Friday, December 31, 2010

Finally, A Chance to Go Play

To say the dogs and I are suffering from cabin fever is an vast understatement.  The snow has been too deep to run any agility or even practice Treibball.  Thursday is open course night at the Quad Cities Dog Center, but unfortunately, the weather has gone to h.... every Thursday this month with the exception of the first one.

I have Belle entered in a NADAC trial this weekend at the QCDC, and Micky and David will be running Dusty on Sunday.  We've been socked in with fog for almost 48 hours; hopefully, it will dissipate this evening.  However, the warm temperatures and southerly winds that have brought the fog, have also melted much of the snow, and I was able to go out and run Belle and Dusty on the course that is still set up from last month.  Belle was her ever conscientious self and did the course like we hadn't had a four-week break from agility.  Dusty was pretty good, but he needed body support to not pull off obstacles.  He also was not listening as well as he normally does.  But for such an over-the-top dog, he did pretty well.

Since it is still foggy and my jump standards are white PVC, I didn't try any bonus line stuff with Belle.  Instead I decided to bring out some balls and practice Treibball with Dusty and Belle.  Dusty still doesn't caught on to the concept that the idea is to push the ball toward me and the goal, so I didn't do much work with him.  I decided to see if Belle could still be sent out and bring in the ball that I indicated.  She did a really good job of it.  Also, on the last ball that she brought back, it started to slip by the side of the goal and she cut it off and pushed it in. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Zen and The Snowplow

We are having our first snow of the season, and there is already about 8" of snow on the ground.  Luckily, my next door neighbor, Woody, has a plow.  As you can imagine, normally all bedlam breaks loose when he plows his yard since the drive lays along the north side of our backyard.  However, the relaxation work is paying off.  Dusty gave one wild bark which set the others off, but they all stopped when Ed told them to.

I got out my treats and played Leslie McDevitt's Look at That game with the dogs when Woody came over to plow our drive.  Only Dusty got the point of the game:  He had to look at Woody's truck and then look at me to get a treat.  The others just stared at me hoping for a treat.  The new, in-control Dusty is just so cool. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday Night Practice at QCDC

Tonight's course was a JWW course designed by Laura English for last weekend's trial at Camp Bandy.  Here is a rough approximation of the course.
When I walked this course, I thought the biggest challenge was getting the dog into the correct end of the tunnel at #9.  However, very few people had a problem with this.  Upon exiting the tunnel though several dogs took off-course #8.

The serpentine 13-15 proved to be an area where precious seconds could by lost on the run.  My plan was to run the black path, and I did so with both Dusty and Belle.  With Dusty, I failed to support him out to the second jump of the pinwheel, so on our next run I tried the red path which many of the other handlers had taken.  The biggest danger with this path was sending the dog into the wrong end of the #15 tunnel by showing too much forward motion.  A couple of dogs  failed to heed the front cross between #12 and #13 and either took a very loopy path or actually entered the weaves.  I found that I had much more control over the dogs' lines when I used the red handler's path.

Tonight was huge for Dusty and me.  I think all the relaxation work that I've been doing with him may be paying off.  Micky and David are in California for the AKC Invitationals with Micky's Westie, Woody, so I did all the running with Dusty this evening.  I was so proud of him.  He managed to go to the start line without barking, spinning or air-biting.  We experienced only one minor melt-down (when I failed to support him in the pinwheel and insisted on re-starting it instead of going with the flow), but there was only barking, no air-biting.  I think he only barked at me one other time on course (when I rear-crossed him going into a tunnel).

It's not that Dusty ever gave me attitude on course.  It's just that he gets higher than a kite and reverts to whirling dervish mode.  To have him run and not experience a meltdown, just makes me so happy, I could cry.