Monday, October 19, 2009

Who's Shaping Who?

I have a bad habit of making really ridiculous sounds at my dog. No, really, it's rather excessive. It's worse if I get a reaction out of him, like a tail wag, because then I make weirder sounds and increase the volume, rate, and range. Kind of sounds like increasing criteria, huh? Gosh I need new hobbies.


On to an official agility re-cap.

Friday: Today there were only Excellent runs, standard and jumpers with weaves. Lots of great dogs, of course. The people I had already met (remember, old enough to be my mother) kept telling me "These are the college level dogs!" Hahaha, funny joke. Once. Kinda. Not all day. They ran small to tall, so I missed a few papillons and the two miniature schnauzers that I had wanted to see. But then, oh heavens, the border collies! I loved seeing all the different breeds that ran, but NOTHING compares to a GOOD border collie running agility. So FAST! There was one blue merle that was three to four obstacles ahead of his handler. It was a good run to illustrate how important handling is, they didn't Q because the handler couldn't keep up or direct from a distance. Right after that though was bi-black that was an example of excellent handling. They were amazing to watch, ran a perfect course, and were well under time until the handler called her off the final jump into his arms. Why? the crowd buzzed. Word soon spread, that morning there was a border collie speciality nearby. There is apparently some rule about Q'ing at two seperate events in the same day. General consensus was that this is a good rule, although I'm not sure why. Last dogs to run were a sable German Shepard and a Belgian Malinois, and then I helped set up for the next day's JWW.

Saturday: I was in and out all day, I had a lot of other errands to do. This was the one I got pictures at! Only a few and from one spot because I was very very nervous of being told off, but I got them. They are at the end, but first I want to talk about this kid: This is them clearing the final jump to qualify in Novice A standard, but I saw them run JWW Novice A first. He was walking the course, planning his crosses and I happened to be standing next to his mom at the time. She doesn't like the decision he's making at one of the turns and starts shouting directions at him. Not meanly, just, "Hey son do it this way!" The other moms are counselling her to let him figure it out on his own (which he should, and eventually did). Walkthrough is over, and then it's their turn to run. The dog, who is more experienced than the handler, tears it up. Zoom zoom zoom. Kid's doing well keeping up, too. At a far turn coming back towards the spectators, Kid goes down. Dog keeps running. Kid pops up, pulls Dog off wrong jump at last possible second, and the dog zooms through the rest of the course, largely in spite of any handling Kid is doing. Not that he's doing a bad job, but Dog can clearly read the numbers on the obstacles. It was something to see, let me tell you! (They qualified, to much ribbing of Kid's mother). Their standard run went more smoothly, and they qualified there too.

Pug on a teeter!

It was very cold. And then it snowed. @#$% Wisconsin. >[

For all the shelties that were there, no two looked anything a like.

Coming down the home stretch now, it's down the dog walk and over the jump to Q!

Friday, October 16, 2009

That Explains So Much

The last couple of nights Gatsby has been on edge. Barking at night and just sort of fidgety. We thought it was just loneliness, as I spent most of the week at home and then missed a night, and now my Aunt is on a trip so she's gone.

When I took Gatz out for his late-nite pee, he pitches a holy hell of a fit. The weirdest bark I've ever heard out of him (and this dog makes some weird noises), comes baying out of him at our neighbors. "Come on Gee, none of that, let's pee, yadda yadda yadda." He's usually better with them so I'm apologizing over this extremely strange bark he's got going on.

Turns out Maggie, the bulldog next door, is in heat. XD

My poor, neutered boy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Agility and our Progress Towards It

For the last few days I've been writing a post in my head about how frustrated I was with Gatsby this weekend. Sunday was our last Petsmart class before the test, and Gatz was a mess. It was the worst I've ever seen him. Every. single. thing. was a distraction. Another owner would shift their weight or a dog would twitch their tail and he'd be dancing around, growling and barking. He popped up eighty times during stays. Paid no attention to me or treats during loose leash walking and heeling. The worst was when we started "Go to bed" when someone knocks on the door. Admittedly, I thought our trainer rushed that portion a little, but Gatsby was by far the worst. He threw an absolute fit. Thankfully his recall did not fall apart as well, or I very well may have gone home without a dog. I was so mad at him. We did make up later that day, but I spent a good deal of time sulking about his performance.

Now that I've had a little distance from the event, I've been able to think about it a little more critically. I've been loathe to attach the label to him, but I think Gatsby may be "reactive," especially to other dogs. He was wayyyy over threshold on Sunday and I really think we should have left as soon as I noticed it. I don't know how to get him out of that, since he gets so focused on whatever it is that has his attention that he doesn't see me as anything other than an obstacle to his target.

I didn't even go to the last day of the trial because I was so bummed out. It was really hard to see awesome dogs so focused on their handlers and just not get that from mine.

We've been working on watch me. He's up to three seconds reliably; our longest stretch is seven. I have a three-day weekend with the apartment to myself. Gatsby doesn't know it yet, but he's going through the ringer this weekend. Watch me, crate training, and impulse control. Foundation, foundation, foundation. He's a young, small dog. We have years to do the sexy stuff. (Does it sound like I'm trying to convince myself? I am.) We can do this.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My local AKC club (which is exactly 5 miles away from my house and along a beautiful bike path, so me and G will have to walk there someday) is hosting their fall agility trial this weekend. I am, in a work, STOKED. I haven't seen agility in person since I was something like 8. Agility is half the reason I got a dog. Today was the opening day and Excellent class. Lots of really great runs, highlights of which will come later, but what I honestly think I liked better was watching the other people (who all seemed to know eachother?) with their dogs.

My question posed to you, oh blagosphere, is what is picture taking etiquette? There's some gorgeous dogs doing amazing things and I want to capture and video, but I know some people are touchy about pictures. I also am really nervous about talking to anyone because I don't want to knock them off their game (especially since today was the big leagues). I want to engage these people but I don't know how.

Everyone from the club is super nice though. I got to help take down the Excellent Jumpers course and set up the Open Jumpers! Carrier of heavy things (okay, PVC pipe) is my job title. I really get a good vibe from the ones I've met, and when the next obedience class opens I'm going to enroll Gatsby there instead of Petsmart. I'll miss Jake, who is excellent as well, but it's closer, cheaper, and I want to build a relationship with the club and compete. There's a Rally class in the Spring that I'm on the waiting list for. I might be able to take an Intro to Obstacles class in Oshkosh since thier agility course is inside, but that's a bit of a drive and won't be until January.