Friday, July 17, 2009

Tally ho!

I've been working with Tally on the skateboard and wobble board:

Training with Tally from bunchofpants on Vimeo.

I need to find a bigger paved surface to take her skateboarding, because the screen porch is a bit cramped. My driveway is gravel, so that's out. I'll be on the lookout for a seldom-used tennis court.

In Pinky news, moving her back down to "baby" classes, where the exercises are easy and short and the jumps are left low, turned out to be a great idea. She seemed to have a lot of fun in class last night, with only a few short incidents of stress sniffing. I think that while Tally will do well with an accelerated training schedule because she's always willing to try new things and overcomes her fears very quickly, Pinky will do best if I keep it slow and let her get really comfortable with things before I move on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So many mini mutts, so little time ...

It seems I need to start every blog post with an apology for not being a very good blogger. That may be, but I'm spending the time trying to be a better dog trainer and handler, and with three dogs now I'm getting plenty of opportunities. Here's a bit of a recap of what we've all been up to:

Lucy: The old girl is definitely slowing down a little, which is not surprising considering she turned 11 in May. But when she's on, she's good. I'm taking another distance class with her; the one we took last summer helped her get her ADCH, but since we moved over to Performance III we've gotten no gamble Qs. She did make one gamble very nicely, but since I was out of position and far from the gamble line when the horn sounded, the buzzer went off as she was launching over the last jump. So no Q, but it still felt good. She's really rocking the exercises in distance class, which gives me hope that we still have a few good gambles ahead of us.

I've reduced the number of runs that I'll put her in over any weekend, though, because she tires easily. It makes me a little sad because we really hit our stride as an agility team over the last two years, but I want to keep her injury-free and with me as long as possible. She's happy as long as she's with me, regardless of whether she's doing agility or not, so there's no reason for me to push her.

Pinky: Her leg is healed, although she still has intermittent lameness, but I've been allowed to phase in all of her previous activities. The problem is, her confidence is worse than before she broke her leg (and it was never great to begin with). I started her back in a young dogs class, but it's clear she can't really handle even short sequences anymore, and all of the progress I'd made on the dog walk and the A-frame are gone. So we're going back to baby stuff. Part of the problem is that after so much forced inactivity, none of her muscles are as strong as before, so she may have lost confidence in her body. So while I'm building that back up I've moved her into a Beginner 2 class where we will do single obstacles, the contact trainer and sequences of, at most, three obstacles. Meanwhile I'm working her on channel weaves at home. I'm not even thinking about the teeter at this point ... no sense in freaking her out even more. In fact, I've resigned myself to the fact that Pinky may never be a competition agility dog, which is OK because she's just a complete sweetheart and I love having her around. Maybe she'll be the one who makes me expand my horizons with Rally-O or Canine Musical freestyle.

Talladega: What a jewel I stumbled onto! I guess credit should go to my friend Cindy, who first sent me the Petfinder link. The first thing that wowed me after I got her home was her incredible attentiveness. I hadn't even decided on a name yet, so I couldn't really teach attention-to-name, but if I just said "hey" she'd turn on a dime and come to me, as whatever I wanted were more important that whatever she was about to do.

But she came to me with absolutely no manners whatsoever and an almost manic fondness of jumping and biting hands, feet, noses, eyeglasses. She seemed very starved for attention, which isn't surprising because she was a homeless dog who lived in the foster home's yard (their existing dog hated her and wouldn't let her in the house) for weeks until I got her. So my first task was to teach her a few manners, which I did at mealtimes. Instead of getting her food in a bowl on the floor, it all came from my hand in exchange for small acts of politeness. At first, she got food simply for keeping all four paws on the ground and not biting my legs or the hand with the food. Then I started feeding her for sits, then downs. Nothing she got was free. She was vastly improved after just one day of that and like an old pro after a week.

Tally's got bravery and drive, and she seems to thrive on all of the things that turned Pinky into a shrinking violet (skateboard, wobble board, contact trainer). Her incredible attentiveness makes her very easy to teach. She loves every toy I've tried, and always wants food. I have no doubt she's going to accelerate past Pinky in her training. In fact, before she broke her leg I had signed Pinky up for a September Stuart Mah beginner dog seminar, but I'm going to attend with Tally instead.

I'll try to beg or borrow a tripod and get some video of her to post here.