Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mika Trial Aug. 29, 2010

Whew, it's been 2 weeks since I've blogged!

Sunday was Mika's first time successfully running at a trial in almost 2 months (at our last trial, we had those *incidents* with the other dogs). I've been working very hard on her reactivity since then. We've always worked at it, but for the past several weeks we've been doing as much as we can to get exposure to as many dogs as possible to work on reactivity. For the rest of this year I've only entered Mika in trials that have fenced rings, for the sake of safety, in case she does react to another dog.

She did have a reaction at this trial, but it wasn't in the ring. I can't remember the dog because it happened right before our first run, but I was preparing to cue Mika into a sit-stay close to a few other dogs when one of the dogs approached her and she lunged. Nothing else happened and I moved Mika farther away from the other dogs.

It was hot throughout the whole day, but Mika ran at a good speed considering that. (She has been getting slower these past few months, but we're getting her speed back.) When it was time to do our gamble, Mika read my (wrong) cues, saw the last jump in the gamble, and started running towards it. I called her, but as we approached the first jump of the gamble we were already at a bad angle, so I couldn't send her out to the intended second jump. Off-course to another jump, NQ. Doesn't matter, I'm just happy that she's getting her drive back!

A knocked bar caused our NQ in our Masters Jumpers run. Yes, Mika knocked a bar! She occasionally will knock a 6" bar in training, when she doesn't lift her feet up enough to go over the tiny jump, but she's only ever knocked 2 bars at trials; once at Nationals (last year) and once in a Gamblers run. I don't think she would have knocked the bar at this trial if I had led out. I started with her in this run because she broke her stay in the Gamblers run and, since she's been breaking stays a lot this year, I don't want her to rehearse that. Anyway, it's too bad it was so hot for this run because the course was super flowing. Other than that knocked bar, we ran it clean, except for an off-course to a tunnel (she only put a paw in it, but it was still an off-course). She wasn't fast, but that was to be expected in the heat.

No reactions to other dogs in the ring...things are looking up for us!

I'll talk about Wall-e in a later post, but he isn't showing any signs of lameness at the moment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not again...

The beginning of Wall-e's class yesterday was amazing. We ran the first exercise beautifully. He ran hard through his weaves and watched my signals perfectly. (I ran him at 10" because we were at a fun match on Sunday.)

But the next exercise involved an angled approach to the teeter. I didn't think it would be a problem. I pushed into his path a bit to help him get on straight. He got on at just a bit of an angle, but not too bad, and then slipped off halfway across. I brought him around in a loop to take a couple of jumps and try the teeter again, which he did fine. He ran the rest of the exercise great.

The last exercise started with the dog walk, then went into a curved tunnel, and then finished from the tunnel to a table. I started Wall-e from the jump before the DW, so that he could get some speed onto the DW. I knew that something was up when he cantered slowly up the DW, then trotted across the horizontal and down planks. He *never* trots across the horizontal plank! I rewarded him and stopped running. My first thought was: knee. Wall-e was lame in his rear left leg back in April.

Sure enough, when I got home, I saw that Wall-e was limping, favouring one of his rear legs. It was hard to tell which one it was while he was walking, but when I did a soundness test I saw that he was putting more weight on his right rear leg than his left, and when I picked up his rear legs his right leg felt heavier. That could only mean that something was up with his left rear leg....

Not again!

I watched the video clip of the spill off the teeter and he definitely hyper-extended his left rear leg.
Though it's hard to see, it looks like he might have banged his left knee against the teeter base as he slipped off. The left rear leg was the one that stayed on the teeter the longest. From what I've read, cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tears often happen on teeter or dog walk spills with the rear leg that stays on the obstacle the longest.

I'm pretty sure this time that it's his CCL (which is part of the knee/patella) that's the problem.
With Ashley's help, I've been thinking up a plan for his recovery. It's a lot like what I did last time, but this time I'm going to include swimming (Ashley's idea) in the plan. This week will be rest, with daily massage. Next week will be very short walks and swimming sessions.

Week 3 will be 15 minute walks, conditioning exercises focused on strengthening the rear legs (using Dr. Chris Zink's recommendations from her book The Agility Advantage). Also, short daily agility sessions with no turns involved and only straight tunnels, 6" jumps, and tables (another one of Chris Zink's suggestions). We'll see about swimming. By then it'll be September and it could be too chilly. Week 4 will be 30 minute walks, continuing conditioning exercises (I'll hopefully do these for the rest of his life). And short daily agility sessions with slight turns, and all obstacles except the A-frame and weaves. (At least 50% of jumps at 6" and no more than 50% at 10".) Week 5 will be up to 45 minute walks, conditioning exercises, and agility sessions with all obstacles. (But still 50%-50% of 6" and 10" jumps. I think that's a good idea anyway, for any dog.) Finally, Week 6 will be the same except with 60 minute walks.

I entered Wall-e in two Starters Jumpers runs on September 12. I was going to start running him in 16" at this trial, but entered him in 10" again instead because of this. I'm not sure if he'll be good to run by then. Starters courses don't involve sharp turns (or at least, they shouldn't) and are only 15-17 obstacles. I'll see how he is. We might not be able to finish our set of classes, though, because they end on September 6. Maybe we'll be able to do the last one, but we'd skip the AF and weaves and I would run him at 6".

I think Wall-e's knee (or whatever it is) will always be weak, but considering that he is still putting weight on it, I really don't think the situation is right now. The vet didn't even see a problem when I brought him in in April, 3 weeks after he started showing lameness. Anyway, we'll take it as it goes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fun Match Aug. 15, 2010

VERY good fun match!! I don't feel like I made any big training mistakes (but if you caught something, let me know). The only thing was that I pulled Wall-e out of the weaves when I sent him off-course to them, but I'm excusing myself for that because by the time I saw him enter, he'd already realized that I wanted him somewhere else and pulled out.

My main goal for this fun match was for Mika not to react at any dogs, and we achieved that goal with the help of tons of freeze-dried liver! Weren't Mika's weaves great!? She got a hard ON-SIDE entry (Mika is not an on-side entry dog!) and never popped out!! She didn't 2-hit her A-frame, but the contacts were really wet, so of course she didn't. She did hit the yellow 2 out of 4 times, though (we did 3 reps of the AF in our second run, which I didn't put in the video)!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Mika's feeling blue

It seems that Mika is turning into a Smurf.

Or maybe it's just an attack of one of our blue bone-shaped toys. The colour is starting to come off.

But you never know.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to work on turn cues

Quick post.... Remember when Mika and I were working on turning cues over a jump back in the spring? Well, we've been getting back at it (again, using the Clean Run "It's Your Turn!" article series). This month's turn cue is the push-through; sending the dog to the opposite side of the jump (a.k.a. the back side of the jump). Today, my feet weren't pointing to the path I wanted Mika to take at first, so for the first rep she didn't understand that she had to go AROUND the jump standard to take the back side. The second rep went really nicely, though.

Wall-e's third sequencing class

I love Wall-e's A-frame :D It's fast and reliable. The first exercise involved the AF and then an outward flip to a tunnel that was wrapped underneath. Wall-e didn't get this at all. At first I was using my outside arm to try to flip him (my rear cross cue), but the instructor told me that using my inside arm in this situation is clearer to the dog. After a few more tries, Wall-e finally got it. After the tunnel, the dog had to go into a couple more tunnels and then collect into an on-side weave entry (45 degrees?). I tried handling this with Wall-e on my right the first couple of times and he didn't collect in time to snag the entry. I was told to do a front cross in front of the tunnel to get him on my left for the weaves, which worked a lot better. Then we ran the whole exercise again, adding a tunnel after the weaves. We got everything right, except that I sent Wall-e onto an off-course teeter (the instructor said that my hand was flapping, ugh, I thought I was doing better about that recently!). When I kept my hand to my side and called him, he sent into the tunnel fine.

The second and last exercise (we spent a lot of time on the first one because it was pretty tough for these Starters dogs) involved a teeter, a tunnel (wrapped under the dog walk), and the DW. We got it the first time. His teeter was great, but his DW could have been faster. He didn't get too much momentum going onto it though because he had to turn from the tunnel (which was under the DW) onto the up-plank.

It was a good class :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cute little guy

My parents saw this little critter at the farmhouse that they're fixing up and my mom snapped a picture. We think it's a groundhog pup. Cute!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wall-e's second sequencing class

This class was much better than our first one! I stuck to my usual training style (rewarding for both the good and bad, jackpot for the good), so I felt a lot better about myself. The first exercise we did was a lateral lead-out over 2 jumps set at a 90 degree angle, and then going on to the teeter and table. It was a bit too lateral for Wall-e the first time, so I reduced the distance for the second time and he got it. He ZOOMED over to the teeter.

Next was a bit of a simpler exercise, a jump to a 30 degree on-side weave entry (12 poles). Wall-e got that right away after all of our work on weave entries last week, good boy!

The final exercise involved a straight line of the table to the dog walk to a tire, and then a turn to the A-frame and a straight tunnel. His DW was really nice! He ran all the way across, not hesitating on the down plank, and touched his nose to the clear target as soon as he stopped in 2on2off. The first time we tried the AF, he collected for his 2o2o, but not enough to actually stop. He did get it the next time, though.

When all of the individual exercises were done, we ran a full course that involved all of the exercises, like the first class. (I like how the instructor does this.) Wall-e was so good!! He ran it clean; his first time running a Standard course clean. His DW was beautiful. His AF could have been faster, but it wasn't really slow, and he stopped. I even got a chance to use our cik and cap cues (Silvia Trkman's method of teaching wraps over a jump). It was really fun!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

July video...it works!

The last video got blocked because of the songs I chose (something about copyright), so I took off the music. It should work now:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fun Match July 31, '10

Mika ran Masters Jumpers and Wall-e ran Starters Standard.

The Standard runs were first. Wall-e got to practice his new 2on2off contacts (both the dog walk and 5 foot A-frame) in a trial environment. He did really well! I put his targets out for the first run and left them out for the second. His first run was cute. On both the AF and DW, he stopped in 2o2o. I rewarded him, and then after he ate his food he broke his 2o2o, turned around, and hopped back into 2o2o. Haha!

The Masters Jumpers course was a lot like a Snooker (which is actually good because Mika and I will be running in Snooker for the first time this fall). Mika was slow, though. I don't know why she's been so slow this year. And she reacted at a dog (black lab, no surprise!) in our second run. Oh well. The good part was that we had no off-courses, just some missed jumps. She was still a good dog, even if she was stressed by the black lab :)