the sheltiechick blog

Memorial Day Agility Weekend, and Georgie’s New Title!

This weekend we drove down to Glen Carbon for three days of agility. Whenever I have a day off work for a holiday, I like to try and squeeze in three days of agility, since it gives me an extra chance to snag some Qs without having to take any vacation days. I’ve been hesitant to go down to Glen Carbon for a long time because it’s a bit far and the hotels aren’t very cheap. I hated to make a big, expensive trip out of it and waste all that money on brand new baby dogs who aren’t quite on their game yet, but my friends wanted me to go, so away we went.

I also decided to enter Auggie in one day, just for fun. Auggie and I haven’t really done any practicing since before Louisville, and being semi-retired, I don’t really care what he does, so it was just for the fun of running my old man. He ran both rings on Sunday and actually had some really nice runs. His jumping wasn’t the greatest since we haven’t done any work, and he knocked the final bar on the triple jump in both rings, and he also decided 11 weave poles were plenty, BUT – he was really running quite fast for Auggie runs. If he had Qd in standard he would have gotten about 10 points, and jumpers would have been about 4 or 5, which might not sound like much, but for a dog who had a career plagued by trying to make SCT, it’s a pretty big deal. The other big deal was I did all of this without using any treats at all with him. All of our warm-up and playing before his runs was done with his shark tug. This is a dog who wasn’t really into tugging for many, many, many years, and only really started to tug when he was six years old. Despite NQs it was really pretty awesome for Auggie, and of course, it’s always the best thing in the world to run my big dog.

Payton and I have spent the past two weeks doing self-control work and some more proofing on contacts. We also did some weave pole work, but that’s sort of frustrating for me because I cannot make the dog miss weave poles in the backyard. He’s excellent about it and I felt like I wasn’t really working on what I needed to be working on by flinging him into 12 weave poles from various difficult angles. Perhaps the weaves were really what we needed to work on, because all weekend long, Payton did not complete a single set of 12 weave poles. He made some entries. He also missed some entries. He did a few poles, and also skipped a few (several.)
On the upside, his startline stays were really great all weekend long. I have been hesitant to do a lot of lead outs with Payton because, in the backyard, he will sometimes decide the fastest way to release is to simply go around the jumps rather than actually taking the jumps in front of him. I hate to blow a run just because I’m trying to do a lead out, and given that my sport of choice is running, sprinting to keep up with my dog is well within my physical abilities, so I haven’t done a lot of them. This weekend I decided to try it, wondering if the extra self-control required to not break a stay might help with control on the rest of the course, too. I can tell you it doesn’t bleed over into self-control on the rest of the course, but he did several nice lead outs for me, including one through a tire jump, which it wasn’t too long ago that we had tire issues. His contacts were also pretty nice. The a-frame wasn’t what I wanted, but I wasn’t getting what I wanted from the a-frame in practice either, and I’ve been considering re-training the a-frame with the Rachel Sanders method to a running a-frame and reserving the 2o2o for the dog walk. He wasn’t called on the a-frame all weekend long, so there’s that. This weekend he actually chose to complete the teeter, waiting for it to tip rather than adopting our last agility weekend’s style of running up the teeter, pausing for about a quarter of a second, then diving off the side because it wasn’t tipping fast enough and he needs to GO GO GO GO! His dog walk, however, which is what I’ve really been working on, was rather nice. The first day he held it properly. The second day we had a minor fiasco at the table and I was a little irritated, so I held him on his contact for a LONG time. The third day I admit I was irritated at him because he didn’t get his weave poles and ran past the dog walk, only issuing one “touch” command as I blew far ahead of him, and he cleared off the down plank without getting anywhere near the yellow. Bad trainer for letting my irritation get to me and failing to try and maintain my own criteria.
A contributing factor may also be that this weekend, I tested out giving him multiple “touch” commands. Part of me hates to do this, because part of me really believes I should only need to give my dog one command for him to respond properly. I don’t have to tell my dogs to “sit” multiple times. I do not have to, nor do I, chatter “stay… stay… stay…” to my dogs to get them to stay. I do not have to tell him “jump jump jump!” So why should I have to tell Payton “Touch, touch, touch” on the agility course? One should be enough.
But the reality is that so far, one has NOT been enough. I also will happily tell my dogs “tunnel tunnel tunnel!!” to really drive and send them to a tunnel. The other part of me doesn’t care about this, remembering an article in Clean Run written by Silvia Trkman about how she talks a lot to her dogs and repeats commands like “tunnel tunnel tunnel.” So why, exactly, should “touch” be any different than “tunnel?” If I say “tunnel tunnel tunnel” to encourage them to drive forward into a tunnel, “touch touch touch” should encourage drive down to the contact. And with only a very small amount of data (three days this weekend), it appears multiple commands to Payton WILL get him into his position. It’s not like I’m trying to be on the World Team or anything anyway, I’m just trying to enjoy a sport with my dog, and if giving him multiple commands is the difference between an NQ and frustration and a Q and success, why shouldn’t I?

So that’s where things stand with Payton at the moment. Still work to do on the contacts and some challenges with weave poles. I will fully admit that excepting the weave poles and some weird table issues, most problems from this weekend were 100% my fault (resulting from bad handling position or one time I set him up too close to the start jump), and there were also things that looked really, really good, and should make me very proud of my young baby dog. I am confident we’ll eventually get there as a team, it’s just going to take time. I still haven’t learned that Payton is not Auggie and I cannot run Payton just like Auggie. There’s a lot of physical muscle memory stuff going on that I need to break from four years of running Auggie and less than a year of running Payton. It will happen, and once it does, I believe we will be beautiful. At this point you can cue Georgie Harrison and start singing “It’s gonna take money, a whole lotta spending money, it’s gonna take plenty of money, to do it right child. It’s gonna take time, a whole lotta precious time, it’s gonna take patience and time to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right child.” YEP.

The real exciting moment of this weekend is that Georgie had some phenomenal runs of her own. After picking up the first Open Q in jumpers at our last trial, she followed up her performance by snagging a jumpers Q on Saturday, missing one on Sunday by one refusal, and then grabbing her third and final OAJ leg on Monday. So the baby girly has now blown past her best friend Payton and has her OAJ. She also was one refusal away from her first standard leg on Monday. She’s a very good dog and everybody had great things to say about her. A nice, steady dog. In my head I imagine she’s out on the course singing to Payton “Anything you can do, I can do better!” So in honor of the great little girly, here’s the video of all three of her OAJ qualifying legs:

So big congrats to Georgie! Now she gets to start chasing Excellent legs. She really only needs to get a few kinks ironed out with her weave poles and a few other baby dog things, and otherwise I think she’s going to be quite phenomenal.

So that was our long weekend, some ups and downs, plenty of alcohol was had by me, but overall, I remembered that even a bad weekend at agility is better than a good day at work. Fun was had by all. I’m pretty sure bad baby Pay had the most fun of the whole crew.

Payton’s Third Birthday

My little baby dog is no longer little, nor a baby. But he is still a dog. That’s about it. Today he turned three years old. The ideal would have been a nice long hike, just the two of us, and then a swim in the lake, but being Illinois is May, it’s currently about 43 degrees outside and raining, so that is not a thing that was going to happen today. Instead we went out to Pet Supplies Plus to redeem his birthday coupon on a bag of treats, then drove around town for a bit together, came back home where I made chicken thighs and gave him the cartilage and joints I cut off them, then we had PARTY.

But first. Yesterday I went to a few stores in town looking for some suitable party hats. I wanted football ones but couldn’t find any. I continued searching today, even willing to take plain blue ones (P’s colour) or green (I could paint them with some white and make it look like a football field.) NO SUCH LUCK. In my desperation I googled “DIY party hats.”
And this is what the crazy dog lady does for her dog’s birthday.

Not exactly orange and navy blue for perfect Bears colours, but it works.

Huzzah, group photo!

I made the football cupcake pick too, because I was going to buy some at the party store but the line was almost to the door… and I went there twice. WHAT. NO. WHAT ARE YOU ALL BUYING PARTY SUPPLIES FOR. MY DOG IS THREE AND HIS BIRTHDAY IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING. GET OUT OF MY WAY. So I left the cupcake picks at the store and just made that.

My mom took a bunch of blurry photos from a weird angle so I told her “Get down at his level.” This is apparently what she thought I meant. *facepalm* I’m going to have to start hiring a photographer for my dog’s birthdays because I can’t maneuver dogs AND take photos at the same time.

Cuppycakey for the birthday boy!!

Auggie is seriously the best boy. He wore his hat patiently, sat nicely, then happily devoured his cupcake.

I had half the cupcake in my hand to give to Pepper… and she chose to first eat the half still in the paper instead of just taking the half I had RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER NOSE. Ohhhh Pepper.

Georgie. My mom says to her “Georgie don’t be a shark. Or a gator. Or a pig. Or whatever.” It all fell on deaf ears.

Frosting face!

I don’t know WHAT happened to Pepper’s hat, it got crushed somehow while still attached to her head. But she looks happy, so!

And then we have Auggie. Oh Auggie. <3 P got a little blue sheep as his present, on top of the treats and the chicken parts and the cupcakes. Because we need more sheep toys in this house. The end. Happy birthday baby Pay. Here's some baby Payton's in case you forgot:

That’s the bowl I later taught him to pivot on. Yep.

Trial weekend for Baby Dogs

Louisville is in the books, my fourth half-marathon is done, and it’s finally time to start moving forward with more training and other trials. So we did! This weekend we trekked our way to Indianapolis to take another crack at some Open Qs.
On Saturday, Payton’s standard run was rather typical for him as of late, completely blown contacts and apparently having no idea what weave poles are. Georgie came out next and had a better run; she got a refusal on the chute and then popped her weave poles at #10, but otherwise had a really nice run. Jumpers was a challenging course; we watched the Excellent/Masters dogs run first and there was a series of jumps in the middle that were causing a lot of dogs to go off-course. Just our luck, that same series of jumps stayed put for the course change down to Open. Payton got to take a crack at it first, and surprisingly, his only issue was (again) crappy weave pole performance. He otherwise navigated the course nicely without biting on any of the off-courses that were bombing a lot of more advanced, talented dogs. While it was frustrating to know he would have had that course if not for this annoying trial weave issue, I walked away from the course reminding myself he WAS successful in a way many other dogs had not managed to be.
Georgie got to come out next. Georgie is the one who is more likely to take off-courses, so this was a fair concern with her. But she navigated the course just fine! Even better – she got all of her weave poles! Baby Georgie snags the VERY FIRST open Q out of both young dogs. Way to go Georgie!!

Sunday we were a little delayed in getting checked out of our hotel, and as a result we ended up getting to the trial site just a couple minutes too late for my walkthrough. Even worse, Payton was the third dog in the ring for Open Jumpers. I didn’t have much time to do anything except watch a couple people ahead of me run their dogs. I watched a guy I know run his young portie and decided I was going to steal his handling maneuvers, even though it wasn’t how I would have normally handled the course, because I didn’t really have any other options to choose how to handle it at that point in time. So out I went with Payton. Our first challenge was a tunnel where the correct entry was about as likely as the wrong entry – he got the correct entry. Away we went around the rest of the course, looping back to the weave poles… and he got his entry. AND he got all twelve of them. Holy cow! So he DOES know how to weave, right? At that point it was just making sure I didn’t screw up my handling and make him drop a bar or pull off a jump… and he did it. Big Bad Baby Dog got HIS very Open Q.
Miss Georgie didn’t have such a great run, as I let her get out a little to angle her to the correct tunnel entry and she ended up taking the jump ahead of her instead of taking the tunnel. But otherwise she had a nice run and did a good job.
Standard was another mess for Payton; at one point I remember clearly thinking to myself “He is WAY too amped up right now.” He blew all his contacts spectacularly, and the lovely weaves from that morning were non-existent. Well, at least he’s consistently inconsistent.
Georgie’s standard run was pretty identical to Saturday; her contacts were certainly better than Payton’s. She did get a refusal on the tunnel, then a second at the weaves, and then did a peculiar new thing of popping out of the weaves at the last pole rather than skipping the last two as is her normal bad-weaves habit. So no Q for either puppy in the afternoon.

Overall it wasn’t a horrible weekend; some good things happened for both dogs. Georgie went the entire weekend without visiting anyone in the ring. Payton’s Saturday JWW run was quite nice even though he didn’t get his weaves. And both came home with their first Open Qs. My Q rate for the entire weekend was 2/8, but still, good things did happen.

Baby steps with the baby dogs… baby steps. Baby dogs.

I did get video of all the runs, but the only video I’ve bothered editing and uploading is Payton’s clean run Q in JWW. Not the smoothest, given I didn’t have a chance to walk it, but an ugly Q still counts as a Q.

Sheltie Easter 2014

I realize it’s like two weeks late.
I had a horrible migraine that day – not the worst of my life, but the second worst of my life. I was heavily medicated and did pretty much nothing all day long. I forgot my Easter stuff at my house (silly me though last year “surely by next Easter we will be moved in!” and took it all over there, and I meant to bring it back on Saturday when we were done working… but I forgot it in the garage.) so I didn’t have their eggs or baskets either.
My mom ran out to the store to buy some more meds for me and found a pack of eggs for cheap there, so she brought them home so the dogs could still hunt eggs. First, we did a hunt inside where she hid all six eggs, then one at a time we let each dog find the eggs. But the lighting in this house is awful and I was still laying on the couch just watching, so no photos of that. But a few hours later, I was FINALLY feeling better, so we went outside. I didn’t really “hide” them so much as just set them down around the front of the yard, so this is officially The Worst Sheltie Easter Ever.
But I did get pics!

The shelties… one egg.

Payton manages to escape with this one.

Cookie inside!

Auggie and Pepper.

Pepper sorta kinda got into it this year since she had time to find eggs all by herself without the other dogs… but she still was like “I found one!” and then basically just sat there with it hahaha.

She wasn’t even motivated to find other cookies… maybe she thought the egg would spontaneously produce more cookies?

Auggie finding more.

Open, eat the cookie…

…find the next egg.

Auggie doesn’t play around.

Meanwhile this was happening… Payton kept running around with an egg and Georgie trying to steal it from him… NOT THE GAME, PUPPIES.

Pepper, by the way, is in the back not grabbing at an egg, but just grabbing at the ground. Because… Pepper. And meanwhile Auggie is looking around for anything still unopened.

A derp-derp!

Yeah… that’s Payton.

That’s all… not a lot. Better ones next year hopefully!