The Grass is Greener in Europe

It’s funny how everything always seems better in Europe. I’m pretty sure it’s not some magic utopia, but sometimes it certainly seems that way. At least in the world of dogs, they seem to have a much more balanced view. They seem to be more responsible owners, are able to keep their dogs intact and not have huge overpopulation issues, and they seem to have much better breeding programs. It seems so easy to find a thoughtfully bred dog in Europe, without all the drama we have over here. Certainly helps that, once again, most dogs are intact over there and people actually have breeding rights on their dogs. Yet somehow they seem not to breed things willy-nilly, and actually care about testing and genetic issues in the lines and producing sane dogs. It’s so novel. Probably not as ideal as it seems from the other side of the internet though. Probably.

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Europe also seems to have such a higher quality of sports as well, I watch them do obedience and, wow, so much fun! Then you watch US obedience and, well, not so much fun going on. Such different training methods and attitudes, I’d love to train with some of these folks in Europe, so inspiring as to what obedience COULD be. And, of course, we all seem to think that Europe has much better agility. And it certainly seems like the caliber of the average agility competitor is much higher there than it is here. And a lot of that has to do with the competitions. You train for the level that is set at a trial, and the level seems way higher over there. Crazy amount of talented dogs and handlers, and it is an actual competition. Yet, I also know because it is way more competitive there than it is here that I’m sure a large majority of dogs wouldn’t make it in a more competitive environment. I do love that ALL dogs can be successful in agility in the US. Still, how inspiring would it be to compete on that level at trials. I know why people always want to go to Europe to compete, we literally do not have that type of competition anywhere in the states.

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So trying to feel inspired by watching european obedience lately. Haku and I have been struggling to find something to progress with. I get stuck feeling like if I want more precision from Haku I have to take away enthusiasm, and I don’t want to do that. So we are just stuck doing the same thing in obedience, kind of badly but at least in a very happy way. But we don’t have any goals and we’re not actively working on anything – and Haku NEEDS to have things to work on. But, admittedly, precision is just not his thing, never has been. He gets worried and frantic and I don’t like it – and he doesn’t either. So it’s a balancing act, and one I need to figure out a plan for us to continue to have an active goal we’re working towards.

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It would help if Haku actually learned in a linear method, but he never has. Practicing, even good, focused, deliberate practice, never actually results in Haku’s performance improving. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. You really do have to sneak up and take a very roundabout route when training Haku – and have faith that just magically he’ll one day sort of do it. But not soon. And know that he’ll then forget it again, and we’ll have to sneak up on it again. He’s an interesting guy to train, that’s for sure. And I’ll admit that this can make me a horribly sloppy trainer when working with Haku, as I know that being a GOOD trainer actually DOESN’T HELP. Still, the process is what we need, so going to work on adding some fun and active obedience practice to our routine. Just because it probably won’t actually make us any more accurate is no reason not to have fun anyway. 😉

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Meanwhile, Bright and Navarre are happy to be back in agility. Bright seems much more focused and, well, relaxed about it all. Maybe a new agility Bright? We’ve been having fun and no particular skills she seems to be struggling with at the moment. Her threadles and backsides are looking good, she seems to really recognize the cues these days. Again, I suppose. Thinking about moving her 16 in USDAA next year. She’ll be 7, and why not? We have no big goals, she’ll just get to go faster. 22 has never seemed like an issue for her at all, but we have nothing to prove.

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Navarre continues to struggle with extension to collection. He CAN do it, but the first time through a sequence I’ll often cue the collection and move on and he doesn’t collect AT ALL. While before he was often somewhat wide, he was still TRYING. This isn’t even trying. So then we’ll run it again and he’ll usually actually respond. But the first time is when you really want them to actually respond. We have continued to only reward from my hand with the tug. He’s been enjoying that. I can’t say it’s actually made any difference, but he does have 2 years of thrown toys already imprinted. Running away and tugging is way more work for the handler though, I can tell you that.

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I should see about getting Navarre to an obedience match to see what he looks like. When he’s focused his obedience is not looking half bad. He’ll never have Haku’s enthusiasm … but Haku’s enthusiasm is pretty ridiculous. Navarre is just by nature a laid back guy, but he seems to enjoy obedience these days. Mostly. He’s much better at the new Open exercise than Haku – but then, I actually taught him his positions correctly! I’ve already learned to accept that Haku will be moving forward on his position changes. He just does! It’s not bad though, I don’t even think it’s scoreable, he just comes forward into his stand, even though he CAN kickback, he doesn’t. And Navarre has a lovely transition from sit to down, he kicks back into a stand before folding back down. Navarre does not actually have a stand cue though, so we need to work on that …

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I think maybe THIS time we’ve officially moved on from Summer. It made a surprise re-appearance this week that I did not enjoy. But hiking today it was raining and 60 degrees and we were all so happy. It’s not even muddy … yet. Give it time.

Oh, I entered Haku in some agility! They’re offering a tunnelers class at the USDAA trial in October, so he’ll get to play in that. Hopefully he’ll have fun, love that dog. We’re doing a lot of agility in October, but it’s usually the perfect time of year for it. And then we’re probably going to cap it off with some obedience the end of the month as well. Which I haven’t entered yet, because it doesn’t sound nearly as much fun. But it’s inside, clean and climate controlled – novel. And Special Haku Time is always special. After October, we shall see – I’ll bet we’ll be ready for a break at that point …

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Healthy

I’m not one to go to the doctor unless I have a medical issue, and I’m the same with the animals. They get their vaccines and neutered, and then it’s just ‘as needed’. I don’t do yearly vaccines or anything that would prompt me to bring them in for no particular reason, so they can go a long time without a visit.

There is one thing I don’t screw around with, and that’s teeth. I go to the dentist every 6 months and I try to keep a close eye on everyone’s dental hygiene. This really varies, some animals never need any teeth care – others just lost the genetic lottery and they have crappy teeth. Such as Maine Coons, they have notoriously bad teeth, and, naturally, Dragon is no exception (Fizban’s teeth are fabulous, of course!). Dragon had also been limping, which is very disturbing – I’ve never had a cat limp! But I think he just did something stupid, as it’s been a week and he’s been improving steadily.

We did head into the vet today though, as I made the appointment last week and wanted to get his teeth looked at so he’ll be ready to bring in for his dental at some point. The vet couldn’t find anything concerning that could have been causing the limp, so hopefully that won’t be an issue. Teeth she said are a 1.5 on a 1-5 scale of crappiness. Not an emergency, but should come in sometime in the next year. Dragon actually did way better than I thought he would, he was panting in his kennel on the way there, which is always freaky, but he wasn’t actually overly freaky at the vet and was relaxed on the way home. Go figure.

As long as I was going in with Dragon, I brought Haku as well, as he has quite worn canines at this point – he’s always had soft teeth. I don’t believe Haku has been to a vet since he was neutered when he was 3? Maybe he has, not for anything serious anyway. Vet said his teeth look wonderful other than the worn canines and there is nothing they can do about it anyway. Apparently they can wear them down to nubbins and often not have any issues. So, hey. So no action needed on Haku, he looked fabulous, he loved the vet – such a good dog.

I always feel somewhat extraneous going to the vet, and today was no exception. Haku weighs 38 pounds (same as always), Dragon weighs 18 (which is a LOT when you’re carrying them in a cat carrier …). So that’s our vet excitement for a while, hopefully. Navarre continues to be a good boy, so no immediate plans to neuter his tiny balls. If and when that happens we’ll get his hips checked too, but I have no concerns about his movement.

And, yeah, this vet takes about 25 minutes to get to, but I didn’t like the vet that was 12 minutes away, though in emergency obviously they’d be closer. But I think I’ll stick with the Newberg vet unless there is a pressing need for time. Finding a good vet can be hard to do …

Hm, AKC

It’s human nature to have an unhealthy relationship with drama. From politics to dog drama, it’s just so interesting to watch people be so invested and passionate about certain things. The world of dogs is especially entertaining, because it’s just all so fricken arbitrary. I can’t even imagine how much time and effort, broken friendships and livelong bitter feelings can come about from a disagreement over coat color or tail docking. When people are passionate about something, even things that really are completely meaningless, they will hold on to their beliefs like it’s a life and death situation.

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So, yeah, AKC obedience is actually CHANGING. I don’t even know how long the basic format of obedience trials has been around, but it’s been a LONG TIME. 30 Years? 40? 50? 60? And a few things have changed, the jump heights have come down, there is no more group stand stay and a few other exercises. But, for the most part, traditional obedience has been in it’s current form for probably longer than I’ve been alive. Naturally, the idea that they’re changing has thrown people into a tizzy. And what an amusing tizzy it is. Because there are no mild reactions, it’s either they’re making everything WAY TOO EASY or WAY TOO HARD. And, of course, ‘This will kill obedience, this is the end!’

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The changes are very mild, I think they struck a nice compromise. They still have group stays in Novice, but the dogs are on leash and the handlers right there to protect their dogs if anything goes wrong. No more out of sight stays – hurrah! This has not gone over well with the traditionalists, that’s for sure. I will never support an exercise that your dog’s safety relies on the training of a bunch of other people you don’t know. The stays themselves were fine, but boring – I never saw the point of doing them EVERY TIME. And the replacement exercise seems fun. Well, more fun than stays. Nothing really new, despite the cries that no one will be able to teach it and it’s too hard for Open. Heh. It’s just position changes, and you can use a verbal.

Anyway, I approve of the changes, I hope they’re implemented, but then again, I’m not their target audience. Obedience is not my passion, just because it’s the same stuff every time. It was fun to get through Haku’s UD, but the UDX – meh, the same thing over and over again. I have to decide if I really want to do any more trialing with him. Yet we need SOMETHING to do. Hm …

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In the meantime, AKC trial this weekend – a BIG show. Long days with lots of waiting and oh so many pinwheels. Oh, AKC, you are so convenient with by far the most trials in our area … but, oh, sometimes I really don’t like AKC agility. Sometimes the courses are fun and interesting, and we have fun. I don’t expect them to be super hard, and not everything needs to be super hard. And you certainly don’t need backsides and threadles to make a course challenging. And then you have weekends where it’s figure eights and pinwheels and running up and down the arena three times and I have no idea why I’m there. I trial because I like AGILITY. Not accumulating Qs and points, I just want to go run some fun courses and see if our training is working.

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So, yeah, this weekend was pinwheels, figure eights and running up and down the arena. And when we were successful it wasn’t satisfying, and when we weren’t successful, like when BOTH dogs missed their weave entrance in their jumpers course this afternoon, after waiting around for hours to run – I am then unfairly annoyed at an easy mistake. I don’t like feeling annoyed with my dogs, it’s a silly mistake, when Bright missed her weaves in USDAA I didn’t care, there were plenty of other things on that course I wanted to try. But there was nothing I wanted to try on the AKC course, it was just a missed double Q for Bright and Navarre still needs one more jumpers Q to move to Masters.

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Dogs were good, and we did have fun this weekend – and admittedly there is a hormonal pissiness at the moment which is coloring just about everything around me. This is not a new issue for me with AKC agility, or just agility in the US. But, yeah, still there. I like to run agility for agility with challenging and fun courses and I don’t care if I qualify, but I feel like I’m wasting my time and money to go to a trial to run figure eights. That doesn’t mean I will be successful on figure eights, but just give me interesting courses that I really want to run.

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So Navarre missed two weave entrances today, both straight on speed approaches, something to work on. And still surprised both dogs did the same thing in jumpers. I did find it amusing, I worked on table this week after discovering how badly my dogs do USDAA table performances. Ha! They were terrible again at the AKC show, Bright especially! I use the table all the time where the dogs stay there while I’m working another dog … and they stand. So they’re all good at going to the table and lying down … and then immediately getting back up as soon as I walk away. Heh. Not really their fault.

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Bright does continue to feel very easy and consistent again. Is it a fluke? No weirdness at all, she was just easy and happy. And I’m all like, “I should finish Bright’s MACH!” Heh. Well, we’ll see if that ever happens. She went 4 out of 5 this weekend, her only mistake was the weaves. This hasn’t happened in the world of Bright for quite some time, it’s pretty novel to go out and Bright just acts like we’ve actually trained these things. Novel. I hope it’s not just a phase, but I’m feeling optimistic.

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Navarre also felt pretty easy and definitely better with his trial gooberness. Still some though. Not as focused as he was at the USDAA trial, thinking a lot more about what was going on at the score table and such. Better though – progress in the right direction! He finished his AX and even qualified his first run in Masters, just edging out Bright. There wasn’t much handling involved in the course though, just running back and forth and no turning, so a good one for Navarre. The baby dog is still a baby dog, but growing up, ever so slowly. Love my boy!

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And loving Fall, which arrived right on time. We went hiking on the equinox and it was PERFECT. Crisp and beautiful and the dogs were so happy not to have heat and smoke anymore. We did it, another Summer survived! Love having the windows opened up again and so looking forward to Fall hikes and taking the dogs everywhere again.

Of course, then I looked at the forecast and they have 85 degrees on Wednesday. Seriously? Don’t piss me off, weather, I’m PMSing.

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Back to Normal

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Packed up Lulu and the kittens today and brought them back to the shelter. Poor little guys, they looked so shocked. Tomorrow they’re off to be neutered, which is not going to be fun either, but then hopefully on to their new homes. Kittens, of course, should be easy to place – Lulu may take longer. She appears to really hate other cats and dogs, and is naturally flighty in temperament, so that’s a lot of restrictions. She is such a sweetie though, and she’s SO into people food, it cracks me up. Doesn’t matter what it is, she wants a taste.

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I’m going to miss that little family, they’ve been with me for 6 weeks now. We had some worrying moments during our time together, but for the most part it’s been a wonderful experience, and SO much easier than the Sunshine kittens! Lulu was a wonderful mom, and the kittens were so … smart. Just crazy that kittens were totally housebroke at 3 weeks. Why can’t dogs do that? Loved watching the kittens grow, and two was very manageable. The set-up worked out really well, I felt like they had plenty of room yet my other animals didn’t feel at all affected. Kittens are awesome, so much fun to play with – yet not have a 20 year commitment.

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They tried to get me take another litter when I dropped these guys off, but we’re all ready to get back to some normalcy around here. I’m open to the idea of fostering again during my winter break. I’m also open to the idea of adding another kitty to our household in the future. I miss having a lap cat, the Maine Coons are awesome, and we do have our cuddles, but they are not lap cats. I miss that. Lulu and kittens were also not lap cats, and also very TINY. One of the reasons I ended up leaving the Sunshine Kittens with Bruce is that the Maine Coons just overwhelmed them, they’d try to play and the SS kittens were just crushed. Hence why I ended up with Dragon, so Fizban would have a buddy – and they do great together. So I contacted a Ragdoll breeder up in Washington that I’ve heard lots of great things about, and she seems really nice and very open to helping me find a ridiculously cuddly lap cat to add to our family. Ragdolls are big cats, like the maine coons, with that same easy going, get along with everyone personality – but floppier and snugglier. I think the right cat could fit in really well here, so that’s a possibility for next year as well. We shall see.

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In the meantime, apparently Oregon doesn’t have seasons anymore, we have Summer and Winter, and that’s it. We had that very cold Spring that suddenly went into our very hot Summer and now we suddenly went from 94 degrees last week to pouring down rain for days on end and 55 degrees. Yesterday a thunderstorm parked on top of the arena while I was teaching, and we rarely ever get thunderstorms here – it was nuts! So that’s been a bit of shock, but I’m not complaining. I am so not a fan of summer, I’ll take this crazy rain any day.

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There has just been a lot of out of the ordinary stuff this summer, I’m so happy to be back teaching agility – I’ve missed my classes! Happy to have my bathroom and closet back and not managing the fosters (fun though they were!). Happy to be back doing agility with another trial this weekend. Happy to have the weather back to reasonable and able to take the dogs with me. Just getting back to our normal routine. Which still isn’t quite ‘normal’ yet, even though we’re coming up on our one year anniversary of moving out here in November.

I even turned on the fireplace today, just for a bit – loving the sudden cool weather!

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USDAA Video!

Very fun little trial, and less apocalyptic today, the wind shifted, the smoke was gone, the rain arrived – Oregon is back! Once again, I ended up running everything I entered. Everything moved along so quickly, just fun times. Dogs didn’t seem tired either, though the last run, Master Challenge Jumpers, Navarre’s head kind of exploded. Of course, after his run I was a much better handler for Bright – no taking things for granted. It is hard to go from Starters Jumpers to Master Challenge – very different skill set!

The big news of the day, Dove and Navarre finally had their Sibling Pairs run, which Heidi and I had talked about when they were wee tiny babies. They are one adorable pair, it was really fun to finally fulfill that wish.

Navarre finally got a Starters standard leg! Biathlon Qs, no problem – starters courses, much more difficult. Weaves and contacts continue to look good, jumping is smooth, and, other than our end of the day implosion, no running around jumps. Such a fun boy to run!

Bright also had a great weekend, we felt more connected than we have in a long time. Today I flubbed our standard run, I just wasn’t far enough ahead to serp – but then she flubbed her dogwalk, self releasing. Bright’s latest stopped dogwalk performance is 4 off, and I’m okay with that – as long as she waits for release. Which she did, the run after that! She missed a weave entrance in Masters Challenge Standard, but other than that little bobble she looked great. She even won steeplechase finals – WITH REAR CROSSES, I’d like to point out. I got a bit lost on course and ended up steering from the rear at the end, but she handled it just fine. See, she CAN rear cross.

And guess who finally, 5 years later, got her AAD? Thanks to Tammee and Penne we are now officially all in Masters. No rush or anything. Now, as to whether we ever enter the games in Masters, well, we’ll see. At least we can enter jumpers now.

It was an exciting baby dog weekend, the dogs seemed really happy. And Haku even got to go to the actual Oktoberfest afterwards, and eat lots of dropped sausage buns. We got a little wet, but Haku is so good with that kind of environment.

Doggies are good and tired this evening, I believe we have another trial next weekend – AKC. I bet the courses are not as much fun …

 

1 Year Anniversary

One nice thing about Facebook is the memory feature, it is fun to see random glimpses into what was happening on this day in past years. Recently Navarre’s first ever trial popped up, well, his AKC debut anyway. I had randomly decided to head out to Utah and decided to throw him in an AKC trial just for fun. He was only 16 months, had just learned how to weave, had just moved up to 20 inches – he was one raw puppy.  He had a great time with lots of running around jumps as he waved to his ‘fans’.

It was no surprise to me that Navarre was going to take his sweet time growing up, and he did not disappoint. We haven’t trialed all that much this year, but we have had plenty of exposure to new places and venues. Running Navarre in trials vs practice is quite different, just because he does need to check things out and goes wide as waves to the audience on course. And that’s okay, my goal with any baby dog is to have a good time and making trialing fun and stress free. There is so much going on at a trial, it’s quite overwhelming, every dog is different with how long it takes them to feel comfortable and confident in the trial environment. Fenwick took three years!

So the big news is today was the first ever trial that Navarre did NOT run around any jumps or wave to the crowd – it felt … just like running Navarre. It was actually rather novel, I think my baby is growing up! Well, kind of. He’s still a giant puppy, and it was so cute to see him romping all over the field with his new friends he made today. He just wants to romp and play like a big floppy puppy, that’s for sure. My other dogs just roll their eyes at him.

I can see the agility dog Navarre will be someday, and he’s going to be amazing. I’m already so happy with what he’s doing, we have our issues, every team does – but the skills that I tried to put on him have really stuck. He’s so easy to run when he’s not running around jumps! He’s not the tightest dog, but I never expected him to be – he makes up for it, he can really move out and I love how comfortable his jumping and handling is. And he’s so happy, he really does love the game and tries so hard for me. I feel incredibly lucky to have my big dorky puppy, just adore him to pieces.

Had so much fun with all the dogs today, Haku even got to tag along and spent lots of time chasing the Jolly Egg out in the field and hanging out with random border collies. MOST border collies do so well with each other, because they IGNORE each other, except for Navarre, who didn’t get the memo.

Such a fun little USDAA trial up at Daisy’s, it moved along really well, with two rings. The weather cooperated and it stayed cool, I had no complaints about the outdoor ring. Well, except for it was cool because the smoke was back and once again the world looks like it’s about to end. And when we’re sitting around running dogs in circles while meanwhile the world is burning down around us, this is probably a sign of some sort. But I don’t know what to do about it, so I played with my dogs.

Surprisingly I didn’t end up with any conflicts, I ran back and forth a lot from the different rings, but it all worked out. I even ran ALL my runs today, which is crazy. 5 runs for each dog. But it didn’t seem like too many, and the dogs were excited are raring to go the whole time. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I gotta say, it was so much fun to back at agility. We enjoyed the Summer of Tricks and Hiking, but it’s not the same. I do love agility, and there were some fun courses today.

Brightypants was exceptionally happy to be there, when I think of what she was like when we first started trialing, such a different dog these days. And that took years for her to just let it all hang out. She doesn’t care about the dogs or people anymore, there were even CHILDREN there, and she gave them a bit of side eye, but she didn’t even go dramatic on me.

Bright really surprised me, other than some low one and two jump work, we had no warm up coming back from our break. She’s fat, I thought her pad might rip on the contact equipment, she hasn’t been jumping 22 in forever – and she did great. She knocked one bar, the double in steeplechase, but I think that’s it. Perfect weaves too (for both dogs, what superstars!). Running dogwalk, well, not so much, we gave it a try in gamblers and then put a stop on it for the rest of the runs (which needed a stop anyway). She was just SO MUCH FUN. Gah.

Which was the theme of the day, I love my dogs, they’re super fun, we all love agility – especially when the courses are interesting. Almost all the issues were mine, naturally. Except maybe the table, which Bright got up four times during the count – ahem. But, once again, how often to we actually practice the table? Yeah, never. I also tried to fudge a rear cross with Bright by using a threadle arm, which worked once, then she did the correct thing the next time I tried it, which was to, well, threadle. Bad handler. A couple non-supported jumps too – also bad handler.

I was happy with all the runs with the dogs, and we even pulled off some Qs, Bright got masters standard and gamblers, steeplechase and biathlon jumpers (I messed up biathlon standard – whoops!) – Navarre got an advanced gamblers, and biathlon standard and jumpers. We dropped a bar in starters standard, so our Starters Curse remains, and sliced the broadjump in steeplechase (my fault!). I was thrilled with all our runs though – did I mention how much fun my dogs are? Good times.

There is some video floating around out there, that may or may not be shareable at some point …

I’ll leave this ridiculously cute pap/yorkie puppy in its place:

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Frankie!

Confidence Camp

Things have been busy. Well, for me, not so much the dogs. We had yet more 100 degree weather and health hazard smoke from the wildfires, then the dogs tore off their pads. Yeah, not been too exciting to be a dog around here recently. But the good news is I’d like to say we’ve FINALLY put that last 90 degree day behind us, and it should be reasonable until, hopefully, next July. I’m kicking Summer to the curb, but unfortunately it keeps kicking back. Maybe this time it will stick.

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Really enjoyed the Summer of Tricks, the classes were so much fun and I can’t even tell you how cute. I do love tricks! So many new trick titles are now out there in the world and the plan is to do more trick classes during winter break as well. It’s been hugely inspiring for me on many levels, we’re continuing to work on putting things on cue. We’ve been enjoying it, but so happy to be back at agility!

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Navarre is the only dog in the family that preserved his pads, so it’s been fun to just bring Navarre to play a little before classes this week. Whether it’s excitement from the break or just being by himself without the others, Operation Chase Me has been going exceptionally well. My biggest concern is he would be lukewarm about the whole thing, but he now actually likes to chase me. The funny part is that he actually does NOT like it when I (accidentally) throw the tug toys, he looks disgusted with me. Frisbees are for fetching, tug toys are for tugging – he’s been pretty clear. And, once again, surprisingly happy to play with any tug toy I’ve brought out. It’s a mystery, but I’ll take it.

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Navarre has forgotten how to collect, however. While we have lots of chasing, we had to break out the food to actually get him to stop launching into the stratosphere. Dork. Still, I’m feeling pretty good that he’s at least warmed up for the USDAA trial this weekend. Now, poor Bright I hadn’t even worked her up to full height with our 2 jump work yet, she’d just been jumping 20 with Navarre. This week was supposed to be about getting her comfortable with 22 again. Well, what shall be, shall be. She just ripped a hole in one pad, and it’s looking pretty good, so hopefully she’ll be healed up for some practice on turf tomorrow.

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Last weekend was the long awaited OSCD Confidence Camp, which was just a whirlwind. I had been half looking forward and half dreading it all year. This was definitely an experiment, and the hope was a weekend of dogs having fun and learning to relax and open up and play. But that’s a tall order, asking dogs with stress or motivation issues to play in a new environment surrounded by new dogs and people – and then ask them to do it for two days! I was worried the dogs would be shut down or overfaced, I worried they would exhaust themselves and I really worried about whether they would come away with more positive than negative experiences. It can be hard with sensitive dogs, good intentions aside, it was a lot to ask.

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What I discovered though is that if you give a camp for more sensitive dogs, the type of handlers that sign up for it are AWESOME. They really want to help and support their dogs, they don’t want to stress or over-face their dogs either – this was one fabulous group of handlers. The energy of the camp was amazing, I was so pleasantly surprised to see everyone so open to trying new things while at the same time completely supporting and making sure their dogs felt safe and comfortable. It really did end up being a weekend of people playing with their dogs, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a few days is just trying to get dogs to feel comfortable and really play.

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I didn’t get nearly enough time with each group, I felt like we barely scratched the surface before we were rotating groups. But the whole scope of the camp is HUGE, and there are so many facets that couldn’t be covered in a week much less half a day. This is the hardest part of agility and training in general, getting a dog that is ready to play. To me the training part is easy if you can get your dog to show up to the party. I hope it was still worthwhile, I hope people had fun and the dogs amazed me going the whole weekend and still engaged and happy.

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Overall I felt good about the event, there are definitely some things to change – like I should not attempt to just lecture about the overall scope of focus and motivation. OMG, way too broad a topic! And I’m a do-er, not a lecturer in general. Talking about broad generalities is not my thing – all dogs are unique, I want to work with them one on one. I wish I could have taken more photos, would have been so fun to just photograph the whole event – people playing with their dogs, there is nothing I find more fun to capture. I did take some pictures at the fun match, but it wasn’t quite the same.

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This may happen again next year, certainly a lot of interest in it – but Tammy ran herself into the ground organizing this one, so, we’ll see. Having Laura up to teach was awesome as well, she’s definitely the right choice for this kind of material! A huge undertaking which so many people helped pull together, it was a very special event.

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With trick classes and camp over for the year, I started back to agility classes this week and I have missed them greatly. I really love agility and I love my students – having a break helps me never feel burnt out on it all. We have a burst of trials coming up in the next couple months but no big plans.

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Lulu and her kittens are doing well, and getting BIG. I’ll have them for one more week before they head back to the shelter to be neutered and then adopted out. I may be biased, but they are awesome. The kittens have turned into tiny cats, they are crazy fast and athletic and climbing and jumping and scamping everywhere. They are also a little more into me these days, like they’ve finally noticed I exist. The have also noticed the dogs exist more, and find them somewhat overbearing. Because they are. More cautious around the dogs, but mostly just spending their time at top speed.

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Little tabby kitten is currently being rehabbed. He crashed the first morning of Confidence Camp, turned out he had a bacterial gut infection. He’s back at the shelter getting antibiotics and bottle feeding – and improving. Poor little guy, scared the crap out of me when he faded so quickly.

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I am looking forward to getting my bathroom back, though it’s worked out great for Lulu and kittens, with the combined area of the bathroom and walk in closet they have plenty of room to tear around when I’m gone. Fizban and Dragon were not as upset about the interlopers as I thought they might be. It’s possible we may add another cat in the future, but not any time soon. I think Dragon and Fizzy would be okay with it, but two cats is certainly easier to take care of than the five I have currently.

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Things should hopefully be settling down and I’m looking forward to getting back into a normal routine – with much cooler weather! Hard to believe we’ll have been here a year the end of November. Life certainly takes you in some interesting directions.

 

Operation: Chase Me

We’re easing back into agility, and some dogs need more reminders than others. Navarre appears to have forgotten all his wrap vs rear work. That’s okay, we’re starting with low one jump work, and going from there. Our big goal as we get back into it is no more thrown toys, no more frisbee in agility (at least, for a while). We are playing with long chasing toys out of my hand only and working on getting Navarre to chase me. Bright is also along for the ride.

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So far the dogs have been keen on this new game, which would not have been true when Navarre was younger. Navarre has never been one of Nature’s Chasers, and when he was younger he was lukewarm about driving to a tug. More mature Navarre is having a great time though, sometimes letting dogs grow up is the magical solution. So chasing and tugging, which means Heather gets to run. There is a reason we didn’t work this during the summer. Stupid 100 degree weather, it was gross out today – but the backyard actually got used for agility, which was a first.

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Working on bringing the dogs gradually back up to full height in the next few weeks, with particular emphasis on wraps and driving out of turns. Working his verbal discrimination with his different jump cues is also on the list. Hopefully the dogs will only need a quick refresher on weaves and contacts, we’re all excited to get back to agility.

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Meanwhile, we are still working on our summer tricks, and all three dogs have now mastered the ‘treat on the nose – flip to eat’ trick. The nose part was easy, the teaching them to catch it on release was much harder! It was pretty hilarious the different methods we tried with that, but in the end just plain competition seemed to do the job. You practice this trick in a group and the dogs want to make sure they actually get that treat! Other tricks we have yet to play around with, adding independence to both crawling and backing up, need five feet of crawling and 10 feet of backing up – I have neither.

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In kitten news, now there is a bonus tabby kitten! In kind of a fortuitous series of events, I had brought Lulu into the shelter concerned about mastitis she had so much milk that the kittens were not drinking (they’re doing great on the kibble). Someone found this little kitten and brought him into the shelter that day, so we stuck him in with Lulu and family and she immediately adopted him – just the sweetest thing. I had no idea cats were so accepting of orphans! New kitten is happy to have a mom and siblings, just a great situation that now he’ll get a good environment to grow up in. He’s not quite as confident as the black kittens though, and probably a couple weeks younger. Lulu’s kittens seem like giant beasts next to him, kittens grow up so quickly, it’s amazing the difference between them now and when they arrived. New kitten is in a ‘cuter’ phase, he’s quite the purrer and he loves to follow me around – he’s a charmer. He HATES the dogs though, they’re all terrified of his tiny baby spits and hisses. We’re working on it.

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Of course, he’s got nothing on Lulu, who also very much hates dogs. If she even sees them in the backyard she attacks the window. I don’t know how much is her protectiveness of the kittens though, Lulu takes her mom duties SERIOUSLY. Black kittens may be getting about ready to adopt out, they go back into the shelter for worming and flea meds next week – and to get weighed. If they’re big enough (and they seem like big fat kittens to me!), they’ll head off to neutered and then should be ready for adoption. New kitten won’t be far behind, I imagine. Did I mention they grow up quick?

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