Posts Tagged ‘rally obedience’

preparing for first camp

April 22, 2009

Our first camp for 2009 starts in just a few days!

My mother and I worked all day yesterday preparing cottages for campers. After a quiet, cold winter, the mice were convinced we’d turned both cottages over to them. We found a couple of stashes of nuts. The most interesting hiding places, from my point of view, were in the shower stalls.

These cottages are 200-300 yards apart, yet both had stashes of nuts in the shower, at the base of the shower curtains. I guess that’s just a perfectly private place to hide nuts from a mouse’s point of view.

At first my Mom was convinced that a squirrel had brought the nuts in. However, squirrels in the cottage wreak havoc so we gradually became convinced that mice were hauling these nuts into the house.

I keep traps around full time but every spring I have to go the extra mile to really push the critters OUT of our buildings. What each cottage may need is a cat. <g>

Today I’m going to work in the training building, setting up a better method for displaying our lending library of books and audio tapes/cds. I’m sure I’ll be sweeping up some cobwebs and mouse houses as well.

Afterwards I’m creating a welcome packet for each camper. The packets will include:  1) a map of the property so people feel comfortable exploring without fear of getting lost,  2) some driving directions for grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.,  3) a schedule of camp events,  4) a ziplock bag of human candy,  and  5) a ziplock bag of canine treats.

On Saturday afternoon we’ll be welcoming two new students for a cottage package — a private lesson on Saturday evening, a cottage for their overnight stay, and working slots in the Sunday advanced workshop. These two ladies will each get a welcome packet.

Next week we have four ladies staying in cottages and guestrooms and two ladies staying in their RV.  By mid-May I’ll probably have lots of feedback on the welcome packets AND the lunch-break workshops.

The lunch-break workshops seem to be quite popular, with nearly every camper polled giving their preferences but saying they’ll probably attend whatever workshops the group picks.  Interesting …

the amazing series of tubes called internet

April 17, 2009

Yesterday the world discovered a woman named Susan Boyle with the most incredible voice. She was participating in Britain’s Got Talent (the UK version of American Idol — Simon C. owns both I believe).

My friend Vicki called about 2:00 p.m. to tell me to check out the video — when I checked it had half-a-million hits already.  I walked outside to say hello to my Mom, who was on her way to dinner in Zanesville, came back into the house 10 minutes later to look at the video again and it was up to TWO million hits in 10 minutes.

Okay.  She’s got an amazing voice. But the really amazing thing to me, in my mid-50s, is this series of tubes called the internet. Here’s a woman from Scotland who, in 47 years has never been discovered and, in 24 hours TWO MILLION people have clicked on her video. By evening the number was NINETEEN million.

Here’s another situation … a month ago I wrote a blog about Jon and Kate Plus 8 and the idea of this family getting TWO german shepherd puppies. My little blog went from a daily readership of 20-40 people to nearly 400 — all hits stemming from searches for “Gosselin” or “Gosselin German Shepherds.”

Yet another situation … the American Kennel Club (a purebred dog registry, something that seems to get lost occasionally) has decided to allow mixed breed dogs to participate in companion-dog sports.  Dog agility, obedience, and rally will all open up to mixes in about 12 months.

AKC statistics show that 100,000 entries in agility trials went un-filled last year. They want to register mixes and fill those entries. Since my goal is to showcase the talents and skills of rescues and shelter dogs, this meshes nicely with my life plan.

I get to go to AKC trials and chat with spectators about the skills of mixed breed dogs, the capacity of a $75 shelter mutt to earn titles comparable to those of a $1000 purebred dog.

On the internet lists, however, arguments have continued for 2 days. My mailbox has received nearly 100 e-mails (mostly from the same 20 vocal people) with opinions pro and con AKC’s decision. Fifteen years ago I’d have heard this through the grapevine, weeks or months after the decision was made.

So I’m just saying …. this is an amazing series of tubes. Our generation has seen incredible changes in technology, and in skills needed to thrive in this world, and we sometimes feel overwhelmed at the tsunami of technology hitting us every day.

Is it any wonder than people walk around with their eyes on their cell phone / blackberry?  They can get every bit of information they need off the darned thing. “What time is it?” Check your cell phone.  “Where’s the nearest library?” Check your blackberry. “What’s the quickest route to Chicago?” Check your garmin, magellan, or blackberry.

No wonder no one reads anymore and newspapers are in trouble. Speaking of which — I’ve written to our local newspaper three times regarding a free column I’d provide on 2-minute-dog-training-tips. I’ve not been rebuffed so much as I’ve been ignored. They don’t even check their e-mail, probably.

In other news — our shelter’s executive director has set 5-6 weekend dates in the next 7 weeks when he needs volunteers to take dogs to mini-adoptathon events. I’ve notified volunteers and received 2 affirmatives for 2 different dates, but that won’t cover it. I’ve received a call from the organizer of one event asking if we’ll have volunteers.

The shelter will probably end up having to haul dogs and man the booth with employees or board members — our volunteers are enjoying spring weather and checking their blackberries for new on-line videos. And here I sit — blogging. <g>

laws of a dog in motion for rally (1 of 2 posts today)

April 14, 2009

DogSport magazine’s May 1 issue will include an article I wrote about using the natural laws of a dog in motion (patterned after Bud’s laws of a dog in motion for agility) to achieve a rally performance.

This article will feature the cutest pictures of little Nora working Dash and Blue. These pictures were taken by Nora’s mother Lori. The point of using 2 dogs in the pictures was to demonstrate that a mature, trained, titled dog (“Dash”) had an immediate response to handler movement even when he was not conditioned to work for that handler — and that an immature, partially-trained, untitled dog (“Blue”) had the identical immediate response to handler movement.

What I found, in looking at the pictures, was that Blue (with less hair and a nice long tail) provided a better example of the dog’s response. Lori was able to get pictures of that split second when Blue reacted to Nora’s movement.

I’m proud of the article, but the pictures are fascinating to me — really stunning.  And, in addition to seeing Nora and Dash and Blue, you’ll all get to see pictures of the front of our house, complete with the antique washing mashine we use as a refreshment holder during camps.

Speaking of camps, our first camp starts in about 2 weeks!  We have a very busy 5-6 weeks beginning late April, with 3 public camps and 2 private camps, in addition to our twice-monthly Sunday workshops.

We’ve also added the lunch-break workshops so I’m going to be revising my daily schedule to accommodate swimming and water aerobics in the morning (my knee is healing so quickly, and I’m getting stronger every week), lunch-break workshops, and improving on the evening meal plan for camps.

Two weeks ago I rearranged the camper dining area to put dining tables closer together. Now both tables are in the front of the room and it will be very easy to push tables together when necessary. My desk looks out the north window now so, instead of staring at the driveway, I get to watch the little spring birds flirting with each other on the deck railing. They have nests in the evergreens and pairs of them will hop across the railing together.

I’ve also brought one of our comfy sofas into my office area. Now campers who arrive early for dinner (or local folks with nothing to do between camp and dinner) can come sit on the sofa, have a beer, watch the news or chat with me while I cook, and just enjoy the country view.

We’ve been clearing the deck of all the detritus of winter. Bud made platforms for the bird nests and today a bird has begun the construction process on one of the new platforms. Luckily for these birds we have hairy aussies and shelties — this new nest is about 20% dog hair, complete with mats.

This has been a scrambling-and-waiting day — Bud’s Suburban was paid off 2-3 months ago so (you guessed it) today it’s getting new rear brakes, new front brakes, a new bearing in the front, and two new tires. By the time the repairmen are finished it may need all new cup holders as well but I’ll put my foot down on that — Bud only uses 1-2 of them at a time.

Tick season seems to have arrived in Ohio. I’ve picked two ticks off dogs. Yesterday was heartworm preventative and frontline day. When I give these meds to 9 dogs I always think of the potential adopters at the shelter asking, “how much are these dogs?”  The price of the dog is just the beginning.  Luckily I use coupons but it’s incredibly expensive to go to the vet’s office for a years’ worth of heartworm preventative and frontline for 9 dogs.

And our dogs have access to deer poop and rabbit poop here as well, so I have to be prepared for regular worm medicine on occasion as well. Tape worms seem to be the most common … some of my readers may have advice for me ….

HSOV board meeting

April 8, 2009

My treatise was happily unneeded. Our new Executive Director, Steve, has taken the bull by the horns and is making huge efforts to ensure our dogs are getting spayed and neutered.

1) He’s calling everyone who has adopted a pet this year and is asking when or if they got the surgery done. If they have not spayed or neutered their pet he’s giving them 2 weeks to get it done before we reclaim the animal. Don’t know if they’d actually reclaim animals, but the threat is enough.

2) He’s rotating through area veterinarians to keep them from arguing, and every pet that gets adopted over 5-6 months of age leaves the shelter for the vet’s office, gets the surgery, gets returned to the shelter and is picked up by the adopter after their surgery.

3) Any pets under 5-6 months of age being adopted leave with a surgical appointment and a deadline. He calls the owner and calls the vet to make sure the appointment was kept and the surgery done.

4) He has redesigned all the forms used by the front desk to give them all “teeth.”  The adoption form asks more piercing questions regarding the adopters’ former pets and the care they intend to provide. The surrender form lets folks know what leaving a dog at our shelter means.

5) He has clarified the fee structure and is reinstating the fee to reclaim a lost dog. This fee wasn’t being collected, losing the shelter $1,000+ in revenue over the last few months.

6) I’ve asked, as a shelter matchmaker, that all this information be posted at the shelter so we can walk people through the fee shedule while they’re deciding to adopt. Steve has agreed that this will be done.

All in all, way better than it was. And the stats are improving. Only 13 dogs were euthanized last month, and none of them were euthanized for lack of space. There were some very sick dogs PTS, and some aggressive dogs PTS.

One of the board members commented that “we’re very close to being a no-kill shelter and we’d qualify for more funding if we were no-kill.”  I’m going to do some research, but I think “no-kill” involves more behavior modification and veterinary care, not just that you don’t euthanize because of space restrictions.

Congratulations to the HSOV board of directors — and especially our new Executive Director — for hard work and good decisions.

In other news … I’ve extended an olive branch to our local AKC Obedience Club. After 2 years living 20 minutes apart I’m offering to teach a rally obedience class in exchange for a working slot in their top-level agility class for Bud and Hazard and Blue (who need to get on other people’s equipment). Their board of directors are doing some checking and will get back to me.

In other news … I’ve absolutely GOT to get onto the nastiest job I’ve been asked to do in the last 10 years. I’ve got a 6″ stack of volunteer forms, most of which were entered into an excel program by the previous volunteer coordinator. I want to put them into FileMaker Pro and create single call sheets for specific volunteer tasks.

This shelter wastes paper like nothing I’ve ever seen before. No forms are ever 2-sided. All forms are a minimum of 2 pages — large type — double spaced. These volunteer  forms are 2-4 pages long, asking for drivers’ licences and criminal histories, etc.  The logistics of entering information from them is troublesome. I can’t just stack them and work through them. I have to interpret all this mumbo-jumbo, only to discover I’ve just entered a bunch of information on a 7-year-old kid who probably will not be back.

But nowhere on the form is the question “are you really interested in training and becoming an asset to our shelter or are you just yanking our chain?” Or, “do you ever read and answer your e-mail from the address you just listed above?”  LOL

Like I said, nasty task, and one I need to get to soon.

dog-training equipment

April 5, 2009

We had our first workshop in McConnelsville, Ohio (Morgan County), in preparation for Anne Deliman’s Canine Follies later this month.

Six dogs were brought to this training session with at least two handlers saying they weren’t doing the follies performance, they just wanted some training.

It was a rather long drive and long training event (1 hour on the road, 3 hours training) for not much money, but I’m interested in getting folks from our neighboring counties to look at dog training as a social event for themselves and their dogs.

I think everyone learned a little bit about positive reinforcement training, about clicker training, about synchronized movement (drill team) training, and about how to build a trick from a natural or shaped behavior.

Let me say one thing about dog-training equipment. Local stores sell the most painful assortment of leashes I’ve ever seen. Not painful to the dog — painful to the handlers!

Every time I see one of those stupid chain leashes I immediately trade the student for one that doesn’t tear up their hands. In my opinion there’s only one good use for those darned things — to put it together with your real leash if your dog likes to chew on the leash. Sometimes a chain wrapped around a leash will discourage chewing just because it’s distasteful to the dog. Otherwise, I’d like to dig a hole big enough for all of them and dump ’em in.

There there are the colorful little 1/2-inch fiber leashes. They come in a multitude of colors, so kids love to buy them. They look pretty, and clean up nicely, but — if you’ve ever had a dog pull one of them through your fingers — you know they’re dangerous.

The edge of these leashes is as sharp as a piece of paper. Invariably the 1/2-inch version is on a 45-50-pound dog. One good yank and you’ve got a cut on your finger. Because they’re 6-feet long people will wrap the leash half a dozen times around their hand, adding to the danger and possible injury.

So the first discussion I had with the trainers in McConnelsville was this — the leash should be designed to be safe on the dog and comfortable in your hand. Then I traded them their decorative leashes and chain leashes for nice 3/4″ slip leads.

And I had the usual child student arrive with her dog on a choke chain, so we switched her chain lead to the dead ring before starting our discussion of leashes. The choke chain is like a book bag. It’s only worn when you’re going to train and study. You don’t eat or sleep with it on. You don’t have it on while relaxing in the evening in front of the television set.

Choke chains scare the crap out of me ever since I went to a SAR training event 15 years ago and witnessed a woman walking back to the training area from her car carrying her dead puppy. The puppy was wearing his very first choke chain and had fallen asleep in her arms, so she’d returned him to her car and come back to the training area. He woke up, climbed over the back of the front seat, snagged his choke chain in the head rest and hung himself. She was devastated.

We allow choke chains from first-timers here, folks who aren’t aware of the dangers, but they work with the leash hooked on the dead ring OR they remove it in favor of another collar. They rarely show up the second week with a choke collar on.

Of course, we always have one or two beginners who arrive with anti-jump harnesses, pinch (also called prong) collars, or any number of other devices some marketing genious decided would curb the dog-like behavior of dogs without any effort on behalf of the trainer.

Sort of like those diet pills which — taken twice daily! — make weight loss possible without having to change the way you eat or live.  Except in the small print it explains that typical weight loss, with no change of lifestyle or diet, consists of about 3 pounds. “I lost 114 pounds on ___-edrine without dieting or exercising!”  In small letters, “not typical weight loss.” And they show a 20-year-old girl with 6-pack abs — all from 2 pills a day. WHAT a miracle drug.

With dogs there’s no miracle equipment that can change your relationship with your dog for the better. There are plenty that can change your relationship for the WORSE. But dog training is, in essense, establishing a working relationship whereby both you and your dog benefit from the training. You and your dog develop trust in each other.

No dog-training equipment can do that for you.

More 2-minute training brochures

March 29, 2009

I’m starting on two new packages of 2-minute training brochures and am wondering if these should be sold as individual documents. If sold as a package, purchasing would be easier. If sold individually then filing would be easier, and finding the brochures in your computer files would be easier. An instructor, wanting to provide her student with a homework handout for motivated heeling, would simply go to that brochure instead of having to remember which package it was purchased in.

Hopefully some instructors are printing the packages and keeping hard copies on file for students. I imagine I need to transition to individual brochures at some point, allowing people to cherry-pick the more advanced stuff.

Group A — Shelter package, basic obedience and tips for shelter adopters (7 brochures, complete)

Group B — Foundation Sport package, start-up training for agility, rally, and obedience (8 brochures, complete)

Group C — Go Rally package, homework brochures for 32 key skills, instructor handouts to accompany the 8-week Go Rally Training Manual program.

Group D — Problem-solving package, positive reinforcement and clicker solutions for agility or obedience. (Breaking start line stay, knocking bars up, missing contacts, being un-motivated and slow, being out of control, leaving handler mid-sequence, leaving handler at end of sequence, being inattentive … by the way, I began by listing these using the positive description of the behavior but quickly realized that everyone else will be looking under the negative topic — ex: keeping bars up became knocking bars.  Maybe because it’s a problem-solving package, so the problems should be listed as negatives instead of positives?

a time to heel

March 19, 2009

A little play on words … last post was “a time to heal” and dealt with the divorce of my parents.  This post is about obed and rally heeling, dog training, getting centered, and getting on with things.

I love to swim. Many years ago (half a lifetime away) I swam 75 minutes a day. I swam 45+ laps, over a mile, every morning. Not only was it great for cardiovascular health, not only did it burn a bunch of calories, but my mind was able to work through problems and issues as my body swam, and swam, and swam.

In recent years I’ve switched to water aerobics but classes are too loud and engaging to really get a lot of thinking accomplished. In the past couple of months I’m adding lap swimming before my aerobics class, and I’m enjoying it so much that I wake up earlier and earlier, anxious to add more laps each week.

I began with 3-4 laps, built to 6-9 laps, then tried to increase by 3 each week. I do my laps in sets of 3 so it’s easier to track. First lap in a set is breast stroke, second lap is back crawl, third lap is side stroke.  I hit all the major muscle groups with these three, without having to spend a lot of time with my face in the water.

Four days ago, on Monday 3/16, I swam 30 laps in 45 minutes, for the first time in years! And yesterday, on Wednesday 3/18, the water was cooler and I easily swam 33 laps in 47 minutes. Water temperature has a great deal to do with how far you can swim, by the way, and 83-84 degrees seems to be my optimal temp. Anything over 84 is too warm and I can’t cool off as I swim.

Contrary to water aerobics PR, you actually DO sweat in a pool, if you work hard enough. If the water is too warm I can’t cool my head, I slow down and tire quickly. So a little cool is great.

Of course, all the ladies arriving for water aerobics complain “yikes! this is too cold!” but who wants to work out in bath water?

My goal, over the summer, is to get back to the mile swim, at least 3 times a week. My aerobics class moves 30 minutes later after Memorial Day, so that 30 minutes can be spent getting to my goal of 45 laps.

For summer 2009 we’re adding mini workshops during the 2-hour lunch break offered at agility camps. While Bud relaxes in the house I’ll be teaching:  1) puppy agility,  2) obed for agility,  3) intro to rally,  4) intro to tracking,  5) intro to 2-Min. dog trainer,  6) building speed and motivation,  7) building distance skills, etc.

Each workshop will cost $5 per dog and the cash will go toward beautification efforts. I’ll be providing campers with a registration form on the first day and they’ll “vote” for their favorite 3 workshops. The most popular 3 will be scheduled for the first 3 days of camp.

We’ll also be adding some private lessons, either before camp starts at 9am or after dinner is over at 8pm. With travel expenses to consider, many campers want to maximize their time at camp and we want to offer an action-packed adventure for them.

For campers wanting to relax and get away from all that adrenaline and competition, of course, there’s plenty of down time. And your bunkhouse mates are off doing mini-workshops, so you can get in a nice hike or nap.

My plan for camp weeks, therefore, is to get to the pool (a 20 minute drive, in Marietta) by 8:45 a.m., swim until class starts at 10:00 a.m., finish class at 11:00 a.m., shower and dress, home by noon, teach mini-workshops until 1:00 p.m., possible private lessons until 2:00 p.m., then camp starts and I get started with dinner. After dinner more privates possible, either campers or our local students, and fun runs on Thursday nights.

In between all that I want to resume training Dash, Red, Blue and Hazard (all our youngsters) for heeling.  Dash has several rally titles, and his CD, so he’s had a ton of heeling training.  Red’s had a good bit of heeling training as well but her mental state rarely allows her to concentrate on me in the presence of other people or dogs — she needs a ton of work and I’ll heel with her while campers are doing agility in the building.

Blue is the most focused heeler I have and can generally block any distraction in favor of the clicker and cheese she knows comes with heeling. Hazard has had NO heeling training. And she’s so darned short (~10 inches) I’m going to try the wooden-spoon-dipped-in-peanut-butter with her.

Every afternoon and evening I’ll be making the rounds of my new flowerbeds and shrub plantings, watering and feeding, making sure they get a good start in life. I’m not big on annuals (too resource-greedy, IMO) but will probably have some baskets to maintain here at the house and perhaps at the cottages. Baskets take lots of care and can dry out very quickly — beyond redemption — in just a couple of days.

As spring and summer come it will be interesting to see if I can maintain this schedule or if it exhausts me. Swimming generally invigorates, but it also puts a good deal of stress on my bad knee, so pain meds are a necessary evil.

Last year my knee imobilized me a bit, so I’m eager to be more active and am more motivated to get on with life.

a time to heal

March 17, 2009

Last Friday, March 13th, my parents’ divorce hearing took place and, once the papers are filed, they’ll be divorced after 60 years of marriage. It’s been a rocky 60 years and my sister and I discussed on Sunday how our parents’ marriage shaped our lives and our personalities.

For example, we all tend toward depression and dark thoughts. We’re all thin skinned and sensitive to possible slights. All 5 of us take any comment very personally and have very little “bounce back,” or resilience.

I believe my parents’ relationship occupied so much of their time and emotion that they had very little left for their kids. We went along for the ride, unable to participate in a lot of extracurricular activities, had few opportunities to excel, as the focus of the family was on the marriage relationship.

If the conservative viewpoint is correct, marriage exists only to provide for the children’s future, which is of greater importance than the parents’ relationship.

I’ve often wondered, over thirty years, where I would be if someone had taken an interest in me. If, instead of being teased about my weight by my father and brothers (I look at pictures and I wasn’t fat — the teasing was just cruelty), I’d been encouraged to engage in a sport.  If, instead of being called stupid and following the school’s guidance-counselor path designed to move the most kids with the least effort, I’d been tested for my true aptitude.

Probably the most marked similiarity for all five kids, and both parents, is low self-esteem — courtesy of each other. So now my task, at 54 years of age, is to get past all this. I’m considering counseling or hypnosis, and perhaps will check on a group rate. Maybe all it will take is improving my Free Cell percentage. <g>

Yesterday I created a couple of flower beds between the house and the training building. I’m putting all the old soil from flower pots (combined with a manure / compost mixture) into the beds and will be using fresh soil in my deck flower pots this spring. My ordered flowers haven’t arrived yet (of course — too early!).

Today I’m going to work at the cottages, cleaning up fallen leaves, dropping some grass seed, and figuring out the best place for flowers. I need to be able to easily water the flowers, so they need to be within 50 feet of the cottage, but I also need to be able to mow with my riding mower so the beds must be incorporated into the present landscape.

In the meantime, I’m working on a couple of writing projects as well. Though I’ve not seen my first or second contributions to DogSport magazine (first is due any day, second is published in May) I’ve got a third article in the works.

The editors want to do an entire issue on obedience and asked what I could contribute. I suggested an article on “how you enjoy an obedience trial and separate yourself from the stress and anxiety.” I also suggested that, rather than having one author provide a list of “tips for the new exhibitor,” that every author in the magazine provide a list of tips to be included as a sidebar for every article.

In my opinion, no one author knows all the tips, nor will one author come at the “tips” topic from every point of view. By having every author provide tips the magazine provides a greater reference pool.

Last evening I was reviewing my early outline and decided to scrap it in favor of a new approach. For me, writing is often a task of first examining myself, then disecting my opinion of the topic, clarifying my viewpoint, organizing so that others may follow along, and presenting it in a positive and encouraging attitude.

I’m going to start again with the idea of the “centered” exhibitor who doesn’t let the extreme highs or extreme lows of a dog obedience trial draw her away from her core beliefs, nor from her enjoyment of the day and the people.

And, because I missed both of my training days at the shelter last week for family obligations, I need to get all this stuff out of the way by Friday so I can devote some time to training shelter dogs. Our supportive pet-food store, We Luv Pets, is having a fashion show — highlighting their spring ’09 doggie fashions — and has offered to “dress” some of our shelter dogs this Saturday for their fashion show.

The store has been great to us and we want to help them have a great event. I’ve not been at the shelter in over a week and I’m certain the faces have changed, so I’ll need to assess the dogs for suitability and get some volunteers lined up.

And our friend Anne Deliman, from Irish Ridge Pet Grooming, is trying to promote her Canine Follies on April 25th. This event is scheduled for an antique opera house in downtown McConnelsville (Twin Cities Opera House) and participants will teach a trick or skill to their pet and then present it to the crowd. It doesn’t take much pet training to wow an audience, but we’re offering 2 training workshops prior to the follies.

The Morgan County Humane Society is involved, using this as a fund-raiser for their efforts. I’m hoping that Anne gets some folks interested. It sounds like great fun but she’s battling tough economic times and a local mentality where dogs aren’t thought of as bright or biddable. She has my blessing and I’ve made myself available for the workshops.

2 Minute problem solving packet

March 15, 2009

One of the dog-training lists I read is called BaggageAgility (@yahoogroups). It is, as the name implies, for trainers of dogs with baggage, rescues or otherwise.

They’re discussing training start-line stays and, of course, discussion has moved to “what do I do if my dog breaks the start line stay at a trial.”

I’ve posted my training protocol for training start line stays, along with the statements “On the other hand, I don’t train the stay at agility trials. If I haven’t completed my training I don’t request or expect compliance. I don’t enter a dog in a trial until she’s able to stay at the start line or pause table 100% of the time in practice, with huge distractions.”

I’m interested to see what gets the most attention from my post — the training, or the statements regarding not showing when the dog is only partially trained.

Here at Country Dream we’re not only preparing for spring, preparing for the upcoming camp season, and preparing for trial season, but we’re also preparing our own dogs and our students’ dogs for the TDAA Petit Prix in Wisconsin this coming October.

Last year we had a rather dismal showing, with my knee getting injured on the first day (taking me out of commission for the full event), with Blue’s concern over the electronic timing system, and Bud’s preoccupation with a magazine interview when he might have needed to focus on the final round of the Petit Prix.

In the grand scheme of things, the 2008 Petit Prix was a glitch, a hiccup, the result of one bad run. It’s all water under the bridge at this point, and it’s time for our young dogs to step confidently up to the line and show what they’ve learned.

At least 2 of our students plan to travel with us to Wisconsin. Their excitement over the teacup nationals is the result of our encouragement over the last 2 years to try some flavors of agility other than AKC. I’m really pleased that even a few locals are willing to try teacup agility.

If this isn’t the black hole of dog agility, it’s pretty close to it. Until we arrived at Country Dream, the local AKC obedience and agility club was the only game in town. When I knew we were going to return to my hometown, I contacted the folks from my old AKC club and requested information on membership and classes.

At every turn we were rebuffed — even when I asked if they did rally training, was told they had no rally instructor, and I offered that I’d been teaching rally for 2-3 years. No comment. It has been a constant source of amazement for me that the club continues to exist with that attitude of exclusion.

The dog-training community is, afterall, an incredibly small community. There are millions of dog lovers, but not a lot of dog trainers. We should, if nothing else, stick together and promote dog training out in the world.

ramping up for spring

March 12, 2009

Now that the weather is improving and days are getting longer everyone is showing increased interest in training their dogs.

In addition to our twice-monthly workshops, we have Thursday evening fun runs which show increased attendance. And, in response to our private lesson sale, we’ve got an increased number of private lesson scheduled.

All of this is falling at the same time as our increased work outdoors for regular maintenance AND our beautification projects AND Bud’s work-study program. This week we’re also expecting Bud’s brother and sister-in-law for a “chores visit,” where they stay in our lower cottage as a bit of a vacation and help with projects we can’t do by ourselves.

While this flurry of activity swirls around Country Dream I’ve also scheduled myself to spend 3 days this week accompanying my mother to meetings with her attorney and to the final hearing for my parents’ divorce at the end of this week — Friday the 13th (sounds ominous, right?).

This event will end a 60-year argument between my parents, hopefully. I’m sure there will be lots of loose ends to clean up, but we’ll at least have properties divided and disagreements settled. I imagine it will be years before everyone is speaking to each other. I understand from conversations with others that mine is not the only dysfunctional family.

In shelter news — I’m not going to get to the shelter this Friday but will try to go on Saturday.  This has been a really busy week with lots of projects, most involving a 20-minutes drive. So I’ve spent a good deal of time on the road and I’ve hauled mulch from the free pile half-a-dozen times already this week.

There’s been some difficulty getting possible breeds listed correctly on and on the shelter website. I don’t think it is just that the person listing the breed isn’t overly educated on dog breeds, but there’s also an effort made to entice possible adopters. I, on the other hand, believe in calling a dog what it probably is, with the idea in mind that there are people seeking out dogs of every breed or combination of breeds.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I thought about creating a notebook of breeds for the folks at the shelter. That’s probably going to take more time than I have.

Camp season approaches and we’re going to offer mini workshops at lunchtime this year. They’ll be intro to tracking or rally, obedience for agility or rally, puppy training, etc. Bud will be taking a break so I’ll be the instructor. I’m looking forward to seeing how these are received.