Sunday, March 29, 2015

Growing Up

Puppies truly are exhausting!  Young Veto is keeping me very busy and our previously experienced calm evenings pe-Veto gone for the time being.  My cute little sleepy puppy has been replaced by a long legged, crazy eared adolescent who has taken over the house.  The boys still dislike him but fortunately the girls are happy to contribute to his entertainment.   

Veto has really got the hang of the whole shaping thing now and is learning really quickly.  Mostly we do body awareness games, go to mat games, and recallers games.  I don't really have anything specific I'm focusing on other than him learning to wait/be released and teaching him to retrieve.  At the moment his idea of a good time with a toy is having a game for one with it, but I must admit he has over the last few days started bringing it back, albeit intermittently.  I'm working on teaching him a formal retrieve to speed things up as bunking off with a toy is right up there on my list of most annoying thing your dog can do.  However I figure that if I can teach Cassie to bring her toy back Veto should be a push over... Overall he's a really lovely dog.  There is plenty of naughtiness in him and when he's amped it's a case of baton down the hatches but I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun with him.

Things are going really well with Cassie's ring rehab.  So far we have run in two classes and both have had very successful ring entries.  The first time back in the ring was at the Western Classic where I ended up scratching her from the Masters Jumping class (the course was just not right for her) but ran her in Excellent Agility.  She has an amazing run but thanks to my lazy handling she missed a tunnel entry which gave us a refusal and then DQ.  Her start line was superb and her confidence was high.  At the next trial she was flat as a tack earlier in the evening (for reasons only known to Cassie) and nothing I did could get her engaged for her Excellent Agility class so I scratched her.  I had made a decision after finishing the Ring Confidence course that unless she is 100% with me then I'm not running her.  So it was my commitment to that decision kicking in.  After having such a flat dog I had thought there was no way she was going to be OK for Masters Jumping.  Fortunately before she was due in that ring one of the other rings finished so I was able to use the ring ropes to work on happy ring entrances.  After two or three rewards she was fired up and happy as Larry so I decided that we would give the Masters course a try.  Thank goodness we did as she was fantastic and ended up going clear and winning the class, 12 seconds clear of second place.   It certainly confirmed that the decision to scratch her from the earlier class was the right one.

Such a relief to have some success back in the ring and have a dog who is happy and confident again.  She is still improving in leaps and bounds.  At training she is a different dog.  Not that she didn't work for me at training before doing the Fenzi School courses but it's a different attitude in her that I see now.  I never start training her until she asks me to so I have a dog who can't wait to get started and actually pushes me to get on with it.  And I never give her more energy than she gives me, so I'm not trying to "gee" her up anymore.  She isn't showing the same turn of speed in the ring that I'm getting at training but hopefully I'll start to see that soon.  I'm still working hard on our proofing exercises at training particularly with the lead steward.  Cassie seems totally non-phased by the judges presence but still needs to look when the lead steward comes to get her lead.  So at training, with the ring gates set up I've been getting people to follow us in nice and close and even leaning over Cassie to take the lead so that she is proofed against even the most obtrusive ring steward we could come across!

Our next trial is at Cloverdale next weekend.  Whether we go or not will depend on the weather as it's our first day trial for the year and at this time of year the weather could go either way.  Then after that is the States in mid-April.  I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself with that one.  I would so dearly love for Cassie to do well and she deserves to be up there as she is such a talented little dog.  I just have to try and keep the pressure off and my mental game at the ready to make sure I continue to do a better job managing her and keeping her 100% happy!