Monday, December 27, 2010

Summer dayz

Another Christmas is behind us. Many hours spent cooking a magnificent roast dinner and about 10 minutes to eat the lot. Serving up took a little longer after Mum spotted a tiger snake legging it straight past our sliding doors via the back patio area. I don't know where it was going but it was in a real hurry to get there. I bought myself my own Christmas present this year in the form of a lovely new laptop which will be delivered on Thursday. Top of the range specs with a 1080 Hi-def screen, what more could a girl ask for. There was a tinge of sadness about celebrations this year being the first Christmas without my Dad.

I have two glorious weeks off work to enjoy. While the eastern states are ravaged by rain and storms we are sweltering through 40 degree days. Looking back ducted air conditioning was one of the best ideas we had in 2010 as we now sit in the house at a very comfortable 24 degrees. The dogs get all excited about going outside and then change their mind and want to come back in when they realise how unpleasant it is out there. I have the best intentions about getting some stuff done outside but I don't do manual labour in this heat so it's either going to have to cool down, or it won't get done...

The local Black Kite couple borrowing the bird path to cool down.

This morning was our first time down the beach for a while. It will be six weeks this weekend since Sonic vs the paralysis tick and the poor young boy has been going stir crazy with me restricting anything that could be considered over exertion. It was quite busy for this particular beach and plenty of "dickheads with dogs" around (otherwise known as people with out of control dogs not on lead) but luckily it was so nice in the water that every time I saw one coming we all went for a lovely swim. The only unpleasant moment was when Murphy sunk and I had to reinact a scene from Baywatch to rescue him. It was quite freaky. He was paddling away and then tried to shake his head, stopped paddling and just sunk like a stone. Luckily he was only half a metre behind me so I launched myself at him, scooped him back up to the surface and carried him back to shore. I think he was a bit shocked the poor bugger. No unchaperoned swimming for him anymore. They all had a blast swimming around though and it was great to be back down there.

Having some holiday time to pass with the crappy weather I've put together a "Highlights 2010" clip of my favourite agility runs with Sonic. It's interesting to be able to look back over the year that was in agility for us and remember the good, the bad and the if only moments. I knew that Sonic had improved a lot over the course of the year and that was brought home even more looking back at the clips. He had some nice runs in the early part of the year but they were just "nice". There wasn't the power or the energy that you start to see later on in the year. All the footage I've ended up using in the clip are from July until the last trial of the year that he did in early November.

I'm really looking forward to agility in 2011. As a three year old Sonic's best is still in front of him and I have no doubt that he will be up there with them as he grows in maturity and we grow as a team.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Land of the magic lawn

This weekend has been the first one in a long time that we did not have any plans. Absolutely none at all. It was wonderful! I was able to fit in cleaning the house, doing some Christmas shopping and planting lawn all in one weekend without stress and crazy running around involved. Did I mention how wonderful it was?

Note magic sand to the top of the photo...

I've more or less finished planting grass for the time being. We had a truck load of sand delivered last weekend which is meant to be "special grass sand". If what the delivery man told us is true we should now enter into a grass growing bonanza period. I am still very determined that I will have an agility area to use by the middle of next year.

Revegetation area/dog exclusion zone

The sand was also purchased in a last ditch attempt to help save our poor sad looking back yard lawn. It did quite well last year but after a solid twelve months of being used as a race track by the dogs there are huge patches of dead grass and very little healthy green left. We've curbed the worst of the hooning because Murphy isn't allowed to run with the others while I'm outside anymore. The poor old bugger invariably gets cleaned up by someone so if I need to go outside which is what generally triggers the game, I bring him inside.

Orchard/bird exclusion zone

Colin has been busy setting up bird netting to protect our fruit trees this year from the local wildlife. Not a single piece of fruit was had last year after the birds helped themselves so Colin was determined to beat them to it. The apple trees are absolutely covered in fruit and the peach tree is looking pretty good too.

Apple tree

Passion fruit


In between work and growing lawn I have been attempting to do some dog training. Riot is learning "sit pretty" and a few other bits and pieces for a bit of fun. As always he is such a quick learner when it comes to shaping and he really enjoys trying to figure out what it is that I want him to do. I haven't done much of anything with him for a while so it will no doubt do his brain some good. And it certainly won't hurt to work on my dog training skills.

It's hard being this good looking but someone has to do it!

Sonic's shaping is well, an interesting experience. He barks throughout each and every session. If I don't reward him immediately that he thinks he's done something clever he throws himself from a sit to a down and vise versa until he realises that I'm not going to give in. On the up side he is now offering a back up and a bow. I'm hoping that we can progress with something a little more exciting over the next couple of weeks. It's been about four weeks now since the paralysis tick incident so in another couple of weeks I'll start to exercise him properly and I'm sure he'll be very happy to have a trip down the beach. Now we just have to wait for his fur to grow back!

Maybe if I had some fur...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Road to recovery and chinese whispers

My boy is finally getting back to normal. It took a good couple of weeks where although he was bright and happy, he was still sleeping a lot and a little on the quiet side. But then last weekend he just seemed to come back alive one afternoon and has been his old self ever since. Words can't describe how relieved I am that this horrible experience has turned out OK.

This last week has seen the commencement of our new training plan courtesy of Susan Garrett. Beginning with "Its Your Choice" games and also some shaping and hand targeting. One thing I realised quite embarrassingly is that Sonic has two shaped behaviours, one being sit and the other being down... Really quite pathetic when you think about it. Clearly I was just too "agility blinded" to do any more with him when he was a puppy. The IYC game is how I'm working through his frustration issues as he'll sit and then drop and if he doesn't get rewarded he'll start barking at me. What I'm trying to achieve is a more thoughtful dog who will continue to try other things if what he offers initially isn't earning the reward. So far we've managed a stand and a back up. Not much but it's only the beginning and I'm excited to see how it all goes.

The hardest thing with all of this is having the courage to stop doing all the stuff that you have been doing in the past. We are all very, very good at going to seminars and saying that's the way I'm going to do it now and then two weeks later it all seems too hard so you go right back to what you were doing before the seminar. I was chatting to Tracey last night who was part of the WA contingent at the SG seminar and she was telling me about what she's been working on with her young dog Taz since she returned. Tracey was saying that she's done hardly any equipment since and has been focusing on a few particular issues that Taz has and specifically tailoring her training for that. After seeing Taz run last night all I can say is WOW. Taz looked confident and probably the most full on I've ever seen her on course. That for me is incredibly inspirational to see someone make a decision with their dog training and then work so hard to achieve what they want. I know that Tracey will be the first to admit that she still has a long way to go but if that is what she's getting already then it will all be well worth it.

Grass in October

Grass now - ok not much but we're getting there!

I'm also please to announce that lovely little Hotnote Electric Dreams aka "Sage" finished her Agility Champion title fittingly at the last trial of the year last night. Sage is now the first official Agility Champion bred by Hotnote kennels. Sage is very closely related to my beautiful Soda and is the spitting image on the agility course. For me watching Sage is like watching Soda all over again. I run Sage's sister Lexi for Leanne Irvine who has the Hotnote prefix and if the pup I get from Lexi is anything like Sage and Soda I will very happy indeed.

Speaking of puppies there appears to have been an interesting Chinese whisper travelling around which has unfortunately caused some upset. Along the lines of I hate working border collies and would never have a working border collie puppy. Interesting considering I have a working bc who I love more than life itself. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have strong feelings and opinions on the importance of genetic testing and hip/elbow scoring of border collies when breeding. This bears absolutely no relation to whether I like a dog who is being bred from. At this point on my dog training path I would choose not to take on a pup who's parents have not had genetic testing and hip scoring done. This is a blanket statement which applies to show lined and working lined border collies however currently this testing is predominately done by show border collie breeders. When I am ready for my next working bc pup (another 2 - 3 years away yet!) because I absolutely want another one, it will definitely be something that influences my choice of where I get it from. The End.