Friday, December 31, 2010


New Year almost here, and I think I need to write down my dog resolutions.

Earn her ASCA and AKC CDX,
Get AKC TD (she has her ASCA TD)
Match her Utility and maybe show in ASCA
Open Sheep and Ducks

Earn his NA/NAJ
work on TDX/VST
Rally Excellent

We'll see :)

Happy New Years :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Broad Jump

Rumi had a few months where he couldn't do the broad jump at Bill and Belinda's. He could do it outside at my house (obviously we are talking summer and early fall here) but had problems else where. I tried putting the target out. I tried some gentle compulsion. I tried many things. And I was frustrated. He had had the behavior very solid over last winter and spring. And now it was gone...which was not a big deal...but I couldn't easily get it back which was confusing and frustrating. Until I started doing agility again this winter. And I had my DUH moment. I had trained Rumi's broad jump totally different than any of my other dogs. I had taught him to jump using Linda M.'s jumping method. And that included the broad jump. So I went back and reshaped the broad jump in, oh, like 2 minutes. Rumi offered me 17 kajillion behaviors in like 10 seconds and then jumped the boards and his light bulb went on and he hasn't missed one since. Including at the match Tuesday.

He'd never done a broad jump with a target or any of those other things I had tried, so they didn't help at all.

Below is the video of his match Tuesday in novice and open. I have the annoying music in the background because the wonderful strangers who video taped for me (thank you all a ton!!!!) were talking and I don't want to accidentally embarrass them with something unintentionally caught on my tape!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scent Articles Part 2

So, I took a little break from blogging for Christmas, but now I'm back at it. I thought I would follow up my scent article post with some video. This was only the third time Rumi has done scent articles, and the first time he has done them away from home. Because I taught scent where he had to search for an object in a room, I am not worried about the time he sniffs the leash (I'm actually a little surprised he didn't bring it back to me) or the time he wandered around the room for a minute. I also didn't mind him mugging Laura (the camera operator) since having someone kneel on the floor while doing scent work is a new distraction for him :) Not sure how Laura felt about it :) :) The heat was also on full blast. I was hot and not wearing a fur coat. But the air blowing down did not seem to hinder his ability to find the correct article. Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't Teach Scent Articles this way ;)

I enjoy doing a lot of scent work with my dogs. Rumi especially did a lot of scent training as a pup and has his TD. So training scent articles with him wasn't anything I really worried about. We had played find it a million times with different articles: metal, plastic, and anything in between. So Monday I pulled out 3 metal and 3 leather articles and put them out. Grabbed a metal one and scented it and put it in the pile. Told Rumi to find it. He tried to grab all the dumbbells in his mouth. He managed 3. I told him oops and sent him back again. He picked up each one (one at a time this time) until he grabbed the one that was scented and his little mind went "OH" and he brought it back. I tried it again and he did the same thing: picked up every article until he found the scented one and then brought the right one back. I'm standing there thinking...this is not a behavior I want him to learn and I really don't want to un-train it. So I took my big milk crate of old mismatched scent articles: some double bar, some triple, some single most the size a lab would retrieve and dumped them in a pile. Then I grabbed one metal one, scented it, and put it in the pile. I turned Rumi around to look at the pile and his eyes got really big ( was hilarious) and his little brain started spinning as he thought "I can't pick all these up". I sent him and he sniffed, found the right one and brought it back. Three more times, three more perfect finds.

Yesterday I dumped the same pile out, did the same thing once (see I don't always skip over ALL the steps) and he found it perfectly. So then I put the scented one UNDER a few un-scented one. I was right, I got more amusement. Rumi found the right one immediately, but he thought he was playing pick up sticks and VERY CAREFULLY touched only the scented one and brought it back. Did this two more times; I really should have recorded it. Maybe I'll try tomorrow. Maybe we'll have to go to a more traditional set soon.

I do not suggest training scent articles this way, but so far, for Rumi and I, it is working. I have definitely done more traditional training with all my other dogs. LOL

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Contacts Day 3

Thank goodness I remembered my video camera. All the words get boring to look at without media to spice them up. Rumi is doing well. Teeter is about half height and he is having fun banging it. Dogwalk and A-Frame are coming along well. But I hate the stutter steps at the end. Am I going to regret not sticking with the running contact Lisa had me start training this summer? I'm beginning to think maybe...especially on the A-Frame. But it's only day 3 so hopefully once he KNOWS his job it will smooth out. Love his jumping and following my body language on the jumping. He's going to make me be a more honest handler. Where I tell him to go, he will go.

I also like his weave poles. They were slightly bent to help him with his off side weaves. But he looks the same with them bent or straight on the "obedience side".

All in all...a very good boy for such spotty training! I'll tell you my scent article story tomorrow :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Contacts Day 2

Still no pictures and training room in my house is still a place to sort closet shit so Thai had one more day off. Tomorrow, I promise :) Rumi has trouble with his rear crosses when doing right hand turns (he's on my right), but left hand turns are great :) Hmm...I don't do obedience or anything do I? :) Weave-amatics were open and we practices left side entries several times. Much better. He also regained his confidence on that pesky moving teeter (loves the bang though). And much faster on the dog walk. His A-frame was also better, although not ready to take away the target yet. We sequenced a few jumps, a tunnel and the A-frame and dog walk and he did fine (but there were no big turns). However, he reminds me that his solid foundation was good. With all the jumping he only dropped one bar and second time through fixed his stride to keep it up (it was a bit of a slice and he was extended and just nicked it...he collected the next time). His stays are also nice...but I do insist that stay means don't move a foot. Need to remind myself...stay anal about this!! Or I will be sad :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Contacts Day 1

With the help of my wonderful friend Annie we are now on day one of contact training. We are doing 2 on 2 off. Rumi has a nice strong target touch so did well the first day. I really like watching Rumi problem solve. If something isn't right the first time he will try other behaviors until he ends up with the one I want. I love that thinking dog. Of course sometimes it can drive me a little nuts when he out thinks me.

Maybe I can try to get some pictures tomorrow to liven things up. I also promise to start scent articles tomorrow.

On another note, I went back and looked at Rally scores from Saturday. Rumi was the only dog to get a perfect score in any of the classes. Pretty cool!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cleveland Crown Classic

No pictures, which is kind of too bad. Rumi had a great time at the Cleveland show. He was first in Rally Excellent A with a perfect score of 100 :) And he handled having an Otterhound rush him during his honor stay. Didn't faze him in the least and he handled honoring for the next dog perfectly.

So then, of course, I had to shop. Both dogs are now contentedly chewing on their bones, lying on their new dog beds looking very content.

What a wonderful day. Day 1 of contact training tomorrow :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

More winter training (how long can I keep this title)

Rumi thought about the signals and easily did them today...we're probably at about 4 feet. His touch is nice and solid and ready for the week of contact training. We'll see how rally goes tomorrow, since we haven't managed to get out and about to train for two weeks. His jumps could be a little wild :) His flop (for down on the side) is also coming along nicely and he will hold it while I walk around him with his dinner bowl :0

Thai very nicely did signals at full distance for my living room so that was it and she got a huge reward of her entire dinner.

Cleveland tomorrow for Rumi and then two weeks of training!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Training

I always find winter training a little challenging. But I have decided Rumi will learn his contact performance over my 2 week break--no matter how cold Annie's barn gets! He has a solid touch which I began reinforcing strongly these past two weeks. But you can only practice touching a clear round cover for so long. And where does that leave Thai? So Thai is being tortured. I put out her dinner and have her retrieve a dumbbell in front of it, next to it, and behind it (remember, we've done this before). I've gotten much pickier with her and no reward unless she can do it without doing a huge (for the space she has) curve around the bowl. We've also been heeling past it. But the hardest thing she has found is doing a recall to me without bowing way out when she has to run past it. And fronting, when the bowl is at my side is almost impossible, because if you look at the food you obviously will be taken over by a strange spirit and forced to eat something from it (or so Thai seems to think ).

Rumi is working on his signals (evidently I've managed to totally confuse him on the sit signal and it is not my hand or arm that is important, but my stepping in to him that is the cue for sit...oops...bad trainer).and learning to do a down stay flopped on one hip. And fronts and finishes are always a good thing to work on. Over break I will get out my old set of scent articles and work on those with him and come up with new and unique ways for Thai to refine her skills.

Now to survive two more days of school and then two weeks of freedom to train 3 times a day :) Louisville here we come (nothing like planning 3 months in advance!)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

And continuing to rehab

I really need to get a picture up of Rumi in his Elizabethan collar, wrapped butt, and stitches. But we continue to have a truce and stitches are in. We met up with Kathy Topham today for a laser treatment to work on getting the wound to heal faster. I'm really feeling very impatient!!! Luckily he is very easy going and I'm continually thankful that it is him, and not Thai, that this happened to. She would not be suffering all this foolish manipulation so patiently! I'm hoping in another week he'll be well enough we can start working on some obedience again. I had wanted to enter Canfield, but now I'm worried he won't be healed enough for AKC to allow him in the ring.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dang Nab it!

So, I was in a great training place. Getting a lot of herding done. Put up a new fence for an intermediate herding area. And as Rumi was taking the sheep out of a corner last night he managed to get a nice tear in his inner thigh that required a lot of stitches at an on call vets office the day before the 4th of July at 8 pm. He is out of commission for a few weeks. And not really very happy about the new collar he gets to wear. And I'm sure the enforced rest won't be his idea of fun either. How long will I be able to convince him to leave those stitches in; especially given he can reach some of them even with his special collar doing some really amazing contortions. I know if nothing else he always can get a job as a circus dog :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 2

So Rumi is doing a much better job getting around and covering his heads after only two days of practice (amazing what a little practice will do for you!) I need to get a temporary fence up to split the large pasture so I have some place in between a round pen and a 200x100 to work.

Annie, if you are reading this, we also practiced our three agility positions and did weave poles. He is improving on his recall to heel over a jump with extension, although he still swings his butt out!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

About Time

Well, it's summer and I have the training bug so might as well blog about it. Rumi has grown into such a sweet adult with a little imp with a great sense of humor that peaks out every once in a while. Even when his training gets put on hold for a while due to other things in life going on. But now it's back to training. Today we worked sheep in the round pen and he did a nice job of getting all the way around and not getting stuck, especially by the last time. I need to rig up some type of temporary fencing to make my one big pasture smaller because he is ready for more room, but maybe not all that room :)

Agility he can do nice weaves, as long as he doesn't stop and think about them :) If he thinks about it he screws up his timing which just makes me laugh. We also need to get that 2o2o down solid.

And in obedience we need to get our stays solid and that retrieve needs to be a nice gallop back to me (although this winter he and I did a really nice job of fixing up his pick up.

So I have some things to work on this week...lets see how it goes :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On life and death

I attended the funeral for my Aunt Edith yesterday. Her grandson wrote a moving tribute to her that I'd like to share here.

The collection of porcelain teapots on the windowsill rattle their lids as the tractor rumbles by on the gravel driveway outside. My uncle waves to my grandmother who sits inside sipping her freshly brewed first cup of early morning coffee. By the time he returns in the afternoon, the counter tops will be dusted with crumbs of bread and cookies that have been used to prepare a delicious spread for my uncle to devour. My grandmother will have swept the tracks of hay and mud my cousin has brought in on his hunting boots. The morning paper will be spread out over the kitchen table like a thin black and white table cloth. Cups and saucers hold the paper in place. A light breeze sucks the curtains in, then blows them out as if the house itself is breathing. The weather section of the paper flips up and I can see its forecast is true -- sunny with a slight breeze today.

I will never forget the loving home my grandmother created for her children and grandchildren in which we created memories as simple and pure as the one above -- homemade strawberry jam, afternoon adventures in the attic, curling up on the couch in the cozy room with the wood burning stove, a warm hug as she stepped off the plane at the Macon airport, a permanent place in my heart, soul, and mind. I love you Grandma!
~ Michael Rawls