Thursday, January 22, 2015

How It All Started

Thirty years ago this month, a 4 month old Australian Terrier puppy came home from Sheila Dunn's, her breeder, who I had known for 10 years. That little puppy grew up to be U-CD Hott Pursuitt on the Farm Am/Can UD, AKA Casey, my first obedience dog, as well as my first dog as an adult. Sheila knew Gail Dapogny, the instructor of the Puppy Kindergarten class at the Ann Arbor Dog Training Club, so was able to help me get Casey enrolled in Gail's class within days of Casey joining our family - in fact, we'd had her such a short time, we hadn't decided on her name yet. I loved training Casey, and diligently practiced our lessons multiple times a day.

Above all else, Casey taught me perseverence, because it took a lot of it to reach the goals I set for us. When I first started training her, I wanted to earn a Utility Dog (UD) title on her, having NO true idea what that would really entail. When we started to show in Novice for her Companion Dog (CD) title in the fall of 1986, I thought we'd just stop with that. But then I started training her in Open, and she seemed to kind of like it, so we kept going, and soon she earned her CDX (Companion Dog eXcellent). In fact, she qualified all seven times we showed in Open A, a grand accomplishment, as anyone who has shown in Open A knows is a class with lots of NQs. A 196 1st place in the class proved to be her shining moment in Open. Utility proved far more difficult, though she qualified her very first time in the ring. I look back at that now and just shake my head. It really was dumb luck that we passed that day. In her 2nd trial, she learned that she could down only part way on my down signal and nothing horrible resulted, and that became a huge problem for us. She earned her 2nd leg about six months after the first, when I was about 7 months pregnant with my first son. A full year later, in 1990, she finally passed for the 3rd time (not for lack of trying in between, believe me!), one day before her housemate Tramp earned her UD. That weekend of trials still ranks as one of my all-time best - we finished 2 UDs, Tramp earned her first High Combined, and my 2nd Australian Terrier Rio earned a 3-point major in the breed ring.

We also showed in Canada often enough to earn her CKC UD. The first time we showed in Novice B, Casey won a 56 dog Novice B class at the huge London, Ontario fall trials, earning a 199.5 and High in Trial. Casey had actually tied with my Flat-Coat Tramp, and my friend and training partner, Deb Schneider, took Tramp in for the sudden-death runoff against Casey and me. Needless to say, it took one forward-halt for Tramp to eliminate herself.

My husband Fritz and I wrote lyrics for a song about Casey and the difficulties of Utility, sung to the tune of the Canadian National Anthem:

Oh, Puppadoo*

Oh, Puppadoo, far from your native land,
Why did you sit, when I signaled a stand?
Oh, Puppadoo, what can we do to speed up your retrieve?
Oh, Puppadoo, you brought me 2 when I scented nu(hum)ber(er) 3.
Oh, Puppadoo, what can we do,
I hate the long stand just as much you,
Oh, Puppadoo, when will we ever Q?

*One of Casey's nicknames

As I sit here with dogs #9 (Sonic) and #10 (puppy Jag) nearby, I salute you, little Casey, for the wonderful path you helped me start along. You were a good little girl and it's been a great 30 years. Here's to 30 more years of dogs, dogs sports, and best of all, time spent with dog friends.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Adele's 2015 Goals

For years, I have enjoyed the process of reviewing the waning year and how I did with goals I set the previous holiday season and setting my goals for the upcoming year. Here are my goals for 2015:

  • Website - change payment method
  • Incentive program: develop a more consistent exercise (me and dogs), dog training and other work (office-related and project) schedule. I have a plan set up that I hope will work as well to motivate me as the every 50 workout prize did in 2014.
  • Reprint Balancing Act
  • Continue exercise challenge - aim for 200 workouts in 2015, with self-reward prizes for every 50 workouts
  • Participate in a 5K

Sonic (3 years old)
  • Give her time this year to mature into her obedience performances - focus on her motivation and speed vs. nitpicking for perfection
  • Improve finishes to > 50% correct by working on them more consistently
  • Keep her sound via a consistent exercise program
  • UDX legs
  • OTCh points
  • OM1 
  • MH legs
  • BUD [Big Useful Dog] award at National in April (qualify or place in 3 different areas)
  • Qualify for 2016 NOC

Jag (8 months old)
  • RN
  • RA
  • RE
  • Match him for real in Novice, solidify his understanding of the exercises
  • Match him at least crudely in Open
  • Continue his Utility education, with a focus on Signals and DJ
  • Teach him to jump well
  • Work on his CH
  • BT National in May?
  • Try Barn Hunt with him
  • BN in fall if ready
What are YOUR goals?

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Goal Review

It is that time of year, when I like to publish how I did meeting the goals I set a year ago:

Joker - 12.5 years old
- keep him healthy! – after declining gradually all year, we had to let him go in mid-October at almost 13.5 L.

Sonic - 2 years old
- Show in Novice B for CD and ring experience January-early April – We showed 17 times total in Novice B, with a wonderful four High in Trial jaunt to Lakeland, Florida in February the crowning glory.
- Show her in conformation as often as possible when she's got hair! – Earned 1 whole point in several attempts. She was bald a lot L.
- Show for last time in Novice B and first time in Open B at FCRSA National in June in Oregon - this will only be possible if she comes in season before entries close... – did not go, and was rewarded for that wise decision with her coming in season 2 days before the start of the National.
- CDX in fall – completed CDX in early October
- Start matching in Utility by late spring – did first one in February, just before she finished her CD. Utility was going well enough that we moved up to Utility 2 weeks after she finished her CDX, as it was for the once a year trials held in my training building. While she didn’t pass either day, she came within one exercise each time of passing, and also finished her Graduate Open title that weekend.
Best of all, she finished her UD on December 7, with a 197.5, good for 2nd place and 4 OTCh points! We earned 2 more bumper legs the following weekend at the difficult IX Center in Cleveland.
She is the first of my 9 UD dogs to go from CD to UD in one calendar year, and she is my youngest-ever UD, finishing the title at 3 year 3 months. 
- Compete in AKC Classic in Orlando in Novice - again, will depend on her heat cycle – opted out of this, as the chance of season was too great. Instead, we stayed closer to home and finished her UD up the first weekend in December, then went to the Cleveland IX Center trials for 2 bumper legs.
- Start running Master tests with her - June at National if possible, July at Ft. Detroit test if not. – ran test dog at Ft. Detroit in July, Flyways in August, and entered the Marshbanks test in August. Had a great first series, including lining the land blind, but bombed on the water blind in the 2nd series. Pretty much returned to obedience after that test.

Little - 3 years old
- Work on skills for MH when she's with me. – Did this, with mixed success. Not sure where we are going at this point. She went back to Helen when baby Jag came home, mid-June to mid-July, then in mid-August so they could work on obedience.

New puppy - I am hoping to have a new Border Terrier puppy by late spring...
-       get puppy well started on obedience foundation
Riverside Jaguar came home at 9 weeks on June 11. Jag has been super rewarding to train, and has already done a few matches, one in rally and a couple of Novice obedience ones. He learned to retrieve a dumbbell by the time he was about 12 weeks old, and has a pretty good grasp on scent discrimination, having done “Around the Clock” with him starting at 7 months. He is well started on all of the Open exercises and bits and pieces of Utility, as well as quite a bit of Rally and Beginner Novice exercises. He already has a fan base on YouTube J. Also has already earned 3 point in conformation.

- Website
   o implement Paypal for product purchases (finished in January)
   o implement Paypal for class signup (just never got going on this L)
   o plug away at desired additions - set monthly goals at beginning of each month – did some additions, but drifted away from website work again
  o Do GTD "weekly" reviews more consistently - goal is at least 24 for year
-       By no means did 24, but I did them more often than in previous years and mostly felt caught up enough
- FlyLady work
   o keep up with kitchen – Fritz’s new early morning schedule has made this goal come true
   o Zone work – not as good at end of year as beginning, but much improved. Google doc that both of us can refer to about what house chores are needed has helped a lot.
- Get back to some form of aerobic exercise. Goal: 100 purposeful aerobic workouts in 2014, 15+ minutes (biking with dogs, Nordic Track, walking dogs, snow shoeing) – I really rocked this goal, with 200 and counting workouts for the year. Having an every-50-workout prize to work for has been incredibly motivating for me, as was having a FitBit Flex.
Two of my prizes - a gorgeous braided whistle lanyard and a custom leather collar for Sonic.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Momentum and Cookie-Toss Retrieves

My new email signature for the month:  "If you train a young dog for momentum, precision will arrive. If you train for precision, demanding perfection, momentum will depart." - Rex Carr

Momentum is a term thrown about more often in retriever training than obedience training, but it certainly applies to obedience. To me, Rex's quote is all about training for the big picture by building in the speed first. I have always worked for a flashier performance with my dogs vs. a robotic one. Don't get me wrong; I want precision. But I also know if I work on precision too much before instilling the speed I desire, it is harder to get the speed later.

In obedience, we are judged on the speed our dog returns or comes to us: a brisk trot or gallop is required. Anything less should be penalized in some way. While a brisk trot is acceptable according to the regulations, I still strive for a gallop whenever as I can.

Earlier this week while training Sonic, I realized she is rarely slower than a brisk trot as she returns but she wasn't consistently galloping on her returns on her retrieves or on her jumping for the Open jumps. Given the sometimes scary speed with which she returns from a field retrieve–harder driving than any previous dog I've trained–I know she is capable of more speed. I just haven't explained that component well enough to her.

With that in mind, I've been working cookie-toss retrieves with both the dumbbell and gloves: as she picks up the object, I might run away from her, or command her to come, then throw a cookie through my legs when she is almost to me. As she goes through my legs, I race to the other end of the area, turn around and repeat. Sometimes she has already picked the object back up (she drops it to get the thrown treat) and is running back. Sometimes she needs a come command. I'm whooping it up with her, cheering her on, and we are both getting in some wind sprints. Since my wind needs all the help it can get, it is a valuable side-benefit of the game :-). We have been doing about 6 retrieves of the dumbbell this way, and 6 glove reps, adding in pivots and marking. It is not an overnight fix, but I think the long-term results will be very pleasing.

How is your dog's momentum?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Goals

- Be thoughtful about what new projects I take on
- Website
   o implement Paypal for product purchases (January)
   o implement Paypal for class signup (January-February)
   o plug away at desired additions - set monthly goals at beginning of each month
- Do GTD "weekly" reviews more consistently - goal is at least 24 for year
- FlyLady work
   o keep up with kitchen
   o Zone work
- Get back to some form of aerobic exercise. Goal: 100 purposeful aerobic workouts in 2014, 15+ minutes (biking with dogs, Nordic Track, walking dogs, snow shoeing)

Joker 12.5 years old
- keep him healthy!

Sonic - 2 years old
- Show in Novice B for CD and ring experience January-early April
- show her in conformation as often as possible when she's got hair!
- show for last time in Novice B and first time in Open B at FCRSA National in June in Oregon - this will only be possible if she comes in season before entries close...
- CDX in fall
- start matching in Utility by late spring
- compete in AKC Classic in Orlando in Novice - again, will depend on her heat cycle
- start running Master tests with her - June at National if possible, July at Ft. Detroit test if not

Little - 3 years old
- work on skills for MH when she's with me

New puppy - I am hoping to have a new Border Terrier puppy by late spring...
- get puppy well started on obedience foundation

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sonic at 17 months

I just found this unpublished blog post, written in mid-January 2013. While it will show up out-of-order here, I've decided to publish it, as it is a record of where she was nearly a year ago.
I am pleased to report that last Saturday (January 12, 2013), Sonic completed the training of the field Double T to my satisfaction. We've been gradually working up to it for what seems like forever (since sometime in the fall), but the final week of it was a bit anticlimactic. After 3 days of the full Double T with very few errors, I was satisfied, and we have moved on to starting walk-out blinds. For these, you and the dog walk out into a field with several bumpers. You reach the destination of a blind, sit the dog close to the end, toss a couple of bumpers out and let the dog retrieve them from that close distance. You toss the bumpers back out, then walk to the other destination, which should be a bit closer than the 1st one. Repeat the tossing/retrieving up close, toss the bumpers out again, then walk back to the starting line. Send the dog to the one you just came from, handling as needed. Repeat with the first one you 'planted'. The two days we have done those has gone very well.

We've also been doing a lot of lining drills, including Carol Cassity's W Drill. You place 5 white stakes in a W formation, three in a row about 20 yds apart and two 20 yds away from that row, also 20 yds apart. You put bumpers at each stake and, moving around the field, line the dog to the various stakes. It gives you a lot of opportunity to work on 'slots', where they have to go between at least two closer, tempting stakes to get to the farther away one. After a few successes in one spot, you move.

I find it much easier to work on blind-related training - lining and casting - since I can do those drills by myself much more easily than marking training. But as has been pointed out to me, marking is paramount. At Clint Catledge's recommendation, I've been working a lot of hand-thrown multiples: I throw 2-4 bumpers out in an arc around us and she retrieves them one by one. This allows us to work on the mechanics of running multiples: I send her to retrieve the last one I throw - the "go bird" - and when she returns with it, take delivery facing the next one she is to retrieve. I get her focused on the area, then send to retrieve, etc. It is definitely helping with this whole aspect of teamwork.

Yesterday, in addition to two Walk-Out Blinds and hand-thrown multiples, we did some 80-150 yard 'Stand Alone' marks. I leave Sonic in a sit stay and walk out away from her. When I've reached the desired distance, I throw a bumper, then release her from out there to retrieve the bumper I just threw. She then brings it the short distance back to me and we repeat the process. I have permission to use a wonderful hay field a mile from home that has fabulous rolling hills with the chance to run across the face of the hill, something they need to learn how to do. Most dogs prefer to run down or up rather than across.

Our progress in obedience is considerably slower because we simply haven't been spending much time at it. She is my primary demo dog in my classes, so she does get practice that way. I also had someone else start teaching one of my Novice Practice classes so that Sonic and I can attend. We've been doing that for the past several months, and she has certainly made steady progress. Her focus on heeling is quite nice, though heeling with fun toys on the ground continues to be hard. I'm not crazy about her halts, but I really like the rest of her heeling. She can do some lovely left circles at a trot if I keep them big enough.

Sonic continues to be very eager for the work, which makes her a joy to train.

2013 Goal Review

Joker – 11 years and going strong

Goal is to keep him that way.
He tore his cruciate in July, but laser treatments, rest and time spent in the Ontario woods around our cabin got him back on track without surgery. He had an eye injury in the fall but seems to have recovered from it just fine.

Ty – 8 years old.

I've accomplished what I hoped to with her – Ch UDX OM2 SH WCX, and applied for the FCRSA HOF. She needs a job, but I don't know what it ought to be.
At this year's FCRSA National in April, Ty and I did obedience (2 NQ's, but pretty decent effort considering a lack of training), rally (won the Excellent B class and had a blast), and conformation (3rd place in Veterans 7-9 bitches and 2nd in the Gun Dogs Sweepstakes class she was in).
Ty tried to take over leadership of the dog pack after Gryffin’s death last year, but in a bullying and stressful way. Adele considered placing Ty in a new home for several months. When the right home came along, we made the difficult decision to do so. She is an only dog in her new home–something that we think makes her a lot happier–and there is a lot less stress in our lives. She brings a lot of joy to her new owner.

Little – 2 years old

I'd like to have her ready for the WCX at the National and for Senior by fall. Helen may do Novice with her at the National if she has Little enough to train her regularly, and maybe rally.
Little earned her RN in March with Helen.
She earned her WCX at the National with me and a BN leg with Helen.
She earned her Senior Hunter in August and September. While it wasn't a totally smooth ride–steadiness is not her strong suit, nor is handling on blinds –we still reached the goal. She then returned to Helen, who finished up her BN in October and made a stab at Novice B. Alas, the Stand for Exam is HARD for this wiggly social girl. She also earned 5 points in the conformation ring during 2013.

Sonic – 16 months old

Get to do water in the Derby at the April National, which means doing land well enough to move on to water. In my dreams, we place. But being realistic, getting to water would be a grand achievement.
We were one of 3 out of 5 dogs called back for water. Then everyone failed the water test, so there were no ribbons. Goal was met, and it was a fun new adventure.
Finish her JH.
Earned our 3rd leg at the National and finished the title in May.
Get her running cold blinds:
land (March) and water (May)
Earn her WCX - 4/21/13
Run Senior with her in the fall. While I'd love to earn her SH, that is a pretty tall order - I think. (pass 1 July, pass 2 8/17, pass 3 8/24, 8/25 TITLE!!!). When we first arrived in Florida, Little was ahead of Sonic in terms of her skill set. During that trip, Sonic got almost caught up on water, and moved ahead of her on land.
Earn her RA (March 15) and RE (4/22).
I've been completely focused on field work with her lately, and plan to continue that as much as possible this winter, so I don't know if I'll devote the time to obedience titles or not. If I do, we might do Novice in the fall. Or Beginner Novice (4/22). Or Grad Novice (10/22). Or none. WC Novice 11/22 - very nice performance! 198.5, 2nd place.


Update the Northfield Dog Training website! It has been on my list for at least a year, and other things keep getting in the way.
Finally, my web programming skills reached a critical mass in the fall, and I started serious progress on the website. Right before Christmas, I got the "get rid of frames" release done. It was a huge undertaking, but I've learned a lot, and find I still really like programming. After a brief break to get ready for Christmas, I've returned to work on implementing PayPal. The list of additions/changes I still want to make is lengthy, and will most likely continue to occupy me well into 2014.
Continue with my field training education – to that end, I'm already signed up for two seminars with Mitch White and plan to sign up for the Carol Cassity one that Marshbanks will be sponsoring in July, and maybe one with Bill Hillman in June.
I had a great time at both seminars with Mitch White, the first one a water workshop in Florida in February, and the other his 4-day summer camp in July. The following weekend was 3 days with Carol Cassity, from which I got one particularly helpful exercise, as well as a long list of great ideas.
Keep honing my Getting Things Done chops.
While I did manage several 'Weekly reviews', it is still a weak point for me when using the system. However, the overall framework of GTD is what allows me to keep on top of all of the dozens of projects I seem to have going all the time.
Blog more regularly again.
With only 12 blog posts all year as compared to > 20 for the previous three years, I'd say I failed on this one. My muse only grabbed me by the hands a few of times, forcing me to get some ideas out there.
Get back to some form of aerobic exercise. Aim for 100 workouts.
Started out the year by getting my Nordic Track functioning again and used it for a while, but then when I started PT for my neck and shoulder in late January, that stopped. I got the bike tires pumped up right before Christmas and have biked Sonic and Joker several times in the building since the cold weather has set in.
Work on some multimedia product. I have some half-baked ideas. Website first, though.
I have even more ideas for new projects, but the website will continue to dominate for the immediate future.
Back in June, I said I would take over the Midwest Waterways FCR Club's website. Worked on it a bit in August. Once I did the NDT website release, I spent < a day getting a skeleton site released. Having based it on the Marshbanks site, it didn't take too much effort.


There are a lot of ways I volunteer my time. For Marshbanks, I chair the fall obedience and rally trials; I am worker organizer for the August hunt tests; I take care of the website. I co-chair the November eye clinic. For AADTC, I help at the fall trials (stewarded this year), and just chaired an obedience match, with sign-up done using the Google Docs framework I've used so successfully for my NDT matches. The ladies who have been running the club's matches are all eager to use the new system, as it greatly simplifies the process.

2013 was a super year for me. I'm grateful I get to spend so much of my time on work that I love so much.