Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Here We Come!

Finally time to update my blog. I seriously don't know where the time goes these days. I can't believe it's Christmas this weekend. Thankfully as of this Friday I'm on two weeks annual leave with absolutely no plans other than to spend some time doing things at home, hang out with the dogs and catching up with friends. And some much needed sleep will be nice too!

Cassie and I are having a ball. I'm really enjoying the Recallers course and I'm already seeing improvements in Cassie's responses. Even something as simple as increasing my rate of rewarding when she hits reinforcement zone has seen her now charging to me when she's out the back no matter what she's doing in her haste to hit "the spot". I had neglected Crate Games a bit with all the other things I've been trying to do with her so I've gone back to keep progressing with it. One of the things I love about Crate Games is that even after only making it to step three she has a solid start line which means I've been able to introduce Cassie to her first jump bumps. Watching her do jump bumps is one of the cutest things ever and she thinks its a hoot. The joy on her face is just priceless. And she's retrieving pretty consistently which is brilliant as it means I can start to progress some other things.

Up until now I hadn't been doing any real body awareness work with Cassie but after watching her first jump bumps back in slow motion I can see that she has little idea what to do with her body and legs. So I've started to do some perch work and rear end awareness exercises. Then I'm going to do the Salo Spider with her to encourage the use of her back end when she's jumping rather than just hurling herself over. She is pretty quick, I struggle to keep in front of her when we're doing restrained recalls so I'm really keen to make sure she develops a good jumping style. It certainly worked for Sonic.

Speaking of Sonic we had a nice end to the ANKC trialling year with Sonic having a couple of really lovely runs and clear rounds. So nice to have some consistency! We missed the very last trial of the year with me making a last minute trip to Adelaide to spend time with my family. Then the weekend just gone I competed at the World Agility Open Australian Team Try-outs in an attempt to get selected for the team to go to Belgium in May next year. We actually started off really well with three out of four clear runs in agility on the first night. So I was quietly optimistic. Unfortunately the second night didn't go as well as I'd hoped and we only had one clear round, DQing in the other two. So I pretty much accepted that I wouldn't be in the team for 2012. However it looks like I may be fortunate enough to get a spot in the 300 height category. Given that I now have a dog who will ultimately compete in 200 I still think it would be an amazing opportunity. So fingers crossed that it all pans out and I can go. But we'll see what transpires over the next week or so.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adventures of Cassie

It’s been an interesting week for me with dog training challenges and failures aplenty! I think it’s intentional from whatever power lies beyond to ensure that one stays humble and appreciates any small success that one may have and most definitely does not take anything for granted…. Cassie had been going great guns while I merrily patted myself on the back for job well done. Then last week came and my little star’s shining light dimmed somewhat as some of her behaviours went a little on the pear shaped side. Her retrieve went from glorious to her going to get her toy and then promptly departing to have a lovely game by herself (I was definitely not invited to join). Then after feeling smug that she was recalling pretty well it has become non existent should there be even the smallest distraction present. And responding to her name…she doesn’t know anyone called Cassie!

It's hard to stay clean when you live with border collies

Following my return to reality I’ve had to give this quite a bit of thought on how to proceed. I got a bit desperate with her retrieve so was rewarding her even if she stoped for a game by herself on the way back. Once I snapped out of that I now only reward if the toy comes directly to me minus any toy savaging however brief on the way. It does seem to be getting back on track and when we are playing with her around the house it is rare for her not to bring a toy back to keep the game going. I’m also diligently trying to do at least five to ten recalls a day at home mostly. Once I have her attention things don’t go too badly but if she’s got her nose in a plant its still touch and go. I’ve actually just enrolled in Susan Garrett’s latest Recallers e-Course. I wanted to do it before but it’s not cheap so I put it off. But now I have Cassie I think its going to be well worth the money. From what I’ve heard it is very good and let’s face it, it’s an investment in the future of any dogs that I have.

SDSB previously known as Sooper Dooper Squeaky Bear - holder of mysterious papillon attraction...

It has not all been bad though and we’re still having heaps of fun in between tearing my hair out. I shaped Cassie to get into a dog bed and then had her going from one dog bed to another. Then I put a jump bump (pool noodle) in between. To begin with she seemed to think that the pool noodle was a really big toy I had put down for her, but once she got the hang of going from dog bed to dog bed and over the jump bump as opposed to stealing it things have gone really well. I’d like to introduce further pool noodles but for that we need to go outside to the pen where there is more space and her focus out there is still a work in progress. Plus crate games are going well which is transitioning over very nicely to control positions. Then we just have the cute factor going on with her latest trick being jumping up on the lounge with us. She’s only just figured out in the last week that she can make it up there initially after working out that when Colin has the recliner out but diagonal to the ground she could use his legs as a ladder to come up for a cuddle. Now she joins us whenever the mood takes. She particularly likes to come up when she's on moth patrol as it give her a much better vantage point. And why not!

The mesmerising power of SDSB!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sonic the star

I'm pleased to report that Sonic and I just had one of our best trial days in a long time with three out of three Q's thank you very much! The icing on the cake being a very strong a second in Masters Jumping on a tricky course beating some of Perth's fastest and most exciting dogs who also went clear. I know Sonic has speed but it's been a lot of work to get him driving and stretching out on course and it felt fabulous. It was also fantastic to be able to run again now that my bad has recovered especially as there was a little bit of a sprint involved to get me where I needed to be. Sonic also had a lovely run in Masters Agility but with stopped contacts I don't expect to place in the top three however he still managed a respectable fifth with a lot of qualifiers in the 500 height. We got to finish the night off with a fun Masters Gamblers run and our third quallie for the evening.

We don't really have much on for the rest of the year. I've entered the World Agility Open tryouts but with Cassie joining us it's not a priority for me at the moment. I'm probably more looking forward to the ANKC Nationals in Sydney next year. So once Sonic has a nice long Christmas break filled with visits to the beach and relaxing I'll start putting some serious work into him (and myself I might add) as we work towards June.

Cassie the awesomest puppy in the world is going great guns. Every time she presents me with a training challenge we are able to overcome it by the next session just because she's so enthusiastic and will keep on trying. One thing that had been annoying the crap out of me though was her duck and bolt trick when I need to pick her up and put her in a crate or in her pen. She's such a party animal that she hates being taken away from the action. So I put up with it for a the last couple of weeks and made a poor effort of only using tug games when I needed to catch her. Of course she got wise to that one real quick and still wouldn't let me catch her. So on the weekend I had one of those moments where you smack yourself in the forehead with your hand while uttering "you idiot". Since then I wear pants with pockets at home at all times filled with Cassie's favourite treats on one side and her Super Doper Squeaky Bear (who shall from this point on be known as SDSB) in the other pocket. At random intervals when she's nearby I grab her collar and reward with either then let her go again. In one afternoon I changed her behaviour from suspicious to being quite happy to have her collar grabbed whenever I want to. In fact I think she's been coming over to visit more in case I do. We've also had lots of success with retrieve to hand including her SDSB outside in the garden. Now she gets the game she's off and running. Did I mention how awesome my puppy is :-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Cassie Time

Cassie has been with us for three weeks now and has totally ingrained herself into our lives. She's very cheeky but she's so damn cute I just want to spoil her rotten. She's become Sonic's little follower no doubt because he's the only one of my dogs who will play with her. I'm very impressed with how gentle Sonic is with her. She just hurls herself bodily at him but he's very controlled and lies down along side her when they're playing. When we're not laughing at her antics or playing with her I've been trying to fit in as many little training sessions as possible. Apart from the fact that I think she's gorgeous she is a blast to train. She just never gets sick of it and when I end our sessions she tries everything to get me to keep going with her. She has this an amazing attitude and energy that is going to make agility with her such a joy.

I have only small goals with her at the moment training wise. We're up to "Your Out Your In" with crate games. Crate games was a little challenging for us as Cassie's not a huge fan of going into her crate because she sees it as the place she goes when the fun stops. So I spent some time working on simply building value for her going into her crate. Once we established that things have progressed reasonably quickly. Other than that we're doing nose touches, control games, restrained recalls, reinforcement zone and go to games. The other thing high on my list is retrieve. She's become pretty reliable when retrieving one of her mid range favourite toys but if it's her super doper favourite squeaky bear then her only interest has been the grab and bolt manoeuvre. In saying that I'm pleased to say that in the fenced off training area she did bring it back this arvo so there is hope! I won't be trying it outside for a while though...think we need a bit more practice in a safe environment. The retrieve is so important to the training that I want to do with her that it will be top of our list for a while I'd say.

Here are some of her crazy antics over the last couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back to Trialling

It was great to get back into the ring last weekend at the Agility Club of WA trial. The weather was lovely and courses very enjoyable. Sonic was pretty happy to be out there again after a bit of a break thanks to my flu. I had great fun with him but it was a painful experience with my back still giving me trouble so running for me was challenging to say the least. We ended up with a nice Q in Masters Agility but unfortunately a bar down in Masters Jumping. We're back to night trials this weekend which I'm pleased about so hopefully we'll have some good ones to finish the year off.

Young Cassie is going really well. She came to last weekends trial and had a ball being cuddled by everyone and playing all day. She's such a confident little girl and nothing phases her at all. We've started doing assorted bits and pieces training wise. A lot of people keep telling me that little dogs aren't like border collies to train but I must say that so far I'm not finding it too different (other than trying not to step on her). Cassie has enthusiasm in bucket loads. She loves our inside training area and goes to the pet gate all the time hoping that we'll go in there to play. She is full on during our training sessions, is totally focused and is loving the shaping games. Her only naughty puppy thing so far is wanting to bunk off with the toy rather than bring it back and when outside absorbed in her surroundings isn't in a rush to come back when you call her. Most puppies I've encountered are exactly the same so can't blame that on being a little dog thing. All behaviours that I have no doubt I'll be able to sort out thanks to her willingness to learn.

Around the house she's settled in beautifully and the "pappy tantrums" (otherwise known as a PT) are becoming less frequent as she realises that they aren't going to work. Her and Sonic play very cute chasey games and it's a hoot watching her trying to catch Sonic when he's "it". When she arrived she was so white and clean however pretending to be a border collie has changed that and she now has more of a grey tinge after charging around the sandy bc racetrack with the others. The look kind of suits her though given that she's definitely more of a rough and tumble kind of girl.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cassie Comes Home

Well the youngster has now joined the family and is happily creating havoc in what was previously a very organised, calm and sensible household. She's itty-bitty with a larger than life personality who is capable of pappy tantrums a rottweiler would be proud of. The borders are a little bamboozled by this little creature and aren't all that sure what to do with her. Sonic has started playing with her and is pretty careful considering he looks like a giraffe in comparison when they are standing together.

Cassie loves all dogs, people, dive bombing Kenny and tugging. Her tugging fetish is indiscriminate and clothing, shoes, feet and toys are lavished with the same level of tugging ferocity. We've set up a puppy pen inside and outside to keep her safe and to give the other dogs a break from her ever present youthfulness.

I do love my border collies but this little girl is so sweet and so much fun I could easily become a papillon convert. Full of energy but snuggles into your arms when you give her a cuddle, then falls asleep on your lap when she's finished playing. It's hard not to fall in love.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Introducing Cassie

The last couple of weeks have been pretty sucky as a general rule. That's because I've had the most heinous flu I can remember experiencing. Off work for a week, coughing so hard I pulled a muscle in my back, not being able to sleep for more than three hours each night before relaunching into yet another coughing frenzy. It has really been most unpleasant and it still hasn't quite left me yet.

There has however been a silver lining. Meet papillon Beauchiot Swedish Dreams otherwise known as Cassie the cutest puppy EVER. Cassie will be coming to join our family on Friday.

I'm extremely fortunate that Jacinta of Beauchiot Kennels in Victoria has allowed me to have this gorgeous little girl. It was incredibly hard for Jacinta to part with Cassie at all let alone sending her all the way to WA. But knowing that Cassie has all the makings of an awesome little agility dog and is going to have a wicked time over here with us helped make up her mind. Apart from the fact she'll be totally loved and spoiled rotten!

For many years Kriszty and I have mused about what it would be like to have a little dog to train and compete with in agility. Every year we get to watch super papillons like Puzzle from the UK and Masher from the USA competing at Worlds and they are just amazing. But being border collie "addicts" normally at a time when I'm ready for another puppy I'd be off to get another border collie. The way things have worked out is that the particular border collie lines that I want for my next puppy aren't available to me right now when I couldn't be more ready for a new puppy. So when I came across Cassie it actually felt like it was meant to be. Sometimes the cosmos aligns and you just know that the time is right.

All photo's of Cassie by Jacinta Baker

This is going to be such a massive new experience for me given that I've only ever owned border collies. Aside from the fact that she is just soooo small. Cassie was born on 3rd July so is currently 15 weeks of age. That is a good thing as I'm nervous enough about breaking her as it is let alone if she was only 8 weeks old! I went to Better Pets & Gardens today and went a bit nuts buying new stuff for her (as you do). To try and get an appreciation/perspective for how small she is I got Riot to model Cassie's new harness. As you can see it didn't cover much...

So we pick her up from the airport on Friday. This week is all about getting the house ready for her arrival and getting excited about all the fun I'm going to have with her :-)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Perth Royal Show 2011

Another Perth Royal Show has been and gone. I had no great expectations this year after being away on holiday leading up to it and Sonic having minimal training but then sometimes as we all know that can work in your favour! The performance dog section was moved this year so that we were in front of the Show Dog Pavilion. I wasn't sure what to expect but the space was great and competing under a big marquee and lights certainly added to the sense of occasion. Lots of noise and show rides right next to us but Sonic has never been one to worry about those types of distractions when he's doing agility. Probably the only downside was the competitor area which was way too small. We spent most of the day trying not to trip over each other as we made our way to and from the ring and numbers were down this year with lots of our group heading over to the ADAA Grand Prix in NSW.

Overall we had a fun day. Sonic ran great and worked beautifully but it was one of those days were we got stung by little things. He did a super Masters Agility run but knocked number four jump wing and all, in Open Agility he got called on the seesaw, Open Jumping he couldn't get the distance (I was in good company for that one!) and in Masters Jumping I handled him kind of average which cost us any chance of qualifying.

October is a quiet month for trials so nothing until the GSDA on 15th October then we have another fortnight break until ACWA's trial. However plenty to work on and I need to get in some handling work with him to tidy things up. Sonic and I are trying out for the World Agility Open Australian Team in December and with full on European courses set to be used our handling needs to be spot in if we seriously want to think about hitting those top two spots!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Around the world in seventeen days

Back from holiday, back to work, back to reality. Had such an awesome time overseas with absolutely no responsibility other than indulging myself. Very refreshing! It was full on as we made our way to four different holiday locations over seventeen days with eleven flights and one ferry ride to get us there. With my fabulous new Sony Cybershot camera (who knew you could get 16 mega pixel cameras now??) I proceeded to take many, many photos.

Paris was all about museums and famous landmarks.

We barely scratched the surface of beautiful Crete. On the list of places to go back to.

Stunning Santorini with views that take your breath away.

Tiny Kastelorizo was a breath of fresh air. Small, beautiful and charming. The perfect place to wind up our holiday.

The Perth Royal Show 2011 starts this weekend. I've only entered the individual events this year which will be just the one day for us. No teams event with Simone off traipsing around overseas on holiday...how rude!!! With Sonic having minimal training it should be an interesting day!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Guess who's FOUR

Well I'm only eleven days late.... but it would be remiss of me to not put up a birthday post for my little banana on a big FOURTH birthday. That's right, FOUR whole years since Sonic came into this world which also means this blog has been going for almost four years. Phew!!

My handsome grown up man

I'm still really pleased with how he's going. He's running courses like a dream and I can finally say that we are working as a team. Unfortunately the last couple of trials have seen bars down which is a little perplexing. I've never had a dog who drops bars as a regular thing. It has only been two trials so I wouldn't say that that it's a serious issue just yet but certainly frustrating when that's all that is costing me clear rounds in masters classes. Interestingly he's generally knocking bars on a straight approach. Only a couple of weeks ago he went to extraordinary lengths to get himself over a jump when he'd misjudged his take off. So plan of action is some grids to see if I can balance him up. Then we'll see if the knocked bars resolve.

Ongoing agility training is still the same format for us. I'm currently teaching the Puppy Foundation Class at ACWA on Tuesday nights so after class we work full size contacts, weavers and some jump sequences. Then I do everything else at home which includes ongoing recall work and I'm still working on "The Sonic Project" which is for the most part going pretty well. I have some sessions where I want to rip my hair out in frustration or burst in to tears when I can't even get Sonic to tug with me in His Majesty Riot's presence. However perseverance/determination/stubbornness is the key and the next session is always better. I'm diligently videoing them all so I hope to post an installment when I get time to sit down and edit the footage to a viewable size.

It's more busy times over the next few weeks. I have a quick trip to Sydney for work and then we're off to Europe for a holiday. Can't wait our big trip but so much to do so little time...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Perth Agility

The Sonic Project is going pretty well. We've progressed to me being able to recall Sonic to me when he's in the backyard with Riot which he would never have done before. If I let Murphy & Soda out as well I'm less successful but that is what we are working to next. I'm making the most of any opportunity that presents itself, for example last weekend we were out the front of the property gardening. It was such a nice day that we decided to let all the dogs out with us as well. Anytime they are all let outside of the backyard Sonic considers it to be "crazy" time so I worked on rewarding on the few occasions when he was lying down relaxed with the other dogs or when he came to me when I called him. After he'd settled down he would even come over and offer me tricks for a reward which made for a nice change from him spending every second watching Riot in case he did anything interesting.

I've had a couple of weeks off trialing which was a welcome relief. I love agility but sometimes you just need a break.... We had a single trial yesterday with Sonic just entered in both Masters classes. Although we didn't come away with any quallies I was really happy with what we did. Sonic uncharacteristically knocked two bars in agility and I unfortunately pulled him off a jump in jumping. Other than that he was spot on. Just goes to show that a training program of things like recalls and foundation work is far more beneficial than going to training and running sequences over and over again. I think Sonic's greatest improvement has come from me doing the recall work. Since I started working on that his response on course has improved out of sight.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Sonic Experiment

A few weeks ago I decided that I wasn't happy with certain aspects of Sonic's performance in the agility ring. At the moment he is handling like a dream and no one could dispute that he has an absolute ball while he is out there. But for some reason I'm not getting the speed that I know he is capable of. Every time we run clear in either Masters Agility or Masters Jumping when our states top agility dogs also go clear we are always about 2 seconds behind. For those who have seen Sonic running with my other dogs he is an extremely fast. Not surprising considering that he's built like a greyhound. With that in mind I decided that my immediate goal with Sonic is to transfer that amazing drive, power and speed that he possesses across to the agility ring. And so "The Sonic Experiment" was born!

Susan Garrett has really been my inspiration for this. Her incredible dog training skills and her amazing dogs who are a product of that make me want to be a better dog trainer. I've always admired her ability to look at a situation and come up with a plan of action to work through whatever issue she is facing with her dogs. So I've been studiously reviewing the situation that I currently have with Sonic. The boy has two main loves in life. Water is right up there at number two. If I walk anywhere near a hose or water bucket he turns into a screaming banshee. With that in mind I have already gotten to a point where I can ask him to perform most agility behaviours using water as a reward. His drive when doing agility definitely goes up a notch when I do this. It took a while to get him to focus on the task rather than the fact that I was about to throw some water for him but we got there. Then streets ahead at a big number one is Riot. If Sonic even has a remote inkling that he and Riot are going to go for a run together Sonic turns into a crazed beast producing bursts of speed to make you gasp. Sonic will not respond to either food, toys or his name in this situation. My challenge is to somehow to put myself into the picture when Riot is involved. Ultimately I want to transfer that speed to the agility ring by using running with Riot as a reward for agility and thus transferring the value of it.

The bonus that I had to get me started is that Riot doesn't feel the same as Sonic (not that Sonic cares!). Riot loves to run free but if I call him he is happy to come back and when I'm training him I have a hard time getting him to leave. He will always take food or come in for a toy when offered. So I decided to exploit that particular trait to my advantage. Obviously I have to bring Riot and Sonic together gently to begin with otherwise it's never going to work. So by putting Riot in a stationary position on a table has given me the opportunity to get Sonic started with Riot as a minimal distraction. Every day I do some work on this I get something different. Some days I have a little triumph and others I get depressed but it's been incredibly interesting so far. I hope that no matter what the end result I learn heaps from the experience.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fire, rain and agility

As part of preparing for next summers fire season we set fire to a good two thirds of our property recently. Living in an area that is predominately bush we have been rather nervous during the couple of summer periods since being here. The bush on the block was really thick and looked like it hadn't been burnt in at least 20 years. The controlled burn was carried out by a group of local volunteer fire brigade personnel of whom I have a very large respect for. These guys spent over five hours getting the job done on a Friday night in their own time. They also made sure to rescue any wildlife in the way and transfer them to area that wasn't being burnt. I didn't do anything particularly constructive other than wander round with my camera oohing and aahing as things went up in flames. I did take some very cool photos...

The downside is that the landscape is now rather charcoaled and the rabbits hate us but hopefully with the winter rains upon us we should see new life sprouting very soon.

We've also joined the solar power revolution and had solar panels installed before the government stops handing out rebates. It's actually spent more time raining than sunny since it was done though so it will be a little while before we really start to see the benefits. I'm definitely looking forward to much lower power bills over summer when the air conditioner is in full swing. It's kind of nice to be living in a more environmentally friendly way. With all the rain I'm happy to say that our water tank is finally full again.

We are smack bang in the middle of agility double header madness. There are enough trials for the next month or two to render even the most ardent agility enthusiast with exhaustion. There's a part of me that loves it and another part that is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with everything so I'm going to start limiting the trials to fortnightly once I've made my way through the trials I've already entered. I've always felt that our agility competition year is too long and I think that we can over trial & train our dogs. I know of few other sports that run for an entire year. Most are seasonal allowing sports people time off to wind down and relax. Sonic loves his agility, don't get me wrong but to have any animal in peak condition for a whole year is an awfully big ask.

Trialling is going OK. We finally managed a quallie in Masters Agility at the Gosnells trial last weekend after a long drought. The courses recently have for the most part been really quite challenging with tight turns and off courses everywhere you look. Sonic is definitely reading my body better but I still see him asking questions and every time that happens we loose speed on course. I am still working on getting him to dig in and drive harder over small grids and sequences. Here is some of our recent weekend runs.

Gosnells Obedience Dog Club - Agility Trial 18/06/2011

Agility Club of WA - Agility Trial 12/06/2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Celebrate Good Times!

Two big reasons to celebrate this week. Firstly birthday time is upon us again with the Murphster turning fourteen years old.

Its ma burfday again!

He's doing really well for a grumpy old bugger. Although a bit unsteady on the old pins he still trots around the property with us each night and runs around playing chasey with Riot and Sonic in the backyard. If he wants something he barks at us until he gets it and he hates getting up early in the morning. I'm pretty sure he's having a pretty good time during this his twilight years.

The other reason for celebration was Sonic's win in Masters Jumping at the Northern Suburbs agility trial last weekend. We started the day with a really nice run in Masters Agility but he pulled out of the last weaver when I moved away (very uncharacteristic I must say...). Then we had a fantastic run to go clear in Masters Jumping. I was happy enough to have a run that felt so great and winning the class just made it that little bit sweeter.

With all the work we've been doing on recalls and Sonic's response to my verbal and physical cues I'm very happy to say that the fruits of my labours are starting to pay off. Training has seen him coming away from off course obstacles that he would otherwise have taken as soon as I've called him which is what I've been aiming for. Then his response to my handling over the weekend and some pretty tricky courses was well above what it's been for quite some time. We've got another couple of weekends of double headers coming up so lets see if we can keep the good times rolling!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Livin on the edge

Last Sunday was huge fun in the agility ring with Sonic and I managing two out of three quallies AND I didn't have to drive all the way to Geraldton! The class we didn't get a quallie in was my own very big LOSER fault when I pulled Sonic off a jump that I'm sure he would have taken if not for my meddling. It was almost a complete reversal from last weekend and even during runs where things went a bit wrong we still managed to qualify. It also included yet another opportunity for a slow motion moment in our video's from the trial courtesy of Sonic's over exuberant exit from a collapsible tunnel. There was a face plant, a roll and much gasping from spectators involved... That was after one of the most poorly timed pull throughs I may ever have done. Somehow though we still managed to come third out of about eight or nine quallies. Phew! I wasn't too worried that he was actually hurt. Stacking it is part of an average day for Sonic when he's racing around at home.

I do think that Sonic may need a few extra massages this week.

Old man Murphy has been in for a spot of surgery recently. He's had a wart above his eye for a while now which he managed to knock all the time. After getting the all clear from his regular "geriatric" vet checks and bloods we decided it was a safe risk for him have surgery to have it removed. As expected surgery was a complete success and he has recovered beautifully. Stitches come out this week and he should end up with a very manly scar above his eye which I'm sure will impress the other boys no end.

Daisy Peel hits Perth this coming weekend. Although I'm not doing the handling component as it's all Linda Mecklenberg stuff that I don't do I'm very much looking forward to the running contacts session. Quite a few people in Perth are now trying running contacts with their young dogs so I'm really interested in hearing what Daisy has to say and advise that she gives. That is definitely the upside of new training methods happening BEFORE you get your next young dog. You get the benefit of watching what does and doesn't work for everyone else first before you inadvertently screw your own dog up. I have to be honest I really have no idea about training running contacts at this stage of the game. I can't wait to see all these young dogs hit the ring when they are old enough. Just in case our WA dogs aren't fast enough, they are going to be out of sight as this new wave of running contacts start to come through!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sometimes losing aint so bad!

You'd think that after spending five hours in the car driving all the way to Geraldton, competing in nine classes over the course of the weekend, not managing to secure even one agility or jumping qualifying card and then driving five hours back to Perth might make a person slightly frustrated and annoyed. Nope, not me! Sonic was great and I had an incredibly fun time running him. His enthusiasm was contagious and he was full of gusto out on the courses. Massive kudos to the judges as all the courses over the weekend were thoroughly enjoyable being both challenging but achievable (well maybe not for me...). I do have one success to mention and that is that Sonic and I teamed up with Cathy and Snazzy to go clear with a first place in Excellent Strat Pairs.

The first run that Sonic and I had on Saturday was a super run but as he was going through the weavers they started wobbling and he literally got bounced out of the poles! It was like revenge of the weavers. With that sort of luck I had to wonder if perhaps we may be going to have "one of those weekends" and I quite possibly inadvertently jinxed us. To top it off in the last run of the day on Sunday I thought we'd finally gone clear only to realise that Sonic had knocked a bar!

So you have to wonder if sometimes things just aren't meant to be. But if all his runs are as much fun as what I experienced on the weekend then who cares :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Modern Woman?

Is the epitome of the modern woman working in the city by day donning makeup and heels while managing the statewide pharmacy application. Then by evening donning flannelette's and work boots while using power tools and lawn mowers, living a semi rural existence? Some may just call me mad...

After this evenings mowing the agility lawn is looking awesome. If only it would rain on a regular basis I could pack up the retic and start to use it. It's hard to imagine what regular rain even feels like anymore. Mind you I think I'd rather what we have than the cold, wet and windy conditions a lot of the cities over east are being pounded with of late.

Agility itself is cruising along right now. I had a feeling Sonic was sore last week but couldn't put my finger on anything in particular so I booked him in for some muscle therapy. We went to training on Tuesday and Wednesday to target some specific areas of agility that I think need the most work a lot of which don't involve equipment. On Wednesday we'd done a few flat work sessions and then I decided to fit in a couple of seesaws before finishing up for the night. After the second one Sonic started actually favouring a front leg so after a mild panic attack I comforted myself with the fact that he was already booked in to be looked at the next day. In the end it doesn't appear that he was lame but rather his muscles were so damn tight that he was suffering from overall muscle soreness. After the treatment he was a different dog and back to being happy and relaxed. I was pretty careful with him before heading down to Bunbury for a trial on Sunday and he was banned from all silly running around in the meantime. For some reason he has been mega over the top at home lately so being "quiet" has been quite a challenge. My main concern at the trial was making sure that he was completely warmed up before each event. And of course we have another visit scheduled this week for a follow up treatment.

At the end of the trial I was pretty happy. The only run I thought was "bad" was Masters Agility which was our first of the day. I was so distracted by him being warmed up properly I handled him rather poorly to say the least. I was hanging back and nowhere near where Sonic needed me to be for a decent run. Thankfully after that I pulled my socks up and he went clear in Open Agility and just a bar down in Masters Jumping. Open Jumping wasn't bad but he didn't get the distance challenge. He responded well to my handling so hopefully the recall work I'm doing with him is starting to pay off. At the moment everywhere we go we are working on those recalls!

This weekend is Geraldton so Kriszty and I are going to head up on Friday afternoon with Sonic, Terra and Shimmer. The only downside is that the World Agility Open is on and I really want to try and watch as much as I can. So the laptop will be coming and conveniently the hotel has free wireless internet...


Monday, April 25, 2011

Dog training and venting

The last few weeks have been CRAZY! It started with the Garden Show and a very full on two days at Perry Lakes. This year doing the dog training workshops with Better Pets & Gardens were so much more fun than just doing a meet and greet like last year. Unfortunately Riot was more than a little painful with Lexi coming in season at home. He was morose and depressed and really not particularly interested in performing. Thank goodness for his young son Remy who was full of enthusiasm and provided me with the perfect demo puppy to show members of the general public just how easy it is to train your dog (even ones who aren’t your own!). If all the planets align hopefully I will have my own pup there as my demo dog next year. Naturally she'll be perfect :-)

The Garden Show was closely followed by me doing the “Ask an Expert” radio segment on one of our most popular Perth radio stations Mix 94.5. I don’t actually listen to local radio, I’m a Triple J girl through and through, but it would seem that the majority of the people I know listen to 94.5 so I had loads of people tell me that they heard it. I really enjoyed the experience and it was fascinating to see the inside workings of a radio station. They were all very friendly and I was surprisingly not particularly nervous either. I think partly because after the Garden Show my brain was very much still in “general public dog problem” mode (how do I stop my dog barking/peeing in the house/chewing my furniture etc.). At the end of the day I just hope that the stuff that I’ve passed onto people has helped them work through their pet problems using the wonderful world of positive reinforcement.

All this was closely followed by Colin going into hospital for his mitral valve repair surgery. I had hoped that it would all work out so that I could still slot the State Agility Trial in but unfortunately it was not to be. For some reason Sonic and I have just not meant to have a good agility first half of the year!Colin’s surgery went really well but there were a few issues that came up post op. I was pretty upset to miss the States. I haven’t missed one since I started trialling in 1999 but these things happen and life goes on. The most important thing is that Colin is recovering well and the worst is behind us.

Finally yesterday I did get to head back into the trial ring. Sonic is pretty much back to his old pre-paralysis tick self. He is looking slim and sleek and is full of confidence and enthusiasm. I’m happy with how his agility is going and I absolutely love running him. The main thing I’d like to focus on improving right now is our team work on course. Our weakest skill is appearing when he works away from me where he is still coming off my body and taking off course jumps. Yesterday’s Masters Agility was a carbon copy of Masters Agility at Cloverdale where I was stationary and he was working away from me and then he drifted off to whatever jump was in front of him. When we do tight courses we don’t have a problem. So I’m thinking LOTS of recall work to strengthen his response to when I call his name on course and I’m too far away for my body position to have an impact. I’ve got a few trials coming up over the next few weekends so hopefully that will give us the opportunity to get it happening.

Now onto the depressing part of agility. We have received the results of the latest ANKC agility rule review…
Firstly I’d like to provide the dictionary meaning of Champion in case anyone is confused as to what the word is supposed to mean:
“someone or something, especially a person or animal, that has beaten all other competitors in a competition”.
It would seem the ANKC definition for agility champion is now “someone who manages to get around an agility course - doesn't matter if you beat any other competitors”. Apparently these days everyone should be a champion and nothing can be seen as sacred and left for people to have something to aspire to. Imagine if a racehorse was called a champion just for making a lap around the racecourse. There is a reason that Phar Lap was called a champion. Something to do with winning – a lot! And don’t even get me started on what’s been done to the seesaw, or as it shall now be referred to "the baby seesaw". Other than to say it’s an embarrassment for Australian agility and I can just imagine the elite agility nations laughing their arses off at us. If people can’t be bothered training their dogs to do agility as it was intended (like the rest of the world) then go and find another hobby like needlecraft and stop torturing those of us who actually want to achieve something in our sport. What a joke. Think I’ll be entered in a lot more ADAA trials in future. At least they take agility seriously.

Aahhhhh, I love to vent (and before anyone says anything, yes I did attend our states rule review meeting and WA didn't want any of this). What a shame it won't make any difference!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

He's Back!

Finally Sonic is back in the ring and it felt great. We both had a blast. So close to a clear round in Masters Agility but he did his drift off my arm thing and went over an off course jump. No amount of calling or moving my body seems to have any impact when that happens. Then he gave a very tricky Masters Jumping course a pretty good shot with me having to put my hand up for the stuff up. He missed the dog walk contact in Excellent Gamblers in his hurry which was rather naughty but all in all a pretty good day.

I would really have liked for Sonic to have had the opportunity run in another trial before the State Trial but no such luck. There is an ADAA trial on next weekend but Riot and I will be at the Garden Show doing dog training workshops. Riot hasn't done anything for a while so it will be fun for him to get out and do his Better Pets and Gardens thing again. His son Remy will be joining us as my demo puppy. Riot is just too well behaved and people think that they can't achieve the same thing with their own dogs. Plus I think Remy's owners could use a bit of help! From what I'm hearing Remy is quite the handful.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love a Gamble!

Just for something different here is a video of my big fluffy boy Riot doing a Masters Gamblers run last weekend. I only enter Riot in games these days (and even then it's only occasionally) because I would like to eventually finish off all his Masters titles of which he just has Gamblers and Snooker to go. Riot isn't a big fan of agility however if I only do it every now and again he seems to enjoy himself well enough. He gets trained maybe once a month just to keep his paw/eye coordination in tact and so his contact behaviours don't disintegrate completely. I don't normally video games runs because they are hard to follow however luckily for me Mike kindly videoed this particular run and Kriszty uploaded to You Tube.

As it happens I'm extremely glad that they did because Riot was such a legend! The Gamble challenge was pretty hard with dogs having to come out of a tunnel and do a massive push out to a jump rather than the jump that was directly in front of them. Many of our seasoned Open and Gamblers dogs couldn't do the Gamble but with a simple "out" command from me Riot happily obliged and changed direction in the blink of an eye. What a star! Not just a pretty face is this boy :-)

It was also a small consolation with all the problems I'm having getting Sonic back in the ring and into the same condition he was at the end of last year. He's finally gotten the all clear from the physio. She discovered that he was quite sore through his back which is no doubt why he didn't seem to be using his back end properly since he's been back in training. Then last week he ripped a nail off his outside front toe which required a trip to the vet and antibiotics. So, fingers crossed he can do some training tomorrow even if not on the contacts and with a bit of luck he'll be back in the ring by early April and even better ready for the State Trial in mid April!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Birthday girl

Beautiful Noodle

I have to start this post by paying tribute to my beautiful Soda-Pop who turned 14 years old on Saturday 5th March. Her priorities in life haven't changed since her last birthday and still revolve around eating, sleeping and eating. Right now all I do is enjoy every day that we still have her with us.

Soda's two favourite spots.....kitchen

and lounge.

The weekend saw another Western Classic come and go. Hard to believe that it was Sonic's very first agility trial two years ago. The overall weekend was pretty good. Sonic managed a fourth in Masters Agility, second in Open Jumping and third in Excellent Gamblers. He also did a stella run in Masters Jumping but knocked a bar. He is running pretty well but a couple of seconds off the speeds that he was hitting towards the end of last year. Considering what he's been through it's great to see that he is on his way back. I'm attempting lots of core strengthening work with him to help get him back into agility shape.

Unfortunately the last night was not so good for the teams events and he DQ'd in agility which basically cost us the event. I went to turn him and the little bugger shortend stride and even turned his head, but then proceeded to head straight over the wrong jump. I was so disappointed and the words I used at the time would not be considered lady like but such is life and such is agility...

On the positive side Lexi was a total legend all weekend. Second in Masters Jumping and clear in both teams events. Things haven't always been easy with Lexi given that she's not mine and has been in out of agility over the four years I've been training her to have babies but when she's hot, she's hot and the over weekend she was a superstar.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Summer, summer go away

Where do frogs hang out at our place when it's hot?

The dunny!

When disturbed he just launches himself into the bowl and swims off down the pipes (this is the man toilet in the shed I might add...). I may well have had a different reaction if I came across this scene in the house, and not just because of the frog.

His own private swimming pool. Lucky frog!

I'm so sick of this weather. Every week the weather forecasters tell us "possible shower", but it's all lies. Even with an air conditioner it just gets tedious when it's day after day. Hopefully we don't run out of water. No scheme water to rely on out here. Every night on the news another part of Australia is getting flooded but Perth can't even seem to manage a light shower.

Riot checking his emails

The agility lawn is well and truly ready for the new retic to be installed and to be mowed properly but it's too hot to do anything productive. So its just getting longer and longer. Looks pretty amazing though I have to say. It would be nice to actually start using it but the retic pipes are in the way and I have no doubt that I would fall over them.

When feeling that I'm not getting enough done I get to remind myself what it looked like in October last year...

This week and desperately needing a mow!

Sonic is starting to look more like himself every week. I've been doing lots of grid work with him at home and he is slowly getting back into condition. We are getting the feel for each other again which is awesome. We have an ADAA trial this Saturday night which will allow for some much needed ring practice before the Western Classic.

Look at my fur!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

It's Puppy Time!

I wanna get me a bundle of cuteness!

Puppies, puppies are everywhere. I'm totally jealous as I wait impatiently for my next bundle of fur. I've been resorting to kidnapping everyone else's littlies to play Its Yer Choice games and inhale the scent of gorgeous puppy. Even Riot has fathered a litter of puppies that I went to visit yesterday just before they head off to their new lives with their new families.

One of them, a little boy, was a real cheeky little thing. While his sister was happy playing in the grass he just wanted to stay with us and play his little heart out. Then every now again he'd go and dive bomb her, have a tussle and then he'd be back for more people time. If he wasn't already spoken for...