Monday, March 29, 2010

Fusing of the Nub

It is with sadness that I announce Mesa's nub has fused. :-( It's nothing serious, so no worries there. I was just getting excited because she was learning how to wiggle her nub (her tail that was only 1 vertebrae), and this weekend I noticed that her nub was pointing up, and every time I grabbed it, it didn't move. It's a natural thing, and it doesn't hinder her in any way--she just can't wiggle her "nubbin" any more. Maybe she'll figure out how to just shake her rump...

Training with the choke collar has gone surprisingly well. Mesa doesn't fight me at all when I give it a little jerk. While we're walking along the road, if I need to get her attention back on me and walking, I just have to give it a little tug and call her name and she responds by looking up at me and being right at my feet. I've been using the clicker to reward her when she does this at different times. It just makes me happy that she is easily coming back to me when she's distracted--surely a positive sign for future training.

Dally went to the chiropractor last week and this time was out in 10 places, including some problems in her hip. I've put her back on her iodine supplement with her breakfast and we're just trying to figure out why she's falling apart. She was still happy at agility class at Melanie's on Tuesday, running fast and working well in everything, so it doesn't seem to bother her too much--whatever her problem is.

This week I'm finally going home to the family farm for some relaxation and some pony time. It'll be Mesa's first trip home and her first time running around the house, meeting the horses, etc. I'm really excited to see how she does and how she'll love running around the yard and barn. Dally will get her yearly vaccinations and exam from our vet back home (he's seen her since she was a pup, plus we get good discounts), plus our family friend that does massage therapy has agreed to see her to see what her problem is with her back/hips. I'm hoping the double-up of the bone and soft tissue work will be just the ticket with getting Dally back in shape. Also on Saturday, we are driving up to Lafayette for a CPE trial that I decided to enter for grins and to experience CPE outside of Milford, Ohio. It'll be mom's first experience at a CPE trial, but Mesa will stay with dad and the other dogs due to the fact that the crating will be in a separate building from the show ring (not cool, T&RT).

I should have lots of photos and stories from the weekend. Meanwhile, I'm still working on reading "In FOCUS" and I hope to have it completed after this weekend (I always seem to have a lot of reading time when I go home). Yay for some pony time!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Family Reunion

This weekend was the Louisville Cluster/Kentuckiana Cluster--an AKC dog show featuring rally, obedience, agility, and conformation all at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds. It was also my "Two-Year Trial" in which Dally and I marked the end of our second year of competing.

I showed Dally only Saturday and Sunday: Saturday saw us place first and finish our title in Novice FAST, and then two slow Excellent Standard and Jumpers runs in which I was caught off guard because she wasn't the same dog she was in the past two trials. There were many excuses--she's sore from the puppy jumping on her (her chiropractor trip Wednesday revealed she was out in seven places), it is an overwhelming experience for the dogs, etc. I don't know which is true...but I wasn't happy. :-(

Sunday saw slow, disturbed runs in Excellent Standard and Jumpers. In Standard Dally was stressed after jumping out of the weaves twice (third time she finished all 12, but lept sideways out of the last pole) and kept looking behind her. Observers say it was the photographer's camera clicking. I don't know, but I did everything I could to motivate and cheer her through the course. After a second trip to a message therapist (she had an initial session Saturday after her runs), we realized her hips seemed to be bothering her, so I put her up in her crate to rest and see how she felt for Jumpers. The course was a nice one--would have been a great run if I had my fast Corgi back. However, she seemed somewhat excited for the run, and I just wanted to try to have fun with her on the course. We ran (errr, umm, trotted through) the course and she did everything cleanly, stopping the clock at 60.19 seconds (SCT was 39). Oh well, we celebrated and I praised her. A decent way to end the weekend.

Mesa, on the other hand, had a busy weekend of visiting with her daddy and sister, as well as her breeder. Debbie came to town with Toby to keep his #1 ranking, and brought Hannah (Mesa's litter mate) along for the experience and to play with Mesa. Hannah is a spit fire, just like Mesa, only you could easily tell that Hannah was the dominate one in the litter before I got Mesa. At first she was a little overwhelmed, but when I'd leave the two alone with either Debbie or Matt, they'd play and play! The two look so different from each other--different coat (Hannah has a longer, fluffier coat like her grandmother; Mesa a shorter, smoother coat like her daddy), tail versus nub, color (Hannah is a tan sable, Mesa red sable), and Hannah will be bigger (her feet are huge!!). Oh well...I like my little petite nubbin!! Mesa also played a little with a fellow BFOer's Sheltie puppy who is 1 month younger than Mesa. However, when we put them in an ex-pen, Mesa barked and barked until I'd come back, and would refuse to play with the Sheltie puppy ("Karma"). Sigh...

The Cluster is also known for it's dog-related shopping. While there, I bought a supply of turkey trecheas (Dally loves them) and some bones, a new bed for Dally, a couple of leather leads (one for me, one for mom), and a nylon choke collar for Mesa. I decided to save some money and purchase a nylon choke chain for $3 that Mesa can grow into (16") instead of paying around $15 for a metal one she'll grow out of in a month or two. It's time to start working on her paying attention to me while walking and to come back better. I'm trying to work on her focusing on me more now, while she's a sponge, and make sure she doesn't start thinking she can get away with everything.

Until then, it's back to my "Focus" book and simple clicker training with Mesa, and back to the motivation drawing board with Dally. We have a CPE trial in two weeks back home, but no more AKC until May.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Busy busy busy!

It has been a busy couple of weeks for us! This past weekend (March 13-14) my parents came to town to visit and see Mesa, since I haven't been home since before I got her in January. And of course, along with them came Smoke (my mom's Swedish Vallhund) and Lacey (English Cocker Spaniel), so fair to say it was a packed house in my tiny apartment! The chaos started first thing Friday evening with Smoke, Dally, and Mesa ripping and racing all around the apartment playing with each other with big excitement. Yes....Dally was playing with Smoke!! My mom can see a big change in Dally's demeanor in the way she wants to actually play with Smoke...not completely ignore him. So, the puppy has been a good thing!

Saturday I ran in the Shamrock Shuffle 3K for my friend's 30th birthday in downtown Lexington (16.3!) and then had to work a hunter/jumper show in Frankfort, so mom and dad "puppy-sat" Mesa while Dally went to Lakeside with me. During that time, mom worked on teaching Mesa to sit up on her hind end (unfortunately she was teaching her with the same hand signals as I teach for a sit, so I'm trying to come up with a new hand signal for "sit up") and laying down. She was a little rock star for mom, but she was greatly missing her mom. She'd run from bedroom window to living room window every once in a while looking for me and wondering when I'd return. As mom said, she's definitely already my dog and is attached. This means time to work on separation...not fun.

Thankfully I didn't have to work on Sunday, so I got to spend the day with my parents, which meant going to IncrediPet to buy Mesa's new crate. All this time I've been borrowing a pink plastic pet carrier from Mesa's breeder, Debbie, as well as a bigger crate from an agility friend (wire, longer than Dally's). Mesa was sleeping in the pink crate and spending the day in the larger crate, but I was wanting to shrink the number of crates in my room from 3 to 2, as well as work more towards house breaking Mesa during the day. The new crate, which measures 18" wide, 19" tall, and 24" long (Dally's is 18x20x24), comes with a divider so you can change the size of the crate--perfect for crate training!! Mesa now sleeps comfortably in her new crate (I put a blanket over the sides at night) and has kept it clean the entire week! This even includes during the day! Yay! (I might have just jinxed us...)

Monday evening saw a trip to Jodi's where Mesa and Dally got to run around the backyard and all around the house while I baked cookies and vented about the tumultuous day I had at work. Jodi also finally finished her wobble-board that she was attempting to make for Maya, but instead put it out in the middle of the living room for Mesa to try out. Moving floor underneath?? Not a problem for a fearless Vallhund like Mesa!! She didn't give the fact that the board was tipping back and forth under her...there were treats being tossed on the board! Then, we brought out a kiddie tunnel (the kind you get at Toys R Us) and Mesa enjoyed following Dally through it, then proceeded to run thru and around the tunnel, jump on the wobble board...rinse, and repeat. So far, introducing her to agility has been fairly easy and painless. (Once again...jinx...)

Tuesday saw our first agility class of the year at Melanie's. I always enjoy taking classes at Mel's because most of the time it's our "Small Dog Posse" and we always know how to have a good time. After two good runs with Dally (after a few corrections on my end, of course), it was time to let the pups play. Mesa spent the next 10 straight minutes running in circles, chasing Rupp (Mel's Chi pup), running through tunnels, herding dogs through the weaves (she'd run on the outside of the weaves) and jumping 8-inch jumps. She also attempted to climb the A-frame until I ran up and put a stop to that. Thank goodness for a quiet night after that--exhaustion for a puppy is a good thing!

This weekend is the Louisville Cluster (a big AKC dog show with conformation, rally, obedience, and agility) and Dally is entered in Nov FAST (going for her title), Exc STD, Exc JWW on Saturday, and Exc STD and Exc JWW Sunday. Mesa's going, of course, but she has a full plate as well, as her breeder will be there with her daddy (Toby) and litter mate (Hannah). She'll have a Vallhund play date with her sister and I'll see if I get Debbie's seal of approval for my rearing of Mesa so far. I'll report back after the Cluster with many more tails, and probably more videos to share.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A weekend of firsts...

So this weekend was packed with lots of action for both girls. The warmer temperatures and sunshine meant it was time to finally get out of the apartment and get some fresh air!

Saturday saw a trip to Masterson Station Park where we went for a short walk and then met up with some of the Park's resident horses. LaMesa has yet to meet my horses back at my parents' farm, so this was her first experience with the four-hooved creatures. She was absolutely enamored by them! As always, she didn't show any fear when she just trotted under the fence and right up to each one that was currently munching away on their hay. Here's her video from that:

After meeting the horses, we went to an open area and played tennis ball with the girls so they could stretch their legs and burn off some more energy.

Sunday, after another walk around the neighborhood (I've been trying to get in as many walks with the girls as I can--it's good for Mesa to see more different things, plus to work on her heeling, etc.), we made our first trek out to the agility field since this Fall. Well, this was Dally's first trip in five months, and Mesa's first-ever. Dally and I had Competition Prep class, but I brought Mesa out to, once again, get her out and about and meet all the other dogs. She was a trooper hanging out in Dally's wire crate. She spent the whole time watching all of the dogs go through the different courses and watch the comings and goings. She only whined/barked a few times, but was hushed when I'd yell out to her. After I worked with Dally for a while, I took her back to her stake with Porter (Dally's "best friend"--a Cardigan Welsh Corgi) and got Mesa out to work on a few things.

I hadn't been able to do much training with Mesa over the last week because I left my clicker in Jodi's car. I got it back Saturday, so I had the opportunity to use it Sunday. I started off with our basics--"sit," "spin," and then working more on "down." I got out a target and threw it out on the grass and even though we hadn't worked on target since the first time we did it a week ago, she went right to it to touch the target and come back to me for her treat after she heard the click! Yay!

Merinda and I decided to see if she'd go through a tunnel if we straightened out and scrunched it up. Merinda held Mesa on one end, while I laid down in front of the other end with the clicker and a treat. The first few times Mesa wasn't too sure how to get to me while I was calling her name, but she'd slowly go through the tunnel the first few times. Finally, after maybe four trips slowly through the tunnel, she ran right through when Merinda let her go, so we stopped there and she got lots of praise and love. Afterwards, I turned Dally loose so they could run around and play before heading home. Dally ran through the same tunnel (which was returned back to it's proper length and angled in a wide "U"), with Mesa running right after Dally and not even bulking! Yay!

I know many people say to take it slow with Mesa and introducing the different obstacles from the field, but I didn't think it'd hurt to introduce a short tunnel with positive results. I had wanted to walk her over the "baby dog walk" which is just the top of an old dog walk propped on cement blocks, but I had forgotten. Oh well...there's plenty of time for that. I just need to continue working on the basics and slowly introduce things to her.

I'm thinking of working both Dally and Mesa on Rally and get both of their Rally Novice titles this year. I talked with one friend whose Sheltie got her RN at 10 months and she said it was great foundation training for a puppy in preparation for agility. And I think the results speak for themselves--Bindi Sue got her MACH last year and I think she's only three! But, I need to find someone who will work with me on the basics, and then find some trials to enter later this summer.