Sunday, January 27, 2013

What we are doing

Dog training is going well.  Both dogs are enjoying nose work and showing lots of drive.  We've been working on directionals and rear crosses and I think we are making good progress on both.

My own training plan has taken a bit of a right angle turn though.  All of of sudden I have a lot more physio to do.  Hours a day in fact.  Pretty much everything else has been put on hold.  I'm hoping to be able to go back to the gym by mid February.  I may have to go back to the beginners class for awhile but I'll get there.

Friday, January 11, 2013


One week in we are thoroughly enjoying the Nosework course.  I am finding that it is already helping me with my goal of videoing training sessions as I can look back and see my own mechanics - not to mention the feedback from others.  Max is the "official" dog but Rylie is loving it too and he is a superstar.  In the video I am trying to lure him away from the scent box with a treat.  He says "you have to get up far earlier in the morning to fool me - I already know that the treats only come at the box".

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Keeping Me Honest

Well since I posted goals publicly I decided I couldn't just quit on January 6th.  I had decided to go through a learn to run program on my treadmill while waiting for bones to heal.  I committed to taking as much time as I needed and being on the treadmill at least three times a week.  Today rolled around and I just didn't feel like it.  I putzed around all day making excuses - My therapist doesn't want me to run (only because he's afraid I'll fall - which granted got me in this position - although not running).  I haven't been sleeping well, maybe I should just take it easy - yada yada yada.  Anyway I eventually talked myself into it and of course I felt better.  I had planned to say on week 1 for another week but felt good enough to move on to week two.  Yay for writing it on the blog!

In dog training we have started the first nosework lesson.  Both dogs thought it was great.  I am finding that videoing helps me critique my own mechanics.

I went to an agility seminar as an auditor on Saturday.  Lots of things I can practice on my own or with the dogs inside this winter.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Susan Garrett challenged those of us in  one of her online courses to set goals for 2013 by visualizing them and looking back on the year from a perspective of having met these goals.  I'm going to put them down here so that I have something to look back on.  Now some of the goals are wishes as I don't have any control (how fast my bones heal) but I do believe in the power of positive thinking.

January - I start the online nosework course.  Although Max is my "official" dog I do the exercises with both.  As expected Max loves it and shows talent for it (Mr. I'll do anything for a treat) but Rylie also enjoys it a lot.  Being one of the working students in the class challenges me to video and record keep and I find it becoming a habit as well as an excellent tool for showing where I can improve.

February - WooHoo!  My arm is healed.  Thanks to my excellent surgeon and my therapy team I have recovered full range of motion and am given the go ahead to return to agility training and fitness classes.  Since I have been doing a learn to run program on my treadmill (with my bum arm all trussed up) I find that I haven't lost that much fitness and the strength comes back relatively quickly to my left arm.  Soon the whole broken arm thing is a distant memory.

We spend spring fine tuning the foundation we worked on over the winter.  Our first trial of the year Max is super excited and blasts off the start line.  His efficient lines and focus makes him far faster than he looks but even I am surprised at the speed at which we cover the course.   It's a good thing I kept up my cardio.  My greatest sense of joy comes from the two of us staying connected from the time we walked through the gate to the end of the run.  It's Rylie's turn and he doesn't disappoint.  Our training over the winter has convinced him that it's okay for me to be the team leader.  Also I've become more timely in my cues so he can count on me more.  Another lovely run.  During the spring we take a distance work course to help us conquer those scary gambles.  The first real chance to see how it paid off was at regionals.  All I can say is WOW.  Both Max and Rylie rocked the gamble.  I was so proud of him.  It was Max's second regional and he now felt like an old hat - fast and fun all the way.  I've learned to control my nerves better and Max has learned that it's okay when the mama is a bit nervous - we're still going to have fun out there.  It's Rylie's first regional and he says "holy cow batman - I was born for this".   We're finally ready to try Rylie's running contacts in a trial - thank goodness we worked on directionals over the winter.  Lots of fun.  I'm thrilled with our teamwork and grateful to my trainer and training partners for all they have done.

In summer we go to Say Yes summer camp where once again we learn tons.  We continue to train and trial over the summer and fall and our teamwork just keeps getting better and better and we have more and more fun at each trial.

I look back at 2013 and I'm grateful for health, family, friends, and the all the fun that the dogs and I have shared over the year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


My dogs keep me so honest.  I have a brand new fancy training room.  The dogs love it, I love it.  Since my surgery though the arm has been rather sore again.  My cast came off on the 21st but being only a week after becoming bionic the arm is still pretty tender.  With no cast I'm nervous about bumping or having the dogs jump on it.

The training room is in the basement and every time I go down there - whether it's for laundry or to get something out of the freezer the dogs are convinced we are going to train.  If I tell them to stay up they are sad.  If I let them come down with me they run into their crates and are convinced it's training time.  What can I do?  I try and have a few things planned that I can do without fear of being tackled.  Currently we are working on foot targets, directions, and trying to add some body awareness each day. I am grateful they love to train so much because it would be way too easy to get out of the habit.

Here is a video of Max helping me with laundry while Rylie supervises off camera.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making Lemonade

I had planned a couple more trials since my last post and signed up for a handling seminar at the end of December.  THEN I broke my elbow at the end of November and had surgery last week.  As far as life in general goes it's a huge annoyance but I'm trying to look at it as a dog training opportunity.

When I first broke my arm the dogs were fairly freaked out - they are used to being able to come for cuddles whenever they want but sometimes they would hurt the arm. Try as I might I couldn't help grimacing or saying Oww both of which upset them - particularly Max. Then some wonderful trainers I know told me to teach them what I know like to call the "swearing game".  Essentially whenever I would wince or say Oww (or swear - which I don't often do but I thought it was a fun name) I'd make a fuss over the dogs and they would get a treat.  Of course we had to practice when I wasn't hurting so I had to warn Engineering Dad not to come running every time I said Oww.  This worked so well with my food driven dogs that Max would come running from another room for his treat when he heard me!

Once the arm was not quite so tender and I was able to train a little I noticed Max avoided being on my left (broken arm) side so i would get down on the floor and hide treats in my sling for him to find.  I did stop this game when I found out I needed to have surgery though.

I've decided to devote these next weeks to going back to foundations and working on foot targeting and directionals for running contacts,  So far tat is going pretty well.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Team Cav

Saturday we went to an agility trial at the venue we compete at most often.  I was a bit discouraged after last Friday and beginning to doubt how much Max loves the game.  I had entered him first in Steeplechase.  This is only his second steeplechase run - it's a speed event and I've never felt he was fast enough.  Well he is obviously more comfortable in this venue and LOVES steeplechase because he was smoking!  Not only did he get a qualifying score but he was 6 seconds below standard course time.    It was a good way to start the day.  Next was his standard run.  He had still been a bit slow off the start in his first run so I decided not to lead out.  That meant I had to run like heck to get to the bottom of the a-frame to send him left into the tunnel.  It was like he said "holy crap she's getting away from me" because after that I never caught up.  He's a good boy and sees lines really well and we got a Q for that run also.

Third run of the day was gamblers.  Both Max and Rylie were in this one.  For both of them it was the Q they needed to get their Advanced Games Dog title.  I don't think I was too stressed about it because we aren't good gamblers and it was a year for both of them between their first and second Q.  Rylie went first (and by that I also mean first in class because he is short).  Rylie likes to set his own course for gamblers but he stuck with me long enough to get the points we needed in the opening.  We were in good position when the gamble buzzer went and (pretty much to my surprise) he went through the gamble section like an old pro.  I had asked a more experienced friend to walk the course with me and give me handling advice for the gamble.  I followed her advice and it was bang on.  When it was Max's turn I was less concerned with his choosing his own course but I forgot how much he loves tunnels ;-).  I was late with a cue in the gamble and almost pulled him off the last obstacle but he is such a good boy he turned back and took it.

The snooker runs weren't so good for either dog.  It was the end of the day and I don't think I planned the best course but I thrilled with both dogs overall.  Rylie hasn't had any soreness that I can see since so next trial I will enter him in a full day.

Sunday we went to the CFSO heart clinic.  It was our first time going and it is a bit scary knowing the heart problems in the breed but it's better to know than not.  Both Max and Rylie were clear so that was good news.  It was also good to see other Cavalier friends that I don't get to see nearly often enough.