Thursday, 1 December 2011

Happy 11th Birthday Ardi!

Happy Birthday Ardi!
May you always keep your face toward the sunshine
- and shadows fall behind you.

Monday, 26 September 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words

Recently I read an article that talked about professional photographers volunteering their talents to photograph dogs in rescue.  It started with a Dachshund Rescue group and one photographer that felt the rescues needed to make a good impression from the start. 
Here is a picture of Curious taken at a fundraiser photo shoot.  It does capture her charm and beauty, what a pretty girl and we will see shortly if putting her best face forward will help her find a new home.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

House Guest

Soon to visit our house on a stop over to her forever home will be Curious.  Curious is a 7 year old very spry female Chesapeake.  I've only had a chance to visit with Curious for a short time, but as the picture shows she has 2 things going for her from the start.  One, she is beautiful and two, she is a football fan.  More to come on Curious when she arrives next week.

Friday, 12 August 2011

KAOS Drill Team

From the 2011 Queen City Exhibition, the KAOS Drill team.  This is just the second performance for the group. The team was made up of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever , a Labrador Retriever, a Duck Toller, two Golden Retrievers, a Mini Long Haired Dachshund, a Standard Poodle, a Rough Collie, a Boston Terrier and a Shetland Sheepdog.

What fun they were to watch and we hope to see more of them at upcoming dog events.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Peake Sisters

                           Ardis @ 10 1/2 and Reese 2 1/2

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Ardi's day in the Sun!

Today was one of those days for me to take a step back from training and give youngster Reese a day off.  Not only was it Ardi's day in the sun, but it was her day in the sand and water to.

Ardi came along to our training group gathering and  enjoyed following us to set up land marks.  A few bumpers got tossed for her and she hammed it up for treats.  The real excitement for her was getting to the water marks and for the 1st time in a very long time she did get to bring back 2 birds. At 10 years old, Ardi is still thrilled to get out and bring back the birds.   She later had a few long marks thrown with the launcher, which she enjoyed a nice leisurely swim out to and back.  She is one happy and tired girl.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Reese's 1st Jumper Q

We are just back from the Stand and Fly Agility Camp held in Prince Albert. What a wonderful camp we had.  We learned so much, but have so much to learn, I will be back next year for sure.

After camp there was a 1 day AAC trial and I entered Reese in 2 Jumper runs and 2 Steeplechase runs. The Steeplechase runs were fast and fun, but a little over our heads. I caused a few off courses with my handling.  But the good news was that Reese completed 3 sets of 12 weaves and held all her A-Frame contacts in the Steeplechase runs and did manage a clean run in her last Jumper round of the day.  Her time was 23.65 seconds, I can definately see where we can tighten up some turns.  Clean or not, it was really a lot of fun. Let's Play again soon.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Up and running.

Well I am happy to report we are up and running and that our runs are bark free. It didn't take long for Reese to decide that barking was wasted energy, better saved for the run. 
I am still working on finding the right pace for Reese.  She would like to go full tilt, but I am not to comfortable with doing this for an extended period on pavement.  There are a few places I could take Reese where I can let her run without being attached to the bike. When she barked at the bike and tried to bite the tire, this was not an option.  I think running without any pressure to speed up or slow down while harnessed would be best.

If I let her, I would not have to pedal at all, in fact I have to frequently ride the break to slow her down.  She is responding to a verbal easy and understands the turns, which I like. Frequent or sudden braking puts strain on the harness which puts strain on her so the more we ride together, the better it is for both of us.
Tonight I took the GPS with me and our route was 1.73 kms.  We did this in 6.2 minutes and our maximum speed was 23.5kms per hour.  Our average speed was 16.5kms.

Reese and I after the Ride

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Reese @ the Working Certificate Test - Saskatoon Retriever Club

Del Brave Flying Colours, RA, WC, CRAMCL
On June 17, 2011 Reese passed the Working Certificate Test at the Saskatoon Retriever Club. Reese ran in the lucky 13th spot in a field of 18 Retrievers.

The land marks were back to back singles using ducks. The marks were fairly straight forward at more then a 90 degree angle apart. The first mark was to the right of the line and was the shorter of the two. I would be hard pressed to say what the lengths were. But they seemed to be on the shorter side of the requirements. As you can see in the picture the grass was fairly long and this did cause a few problems for some of the dogs.

The water marks had to be adjusted after the test dog ran as they were 40 and 70 yds and had the dogs swimming into a very strong wind for the long bird. The marks were changed so that the shortest and the first bird thrown was thrown from the right so that it would stick on a point rather then drift out and was about 40 yards. The long mark was changed to be thrown out into the open water and would drift towards the dog.
Neither mark seemed too difficult and the throwers gave every dog a good throw. The only factor that made the long mark difficult was that the dogs were swimming into a very strong wind. The wind caused white caps on the water and when the dogs swam low to fight the wind they seemd to loose sight of the bird. You could see many of the dogs push themselves high up from the water and stretch their necks to see the bird. When they did this it made swimming into the wind difficult.
When the ribbons were handed out 11 of the 18 came away with a pass.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Mind your manners

In Working Certificate and Hunt Tests, the dog is under judgment from the time it leaves the holding blind to the time it returns to the holding blind. This means the walk to the line, while waiting for the birds to go down in the field, while honoring and between marks. You can also be guaranteed that if your dog is whining, barking or digging in the holding blind the judges will not be amused. Poor line manners, not only put a dog into the judge’s bad books, but detract from the dogs’ ability to focus on the job at hand. If you hear someone say the dog had the line manners of a” goat” or that the dog “ate the judges lunch”, you know the dog was out of control.

I’ve found that, sometimes I’m so caught up in getting Reese doing marks or drills that I forget about the importance of line manners. If I allow her to drag me to the line, whine in the blind, cruise the duck pail in training, why would I expect anything different come test day.

It only stands to reason that training sessions aren’t the only place that manners come into play. Poor field or line manners can be traced to poor manners at home. Rushing the door, jumping on people, charging the food bowl or barging out of the crate the minute the door opens, are all signs of little or no self control. If the dog shows little self control in the home environment, how can they be expected to exercise control in the stimulating environment of birds, duck calls and gun shots?

At home I’ve taken a look at the little things that I’ve let slip and have decided to pay closer attention to them. At feeding time Reese is now waiting in a sit for her food bowl to be put down. She is asked to go to her designated spot to lie down when company comes or when I get home, rather then spinning in a frenzy. If she charges the gate or the crate door, I close it. We have gone back to working one of the 1st exercises she learned as a puppy called “Puppy Zen” Puppy zen is puppy self control. In the beginning we just worked at leaving a treat in my hand until invited to take it. It has all kinds of implications for everyday living. So now we are extending it to highly stimulating situations and things of high value, like the duck pail and bumper bag.

We often forget about the basics or the foundation things our dogs learned. When things go wrong in the field, it is a great time to reflect on what’s happening at home.

You have to walk before you can run!

This is actually step 2 of us getting Reese used to the bike. In these video clips I am going it alone, while my accomplice (Bonnie) video tapes. Reese is doing remarkably well considering the first time out, she barked at the tire pretty much non-stop and has a love affair with barking at moving things.

Reese is wearing a practise harness, the real one will be longer in the back and distribute any pressure more evenly. The D ring that the Walky Dog attaches to will be back further towards Reese's hind end.

The real harness is ready to be picked up and with a few more practises, I think Reese and I will be on the road.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Biking with Reese

Two of my favourite activities are cycling and hanging out with the dogs. Before I had dogs to exercise and train, I did a lot of cycling. Although I love them both, I never thought the two went together. I’ve had a couple of bicycle accidents and know it can be dangerous enough with out the added risks of biking with a dog. Secondly, I think unless done with consideration for the dogs well being and limitations it can wear the dog down more then it can benefit the dog.

I had a opportunity to try the Walky Dog, a bike accessory that can make riding with a dog safe and enjoyable. My first dog biking experience was biking with a friends Irish Setters, who are comfortable with the bike and know basic commands like Load up (get the harness on ) Whoa , Left and Right. It was a blast to say the least.

After trying it with the two Setters, we got Reese out, harnessed her up and spent a few minutes walking her beside the bike. Just walking beside the bike was going to be a test, as Reese has always been one to bark at moving objects. Weather it was the vacuum cleaner rolling down the hallway, garage door closing , teeter tipping or anything on wheels, she was sure it needed a talking to. We started by putting the harness on Reese and then attaching her to the bike and we just walked the bike. She barked a little bit, and pulled sideways a bit, but in no time she was keeping a steady distance and pace with the occasional bark. So I decided to get on the bike and ride. Once I got on the bike and started to ride Reese barked the whole time. She only let up when I picked up my speed and she had to concentrate more on keeping up then barking. Surprising though she did not try to pull forward or sideways and did understand when to slow down and turn. I gave the transitions names like “easy” and “left” and “right” but she was really cueing from the bike itself. Heaven knows she couldn’t hear me for the barking.

So I went out and got a Walky Dog attachment for my bike. My friend Monica gave me a harness to use, that belongs to one of her setters. It needs some repair, so while I am waiting for it to get fixed I will work on getting Reese comfortable around the moving bike. Tonight we harnessed Reese in an old tracking harness of Kate’s. Bonnie pushed the bike and I followed along with Reese on leash. I clicked and treated her everytime she made a choice not to bark at the tire. It went remarkably well, she did not bark once, although she did look like she was gearing up to bark, she didn’t. We ended this lesson here and will continue doing this until the biking harness is ready. As always more to come.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Owning It!

After agility class was complete, Deb and I set up the dog walk at full height, along with 2 jumps and a tunnel. The exercise was taken from Bud Houston’s Blog and is intended to work on the dogs exit or dismount from the contact of the dogwalk. The blog suggests that the dog be released to all 4 positions without handling , I took this to mean handle it like it were a distance challenge.

The biggest challenge I could see is that Reese has not done a full height dog walk at the training center. We rarely set the dog walk at full height in the building; the flooring plus the lack of room rarely provide a safe approach. Deb and I were very conscious of the slip hazard and handled the dog walk approach by pushing the dog over a jump set parallel to the dog walk up contact. We let the dog square up their approach before we continued on our path along the walk. Both Reese and Rush have good 2 on 2 off contacts, so handling the dismount was fun and fairly easy.

After having success with this sequence we decided to work on having the dogs discriminate between the tunnel and the dog walk approach. We added a set of 6 weaves directly in line with the dog walk, but on the other side of the jump.

In order to set Reese up to succeed, I started close and approached the 2 obstacles with her on my right. I made a deliberate step sideways towards the tunnel with exaggerated movement. I then backed up about 3 feet on every attempt, until I was sending her from about 15 feet away. Then I switched her to my left side and did the same with the dog walk. I was so close to the dog walk up contact that she would have to duck behind me to take the wrong (tunnel) obstacle. I repeated this a couple of times. Then sent her over the jump directly ahead of the dog walk, had her do the weave poles and wrap back over the jump heading to the dog walk / jump combo. I asked her to do the “Walk” but I think I was late and she had already committed to the tunnel. When she came out I picked her up on my left side with out stopping to tug or reward her I spun her back to the sequence. She took the jump with good speed, completed the weaves quickly, as she turned back toward me I directed her over the jump and clearly said “Walk” . In a split second you could see the wheels turn and she glanced at the tunnel, but then took the walk. I was thrilled; we celebrated and tugged, and ended our session here.

As Bud Houston says in his blog, having success once does not mean we own the behavior. I have to say that I was thrilled with Reese’s honest attempts to process the information I was giving her. As always, much more to come….

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Work and Play / Just once more!

Today while Deb and I were training, we got out the stop watch and for every second of work, we had a second of play.
The 7 obstacle sequences we were running were taking between 20 and 27 seconds, from the beginning of the lead out to the last obstacle. Some runs went smoothly, and others not so much, but after each sequence I tugged with Reese for the amount of time we spent on the sequence.

This idea came to me after reading part of Marsha Houston’s Blog “The Two Minute Dog Trainer”. In the blog, Marsha talked about working drills, and that often we get so caught up in getting it right that we don’t reward our dogs for their efforts. I like to think that I am not guilty of doing everything "Just one more time" and forgetting to reward, praise and end when Reese still wants to play. So doing this was a bit of an eye opener for me.

Playing for the same amount of time as we worked was very exhausting, but exhilarating for both Reese and I.
Some observations:
1. Reese was totally focused on what we were doing..Before the sequence, during the sequence and after the sequence.
2. Physically, there was no way that I could tug for a full 27 seconds, though I am sure Reese could. So in the play time, I started running with Reese, so she had to stay with me rather then tug against me. She really seemed to like this and surprising to me she did not cross in front of me, behind me, jump on me or miscue to the tug (read bite me).
3. Having to play for the same amount of time that we worked, really had me breaking things down in to smaller, manageable parts. I worked on 3 obstacles and when I got the hard part., I stopped and played.

My criteria in training is for Reese to do things with speed and motivation. So it makes sense to keep things short and fun rather then try to train when she is tired or disinterested. So really Less is More!.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Teaching an old dog new tricks - Right and Left Turns

I have resisted teaching Ardi and Reese right and left turns for use in agility, mostly because it takes me 20 seconds to turn everytbing around in my head to know which is right and which is left. With that delay I can't really see how it will work on course.

Ardi knows spin and turn. Which Bonnie taught for use in side changes in the Versatility class in Rally O. I do not know which is which, but I do use those verbals , usually just as a warm up and focus exercise.
Since watching the Dave Munnings video “Q-Me” and since there is still over 2 feet of snow on the ground I think it is time for me to teach the directionals to Reese and see how I can use them.

I started by teaching the left turn with Reese in front of me and using a treat pretty much in front of her nose luring her into a tight turn to the left and naming it Left. We worked left for a number of sessions, cutting back on the lure just using a hand motion with the word Left and treated at the end. Then just said the “Left” and pointed the direction I wanted her to go and then treated. Then we got a tug out, played a little asked her to out the tug, then with no body motion or hand motion , I simply said Left and she went left. At this time I am ¾’s of this process through in teaching the “Right” directional.

While teaching Reese, Ardi has been hanging around throwing her spins and turns in. This morning, I say left to both dogs with no body language, and they both get it. Then I say “right”, Reese gets it but Ardi goes left and looks confused. This is interesting to me, because before when asked the dogs to spin and turn. Reese’s reaction was delayed, like she was waiting to see what Ardi did. Now when I say Left or Right, Reese quickly does it and Ardi’s reaction to the word is delayed and wrong if I say right. I feel the pain in Ardi’s confusion , but Reese on the other hand has it pretty much figured out. Stay tuned for more on our progress with the Left and Right turn.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Reese's 1st Agility Trial-

On January 22, 2011, Reese was entered in her 1st Agility Trial. It was held in Moose Jaw by the Band City Kennel and Obedience Club.

We entered 2 Gambler Rounds and 2 Standard rounds. Reese had some really good stuff happening despite the allure of the horse nuggets. She held all her start lines, did 6 and 12 weaves and completed one of the main gambles. She also maintained her criteria of a 2 on 2 off on all contacts, except 1. That one was a biggy and despite it having great crowd appeal, it was not so entertaining to me. In fairness though, I don't think they were laughing at the flyoff, but more at her retaliation to the teeter.

The video shows the flyoff in her 1st Standard run and then after the table it goes on to her 2nd Standard run and it shows she remembers the proper way to do the teeter. Even though Reese was over taken by the arena smells and the zoomies in a few places, I was very happy with a lot of stuff she did and it gave me a good indication of where we are with our training.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Booted and Suited Up

This morning we woke up to -34C with the windchill it feels like -46. Windchill you ask, how do you figure out the windchill,? Well Wikipedia has a very scientific explanation of how to calculate the wind chill index. In unscientific terms, it is very cold, too cold for man or beast.

As luck would have it, Canada Post delivered a parcel from Eromit Labrador Retrievers and Pet Supplies this afternoon. Inside were 2 pair of fleece dog boots, one for Ardi and one for Reese. Thanks to Erin, Ardi and Reese are able to spend enough time outside to take care of business without freezing up. No need to chase the squirrels, not even they are brave enough for this weather, but the yard did recieve the customary patrol for varmints. This weekend the weather promises to be warmer, so there is a good chance they will get a chance to try their boots while I snowshoe.

Reese and Ardi booted and suited up.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Pet Expo Practise - 3 Point Barrel


This video is of Reese, Ardi and Bliss practising 3 point barrel. They are preparing for the end of January when our club will be performing a number of public demonstrations at Pet Expo. Pet Expo raises funds for the Regina Humane Society and features a number of booths, demonstrations and mini workshops geared to the pet owner.

This demonstration is fashioned after the rodeo event of barrel racing. The object is for the handler to direct the dog around a clover-leaf pattern of preset barrels in the fastest time. In some of our demos we race dog against dog, with the fastest dog winning. While other times we pair kids and dogs, each takes a turn to run the course and their times are combined. The fastet combined time wins.


The barrels are set fairly close together in this video, mostly because of the building size, but they are also placed closer together while the dogs are learning the pattern. Reese and Bliss are fairly young and new to this type of demonstration, while Ardis is an older dog out to get a little exercise. The handlers of the young dogs are concentrating on tightening up the dogs turns to get a better time. Both young dogs are doing well in their training. We will see if they have perfected their performances enough to be included in the demonstrations at the end of the month.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

My favourite photo of 2010

St. John Ambulance Therapy Team
Ardis and Bonnie

In 2010, Bonnie and Ardis completed 100 hours of community service as a Therapy team. Together they visit William Booth Salvation Army Home and take part in various St John's program visits.

Ardis and Bonnie have been part of the St John Ambulance program since 2007 when they were successfully certified as a Therapy team. Certification consists of being evaluated by a qualified evaluator. The dog is evaluated on thier obedience and temperament and the team is put through a number of scenarios they may encounter during visitations.

I am very proud of the work that Bonnie and Ardis do in the community and know that they find it very rewarding.

"Creator of all things,
Grant us the humility that the works
We behold with our eyes
Through our Therapy dogs
We may accept in our hearts
As a revelation of your love
For all humanity. "