Monday, January 30, 2012

Run the Outside

Go Dog Go hosted Terry Simons for a seminar again this past weekend, he comes by every year and last year i just audited. This year though i had a working spot in the first Course Analysis session on the Friday morning. It was great, Terry is an awesome teacher and really makes sense with what he told me. I knew a bit of what he said from last year when i audited, but it's different when you're out there working and he's talking directly to you after seeing you and your dog run. I had a ton of fun the whole weekend and learned lots that I'm excited to work on in practise.

Izzie's pretty solid when it comes to taking obstacles and reading cues, she knows what to do as long as i give her the signals properly. Our problem isn't even physical speed because she really can motor, it's about me handling her to promote that speed and keep her up. What helps that is devising a path that keeps me moving and therefore makes her want to move; when i stop or slow down, she does too. Also as inefficient as bipedal motion is compared to quadrupedal motion, I'm a 5'7" long legged person compared to a 13" tall dog; I can cover much more ground than she can so why am i running the inside line? My dog is not likely to beat me or make it a challenge for me to get ahead of her to throw in a front cross.

I also need to focus on what is going to be the most efficient use of my dog's energy. Tight wraps around jump standards are going to cause her to have to slow down and collect and then get back up to speed quickly which takes more energy than different paths i could take. It's about handling for our strengths and weaknesses.

 Major Take Home Point: Pick the route that keeps me moving so my dog keeps moving too, maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. Run the outside, do it well, I will beat them and they will hate me. 

I also have gained a bit of a needed boost of confidence this weekend. What made me feel good was Terry said he likes Izzie, that means a lot to me. My choice to do agility with her has been under fire before and as strong as i try to be it does shake me a bit and create a lot of issues knowing how i naturally think (i'm rather self conscious). There's no describing how awesome it feels to be told by someone that's had a ton of success in the sport that they like your dog.

I did not choose my dog for agility, I chose agility for my dog. Yes my next dog will be chosen with agility in mind, but my dog is my dog first and my goal is to do the very best i can with what i've got and find what makes them tick and use that to have fun and succeed. My extreme competitive streak aside, i just want to have fun with my dog. I love my Izzie for being Izzie.

Oh and we had a super fun time hanging out with our agility friends, I love my group. I know i've said it before but it needs to be repeated because they're just that great! Check out the fun times had at S#*T My Handler Says. Even Izzie had a good time sharing a pen with her pal Gyp and looking for kitties.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mishmash Volume III

My car does not have a block heater that i can see, but it has no issue starting in -50 windchill conditions. Asian car: 1, Old Dude Winter: 0.

I think I'm addicted to Dr.Pepper. It's just so delicious. 

School is going very well right now! I've gone to most of my classes consistently and i've put more work in this semester than ever. Third year isn't that bad.

I'm actually enjoying my classes this semester!

Izzie and I went to bed earlyish last night (around 10pm) and slept straight until 10am this morning. I love sleeping.

I tend to develop an accent when I'm speaking in front of a bunch of people. Luckily during my presentation yesterday I didn't do it.

Less than a month until I'm no longer a teenager! Eeek!

Also less than a month until I get to see Hedley again with Jeejers who saw them last time with me!

I like percentages. I assign completely arbitrary percentages to many things in conversation. 

Change is on the horizon. Stay tuned.

Izzie and I have a Terry Simons Seminar this coming weekend! Excited much? Hell yes.

I need a new winter coat.

Izzie just went on a face rubbing spree on my bed and my pillows are now flung all over my room. 

I've been trying to train Chai in agility foundation stuff, she makes me appreciate Izzie more.

I met Bill Nye yesterday. Yes, THE Bill Nye the Science Guy. I grew up on his stuff and I'm pretty sure he is the reason for me passing science classes through jr. high and high school.

I also got his autograph:

How cool is that?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reality Check

Sometimes we get so comfortable in our routine, too comfortable. Wake up, pet dog, let dog out, let dog in, feed, etc. We do this without thinking. We often start to go about our daily lives just going through the motions, taking everything for granted. It happens, human nature i suppose.

That is until something shakes us down to our core and reminds us that every day with our canine companions is important. Every second of every day is to be cherished. I got a reality check about this particular topic this past weekend. A young dog in our club passed away. Everyone who knew him is heartbroken about it, he was an amazing dog.

I have been getting frustrated with Izzie more often in training lately. She does not work well when she knows i am frustrated and that should have been enough to snap me out of it, but it wasn't. The fact that i continued to be frustrated with my dog made me angry at myself. I do not want my dog, who has the main goal in life to simply make me happy, to feel like I'm always disappointed in her.

Our dogs are with us only a limited amount of time. Even a full life of around 13 or so years is not a very long time. We need to cherish their time with us and not waste it being frustrated or angry at them. There are bigger things to worry in life so don't sweat the small stuff like if your dog doesn't have a textbook perfect heel if being that close to your feet makes them uncomfortable.

So to all my readers, hold your dog close and tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Do it now, do it everyday, do it multiple times per day. They are only here for a short time, don't waste it.

Mi Corazón, originally uploaded by mandypug.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blast from the Past

3/52: Time Warp, originally uploaded by mandypug.

Izzie is an old soul, she's always been very mature most of the time. We didn't realize she was this old though, time travelling all the way to us from 1894!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

League Night!

The agility club Izzie and I are members of has an agility league night once a week. Last session we didn't get to play but this time we do! Our team is called the "New Dogs on the Block" (thanks for that Sarah lol) and it's made up of most of us freshies so the name does fit. Anyways it was super fun!

Izzie did awesome, the course was a masters level and both runs she was almost clean and running pretty quick! Her weaves were very good too even though she stopped to sniff a piece of sheep fleece and tried to find it once after it was picked up and gone. Silly girl. Overall I am super pleased with our first go at league, we'll see what challenges next week brings!

Oh and here's what was playing in my head when i was running, it's rather appropriate i think!

Heck yes I'm cool... Cool like the other side of the pillow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Agility Dog of Canada!

Yesterday Izzie and I headed up to Wet Creek Stables in Balzac, AB for one day of the Training Troop rescue fundraiser trial. Izzie did great and earned her last leg of her Agility Dog of Canada title! That's the starters standard title.

Our first run of the day was a gamblers, Izzie was haulin' ass for the opening and even tucked butt a bit. She got some good distance going on but when the buzzer went to start the closing i took my eyes off her for a second and she zoomed up the a-frame and stopped at the top when she noticed i was pretty far away. I got her down though and she went out to the teeter in the closing, it was pretty tricky due to a lot of distance away from me so at least she went out!

The second run was a standard, the speed kept on with this run too and she was moving quickly! It was going well until she decided to zoom past the entrance to a tunnel to look for her cookies! I got her back though and finished the run with no other mistakes and even her weave poles were great!

Finally the third run came, another standard, and we ran fast and we ran clean and other than a bit of convincing at the weaves she did awesome and Q'd which gave us our ADC!

We were registered for a Jumpers but I pulled Izzie in favour of going home, it was almost 5pm already when they were only halfway through the second masters standard and I had driven up in the morning bright and early and Izzie had done very well already!

I'm so proud of Izzie, i know i've said it before but she's come such a long way and in just 6 months of limited trialling she's earned both her starters titles! She's such a good little girly! 

Now on to advanced!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Weaving in the Snow, originally uploaded by mandypug.

Well it's finally is snowing and kinda cold out there. I don't mind except that i have to drive to a trial on Saturday, so I'd appreciate if it went away before then and as soon as i get home safely it can blizzard.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Rules of Staying Positive

Okay, I'm ready to talk about it now i think. The 2x4 trial that is.

We ran 6 runs, 3 each day. First was a gamblers and Izzie was motoring, she may not have motored in the exact way i wanted but she was having fun and the opening was actually not bad. The closing she was sticky on the frame (this continued to be a trend the rest of the weekend and I'm not really sure why) thus eating up time and there wasn't really time to push her out to finish the gamble. Next was our first Standard, no Q but Izzie ran clean. We had some sticky issues on the frame and had to redo the weaves once or twice and she was a bit slow to lay down on the table, that ate up time and we were over. But we ran clean, she did not zoom away from me or suck to the table unlike the last trial; this is improvement. I enjoy seeing improvement. Second standard we Q'd, which was awesome. Still a bit sticky on the frame but we only had to redo the weaves i think twice which is pretty good. The next day we started off with a Jumpers run, again clean but overtime. My handling was not the tightest it could've been but hey i've only been competing 5 months so cut me some slack, i get better every time! Izzie ran great, she was happy and even let out a few yips; it was by far my favourite course to run all weekend because it was fun an challenging. The next Standard was actually okay considering Izzie slipped on the dogwalk (the second obstacle in) and bailed. She did not Q because of time but it was actually a really nice run, having to put her back on the dogwalk really ate up our time, but she was okay and did not associate any fear with the obstacle and that shows to me how far she's come from instantly relating every bad experience right away to what was near her. The final Standard was also clean but over time so no Q, the biggest thing was she did her little standoff move at the weaves and did not want to do them though i made her do them anyways. She ran nice though and still no fear of anything and stayed with me. 

Bottom line, we ran the "set courses" clean all weekend. This is big. Some people in agility don't think clean is important if it's not fast. Well screw them because you need both to Q in our venue and speed can be built. To have a green team do as well as we have after 5 months and come from originally being a shut down dog to one that loves the game is huge.

Honestly, in my mind, we did awesome. Yeah I'm a bit bummed that the sort of goal i made for our trialling year wasn't met, i don't think anyone out there wouldn't be if they didn't meet what they wanted to do.  That is normal. However being someone who has been through extensive (and expensive) private sports psychology sessions, I'm not one to sit around thinking about every little "bad" thing that we did. There's a few rules i have for myself, a couple that i've had for a while and a couple that are newish.
  1. There is positive in every performance. Find it, cherish it, and know you did something good. Whether it is something that you improved on from the last trial or the fact you got your dog back with you from zooming. There is always something positive.
  2. Don't let anyone tell you different. You know that you did good, don't let anyone no matter how "high ranking" or experienced they are in agility take that away from you. Easier said than done i know but make an effort and it gets easier as you go. 
  3. Smile. Smile big and smile strong and walk tall. People that want to bring you down are repelled by confidence, a big fat confident look on your face is like Off! For Assholes.
  4. Surround yourself with amazing people and instructors that are supportive of you and ditch the ones that are not. You don't need to be around people that are going to make you feel like shit.

Just four rules. That's all i need. I may break my own rules sometimes but who doesn't? I'm working on it. Number 1 and 4 i have down pat i think, especially number 4. I have the best agility friends in the world hands down. I may be the youngest in the group and kind of a weird kid, but they have been nothing but supportive and i've honestly never felt so accepted in my life. The support i get from those people help me follow rule number 2, when you're with people that do not want to tear you down it's much easier to ignore those that do. Number 3? Well, I'm working on it. I'm so afraid that I'll come off as a conceited little bitch because I'm so new to this all so I'm trying to get over that and really be able to feel and act confident. I think it'll come eventually for me. 

In summary, even though our "goal" was not met i have nothing to be disappointed about. We have done awesome in the 5 months that we've been competing and no matter what anyone says to us, I love my dog and she loves me and we both love agility! That's all that matters.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It Starts...

1/52: The Wind Beneath My Ears, originally uploaded by mandypug.

My first submission has been made for my 52 Weeks of Dogs project! Only 51 weeks to go!

Relating to the photo:
Izzie and I are getting sick of the wind, i haven't decided for sure yet but I'm about 99% sure that I'd rather have snow than this ridiculous wind crap. Though I'm sure when snow does come I'll be wanting the wind back. Just watch.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fresh Look to Bring a Fresh Start

First Photo of 2012, originally uploaded by mandypug.

Leah over at Prairie Dobe Companion and I decided to revamp our blogs for the new year last night. Fresh start and all, which is what i love about a new year. Put the crap behind you and move forward. I suppose i could do that any day of the year but you know it feels more official when it's a new year. She also made me my spiffy new header! Isn't it cute and fun?

Anyways fresh start. To start that off I'm going to make some things that resemble goals, i still can't bring myself to actually call them goals but you all know what they really are.

For Izzie
AAC - Improve speed and confidence on course and trust my dog more, take chances and let loose. Make it to Masters level by the end of the year. (Might be a bit lofty but i'm going to be the little engine that could and be all "I think i can, i think i can, i think i can")
CKC - Get novice titles.

Get over our leash issues and get that RN title.

Also get over our leash issues and get our CD.

Continue to improve scenting accuracy and speed. Be race ready by the Medicine Hat show.

Therapy Work
Increase frequency of visits.

Train more, especially work on proofing existing tricks and getting that handstand! Work on "movie" cues.

For me
1. Stay Positive Always. Something i really struggle with, I'm not a "happy person" naturally so i need to constantly remind myself to stay positive because my dog feeds off of my mood. And happy people wrinkles are more attractive than grumpy people wrinkles and i ought to set myself up for good looking wrinkles as soon as i can. I'm almost 20 you know.

2. Complete the 52 Weeks for Dogs project. I was accepted into the group which gives me accountability as they're kinda strict, but i need that. I hope this helps me learn to utilize my camera as something more than a glorified point and shoot as well as push... nay, violently shove... my uncreative little self out of my box. A little discomfort can only make me grow.

Well that's all i've got. It's not much and some are kind of lofty but hey I'm not very good at this things that resemble goals business. And since i enjoy pictures in blog posts I'll add a couple that my brother took of Izzie last night.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Who's the cutest of them all?, originally uploaded by mandypug.

Izzie and I would like to wish everybody much success and prosperity in 2012.

My year has started off great of course, the above face gave me New Years kisses! She's just too cute to say no to lol!

(PS: This is my 100th blog post too! Cool!)