Friday, December 28, 2012

"Early" Morning Training

I say "early" because we got together at 10, which is the earliest I have been up and at em all Christmas season.  Being dressed, fed and dogs walked done by 9:30 was an achievement all by itself.  Chad and I stayed up late watching a movie on Net  flicks so I REALLY didn't feel like getting up.  Anyway Bonnie, Denise and I worked separately and then got together for a set of stays.  Chad was in the hall doing some odd jobs that included being up on a ladder.  In the middle of our down stay, we heard a big thump and turned around to find that the ladder had slipped off the agility table and fell onto two kennels (with Bonnie's dogs in them!).  Chad was now hanging onto the ladder.  We all ran over to stabilize the ladder and get Chad off of it.  Chad was fine, Bonnie's dog's were fine and when we turned around our dogs were still doing a down stay!! Good dogs... That took care of the proofing and distractions element of the training session.

I did articles with Ribbon again and she was perfect.  On one article she picked up a wrong article and carried with her while she continued to search and switched it when she found the correct article.  Again today I did fronts and finishes, about turns and recalls.  I also did some broad jumps and retrieves.  All in all I am really thrilled with how she is working and getting more and more excited about our upcoming trials.

Once training was done Bonnie and I took our dogs on the trails at the back of our property.  The dogs were tired, covered in snow and perfectly happy.

My plan for the rest of the day is to watch the junior game (taped - please don't tell me the result) and then I also have some taped tennis to watch.  Good Day!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday training

Today was day one of four days in a row of training that I have planned.  After Christmas and all the holiday eating and sitting around, it was hard to get going, but Ribbon was pretty keen so once we started it was really fun.  We started with articles - which are completely loose!!! I always find that stage rewarding and exciting - she is a big girl now!! She made one mistake, but she did bring back the last number I had scented, so understandable that she would be interested in that.  Other than than, she was terrific!! Growled and bombed back to me with her metal article - made me laugh out loud! We practiced heeling, fronts, finishes (which are coming along great, nice lift out of the front position and tonnes of attitude).  I did some open stuff (retrieves and broad jump).  For heeling games I have been teaching a weave walk, which I have never bothered to do before, but because Ribbon is little I thought I would try it.  She seems to find it fun, but I need to speed it up so that I can keep walking while she does it. Currently I have to pause as she is doing it.  I am also teaching her to drive upwards on her about turns.  I was thinking about how I can improve this turn, as it starts to get a little loose from time to time. So I have decided to teach Ribbon that on her about turn head cue that she may be asked to jump up as she drives around me.  It is going quite well.

My only problem is that my right knee is really bothering me and I am finding that my handling is suffering.  I feel like I am drifting into my dog all the time.  Tomorrow I am going to take Advil before training and see if that helps.  I would also like to video tape tomorrow's training session.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

a done deal

Well, I finally wrote my obedience judge's test.  I wrote it on Friday before Christmas.  I was studying like crazy and was getting myself quite bent out of shape about how it would go and how I would feel if I failed any part of the test.  The test is made up of 4 parts; General, novice, open and utility.  I was most worried about the general section, which sounds silly but because I have not been a member of any clubs, I have never served as trial secretary and I don't pay much attention to what is on the cover of the premium list or what is inside it.  I had spent a lot of time putting all the principle features and different level of deductions on a spreadsheet and found that to be really helpful.  On my way to the test I was getting quite nervous then on the radio was a dedication to the children and adults that were killed the week previous in the school shooting.  I was very moved by the dedication and it also made me put things in perspective.  If I failed the test, I would just take it again.  But I still had my husband and son to go home to that afternoon when some people didn't.  I was being silly.

The test went rather well.  I think I passed every section.  You need to get 85% to pass.  I don't think I got it perfect but I am feel pretty confident that I will be able to move onto the next stage, which is the oral test.  My CKC Rep. thought that I would hear by the end of January.  Fingers crossed.  It was nice to have it done with.  I got to read my novel and not feel guilty that I should be studying.  I actually fell asleep in the bath reading the rulebook and it got all wet!!!

Now back to training my dogs.  Ribbon is entered in a few weeks and both she and Gali are entered in Feb for more trials.  If Gali passes both his trials in rally that will put him halfway to his RAE.

I have some plans to train tomorrow and then again on Friday, mixed in with taking down all the Christmas decorations in the training hall and getting ready for classes in the New Year.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Getting ready for Hamburg and other things

It feels odd to be thinking about trialling again, but we are entered in Hamburg, NY for four days starting on Jan 09th.  It feels weird to be thinking about showing on a WEDNESDAY... I wonder what the vibe will be like?  Will it be quiet like we are all playing hooky and don't want to get caught or will it feel like a vacation day?

We had our Christmas party at the training hall on Saturday and it was really fun.  Loved spending time with the people I have gotten to know over the years and only get to see for a hour or so each week.  Now we are starting to decorate the house and get ready for Aydon's birthday party.  At some point I should start Christmas shopping?!?! So in the middle of all of this I am organizing my training plan to get Ribbon ready for her American CD. We are entered four days in a row, so I am hoping that she can complete her Novice title and then I can move her up to Open for the last day.  I know she will enjoy doing her open work and it will be a nice change from three days of novice.  And why waste one trip in  the ring to a forth novice leg when she could easily get her first Open leg?

My plan includes:
Spontaneous games while heeling to increase attitude and duration
Turn work with a few of my pylon drills.  These also build teamwork
Games for finishes - this is one area that I would like to improve on with Ribbon, her finishes are adequate - she is brisk and accurate, but I want her be quick and accurate!
Recalls, I want to make sure she doesn't drop on her Novice recall.  With the bigger ring size in AKC I can practice some really long recalls and have some fun with her.

Ribbon has decided to dump all of her coat, so she won't be very fluffy, but she will always but cute and fun to work with.

Other things that are going on include:
Day of Drills - I have organized three dates (two of which are already full) to concentrate on games along with proofing and distractions. I am tailor making the day's plan based on what people tell me they want to work on, so we should get a large variety of things to work on.  One day in Novice and Open, the second day is Novice and Utility and the third day is going to cover all levels.  This last date is in February and is the only one with space in it.
Belleville seminar - This is Feb 2/3.  I think this is my forth year visiting this club and I am really looking forward to seeing everyone again.  I believe we are doing run throughs the first day and I am going to critique handling and then build the content for Sunday based on Saturday.  Should be A LOT of fun!
HDOC/LOC Trials - These will be Ribbon's first trials of the year at the Open level.  Our plan is to trial one weekend every month, while we get ready to do utility, hopefully in the fall of 2013.
New edition of Rally On - I am almost done this version of my rally book.  I am looking towards a March publishing deadline.  This book will include CKC and AKC.  This first edition was published before CKC rally even existed.  Can't wait to see it in print - always exciting!

After that it will be spring and maybe I can get to some herding trials with Maddie!!
Happy Training!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ribbon Rocks!!!

This weekend Ribbon made her Open debut.  Obviously based on the title of this post she did quite well for herself.  I am so proud of her I can't even express it.  Here is the rundown of the events of the weekend.
Saturday - Trial One
Ribbon warmed up very nicely.  We were starting with routine number 3, it begins with retrieve on the flat, followed by drop on recall.  I knew things were going to go well as soon as I set up.  Ribbon made full eye contact as if she wanted to know what exercise we were going do.  I showed her the dumbbell.  This exercise went perfectly, Ribbon came in crooked and straightened herself out into a perfect front and followed that up with a perfect finish.  Her drop on recall went really, really well, only losing 1/2 point on a finish.  By the third exercise I realized that we were in the middle of a REALLY nice run.  I kept her up by playing between exercises and not leaning over her while interacting with her.  This tends to push her away from me and I have to learn not to do this.  Her heeling was spectacular and her broad jump was PERFECT!  We only had stays left and that went fine, even though when I left her on sit stay, she started shaking her head so I thought we might be in a bit of trouble.  The end result was a 198.5 and she had to win a four way run-off for first place!! This also gave her a HIT.  The ribbon is bigger than she is!!!

Saturday - Trial Two
It was getting late in the day, we were the second last dog of the day.  I knew Ribbon was tired so decided to use a new motivator.  My friend Susie had some steak, so I used some in my warm up.  I had her playing on her leash and she was really pumped up, then the judge had some questions to answer and a few second delay turned into almost two minutes.  I put Ribbon back in her kennel and when we finally got to go in, I had lost her a little bit.  Once we were in the ring she worked quite nicely.  On the very first exercise, the retrieve on flat, as she was approaching front, she let out a big burp and the dumbbell fell out of her mouth (I blame Susie for this !!!). However, she quickly picked it up and gave me a perfect front.  The rest of the run went okay.  Her heeling was a little loose, but she did give me another perfect broad jump. For whatever reason she ticked the jump on the return.  So we ended up with a 194.

Sunday - Trial Three
The judge had selected routine #5, which begins with retrieve over high jump, followed by drop, the flat retrieve then heeling, then broad jump.  On the high jump we had a crooked front.  All the other exercises went quite well, her heeling was quite good.  The floor was quite slippery and Ribbon slipped on take off for the broad jump and ticked it on the landing.  Many dogs completely wiped out, so I was lucky that it was only a tick, but it did cost us a point.  I was disappointed to find out after the stays that she only got a 196.5.  I thought it should have been higher, but it was her CDX and I was still really happy with my dog.

Sunday - Trial Four
We were going to do routine #2, which is the traditional routine backwards and the judge had set up the ring in the formation of a fan, which is one of my favourite ring set ups.    The rings were running close together, so we did our run within about 10 minutes of our other run.  I took her out for a pee, made sure her feet were dry.  Watched the pattern and then we were in.  I had her do some elevated retrieves, so that her rear legs were warmed up for jumping and in we went.  A perfect broad jump started us off nicely.  Crooked front over the jump, flat retrieve was perfect and then on the drop she didn't sit on the front.  This is really unusual for her, so I may have been leaning over her - that cost us two points and a had a small lag after the left turn on the heeling.  Then we were up for the last set of stays a few minutes later.  I was worried that she was tired and she might lay down, so I played with her and got out a new motivator - the TIM BIT!! She was pretty happy about this.  She was great and ended up with a 196.

I am so proud of how steady Ribbon worked in the ring.  She did show some of her inexperience, but that's okay because she is inexperienced.

Our next venture is our American CD in January and then my plan is to show in Open one weekend a month for 2013.  That should give her lots of experience.  What a great girl - I am so lucky!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Newest Addition

In July an opportunity came up to "adopt" a fully trained Border Collie.  After talking with Chad about this, I drove to the Kingston area and came home with a 9 1/2 year old female.  Her name is Maddie.  She has competed in Open (which is the top level).  The idea behind this was that I could learn to handle through a course and simply learn about the sport of sheepdog trialling. With Ribbon we were both newbies and it was like trying to learn dressage on a green horse.
Maddie met all of the dogs and although she was a little subdued (which is probably smart walking into a house of 5 dogs) she seemed fine.  Less than 18 hours later I had my first lesson with her.  One problem I quickly came across was that I don't know how to whistle.  So I need to learn how to whistle and also to learn Maddie's whistles (oh boy)! I will admit to being a bit star struck as I watched her do our first outrun together.  As the lesson progressed my instructor had to remind me that she needed direction as to where to put the sheep - "Marie your dog is awaiting instruction - the sheep are at the fence"  At least she laughed.  I had never driven sheep that far, I didn't know there was a fence in that field!!!

As days and weeks passed Maddie settled into the routine of the house and started to initiate play with Apex or Gali.  She was enjoying her walks (which were frequent as I wanted to get some weight off of her and build up some more muscle tone). Her personality started to come out more, things such as barking at me on the walks and nipping at my boots if I was not paying any attention to her.  She also selected a favourite toy.  Oddly, Maddie chose a 2 pound barbell to play with.  I don't even know where she got it.  But she would roll it around and pick it up and drop it and shake her head back and forth (not very fast mind you) with it in her mouth.  Maybe this was her contribution to her fitness routine?

Our lessons went along pretty well from my view, we started to develop some teamwork, she taught me things and she started to listen to my commands (even if they were wrong). I asked Viki if should thought I could enter the fall series of trials, Chad was going with Apex and was chomping at the bit to stand at the post!!

Something I have on my bucket list is "Stand at the post and say Away to me."

I held my breath while Viki thought about this for few seconds and her reply was - "oh sure, but be prepared that it will only last 15 seconds."  Meaning that the sheep would bolt for the exhaust and my run would be over.  This was a chance I was willing to take!

More about my first sheep dog trial in my next post.
Stay tuned

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Update on Ribbon

In May Ribbon got her CD at the Swansea trial in Etobicoke.  She passed 4/4.  Her scores were okay.  She had one 198, which was quite nice.  She had a minor blip in her first trial on the heel free she noticed the judge move her clipboard and she paused for a second and then caught up immediately.  But I could feel she wasn't totally focused and her heeling got a little loose.  But overall I was pleased with her work ethic.  She was pestered by a fly a couple of times on her stays and had another dog come over to visit on another set of stays, so other than my high blood pressure during all of that, Ribbon was just fine!
I had also entered Ribbon in 2 more trials the two weeks following Swansea.  I looked over my videos from Swansea and worked on a few things I wanted to clean up. Namely her fast pace and about turns. Both of these element got loose during the trials.  I realized that when I play with Ribbon I tend to run around and play with her, she jumps up and chases me.  It occurred to me that she looked almost the same when I did my fast pace in the ring.  I decided that I needed to give her a better picture so that she would know how to respond by continue heeling and not seeing it as play.  I decided to lengthen my stride and keep my left arm quiet against my body.  It worked really well in training.  For about turns I decided to try a longer head cue and look more to my right, instead of just to the outside of my right foot like I have done with all my other dogs.  She immediately responded to that and it felt really good.  We had fun training together and I was really looking forward to the trials.  The day arrived and Ribbon warmed up really well, she was relaxed and focused.  We walked into the ring and she was fabulous- her figure 8 was to die for!! (although all of her figure 8's were really good).  All the things we worked on were rock solid!! It felt really, really good.  There were only a few dogs left in the class and then stays.  She was great and when we walked out of the ring, they were waiting for us in the next ring.  I did a quick warm up and played with her for a second and off we went.  I was so proud of her, because in a span of 20 minutes she did two runs and both sets of stays and came out a 198 and 197.5 and both HITS!!!

Yeah Ribbon!!!

We are working hard on our CDX and I have mailed in my entries for 4 trials December 01/02.  Ribbon is REALLY enjoying open.  I have been working on proofing drills and continue to work on making our heeling perfect and fun!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Update on Gali

Sorry it has been so long since I wrote, but I have been busy writing the new edition of "Rally On".  It is in the final stages and just about to go for proofreading.  Hopefully it will be ready for print in the new year.

Gali and I have not been out much this summer.  We do have 3 AE legs in rally, but this summer has been so busy that I could never quite get organized to get to the local trials and with the price of gas it seemed silly to spend all that money for what amounts to 6 minutes in the ring (on a really bad day, I might add!) I am hoping to finish his title as Ribbon is out being shown at the end of the year and into next year.

We didn't ever get our last leg for our OTCH.  I was seeing signs of stress in a dog that LOVES to go to trials and bee bop around the ring.  I will admit to being haunted by the fact that I couldn't finish it. In August I actually started to lose sleep over this - did I give up too soon - am I losing my ability to train a dog? - I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  In August I lost 3 days sleep over this and decided it was crazy that I was going to put him in one more trial.  I entered one of my favourite trials, knowing that there would be a match the night before.  The deal I made with myself was that I would see how he worked at the match and decide if I would run him the next morning.  I kept the fact that I had entered him to myself.  One of my thoughts was that I was putting too much pressure on myself and not doing my best job with my dog. This thought was a large part of my not sleeping for 3 days!

The night of the match Gali's heeling, front/finishes, articles and signals were really, really good!! I was having fun with him and he was having fun with me.  He was a little hesitant on his go out and didn't take the first jump, but I really felt like I had given my signal too fast for the bar jump and I had also said over instead of bar.  I redid it and he was really good, the jumping looked nice and he seemed comfortable, the second half was fine.  We did glove last, when I sent him out for the glove, he went straight out looking for the glove and he couldn't see it!! The glove was located about 6 feet to his right.  He stopped for a few seconds, put his head way up in the air and started air scenting to find the glove, which he did quickly and returned to me.

I felt my heart sink - these cataracts really are affecting him!  I pulled from the trial the next day and ran him in rally only.  I am at peace with this now.  I would never want my dog to get hurt doing the sport I chose for him.  That is that!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Gali and Ribbon

So I am sure you may have guessed that since I haven't posted that Gali didn't pass on Friday. He worked hard but came up short on his second go-out and in Gali's defense he was short by inches. However it was a fail. He did his jumps, he did his signals. His articles were quite nice and his heeling was very good, some bumps on left turns. He did struggle with his fronts; he really wanted to fade off to the side, which is unusual for him. What made me a little sad was to see him get stressed. He walked in on his moving stand and I think he walked in on his first article. He wasn't jumping up on his start ups. All of these things made me decide that I am going to call it quits. For now or forever I am not sure, but I am going to stop and concentrate on Ribbon. In my heart I can't come to terms with asking him to do this if he is struggling because of his eyesight. Throughout his career Gali has always been and an honest, happy go lucky dog and I just can't take that from him because I want to put some letters in front of his name.

I have had a chance to go through my videos of Ribbon's first weekend out and have come up with a plan for training for the next two weeks leading up to the two trials I have her in on Father's Day. She routinely got distracted and fell out of position on the last about turn. I have been working on heeling into barriers and have people call commands for me. One thing my friend Kelly noticed tonight was that Ribbon seemed confused between whether she should stop or turn when I heeled really close up to a chair. My reaction was to slow down my steps and let her make the decision to complete the turn and praised like crazy when she made eye contact (and was also back in position). Kelly's opinion was she thought Ribbon wasn't getting a big enough cue to turn. So we repeated the exercise and I cued by looking about 6 inches outside my right foot (usually I look at the baby toe of my right foot). This made all the difference in the world. Ribbon accelerated into the turn, maintained eye contact and gave me lovely heel position. We repeated the same drill heeling towards a wall and had the same result. Thanks Kelly!

This morning in my Novice class (Susie teaches so that I can train my dog in a class environment) we did run throughs and one of the things Susie thought I was doing was taking too long a stride on my slow and she thought that Ribbon was bumping me because she had to reach so far forward on each step. When I tried the slow again and focused on a more controlled stride length I got a much smoother transition from normal to slow and from slow to normal. Thanks Susie!

During my run through I did have to deal with Ribbon making some bad decisions about looking away and going wide on some turns. With Ribbon I do a freeze correction, which means that I stop and hold her in the position she shouldn't be in and then ask her to return to proper position, praise and then continue. She usually has several steps on being unsure of continuing and then regains her confidence and continues on in position. At that point I praise her and or reward with food.

My goal for these last two Novice trials is to go for a HIT. I have one male and one female judge and I am excited about getting her back out there and learning more about how to best handle her and develop our teamwork!

Tomorrow my training will include Chad calling commands for me, more work on stand for exam, putting into play the things I learned today and mixing it up with some Open and Utility exercises.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ups and Downs

First the good news... Ribbon did a fantastic job her first weekend out. She passed all four Novice trials. She also won three of her four classes. Her highest score was a 198.5. It was really hot and the days were long. She was a real trooper – which isn't a surprise, given her strong work ethic. We did have a few hiccups along the way. On our first run, during the off lead, something the judge did caught her attention and she lagged quite badly and I gave a second command, and then she recovered nicely and completed her routine with style. Her second trial was her best, she still had a little problem with the end of the heel free routine, but that was the only thing that occurred through the whole routine. On Sunday morning, this was day three in the heat; she did a really nice job. We got heeled into the stewards table on the heel free so she stopped to have a look at the table and then ran to catch up. She also moved on the stand for exam. I also got hit for bumping during my on lead heeling. Which is disappointing since Ribbon never touched me. So I had a bad feeling walking away from that class. However Ribbon did a nice job! Our fourth and final trial of the weekend was under the same judge we had the first time. I was curious to see if Ribbon would have any kind of reaction to her. And in hindsight I should have warmed up my stand for exam, given that she moved during the morning trial. However, I was sort of running between rings with Gali in utility and missed that opportunity. Her heel on leg and figure 8 was really, really good (in fact Ribbon got 4 perfect figure 8's). On the stand she moved ever so slightly, I thought it was more of a move, but on the video she barely moves her foot. However, when I returned to heel position, she stepped forward. So two points lost there. When I released her from the stand she started to move forward but not with me more towards the gate as if she wanted to leave or move away from the judge. I took a moment to call her back to me and asked her to set up into heel position and then heeled towards the set up point for the heel free. As we were moving along together I praised her and got a nice level of intense attention. I felt like we were back together as a team. During the heel free she certainly noticed the judge, but held it together much better with only minor flaws. Her final score for this class was a 195 and she lost 2 marks on the stand, she is right there for another couple of high scores and hopefully a HIT. I have her entered in two more trials in a few weeks and I have a pretty clear picture of what I will be working on.

Oh and on her stays she twice got attacked by a fly (which she really, really hates) and had a dog come to visit her on the down stay, but she remained in position and looked really solid.

Okay, now Mr. Gali – Our first trial was not good – period. He didn't get his second jump, so it was pretty much over before we even started. But I didn't do a very good job over letting it go so the rest of our run suffered. He didn't get his signals either. I don't think the lighting was good for him.

The second trial, I had gotten myself together a little better and was concentrating on each task at hand. I also took some advice from Susie about doing the signal even more away from my body so that he would have a better chance of seeing it. He got his directed jumping, but I held my signal for longer and on the second half I used a verbal command as well. This helped push him towards the jump for sure. It seemed like at one point he almost stopped, figured out where the jump was and then continued on. Our heeling was not our best, Gali missed some sits, but he got his signals and glove and moving stand. So all that was left was the articles exercise. He has always been pretty solid on this exercise so I was feeling pretty good. However, the obedience gods had other plans. As I turned to send Gali to the pile, my foot went underneath the mat and flipped it up, so that it lands on Gali's pasterns. He stopped and didn't know what to do. I didn't want him to worry so I gave him a second command and that was the end of that utility leg – Can you believe it!!!!! His second article was perfect – so good for him!!! I think the judge could have given us a redo, but she didn't. I feel somewhat cursed....

We have one trial on Friday and I have a plan of working him each day and putting the jumps out wider and doing more sequences to give him opportunities to be rewarded during a routine instead of only during training drills. So by 9:30 on Friday he will either have his UD or we will be done – maybe forever maybe just for a few months.

Oh Boy!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bring it on!

Two days to go until Ribbon makes her debut in Novice. She has been working really well and I am so excited to see how she does!!! It is always so fun to show a new dog for the first time. She is entered four times on the weekend. The judging panel is really good, so it will be interesting!

Gali trials in three days, he is doing utility on Sunday (Rally on Saturday). I have him in both trials for utility. I am feeling really confident about showing him this weekend. He has been training beautifully at home.

Here is the update on his eyes. I took him on Tuesday morning and he had some extensive tests. The verdict is that he has iris atrophy (the muscles that dilate and constrict his pupils aren't working as well as they use to) which makes him sensitive to light, plus he does have cataracts in both eyes. The Dr. could see to the back of both eyes. He felt that he didn't have any blind spots but in the center of his eye it would be like looking through the windscreen of your car if it was covered in Vaseline. He sees better at the outer rim of his eyes.

I explained to him what Gali does in obedience and he gave me some tips to help him manage the signals and directed jumping better including wearing contrasting clothing (which other people suggested too). Making the signal a little more methodical will give Gali more time to see it and for his brain to process what it is. The best news is that Dr. Whelan said that "there is no medical reason for him not to compete." – Music to my ears!!!

I have a plan for some black and white clothing for Gali's trials. I trained in the outfit I am going to wear (while his eyes were still under the influence of the drops) and he had no problems at all. I am also going to change into the blouse when I do the match tomorrow to give him another opportunity to get use to the lighting and become accustom to how things will look on Sunday.

Swansea here we come!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Next Step

At Gali's vet visit, she said that he had cataracts in both eyes. I'm not shocked by this, but it still wasn't the news I was hoping for. My next step is take him to an ophthalmologist, his appointment is on Tuesday. I am hoping to find out how much vision he actually has, is it safe for him to be jumping and how the cataracts progress. I have never had a dog with cataracts before, so I have lots to learn. The timing of the appointment is good because on the 27th of May Gali is entered in utility trials. Of course I will pull if the ophthalmologist says he shouldn't be jumping. Knowing that Gali has an eye issue, certainly explains a lot of what has been happening.

My theory is that because our utility trials were so spread out, due to my family situation in last few years. I didn't equate our failures in utility to a health issue, but thought it was a training issue. When I buckled down getting ready for his last trial, over the course of those 11 days there couldn't have been much change in his vision, so I think he adapted to my directed jumping cues. So my plan for getting ready for these trials is to do the same things and also include more signal work in addition to directed jumping.

There is a match the night before the trial and I am going to concentrate on those two exercises to give him an opportunity to become accustom to the lighting. And as always I want him to have fun and feel confident going into the ring.

This Monday we are in a rally trial, and also on the Saturday of next weekend. It will be good to get into the ring to do something different together. Gali and I always enjoy doing rally together!

Ribbon is also entered in the trials on the 26/27th. This will be her debut in Novice. I am really excited about it! We have been working hard on duration exercises and moving between exercises. I think the hardest part about having a new trialling partner is knowing best to warm them up and how to make the most of your time between exercises in the ring. With Ribbon I have been doing a combination of playing with her or heeling between set up points but giving her lots of verbal interaction and both seem to work well. I have a few different games I can play with, so I think I can keep her on track. I have also been working on front, finishes and sit for heeling (when don't you????). Of course because I entered the trial Ribbon has dumped most of her coat, so she is not her fluffy self, but still cute nonetheless.

Lots to do!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Not yet

Well, it wasn't the result that I was hoping for. We didn't pass. We had routine #3, which starts with directed jumping. I thought at least we will find out quickly if all my work will pay off. His go outs were perfectly straight and he turned and sat on a dime. I had bar jump on the left first and he sailed over it – I was feeling pretty good. He took the high jump on the right without hesitation. His articles were very good. The next exercise was moving stand, I think he stopped pretty cleanly, but for some reason on the recall he moved beside me as if he was going to go direct to heel. However, he changed his mind and came back to a perfect front. So this left signals for the end. I was working hard to keep my nerves down, but my hands were shaking quite a bit. He heeled beautifully, including a little woof just to clear the air. On the down signal, my arm didn't feel right, so he didn't drop, but I have to say that he was paying attention. His attitude was great, so I think the signal was off enough to mess him up. He moved forward a step and started to lie down, but then remained standing. And that was the end of my chance to finish my title that day.

I am certainly disappointed, but not discouraged. I would like to get the title; I am the one that needs to be reinforced!! But my friend Victoria said to me this morning – "You have more to be encouraged by then be upset about." She is right.

So... I have put him in two more weekends, Swansea at the end of May and the LOC on June 01. Also I am on my way to vets in a few minutes to get his check up and I am going to ask her to take a look at his eyes, which is something I have been worrying over for the past few months.

Stay tuned

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fell off the wagon

On Thursday morning I woke up with the most horrible headache, I guess it was a migraine. I have never had one before and now I can sympathize with those that suffer from these headaches. I went back to bed and didn't come out into the light until about 3 in the afternoon. Food was of no interest to me. That alone tells you how sick I was!! Even today my head feels bruised. Needless to say Gali didn't get trained.

Yesterday I was at a meeting all day and then went to the match at the trial site after dinner. He did well. He was fantastic on his directed jumping and articles. He was still a little stressed from riding in the car. He doesn't like it much and I didn't have much time to warm him up so his signals were off, but I am not too worried about that.

We are having a match at the training hall tomorrow and once the hall is all set up then I will train him again. I can't see any reason not to go to the trial, so we are.

Wish us luck!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Putting it back together

Yesterday I started to put my other utility exercises back into the mix. But because I still wanted to concentrate on my directed jumping I did that exercise after each of the other exercises. I had the hall set up differently. I had two side- by- side utility ring set ups. One ring had the bar on the left and the other had the high jump on the left. I moved from ring to ring doing exercises in combination. It went something like this:

  1. Articles, directed jumping (including go-outs)
  2. Directed jumping (rewarded some lovely turn and sits on a dime), Signals
  3. Moving Stand, directed jumping (big reward at the end)
  4. Directed Jumping, Signals
  5. Signals and Seek Back

He did really well at everything!! So that is good news. I am still giving a signal only for the jumps and I have to admit that it was hard to keep my mouth shut; I wanted to go back to my old ways as soon as the exercise was back in context.

Today my plan is play around with front, finishes and heeling ('cause he loves those). Also I want to do articles and directed jumping and in another set do signals and directed jumping. I am concerned that once signals are put together he may think about the signal recall during directed jumping. But I also have a fun proofing drill to help with this situation, so that can go on tomorrow's agenda.


Thinking positive!!! Happy Training!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Gali gets the day off

Yesterday's training session went really well. I had Aydon call jumps for me and he was REALLY good. Go-outs and random sits were all excellent. I pulled the chutes away from the wall to about 8 feet away and I could see Gali make a decision to sit in place even though he was tempted to walk forward to where the chute was. Before I left I put one half of the directed jumping exercise together (one go-out and one jump).

I will admit it is killing me to take the day off, but I think we need it. I am itching to get to the hall, so Ribbon will get some more training today. Gali must feel the same way, every time I go near the door; he is standing there with his tail wagging. That is a good sign right?? I also want to spend some time planning out my training sessions for this week. I will need to include all the other exercises for utility and I would ideally like to do several complete run throughs. I also have to work around a busy teaching schedule this week plus a day long retreat on Friday. With any luck I will get a spot at the match on Friday. Maybe take the day off Saturday.

My stomach is churning just thinking about the trial and all the prep work that is left to do. Pretty exciting though?!?!?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Plugging away

I got an opportunity to train Gali twice yesterday. In my first session my friend helped me with some distractions and sure enough the first jump (bar to the left), he couldn't do it. He just simply walked towards me. Once I got him over it then he was fine for the rest of the session. She also helped me by calling jumps for me, which went great, no problems at all. Random sits and go-outs were fine as well. Although for go- outs I only managed to get two directions done.

In my second set Chad helped me by calling jumps for me. This was about 6 hours after my first training session. Gali was keen and interested in what in was going on. I haven't told Chad what Gali is doing in training and I didn't tell him what I wanted him to do other than tell me which jump to go over. We got high jump first, no problem, then high jump a second time, no problem. Bar jump was our third jump (it was located on the left) and he did it without hesitation. So that is good news!!!

I set Gali up at the other end of the hall and had Chad repeat calling jumps for me. He has one occasion that he almost went in the wrong direction, but very quickly changed and did the jump he was asked. So that is good news too!!

Before I left the training hall I couldn't resist doing one go out and combining it with one jump, I did bar on the left of course and it all went very well.

Today I am going to get Aydon (my 12 year old son) to call jumps for me. I hope it goes well. I am also going to bring the jumps into 16 feet and pull one or two of the chutes away from the wall so that Gali is not sitting inside the chute but using the chute to keep his line of travel straight.

Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Yesterday went well. I practiced go outs in all four directions, including one direction to baby gates. We made it all the way to 60 feet going north, south and east (for lack of a better way to describe it, sorry). Going west I introduced the jumps (that were set about 20 feet apart). I am still having some walking forward on my turn and sit, but I also see improvement.

On my random sits, I still got one or two drops and I also addressed sitting immediately in place, by walking into Gali and pushing him back.

For directed jumping I made progress with the distance between the jumps, we are up to about 20 feet apart and away from the jumps. I had two incidents of not wanting to jump to the left but always when it was the bar jump. He had no problem jumping to the left when it was a high jump and he has no problem jumping to the right over a bar jump. So it appears that I have a signal problem.

I did manage to get two sets of directed jumping and two sets of go outs in one training session. Gali maintained his attitude. I did change up what food reward I was giving and did play some games with him to keep him happy and relaxed.

Today the plan is to put up some barriers so that I apply a little pressure from the side. Also I have a friend coming to train her dog while I train to add in some distractions. Gali and this dog love to play together, so it will be a distraction for sure. Also I am going to ask my friend to be my judge and stand where the judge would normally and not normally stand during this exercise. And I am going to ask her to choose jumps for me; I have been worried about creating jumping patterns when practicing by myself.


Ribbon gets to do all of these drills, except for go outs, plus do heeling drill and one Novice run through. If I time (and energy) I will do articles with her.

After that I am spending my day watch tennis and then hockey!!!!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Cracks are starting to show

In my session yesterday with Gali, everything went along swimmingly until I got to the directed jumping section. The jumps were at 14 feet and when I signaled him to go over the bar jump on the left, he jumped forward and froze in a standing position. I re-did the signal again, he didn't move, on the third time he went to the jump and leapt over it. I moved on through my sequence and when I came back to bar on the left, he froze again. I was being conscious of how long I was holding my signal. I wanted to drop my arm as soon as he committed to the proper direction. I am not sure if this had anything to do with it, but it only occurred if the bar-jump was on the left. My go outs were fine, but I could see that Gali was getting tired, so I only did two of four walls. Random sits were much better, I think he only dropped once or twice.

Today I am going to start with go-outs, then move to directed jumping, then random sits, then go outs again and if I can one more set of directed jumping. He has only been on one walk so far today, so he should have lots of energy.

On another topic, Ribbon is doing these drills too. I thought I might as well since they were already set up and it is a nice mix with the heeling drills I have been doing with her. She is entered at the end of May. Of course because she is entered she now dumping all of her lovely coat. I am sure by the trial I will have a smooth border collie!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sharing my pain

Gali and I are struggling to get our last utility leg. My frustration level is sky- high and my self-esteem is at an all time low. I was writing in my journal after failing yet another trial on Saturday "I am so frustrated, I feel like quitting. But I am too stubborn to quit!!"

So apparently I am not quitting, but this doesn't really solve my problem. How can I get Gali to pass the directed jumping exercise in the ring? If I was my own student I would say without hesitation, go back to basics and re-train the exercise.

In my mind Directed Jumping has three components to it: the go out, the sit and the jumping. I have pulled all three of these elements apart and I am working them separately. I am entered in another trial in 11 days. The Friday and Saturday before the trial I am going to run Gali through some run throughs and see where we are at. If need be I will forgo the trial, but I would really like to use the upcoming trial as a motivator for me to keep going. I will only pull from the trial if Gali is exhibiting signs of stress in training. So far things are going well. Here is what I have been doing:

Go outs: I am working go outs in different locations, using a chute to help Gali travel in a straight line. I have been including touch then sit or sit then touch. I started the first session at about 8-10 feet away and working my way back from there. Today I am going to set up 4 chutes, one for each wall in the training hall so that I can practice go outs in all directions and increase distance. My goal today will be 20-30 feet. Tomorrow's goal is 30-40 and so on until I can send him from 60 feet in any direction in the hall. I will also be adding the jumps into the picture tomorrow, but still only working on the go out. I hope to have all of the accomplished by Monday.

The Sit: On occasion Gali has laid down when asked to sit on a go out. I wanted to make this simple skill stronger and since I am retraining the exercise I might as well cover all my bases. I have been practising random sits while moving around the training hall. On the first day I got a drop first every time. This was not too much of a surprise given that Gali really believes that drop are fun and sits are well, just sits. During the next session I upped the reward and jackpotted the first sit I got, from there I got a higher ratio of sits vs drops. I also added in a food toss, so that Gali ran away from me to a piece of food and I asked him to sit as soon as he had eaten the food. This meant that I was back to a picture that looked like a go out. I could also address the fact that I wanted him to sit in place, no walking forward.

Directed Jumping: I came at this step very methodically, I started with my jumps two feet apart and Gali and I were 2 feet back from the jumps, me on one side and him on the other. I am using a signal only for this exercise. I may add the verbal back in, but I'll decide that later. I practiced first one jump then the other, rewarding after each jump. Then I started him from the opposite side so that he got to see the jumps on either side (bar on left, solid on the right and vise versa). The first session I gradually increased the distance out to 8 feet, so this also meant that Gali was 8 feet from the center of the jumps and I was also 8 feet from the jumps. Our first session progressed fantastically. No problems, no hesitations, lots of great attitude (from us both!!). The next day I started with my jumps 8 feet apart and ended up with them about 12 feet apart. He has not chosen the wrong direction and hasn't really seemed to even consider it. I did see a few times that Gali had to readjust his path to push out far enough to take the jump. But this could have more to do with wanting to take the more direct path to get the reward. However he was still working at making the right choice without any extra help from me. I also added into the mix raising both arms at the same time while keep directed eye contact with him, I did this to see what his reaction would be. He lunged forward and froze. It was what I had hoped for. This signal should mean nothing to him, so I was pretty happy with that. Next I did my jumping signals with direct eye contact and he had trouble with this. He came directly to me, which is what I thought would happen; direct eye contact usually means a recall. In training and trialling I always glance at the outside standard of the jump I want him to take. Breaking eye contact with him clearly has meaning to him. With this knowledge in place today the goal is to start with the jumps 12 feet apart and build to 16 feet. Tomorrow I will push the jumps out to 20 feet. Saturday I will include barriers on either side of the jump and Sunday I will add distractions such as toys on the ground, food containers and pressure from people moving around and possibly another dog working.

On Monday Gali and I are taking the day off!

Wish me luck!!



Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Well, 2012 is here. I am hoping that this will be a much better year for me and my family. The weather has been co-operating so far. I have been able to get all my outside chores done, dogs walked (and cleaned off). Most of the decorations are down and packed away. Two loads of laundry are done. Now I need to sit down and go through some websites to figure out when I am going to trial next. I think realistically I am looking at March before I can Gali back in the ring. I am away doing seminars for the last weekend in January and then the first week of February. Then we go on our CRUISE (which I am only slightly looking forward to, can you tell – 40 days and counting!!!). When we come home from that trip, February will be almost over, so March it is.

Gali is currently sitting with 2 UD legs. We have had our ups and downs, but mostly I feel like I am getting my head back together. My ability to concentrate in the ring is really improving and I feel more like myself every day. I think that it will be better to finish the title this year and feel proud of our accomplishments, instead of just "getting it over with" which is how I felt about 2011. Gali will also be getting his last leg under the new rules, which means he will be completing in the Utility "B" class and doing out of order exercises – which I love to do!!

Ribbon is coming along great. I have some things I would like to work on before she goes into the ring for her CD. I also think that I will do her CDX this year as well. I would like to compete in more rally with both dogs this year too! But the main focus is Gali's UD, Ribbon's CD and then we will see where we are and look at Gali's OTCHX/MOTCH and Ribbon's CDX.

Planning, Training then Trialling – here we come!!