Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry belated Christmas!

I know it's a bit late, but -- Merry Christmas everyone!

Ahem, Shadow, move over please, you're standing in front of Mika!

Offended, Shadow walks away to see if there are any more presents for her left under the tree.

Mika chewing a rawhide stick from my aunt.

After all the excitement is over, Mika then settles down in her crate.

Wall-e sleeping on/next to one of my gifts; the Clean Run Special Focus Issue -- Motivation, Drive, and Self-Control.

It was a great Christmas, and I love having no school for a couple of weeks, so I can spend all day with the dogs! Right now Mika and Wall-e are both sleeping, so I finally got a chance to write this post.

Today Wall-e is 7 months old. Wow, does time ever fly!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mika and Wall-e Agility Practice -- Dec 26, 08

Mika totally impressed me with how great she was working at a distance! She got almost everything right the first time! Wall-e was great too, having so much fun with his Sheepy Tug.

Hope everybody had a great Christmas, I'll post photos later.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cute holiday photos

Wall-e's obedience class was cancelled on Sunday because of the weather. Since it's the Christmas holidays (finally!), no more classes until middle of January.

Somebody looks grumpy!

He kind of looks like he's constructing an evil plan!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mika's weaves and distance skills

I'm really looking forward to next year! Lots of trialling with Mika, hopefully even more than this year (where we barely trialled for the first half of the year and then had a whole bunch of trials at the end of the year). In March we'll be competing in Advanced Gamblers -- Mika will have to work away from me at distances of around 15 feet. (In Masters it's 20 feet!!) Mika used to be a "Velcro dog", that is, she didn't like to work away from me. That changed this summer, when she started to be able to work more independently, and she Q'd in Starters Gamblers the first time we tried it (that was in September). She wasn't ready for the Advanced Gamblers distance at the time, but we've been doing quite a bit of distance work lately. I try to include distance in all the agility obstacle training we're doing in the backyard and basement. There's no room for sequencing, so we have to practice individual obstacles.

Lately Mika's weaves have been falling apart. The problem started at the CKC trial in October. There was a set of 6 poles after a 12" jump (Mika jumps 12" in CKC). Mika took the jump and then entered the poles at the second pole. I did a half-circle and took her back to the poles again. This time, she entered from the left side of the first pole (but that was a bit of my fault, because I was crowding her). So again, I did a half-circle and helped her get the entry a bit, and that time she got it.

The next time I knew there was a problem was in the November AAC trial. This was Mika's first time in Specials (10" jumps). She took the 10" before the weaves and entered correctly, with lots of speed through the poles, and then saw a 10" jump in front of her (the next obstacle on course after the weaves) and couldn't control herself to finish the last pole in the set of weaves -- she wanted to fly over that fun, low jump! I called her back from the jump and brought her around again to the weaves (although I should have just continued...) and told her to weave again. She entered at the left side of the first pole. So, I brought her back again, and this time she got it.

Last year, the popping and skipping problem was caused because I practiced 12 poles in the snow, which gave Mika a negative connection to the weaves because the snow was so cold on her pads. My reasoning for why we're having problems this year is because of how much more drive Mika has. The lower jumps at the trials increased her drive even more, and put her into what I sometimes call "GO mode" -- where she doesn't think and just wants to GO GO GO! That's exactly the drive I want, but it still caused the weave problem. I'm hoping that it's just temporary, and that once Mika gets used to being in Specials she'll get control over her "GO mode," but still keep her speed. And during trial season, I'll practice weaves EVERY day!

These weave problems happen every winter. Two years ago when I was teaching Mika weaves, they were stressing Mika because I wasn't training properly. Last winter it was popping out and skipping poles. This winter it's popping and ENTRIES! Yes, weave entries, I can't believe it. Mika, the weave entry expert! To fix this entry problem, a few weeks ago (before all the snow was here) I put three stick-in-the-ground poles in the backyard. Every day, whenever Mika goes outside to go to the bathroom, I send her through the three poles. It was the funniest thing, the first time Mika went through them; she's never worked only three poles before, and she hopped left, hopped right, and then hopped LEFT again, expecting more poles to be in front of her! She stopped for a split second, looking completely baffled, then in a smooth, flowing motion turned left and hopped through the poles in the opposite direction. What a silly little girl!

Up until now I've mostly been working on sending through these three poles, but we're going to start working on lateral distance.

What about the popping problem, you may ask? The thing is, there's no room to work 12 poles in our house (she doesn't pop out of 6 poles), and last winter when I tried to fix the popping problem in the backyard with the stick-in-the-ground poles in the snow (I didn't know then that the snow had caused the problem in the first place), I only made it worse because the snow was so cold on Mika's feet. So we'll wait until we can rent an arena to start working on the popping problem. I'm going to wait until spring, when the snow is melted and the field is open again, to seriously work on it. Although it should be better by then...after all, weave problems seem to be an off-season, winter thing!

Wow...sorry for my ramble...I didn't mean to make this post this long!!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wall-e's second beginner obedience class

Another great class on Sunday!! Wall-e was focused and is really advancing quickly. His Sit Stays are great; sometimes I can lead out about 10 feet without him breaking. He often does break, though (he always wants to follow me!) so we're working on that. He can do Down without any hand signals now! Even if my hands are behind my back and I say "Down," he still lies down in a nice "sphynx down" (dropping into a down with front and back legs hitting the ground at the same time, without sitting first). His heeling is great too! I make sure to work him on my right side as often as on my left, because I don't want him to be "stuck" on one side. I want him to be comfortable working on both sides, because that's what he'll have to do in agility. It's hard to practice heeling at home since there's no area that's really wide enough, but we're going to try to practice heeling in the backyard next time, even though there's snow everywhere on the ground!

We also registered Wall-e for a set of beginner agility classes which start in February. It's at a great place that's really close, and they teach the obstacles the way I like. I'm so excited! I haven't taken group agility classes since fall of 2007 (with Mika of course). Mika can't do group classes because of her dog-reactive problem (especially around running dogs), but I love the atmosphere of group classes, and I can't wait to start them with Wall-e. :)


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fun day!

This morning we went to visit Wall-e's breeder. He had so much fun seeing everything and everyone again, and playing with the dogs! He was "smiling" throughout the whole visit! Here's a quick photo of him with his gorgeous mom:

After the visit, we stopped by at an agility fun match, so Wall-e could get used to a competition-like atmosphere. He was so calm and attentive. I was a bit concerned that he'd be nervous from the noise of the teeter (that teeter is the noisiest teeter I've ever seen, it's actually the one Mika had her bad experience from last year), but he barely even noticed it! When the fast doggies were running, he looked at them, really interested, but all it took was a simple "Wall-e" from me and his head snapped around to look at me! We also practiced some flatwork on-leash while a couple dogs were running. Even with the distractions, he was doing brilliantly with his front crosses, and his rear crosses on the flat were just perfect. And I just started teaching him rear crosses this morning!!

Future agility star? Yup!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wall-e's vet appointment

Wall-e posing!

We went to the vet today for the little man's rabies vaccination. (Which he didn't end up getting, the vet said that we could wait a bit until he's more mature.) We discussed his crooked tooth, she said we can wait and see how it does. It hasn't grown at all in about a week, so it might not grow at all anymore. If it does grow any more, it'll probably be pulled.

Also we'll most likely castrate him when he's 13 months, unless he starts being influenced a lot by his hormones, and sniffing and getting distracted constantly, etc. If he does start to do that, we'll consider castrating him before 13 months.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mika and Wall-e video, Dec. 1 to 7

(I had originally chosen another song, but
I had to use a song from a selection of YouTube's pre-chosen non-copyrighted songs, because the song I'd originally put was copyrighted. That happens sometimes.)


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mika's haircut and Wall-e's first obedience class

Mika got a haircut at the groomer's recently, I think it was on Wednesday. We had her beard cut shorter this time, since it's agility off-season (I like to keep it long during the season so that she'll look nice for her professional photos!). She looks so adorable with her shorter beard!

Snow on her nose, after sniffing a bit in the snow.

Poor girlie, she's cold with her shorter fur! Note that her tail is down, which she always does when she's freezing. But, she still wants to stay outside! (Which is unusual for her in the winter, usually she doesn't like being outside in the winter.)

Wall-e also had his very first beginner obedience class today! I expected to have to work hard to keep his attention -- but nope, he was completely focused on me for the whole class. He acted like a pro, and was definitely one of the stars of the class! When dogs in the class took turns (two at a time) for the heeling and loose leash exercises, and it wasn't our turn, he lay calmly in my lap, head resting on his paws. What a difference from Mika's quirks (barking like mad at the other dogs when it's not her turn)! Not that Mika isn't totally focused on me when it is her turn (she's always focused on me, 100%) but she wants to work so much and is so stimulated by dogs moving that she expresses her feelings with non-stop, piercing barks.

I still can hardly believe how focused and attentive Wall-e was during the class. Good boy!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Another update on teeth

Well, Wall-e doesn't have "perfect teeth" anymore like the vet said a few weeks ago; his last adult tooth is coming in really crooked. Here's a photo:

The baby tooth is the longest one, and the adult tooth is the little one coming in. You can see how crooked it is!

We'll see the vet about it next week -- we have to go anyway for his rabies vaccination (mandatory for his beginner obedience class). We'll probably have it pulled when he gets castrated (neutered). We were going to get him castrated at thirteen months, but now we'll most likely have to castrate him sooner...not something we expected, but oh well, it's not the end of the world! We'll do whatever it takes to keep him comfortable and healthy.

On another note, I just realized that we've had Wall-e in our family for three weeks today! Wow. It seems like we've had him forever, but it also feels like we just got him, at the same time!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

First beginner obedience class

Today was the first beginner obedience class. Wall-e couldn't come because the first class was only for the people, to explain the instructor's view on training (positive reinforcement), what a clicker is, and a quick lesson on how to teach each of the basic commands. Basic stuff, but it was nice to see what the instructor thought about different things. Next week, Wall-e and the rest of the dogs will be able to attend the classes and the "real" classes will begin. Wall-e already knows pretty much everything that the class will be teaching (good boy!!) except for Down -- right now he only knows how to do Down with a food lure. BUT, today he was following my hand a few times without the lure. I plan to have him completely off the lure by the next obedience class in a week.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ears and teeth

I found two very nice surprises when I came home from school yesterday!

My mom picked me up from school, with Mika and Wall-e in their crates in the back. I noticed Wall-e's left ear right away -- it was up! The tips of his ears had been glued to the hair in front of the ears for the past two weeks (to get that nice sheltie tip), and sometime yesterday while I was at school, the tip of his left ear must have finally separated from the hair. His right ear was almost up too but not quite, so when we got home I gently teased away the hairs stuck together by the dried glue. I then trimmed away all the gluey hair and neatened up his ears just a bit. I still have to take some of the glue off that's still stuck onto the tips, but I'll do that later. What beautiful ears he has, with perfect 1/3 tips

I then decided to check his teeth to see how those two baby teeth were doing. And, I immediately saw that his left baby tooth was gone!

You can see that his adult canine tooth is almost completely grown in.

Last but not least, today Wall-e is 6 months old! Happy birthday little man!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Wall-e's baby teeth

Wall-e still has a couple of baby teeth left -- his "canines". His adult teeth are actually starting to come in over them, especially his left adult canine, which is about half way in. But, his right baby canine is getting looser every day. We're giving him lots of things to chew on, like chew toys and rawhides (always under supervision). Hopefully those baby teeth will fall out soon! If they're not out by a month or so, we'll probably have them pulled, but I'm sure they'll be out by then


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Food tube

Since Wall-e doesn't enjoy tugging that much right now (and I'm not going to force him), I started getting him used to Mika's food tube in the basement yesterday. A food tube is a plastic cylindrical tube which you can fill with...*dumdumdum*...FOOD! (Wall-e's absolute love!) It can be thrown to increase speed and drive and to use the dog's inner prey drive. He really seemed to enjoy chasing it, and was racing after it after only a few throws. I'll use the food tube to reinforce him for basic agility exercises for now. I might use toys eventually if I decide to train him to like toys, but I think the food tube will, for Wall-e, be just as good.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stays getting better!

"I'm trying to sleep!" Cute and cuddly in Mika's donut bed.

Hanging out in the mini tunnel.

Wall-e has definitely been improving in his Stays. I can place a treat on the ground in front and him, and where before he would break his Stay 80% of the time to try to get the treat, now he only breaks his Stay 20% of the time! We'll continue practicing this every day until he never breaks his Stay, even if there is a whole pile of treats staring him in the face.

Also, he can now Stay for 45 seconds, which is what he'll have to do at the end of his beginner obedience classes -- which haven't even started yet! (They're starting this weekend, but only the humans are supposed to come, not the dogs. The "real" classes, with the dogs, will start the week after.)

Good boy!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jumping introduction and The Great Poop Chase

Today I gave Wall-e an introduction to jumping, with the use of stride regulators. This method of teaching a jumping foundation to 4 to 6 month old puppies was created by Susan Salo, and has since been adapted by a couple other trainers. Today I set up the beginning exercise -- 2 PVC poles set 32" from each other (Wall-e's height multiplied by 2.5). One of the PVC poles was placed between between two winged jump standards.

I had my mom hold Wall-e in front of the first pole. I led out a bit past the second pole, and placed some treats on a target in front of the second pole. (I'll have Wall-e do a Sit Stay in front of the first pole, instead of my mom holding him back, when his Stay is strong enough so that the treats on the target aren't a distraction.) When I said "Go!" my mom let go of Wall-e. He jumped the first stride regulator, then the second, and I released him to his treats with a "Get It!". He seemed a bit uncertain if he should trot between the poles or bounce them (if they had been a few inches closer they would have been too close together to bounce), but he ended up bouncing, which is exactly what I wanted him to do.

We took a break for playtime and then he got to do a second repetition. He went over the poles with a bounce in between, and he seemed quite a bit more certain about what his job was -- to bounce the poles! I'm sure that the more repetitions he does (in a few more very short training sessions), the more certain he'll be.

Now for a different topic -- something I call "The Great Poop Chase". Whenever Mika or Wall-e "does their business", I pick it up with a bag and put it on the top of the railing on the back porch so that I can bring the bag inside when I go in the house. When I picked up Mika's poop this morning I guess the wind blew the bag down from the railing and onto the ground, because Wall-e suddenly raced over to the poop bag on the ground, picked up the bag, and started racing all over the yard like a lunatic! When Mika saw that he was running with something in his mouth, she started chasing after him. And then there was me, walking calmly behind them so as not to encourage them to run any faster!

After the dogs had done a few laps around the backyard, Mika soon lost interest, but Wall-e kept on galloping around the yard with the bag swinging from his mouth. When he saw me walking towards him, he did a play bow and then, when I was just out of reach, darted away. "Betcha can't get it from me!" But, I was eventually able to walk over and trade the poop bag for a Charlee Bear treat, which Wall-e was more than happy to do!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Teeter obsessed schnauzer

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this before, but Mika is completely, totally obsessed with the teeter. (Although it's probably just the treats she wants, but still!) Without me saying a word, she used to always race over it right to the end and wait for it to tip, while we were just hanging out in the backyard, then look at me as if to say, "Helloooo, where are my treats?!" Now that we took the teeter board off the base so that Wall-e wouldn't go on it and get scared by the unexpected movement, she simply races over to the board and stands on one of the yellow contact zones, staring at me expectantly for a treat. She always, always wants to go in the backyard so she can go on "her" teeter!

Is there a Teeter Addicts Anonymous? If so, I think Mika should join!


Friday, November 21, 2008

It's time... begin Wall-e's agility training!

Well, not really agility training; basic agility training. Just playing around with a few things -- tunnel, jumps with bars on the ground, galloping across the teeter board while touching the contact. I won't raise the bars on the jumps at all until Wall-e is about 9 months old (I'll raise them to 6" then), as jumping is very stressful on puppies' growing joints and bones.

My goal for Wall-e is to train him to eventually be a happy, fast, confident agility dog who tries his best to follow my directions. I don't expect to create a "perfect dog". After all, there is no perfect dog. But, I will do everything I can to train him to be a good little worker. I mainly want him to have FUN!

For now, all of his agility training will be focused on building drive and motivation, and having fun! When the agility field opens in April (he'll be 11 months old then), and it starts getting nice outside again, we'll begin some more formal agility training.

Of course, I won't stop with his foundation training, which is essential for a good agility dog! My main focus will still be building his foundation, not his agility training. Basic obedience, flatwork, and other fun stuff will be our main priority until he's grown up.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hand touch

I started teaching Wall-e how to touch the palm of my hand with his nose and yesterday he was really getting it! He has a nice strong nose touch. I even got to practice some shadow handling with him using the nose touch -- he touches my hand as I do a front cross, then he touches my other hand as I do another front cross, etc. I make sure to include Mika too; every once in a while I let her have a turn to touch my palm.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stay training success

Wall-e can now be in a Sit Stay six feet away from me, for ten seconds, while there is a treat on the ground in front of him! I'll have to build it up to 45 seconds for his beginner obedience class starting in a couple of weeks, but the dogs in the class only have to stay for that long the last day of class for the "test", so I have a while to teach him. I'm sure he'll learn it quickly, though; he's a fast little learner!

I think Mika is starting to enjoy his company a bit more now. They play together every evening in the yard, sometimes only for a few seconds, sometimes for a few minutes.


Saturday, November 15, 2008


On Thursday, November 13, we brought Wall-e into the family. Wall-e is a 5 1/2 month old male Shetland Sheepdog (sheltie). What an amazing puppy, so attentive and well-behaved!

It took him no time at all to learn the hand signal for Sit, and now he pretty much knows Here (come) and Watch Me already! He even followed Mika through a 4 foot long play tunnel in the backyard, and he followed her over jump bars lying on the ground. When Mika was chasing him and playing with him yesterday, he ZOOMED through the tunnel four times, wow!! What an amazing boy!! He also followed Mika onto the teeter board (which we'd laid on the ground) and climbs all over it for fun.

His breeder had crate trained him already which is great, and he sometimes pops into his crate on his own, wanting treats! After a couple hours of playing and hanging out with us, he starts getting sleepy, so I put him in his crate with a nice yummy treat and he dozes off right away. (He's actually sleeping in his crate as I type this.)

Unlike Mika, who hates the rain, Wall-e doesn't mind the rain at all! He acts as if the rain isn't even there, except for a couple of body shakes to get the water droplets off his fur. Mika on the other hand, doesn't go out in the rain unless she REALLY has to go to the bathroom!

When Wall-e is outside and hears cars or new noises, his ears perk up and he stops what he's doing, and follows to movement of the car with his head. He's used to living in the countryside, so I guess cars are new to him!

He went to the vet yesterday for a routine exam and his third set of vaccinations. He was so polite on the exam table, and even relaxed and lay down after the vet was finished with him! The vet commented on what a nice puppy he was, and what beautiful teeth and coat he has. :) He even gave him a rubber bone-shaped chew toy made by the KONG company that can be stuffed with treats. (He gave us one for Mika too, so she wouldn't feel left out!)

Wonderful little dog. Here are some photos of Wall-e:

What a sweet face!

Looking into the distance through the tire (that thing in the corner)

I love this close-up shot...he looks so beautiful.

Now here are some photos of the places we went to socialize him yesterday:

The pet supply store

The lake

The vet's

Still at the vet's -- he loves to rest his head on my shoulder!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Agility trial November 9, 2008

So here it is, the video from our trial on Sunday:

I was really happy with my girl! No Q, but Mika had a huge amount of fun. She was really happy during both runs! I think moving her to Specials did a great deal with increasing her confidence over the jumps. At this trial, she jumped really nicely, flat, without hesitating like she did over the 16" jumps. We'll Q, I know we will. We have the whole next year of competing in Masters to get Q's. Of course, Q's aren't what this sport is really about. I realized at this trial that I really don't run only for Q' least, not completely. I mainly run for connect with my share a great moment on course. Mika and I, we love a fun, fast challenge, and agility is the perfect challenge for us.

I was REALLY happy with her teeter and dog walk at this trial!! She went on the teeter at a nice distance from me, and then raced right up the end of the teeter board to wait for it to tip -- exactly what I want her to do!! Her dog walk was nice too, fast, and she hit the contact point perfectly!

Great job Mika!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And now...a loooong winter!

It was the last trial of the year for us yesterday. (I'll talk about how we did in another post, as I'm at school right now and have to go to class soon!) For us, our agility training season is only about six months long, and the rest of the year we have to make due with a few trips to an indoor arena, which is pretty far so we can't go often. We also do a little bit of training in our basement and in the backyard, but there's barely any room to do real sequences or even small exercises. Soon enough we'll be itching to run again! Still, it's always good to let Mika's body rest for a bit over the winter.

Our next trial will be sometime in, that seems so far away! But we'll manage...and I'll continue to post here regularly, don't worry.

Our puppy, Wall-e, will be coming later this week...excitement!!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Agility trial October 24, 2008

Sorry it took so long to post this!

Great job Mika!! I was so happy with this run, even though we didn't Q (athough we would have if not for the missed dog walk contact). It was our first Masters, and I was so proud of Mika for following my handling, not stressing, and just generally being the wonderful little dog she is!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

BIG news...

Well, I've got some GREAT news!! We're getting a puppy!

His name is Wall-e, and he's a 5 months old Shetland Sheepdog. He's from a great breeder who has amazing and beautiful conformation dogs. More info to come (don't have time to write much more now) -- but I am SO excited!!!

Here are some photos (taken by his breeder) of him when he was younger:

10 weeks old, isn't he beautiful!!

10 weeks old

6.5 weeks old, and he already knows how to stack (show position)!

We've been very busy preparing for his arrival. We can't wait for this wonderful little boy to come home with us!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Fun times at the park

Mika absolutely loves going to the park! She used to not like going for walks, but that was back when we just went around and around the same streets over and over again. Now, we explore every inch of the park. Mika sniffs and sniffs and sniffs some more, often darting around in every direction trying to decide what and where to sniff! Mika used to have a really bad barking problem (at dogs and people), but it's gotten so much better this past fall and summer. Whenever dogs or people pass by us, I call Mika towards me and tell her to Sit and Stay, which she does, and I give her a couple treats until the dogs and/or people are far enough away. Then, I release Mika with an Okay and walk a bit in the opposite direction, where she once again begins to sniff!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Agility trial October 18, 2008

Sorry 'bout the delay.

Had a trial Saturday, October 18. The video explains it all:

Awesome job Mika!!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mika!!

On Tuesday, October 14, Mika celebrated her 4th birthday! The celebrations started after I came home from school. We put on birthday hats for the photos, though Mika didn't enjoy that too much, so I took hers off right after the photos.

Mika then received a delicious-looking birthday "cake" (it was actually half a can of Innova wet dog food) with four candles on top. The cake was also on an exquisite plate! I put the cake on a small table and blew out the candles for her. and then Mika dug in, putting her front paws on the table while she scarfed down the food. Man, she really LOVED that cake!! Of course, her beard did get all gross so we had to wash it in the bathtub afterward, but I'm sure Mika thought it was worth it!

After the plate was licked completely clean, Mika got her present -- a new collar. Her old pink collar had faded and dirtied, so it really was time to get a new one. Her new collar is nylon and rainbow-striped! I do think Mika liked the cake better :) but the collar looks great on her!

I had a looot of schoolwork to do that afternoon and also the next couple of days, so sadly I couldn't spend much time with Mika on her birthday, but I'll definitely spend the rest of the day with her today after I get home from school, and tomorrow as well.

Happy B-Day Mika!

Also, we have a trial tomorrow! Woot!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Agility updates

We went to a fun match on Sunday and had tons of fun!! Mika did awesome in Steeplechase and great in Masters Standard!

Went to the field today and Tuesday to work on stuff.

On both today and Tuesday, we worked on jump exercises from the Backyard Dogs articles in Clean Run, and practiced the dog walk and A-frame individually (like we always do). Mika was FLYING! I just couldn't believe her speed. After not doing any "real" training for a whole month, she was crazy and having a blast!

On Tuesday at the field, she also got to try meat tortellini for the first time! She LOVED it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Agility trial October 3, 2008

Haven't updated in a while! Well, I've got big news...MIKA GOT HER AADC TITLE!!

I haven't got time to post a big long detailed post now, but basically Mika amazed me last Friday! (Well, when does she ever NOT amaze me?!) I'd entered her in two Advanced Standard runs and she got her final Q for the title in the first run, so we got to do the second run just for the heck of it! As well as getting her AADC, there was also another big was Mika's first time trialling with a teeter indoors!! She was fearless 'bout it too!

She really IS Mighty Mika!! My awesome doggie <3

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Agility trial September 27, 2008

Yesterday we went to another AAC trial! I'd entered Mika in one run -- Advanced Jumpers. I was really excited for this one because it meant that if we Q'd we'd move up to Masters! and, Mika did Q!! She also won us a 1st place and Best Run in Mini! Of course we also had a load of fun, since Jumpers is one of Mika's favourite classes! So come November, we'll be running in Masters for the very first time; should be fun!!


Friday, September 26, 2008

Trial tomorrow!

Tomorrow we're entered in an Advanced Jumpers run! Can't wait. If we Q we'll be moving up to Masters!

We have a sort of "routine" that we do the week before the trial (or fun match). Mika does better at trials if she's given a break, so we don't do any major training during the week before the trial.

This is our "week-before-the-trial" schedule (assuming the trial is on a Saturday):

Saturday (7 days before trial) or Sunday: practice a sequence at the Agility field that relates to the course we'll be running at the trial

Monday: no Agility, tricks instead

Tuesday: if we'll be running in any Standard classes at the trial, practice the teeter; if we'll be running only in Jumpers, practice a 16" jump

Wednesday: go to the field and practice 3 - 5 obstacles (either individual or in 2-obstacle segments) that we'll be seeing at the trial

Thursday: if we'll be running in Standard, practice 12 poles; if we'll be running only in Jumpers, practice a 16" jump

Friday: no Agility, tricks instead

Saturday (or Sunday): get Mika to do a trick for her breakfast that'll help our performance at the trial (Down Stay or flatwork), then drive to the trial!!

So that's our schedule. :)


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Agility trial September 19, 2008

Yesterday Mika and I competed in one class at a Starters mini-trial! The class was Starters Gamblers, and it was our first ever time doing Gamblers! Mika completely surprised me by getting the gamble right away! She was so hyper and bouncy on the course because she must've thought that we were having another private (it was in the same arena we had the private in a few weeks ago) and she thought that we were going to stop after every obstacle for rewards -- but we still ended up with a Q and 2nd place! Woot!!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Agility trial September 13, 2008

We competed at an AAC Agility trial yesterday! I'd entered Mika in three runs -- two Advanced Standard runs and one Advanced Jumpers runs. We hadn't run in Advanced before. I was looking forward to challenging (but fun) courses and a chance to hang out with Mika all day. I was only expecting maybe one Q, if any, and my first priority was to have fun with my girl.

Did Mika ever surprise me!!

So, we arrived to the place where the trial was being held at 7:15am. We were pleased with the weather -- it was about 17 degrees Celsius in the morning and grew only to 22 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. Plus, it was cloudy in the morning. Perfect Agility weather!

At 7:30, the check-in time, I checked in and got my course maps. The Standard courses where what I had expected, but the beginning of the Jumpers course surprised me. Right at the beginning of the course there was a two jump threadle, with the dog having to turn 180 degrees to another jump after the second jump in the threadle, and then wrap the jump to take another jump and continue on with the course! Masters stuff. It took me a while to figure out how to handle it properly.

When we stepped onto the first course (Advanced Standard), I had no idea what to expect from Mika since it was our first Advanced course at a trial and she was acting funny at our last event (the fun match). but as soon as Mika flew over the first couple of jumps and performed an absolutely PERFECT "textbook" teeter, I knew that she was DEFINITELY feeling herself today! Her weaves were brilliantly fast too! We reached an iffy moment on the table when she started lifting up her elbows (the table was wet from the rain earlier that morning) but the judge didn't fault it. We crossed the finish line ending up with a Q and 2nd place! :D

The next course was another Advanced Standard. Again, Mika was just FLYING through the course! She sure did have lots of energy! Her dog walk was faster than in her first run (because the wetness from the rain had dried up) and she listened to my cues and did a perfect flip to the tunnel after the DW! The weave entry was pretty tough but she got it and weaved really fast too! The obstacle after the weaves was the teeter. She raced up it right to the end, stopped, then decided to jump off just as the teeter was 1/3 of the way to the ground. She was okay though, both physically and mentally, and was bouncing around with an enormous grin on her face after the last jump! Q and 2nd place! (Her fly-off wasn't faulted because the end hit the ground after Mika jumped off.)The dog after us had a fly-off as well and they then found out that there was something wrong with how the teeter was weighted, and it wasn't going down fast enough. So my theory is that Mika, having been on the same teeter a few times before, was used to it going down the same speed every time and so she jumped off after waiting for that certain amount of time. Crazy dog!

Our third and final run was Advanced Jumpers. This was the course that had the weird threadle/serpentine part at the beginning. As the competitors walked the course they were all milling around that same area, trying out different strategies! I almost bumped into quite a few people and had to say "sorry" more than once! When it was our turn I jogged onto the course with Mika expecting an NQ and just looking forward to running one of our favourite classes, Jumpers...but again, Mika completely exceeded my expectations! The dog who previously went all over the place when directed to do a threadle (partly my fault) did it perfectly at the trial! She listened to my directionals just amazingly and fast too, running her heart out! :D Another Q and 2nd place! WOW!

So, now we just need one (ONE!!) more Advanced Standard Q to get our AADC (Advanced Agility Dog of Canada) title and move up to Masters, and one more Advanced Jumpers Q to move up to Masters! We had LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of fun at the trial too!! Mika was just completely awesome. She takes my breath away. She always presents me with beautiful surprises and she has a blast doing it. We have improved so much. She's my wonderful, perfect girl and I just love her so much. <3


Friday, August 29, 2008

Today's 'gility training

Went to the field today to train. My mom took lots of photos! We worked on 90 degree turns after the A-frame, and practicing the dog walk and A-frame individually (like we always do).

Mika has a moving contact on the A-frame. You might ask, what is a moving contact? Well, it's when the dog has an extended stride going up the A-frame but collects her stride going down the A-frame. Kind of like a two on/two off but without stopping, if that makes any sense. I would have liked training a true running contact on the A-frame, but Mika has had confidence problems on the A-frame, so I'll just leave it at a moving contact. I'm really happy with it actually! Mika has an average time of 1.6 seconds on a full height A-frame. :)

So because Mika has a moving A-frame and doesn't stop at the bottom, she always flies off high in the contact zone (yes, often missing it!) and zooms straight ahead. That's why we really have to work on turns after the A-frame. Today there was a tire about 10 feet away on the right side of the A-frame at a 90 degree angle, as well as a jump 20 feet in front of the A-frame.

With Mika on my left, I directed her over the jump and then sent her ahead to the A-frame. She raced over it, touched the contact, then leaped off the A-frame and raced ahead. She then noticed me standing beside the tire. I could just imagine her thinking to herself "OH!" and she raced back over to me, stopping at heel.

I rotated my body in a circle and she ran next to me, and I drew a nice line for her to jump through the tire. She got it, and I rewarded her by throwing her "precious" food tube!

After we finished with that, we headed over to the dog walk. I had placed a jump bar 30" away from the edge of the down contact. That's how I originally trained Mika's running contact, which worked BEAUTIFULLY! The point of the bar is to get the dog to hit the contact with all four paws, hit the grass with all four paws, and then jump the bar. The pole builds the muscle memory. I know that it's not the best way to teach a running contact, but it's worked for Mika! I still use the pole from time to time to refresh her memory, which is why I had the pole there today.

Her dog walk was AWESOME! She blasted across it like there was no tomorrow. There's no video, so I can't be sure, but it was probably either just above or just below 2 seconds! Her average is 2.35 seconds. :D

After that we practiced the A-frame individually again. She jumped the apex, yessss! Really fast too! She's been jumping over the apex a lot lately. She learned how to jump it on her own, what a smart little girl!

We're running part of a Starters Gamblers course tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More backyard fun -- including photos!

On Sunday my friend showed me how to do this REALLY cool thing with the camera. It's the Super Macro mode, and it lets you get really close to objects to take these amazing, super close-up photos. Now I'm obsessed with it. Here are a couple of the photos I took with Super Macro.

My EYE!! Isn't that cool! Yes, it's my eye. I took it. I had to put the lens around my eye.

This is the top of the standard of the wooden teeter that my dad made for me a couple years ago.

This one was taken with Super Macro too! Shadow was sniffing the camera!

I could post all of my Super Macro photo but that would get boring after while, I took so many. So here are some "normal" photos.

"Stay!" So cute and cuddly, and then I say "Okay!"...


What's she chewing on? Her collar, that's what! Mika loves shaking her collar around to hear the tags jingle, and then she lies down and chews on the buckle until I take it away from her.

What a cutie.

That's it for now!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Another great private

On Friday we had another private! This time we worked on lateral distance.

The first thing that the instructor had us do was working on distance with one 10" high jump. She told me to Mika in a Sit Stay, and I'd walk away from her laterally so that I was about ten feet away from her, and then direct her over the jump. We did just that, and Mika was perfecto.

Then, the same thing except with two 10" jumps. Mika was perfect again! She soared over the jumps with no difficulty.

Still, the instructor said that my handling would be clearer if my body (including shoulders and feet) faced the spot in between where Mika was jumping and the next jump I wanted her to go too. My hand and arm should be making a pushing motion towards Mika. After she told me, I tried it. It was awkward, but it could work!

I was delighted and suprised that Mika was having no trouble with the ten foot distance. Now we can compete in Starters Gamblers! :D

My instructor decided to try something harder. Mika would go through a tunnel that was underneath the A-frame. Then, she would keep going ahead to the next curved tunnel while I stayed by the first tunnel. She would then keep going straight and take a jump as stayed by the first tunnel and layered another jump.


First time: Mika went through the first tunnel and started going to the correct entrance of the second tunnel, but came back to me because I drew in my arm too quickly.

Second time: Mika went through the first tunnel and then went around the the opposite entrance of the tunnel. Crazy dog! The instructor said that I should take little tiny steps towards the correct entrance.

Third time: I did what she told me, but same result.

Fourth time: This time the instructor handled Mika. Mika went through the first tunnel, but then started to go over the A-frame. Ha!

Fifth time: I handled Mika again, and I was told to pretty much forget about the distance and just let Mika succeed, but Mika still went into the opposite entrance! :)

Sixth time: Handled her even closer this time, and...she got it!! Yay Mika! Par-tyyy! She lot a whole lot of treats for that!

The instructor told me to practice one of Susan Garrett's Success With One Jump exercises at home -- gradually increasing lateral distance with a single jump.

We then went into the indoor arena to work the teeter a bit, and then time to leave! I'll hopefully have another private this week, focusing on either weave entries or the A-frame.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Riding lesson

Yesterday I went to the stables for a riding lesson. Yeah yeah, I know this is supposed to be a blog about dogs, but it doesn't hurt to talk about other stuff once in a while, right? Anyway, it's still animal related!

So, as I was saying, yesterday I had my riding lesson. (You know, like horseback riding). I've been riding for two years now. I love it! I ride English (that's what's in the Olympics -- Show Jumping, dressage, etc.) but I have ridden Western a few times. I don't have my own horse, but I wish I did!

I also compete at the schooling shows that the stables holds. I've been to two so far, and out next one is in September.

I arrived at the stables and found out that I was riding Nick. He's a bright bay gelding who's very well behaved, and good to ride. He's a bit tough to jump because he's got a weird jumping style that's kinda hard to flow with, but he's fun!

So I checked his hooves, combed his mane, and brushed him until his coat shone. Then I put his saddle and bridle on and we were ready to ride!

The lesson was a semi-private -- two people riding, including me. I headed over to one of the rings where the other person was already warming up, and mounted Nick. I let him walk around the ring on a long rein so that he could warm up his muscles gradually. When it was time to head into the indoor arena (it was 8:30, getting dark), I let him warm up some more.

The instructor (who's awesome by the way!) set up two jumps -- a 1 foot high X (two poles crossed as an "X") and one 2 foot high rail. They were spaced so that the horses would jump the first jump, take one stride at a canter, and take the next jump.

We started off by just trotting and cantering around the ring in both directions before going over the jumps. The jumps were placed so that we had to make a tight turn at the corner of the arena to go over them safely. We nailed 'em. :) We took turns going over them in both directions for the first twenty minutes of the lesson, and then the instructor changed the X to an 18" vertical.

We did the same exercise, both ways, a few times. The only thing that I was having trouble with was getting a good mane release (bringing my hands and reins halfway up his neck) over the 2 foot jump, but by the end of the lesson I had improved! and the exercise wasn't hard, the point of the exercise was the brush up the technicalities and small details. I loved it! Nick was going great and was eager to jump, too!

It was a really fun lesson!!

We cooled down the horses by letting them walk around the arena on a long rein so they could stretch their necks, and then we dismounted and brought them back in the barn to untack and groom them.

After we'd finished that, we grabbed two lead ropes and turned the horses out in one of the paddocks so they could eat grass and relax in the big field all night. It's the favourite part of their day!

I finished cleaning the tack so that it would stay clean and fresh (it is leather, after all) and my mom and got in the car and left.

SO...that's my typical riding lesson! I love riding. It's a nice break from regular routines, and flying over a jump with a horse is a wonderful feeling that is impossible to describe. It's just amazing!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Agility fun match August 17, 2008

Yesterday Mika and I went to a fun match! The match ran to AAC regulations, and there were two different courses set up. We got to run each course twice. I entered Mika at the Advanced level, so the first course was Advanced Standard. The second course was Masters Steeplechase. Steeplechase is always a Masters course, but they didn't want to "scare off" all of the Starters people, so they made a Starters Steeplechase course just for them. but the Advanced people had to run in Masters. Poor us! :)

The first run was, as I said before, was Advanced Standard. Mika just wasn't herself in this run. She missed the 45 degree weave entry (she never misses entries!), went off course twice (not a big deal, I was actually kind of glad she went off course because that meant she was having more confidence) and just generally wasn't focused on me. She was in a daze or something. Maybe she wasn't feeling well. Still, her dog walk was the fastest it's ever been at a trial or fun match, and her teeter was great!

The second run, again the same Advanced Standard course, was actually worse than the first run. Then I knew that Mika really wasn't feeling herself that morning. She missed the weave entry again, and her dog walk and teeter were just...well it's hard to explain...there was no spark to them. She really wasn't acting normal at all.

Still, it was lots of fun to watch the other dogs and handlers run! I'd forgotten how much fun these matches really are. (Hmmmmm, wonder if that's why they're called fun matches!?) I'd say that most the dogs at these matches are better than most of the dogs at trials, because the handlers are really dedicated to training their dogs. There were some AMAZING handlers yesterday, very impressive!

The third run was the Steeplechase. I could tell that Mika was feeling her normal, attentive self!! I handled her differently than I usually would because when I walked the course, I'd planned to handle the "old" Mika that she'd been that morning -- I hadn't planned on handling the regular Mika! So there were a few refusals. but she was having FUN! :)

The fourth run (the same Steeplechase course) was AWESOME! Mika did just amazing! She actually ran a Masters course clean!! I'm just so proud of that little dog. She passed all of my expectations!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Awesome private lesson!!

Today we had a private lesson! and it was amazing! :D It was just perfect and I got so much out of it!!

The private was supposed to be a half hour, but it ended up being an hour. The instructor didn't charge extra either! So we talked for the first half hour about what Mika needed to improve on, the definition of drive, rewards, how to use the rewards, etc. etc. I found out that Mika REALLY LOVES liver! The instructor was tested out a whole bunch of rewards with her and once she gave her the liver, Mika couldn't stop staring at her! That dog just wanted more and more! She even jumped up on her and BARKED, three times! (she never does that!) Wow, guess I got to start using more of that stuff.

She said that instead of ignoring Mika when she makes a mistake, I should still praise her like crazy like I always do, just don't give her food or throw the food tube. That's because Mika is a sensitive dog. I think it'll work out great!

Then we went into one of the rings (we were in the indoor arena/building) and I got Mika to do the dog walk, it was probably about 3 feet high. The first three times she trotted over it, but then we practiced on it a lot more and she was galloping! and she hit ALL of her contacts! Perfect running contacts man!

Then we went into the other, bigger ring (used for trials) and practiced the normal height dog walk in there. She only trotted over the first two times, and then she was FLYING! and again, hit all her contacts! In under 2.5 seconds! EXACTLY what I want! :D

The instructor said that Mika needs to practice on all different dog walks so that eventually she'll realized that a dog walk is just a dog walk, and that her performance on it is the same. Good thing we have the fun match on Sunday! :)

Then...the instructor unexpectedly said "now let's go work on the teeter" or something like that. I was surprised! It was a full height teeter too, and indoors! I almost asked her if she was sure that we should do that, but I trusted her judgment and let Mika follow her over to the teeter.

She had these big chunks of dehydrated liver with her, and she told Mika to do the teeter. Then when Mika got to the pivot point, she held onto the end of the teeter and slowly laid it to the ground so it wouldn't bang. I told her that I'd taught Mika to run right to the end of the teeter, but she said that Mika should work her way up so we could make sure she was confident on the teeter.

She had Mika do the teeter again a few more times, and by the third time Mika was going right to the end of the teeter!

I got to do the same with Mika after that. After holding the end a couple times, I had Mika just do the teeter ON HER OWN...and she DID IT!! YAY MIKA! She was SO AWESOME!! She raced RIGHT to the end before she stopped to wait for it to end the ground, and then she leaped off right away! I was SO SO SO proud of her!! GO MIKA! She got big hunks of yummy liver for that! She did the teeter again three more times and then that was it for the lesson! Awesome dogger!

We'll be having another private next week, working on lateral distance. So now it's the all clear for entering a Novice Standard run for the CKC trial in October! It'll be at the same place we had the private today, so no worries! They might be having some fun runs in the fall so I'll go and practice the teeter on the fun run before the trial.

No photos this time, got to get off the computer!

I'm ELATED! :D First time I've used that word!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hangin' in the backyard

In the summer we (that is, Mika, Shadow, and me) spend much of our days just hanging out in the backyard. It's also a good opportunity to take photos!

Mika is observing the kids playing on the other side of the street. She's a pro watchdog. If one of the kids throws a ball on our side lawn next to the fence, she'll race over barking her head off unless I don't occupy her with treats first.

She takes her job very seriously.

Luckily, no kids threw their ball over. :) So Mika decides to go off duty (if I can say that, Mika is never really off duty!) and is busy thinking about what to do next.

She decides to...

...PLAY! Talk about hair in the eyes! It's a wonder she can see anything! :O

After a lot of playing, she decides to go inside and lie down on the couch. So she waits at the door for me to let her in...after I finish taking more photos!

Shadow is having lots of fun rolling around in the sun. "Ahhhhhh...bliss!"

Admiring the plants and flowers...or secretly looking for prey to hunt? (Don't tell her I know this, but I think it's the latter!)

Resting...and always beautiful.

The peace is broken when my mom lets Mika in the backyard. Mika looks at our wooden teeter, looks at me, and races over to the teeter and right onto it!

What a teeter freak. She loves this thing!

"Mooooooooom...can I have my treats noooooooow?"

After giving Mika treats for doing the teeter (without my direction!) I decided to go and take some photos of the flowers in the backyard and the side yard.

Well that's it for now! Keep an eye out for more posts. Next week Mika and I are going to a fun match so I'll be sure to talk about that!

Oh, I almost forgot! I was asking my dad about SLR (single lens reflex) cameras. I want one, because they're so awesome and they're what professional photographers use. and I found out that my dad actually HAS ONE! It's about twenty years old (!!), but still, it's a great camera and it's an SLR! I'll try it out once in a while. I especially want to use it for action shots. I won't be able to use it much (film is expensive) but I'll use it as often as I can! My dad is planning on taking it to the fun match to take some photos of Mika. Cool!

All right, that's enough. End of post!