Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Starting Your Puppy--The Art of BEING

My TOP TEN THINGS TO DO TO ENSURE YOUR PUPPY IS AN AGILITY/HERDING SUPERSTAR!!!
 
Ok...not really...does that SERIOUSLY seem like me?
 
Because I am more of a" guidelines "type of gal. Rules are great, but lets me honest. My dogs have all proven to be an exception to one rule or another. It's the art of adaptation in dog training that makes it challenging.
 
People want A + B = C
 
Guess what folks...every dog has a different, A + B
 
And every dog has a different C as well.
 
So...what do I do with puppies?
 
Being that I am from a scientific background...I OBSERVE.
 
I observe a LOT.
 
Do I train 175,000 tricks? Nope. Does that mean they are bad? Nope.
 
But I choose to bond and observe in different ways. I take my puppies with me places, I spend quality time with them NOT WORKING THEM, just BEING...
 
Is that a hard thing for many of us to do? Just let them BE.
 
Let them BE weird, BE confident, BE curious, BE unsure...just BE.
 
I have watched many herding people, they let their puppies just BE...the puppies do their thing...explore, go through weird phases...and the people are there, to just make sure experiences are safe. Then the pups go to sheep...and that magical relationship happens...why? Because it's NATURAL...instinctive. It is in the dogs blood.
 
I have tended to go back to that mentality with my puppies. I see if they are independent, biddable, stubborn, happy go lucky, serious, whatever. I want to just hang with my puppy and observe what they are. RAW material...they are so raw at this age. And I find it really fun to just interact with them on their level...
 
I will admit, my puppies are pretty much hooligans for many, many months. They know basic things like RECALL, wait at the door (I have 6 dogs so I hate having to not get ran over) and kennel up. They play with toys...they learn to fetch...things like that. But I make sure my number one goal is to spend QUALITY time with them. Just playing with them like a puppy, snuggling them, letting them bite me maybe just a LITTLE too hard :)
 
I see how they learn from the other dogs, I see how they deal with new things, how they cope with stress. I let them take in the world at their own pace...and I don't make them "face their fears"...I just let them BE.
 
They go on hikes with my other dogs, they go a ton of places with me. They take naps on my lap, they are with me when I am doing things around the house. Sure we play, sure we are learning things as we go along...but it's more of a leisurely form of learning rather than a CRAM session so many people tend to make puppyhood. You know what I am talking about...putting so much information into the puppies brain because we have to get them trialing ASAP.
 
Maybe that seems lazy of me? But I have found with my dogs...less can actually be more.
 
Through the art of just being, I have found my dogs bond more with me when I am laying with them in the grass and we are playing bitey face (ok so they are, I am using my hands). Those moments when I am petting them quietly as they are sleeping...
When I see my puppy run up to me and play bow...and I have nothing on me to reward them with but ME. And my puppy thinks that is the best thing ever.
 
Lynn is a prime example of the art of "Being"...she was a very independent dog (still is on some things, but I am HER PERSON)...I spent tons of time with treats and toys and leashes and all that stuff rewarding her for being with me...
 
And it kind of worked...but something was missing...there was a connection between us...but I knew there was more that could be there.
 
So I observed...and you know what I found out. If she gets to sleep in bed with me, our connection blossoms. Just the act of being next to me, in bed...is enough for her to really want that relationship with me.
 
Another thing that really keeps Lynn connected to me, is, she for some reason, likes to lick my hands (which I will admit I don't particularly enjoy) but it is HER way of connecting with me. These are things she does during those quiet times when we are just together...being who we are.
 
Because lets me honest...there are more times that my dogs and I "just being together" than times we are training. And I am totally fine with that.
 
As I am sitting here typing this blog, Even is on one side of me---her paws on my leg, I reach over and pet her and kiss her on the forehead (something she adores!) and Lynn is on my other side, snuggled up to my side...sleeping away., she prefers to touch me if she can. Klink is under my feet and I will reach down and scratch her nose (one of her favorite things). Gator is on the other couch...and he likes it that way :) Zip is on her bed in the sun, I tell her I love her and she thumps her tail...and lets out a ROO ROO but doesn't move from her spot.
 
Being...all of us, together but comfortable with what we need or want.
 
If I want to work them, they are all instantly ready...but those moments are nothing in length compared to the times we are just sharing space...
 
I don't expect my dogs to fit into a mold...as I would HATE my life if that was the case. Expectations to me are just pressure, pressure, over time, can either build up or break down something...it must be used wisely. I have seen too much pressure cause issues.
 
My dogs accept me for who I am, faults and all...and there are many.  In return I have really starting enjoying that process of finding out about my puppies...what makes them tick.
 
I don't want a perfect dog...I want to learn about and cherish the dog I have.
 
Food for Thought :)

Please read about what all the other bloggers have to say about this topic!!
http://dogagilityblogevents.wordpress.com/starting-your-puppy/
 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Please Help Raya!!

Every little bit helps...

Earlier this week a wonderful student of mine, Kim, had an emergency. Her awesome Doberman Raya ended up in the vet clinic late at night with a very serious medical emergency--Raya was bloating.
For those of you familiar with bloat in dogs...it's a life threatening issue. On top of almost losing her life, the surgery is very expensive. For those of you not familiar with this issue (of which Dobermans are known for having issues with)  click HERE to learn more about it.
 For those of us who have the pleasure of knowing Raya, she is absolutely a hilarious dog. Full of energy, a bit goofy, a tremendous athlete, and a great teammate with Kim. They are very connected on the agility course and Raya is always at Kim's side. 

During lessons Raya is always at my side...leaning on me, asking for pets while Kim walks courses...I can't imagine MY life without Miss Ray Ray as I call her :)
Raya made it through surgery...it was a bit scary but she is now home. And it will take awhile for her to recover, but we are very happy she is back with Kim.

Bloat surgery is expensive enough...much less adding on the extra cost of emergency care. So I thought, why not reach out to people to see if we can help Kim out a little. EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS!!!! 

You can donate below! Please help any way you can!

If you are accessing this site from an ipad/iphone/cell etc 
CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

Thank you all!! I hope we can raise enough funds to ease the expense of saving this wonderful dogs life!

C-ATCH RN, AX, AXJ, OF, MR, MG, MJ, MAD, SAM Raya

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When You Have Nothing Else...

Still absorbing from the One Mind seminar...and it's amazing all the things I picked up (and probably more amazing all the things I missed!)
 
I don't get to be a student very often...and I rarely have anyone watching me train my dogs. Just the nature of where I live. Out in the boondocks.
 
So it really was such a wonderful thing to be a student...and I could sit here and tell you that I TOTALLY knew it all, and TOTALLY nailed it, but I didn't. I had my share of issues (luckily for me so did everyone, even the groups that had worked with them before...it was somewhat pleasing to see everyone struggling to some degree--misery loves company right???)
 
The format was great, learn techniques, then apply them in very challenging courses :)
 
Which seems easy enough right? I can do challenging courses...my dogs are very good dogs, they run clean a lot and fast at that!!!
 
Yeah...so...
 
I like me some verbals...let me rephrase that. I LOVE me some verbals...
 
No verbals allowed except dogs name...
 
I think I almost peed myself...WHAAA??? NO VERBALS??? HOW WILL I COMMUNICATE??

Why? Because my body wasn't always in tune with the verbals...I was using the verbals to get the behavior (which my dogs are obviously damn good at) but my body needed to match up...and it wasn't.
 
This really threw me for a loop...I use a lot of verbals--we have gamblers and my dogs all are good gamble dogs...I love left, right, out, with me, and of course my DW verbals...kind of caused some mild anxiety on my part. I will totally admit that.  I am not saying I am running around courses like ST saying LEFT LEFT LEFT, RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT etc...but I do like and I have trained my verbals well. To the point that when Jaakko said LEFT LEFT LEFT to Lynn and I was doing a rear cross where she should have turned RIGHT...she turned left. Yes...I train them THAT well. Good girl. Except...HELLO LYNN?? Like WHEN HAVE YOU EVER been ran by a man? And a man with a Finnish accent? Seriously...we need to talk :)
 
Go Lynn---you love verbals too. We are a match made in heaven :)
 
Did I mention I loved verbals? Because if I didn't...I'd like to mention that I really love my verbal commands. As in, we are married and have children and a huge house in the burbs type love.
 
So my first love I can't use...I felt as if someone had chopped off my arm...I basically handled silently the entire time...because I know if I didn't this long line of verbals would erupt from my mouth...yes folks...I was silent. Mark it down. First time ever in the history of life.
 
Speaking of arms...yeah. Someone really does need to chop them both off...they get in the way of the actual BODY LANGUAGE I NEED TO SHOW. Plus the new terms, for stuff...some I knew already, some I didn't...I was alone in the world of silence...
 
So I had just my body...and that was just not a happy place for Loretta.
 
It was new...and foreign...and for me, tough. BUT...fun stuff happened.
 
Lynn read everything wonderfully--her skill set is really good. Yay me!
 
I finally, by the beginning of day two felt like there was a chance I could remove my head from my ass and figure out which hand to use and not keep thinking in terms of verbals and obstacles, but rather lines and what my chest needed to be doing.
 
Any idea how hard it is, if you have been running a very specific way for years and suddenly...someone asks you to use different arms? Yeah...it's not easy. There were others struggling with the very same thing...so at first I thought I was SUPER DUPER SPECIAL...but there were others just like me :) We could form a support group, I like to use my off arm and look at the jumps (insert f bomb HERE).
 
So when you have nothing else...you have only your body. Which is why this handling works...Janita's dog was deaf...she didn't have verbals. She had her body. That was IT.
 
By day two I was no longer looking at jumps (ok for the most part)...it was getting smoother, life was good, it was making sense and Lynn was REALLY responding to it. She likey :)
 
I might have screamed explicatives several times during the two days...but so were others, some so loud I could hear them in the other ring...It was MAGICAL :)
 
Finally clicking on the second day...
 
I was running, I was connecting, I was getting the hell out of there. It was working. I was using the correct hands...my chest was in the right direction...and it was just damn cool.
 
I even accepted a hug...cause I needed it! LOL Proof below!
 
 
I got home...after the initial shock to my system of the cold and snow...and the stages of grief I had to go through to get back to realizing this was my life again...I have been working things. Small pieces. Making sure my footwork is right, making sure my arms are not even in the equation right now...cause they have a mind of their own and they are staging a revolt against this new stuff.
 
And it is working :) I am already getting comfortable...
 
I worked on it with Gator---lovely, he got it and turned even tighter...
 
I worked on it with Klink--same thing.
 
I also worked on it with Even--she only knows to take a jump...she nailed it.
 
It makes sense...natural, they get it.
 
I'm getting it. Agility is super fun again...agility is challenging...I am learning...
 
Gosh this stuff is fun!!!

PS--I will not be abandoning my verbals...just as an added note. I just will be really paying attention to my verbals and if my body matches them. I am not using any right now...so I can really focus on what I am telling my dogs.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One Mind Seminar with Jaakko and Janita

What a WONDERFUL past week I had! Lynn and I headed down to Florida to work with the One Mind crew!!! First off...the weather was LOVELY!!!!! I mean PERFECT!!!


We played on the beach, we enjoyed the sun...and just took in what I would call summer :) It was nice to get away from the cold and snow of Minnesota. I'll admit I wasn't ready to go back home after just a week!

The seminar was wonderful...I really got a LOT out of it...I am a firm believer if you are going to go to a seminar...you need to really immerse yourself in the handling. I am from a LM background more so than anything but I kind of do lots of stuff...so I had to go against my instinct on it, but by day two I was getting there :) Lynn did wonderfully...perfect in fact. Good good dog!

For me the hardest part was which hand to use...I think for those of you that are into some of the Derrett stuff...it would be a much easier transition in that regard...seemed that way to me anyhow. It really started flowing for me on day two. I soooo wish I had been able to have at least one more day with them.
The moves were very natural, the dogs read them very well...and it started to really make sense. If I had it to do all over again...I would have audited the first two days. Hindsight is 20/20.

The thing I really enjoyed about all the work, is that it really helped you get down stream on the courses. Very technical courses...the hardest I have ever ran I think...challenge after challenge after challenge. Wonderful for my mental game and great to get you really working on the moves.

I went home with a LOT of homework...and how to apply it to what I am currently doing. There will be lots of moves I want to perfect...and the nice thing about it is, you don' t need a ton of jumps, just 4...to work on things. 

This seminar was out of my comfort zone for sure...it really pushed me. I didn't do everything perfectly, but that is what I want. I need to be able to figure things out. And it was perfect.

For those people that think they have "reworked" stuff from previous "inventors"...I challenge you to work with them. They want clear communication. Their instruction is very well put together, they explain things to a very high level and it makes sense. There are different spins on stuff, a different way to look at coursework and your dog...if you haven't worked with them one on one...you can't base an opinion on any foundation. They really opened my eyes to many things. MANY MANY THINGS.

It was also a ton of fun training along side others...I don' t get to train with other people very often so it was great to have people helping each other. I miss that part of dog training...soooo much. Talented people getting together and tackling challenges...amazing. Really motivated me to get better!

Here's just a TINY bit of video that I got from the seminar of Lynn and I working...lots of great stuff...

Did I get home and sign up for their premium online content? Yep! I did...very good instruction...what TO do and what not to do...gives you a great visual picture.

Would I work with them again? In a heartbeat!!! No doubt. I left the seminar recharged, ready to train my dogs...I haven't felt that in a good while. I had tools to increase the communication between us as a team! As well as helping all my students and seminar attendees. I plan on immersing myself in more of the methodology...

I wasn't at all ready to come back to the cold of MN...but a week was all I had. Next winter I think I am going to plan some longer trips south...I need that to keep myself sane up here in the cold.

I am already missing this...when can I go back??

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WOW January!!!!

This month has been INSANE!!! I know, I say that a lot. But this month has already been a really fun start to 2014 :)

I head off to North Carolina for 3 days of teaching this coming weekend :) Looking forward to working with everyone! The fun part about coming back to the same place each year is I get to see the huge changes in the teams. Just wonderful!

I LOVE teaching...I really do. It's the most challenging and rewarding thing in my life.

There seems to be similar questions across the board in regards to seminars...so I thought I would answer a few of them. I am just speaking for myself (as that's all I really can do) but I do believe other seminar presenters would say close to the very same things.

1--The seminar presenter expects you to know everything already...
Why would you be there if you knew it all? I don't have those kinds of expectations...we expect learning to happen. If there is no learning, I'm not doing my job!
 
2--If I don't have a Border Collie/sheltie/etc etc, I am not welcome at a seminar...
I love working with all dogs, ALL DOGS, I don't care if it is Bassett hound, a Whippet, a Border Collie, whatever! It's DOG training :) Not "insert breed that is PERFECTLY suited for agility"...really :) I love all dogs...why I do what I do. Why I have so many approaches to different situations. Dogs that haven't been bred to work with humans need something else than a dog that worships the ground we walk on. It's not better or worse, it just is :)

 
3--I don't want to be on the World Team...so is it worth me even going?
Of course it is! Do you want to be able to communicate with your dog better? Become a better trainer? Then YES! A VERY SMALL sector of the agility community actually wants to aspire to be on a World Team! And lets be honest (having a husband on two World Teams this year!) ITS PRICEY! Goals are goals...I want to help you get there :) So you can tackle them and move onto bigger goals for YOUR team!!

4--I have to be able to run to be in a seminar, I have (bad hips, bad knees, bad ankles, fast dog etc etc). 

I don't agree with that. A good clinician will be able to work with each team's strengths and help with their weaknesses. I want people to be able to improve their communication with their dogs...that's my goal. Regardless of what your speed is.

Of course there are some presenters that mesh with individuals moreso than others...that is a personal choice. But I do think seminars are a wonderful place to learn.

If you are hesitant to try a seminar...I would suggest at least auditing one...This way you can get an idea of how this particular person teaches and how they adapt to every team :)

Speaking of seminars, Lynn and I will be flying to Florida mid month to work with the One Mind crew! A working spot opened up and I took that opportunity! I am looking forward to being able to learn from them and find out more about their training! Feeling very lucky!

I also got the news recently that I will be the Assistant Coach for the IFCS World Team! Very excited to be helping Team USA however they need me! Going to be a fun fun time in the Netherlands!

Here's to a great 2014 so far!!!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Contentment...

Andy, myself and all the pups went to a USDAA trial this past weekend.

I haven't trialed in what seems like FOREVER, and in reality...because it hasn't been over 0 degrees F for a month practically...the dogs were going to be a bit rusty.  But why not right?

I went to the trial needing a GP and Steeplechase Q for each pup so they could play at the Regional in April. Due to my teaching schedule...I am gone somewhere each time there is a local trial, sadly...so we hit the road for Milwaukee :) Nothing like an almost 8 hour drive one way! LOL

This was my first time back in the ring with Miss Klink...who, for a long time we thought would never step foot back into the ring again...so it was a very special time for me. 

It was great to get to catch up with everyone...

I was sitting on the sidelines, watching people compete, the good, the bad, the happiness...all of it...and I sighed a happy sigh. Contentment...

I missed trialing...haven't been able to say that. I missed running my 3 pack. It felt complete again. Klinky was with me again.

Team Crackhead was wonderful of course...lots of good runs, he is already all Q'd up for CA. 

Klink was amazing...all weekend, she Q'd in everything except one Standard run...despite me being very late on some things LOL!!! I cried after her runs a lot...I'm sure that probably freaked some people out as I'm not normally a crying person! But, when my dogs, and those close to me are concerned...well, it happens. I missed the smile on her face, her bark, how she always has a rock solid stay, kissing her on the head before I lead out...all of it. I felt complete again, running my fuzzy loud mouthed girl.  She picked up both tournament legs she needed for the Regional, 1 std, 2 gamblers, 1 snooker super Q, 1 jumpers...She was amazing, it felt so good to run her...have that connection again. Klink at home, and Klink at a trial are two completely different beasts. I missed my adrenaline rush :)

Gator was as usual his amazing self...he had some issues adjusting to the turf on Saturday, so a bar in the two jumpers classes...and wasn't collecting the best all weekend...but other than that, he just ticked along. Hard to believe he is 7 years old. He ended up getting all his Tournament Q's as well (can't remember placements), 1 Gamble Q, Got two Master Challenger Standard Q's with a 2nd and 4th. 2nd and 3rd in Standard, pairs Q's, Snooker Super Q...had a perfect day on Sunday. Whatta kid. He somehow popped a rib and a toe out on Saturday (thinking him falling on the turf and a bad DW load)...he was lame...I was worried...but a dear friend was able to figure out the issue, another friend lent me her laser, and he ran wonderfully on Sunday, Q'd in all classes in fact :) Grateful for good friends...people willing to help out :)

Miss Lynn...what can I say about my 19.5 inch little bugger...DW's?? CHECK! Straights and a hard turn that she nailed with all four feet! Jumping? Wonderful (she had to figure out the turf as well! But that's to be expected!). She won Standard both days...2nd place in Challenger Std even with a slip and fall on the turf!! Two Gambler Q's, a pairs Q, and a master Challenge jumpers run that was SMOKIN...one bar that she slipped right on take off. Sunday she ran perfectly...no bars, she had it all figured out :)

I had my three dogs back...it felt complete...trials haven't felt that complete in a long time. I was finally CONTENT again. It just didn't feel right just running Lynn and Gator. Klink LOVES agility...and she is sound, and healthy and her Lyme titers were LOVELY. I hope there isn't a relapse!

I feel so grateful that I have three dogs that feel like an old pair of shoes, we have trust, we have that connection, each dog is a little different, but each just as special. I wouldn't trade my dogs for ANY dogs, not a dog that could run faster, not a dog that could turn tighter, not a dog that is taller and has a bigger stride, not a dog with better anything. I love my dogs. I want to run MY dogs. I don't care if we win, I don't care if we place. I just am content running my 4 year old, 7 year old and 8.5 year old :) I am content knowing that Klink is running agility completely sound and at 16" because she can stay sound and healthy at that height. I am grateful that Gator is running so well with little to no injuries at 7 years old. I am grateful that Lynn enjoys the game, kicks some butt and is confident in her contacts that I don't even think about them anymore.

I could run these three dogs for the rest of my life...I really could. They may or may not be the best agility dogs ever, but as far as I am concerned...they are the best because they're perfect for me. We are connected, and they give me 200% even when I am a little rusty :)

I picked each of these dogs with my heart (actually ALL my dogs are picked with my heart)...I have always followed my gut with a puppy...if the connection isn't there, I don't get one. And I am happy with what I have found. I wouldn't personally pick a puppy JUST on structure (not saying those that do are bad people...that's just not my thing). Gator is a bit straight in the front end...yet he has the heart and is an amazing athlete. Lynn could use more back and also more angulation in her rear...but she is such a little dependable work horse. Klink is built pretty darn perfectly...but is hard on herself...and gets injured more than the other two combined! LOL But she never gives up. 

It was a great weekend, filled with seeing friends, LOTS of laughing, lots of great courses (not easy--challenging but fun!), the judge was super laid back about things (nice nice nice!!!) and I had my pups :)

Content...that pretty much described my attitude this weekend. Nothing really mattered but just running the pups. This weekend I head off to Calgary to teach for a couple of days. I am excited!!! Then a weekend off, then another trial, then a weekend off, then another seminar in NC :) Makes the winters go by much quicker!! And I really enjoy working with all different people.

I hope everyone has a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Here's to 2014!!! Lets hope it goes well for all of us!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!!!!!

From our home to yours :)
Here's to a wonderful 2014 for everyone! 

It's a cold and snowy Christmas Eve for all of us. The drifts are high, the temps are LOW...and it feels good to be in the warm house.
 One really nice thing about Minnesota...we are pretty much guaranteed a white Christmas. I'll admit, I really like a white Christmas :)
I did the usual group picture of the pups...but I thought, to help myself get in the Christmas mood...I'd take some individual pictures too :) I liked how they turned out :) Like a friend said, their personalities really shine in these. 
Zip and her impish eyes :) Up to no good. Hard to believe she will be 11 this January!!!! She is still as ornery as ever :)

Miss Even...on the back of the couch...surveying her land to make sure nothing fun is happening without her! She has to be part of it all :)
 And Gator...wondering why we have to do this every year...
 Lynn...being all regal and serious :) Like she has everything under control.
 Miss Klink...which such joy on her face :) She absolutely LOVES photos :) She cracks me up!
 And of course, Mr. Crackers :) All inquisitive and cute :)
I hope all of you have a WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!!! Whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate, enjoy your time with family and friends. Cherish those that are close to you and hug your pups!!