Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend


Easter weekend was jam packed. Full of family, friends, and dogs. I didn't sleep in once. But I wouldn't change any of it. 

We did some herding. I didn't take any photos of my own dogs. This is Scamp. 
the easter bunny came. and I cooked turkey. 

the dogs got into the spirit of things
Wicca and Vito both had baths and all that jazz. Wicca is still shedding but looks better at least! 


We played follow the leader, I mean went on a walk. 
and Wendy took beautiful photos of my girls. <3

this one especially melts me. <3
and more walks, and more herding, and even a tiny bit of agility. Oh, and I even cleaned my house. See, jam packed full! Oh, and you want to know what there wasn't? Nosework practice. Not once. This spells trouble for the upcoming weekend.... 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Prairie Girl Pixel

I really, really love this photo. I don't know why. Other than it is 100% Pixel. Doing her own thing, tail in the air.
Such a Princess. <3 
Something blowing in the wind. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Falling Behind

It's like the story of my life! Lol. So much to say, to write down, to remember. But by the time I get to just sit at the computer the last thing I want to do is waste the time to do it.

And so the blog has become more of a dumping ground. I have good intentions, but life sometimes gets away from you.

In any case here is a recap of last week.

I took my Grandpa's little dog Tucker to be euthanized. It was sad. And hard, and easy all at the same time. Easy in that he was suffering, lived a long life, and was truly heartbroken, his body and his heart both gave up. So it was the right decision. But it was still hard, to hold him, to explain that although his condition looked bad- he was well loved. His passing was peaceful. It was hard to say goodbye to the last connection we had to my Grandpa, and my Grandma. After my Grandma died Tucker became everything to my Grandpa. His companion- followed him everywhere. Always at his feet. As routine oriented as my Grandpa was. Even when he moved to my parents a few weeks ago- Tucker demanded his supper at 5pm on the dot, and bedtime was 10. No exceptions. What a funny little guy he was. <3

Wicca and I are training for the nosework trial in a few weeks. She is awesome, mostly. The vehicle search will be our downfall. Of that I am certain. I am going to work on indication and commitment this week. Back to basics and see if I can convince her that the rules are the same on a car. She is a challenge- even at 10 years old. :)

Leo has ignited my spark for agility again. We had a fantastic training session late last week, and then again this weekend. He is coming along nicely. Understanding more and more, and with that comes confidence.

Brit is lame, mostly. It is frustrating. And I try not to think about it. We need to go and see Veronica again. Although I have been down this road and I know that the outcome is not good. My hope is that she will have more good days than bad. And that I can manage it.  (She has some nerve trouble in her back, for those that haven't been following along)

We did a photo shoot with 55 dogs in a group stay. It turned out awesome. 
Lorelei is a very talented photographer, and while the shoot itself with a little difficult to manage- everyone did a great job with their dogs.

Spring is here- my grass is turning green. And I am really looking forward to the time when I can sit in the yard with the dogs and just be. I have serious cabin fever- even though I've been out all winter- it's not the same. Bring on the sun, and warmth!

This week is a short work week. It's going to be awesome. I have five days off in a row. Talk about lucky! I intend to spend it all with my dogs, my family, and my friends. Lucky, Lucky Me!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Arena Trial Finale

The Highwood Stockdog Series is over- the last trial was held on Sunday. It is a GREAT way to pass the winter months, and is a lot of fun. Once a month we all drive to the High River arena and run our dogs. Last year was the first year, and this past year was even better than the first. It's like a well oiled machine. We can set up the whole arena trial (panels, fences, pens), and unload a trailer full of sheep in twenty minutes.

It has been a great learning experience for me. Last year I was SUPER new and each time to the post gave me a bit more confidence, and a bit more experience. How to read my stock, how to trust my dog, and what to do in general. This year has been more about learning my dogs- and giving them both that valuable experience.

It has not been without it's ups and downs though. I moved Brit to the Ranch class- which is a bit more advanced than Novice. The handler stays at the post and there is a longer drive (up the length of the arena). Novice is a small easy course, and the handler can walk on the drive (which is only half way up the arena at most).

Brit handled that no problem to begin with. We even won our class a few times. And then the sheep got heavy. And when that happened it was hard for both of us. lol. The drive seemed even farther and I struggled to keep her moving. And one trial she wouldn't. So back to novice we went for the last two of the season. I am glad I made that decision for her- the sheep got worse. But she handled them okay with help from me. Her run yesterday was the best she has ever done. Calm, Confident, and reading her stock. It was a great feeling only marred by a DQ caused by my handler error. I didn't know, and made a mistake at the pen. It doesn't matter in the big scheme of things but I do feel bad about it. And it wrecked an otherwise perfect run, and a great feeling. But you win some and you lose some! All things about this sport are variables- even the rules! lol. I am proud of Brit- this game is not easy for her, and although she is keen she often lacks the confidence to back it up. I've worked very hard with her to get her where she is now. And I feel that I can get her even farther if we keep marching on. At our own pace, step by step. For as long as she is able and willing we will continue to train and trial.

Leo has come so far- from his first time at the post, to the run yesterday. Consistently placing in the top three in his class every time, ensured that he brought home First Place in the Aggregate. Winning the Novice Class overall! The class is a fair size, and there are lots of good dogs. I am so very proud of him. I know I am biased but he is a pretty special dog. Talented, Keen, Honest, and is the type of dog who will look after me. He has taught me a lot already, and I am looking forward to a great summer of farm work with him. When it was announced that he won the Novice class I was happy, but it didn't really sink in. It has now, and I am just thrilled with him. What a dog he is!

Winning, or losing. It is all part of the fun of the game. For me it is never about winning, but doing my best, and pushing my dog to do his/her best. My favorite part of any sport is the training. I am a dog trainer. I love that part. So for me trialing is a test of my training- and that is for all sports- not just herding. Herding is the most difficult thing I have ever done, and I am very new. So it has been a challenge. I have a great support team though- people who have shared their knowledge and helped me a long the way. I am forever grateful for that! I know that I am very lucky!

Here are their runs from yesterday- lots of good stuff in there. And most importantly- Improvement from both of them!

Leo

e


and Brit


and a token photo. Leo and I after winning the aggregate. I'll get a fancy jacket with our names on it, which I may never take off! ;)


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Agility Leo!

Leo's first agility video! Just little clips from the seminar and match yesterday. Lots of breaking things down, and lots of rewarding. You can really see the wheels turning on some of the stuff. Some progress in just a few weeks even!

The video only shows the good stuff, I assure you there was plenty of second, and third tries before getting it right. ;) We are a little rough around the edges, but are working it out! I am feeling pretty pleased with his progress, and have a whole bunch of stuff to work on! So damn exciting.

One of my friends asked me how it felt, and at the time I couldn't really figure out how it felt exactly. But now, reflecting on yesterday I know that it felt just right. Seeing some agility friends for the first time in almost two years...Hanging out with friends, laughing, visiting, learning, running, cheering, feeling that connection with the dog... all things that just felt perfect.

I want more of course. ;)


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Signs of spring

Boone got shaved. 

Pixel is shedding

Wicca is muddy. (trust me)

the border collies are dreaming of swimming, and are ready to get fit again.

see? these are dog who are ready! for spring.

Leo's tongue made an appearance today. And he tried to lay in a snow/ice puddle...

Vito has no ears now that the gophers are out....
All sure signs of spring. ;)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Nosework Update

Training the dogs in Nosework has been a lot of fun. It is a new challenge, and I am enjoying learning about something new again. I've been doing lots of reading about scent, and how it travels, and what sort of training methods are out there.

Wicca continues to improve and is getting better each time. We are still really not ready for the trial that is coming up in a few weeks. I am regretting entering it- only because I think she will be frustrated and I don't want her to fail. It is the vehicle search more than anything- she doesn't understand to really look hard if it's not obvious right away. It has been so cold that we haven't had much opportunity either- but now it is mostly decent enough out that I should be able to get one in each day. Some of the things we are working through right now- commitment, and focus. She is getting better about staying committed to the source, but is not always very focused. I don't like the wandering around she does. And if she is really excited she is very vocal whining, and barking. lol. But I am hoping that frequent, short searches will help that.

We went somewhere new (a friends Tae Kwon Do studio), and it was great for them to work in a new exciting environment. I have video of Wicca's two searches. She also successfully did a blind vehicle search. It was slow, but she did it. So progress all around. 

Here is the interior search

 


and a box search.


 

and Vito got to come too. He is pretty good- once. Anything after that first time and he mostly just goofs around. Frustrating really. lol. In the video you will see I start on leash, and then have to take it off. He hates the leash touching him and gets all weirded out. He's a special one. lol

    

I also started Pixel on Sunday- just the basics. I am experimenting with a clicker, and spending more time teaching an actual indication right away. I will keep track here how it is going. So far so good.I am going with a down. She caught on to the one box pretty good. She's a smartie-pants so I suspect she will get it fast. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

For some of us....

For some of us this never ending winter is no big deal. Embrace it, says Pixel...




And for the rest of us.... 



Make. Winter. Stop.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Like riding a bike....

The other day I was talking to a friend about agility and the fact that I was a little nervous about how it would be the first time back. She said it was like riding a bike, you don't really forget.

I didn't believe her. But this weekend it was exactly that way. It was easy. To run, to handle, to play with my dog. The only hard part was the new stuff, and being pushed outside my comfort zone. The rest was exactly like getting back on a bike after years of walking.

We attended a seminar focused on handling and although Leo was the most inexperienced dog there he did a great job! It was a great learning experience.

Saturday we front crossed, rear crossed, blind crossed, and ran an 12 obstacle course! Sunday we mostly blind crossed, with some fancy stuff thrown in for good measure.  We ran together and were connected. And for the first time I saw "it" in him. You know that look that a dog gets at the start line. The excitement, the quivering, eager to go, looking ahead, ready. I saw it, and it made my heart flutter a bit.

The actual stuff we learned was hard. Challenging. And totally cool. This weekend taught me many things. Aside from some new handling options, I learned what type of warm up he needs, what he looks like when he needs a break, what his favorite toys are, what he needs from me in order to direct him around a course. I also learned that he has great distance and obstacle commitment, but is also a great launcher. Lol. I learned what I need to do to get him to turn right, and what I should do to create the best path for him.

It was a great weekend, and what we needed to kick start our training. I came home with a better understanding of how, and why. And more importantly it was a great experience for both us. For me to see how he will be in that sort of setting, and me to feel how it will be to be back. Now if only winter would take a hike so we can get going!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Blog Post about Stuff!

Herding
Such an interesting thing. Full of ups and downs, confidence, nerves, mistakes, success, frustration, and fun. Sometimes all within a few minutes. ;)
I have said it before- but this is unlike anything else I have ever done. It is so hard. But so awesome.
Brit has taken a big step backwards. Heavy sheep, and too many long drives too soon squashed her confidence. So I bumped her back to Novice at the last arena trial. It was a good choice as the sheep were super slow, and she had to push on them. She had fun though, and did a great job. So much to learn still, and she is hard to train because she can't work long mentally, or physically. (more on that farther down). Leo is good. He has great feel for his sheep and often knows better than I. He is learning about driving. It is going okay. We had some trouble in that he could do it off my left, but not my right. I think we have that sorted. Our other problem is short flanks, and close up work. He gets excited, and wide. I am hoping for a lesson from Scott before they hit the road. I am looking forward to spring/summer. So much training and learning for me and for the dogs. It's going to be awesome.

Agility
I have things figured out, and we had our first outdoor practice the other day. It was amazing. It felt so good. Man, I have missed that. Leo has a great time, and is pretty speedy, and a lot confident. His contacts are coming, and I think with now being outdoors it will be easier to progress faster. I have him signed up for a few seminars! Mostly for the experience. We need to put in the time on the course, to figure each other out, and he needs to experience that group/trial setting. It will be fun. I am nervous actually! I feel slow and rusty. And I am sure I am! But with the support of my friends I am feeling pretty good about myself and my dog. For me I am going back to agility to have fun, play with my dog, and really just get back to feel. I miss my agility friends a lot. So I am excited to think about getting back into that scene this summer/fall.

Obedience
Pixel and Brit are training for various obedience things. Brit is doing mostly heeling. And Stays. Pixel is doing utility stuff mostly. Her go outs are coming along. And the dreaded signals are as hard as I thought they would be with her. lol. But we are having fun and moving slowly.

Nosework
Wicca LOVES this game. And I am not sure that she will be able to do it much longer. She has been lame off and on. It makes me sad, and angry. I mean, she is walking around a room sniffing. How hard  can it be on a little body. I think it is just the increased activity, the excitement, her enthusiasm cannot be contained very well. She is having so much fun. I hate to stop. She had a rough few weeks- we didn't do anything. And now of course we are even farther behind training wise for the trial I entered. I did a bit today- Wicca was feeling great so we did some outside stuff, and a vehicle search. She did pretty good! She is certainly keen. But we will see. I won't put her health at risk just for a trial, or test. So we may just train at home for fun, and not have a goal per say. Vito is a brat. He is so good...sometimes. Other times he just wanders on by the very obvious hide. lol. Small little baby steps with him- as it has been his whole life. ;)

Boone.
Boone gets his own paragraph. He is good. Not acting his age at all. I haven't shaved him in ages so he is the fuzziest he has ever been. I should take a photo. The groom is coming soon though as I can't keep up with the cording that is starting. He has the weirdest coat. Healthwise he is good. He lost his off leash privileges a few weeks ago when I nearly lost him. He was gone. Poof. And I searched the coulee for half an hour before giving up and walking back to the car- only to find him under it..... I was terrified. And haven't told anyone that because I feel like a terrible dog owner. So I dug out my dusty flexi leash and he is attached at all times now. He doesn't seem to mind.

So that's all the stuff. I'm a busy lady. The blog seems to be the last thing updated. But I need to change that as I really do rely on the blog to look back and remember things!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Windy Spring Day

Two Short Dogs.

Leo, ready to chase someone. Sadly for him this was a leash walk. (mostly)

Leash Walks. This is how it goes. They pull me up a hill.

Ending with a play at the park.

Pixel's favorite

Nom, Nom, Nom

This toy has a great squish.

Blurry, but intense.
I have lots of things to blog about. And no motivation to do so. Lots of really great things happening lately. Maybe later this week I will sit down and actually write stuff. ;)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Stiff as a board

Brit and Wicca had an appointment with my rehab/chiro vet today. She comes to our city every few months, so unless there is an absolute issue we wait for her to come. Brit has been lame more often than normal- she has a funny leg that sometimes she is fine on, and other times not. I've had xrays and there is some breakdown at the hip joint but in the past this vet has thought it was a sacrum issue. Anyway- lately she has been worse. She had a slip on the ice a bit ago, and seemed okay after rest but she just seemed off.

I was not wrong. Brit was very crooked. Like visibly so. Both her head and pelvis.  Her head was really weird- no range of motion in either direction.  She had a few adjustments in her spine, and then her pelvis/sacrum area. Dr.Devall  attributes Brit's limp to Sciatica (sort of), as the leg itself is fine. I had her look at the knee and she said there is no deformity, or issue. I have some exercises to do to keep her sacrum area stretched out. She said I should continue doing what I am doing with her though- as her core is getting stronger and there is new muscle there.

Wicca was stiff as a board. So tight that it was too hard to do much even. She got a few adjustments though, and seems looser already. It's nothing new- all part of Wicca's chronic, ongoing, never-ever-ending issues. This time though it  may be a slight psoas strain even- but she was too tight to manipulate much. She is on Robaxin for two weeks, and then likely a follow up appointment after. Her neck and shoulders were good this time though- so that's something positive. She was very sore, which does not surprise me, as even I could feel it when I would massage her. Hopefully the robaxin will loosen up those muscles to get some blood flow back in there. On the plus side she is using the little stairs I borrowed for the couch!

Next time Veronica comes I am going to bring Leo. Just to be proactive as he gets more into agility. He is been sound (knock on wood, no, really...) But given my luck I do want to be really sure that he is physically good to go.


Sunday, March 02, 2014

Super Sniffer

Shauna and I drove to Calgary in a snowstorm this morning. lol. The things we do in the name of "fun."

This particular fun was Sporting Detection Dog (Nosework) trial prep workshop, with a bonus DOT test in the afternoon.

The morning was spent talking about each of the steps for the test, the different searches, basic rules, training tips etc. We also got a chance to work through each of the searches- Container, Interior, And Exterior.

It was good for our dogs because we haven't really trained anywhere new- so it was good to see how the dogs worked in a new environment. Wicca did pretty good- she was distracted, but I had a chance to see how good/bad her alert would be. She did great on the container search, and so close on the interior. The hide was under a cabinet- with an air vent directly above. She did indicate- twice!, but I missed it and she went around to the backside and paw'd- so I called it. (I learned that more than anything today!!! Listen to the dog!)  She did not like the exterior search at all. She didn't even sniff. lol. But it was VERY cold, probably too cold really.

In the afternoon we did a DOT test- the Designated Odor Test is the first test, and is similar to an instinct test in that it is a pass/fail. It is just to see if the dog is somewhat trained I think. lol. In the US- where the trials fill super fast, it is required. In Canada it is not (yet!). Wicca ACED the DOT- she was confident and knew for sure where it was. It was neat to watch her. So yay for Woo!!!


She had a great outing- and I am sure will be tired for a few days now. It was so awesome to have my best little dog at my feet again. Someone commented about how well behaved she was! lol. I told them she was ten so I'd hope she would have manners by now...

Vito also came along!!! He too tried the DOT, but failed. And it was totally, completely my fault!!! He TOLD me where it was, and I thought he was just goofing off.. Sigh. In any it was great for him- and for me to see how he would work in that situation. The biggest surprise is that he wanted to visit! And even schmoozed with a stranger!!! Like grunting and everything. Usually that is reserved for those that he really loves. But he was handing it out to someone he had just met. Amazing. <3

Monday, February 24, 2014

Nosework

I am really enjoying the nosework stuff. I didn't really think I would- I mean I've been trying to get into tracking for years and never seem to get around to it. I find it boring. lol. It was just never my thing. And I figured nosework would be the same.

But I actually am having fun! I've been working with Wicca mostly, but she has been off and on lame, so I started more work with Vito.

They have very different styles so it is interesting- Wicca of course is fast, and serious, and forceful. Vito is happy, and slower, and and enthusiastic.

Here is a video for each of them- this is Vito's first time with the cardboard box exercise. He was hilarious to start. lol. Once he smelled the find it was cool to watch him work the pile. I find it so interesting!




And Wicca, who is in the process of learning a better indication. You can see in the first clip that even after I mark her find with a yes- she leaves the box! I don't really get it. lol. Maybe Kim B will read this and have some advice? I have been working at home on finding, and staying with the source. We started trying to lure away with food too (you can see that in the last clip really good). So I am hoping she just needs more training to progress past that point.



We have yet to do any outdoor, exterior searches. She has been sore off and on so it's been tough to get the training in. But she is such a smartie pants, so I am sure she will pick it up.

I am lucky that my friend Shauna is sharing her new found knowledge with me! She is taking the Advanced Nosework course online, and is learning a ton of great information. I love how easy it is to learn new things these days! The internet/online classrooms are becoming more and more popular. It's just amazing!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Week in Review

Life is moving along at a steady pace. Some days I am so busy that I can hardly remember what I did. No good I say.
I need to find a better balance.

Sigh.

I am a horrible blogger lately. Too busy. Not much time for computer time. Rushing from one thing to the next.

Here is my week in review in photos. (All from my 365 iphone project which is still going! Amazing really!)

Boone, an old dog enjoying a nap

car troubles meant leash walks, and park time rather than coulee walks. Leo wasn't complaining

happy dog dog training. I love happy dogs.

chewy needs a bigger bed.

Hedley. Amazing Concert. Jacob is so talented.

Crittering at the petstore. One of Wiccas favorite old dog hobbies.


Vito the Co-Pilot.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Britty-Brit-Brit

I love this dog. A Lot. She tries hard, and is eager to please. Always willing to try again. She has lots of great traits- working aside, she is sweet, snuggly, happy, and the best cuddler. But she certainly has her struggles. Part of being a Border Collie is having quirks I guess! lol


Yesterday at the Scenthurdle Tournament she was bang on- fast, accurate, and full of zip. Until she randomly stopped using her brain. lol. Dropping her dumbbell, running circles around the box, and just looking sort of confused about the whole thing. She is very sensitive so I just called her back when that happened, or tried to help her. We made quite the mess at the box a few times. lol.
It was a succesful day for her though- and she had a great time. She is VERY eager to race and actually pulls at the start. I think she would like to race first, or second, but her scenting is not reliable enough for that yet. I am going to go back and work on just the scenting for a bit I think, and see if I can work on bringing up the consistency.

Today at the Arena trial Brit had her worst kind of sheep. Heavy, and Argumentative. They did not want to go. And weren't afraid to express that. Brit tried SO hard for me though. I am proud of her. I knew the sheep were tough- because lots of the open/nursery dogs had trouble too. So I went with the plan of keeping her on her feet so that the sheep wouldn't settle. It was a good plan. But this time the trouble started before the drive- around the post they were stuck to me and wouldn't push off. But I got Brit beside me and encouraged her up step by step. We got them moved, but then had trouble all the way up the arena. I couldn't get her to hold a line, I think in part because they were so heavy? I don't really know for sure. But then when we finally got them to the top they refused to move. So I went up to help her. I watched the video on my friends phone- and it was actually worse than I originally thought. She was majorly avoiding- and wouldn't even look at them. From the post I thought she was- at the very least she was taking my flanks- but in between sniffing, and looking for help from the people at the pens. lol. So I am extra glad I went up to help her before she got physically chased off. It's hard to know when to call it, when to help. I've called her off too soon before, but this time I am sure I made the right choice.

I am proud of how far we have come, but it seems that everytime the sheep are hard it's two steps back. I think that for the next arena trial I am going to drop her back down to Novice so the drive is shorter. Because that is where there are troubles- now a few times in a row. I really don't want this to become a trend. It is hard to predict what type of sheep we will have. Even when it's the same sheep we always use. Sometimes it's no problem! But I think to be safe I better back up a bit until I can get the confidence up again.

We will just continue to putter around- I know that we can get over this, I just need to figure out a way. I am looking forward to a herding camp I signed up for in the summer. And I think maybe when Scott isn't so busy I'll get another lesson for her. If she would bite them it would be very helpful!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines Outtakes

looking wistful.

a little too aggressive for a "love" themed day

a wicca in hiding.

rawr

shake it V

ditto. lol

embarassed

eating it up

awkward

too much crazy

this is the look! the I'm so happy I'm almost stoned look. lol




and Boone thought the whole thing was stupid and went inside.