Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween ... from Wonderland

We're all mad here...

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
- Alice (in Wonderland)

"Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting! I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!" - White Rabbit

"No wonder you're late. Why, this watch is exactly two days slow." - Mad Hatter

"Off with her Head!" - Queen of Hearts

If I am going to dress up my dogs and embarrass them, I will embarrass my self with them, it's only fair.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Agility warm-up Routines...or Rituals

I read a great article in Clean Run about warm-up routines with our dogs. This is a great subject, and something I take quite seriously, for me it can make or break a run - whether it be Agility or Obedience or any other dog sport really. It is more than just the physical, for me it is getting mentally ready too.

I sometimes see people ignoring their dogs in the warm-up area, or when they take them out of the crate, taking the dog out too soon, not moving them around, not engaging them physically or mentally - and the dogs get bored, or you've probably even seen dogs staring out at the ring and finding the equipment more rewarding than working with their handler in some instances. The warm-up is one of the things I look forward too, as much as putting my dog on the startline. I want to feel that connection with my dog, and know that their body and mind can handle what is coming up. It is all about balancing the quantity with the quality of warm-up.

All of my warm-up routines (dare I say rituals) include a physical and mental warm-up ... for both sides of the Team ... the dog and me. Because all of my dogs are different drive, focus and energy wise, I piece different elements together to create the best warm-up for each one, and it always changes. My rituals also vary given the venue, the weather, the class being run, and the time of day (1st run of the day vs. last class of the weekend), just to mention a few. But there are basics that never change.

I always do a pre-warm up usually half an hour before we run, which includes going for a potty and nice little walk and lots of trotting on leash - I let them wake up a bit - we might do a bit of heeling, sits and downs - nothing too much to get them overly excited, but to let them know that we are getting into work mode. Sometimes I take them together, but generally I take my guys out one a time for a bit more one-on-one time. Then it is time for me to being visualizing my run with each dog.

Sometimes (depending on the stress levels of the event, or if I feel the dog needs more from me to focus) I do 2 pre-warm ups - usually with Kaleb (but sometimes for all of them) :) I'll take him out again about 15 minutes before he runs and we boost the excitement level - from the time he is out of the crate, it is all about him. We run together, do some shadow handling, do lots of trotting, the treats and toys come out, we tug - away from the excitement of the ring if possible. I put him back while still excited knowing he is game to play in the ring in about 10 minutes.

I usually take the dogs out to the ring 3 - 7 dogs before they run, depending again on their energy, the class etc. Usually the 2nd pre-warm up :) indicates how I need to adjust those last 5-10 minutes before we hit the startline. Again, I am engaged with my dog the whole time from leaving the crate, talking, playing, moving around, doing some stretches, we will sometimes use our warm-up jump to practice a certain serpentine, jump angle, 270 or rear cross the course might have - again the warm-up jump has a purpose, it is NOT there to warm-up my dogs. I am!!!

I bring out a REALLY good toy and we tug and tug (Kaleb likes his tug and treat, Gyp likes sheepy tugs) - I get them high - but still focused, not just using up important energy reserves for no reason. If the class is delayed or moving slow, I'll put Kaleb away one more time and bring him out 1.5 dogs away from his run - he is warmed-up at this point. Just before we enter the ring we do a we bit of focus work, and we always run into ring ... it is the most exciting place on earth you know.

Then we leave the next 30 - 60 seconds in the ring up to the Agility gods ...

After I run each dog, I take a minute to get that run out of head - be it amazing or crap, I need a clean slate to focus for the next dog. I stick my headphones on, find a song for that dog (really I do), and then I begin the visualizing for the upcoming run with that dog. I warm-up that dog ...

then once again ...

we leave the next 30 - 60 seconds in the ring up to the Agility gods ...

thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The most spoiled dog on earth.

You might be thinking, that Taco looks really small, doesn't it?

Well Jane's dad thought it would be just right for a Terrier. While I was gone this weekend, he made Tacos. He put aside some plain unseasoned beef just for her, whole wheat tortilla, folded and dressed it up just for her.

He took photos ... but it took him a while to figure out my "f'ing complicated camera" :)

Jane posing with her Taco and showing some self-control.

more, please? she did eventually eat the tortilla ... but Jane's dad had to cut it into small pieces for her ... seriously.

Jane says retirement is good, and highly recommends it to everyone.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Training Troop: Results, Video

It was a great weekend at Training Troop. I was dumb and didn't write down the real specifics, but I do know ... what we messed up on and what we did good on, and most placements and all that.

The short and sweet version:
Gyp ran 6/8 and placed 1st in all her classes that she Q in. All 3 Standards, Gamblers, Jumpers and Steeplechase. She was on, feeling good and super pumped all weekend. She had some really fast top 3 times in her standards and had the 2nd highest points in Gamblers with 104. I just remembered she also got her VBA (Versatility Bronze Award - 3 Masters Events with 10+ Q's), her 10th Gamble this weekend earned her that one.

I had a couple DUH moments, like in Snooker where I missed the 'B' in the 'A & B' combo (I didn't walk the closing correctly) ... she did what I asked. Snooker as the last event of a REALLY long weekend, sometimes gets the best of people!!! I ran in properly with K after my screw up with Gyppie. Amanda and I switched dogs for Team ... it was fun, we each had faults, but that should be its own blog post :)

I am really feeling like Gyp and I are clicking, and I don't walk courses questioning so much how I will handle them with her (and I don't give in to peer pressure :) ), and I never think "I can't get there" anymore, I know I can, and those silly thoughts in my head hold me back. It is a really nice feeling to go there and trust her skills, and have her trust me. Our contacts have improved too (sticking to my criteria and my timing, the "friendly" reminders from Amanda have helped).

Gyp also got worked on by "Magic Hands" Susan on Sunday. She has had a little tightness in her back area causing a bit of uneven movement I noticed last week, and I knew it was time to get some adjustments. Gyp really loves being worked on and the benefits are long lasting. She worked miracles on Kaleb over the last couple years. She did a quick once over Kaleb, but knock on wood, he is doing great.

The man, the legend the K-man ... hehe ... Kaleb had a great weekend too, he ran 4/8, just a few little bobbles on some runs a missed contact on our Gamble, but his energy and enthusiasm remained over 8 runs. I was very proud of him this weekend, his standard times were really good. He brought home 2 Standards, and Jumpers and a Snooker ... getting closer to Gold :)

It was hard not having Jane there, and a few people asked where she was. Well she was at home and got spoiled by Pete ...

Oh and we won the Costume Contest for best Handler/Dog Team ... photos to come :)
(thanks for letting me borrow Wicca as Jane's stand in, Amanda)

Here are some videos:

Gyp and Kaleb on the same Standard run - I pretty much handle them the same, but sometimes there are areas I need to really pick K up, and I never lead out as far with him either, so I handle a bit different in those instances. He also doesn't have the independence Gyp has on contacts so I have to handle for that also ... ENJOY!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something is missing ..

(Jane in her truck - taken with my iPhone)

We head out tonight for the Training Troop Halloween Trial. One of my fav's. On top of running in a great Trial, they have a Halloween Costume contest, and I've been slaving for 2 weeks getting them together :) I might have just topped the Wizard of Oz from Last year ....

(Yes I am one of those people who dresses up her dogs, and I am OK with it)

I am sad and I can't help but tear up knowing Jane won't be there with me. It was hard enough only filling out entries for 2 dogs. But it is now hitting me that she is retired. She only ran in 4 or 5 trials a year, and this was one of them. I know it is for the best, and I have to keep thinking that.

It would be cruel and unusual punishment to drag her 2.5hrs, dress her up for 10 minutes and sit around doing nothing for 2 days. So I have a replacement at the trial for Jane ... her name is Wicca :)

So Jane is staying at home with her dad, and word is she gets to go for lots of Truck Rides and even gets to go into work with him!!

Stay tuned for photos of this Year's Halloween Masterpiece!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caught, red handed ... um... white pawed!

I've seen this before ... but never been able to get a photo of it ... until today..

Gyp was slightly freaked out to see Jane laying next to her ...
Gyp finally got the nerve to move, but settled back in, Jane protested "make her move"
Jane gave in, and realized sleeping next to Gyp isn't so bad ...
Kaleb however, is not in the cool club, he sleeps on the floor ... like some kind of dog or something.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leader of the Pack.

Little Jane, 10.5 years young ... and still givin' er.

View On Black

This is my most favourite photo of Jane, ever. It is the essence of Jane.

Spunky, fun, serious, and feisty

... with a little glimmer of bad in the eyes.

She can still keep up with the young'ens ...

She can also keep up with the madman ... though I am not sure I would want to ...

"I'm the leader of the Pack, and don't you forget it!"

Run, Jane, run!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gyp 'n Pixel

A couple of pretty b*tches...

for this weeks 52 weeks of dogs photos...
Gyp and Pixel share the spotlight

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snow Day means SNOW ZOOMIES!

Did someone say snow!?
(yes those are giant frozen slobber strings on Kaleb's face)

one of these dogs doesn't belong ....
"I said say uncle, beeeotch!" says Gyp
(Neena was dognapped by Amanda today hehe ... Jenilee)

"I love these crazy b*tches!" says Kaleb
... uh oh ... Neena has the snow zoomies, watch out!

we interrupt the snow zoomies with some cute photos of
"the snow pixel" ...
OK .. back to the snow zoomies ....
Kaleb, "the ladies man", thought Neena was awesome, he likes "the fresh meat"
poor Gyp, you've been replaced for a younger model. ohh that's gotta hurt.
I love the snow! I love my b*tches!

Happy Thanksgiving

Gyp would like to wish all of her Canadian friends a Happy Thanksgiving weekend, and for her American friends ... have a Turkey too, why not!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

season's change

I have a photo project I am working on with Gyp -"52 weeks for Dogs", once a week, for 52 Weeks I have to take one photo of her. It is a challenge to come up with creative unique ideas, but I love it as it has given me an outlet beyond my creative brain drain at work.

Within the project I am showcasing areas around our city and highlighting anything interesting we might have done over the year, like travelling. I am also showcasing Gyp in the same location (a place we go a few times a week) in each changing season ....

Autumn ... (week 40)

Summer ... (week 26)

Early Spring ... (week 18)
Stay tuned for Gyp's Winter photo
(what I hope will be my last photo - week 52) ...

If you'd like to see Gyp's 52 Weeks photo collection, click here.

I plan to make a book of Gyp's year when it is all done. It will be fun look back at it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Indoor Trial of the Year

We had a one day Agility Trial yesterday. Jo, Tag and me and my guys, hit the road just before 5am to be on the line for 8am.

First up, was the Masters Standard run:
Gyp had a pretty darn good run. 1st and Q. I have waiting her contacts out and having her hold them a little longer, and we have been working on my timing (not saying target too soon) and her driving into position faster. I need to not get to the end before her ALL the time as this is part of the problem. I need to vary my position more - like I do in training. I am able to challenge my handling overall, more and more with confidence so that feels really good.

K had a GREAT standard, he was givin' er. He placed 3rd/9 and Q'd. I was so proud of him in this run.

Next up, Masters Gamblers:
Gyp as up first again, and for some reason (not enough caffeine) I ran Kaleb's opening plan with her and got caught with no equipment to do at the end! SO we did every jump we could twice :) I was a little worried about the end gamble, but I kept my cool and she nailed it. Q!! YAY for GYP! YAY for me keeping cool! Not many Masters dogs got this one, it was tricky for sure.
Here is the end gamble:

Kaleb did great too, I ran the path I pretty much was supposed too, and he had no trouble with the end gamble either, even with his not so great contacts he did it!! Q!

This was probably one of the toughest courses I have ever ran. Looking at it on paper it looked like the numbers were just randomly placed :) I knew if I was focused enough that we could do it! I put my hat on backward :) and it was game on! I was soooooo proud of Gyp, she was responsive, fast and accurate - seems like the equation needed for these courses. She set the fastest time and was only beat by one other dog of all the Masters dog. In the end she was only 1 of 3 dogs to Q!! The other 2 being former world team dogs.

By the time I ran Kaleb, I had put all my mental effort into running Gyp and didn't have the greatest run with him. I kept up and happy with him, but I did not have my game face on.

Last but not least, Masters Jumpers:
Again Gyp was up first ...
I was so proud of this run, as Amanda said "Could you have put in any more front crosses?", no I couldn't have, that was as many as you could do on that course :) I managed to stay ahead of her from the time of our 3 obstacle lead out. It felt so smooth and timing felt right. Gyp has the fastest time in the whole class ... but she had one bar. But I was so happy with the run, I actually forgot she had even taken the bar down!

Kaleb, oh Kaleb ...
Jolayne ran Kaleb for me, well tried. He was so focused on me I actually had to tell him to go with her while she was sitting on the start line giving me love eyes. He would run around the course looking for me while going over jumps etc etc. It was flattering for me, but didn't do Jo any favours in the quest to handle other dogs to practice her timing and get a feel for running other dogs ... Jo next trial you can run Gyp :) I promise it will go better :)

I love my dogs.

Our students rocked too! I'll be updated the GDG blog soon, congrats to you all!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

You are what you eat.

i want, i want ....
Yes Jane, you are a mini donut...
you bite into the sweet exterior, but regret it later.

Gyp, not sure what is going on here?

...oh Kaleb ...
Happy weekend everyone!!