, but I haven't actually worked on anything with it since then. So we need to work on discriminations with the tunnel on the up side - namely pulling in with a short verbal and dropped shoulder while I take off running, rather than me needing to slow down to pull in. Also need to work on a discriminations off the down ramp - today we had a U-shaped tunnel very close to the downramp and he skittered off the ramp and into the wrong end very quickly. Back when I was working on it a few times a week he was pretty good at pulling in, but I think the energy of a trial had him a little too excited and off he went. So we have some homework. It's not the end of the world - overall I think he's running the boards nicely and up until this weekend he didn't miss a single one - but those were Novice and Open courses, more simple layouts.

I am teaching for the next 2 weekeneds, so I'll be working on contacts every few days at home and away when I can. I'd like to give Kiba's aframe one more trial to see if she can even out a little. She's actually pretty consistent at home - last training session we did, I ran 8 aframes from different directions and on different sides of me, and she hit all 8 and was only really high on 2 of them. At the trial she is remembering me making her stop which changes her weight shift over the top, so hopefully by running past this weekend I opened her up a bit more. If not, I will throw a last minute check back into place before the latter March trials so we will not miss them at Nationals... hopefully!

11 February 2012

Imp. All Zet Air Attack Strafe OA OAJ

3rd and Final OAJ leg today. We're up in Exc A for both classes now, woohoo! My big goal was to try to get him up into Excellent before leaving for AKC Nationals at the end of March, so that when I came back his legs in B would count towards Tryouts right away. I don't expect he'll finish his AX and AXJ both with only 4 more days of trials before that time, however he should be fairly close with at least 1 or 2 legs in each, hopefully.

Strafe did miss his first contact today. I'll admit it. It was his 11th dogwalk in the ring, but it was his first try at Excellent, and the approach, while safe, was not something I've worked on a lot (a pull in discrimination with a tunnel) and I got lagged behind a bit, and then the jump afterwards was very far away and he didn't focus forward very well. No big deal. I counted and he's done 17 aframes in competition and hasn't missed a single one of those, or flown off a see-saw. I even blind crossed a see-saw this morning!

Trig got another QQ for me today. She is a bit of a Q machine for me these days, and while she's not as exciting to run as my faster dogs, it is nice to have a mostly trusty sidekick out there... I think this was QQ #18 so she will probably MACH for me at the next trial.

I definitely don't have a super great "connection" running Trig, but I do think we run well together. This is definitely a temporary team though - I'm giving her back in May after Tryouts. My reason for attending Tryouts with a borrowed dog is entirely selfish, but twofold. One being that I just really enjoy Tryouts and don't have a dog for it this year, and the 2nd reason being that I don't want the AKC Team "selectors" to forget about me;) I want to show up with an entirely different dog, and although I may not "wow" them, I want them to at least have the thought "hey, she's not a one hit wonder". That's all. I don't expect us to win or be chosen (although I wouldn't rule it out if Trig runs clean a whole bunch), I just want to get us out there so when I go back in 2013 with Strafe, the selection committee will be more like "OMG this handler came back with a 3rd dog and she's STILL AWESOME!!"  (or at least, that's how it works in my mind....;)

10 February 2012

Sometimes when I'm out walking my dogs, I like to pose them and take silly pictures after we've walked around the field. Like this:

And sometimes I try to take a picture of Strafe now that he's all grown up. What usually happens is that he will strike a pose showing off his lovely structure and flowing locks, usually while watching the other dogs. I pull out my phone, unlock the screen, and push the camera button. The camera comes up. I begin to get into position and Strafe moves. So I get a lot of pics of him almost stacked nicely but with one foot out of place, or his head hunched down so his neck disappears, or he starts to crouch and his shoulders drop... this is the best I got, and I can see how pretty he is but it still isn't a great pic. One day I'll actually get someone to help me show off his lovely figure....

Strafe makes his debut in Excellent A Standard tomorrow. The trial is in an unheated horse arena and will probably be chilly so I have their sweaters packed up in the bag in preparation for tomorrow. Will be getting up rather early but since Strafe obligingly finished most of his lower level titles, I won't have to stay very late at the trial and should be home fairly early in the afternoon, which is nice.

Still contemplating taking the sheltie pup. I have been researching the pedigree rather extensively and while I'm not familiar with the conformation dogs close behind the dam, when I went a little further back there were a lot of dogs that are behind some tremendous performance dogs today, and I liked that. And her great-grandfather is a littermate to the sire of some of the OBay dogs, and I love her dogs! Definite bonus... and the sire himself is a fabulous agility dog, a really nice jumping sheltie. Since quite a few of my dogs have been found due to karmic accidents, even though I am not really that type of person in general, I may go ahead and take this pup... can't argue when something nice lands in your lap right?

Heck, Drifter was a leftover 4+ month old pup, Kiba was a leftover pup as well, neither of them was planned. Seri was semi-planned - I wasn't planning on looking for a pup but when I found out they were breeding her litter i couldn't help but sign up. Strafe is my only current dog where I put months of planning into finding the litter, not just stumbling upon it and liking it.

So... hmmm....

09 February 2012

by the way

Videos from my FL trip of both Strafe and Trig can be found on my youtube page.

Also, I may have accidentally found a sheltie puppy already. I have had pretty good luck with unplanned dogs, so I'm seriously thinking about it...

Seri update #.... oh, I gave up counting.

So after her brief bout of toe related lameness on Sunday night, Seri has looked fine, and I let her swim on Tuesday as usual. When Ria (my PT) arrived, I had her check Seri out and she confirmed what I had found - she did something minor but painful to a toe on Sunday, and it was already mostly healed. Didn't feel like a jam to her (unless I had already unjammed it by pulling all her toes, which I always do when checking them), so it seems like she probably just twisted or bruised it on something. She confirmed what I thought, which is that her shoulders are both doing pretty well, and her pelvis/sacrum area was still in and doing fine too. Cleared for some more agility practice.

Which is what I did last night between classes. The footing in our indoor isn't perfect for a dog with an iffy shoulder, but I decided to chance it and just break the sequences up into large pieces. I allowed her to weave 3 times, but I always paused and made her stop before entering the weave poles because she has a habit of slamming into the first pole (moving the pole bases about a foot or so) and then using that to bleed off momentum. Not ideal, by any means. Anyway, I ran her around 3 jumping courses, with weaves, in large sections, and she did pretty well. Considering she has had so little practice, I am actually pretty pleased with how well she's trying to pay attention to my handling. I really can't run full out like a maniac with her (she has enough "maniac" all by herself anyway) and I can't get too fancy or ask for tight turns, but she reallky did try to go where I pointed, and only hit a few bars at 22" - at this point I'm just letting them go since I am limiting her jumping.

I have solidified my plan to pull her from the AKC trial in early March and will run her in exactly 3 classes at the USDAA trial 2 weeks after that instead. Advanced Standard, Steeplechase Round 1, and Grand Prix. If she makes it through Steeplechase I will not run round 2, just take my Q and be happy.

i've been playing with different configurations of putting dogs in my downsized car, and I'm pretty happy with this one for 3 dogs - I have Seri and Strafe on the backseat with seatbelts, and Kiba in an airline crate sideways in the back. Works pretty nicely. If I bring Drifter or Trig somewhere I just switch them into the backseat arrangement since they are both fine with that as well.

You can see that Strafe and Seri are very stressed about this situation:

Don't worry, the car was parked!

07 February 2012

Random Stuff

Seri has been looking pretty good since her weird "good side" limp the other day. The PT arrives today to check on everyone and I'll ask her about it. I'm still contemplating Seri's future. I am wondering if I should pull her from the AKC trial in March and switch her to the USDAA one and just enter GP and Steeeplechase. She has a much better likelihood of being able to qualify and run in those events in Denver than doing 6 QQ's and then having to run 5 runs or so concentrated over the 3 days of AKC Nationals. At USDAA she may only need to run a couple runs total, and have a day off between some of them. Anyway. Random thoughts, as I said.

More randomness; when DJ left I did not get to salvage the SDHC card with my Copenhagen pictures on it. But while I was searching the one that's currently in my laptop, I did find some unprocessed pictures from our first trip to the UK. So here are some of those that I never posted, all from our Monday trip to Cardiff, Wales.

Passing by the outside of Cardiff Castle, right in the middle of Cardiff. It is surrounded by this huge wall and takes us a block or two!

Inside the wall, there is a large, newer castle that is more like a manor house, and this much older fort on a hill, which we were allowed to go inside and wander around, including climbing to the top.

We parked in a garage right in front of Millennium Stadium. I think somebody important plays here ;)

Millennium Centre. Very cool opera/orchestra house, and the lobby was open to the public. We went inside and walked around. This sight is familiar to any diehard Doctor Who or Torchwood fan.

This picture is pretty meaningless unless you are a Doctor Who or Torchwood fan, but since I am, I was very excited to walk around here :) Unfortunately the Torchwood lair entrance water fountain/statue was not operating when we were there.

06 February 2012

So while I was gone, my other 3 dogs got to take walks around the field, runs in the yard, and did a bit of ballwork with my mother.

Yesterday after I got back, I went back out and worked on Kiba's aframe (yes, I'm trying to reconvert her to running for like the 5th time), and then took Drifter and Seri out and did a quick 3-minute agility play type session. Which basically means I just walk around and throw them over obstacles in a safe but unstructured manner. "go jump, now come teeter...Yay! have a toy!" Drifter enjoys these immensely and they have been his main form of "practice" for the last 3 months, just reminding him what the obstacles look like and enforcing his stop on the teeter. Seri doesn't do much more because I am always concerned about letting her pick up too much speed, with the shoulder/wrist/whatnot issues she has. Yesterday Seri did maybe 6 individual 22" jumps, about 5 aframes, mostly from a stand still at the base, and perhaps 3 each of the teeter and dogwalk, individually and not in sequence. No weaves. And 3 hours later after a nap, she was lame on her right front. Talk about a frustrated feeling - that is her "good" side! I checked range of motion in her shoulder and wrist and came up empty - they look good. I checked her toes and I think that was the problem, a jammed or bruised toe, as I got an unusual pain reaction on one of them. And her left shoulder did seem tighter than it had been when I got home and checked it the first time.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I'm afraid to trial her. This fall and winter I am noticing an alarming correlation between "doing agility" during the day, and her standing up and looking stiff or sore at night. No agility, no limping. Agility, limping. I don't like that correlation, and it implies causation since none of the other activities seem to have the same result at night, except perhaps a couple times she was running like a lunatic in the yard while I was gone (which she doesn't do when I'm home more than 30 seconds at a time when I tell her to). This makes me sad, but I will give her a bit more time of trying before giving up. My thoughts right now are that she may be my "seminar demo dog" for a while. Short bursts of agility don't seem to bother her too much, and while right now it seems true that if she's limping, she did agility, it is not also true the other way around - doing agility does not always result in limping, just more often than I like to see... so while I'm beginning to draw a conclusion about her future career in agility, I'm not ready to write it down in permanent ink yet. I still have her entered in one day of an AKC trial in March. If she looks good to my PT this week I may go ahead and run her there as a final test. If I get visible limping after the trial, or it knocks her shoulder out, or her pelvis/sacrum or whatever, then I will probably give up on running her in competition and just let her be a "play" agility dog.

Triton, Trig, Strafe in front of Tampa Bay at Davis Island
I am back from my Florida trip, and I definitely had fun. It was lovely weather the entire time we were down there (I traveled with a friend and her border collie). Strafe got 2 Open JWW legs and 2 Open Standard legs to finish his OA title, and gets to run in Excellent this coming weekend at the local trial (after which he has some time off since he's been so busy!)

It was sunny, dry, and around 78 to 80F (26C) the entire time we were there. It was fun to run around in t-shirts and get a slight tan! Of course half-way home we got out of the car to get gas and it was much colder and suddenly we felt like giant wimps about it, since it was still well above freezing. But we had to dig our coats out of the luggage again...

I am definitely considering going down to FL again next year, and I especially liked the Jacksonville site - it is a great indoor arena, it stayed cool all day, it had tons of space for walking dogs, indoor bathrooms, lots of crating, and parking right outside the door! And they did a great job grooming the surface every night so the dirt wasn't too horribly packed. In my experience, all packed dirt surfaces get hard throughout the day, but the dogs did well on this one, not too much slipping, and not much in the way of knocked bars either. I would definitely go to this site again for a big trial!

Strafe handled the long trip away like a pro, with the only exception being that he was a little bit growly and barky in the hotel room if he heard people outside that he wasn't expecting or thought sounded suspicious, so I was unable to leave him in the hotel while we went out to grab dinner. But at 17 months this is not such an unusual behavior and I'm sure he will learn that it's not appropriate. He was quiet the vast majority of the time while I was in the room. Overall, he acts like a much older dog, and at the seminar we ran in on Monday I had several people ask me to reiterate how old he was (17 months, really!), and I'm sure people must think I'm training him constantly to have him at this level, but I realy don't - he just does everything I ask him to, like he's been doing it his whole life. Since this is what both of his parents are like, it doesn't surprise me, but it's such a new and exciting feeling to have a young dog that just says "Ok!" to everything I ask him to do!

Strafe with his new best friend Triton. They were practically inseparable and it was adorable.
Strafe and Triton playing at the Davis Island Dog Park
Playing at Davis Island Dog Beach in Tampa Bay