Meet Fiona

Chuck is gone and Fiona is here, another service dog in training.  She turned 9wks on Friday and we picked her up yesterday after the F litter's puppy shower (siblings are Floyd, Frieda, Ferris, Frances, and Faith).  I chose her because she was the spunkiest in her litter.

Lance has already taken to her.  Vito is doing a good job of pretending she doesn't exist.  Actually I'm quite pleased with how little he's giving her evil faces.  My hope is that once she is no longer a dreaded puppy, Vito will actually play with her since he does like girls better than boys.  Vito learned to tolerate Chuck and was often crated with him at shows but never really liked him.

 Fiona is a very loud girl.  Barky when playing.  Barky when just chewing on a bone.  Thankfully she is pretty quiet in her crate.  I had been giving each of the pups individual crate time twice a day while the litter was at the facility so they've gotten most of that screaming out of their system already.


Running contacts- almost full height!

The good news is that Lance is on the last height we can do before getting to a full height dogwalk.  With the way the boards are made I simply can't raise it any higher by putting it on the 2nd dw plank.   He has conquered all previous heights nicely with only the occasional flying leap.  It's going to be awhile at this height though as Lance is really having a hard time hitting low.  He's not doing a ton of jumping, just hitting higher than I like. 

The corgi has also done the aframe a few more times.  I was hoping that he would start striding over the apex and do a clean 2 hit down side before I raised it but now I'm debating about raising it anyway and see what happens.

Vito has recently decided to omit a stride from his running dogwalk.  Instead of his consistent 6 hits he's done for the past year he is now trying for 5 hits.  Not as pretty.  I have no idea of what to think about it, but at least he's consistent.  We haven't trialed a ton and won't be doing a lot this summer.  Since he is usually slower and bounces around during a trial versus running in practice, his dogwalks have been 6 or even 7 hits in a trial setting.  I would be more ok with his 5 hit thing he's doing if I knew he would be extra high in a trial and thus be more likely to omit that  6th hit.



Chuck's xrays are good so we have 7 days left of the dude before he meets his client.  His parting gift to me is getting tapeworms.  Lovely.  My guess is he ate a baby bunny out in the yard :(

Chuck has met his replacement already.  He gives his seal of approval.

This is Fiona in orange.

She's asking Chuck for advice.  Or maybe trying to viciously dethrone him.

With a little help it is done.
Whew, Fresh bait!


Lance the Low Rider

Well I finally put together a small, novice freestyle routine.  Thanks Hsin-Yi for making me do it!

I think the hardest thing about it was my role.  As I'm venturing into the world of dog sports my part in the competition has gotten a little larger each time.  Obedience is all about the dog.  Agility, once the dog is trained, lies mostly with the handler learning timing and movement.  But still the eyes are on the dog.  I think the next level up is disc dog freestyling where now the human has to be creative and come up with routines to showcase their dog.  They're even judged on different throws and set up moves but once again at least people are still really watching the dog.  I don't think I'm quite there yet even if I had the skills and Vito the thinking ability.  And then with canine freestyle it is much more of an equal partnership where in most organizations the handler is expected to wear costumes and actually dance!  I didn't make it to that level in this little routine but I did force myself to make a routine and perform it.

I kept putting off the actual execution  but did manage to practice a few times by myself and then 2 sessions with the corgi.  Clearly Lance had no problem being innovative and coming up with own tricks when he didn't like the ones I picked out for him!


Another Running Contacts Update

I'm taking it very slow with the corgi.  Good news is that we conquered the height that has previously given Lance a really hard time and has been skipped over in the past!  But then we we're having some problems with a few inches above that height, a height that was previously good for him.  After a few fantastic leaps he will usually settle in decently but it's hard for him.  At least I can clearly see him trying to adjust his stride without doing his crappy shortening the whole way down.

I've settled on rewarding every attempt with kibble from the manners minder and then giving additional good treats for ones Lance actually gets in the yellow and doesn't pull a flying corgi on.  It seems to be working in that I haven't had Lance slowing down and really shortening his stride in weeks.  I'm still using a little mat as an additional visual cue but I have no idea if he's focused on it or not.  I've occasionally taken it away and it doesn't seem to affect our success rate so perhaps it has already served its purpose.

I've also started playing around on the aframe with Lance.  I lowered it as low as it can go and have had Lance just run over it, rewarding every single attempt.  I want him to start hauling over it and get rid of any walking steps left over from his 4 on the floor training.  I've only done it 3 or 4 times and I'm not quite sure what criteria I'm going to set for him.  Lance was doing 3 hits on the down side but is starting to switch to 2 hits.    Usually he's not sailing over the apex and I'm not sure how much of that I can expect him to do.  And of course he almost never lands in the yellow.  I'm not sure if I should encourage him to stretch his 2 hits or train him to consistently use 3 hits.

In the meantime I'm doing a little bit of box work from Rachel Sander's method.  He picked up on the hop in and out in the first minute of training so I quickly progressed to putting a jump before it with a tentative plan of going for a total of 2 hits on the downside when I get to putting it on the aframe.


Goodbye Chuck!

Well it's official.  Chuck has been matched with a client as a mobility assist dog pending the results of his xrays.  They will hopefully be starting work at the end of the month.

Good luck you big, dumb lab! 


Puppyraiser Picnic

The boys went to the puppyraiser picnic yesterday for the service dog organization.

Chuck reunited with some of his sisters and a brother. Of course he had to be in front.
And had fun destroying a toy with 2 friends.

Vito was nuts.  Light screaming and whining as soon as we arrived.  He did calm down after I walked him around but quickly started up again when he saw dogs playing in a little fenced play yard.  I didn't want to let him join since I know how much he hates being jumped on by obnoxious labs but finally relented after 40 minutes of trembling and whining whenever we weren't moving.  Inside the play yard he immediately found a tennis ball and I let him obsessively approach people for a toss for about 5 minutes before I took him back out.  From then on he was relaxed as much as I can expect from him and was perfectly content to just chill.

Vito won a send out to a hulu hoop to sit in it, a short 10ft away.  He surprised me by responding to my away cue immediately as I haven't really done much work with him on it.  I thought Lance would do it no problem but apparently not.  He wasn't really focused and didn't move at all the first 2 cues.  Then he went out and veered off for a tree.  Finally he did 2 lovely ones.  With Chuck my plan was to tell him to retrieve and then interrupt with a sit since he doesn't have an away.  I thought it was going to work too until he just brought the hula hoop back.  The 2nd attempt I tried using a touch cue and then Chuck just went to eat some chalk in the grass.  Fail.


June goals

May Progress:

1.  Disc practice at least once a week- I'm pretty sure that I made it out once on both the 1st and 2nd week of May.  Both extremely windy days and we didn't have much success.  I think 4 days of a disc dog seminar made up for it though.

2. Up distraction on go outs for Lance- Started.  Lance has been sent to a variety of new walls this month and many trees.  He is also doing well with food and cones out close to his path.  Sometimes he still wants to veer around objects before going back to his line but he's doing better about it.

3. Tricks- Dismal.  I've been doing a little bit of work on Silvia Trkman's drumming challenge as I mentioned earlier this month.  Lance is really getting it and of course everything a corgi does is cute.  Chuck is just an idiot and lazily twitches a foot.

4. Toller obedience-  I'm really not sure what to do with him.  He is doing so much better with agility training but still isn't on for obedience.  He is starting to have more good days than bad at least.  Training at home is non existent though.  He is not working well for his dinner and won't even get off the couch some days if I have his food bowl out.  I'm not good about training at other times of the day with toys or treats so we're not accomplishing anything unless we're at the club. 

June Goals:
1. Disc- Practice fidgets and floating the disc while sitting on the couch.  Take out the toller at least once a week.

2. Weaning off the food rewards for Lance's utility exercises unless I'm proofing.  He's really getting a good basic understanding of the exercises now.

3. Freestyle routine- I'm supposed to be working on a simple routine for Honey's blog.  Must hop to it quickly!

4.  What to do with this?


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