Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tagged, again! ;)

After I tagged 5 people, I was tagged back by Watch 'em RUN, one of the bloggers I'd tagged! And the game just keeps going! So, I opened a different folder this time, and chose the fifth photo...here it is:


This is Mika when she was 4 months old, in February 2005. Her hair was just starting to get long and shaggy! She had her first haircut at the groomer's a month later. We still have both the pillow that she's sitting on and the ex-pen that she's in! Although the pillow has faded a lot, the ex-pen is still in perfect condition, and I use it every day for Wall-e when I can't watch him (he's still a puppy, after all, even though he's 8 months old). Unfortunately, we don't have the ball that's on the ground beside Mika (her Santa Claus Ball)...she tore a big hole in it with her teeth years ago, and we threw it away soon after. We got a couple replacements when we saw them at the pet supply store, but those broke too after a few months, and we haven't seen any more at the store for a while. Mika LOVED those balls though!

Not tagging anybody this time, after all, the game's gotta stop somewhere! :) Sorry 'bout that!

~Nat

Monday, January 26, 2009

I've been tagged!

Yup, I've been tagged, by Cool Design Shelties, Acadia Shelties, and GeeRome!

The instructions are:

Open a document or file folder, Click on the fifth folder and then the fifth photo. Post the photo and describe it. Then tag 5 other bloggers.

All right, here it is:



This is "Annie." She's a wonderful pinto mare I used to ride. (I'm not riding now because of Mika and Wall-e, too busy with Wall-e's "puppyhood" and both of their training.) This photo was taken at a schooling show (fun show) last fall. Love this girl, and I miss her too!

I'm tagging:

Watch 'em RUN
LucyandWalter
Josh and Jessie
The KNIGHTs Shelties
4 Dog Craziness

Great obedience class!

Well, Wall-e really impressed me at obedience class yesterday!! First of all, this class when we practiced our recalls, the instructor told us to put our dog in a Sit-Stay instead of having somebody hold the dog as we walk away from them. I expected Wall-e to break his Stay, but what a good boy -- he didn't! Even when I led out twenty feet the second time, he still didn't break.

But what really impressed me was his heeling. This class, the instructor introduced turns and changes of pace. About turns, right turns, left turns, fast, slow. Wall-e was brilliant and listened to my cues right away. He used to bounce around whenever he was heeling (bounce straight up in the air instead of trotting at my side), but now he trots beside me beautifully. Actually, a more accurate term is "prances". He looks so happy trotting by my side!

We play a game every class, and this time we played the dog version of Musical Chairs. All the dogs/handlers heeled around the perimeter of the training room when the music played (with the instructor occasionally saying "right about turn," or sometimes "Sit and Down your dogs"). When the music stopped, we had to rush over to the chairs in the middle of the room and tell our dogs to Sit. Once your dog sits, you're allowed to sit down in the chair with your dog still sitting in front of you. One dog/handler is left over without a chair, and they're "out."

WOW, Wall-e's heeling was AWESOME during Musical Chairs. I couldn't believe my eyes!! He was heeling perfectly, doing his happy trot, staring up at me the whole time, never breaking his gaze. Incredible. I was so happy with him!

~Nat

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wall-e's fourth obedience class

All the usual at Wall-e's fourth beginner obedience class on Sunday (last week) -- warming up with focus, then practicing Sits, Downs, recalls, stays, and heeling. We always do something different every class, though, which makes it fun, and this time it was something a little competitive...a relay race! The class was divided in two, with four dogs on one team and three on the other. Wall-e and I were on the team with three dogs, so one of the dogs had to go twice. It was decided that we would go twice.

It was a relay, so two dog/handler teams went at a time, one from each team. Each dog had to Heel to a rally sign, where they had to Sit. Then, they kept on going to a chair. The handler had to sit in the chair and tell their dog to Sit and then Down without any luring. Once the dog did both Sit and Down, the dog/handler team was allowed to Heel back to the sign, Sit, then go back to the starting/finish line, where the next dog/handler team was waiting (with the dog waiting in a Sit Stay beside the handler.)

Since we were going twice, we went last. We started at the same time as the other sheltie. Heel, sit, heel to chair, Sit, Down. The other sheltie took a little bit longer to Sit and Down, so we had just a bit of a head start from the chair. Heel, Sit, then Heel to the finish line...and Wall-e won for his team, with the other sheltie just a nose behind! Good job, little man!

I'll talk about today's obedience class another day, I don't have enough time to write about it now. And thanks Cool Design Shelties and Acadia Shelties for tagging us! I'll make sure to do that too. :)

~Nat

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

10 things to work on to get Mika ready for Regionals

We've got quite a few things to work on before the AAC Regionals, which is May 29-31. At Regionals, we'll be running in 2 each of Masters Standard, Jumpers, and Gamblers. Even though Regionals is May 29-31, I'd like to get all these things done before May, so that we're completely prepared for Regionals. These things are listed in no particular order, except for the first one, which is the one I really have to work hard on.

1. MY HANDLING!! (this is biiig priority!) especially front crosses

2. more control of Mika (but still mix up with motivational sequences)

3. build Mika's independence (might be hard to encourage this AND control)

4. no weave popping, great entries

5. use PVC hoop to encourage running through contact on dog walk and A-frame (she might need reminders once the field opens again, since she'll have gone through such a long time without regular practice on full-size contacts)

6. train rear crosses (I never really trained them properly, and though I do use them with tunnels since Mika can't see me crossing behind her, I'd like to be able to use them before jumps without worrying about a spin)

7. correct tunnel entrances (this links back to handling, since Mika will always go where she thinks I tell her to go)

8. focus at all times (she has her rare lapses of attention, mostly when she's getting tired, so this links to conditioning which I'll discuss below, but probably won't be a problem because there's only 3 runs a day at Regionals)

9. Mika's conditioning (exercise ball 5 days a week until it gets warmer outside, then when it does get warmer, daily 30 min. walks on weekdays, 1 to 2 hr. walks on weekends, as well as continuing exercise ball 5 days a week)

10. This isn't exactly something we need to work on, just something I need to remember: Always remember to continue on when Mika makes a mistake on course, and reward the off courses in training (the next time we try the sequence, make handling clearer and jackpot if she does it correctly)

So there you go, that's mostly everything that we have to work on before May. The biggest ones are probably handling, weaves, rear crosses, and conditioning.

~Nat

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yep, more cute photos


My mom took this photo and sent it to me while I was at school. (I'm typing this from school right now, actually.) She said that Wall-e found one of the quarter rounds that wasn't nailed in yet. Of course, she took it away from him right after she took this photo, and traded it for a treat!



Thursday, January 15, 2009

COLD!!

Yesterday it was -40 degrees with the windchill!! Talk about COLD! The dogs didn't want to go outside in the backyard, even to go to the bathroom, and tried to "hold it in" as much as possible! Mika had to be carried outside, because she wouldn't step outside on her own. When she was put down, she immediately turned around and RACED back to the door. Wall-e would stay outside for a few minutes, just long enough to find a spot to go to the bathroom, but he would start lifting up his paws in the air even as he was going to the bathroom, because they were so cold.

It's times like this that I'd love to live in Florida....

~Nat

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A few new photos of Mika and Wall-e


Poor Mika, her feet are cold! (Don't worry, when I saw her lifting up her feet I took this photo and then let her inside.)


A couple minutes before I took the photo above. Her paws were starting to get cold, but she didn't want to go inside just yet. I think she looks a bit like she's on point in this picture (like a Pointer!).


Wall-e standing in front of the plank, wanting treats.

~Nat

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wall-e's third obedience class

Wall-e had his third obedience class on Sunday, after a loooong break for the Christmas holidays!

We had a lot of fun. All of the dogs have improved! It's a great class. Although only the toller, Standard Poodle x golden cross, and the other sheltie puppy (who is 6 months old) could attend on Sunday, there's also a dobie, a Boxer, and two adorable Shih Tzus who usually come.

Wall-e's favourite part of the class was definitely the 4 cookie recall game. In this game, the handler throws a treat behind the dog and as the dog races to get it, runs away from the dog and calls, "-dog's name- Come!" The dog should hear this as he is eating the treat, and runs over to the handler, who immediately clicks the clicker and throws another treat behind her. The process is repeated twice. On the third time, when the dog is called over to the handler, he has to sit in front of the handler (called a "front"). Why is it called the "4 cookie recall" game? Well, because the dog gets 4 cookies; the first one when the handler throws the first treat to start the game, the second and third ones when he chases after the handler, and the fourth one when he runs up to the handler to a front.

Wall-e LOVED this game. (He loves anything that involved running, actually!) He was smiling the whole time as he raced back and forth across the training room.

~Nat

Monday, January 12, 2009

More photos


"Look at me, look at me mom! I'm doing two-on-two-off! Gimme a treat now!" 2o/2o? Not quite Mika, but good try little girl! :)


SUCCESS! finally I've taken a good quality photo of Mika in the basement!! Usually when I take photos in the basement, they always turn out grainy and blurry.





A rare moment: Wall-e chewing on a rawhide stick while the usually-hostile Shadow rests calmly on a pillow beside him.



Wall-e galloping over the plank!


Again, galloping over the plank!

~Nat

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Success With One Jump

We did quite a bit of Success With One Jump work yesterday. Success With One Jump is a DVD by Susan Garrett. I worked through all of the exercises on Disc 2 with both Mika and Wall-e. Mika has so much drive for jumping. Just to see what she would do, I held her by the collar 10 feet in front of a 10" jump in the basement, with Mika facing the jump. Not saying anything, I let her go and she raced over to the jump and took it, even taking the jump 5 feet in front of it! Good girl!!

Wall-e's really learning how to read my body language, especially if I use my arms. He's getting really good at wrapping tightly around the jump wings, too.

~Nat

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wall-e's growing up!

Wall-e is definitely undergoing changes in his body type, coat length, and colour. He's beginning to look more adult-like and less puppyish. His coat is a lot longer than it was when we first got him, it's not as fuzzy anymore! And his mahogany sable colouring is really coming in. We just noticed today how much darker his markings have gotten!


5 1/2 months old


Today, 7 months old

He certainly is growing up to be a VERY handsome boy!

~Nat

Lots of tricks

I've been teaching Mika and Wall-e a lot of tricks lately. I taught Mika how to Scratch Me (paw one of my hands when I'm kneeling in front of her), do a figure 8 around my legs with only one slight hand gesture, improved on the preciseness of her retrieves (she now drops whatever she's retrieving in my lap instead of in front of me), and some other things I can't remember at the moment. :) With Wall-e, I mostly worked on obedience, but I also taught him Shake (give me his left paw). I'll teach him Paw (give me his right paw) soon!

~Nat

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wall-e's running contacts

As you might already know from our latest video, I've been training Wall-e how to do running contacts with Silvia Trkman's method. I plan to do this for the dog walk and the A-frame, although I won't have to do nearly as much training on the A-frame as I will on the dog walk because the dog walk training progresses into the dog understanding how the run the A-frame contact.

His running contacts are going great so far! A couple days ago he started developing a habit of LEAPING off the teeter plank (which I'm using to train the running contacts), two feet away from the contact zone!! So I put that PVC hoop back at the end of the plank to set him up for success. He still jumps the contact sometimes, but at least it's only a couple of inches and not two feet! I'll probably use the hoop for a few months.

Silvia Trkman says to wait until the dog is hitting the contact 100% of the time before raising the plank. This morning Wall-e hit it 3 out of 4 times, which is great, but his average success rate with hitting the contact right now is around 50%. So, needs some more work!! I'd like to get at least a week of 100% before moving on. At least he's getting faster and faster running across the plank!

~Nat

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The new year, and photos

Happy New Year everyone!

Last year was our first full year of competing in agility. Mika and I achieved many things; her very first title (ADC) in June, her AADC and AgNJ titles in October, reaching the Masters level, Mika's huge gain in independency and speed, and defeating her teeter problems once and for all. Last year was a year of huge accomplishments for us as a team, as well as a year full of new beginnings.

This year will be another great year, I'm sure. Mika and I will be competing at the AAC Regionals, maybe get her MADC title, and we *might* try some events
that we've never tried before like Snooker or the new AAC Challenge! Whatever happens, it's sure to be a very fun year for us. And Wall-e will begin his "real" agility training when the agility field opens again in the spring, and maybe run in some fun matches. I'm teaching him a running dog walk using Silvia Trkman's method, so the final result (if I train it right!) should be pretty impressive.

Well anyway, here are some photos I've taken over the past few days:


YES, I've FINALLY taken a half-decent picture of one of my fish! This is Merle, a male 3 year old red tuxedo swordtail. You probably notice all the spots in the photo; those are specks of algae on the wall of the aquarium. I didn't notice until after I'd taken the picture. Still a good picture though, I like it.


This is my 5 year old common plecostomus (a type of small catfish), Speclo or "Spec" for short. It's pretty hard to figure out the gender of plecos, but I've always thought of him as a male. This photo was taken with the flash.


Spec again, this time taken without the flash.




Sniffing.




What a little model. Always posing for the camera!

No Mika photos, none of them turned out very good.

We're going to practice agility tonight at the same place Wall-e has his obedience classes. I'll make the video sometime this month, whenever I find the time.

~Nat