Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dual Citizenship

Summer smile :: 6/12 Gyp, originally uploaded by sarah ....

Gyppie my little Kentucky girl, now a Canuck ... wishes all of her Canadian buddies a Happy Canada Day and to her US buddies a happy 4th of July!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

From the archives: There is no 'I' in team, but there is a 'U' in excuse.

This post is from April 2009 and I thought I would share it - I was browsing through my blog and reminiscing about fun times with my dogs and I found I few things I forgot about!!! I thought I would share this post as it has been something we've been talking about lots in classes lately ... enjoy ...

"Your dog only runs agility because you ask him/her too"
Have any of you heard this?

But is that a bad thing that my dog does Agility because I ask? Of course she does Agility because I ask - I've never seen a dog teach itself to Weave or learn a 20/20 Contact have you? If you have, please give them my email address so I can have a littermate or be on a waiting list for a puppy in 5 years ....

I have seen dogs teach themselves to miss their contacts and break startlines, steal toysfrom other people's training bags (Kaleb), if they don't know they are doing anything wrong, why wreck a good thing? Do you think these dogs are doing it for "you" or for themselves, I've dealt with this with my own dogs too.

I don't think I would want a dog that only pleases itself and does everything because "it" wants too. Isn't that why we teach reward systems, value for rewards, not to mention impulse control and motivational games, so we can work as a Team? It's a great deal I would say! They don't come to us being bred to do Agility with the instincts to do weave poles, read arm changes and know verbal directional cues (again pass my name on if you know of some who do), so it pretty much all comes down to us "asking" them to do it.

I think the 'key' is how you 'ask', and followed by being 'appropriately thanked', then followed by wanting to do it again because the first time brought great rewards! I am not 'making' my dogs do Agility. Can you 'make' a Terrier to do anything for instance, really?

but "I", but "he", but "she" but, but, but ....
Rewind 14 years ... Grade 9, I was put in 'remedial' math, because based on my Grade 8 scores that is where I needed to be apparently. I hated math. I made excuses. I didn't try, I had no interest in it, at all, I was made to feel dumb. I counted the minutes until the class ended, well hey I was using math wasn't I? I preferred to use the skills I was good at, drawing horses in my math book.

Fastforward to Grade 10. Math class again, this time with the regular smart kids. But this time it was different, it was, dare I say enjoyable, I did my homework, and I understood what was being taught to me. I was thinking about this today and wondered what made the difference. For one it was my attitude, and more importantly, it was the teacher. You know what, that year I made the honour role, true my other four classes were, English, Art, Graphic Arts and Home-Ec, but hey, my Math mark didn't hold me back that much.

So on to Teachers .... they are the key. Or in this instance "We" are the key. I believe all my dogs enjoy training and learning, and they even like Obedience (could be like grade 9 math class if I let it be). My dogs each have their strengths and weaknesses in everything I do with them, some is based on natural ability, some is taught - but alot is based on what they can offer me and we work with that. Gyp and Kaleb could care less about Jane's cat toys, and Jane doesn't really care about bumpers, so I work with what makes them tick rather than trying to make them something they are not, and for me that has worked in training three very different dogs, breeds, personalities and drive levels. They are all successful in their own right, and have gone beyond a lot of things I ever thought possible.

The same things apply when I work with the BAD, NEGATIVE, or FEAR "issues" my dogs have or had (the difference in attitude between my grade 9 math class to my grade 10 class), I've made excuses, still make excuses, but it doesn't get me very far, so I TRY not too as much as possible, I try to use it as an opportunity.

• Don't dwell on the issues.
• DEAL with the issues, and get on with it.
• The issues DO NOT define my dog, or me.
• It is the GOOD that defines me or my dog.
• I don't let the past rule my future, or my dogs future.
• If you make excuses, you begin to define you or your dog based on that issue or issues.
• Excuses hold you back, and it makes it harder to move forward.
• Focus on the good, and let the rest fall into place.
• Work on the "issues" and the EASY stuff, becomes easier.

So that is all I have to say about that. Just some Monday morning ramblings of things that have been running around in my little brain, anyone have anything else to add??

Friday, June 24, 2011

The dogs days are over...

it's summertime, y'all!!

summer, at last :: 25/52

green grass ...

freakishy long tongue ...

a partridge to flush ...

the wind in your ears ...

scenery that takes your breath away ...

and a cute Gyppie face, of course ...

If only every day of the year could this perfect. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Putting the Q before the work.

Putting the Q before the work ...

You know ... like the old saying .. "putting the cart before the horse".

Amanda and I have been working on developing some new classes for our group after observing them for the past few months - the prep we do for classes is alot of work, we spend time of the phone, dinners and any other time we can trying to come up with clever ways to get our points across and have people be successful - and we look for ideas for US too!! And our jobs as coaches and instructors is to do that. We can't sit back and watch things fall apart and have people plateau and not know what to do. We don't do it with our own dogs - and our students are ultimately a reflection of us - to some extent ... we can't take all the glory, nor can we take responsibility for dogs blowing contacts, sniffing, getting bored - the handlers are responsible for maintaining criteria keeping it FUN and the rules they instill out side of class for the other 23 hours of the day.

We gave everyone a Goal sheet last night and wanted to see what people's goals were in the next 6 months. It was interesting to hear ... some people wanted to make sure their dog continues to have fun (and were looking for ways to do that), others wanted to speed up their dogs and themselves, and there were a couple who talked about a specific title they want. From a dog's point of view - I'm pretty sure I would want to be with the person who is more concerned about having fun (I'm a dog afterall, fun is my middle name), rather than being with the person who is mostly worried about the Q (what the hell is a Q anyway, I want my damn hotdog and I want to play with my mama!).

If we worry and obsess too much about the end result (the title or the Q) without putting in as much thought, effort, obsession and worry about how we want to actually get there - we are losing out on a big opportunity. If you do the work, train the dog, have fun with dog, and the dog has fun with YOU, be confident and put in 100% effort in all of the steps to get there - the Q's will come, they will come quicker than they did before, it's true, I've been there.

We asked about what motivates the dogs last night, and everyone brought out HUGE amounts of toys, treats etc... we got everyone to explain why and how they use their motivator. We told everyone to put away the low value motivators and only use the highest value one for the night. Only ONE person said "Are we supposed to be the biggest motivator?" OMG DING DING DING!!!!

If the dog isn't motivated to be with you ... they aren't going to be motivated to take the said "motivator" ... and they certainly aren't going to be motivated to run agility - and even less likely to be motivated to get that all important Q for "YOU"!!! Or on the flipside - the equipment itself becomes the main motivator - and that is a recipe for doom also. We had everyone play with their dog with only having the person being the motivator - it was hard for some people (and these are people who compete) - and others it was easier. If you can't keep you dog engaged with you for one minute with no Agility equipment and no treats - how are you going to keep them engaged on course?

I want my dogs to see running agility as a fun thing we do where mama runs around like an idiot. Here is a look inside Kaleb's head for a minute .. "Oh goodie, I'm out of my crate, which means it is MY time to play with MY mama!!! HAH Gyp, you are left behind!! Now I get to do my favourite obstacles and if I run really fast SQUIRREL ... oh right, it means mama gives me the reward I worked so hard for ... I get it even quicker - if I do it REALLY, REALLY fast!! Gimme, gimme mama - I'm gonna get you, run faster woman! SQUIRREL!! Oh right, I am chasing Mama!!"

And in the mind of Gyp "Mama, I hope you have your knee brace tightened and your shoe laces tied up, because I am going to do my best for you, because you always do your best for me. BARK BARK BARK. OMG Weaves ... Mama I love this, thanks for teaching me how to go really fast ... BARK BARK BARK .... OMG Jumps .... hurry up mama this is so much fun WEEEE! What?? We are done already? I want more!!! I want more mama and me time!!!"

So ... have you made your dog think Agility Obstacles are actually "Obstacles" ... or are they "Opportunities" for fun??

Here is an awesome article about "Finding the Joy" ...
if you haven't read this already PLEASE DO!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Startline Rituals: about as religious as I get.

I always have alot to remember before we get to the startline ... and when we get there ... each dog requires something different from me - and my energy is also different with each of them.

I have quite a process to get in the game and pump me up - and get the dogs focused. Each dog has it's own playlist on my iPod - Kaleb's songs are much different that Gyp's. "You're a Jerk" by New Boyz for instance would be played during K's warm-up ... or perhaps "Time Bomb" by Rancid. Miss Gyp on the other hand warms up to more top 40 jams like Nicki Minaj "Moment 4 Life" and a little Lady Gaga "Born this Way" ... sometimes the Dixie chicks even make an iPod run.

It's all about getting into the zone ... and making kaleb fear for his life ... he loves to talk back to me, he makes me crazy and I love it. :)

I always let Gyp know how much she is loved. Her aura keeps me calm and zen-like.
My little Gyppie-do-right as Amanda calls her.

NOTE: kissing kaleb on the top of head ends up with a fat lip and bloody nose. Been there, done that - we'll stick to playing "the claw" and keeping my face far away from his on the startline instead.

(thanks for the awesome photos Aine Perrin)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Teamwork Triumphs at Regionals ...

i get by with a little help from my friends :: 23/52

(Photo taken at our awesome friends Jan & Dave's acreage, where we stayed this past weekend - 10 dogs, 6 people and we all get along!!)

"Teamwork Triumphs" that was the Organizers theme of this years Regionals ... I suppose that was a good motto for me and my dogs as well as many others!! Our group was amazing, and my own dogs blew me away.

This was Gyp's first time back since her last trial in September and since being diagnosed with a psoas tear in November. Well I guess all the hardwork, patience, rehabbing, treatments and dedication payed off, because she ran great. I seriously didn't think we'd be running Regionals this year - it was a longshot. We took Susan Garrett's Recallers course this spring as well as concentrated on Rally Obedience as a way to stay connected and playing together - and I think that also played a big part into keeping our "Teamwork" strong while not doing Agility. Gyp had won the previous 2 years as 16" Specials Champion and knowing she had been off for so long, my goals were to have her stay sound, and just have fun with her, and enjoy every moment - not worry about the outcome - just smile and be happy with my little girlie. That's what I did, and on day one she placed 1st in all 3 of her classes - I was so happy, more than happy really. On Sunday placed 2nd - twice and we had an off course in her Standard (not sure where we placed in that one) - which rattled me - but I took it in stride and kept things in perspective "We're here together, the outcome doesn't matter" I had to keep thinking that. I was hoping for a top 5 placement, hoping we weren't too rusty together and could hold it together (meaning I hope I can do her justice with my handling).

And well ... Gyp made a great come back and went for the "three-peat" ... and for the third year in a row is the 16" specials Division Champion.

Let's not forget about Kaleb! He was awesome too :) He ran 5/6 clean runs and ran really well all weekend - despite the lure of the pond and ducks below the Agility rings ACK! I am so proud that he finished 2nd overall in his 16" DD Vet class. He just always pulls it together and works his best for me. I am so lucky to have such loving, fun dogs - I still can't believe the weekend results, I honestly was not expecting it - but I can say my mental game stayed strong and I stuck to my guns and tried not to get intimidated by the fact that I felt sort of out of practice and not in my normal conformable groove. Once I am in the zone and warming up my dogs 110% of my focus is on them and I forget about the rest of the world and everyone else in it. At that moment is just me and them - and that is the best feeling in the world ... it makes no matter what happens all worth it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Her Master Plan.

1. Kill us all.
2. Except for her 2 Grammy's - they give the best treats.
3. Take over the world.

This is how you do it ...

Pretend like you aren't at all interested in the fact that Pete is paying attention to the "other dogs"

When no one is suspecting you, you sneak up - make sure you are being cute and extra sweet.

Then you sneak in and make your move ...

killing him softly ...

The end.

smothering with love

this is jane's signature move. she loves to "smother us with love" ... in other words, for the past 12 years, she has been trying to kill us so she can take over the world. she has been doing this since she was a pup, it is so damn cute.

Monday, June 6, 2011

show me some love

Thanks for the photos Amanda - I love them :)

It's official. Gyp is running Regionals (so long as her re-check Thursday is good). So I am. So is Kaleb. I didn't think it would happen. I am very grateful - and very excited. I am feeling pretty good - not as prepared as I normally am - but I have to get over it and just as always ... giv'er and go for it. No holds barred.

We are going to have fun and love every damn second of it ...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

unconditional love.

So last night we had to take Jane to emergency - her belly had been getting bigger and by the end of day ballooned up - we were worried about her breathing - long story short, she was not doing well - she wouldn't drink, was woozy, and wouldn't take her meds. The fluid presses on her diaphram and causes her discomfort ... and having to wait until the next day to see our Vet was not an option, she was very restless ... so after hours Vet visit it was. They drained a large amount of fluid again from her - it is now a once a week occurrence - but it makes a huge difference - and she is amazing, she just stands there - not sedation, not a flinch, just takes it - it's like she knows it makes her feel better.

It's funny .. Pete made a good point as we left the clinic with a little dog who felt much better afterwards - and was taking treats, drank water, and exploring the vet clinic like she owned the place.

"It took us 3 weeks to decide on the lawn mower we wanted, and were trying to justify the cost and save a few bucks - should we even buy it, can we afford it? Then without thought or discussion, we drop more than what the lawnmower cost, without the blink of an eye and don't even feel bad about it."

That, my friends is unconditional love :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

The final countdown ...

6 weeks ago I wasn't sure I would be running in Regionals. I had to send in my entry not knowing - the entry closed only 4 weeks after my surgery - I also didn't know if I would be running Gyp. I am the type of person that if you tell me I can't do something, I will work 10x as hard to do it. It's just the way I roll ... ya living that way has it's flaws, but I just don't like to fail.

So here we are one week until Regionals ... I am running, I can easily get around a course - last weekend was awesome, it felt great to be running at the Agility trial. My knee is still healing but I can deal with it. It actually feels it's best when I am moving. Sitting around causes it to get stiff. Bar-knee will be accompanying me, and he is awesome.

The field that Regionals is being held on is the place where I first blew my knee playing rugby in College. I am not sure how I feel about that. Again - I feel like it is for a reason - I need to overcome my fear of something bad happening there, because it did before. I will be fine as long as Amanda doesn't wear a yellow striped Rugby shirt chasing me down the field trying to tackle me :)

Gyp is doing well, this whole month has been about getting back into Agility while maintaining her regular conditioning schedule, and making sure there are no flare-ups, and so far so good - I haven't been blogging about it, because well, shocking - but I don't blog about EVERYTHING. Somethings I like and NEED to keep to myself. We've been training, and she hasn't really missed a beat. I am lucky she is the kind of dog that does well with a break - and always keep a level head ... and she doesn't forget a thing - which in this case is good - but in the case of fishing rods, fly swatters, guitars and kites ... not so good, she also remembers those things as WIERD and scary as hell.

K is running great, and I am SOOOO looking forward to running him - it was one year ago, to almost the day that he Torsioned and we nearly lost him. So last regionals that was fresh in my mind - and everyone was asking about him - which was hard. I was also running with my new knee brace 5 months after I tore my ACL and Meniscus ... so I just have to keep thinking I was able to overcome that last year.

Now I just need to get my mental game in the right place this year, I work best under pressure, but I have a lot of work to do, to get in the right headspace ... right now the discouraging thoughts are still lingering "We haven't trialed since September" "Is she really ready?" "Will I remember how to run her?" "I don't want to hurt her" "Can my knee handle it?" "Will someone in a rubgy shirt chase me down the field to tackle me?"

I have a week to get my mind games under control, Kaleb is doing some light training ... and Gyp has one more check-up before the big event ...

And, well I bought some new shoes ... so that always makes me feel better .. and run faster :)