June Training Plans

May's Progress
1.  Scent work- I wanted to continue doing scent articles almost daily, get Lance up to the full 12 articles, and start Vito on leather.  Well check, check, and check!  I was a very good girl and did this boring (for me) exercise practically every training session.  Lance got up to the full pile fairly easily although I am still sitting on the floor very close to the pile.  Vito also is doing leather with no problem and now works a mixture of metal and leather about 6 articles.  However I haven't done any scent work the last week since Lance has a cracked tooth and has started to avoid the metal articles.  He is having surgery soon so I will hold off on any more retrieving work until then.

2. Tricks- I wanted to finish up some of the tricks I start and never finish.  Vito's goal was limping on his front right and Lance's goal was marching in heel and "up" in heel.  Apparently I forgot what Lance's goal was since I have mainly been working him on limping with his front right paw, he already knew it with his left.  I thought it would be easy to get the other leg but apparently Lance couldn't generalize at all and we had to start completley from scratch and work through every little step.  But he's getting it!  Lance will limp on his other leg for 2 steps now.  Vito is also doing really well with his limping and will go for 4 steps.  In typical Vito fashion this is done with complete spazzing!  His technique is getting more normal looking each day, but it's still hilarious!  I also resumed a tiny bit of work on Vito's "penguin" trick and Lance offered an odd variation one day on it so he's had  2 sessions of backing up in beg.

3. Train outside- Kind've done.  The weather has been either really hot or rainy so it's been more difficult then expected.  But I did start working on Vito turning after his running "board" and Lance working on driving into his 4 on the floor regardless of my position.  I didn't get to any of the freestyle routine outside, but I did practice Lance's routine indoors at least :)

4.  Obedience run through with Vito- First fail.  But I did go to our first agility trial :)

June Goals
Gosh with little Chuck here most of my training time is going to be going to him.  I don't want to ignore the boys, but until I don't have to have my eye on the puppy every second I'm not sure how to manage training the other dogs.  My first priority with Chuck is to get him to respect the other dog's food dishes and to give me some distance when I have kibble for the others.  So while I will be giving Lance and Vito plenty of loving and playtime, I think training is going to be on hold for this month other then their normal classes and some very short sessions every now and then.


Meet Chuck

This is Chuck.

Due to a momentary lapse in rationality, Chuck is going to be living us for awhile. 

See Chuck was one of the 8 puppies from my employer's, Can Do Canines, new breeding program.  I am going to be puppy raising him.  Typically the puppy raisers main job is socialization and basic obedience training while they have the dog until he is 1.5-2yrs old.

I was a puppy raiser many years ago and found it to be the most rewarding experience of my life.  I have been wanting to do it again for a long time but just haven't had the time.  When this litter came into work I started thinking that just maybe I did have time :)  I haven't committed myself to being a full puppy raiser but I did say I would do it for at least 6 months.

Wow.  So far having little Chucklet has shown me how messed up puppy Vito was.  I keep taking him outside every 20min expecting him to pee and nothing!  Vito had to pee sometimes 4 times an hour, so much so that we thought he had diabetes insipidus. Chuckit only peeing every hour has me baffled :)  And then Chuck only cried for 5 minutes in his crate!  Yes, 5 minutes!!!  I still remember the 2.5hrs straight of Vito's shrieking like it was yesterday.

He is such a cool little dude.  Loves people, super cuddly, good tugger, and did I mention he loves people!  Lance and Vito are not thrilled about this.  Lots of growling and evil faces but overall Chuckles is learning some keep his distance and the boys will learn to get over it.  My bets are on Lance, 3 days is my guess.  Vito might need another week since, "mom, that's my toy!"


The Ferret FAQ

For a change of events, today I am answering the billion of questions that I get about ferrets.  I am sick of responding to the same questions over and over again on my youtube videos, so now I will have one handy place to direct everybody :)  I am not a ferret expert, but I have 11 owned ferrets over 13 years.

Aren't ferrets wild?

Nope!  Ferrets are descended from the European Polecat and many believe they have been domesticated longer then the cat.  They cannot survive in the wild.  I am not entirely sure why they were originally domesticated but they were used to hunt rabbits and other rodents down burrows and also trained to run wires through structures.

Don't they smell?
Yes.  They do have a very unique odor that is kind've musky.  Personally I don't think it's that bad, it's definitely a better smell than cat urine!

The main thing that will help in keeping the smell to a minimum is washing their bedding.  Their hammocks and fleece absorb all of that smell, especially since ferrets sleep so much.  The more you rotate and clean their bedding, the less the smell will be.  It will also help to stay on top of their litterbox.  A common misconception is bathing them too often to try and keep the smell down.  Really ferrets should only be bathed when they rolled in something dirty or no more than once a month.  Bathing them too often strips them of their natural oils and they will often smell worse the day or two after a bath.

Chances are your ferret is already descented, but if not there really is no reason to do so.  Descenting only removes the anal glands and eliminates the "poof" that ferrets can make when they are really scared.  Since it only happens when they are scared, there is no reason to put your ferret through this unnecessary procedure.

I heard ferrets were vicious, don't they bite?
Nonsense!  Baby ferrets, called kits, will nip during play just like puppies and kittens.  Once taught that human skin is fragile, ferrets have very good control and will learn how to play appropriately with us.  With a new ferret I simply shriek "ouch" and immediately scruff the ferret for 2-5seconds before putting him back down and resuming play.  The scruff serves as a mini timeout and the ferret will learn that biting ends fun time.  When interacting with a young ferret I try to always have a towel or toy in my hand for the ferret to bite.  Remember that ferrets, just like dogs and cats, play with their mouths so they will need an outlet.

Where can I get a ferret?
While you may see lots of cute ferrets in your local pet store, please consider going to your local humane society or even searching on craigslist or petfinder.com for your new pet.  If your purchase from a pet store you are supporting large commercial breeding facilities, aka ferret mills.  There are plenty of ferrets needing new homes out there as many people do not know the large amount of work involved in owning one. 

Should I get 1 or 2?
I highly recommend getting 2 ferrets to start out with.  Ferrets are extremely sociable creatures and need the companionship that you simply can't offer them 24/7.  Ferrets love to snuggle with each other; all 5 of mine sleep in the same hammock most nights even though I have 4 hammocks plus fleeces in their cage.  You can have just have one, but really ferrets do best with a buddy.
Ferrets need to be out of their cage for an absolute minimum of 2hrs per day but 4+ hrs is much better.  If you only have one ferret then you need to make sure that you INTERACTING with them for most of the time they are out of their cage.

Most people fall in love with a ferret and soon a mysterious phenomenon called "ferret math" occcurs.  Before the owner realizes it, their 1 ferret has turned into 2 and then 3!  This is how I ended up with 5.  And FYI, a group of ferrets is known as a "business!"

How big do ferrets get?
Females are often 1-2lbs and males are usually around 2-3lbs but can be larger.  It is not uncommon for ferrets to gain weight in the winter and lose it in the summer.  If you feel your ferret is getting pudgy do NOT put a ferret on a diet in the typical sense of restricting food as they need to eat several times a day due to their high metabolism.  Try increasing the amount of time they are out of their cage and make sure you are keeping them active during that time with fun games.

What does my ferret need to eat?
Ferrets are pure carnivores.  They have a very short GI tract and do not absorb nutrients very well so need a diet very high in protein and fat.  Many people feed their ferrets a raw diet and a whole prey diet is best.  If you are looking at feeding a dry kibble make sure it is a meat based protein of at LEAST 30% protein and 15% fat.  I feed EVO Ferret which is 50% protein and 21% fat.  Read the label of your chosen food very carefully as most "ferret food" in pet stores are not designed well for ferrets needs.

Stay away from ferret treats as almost all have no meat products in them and are made entirely out of sugars, fruits, and vegetables which can all be very dangerous for ferrets.  Contrary to popular belief, raisins are not a healthy treat for ferrets.  A nice treat that I use is Ferretone, a fatty acid supplement, find it in the health/supplement isle of your local pet store.

What type of toys do I need? 

The best toys are anything you have around the house!  Paper bags, old clothing, cat toys, and anything else they can steal.  Ferrets also love tubes although some old dryer hoses work well for the purpose.  The only time I have ever seen ferrets wag their tail is when they are playing in the tube.  Another favorite is a dig box.  Get a large bin, add some rice (not instant) and you have ferret madness.  If you take your ferret outside (when the weather is pretty cool, not in summer!) make sure you use a harness that is very tight.  Ferrets are experts at escaping their harnesses and I have also found that the Marshall harnesses are too big for small females.  I prefer the 5 in 1 harness from premier. Good luck teaching your ferret to walk with you on leash though!

What about a cage?
Whenever I am not home or able to supervise, my ferrets hang out in their mansion.  A cage should be multiple levels with plenty of room to hang hammocks and I like the ones with full levels (not just a tiny shelf) so I can put fleeces out and don't have to worry about the clumsy guys falling a long ways.  I also love large double doors so cleaning is much easier.  My favorite cage of all time is The Ferret Nation.

How do I introduce a new ferret to my others?
It usually takes awhile for ferrets to adjust to each other.  Anytime I got a new ferret I would house them in a separate cage until I felt comfortable housing them together.  This could take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks or longer.  My personal criteria is that I wait until I see them sleeping together outside of their cage, like when I give them play time, until I ever house them together.  Often I will switch their beddings around so that they can get used to each others scent.  Usually you don't have to intervene in the greetings, just make sure that you prevent the new one from being picked on too much.  Before the first meeting it also best to give the new one some time to explore it's surroundings. 

It doesn't really matter what sex you get, although male to male introductions may take a bit longer and female to male the easiest.  In the end almost everyone gets along!

How do I introduce my ferret to my dog and cat?
Most dogs get along with ferrets just fine.  Dogs I would be more concerned about are those with really high prey drives such as terriers and hounds.  Ferrets will usually hold their ground and bite at a dog rather then flee and usually this works in their advantage by not exciting the dog's prey drive like a running squirrel or rabbit.

 But please be on the safe side and introduce slowly!  Start with your ferret in a carrier and bring your dog into the room on leash.  If your dog seems to be giving friendly signs, you can proceed by letting the ferrets out of the carrier while still keeping your dog on leash.  Make sure the ferrets have plenty of spaces to hide and let them approach the dog on their own time.  Ferrets are naturally very curious so this shouldn't take that long :)  Be very cautious and if at anytime your dog starts to get too excited remove him from the room and try again later.  If your dog has some training in ignoring distractions and giving you eye contact, this is also a good time to bring out the treats and reward your dog for being calm around the ferrets.  If your dog is giving actual aggressive signs, it is best to always keep the two completely separated and not take any chances.

Most cats and ferrets also get along ok and will likely learn to ignore each other unless you have a young and playful kitten in which case they might end up wrestling together..  Remember to ALWAYS supervise your pets, even if things go smoothly.

Help!  My ferret poops everywhere!
Well ferrets are not like cats. They will never be 100% "litter" trained, but you can make it so you don't have poop all over your house. It's going to be a combination of training and management.

I'll start with management. Ferrets naturally go in corners. If a ferret feels the urge to go, they basically look around and think hmm is there a litter box nearby?  If there is a litterbox fairly close they should go to it.  But if not, then they go to the nearest corner.  This basically means that you will need litter boxes (or newspaper) in multiple corners of your house.  You will get to know their favorite corners. If you don't like that corner you can try putting blankets over there, but it's really really hard to have a ferret not go in some corner that they just love.  So resign yourself to having a litterbox behind the tv, next to the lamp, etc.

Now training. Most of this training comes rather easy since they naturally like corners.  If you put a box or newspaper in that corner they're going to go to it.  But you can also do some training by first limiting your ferret to a small room (like the bathroom) and having a litterbox in one corner. Whenever you see your ferret start to go, put him in the box and then reward him with a treat if he goes.  Very quickly your ferret will learn to poop in that corner only. Slowly expand the amount of room you give your ferret.  But if you expand you will also need to put down another litterbox because of what I mentioned earlier of ferrets not wanting to travel long distances to poop.  Of course since ferrets are smart he will start to trick you by pretending to go and see if that still gets him a treat!

Since I have 5 ferrets I prefer newspaper around the house since it's just easier to pick up and throw away. In the cage I have a litterbox.

Do I need to spay or neuter my ferret?
Well since most ferrets are purchased from a pet store they come already spayed/neutered from the ferret mill done at a very early age.  Even though you are more thoughtful and are checking out your local humane society, there is a very good chance that ferret was still purchased at a pet store originally and thus is already spayed/neutered.  If you do have an intact female you MUST get her spayed immediately.  When a female goes into heat she has to bred, or think she has been bred, or she WILL die.

What is that crazy dance they do?
Ahh, the weasel war dance!  When ferrets are very happy they bounce around the house with their backs arched.  They often bump into things which only serves to make them even more excited!

Do ferrets make any noises?
Ferrets are very quiet animals.  When they are really happy they may make a sound known as a "dook."  It is a fairly quiet chuckling sound and is basically ferret laughter.  My ferrets dook the most when playing in their tube, digging in their rice box, or running into walls!  If a ferret is very scared they might also scream or may do a higher pitch more rapid version of their dook. 

How do I clip their nails?
Easy, get some ferretone and a willing friend!  With the ferret on his back and held by your friend, pour a little bit of that yummy ferretone onto his stomach.  Your ferret will happily lick away at his belly and allow you to clip away!  It may take a few sessions for your ferret to get this new game, but I've never seen it fail and usually you don't even need a helper.  If you need to, you can also scruff the ferret.

Can ferrets learn tricks?
Any animal can be trained including ferrets!  Clicker training works very well as it gives you the ability to mark the exact instant the ferret does what you want.  Considering the intense activity of a ferret this timing is greatly appreciated!  The harder part of training your ferret lies in motivation and distractability.  We all know that ferrets have zero attention span as their brain jumps from "ooh a pen!" to "ahh, I bumped into a wall let's spaz!"  Motivation issues occur since ferrets are very picky about new foods.  Ferrets can be very distrusting on any new food you are presenting them and it may be difficult to keep their attention with their regular kibble.  If you have a young ferret, make sure to introduce a variety of foods early on so that training is easier.

One easy trick you can teach your ferrets is to come when called.  Since ferrets are so inquisitive they will naturally be curious about a squeaky toy.  So get some treats ready, squeak the toy, and immediately give your ferret a treat.  If you repeat the squeak-treat sequence your ferret will soon learn to run across the room whenever you squeak the toy!

I haven't spent too much time in teaching my ferrets tricks and so far only 2 of mine will stick around long enough to work for me.  Loki and Opie both have a rollover and sit up.  They have also been introduced to spin and a target stick.

Why shouldn't I get a ferret?
Ok, people don't ask me this one but they should.  Ferrets are not the pet for everybody.  They smell, steal everything, dig, and need litterboxes everywhere.  Of course they also need a ton of SUPERVISED playtime every single day, yearly vet visits, regular nail trims, and tons of cleaning up afterwards.  Oh, and they are highly prone to cancer and there is a very good chance that you WILL be paying for expensive surgery sometime in their life.

Where can I find all your ferret videos?
Click here!



Lance AND VITO's Agility trial!

The boys were entered in a NADAC trial this Sunday.  Vito was impulsively entered in this trial at the last minute.  I'm not ready to really start trialing him but got excited when I heard there were still runs available and thought what the heck!  It was also the first outside trial I've ever done.  10 hours in the sun with temps in the high 80's and humidity to boot.  At least I sent the dogs home for a couple hours to rest between runs although I had to stay as I had crazily signed up to work almost every class.  Right now I feel like I never want to do agility outside again!

Tunnelers-  Started out great!  I screwed up after my front cross and forgot where I was going for a second.  Remembered just in time but cost us some time in a little bobble and he was slower after it.

Regular 1- Slow.  Of course it was insanely hot so I'm not sure how much the weather effected him, but he was slow.  He did get his weave poles though which was something I was worrying about since Lance kept popping out on the warm up set outside the ring.  The dog walk wasn't the fastest but at least he hit his 4 on the floor and didn't completely creep.  But then Lance ran by the aframe although when he finally did go on it he seemed to enjoy either the lowered height of NADAC or the material.

Regular 2- Much faster!  No refusal on either contact equipment and was much faster on both!  He actually went a little too far off the dog walk to lie down which I'll take since that means he was more confident!  Knocked a bar though so an NQ.

Jumpers- Started out faster but again was kinda dragging by the end.  Can't blame the poor guy though in this heat!  No real issues although I was a bit late on a front cross.

Mixed bag.  Lance was dragging most of the trial but then so was I.  10 hours out in the hot sun will zap anyone.  His first regular round was crap and the running by the contacts worries me.  I'm glad I already have his first chiropractic appointment scheduled for this week.  After the last trial one of my instructors suggested it as a possible explanation for his reluctance on the aframe and dog walk.  The second regular round was much better so I'm not entirely sure if the reason is physical or just not having the confidence in a new environment.  Lance finished up 2 titles today so is now out of novice tunnelers and jumpers.

Tunnelers- Vito was a bit out of it at the start line.  He was excited (not spazzy though!) and looking at all the other tunnels except for the one in front of him.  We made a bit of a connection and then I led out.  I thought he had decent drive for the first couple obstacles but apparently I didn't support one of the tunnels enough as Vito curved back to me.  I moved forward to send him in and this destroyed my plan for recalling through the next tunnel to move out of his way for the turn.  Of course we run into the ineveitable problem of me being in his way and it takes me a while to get Vito's focus to send him through.  We finish well though and get our first Q!  Overall I was happy with the run as Vito handled well, didn't go off sniffing, no off courses and really didn't do anything wrong.  He wasn't insanely drivey and fast as I know he can be, but this was probably for the best as I didn't have his complete focus.

Jumpers-  Vito does a great wait while I lead out.  Unfortunately I didn't support a jump enough and Vito pulls off towards me.  I decide to just keep going but since he's angling in towards me I know we'll miss another jump and thus not leave me enough time to get any cross in.  In total we miss 3 jumps and knock 1 bar.  He really wasn't that fast at all, especially after we both have to stop to get situated.

Yeah, we're totally not ready to trial!  I'm not regretting my impulsive decision to enter though as I learned a lot about where we are at.  Basically I just don't know how to handle this dog yet.  Even when walking the courses I had no clue how much distance I could get, how much support he needed, how fast he would run, where I needed to lead out, EVERYTHING!  I don't think that Vito is that far off of being ready to run the courses, but I am not ready to handle him and give him timely information.


Caught in the act

Naughtiness. Pure naughtiness.

Because of Vito's separation anxiety he is almost never left home alone for long. He either goes to work with us, visits the grandparents, or now in our new place he can hang out with the friends upstairs. 3 hours would be the maximum we would leave him alone before we moved last month and I would worry a ton about him even though we did a lot of work to reach that milestone and mostly he was just fine. Since the move we didn't want any set backs so haven't left him as much and always for under an hour. Per protocol, I arm the house with arrays of bones stashed about and my ever trusty video camera to monitor anxiety levels. Well I think we've made more progress then I thought.

Today Vito was left for a half hour between me going to work and Adam coming home from his. When Adam walked into the door the evidence of destruction was laid out. Wrappers on the floor and a well chewed cup on the sofa. Vito denied that it was him and first pointed to Lance. Lance had the very valid argument that he gets locked up in the kennel ever since his bread incident. Kitty just sat there with a look of disdain. Unlucky for Vito we have video evidence that sealed his fate.

But guys, Vito is SO relaxed and non chalant about the whole thing! He eats the cup just like it's a bone and has no visible anxiety about anything! I have never been so happy to come home to a mess! And really I can't blame the dog either since the table was a mess, despite me having asked Adam to clean it up several times earlier. Now I'm just wondering if Vito can handle being in a crate while I'm gone or not. I've done a billion crate games but he hasn't been crated and completely alone since he was 5 months and we started all this SA work and he was more relaxed when loose rather then crated.


Lance CPE trial- new titles!


Wildcard- Q:
Lance knocks the bar on the very first jump on this first course of the weekend.  Sadly I thought about him doing that as I led out a tiny bit so maybe I saw something in the way he was balanced or how close he was, or maybe I just jinxed it.  Rest of the course went fine though and Lance had a really nice "go" without needing to check back for me and a great "out" when I failed to set him up on a nice line for a jump.  I thought he was really fast on this relatively easy course, 5.2yps.

Jumpers- Q:
This is the one game that we've moved up to play with the big boys and I thought the course was hard!  Lots of off course opportunities that many dogs took advantage of.  Lance handled really well though and we made it through the difficult section without a hitch.  A bit wide on a turn, but that's about it.  I screwed up a bit at the ending though as apparently Lance questioned whether I wanted him in the last tunnel or not.  Once I gave him a verbal he went in with a smile, but I'm not sure why he paused and stared at me.  4.8yps

Jackpot- Q:
This was our first time playing this distance game and I was relieved that it was a "non traditional" jackpot.  There were 3 challenges on the course that we could try at any time and only needed one, and enough points, to qualify.  I thought I would try all 3 just to see where we were at!  But Lance had other plans as he sadly decided he did not know how to weave at the beginning of the hardest gamble.  I wasn't really any distance away from him yet, but somehow Lance kept wrapping the onside entry and tried to enter with the first pole on his right.  It was a hard entry but I would have expected Lance to shoot past us, or at least pop out early if he wanted to make a mistake, not try to enter repeatedly on the wrong side!  Other then that though Lance did great and we did the other two gambles without a hitch to get 61ps and our CL1-S title.


Full House- Q
Lance did really well except for the aframe.  He seemed excited to go up it but then slowed way down on the and even very briefly stopped all motion right at the yellow before he decided to jump into his down at the base.  I planned a nice course though that ended at the table exactly as the 1st whistle blew.

This was our first time doing snooker on the advanced course and I wanted to try for all 7's again :)  I even converted some others to try with me as I had a really nice plan.  But sadly I fell apart when running it.  Lance hard a hard time reading my moving front cross in the beginning but we got the first 7 and wrap the next red nicely.  But I did another cross when I shouldn't have, and wasn't planning on, and Lance rightfully went into a tunnel I was not planning on.  I was thrown off and expecting a whistle to blow so started towards the table but then quickly realized that it was a legal move so continued on to another red.  Of course I then screw up the order I wanted to do the next 7, but we finish it and make our way over to the tire.  But since I wasn't coming from my planned direction I was thrown off again and thought that we would again get whistled off after I started #2 on the closing.  This time my pause was longer as I was really confused, but finally recovered and made it through all of the closing.  Sorry Lance!

Standard- Q
The dogwalk was 2nd and lance completely bypassed it.  I know it wasn't anything I did handling wise so I'm not sure why he ran past it.  I circled around and attempt two he hopped up right away but was slow on the decent side although he did a perfect 4 on the floor.  And again on the aframe Lance crept down and then pounced into his down position.  The rest of the course was fast though and Lance did a very nice rear cross and "go" for me.  This run earned us his CL1-R title and finished up all of level 1 for us in CPE.

We Q'd every run and got 2 new titles this weekend!  But Lance's contacts sucked and I'm not sure what to do.  He seems completely confident on them at our regular training club and even has no problem at any of the other schools we occasionally visit.  The contacts weren't rubber this weekend but seemed exactly the same as the type we usually train on.  He has also done this at the other trials, but not as bad as today.  I think it's a confidence issue but I'm not sure with what.   When training his contacts we first just ran over them, no criteria, to get him used to going at speed.  That's where we discovered this natural stride did not land him in the yellow so quickly put out hoops or bars on the floor when having him run in class :) He also has no issue turning around on the dogwalk and doesn't seem worried about the height at all.  He slowed down when first learning his 4 on the floor criteria but now seems to know what his job is and likes it in class.  I guess I'm not sure if I should worry about this or shrug it off as being a green dog and know that confidence on different equipment will com with time.


Vito agility update

Vito started a new agility class and had his 2nd class tonight.  It's a BIG step up for us and a bit overwhelming but the teachers and students have been very welcoming.  So far I have been on top of the world and discovered that Vito knows a heck of a lot more then I ever thought, and then we hit rock bottom.

Starting with the positives: Vito has really good foundation in reading my handling and we have been doing remarkably well on really tough master courses.  Of course I break it down and reward a lot.  He is also blazing fast in the beginning of class (not so much the 2nd half) and our driving ahead issues seem to have disappeared.  This has allowed us to start some distance handling!  He really is nailing the courses!!!

Now for the negatives:  Contacts.  Vito is way over the top in this new class with all the high drive dogs and this hasn't helped us.  Up until the last two weeks I have been very proud of Vito's running dog walk as it is just so pretty!  I had even started taking away his toy as a target and using it as *gasp* a reward!  But last week we both had a mental meltdown when it came to his contacts with me being stressed and him spazzing before we even started.  This week I was much more collected and less worried so this helped but Vito was still nuts.  He jumped very badly twice on the dog walk, did one semi ok, one that I think would have been good but his kind've slipped, and then finally did a gorgeous one on the 4th try.  I know a lot of the issues tonight were because I was really far back from the bottom because of how I had to handle the entrance and we simply haven't proofed for me being behind so much.
  And the aframe was only at 5ft which is the height Vito does handstands at and he didn't disappoint tonight.  When it is "low" Vito likes to fly over the top like superman and only hit once on the downside.  It's usually in the yellow, but it's still very naughty and dangerous.  I just feel like I take one step forward with his contacts and then 3 steps back.  Running contacts are just SO frustrating and I just want to give up.  It sucks only have a board at home and not real equiptment to practice on, once a week just doesn't cut it.  No, I'm not giving up but I do question my sanity in wanting running contacts a lot.

Oh and apparently Vito is going to be entered in his first agility trial in 2 weeks!  Don't worry, no contacts.  We are just doing jumpers and tunnelers.  It was completely impulsive since Lance has been entered in this upcoming show for about 2 months but this past weekend an email was sent out saying how much space was still left in the trial so I thought what the heck!


Vito becomes a MN Disc Dog member!

Today we went to a fun match hosted by MN Disc Dog!  It was freezing cold even when outfitted with my winter jacket, hat, and mittens, but was totally worth it!

At first I was really worried and wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.  We pull up at the park and it turns out there is a small lake right there.  As soon as he spots the body of water Vito starts shrieking at the top of his lungs and I am immediately brought back to last summer's adventures.  Adam and I switch dogs so that mommy gets the out of control toller and he gets the pulling corgi.  And then I am shown how wrong I was in that previously Vito could not have been shrieking at the top of his lungs since he is now even LOUDER once he spots the playing field with discs flying everywhere!  Friend Tania spots us, I guess no one could miss us, and walks all the way across the field to register us for the match.

On the hugely positive side Vito was still listening to my cues!  He sat for me each time I asked and even lied down despite still shaking uncontrollably.  And guys, he was even taking treats and swallowing them too!  Once the crate was set up we covered him completely and it didn't take long for him to quiet down.  By the end of the day I even was able to walk Vito by the field without him losing it, of course feeding him tons of treats to keep his attention.  He was a very good boy!

As for the actual disc portion he also did really well.  Vito screamed on the way out to the field, was willing to tug on the disc, dropped it when I asked, and remained very focused on his task.  When I threw somewhat decent he even managed to catch!  He got to play twice with me and once with daddy.  I am actually amazed at how well he did since this is the first time we have practiced in an open field. So far all our playing has been in the small backyard which really doesn't allow for much with all the crap in the way.

I look forward to learning more about this awesome dog sport!


We finally did it!!!

Yes, Lance now offically has more alphabet soup to add after his name as he earned his CDX today!!!! I honestly have never felt more relieved then I did today when the judge called out my number. It's taken us 10 tries to get the 3 Q's and has felt like an eternity. I'm not sure if Lance finally did it today because I remembered his canned cat food, because I told him it would be the last time he would have to do Open for a very long time, or because I cued him differently on the long sit. I'm going to go with the cat food ;)

Heel Free/Figure 8-2.5pts lost
Lance wasn't as on today as he was yesterday. He forged right off the bat and while he somewhat corrected himself he was still more forged today then yesterday. I wasn't prepared for either halts that seemed to come right after the about turns (actually the judge called it 1 step out of each turn) but Lance seemed to do ok with it. I then thought I was going to run over the judge when she called the right turn at the same spot she was standing in! I guess the video doesn't look that bad, but it just felt off. One thing I am proud of though is his transitions between speeds Lance really seems to focus hard on getting back to a good heel.

Drop on Recall- 1pt lost
Again Lance looked away from me, but this time it was after the drop instead of before. His front was crooked because of this and apparently his finish. I also wasn't expecting the judge to signal to me finish as so far all the judges I have shown under have given a verbal for the finish so this caught me off guard.

Retrieve on the Flat- 4pts lost
Oh my god. I thought I was going to die. For some reason Lance dropped the dumbbell right as he got to me. He then almost picked it up immediately but second guessed himself and looked up at me. Major panic sets in as Lance just stares at me and I'm wondering how long I can go before giving a second cue and NQing us. It feels like an eternity passed before Lance picks it up again and fronts but video shows it was only 10 seconds. But why did he drop it?!! I thought it was odd that Lance turned to the left on the pickup when he always turns right, but it's not like he dropped it out there so it shouldn't have effected anything. I think he just wanted to torture me.

Retrieve Over High- 1.5pts lost
Lance ticked the jump on the way to the dumbbell, had a crooked front, and was distracted on his finish.

Broad Jump- 1pt lost
Lance wasn't as crooked on the front as he normally was, yay!

Stays- opts lost!
Lance held his stays!!!!!! I'm so estatic! I did something a little differently on the sit stay in that I told him "sit" while I gave my stay hand signal as I left instead of giving him a verbal "stay." I'm not even sure if Lance noticed or if it helped at all. I usually tell him to stay anyway as I'm taking off his leash and waiting for the judge to ask if we're ready so technically he shouldn't need any cue as I walk away but of course reality is different. On the down portion I used both the verbal and signal for stay.

Lance wasn't nearly as on today as he was yesterday but I am still happy with his performance. I am just so relieved that it's over! I promised Lance that if we qualified he wouldn't have to do open again for a very long time :) I just wished that yesterday's stays would have been flipped with today since a 197.5 sure beats a 190!

I also will not show under this judge again since I just didn't get a good vibe off her. And then as soon as she gave out the rewards she packed up and booked it out of there, blowing people off waiting to talk to her. Really disappointing since I like knowing where I lost points. And her judging seemed to be all over the map giving some people off massive points in heeling who did really well and being very generous to others who dogs were just not ready. I don't mind a tough judge but I want it to be the same for everybody.

 I'm a good boy, give me a treat!
 Wait, now you're making me hold it?
 Fine I'll sit.
Ooh a treat!


Saturday's Attempt at Open A

Today I headed to Saint Paul for another attempt at Open A. I hate this place since the rings are always so distracting for the dogs, but it is where Lance got his first Q in Open.

Heel free/figure 8 - 1.5pts lost:
Right off the bat Lance forged and almost came across my body like he was going to trip me! But he quickly fixed himself and after that first left turn he was actually heeling in decent postiton. Instead of forging by almost a body length as he tends to do in the ring, Lance did really well! Of course he still went wide on the about turn, but since he wasn't crazy forged going into it we didn't get a lag coming out of it! Lance was attentive almost the entire heel pattern too! I thought our figure 8 was really nice as well.

Drop on Recall- 0 pts lost:
Right as I called out the down Lance turned his head to the adjacent ring to look at the other dog standing right there. I had a slight panic, but Lance still managed to go down and did so in a decent amount of time.

Retrieve on Flat- 0 pts lost
I love how his little bunny butt almost hops towards the dumbbell. He did a really great front with it and a good finish too!

Retrieve Over High- .5pt lost
My throw bounced way over to the left, practically landed right next to the broad jump so the judge very nicely had me rethrow. I realized that I actually hadn't practiced releasing Lance and setting him back up but he happily did a rollover and seemed to have no problem with it. Once I threw properly Lance did it great but lost 1/2pt on the finish.

Broad Jump- .5pt lost
Once again Lance fronted way to the right of me but I gave him a left finish this time instead of the usual around finish. I also only had to do a tiny backyuppy move to get Lance to the broad jump. Lance gets distracted when I hand my dumbbell off the the steward so I usually walk backwards to the broad jump to get his attention on me. But today he only quickly glanced away so I almost felt like I did a threadle move!

Sit- NQ
Lance downed at 30 seconds. Basically as soon as the group was out of sight he went down. Lots of tongue flicks.

Down- opts lost
He held the long down and I am told that he even rested his chin to the floor a couple times. Still looked stress when I returned.

I'm really happy with the corgi. We got a fake 197.5 which is our best fake, and real, score yet. His fronts and finishes aren't loosing as many points and this was the best we have ever done in our heeling. I'm really liking my hands at my side for our heeling for getting some less forging. Really good boy today! If we could just hold our stays. Oh, and I didn't give any verbal cues for his tricks this time just in case the judge wouldn't like them like last time.

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