Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dean's Periland

Yesterday's Periland trial gave us another opportunity to see how the "new Dean Dog" would fare in competition.

Although he rarely enjoyed actually competing there, Dean always loved Periland.  The grounds are extensive and beautiful and we are allowed to play with dogs who can be kept under control off leash.  Also, there is a pond on the property and we are allowed to let our dogs swim there.  Dean absolutely adores the Periland pond!

I went searching through my video archives for videos of Dean running at Periland and did find a couple.  This was a Level 1 Standard run.  It isn't bad, but I can tell he's stressed.

Note the "scrunched up" position on the start line, the inability to hold the start line stay, the fact that I never have him go back and re-do a jump he skipped (that would have shut him down!), how I have to hover near many of the jumps as he takes them, and if you are really observant, you can catch his glance at the crowd at the very end and see him stress because of it.

In this one, complements of a friend who took the video and put it on her youtube, he tries to turn and leave before we even start!

He does turn and go into the course with me, but not because he particularly wants to.  He does take jumps, which I, again, have to hover near, I manage to work him through it, but in some ways I am doing more work than he is!  And then . . . the teeter at the end . . .  He was actually not supposed to take that.  I know that from my line that it looks like I sent him to it, but I really didn't intend to.  That was his first competition teeter attempt.  The first of four throughout his life.  That fly-off was clearly not pleasant for him.

And there have been many, many more runs where he stressed, disengaged, and liked everything else about Periland much, much more than he liked the actual Agility!  Still, he has always loved the place.

Dean's version of fun at Periland . . .

So, as we drove onto the grounds, Dean went to the window in anticipation!  He hasn't been there in ages.  When the sight that he expected did not appear, he seemed slightly confused!  The building must have seemed strange to him.  His excitement diminished slightly but he was still very clearly eager to get out of the car and get to enjoying himself!

We got there much earlier than we needed to be there, so I had plenty of time to unpack, get a crate area set up, and then take both of them for a short walk on the grounds.  Dean was very, very interested in sniffing out there, but that was perfectly appropriate and I gave both of them a good bit of time to explore.

I also brought them in for a while during a class when there would not be a teeter banging, and I gave them their Kongs so Dean could settle into the building a bit.  He generally does not do well performing in brand new buildings and, of course, he has no idea that this building is actually the exact same place where he used to run outside!

After that I took them for a really long walk and then they went into the car so I could walk and prepare for their Standard runs.

I'll admit, I was nervous about running Dean.  There were three strikes against us.  First, this was a new building to him.  I wasn't sure what running in a brand new space would do to his ability to focus on the game.  Second, I wasn't going to be able to bring him in and engage with him like I did last week at Bella Vista because the teeter was close to the end of the course and we were going to have to run right in and get to the line as soon as the dog ahead of him went over it.  Finally, there was a teeter in the course and I had no idea how that was going to go!

So, I did the best I could and it worked out perfectly.  As we waited our turn, I engaged with him right outside the building.  Instead of the warm-up jump I used leg weaves and circles and sits with quick little recalls.  He liked that and it worked out well.

As soon as the dog ahead of us finished the teeter, we ran in.  We were on the line just a second or two after we really should have been, but we got there and it was OK.  Dean was focused and relaxed at the start line, and off we went.

From my recollection, it was a run that took some work on my part, but really was an excellent teamwork effort.  Dean took everything very willingly and was clearly focused on getting through the course.  He did enter the weaves incorrectly (both dogs need serious weave pole review!) and when I had him reset he ran to an off course tunnel.  He almost went in but called off at the last second.  The judge actually chuckled a bit at that!  Then he came back and weaved.  His A-Frame was good, but then he went too far around the next jump!  But, just like last week, when I called him back to do it, he did so happily - no problems with a re-try!  I love that!

Finally, the moment came and we approached the teeter.  At first he almost went by it but we stopped and he did it!  And afterward, he went on to the last three pieces of equipment - which headed right toward the crowd - confidently and happily!!  I can't ask for more than that!

The fact that he has successfully completed a teeter in competition is a major, major accomplishment for us!  It means more to me than any title he and I will ever earn!

Our run:

Comparing this to the old videos above, I see so many differences!  At the start line, Dean is relaxed, focused on the task at hand, and happy to be there.  He is ready to go onto the course!  I didn't have to babysit the jumps at all!  He is sending ahead very nicely and taking them on his own.  He is working as much as I am now, if not just a little bit more!  And he is very happy to do so!  Even when he got distracted, he was actually trying to figure out what was next on course.  He was not just disengaging, but trying to figure out what I wanted next.  That is actually one of the qualities that I have always loved best about Tessa and I am thrilled that Dean is starting to do the same thing!  Dean is clearly taking some ownership of this game and he is starting to really, really like it.  I don't know that he likes competition in particular but it seems that he is starting to understand that Agility at a competition is something he can enjoy just as much as Agility at class.  That is more than good enough for me!

And the teeter!  Maybe not the world's most beautiful teeter performance, but it was successful and he was not rattled by it at all!

It was a Q, which really was icing on the cake!  Now there is no going back - he has qualified in Level 2 Standard so we can't go back to Level 1 Standard any more.  But I think we are OK with that.

I wasn't able to celebrate with him much because I had to switch him out of the car for Tessa who needed to be prepared for her run, but after she ran, I took both of them for a nice walk.  I would have like to have let Dean swim, but it really was too cold.

I wasn't sure what his mindset would be for Wildcard, although I was anticipating it much more than I had been the Standard run!  In the end, he was actually more focused and he did an even better job.  Unfortunately, I have no video of his Wildcard run.  I actually let him choose his first discrimination.  His choice was between the dogwalk or tire.  He took the dogwalk!  There was one bobble at the weaves, but he got them done and that was a Q, also!

After Tessa ran Wildcard, we took another long walk, and I took some pictures.  Some of those are posted in the entry just before this.

All in all, I was impressed by Dean's performance.  I don't think he has ever been as relaxed and enthusiastic in a new place as he was yesterday.

I am looking forward to doing some weave work with both dogs and to trialing again with both of them on the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Periland!

3rd Adoption Anniversary

Excerpt from an email dated 10/26/2010 to the director at Glen Highland Farm, for whom we were fostering Tessa (then called Sadie)

Subject:  Sadie

I was wondering if you might consider letting us adopt Sadie.

Honestly, I've had a very strong connection with her since the ride home the day I picked her up.  But over the last couple of weeks, that has only grown stronger.  I've known it would be tough to let her go, but now I honestly don't know how I could.

I was surprised that Ben would even consider it, but he actually suggested it to me before I suggested it to him.  He has grown quite attached to her, too.  She hasn't quite bonded with him as much as she has with me, but she does fine with him and I have no doubt that will come.

She fits in with everyone - even Speedy has not minded her in the least.  She often snuggles up to Maddie or Dean.  She doesn't bother Sammie, and she seems to understand Speedy just fine.  Outside Sadie follows Maddie everywhere she goes and the two of them have been very companionable. 

I don't know if she has the makings of a sport partner, but I would never push her beyond what she is comfortable doing.  Of course, I would train her, but I would let her lead the way - as I have with Speedy and Dean - as far as competition and so forth.  But I have to say it - she would make a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful little dancer!  That would take time to cultivate, but I can see her loving it once she gets there.  And watching her blossom into a confident dog is going to be one amazing ride.

We named her Tessa after Speedy's beautiful Border Collie mother, whose name was Tess.

On that first day I took her for a walk out on the road in front of the house - just the two of us.  And while that might sound just perfect . . . at that point Tessa was terrified to leave the safety of the house and yard!  She did not really enjoy that walk, except for the hot dog pieces that I gave her along the way!

But on that walk I promised her that I was going to do everything I could to show her that the world is a good place.  I hoped that a time would come when she would no longer cower when out and about in the world, but walk, head held high, enjoying the sights and sounds of every place we would explore.

Yesterday at Periland, Tessa had a great time running and she earned two Q's - one in Level 3 Standard and one in Level 3 Wildcard.  As always, she was fast, fun, and dependable out there.  But my favorite part of the day was walking with her and Dean on the grounds.  It was a beautiful day and we walked and they sniffed and explored and we all enjoyed being out there together.

Finding joy in life is Tessa's greatest accomplishment.

Some photos from our day yesterday . . .

Those hay bales that I love to see and photograph!!

Dean Dog checking on out a bit more closely!

Tessa was in a very playful mood as I tried to get them to pose for a photo!!  I think I actually like her version better!

Tessa . . . 

Enjoying the grounds . . . 

 Some indoor crate time.  They share a crate so nicely!

And last, but not least - Tessa's two runs . . . 

Happy 3rd Anniversary, Tessa!  Here's hoping we have many, many, many, many more to celebrate!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dean's Big Day! (Part 2)

After Dean's Jumpers run I was ecstatic!  What we had out in that ring together - I have waited a very, very, very, very, very long time for that!

I was excited to go back into the ring with him to run Fullhouse.  He went in with the same attitude and we were ready to go!

Again, I made some handling errors.  I should have waited for him at the tunnel to create a clear line to the jump combo in the other corner.  I also should have taken him around the perimeter to the yellow curved tunnel instead of the straight one down the middle.

But, no matter!  He had the attitude I was hoping for, we had fun, and he actually did earn another Q!

I was especially pleased that he didn't seem to care at all about the buzzer.

In the years since we started, CPE Agility has become much more noise-phobic dog friendly.  There are very few whistles anymore.  The buzzers aren't very loud or sharp and Dean doesn't seem to care about them at all.  The teeters have gotten much quieter with a bit of rubber cushion where the teeter hits the floor.

After Dean, Tessa had a turn on the Fullhouse course.  Dean had run twice since her first run and she was full of attitude!  She ran the course like a little pro!  The run was flawless!!

The very last jump was a gift to her.  I saw that she wanted to take it, so I sent her over!

Love my girl!

Tessa walked away from the weekend with two Level 3 Q's.  Her final one needed in Jumpers and her second for Fullhouse.  One more Fullhouse and we will finish our first Level 3 Title!

Dean earned two Q's - Level 2 Jumpers and Level 2 Fullhouse.  And I guess Dean and I are back in the game.

We are competing tomorrow at Periland - in Standard!  I am going to see what Dean does with a teeter in competition!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dean's Big Day!!! (Part One)

This past Saturday was the big day!  The day I have been awaiting for a very, very long time!

On Saturday it was finally time to take the "new Dean Dog" into Agility competition to see how much of his attitude in classes and at home would carry over.  I was not disappointed!

Dean, Tessa, and I went to a CPE trial hosted by Rocky Creek Agility.  We were signed up for Jumpers and Fullhouse, Dean in Level 2 for both, and Tessa in Level 3.

When I got there, I set up, walked Tessa's Jumpers course, gave each dog a walk and then brought Tessa into the building.  I left Dean in the car until after Tessa's first run so I could focus entirely on her.

Tessa did well.  I have no video of that first run.  She got a little distracted by the second jump.  There were two or three ring crew people sitting right near it.  It seemed like a huge mob of people to me, but it probably was only two!

She hesitated and came off the jump, but I sent her back over it and she took it, so no problem.  She ran nicely through a tunnel and then up the middle.  I choked on a rear cross attempt and paused and swung her from my right to left side!  I was off kilter with myself and didn't have the confidence to attempt it.  Then, after another jump, Tessa turned as if I was doing a rear cross (odd), but she turned in the right direction and the rest of the course went off without a hitch.

I felt disjointed, but Tessa held with me through it (of course!) and we did pull of the Q.  Sometimes it's not pretty, but it gets done!

I'm not sure if I was just a little distracted by my excitement over Dean or if Tessa's hesitation by the people got me out of whack, but it was what it was and in the end it was fine.

After Tessa had some time in her crate and some treats, I went out and got Dean.  I took both of them for a walk on the grounds and then I brought them in so Dean could be in the building for a bit.

One thing I LOVE!  This facility put in new flooring last spring and they went with green turf.  If the jump bars fall out on the floor, you don't hear them at all!  So, Dean could be in the building and I didn't have to worry about him getting fixated on falling bars!

It wasn't long before it was time to set up for the next class, so I put Tessa out in the car and spent some time alone with Dean.  We did the engagement exercise from Bridging the Gap in the practice jump area!  Oh, he was ON!  Focused, excited, and just happy - so happy to be there!

Dean had none of his usual trial worries!  It was an absolute delight!  After we did our engagement and jump warm up, we hung out by his crate and he teased me to give him treats, chiefly by making goofy faces, which I happily gave him!

I left him in the crate while I went out to walk.  When I returned, I was surprised to find I had forgotten to zip the crate up!  Dean hung out in it happily in spite of that!

Finally, it was our time to run.  Dean was a little distracted as we waited in the hole and on deck, but he was not worried about anything - just curious.  But once we went in, he was completely focused!

It was the first time - ever - that I have walked into a competition ring with Dean without treats or a toy on me and was not worried about that fact in the least!  I knew we were connected and I didn't need them to hold his focus!

The run itself was not flawless.  I made two handling mistakes and pushed Dean off of jumps.  But, he came back to take them happily.  That is major progress!  In the past, I could never ask him to retry jumps because he would get stressed and shut down!  Now he was just like, "Again!  Woohoooooo!!".  I think that comes from our Obility work where he would do different things with the fly posts and jumps.  Going back to do something else with it is just something we do - no big deal!

That said, it will always be one of my most favorite and memorable Agility runs ever!  Dean was relaxed and happy in the ring.  He wanted to be there!  He wasn't concerned about anything and was happy to work with me as a team!

He was the Dean Dog I have always wanted in the competition ring!  The run actually felt like it lasted about 2 minutes and I would have savored more time than that out there with him.  In reality, it was only about 40 seconds!

I do have a video:

My absolute favorite part of this is the last two jumps!  The hardest part of the course for Dean has always been the part that turns back toward the people.  He has mentally frozen there time and time again.

Not this time!  He was confident, eager, and maybe even in the mood to show off a little!

This was one of those moments that make it all worthwhile!  All of the work, all of the tries that didn't pan out, all of the quitting and trying again!

At least for one day, Dean and I were a team out there!  I will savor this for a very, very long time!

To be continued . . .

Friday, October 18, 2013

Excuses . . . or Facing Reality?

I often hear trainers lament the "excuses" that people make for why their dogs struggle in training or in competition ring performance.  "Train, don't complain" is the new catchphrase that is intended to snap people out of making "excuses" for their dogs.

Granted, we all do make excuses at times.  I know I did that with Maddie in a big way when she first came to us.  I saw her as a poor, abandoned, second hand dog who had been damaged beyond repair and who could never become the dog she "would have been".  I didn't train with her at first because I thought she was too broken to be able to learn well and enjoy it.

Looking back, I was making excuses for her.  That said, I would say there was more ignorance (on my part) at the root of that attitude.  I honestly didn't know that Maddie was far more resilient than I realized and that she had the potential to become an enthusiastic and solid performance partner.  Once I did come to understand that Maddie was not nearly as broken as I thought, we started training together and we shared some very good years together.

On the other hand, there have been occasions where I have been directly accused of making excuses when that is really not what is happening.  Dean's noise phobia and anxiety disorder are realities.  Believe me, if I really could make them disappear through positive thinking on my part, it would have been done a long time ago!  If training could have "fixed" Dean, it would have happened.

I have made many training and performance decisions for Dean based on these two realities.  While some would call that "making excuses", I consider it to be doing what is truly best for the individual dog.  There is absolutely no reason, for example, why I should force Dean to sit in a crate in a room where a teeter is banging over and over when it would, in fact, shut him down completely.  I am not talking about some mild avoidance when I say "shut down".  I am talking about hyperventilating, shaking, pupils dilated, drooling, completely frozen "shut down".  Not when he can hang out in the car with his "Through a Dog's Ear" CD playing and be happy as a clam.  That is not "making excuses" it is finding good ways to make it work!

It is a fact that dogs are individuals.  As individuals they come with their own strengths, weaknesses, talents, issues, preferences, dislikes, perfections, and foibles.  Often training can bring out the best in the dog and diminish what is not desired.  But sometimes . . . the dog is who he or she is and there are things that have to be accepted before any progress can be made.

When I look at where Dean is right now, I see that we got here because I made the decision to allow Dean to be Dean.  I no longer try vainly to shove the round peg that he is into the square hole that I want filled.  I found things for Dean to do that he can truly enjoy and we pursued them for the sake of his amusement!  He is still delighted every time I send him around "fly posts" in the yard when we are out playing!  He loves working on the pivots and laterals and backing and the new skills that we work on for Rally FrEe.  We play Agility on his terms, and he seems to have developed a true love for the game.  Now that I am doing these things for his enjoyment, he is thriving, and in turn he is more and more willing to rise to the challenges of titling and competition.

In the end, I am a realist to the core.  It is simply not my way to not face reality head on and base my choices on the individual dog who is right in front of me.  No excuses here.  Honest acknowledgment of the reality of the dog before me - all the way!

My motto:  "Know the dog you train"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Strange Dream

I had the strangest dream two nights ago.  We were all down at the Outer Banks - Sammie, Speedy, Dean Dog, and Tessa were with us, and we were doing things and having a great time.  And then, when we were outside the cottage where we stay, I suddenly thought, "we forgot Maddie!"  Here we had been running around without her the whole time and I had completely forgotten her.

I went into the cottage and I found her stuck inside a pull out sofa bed (which isn't actually there).  She jumped out, wiggling and wagging, and we went out to the yard and she and Dean ran around and around and around.  I thought it was so nice for Dean because he hasn't had anyone to do that with since she died.

Somehow in the dream I knew it wasn't real, but it sort of was.  It was just . . . odd.

One might say that maybe I feel guilty because I've forgotten about her, but I really haven't.  I think of her just about every day.  I don't dwell on it, but I often smile over something she used to do or something she used to love.  Sometimes Tessa reminds me of her.  I always joke that in those last months they were together, Maddie told Tessa all of her secrets!!  Of course the two of them are very different, but they have always shared some things in common.

I guess strange dreams are just that . . . She must have been on my mind in particular.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sometimes When a Door Closes . . .

Sometimes when a door closes, a whole wall of sliding glass doors is flung open and the opportunities that come along are unexpected and absolutely delightful!!

Last February I had posted this:

Endings Happen

. . . after Dean was sidelined from Agility due to his hip issue last winter.

I came to realize later that the main source of my disappointment was that Dean and I had worked so hard for so long to help him be happy and comfortable running Agility - at least in class - and that we would no longer be able to enjoy the fruits of that work.

I was wrong.  So very wrong.

Because I thought Dean might not run Agility anymore, I put him in Rally FrEe.  He didn't love it off the bat, but he did come to enjoy it a great deal, and before long I truly loved taking Dean and Tessa to that class together.

Then we went to our first competition. I almost backed out of it with him at that point, but thanks to the judge and the competition host, I realized that he had potential to enjoy himself in competition that I hadn't seen before.

So, we started taking classes through the Fenzi Academy, in hopes of finding that enjoyment.

The Obility class, in particular, changed Dean in ways that I would never have expected, and he started to thrive in Agility class - to which he had returned, jumping 16, without a whole lot of enthusiasm.

Now it is possible that he will start to love working in the ring in entirely new ways!  We continue to train Rally FrEe and we truly love it.  I am hoping that he will compete in Advanced sometime next year, at least by video!

And next weekend, he will return to Agility competition for the first time in a very, very long time.

I don't know if he will be different, but I am eager to find out.

Had Dean not had that injury last winter, I never would have branched off in a different direction with him.  We would have continued as we had been, and nothing would have changed.  That would have been OK, but how much we have learned together and how much we are enjoying ourselves now!

Dean and I have a working partnership now that we have never shared in all of his years with us.  I have always loved him as my companion and pet, but for most of his life, he was my "should have been" dog.  Now there are possibilities ahead that we will meet with joy and anticipation.

Back in February I really wouldn't have thought this possible!


So far the biggest thing that I have taken from the Bridging the Gap class is the concept of engaging the dog.  It amazes me that I missed this, but in a way it makes sense.

Speedy was a very unusual dog.  Even now if I forget that I need to be a lot quieter when I work with him, he can go over his stimulation threshold before I realize what is happening!

Maddie was so soft that even a squealy "yaaaaaaaaaaay!" would cause her to worry and go down on her side!

Since a very quiet approach worked well for both of them, I have always handled Dean in the same way.  I am not a totally silent trainer and handler, but I tend to use my clicks and treats to communicate more than "regular" communication.

Now we are working on engagement, which is consisting a lot of me acting like a regular person when I work with Dean!!  Don't get me wrong - the treats and the toys are still there.  But I am learning how to use them in new and better ways.

Here is a video of Dean working on this a bit.  He actually does this better outside for toys, but this was indoors for food.

This isn't really all that different from the Give Me a Break game that we have been playing for a long time.  There is just a little bit more of a focus on the actual engagement than on the reinforcer.

It is particularly interesting to me that this is something that I have just done with Tessa naturally.  I think because she is naturally more engaged with me, I have responded by being more engaged with her.  Now I am looking to create this with Dean in reverse, and I believe I am starting to see a difference.

Can't wait to see where this goes . . .!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pre Ah Ha Ah Ha!!

I want to feel as comfortable walking into a ring with Dean without food on me as I do walking into a ring with Tessa.

Ah Ha!

Dean and I don't need a start line routine.  We need a start line mindset.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Bridging the Gap

Dean and I are taking - at the "silver" level - a class through the Denise Fenzi Academy called "Bridging the Gap".  The point of the class is to learn how to effectively move from needing the direct presence of reinforcers (toys, treats) to working effectively without them in competition performances.  Silver level means that I can participate in discussion and ask questions, but not post videos.

I may still take some videos and post them here, though.  I haven't yet, but I might.

The class has barely begun and I have already had several "AH HA!" moments.

The first exercise involves getting a baseline of the dog's engagement if you have toys and/or treats on you, you go to a space, but do not ask the dog to work.

In all of my years training, I have never done this before.  I have done something sort of similar, but I have always been actively looking for a working focus.  I have never taken the step of engaging the dog while acting normal and natural.

Yesterday I tried this with Dean in the yard.  At first we were both a bit awkward, but we soon seemed to fall into an understanding.  He moved around, looked to me to see what we were doing, carried his toy, and threw himself into heel and bounced!!  It was very clear that after a few minutes of that, he was completely engaged and ready to move into structured work!

So, at Agility class a bit later on, I tried it again.  As we were moving out to the start line, I just meandered a bit, dropped his toy a few times, and saw what I would see.  I usually try to "jolly" him up going into the ring.  We tug, I get him focused, and then usually use the tug to get him sitting at the start line.  This time, once he was engaged, which hardly took any reinforcement at all, I had him sit without using the toy, and we were good to go!  His attitude was excellent!!

I plan to play around with this more, and, of course, I look forward to learning more and more in this class.

When I move into a ring with Tessa, I am not worried about the fact that I don't have treats on me.  I know she will be with me 100%, engage 100%, and will put everything she has into what we are doing.

I don't have that with Dean.  It has been flying by the seat of our pants!  Sometimes he's engaged and sometimes he's not - it's hit or miss.  This might be the "missing link" that takes him from where he is now to a place where he goes into a competition ring with enthusiasm, engagement, and joy.

Here's hoping . . . !!!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Happy Gotcha Month, Miss Tessa!!!

I often think of the day I went to a shelter to evaluate a dog who had been picked up off the streets and was absolutely terrified in the shelter.  I will always remember meeting her in her kennel and how she very intently tried to be as invisible to me as possible.  I will always remember her walking through the shelter on a leash, completely ignoring the dogs that were barking at her from their kennels.

"Maggie" at the shelter

I will always remember that odd feeling I had going home, wishing I could have taken her with me, and then being glad that I got to go back and get her.  I will never, ever forget how she tricked me as I put her in my car and managed to run away!  And I will never forget the words I said to her as I drove home and she watched me from the crate in the back, "You're my kind of dog.  It's a good thing I have four already or I'd be tempted to keep you, and it would not be fair for me to ask you to live the life I would ask you to live."  I will never stop being happy that I was so completely wrong!  I don't think there is a dog in the world better suited to the life that Tessa and I enjoy together.

"Maggie" at my house after her . . . very interesting . . . bath"

Tessa doesn't have a Gotcha Day, she has a Gotcha Month!  October is Tessa month in our house.  In early October I evaluated her.  A few days later I took her home.  And a few weeks later we officially adopted her.

My Tessa, two and a half years later

Even from the first days she was in our household, I have had a very deep level of respect for this dog.  She's a tough, tough girl.  She's smart and resourceful.  Of course, I have come to know her other side even better.  She is soft and sweet and affectionate, and brimming over with fun!

As we continue to share our daily lives together, and as we grow as a performance team, I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to have this wonderful girl in my life.

Happy Gotcha Month, Miss Tessa!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Last night we had an awesome Rally FrEe class!  Both Tessa and Dean are really making some nice breakthroughs in their training!

Dean went to the line with so much enthusiasm and he was eager to set up to go!  That is great to see!  He is focused and eager and I love his attitude!

He struggled a bit on a back around off the right on the first turn, but the second time he did it on hand target only!  On our second round, we practiced a backward weave as a Free Choice!  That is very new and he is doing a great job with it!  His 360 left pivots were perfection!  And he is doing OK with backing up in left heel.  That is tough for him since there seems to be a physical reason why he backs crooked.  But he really did do a nice job.  As long as he moves with me, it will be fine!

Through it all, he was focused and happy with the perfect level of drive!  It was nice!

Tessa also had a great class.  I did have to use a lure on the back around, but on the second try, I let her offer the backwards movement, only luring the turns.  She did well with it.  A little more practice and she is going to be the back-around-queen!!  For Free Choices we did a sit pretty up into her standing on her hind legs and a jump over my arm!  Flashy stuff!  She is really coming along!  Her pivots are also getting to be super nice and her backing in heel really solid!  Even with people sitting along the gate where she was backing up, she was focused and happy to work!

I was proud of my Rally FrEe dogs last night!  They really are very close to being proficient on most of the Intermediate exercises!  Still need to work laterals and finish some of these other behaviors off, but all in all I am very pleased with notable progress!!