We headed to Stirling Acres Stockdog Trial this past weekend. The dogs and I were entered in Pro Novice for the first time. I went with the goal of getting around the course with Leo.
A few friends and I booked a cabin right next door and it was fantastic. So much fun!! We had a great time together and it is hard to come back to reality after such a fun weekend.
Brit surprised me and actually did the outrun on both runs!!! I was pretty surprised as she has not been working well for me lately. She did struggle with the drive but the second run we made it to the cross drive before she would not push them anymore. We will keep puttering away- she is not really a trial dog but as long as she is having fun...
Leo had a disappointing first run when he couldn't find his sheep. The field is very flat and was big. He didn't see them at all so I walked out to help him. He was surprised to see them out there... His second run was really really good though so it more than made up for it.
We got a 76! Which is the highest score I think I've ever gotten. He had a beautiful outrun and fetch. And we only had a few bobbles on the drive. He took almost every stop and was very kind to his sheep. I'm very proud of him. And to make it even more awesome we placeD 5th in a class of over 30 dogs!!! It's an intimidating class- experienced people and dogs. But I was so done with the lower level classes. And we were ready for Pro Novice- which Leo proved.
We have lots of things to work on before the next trial-flanks on whistles, hitting panels, and squaring out those inside flanks... Oh and driving. ;)
All this comes at a great time as my Altapete friends have hit the road so I have the awesome job of farm sitting. Which means plenty of sheep time. Can't wait for the weekend!!
A photo of the score breakdown. And a photo of Leo by the talented Kristi. ;)
Brit earned her CD this past weekend at the Camrose Dog Show.
She needed two legs and came away with exactly that. :)
Her first day was definitely her best yet- 191.5 with 8 points off for missed sits!!!!!
Regardless of the sits I just can't get enough of the video. I've watched it a few times. Lol
Second day she was a little more sloppy but still very enthusiastic. No signs of big stress and just having a great time in the ring. We got a 182... Lots of forging. And no sits. ;)
The third day she broke her sit stay. Which is unlike her. I wonder if her back was bugging her- which explains the no sits on the heeling as well. I'll post the video later so you can see. She tries to sit and then changes her mind.
I am so proud of her though- she did just as well in the ring as she does in practice and that's a good feeling be chase I rarely get that with Princess Pixel. Lol.
In fact Proncess Pixel failed all three times on that long sit. Once just as I was coming back!!! Which is a huge improvement. But I still can't help but be disappointed. We've been working very hard! More work is needed obviously. Lol. Despite that Pixel was very happy in the ring and we actually got the drop on Sunday too! Yay for hand signals!
This weirdo is entered in his first AAC Agility trial. I entered in him in one day of a March trial. This will be his first official trial.
I am not sure what to expect really- he could be awesome, or he could be weird. lol.
I ran him in a seminar this past weekend and he did really really well- for the first part of the day, and then his brain exploded and he was pretty much useless. I couldn't even get him to do the simplest of things.... It's kind of a crap shoot with him sometimes.
But one day, four runs- and if he is fading then I'll pull him out of the last two, and we can go chase sheep instead in the afternoon. lol. All I'm looking for is him to be comfortable, stay focused, and have fun. We have some weave issues still. It's been suggested to retrain from scratch....
I am excited about the trial though- It's been a few years!!!! Since I've been to an AAC trial. It will be nice to see old friends again! Fun times!!!
Wicca is doing pretty good. I've messed around a bit with her supplements and have found a mix that seems to work. And I bought her these cool socks that have grips on them. So she is able to keep her feet under her better on my slippery floor. And she only hates them a little bit. I worry about her. Like all the time. But she's fine. Just getting old. Funny that Boone is the same age and hardly shows it at all. I certainly don't worry about him the same way I do Wicca!
I have been training the dogs a lot. Making time for my own dogs is priority lately. I cut back an actual class so I could train my own dogs and its working well.
Brit is really coming along and will be ready for Novice Obedience in Camrose in March. Leo is amazing in Obedience. I started working on his stand and the exam portion of that exercise. So far he's fairly relaxed and seems to understand the exercise. We have some work on the recall part to do though. I've discovered he doesn't know how to run to me. Which seems odd until I remember that I probably haven't taught him and he didn't know anything before I got him.
Pixel is learning nosework. She's a total rockstar. I've decided to teach an alert right from the beginning as it was frustrating with Wicca to figure out when she actually found it. So far it's working pretty well! In wish I had more time for this particular game!
Herding is great. Most times I work the dogs I leave the field happy with the progress we've made. Leo is making huge improvements with driving. He really gets it now and is happy to truck along behind his sheep. He understands a stop and steady whistle. I'm going to start flanks next week! Brit either does really well or terrible. Her outruns are nice in practice, but the top still is troublesome. She is like a bowling ball sometimes. Smashing into them. Lol. Both dogs had trouble with pushing into pressure at the last arena trial. So I've set that up a few times and Leo especially seems to understand a bit better. This herding game is a tough one!
Agility is awesome. I am happy to be training and running again. I even entered a trial! Although I have my doubts that we are ready. Leo is a strange dog sometimes and I wonder about his ability to focus and work in such an exciting environment. He can barely weave at the arena we train at. Lol. And not because he doesn't know how, but because his brain short circuits or something and he turns frantic and weird. But Sundog itself is wonderful and busy and everything I had hoped for. To celebrate our one month Cindy brought homemade baileys for everyone. It was pretty awesome.
Life itself is busy and hectic and a little sad sometimes. My mom is really unwell and seemingly unwilling to help herself. Its highly stressful and difficult. But we've got some help with her now and that's been a relief. There has been a lot of sadness this past week with friends and their pets. I always say that its hard to know and love so many. Thats that many more losses and heartache you feel. I wouldn't change it though. <3
Regardless of lifes ups and downs I keep on keeping busy and that's really what helps me to stay grounded and okay. I think that moving forward- even one step at a time is better than stopping to think too long, or feeling bad for yourself. I've seen it in real life and I'm determined that will not be my fate. So no matter how hard things are I find something good to think about and focus on. That gets me through just fine!
I have been debating leaving Facebook. I find the whole thing quite depressing and annoying. So much crap, so much bullying and negativity. It seems that people just whine and complain mostly, I have enough of that in my real life. Lol. I cut my friends list way down and am going to cut out some Business pages and stupid groups- maybe that will help me to be less annoyed. It's like an addiction though! I know people who say they are quitting and then five minutes later they are back. I figure it'll be easier to fade it out slowly. I've been posting less and less and am checking in way less too. We will see what happens.
And that's pretty much what's happening in my life. I've become a terrible blogger. I think in part because of all the crap- I hate being one of those people who complain or air their dirty laundry. I think that talking about the bad stuff gives it too much power. My gram always said if you didn't have anything nice to say then it was better to say nothing at all. She was a smart woman. <3
This past weekend I spent teaching a workshop on building drive and motivation for work, as well as competition obedience specific skills. It was a lot of fun- working with new dogs and people. Everyone was really great and I think came away with some new ideas.
I teach quite a lot- all different types of classes and levels. Although I don't consider myself a "people person," I do read people well. I can tell what they need to hear, and usually Can figure out a way to explain it in a way that they understand.
One thing that I do struggle to explain properly is how important it is to know your dog. How understanding your dogs behavior, is the first step before being able to actually teach them something. I think far too often we are just blindly trying to teach the dog stuff without considering the dogs mental ability and state. If the dog is stressed, worried, anxious, over-aroused, or bored will all make a difference in the dogs ability to learn and perform. Identifying it, and the reason behind it and then moving forward to a solution is Important.
Teaching our dogs to cope with stress, distractions, and failure shouldn't be avoided. Too often the first sign of failure and we either make it a big deal, or make it easy for the dog again. We are creating dogs who give up and have no try. There needs to be a happy medium. One where the effort may be acknowledged, but lets try it again. And maybe with a little change, or a bit of help. Backing up all the time to square one is not going to teach the dog how to get to step three.
Anyway. Just some random thinking. I talked about these things a fair amount this weekend- and I wonder if people were caught up in the skill part of the workshop and didn't really consider the other stuff. Maybe it should have been on a handout...
Next time I think I'll do that. So people can read and absorb on their own. Just like dogs, we don't all learn the same!
Wicca is 11 years old, and still as awesome as ever. Her attitude, personality, and zest for life have never slowed down. Physically she is very much an old dog now, but mentally she is as sharp as ever. We have done a lot of really cool stuff in her 11 years. Everything I asked of her she did with all her heart. Happy Birthday to the best dog ever, and the keeper of my heart.
2014 was busy. I did lots of awesome stuff. I did some not so awesome stuff. I worked a lot. I worked hard. I had fun. I made time for family. For friends. I loved my dogs. I did stuff that I thought I couldn't. And I went to some cool places. I had lots of personal growth and triumph. It was mostly a great year.
2015 will likely look a lot like 2014. I have some awesome adventures planned. I plan to work hard so I can play hard. I plan to make time for my family, and spend fun times with friends.
I also plan to procrastinate less. I would say that is my worst trait. So I'm going to work on that.
Without a doubt there will be hardship and struggle, but as always I'll figure out how to cope and recover and move on. Life is so short- and full of surprises. Good and bad. It's important to roll with punches and not get stuck getting beat up all of the time, or get caught up in fighting back. Literally, or figuratively. ;)
And I will enjoy and celebrate the good stuff. No matter how small. Because in my life there is a lot of good. I'm lucky to have a family and friends and a job and opportunity and my dogs. I keep myself centered by thinking of all those things. Because that's the important stuff.
Out of my six dogs only two of them are what I would consider "normal." Normal as in your typical, average sort of dog. Those would be pixel and Wicca. While they are certainly naughty they are very typical house dogs. The kind of dog you could take anywhere and not worry about bad reactions, or quirks, or just general stuff. Those two have the qualities that most people are looking for in pets. I'm not talking drive or anything, just general personality and temperament.
The other four are dogs that certainly would not have been okay in your average home. And it's probably no coincidence that they are all rescue dogs- that clearly were not okay in an average home. Of course through training and such there have been improvements with behavior- but the base temperament and personality. That hasn't been changed in any of them. I find it interesting.
Vito was surrendered to rescue for growling, and biting. At 14 weeks old!!! Definite danger signs. He came to my house and never left. And still he is my least social dog, and needs a slow and careful introduction if I expect him to Interact with a person. He has learned (behavior) how to ignore and cope with the presence of people. But his underlying mistrust of strangers will never go away.
Boone came to me as a 4 year old dog. He had been owned by people who did the best they could for him but couldn't handle his issues. I've met a handful of Pyr Sheps and know quite a few online- and I do feel that it's safe to say that the breed in general is not normal. They are bred to be aloof- originally this was so they couldn't be stolen when they were up in the hills with the shepherd and sheep... The breed is still very natural and raw and I think that's why it is such a strong trait. Aside from being nervous to meet people, Boone is easily overwhelmed and goes Into panic mode. This is how he was lost for two days a few years ago. When he is scared he is not a rational thinker. He is hard to live with because of this- and because his triggers are things that can't always be avoided. Through training he has learned how to recover- but the initial reaction is still often there. He is a very high maintenance dog to live with. Even at 10 years old.
Brit came to rescue for being too active for her family. More like being completely neurotic, with many OCD type behaviors well established. It took a while for some of it to show up- but when it did I was pretty surprised. She would follow light and shadow, sniff the ground frantically while screeching, and of course stare at things. All the things. Moving or non moving. Training and behavior modification and countless hours have improved these things greatly. But a day without exercise or an outlet for her energy and she easily falls into that again.
Leo came to me after being surrrendered to a shelter for biting, and sitting there for a long long time... It's hard to know if his weirdness came from before the shelter, or after. He is very impulsive and frantic. In all things, (except shepherding which I find completely fascinating!!). In the house he would pace and move all the time, and is quick to get riled up. Self control does not come naturally. Even in cuddling (which he wants to do all the time), he is forceful and frantic. Pushing himself onto your lap or smearing himself against you. It's cute for like two seconds. His behavior problems- the biting for example, are pretty under control. I feel pretty comfortable saying that at this point I would see it building long before it happened. Gone is the unpredictable reactiveness. But the actual personality quirks are alive and well.
So interesting. To me anyway. The weirdos I live with. It's too bad they couldn't talk to us, or understand us better. Communication could clear up a lot of problems. I guess that good training is at least some form of communication , but it sure would be cool to hear what, and why they they think/react like they do. And I wonder about all the weirdo dogs out there, in incompatible homes- that eventually give up or don't. Not everyone is equipped to deal with a weirdo. They certainly are more work than the normal dogs! In Life and in training!
Dog behavior and such is interesting. Especially to a weirdo like me. ;) maybe that's why I apparently seek out the weird dogs. Lol. We have common interests...
So much to do these days. I am completely busy every single moment, I'm getting to the point of overload. Good thing I have some holiday time coming in a few weeks!!!
I took the dogs (all of them!) to a fundraiser photo session with Santa. It was not as bad as I thought, and the pic turned out cute. I had to do some editing as it was very dark, but it's still a good momento and it was for a good cause!
I've had the same header for over a year. Mostly because it's always a big pain in the butt to change it. i can never get the size quite right, and it just annoys me when it's not centered. Like right now for example.
However, I wanted something Christmaslike. So this is just one of the photos that the very talented Lorelei Hoffarth did for me last year! She does fantastic work and I love all the photos she took of my crew!
Last week I found out that Leo was the Alberta Stock Dog Associations Novice Champion for 2014.
We won a jacket and our name on this little trophy.
I'm very proud of him. He's sure come a long ways and I am excited for what the future will bring. I'm itching to get out of the lower level classes and Leo is just the dog for that. Jenny assures me he could be an Open dog one day.
He is hampered by being owned by a novice person, but despite me he does a pretty great job.
Jenny and I were just talking the other day- and She said that dogs like Leo are perfect for novice folk. Honest, Biddable, and smart enough to know when to listen and when to ignore us. Lol. Leo is a dog who will save me without getting into trouble.
Well another weekend of NQ's for Pixel. Brat. This time she didn't FETCH! Of course she did the drop that time. Corgis sure know how to keep you humble. What a brat. It's a good thing she is very cute. And mostly good.
Brit on the other hand was a total rockstar. She was confident and happy to be working in the ring, and did everything I asked. Had I taught her the Broad Jump she would have been perfect all weekend... It completely slipped my mind that there was a possibility of a broad jump in advanced. Oh Well. She didn't know she messed up, and I have since done a bit of training with it. lol. An NQ is very motivating apparently. ;)
Jolene was nice enough to video all weekend for me. So here are Brit's Rally Advanced runs. If you are only going to watch one then I would watch Sunday. Because that's when she got a perfect score *her first!, and a High in Class. Which is amazing as she is in the B stream and it is very competitive. Lots of perfect scores all weekends, and fast times. So I was thrilled for her to do so well.
Friday- the broad jump was a bridge, but otherwise she was perfect.
Saturday- 99/100. A slow sit on the left pivot. Which was my fault as I have been working hard on getting her to actually pivot, and not scoot on her butt which is what we had before. I haven't added the sits back in yet.. .
Sunday- 100/100 and High in Class. Love that wagging tail. You will notice though that she was a little nervous- especially when there was screaming coming from the conformation end of the building. And one of her tell-tail signs of stress is sniffing my pant leg. Which she does once in this video. But huge progress from the summer for her so I am thrilled.
I am itching to get back into the Novice Obedience ring with her- the last time she was in she did great one day- earning a 190something, and then the next day she melted into a pile of melty border collie. I think she has improved mentally since then- all my confidence building stuff is really paying off. So I may do a few winter shows... As long as she stays sound that is... ;)