Archive for December, 2009

Christmas eve 2009, 2-min. dog training tasks

December 24, 2009

It’s the morning of Christmas Eve and “all through the house, not a creature is sturring, not even a mouse …”

Are you kidding?  I live with 8 dogs, one of which is a 10-month old BC pup!  Right now, as I prepare for the day, he’s enlisted his cronies in a game of wrestling.

Our 10-year-old Dash and 12-year-old Ringer are Kory’s favorite wrestling buddies. I think this says something for the mental maturity of the modern canine, and their capacity to remain puppies forever.

I set up a large, soft, crate near my desk, with plastic on the floor underneath and a heavy plastic sheet inside. I layered a soft quilt and 2 dog beds, hoping to make a great environment for Banner to be comfortable in for these long winter days.

She leaks a good bit and no amount of medicine keeps that from happening if she gets into her water-drinking mode. So I gave in, stopped the meds, and made an old dog playpen for her. She hates it.

On the other hand, the rowdy boys find it’s perfect for a doggy cage match. Two dogs go in, they wrestle, and wrestle, and wrestle, and one comes out (the other one is probably dozing off by now).

So, the dog for whom the environment was designed has to be forced in, and everyone else loves to go in for a quick nap or a long, lazy snooze with a best buddy. There’s plenty of room for 2-3 dogs.

This afternoon we head into town for a Christmas Eve party with my sisters’s family and my Mom. I’m taking the left-over pepperoni rolls from last night’s agility classes, and my blackbean stoup (thanks, Rachel Ray!) which we eat as a dip for corn chips.

Janice, my sister, isn’t planning a big meal, just tons of food strategically placed where folks can get to it. Shooting pool, a couple of beers, some food, and home before dark probably.

Having dogs means never having to say ….. “sure, I can stay as long as you like!”  Potty and feeding schedules keep us from wandering too far afield unless we’ve arranged for a dog-sitter.

One of these days, though, these wonderful old dogs will be gone. We’ll be able to pack up the remaining dogs and be more footloose. In the meantime, heading into 2010, we have three 14-year-old dogs, two 12-year-old dogs, one 10-year-old dog, and two relative youngsters.

The approaching new year has me thinking about goals for 2010. So far I’ve come up with:

1) Get Dash back into Rally training and finish his excellent AKC title.

2) Get Hazard into Rally training at mealtimes and get her entered in her first novice AKC trial.

3) Prepare Hazard for the January 23-24 TDAA trial in Columbus, Ohio.  She needs 13 Superior Standard Qs (4 of which must be first-places) and ONE Games 3 first-place for her TACh3. In the past the first-places have been difficult because we weren’t a solid team yet and Hazard was a bit shut-down on course. She’s coming back to her old self, however, and things are going to get exciting for us, I hope. Vicki and Jackie want to practice Futbol … should be fun!

4) Prepare Hazard and Dash for the February 13-14 NADAC trial in Zanesville, Ohio.  I haven’t done NADAC since Fall 2002, when Dash earned 3 novice titles at 20+ inches. He’s now entered as a Veteran (running 16″) and Hazard debuts in the 8″ novice classes. Bud’s created the hoops and our early training indicated neither dog has a problem understanding their performance of the hoops.

5) Continue working with Kory on little, helpful behaviors that won’t interfere with Bud’s agility training protocols. Last night we worked on “lie down” and “relax,” with Kory quickly figuring out I wanted him to roll onto one hip. We also played the box game and he quickly got his two front feet inside for the click/treat. He’s not quite coordinated enough (and is too large for the box, perhaps) to fit his whole body into the box. Of course, we were playing with the box while agility was going on behind us, so a bit of distraction training as well. For a pup, Kory’s capable of an amazing amount of focus. He’s also capable of figgeting and whirling continuously for what seems a tremendous amount of time.

6) Keep up with my dog-washing schedule. I’ve been quite disappointed with the performance of Frontline Plus this year. I’ve heard it said that our local fleas have built up a tolerance to it.  We had a series of regular rain storms in the spring and summer, so the ground stayed moist. I’ve noticed that it’s not as oily as before so perhaps they’ve altered a good delivery system so that dogs don’t have that oily spot on their shoulders. And we’ve been beseiged with flea-ridden rabbits in the dog yard this year. All in all, a horrible year for fleas and (YUCK!) tapeworms. So I’ve gone old-school — washing dogs, washing bedding, putting down flea powder, vacuuming often, dumping out (or burning) the sweeper bag often, washing more dogs, giving tapeworm meds, applying flea powder, etc.

Time to feed dogs and prepare for my day.  Today I’m going to do some straightening, burning cardboard, picking up recycling that’s blown amuck, cleaning some in the training building for Sunday’s workshop, and bathing Hazard.

2-Min. Dog Trainer – early December chores

December 5, 2009

Bud’s been out of town doing his judging assignment, attending the NADAC judging clinic, and currently being tested on his NADAC judging skills in Oklahoma.

It’s been an interesting week here and I’m pressing forward on several fronts.

1) Our holiday open house and cookie exchange is next Saturday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. (Dec.12). 

I actually established this party deadline to force myself to decorate the house for Christmas.  It’s too easy to forego holiday decorations when you work at home. I’ll say to myself, “who am I decorating for?” But then, in late December, with no decorations to lend a festive spirit to the least-light days of the year, the absense of glitter is a bit depressing.

With all the disruptions to my family in the past 3 years we’ll not be hosting the big Martin family get-togethers I envisioned when we moved back home and bought this place but I need to get over that and move on. So I’m decorating.

I’ve got a big tree in the living room with every available piece of tinsel I had (and I had a lot — did I say I’m a magpie?) and a small tree in the bedroom where it can be seen down the long hallway from the dining room. I’ve got 2 trees on the deck with old sleds and wagons stacked nearby. Mom and I hung garland and bows from the deck railing. Even the poop-bag rack has wreaths on it. <g>

Sometime this week I’ll be paying a visit to Mom’s American Holly tree and hacking away enough branches to drape the upper hall railing and the kitchen.

Sidebar — I’ve wanted a holly tree of my own for many years but Bud hates the prickly leaves and the mess they may. Also it’s difficult to transplant the tiny holly trees that spring up under the mother tree. If air touches their roots the little tree will die. And you can’t just plant the seeds — I’m thinking they have to pass through a cedar waxwing to become trees. Also, you actually need a male and a female for the female to bear the red berries, so you need to transplant a lot of little holly trees to get the one you want for the future. So I’ve come up with a plan. I’m going to line with plastic and fill 5-6 medium-sized pots with soil and set them strategically around the seed-drop-zone of Mom’s holly tree. If and when seedlings pop up in these pots I’ll remove them and plant the entire ball of soil. I’ll watch these youngsters and thin them to get the one male and one female I need. Well, that’s the plan anyway. Someone reading this will probably comment on the error of my thinking — my readers are a well-educated and brilliant group — but we’ll see ….

2) Our early-bird discount on 2010 camp registrations ($50 off !!) is  Dec.15, 2009. 

Our mailing for 2010 camp registrations didn’t go out until November 1st, so folks have had just 45 days to put together their camp plans for 2010.

And, like Bud and I, our campers have been busy with other things for the first 30 of those 45 days.

Beginning December 1 I’ve had several requests for spring 2010 dates for private camps and breed-specific camps. Our vision, when we created this dog training resort, was of a group of friends traveling together, sharing cottages, supporting each other in their training efforts, and making an annual event of their agility vacation. I’m convinced our vision has merit in today’s busy world.

In the meantime, most private camp coordinators are choosing a traditional camp format with group training both morning and afternoon, with an option for group meals and private lessons if anyone wants them.

3) Our Thursday night classes for December and January are proving to be interesting from an instructor’s standpoint.

The most interesting class is the masters class. This past Thursday was mine to teach and Bud had provided four sequences.

I think the group was startled when I explained we were going to attempt to do all four sequences. For this group that means starting on time and little or no course-walking. I gave them 1-2 minutes to walk a sequence, then we ran it.

The last sequence of the four was the most challenging, but we spent about 15 minutes on each sequence and ended our class right on time. League play had good attendance Thursday night. I, once again,  managed to NQ Hazard’s run.

Sidebar:  Hazard is gaining confidence in the presence of big dogs and was REALLY ramped up Thursday night. We all laughed as she jumped up in the air in the middle of the dogwalk. It was all terribly exciting from the viewpoint of a little agility dog who had spent an hour hanging out in an ex-pen.

4) Our winter workshops run Dec. 13 and 27, Jan. 10 and 24, Feb. 7 and 28. 

I expected the Thursday night class to take some pressure off the Sunday afternoon workshops. Frankly they were getting too big for our taste and folks were not exhausted at the end of the 4-hour session. They should be exhausted, right?

This week has been a busy time for workshop registrations as well. I’d love to save 2-4 slots in the advanced workshop for folks who aren’t local. The 4-hour workshops are great for maximizing travel expense, and the cottage packages (including overnight stay and private lesson) make for a fun weekend with dogs.

In the meantime, today Mom and Janice and I are mixing cookies for the cookie exchange next weekend and we’re getting our first real snow of the season. I’ve got folks arriving this afternoon for an overnight stay in the red cottage, so I’m heading off through the snow with a load of firewood for the cottage’s woodburner.

We have propane furnaces in each cottage but one of our guests tonight is from North Carolina, and she’s going to find our 30s temps a little chilly, so I thought the woodburner would be an added comfort.