Archive for January, 2009

I’ve Gone VIDEO!!

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I told you that my computer guru was going to give me a video lesson. Well he did, and I’m learning! YEA!!! Just baby steps for now.

See the premier video below. Certainly nothing fancy, just me, showing Micah’s first agility practice after being off for 4 months due to my foot surgery. It’s backyard stuff, but we had fun seeing what he could remember - and I think he did greatl!! You go, terrier #2!!

Back To Agility

One More Thing To Worry About

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I’m a careful person. Maybe cautious would be a better word.


I like to be prepared for whatever situation might arise (within reason). I don’t think I’m OVERLY cautious, but some might disagree. If the gas tank is on empty in rush hour traffic in a strange city, it makes me a little nervous. Reasonable? I think so. If there are drug dealers in the hotel room across the hall, it makes me feel more than a little creepy. Would you? Absolutely. If I’m running late for an appointment, it makes me anxious. I actually think that’s kind of a good thing. Anyway, you get the idea.

I’ve always been pretty diligent with the dogs. Some would say overly protective. And I would have to give them that one. I will admit it. I would rather be safe than sorry - at least most of the time. And now I have one more thing to worry about.

As most of you know, I have 2 big dogs, and 2 little dogs - terriers to be exact. The terriers are about 10-12 pounds.


The other day Ruby (the rat terrier) was out back and I went to let her in. As she approached the door, a hawk flew over, directly in line with her.


He was high enough to clear the house, but not much higher, and it made me stop and think; is she too big for a hawk to go for? The thought of it made me cringe. Now I’m not saying that he WAS going for her before I opened the door, but he sure could have been.

After consulting with several friends, it seems that no, 10-12 pounds is NOT too big for a hawk to snatch. So now I’m afraid to let the little dogs be outside without me there. Great! No more computer time while they’re out soaking up the sun. No more doing chores while they’re doing their “business”. Well, I guess it’s a small price to pay for their safety, but geez, is it too much to ask to be able to be in the yard without the threat of razor like talons plucking you from earth? I mean, IS IT? I guess nobody ever said nature was fair. I’ve certainly seen many dogs at the e-clinic that were attacked by the local coyotes. Scary!

So there you go folks, one more thing for me to worry about, and if you have small dogs, one more thing for you to worry about too. Sorry about that!

2 X 2 Weave Poles

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

If you’re not an agility person, you probably don’t know what weave poles are. If you ARE an agility person, you know that it’s one of the toughest obstacles on the agility course. Weave poles come in sets of 6 (usually only at the novice level) or more commonly, a set of 12 that the dogs must weave in and out of as quickly as possible. They must enter from right to left, and do them consecutively, without skipping any.

Weave poles pose lots of challenges for dogs: some dogs are going so fast when they enter the poles, they neglect to collect themselves (slow down) in order to hit their entry, and they miss the 1st pole completely. Some dogs seem to pop out before they get to the end of the weaves. Some pop out in the middle. Some large dogs have a particularly difficult time twisting and turning their bodies in order to make it through the challenge. Tessa was one of those dogs.

One of my very favorite trainers, Susan Garrett, has just released a DVD on her new method of weave pole training, called the 2×2 method. It’s very cool! Brilliant in fact!!! It’s creating quite a stir in the agility world.
2×2 Weave Training DVD Set

Instead of teaching dogs to go through a set of 6 poles, she uses poles that come in sets of 2 (hence the name). It is a completely different method, and one of the advantages is that it teaches the dog the correct entry into the weaves up front - before you worry about doing a whole set of poles. You can then reward (for the correct performance) or Not reward, without having the dog continuing on with the weaves. You work the dog from LOTS of different angles and relationships to the poles. It focuses on ENTRY! Did I mention, it’s brilliant?

Micah and I started re-training our weave poles on Friday, after watching the DVD on Thursday night. We are starting over from scratch, and are VERY excited that this new method will work for us.

We were doing great while we could work on the patio, and I could use food as a reward. But when we started to need more space (to work having him go into the poles from many different entry positions) we needed to move it to the grass, and that meant that I could no longer use food. (Food is WAY too hard to find in the grass!!) So I needed to use a toy as a reward, and he needed to be able to run and get it and bring it back to me for a quick game of tug. Hence, the problem. Micah LOVES to tug, but bringing the toy back is not his best thing. So we needed to take time out from our 2×2 training to work on retrieving. AUGGGGHHH! Bad trainer mom… he probably should have known this already. But whatever, I digress. He’s not doing too badly, but it did put us a bit behind schedule.

We’re still working on the perfect retrieve, but in the mean time I started using a stuffed toy that has Velcro on the belly, so you can put treats in it. So now I throw the toy on the “reward line” and then we both run to it, and I open it and give him his treat. I think that’s still acceptable for rewarding him.

We’ll be here - working on our 2 x 2 method, along with about a million other things. If you’re into agility at all, you may want to check out Susan Garrett’s new DVD, or even scope out her blog. She has lots of great agility video on it.

So Much to Learn . . . So Little Time

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

I have to confess, that the main reason my blog has been so neglected lately, is because I have been dabbling in the world of video.


I’ve been taking movies pretty regularly - mainly of Micah’s 2×2 training, but also some agility stuff. Still pictures are great, but movies are just fun. I recently learned how to move them from the camcorder, to the computer, and make very simple edits. I’m also playing with the vast array of title styles available. I’ve only learned the most rudimentary bits and pieces, but I am pretty tickled about that.

As I mentioned on my very first blog post - I am SO NOT TECHNICAL. But still, I am obsessed with the “movie thing”. Now I want to put little shorts on the blog instead of just pictures, but I don’t know how to do it. However - my computer guru is coming to teach me, and make me VIDEO SAVVY!!! Only basic stuff - nothing fancy just yet, but I am SO excited about that! God help you all then - seriously. We will have video coming out of our ears!

Disclaimer: I will try my best to contain myself and not overwhelm the blog with pointless, useless video crap that is only interesting to “the momma”, but no promises.


Friday, January 16th, 2009

As I mentioned in my last post, Micah and I enrolled in a new training class, and it started last night. It’s for dogs that are reactive, distracted, anxious, stressed, uncomfortable, etc. in any number of situations.

Initially I thought the class was going to be very small, but we ended up with 8 dogs and handlers. I am actually VERY happy about that, as I think working around MORE dogs and people will be more beneficial.

As we approached the training barn, Micah EXPLODED, barking and howling at a man who was walking out the door toward us. It was someone that he has seen several times, and actually rode to class with in the same car. Go figure. He continued to bark relentlessly as Cait attempted to direct us to our appointed station. I could barely hear what she was saying, and she was just a few feet away. Such is life with the Micah man.

However, once settled in, he calmed down immensely. I brought a mat for him to lie on (when he wasn’t in his crate), where he could get treats for being a good boy. For the most part he paid attention like he was supposed to.

The class also has a huge focus on relaxation. We not only want our dogs to be able to work around whatever environment we bring them to, but we want them to be able to do it with a minimal amount of stress.

I have to admit that we haven’t ever done any work in this area. Generally, Micah is excellent at giving me attention, and “working” with me, but there’s really no relaxation going on there. :-)
When he’s “on”, he’s ON.
(This is Micah giving me “chin” where he bops his chin on the ground)


So we will work on relaxing - on body massage - and on having soft eyes and a relaxed mouth.


During class we did an exercise where we each took a turn inside “the box”. It was a square made up of ring gates, similar to this but without the jumps in the middle, and much, much, MUCH smaller!


One dog at a time, we entered the box with our dog and just walked around. Whenever our dog gave us eye contact, we would treat. Depending on how the dog was doing, someone with (or maybe without) a dog would approach the “box”, very gently, to see if the dog inside could continue to work with his handler, without getting stressed. While that dog was working in the box, the rest of the class was free to work independently, by either moving around the barn, or working on relaxation techniques on their mat.

Cait Macanliss of Dogstar Academy in Lancaster TX runs the class. It’s very informal, and she has an easy, relaxed way about her. She’s a natural “animal person” and went out of her way to make sure that everyone was comfortable.

And it was really comforting to walk into a class where your dog COULD react and have a “meltdown” if he needed to, and know that no one there would judge you. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks, and all that we will (hopefully) learn.

Maybe next week I can bring my camera and get some shots if no one minds.
Stay tuned.

Back to Agility

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

I can’t believe that it’s been 8 days since my last blog post. I vowed to do better this year, and I have already failed you. Another New Year’s Resolution shot to hell. Sorry dudes and dudettes. All three of you that are out there. I’ll explain more in a subsequent blog, but for now, a bit of fun news (at least for me).

Tonight was the first night of agility class for us since my foot surgery last September. I was pretty excited and a little nervous thinking about how we would do. We hadn’t done ANY agility at all (other than weave pole training) during that time, so this afternoon I decided it would probably be a good idea to take at least a couple of jumps before we showed up for class. :-)

I was pleasantly surprised by my scruffy black boy. He remembered even more than I hoped. He ran, and jumped, and stayed with me like a real pro, all with lightning speed.


And when he ran across the dogwalk he stopped in perfect 2-on-2-off position without me even asking for it. (That’s when the dog puts his front 2 feet on the ground, and his back two feet on the contact obstacle, and waits to be released).


I think he only made one small mistake in class, and that was just overshooting a jump, which I am totally cool with. The most important thing when we are working together is that he listens to me. If he makes a mistake or two along the way - no sweat!! But if he decides that he wants to run off and do his own thing - that is the cardinal sin - the worst thing he can do (as far as I’m concerned).

The other thing that I was a bit concerned about is that Micah is somewhat reactive. I think I’ve mentioned that before. He IS a terrier, and it doesn’t take much to set him off, barking and growling. He hasn’t spent much time in the last couple of months around many other dogs (other than his immediate family).

Well I’m happy to report that he and I were “in the zone” on our first night back. He was a good boy, and paid attention to mommy. Granted, we weren’t doing full courses, just short little drills, but still, after having been away, I was VERY happy with that.

Next week we will attend our 1st of 7 classes based on the book Control Unleashed, by Leslie McDevitt.


It’s an awesome book, based on desensitization and counter-conditioning for dogs like Micah (and worse) that react too much, to too many things, unnecessarily. I’m very excited about being able to participate in that.

It gives me great hope that someday Micah will have all of his fabulous energy under control, and that we will actually be able to compete in the addiction that we enjoy so much! Agility!!

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009


Another year is gone and a new one is upon us. Another chance for re-evaluating things. Another chance for deciding where you want to be a year from now (if you’re lucky enough to still be here).

A New Year brings new opportunities to be who we want to be; to live life the way we want to live; to lose weight if we need; to be more kind if we’re so inclined; to dedicate ourselves to whatever we feel is a worthy cause.

Birthdays and New Years are great times to reevaluate if we’re where we want to be, and if not, to recommit to getting there. Life, after all, should be lived to the fullest. Having a passion certainly gives our life meaning and excitement. It makes us fulfilled. It satisfies us. It nurtures and sustains us.

Among my own personal goals for the year are:

Get healthy - not JUST thinner, but Healthier . . .


Be more vigilant on the Clean Up Your Messy House Pledge (Oprah). I was supposed to be working 10 minutes a day on this, which is Totally Doable!!! Fell off the wagon somewhere along the line, but need to get back on it.


Get more organized - in my business and in my personal life.


Be focused - don’t be so ADHD - if you start something, follow through! Don’t get distracted with 100 other things along the way.

Figure out a way to encourage Big R to be more proactive with his diabetes.


Be more dedicated to training the dogs - EVERY day!!!!


Here’s to whatever venture you bring to the table this coming year; to whatever changes you intend to make; and to living life in a big way.

Life . . . don’t blow it!