Friday, February 29, 2008

Hemi Starts Contacts!

Here's video of Hemi's latest class. He is really attacking every obstacle with intensity! They are still doing short sequences, and the little bugger is picking it up so quickly. In between runs, Gene is tugging with him, playing with him, trying to keep him from being over the top while the other dogs are working- it's a full hour's workout for this pup. Even after that hour, Hemi is hesitant to get in the car and leave. He's not ready for the fun to be over.

This little guy is just so fun and so full of energy! He came without an off switch installed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weekend brags (or lack thereof) Part I

This weekend's runs were both good and bad. JWW was first. I moved Kyra up to the first dog in so I would have time to wind Boo down. He does better if he has time to focus. The JWW course, as seen below, was pretty nice flow. It had some spots that really required some handling, but it flowed really well. The weave entry was fast and straight on.

Kyra stepped up to the line, and actually held her stay, which is hard on her. I threw in a front cross before the weaves, but somehow, it backfired on me! She ended up back where she was before, but she managed to save my butt, and hit the weave entry. The rest was pretty easy. I got my first excellent Q ever! (Too bad it wasn't my dog.)

Boo's turn was next. I had learned my lesson with Kyra (or so I thought). He handled pretty well, except for a couple of mistakes that I made. He hit the weave entry, but popped out. I managed to get him back in, and he was very tentative. When he finished them, I was so proud of him, and I wanted to reward him, and the weaves were pointing right at the exit- so I took the opportunity to reward the weaves. Based on how tentative he was, I felt he was not sure what his job was, and wanted to reward the behavior while I had it.

Next up was Standard. It also flowed well, but had a few spots that required some handling.

Once again I moved Kyra up, but Rusty and Maxwell moved up above us. She was really doing well, hit all the contacts, actually did a fast down on the table, and hit the weaves. I ran ahead of her on the weaves, pulling her through, but wasn't watching where I was going. coming off the weaves, I was in her way, and in front of the tire. So, she went around it, ending our run for a QQ. Rusty and Maxwell Q'd, so I told him that since he took Kyra's spot, tht he owes us a QQ- let's hope that's in the mail!

When it came time for Boo's run, I was feeling pretty confident. Here's the funny part. In our last class, we discussed a front cross at the teeter. We were cautioned against crossing too soon, causing the dog to pop off early, or off the side. Well, I crossed the teeter with Boo too soon, and he popped off the side of the teeter- ending up behind me, which threw my cross off, and so I pushed him out to a wrong jump. Our run was done. But, we kept going- he did the obstacle discrimination extremely well. I was very proud. His serpentine was great. Whean heading to the weaves, he pulled off at the last minute, and made a BIG circle. I stuck him back in the wrong pole, and when I brought him back around and put him back in, he got them all- with much less trepidation than the first time. Since we were at the end, we just finished the last three obstacles, me cheering him all the way.

Now, we'll see if his weaves will hold up tomorrow.

All in all, it was a really good day. Thanks to a wonderful instructor, my handling seems to be improving. One of these days, we'll actually get more than 1 Q at a time!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Week 6- Hemi agility

Well, Mom has been too busy to post anything today, (Maybe too much celebrating her Birthday? Or maybe it's just because she's old?) so I'm taking over. Last night was our 6th week in class, and I'm not too proud to say that the teacher likes ME best! I've made some new friends. There is this really cool Doberman named Blaze, and I love watching him run. He goofs off a little, but he's really strong! We really want to run around and play, but Daddy won't let us. There's another big strong guy, and his Daddy calls him Doodlebugs, too. Daddy is always wanting the two of us to stand side by side. He calls us the "Dueling Doodlebugs". I don't know what that means, but he laughes when he says it, so it can't be bad!

Anyway, enough about those other dogs, you don't care about them! We did a really short sequence, and it was so easy. Daddy throws a ball or a toy for me, and that is just totally awesome!

We did some weaves- I just don't get the point of it, but I do it because Daddy gives me treats. It seems like it would slow you down to much, and Daddy says he likes me because I'm FAST!

Next, we did another sequence that had a tunnel- I love tunnels! Anyway, Daddy threw my toy underneath a jump and I hit the bar with my shoulders. Everybody thought it was funny, though. I have never seen a jump that high, so I didn't know anything other than go under it.

After class, though, I got some bonding time with Dad. I really enjoy class with my Dad. I don't know what I'm doing, but Daddy says I'm doing really well!

After class, I didn't want to get back in the car, but Daddy made me. An hour just isn't long enough! So, I hope you enjoyed watching how good I'm doing in class. It's really fun, especially since I'm teacher's pet!

Until next week! See ya!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Could it be Magic?"

Today is a special day. And, for those that know me, know why. My father, my nephew, a friend and myself all share today as our Birthday- I won't tell you how old any of them are, as that is just plain rude.

Dad and the "baby" (me)- wasn't I cute? He's always been so easy! Happy Birthday Dad!
Cody- who had the great fortune to be born on such a WONDERFUL day!

"This one's for you!"

As a Birthday present, my husband bought me tickets to a Barry Manilow concert. For those that have never seen him live, he is FANTASTIC- he's not just a singer/songwriter, he's a performer. He's the only performer I've paid to see more than once. And, just the like the rest of us, he has also aged since the last time I've seen him. I found an old photo of him, back when he was a baby!
Man, remember those days? Feathers, gold chains? WOW!

Now, I know what some of you are saying, "Barry Manilow?" Yes, that's right. Gene spent years scoffing his music, until he took me to a concert in St. Louis. He spent the entire evening saying "I didn't know he sang that, I love that song"- now, years later, he enjoys the concerts as much as I do.

Last night, as we sat in an eclectic crowd of men and women from all ages, a crowd that spanned several generations, we all sang in unison- our own "Kumbaya" so to speak- as he sang favorite after favorite. In order for Barry to play all of his best music, we would have been there for hours. But, he did his best to cram in as many as he could, leading in from one to another without taking a break. All of his best work, "Mandy", "I write the songs", "Copacabana", "I can't smile without you"...the list goes on and on.

He pulled out his lava lamp, and feigned smoking a "funny cigarette", to which he commented that "someone's gonna get a raise!". His ability to sing, play the piano, and add humor to his performance makes it more than just a jam session.

Even at 64 (Yes, he's actually 64!)- he can still play the piano with the same vigor he used to. He move more carefully, leaving much of the theatrics to his supporting staff, but he still doesn't fail to entertain. With a flashy wardrobe and pieces of the stage that disappear and reappear, his show has something for everyone.

If you haven't had the good fortune to be a part of a Barry Manilow concert, you are truly missing out on one of the best performers ever. Make plans to visit the Las Vegas Hilton in the near future and remove your name from the shrinking list of people who have not seen him. Thanks, Gene, for giving me a great Birthday present!

So, all I can say is, "Barry, we love you!"

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Day at the Spa

Today, Hemi got to spend the day at the "doggie spa" with his Mom and Dad. I hope you enjoy the photographical trip through his day as much as we enjoyed taking them. First, the bath:

Looks real thrilled to be there, doesn't he?

One of these days, I'd like to do a photo essay of the poor, pitiful, wet faces that come through the store. This one is a really good start, dontcha think?
He didn't much care for the big dryer, but he put on his big boy panties and dealt with it! It made drying him soooooo much faster!
Hemi enjoyed the smaller dryers much more- look at the way he is enjoying that "wind blown" look!
Here's the yet to be infamous "Jimi Hendrix" look- This is the face we see after he's been out playing with Boo and has lost his rubber band! I sometimes wonder if he's part sheep dog. (I'll have to check with his breeder on that one!)
He is still not patient with the scissoring, but he's getting there. Can't wait until his chest drops so we can see the Easty/Westy go away!

The finished project! I love some of the lines, and some of his coloring. You can't really see it from this angle, but there is a straight line down the sides of both front legs. The front half is VERY light, the back half is much darker. I also like the ring around the puff on his tail.

He was a good boy for such a long time, he deserved time to just play! Love the way he curls his toes up when he playboys.
This picture was a little fuzzy, but I thought it was cute- ears flying in the wind, strutting, tail straight up. He loves his Kong! The good news, is that the bath DID tire him out!

And, yes, he got his day at the spa, but Boo's day was yesterday. Unfortunately (Or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it was busy so we didn't get any good pictures of the process. We did, however, get a really good picture of him today after he had been scissored.

Isn't he handsome?

Despite the grizzling around his head, he still has the prettiest male poodle head I've ever seen.

Giving Props!

Well, I didn't have any fodder for my blog until this morning. The whole story starts about 4 years ago. Boo was in one of his first shows at the Arkansas Kennel Club's show in Little Rock. I met a couple and their adult daughter who were just fascinated with Boo, and informed me that the daughter wanted a standard poodle. Not being a rude person, (alirght, Karen, you can quit laughing now!), I proceed to talk to them at length about Boo, where I got him, and anything and everything poodle.

Not much later than that, the daughter shows up with this little black ball of FUZZ! She had made the plunge and gotten her a standard poodle puppy. We quickly became friends. I mean, how could we not. We had so much in common from poodles, down to the same dietary needs. We started training together whenever possible. She had a very light hand, and this fuzzball began to rule the roost! So, with the help of many of my other *non-poodle* friends, we worked with her, helping her learn how to better handle her little maniac.

So, here we are some years later, and She has not only managed to make a well mannered dog out of him, but she has become the STAR! Obtaining titles in many different venues, including obedience and freestyle.

So, this post is a shout out to Melissa and Teddy as congratulations for their new title of Companion Dog Excellent!

See video of her title, and read more about this AMAZING dog and his AMAZING owner!

Melissa, I am so proud of you. I know that, if you set your mind to it, you and Teddy can and will do anything! Congratulations to a wonderful team!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This one's for the employees of ATX

Okay, so the video camera's battery was dead Wednesday night for Hemi's regular class, so I couldn't get any new video. So, just so you guys could get your fix while I rounded up some more good agility footage- here's some of the unused footage from Gene and Kyra from Tuesday night's class. I promise, I'll have more good video up for you come Monday, fear not!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Agility Class 2/12/08

Tonight was our agility class. It started with a little sunlight, but finished under the bright lights. She had set up an ASCA course that was fun. The opening was a little tough on Boo, for some weird reason. He is usually pretty steady on a long lead out, but was not feeling that confidence tonight. I won't bore you with the attempts to get the opening, but here's my run once we got going:

Boo missed the weaves the first time, but it was all me. There was some misunderstanding- Pamela suggested I go on the left side, which I didn't want to do. What she meant, was to walk AWAY from Boo on the left side, not handle it from the left. (Yeah, I know, my blonde roots are showing!) At any rate, I just continued as it was. I was proud, however, of his dogwalk. He has been having some issues lately, but her dogwalk is only 11" wide- it's really building his confidence and I have been babysitting his entrance. On that run, however, I gave him a loose entrance, and he nailed it!

Gene and Kyra's attempt at the full course- you'll notice that Gene's interpretation of the course is slightly different than mine. (He forgot the course a couple of times. I cut part of the middle out.)

I give her a 9.7 on the landing, how about you?

Next, we worked on some weaves with Boo. He refused the weaves all weekend this past weekend. He seems to be handling them well, physically- which means training issue. Not sure how to handle his refusals now. He gets demotivated if I take him back too many times to repeat something. I'm not sure how he would react if I walked him off the course. We have an AKC trial next weekend, and I'm still debating what to do then. We'll see.

We worked on Boo and the wrap before the A-frame. He is not, normally, a tight turner, but she is helping us work on tightening up pieces of the course. I think this wrap was MUCH tighter than the first time through.

This last piece of video is the ending sequence- Boo was pretty slow coming out of the tunnel, so I took the opportunity to throw in a blind cross. You'll notice the reaction to my cross from the peanut gallery- it came from my criticism of Gene's last attempt (didn't include video here) where he "waited" on Kyra to take the last jump going into the chute so he could cross behind. I chastised him for not crossing, to which he made a smart remark back.

So, we learned a lot tonight. We'll see if we can remember it as we close in on our next trial

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Agility weekend from Hell

Okay, so it wasn't that bad. Really, it wasn't. The weekend started off with Me taking the two dogs for day 1 of showing. Now, usually, on day one, course one, Boo is sooooo excited to be running again, that I have a hard time winding him down enough to focus. Especially if they start with the 24" dogs. As luck would have it, they started with 20" dogs, so I got to wind Boo down, and then walk the course. Usually, this doesn't do much for us, but hey, it's the best I can hope for.

So, after walking the course, I was feeling pretty confident. Okay, cocky really- it had lots of tunnel off-courses, which we've been working VERY hard on, because he tends to have tunnel suck. (For those who believe in such things!) The hardes part was actually coming out of a serpentine into the tunnel- if done right, it's a straight line. However, when you handle it like I did- it sends them right into the wrong end of the tunnel! I think Boo was the only dog to take that *particular* off course options. Then, I tried left sided weaves with him, crossing in front of the tunnel- I handled it very poorly, and he entered in between pole 2 and 3. (Of course, our run was already over thanks to my weak turn to the tunnel.

With Kyra, I gave her a hard "left" from 7 to 8, that was actually more dramatic than appears on the map- it was more of a 45 degree angle. Anyway, she went left- WAY left- and did a full 180, and refused jump #8- not sure why I did it, because it wasn't necessary- the rear cross was plenty to pull her off. I also realized the that right sided weaves would not be as big a deal as I thought, so instead of crossing, I stayed where I was and got a much cleaner entrance to the weaves. Since our run was already busted, I took the chance to (judges, close your ears)- *train* in the ring, and try something I wouldn't normally do, and I did a rear cross at the weaves- the little devil never batted an eye! She nailed the entry, and finished ALL of her weaves! What a good girl!

I copied the course for your perusal- I had to re-create it, as I don't have my scanner working, but it's pretty close to what was on the original map.

After Boo's run, I was headed back to the crating area when I slipped and fell, hitting my thigh on the pointed side of a concrete retaining wall. I wasn't sure I would be able to run again, but managed to finish the day- luckily Gene was running on Sunday. Anyway- since the bruise was nice and colorful, I thought I'd impress you by posting it here. Don't worry- it's cropped down to just the bruise itself- the real bruise is about 6-7" long and about 3-4" wide. It hurt like Hell when I did it. I'm actually able to finally put weight on it again today.

So, for the next 3 hours, I continued to just walk, knowing that if I sat down, I wouldn't get back up. When it came time for the standard course, the aleve had started kicking in, so the pain level was down. But, I was still uncomfortable enough that I wasn't stressed- hurt too bad to worry about my dog messing up. (It's a good thing, too!)- the course was a pretty nice flowing course with plenty of off courses- but Boo was really responding to me. Watching the 20" dogs, I noticed that many dogs were being pulled off of the A-frame and the DW contacts in order to make the turn when it really wasn't necessary. So, I made myself hold those steady- Since I'm still working on speed on the contacts (no World Team aspirations here!)- I knew I had time to focus on the contacts before moving on. The weave entry was such that, even with the small dogs, it was best to hold your ground, and make the dog wrap to get to the left side and get in the weaves. The rest was a pretty nice course- Boo didn't have any trouble with the wrap, but popped out a pole 3- Kyra had no issues with the weaves at all. Kyra's issue was that from the start line, she spotted the judge- a tall, blonde man with glasses, and just KNEW it was her Daddy- so, when she blew off the start line and nudged him in the crotch, she was not real impressed to learn it was not her Daddy. So, because of that, she pretty much lost her little brown brain through the rest of the course, eyeing him, trying to figure out who he was if it wasn't her Daddy.

The weird part, is that even though Kyra "met" the judge yesterday (and got to know him up close and personal!)- she left Gene today to go give him another smell. Maybe she thought her Daddy was a twin? The world may never know, but lesson learned- if the judge is a tall man in glasses, let Kyra meet him FIRST!

So, while both dogs had a perfect weekend. (Well, perfect NQ weekend)- we look forward to the next trial in 2 weeks- let's hope that their handler's will be better prepared!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Killer Instincts

The Carcass of the squirrel lies just outside my back door.
Its entrails
littering the crusty brown lawn.
The skin sliced open by

scalpel-like nails
sword-like teeth

soft brown fur wet with slobber.
The killer sits at my feet
the squeaker in his mouth
---Patti Downing

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Too attached?

I had a friend tell me that she didn't want male dogs because they were too "needy". Well, I wouldn't call Boo needy, but he is DEFINATELY attached to me. Sometimes, I wonder if it's too much. In the morning, after breakfast and pottying, Boo comes back to be with me. I can often feel his breath on my cheek as he lies there, watching me sleep. (or pretend to). It's almost eerie. While getting ready for work, this is the face I see staring back at me:

We recently measured his DAFM (distance allowed from Mommy) to be 8 feet 3 inches. And the line of sight must be unobstructed. This DAFM is a constant. (If I move from one couch to another, Boo feels he must also adjust position in order to maintain the preferred DAFM. Except for one major detail. In agility, he will work well away from me, and hold his stay for longer than the DAFM. He has also happily completed all of his out of sight sit stays in Open that violates not only the DAFM, but also the line of sight requirement.

We started something with Hershey that maybe we shouldn't have. But, she's 10 now, and we've used it on all of our other dogs, and now it's sort of expected. When leaving the house, we would always give her a treat. This meant "you aren't going", and would keep her from charging the door. It worked, but we've created a monster. (That's a topic for another day, however). Boo is so upset with my new schedule, that when I leave, he refuses his treat. Instead, he runs to the door and gives me *that* face. The one that says "You're leaving and never coming back?" This is the face I see every morning when leaving to open the store. Pitiful, isn't it? (Dontcha just want to reach out and pet him, save him from being abandoned?)

When I come home in the afternoon, he is so happy to see me, that we have to spend some quality time together. He is quite adament that he's happy I'm home. Well, see for yourself:

This sweet boy is so attached to me, that he will even tell me he loves me. Unfortunately, like any other teenage boy, he is shy about making these statements in front of witnesses. So, we had to trick him into this.

So, my question remains. Is it possible for a dog to be too attached to their owner? I guess if it's possible, Boo comes pretty close.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Excellent Courses

Since everyone had so much fun discussing Gene's other courses, I thought I'd try 2 new courses. These were the excellent courses for his A-match. As with most matches, the Q rate was pretty low. But, I thought the courses looked fun and challenging.

JWW course

Excellent Standard Course