Monday, September 28, 2009

Good Maggie; Naughty Maggie

Maggie is such a lovely girl!  Or is she?!?

I'll start with Good Maggie first (I'm feeling glass half full today):
Maggie and I go back into the Open ring in 18 days (not that I'm counting), so I figure I should work on some of the areas that need improvement.

First up:  the retrieve.  We've been working on "find the dumbbell" games.  Instead of throwing the dumbbell and sending Maggie to it, I've been setting the dumbbell in various places - some out of her sight, then giving her the command to find it.  I'm trying to really have her start looking for the dumbbell when I give the command, rather than just chase after what's been thrown.  Tonight was only the second time we've played the game, and she's doing so well!  She was even retrieving the dumbbell when only one end was sticking out from underneath a pillow, or when it's been hiding in another room.  What a good girl!  No hairball will distract us again!  Now I've got to find more games to play...

Now on to Naughty Maggie:
In a post-apocalyptic world, I give Maggie the best chance of all the dogs of surviving.  She's a very resourceful dog who can hunt and scrounge with the best of them.  Thankfully, it's not a post-apocalyptic world - but Maggie retains her instincts.  This morning she managed to find a plastic bag in the back yard that The Husband used to haul out the compost last night.  One bag didn't make it back into the house, and the Queen of Stink found it.  Rotten food.  Yum!  When I let the dogs in at an hour when most sane humans are still in bed, there was Maggie - standing on the porch, happily ingesting a plastic bag.

After a bit of at-home forensics to determine that no food was left in the bag, and that not too much of the bag had been eaten, The Husband took Maggie to the vet.  They tried to make her puke - to no avail.  So now we're on "poo-watch" - just waiting for bits of plasticky poo to make us feel better.  Maggie seems to be doing really well - eating, drinking, peeing - but of course not doing what we want her to do.  She's enjoying her frequent walks on the flexi - ambling around the neighborhood, sniffing wherever she wants, peeing on everything.  What could be better?  I'm a concerned about her digestive health, but at the same time I'm suspicious that she knows exactly what she's doing...

I love the girl dearly, and partly because I just never know which Maggie will show up at any given time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ziggy graduated!

Yesterday was our last day of our second go at beginning agility class.  We were on the borderline, but based on our performance last night, Ziggy gets to move up to the next class!

His accomplishments this time around:
* Much improved at front & rear crosses on the flat
* Driving well (using his hindquarters to push) over a slightly lowered A Frame
* Jumping skills much improved (we've been working on this at home)
* Faster through the bent weaves - and can complete all 12 reliably off leash

Where we didn't make much progress:
* We're still unsure of the chute  (I finally bought more tunnel bags so we can start to use the one I have at home)
* The dog walk - Ziggy loves the dog walk, but won't go faster than a cute little trot

The best part of it, though, is that Ziggy really enjoys his agility time.  He's still a slow dog (I expect that more speed will come with practice --> confidence), but he trots around with his tail up in the air, wagging back and forth.  And isn't that why we do this, anyway?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Peoria Obedience Sunday = double sigh

Well, no Q today.  The rundown:
Heel off leash & figure 8:  not perfect, but nicer than yesterday
Drop on recall:  nice
Retrieve on the flat:  NQ -- I had a good throw (I practiced last night).  Right after the throw,  a hair tumbleweed that looked remarkably like 1/2 a string cheese started to blow by.  Maggie was looking at the hairball when I gave her the command to take it.  She stared at the hairball a bit more, then looked at me like she was confused.  I had to do a second command, which means NQ.  On the second command she ran to the dumbbell and retrieved like a pro. (The judge picked up the hairball after it distracted the dog in the ring after me, too).  Guess we get to do some more work on retrieves w/ distractions...
Retrieve over the high jump:  Good throw, clean retrieve, no ticking the jump (lovely)
Broad jump:  good jump & brisk finish
Out-of-sight stays:  perfect

Soo.... it looks like we get to try again in another month.  Thankfully, that show is only 15 minutes from my house.

My plan is to "retire" Maggie after she gets her CDX.  One of my friends was joking that perhaps Maggie just wants to keep showing, which is why she keeps making one NQ-able mistake in each class.  She does like to go to dog shows, and she is a smart girl, so you never know....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Peoria Obedience Saturday = sigh

Well, no Q (qualifying score) today.  Maggie NQ'd (didn't qualify) on the retrieve over the high jump.  My dumbbell throw landed straight ahead, but then bounced about 4' to right.  When Maggie picks the dumbbell up, she turns right to come back.  This put her about 4' past the jump standards.  She saw me and came straight to me rather than jumping over the jump.  (Maggie says that any self-respecting Cardi wouldn't waste that extra energy to jump the jump if it's not in the way of getting to mom - that just isn't logical!).  Sigh.

Otherwise, the run was pretty nice.  We had some lagging on the heeling, but not too bad.  Her drop on recall was lovely, as was her retrieve on the flat.  And she happily leapt over the the broad jump and did a very quick, straight front & finish.  She also aced her out of sight stays.  The judge (Bob Self, Jr) was  really nice and offered words of encouragement, and a "drat" after Maggie missed the jump.  He also commented on how nice it was to see a Cardi!

Really, I think Maggie just wanted me to have to get up at 4:30am again (Peoria is about 1 3/4 hrs away, and Open A is the first class in the ring).  If she'd Q'd I was definitely going to sleep in tomorrow!  Oh well, back again for another try tomorrow.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coming this Saturday: obedience trial experiment

So I finally got organized and ambitious enough to enter another obedience trial.  This Saturday and Sunday Maggie and I will be trying for leg 3 of our CDX.

Just as a reminder (previously on our CDX quest) - Maggie & I got our first 2 legs in our first 2 tries.  We won our first class, and took 3rd in the next one with a score in the mid 190's.  At our next trial (the National Specialty where the Q ribbons are big and the placement prizes fantastic) we had 2 NQ's:  One with a nice run, but some "personal hygiene" issues that caused Maggie to sit up for about 1 min of the 5 min down.  The other one that wasn't so pretty, as Maggie decided that it would take 2 commands before she did her retrieves, and that the broad jump was really just getting in the way of her front, so she'd just skip it altogether.

So my experiment?  I haven't really been working on the exercises in their entirety.  I've been doing bits & pieces mixed with games.  You see, I figure she knows all the commands (we've been training for Open for  six years, off and on), what she needs is fun and motivation so she's really enthusiastic and attentive in the ring.  Tonight we did some jump grids to help her remember how to not jump lazy, then we practiced slow heeling with a few steps of slow then a tug game, and finally we practiced jumping over the broad jump with no fronts or finishes - just jumping and chasing the toys that were thrown.

Truthfully, I'm a little nervous.  Should I be doing the "full" exercises more?  It feels uncomfortable to be so cavalier about my training.  But what the heck?!

I'll let you know how we do!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pack Photo

The human child needed a picture of his family to take to pre-school. The Husband decided that the entire family needed to be represented, and set up this photo. I'm amazed we were able to pull it off. Thank goodness for the stay command!

This post is done as a "reward" for my parents. They finally took a look at my blog. It's important to mark good behavior with a reward, right? ;)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Convertible child seat?

I think Maggie misunderstood the directions. She took convertible to mean from human to canine. Or perhaps Britax is secretly paying her to do product testing...?

And just so you don't think I'm a negligent dog mom - my dogs normally travel in crates. I forgot to latch the door this time, and Maggie made her move. First she cleaned the food crumbs out of the child seat (we also call her the corg-ba), then she decided the view was nice, too.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dog training inspiration from Seinfeld

Remember that Seinfeld when George decides that he'll leave the room/party/meeting, etc. after he says a good line or gets a good laugh? He figures he should leave while he's ahead so people will think he's witty and fun.

I'm trying something along the same lines with Ziggy now. I'm keeping training sessions short and sweet - ending them when he's still enthusiastic and has drive - before he makes the Ziggy slide into ignoring me. Right now that's about 10 minutes - max.

My theory is that if I'm always fun, and I end it when we're still really having fun, then he'll want to come back for more. And maybe someday we can extend the amount of time we play, and we'll slowly build drive.

Just like George, but with dog training. I'll let you know if it works.
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