This is a personal weblog based on my life with Bernese Mountain Dogs. The opinions expressed here represent my own and and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any clubs, organizations or committees that I may be associated with. Please feel free to comment on any post, but profane, abusive or rude comments will not be tolerated - please be polite, even if you disagree.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

Draft Confirmation

I received our Draft Test confirmation today.  No backing out now.  I am nervous and excited at the same time.  I am excited because I really enjoy doing draft work and I am looking forward to seeing all of the other teams perform.  I am nervous because I have never even seen a draft test before, so I am not sure what to expect and I have no reference as to how well Bosley and I are doing.  To make the nerves a little worse, we are team #1 - so we get to be the first team out there.  

We won't do any hard training this week - too late for that, but I do need to work on a couple things that are giving us problems.  Mostly having Bosley stand still for the harnessing and hitching.  Since draft is a pass/fail test, even one thing like moving while being hitched can cause you to fail the entire test.  Bosley is very happy to get in his cart, so much so that he sometimes does not remember to stand still until I tell him it is time to move.  Other than that, whatever happens, happens.  I am really happy with how well Bosley has taken to carting, especially since we have been basically doing all of our training on our own.  

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Precious Cargo

Yesterday, the Lethbridge and District Kennel Club hosted RDog (Responsible Dog Ownership Day).  There were many different demos going on including agility, disc dog, freestyle obedience and a demo of the Canine Good Neighbour test.   Bosley was asked to do a carting demo, which he happily agreed to.  Now what good is a carting demo, if you don't have something to pull in the cart.  Gyp graciously volunteered to to be Bosley's "freight" for the day.

(Thanks to Sarah's brother for taking the photos)
Thanks for helping us out with our demo Gyp!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What A Weekend!

What a weekend we had!  We were at an agility trial in Medicine Hat and in addition to lots of fun and some great runs, we had very hot weather on Saturday (I thought I was back in Vegas)  and then cold, windy and rainy weather on Sunday.  A total of 7 'Q's and I am still on cloud 9!

The weekend breakdown:
I will start with Bosley since it was his AAC debut this weekend.  He was such a good boy this weekend and had nice focus the entire weekend.
Starters Gamblers - 28 points in his opening.  He completed the final gamble which included a 11' send to a tunnel, but he just ran out of time.  I was thrilled with his closing, even if we didn't 'Q'.
Starters Standard - 1st and a 'Q'.  A very nice smooth run and he was 5 seconds under time despite the extreme heat.
Starters Snooker - 22 points.  We had just began our opening sequence and when I tried to wrap Bosley around the tire jump, he ducked in-between the tire and the frame.
Starters Jumpers - it was about 35 degrees celcius when Bosley was doing the jumpers course, so need less to say he was not too fast out there.  He was over time on his run, but stayed with me the whole course.
Starters Standard - 1st and a 'Q' and 14 seconds under time. It was cold and raining and Bosley loved it.  He was one of only two Starters dogs who qualified this run.  So many dogs had trouble with the cold wet table and the wet contacts so the 'Q' rate was low.
Starters Gamblers - Bosley had a great opening, getting two of the mini gambles.  He had 40 points in his opening!  The final gamble was quite hard for a starters course and it involved a turn away into a tunnel.  I turned Bosley away from me and he headed out to the tunnel - he looked right in it and then he started to come back to me.  I redirected him he went in the tunnel and finished the last jump, but had run out of time.  I was so happy that he did that hard gamble though - he really worked hard to figure out what I wanted him to do.
Starters Snooker - 1st and a 'Q'.  A very nice run with a total of 47 points and we made it all the way through 7 in the closing.

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie.  I don't think I have ever been happier with the way she has ran at a trial.  She was "up" all weekend even in the heat.  Only a few months ago she was really struggling with her jumping and even 16" was a struggle.  This weekend she only dropped one bar (which I will talk more about in a bit).  I cannot express how good it felt to run her this weekend - she was excited to be out there and was fast.
Maggie ran in 6 runs this weekend:
Advanced Gamblers - Maggie was a wild one on this course and we only had 13 points in the opening and the closing was a write-off.  She had fun!
Advanced Standard - 2nd and a 'Q'.  Nice run, nailed the weave pole entry.  She often struggles with time issues, but was 3 seconds under time in the heat.
Advanced Snooker - 1st and a 'Q'.  She racked up 41 points and we got to the end of the 6th obstacle.
Advanced Standard - it was cold and rainy and Maggie was wild!  She started out OK then got the zoomies and she even made the judge laugh with her silly antics.  
Advanced Gamblers - 2nd and a 'Q' - 66 points.  The final gamble was a serpentiny thing that involved a 16' send to a tunnel, a call a back to a jump and then a push away to another jump.  Maggie did it!  I was so amazed, I still can't believe that she did it!
Advanced Snooker - 1st and a 'Q' - 51 points. Wow!  I still can't believe this run.  This had to be the best run that Maggie and I have ever had.  I had my plan all set and then Maggie dropped the first red bar.  Crap!  Now I had to make up my opening on the fly.  Maggie was amazing on this run.  She was super fast and responded very well to my direction.  Since my original plan was out the window, all I could think was that we needed to do 3 7's (which was the teeter).  Maggie was on fire as we raced around getting our red jumps and teeters.  We headed for the closing sequence and Maggie was really moving but I was worried the time buzzer was going to go at any second so I was running faster than I think I have ever ran.  We did it!  We made it all the way to 7 with time to spare.  I can't remember ever feeling better after a run - it was really amazing to see Maggie move so fast though a whole course.  Maggie now moves to Masters Snooker.

So a good debut for Bosley and a great weekend for Maggie.

Monday, September 14, 2009

No Dogs On This Trip

Late last night, we got home from a trip to Las Vegas.  This was my 4th time in Vegas and it is always fun.  I wish I could say that I won the big jackpot and came home rich, but I just came home tired.  This time on our trip, we took a drive out to Red Rock Canyon.  It is a very nice drive through the park with lots of hiking trails.  There is even rock climbing areas for those who are a lot more adventurous than me. 

These rocks have very cool patterns in their formations.  I didn't have my camera with me on the trip, so these were taken using my Iphone, so they are not the best.  If you click the photo to make it bigger, you can see some of the patterns in the rocks.

The land goes from flat and dry to suddenly having the large rock formations seem to come out of no where.  There are supposed to be wild burros living out here in the parkland, but we didn't see any.

It was about 100 degrees when we left Vegas to drive to the Red Rock Canyon.  When we got to the park (about 1/2 hour drive) it was raining on one side of the park and only about 77 degrees.  The change in temperature was amazing, even from one side of the park to the other, there was about a 10 degree temperature change.

The dogs spent the weekend at home with Amy.  I tried not to call too often to check up.  No need to worry, the dogs were well and happy when we got home.  When we left on Thursday, their cookie jar was full because I just bought them some new treats.  When I got home last night the cookie jar was completely empty except for a few crumbs, so I guess they got spoiled when I was gone.

Monday, September 7, 2009

ACDCC Agility Trial Adventures

This weekend the Australian Cattle Dog Club of Canada hosted a CKC agility trial near Edmonton.  Amanda and I loaded up the dogs Friday afternoon and headed out.  The trial was quite small but it was fun and the weather was nearly perfect.

I was very pleased with Maggie this weekend.  She had a couple of pokey runs, but didn't try to leave the ring and she didn't refuse any jumps just because she didn't feel like jumping.  She tried hard and got a Intermediate Standard 'Q'  (1st place) on Saturday and an Excellent JWW 'Q' (1st place) on Sunday.  She should have had another Standard 'Q', but apparently when you are following the numbered cones on course, there is a number between 11 and 13.  Who knew?  Yup, I messed up her beautiful run by missing a jump.

Bosley had a good weekend too.  On Saturday he 'Q'd 3 out 4 runs, finishing his Intermediate Standard title and his Intermediate JWW title.  On Sunday he moved up to Excellent and he got a Standard 'Q' and a JWW 'Q'.  He placed 1st in all his runs except one, where he placed 2nd.  I was happy with the way he ran and except for a couple times that he gawked at what was going on  outside the ring, he was really focused.  He was a good boy and is doing really well for only his 3rd trial.

I guess I can't blog about my weekend without mentioning the ambulance ride.  Yup, that was me - hauled off in an ambulance to the hospital.  It wasn't even an agility related injury or anything.  We were packing up to leave for the day and I got stung by two wasps.  I had an allergic reaction and someone have me benadryl, but I started to feel like it was hard to swallow and my tongue felt swollen.  Luckily, there was a paramedic and nurse at the trial and they called the ambulance.  I started to feel much better while in the hospital waiting room, so I didn't wait to see a doctor - I just wanted to get home.  Thanks to everyone who helped out at the show grounds.  A big thanks to Julia and Pat who got Amanda and I safely back to Calgary.
I hope I don't have any more adventures like that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If Training Was Easy . . .

Maggie is not the easiest dog to train.   She is a very smart dog, but has a wild stubborn streak that goes all the way back to her puppy days.  She is also a "what's in it for me" kind of dog. It takes a lot of work on my part to keep her motivated while we are training.  

I have been having a tremendous amount of frustration with her in agility lately.  I know that she has the spunk and heart to be a good agility dog, but you can't force a dog to do agility.  Many nights I came home from class with the thought that maybe she just isn't cut out do it.  Maybe I should quit making her do agility.  But I know she can do it and I know she has fun doing it - you can see it in her face when she is running full out on course. 
 I just need to change what I am doing.  I have created a dog that thinks she needs to have a reward all the time.  If she doesn't get that reward, she doesn't see the point of playing.  So I have been changing things up in our training. 
 First, I have stopped having food rewards on my person.  Instead, I hide stashes of food around the field, and we run to the food for her reward.  This way she never knows where the food is coming from or when.  I also make sure I have a good variety of treats -some plain ones like cheese and some high value ones like stinky tuna.  
Second, I have stopped keeping her in her crate so much.  Maggie does not like to be in her crate.  She is very social and is happiest when she is out with everyone else.  When she is in her crate she just mopes.  So, how motivating is it for her when after a good run she gets stuffed back in her crate, isolated from everyone?  Not very.
Third, I need to quit comparing her to other dogs - to both the other dogs in our class and more importantly to Bosley.  I need to remember that each dog is different and everyone comes to class with their own set of issues and goals.

So far what I have been doing seems to be working.  Our last 2 agility classes have been the best classes we have had in a long time.  I am also learning when to quit training her and give her a break.   Last night, everyone in our group wanted to work on distance exercises.  I knew that this would frustate both me and Maggie, and since she had been doing so well all night, I didn't want to end on a bad note.  So we skipped that and did a bit of weaving instead.

I hope I am on the right track with her.  I don't want to give up on her - she deserves so much more than that.