Thursday, February 24, 2011

Little Lessons

This week has been about teaching little lessons to both girls: Mesa self control, and Dally a little self control and patience.

Mesa's lesson is working towards a solid start line stay for her agility, plus a little self control...period. She gets very excited when we're practicing agility and barks...a lot. Plus, she wants instant gratification, which is usually to get to me (she's very attached). So, upon the urging of my agility friends, I've started the first steps to teaching Mesa her own self control.

Right now these lessons include me holding a tennis ball in my hand and waiting to give it to her. Once she stops nibbling or digging at my hand and barking, and when she's relaxed, I click and give her the tennie. I started this Tuesday night with a lot of barking. Wednesday she quickly remembered the previous night's lesson and was fairly quiet. I was even able to set the tennie about one foot from her, and clicked when she stayed down and was relaxed. The next step was throwing tennie a short distance and waiting for Mesa to relax and wait for me to tell her to get it. Once again, she's a fast learner! I was even able to get some sit-stays with me walking around her accomplished. I can walk to about the point of her hip before she feels the need to try to spin around to see me. Baby steps...

Dally's self control lessons have to do with going for walks. She gets so excited to go for walks that she starts jumping up and down and barking. Already, after only one day of getting after her, she's sitting down and quietly letting me snap the leash to her collar. (Shew!)

Her patience lessons have to do with grooming. Earlier in her life, Dally used to not mind being brushed. But something happened (and I'm still not sure what it was--I think it has to do with the groomer to left her with back in Amarillo before she was 1), and now she hates it. She'll jump around and some times try to bite the brush (she knows better than to bite me) ... especially when I get to working on her pants.

So for this lesson, I'm taking things slowly with her and will start her with a piece of a special treat, then gently brush her for a while. I'll continue to treat and brush at random intervals, reassuring her that she'll be OK. She still gets upset, and still will not let me brush out her pants, but it's a calmer experience. I don't know if she'll ever break from that fear, but hopefully it can be a calmer, more reassuring grooming experience.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring?? Is That You??

Taking a quick moment to update things for the "Stump Kids." We just came back from our first hike of the new year--it's a gorgeous mid-50 degree, sunny day, so we went out with Matt and our friends Merinda and John and Porter, their 5-year-old Cardigan Welsh Corgi (he's Dally and Mesa's best friend) to the Palisades for some hiking near the Kentucky River. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon! This, of course, was followed by a stop at Bruster's for free pup cups for the kids. (The pup cups are small, single scoops of vanilla ice cream with a dog cookie on top.)

Mesa's agility training has progressed so well! She's been picking up things left and right. Now I just want us to focus on some distance work and continuing our weaves. We worked with Weave-A-Matics for the first time on Monday, and after a short introduction Mesa is starting to get it. We pushed the channels out some, and angled the poles, of course, but I think it'll be a smooth transition to in-line WAMs, and then hopefully soon in-lines. But, I need to no put so much pressure on the weaves.

Dally's Nashville AKC trial at the end of January was pretty successful--she Qd in both Exc A Standard runs to finish her AXP (Excellent A Standard Preferred) title. She needed a new handler for both of her Jumpers runs, though, as I completely got lost on Saturday's run and then on Sunday I threw in my front cross at the wrong jump, causing me to pull her off a jump and going off course. Talk about frustrating!! We have a trial in Dayton, Ohio, next weekend, where I hope to finish her AJP (Excellent A Jumpers Preferred) on Saturday and start our journey towards earning Double Qs for our PAX/PACH!! (Plus, we'll be back to where we were before I dropped her down to 4 inches preferred--Dally actually has seven MACH points.)

Mesa's agility trial debut is at a CPE trial in Milford, Ohio, March 5. I entered her in three classes, while Dally's in all four that day. I think I entered her in Standard, Jumpers, and Full House, leaving out Jackpot because I wasn't sure about the distance challenges. Matt will be there to tape, so I'll post them on here. Level 1 doesn't use weaves (good) or a teeter (bad, she loves teeter), so that's why I'm able to start her there without having solid weaves.

While we were in Nashville, I measured Mesa at exactly 11 inches--the cut-off for the 8-inch jump height. I now have to try to find the right VMO at her first AKC trial to be patient and work to measure her at 11 inches. If she's that close to the jump height cut-off, I hate to make her jump 12 inches. :-/

Well, there's our quick update. I promise to be better as things start getting going for both girls.