Thursday, December 30, 2010

I have No Room in my Van

Has this ever happened to you?  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Video 2010

Here's our 2010 Christmas Video.

It didn't turn out quite as I'd planned. 

First there wasn't any snow.
Then it was way too cold!!

Then too cloudy.........

Then last Saturday was JUST RIGHT!!

The dogs had fun!!

Kruz especially!
He was so funny, attacking the toys!!  

Seeker, he was sure the sled would eat him.

Cougar didn't want to miss out on anything!
Mad, well, she just wanted the COOKIE!!

Merry Christmas
 Happy New Year

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Who Do You Blame?

We seem to be a society in which nothing is our fault.  For whatever reason, we can't seem to take accountability. or responsibility for our own actions.  Today, I'm going to jump on that "It's NOT my FAULT" band wagon and start pointing fingers!  It might be good for YOU to do this as well!!

So, who are we 'blaming'?  That person that got you involved in 'Dog Sports' of course!  You know, the one that said, "You might like this."  Next thing you know, you're gone every weekend, have put more miles on your vehicle in 5 years, then you have in previous 15 years!  Missing family functions, to the point where they no longer expect you to be there! Knowing exactly which event you'll be attending 'years' in advance.  Picking up a new date planner every November, so you can write down your Dog Sports weekends You don't miss them!  There's just GOT to be someone to blame!

For me, it was Amy Steinbeck.  I had started a new job, and Amy started there 3 months later, she was showing in Dog Obedience.  At the time, we had two older lab mixes, and I wanted a little dog.  Bill wasn't all that keen on it, but I kept pushing.  Amy tried to get me interested in Min Pins, but I ended up with a little Bichon, Molly.  That was in December of 1991. 

Amy suggested I get into a class with Melinda Wichmann, this resulted in taking additional obedience classes at Kirkwood Community College.  There I met Linda and Judy and started Flyball.  Between Flyball practice and Obedience training, we stayed pretty busy, but what's just one more event?  Agility entered the picture. 

I was skeptical at first, would this really be all that much fun?   The local club offered NCDA back then, which would become UKC several years later.  Involved were Michele, Beth, Kay, Amy, Sheryl, Sue, Mary, and Patty. 

I was looking for a larger dog to run in agility, something that didn't shed!  With two older labs in the house, the last thing I wanted was more dog hair!  Watching Westminster in 1993, the Portuguese Water Dog caught my attention.  Several letters and phone calls later, in 1994, Rocky entered our lives.  I think I'll have to blame him on "Animal Planet"? 

This lead to participating in Portuguese Water Dog Water Trials.  Since we're in the Midwest, trialing is pretty limited, but you do need to condition them to swimming.  It's also helpful if you train!   

In 1996, AKC decided that agility was no longer a FAD, and jumped in with all four paws!  Great, now yet another venue.  My weekends were filling up like crazy!

A couple years later, Dena Brown, said, "If you're going to do agility and flyball, you should probably look at getting a Border Collie.  I know just the litter!  There are 3 boys to pick from."  Thus, Kruz came home with us in 1998.   Dena had another great idea, "Why don't you try some NADAC agility too!"  So, that was Dena and Sandy's fault. 

By 1999, something had to give.  We were just too busy.  So, we all but stopped flyball and focused more on Agility.  Sadly, Rocky passed away that year, he'd had various health conditions throughout his short life.  Luckily Linda and Krista Hunt from St. Paul MN that had a litter of PWD puppies that spring.  Yep, it's there fault that I brought home my Nina.  I'm sure by now you're thinking, "You had a choice in this."  I swear I did not!  They all made me do it!! 

We moved out to an acreage in the Fall of '99, somewhere we could set up some agility classes.  This 'might' have been my fault, but I can't remember. I think the dogs made me do it!

Mary Lowder had always enjoyed tracking, and I will admit being intrigued.  So, with her help, and that of Jerry Lewis, In the spring of 2001, Nina became my one, and only, (to date), TD.  Thanks guys, I'll be sending you a bill! 

Mad Dog came to 'visit' for some water training in 2002, to never return home.  Bill is pretty sure Linda and Krista PLANNED it this way.  We've learned we are NOT good 'foster/socializing' people.  We get too attached. 

Dena called on May 31, 2007 to tell us our new Border Collie puppy was just born.  Seeker is Kruz's nephew.  In July, we brought home, the newest addition to our dog family.  DENA'S FAULT!

I'm wondering if I took the all to court, if I'd have a case.  I suppose they might think I had a choice in this?  I honestly did not.  It's some kink of addiction that takes over your life.  There are times I sit back and wonder what I did with all that time!  With my life "BD". Before Dogs!

My dog friends are truly family.  We love to be together, we laugh, cheer, groan, and cry together.  As Don Smith said, "These dogs have brought me more wealth than anything else in my life.  I am healthier than I've ever been. I've seen more of the country.  I've met more people, than I ever would have without them."

Dogs are truly amazing animals, and Dog People are the absolute BEST! I love you guys!

Here's wishing you all a Wonderful Holiday Season!

My Attorney will be in touch.........

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In The PINK!!!!

Give ‘Dog People’ a ‘cause’ and they jump in with all FOUR PAWS!!  
They are funny that way. 

Recently one of ICDOC - (Iowa City Dog Obedience Club)’s long time club member, and friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.  We immediately wanted to offer support and help, 
but it’s hard to know what to do.

Someone thought a “Pink” day in support of our friend, as well as all others impacted by this 
horrible disease would be appreciated.

Bill ordered ‘Smooth Sailin’ pink sweatshirts, 40+ I believe. 

Melinda ordered Pink Cancer Ribbon Dog collars, $200 worth! 
Our boy dogs look GREAT in PINK!! 

Jeff donated his ‘specialty’, some terrific agility equipment!  One set of 24” weave poles, one set of 24”
set of channel weaves, a panel jump and 4 wingless jumps.  Raffle tickets were sold at $2 
each and it all went to Susan B. Komen Foundation.

UPDATE - $1000 raised!! 

Terry ‘Saint Terry’ gave his sweatshirt away by midday to women from MN that was 7 years post surgery.  He admitted, that while he looked GREAT in pink, he didn’t think he’d wear the shirt again.  The woman was touched, and Terry accomplished his good deed for the year.  We should all be so blessed!  Way to go Terry!

Exhibitors from Iowa and surrounding states showed up in various shades of pink!  It was a truly amazing thing to be apart of.  A great cause and great people!  Who could ask for more?

 Other than a cure of course. 

Frank PAX!! 12/10/2010

There's a new PAX in town!!!  

Marsha Kingsley (AKA: Meme), along with her 
Italian Greyhound, Frank, 
earned their 20th DQ Friday!!  

Frank is a sensitive soul, thus the Orange people had
to do a silent celebration.  

You have NO idea how hard that is for Orange people to be quite!!  
The duct tape sure helped!!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Safety First! It's that time of year!!!

I'm sure most people are aware that Fall and Winter not only mean;
falling leaves, temperatures, and snow.  
They also mean HUNTING SEASON!!! 

Whether you hunt or not, it's important that 
when you venture outside with your canine 'kids' 
that you keep them safe too! 

We live in the country, and while we do have a fenced yard, our
dogs are often out running around 'loose' with us.

We do keep an eye on them of course, but you never know
when you might have an unexpected visitor drive down the lane.

This time of year if Seeker is going to be 'loose', 
he always goes out with his safety jacket on.  
Kruz and Mad, being a bit more 'mature' have bright coats to wear,
when outside the fenced areas.

This is something you might want to do for your 'kids' too. 
Whether you're out for a walk in the woods, or an open field.  
Accidents happen.

I also wear orange when I'm ridding my horse out in the fields.
I'd heard of a rider in Southern Iowa several years ago that 
actually had her horse shot out from under her.  
The hunters thought it was a deer! 

Do you track with your dog?
Get him an orange vest, get yourself on too!

Hunter are very careful, but accidents do happen!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Putting it all into Perspective!

We were in Lake St. Louis, MO over the weekend for 
the annual 3 day AKC Agility Trial.  

There were 2 great judges, 6 fantastic courses, 
and lots of agility friends, both human and canine. 

Dog people are 'funny'.  If you've ever watched 
the movie, "Best In Show", you get the general idea. 
Although that movie might be a bit extreme, 
it's not all  that far off either. 

We spend more time with our dogs, 
than most people do with their children.
We adore our dogs. 

When one of our dog friends pass away, 
we all mourn them.  

Our dogs in a sense, belong to everyone. 
We might have come up through the classes together, 
stood in line together, or
participated in National Events together. 
Handlers have walked courses together, 
provided strategy ideas, both good and bad.
We have watched each other run, numerous times.
Congratulated, consoled, eaten cake, and signed 'bars'. 

So, when one of our 'kids' are lost suddenly, 
it's both shocking and sad. 
It brings us together too. 

On Saturday, 11/27/10, Craig Josling lost
his 9 year old Keeshond, MACH4 Ben XF suddenly.  
Our hearts go out to him.  What a terrible loss. 
I've heard that Hemangiosarcoma is suspected. 

If you don't know much about Hemangio, 
I would suggest you do some research. 
This silent killer has struck many of our dogs, 
many, like Ben, were competing at agility trials. 

If you're looking to make some donations 
this year, might I suggest some canine health organizations.

This one happens to be my choice, 
but there are others.

I know it's been said, many times.
We pay the entry fees, drive the hundreds of miles, 
use our vacation time, stay at hotels, 
or sleep in our vans to attend trials.

Our dogs go, because we take them. 
They would be just as happy to stay home, go for a walk, 
play with a ball, or chase a jet stream of water from the hose. 

There are going to be times when your
agility runs don't go according to plan. 
There are going to be times when you aren't
sure you're 'team' is running the same course, 
are in the same ring, or even on the same Planet!

Regardless, if you get to take your partner home, 
healthy and happy, that's all that really matters.

There are many of us that have not been that lucky.

Hug your dogs, and go get them a cookie....
Just because you can!!  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The DAM Team was on FIRE!!

Nothing could stop those "Three Sheep to the Wind" on Friday,
at the Lawrence, KS USDAA trail.  

It was the Dog Agility Master's Team event,
in which three dog teams compete for
Gold, Silver and Bronze metals.

They are also competing for a Qualifying score,
which will allow them to run in the DAM Team competition at the Nationals in the Fall 2011.

Teammates Rio (Black Dog), Shiver (Go Dog),
and Seeker (Brother Dog),
teamed up once more.
They were flawless, in Gamblers, Snooker, Jumpers,
Standard and Relay. 
(okay....almost Flawless in Relay, but they got 1st anyway!)

Overall, the "Three Sheeps" ended up:

With the GOLD!
(I don't think it's really gold)

 #1 - 26" dog overall - Seeker
  #1 - 22" dog overall - Rio
#2 - 22" dog overall - Shiver

It was a great day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun New Move in Lake St. Louis!

The TAC Agility Club was offering the "Time to Beat" class as practice on Saturday afternoon.   We were done early, and had no where else to go, the hotel check in wasn't until 2 PM. and since we'd been up since 1:30 AM, what the heck!  I was hoping for 2 A-Frames to practice on, apparently Seeker was hoping for 2 Teeters.  HE WON!!!

Wendie showed me this awesome move to use on this course.  You were to use the 'OLE'" or 'true collection arm' over jump #3, then a 'backie uppie', with a blind cross over #4.  Talk about SWEET!!!  Dervish and Wendi were 'SPOT ON' with their attempt.  Seeker and I weren't too far behind and we'd never attempted it before!  It was really fun!!

Here's our footage.  I wish I would have gotten footage of the other dogs and handlers so you could compare.  I also wish I had the course map!  SORRY!!  They only had 2 posted on the wall, on Sunday morning they were gone.  It was a BLAST!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Agility Community Loses an Inspiration

(From the USDAA Website)
This is truly amazing!
Feel blessed if you are still healthy enough to run your dog!!

Dennis Murphy's love of the sport helped competitors remember to enjoy it to the fullest.
By Debbie Zahler

Dennis Murphy, a well-loved agility competitor from Jacksonville, Florida, passed away on October 19, 2010 as a result of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease." He and his wife, Midge, have competed in agility for the last decade, first with their three Portuguese Water Dogs and most recently with their Border Collies Bodhi and Zoom.

Over the last three years, ALS made it difficult for Dennis to move around the agility course. As he went from running full out with Bodhi as a young dog, to using a cane to aid his movement, then a walker, a Segway, and finally a motorized wheelchair, Dennis guided Bodhi through the courses. With the assistance of his instructor and friend Stuart Mah, Dennis was able to adapt his handling and communication methods with each change in his own movement to continue to run Bodhi. In March 2010, Dennis (using the motorized wheelchair) got a Grand Prix leg to finish Bodhi's ADCH, quite an accomplishment considering the challenges they faced.

Dennis' goal in doing agility was to enjoy time with his friends and his canine companion. His perseverance and courage never allowed him to give up the sport due to his lack of mobility. Dennis' last agility run with Bodhi was on October 2, 2010 at the Cool Critters trial in Palmetto, Florida. It was always inspiring to watch Dennis and Bodhi compete, and it was especially so on that day, as we all knew the number of runs Dennis and Bodhi had together were limited.

A number of Dennis' friends attended the 2010 Cynosport World Games last month. Knowing that Dennis was going to be watching on the live streaming feed, we wore hats that said "Running for Dennis" to let him know that he would be with us in spirit. After Dennis' passing, these same hats are now being sold to local competitors with proceeds going to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in memory of Dennis.

One of the last things Dennis was able to do before his death was to watch Stuart and Ares run in Grand Prix finals on Sunday afternoon via the live feed. When telling of his death two days later, Midge said that being able to watch them had brought Dennis great happiness in his final hours.

During the last few years, Dennis taught all of us who knew him great lessons in humility, perseverance, courage, and grace. His experiences put things back in perspective. Next time you step on the agility field, I challenge you all to leave the field with a smile on your face. Walk away and play with your dog, regardless of how your run went. Be thankful that you have the opportunity to participate in this great sport of dog agility... Dennis was.

See an interview with Dennis at

Debbie Zahler lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her two dogs, nine-year-old terrier mix ADCH Skitch and three-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie Mookie. Debbie has been competing in agility for eight years and is currently Club Secretary for Pals & Paws Agility in Jacksonville. Debbie can be contacted at

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

National Agility Events – AKC and USDAA - compared..

Bill and I attended both the AKC Nationals in Tulsa, OK, as well as the USDAA World Games (AKA – Nationals) in Louisville, KY this year.  I’ve had a couple people ask me which I preferred.  In reality, it’s like comparing Border Collies to Portuguese Water Dogs, I love them both, but they are different. 

AKC Nationals moves every year.  This gives those in different parts of the country a chance attend a National.  Not everyone is willing to travel a great distance, or fly their dogs. Our preference would be to stay within a 13 hour driving range.  That being said, Marsha/Tessie, Krista/Lily, and Molly/myself, did do a ‘girls’ trip to Houston, TX.

As for USDAA World Games, they seem to stay in one location for an extended period of time.  I should probably give a disclaimer here, as I’m not totally sure it will be in Louisville, KY again next year.  That’s probably just wishful thinking, as it’s a pleasant 8-9 hour drive for us!  They were in Scottsdale, AZ for a few years in a row however.  So, I’m banking on that being the case here.  I could be wrong! 

As for the length, AKC Nationals run from Friday – Sunday (3.5 days).  Generally you arrive on Thursday to get checked in, pick up the ‘goodies bag’ and get crates unloaded and set up.  

Friday is the “State” competition, and you can run twice.  This consists of one International Standard course (no table), and one JWW course.  It’s not a required entry, and most people use them as ‘practice’.  Time well spent getting your dogs, as well as yourself use to the surface and equipment.  Normal AKC Scoring rules applied and you get ribbons for clean runs.

On Saturday you run two courses again, Standard (no table), and JWW.  On Sunday you will run once, unless you've made the finals or challenger round.  If you run in the challenger round and win, you move to the finals.  So overall for the 3 days you could run as from 5-7 times.  Normal AKC Scoring rules applied and you get ribbons for clean runs.  These clean runs do not count toward title legs however.  

For AKC Nationals, plan on long days!  Arriving at the facility by 6:30 am, and leaving around 9 pm.  Normally the 20” class is the largest, around 300 dogs, the 12” class, normally isn’t far behind.

The Championship round is based on a Standard Course (without a table), and is run on Sunday Evening.  

 AKC Nationals - Tulsa, OK

USDAA World Games - Louisville, KY

At the USDAA World Games this year, it ran from Tuesday – Sunday (6 days).  I’d heard it was one day longer this year, but I don’t know if that was true.  Tuesday was the ‘arrival’ day; you received a ‘goodies bag’, found your crating space, and in the late afternoon ran the European Standard course.  This class wasn’t part of the National competition, but gave you a chance to get on the dirt and equipment before competition began the next day.

There are multiple variables at this event that determines the number of times you run.  If you qualified in all 3 Events, DAM Team, Grand Prix, and Steeplechase, you ran more often than if you only qualified for one or two events. 

If you qualified in all three events, you were guaranteed 4 runs in DAM Team (Gamblers, Standard, Snooker, Jumpers), and one run in Grand Prix, one run in Steeplechase.  There were also optional classes; European Standard and Renooks (aka-snooker backwards).  So, a minimum of 8 runs over 6 days.  If you did well, starting in the Quarter Finals, you could run as many as 13 times over the 6 days. 

Scoring for USDAA is slightly different than AKC as bars down, and refusals will result in a fault, and added to your ‘score’, while an off course is elimination.  There are not ribbons for clean runs, but there are for placements. 

The largest class is the 22”, which consists of dogs under 21” tall.  There were approximately 335 dogs competing at this height. 

There were more days involved in this event, but the days were shorter.  Arriving around 6:30 and ending by 4:30.  Times could vary slightly, depending on your walk through times and running time. 

The Steeplechase finals are run on Saturday Evening.  The Grand Prix finals, and DAM Team finals are run on Sunday afternoon. 

Regardless, National Events are always exciting to attend!  You get to see some amazing dogs and handlers! With AKC’s event in the Spring, and USDAA’s in the Fall, it gives you a nice respite between the two.   If you have a chance to attend one or both, I say "DO IT!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

USDAA Nationals - It wasn't all about Agility

Okay, it was......but there were other things to see and do!  

For instance, we went car shopping for Meme!!

We didn't even have to go far!  
This one was parked just a few vehicles away!
Talk about making our silver van easy to spot!

 We went to Churchill Downs.
What a HUGE place that was!


Here's Barbaro!!
What a spectacular Statue!

 Then we went for a walk at a beautiful park 
across from the Louisville Zoo!

Did I mention how awesome the weather was!!!

We even had some time to tour the lot for RVs. 
Not that we'll ever get one, but it was fun to look. 

Is it just me....or is there just something WRONG
with this PICTURE!!  G

Now, this is ROUGHING IT!

OH, This is NOT good!!
RV with UM... back up......
Van camping is looking better all the time!

Kruz would like to get back to agility NOW!!!
He was in his element!
So many little time!

Here's another video from Kentucky.  
Some clips from walks, there were 5 groups (A-G)
There was some electronic difficulties on Saturday night, 
so the gate steward and crowd kept us entertained.
With Clapping, Waves, and those crazy bleacher runners!

There was a Canine Cancer Lure Coursing.
Seeker really wanted to play!
You can hear him crying as the Rott
is chasing the lure!
Fun to watch!!

 We had fabulous weather on the way home as well.  
Here's the bridge from KY to IN.  
(the ambulance wasn't for us!)

 The Scenery was pretty!

Seeker got to play with his new Wubbie!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

USDAA Steeplechase - A-Frame and Weaves

The best part of the week at USDAA Nationals, other when running Seeker, 
was the Steeplechase Saturday night. 
Handlers and dogs were running all out in order to WIN!  
How much fun is that! 

Bill happened to pick the perfect seat!
  Right on the decent of the A-Frame!  
I wanted to see how dogs handled the A, 
and how they were going to handle that tricky stretch right after the Frame.

I really liked how Daisy Peel and Solar handled that jump sequence.
She wrapped Solar around jump #11 and that gave him a
nice line to the next sequence. 

There were others that had a nice push up that line,
but it didn't look as clean as Daisy's.
That being said, Daisy and Solar didn't win the Steeplechase.
It would be interesting however to see if handling it this way would have made 
the first and second place dogs, Feature and Scream, any faster.

Regardless, it was sure a LOT of FUN to watch!

So, the question is:
How will you train your next dog?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Steeplechase Video - USDAA - 10/16/2010

Here's a video put together by Marty, our crating neighbor in KY.  

She did a great job with it!  She was on the opposite side of the ring. 

I'll try to put one together tomorrow morning!

Monday, October 18, 2010


We are HOME!!!  YIPPEE!!!!  We had a great time in KY and we'll be back next year!  
We learned a LOT of valuable lessons that I'll share with you over the next few days.  

I'll admit, if you like Border Collies, you'll see a LOT of them!  Aussies, Shelties and Mals as well!  
In the 12" classes, Corgis seem to rule, both the tail and tailless varieties.  I spoke to two yellow lab owners, they had daughters of Preacher!  Also, a couple Louisiana Cataholas!  One even made the 26" Steeplechase finals!! 

All your walk-throughs were completed first thing in the morning.  They started as early as 7:00 am, or as late at 8:45 am.  It was actually nice how they had it laid out, I was in group D, so for the most part, I walked with the same people.  If you did well, you continued to, you could run as many as 3 times a day.  This meant that you had to walk 3 courses in the morning and then run them through-out the day.  Yes Rilda, I know...You'd be having a FIT!!  It wasn't bad!  HONEST!!  

Here's how I kept it straight!  I tried a piece of paper, but I kept misplacing it.  My hand was with me....all the time!!  Of course, it washed off later, but I was done with it by then.  On this day I walked Grand Prix from 7:15 - 7:25 in the Main Ring, then Ring 3 from 8:00 - 8:10, then Ring 5 for Steeplechase Semi-Finals from 8:30 - 8:40.  Running started at 9:30.  On this day I ran at 11:00, 2:15 and 4:00.  You had plenty of time in-between to go watch other groups run, so you could remember your course.  

Here's the course for the Steeplechase Quarter Finals.
I'll admit, this is becoming my favorite class!  
It's not just because you can win MONEY!!!!
It's FAST!


The photo of the ring below is from the far side, so the #10/#17 red tunnel is closest to you.
You'll just need to trust me when I say there was NO WAY to manipulate your dog into that #10 tunnel when you're hauling the mail down that line.  Okay, I'm sure some of those guys with the 6' legs could do it, but it sure wasn't happening for me! 

(Steeplechase Quarter Final Course) 

Seeker made it into the Steeplechase Semi Finals, (pretty awesome since the A-Frame was twice in the Quarter finals), and if his handler would have told him to take the A-Frame the second time, we would have made it to the Finals!!  RATS!!!  Live and Learn!  Sometimes you have to learn by doing I guess. 

I'm very proud of Seeker and how he did over-all.  No one likes to go into a big competition like this knowing you had a 'major' issue with particular piece of equipment.  Especially when that piece is in every class but 2 (Jumpers and Reknooks).  The A FRAME!!! UGH!!  But, we micro-managed it and we able to look respectable.  That will be our winter homework.  I'm still not sure whether we'll go back to the 2/2 or work more on our running.  I'll need to digest this a bit more before I commit.  I do know he's very confused and so, I'll need to do what's best for him.  
Our DAM Team - Three Sheeps to The Wind finished a VERY respectable 32nd of 205 teams and just missed the cut off of DAM Team Relay finalists.  NEXT YEAR!!!!   Great Job Seeker, Shenna and Shiver, Carol and Rio!!!!  We ROCKED!! 

Below on the Right, Stacy Peardot-Goudy said she wanted to be blog fodder!!
She said to tell all those IOWA PEOPLE "HI"!!!! 
I have several videos to share, but will need to edit them.  
The Steeplechase finals Saturday evening was a blast!! 
I'll write up a separate blog for that.  What FUN!!! 

5 rings, endless running and a lot of fun!!  
Plan to qualify and go next year!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Off To Louisville,KY!!

Tomorrow we're off to Louisville, KY and the USDA A championships!!

This is the first time we've attended this event and we're looking forward to it.

I'll try to send updates, but I'll confess right now, the  letter 'a' on our laptop isn't working, thus, you might need to fill in the 's long the Way!!  VBG  Unless spell check picks it up, you're going to have to live with it.  G

For now, the coolers re ready to be filled, the dog's raw food is frozen, nd I'm currently making bnn nd blueberry muffins for our breakfast. for the details.

I might have to re-employ the gile reporter!!

Right now I do know that the walk throughs re in the morning, so you might have 2-3 courses to remember throughout the Day.  The walking seems to be between 700 - 830, then we start running.  It should be interesting!!

You'll likely get better - quicker updates from Shenna nd Shiver's blog!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When A Title's On The Line!

Things change!  Handlers change, Dog’s change…..things that were once easy, seem to get tougher!  As crazy as it seems, it’s true!  It’s MENTAL!

Even moving up from Open to Excellent can result in a high percentage of NQs.  Why?  Well, everyone knows that Excellent is MUCH harder than Open.  It’s honestly NOT!!! Yep, there’s that mental thing again! 

Maybe you smoked right through Excellent A, but as soon as you move into B, it all comes crashing down?  Why?  “I’m not this good, I don’t belong here”….. MENTAL!! 

Let’s face it, we put a lot of pressure on our dogs, and ourselves!  The courses haven’t changed, you have!  Walking the course you hear things like; “What out for that off course.”, “That weave entry is horrible.”, “I need to be CAREFUL!!” 

You want to also avoid ‘Over Trying’.  Over Trying or Over Handling is when you attempt to assist your dog in ‘hitting the yellow’ or ‘finding that weave entry’.   This often results in your dog jumping over the yellow or getting a second weave entry.  Your dog is just wishing you’d “STAY OUT OF THE WAY!” Of course we honestly think we are helping.

One thing you should ask yourself is, “How did I get here, to this level?”  Chances are you found a nice balance between doing your job, which is directing your dog, and letting your dog do his part, which is performing the obstacles.

When we try to overstep our job when it comes to being a Team, is when things can go back.  This is a two way street, it’s give and take.  There are dogs out there that would LOVE to LEAD the dance!  There are also handlers out there that would love to WEAVE for their dog!  We need balance and we also need to be respectful of each others ‘tasks’. 

So, if you have when you have a title on the line, keep in mind that you’ve earn it!  It will come!  Enjoy the Journey and your time together!


All last weekend in DSM this song was just stuck in my head.   
I do love my Rock Music,
and Papa Roach is one of my top 30 artists. 

So, here are some of Seeker’s Runs along with the song I just could NOT shake. 
“Kick In The Teeth” –….what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger in my head……


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are you missing out on a Key Training Tool?

 What if there was an amazing training tool, that didn’t cost you ANYTHING!   What if this tool was something you HAD to do everyday any way? What if you were actually missing out on what of the best training tools around? I believe it’s possible that a lot of you are! 

What is it?

I call it, 
‘Working for your Supper' 


Okay, I’ll admit, it does cost you something.  You do have to buy your dog’s food.  So, it’s not really free.  Then again, it’s something you’d have to have anyway, so it’s not an added expense.  Are you missing out on this totally AWESOME opportunity to train your dog? 

Do you just mindlessly poor your dog’s food into his bowl, and let him mindlessly eat.  Maybe you have him sit and wait until the bowl is on the floor and you release him to it, this is at least a start.  If you are not using this time as a training opportunity, you are so missing the boat!

Once or twice a day you have a fantastic opportunity to train your dog, for something he really wants!  Take advantage of it!

Here are a couple of the more common excuses I hear when I make this suggestion. 

1 ) “I don’t have the time.” 

Let’s take a look at the ‘time’ excuse.  How long does it take your dog to consume a meal?  More than likely, not very long.  How long does it take to drive to and take a class?  A couple hours?  I can guarantee that “Working for your Supper” will NOT take that long!  It will take only a few minutes.  Not to mention you get to do it EVERY DAY!  Maybe even TWICE a day.

I have to get to work in the morning.  Most of us do.  If we were independently wealthy, it would not make this tool any less valuable.  This will literally take a few minutes.  I’m sure there’s time; you just need to ‘make it’.  I would challenge you to get up 10 minutes earlier, skip checking your e-mail in the morning, skip that morning news on TV, make your lunch the night before.  Maybe cut "Survivor" or "Dancing With The Stars" a little short?  There’s some way to make the time, if it’s important enough. 

Our first agility dog, a Bichon named Molly, really struggled with weave pole entries.  Molly really LOVED her food.  So, guess what, that’s what she did for her breakfast and supper.  We WEAVED!!  Our rule became, if I didn’t take her out to weave for her meals, she wouldn’t eat.  That of course was NOT an option, so it made me take her out to ‘play’ in the weave poles.  I simply divided her meals into 1/3’s and we’d weave for her supper.  It made a HUGE difference in her performance, and I believe was a major contributing factory in her achieving her MACH. 

Sorry, Time is an excuse that just doesn’t cut it. 

2)      I don’t have a building to train in.

Do you have a yard?  I know, it’s dark in the morning and dark early at night.  Do you have a porch or yard light?  Trust me, you can make it work.  What about a living room, family room or spare bedroom or basement?  You don’t need a large area! 

Working contacts, use a plank and a cinder block for your 2/2.  Use the stairs.  Weaves, work entries with just 2 poles!  Maybe you have room for 4!  AWESOME!  One jump exercises works in a small room.  Don’t forget your trick training!  It’s mostly about relationship anyway!  You can’t train your dog if it doesn’t want to play with YOU!!

Sorry, you don’t need a training building or a big yard!  You don’t even need agility equipment!  Be creative!!!

3)      I feed raw, so I can’t work my dog for it’s supper. 

Seriously?  I feed raw, and it doesn’t stop me.  Again, you need to be creative.  Muscle meat is really easy to work with, so are cut up chicken hindquarters.  If you have larger meaty bones, trim as much meat off as you can and work with that.  Then they can have the bone. 

I don’t want to touch it.  Again, seriously?  That’s what soap is for.  Okay, use latex gloves if you really don’t like it.  Use a rubber baby spoon and let them eat off that.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!  Don’t look for excuses, look for solutions!

4)      My dog doesn’t really like his food.

You might be surprised that a picky dog might just become UN PICKY when he gets to work for his supper.  Dogs really do want to please us and if a fun training session involves food, bring it on!  If you have a dog that really isn’t into his food, put it away (the food), for 10 minutes or so, and try again.  If your dog is alive, it’s because he’s eating!!  So, you just need to create that desire.  Don’t give up!

Given just a few sessions of working for your supper, I really think you’ll see an amazing change in your dog’s performance and your relationship!

Train like you Play, and Play like you Train!!

Happy Playing!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Omaha - AKC Agility

We had a great weekend in Omaha!  
There really is a dog in that crate somewhere!  

Seeker and Kruz ran great all weekend. I was very proud of them both.
I even got to run Addie on Saturday, as Carrie had other obligations.  She did GREAT!  Even though we dropped a bar in JWW, she was perfect in Standard, and came away with a 1st place and 42 MACH pts to boot.  WAY TO GO ADDIE!!  She was a lot of fun to run, and I ran her exactly the same as I ran Seeker.  Her run is on the video below.  We didn't get her Standard 'flipped', but it was awesome!  You'll just have to take my word for it.

The course on Sunday, Seeker's second run on the video, was completed with all rear crosses.  Okay, there was one front cross at the end of the weaves.  I personally do not do many rear crosses.  They just don't seem to give the dog a lot of information in regards to where they are going.  If you compare that run, to his runs with front crosses, I think you'll agree that the front cross turns are tighter. We work on jumping into me on a rotation, so that on a run, it's no big deal.  That really seems to be paying off.

As always, I come away with some homework.  Seeker jumps 26" and he's just over 20" tall.  He suffers from 'hang time'.  This might be great for a NBA player and slam dunks, it's not advantageous for an agility dog however.  You have speed when your 4 feet are on the ground, not in the air.  So, we'll be working on some exercises to get him back to the ground quicker, while still keeping the bars up.  

His running A-Frame is still a work in progress.  He finally came off without me asking him to Sunday, too bad he wasn't in the yellow.  It's coming, and I realize I'll need to give up some yellow in order to get what I'm looking for.  It's probably not the best time to be working on something new, with all the Fall shows, but we'll work through it.  I won't ask for 2 on/2 off on the A-Frame, and he can do what he's comfortable with.  Qs are not important right now.  It's all a learning process and we're having a great time along the way. 

Speaking of Q's! 
Wow, everyone did a great job!!!  
Frank, Coz and Kruz all came away with 2 DQs!  
Rippy got one as well.  
Addie got a couple Qs and big points!
Seeker got 3 more qualifying JWW runs for World Team Tryouts. 
Congrats to all!!!!!

The weather could have been a bit nicer, although, it could have been worse too! Friday was my kind of weather!  Warm, maybe 80 and sunny!  Meme appreciated it for her pictures!  I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

Camping was good. We did end up with a bit of a storm on Friday night (Saturday morning), but it didn't last long was was gone for the most part on Saturday.  We did end up with a bit of a lightening delay on Saturday, but only for 30 minutes or so.  Sunday was rather cold, drizzly and not much fun weather wise.  If you were under enough coats and blankets, you were fine.  I think it would have been fine without the mist.  No pictures on Sunday!!  

That being said, I must admit that I LOVE outside trials.  
Something about getting out on the grass, in the fresh air with plenty of space.  
It's just GREAT!!  

My understanding is that this might be the last trial at this site.  It sounds like they may have secured a horse area for their upcoming trials.  That fine, I love running on dirt too!  I will miss the trips to the Humane Society (they have an AWESOME ONE!), and of course Taco Bell for lunch! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Handler's Matter!

I spent last weekend in Indianapolis, IN, at a Portuguese Water Dog Trial.  Saturday, I just hung out, visited with friends, and watched handlers and their dogs.  On Sunday I judged and finished up my 2nd provisional needed to become an official Portuguese Water Dog Water Trial Judge. 

One advantage of judging is you get a front row seat when it comes to observing not only the dog, but also the handler.  Amazingly enough, handling matters!  It can make or break a qualifying, or passing performance.  I’m not just talking about water trials here; handling is a requirement for almost every performance event. 

Probably the most common handling mistake is being inconsistent emotionally.

By emotionally, I mean that ‘you’ the handler becomes  so overly excited, and/or stressed, that your dog doesn’t even know who you are anymore.  Maybe your voice gets really high, loud, or both.  Maybe you start to beg, or plea with your dog to perform.  Meanwhile, your dog is searching for some way to get away from you.  Who can blame him?  This can result in dogs that start to leave the ring, slow down significantly (stress down) or get the stress rips (stress up). 

It seems like we spend so much time working on ‘ring stresses for our dogs that we forget about ourselves.  Handlers get stressed too!  Luckily, there are things you can do to help. 

There are several great speaking and book writers on improving your Mental Game.  A couple I really like are Jane Savoie, a horse trainer and Lanny Bassham, a formal Olympic Rifle shooter. 

Here’s a clip I found on You Tube.  Okay, so it has to do with Golf, but you get the general idea.  Not many of us enough money to golf, after agility has sucked us dry!  VBG

You can also look for fun matches.  Tell your friends that you need this to be like a trial.  Need to ensure your stress level?  Put some money where your mouth is.  Say for instance you’re working on keeping your tone and volume of voice.  Give a friend $20 to hold for you, if you do a good job, you get your money back.  If you fall into some old habits, she gets to keep the dough. 

At class, make it competitive with your group.  Try to get it to ‘trial’ level, where you want to out perform each other.  This might help you ‘replicate’ a trial situation. 

So, get to work on your MENTAL GAME! 
 Your dog will THANK YOU!