Sunday, January 30, 2011

The letter for today: F

Today things didn't go quite as I'd planned.  I can sum things up with 3 "F" words:

  • Frustrating
  • Fail
  • Fun
I was thinking of a 4th F word, but decided to leave that one out...


This sums up our Standard run.  The run started off a little shaky - the second obstacle was the dog walk, and the judge was hovering very close to Ziggy, which made him so nervous that he slowed to a walk.  I had to cheer A LOT to get him down.  The next six obstacles (a few jumps, weaves, teeter, table) were lovely.

Then we came to a tunnel.  Corgis love tunnels.  Ziggy loves tunnels.  So why did he stop and start barking?!?  After 3 refusals (and lots of barking), I finally got him in the tunnel.  He did the next jump and chute ok, but was goosey and barky after the chute (a hold-over from yesterday?), and had a refusal at the A-Frame (another of his favorite obstacles).  

As I was going back to try the A-Frame again,  we got whistled off the course for going over time.  It was more like putting us out of our misery, really.

I cannot explain how frustrated I was.  Ziggy was scared/goosey for about half of course.  Scared of the judge following closely.  Scared of the ring crew.  Scared of the tunnel.  Where do I go with this boy?

I couldn't quite figure out what happened with the tunnel.  Then a friend of mine came over to offer condolences - particularly about the tunnel.  Apparently a dog crated right behind the tunnel was unattended and barking it's head off (I couldn't hear this over Z's barking).  My friend's comment was, "I can understand him being scared of a barky tunnel.  Who would go in something small, dark, and barky?"  I felt better that at least I knew what happened.  

Jumpers was next and Z was still nervous, so I grabbed some turkey, and took him all around outside the ring (including near the barky tunnel - but of course the owner had shut her dog up by then).  My hope was to calm him down a bit.  It seemed to work ok, and I decided to take him in for Jumpers.


Anyone who has scribed in Agility knows that when the judge holds up both of their hands (like they're signaling the #10) that's a Fail.  No fails allowed.  Fails can come from things like knocked bars and uncorrected wrong courses.  Nobody wants a fail.

That's what Z and I got in Jumpers, though.  He had the second fence down.  He was still a little nervous, and just didn't judge the double jump right.

The rest of the course was ok.  He was slow, but not as nervous as in Standard (no scared barking!), so at least we ended the day on a better note.  


I wish I could say that it was Ziggy and I having the fun, but not so today.  Instead it was Rip who had the fun!  I brought him to the trial again for socialization.  He had a great time (over-enthusiastically) greeting many people and dogs.

As a bonus, I found one of the Samoyed women.  She was done with her run, and chatting with a friend.  I asked her if her dog was friendly, and if my crazy puppy could say hello.  She said yes to both (thank you, Samoyed woman!), so Rip got to visit.   The Samy was indeed friendly.  The lovely white dog let Rip sniff, leap, and even gave a couple of play bows.  No crazy alert barking from Rip today.  Only fun, fun, fun with Samoyed!

So that's it for our first trial weekend.  I'm left with lots of work to do.  Somehow I have to figure out how to help Ziggy get over his nervousness of people following him, and of the ring crew.  This dog is determined to teach me things I never really wanted to learn.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Double Q! Beginners luck?

Woo hoo!  It's 2 blues!

Ziggy did a very nice job today at his first-ever agility trial.  He qualified in both Standard and Jumpers, and took first place in both classes -- what a way to start an agility career!

I took Taryn's advice, and had a friend video both of Z's "inaugural" runs.  


Here's our first run - Novice Standard 8" Preferred.  We were the only dog in our class, and the second dog in the ring.  Ziggy was doing quite a lot of looking around (why is this strange man following me?  why are these people standing by the dog walk?), causing him to be even slower than usual (and that's saying something).  

For those of you who enjoy a bit of Cardi-induced humor, hang on until the last jump.  The woman who is straightening the chute decides to straighten it before we've finished the last jump.  Ziggy was not a pleased.

We ended the Standard run just under 1 second over course time, with one refusal for 95 points.


Next was Novice Jumpers 8" Preferred.  I was pleased with Z's performance, particularly since his Standard run ended on a less-than-stellar note.  His one refusal was the jump that the bar setter who "ran after him" in the previous class was sitting by.  Putting myself between this suspect character and Ziggy seemed to do the trick.  We ended just over one second over course time, with one refusal for 94 points.  The other dog in the class NQ'd (failed to qualify thanks to more than one wrong course), so we ended up in first place again!

For those of you who are still awake after watching our Standard run, here's Jumpers:

Other highlights from today include:
  • Ziggy ruining yet another soft crate in an attempt to escape.  Mild-mannered Ziggy is the only dog I've had that can escape from a crate if it's not all the way "locked down," or tear his way out if it is, but it's a soft crate.  Guess I'll get to lug the wire crate around from now on.  ugh.
  • Rip barking furiously at a pair of Samoyeds.  What ARE those things!?!  Rip never did calm down about the Samy's - I had to move him away so they were out of sight.  Guess I need to socialize him better with white, fluffy dogs?
  • A friend (who knows both Z and Rip) commenting to me after Ziggy's run, "It's going to be a LOT different for you to run Rip in agility."  Yes indeed it is.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coming Tomorrow: Ziggy's Agility Debut

Tomorrow Ziggy is entered in his first ever agility trial!

We'll be competing in Novice Agility - 8" Preferred - Jumpers and Standard on both Saturday and Sunday.

It's our hometown trial, and he's been in the facility many times, so I'm hoping for the best from my lazy boy. (fingers crossed)

I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lesson Plans: Maggie

Here's my last lesson plan installment - you didn't think I've leave Maggie out, did you?

Maggie is semi-retired, but REFUSES to be left out of training, so I've got some plans for her, too.  She is the most keen of all three dogs, and gets really excited when I say "do you wanna work?"  So work we will.

I've still "got it" -- let me work!!

Maggie gets to work on obedience

  • Maybe this fall we'll try for our Graduate Open title so...
  • Gloves - work on marking (looking at) the glove.  Maggie doesn't really want to take the time to stop.  I say "take it" and she's off like a shot.  We need to mark first, so we ensure she's after the correct glove.
  • Finish up "Around the Clock" scent article training.  Go back to week 5, and finish the weeks.  Maggie seems to really like this task.
  • Go-outs.  I need to re-train this.  The target work I was doing has been hard to wean.  I think I'll try a mat this time.  I can then cut down the mat to a smaller & smaller size...

  • 3 times a week.  My time is an issue, and I'm not in a hurry.  If she never makes it in the ring again, that's ok.  This is to give the old lady a job.  Oh, and I love working with this dog :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lesson Plans: Ziggy

With Ziggy keeping things fun is paramount.  He really would rather be on the sofa most of the time.

Can my lesson plans include sofa time?
Please?  Please?

Here's the plan for Ziggy:


  • Fun heeling!  Not sits or set-ups - just lots of energy, short session of heeling interspersed with running back to our (out of the ring) food rewards.  Goal is to make heeling rewarding, active & fun.  
  • To our heeling, we're also adding in recalls and retrieves - all on the move, and flowing together.  The idea is to keep it all fun.  
  • Attend show-n-go's whenever we can to build confidence in the ring.  Last weekend we did a couple of beginning novice runs, and the group stays for novice.  
  • Our near-term goal is to get our beginning novice obedience title.  This title is all on-leash, which seems to make Z feel more comfortable.

  • I've been re-training the weaves.  I took too much time off in the middle of the last method, and things seemed to fall apart a bit.  Ziggy is now weaving all 12 poles (relatively quickly).  
  • Courses - we're now running courses twice a week to work on flow and handling.  
  • Jumping - work on jump grids/exercises once a week to build confidence & speed.

  • Build confidence in new places.  This is one of the reasons I'm focusing on agility as of late.  It gets Ziggy working off-leash in new places, and seems to be having the desired affect of building his confidence.

  • 6 days a week.  Z is working for his dinner most nights...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Off leash + snow = FUN

Rip is now starting to get some off-leash time on walks.  This is great for all involved, as it means Rip gets more worn out (good for us), and gets to explore new places (good for him).  We're very careful about where & when he's off leash, as he's still working on his recalls.  

Here are some pics from a recent outing on the bike path:

You come at me, I show you my teeth!

Ha Ha!  Two can play at that game!

Wait. We can bite play at home.  
Let's RUN!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And so it begins

After my whinging post about conformation, I figured I better learn a bit more about it.  I love to read, so my first stop was  

I decided to start with these two.  Any other recommendations for the breed ring newbie?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lesson Plans: Rip

Last week I took all 3 of the dogs for a private lesson with my obedience trainer.  I'm always keen to improve my handling, and want to make sure I'm working on the right things with each of them.  I worked with each dog, then we created "lesson plans" for each of them.

Don't listen to her - I don't need all this training.
Look how calm and well-mannered I am...

Here's the plan for Rip

  • Work on making the "front" position and the "heel" (sitting next to me) positions lots of fun and high reward.  
  • Make sure he's focusing in the right place while in these positions.  When in front, he should be looking just above my knees.  In heel at side, he should be focusing on the seam of my jeans about mid way up my thigh.  (I trained Maggie to look at my face in both of these positions, and she tends to forge in heel and sit a bit far back in front).
  • Short (moving) heelwork with food lure, and frequent breaks for play.

  • Continue work on agility basics - tunnel, table, beginning teeter, jump bumps (Susan Salo method).
  • Work on "here" (come to side, but don't heel or sit) cue.

  • Lots of socialization - in the past week Rip's been to an obedience show-n-go (goal = ring is fun, judge and stewards are fun, hanging out in my crate is ok),  open training night (goal = meet new people, learn to be a bit less wild when greeting other dogs, have fun practicing in a new place), and to training class with The Husband (goal = CGC in 8 more weeks, attention & manners around other dogs).
  • Conformation -- we're working on "wait" command.  I want him to stop in a standing position on this cue (rather than sitting).  We'll also start conformation class again in early Feb.  Right now it conflicts with agility training nights for Ziggy.
  • Recall and name games.  Rip seems to be entering the "deaf teenager" phase...

  • Rip gets training at least once a day (preferably 2).  It's a coping mechanism, as it wears him out a bit.  AND he gets to have fun, play with me, and get treats!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Party Cardi

Where's the party?!?

Rip found the left-over hats & horns from our New Year's Eve get together....  I always knew my pup was up for a party.  Any time; any place.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Denial with a side of Dread

I know, it’s great to learn new things and grow as person, but I’ve got to say that I dread trying to turn


A wild, naughty adolescent blur

Into this:

A Champion show dog.
This is Rip's dad, Wally.
Rip inherited the handsome part, but not the "standing still" part...

Obedience, agility, rally = no problem
We’re already training for them, and my wild boy loves it.  I understand who's who, what's what, and where to show in these performance in events.

This conformation thing?  Scary

I've had a couple of people ask me when I'm going to take Rip to his first conformation show, and I've got to say I’m in denial that I’ve committed to showing Rip to his championship.  The shows begin here again at the end of January.  January!  That’s this month! We’re not ready for the end of January!  Maybe the end of March/early April shows?

Right now it all just seems like so much extra work, and way too many things to learn.  
  • How to plan a show schedule, and know where to show?
  • What class do I enter Rip in? 
  • What do I do when I get to the show site? 
  • What am I supposed to wear?
  • And the grooming?  My biggest dread.  How can a “wash and go” dog like the Cardi take so long to groom for the breed ring?  I don’t know and, truthfully, I don’t have much desire to find out…
  • And I'm sure there are dozens of other things I don't even yet know to ask.  Yikes.
Yes, I know I volunteered to this, and made a commitment when I got Rip to show him in the breed ring.  I just need to suck it up, get signed up for some shows, and fumble around like an idiot for a while.  Maybe I'll even enjoy it at some point?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A new AKC agility title! (one that Ziggy will never earn)

 Today the AKC announced a new agility titling class:  Time to Beat.

In this class, the "most accurate, quickest dog sets the pace."

Ziggy says, "Quick and accurate?  Who needs that?"

It's the quickest part that throws Ziggy and I out of contention.  Z and I are scheduled for a trial at the end of this month, and I'm quite worried about making the Novice Preferred course time...

The T2B class sounds like fun to run, though -- like a Jumpers With Weaves class with some contact obstacles thrown in.

Did any of you participate in the trial/exhibition runs for this event?  If so, was it as fun as it seems?

Maybe in a couple of years I'll have a T2B candidate...

Rip says, "That quick part sounds like lots of fun.
Maybe wild snow frapping will help me prepare!"

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Review

Aargh.  I’ve put it off for a few days, but I guess it’s time to reflect on the past year.

It’s a bit depressing thinking about all that I hoped to accomplish last year – compared with what I actually DID accomplish.

Dog Goals:

My dog goals took a real hit.  Lots of work travel, plus lack of motivation at times, meant that I didn’t achieve nearly what I’d intended to. 

Maggie enjoyed her mostly-retired lifestyle.

Ziggy smiled his way through some good Rally scores,
and continued to thwart my attempts to make him a keen performance dog.

Highlights from the year:
  • Ziggy got his RA title, with respectable scores.
  • Maggie & Ziggy won obedience brace class both days of the National Specialty
  • Denzil found a good “retirement” home with my parents.
  • I (crazily?) added Rip to the pack.

Denzil found a great new home, and LOVES
being the center of attention.

I went on vacation and came home with a puppy.
He was living only 60 miles from my could I resist?

Personal goals:

Again, didn’t quite accomplish what I would have liked – particularly in the area of weight loss (sigh).

At least I got to visit some lovely new places....

Highlights from the year:
  • I logged more than 80,000 air miles!
  • I read nearly 40 books – the most I’ve read in one year since becoming a parent -- (I like to read when I’m on a plane…)
  • I visited 5 countries other than my own, and acquired a stamp from a “new” country in my passport (Spain)
  • I met all of my dog training/education goals 

Yes, 2010 is over.  Now I'm mulling over what I’d like to accomplish in 2011.  More about that next week (perhaps).
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