Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Our dogs read us, sometimes we just don't write the right story. "

Psyche and I have been going on Thursdays with Mom and Tinky to private lessons with Erin. And even though we've only done 2 session so far, each one has come with huge learning possibilities, and chances to think through struggles we're facing.

Erin has been an amazing instructor. And I'll admit, I was kind of timid at first, worried there'd be too much of a "laid back" atmosphere, because we're friends, and I'd worried that we'd be spending the money for a private and getting an hour of training, but not... I don't know it's hard to explain. Either way, it was a waste of worry, because of course Erin handled everything very professionally.

Our first session was good, but I can say there were moments when I really was thinking to myself, "Why DON'T you know this? Really?" Simple things that most others know just starting out I'd forgotten or never really learned, and that was irritating to me. However, Erin did a great job of explaining them to me, and Psyche was very understanding while I tried and failed several times, until I tried and succeeded.

Our first lesson took place while the skies were opening up and just letting it fall. We've never trained in such rain, and I doubt we've ever really trialed in such rain -- maybe once. That said, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Within the first few minutes out there, my coat was soaked through and I was drenched, and I'd fallen once before even bringing Psyche out, but it was a great session. That second session was filled with several moments where I was proud and thought, "wow, Psyche's really working well for me, and I'm really working well for her." Even in the rain my dog was happy and willing to play with me, and that makes me feel good. There were places in handling where I knew what I needed to do, that last week, I probably wouldn't have known. I didn't always execute them correctly, but at least now I can pick them out.

During our second session, we talked a bit of how the dogs read us, and Erin said at one point something along the lines of, "Our dogs read us, it's crazy, but they really do." And Mom, without even stopping trying to master the footwork of the handling she was working, said, "Our dogs read us, sometimes we just don't write the right story." And of course my mom is right (she almost always is, much to my disdain), our dogs do read us, but it's up to us to write the right story. So even if I felt like Psyche didn't really NEED lessons, I'm glad we've taken them, because these sessions are like a much more fun english class I'd take in school.

So thanks to Erin, for sharing her knowledge with us in the form of lessons and frequently asked questions, and thanks to Mom for coming with me, since I just don't think I could handle an hour all on my own, and thanks to Psyche for bearing with me when my feet don't point in the right direction, but my arms do; I'm glad she's learned how to read slower so I can make adjustments before she gets to each part.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's happening.

So I know I haven't said much of anything lately, but that said, here's what's going on.

I've got a "training log" that I'm using with Psyche. I pick one thing a day I NEED to get done with my dog. Yesterday was "toyless" drive, today was nail clipper issue work, tomorrow's 20 mins of chuck it time. It's all pretty simple. It's not like "Teach your dog to stand up, fall to the ground and play dead." It's just simple little things. But lately I've been getting so caught up in life and all the non-important stuff that I'm forgetting about the important thing -- my dogs.

Now I feel compelled to use a notebook to keep track of what I want to get done for each day. I shouldn't have to, but I do. So I am.

That's all.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Agility Blessing

May the tunnels not have too much suction,
May the course be fun and fast.
May your dog not stop to say "hello"
to the photographers they pass!

May the table not be too slippery,
May the chute house no scary beasts,
May all the yellow parts be touched
with one little toe, at least.

May the wind be always at your back,
May no bars fall on the ground.
May the A-frame have no stop sign on the top,
May the judge's whistle never sound.

May your dog obey all correct commands
And ignore the ones that are wrong.
May your heart be light, your feet be sure
and the bond with your dog grow strong.

At the finish line, may great joy abound,
regardless of your score,
You have your dog, your dog has you,
and who could ask for more?

Written by: PJ Hughes

Our first private lesson...

was a huge success! And we owe a huge thanks to Erin for giving us the chance to do privates and for being such a great instructor.

Above all else, I've learned that I know nothing of threadles and serpentines, but of course, I knew this. But! That said, I feel like we made a lot of progress. Of course, Psyche and I weren't spot on 100% of the time, but what fun would lessons be if we were?

I left feeling very encouraged and like I knew what I needed to work on, and that will be good I think. I feel like Psyche and I need more planned training sessions, so I'm thinking of starting a training plan for Psyche. Well, less of a "training" plan, and just a "plan" in general. What day's we'll just play chuck it, what days we'll work on obedience, what days we'll work on agility, etc., you get the point. I think it would be good for both of us to know what we were going out to do when we went out to do it. And to make myself follow through with this, I think I'll get a neat little notebook or day planner to do so in.

Anyway, not really much to say as of right now. Though I do have another copy and paste post coming right up (like, in a couple of minutes).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I think she stole a piece of my heart...

Ira went home yesterday.

I knew I'd be sad to see her go, but I didn't think I'd be as sad as I was. I got up early to scrub her crate, get her dog food all packed up, let her out to pee, etc. And by then, I was feeling sick to my stomach and like I needed a good cry. So I laid down for a few minutes before I needed to leave to bring her home.

I took her outside to get into the car and she resisted. She never dogs that. She always meets everything with a "Oh HAI! I'm not scared!" attitude, but yesterday, she didn't want to get into my car. The tears started that moment. And they went on and on the whole 45 minute drive there. Ira would sit in her crate, looking at me, thump her tail, and lay down. She kept checking on me.

We got there, and I cried some more. Told her momma how good she'd been, and then she went to take her out of her crate, and Ira wouldn't come out...This is the dog who's usually barreling out of her crate to come play bitey on your limbs. She had to be physically taken out of the crate, and then her momma sat her on the ground and was speaking to her, and she kept coming back over to me. Even though I wasn't saying anything to her. And when she took her in and put her in a bigger crate she cried and screamed until I was gone and couldn't hear if she still was.

I sobbed the entire way home.

I'm still sad thinking about it. I don't know what it is about that Satan spawn, who most of the time irritated me, that makes me miss her so much, but man oh man, I sure do miss her.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Individuals make the world go 'round.

Let's let this be known, because I feel the need to say it.

My dogs are their own dog-sons. They're each individuals, they're all a little different. There are no other, and never will be any other, dogs who are exactly like them. Close maybe, in looks, training issues, breeds, any of that, but they are not Psyche, Zoey, or Crash.

So when I say, "She was so fast!" I'm not comparing her to the dog who runs the same course 10 seconds faster. I'm comparing her to her previous training attempts, trials, or sequences. Agility has always, and will always, be about bettering ourselves as teams. When I run a course I don't do it with the intention of getting a faster, better run then Sally and her dog Fido who just ran it. I do it with the intention of seeking improvement in the teamwork between me and the dog I'm running.

Like teachers comparing me to someone else in my class, it's not far for me to compare my dogs to someone elses. My dogs will always be individuals, and that's why I love them. How fun would it be if we all owned the fastest, most accurate agility dog?

I love my dogs, even with all of their good and bad traits, because above any dog sport, my dogs are my best friends.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I own the definition of "amazing".

Psyche is amazing. No doubt about 'er. She's my girlie, and such a good girlie.

I just took her out for this amazing session, working on getting some more enthusiasm and drive for sequencing without her toy in my hand. I honestly had no thought in my head that I'd get what I got out of her. She was so amazing tonight.

Well, really, only video can show you what I mean. She was just so good.

Ah, man. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rain, rain, go away.

Today's my day off. My plan all week has been to do agility with my day off. I wanted to do some quick sequencing, and some circle work with a jump thrown in here and there.

But today, my one day off until Saturday and Sunday (both of which may be spent 4 hours away, dogless), is a rainy day. Of course.

All day I whined about the rain, and then just now decided, you know what? A little rain never hurt me before. So I donned my mismatched rubber boots, my purple PJ pants, and I headed 'er out to the field, with my double page protector-ed Clean Run under arm.

We mostly worked on just fun stuffs at first. A few sequences. But then after I decided I wanted to work on getting her to run without her toy. So we worked on me dropping the toy, her NOT rushing to it right away, leaving it, and going and doing one jump first. Then 2, then 3, etc. I think the most we got to was 5, but of those 5 a couple took her running right past the toy.

As of right now, she's not as fast without her toy, which is okay. I can deal with that. So the next time we go out, what I'll do is focus on less jumps/obstacles, more drive. So when she does ONE jump, with a lot of drive, I'll let her go to the toy. Ideally, in a week or so, this would lead to leaving the toy at the start of a sequence, driving through, and coming back to our toy. Like we'd do at a trial.

It was interesting for me to see just how different she is without the toy. She slows down a lot, and just looks like she's enjoying it less. Too dependent on the toy, maybe? Not sure. Anyway, we're going to work on it. Any ideas, suggestions, thoughts, are appreciated.

Bella sent me a sign.

It's been a while since I looked at something and thought, "That was Bella's doing." The last thing was a split second look in Crash's eye, when he first came here. I knew right there and then that Bella had brought him to me, somehow, and for a second, I felt like she was looking out at me through Crash's eyes.

Then the night before last she sent me another. I was driving home from work, after a 3-11 shift, and I was driving the back woods. It's common there not only to see moose, but to hit them. I was anxious the whole drive home, until about 20 mins from home, I saw a shooting star. Now, remember that I'm practically holding my eye lids open, trying to see as much as I can at one time, and somehow, for some reason, at the split second that I glanced upwards, I saw a shooting star.

I rarely see shooting stars, but after this one, all the tension left my body, and all I could think to do was look up and say, "Thank you, Bella. I got your message."

That said, the rest of the drive home I didn't see a single critter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Training session success paired with handling woes.

I took Psyche out to the field today, and we've been working on a Clean Run Backyard Dog Course, that's just 6 jumps, and today the sequence we were working on involved a serpentine. I think. See, this is where my problems come in. I can never remember the difference between a serp and a threadle, and therefore, can never remember how to handle either of them -- if I ever even knew that is.

This is all very frustrating to me. Psyche and I can attack masters courses with few to no mistakes (in training) but not if they've got a serp or a threadle in them. Then we're screwed because I can not handle them. And I don't mean they like, make me freak out, all nervous, mental break down. I mean that they are something I just can't handle in terms of handling techniques. It's annoying. It's something we really need to work on. Oh Errrriiinn, darlin', looks like we'll need to set up a few privates, me and you.

Besides all of that, though, Psyche was AMAZING. We did the sequence we worked on last time once more, too, and she rocked it, first try, no hesitations. Go Psycher doo! Mom looked at me after and was like, "How many times have you practiced that?" and I said, with a huge smile on my face, "None since the last time we were both out!" I love when things come together like that. I'm seeing it a lot more frequently now that we've got a place to train at home.

On the note of my training field. Well, sadly, it hasn't been getting proper use lately. With work, and the weather, things just haven't been working to my advantage to get the girls out and working. As it was, today I had to do it before a 3-11pm shift, and in this gross muggy wet weather. My poor shoes were soaked. Oh well, it was worth it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ira left this morning.

Only to go get her shots, but still. I was sad when I came downstairs and her crate was gone. I can't imagine how I'm going to feel when she's gone back to her momma's for good. Oh no.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why I need a German Shepherd Puppy

Because this one has confirmed that I love GSDs, even the ones who aren't Bella or Callie:

Because Psyche loves little puppies, especially GSDs:

And because it's just so cute to see a GSD and a BC bum trotting along together:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Work, work, and that other thing...

Oh yeah, that other thing--work.

So last week was my first "full" week, I guess. They only gave me 3 shifts, so it wasn't even a full week. This week I have 5 shifts. 39 hours. I'm finding it really hard on my ankle, and I'm also finding a lack of time for the dogs, but I think that once I get used to actually DOING something, I'll be okay to come home and do agility afterwards. And I have my days off, although I didn't do any agility yesterday.

That said, this job is going to pay for the rest of my agility equipment (contact plans have been make -- a-frame frame should be made this weekend, I'm hoping), so that makes it a little better. I just keep waiting for that first full pay. And the things I'll be able to buy! (Haha, right. It'll likely all go towards my car!)

Speaking of cars. I'm really in a pickle. I went to a used car dealer last week and saw a Ford Escape (2005) for sale, and the price is really good on it, but I don't have that money. We went and looked at a Saturn station wagon after, and it's less money, and less KMs, but not as big. I travel the back woods to work, and moose are common around there, and it's a lot of twists and turns and so we'd all feel better if I had a bigger car. That said, I gotta go to the bank and see if they'll lend me the money. I have stuff I could sell to get money (like a horse that Mom's been after me to sell) but I don't really want to sell her, and what I'd get out of her wouldn't pay for the Ford Escape, and if I have to sell my horse, I'm getting the dang Escape. Loan sharks here I come. Oh well.

Anyway. That's all that's new, I guess... Puppy Ira is still here, and as bad as ever. 2 more weeks. Then we've got two more guests coming.