The Toller's on a Roll! - CDSP

The Toller had another CDSP trial this weekend and was entered in 1 run each day of Open C.

Awesomeness.  Happy and focused ring entrance and sprint to the first exercise setup.  Enthusiastic jumping on me in between exercises and quick setups for the next one.  

- Mini Go Out: fast, straight target.  But a wide loopy sit (that he's also doing in practice)
- Retrieve over high: fast send.  But knocked dumbbell on pickup and bad front.
- Retrieve on flat: another fast send.  And a bonus jump :)  Actually I super pleased he took the jump since I do way more proofing of bad throws for the ROH and never do any training on not taking it for the ROF.  He also actually worked his front from the crooked angle and was probably his best front of the day.
- Drop on recall: fast recall.  But looked around and stood as I walked away and was slow to drop.  Bonus backing up in a down :)
- Heeling: great drive and focus.  Some forging :) Last halt was slow to sit.
- Broad: cut corner.

Continued awesomeness.  Another happy ring entry and taking off of leash.  He did go to jump on the judge though when the judge went to grab the leash from in front of us. In Vito's defense I was also taken off guard as I was already moving the leash behind me.  The happy jumping on me, quick setups, and fast exercises continued.

- Mini Go Out:  fast and straight target, another wide loopy sit
- Retrieve over high: fast and clean!  Awful front and finish
- Retrieve on flat: fast and actually done on the flat today :) fumbled pickup and bad front
- Drop on recall: I used both verbal and hand signal due to Saturday's slow response. Nice fast drop.
- Heeling: great drive and focus.  Some more forging and the last halt was again slow to sit.
- Broad: cut corner again.  This time the judge didn't NQ us, but took off 10 points.  Apparently he felt bad he gave us the wrong order ("send" vs "forward").  It didn't effect my handling in any way though.

While I had treats in my pocket in case I needed them, I ended up not giving a single cookie either day.  No additional praise was needed either!  So except for the differences in exercises (running broad jump, both hand and verbal used for the drop on recall on sun) Vito continued to show me that AKC is an option for us.

The Corgi
Lance also competed in a round each day of Utility.  I had a plan to train in the ring as needed to work on his go outs and signals since CDSP allows praise and judges are very accepting of training runs.  But Lance did a great job of working for me and I didn't need to do anything to support those 2 exercises!  Go outs were straight and all the way to the barrier (I didn't call his sits until he was in touching distance).  Signals were confident and since the distances were only about 3/4ths of the traditional (CDSP allows judges to use either the long side or the short side of the ring) I didn't give any extra praise.  But I did give him a treat after the signals each day!

I also chose this week to debut our new articles.  CDSP allows the exhibitor to do leather OR metal so there's no mixed pile.  I thought it would be perfect as he didn't have any metal ones to distract him.  Lance is doing pretty well with his little baby shoes but I haven't been mixing them with his canning rings yet as it took some time to build confidence with them.  Technically I bought the shoes as an early UDX title celebration, but as that title didn't happen as planned, maybe they can be our reward from the big NOC event.
Regardless, Lance searched the pile quickly and confidently.  He did drop a shoe on Saturday, but well that's a Lance move anyway.
So 2 Q's towards their new utility championship title.


Your Ideas for AKC Obedience

The deadline for the AKC obedience advisory committee is tomorrow, 4/11.  If you currently compete in  obedience, with any organization, if you used to compete in obedience, or even if you have ever thought about competing in obedience, please submit your ideas for change.  The box is small, so write it out somewhere first and then paste it in, one idea per form.

If you don't know what to say, here are the 10+ ideas I argued for, re-written of course in a more formal tone.


Happy Golden Birthday to the Corgi

The corgi turned 7 years old today!  I can't believe how old that suddenly feels to me and yet it's only 7.  Such an easy boy.

16 months old
The snow is finally melting at our house these last few days so the dogs and I have gotten to explore the empty fields directly behind our house.  Technically not our land, but so close!  We even discovered a little pond that has thawed out now.  Can't wait to see if the water sticks around in the summer!


The Corgi at the National Obedience Championship- Part 2

Pouring rain over the weekend turned to sleet on Sun.
I really couldn't be more proud of the Corgi and how he handled this huge event.  It was a fantastic facility with plenty of crating space, a very large vendor area, and even agility on the other side.  And it sure was busy!  I LOVED watching all the amazing teams and seeing the variety of cues given and handling between exercises.  For the most part dogs were very energized and I saw way more jumping around than I typically do at the Minnesota trials.  The jumping left finish was hugely popular and isn't something I see a lot of teams doing around here.  I also saw quite a few dogs do the bounce up, but then slowly continue the rest of the finish.  Likely the long days got to even the most seasoned teams.

The rows of chairs along the 6 rings made it very easy to hang out and watch the teams in the ring, but they also meant that spectators with their dogs and food could be only a foot away from the gates.  (Though of course everyone was very respectful of the dogs in the ring.)  Since Lance has recently been having spectating issues in between exercises and on setups, it could have been bad.  Thankfully he kept his glancing around to a minimum.  As mentioned in the last post, if heeling was first it was more likely to happen (ring #1 on sat and ring #3 on sun) and also on the wait for articles to be put out.  On Sunday I changed remind them of what they smell like, but it sure seemed like a handy way to make sure he was paying attention to me!

handling slightly on the article send as I remembered I could give Lance my scent before sending him.  I've never really understood why some handlers feel the need to shove their hand in their dog's face and
Lance won a trick contest at the end!

Points lost were in the following categories:
- Fronts and finishes. Started pretty dismal but I think Lance actually improved with almost every new ring.  Of course some were just really bad!  Fronts were hurting worse than finishes by far.  1 Missed finish signal in our first ring day #2.  And 1 no sit in front, also in that first ring day #2.
- Some fumbling of articles (4 of the 8), dumbbells (2 of 8), and gloves (1 of 4)
- No sits on go outs (3 of 8), all were on the first send.
- Pulling up short on go outs, or looking like he was close to doing so (4 of 8), usually on the first send but not always.
- 2 no downs on the signals- one of them 3/4ths of the way, the last one he just sat
- 1 sit on the signal stand- was standing all the way until just right before I turn around to face him :(
- Moving a step or 2 as the judge approached on the moving stand (2 of the 4)
- Curving and looking at the judge while returning with a dumbbell/glove (3 of the many retrieves)
- Glove pivots, mainly the 2 turns to glove #1.
- 1 no send on the very last go out in the last ring.  Didn't even flinch, but happily zoomed on a 2nd cue
- Heeling- laggy and wide that first ring and again on day 2 when heeling was first.  Otherwise some forged halts.  Did somehow lose 4pts under 1 judge when I have no idea how (but most teams were losing major points on heeling in that ring as well who looked awesome).

So major categories to work on:

  1. Focus, especially between exercises.  I've really only recently started re-proofing this with him as I mentioned in an earlier post.  Some issues were exasperated when I started having other people feed him on the group stays so now Lance is more likely to look to people with food.  I'm working on having people crinkle things and over food to him and having Lance learn to maintain focus to my back as he's likely to steal a glance when I'm walking away.  I'm also starting to add in a few games with me turning and tossing him a treat to chase as I get some distance away from him so that he pays more attention to my turned back.  I'm also debating about stealing back my Minders Manner I loaned out and setting that up behind him.  An obvious cue but the Robot is incredibly high value for him.
  2. Fronts and finishes.  never ending :)
  3. Go outs.  Need to continue our operation touch stanchion training.  Also need to continue my recent efforts at adding distractions to the side and behind the gates.  Lance really needs a lot more confidence building on this exercise so I will try an do as much proofing as possible to help build him up.
  4. Sits on go outs.  Not entirely sure what my plan of attack is for this.  I'm pretty sure the no-sits are pure anticipation of the want to jump.  He has a nice solid turn and in practice I occasionally work on calling repeated really short sits just to keep him on his toes.  I also don't do a ton of combined directed jumping with the go out portion, especially recently with out stanchion training.
  5. Signals.  It looks as though our down signal issue may be creeping back in.  That was incredibly difficult to fix last time as he made himself extremely stressed over the exercise.  It doesn't seem as though Lance is really stressing it over now, at least not yet.  I think the cookie tosses as my back is turned might help prevent some building stress as well as rewarding his down signals with the cue to rollover- his favorite trick. So far this is not an issue that has crept back into our practices in any form.

Huge pros from the weekend besides his happy attitude (biggest pro ever!) were:

  1. Holding his stay!  And he even did his stand in between the sit and down (for the 2nd show in a row now!) and held it for the entire minute+ it took for all the rings to be ready!
  2. Being OK with how close judges were.  Other than a few glances/archs on some of the retrieves, Lance didn't seem to mind the increased pressure from the judges.  I felt that most of the (super nice) judges were standing closer than I'm used to, especially on the fronts and finishes.
  3. Heeling- about turns.  Our about turn wideness seems to be fixed!  In the many, many about turns over the weekend Lance only had 2 sight seeing turns.  Both in the same ring where heeling was first and he wasn't quite connected on the first half.

Here are my rough notes from the weekend and our breakdown by exercises.  Of course I didn't get to talk to any of the judges about what the points lost were actually on:


The Corgi at the National Obedience Championship -part 1

We made it!  After almost 17 hours in the car over two days we arrived in Harrisburg, PA on Friday afternoon.  It turns out Minnesota is well represented with 9 dogs entered being the the 3rd largest state entry!  126 total dogs from around the country were entered.

I had heard a few things from my fellow Minnesotans on how the event was run so everything wasn't completely new.  You do each open and utility exercise twice each day with the orders mixed up in each ring.  There were 6 rings this year and since dogs were arranged by jump height, the Corgi started in ring 1.  Two cute little Dachshunds and a Yorkie lead the 4 inchers and Lance started the 8 inchers.  I was amazed to see how friendly and supportive everyone seemed to be of each other.  I think 90% of the people there were smiling and free of compliments towards everyone else.  And I don't think any of the other 10% were in with the shorties!  Lots and lots of happy working dogs were there!

Fellow AMAZING corgi.  No the shirts weren't planned :)

I can't say I had any goals for the long weekend.  I just wanted a happy dog and anything else would be icing on the cake.  If pressed, I was shooting for finishing just above the bottom 1/3rd of dogs.  I knew that we would be woefully unprepared to compete with the high caliber of dogs.

Waiting to go in the first ring of the weekend was nerve wrecking.  I'd love to say the nerves got better after entering 12 times, but only slightly!   Lance must have needed some adjustment time as well as that ring #1 was not our greatest performance.  Of course it just had to be heeling first and Lance took about half of it to multitask heeling with me along with sightseeing the crowd and other rings.  Thankfully he started to pull it together by 2nd half and by ring #2 he was with me completely.

We still had attention issues.  Overall Lance did a fabulous job of ignoring the close crowd but his tendency to look in between exercises was of course exacerbated here.  I also discovered that if heeling was first he wasn't quite ready to handle that in this environment.  But after an exercise or two to settle him in, Lance could really turn it on!  Day 2 he seemed to be ON even more than day 1.  AND he even held his sit stay with 6 rings going on at one time!!!

This event certainly was a test of endurance.  I know I was getting exhausted so I'm sure Lance was too.  But he made me proud with how quickly he turned on and ready to work again and again.  Precision was hit and miss but for the most part his attitude was there.

Overall Lance ended up "NQ"ing on 3 exercises day 1 (signals-sat before I turned around on the stand, signals- 3/4ths of the way down, and 1 go out- got completely lost on the first send).  And on day 2 he was clean until the very last ring of the day where he again failed on 2 exercises (signals- sat on the down, and go outs-didn't move on send #2).  If I think about it optimistically, Lance was clean on 41 out 46 exercises.  Our cumulative score was 1168 out of 1420.  Ouchy NQs!  Hopefully there will be the total scores up on the website before part 2 of my posting on this event.  I'll go over all of our errors this past weekend and my plans going forward.

Here are some snippets of our good moments:


Gracie 16 months

Gracie will be 16 months old soon.  Other than some proofing work I need to do on alerting under distractions, Gracie has almost completed her diabetic alert training.  Her alerts also need to be reigned in a tiny bit :)  Gracie likes to do her nose nudge alert with a jump so she punches your stomach.  At least it's not subtle!

Since she isn't technically in her final training stage yet, there's still a chance she could be destined for another job.  But she sure is damn good at hitting on the scented gauze pad in an insanely short amount of time!  Gracie did pass her final health clearances recently so the chances of her being career changed at this point is very low.  *knock on wood!*

She is the most doggy loving Labrador I've had.  Loves being in physical contact as much as possible with her friends.  Here's Gracie saying hello to her mentors currently in for final training.

One of the prettiest Pocket Labs around.

Still waiting for her to mature a little bit.  Jumping on people is still an issue.  Luckily she takes her training pretty seriously and isn't doing it at all out in cape as she remains focused on me.  But when off leash or even at the dog club, Gracie thinks everyone who says hello would love a punch in the gut.  I don't think I've ever had a puppy still so persistent in their jumping!  Vito and Lance are exempt of course as they have no rules :)


Vito's best and worst trial

Vito had a USDAA agility trial this time.

Saturday's first run was Gamblers and Vito was nuts.  Even though the car ride was only 10 minutes from our new house and we were at the site for almost an hour before the run, Vito was still worked up.  Big plus was Vito stressing UP instead of down.  He certainly put all that neurotic energy into his run!!!  Pretty sure that gamblers run was Vito's fastest run ever in a trial.  He also made some interesting choices out there.
We ended up coming super close to getting the gamble!  Vito redirected back out to the tunnel but then took the wrong jump on the way back in.
Happy, neurotic toller!

Standard felt insanely slow compared to that gamblers run, but video doesn't show it beggn that bad.  Then again Vito did have EIGHT hits on his dogwalk compared to his usual 6 or even 5 sometimes when he's really moving.  NQ for not wanting to get on the table right away, but otherwise an ok run.

Actually entered steeplechase since it was the 3rd run of the day and I wanted to only spend a half day at the trial.  Vito actually sped up again even if he wasn't quite as smokin as gamblers.  We ran clean and manged to place 5th for a Q!!!

Sunday was not as great of a day.  Vito had 4 runs since he made it into steeplechase round 2 and each run started slower than the previous.

Jumpers was clean other than a knocked double.  And he really did pick up speed the 2nd half.
Snooker I lost him into a dummy tunnel but not fully his fault.  We made it through 3 of the 4 reds planned.
Steeplechase he cut behind me to go into the wrong end of the tunnel.  And we had the weavepole march of death.  Definitely a Sad Toller run.
Standard he pulled off the #3 jump as I looked to fine my line and then started sniffing the ground as I swung him back so we skipped it entirely.  The table was the 7th obstacle and he did sass at me for the stop.  Afterwards he started to pickup speed and actually flew over the aframe so fast that I was super late on a front cross a jump later.  So a win for recovering from that awful start.

On all of Sunday's runs he had a hard time warming up.  Going into the ring he was looking around quite a bit and only gave a few Toller screams.  Leading out our usual 5 feet he likes lead to him looking around even more. Before the last Standard run I desperately even tried to warm up with food instead of a toy, something I stopped doing years ago since he doesn't drive hard for food.  Apparently that fact is still true!


Vito Drug Update- Starting Amitriptyline

We started weaning Vito off is Prozac shortly after our move to the new house in December.  At 40mg, we had a long way to get down to nothing.  Finally after 2 months we had a new fake baseline.  "Fake" since Vito is still on twice daily doses of Clonidine and Clorazepate.

The process showed that Prozac was pretty much doing nothing for Vito anymore.  There was very little difference between Vito on 40mg and Vito on 0mg.  That was great news for me!  We  never had the falling out that I was dreading.  Of course in some respects that was because he was already so much worse that he was a year ago.

Differences I saw were as follows:
- Reactivity to people didn't get any worse, but he's still reacting several times a day at work to people talking and/or approaching my cubicle.  Does so with or without me there.
- Car rides were mixed bags between complete panic attacks with severe trembling and panting, to rides where he wants to eagerly stare at me waiting for cookies.  Mornings are currently worse than evenings.  A trend that seems to reverse itself every few months.
- Recovery from car rides or other stressful events are a big longer.  Most days he still has a quick recovery, but there are days where he has really bad mornings at work now.
- Leaving at home was initially OK for 90min.  But now he's howling and panting at 20min.  I don't dare leave him alone ever anymore.
- Higher energy.  Wanting to play a bit more than before and more eager to train.  Things that I desperately want to hold onto with drug changes.

So now Vito started Amitriptyline 3 weeks ago.  So far there's been no difference but he's only been on 25mg x2/day.  I increased it to 25g in the AM and 50mg in the evening this week.  
Vito will be staying with a wonderful friend who volunteered (yes, really!) to take care of him while I'm in Pennsylvania next week.  

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