Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What 2013 Means to Me.

I've come to realize that I've made a huge mistake with my dogs. Without going into great detail on my life, my dogs lives and all that... Things other than agility have become more important to me. I've realized that I have pushed my dogs into an agility life when that's not exactly what they want and in some cases, what they need.

Psyche gets stressed at agility trials. She does amazing when she's not stressed. But when she's stressed she's clearly not having any fun. And when I am forcing my dog to be doing something that's not any fun to her it breaks my heart. She gives me her everything. This dog thinks the sun rises and sets by my hand. She is 100%  devoted to me and I couldn't ask for a better dog. She loves agility at home, at the training field, even a few fun matches... so why do I push for more? When did it become so important to me that we trial over having fun? What happened to me? Psyche is a superstar. I know this. I have almost all of the equipment at home and a large training field. In the price of two trials I could likely have all of the equipment I need. Why haven't I put more effort into making her 'fun' time at home better (more equipment, better fencing, etc.) and put all this effort into making her trial, even when there were times she was telling me very clearly that she didn't want to trial?

As for Simi, again, without going into detail, I have pushed too hard for agility and lacked severely on other aspects of life. I have wronged my dog. Neglected her, in a sense. I pushed for agility at a young age with her. She was my sports dog. I got her as a puppy, had in my head from the start that she was going to be amazing and I pushed her to be that amazing puppy. But I forgot some very important things in the process. I let agility, being awesome, making people reconsider a GSD for the sport... all of that, cloud my vision. When in reality, Simi has been trying to tell me for ages what she needed... and it was not agility.

So now maybe it's the change in my life, maybe it's timing, maturity, or just a stroke of luck that I finally realized it... but now agility isn't so important to me. Sport isn't so important. What really matters to me right now? Loving my dogs. Giving them what they deserve. And making up for all the messing up I've done up until now, and making sure I do right by them in the future.

2013 isn't a year of Qs and competitions for me... it's a year of loving my dogs for who they are, not trying to change them, and apologizing. And 2013 isn't a year of competitions for my dogs... it's a year of being treated right and accepted for what they can and cannot do. Maybe we will compete again... maybe even later this year... but to be honest with you all, and myself, it doesn't matter to me when that next trial may be.

So if you don't hear about a lot of trials, don't worry. We're all happy, without the competitions... and you'll hear lots of tales of the fun we're having, just being who we all are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two For the Price of One

I'm about to talk your ear off about a couple of things. But I want to point out first, that although these are two very important things and are both more than deserving of their own individual posts, I'm going to keep them together because really, one wouldn't have happened without the other.

These two things are, of course, Bella and Simi.

On September 17th, 2012 we hit the two year marker that I've been without Bella. It feels like she's been gone so much longer than that. I miss her, still, and always will. But at the same time, it feels like just yesterday she was here, a part of our family. Bella was a special dog. Everyone who has heard me talk about her before knows this. She came into my life for a reason, I don't doubt that at all. And having gone two years without her, the reasons that I ever had her at all are clearer and clearer everyday. She helped me become the person I am today, this I know. If it hadn't been for Bella, things would have played out much differently in my life.

The people I know now, the choices I've made, where I am location wise, it was all effected by Bella...

As crazy as that seems. But it's true. She was such an important role in my life... and still is.

I don't know where I would have ended up without her. And there's no way for me to tell really. But that's okay, because I'm honestly happy right here, where I am.

Bella was a once in a life time dog. There will never be another like her come along in my life. She was special and not just in her speshul way. And even though she was a hand-me-down of a gift, she was a gift none the less. And just like my life with Bella effected who I am, Bella's life before me effected who she was and therefore her role in my life.

Everything happens for a reason.


Which brings me to my second subject; Simi. On September 22nd, 2011, just mere days after the one year marker of having lost Bella, my little Demon Child was born. At that point, I don't even think I knew her litter was planned, so I had no idea that all those puppies had been born. And I honestly had no idea that somewhere in all of those pretty puppies was my future headache... er, I mean, my future Brain Child.

But there she was, a teeny little sable girlie waiting who had no idea that she'd be joining my crazy crew and that she'd be forced to put up with me.

Poor girl, someone should have warned her.

And somehow, someway... these two dogs were connected. Call me crazy, I don't care. But I know that there was a reason Simi came into my life, just like Bella had plenty of reason to come into my life. And I honestly feel as if in some way, Bella sent Simi to me.

Simi is mostly a pain in my butt, honestly. But I love her. She's crazy and foolish but calm and dignified. She's the perfect combination of go-go-go and wait-wait-wait. Now, anyway.

Of course, we had our days... weeks... months where she was insane. No brain, no manners, no will to work with me. She was hell on paws. I said it on a regular basis.

But she was my puppy. That well bred GSD that I'd craved ever since Bella came into my life and I caught the GSD bug. She was goofy and silly and she was mine.

Now we've made it through to almost a year old. I can't believe how time has flown. From how we've gone from that little, cute adorable puppy that was always biting me to this 'big' pretty dog who is... well, mentally still in about the same spot. *snorts* And now that I think of it, yeah, she still bites me...

But I swear with her age has come some kind of maturity... I just cant' see it all the time.

So this is mostly just a post to let you know I'm still alive and to recognize two amazing things in my life that just happened to end and begin a year and some days apart... I know it's just time between two things that were bound to happen... but I don't think that it was by random chance that Bella was gone a year just days before Simi came into this world.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Waah, mobile post!

Typing this on my cellphone so please excuse any and all typos.

Just a quick update on what's going on.

Psyche rocked her last trial! 3/7 Qs, and some really beautiful moments over the span of the weekend. Her first full trial in a while. Oh! And she got top Starters dog on Saturday; so proud of her for that. She got her first Standard Q, with a beautiful table, and nice weavies. And a snooker and jumpers Q put her into Advanced Snooker and Jumpers. She only needs a few more Qs (one gamble and one standard) for her first title (SGDC) and two more standards for her second title (ADC). So proud of her.

Crash is a beast in training. He's starting to offer distance and rarely goes around any jumps and never goes under the bars anymore, and is jumping all 22 inch jumps. We started a 2 foot dog walk last night and by the end of the session he was running the full length of the dog walk with me standing still. He has no end behaviour, but we will get it... Trying to decide if maybe I want to train a running.

Simi is doing really well in classes and is starting to get a little more oomph to her work. She's starting to seem like she's enjoying herself. She also turned 10 months old yesterday! I'm going to try to get a photoshoot done of her. She's so pretty and grown up now, but still a baby where it matters.

And my mom bought a van, so now I can travel all of my big dogs, not like the HHR, so booyeah.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's been a while.

Wow, haven't really updated in a while, my bad. So this thread is going to be a mess of things that have happened in the last month since I've posted.

Hmm, where to start. We'll start with me, cause I'm selfish and self centered! I graduated college (my photography class) on the 27th. Ended the year on Honors, got a cool cord because of it, and finished the program with something like a 3.85something average. Boo yeah! I also had my friend Diane visiting me from the 16th to 30th. That was mucho fun. She's another agility person so it was cool to have someone to train with and offer new ideas and suggestions. I'm still currently jobless and it's making my mom crazy, which is in turn making me crazy, but I'm looking. I've been doing C25k and was starting week 3 when Diane came and ended up putting it on hold for the two weeks she was here, and so am now starting again, but back at week 1, day 1. Oh well. Hm, that's about it for me, that doesn't involve the dogs!

Now for Psyche. Psyche and I didn't go to that trial I mentioned because we were having car issues. But we've got another one planned for next weekend. Full weekend, lots of games. I'm really excited. I finally took the dogs out to the docks! Psyche loves it and started jumping off the first time out, and has every time I've taken her after that too. And her jumping keeps getting better. Less going under water now. She's even to the point where she will jump off before you throw the stick, woot! In terms of her agility we have been doing lots of fun little sessions. Been working on a "dig" command which is basically for wrapping around jumps, I guess? Using it for her threadles. It's coming along nicely. She's so happy and confident in training; really loving it. Tonight I'm taking her out to a club training night to work on a Snookers course (good cause we have a snookers or two this weekend and if she gets a Q we'll be in Advanced *gulp*) and I'm excited to see how she works there.

Crasher has also seriously started some agility stuffs. I've put his weaves on hold because I want to start over and get more motion without ME moving from him. No big deal, really. He's been doing lots of box work and pinwheels. But straight lines too and starting to work a little more on distance. He's doing great. Needs some circle work stuff, though, as he's starting to cut behind me a lot (bad dog!) but I knew he needed more circle work and haven't done it with him (bad handler!). He's also been out to the docks with me a few times and isn't really one for swimming... he likes wading. I'm going to get him a life jacket and see if that helps. He WANTS to jump, he does, but he's scared. Haha. He's fallen off a few times (stands on the edge of the dock chasing his tail, falls in) and always swims out like nothing happened so I know he CAN swim, just needs to get more comfortable.

Ah now for the Simi. She's still a Satan spawn. But I still love her. She's doing well in agility class. Still not eager to tug or play really, but much more focus now and she's getting way more comfortable. We started them on a raised plank a few weeks back and Simi LOVES it. She will jump right up, RUN across it and jump right off, turn on it in both directions, etc.. No fear of it at all. Very proud of her for that, since she's mostly a little fearful of life, haha. We started the bang game last week, too, and again, no fear. Also started some 3 jump jump grids. She was struggling a little bit in class (since it's a release to a toy) but she would drive over to the toy and then look to me for the treat, so I can deal with that. Need some work. I started her yesterday on the flirt pole. That was fun! She loves it and it tires her out -- double win! Yesterday I only used one toy on it and didn't ask for anything from her besides her chasing it. Today I took her out and started asking for some sit stays/down stays between chases and she was all for it, although a little confused at first as to why she actually had to DO something. I also tried three different toys on it today and she chased all three. After that she was willing to tug one on one with me with all three toys -- boo yeah! Way to go, demon dog! After that we did some circle work, which she was kinda not into, but she was also tired at that point, and then we did some of those 3 jump jump grids (don't worry, in class they're only jump bumps and at home only 6 inch jumps). She did GREAT! She was holding her stay (for the most part; need to work on that) and she was running to the tug, getting it and tugging with me. I was also able to send her out over them to the tug, wahoo! She's come a long way, that's for sure.

Zoey is, of course, enjoying her retired life. Her days are full of urgent matters, sock hunting and sun bathing, and that's just how she likes it.
So yeah. That's about it... or at least all I can think of right now. Besides, this is pretty long already.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pye K9 Kapers Trial

Psyche and I headed out to our club's trial this past weekend. They were having a Steeplechase Friday night then full days Saturday and Sunday, so after Psyche's last trial  I decided to only enter her in one event per day and to try and avoid places where I knew she stressed a lot more. So basically, no standards. Standards have weaves and tables and we hate those. Well, okay, at home we don't hate those. We loves those at home, actually. But at trials we hate those.

So anyway. Steeplechase friday night went surprisingly well! I am so proud of my baby girl for that run alone. She was eager to go into the ring, PULLING ME THERE! And she was happy even when I took her back and made her redo obstacles she missed. I didn't see her even start to hesitate until the jump after the weaves, but I figure that was because a) I was getting tried at that point and b) that was two "corrections" in a row, so might have been a little hard on her ego.

Saturday was one jumpers run. Last class of the day. So I took pictures all day until it was time for our run. What a brilliant run! I am so proud of her. She was happy and comfortable in the ring and really bootin' er. Look at her go! And look at that, clean and under time -- her first Starters Jumpers Q and a 1st place! She was the only dog in regulars open to Q! That means we have Gamblers, Snookers and Jumpers Qs now!

Sunday was another jumpers course and really nice. Just one refusal because I wasn't where I needed to be, all my fault. Psyche was having SO MUCH fun. You could really tell. No video from Sunday because of a camera issue. She ended the run with one refusal and under time, giving her a 2nd place out of three dogs! I am so proud of her for this weekend. Man. Just wow.

I always hoped I'd get runs like that out of Psyche at a trial. And it felt so great finally getting them. It was just so nice to have "normal dog" issues at a trial. Refusals, over time, etc. those I can handle. They're so much better than stress. I honestly thought for a long time that Psyche was just never going to be a trial dog. But this weekend gave me some hope that things could be different!

We have another trial on the 23/24th of June. Lots of games. I think two standard runs all weekend is all. We're doing the full weekend, but I am hoping that with most of them being games we'll have a good weekend again. So excited.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

That moment when you can't tell that something's broken until you fix it.

Or at least until you start to fix it, as is the case with Simi. I started hand feeding her Saturday night and we started minimizing her first meal of the day (I can't bring myself not to feed her ANYTHING, so she's down to 1/2 a cup from 1 1/2) Sunday morning. Today is Tuesday and already I am seeing a difference. Simi offers behaviours while trying to earn her meal at night like you wouldn't believe. She's tail wagging the whole time, happy and throwing behaviours at me.

In the day she'll be free to go outside in the dog fence or be inside and she is more often coming over and visiting me on the couch. Sitting all snuggled up beside me, staring at me. When I look at her and pat her she melts into me. She'll come in from outside, without my calling her, to just give me a happy "HAI MOM!" and get a pat then she'll go back outside. This is new. Usually once she's outside, she's outside. It's amazing what putting effort into building a relationship with her is presenting me with. And you know, I didn't realize just how broken our bond was until I started trying to fix it. The difference is amazing.

The little monster also swam for the first time, intentionally, Monday night. I was throwing a ball out into the middle of the pond for Psyche (who only just started swimming this year!) so Psyche could have a "safe zone" from Simi, who thinks it's fun to body slam Psyche, and the first throw was good, Simi waited until she was in the shallow to body slam her, but the second throw Simi swam right out beside Psyche. So much for that plan, but man, I am so excited that she's started swimming! Even though our pond is disgusting. I'm thinking I'd like to take them down to the river/docks for a trip here directly, just need to get someone to help me handle the Twins and Simi, since Simi is a handful on her own.

I'm hoping to take a trip out to the agility field this week with Psyche and Simi. Class was cancelled this week so I'd really like to use this chance to maybe take Psyche and Simi out and let Simi see that it's a fun, cool place and that Psyche really loves it, so Simi should too.

There's not really much else to say.. I just wanted to express my joy at the feeling of moving towards something great. I know Simi and I have a bright future ahead, and it finally feels like we're on the right path.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Issues in the land of The Simi.

So I guess I hadn't really written a post here about Simi's issues we've been having, but here's what I wrote on a dog forum I frequent:

This is going to be long and very poorly written, I imagine, so I apologize in advance. Simi turns 8 months tomorrow and in the past month or so I've noticed a huge difference in her desire to work with me, or even interact at all with me. When I picked her at a young age she was very "into" me and the breeder described her as a "people pleaser" and that never faltered in her early weeks and months. However, I'm seeing a difference in that. In the last little while at obedience I've been struggling with desire to work, attention span, drive, enthusiasm. I put it all up to her stressing because it's an indoor environment with an echo and can be a little loud and hectic. At agility fun matches she was very on and would do drives to tugs, sit stays, restrained recalls, and even obedience tasks. But as soon as we got to obedience she would cower in the car and try to get away from the building. All the while, she would pull me to things that belong to me, my coat, my bag, my car, etc.. She had no interest in staying WITH me, but would turn herself inside out to get to something that was mine. We started agility classes 3 or 4 weeks back and I had a bit of this same issue. Rather than staring off into space like she did at obedience, however, she would stare at other dogs, and so we've done a lot of clicking and treating for making the choice to look back at me and we're having less of an issue. It's still very hard to get her interested in tugging or playing with me. She'd rather sit beside me, look at other dogs, look back. We originally had her crate in the field with us to work on crate games, but she would pull me across the field to get into her crate. Tonight she ran off from me in class, jumped over the fence (where it was down) and ran about 200 feet away with her tug toy. I chased her for a bit, hoping to grab her leash, but no luck. So I stopped and ran the other way, she dropped the toy and ran back to me, but even when she got to me, it wasn't really a "don't leave me!" it was more of a "oh, you're running, fun!" there wasn't any big hoorah to see me. When we got home from agility and after she'd napped for a while I decided to take her out to the field on her long line and have mom hold her back from me while I teased her with the tug and tried to get her amped up to see me. She would just stare off into space, there was no desire at all to come to me. A couple times I got a good bit of interest and then a pull to get to me and a good game of tug, but never with as much ooomph as I was looking for. Other bits of information: She hasn't gone into heat yet, and is 8 months old tomorrow. She's been on a very limited play time/hanging out in the house time schedule the last little while because a) her shoulder injury, that is now healed, b) having other dogs in the house (first a puppies, then Swiper, then Pecker). She gets two training classes a week, monday night Agility, Tuesday night obedience (now wednesday) besides that she gets a little extra training but not much. I know this is a problem, and I've been working on it. Other people in the house pay her little to no attention and she rarely asks for it from other people. She's not a cuddler and rarely comes asking for pats. She'll come over, let you snuggle for maybe a minute then she's off to harass a dog or find something to get into. But mostly she just clobbers me and then leaves. She has had a jolly ball in the fence that she will carry around 100% of the time outside when she's out. I've taken that away from her now. She's fed at night by me, and in the morning by mom. However it's a put the food in the bowl when they offer going into the crate and wait calmly. There are toys laying around that she will play with without human interaction. She's very into the other dogs. Will pull me to get to others, etc., and it's something I've been working on. I realize that these ^ are probably the root of my problem and that I'll need to change things a LOT, but basically I'm looking for someone to just simplify what I need to do to try and get my dog to actually LIKE me. It's just frustrating and I know I have it easy with Psyche and that's what makes it hard for me to deal with. Psyche thinks the world revolves around me. She won't go potty unless I tell her to. She is so devoted to me. Then I look at Simi... and yeah. She's happy to stare off into space, even when I leave her alone in a strange place.

If you read all of that, here's a cookie. *hands cookie* If not and you just skipped to this part, hey, that's cool too! So in the past week we've been doing a lot of me and Simi time, no toys, no treats, just her and I hanging out, going for walks on the trials around out place and in the back pastures. Already I noticed a difference in her, but I also contacted her breeder to go out and talk to her about it. Today we went out. 

Upon first getting there, Simi cowered in the car, as she sometimes does. We waited while our breeder, Robin, finished up with someone else and Simi and I stood in the shade to keep cool. Simi was clearly not comfortable. Not crazy stressy, and not  trying to pull me to my car, but not at ease. When it was time for us, Robin came over and when she did, Simi barked at her, Robin just ignored her and Simi dropped it, she started sniffing her and was fine. If people don't give a reaction to her barking, she's fine. So out into the field we go. We start with some restrained recalls, first without a toy or treat, and upon leaving Simi with Robin, she pulled trying to get to me, or get away from Robin, and when I called her she came running to me with so much speed and drive... but then kept on booking it past me probably 50 feet. So I turned and walked back to Robin and where I'd left my toys, to get a tug to try it with a toy, she ran over to me then and stopped and looked at me, and got a verbal praise and a pat. Took out a tug, did a restrained recall again. This time with me running, with the tug. Same reaction. Pulling to get to me, running as fast as she can to me, but then going right past me. She did this for every single recall we did. So I dropped the toy on the ground and drug it around and Simi came over and grabbed on for a game of tug, then she "won" I dropped the tug, grabbed the leash and she got her victory lap. Headed back over to Robin, rinse and repeat. 

Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. When I first got her tug out, Robin told me to play a game of tug with her, so I started how I usually do, smacking it on my legs, making lots of growly "gett ittttt" noises and nothing, so then I pulled the next trick in my book, pushing the tug forward into her face. Robin then told me to let it drag on the ground and let her chase it, and I did, and immediately she was on for a game of tug, that really turned her on, so that was what we did for tugging the rest of the session -- no more of that pushing the tug into her face thing.

So we did some recalls and then I went over to sit with Robin and she let me know what she thought. She figures a few things. A) Simi and I have a very poor bond. This wasn't surprising, I was assuming this was at least part, if not all, of our issue. and B) She thinks perhaps Simi is going through a fear stage. This makes complete sense. It would explain why I'm noticing it lately. It's not like Simi and I ever had a really strong bond, so that's not new, but the combination of the fear and the lack of bond together is the difference I'm noticing. 

From there she recommended a few things. She tells me to cut out one of Simi's meals a day, and hand feed the other. Simi's fed twice a day, so I can handle this. No more breakfast, and handfed dinner. She said I can make her do simple things for her food when handfeeding or I can use that as a chance to shape new behaviors. She said that for our bond, we should be doing some obedience and stuff but not in a formal setting. So I'm going to go back to really basic, easy stuff here at home and make it as fun as possible. And for the fear thing she reccomends the buddy system, so to speak. She thinks that since Simi's so into the other dogs in the house I should use that at this stage. She said that I should be taking Simi lots of new places, with Psyche. This makes total sense to me. And it all kind of hit me there. Simi is a-okay at agility trials, fun matches, etc.. Those are all places I have Psyche with us! Even if they're not together, she always knows I have Psyche too. So I'm going to take Simi to some new places with Psyche, maybe even to the agility field a few times outside of classes with Psyche to let her see that it's a fun places. I'm going to make it my goal to take them on some adventures as much as possible. Am thinking we might take a trip to the docks later tonight. Robin said that letting Simi learn from the other dogs that things aren't scary, in this stage will help. I realize, though, I'm going to have to pair this time with lots of bonding time with Simi and I too, though, and I'll do that. 

As a side note, I also got to see Lava, the bitch from the litter that Robin kept, and Simi is slightly smaller than her, and weighs less. But you can SO tell they're related. They've got the same adorable ears. 

So there's where I sit right now. I'm going to give it a shot and see how it goes. Simi and I were also invited out to the "puppy classes" that she offers for the Schutzhund club, so we're going to try a few of those, too, probably. 

And just because this was a LOT of words... here's a picture of Simi from last week: