Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Neither wind nor rain...

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor the winds of change, nor a nation challenged, will stay us from the swift completion of our appointed ...

Agility show.

We went to Davenport Iowa this weekend (yes, in February- why would I be surprised at snow!) Anyway, it was bitterly cold with whipping winds and swirling snow. BUT, this was one of the best trials we have been to in a long time. What makes a good trial for us? Certainly running well helps, but there are a lot of more important features.
1) The facility. Quad City Dog Training Center (or something like that) is a really nice facility. Despite the cold and winds, the building was heated well with nice turf. The crating space was a little tight, but certainly not the worst we've seen. Though if you have a dog with issues, you might want to set up early to avoid a long walk through crowded aisles.
2) The equipment. Again, this facility was great. Some of the very best equipment we've ever used. Even the ring gating was nice.
3) No delays. There were plenty of volunteers and course changes happened in minutes. Plus, the club ran all Excellent before open and novice all three days, so we got our runs done and got out of the way.
4) Friendly. Very friendly group of people and we met a lot of new friends.
5) Other- From little things like a balcony to video tape from to wonderful catered breakfast and lunch... I just can't say enough nice about this venue.

I was a little lukewarm on our hotel choice (LaQuinta-Moline) because it had very little grass. But it was pretty inexpensive, so I can't really complain.

Anyway, as I type this, I'm thinking... perhaps we should all get together and create a website that rates agility venues and associated lodging... thoughts?

Monday, February 20, 2012

the face I love

While it is Maggie's tremendous bursts of speed, and her extraordinarily long strides that bring us the first place ribbons, it is this face, waiting for my command, that most touches my heart.
This weekend, Maggie earned her third agility champion title (MACH) and at times like this, I always like to take some time to think about her and why we do what we do. Clearly, she loves this sport, but even more than that, she loves to do what I ask of her. Sometimes I think about how much she trusts me and would take any jump I pointed at, or climb anything I asked her to without regard for her own safety. It is humbling to think how much she will do for me, and the responsibility that level of trust and devotion carries with it.
She is my first performance dog, my first rescue dog, and the dog that has made more impact on my life than any other.
Thank you Maggie, for changing my life.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What I believe about dog training...

I have been sitting through a beginning obedience class the last few weeks because there are several people I know that are in the class. As I watch the class and the one before it, there are some things that I've noticed that perhaps new or non-doggy people don't see or understand.
#1 You dog WANTS to understand what you are asking. Most dogs are born people-pleasers. You can bait them with treats and such, but most of them want to do stuff that makes you happy.
#2 People that can communicate to their dog when they are happy about what the dog is doing- without sounding fake- have greater success in training.
#3 Being absolutely consistant is absolutely essential. If you want to say "sit" four times before you dog sits, don't expect him to sit on the third time. Don't ask him to do something you can't enforce. Don't be fuzzy or wishy washy on criteria.
#4 Being inconsistant creates a dog that stops trying to please you. If he tries his best to understand and can't, he will quit. Can't blame him either.
#5 Everyone feels stupid when they begin. It is a lot to learn. But imagine how your dog feels... he has the same stuff to learn, but in a foreign language. Stick to it, it gets better.
#6 A trained, socialized dog is a happier dog and handler, and it is well worth the effort.
#7 You can't make a dog happy just by giving it treats. Teach him to walk on a lead and take him for a walk. Teach him to do a trick that makes an elderly person laugh. Teach him to stand still for a small hand to stroke him. Teach him to be your partner, not just an accessory, and you will both be better for the experience.
Okay, off my soapbox.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Alarm clock

I get up every day at 4:05. While that alone is crazy enough, that isn't the point of today's post.

I get up early because I like to have some time around the house and with the dogs before I go to work. Even on agility trial days, I get up at the same time... it gives the dogs time to digest their breakfast and take a long potty walk before they have to run. But on the rare occasion that I neither go to work or a trial, I don't set an alarm and look forward to sleeping in. Nevertheless, I have a "backup alarm" that always wakes me.

[wet nose] "Mom. It's 4:10. Your alarm didn't go off." [tail thump thump] "You need to wake up... it is 4:12" "Mommmmm..[insert whine and then lick here]. Like an alarm clock that gets louder, she gets increasingly annoying until I get up. So much for sleeping in. : (

I don't know how she does it, but she knows when it is 4:05. And don't say that my alarm clicks or something, because she even does it out of town or when there is no alarm around. She is a mystery.