Posts Tagged ‘rally obedience’

the status of my resolutions

June 18, 2009

I’m 54 years old and some of my best resolutions have been made (and kept) in the last 5 years. Maybe it took me that long to settle down, but I think I’m making better choices now and sticking with things better.

FIRST, several years ago I began with the resolution to start voting, and with that came an interest in political issues and candidates who speak to my issues. Even when my candidate loses I feel I’ve achieved a personal goal when I vote. It was easy for a few years to become self-absorbed and oblivious to the politics that shape our world. Voting has expanded my interest in world news and in local politics. And I listen to public radio now and will be donating to public radio, so everyone wins. <g>

SECOND, two years ago my resolution was to start giving blood at Marietta Memorial Hospital. My first donation was at a blood mobile MMH parked in nearby Beverly, Ohio. After dozens of questions regarding my lifestyle and medical history (including places I’ve traveled in the last 10 years, my use of needles, my sexual partners) I was put on the bus for a brief health check. Blood pressure and pulse were checked and recorded, as well as my hemoglobin level (this is the red blood cell count in a drop of blood) — all were excellent and I was ready to donate! 

It took 5-10 minutes for the nurse to position me on the recliner, to position the collection bag and tubing, to sterilize the exterior surface of my arm, to tape everything in place, but we chatted and he set my mind at ease by describing everything that was going on. A blood pressure cuff was put on my arm and pumped up slightly to raise the vein. I have a slight aversion to needles IF I actually see them — don’t seem to mind them if I don’t look — so I kept my eyes averted as the needle was gently inserted (blood mobile and blood bank nurses are the absolute BEST at drawing blood, by the way!).

I feel a little prick then, as the blood begins to flow, they withdraw the needle a touch to get it right in the middle of the vein, tape the whole thing down and have me roll a ball around in my hand to keep everything flowing. For about 5 minutes I just sit there and roll that ball while a pint of precious fluid flows into a sterile bag.

When the bag is full they clip off my end of the tubing so that no blood flows back into my needle, withdraw the needle, bandage my arm, squeeze all the blood from the tube into the bag, and start offering me the tangible rewards of giving blood — juice, cookies, and free movie  tickets from a local theatre.

Sometimes it’s T-shirts and free chances on a trip to an amusement park, whatever the hospital has purchased as an incentive for blood donations. Of course, you usually don’t find out about these incentives until after you’ve given blood — it’s not like they stand on the corner shouting, “free movie tickets! Give blood and win free movie tickets!”

According to the Red Cross site, only 3 out of every 100 Americans donates blood. To qualify you must weigh over 110 pounds (no problem there for me <g>), be in relatively good health, have a hemoglobin count over a certain number (they’ll tell you if your hemoglobin is too low and recommend you eat more of the foods which boost the hemoglobin level), and have a relatively healthy lifestyle.

Donating blood saves lives!  Learn about your blood type (mine is the universal donor, that is, anyone who needs blood can use mine without having a negative reaction) and contact your local hospital’s blood bank or blood mobile to do this — you’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll be doing something marvelous for someone else.

THIRD, getting my knee back into shape for the 2009 TDAA Nationals with Blue. My knee injury took place March 9, 2008, the day before my 53rd birthday. It was caused by running agility while unfit. Too much weight, no strengthening exercise, no stretching, no braces — duh, no wonder. For several months I was in a real funk, thinking my agility career was ended. I had to take stairs one step at a time. I felt old and crippled. It was a bad time, frankly.

I started with water aerobics 3 times a week. At first I couldn’t put any weight at all on my knee and had no capacity to flex my knee. After several months of aerobics I added swimming, and it was painful at first. I was taking Aleve once a day and added a chondroitin/glucosamine supplement.

Last month I was swimming 75 minutes followed by my 60-minute aerobics class. Due to swimming lessons they’ve shifted the class time back to a point where it’s not always convenient, so I’m hopping out of bed really early and getting to the pool by 7:00 a.m. for my swim. When possible I swim 90 minutes (about 2 miles at my rate of speed).

Last week I was upstairs cleaning a guestroom when the phone rang. Without thinking I ran downstairs. RAN downstairs. I missed the phone call but didn’t miss the fact that I had, without stopping to consider my crippled knee, jogged down a full flight of stairs without pain, without any range-of-motion issues, and without any negative consequences.

All due to swimming. During the 90 minutes I swim I can think about chores or shopping lists, determine how my day will proceed (afterall, I’m done and home by 9:00 a.m. usually), and can watch other swimmers come and go. There’s a group of seniors who play “volleyball” by hitting a beachball over the pool flag wire and that’s always entertaining.

I’ve noticed that the first 15 minutes are energetic swimming, really getting every muscle warmed up. The next half hour is when I get a lot of my thinking done as it can be a little boring and repetitive. I hit a little wall at 45 minutes and it’s nice to know I’m over half-way there. For about 15 minutes I struggle with “continue or not” emotions but, generally, can take my mind off it by thinking about an upcoming camp, preparation for TDAA trials or the nationals, some chore at home that I’ve been putting off, etc.

The last 15 minutes are bliss. Down the home stretch for sure, but also a feeling of accomplishment and wellness.

The sum of all these parts is that I’m pleased with my resolution choices and outcomes. I want to encourage anyone reading to find something that makes you feel better about yourself and find a way to do it.

the dog leash, part 2

June 15, 2009

Some random observations which may later be compiled into a handout or paper for students.

I believe the leash is the most over-used and miss-used piece of equipment in the dog-training universe. It has at least three working parts:  1) the handle, designed to fit over or into the human hand,  2) the length of material, designed to determine the distance from the owner the dog can comfortably travel,  and  3) the collar around the dog’s neck, or the attachment to an existing collar around the dog’s neck, designed to control the part of the dog nearest the brain.

First, the handle for the human hand should be defined and assigned limitations. 

The leash handle is not supposed to hurt your hand, so those decorative leashes with such a tight weave that the edges cut into your fingers should be left on the rack at the discount store. Same for the leashes with leather handles and chain instead of fabric. About 10% of my basic obedience students show up with horribly painful (for the handler) leashes.

For my own dogs I prefer a heavy leash easily grasped by my fingers, soft cotton or leather. I’ve used rubber leash-handle inserts which keep fingers from being crushed and those are great for those wild-assed-shelter-dog walking episodes.

The leash in the human hand, more importantly, is not meant to harm the dog. Some of the behavior associated with the human hand and the leash handle includes:  1) the cheap shot, where the dog is standing next to their human, looking at activity in their environment, and receives a jerk to the neck as their first or only cue to pay attention to the human,  2) constant pressure, where the dog never gets to make the right choice of walking nicely beside the human because the leash is forever taut and controlling,  3) too many choices, where the dog is permitted to make all the decisions as to where the team will go, how fast, and whose space they’ll invade,  4) too rarely used, where the dog meanders off lead while the leash hangs from the human hand or sits on the kitchen counter, allowing the dog to poop in the neighbor’s yard, hike its leg on our rally obedience signs, or generally wreak havoc with the property of others,  5) walking calmly as a team, with the dog enjoying interaction with the environment but attentive to the movement of the human.

Second, the length of material between the leash handle and the dog’s neck should be defined and assigned limitations.

The length of material is meant to limit the area occupied by the dog, so an invasion of the personal space of other people or other dogs is controlled and calculated by the human part of the team. A flexi-lead, made of 10-15-feet of cord, allows the dog to invade more space than is prudent or safe. Also, that 10-15-feet of cord is incredibly dangerous and painful if it manages to wrap around your leg, ankle, or fingers while you attempt to extract yourself. Flexi’s should be outlawed at trials and are, generally, not permitted in our building. I actually own one, specifically for walking young dogs around motel parking lots, but most folks use them as a method for allowing their dog to poop in a spot where they can’t find it to pick it up. <g>

Additionally, that length of material shouldn’t be so short that the dog’s front feet are pulled off the ground. I watch conformation dogs gait down and back the ring and notice how “light on their feet” the dogs appear to be.  Seriously, those handlers are holding that line so taut and high that the dog’s front feet are barely touching the floor. Being judged on movement? Well just pull the leash up so hard that the dog’s feet aren’t weight-bearing and you show true movement, right?

With my dogs I prefer a 6-foot lead so they can walk as a group without getting under my feet.

The length of material, more importantly, is not meant to harm the dog or human. Some of the behavior associated with the length of material includes:  1)  humans wrapping the leash around and around and around their hands so that the dog, originally on a 6-foot leash and having 6-feet worth of choices, now has no choice but to be dragged about,  2) humans injuring their hands by wrapping the leash around their fingers so that every pull by the dog results in a crushed finger,  3) dogs circle the human legs creating a trip hazard, or 4) dogs put their front and/or rear legs through the leash loop, making the walk stop and making their human reach down to fix the tangled leash.

Third, the slip collar or attachment to the dog’s neck should be defined and assigned limitations.

It should not kill or maim the dog. It should not cause the dog to get caught on agility equipment, fencing, or any other element of their environment. It should include some sort of identification if the dog is visiting a strange place and if there’s a chance the dog might get lost. The slip collar or attachment shouldn’t be buried so deep in the dog’s coat that it takes longer to detach the leash than it does to run an agility course. A slip lead or infinite slip collar should not ever be left on the dog when unsupervised, or when the dog is not in training with a human. The possibility for injury or death always exists with an unlimited slip collar.

With my dogs I prefer a 6-foot lead attached to a martingale (limited slip) collar which is removed when the dog runs agility. Kory has a really neat collar made by Canine Buddy (“A professional lead for everyone”) which has a woven martingale neck-piece, attached to a rubberized “shock absorber” collar tightener, both of which get attached to a regular clip leash. (

The collar around the dog’s neck, more importantly, is not meant to harm or kill the dog. Some of the behavior associated with the dog’s collar includes:  1) use of a choke chain or prong collar (aka “pinch” collar) and jerking the dog’s head, regardless of prudent training methodologies recommended by the manufacturer’s of these devices,  2) leaving fixed collars too tight or too loose, allowing the dog to slowly strangle or allowing the dog to slip out and disappear,  3) putting slip chains on puppies or adult dogs as their full-time apparel, leading to countless deaths by strangulation every year. (I once witnessed a treasured black lab puppy put in a vehicle for a nap and found, an hour later, strangled with his own choke chain. So very, very sad.)

In other news — Erica is right — the 2-Minute Dog Training homework handouts for Go Rally Training Manual should be single sheets, front and back, with 3-hole punch potential, rather than landscape-style brochures.

Go Rally Training Manual and the 2-minute trainer brochures

June 9, 2009

In the upcoming weeks I’m going to start creating the homework brochures, in 2-minute trainer format, for Go Rally Training Manual.

I gave a great deal of thought to what direction my rally training manual would take when it came to dealing with different organizations, venues, and signs. Ruthann McCaulley chose AKC and wrote her book covering skills needed sign-by-sign. One year after publication she added 200+ pages to cover new signs.

I was pretty sure I didn’t want to try to get a new edition published each time a venue changes its rules or adds new signs. When I started rally there were 2 venues (APDT and AKC) and now I believe there may be 4-5 venues (C-Wags, UKC, ASCA being new additions) offering rally. So linking my book to a venue and writing just to that venue is problematic.

I considered how we deal with this in agility and chose that as my method for Go Rally Training Manual.  Essentially, we don’t talk much about venue in agility training. We don’t start a class with “now we’re going to teach CPE weavepoles.”  We just teach weavepoles and students apply their skills to whatever venue they choose for trialing.

So Go Rally Training Manual has 8 chapters (designed for an 8-week class or, as I did last year, a 4-day camp) covering 30+ skills.

My goal is to create 2-minute training brochures to be used as companion documents for the training manual. Instructors using my training manual will have brochures to hand out as homework assignments, as follows:

chapter 1:  brochures on intro to heeling, left turns, right turns, jumping up cloase, jumping at a distance

chapter 2:  brochures on heeling off lead versus on lead, stay for walk away, stay for walk around jump, jumping front

chapter 3:  brochures on lateral shifting sit to the right, lateral shifting front

chapter 4:  brochures on paces and pace changes, positions and position changes, lateral shifting sit to the left

chapter 5:  brochures on automatic sit, moving down, moving stand, stay for walk around dog

chapter 6:  brochures on finish right and forward right, finish left and forward left

chapter 7:  brochures on around, front, and retrieving

chapter 8:  brochures on right pivot, left pivot, back-up 3 steps with dog in heel

That’s a lot of brochures but I believe instructors will file these with the lesson plan for that week and will, when a student needs a specific homework assignment, hand them a brochure addressing that training issue in a 2-minute training format.

I’ve had a lot of years’ experience giving out homework assignments. I’ve seen those eyes glaze over as you describe the homework.  I know two things — homework is more likely to get done if it is simple and short, and homework is more likely to get done if it’s on a handout.

Go Rally!

a brief respite, a mountain of laundry

June 6, 2009

Six lovely dog trainers from Cincinnati left yesterday afternoon after a 4-day, 4-night training retreat.  They checked into cottages on Monday, trained 4 hours a day with Bud, fixed group lunches in the cottages, came to our house for group meals late afternoon, and had evening training sessions in rally and obedience with their own instructors.

They were supportive and kind to each other and to their dogs. It was absolutely delightful having them here. MaryAnn Chappalear was the organizer of the group and managed their registration very efficiently.

Our training retreats and resort visits can present complex pricing schedules, and MaryAnn and I waded through several options before arriving at the one that suited her group the best.

Once folks step away from the public or private camp format, the options are endless. You may choose the days of the week and the number of days/nights you wish to stay, the number of hours each day you wish to have instruction, and the time of day you wish to have instruction. The building, with agility and rally equipment, are available to you all day. You may prepare your own dinners or purchase group meals from me. You may choose one or two cottages, and  you may put your overflow people (or married couples, or that lone guy in your group) in a guestroom in our house.

All of these components are purchased separately. They provide your group with a custom vacation with everyone’s needs being met, and everyone getting the most training possible.

But enough with the advertisement. <g>

Today is my brief respite from cottages and guestrooms filled with dogs and people. Bud is in Columbus at a USDAA trial, for just one day, showing Hazard and Blue.  I’m crossing my fingers that the girls have a good day. Hazard is coming out of a period where she’s been shy around big dogs. I think she felt threatened by a couple of big galloots we had here in the building over a year ago, and now she’s afraid of all big dogs.  Blue, on the other hand, associates the sounds of electronic timing systems with the sound made by her former owner’s underground fence collar. I’d like to dig a hole and bury all electronic collars.

Both girls are challenging to show and will, hopefully, outgrow some of their issues. Bud also took Kory as a travel-mate. Thank goodness. That pup is doing really well with his training exercises but sometimes his 24/7 energy is overwhelming. It boggles the mind. I try to keep hands off, to ask if advice is welcome before giving it, so Kory and I don’t really do much training.

Our relationship is becoming defined with belly rubs, “settle,” calming touches, and mopping up of puddles. I also do a bit of ring-side and ex-pen training while Bud is teaching. Kory no longer barks while other dogs are running, so long as daddy isn’t doing the handling.  If Bud’s working another dog Kory is a crazed canine. We’re working through that with distractions and rewards for calmer behaviors.

While Bud’s away I’m working through a mountain of laundry and cleaning 2 cottages and a guestroom for our next guests — Katie and Dave arrive this afternoon to stay in the red cottage and attend tomorrow’s workshops, then our June 8-11 campers arrive Sunday evening and will be staying in both cottages and 1 guestroom.

Because this was a week of nearly constant rain and cold, my mountain of laundry includes 6 dirty rugs, countless blankets, 2 dozen towels, and 5 beds worth of sheets. I started the laundry yesterday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and worked on it until midnight. I was up this morning at 5:30 unloading the dryer and reloading with more towels.

My Mom and sister plan to arrive this morning to assist with cabin cleaning, so all the linens have to be washed, dried, sorted and folded before we can start.

I’m off to unload the dryer!

Kory and my version of “choose to heel”

June 4, 2009

Years ago, when faced with the choice of pop-n-jerk heeling training and finding another way, I was given a very detailed article on Dawn Jecs “choose to heel” training methodology.

Over the last 13 years I’ve made several attempts to find a way to actually get to train with Dawn but none have panned out. Dawn lives in the great northwest, travels exclusively by RV, and limits herself to areas west of the Rockies.

I live in Ohio and have run training centers for 10 years, so my opportunities to leave for 7-10 days for a training camp have been non-existant.

I’m an uneducated believer in Dawn’s method, with just a rudamentary understanding of her training philosophy. However, with this limited information, I’ve taught countless students and my own dogs some pretty sharp heeling, without becoming leash dependent.

Leash dependence is created when the handler is convinced that the dog is with her only because of the leash, and the dog is convinced she only has to obey when the leash is on. It’s a very common fallacy, and one I rant about every time I see a dog “popped” for inattention.

If we focus on showing the dog what we approve of and pay for (walking in heel position with full, heads-up, attention) and refuse to acknowledge any other behavior the dog will nearly always choose the behavior that gets the attention and reward.

I’ve translated this method into a 2-minute dog training brochure for sport foundation heeling and — much to my surprise — Bud’s teaching Kory to heel as part of his puppy training!

I believe Bud’s decision to teach heeling came from Kory’s natural behavior to swerve left and right, to circle behind, and to generally get under-foot while walking on leash. Bud’s goal is to have a dog that walks at his left side without tangling the leash, without tripping Bud, and without yanking and pulling.

So you can imagine my surprise when, yesterday, Bud announced that he thinks he’ll show Kory in obedience. I laughed out loud as I pictured Bud at an obedience trial. Mr. Irreverant in the temple of the reserved and repressed.

However, if we ever get C-Wags trials going here, he’ll have ample opportunity to demonstrate his skills with both traditional and rally obedience behaviors. That’s a little more our style, probably.

In other news …. Bonnie Cippolone from Cincinnati has agreed to be our C-Wags trial coordinator and has given me a list of things she can provide for our trials. Now if I can figure out all the things that are NOT on her list, and get volunteers to help do those things, we’ll be cookin’ with gas. It may end up being Bonnie, Bud, Tracy Waite, our exhibitors, and me …

In other news …. I received e-mail yesterday from Erica Behnke that Diane Carr, who is attending a training retreat here this week with her friends, had been elected Queen City Dog Training Club’s 2009 AKC sportsmanship award at their Tuesday night meeting.  I created a little certificate so that Bud and I, as well as all her friends attending the retreat, could express our congratulations. That was fun!

In other news …. Tuesday’s temps reached into the 90s, everyone was hot and tired, and then the huge storm (aka “the wrath of God”) rolled through. Wednesday’s temps only reached into the 60s and quickly dropped into the 50s by dinner time. We went from air conditioning to “how do we turn on the heat in the cottage?” in 24 hours. Weird weather for June.

I was pleased to see that the storm did no damage to my plants though the sun shade on the back porch took a beating and had to be replaced.  I left it hanging down when I drove to my meeting and the wind and hail beat the crap out of it. Bud and I hung a new shade yesterday. Probably needed done anyway as the old shade was brittle and falling apart from 12 months of sun, wind, rain, snow, ice, more sun, more wind, etc.

This training retreat ends Friday at 1:00, they’re hanging out until 3 or 4:00, Bud’s leaving for a day of USDAA trialing in Columbus about that same time, Bud returns Saturday evening and has a private lesson with Katie and Dave (who are staying overnight for the Sunday workshop), then noon-to-4:00 workshops on Sunday, and a new bunch of campers arrive for a 4-day public camp Monday through Thursday.

We’re in the midst of our busy season and, much to my surprise, are staying fairly focused and positive. We sometimes lose perspective when faced with consecutive camp weeks, so this is a good thing.

In other news …. I started heeling training with tiny Hazard a few days ago. She prefers to run circles around me, barking madly for the string cheese, but will pick up on this quickly I’m sure. We discussed the possibility of attending the Sheltie Nationals together next year — Bud showing Hazard in agility, my showing Hazard in obedience and rally. I’m assuming they offer obedience and rally at the Sheltie Nationals.

The Sheltie people offer a whole day of agility at their nationals which, considering that Shelties are the premier mini-to-midi dog in agility competition, seems underwhelming. I don’t know of any breed besides Border Collies with better representation in agility.

Hickory, the mamma’s boy

May 16, 2009

Hickory’s been my dog for about 24 hours now. I’m doing some puppy 2-Minute protocols with him using his meals, as well as working on housetraining and getting him some exercise in the training building.

Hopefully Bud will read my blog so he knows what I’m up to. <g>  (Bud’s judging agility in Texas.)

With lunch yesterday I introduced the concept of a formal recall to a sit in front.  Hickory’s been doing downs for about 3 days and that’s become his default in the presence of food, his begging position.

I took a piece of food and taught him to follow a toss with the subsequent roll of the kibble. It took him a few tries to follow the rolling food but, thankfully, it was hard kibble on hardwood floors, so the sound helped him follow the movement.

When he was following the food nicely I introduced the recall just as he was reaching to eat the kibble. “Hickory Come!” with him flipping around and roaring back to me, “Sit!” as he approaches, and feeding the moment his butt hits the floor.

He’s really quite clever, though, and can just as quickly slam into a down as do a sit, so I’ve got to be pretty quick.

When working on sit with Hickory, the sequence is mostly “Sit!”- he sits, he eats, he lies down, “Sit!”- he sits, he eats, he lies down, etc. I’ll introduce the concept of sit-stay later this weekend.

For now, he’s a mamma’s boy. And this morning he also learned he isn’t supposed to pass through the babygates, even though he can.

We have an iron railing between the dining room and the living room, with a babygate providing the door through which dogs are supposed to pass.

Hickory (Hazard too) passes through the iron railing like farts in the wind. Hazard will always be able to do it, Hickory not so much. So today I threw a blanket over the railing and blocked passage through. We’ll see if it gets taken seriously or if it just becomes another barrier to conquer.

more thoughts on balanced puppy training

May 15, 2009

So my goal with Hickory is to do a bit of housemanners training, a great deal of socialization, and lots of ground work for obedience, rally, and agility.

My shortcomings with my last 2 dogs have been with socialization (with people and other dogs) and familiarization with strange environments.

Both have been a function of running a dog-training center, preparing to sell that dog-training center, giving up trialing while moving and setting up our new dog-training center, injuring my knee, etc., etc., etc.  In other words, LIFE got in the way of doing the right thing for my dogs.

Hopefully Bud and I can share responsibility for Hickory, with Bud managing the agility training and travel to new environments, and me handling housemanners and socialization.

Hickory needs to be walked in local stores and around trial sites.  He needs to do attention and obedience work at the park, in the tractor supply store, in the pet food store, on busy sidewalks, etc.

Maggie was pointing out that Piper had tons of obstacle familiarization but hadn’t been subjected to a lot of stress (like being in a kennel run with a bunch of barking dogs) and hadn’t met a lot of people, so he tends to shut down easily in the presence of those stressors.

The flip side is a dog who gets a lot of manners training and a bunch of socialization, but who doesn’t get to experience a variety of equipment set-ups, who trains at home (like our dogs, for example).

training for a balanced puppy

May 15, 2009

Last night at fun runs Maggie Paskawych and I got into a discussion about how we, as trainers and keepers-of-dogs, affect how our puppies will react to stress.

I took the opportunity of last night’s training session to introduce Hickory to the concept of lying quietly in his ex-pen while other dogs do agility, and while Bud whoops it up with Hazard, Blue, and other dogs.

While the other dogs were working Hickory was getting clicked and fed for lying down in the ex-pen. He worked constantly for over 20 minutes and, very quickly, learned that if he whined or jumped on the walls of the pen, I would tell him “lie down,” wait 4-5 seconds, and give him a treat.

In the end he worked for an hour and a half and wasn’t nearly as disruptive as he was earlier in the week.

I’ve often thought that a lot of agility handlers encourage behaviors that are disruptive in order to avoid squelching “drive.” I’ve seen spoiled rotten dogs behaving horribly in crates and ex-pens while their handlers try to walk a course, or work as a bar-setter, or just walk to the vendors for some lunch.

We’ve had students who created such horrible crate behavior that they became pariahs at trials — no one wanted to crate anywhere near them, and everyone resented them for walking away from their noisy pack of dogs and letting their neighbors bear the brunt of the annoying behaviors.

The rule in our pack has always been that everyone gets a turn, but you must be calm and quiet when confined. The idea that a dog of mine would bark non-stop while I’m away from the crate is unimaginable.

So this led to my conversation with Maggie about training a puppy.

If you focus too much on obstacles and agility, and not enough on proper social interaction and housemanners, can you create little agility monsters?

And conversely, if you focus too much on proper social interaction and housemanners, can you kill the dog’s natural drive to work?

I’ve believed for some time that I “tame” my dogs overmuch. But can you shut a dog down in the agility ring by taming their wild side?

Or is it possible that the aussies I’ve trained in the past were just softer on the agility course, and that taming and housemanners have nothing to do with their natural boldness?

everything takes too much time

May 7, 2009

Like everyone else there are too many things I want to do with my time.

Before last week’s camp I made a list of all the chores and activities I wanted to fit into my week. Swimming, water aerobics, fixing camp dinners, doing lunch-break workshops (more on those later), running to Marietta for groceries, running to Watertown for ice and beer, fostering Mercy, blogging, completing paperwork, packing the truck for Saturday’s trial, grooming dogs, working dogs, housework and laundry were all on that list.

Then I made a schedule in which I tried to fit all the most important elements. It all looked possible, on paper.

First thing to be dropped, in favor of assisting campers and arranging to feed everyone, was swimming and water aerobics. Second thing to be dropped was blogging.

Frankly, I checked my blog page daily, looked at my stats, thought about writing something, and withdrew from the site from shear exhaustion. Blogging involves about 30 minutes of focus on the events of the day and some days I just don’t have the time to think about what I have to do.

I’m going to try to do better because I want a continuous record of what happens in my life and what I think about it. For folks who are reading, I want to help with training. I had an elderly student last weekend who said, “I looked at the 2-Minute Dog Trainer stuff but it was all about camps and your foster dog.” Well, of course, she wasn’t looking at the 2-Minute Dog Trainer stuff so much as she was reading my blog.

So my blog should contain at least a little 2-Min.D.T. stuff. By the way, Bud’s blog is going to be addressing his training protocols with Hickory (“Kory” for short), Bud’s soon-to-be BC puppy. I’m told I may do any obedience or rally I wish with this puppy but I’m going to try something new … his name for obedience and rally is going to be “Hick” while Bud calls him “Kory” for agility. Let’s see just how clever this little boy can be …

The name was my idea. Bud’s used golfing terms for his dogs since the days of Bogie and Birdie. But these days he’s enthralled with TREES and hasn’t picked up a golf club since I’ve known him. So I suggested we have an exercise of namin’ nuts (from “Best In Show”) — and this first nut is going to be named Hickory. <g>

In other news — I was very excited at the opportunity to present lunch-break workshops during camp weeks. These workshops were to cover several “intro” topics including:  rally, 2-Min.D.T., tracking, etc.  I also offered obedience for agility (not popular, though most campers needed this topic the most IMO).

The workshops were designed to take 45 minutes of campers’ 2-hour lunch break. These lengthy lunch breaks were originally set up so people could chill and rest before the afternoon’s activities. Before arriving for camp everyone seemed eager to fill that time with dog training rather than rest. After arriving at camp reality set in.

Out of the 3 available days for workshops last week’s campers ended up working during just 2 lunch breaks. I discovered a couple of interesting things about these workshops … 1) nobody wanted to pay extra for extra training, except 1 camper who paid twice the published rate so I’d stay and teach,  and  2) at least half the campers had other plans for lunch, even though they’d originally stated they would stay and train.

It was also more than a little uncomfortable listening to 10 minutes of excuses, reasons why they weren’t staying to train, during the time allotted to the training itself. In the end, my 15 minutes of preparation and 45 minutes of instruction turned into 90 minutes of work, times 2 days.

And, in the end, I was preaching to the choir since everyone who actually was fairly new to obedience and agility training left the building at lunch. Soooooooooo … you guessed it … lunch-break workshops are no more.

I’ll continue to offer private lessons but with a clear definition of WHO wants the lesson and WHAT topic they wish to address. In the meantime, I’ll put my “obedience for agility” sermon on hold once again. I’ll watch from the sidelines as agility enthusiasts apply mediocre-to-horrendous training to the task.

In the meantime, at last Saturday’s trial, I was pleased to see that my girls had 3-4-obstacle lead-outs in their reperitoire, as well as pretty steady table performances.

In other news, Mercy was delivered to the Humane Society of Parkersburg this morning at 7:15 for her trip to Pennsylvania to join a rescue group. I had to push myself to drive away without her. My DNA contains elements of hoarding, judging from my family, so I have to quiet those demons who whisper that no dog will be completely happy unless it’s living with me.

I just doesn’t make sense after looking at the task list above and know that, for several weeks, “grooming dogs” and “training dogs” and “walking dogs” have all been neglected for housework, meal prep, swimming, fostering, and blogging.

Our first agility camp 2009

April 27, 2009

This past weekend we had so much help from our local agility enthusiasts with spring clean-up! Tracy and Zack Waite came on Friday to sweep the floor and walls in the training building — it looked fantastic!  Then Maggie and Mark Paskawych arrived on Saturday and spent several hours picking up deadwood and chain sawing downed trees. Vicki Davis arrived mid-afternoon and weed-whacked for many hours.

The place looks really fantastic and will be much easier to keep mowed now that the high weeds and deadwood are cleared. Bud and I created a firepit last Thursday, cleaning up the area just south of our garage door, so that major project can be checked off our list.

Today is the first day of our first agility camp and we’re having beautiful spring weather. With fostering Mercy there was less time on Friday and Saturday for my spring cleaning in the house. I kept putting it off so I ended up in a cleaning frenzy on Sunday morning.

Sunday was packed with dog training and welcoming guests, as well as a bit of management for Mercy. We had our usual noon-to 4:00 agility workshops and, just to add excitement, I scheduled a 1-hour private lesson in rally-o for the morning. That meant the sweeper got left in the middle of the living room floor during afternoon workshops.

There’s not enough interest in obedience and rally from local people for me to establish group classes so I eliminated group classes and only do private lessons in obedience and rally. There’s actually more value for the buck for the student this way. No standing around …

After my beginner workshop where the dogs worked up to sequences 5-6 obstacles long (they’ve progressed really fast!) I broke away from workshops to do my chambermaid duties on one of the cottages.

Two new students had attended the advanced agility workshop, buying the cottage package (they arrived Saturday afternoon, walked their dogs, went into Marietta for dinner, had a 1-hour private lesson with Bud, stayed in a cottage, visited the pond Sunday morning, and attended the Sunday afternoon workshop).

Since we had campers arriving late afternoon the upper cottage (blue cottage) had to be cleaned and beds stripped and remade before Julie and Amanda moved into it for camp week. Interesting note — 4 days ago I was cleaning that cottage and wondering if the propane would hold out for another week. It was about 45 degrees with overnight lows in the 30s. The past 2 days have seen temps in the high 80s to 90s, so I guess my worries were unnecessary.

At 3:45 I scooped up Mercy and took her for an outing to agility class. She greeting everyone with a tremendous butt wiggle and crooked smile. I returned to the house to finish my cleaning and my Mom showed up to help.  We both hate dusting but Mom dived into it with the enthusiasm one always has for attacking someone else’s dirt.

The dust bunnies are a thing of the past.

Later Nathan Vincent arrived to help us with picking up branches that had fallen in our spring ice storm. He stopped by the house on his way home to let us know he’s the new president of his 4H club and he wants to put together a kids-and-agility outing here. Last year we had 2 kids work days and, in return for participating, they got a 2-day outing for themselves and their dogs, complete with weiner roast, pizza party, and 2 nights in cottages.

It was great fun for everyone and we’re looking forward to repeating it again this summer when everyone’s schedules thin out. Nathan has made it his project to set up this summer’s outing and it’s in good hands with him.

Bud showed Nathan how to swat at carpenter bees, which is highly gratifying. Between them they killed an additional 5-10 bees. When you live in a wooden house you hate wood-eating creatures.