Monday, January 19, 2015

Scenthurdle Rockstars

Pixel especially is really very very good at this game. So good in fact I sent her to a race without me and she ran just fine with a team mate.

Brit is also pretty super! She's mostly accurate now and is pretty speedy too!

The CSHRA recently underwent some changes. Including issuing their own certificates! I got these in an email this morning.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

On Dog Training.

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!

Monday, January 05, 2015

11 Years of Awesome

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. 

<3 ya Woo.

Friday, January 02, 2015

More adventure and less procrastination.

Wow. January 2nd already.

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.

So bring it on 2015. We are ready for ya!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Greetings

A day late. But still heartfelt. I hope that all my friends, family, and strangers ;) who read this blog had a wonderful Christmas full of love, laughter, family and friends. I know I did. <3

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thoughts about Weirdos

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...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

It's really real

I was so nervous today. To send out an email. To post on Facebook. I had indigestion. Lol.

I was afraid that it was just a dream. And that the second I hit send the world would come crashing back down.

But no. Turns out its really real!

A lot of planning, hard work, and even more planning and finally. A new agility training business is born. Sundog Agility. An equal partnership. A new beginning.

Anyway. Yay! Classes set to start in January. A new beginning for a new year. Couldn't be more perfect really!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Falling Behind

I'm falling behind in blogging again.

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!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

new header

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!

One more, of just Wicca. <3

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jacket Rich

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.

I am lucky to have stumbled upon such a good boy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dog Show Weekend

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... ;)

Monday, November 10, 2014

A training sort of weekend.

Saturday I participated in a clicker training workshop. This workshop was all about perfecting timing, mechanics and understanding. The species we worked with? Chickens!

This is the second time I've worked with chickens and this time I was a lot more successful. People have asked me what do chickens have to do with dog training, an why clicker train a chicken??!!!

Well it's not really about the chicken. The chicken is a tool. You see chickens wont try to make you happy, and they are clear proof of your ability, or lack of. Lol. If your timing is wrong with a chicken you won't get anywhere. It really is a great way to fine tune your dog training ability.

I'm lucky enough to have a friend who is very into clicker training and has taken more than six chicken camps with the master of clicker training- Bob Bailey. So while the information is not right from the source it is definitely from someone who knows their stuff.

Anyway it was a lot of fun and my partner and I worked with four different chickens. We taught them targeting, discrimination and he beginnings of cone work. It was super cool. And I can't wait for the next one.

Sunday morning I held a training fun match for my obedience students. Quite a few of them braved the blizzard and came out to work their dogs. My own dogs did great. Pixel did a full run through for the first time in ages and nailed it. Even the stays. I mean we even had ears! Amazing. Brit did great and was very enthusiast. She is such a happy working dog. Leo didn't get to play. He's not really at the point where that sort of thing is going to be beneficial. He did come and watch though- its good for him to just chill in the xpen. The best part of the day was when I let Wicca do the novice rally course. Omg. The cuteness. She had a blast. It was very cute. Vito too attempted the novice course however he was mostly doing his own thing. Lol

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and hibernating from the winter that's arrived.

Friday, November 07, 2014


Nothing makes then happier than a muddy walk. ;)

Years ago when I was trying to come up with a cool email address I came up with manymuddypaws. Little did I know then how appropriate that would be!

Sunday, November 02, 2014


Friends are awesome. I'm very lucky to have a great bunch of them.

Boone has a friend too. His name is Frosty.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Where the spooky things are...

Brit isn't afraid of the spooky woods, and the fog, and the goblins that may be lurking.

She has a secret weapon
 A magic stick. 

Poor Leo is unconvinced that a simple stick can protect him.. 

I tried to tell him that Goblins and Witches and Zombies and such are just make believe. He didn't believe me...

Have a Happy Halloween :) And stay safe. Find yourself a magic stick and you'll be just fine....

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Princess in th Fog

We had the coolest fog today! On our walk today I couldn't resist stopping for some photos... So SPOOOOKY, just in time for halloween...

Pixel was bored by the whole thing and would have preferred we kept playing and walking. ;)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On training for obedience...

I've been training training and training some more. Pixel, Brit and Leo are all in various stages of training for the obedience ring. So I try to squeeze in at least one session a day.

I typically train them all in the same session- and it is often a bit of a challenge for me. Switching between their personalities and needs is a lot of work. But it certainly keeps me sharp!

Pixel can work for long periods of time for one larger reward. She is able to switch between exercises and such quite easily and likes a lot of physical grabbing and tugging as rewards. Cookies bring her a bit lower than a toy- which brings out the best amount of drive. Especially for heeling. I normally start with her weakest thing and end on the easiest.

Brit is a softie and I need to always be sure that I am being clear about what we are working on. She is easily overwhelmed by challenges and would like to quit if the pressure is high. We work on short, fast bits of exercises. Rarely putting them together. Her rate of reinforcement is high- but super variable. I need to keep her guessing or she is the type of dog who thinks she deserves the reward and can sulk about it. The toy brings out the best- but it's a challenge to use it with her for heeling. She is so literal in her thinking that placement of rewards is super important for her- the toy clouds that a bit. I also need to be careful not to overdo my enthusiasm as it weirds her out.

Leo can work for longer periods of time but on one or at most two different things. He does not switch gears very well and struggles to change to something different. He can be a frantic learner so when I am teaching him something specific or mechanical I use food and a clicker as it tends to slow him down a bit. For heeling though we use a toy. For that I want pushy and in full drive mode so it works well because that's how he is when the toy is the reward. I have to be careful to not be too physical with the rewards or he gets careless and the lesson becomes about impulse control- not on whatever we started with.

All so different. And all so awesome. I love dog training!

I'm going to try and get some video this weekend of heeling. I love heeling. Teaching it. Training it. Watching it. Definitely one of my most favorite things.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cypress Hills

Last field trial of the year. First successful time in intermediate for Leo. Biggest outrun ever! He placed second both days. And first overall. I'm proud of us. It's been a lot of work. Like a lot of work. It feels good to have progress. Of course I want more progress. The driving especially. And for whatever reason he would not take a flank on the fetch. We will be working on that!

Brit was terrible. And then not. She crossed over the first day. I think she lost sight of her sheep... Second day was better. I sent her on the flat side- up the hill. Hard to miss them that way.

Good times with good friends. As always I had a good time. It was a small trial and everyone was super friendly and helpful.

I really need to remember my camera. Video of that outrun would have been awesome!

One thing I learned from the weekend. Whistles. I need them. Like yesterday. Too bad it's dark now at 6pm so I'm super limited about when I can train...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dogs and Sheep

Just some dogs. And Sheep.


Sunday, October 12, 2014


Today's Message. Be Thankful.

And not just because it's Canadian Thanksgiving. Well maybe mostly because of that. But also because it is important- to be grateful. For everything you have, and all the people, and pets, and health, and stuff, and just well everything. Don't be one of those people who complain about what they don't have. Take a second and look at what you do have. Appreciate it. Because there are always people who have it worse, or would be happy with even a 1/4 of what you have. So be Thankful. I know I am.