Monday, November 29, 2010

Dottie's BH Photos

In case you did not follow the link in the previous post: (all photos by sam)

Heeling to the start position after the long down.

The slow.

Normal. I'm concentrating very hard on counting my steps.

On leash group.

Fast off leash.

After the heeling pattern looking to the judge for direction.

Down in motion.

Recall. Very fast.


Crooked but very attentive.

During the critique. Who is that good looking puppy?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dottie's Second Agility Trial Day 2

Big news from today- Dottie is now Dottie von V NA! (novice agility title.) No jumpers title yet.

Today was cold. Brrr... As the day wore on and the wind came up and my lips got more and more chapped and my nose ran and my dry and cracked fingers continued to catch on things I asked myself 2 questions: 1) Why am I here and 2) Why doesn't California have any INDOOR agility? The answers are 1) Because it is fun (usually- when it isn't so cold! and 2) Because supposedly CA has nice weather and doesn't need it. Agility in 100 degrees in the valley in the summer and in the muddy slop in the winter (or the show getting canceled to protect the grass or because it is flooded) would suggest differently. Heat is usually our problem, but shows do get canceled in the winter due to rain. I would love to show agility indoors in perfectly flat footing.... sigh.... but back to today.

Another long day. Pie ran in the morning- no QQ- knocked bar again in jumpers and first place and 56 points in standard. Dottie ran at 3pm for her first run. She knocked the second bar (same one Pie did!) then did well the rest of the run. She ran really wide on the closing sequence and sliced the second to last jump and knocked that bar also, then ran around the last jump. I didn't go back to fix it because it was my fault she went so wide, I'm sure.

In standard she had 2 faults (2 allowed in novice.) She went around 2 jumps. I forgot to support each jump. Yesterday I remembered and we had much more success. It is hard to remember your young dog needs much more help than your seasoned dogs. She also ran fast and happy in standard. She did her contacts nicely and ran fast for the last tunnel, finishing a head of me. Dottie is a good puppy.

Dottie sleeping on the couch with Fancy and unknowingly posing with her ribbons. 2nd place and New Title.

Close up of the tired puppy.

Who is taking pictures of me as I sleep?

I am too tired to really care and fall back asleep right away.

Is this the same puppy who is now one week away from being a year and a half years old and has a BH and a novice agility title? She's grown up physically but not really mentally (as my much aggravated father can attest.)

Next weekend- the AKC Agility Invitational!!! Fancy is invited for her 5th time and Pie is invited for the first time. Next year it moves to Florida for 5 years (boo!) so this will be our last time for 5 years. Unless I win the lotto and fly my dogs there. (Unlikely.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dottie's Second Agility Trial- Day One

Today we had a local trail. One judge, one ring. Fancy and Pie ran in the morning (one Q each- they wanted to give me reminders for the Invitational. In Fancy's case- do not say GO! unless you want your dog to really GO! and take and off course jump and for Pie, do not do frantic, flailing front crosses in her path as she is over a jump because the bar will probably come down) then Dottie didn't have her first run until around 3:30. It was nice and cool today, even cold at times. Just as we were leaving around 5 it started to drizzle.

Dottie ran JWW first and the GO! work I've been doing with her paid off. She took 4 jumps and ran ahead of me to the weaves...oh wait.... she was running towards what she thought was a toy lure but turned out to be a drill. That's ok. She came back, did the weaves, then finished up nicely.

In Standard she stopped on her A-frame contact when I asked her to and did fine up until the table. The tunnel was after the table and she tried to bypass the table to take the tunnel. I called her back to the table, but it was a run out so she got one refusal there. She drove to the end of the teeter and I did a front cross (late) at the end of the weaves. Then it was jump, jump end and since my fc was late, I ended up behind her on the last 2 jumps. I told her GO! and she went! I was so happy! Unlike Pie, she doesn't know that she can pick up her leash at the end. I'd like to work on that because after GO!ing so nice, she didn't get a reward and looked kind of lost.

To recap: The "go ahead of me" work I did with the toy paid off in both our classes today and she drove ahead and didn't stick right by me. I need to continue that work. At one point she saw a drill on the side of the ring and thought it was her toy and drove to that. Good news is she didn't pick it up. She got a first and a third. Since she does not ever get to run to her actual toy in competition, I hope I can continue to get her to go ahead. My next goal is to get her playing with her leash because that is in the ring at the end of each run. Pie figured that out pretty quickly, once even picking up and extension cord that she thought was her leash.

Little Dottie and her ribbons from today. Someone asked me why I run her in 24 inches. Because she is 22.25 inches tall! (The cut off is 22 inches and the .25 might be generous. There is no tricky measuring that would get her under 22 inches to run in the 20 inch class.) Because she is so slight, she appears much small than she is. Some people think Pie is very large, even over standard for a female. But Pie is 23 and some and the standard for females is 24 inches, with disqualification occurring if the female is over 25. So she is in the upper end, but she is not huge. When you put Pie and Dottie next to each other you see they are close to the same height and Dottie is not as tiny as she appears. Yet her 4o pounds to Pie's 60 makes Dottie appear to be a mini-Mal. (Disclaimer- Dottie may have gained weight. She feels much heavier than usual when I pick her up to shove her in a crate.)

Dottie is sleeping on the couch with Fancy and I, tired out after her big day of agility, pestering Pie when we came home, then practicing tracking articles.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dottie's BH

Dottie passed her BH on Saturday. The BH is an obedience and temperament test all dogs who wish to participate in Schutzhund must pass before they can go on to earn other titles. I decided to enter Dottie for her BH when I decided to buy the trailer. I knew I had to travel over 300 miles to pick it up, and didn't want to waste a weekend driving with no dog events to participate in. There were no obedience or agility trials in the vicinity of Northern CA that weekend, but there was a SchH trial. I began working extra hard on Dottie's obedience and sent our entry in. She didn't know how to "finish" (go from the front position after a recall into the heel position) and everything else needed polishing. Your obedience for the BH does not have to be perfect, you just have to get enough points to pass (it is pass/fail) then you go onto the "traffic" portion which tests to make sure the dog is safe for society.

After working hard to get more ready, I was disappointed when the club holding the trial called me to say I was on the wait list. I relayed my disappointment to a member of my SchH club who told me the San Diego Club was holding a trial on the same weekend, and our helper/ decoy was judging. Unlike AKC, anyone can show under anyone else, unless you are in the same household as the judge. Even though the club was in San Diego, 3 hours in the opposite direction that I would be headed to pick up the trailer, I decided to go. I had missed the first closing date, but the club was nice enough to let me in anyway. Also something that wouldn't be able to happen in AKC.

The show started in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to drive down. Which was good since it was raining very, very hard. It rained so hard I had to creep along because I couldn't see through my windshield. It rained for just about the entire 3 hrs. Complicating matters was the fact that I didn't know where I was going. I did not receive directions on how to get to the club, and they do not have a website! I did not have a number for the club. I called a few different people as I drove and got some directions which got me there.

I arrived at the field and walked Dottie around a bit. The judge (who I know) showed up and had me walk Dottie on the field and do a down in the long down spot so she could eyeball her surroundings. The other dogs present at the time had been to the field before and were familiar with the surroundings, or, they had already helped themselves to practice. It is good he had us check out the long down spot because the location is marked with a small flag, which Dottie was convinced was a tracking flag. Down went her nose and "Sniff, sniff, SNIFF!" could be heard, probably back at my house. If it had been in the trial, hauling her away from the flag by her leash probably would have been frowned on. After chilling awhile in the down spot, we left the field a did a little warm up since we were the first team. A few days before the trial Dottie had started giving me "poop face" while heeling. This is when she squints her eyes and puts her ears back and does not have the nice forward, interested expression/ attitude that is so important in SchH. Yet another difference from AKC- attitude is judged. If your dog trots on the retrieve, you have a big problem. If your dog flinches on the down in motion, you get points off. Compulsion is used by the majority of SchH trainers, and yet the best trainers still have dogs who are happy workers, because if they are unhappy workers, they will not score well. Back to the poop face- maybe it came up because I had been working her too much or for some other unknown reason, but it was not present at our club's field the Thursday before the trial, and it was not present at our BH either, I am happy to report.

The first part of the BH is a very general temperament test. You shake the judge's hand and he checks a tattoo or microchip. No problem. Then we went onto the field. Dottie had to do the Long Down Under Distraction first, while the other dog did his routine. I should have spent more time training this. I was very nervous she would break, but somehow she made it through, albeit with some wiggling and turning sideways. After the other dog was done, I returned to Dottie and it was our turn.

We started off our 50 paces down field and I could see out of the corner of my eye Dottie was projecting the picture I worked hard to get. Head up, ears up, looking at my face. Our about turn could have been a bit better (it is a turn to the left.) I thought our fast to the slow was pretty good. Into the group and she got really distracted and the leash was tight, but then she caught back up. Leash off for off leash heeling, back into the group. Dottie nosed one man in the rear end and he turned around to see what was going on. Maybe I thought I was poking him?

Our next trouble spot was on the right turn near the end of the heeling off leash. I completely lost sight of Dottie out of the corner of my eye. Where was she? I lost count of my paces (the judge does not call the heeling pattern) and had to make something up. She eventually caught up and we finished. I heeled her over to set up for the moving sit and the judge told me - praise her. It's not that I forget, just that sometimes I can't figure out when you are allowed to do it and went you can't.

On the sit in motion she did a down- pretty common mistake but I know she can do a very nice sit. I know we'll get it during our SchH 1 routine. Her down in motion was nice with a fast recall and good finish. Then we reported out and were done with the obedience portion. The judge knows Dottie is young and called her slight lapses of attention "young dog moments." I call them "shinny penny moments" (as in - Look! A penny!) or maybe I should call them Orange Moments-I'll have to relay that story another time. We had some good feedback- he said her drive and desire for the work is very good. There was one exercise we got an Excellent on, but I can't remember which one. Except for the sit (insufficient) we got all High Very Goods and Very Good. Maybe the long down was only a Good. I wish I got a copy of our sheet so I could report more accurately and not be accused of inflating our ratings, but they don't do that.

After the critique, I gave Dottie a proper reward, then put her away. Then I put my Gortex rain gear on because it started pouring. ALL the other teams got soaked. I'm not sure Dottie would have held her long down in a downpour, as some of the other dogs did not. So, we were lucky!

Most of the other BH teams passed obedience. One GSD was very silly and had some very good moments but also broke the long down and did not do the sit or down in motion so could not be passed.

The protection dogs did their Obedience routines which adds retrieves and a really long go out. Then it was onto the traffic portion. The rain had mostly stopped but now it was really muddy. I had to be careful not to slip. Dottie didn't have a problem with anything, even though the judge is the person she gets to bite every week. She knows when it is time for biting and when it is not time. Mostly the presence of the bite sleeve tells her when it is time.

After passing the traffic portion, Dottie now had her BH. Her first title! Introducing Dottie von V(my last name removed) BH!!

I watched the protection routines before heading home. A 2 year old female GSD got a 90 going for her SchH2 (but she failed OB so no title this time) and a big male GSD was excused for being out of control while trying for his 3. He kept biting the helper when it was not time, such as during the set up for the escape or during the back transport. It was a small trial- those were the only 2 dogs entered.

We headed home to get some rest before the trip North to get the trailer. Even though the first trial didn't work out, I'm glad it was suggested I go to San Diego. The drive was long and the rain was wet, but it was worth it. I am looking forward to showing Dottie in her obedience for the SchH 1 (need work on the retrieves) and in AKC obedience. She is the first dog I put so much time into getting a certain style of heeling. And also really focusing on attention. Pie is sadly lacking in attention. I wish I had trained her correctly. But I didn't know how to get what I wanted. Now I (mostly) do, thanks to the trainer in the SchH club!

No pictures because it was dark and raining. Wait! I found this:

And this!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Of Dogs and Cars

Dottie: doing her best to eat/ destroy her baby kong left over from her puppy days, which she just stole from Pie who was munching it.
Pie: watching Dottie until she spotted the bone next to her elbow, now eating that.
Fancy: curled up on the couch next to me, nose under tail.
Three happy dogs.
I got a tune up done on my car today. Also a high output alternator to go with the trailer. I had new brakes and rear rotors put on last week, and that, combined with the trailer wiring equals A LOT of money spent on my car. The only trailer related expense was really the wiring and the alternator but that might have been going anyway because my headlights dimmed sometimes at idle. The Buick has been paid off for some time and it is my goal to NEVER have car payments again. I am hoping this maintenance helps it last a long and useful life. It has 93,000 miles on it and is a 2006. Seems like a lot of miles for a youngish car. So far the Buick has served me well. It certainly fits a lot of dogs! 8 dogs and 2 people is our record so far. And don't think those were a bunch of toy breeds either. To recap, we had:
2 Malinios
2 Border Collies
1 Largish (30 pound) Tibetan Terrier
1 Largish (30 pound?) Corgi
1 Sweedish Vallhund
1 20 pound mixed breed
The Rendezvous is an often overlooked car for dog people, but it is a good choice for me!

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Trailer Pictures

Your inside look at my new home away from home.

Fancy has to check it out for herself. Note the step to make entering and exiting easier.

Modified bed- real mattress added. "Bunk" in the down position.

Tiniest bathroom ever!

Came with free TP! I got my money's worth. Storage and vanity.


The rest of the photos are here:

I think it is a great trailer. Small, but I knew that. If it were bigger, I wouldn't be able to pull it with my car. Did I mention it was small?

My Newst Addition

No- not a dog- a very small travel trailer! More later since it is 1:14 am right now.

Left the house at 7:30 am, just got back at 1 am, and this is what I brought home! Car pulled it fine. Worked a bit harder than when not pulling, but that is to be expected. So is the abysmally low gas mileage. Other than that- drive from Santa Rosa was good. No sway, good braking- even avoided the Flying Mattress of Death.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dottie's Hips

I had Dottie's hips x-rayed at the mobile vet clinic at the Dixon show. She had, "The best hips I've seen all day." I did not submit them to OFA because that is extra money and as a rescue, no one cares what her hips look like except me. It is great her hips are so good (full coverage of the ball by the socket and a very straight line from tip of socket to tip of socket for those not in the know) but I still think something is going on with some part of her body.

The regular vet was not in, so they were not offering knees/ patellas to be examined. It could be her knees. She doesn't bend them when she walks, but does when she trots. When she holds and carries the full sized heavy sleave after she has won it (which probably weighs almost as much as she does- well, it isn't quite that heavy, nor is she quite that small) she skips a step every so often in the rear. Dog with luxating patellas do that. I'll have her knees looked at next.

If she does have luxating patellas, then she is in good company because that is what I have. Except when one of my knees caps luxate I don't have three other legs to stand on and therefore I usually end up in a heap on the ground, writhing and screaming in pain. Well, not quite- but that is what I feel like doing! Note to self- do NOT attempt to run Fancy on an agility course, after twisting your knee while running Pie, because not only will it be so badly injured you will need to use your folding chair as a crutch to hobble back to your set up, and even when using the chair you might almost not make it and will have to stop several times (at least you have a chair to sit in but you know you'd better not because getting in and out will be impossible for your knee), and your friend will have to load your car and walk your dogs to the car for you and then your knee will be so swollen it might not bend enough to fit it in your car and once you finally get it in, you will have to go through the drive though fast food window to ask for ice in a bag to put on your knee. If you ignore this note to self, be sure to at least also order a drink so you are not 100% a weirdo going through a fast food drive through ordering only ice in a bag and nothing else.

So- back to Dottie. I also had her heart listened to by the heart doc who declared, "No problem hearing HER heart!" and also that it sounded good. Heart trouble is not the cause of her lack of agility stamina. At our first trial I used a glycogen recovery shake and also some energy/ power bars made special for dogs and I think one of those things helped. She seemed to have the same amount of energy for the second run as the first run.

Tomorrow we go to San Diego for Dottie's BH, then on Sunday we go to Santa Rosa to pick up the trailer! Lots of driving. Getting the trailer will be worth it. Crossing our fingers the drive to the BH is worth it also. I seem to have neglected training the long down. (Cue ominous music.)

"Stand for Exam" Story

The below is a post I wrote for an obedience email list after some people were mentioning different ways to train dogs for the stand for exam exercise. I was thinking about the various methods I used and thought my general experience might be useful for people to read. After posting it a reader asked my permission to post it on her website. It seems she felt it was a worthwhile story. I have not said yes or no yet because I need to check out her website first and make sure she is not promoting anything I disagree with.

And the story...

My first obedience dog was a 11 year old guy who had a hard life physically but still had a nice solid little temperament. (Adopted at 10, no obedience or training or house manners before that.) He was neither excitable or timid. The novice stand for exam (SFE) was very easy for us. He didn't resent the judge nor was he inclined to get all silly when pet. He just stood there. We always got full points. We did not go past novice due to his increasing deafness, which when combined with his dimming sight, made retrieves impossible. (A side note: perhaps my proudest training moment- a 12 year old dog doing a full length retrieve for the first time in his life. Took us a full year to get there. No play drive, no chase drive. Did it twice then when I tried it the next day he couldn't find the dumbbell. But he tried. I didn't ask him again. What a nice little dog he was.)

Around the time I started showing him, I found a score sheet from my childhood Rottweiler. At the conclusion of her obedience class, the instructor ran them through a pre-novice routine and the score sheet indicated our pet dog (handled by my mom) had failed the SFE. Having only the experience of my solid old man, I asked my mom, "What kind of dog fails the stand for exam?" Well, those fateful words laid a curse on me, and I have no one to blame but myself!

My next dog was shy when I got her, and even snapped at the very first stranger who tried to pet her. That was the day I pulled her from the shelter. (Now I know better- don't let people pet your brand new rescue dog until you know the dog better!) Before ever starting her in ob I had friends give her cookies, and she watched the old guy get pets, and figured people aren't so bad after all. She was always fine on the novice SFE. But when we got to utility she had problems. I was 10 feet away, and the stranger was being very intrusive on the bending over and petting all over. She did not like it. We got through it by me proofing all kinds of weird things like dragging a large branch under her and doing an exam with a pay phone hand set still attached to the pay phone. But she never liked the exam and for a dog of her temperament, I understand. We got the UD but did not go on. She felt abandoned and insecure with a stranger feeling her up while I was some distance away. I trained her to endure it, but did not want to subject her to it after the UD. She has come so far from that first day, though. She happily goes up to strangers for pets, but I am with her, and she controls the situation by approaching the stranger, not them approaching her. The SFE is a good way to show your dog is trained, but a very artificial exercise that goes againstthe dog's nature.

Onto dog number 3. A Malinois. Big. Scary. Sometimes have iffy temperaments? Ummm.... no. Pie cannot contain her excitement at the thought of a stranger petting her. The stranger you are, the more she loves you. Her even most best favorite? Very, very, large men. A new training challenge. Going from a shy dog who resents the exam to a dog who loves it so much she wants to come towards the judge as they approach, or follow the judge as they leave for more pets, and if she is able to contain those impulses, wiggle so much while being pet the feet move quite a bit. We've had many comments about her being the friendliest Malinois examined. There are other Mals out there who are very friendly, but Pie is just the most demonstrative. She has her UD and a few UDX legs, but I still do not have a solid STF. It has gotten better over time, but not perfect by any means.

And my newest dog. Another Mal. Just 17 months. Haven't been working AKC obedience and there is no SFE in SchH. But I will do AKC eventually. Dottie is friendly also, but not nearly as wiggly as Pie. I think if I train it carefully she will have a nice solid stand. Maybe I have gone full circle, back to my first dog, and will have a nice fat Zero under point deductions for SFE, but never again will I ask the fateful question, "What kind of dog fails the stand for exam?" Because I know only too well- lots of kinds fail, and I've had all of them!

Bloom: "I was the best Stand for Exam dog ever!"

Blossom: "I did not get to do SFE, but I probably would have been good. And if not as good as Bloom, just as cute!"

Fancy: "Stand for exam was not my favorite. Sorry."

Pie: "Pet me. Please? See, I even have three antenna and pretty beautiful butterfly wings to make me more petable and less scary. And petable is a real word because it describes me most truly. I am the most petable Malinois ever. Pet me and find out. You'll see. Just do it." (Wiggle, ears back, wiggle....)

Dottie:"I promise not to do this to the judge during the stand for exam when I finally do AKC obedience. Unless he has a padded sleeve, and a stick that he waves at me. And if that happens, it probably isn't AKC obedience, so then it is ok, right?"

Oh the Things You Can Learn....

Free information on the internet! Just use your discretion to make sure it is from a reliable source. The below is from Wikipedia regarding the letter "C."

At this time ‹k› had fallen out of favor, and ‹c›, which had formerly represented both /ɡ/ and /k/ before open vowels, had come to express /k/ in all environments.

What I want to know is, Why don't letters fall out of favor anymore? I am going to start a grassroots effort to have P fall out of favor. It is such a homely letter, a bit under used. See? With out even trying, I did not use that letter one single time in the above sentence. Down with P!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time to Waste?

Also check out the tab called "Photos."

In other news- Dottie had some not so good and then some good training today. "My" field near the base is green again with no foxtails so I'll take up my tracking again at lunch. Hope to make some progress there. Rode my bike to the park with the dogs for some training, then took a bit of a longer way home. Gave a private obedience lesson, now reading and looking at awkward photos online. Soon it is time to go to bed. That was my day today. Ah yes, I worked also.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Videos from the Weekend

A nice solid Double Q for Pie from Saturday:

Dottie's Runs (minus her first Jumper's Q):

Dottie practicing for her BH:

Back from our Arizona Adventure

Align Center Dottie in Arizona.

I went to AZ to visit ffluffy over the long Veterans Day weekend. It was a great visit! Friends should never move away, I think. In addition to visiting, we went to an agility trial. Dottie was entered for the first time!

I left Wednesday after work, and also after a quick practice for Dottie's BH. She is entered for that next weekend but I just got a call saying she is wait listed. Very disappointing!

I ended up leaving my house right after 6pm. I hit traffic on the 101, rush hour, I suppose. Drove through the dessert and did not get abducted by aliens. Seems like that is a thing that could happen driving the lonely desert roads late at night. I had audio books to keep me from being drowsy but much to my disappointment, my library did not have a good selection. Most of their books were on tape! Who has a cassette player in their car? My 2000 Miata had one (and a CD player) but my 2006 Buick does not. Bummer. I settled on Emma but ended up turning it off as I approached Phoenix and found a good radio station. Did not really enjoy it at all.

I pulled off at a rest stop around midnight to get the blood flowing. I decided to use the restroom but felt it is not 100% safe to use a restroom at a rest stop so late at night. Who knows who could be waiting in there for me? I decided to bring Pie with me. Some people tell me even the friendliest Malinois will protect you if the need ever arises, but I'm not sure that applies to friendliest combined with a slight lack of self confidence. Besides, Pie is so friendly, how would she recognize someone is a threat? No- I did not take her for protection, but deterrence. I have had a few people tell me she looks intimidating enough that they would not "mess" with her, and by extension, me. If a bad person was lurking in the rest room and they saw Pie, I'm sure they would continue to lurk until an easier target happened along. And with that thought, I felt confident enough to use the restroom without apprehension.

It helps that Pie does not walk nicely on the leash. I kept her in heel position with her straining forward and looking semi out of control and therefore unpredictable. A dog walking obediently in heel position isn't as intimidating as a dog I can barely control. I also told Pie, "Watch him." even though there was no "him." However, this made Pie look around like there might be someone to bark at. Now she looked very aware and somewhat uncontrollable, and therefore, a force to be reckoned with. Dottie is more likely to actually bite someone if the need arose, but her slender build makes her look like a puppy, and also a dog that would easily be tossed aside. In the audio book I am listening to now there is a dog named "The Safeguard." The person given the dog complains he didn't protect her when the need arose and his owner says his job isn't protection, he is a safeguard. That describes Pie pretty well. Dottie does not look like a Safeguard. It is nice to have an intimidating looking dog when driving alone late at night.

I made it to ffluffy's house around 1 am, which turned out to be actually 2 am since AZ does not do daylight savings. My stop at midnight had reset my sleep cycle and I was not tired. I went to bed around 4 and got up at 9 the next morning. ffluffy and I spent the day going to different dog training locations while she either gave lessons or took them. I got to work Dottie in obedience in a building while ffluffy took an agility lesson, then again that night I worked her a bit in an agility lesson. We had dinner at a good pizza place.

On Friday ffluffy had to work, but I drove to Queen Creek for the agility trial. Pie was uncharacteristically naughty in standard, then Qed in jumpers. Dottie Qed in her first ever standard run, then knocked a bar in jumpers. Dottie also broke her start tine in jumpers, but not very decisively. I let her go since I want speed and don't want to squish her desire for agility. (More on that later.) Fancy was not entered. We had dinner at a good bar and grill. And went to BR for icecream.

Saturday Pie QQed (2 firsts) and Fancy QQed (third and fourth) and Dottie did not have any Qs. We had steak for dinner. Yum. And ice cream cake we bought the day before. I eat too well when with ffluffy.

Sunday Pie QQed (2 firsts) Fancy was not entered and Dottie got a jumper's Q. Then we went back to ffluffy's and packed up. I left around 5 and ran into traffic in Phoenix. Then again on the 10 in CA when the freeway was shut down for about 30 minutes due to a multi-vehicle accident. I don't think anyone was killed, happily, just a narrow stretch of road with no where to move the disabled vehicles to until they could be towed off. For the drive home I borrowed audio books from ffluffy as to not be subjected to Emma again. The Mistress of the Art of Death is about a women forensic doctor in England during the second Crusade. Very good!

Below is from an email I sent a friend with my thoughts on speed in agility and a report of Dottie's first show. Speed in agility is important for Dottie at this time:

(Talking about a dog we know...) She has sped up since last time I saw her. ( I think she
trotted her entire first course.) It is somewhat typical for a
person's first dog to be slow because the handler is more concerned
with being correct than fast. Quickly they come to realize that
control comes at the cost of speed and control is easier to get over
time but once speed goes away (or was never there) it is very, very
hard to get it back. Agility needs control, but speed is really what
the game is about. Fancy Pants was fairly slow at one time because
when she was wrong I'd make her go back and do it again and she didn't
want to be wrong so she'd slow down in order to give herself more time
to figure out what I wanted. I like the analogy of a new (nervous)
driver going somewhere they haven't been before, with their passenger
shouting "turn LEFT!" at the last second while they are trying to go
the speed limit. Of course that driver is going to slow down. I
realized with Fancy if she did something wrong, just pretend it is
right, because I needed her to run faster. Over time, it worked and
she sped up nicely. She'll never be as fast as the "real" agility
dogs like Border Collies, but that is because of her breed and because
she wasn't bred for any particular working purpose. In (name removed) case
who knows if she will ever speed up more because maybe she doesn't
have any drive, or maybe (the owner) will never focus on speed. She has
the dog in the preferred class which gives her more time. If she moves
her up to regular when she gets into excellent she won't make time,
then will be concerned about speed but it maybe too late. Plus, for
some people when they want more speed they just encourage the dog
more, but still make them go back and fix stuff or show disappointment
if the dog is wrong. You can cheerlead all you want and it won't
help. You have to fix your own attitude towards running the course.

Yep, I know something about getting the most speed out of a dog who
doesn't have an ingrained desire to go insanely fast. :) Which is why
when Dottie ran around jumps this weekend I didn't go back to fix
them. She doesn't run around jumps in practice. I think it was the
distracting new environment combined with my forgetting she is a new
dog and needs me to "work each jump." Running a new dog you forget
they haven't been doing it for years and forget they need more help
than you are used to giving. She had some really nice pieces of runs.
I think with more time and training she will turn out fine. I need
to get her to drive to jumps, rather than just be kind of blah about
jumping them. She did drive nicely a few times, so that gives me
hope. I also need to fix my a-frame. She missed the contact there
all but once. Knocked some bars. No off courses though. We had 2
runs a day over three days and she qualified twice. One in jumpers
and once in standard. She broke her start line once and I let her go
because again if you want speed and a dog offers to go it means they
want to and to stop them is to squish that desire. I was happy with
our performance. As I said, I saw some things that makes me think she
will turn out a little better than I had originally thought. I'll be
posting the videos in a bit. My very last run with her was our second
Q and the guy that filmed me used his camera and then couldn't give me
the video because it is on TAPE. ! Not sure I'll ever get a copy of
that one. :(

Pie was also good, having 5/6 clean runs and getting first in each
class. The competition in AZ is not as stiff because Fancy had 2 for
2 clean runs (only entered one day- running 3 dogs is expensive!) and
she got a third and a fourth and in CA she hardly ever places.) Pie was nice and fast
and her consistency gives me hope for the Invitational which is bad
because if we mess up I'll be disappointed. And if I know she can do
well and I do something stupid to ruin our chances that is even worse!

... end of email

As I said, I'll get the videos up before too long.

It was great to visit with ffluffy, nice to see her house and town, fun to play with her dogs again, and a good agility trial.

Fancy sleeping on a dog bed thoughtfully provided by ffluffy.

Which left this dog bed for Pie...

Actually I think Pie picked this bed on her own. She likes to sleep in beds like this that are too small for her.

Dottie slept here to keep her out of trouble.

This is from a picture in the guest room I was staying in. It looks exactly like Fancy! It was titled Sailor Boy. I wonder if I can get a copy somewhere?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Buying a Trailer!

Very exciting! It is a 2005 Shadow Cruiser Fun Finder T-139. One of the Mal ladies at the Dixon show is selling it. Getting a good price, which I needed, because some work is needed on the Buick to take it up to its max tow rating. Putting in an electronic brake controller, a heavy duty radiator and a high output alternator. The tow package that could have been ordered with the car when new cannot be added afterward. I have not been able to determine why. It also states it includes a transmission engine oil cooler, but Buick has no part number for that. Looking at my radiator, there is a transmission line going into the radiator so it already has that built in, which explains why there is no part to add. So why does the tow package list that as part of the upgrade if the radiator already has it? Buick is not very helpful when I've called them.

Remember the post about replacing the battery? Looks like replacing the radiator and alternator is going to be just as "fun." The radiator seems to be under the engine mounts, and the co-worker looking at my car today couldn't even see how to get at the alternator. I think he might have been thinking about volunteering to do the work for me, but probably changed his mind after seeing that.

The trailer weighs 1600 empty. The Buick can pull 2000lbs with no tow package. With the package it can pull 35oolbs. As I am now, I am within limits, but I am cautious so would rather have the extra ability the tow package offers. Engine cooling abilities is what makes the tow package equipped car able to pull more. The engine is not bigger nor are there larger brakes. The weight ratio of the trailer vs the Buick is not changed by the tow package. My safety will not be comprised, just the "safety" of the engine. That is encouraging. However, I still plan on getting the Buick as close to possible to the factory specifications as if it had the Buick tow package installed.

I understand why you can't call the dealership and get a sunroof added, but why can't you add the tow package??

The trailer itself: 14 ft long, tiny shower and toilet, 2 burner stove, frige (I'll be adding a microwave.) The table used to convert int a queen bed but the previous owner modified it into an extra long twin. I think I may need to add a small folding table in that location. There is also a fold down bunk above that. It has heating and A/C as well. Not a lot of room, but enough for me and a friend! (Plus the dogs of course.)

I do not think I will be using it every weekend, but I plan to take it to OR this summer, and to the Invitational in a few weeks (if they still have RV spots open) and Las Vegas the weekend after that (if there is camping at the trial.) Dad plans on using it some too. IF he can find places to take it where it is "wilderness" camping with easy enough access that it can get in. I'm going to use it to "camp" at dog shows and RV parks. The Buick does not have 4wd or enough ground clearance to get into wilderness campgrounds.

More pictures coming after I actually own it. I should be picking it up around the 20th of Nov (going back to Dixon area to get it!)

Bunk is right above. A small folding table (stowed while towing) will still fit between the 2 seats.)

A step up from my first trailer! 600 lbs teardrop towed behind the Miata. I should find a picture of that. The teardrop and Miata won out in the "cool" category, especially with the flames I had put on the trailer.

Day 2 of Dixon Show

No obedience qualifying legs again today. Pie was still happy, again doing no warm up. She did her signals today but failed the articles. Not because she brought back the wrong one (she got them both right) but because she was confused and thought we were doing the go out! She went towards the articles, then veered to do the go out. I do not think it was avoidance, I think she was confused. Sh reched the far side of the ring and stood there, and I waited to see if she would realize her mistake. She did not so I told her to find it again. Usually I NEVER give a second command on articles but did this time since she was unsure what to do. She flinched forward like she thought I was proofing her so I called her name and she came towards me, then, just as the judge opened his mouth to say "Exercise finished," I redirected her with an arm signal to the pile and told her again to find it, which she then did. She went right to work and brought back the right one.

In open all was fine, still some distracted heeling, but stayed with me on the fast and no stress lagging. On the drop on recall I said "sit" as I walked away (as I always do) but used my "heel" tone of voice and she came with me. My fault. Yes- she should listen to what I say, not how I say it, but tone is very important (to my Mals, at least) and I should remember to be consistent. Goes to show that since humans mess up (and we understand the game) of course dogs can honestly mess up too. How would I feel if Pie berated me, or snubbed me, or glared at me or jerked me around by my neck when I messed up by essentially gaving her the wrong command? I'd feel stupid and not enjoy what I was doing and not want to do it anymore.

In groups, we did the down first. Pie appeared to have passed but the judge told me she inched forward with her rear off the ground, failing us. Also, as I returned she inched forward more, rear on the ground. Judge said we would have been ok with with, but it was what she did while I was gone that caused the failure on the long down. The inching on the return is stress related. Next we did the sit and she passed that. Last time we did the down first she went down on the sit but this time she passed. Good girl!

I'm dismayed at the number of times Pie has failed the down. It is the easier of the two group exercises, in my opinion. I've started practicing with food near her front feet so if she sniffs or inches I can tell her to leave it. Have to see what that does for us.

The ground was very wet, having rained all night. However, this was the nicest day of all. Sun shining and blue sky! We had a bit of excitement as a lady leaving couldn't drive her truck pulling a large RV trailer and got out yelling and waving her arms for people to move their cars so she could leave. She almost got stuck in the mud and I understand her frustration, but that is never an excuse for rudeness. She even threatened to ram people's cars then call the police if people didn't move their cars. Seems like she would have been calling the police on herself...

The drive back home on Halloween was fine. I listened to the last audio CDs of "Fall of Giants." GREAT story. Then I started Assagi (or something like that) by Wilber Smith. The first book of his I have "read." Started off cheesy, I thought, but I'm really into it now. I've never listened to books on tape on a long drive before and it is the way to go. I stopped at my parent's house to return FoG to my mother and saw her amazing Halloween costume. She had borrowed it from a movie costume department and she was the Queen of England. I forget which one but there was even a red curly wig. Very cool.

It was a a good trip to Dixon. Sleeping in my car was not a good idea, but it was nice to be on the show grounds with other Malinois people.