Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not so Obedient, Gracie

Well Grace and I tried obedience last weekend.  We failed.  I am having a really hard time keeping Grace's focus with me-in the ring.   She is so interested in checking out every little noise and movement outside the ring, she loses her focus on what we are doing.  Our off leash heeling was almost non existant. Anytime someone moved outside the ring she had to stop to see what they are doing. Oh well. There were good points too, thoguh.  Her stand for exam was perfect.  She only barked once, and that was during the sit stay, when the wind rattled the building awning rather loudly. Her down stay was good too.  So we will continue to work on focus, and heeling, and hopefully someday it will come together. In the meantime, she is certainly doing her part in trying to keep the wonderfulness of the corgis a secret. I do have to say, no matter the end result, I love the little pooper.

On the other hand, she showed in conformation and had a blast earning another Select point.  I really dont have a plan to try to earn her Grand Championship, but occasionally just for fun becasue she loves it, why not.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Dane Photos in the rain

Amy at Great Dane Photos takes the very best photos-even in the rain.       Grace    Magic

Monday, May 23, 2011

Agility in the pouring rain

The other week I decided that I needed to enter Grace in an agility trial before we get to Michigan next month.  I thought she might need some experience at an actual trial. So I entered Grace in one round of tunnelers at a local NADAC trial. But gosh, if I am going, it seems so silly to just go for one run doesnt it, so I also entered Magic in all 3 of the available runs on Friday night. Hoopers, Tunnelers and Weavers. The closer we got to the actual trial the more nervous I became. I worried about Grace running off, I worried about Magic not remembering what to do, I worried about whether I could actually run a whole course. I worried.

Friday the day of the trial it was rainy. Really rainy too, not just a nice light sprinkle. But thankfully it was a warm rain, so although I chill so easily, I thought I would be able to handle getting a little wet.  Well, a little wet certainly was not going to happen, as it was pouring at the trial site. Not the whole time, but often enough.   Since we were only entered for the one day, I could not see bringing the easy up, so we just set the dog crates up and covered them with a tarp. For the most part they were dry, unless they were out running.

Magic was up first with a hoopers run.  Hoopers is not offered at every trial and our last hoopers Q was 3-15-2008, and we really hadnt run any NADAC since 2009, and had only run one CPE trial in 2010.  So I was pretty sure that we were just going to go out and have fun and not worry about how we did, or how badly we looked. We were just going to do our best, play and have a great time together.    Hoopers, for those of you who don't do agility is a course where you sort of make up your own plan.  There are 5 tests on the course set by the judge and a line of hoops in the middle that are non test hoops.  For novice you have to do 3 non test hoops, successfully complete a test, do 2 non test hoops and then complete another test, then get the heck out of there. 

I had watched most of the others run the course and very few of the people chose the tests that I thought we were going to try.  I started to worry thinking that those very experienced folks were so much smarter than I was maybe I should change my plan.  But in the end I decided to do the course that I planned anyways.  Magic was super excited as we stepped up to wait our turn.  He made it perfectly clear that he loves to play these games with me.  I did not ask him for a huge lead out, as it wasnt necessary for the course, but he did wait for his release.  He shot off the line and raced down the line of non test hoops, taking the first 4.  He was headed for a test at the end of the line, but I called him to me and sent him through the first hoop and out to 2nd in the test.  This was the harder hoop to get, because there were 2 side by side and the dog needed to take the further one from the handler, I pushed him out, he adjusted and took the right hoop, headed back to me took the last hoop of the test and I sent him on to the next 2 non test hoops. So far great!  The second non test hoop was a bit beyond the next test I wanted to try, so I called him back and sent him through the first hoop of the test.  This test was a 4 hoop test, one hoop centered in front and 2 behind it sided by side so the test was to take the front hoop, take either of the back hoops, wrap and come right back through the hoop next door and take the first hoop again.   Magic did really well, his wrap/turn from the 2nd hoop to the 3rd one could have been tighter, but he did it very well in my opinion. Back to the last hoop of the test and out to the finish.  WOOHOO success!  I had no idea is we made time or if we really had done it right, but it felt so good. It felt like teamwork, it felt like it was just the 2 of us and the rest of the world didn't even exist.  It makes me smile thinking about it. 

I wont go into the blow by blow of the other 2 runs, but they were pretty awesome too.  We did mess up in weavers when someone forget his start line stay and then missed a hoop. But the rest of the weavers run was really good. It felt good, he remembered how to weave and did all 3 sets on the first try.  Tunnelers also went well, the course was great, and I loved it.  I love that Magic is such a good partner. Now I have the bug again and really want to do more agility.

Grace had a hard time being patient and waiting for tunnelers.  Whenever I had Magic out, she screamed her fool head off, so that means I have some work to do with her. But, she was eager and when it was her turn she was excited, she was happy and she was fun.  OK, she didnt do the course and she kind of made her own, but for a dog that has not been a tunnel sucker she did take every tunnel she saw and she did so with speed and a wagging tail.    I was worried about her taking off on me and I guess that is not going to be an issue-at least not in the sense that she would leave the agility field.  She was so eager to run, she took every tunnel opening she was, but 2 times I was able to redirect her and I was able to call her off in the middle of the course and end our run.  She seemed to have a great time!  I am now less worried about the running off than I am about her creating her own path.  I know we are not quite ready yet, and she will never be the same as Magic, but I had fun with her just the same.

We were wet, wet to the skin and beyond, but I went home smiling. Magic Q'd in 2 of the 3 runs taking first place in all. Grace stayed on the agility field, she worked with me somewhat and she was happy.  I was too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Herding, a perspective from a person with 4 left feet

Last night the dogs, Grace and Magic and I had a herding lesson.

Grace. Anyone who knows Grace, knows that she is a pretty confident self assured dog. She is pushy and can be hard headed. But I think she has met her match in Kim. Kim, while soft spoken and easy going is the one in charge. And that has Grace a bit concerned. Grace is very interested in the sheep, and quite willing to chase after them, but not so sure about what exactly Kim is asking of her. She is not comfortable with Kim not letting her do just as she wants, and does show signs of stress. She often gives up instead of giving in, by wondering off. I am grateful that Kim is working her at this point as I do not know enough about what to do to be effective with her and most likely would allow her to get away with naughty behaviors. Because yes, she has me wrapped around her little paw. However, last night I could see where she was starting to understand where Kim wanted her to give, and she did grudgingly give her a few stops.

Grace worked hard in her lesson last night, but more than the physical work, she was mentally fatigued. Quite significantly in fact. Unlike last week where she barked her fool head off during Magic’s lesson, last night she was quiet in her crate in the car. She rested on the way home, but when we got home, she climbed into my lap and cuddled. Not that she never cuddles, she does, but not in the same way. It almost seemed like she wanted reassurance. So I gave her some, and told her how wonderful she really is.

It will be interesting to see how she acts tonight and see what the level of delayed stress is for her.

Then we had Magic’s lesson. Magic is not nearly as sure of himself overall as Grace is, and last week he was reluctant to work with Kim, constantly coming over to me at ringside for assurance. So Kim felt that he would be more comfortable working with me. So, Magic and I are going to learn to herd together. I took him out and we muddled through together. He has a tendency to go through his flock, so I have to be better at reading what he is going to do to try to be out there to stop him. Of course, since I am learning it wasn’t pretty last night, but we did OK I thought for our first time. I was able to send him successfully a couple of times, where he didn’t break the flock. I was able to down him and pull him off the sheep fairly easily, although a couple of times he did break away and go on his own. He seemed much less stressed and didn't wonder off except once to poop.  And he was really happy seeming, no stressed body language, and he was very willing to re-engage unlike last week.

The hardest thing for me is simultaneously listening and understanding the directions from Kim, watching what the dog is doing and where the sheep are, all while holding a stick and moving myself. Way too much for this uncoordinated old lady! At times I felt like I had 1 leg and four arms and 3 feet and none of it knew how to work together, and here comes 4 800 pound sheep running full speed at me! It didn’t help that one of the sheep kept bopping me in the butt to tell me to move along.  No video this time as we forgot the camera. Probably a good thing.

But honestly I had a GREAT time and I can’t wait to do it again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Very busy

Haven't been blogging much as I have been so busy.  The garden is planted at our community garden site, tomatos, peas, spinach, chard, carrots, radishes, cabbage, kale, herbs and zuchinni.  Our backyard fence border garden though is still a mess, the green beans are going there this year, so I better get them in.   Tonight we have herding, which takes up most of the night since it takes 1.5 hours just to ge there. But its fun and well worth the drive.  Tomorrow night I am afraid I may have to work late again. I wish it were not Thursdays, but what can I do?  The powers that be want Thursday nights. Oh well.

Yesterday Magic had his first job as a model! LOL.  He did very well as he knows how to sit and pant. He is such a good dog and pretty much does whatever I ask, even when he would rather not.  Love that boy. 

I am both looking forward to Friday as well as fearing it.  I am going to try Grace in tunnelers. I think. I might chicken out!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I learned something new about Grace last night.  She is not really the Princess she pretends. You know, the princess dog, who cant go out an pee in the wet grass or walk through a puddle.  Last night she was going through mud and water up to her belly quite joyfully.

Grace and I started herding lessons 2 weeks ago. Last night was lesson 2.  She made major improvement in the going up to the pen with out screaming her head off. Much better than last week.  She showed more of an understanding of being a bit further off the sheep than last week. She barked, but only when she was frustrated since Kim wasnt letting her back on the sheep.  She doesnt have a stop yet, but she seems to be starting to get that. I do not think she will be a superstar anytime soon though-but I think she prefers this to obedience for sure. 

Magic got to herd last night too, and wow did his lack of confidence ever come out.  He spent most of his lesson trying to avoid Kim and I .    He was willing to go collect the sheep, but when it comes to holding them,  he did multiple avoidance exercises. He ran to check out the horse, the other sheep, to lay in the puddle, to eat grass.  All sorts of things other than deal with the sheep up close.  However, when they were away from us and he was able to go collect them he is fine.  I think its that he doesnt understand what is expected, so rather than try things, he backs off.  Early on in the lesson he got right up on the sheep so got forced back and I think that is what caused him to shut off a bit.  It will be very interesting to work 2 dogs with such different styles.

So 10 PM and I am throwing two mud puppies in the tub. I am sure they both were made I took away the good semlls they worked so hard to obtain.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Dream Puppies

3 years old already. Amazing. Love you all puppers.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Directions

I am thinking that although Magic finds flyball to be one fabulous time, perhaps its not the best occupation for his body.  He is not holding his adjustments and quite honestly I am not willing to risk permanent injury, just because he loves it. Honestly though I can't say for sure its the flyball,. I don't know about anyone else's cardi's, but mine play very rough, and I often cringe when I see how hard they go after each other.  And the boy can't be confined all the time, that is no life.  I have already started refusing to tug with him which he finds very frustrating. He is constantly offering to play. I worry, I don't want to risk injury, but I also want him happy.

 We haven't been doing any agility either because with Darryl not working, I couldn't afford to train or compete in any more events.  I don't know if his body can handle agility either?  Herding? Maybe I will have to see how it goes.   I am planning on entering agility next Friday night, just to see how he holds up- there is only tunnelers, weavers and jumpers that day, so physically those are a little less hard on the body.  He has another chiro appointment the following Monday so it might be an indication of how he is holding.

So in the end, Magic may become an obedience dog after all. Sadly that is not his preference and I haven't figured out how to help him find the joy in that, but we will work toward it. And maybe we will pick up on tracking or herding.  He is only 6.5 so should have a long career ahead in something. Or maybe he can just be my best buddy, but trials wont be the same without him. 

I guess I am just rambling on about the thoughts that have been in my head lately.  Not sure really what the future will hiold, I just know I want to have Magic in my life as long as possible.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dogpark Experiences

On Friday in Minneapolis we had a little bit of sunshine.  About noon the sun was shining and the sky was blue and my heart soared
for a moment.  Of course I was at work, but I called Darryl and asked him to pick me up at 4 with a couple of dogs and we would go out to our favorite dog park and enjoy the sun. So at 4 he was at work to get me with Magic and Peace happily riding along.  Sadly the sun did not cooperate and started to go back into hiding right about then. But we drove out to the dog park anyways.

Just a note, our favorite park is about 20 minutes out of town.  By the time we got out to the park, the sun was behind the clouds, the sky was grey and the wind was  picking up, but it was still dry and tolerable.  As we arrived we ran into our favorite Caribou barista so we spent a while chatting in the parking lot.  Her dogs were well behaved, having already been to the park.  Mine, not so much. Magic was excited and he forgot how to walk nicely to the gate.  Peace was beyond herself whining and screaming to go. 

We arrived at the gate to go into the park, took off leashes and released the dogs.  Magic was gone like a shot-flying down the path to the field with Peace right behind him.  Down to the first dogs a quick sniff and a race back to us, to be quickly followed by a return with check in and high speed run right back again.  Magic is confident in himself and will go all the way across the park either with another dog running, or out to play with the others, but he always comes back to check in or if I call.  Peace will run with Magic, but if other dogs are playing vigorously, she is more likely to return to hang out with us. 

As we walked along a group of about 5 other dogs approached.  I rarely worry about other dogs, but this group had me nervous since one was a husky and I wasn't sure how Peace would react.  All northern looking breeds have caused her to worry when at dog shows.  But she did really well. She did immediately drop to a crouch, but when the husky only sniffed her you could see her visibly relax.  She remained submissive to the husky, but she did not run away, she allowed the husky to approach her several times, and better yet, she approached the husky, and would run a few feet with the husky before breaking away and  returning to Darryl and I.  She was stressed, she was cautious, but she was not shut down, she showed more comfort each time the husky was near.  I was really pleased with how well she handled it.

Because the majority of the dogs at the park are larger, longer legged breeds, the corgis really do have to run hard to keep up.  Magic loves this, but he does get warm. So he found the nearest mud puddles to go cool off in.  then we have a short wet dog running in the sandy paths, so we did bring home quite a bit the park.  And although when we left the park you could not tell that either dog had white legs, being corgis, by the time we got home, the muck was starting to fall off.  Two tired dogs and I was very relaxed. Just wish the park were closer to home.

PS It poured rain ont he drive home, but by then I did not care at all!