Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween!

The Queen of Hearts

The White Rabbit

The Cheshire Cat

Attempted group shots
Um, your highness??


Happy 3rd Birthday Vito!

Happy birthday Vito!

Here's hoping this next year is a better one for you.  I love you!


NADAC trial!

The boys got to go to an agility trial today!!!  They really haven't gotten to do many agility trials this past year
and it's been 2 full months since the last one.  Lance even got to do runs that had contacts in them for the first time since I quit his 4 on the floor and gave up on the running.

I don't know if it was because of the long break but both dogs had more fun today than I have ever seen them have!  Vito was pumped.  He excitedly tugged with me before going into the ring, kept that connection with me while waiting on the start line, and actually ran!  I think this is one of the first trials that all 3 of those pieces fell in line and it felt fabulous! 

Vito's Regular-Elite run:

All of Vito's dogwalks and aframes were spot on!  Even the one in the video where I *thought* I was turning him on the flat and letting him think he was going to go straight, Vito actually read my turn and didn't leap!  Of course I then was too busy looking at his dogwalk to actually properly cue him to take the aframe instead of the tunnel.

Q-wise we didn't do so hot.  Vito only qualified in 1 of his 4 runs today and it was novice jumpers.  He was so close in everything else though and actually his touch n go run was perfect but he got an "unsafe performance" on the aframe as he stumbled but still managed to hit yellow. 

Even Lance was super squirrely and actually had a few off courses as he blindly ran ahead ignoring me!  Go Corgi!  Lance was thrilled with the no criteria aframe and dogwalks and he did manage to do all the dogwalks decently.  One of them was even a gorgeous run down, but the others wouldn't have been in if it was a 36" zone.  His aframes I'm not so sure how it's working out.  I think most had a paw in but it was close.  At least he's running out of them nicely and not thudding.  He's still aiming to land right at the very bottom of the ramp, where he used to do his 4 on the floor so perhaps that's causing the higher hits?

Lance also only qualified 1 of 4 runs due to the off courses.  I take blame for one of them, the other 2 I give to him.  He did save my butt though on open chances when I mis timed my running and came to dead halt at the gamble line.  Lance looked back at me but kept going the remaining 2 feet over the jump and then we did the rest of the gamble nicely together.

No other videos of their runs as battery was shot in the camera.


Lance Utility Attempt

Another day and another NQ.  But Lance won't let me lose sight of what is most important in our quest!  Don't ever lose that attitude Lance!

Decent heeling.  Took a step when I left him on the stand, but at least he stood today!  He didn't do his fold back down that he always does but didn't really move forward at least. 

I was not a fan of how the judge handled this.  We had to reach into the bag to grab one of each and she wanted the same numbers.  This meant ignoring my dog!  Plus I grabbed metal #7 (which I didn't mean to put in there) and I didn't have a #7 leather and she almost grabbed it out of my hands to put it back in the bag so I could take another!  I clenched up on it as there was no way I was putting it back in after I held it and the judge decided it wouldn't be the end of the world after all.  I just have never seen article selection done this way!

Lance got both articles right and was a happy boy!  No tasting any of them either!

#1 again.  Out of our 5 attempts we've gotten #1 4 times.  I didn't pivot as far as I needed to but in some sense I'm glad as Lance really only saw #1 as the option then.  He blindly went out to where I shot him off to and then looked over to find the glove.

Moving Stand
Holy forging!!!  Lance hasn't forged that badly in months!  Every step he got further and further ahead until I became amazed at how he could still "heel" with eye contact!  If dogs were judged based on their back feet being inline with me then we would lose no points!  Miraculously he stayed and let me walk by him :)  Moved as the judge approached.

Directed Jumping
2 Straight go outs although the first one Lance didn't sit.  And then he took the wrong jump...  The 2nd time I even tried to send him to the jump on the right again and thought I did a good job of looking at it and reaching for it, but Lance happily shot off the left again.  Turd. 

We try again in 2 weeks, one day only.


Vito's Rally trial and Lance Utility

Vito- Rally Advanced B
I was really debating on whether I should enter Vito in anything this weekend.  Ultimately I decided to do one day of rally since it would be in the ring he's used to practicing in and I could talk to him if needed. 

I needed to.  Even though we qualified with a lovely score of a 99 (and our Advanced title), it just wasn't the performance I was looking for.  I could tell Vito was stressed the moment we walked into the ring and while he went through all the right motions his heart just wasn't in it.  Vito lagged through most of it although it was only a slight lag.  We just didn't have that connection.  On the positive side he did have good attention and did do all the exercises nicely. 

I had high hopes before going into the ring since he was very happy to be at the trial, loved seeing Grandma, and warmed up really nicely even with a tug toy.  I guess Vito is back on hiatus from showing in obedience again until I can figure out how to have a happy Vito in the ring.  I don't care about the scores or placements if my dog doesn't have that happy attitude.

Looking at the video some of you may be questioning my judgement since he doesn't look like a dog who's been beaten, but it didn't feel like my dog when running the course.  And if my dogs are lagging it's a very good sign they're stressed.

Lance- Utility A
Signals, NQ
Lance didn't charge off as usual on the start!! Actually when looking at the video he was already in a forged sit while waiting to start...  Still ended up forging very quickly but at least he took his first step with me and he settled back into a nicer position during the fast.

I don't know what happened on the stand signal but Lance stood for a tiny bit and then sat.  I'm going to take the blame for it since I for some reason wasn't expecting the command yet and I think I felt weird when giving the signal.  I stood him again before leaving and the corgi still took a step as I left.

Articles- 1pt
On the first send I think he quickly tasted 2 articles before grabbing the right one. While waiting for the second one he kept looking at Daddy but refocused before the send.  The article was in the middle and Lance still struggles with that in practice but kept searching nicely today!

Gloves- 1/2pt
Glove #1 went nicely although Lance sat farther away from me than I've trained and thus was a bit crooked.

Moving Sand- 1/2pt
Once again he moved a bit after I left him.  But he has the best call to heel he's ever done!

Directed Jumping- NQ
The first go out Lance started out straight but alas veered off and took the jump on the left.  At least he continued going out a bit.  Then he took the jump closest to him instead of going out across the ring.  We've been practicing off centered jumping in practice but I guess we're not there yet.  The second go out was perfect!  Although if I was thinking I should have sent Lance to the other jump instead of letting him do the same one again.

So a happy performance but not meant to be.  Tomorrow we try again!


Calm in the car!

Things seem to be on the up for Vito's car anxiety!  The last 3 days he has had multiple drives with periods of NO panting or trembling!!!  Actually, starting Oct 1st his overall anxiety level seemed to be going down.  He was still trembling lots but the panting had gone down to "mild."

The best blurry picture ever!

We didn't do anything different to account for the awesome change.  Vito is actually no longer on any fast acting drug to help with the car anxiety since I took him off his Xanax over a month ago.  His anxiety greatly increased when first stopping the Xanax to the point that I was starting to doubt my decision even though I hated Vito on it.  Fingers crossed that these past 3 months of sudden panic attacks in the car will soon be behind us!


Fiona 6 months

Fiona seems to be turning around these last two weeks to the point that I actually think she might make it through the program.  For a month she was going back and forth between sassy/confident to submissive wuss.  Fi would submissive pee for people at times or would melt into the ground and even at home she would suddenly go and hide in a crate, refusing to come out.  Thankfully she has had very few "bad days" recently so I'm hoping she's done with that silly phase!  I really wasn't sure that she was going to make it as a service dog before.

Tricks!  I've been feeling motivated recently (coincidence!!!) and we're playing around with our trick training again.  Backward circles came really quick so we started on backward figure 8's.  Rolling up in a blanket has proven to be hilarious!  She is trying so hard and it's looking like she's drunk as she throws the blanket in the air, spins around in a circle and then somersaults around.  And I'm finally getting around to teaching her bow and crossing her paws.

I suppose more importantly I've actually started taking her out in public to places other than agility/obedience/disc trials.  I'm a really bad puppy raiser when it comes to public outings.  Thankfully she's never pulled the submissive crap out in public anywhere as she's too busy focused on me.  That's what I love about treating socialization as attention exercises.  She's getting to see lots of weird things and people of all ages that she is free to look at and check out if she wants to, but is heavily rewarded for eye contact.

Proof that she's been out at least once!

Fiona will be 6 months old one week from now.  She's a tiny 34lbs which makes me wonder if she'll even reach 50lbs fully grown.  I'm going to guess 46.


Getting to Know My Dog

This past year has been a difficult one for me and Vito.  With Vito almost 3yrs old, his increased anxieties, and the start of different medications, it seems as thought the dog I have today is completely different than the dog I had a year ago.  And I am ashamed to say that I have not been handling it well.

Where the changes are most evident is with our obedience training.  I remember being able to get Puppy Vito jazzed up with or without a toy.  I was so happy that I would easily be able to transition to being in the ring since it wasn't hard to reward Vito with just physical interaction.  My only problem at that time was figuring out the fine line between making it fun and sending him over the top!  But now I've discovered that I can't play the games that I used to play with him.  Instead of getting him excited, a playful butt tag and running away from him actually seems to worry Vito and he does not drive to me with any zest.  I can't try and ruffle him up without him backing away.  I may be exaggerating a little as it's actually only a subtle change in his behavior but the difference is there. This was really made evident to me at the Denise Fenzi seminar where my playful attempts only served to over power him.

And now Vito seems to care a lot more about a crowd than he ever did in the past.  We were at a run through this month (rare for my schedule!) and my only goal was to work on playing and heeling in the ring.  As soon as we approached the steward table I could feel Vito getting a little stressed.  Once in the ring he did an ok job so that few watching would even notice.  But Vito would only tug at the far end of the ring and wanted nothing to do with it at the side near the audience, although he would take his favorite treats.  In the warm up ring he was perfectly fine so I don't think it's the ring gates themselves that Vito is feeling but rather the pressure from an audience.  At the Fenzi seminar he also suddenly started eying the audience at one point.

These changes and others (sleeping lots, won't even shake since it involves paw touching...) are something I have been avoiding dealing with.  We are not in a weekly obedience class, just playing on our own maybe once a week.  Training at home has been practically non existent with Vito not really wanting his food, although his interest has been peaking this last week.  But for the most part I haven't been doing anything with Vito the last several months besides weekly agility class and the occasional puttering on our own.  It's not so much that I need to relearn everything about my dog, but that I don't know what changes are due to Vito's growing up, increased anxiety issues, or what changes are due to decreased drive from his medications.  I recently took Vito off his Alprazolam for his car anxiety since I just can't stand the zombie that it makes him.  Some days were better than others but I never knew what dog I was going to have when.  But even with him off the Alprazolam I just don't know if he's still somewhat flat from his Prozac or not and it's pissing me off that I don't know.  I just don't want to take him off the Prozac as we can leave him alone for 4.5hrs now and he sleeps!!!

I guess if there's a point to this post it's that I am going to recommit myself to figuring out how to train my dog and how to play with him.

Edit: I'm not trying to say that Vito hates obedience.  On the contrary, he really loves heeling, loves his dumbbell, and we certainly have fun together.  The problem we are having is that I can no longer use the rewards that I used to.  So far, safe rewards are tugging, his beloved ball, and treats, but I haven't found a way to insert just me into our obedience training like I used to.  I miss playing with my dog, just me and him.


We qualified!!!

Lance got utility leg #1 today!!!  I don't think I've ever been this excited before about a qualifying score!  The judge was very nice and complimented us nicely although he lectured me on not sitting Lance until after he went to the gate.  I thanked him and responded that I was planning on letting him touch until he got into the B classes but he kindly disagreed with my logic so now I'm doubting my decision.

Once again Lance forged like crazy on our start but he then seemed to settle in nicely for for some decent heeling.  And we actually had a good halt!  He took a step when I left him on the stand but then did his signals nicely.

Oh my goodness!  Lance went straight to the pile and was FAST!  I don't think I've ever seen him so confident in articles, even during practice.  He didn't mouth a single one, didn't second guess himself, and was just so happy, both times!!!  And considering last night all he wanted to do was bring me metal articles this was a huge surprise to me :)

We had #2 and I decided to do a left pivot to it as Lance sometimes prefers #1.  It wasn't the smoothest pivot but it worked and he didn't even glance at #1.

Moving Stand
Huge forging off the start, so much so that I wasn't even sure if I could reach my hand out far enough to give him the stay signal!  While he initially stopped nicely, he glanced at the crowd as I was walking and took an additional step.  Much better than the last trials at least.  After the exam he again looked at the crowd so I used his name as well as my verbal and signal for the around.

Directed Jumping
Straight go outs!!!  We had glove #2 so I'm sure that helped a lot.  He went all the way to the gate and touched both times as well.  And we did both jumps this time :) 

And in other news, Lance made the Front and Finish Ratings as the #9 P.W.Corgi in Open A for 2010 :)

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

Email: lkwaudby (at) gmail.com

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