More Goals, Plans and a Celebration

Firstly, the celebration part. As of this weekend, Diego has been with us for five years. I can’t believe its been that long. While he mainly cruises in the background these days, he was a huge factor in teaching me about dogs with “issues” and that they can be helped and even eventually overcome. He is such an easy guy for the most part, and at the end of the day the ultimate loyal dog. We went on a hike today and even though he was hot and probably not feeling well from me let him gorge on pupcakes and waffles all weekend, he trucked along. He will not quit, no matter how rough it gets. (I did give him plenty of water and shade breaks, tho I did feel horrible for pushing him like that.) I love the little man, flaws and all.

On the goals and planning front… I signed us up for the upcoming DASH AKC trial the 2nd week in August. That leaves us 5 weeks to get our contacts dialed. Well at least Phin’s. Forest’s just are what they are, though I have been working the Aframe more lately and am thinking about just letting him run his DW. Thats a whole ‘nother kettle of fish though, and well… yeah. So, RE Phin, I need to be good about working contacts with him a minimum of 2x a week at work and then as well at least once on the weekend. He is doing really well on the Aframe–I had him running it with the box on at 5’6″ the other day from a tunnel, and with a jump after, including crosses before and after, etc. He only bailed over the box less than a handful of times in the last few sessions so at this point that’s all I can ask for. At some point the box has to come off, but I feel like he pretty much gets it. We’ll see how it holds once he gets amped up in trial mode.

The dogwalk, which I said I thought was good not all that long ago, has been on hold while I re-teach him a nose target ala the SG Contacts course. She really splits hairs–in a good way as far as I am concerned–and we are really, really, really working getting that nose touch down and then adding a target and then adding all that fun stuff to the foundation equipment. I may have to do some dogwalks on a wing and a prayer in August, but my goal is to get it at least decent or better by then and just keep refining it from there. At this point I am pretty confident he wont bail the contact altogether in a trial, but even if he runs through it I will have to force myself to hold criteria.

So, the schedule for the rest of the year is looking roughly like this;

August;
DASH AKC, Costa Mesa 8/11-8/12 – Forest & Phin
Walnut AKC, OC – 8/25-26 – tentative

September;
AKC Rohr Park, SD – 9/15-9/16
AKC Point Loma, SD – 9/29-9/30

October;
DASH AKC, Costa Mesa – 10/13-10/14
Daisy Peel seminar – 10/20-10/21

November;
AKC Walnut, OC – 11/3-11/4
DART USDAA, Irwindale – 10/17-10/18
Happy Dog USDAA – 11/23-11/25

December;
AKC Point Loma, SD – 12/8-12/9
AKC Rohr Park, SD – 12/29-12/30

That’s it. So wish that there were more USDAA options but between distance and timing its just not half as easy to get to USDAA. I love it more than AKC by leaps and bounds, but it is what it is. I also know now looking at this that Forest will unfortunately only be running here and there. I signed both dogs up for the August trial and the total fees really hit me hard. (Not to mention I signed up online which was great in theory, until I checked out and noticed AKC dinged me I think $14 in “service fees”. Eeek! I’ll use the $.34 stamp next time thank-you-very much!) I dont know how people do multiple dogs weekend after weekend. I guess they just have better paying jobs than I do! Ouch.

To add to my goals for the rest of the year, looking at this now and assuming I do most or many of these trials, I think its realistic to work towards Phin getting through AKC Novice and Open JWW by the end of the year. Standard should be doable as well, but I’ll focus on the very doable and be thrilled if we get the not-as-easy bits. 🙂

He’s pretty excited about it as well. Almost excited as he is to demolish yet another toy within an hour of me bringing it home…

Status Report

I was looking back on some blog posts and found my goals for this year. I always feel like I am never doing enough, or keeping up to where I “should” be (where/whatever that is). But, looking over the list, I am pretty darn happy with where we are halfway through the year. I may need to do this whole goal-setting thing more often…

Forest:
– clean up his contacts (go back to upholding actual criteria for his 2o2o DW. keep training the Aframe to remove the two-hit fly off issue we have once he gets really moving);
In progress and have been spending time on. Could always do more, but I haven’t been ignoring this one.
– finish his AX title in AKC; Mmm, not so much on this one, but I think we’ve only done 2, maybe 3 AKC trials so far this year? We got one of those dastardly Ex A Standard legs, one more still to go. But we do have 6 months! I think its pretty doable.
– finish his USDAA AAD title, move up into all Masters; We are so close on this one! Only one more pairs leg to go. Next time, I am doing a draw. We are developing a pairs curse when I pair with people I like. I think maybe I wont feel so much pressure with a stranger. Sorry strangers!
– get a Grand Prix Q; Done and done! 🙂
– if the GP Q happens we can think about nationals… Nope. Not gonna do it. He’s not ready and I dont really see the point. (Not to mention that whole cost issue.)
– keep him running “up” and happy, give him fair/equal time for training; We’ve been pretty good on this, so much depends on the weather and his general mood—hence the skipping trialing in the Summer part. But overall, he does seem generally happier and more in the game when we do run. He does still deserve more training time, though as always I do believe less-is-more with him.
– keep him fit;This is actually my biggest concern at this point. We now have no “official” classes, just me trying to squeeze in independent training time for both dogs and F always gets the short end of the stick. I do need to find more beach and hiking time though, no excuses!
– get his CA (Coursing Ability) title; This hasnt happened, but its very low a priority and we havent exactly had many options. There’s only been one event within driving distance over the last 9 months, and I had to work so… If one goal is to fall off the radar, this is the one. However, he does deserve as much coursing time as he can get.

Phin:
– keep working on the basics. clean up his heeling and get an actual “swing”. get better sits, downs from a distance. get a stand on verbal;
In progress/almost there on the swing and heeling, distance downs and sits… meh. Started the stand. I also will pat myself on the back for continuing to work on Foundation skills with him, particularly Impulse Control and Body Awareness. Some of that is me and some is due to the SG contacts course. Either way we’re sticking with the foundation stuff, I actually love doing it.
– keep working on handling–both agility handling on the flat and more importantly, everyday let-me-look-in-your-mouth handling; Yep and I need to keep working on it. Nail trims, still a battle.
– make a decision about his dogwalk–running or 2o2o–and stick with it; This one was/is a biggie, and I did make a decision and I will be sticking with it. Yay me. We are doing a 2o2o dogwalk and a running Aframe. And a 4on teeter but that was never a question. I have been working pretty diligently on all fronts and things are progressing.
– try some fun runs and practices in the Spring; Check.
– he could start running AKC as early as March… but I think I will be waiting ’til May at the earliest; We shined doing any AKC yet. Wasn’t ready, but he will be for the DASH trial in August.
– try to have him ready for USDAA starters in the fall. He’s eligible in June, but September-October is probably more realistic; I cheated on this one a bit, but I couldn’t resist missing one of only two yearly USDAA trials in SD the week he turned eligible. As I posted, all went swimmingly. Unfortunately his next USDAA opp wont be until October.
– keep looking for somewhere we can train outdoors down here in SoCA; I have contacted Anne to see if she had spots in her evening classes. I was a bit premature as she wants them running full courses, contacts and all for her Novice class. But we’ll be ready by the end of this month to get up and running with her.
– get up to see Rachel Sanders at least once; Jen brought it up recently, so hopefully that will be a go.
– do some coursing with him as well; Check.
– keep him fit; I actually just added this for Phin. His metabolism is finally slowing down and between that and the raw food he has finally put on weight. A little too much actually. He is still lean by “normal” standards, but I need to measure out his food more carefully and make sure he’s getting plenty of structured exercise too. Again with us going from two classes a week (plus daycare, plus training, plus puppy shenanigans) to none and him turning into an adult dog, he has fallen off a bit from where he was physically. No biggie, I just need to be more aware and make sure he’s staying fit. Though I am not complaining that he has calmed down a bit! 😉

Diego:
– stay fit, happy and healthy, give him lots of love for being a good “TM”; Check! He even has been playing a bit of agility–tunnels, 4″ jumps, 2x2s and tables. He does get a kick out of it.

So I guess i have to say I am actually pretty proud of myself for sticking to my plans as well as I have.

Time to start crafting more goals for 2013!

Behind, as Per Usual

Lots to catch up on and not enough energy or time really at the moment to do it all justice.

Denise Fenzi was just awesome, what I expected and more. Nothing really mind blowing but her presentation and common-sense ways of explaining things was really refreshing. No BS or fanfare, just what she has seen work explained in very clear cut, understandable terms. LOTS of tugging and play focus which I loved. Forest, didnt love it so much but he hung in there for the most part. Sue Ailsby was similar in that I didnt necessarily hear too much I hadnt heard before, but her tips and tricks and anecdotes always make her worth seeing when/if you can. It was also nice to have some non-agility takes on how to fix things, not that they were terribly different, but came from a more neutral standpoint I guess. I have lots of great notes from Denise’s talks in particular, if I ever find myself with plenty of free time to retype notes I’ll get right on that…

I had a little automotive setback last week that has forced much agility training to be be put on the back burner. Something stupid, completely my fault and fortunately no one was hurt but my car. I had 2 of the dogs in the car with me but they were safe in their crates and we weren’t going too fast so we all made it out unscathed. (Mental note that dogs will not be riding loose in my car if I can help it anytime soon.) So between now and my promised repair date of July 16th I’ll have to be creative with how I get to work as well as how I can still cram in training with the dogs being mostly left at home. I may be able to sneak them up to work with me a bit here and there if I can coerce Pete out of his truck, but for the most part we’ll all be taking an equipment vacay for the next week or two. So, we’ll have to get busy at home on the non-equipment front. I really, really need to get some basic stuff for the backyard but that’s yet another expense on my extensive wish list…

I have to admit I’m pretty burned out in general right now. I have taken a lot onto my plate between the dogs and other personal projects as well as being slammed at work.. I get home exhausted and am not always good at summoning the energy to train, or plan, or keep up with online courses, or cook dinner, or call my friends back, or many of the other things I should be doing. I know I am hardly unique with this dilemma, just wondering how we all keep it together… I guess if the dogs dont do much agility in the next few weeks the world wont end, we might even enjoy it… gasp! Don’t tell the Agility Gods…