Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dog Agility Blog Action Day----Success

Another awesome Dog Agility Blog Action Day topic!!

Success
Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts--unknown

My mind stewed on this subject for many weeks actually, as it is really tough to define what success means to me. Do I have ultimate goals...yes I think?

I always tell people, I am for SURE not a Type A, more like a B+ in personality. I want to do well, on those things I care about, otherwise, I am content at sucking at stuff if that is how the chips fall :)

Maybe that sounds weird, but that's how it is. My psyche is that of a person who is really passionate about a few things...and I throw my energy, my heart, my soul into those passions. If it is not a passion...meh :)
 I think success, like we as humans, is constantly evolving. It's a living, breathing entity...which can either feed our souls, or destroy us. A very wise herding person once said "there is no room for ego in dog training"...and that is very true.

We also, in turn, either feed the success by CHOOSING to see the good in things, or feed that lack of success by focusing on the bad. Things must always be in balance...that is life, homeostasis really is happening in ALL things. 

One of the things that we, as humans have a tough time doing, is self assessment. We want to believe we are wonderful, that we have all these amazing strengths, and we are going to win. Am I saying that we aren't all wonderful, nope! But we all have things to improve to become a better person. Sitting down and being honest about what you are, about what you want, and the toughest, what you are NOT happy with (that usually can be helped with a glass of wine ;-). I want to wake up every morning and become a LITTLE bit better than I was yesterday. In agility, in herding, in LIFE. 

So I do self assess...I look at myself as if I was an outsider...and there are times I see things that make me very disappointed in myself...I failed. Whether it is in agility with my dog, my communication with someone, how I handled not getting that last GP Q I needed. I failed. But I reassess, and I tell myself I will do better. And I let it go, I don't stay in that mindset (I try to really mimic my dogs in that thought process).  Failure is not fatal. Failure is feedback, failure is a chance to start again, fresh, with a new plan.

In return I forgive others who have failed in their quest. Many people are fighting battles way worse than dog training. Sometimes it seeps into a trial with them. We are all human
 Lynn is a saint :)

Success is not final...what a very true and honest statement. There are so many paths to success for so many people, so many stepping stones to that level...it would do us ALL good to be able to embrace each others goals of success. So that we can support each other, instead of tearing down progress. I see people who are working through issues, sometimes met with a lot of resistance...please let the judge in the ring do the judging. 

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure, in the mind of another--unknown

Failure is not fatal...THIS one has taken awhile :) Having measured success in Q's in the past, it has taken me time and experience to understand it isn't ABOUT those things, it's about that connection and those amazing runs where you and your dog felt like you were one. When I started on the path of training the running dog walk, I had people that wanted me to fail, said it couldn't be done.  And for awhile I wanted to let them win. What IF I fail at this? Will people see me as pathetic? Will I be viewed as a failure? There were many times I told myself I was a failure during the training process. But I wanted the experience, I wanted the challenge, so I stuck with it. Even when people chose to tell me when she jumped, but never cheered for us when she nailed a contact. I told myself this is my journey, and I want it. I wouldn't trade it for the world. In many ways I failed and then picked myself back up and became that much stronger. I found my courage to continue.

Having dealt with an autoimmune disease for many years now, I have realized that sometimes my best isn't going to be good enough. That sometimes just being able to get out of bed and take my pups on a walk is the success of the day. I've learned to be happy with what I can give, and not beat myself up over it. My dogs don't care, those that care about me don't care. And that's good enough for me :)

Always remember success comes in many forms. And don't expect the world to celebrate your success! You celebrate it! You embrace it!

When I was asked to be the assistant coach for the IFCS team this year in the Netherlands, that was a great time for me. Helping the team, being there with Andy...to me that was a wonderful experience. I love teaching/coaching, to see people blossom, change and evolve into better handlers and trainers...it's what I live for. It is a huge success point in my teaching career. And it was unforgettable. I cherish that.

But...now my success is getting Gig to take treats when a new dog is around, or teaching a student how to teach and use verbals. The focus is always changing.
And for ME, the biggest change in success has been, I look INWARD for my successes, instead of OUTWARD.

Outward: Q's, Ribbons, Titles, Medals, Placements, others opinions of me, of my dog, of my handling and training.
Inward: Connection, handling to the best of my abilities, challenging myself, being loving and fair to my dogs, being a better person, giving that knowledge to my students so they can succeed, LETTING GO OF THINGS (huge huge huge) etc.

If the inward is at peace, the rewards of good handling, good training will happen. 

Are medals and ribbons nice? Sure, they are a picture of that moment in time you had the best run. But they are not the be all. While sitting in a briefing a judge said something that will FOREVER stick in my head "No one will remember who won Grand Prix at this trial, but EVERYONE will remember who was an ass to their dog". So very very true. 

I have become very much like my dogs in regards to life and success, if I don't like it, I ignore it :) If I like it, I embrace it!

The courage to continue on, to step to the start line with our dogs and be OK with whatever happens. To not worry about the "what ifs" and "how will I look" but to just be there with my dog, running...that's my success.

Go visit the other blog postings on this topic! Lots of great stuff!!!
http://dogagilityblogevents. wordpress.com/success/

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Giggity Update :)

Miss Giggity is growing up up up! She will be 13 weeks this Friday! And she has really learned a lot in the past few weeks :)

First off...she has a neck...a VERY LONG neck :)
 And she is getting lots of leg :)
 Gig and I have been working the past few weeks, I had goals for her and I. I think we did very well meeting those goals.

Things we have been working on: 

RECALL: with or without the dogs around---very very good. The only issue I am having right now is if the other dogs are running like crazy, but she will get to that. I am impressed with how solid she is already! She has done recalls very well at lots of different locations, with distractions, etc etc. Love it!
 Crate games: ok...well MY version of crate games...get into the crate and wait while the door opens...that's really all I do. But she is ROCKING it :)

Retrieve (see below for proof): Miss Gig didn't believe in retrieving a toy, she LOVED chasing, but the returning part she thought really sucked and was useless...but now she has really made some huge strides in that realm :) She is bringing back her toys quite well!!! YAY!!!!!
 Biting (rather NOT biting): yeah, um...it's getting better :) Little victories!! I will be so happy when those little puppy teeth fall out!!! She is doing better when she WANTS to bite though...she is starting to grab toys when she gets the urge. My ankles are grateful for that :) 

This little girl knows how to get what she wants :) She has figured out the toy is the key to controlling the pack. Bugger ;-)
She's like...YEAH DUH!!!!!
 Handling: No not agility handling, I would be doing that for a LONG time...more dealing with restraint (I teach my dogs to be restrained in a positive way---makes vet visits super easy) trimming nails, touching paws, checking teeth etc. She is doing awesome with all that. SCORE!
 Experiencing the world, check...she doesn't care about anything really, lawnmowers?? So?  Crowds? So?? Strange dogs and people?? Yeah....big deal? Loving her solid temperament!!! 

Settling: I have 7 dogs in the house, I don't like dogs throwing toys at me...there is a time for drive to be engaged and a time for it not to be. So she has been taking naps with me in the bed, she is chilling in her xpen or crate during training sessions with the other dogs (she thinks that sucks and vocalizes a LOT but is getting better!) Just learning how to STOP...as she doesn't want to stop...EVER :) I admire it! But I want her to understand that it's part of life. She settles WONDERFULLY now in the car for trips. I only ask her to really settle right now when she is mentally  and physically tired :) Makes it much easier for her.
 Relationship: She has a very independent nature and is a headstrong little girl (I am IN LOVE!!!!) So she wasn't choosing me all the time. The past week she has come a LONG LONG way!!! She is choosing me every time over the pups!!! She is engaging me! She is seeking me out. I am beyond happy about this! She is such a go getter in life, which I love, and I want to make sure she includes me in the equation ;-) She is PERFECT in that area now!!!! I will for sure keep on rewarding this! I think she is really bonding though...not just because there is food, or toys involved...she is seeking me out for petting (petting...who had time for petting!?!??!?!?!? she had the world to conquer!) which I think is great. She is for sure my puppy...loses it when someone else has her and I leave. It's neat seeing that happening!! What I am MOST excited about!

Grabbing the collar, sit, down, backing up, tugging (no issues) and food drive (pretty good but she does love her some toys!!!) restrained recalls, tug-sit-tug, shaping getting into a box etc. Lots of little things.

But to ME, the big things are looking amazing, the connection, the life skills, etc. Those are the most important to me at this point. She is really settling in. I absolutely adore this puppy...she has a lot of heart, she is damn smart, she is just so amazingly cool.

She was made for me, loves her picture taken..and never wakes me up in the am, what puppy loves to sleep in?!???!??!?!?!? MINE!!!
Just so brilliant...I know I know...she's just a puppy, but she is more than that...I don't know where this journey will take us, but I am excited about every morning when I get her out of her kennel. She stretches out of her kennel, comes up to me all soft and sweet (as she is still asleep) and she cuddles for 5 minutes...kisses my face, snuggles in my neck. It's one of the most amazing things in my day. As she saves that JUST for me. 

And then she starts biting, game on Loretta :)

How do you not absolutely fall in love with that??

Friday, May 23, 2014

Giggity---11 weeks old :)

Miss Gig is 11 weeks old today! What a fun week or so it has been! It's nice to be back from Europe and spending time with my puppy!!!

We have been working on things, lots of life skills stuff...and socializing her to lots of new places and people. She is very naughty and also has an independent streak :) Which I having a wonderful time working with.
 She tugs, she bites, so toy play is rockin...she is working on a fetch...but she has her own ideas on where the toy should go AFTER she gets it :) So toys are on leashes right now. Gotta love the naughty!
 Her recall is going very well, she can recall in the pack of dogs already, which is great. She loves her some cookies :) She sits, she kennels, she is starting a stay, sends to toys, potties on leash, all that boring stuff that is necessary :)
 And we are just spending a ton of time together. She is taking in life...nothing has spooked or bugged her, she is a very confident little bugger :) Loves any and all people, all dogs, all noises, all of LIFE :) 

How do you not fall in love with that? This girl is so damn fun.
 She wants to herd the sheep, and cars...which we are working on :) 
 Will be starting more trick training...but the life skills need to be solid :) She rocks her x-pen skills, barks to get out to potty, otherwise has figured out how to play with her toys without constant attention :)
 Right now it's about getting to know her, letting her see and absorb the world...and for me personally, letting rules develop and happen when needed. 
Such a raw being right now, full of curiosity, only doing what seems natural. We can learn so much from them at this age. It's fun just sitting back and letting her show me all she has :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Always Behind :)

Life isn't letting me update the blog...I keep having guilty feelings about it...but I am now realizing that it's OK. The blog will happen as it happens...

I have lots of blogging to do...Assistant coaching the World Team...my travels to the Netherlands and Italy...Team Crackhead's amazing World Team medal stuff etc etc....Team USA is amazing...I will leave it at that for now :) 

If you are friends with me of Facebook, you know about the Introduction I am going to make...if you don't, here you go!

Introducing Gig :)
 I'll admit, I was looking for a boy...and I wanted her to come about a year later...but, well...it's very common for me to get puppies at a bad time. And this fit perfectly :)

SHE decided I was hers, and wasn't taking no for an answer...so here she is! I got to spend 3 days with her before heading off to do World Team stuff :) My wonderful friend/student D took amazing care of her and all my other pups...

Gig is pretty damn amazing...
 She will be 11 weeks old this Friday...so these are pics from today, I will post pictures of her younger weeks  as I get time...LOL So maybe when she is 1?? 
 She's really a brilliant, driven, tough little puppy...reminds me a lot of Zip as a pup...really looking forward to our journey :)
 She's playing with toys, bites a LOT, draws blood a LOT, and is experiencing as much of life as possible. Taking it all in stride. 
 The gal who has Lynn's brother also got a sister...I will post photos of her when I get some...lots of big ears in this litter :)
Here's to puppies...that fun, raw happiness and wonder :)

Welcome to Full Tilt Border Collies Miss Gig, aka Giggity, aka turd, aka cray cray :)

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.