Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Puppies change everything.

Or at least that's what it feels like right now.

I've got a young pup here for three weeks while her momma's away on vacation. Ira is a real handful, but then again, it's been 6 years since I had a dog this young here for me to take care of. And I'll tell you, you just don't realize how un-puppy proof your house is until you've got a puppy finding all the weak spots in your puppy proof shield.

Luckily, I have Psyche here helping me. The first morning she wasn't really all that fond of Ira, but Psyche had had a long weekend, and now that she's not as tried they're best buds. Or at least, if that's what you call a puppy tugging on Psyche's tail.

She's always on the go. I'm beginning to wonder if she ever even sleeps. But man when she's not raising hell, she's somethin' cute.

Anyway, there's not really much else to say about that, but if things slow down a bit, this face is the reason.

I've been in a constant state of puppy chasing or cleaning up. It's been pretty busy... so yeah, this puppy is changing everything, at least for a little while. And we're only 2 days into the 3 weeks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Not bad for a blind dog.

On Saturday I not only attended a fun match with Psyche, but while there I met a huge inspiration.

At this fun match there was a dog named Lucy. Before her run I didn't pay much attention to her, but I remember vaguely hearing her name called for her run, and just so happened to be ring side when she ran. The man handling her had a head halter on her, and a tab leash. Between each obstacle he was grabbing the tab and going along to the next obstacle. I noticed he spoke to her a lot, clicked just before the jump, and tapped the top of the tunnel. I sat there thinking, "Oh, just a new dog, or a dog that is reactive." and put the clicking to poor timing and the tunnel tapping to a dog not understanding tunnels.

It wasn't until he finished his run, which involved two sets of 12 weaves and an a-frame, that I heard him come off the field and say, "Not bad for a blind dog!"

I get tears in my eyes even now, just thinking about it. Lucy's owner, on cloud nine from the pure adrenaline of being able to do agility with Lucy, came over to us while a friend was telling us about what he does to signal each obstacle, and I, with goosebumps and chills, met Lucy for the first time. She happily greeted me, once she realized I was there, and when I stopped, went back towards her owner and the only word to describe how they interacted was pure love. It was clear that Lucy knew that that was her owner, without hesitation, and saved a special kind of love for him.

I talked the rest of the day to Lucy's owner, about how their life is, how they can leave an old blind Lucy dog on the couch, go into the kitchen to get some cheese and before you know it she's standing behind them, waiting for her treat.

They adopted Lucy when she was 2 years old, and they knew then that she was blind. The vets told them that she'd been blind for a very long time, likely from birth, but that didn't stop them. Something about Lucy called to them, and so they took on the task of Lucy and her lifestyle, which can't have been easy to start. Lucy's 6 now, and they've been doing agility with her all along. She does all of the obstacles, and enjoys every second of it.

Meeting Lucy made me stop and think. Psyche and I battle trial issues, sure, and we have our shares of ups and downs, but neither of us battles such a thing as being blind. And it makes you stop and think, why is it that I can get upset about some issues Psyche and I are having when things could be so much worse? Lucy acted as reminder for me this weekend, that the most important thing is love. Lucy does agility because she loves her handler. At first I thought, "I can't imagine that kind of love." but really, Psyche and I have that love. It's just sometimes I'm blind to it, when really, the only thing I need to see at all is that love. Psyche and I could be blind to everything else in the world and be okay, as long as we could still see our love.

Lucy's story will be something I think of daily. When Psyche and I stand at a start line, Lucy will be in my thoughts, acting as an inspiration to remind Psyche and I that we can get through anything, as long as we have love.

Thank you, Lucy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday is Fun Day!

Another little fun match for Psyche on Sunday. Only three runs. This was at our clubs training field, so to be 100% honest, I was expecting her to kick some butt. The first run was really bad, honestly. She was being weird before going in, and then pooped once we were in there, then just shut down after pooping, even though I said nothing about it, just cleaned it up. No biggie. But she was having none of that after.

After that I took her out to play some, and she wasn't interested at all. I started to get annoyed, so I went and put her in her crate and took a breather. Mom took her out to play with her, and she played, no problem, and so of course I was sad that my dog won't work with me, but will play with mom. But I got over it, and went out, with a fresh start, to play with her, and she was much more interested in that.

We had two more runs after that, a masters standards, and a Time2Beat, and she did much better those two runs. I was really proud of the Time2Beat run, actually! For a tricky little course, and doing the first 5 obstacles with our trainer under the a-frame adjusting the height before we got there (which I didn't notice, and no one thought to tell me!) she did really well. I was very pleased.

Some circle work took place after that, which we're planning on doing a lot more of, and she did great, and then we left to go to some pet food stores to look at new dry foods, and I took Psyche in with me and realized that I really need to get her out and about to new places. How can I blame her for stressing when I haven't properly exposed her? A soft dog like Psyche needs to have lots of good experiences before she can be comfortable. So I've decided that with my days off after my first pay (so I can afford gas!) I'm going to not only take her to new places for agility work, but for a chance to do some obedience work in new places too, like pet stores, etc.. Crash will also be tagging along for these adventures, but they'll be worked one at a time.

Sunday evening we picked up Ira, the little GSD puppy who's staying with us for three weeks, but that's a whole other blog post.

Stay tuned!

Wonderful Weekend o' Fun Updates!

The weekend didn't quite go as I'd hoped it would, sadly. At least not for Psyche and I.

We arrived at the Motel Friday night and she of course took everything with stride. She'd been there before, so quickly made herself comfortable. But Saturday morning when we arrived at the fun match it was much different. It was at a place where they have a boarding kennel, so it was all very loud, which is hard for a Psyche dog. We took her out to the warm up ring, and that was a huge mistake. Dogs who were being kept at the kennel were in runs that led outdoors to where they could bark at Psyche, which immediately freaked her freak, and all she'd do was cower behind me, so we decided we wouldn't enter the warm up ring at all again that day. Who needs the warm up ring at a fun match anyway?

So her first run was Steeplechase, and it wasn't bad but it also really wasn't what I was expecting. I expected Psyche to be a lot more comfortable and confidant in a new place with her toy and I there as comfort, but she worked for me much the same way she would have at a trial. "Okay, I'll do it, I guess." Just not very into it at all.

So our second run was Advanced Jumpers, so between the two runs I played with her outside along the ring side, and she was fine, really playing with her tug and having a grand time. Bring her into the ring for her run, there she goes again, just like at a trial, shut down and just not interested.

Her next run I didn't even walk the course before. I just said, I'm going to go in, run around like a fool, throw her toy, have some fun, and then if she's into it, throw in a tunnel. No big deal. That worked much better. And honestly, I'm thinking I should have done that all of her runs, but hey, hind sight's 20-20.

We only did one more run after that, which was her advanced tunnelers, and honestly, she was so hot and tired that I just ended on a good note and we left early. We only missed the masters tunnelers, and with the way she was going, she wasn't going to to have much oopmh for her last run anyway.

I left the fun match with a better idea of what she needs, though. I think she needs to be more confident with agility in new places before I add the stress of the trial setting. So we'll do parks and other places working on what little equipment we can take with us, and then we'll look for another fun match, or one run at a trial. I want her to be able to if she's stressed at a trial think "Oh, agility, I'm good at this, and it's fun!" and instead of stressing in the ring, take comfort in agility itself.

If someday down the road I really think that Psyche's not enjoying it, and nothing's working, I'll have to ask myself, "Is this really fun for her?" and consider not trialing her anymore. But as of right now, we're not giving up because I'm taking a better approach that I know isn't going to hurt my dog, so we'll see where we are in the next few months. She's supposed to "re-debut" at our club's September trial, but we'll play it by ear.

Stay tuned for a post about the amazing dog and handler combo we met at the fun match on Saturday, a brief update on Sunday's fun match, and a little about the pitter patter of puppy paws on my floors right now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A break.

As horrible as this may sound, man, I am so excited to leave tonight and just have a little "vacation" with Psyche (and Mom and Tinky, of course). It used to kind of be that Psyche stayed near me all day, everyday, and she just loved being around me. Now that Crash is here, I always have at least two dogs hanging around me--Psyche and Crash.

This weekend, for lack of space, we are only bringing one dog each. And I am pretty excited for that. I love my dogs, all of them, don't get me wrong, but Psyche's just so easy that weekends or days away with only her are nice.

I'm anxious to see how Crash handles this, though. This will be the first time since coming that he's spent the night without Psyche and I both here. I've gone out for nights since getting him, but never have I taken Psyche with me, so we'll see how that goes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


She will forever be in the hearts of all who knew her... and didn't.

She was a source of love, strength, devotion, and friendship. She never let the world get her down... even when they tried.

She never won a title, she never even went in a ring.

That didn't make her any less of a dog though. She proved it doesn't take winning, or even being there that counts...It's loving every day for what it is.

Gone but Forever in our hearts."

Having a sappy night tonight. My great friend Abby wrote this about Bella on her memorial video, and it means so much.

Oh, oh, oh. THE JOY!

The jumps are complete. 6 of 10 are already up where our agility field is going to be. We worked on a sequence with lots of 180s, which is good for Psyche, since sometimes we forget that "easy" stuff. She did really well. Man oh man, she's fast when she wants to be!

All I can say is that I can really see how all of the dogs will really progress with equipment at home, even if it is just jumps, a tunnel or two, weave poles and a teeter for now. A lot can be done with all of that stuff.

Also, getting very excited for this weekend!

Never have I loved a huge pile of PVC more.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hi Real World, Goodbye Entire Days Spent with my Dogs.

*le sigh*

I started working on Tuesday. Only 6 hour shifts yesterday and today, but tomorrow will be my first 8 hour shift. Need to be at the restaurant at a little before 6, which means I need to leave my house at 5. Which means I need to get up no later than 4:30... and yes, I'm talking AM.

Of course, working at a restaurant means no dogs, other than service dogs, allowed. So I'm kept away from my dogs all day, and frankly it sucks, but I think I've grown a bit spoiled from mid-June to now because I got used to being able to stay home all day with them, or when I leave, taking them with me and doing dog related stuff with my time.

I know I need to work, though. I'm not stupid. 3 dogs have vet bills. 3 dogs eat a lot. 3 dogs destroy a lot of toys (okay, Crash dogs destroy a lot of toys!) and going up to 4 dogs will be costly too.

Hi Real World, I'm not so glad to meet you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

So excited!

So Sunday I bought enough PVC for at least 10 jumps, probably more like 12. And we'd ordered the fittings for the pipe late last week. Today dad went to pick them up at our US post box, and the 4 way connectors weren't there, but our snap on Ts, which we're using for jump cups were there, and so dad and I just took them to be cut at a friends, and I brought them home and put them on an old jump standard out of PVC we had and worked Psyche a bit. Even with ONE jump at her height, I could already tell this is just a preview of how much we'll benefit from having equipment at home to work with!

Just wanted to share my excitement!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A weekend full of fun!

Psyche and I are taking a 5 hour drive with Mom and Tinky to go to a fun match this weekend. We're kind of crazy. We're leaving Friday night, the fun match is Saturday, then coming home that same day, and we're going to another fun match the next day! Maybe, if Psyche and I aren't too tried...

And then the real fun begins! Sunday night we're picking up a little visitor who will be staying with us for three weeks. A tiny little GSD puppy named Ira is coming to experience the Misfit life style, meet new dogs, and get used to new things. We're pretty excited for that.

Anyway, that's all... how 'bout you kill some time by watching my video!?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If I ever questioned how related they actually were before..

So yeah... they're for sure related.

Trial Issues

I guess I've never really gone into detail about Psyche's trial issues. Her trial issues are mostly just a lack of fun. She just doesn't enjoy trials the same way she does training. That said, I'm not about to give up on trialing with her, not just yet. A trial with Psyche could end with a Q, or it could end in runs where she literally did one obstacle then left the ring and refused to come back to me when I called her. Of course, we haven't had a trial like that in a few months, but they did happen.

We've decided to take a break from trialing, and that's been going on since April. Since then we've really been doing very little, which explains both of our out of shape issues. However, we're also looking for fun matches. For a long time, I thought that fun matches were the only thing I could do to help her issues. Of course, I was wrong. We're now working on just increasing her confidence in agility in new places. To do this, I've taken Psyche to my friend Erin's place to work there, we've gone over to another friend, Brenda's, and have a plan for next week to go over to Rachel and Heathers. We're also getting some PVC to make jumps this weekend, so after that we'll be taking some jumps, weaves, and a tunnel out to parks, school yards (gotta love summer!), and any place we see, really.

We've done one fun match this year so far (they just aren't common around here) and even with that one fun match I saw a huge difference in Psyche. She was a bit stressed out her first run or two, but by the end of the day, she was rushing to the start line, excited to go, and eager to work with me. We've got another fun match planned on the 23rd, and if I can get the day off, one on the 24th.

We're planning our re-debut to be at our club's trial this September, so until then we'll just be working on increasing confidence and getting back into shape!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I don't want clean runs, titles, or praise for how great my dog is.

I want to at the end of the ring celebrate the run by Psyche coming back to me and bouncing around happily with me, to see my dog come to me for praise after she knows she's done well. For her to really enjoy agility and at the end go "Hey, mom, look what I did!"

Others have it and I can watch a flawless, beautiful, clean run, and the end, when the dog comes running back to the owner, happy, bouncing, wiggling, I get chills.

I know someday Psyche and I will have that. Every day we get closer to that same finish line.

And for what it's worth, here's a jump work video of Psycher doo. :)

I'm reminded again

Of how awesome Psyche is.

My girl has gotten me through so much in the past, and I know she'll get me through many more issues in the future. And even now, while I'm battling a weight gain, I know she'll happily walk away the pounds with me, without a sound of protest.

She's my girl. She accepted Crash into our lives not long after losing Bella, and now sees him like the brother he is to her -- in every sense of the word. They play, they argue, but at the end of the day, they love each other.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Confidence is Key!

Since Crash came into our family, I have seen small differences and big ones. We have less toys in our house. We have more stuffing spread throughout the house. There are random strips of fabric, ruined socks, and busted balls everywhere. I've also noticed lots of Crash related laughing sessions and giggles, and some pretty adorable pictures. (See? It's not all bad stuff!)

But one thing that means so much to me that I've noticed is a huge amount of increased confidence in Psyche. She's always been a little bit of a scaredy dog. If a pop can was opened, and you were even looking at her, she'd cower and run away. Simple things in life would cause her to go from "Oh yeah, I'm the best thing since sliced bread" to "Oh my god, the world wants to EAT me!" I mean, it didn't really effect how we were living, but going out into a city and having her be comfortable? Yeah right. Tugging in a new place? If you're lucky, you'll get a light pull, but if you countered at all, she'd let go and shut down. She was a scaredy dog; I knew this. It was okay with me, because I learned how to handle it.

Then last week, on the 29th, I spent the day with Erin and her boy Mach, and honestly, I noticed some big differences. We went into a pet store before going to Erin's, and she was a little bit sniffy and stuff, but over all, a lot more comfortable there than she has been. Instead of stress sniffing, she was being a snoop. We went to the agility field after that and worked some. She was zoomin' and working so well for me, besides how hot it was, and she was tugging really hard. I was a little shocked, but just put it off to her being comfortable.

We went and picked Erin and Mach up after that, and went to the lake for a swim, because it was really hot. Psyche at first was pulling me, of course, like she always does, and then we got into the water and she started to go towards the kids (just wanting to play) but I grabbed her and we went looking for somewhere not so close to such a huge temptation for Psych. So down the lake we went, playing in the water, having a grand ol' time, and then we hear the kids coming, and they promptly get in the water, a little ways over. I managed to call her off of the kids every time she started going over to them, and I was quite proud of that. She really LOVES kids. It's so hard for her not to go see them, but she did. A few dogs walked past, too, and she didn't do her usual kind of "lock up" where she's just like "I don't know what to do -- do I go see them? do I stay here?" Instead she didn't pay any attention to them, really.

And then we went to Erin's and hung out, but then did some agility. Psyche was doing great. Really working for me... but the thing that finally made me realize just how GREAT she was being, was how HARD she was tugging. Like, seriously. She meant it, and it was so great. I don't need her to tug, but I like for her to like her toys, and since her toy is a hole-ee roller with a rubber chicken ball stuffed inside, and a fleece tug braided onto it, it's good for tugging. But I was just so pleased with how she was tugging. She's usually not that confident in new places enough to tug like that.

So we started to get my mom and sister and head home from our day out, and while I was waiting, I decided to take her out and work her some. We were in a city parking garage while we waited and it was really empty, so there was plenty of space. We did some obedience and stuff, then when cars started to leave from the other levels, we decided we'd tug some, with the distraction of cars. She never once let go of that tug unless I asked her to. Good girl! And so then I was curious to see if she'd get up on the barrier/wall thing, and of course, she did, so we started to walk along it, and BAM, out of the rafters comes two pigeons. Scared the CRAP out of me, but did Psyche even flinch? Not at all.

I honestly blame all of this confidence on Crash. He's encouraged her a lot in the tugging thing, mostly, because if she doesn't hold on, Crash gets it, and that's no fun. As for the rest of it? Well, maybe it's just luck, and maybe it's got a lot to do with having to be the grown up twin, because the other one's a nut case.