Bubba 9 months

Bubba is almost 9 months old now.  He has finally settled down and intense zoomies around the house are now rare instead of the every day occurrence.  Bubba is a dog who bonds pretty intensely and always wants to be near by.  He could care less about Adam and snubs his nose at anyone else in his world who asks him to do something.  But he's constantly trying to poke me with his big nose while I sit on the couch (next to Vito of course!) and is just in heaven if I actually touch him with just a foot.  On the big pro side, our Robot training worked and Bubba no longer has a tantrum when I leave him, un-kenneled.

In public he is doing a pretty good job of behaving and trying to be invisible.

Of course being a Schipperke, we get stopped constantly by people!  A skipper what?! And then it's always the adults, never the kids, I know I shouldn't pet but... as their hands are outstretched towards the dog!
For those who remember the note at the end of the last update, Bubba did go down to our prison program and stayed 3 weeks until of the adult dogs came for their final training.  He gave his handlers a pretty hard time down there and apparently they told our prison trainer No more Schipperkes!  The prisoners might have to suck it up again though as IF Bubba continues through the program and is selected for diabetic alert work, there will be a good chance of him going back down there to finish his scent work training!


Vito on Drugs- Update!

It's been 3 months since Vito's recheck with the behaviorist.  I'm daring to say that Vito may finally be doing CONSISTENTLY better in the car.  He now takes treats on 99% of car rides and is starting to dip into my actual relaxation side of my rating system.

And because I'm obsessed with my dog, I present graphs.  Graph #1 is the first few weeks after starting Vito on Diazepam/Valium.  There was an immediate improvement as prior to starting it Vito was slowly seeming to develop a tolerance to Clonidine and was having more and more days of reaching level 2.  After adding in Diazepam Vito had a few times of resting his head down and even one day of sleeping!  But most car rides he was still reaching at least light panting.

Graph #2 is August through now.  Vito's dosage of Valium was slightly increased a few weeks before this starts.  I dare to say that there are many more days where he's slipping past my "calm" rating of zero to the relaxed side!

As for his leg, things are looking really good.  The stitches themselves look lovely and the major bruising is finally going down.  Vito is walking around just fine but is still on restriction from having any fun.  Thankfully he is a really calm dog at home so it hasn't been too difficult to tell him to just go back to bed.  Friday we have our recheck at the vet.


The Corgi's Weekend!

Due to Vito's leg injury, Lance was thrilled to be the star of the show this weekend.  On Saturday he got to play NADAC and Sunday he played in obedience.  If you watch the first minute of the utility video you will see an impressive catch by the corgi :P

I wouldn't have entered the NADAC trial if it wasn't for Vito since Lance does much better indoors than outdoors, but up to St. Cloud we went.  Our first run was Chances and it was a laughable disaster.  Lance only did about 6 obstacles and I'm pretty sure only the first two were in sequence.  He just kinda ran wherever, taking an obstacle if they were on the way to a tunnel, and then completely blew by the weave poles to exit. 

At least it seemed as though Lance was focused by our regular run.  The course was oddly un-NADACy in that other than the first 5 obstacles there were many don't take what's in front of you moments.  Our contact criteria was the same as the last trial (wow!) not that Lance actually did what we've been training on either obstacle (surprise!).  They were also the first non rubberized contacts he has seen in a long time.  We qualified with our one main bobble of turning with me too early off a hoop.

Touch n Go was our next and last run.  While I was babysitting his aframe to see if he would stop 4on I forgot I had to turn him after it and sent him straight ahead before quickly remembering and telling him that I lied.  Too late! 

Another attempt at a UDX leg!   Utility was first and I quickly found out Lance was feeling squirrley!  If you watch nothing else, watch the glove exercise from 20-40sec!  Lance sprints out to the correct glove, tosses it a little bit in the air and then actually catches it in his mouth.  Then he tugs on the glove when I go to take it.  The other exercises were not our most accurate performances but he at least doesn't try anything creative.  We sadly NQ on our 2nd go out when he went crooked and then took the wrong jump, barking at me as he made his choice.
Biggest pros- No feet movement on either stand!!!

Open was next and while he still seemed distracted and wanting to head out in between exercises, he did a pretty good job.  Biggest point losses were his slower down on the drop on recall (with accompanying grunt!) and auto finish on the broad jump.  The heeling pattern was the longest one I have ever seen, with us going down one side 4 times and 3 right turns!  But Lance's heeling is definitely improving as we only lost 1 point total between the figure 8 and pattern!
Biggest pros- Held position on his stays again!  His head was even down when I started to walk back after the long down!!!



Poor Vito had an accident this morning. I was setting up open ring time before going into work this morning and was having Vito do the dogwalk.  But Vito loaded badly and fell as he reached the top, some how scraping himself on the way down.  Major hysteria and screaming ensued until I actually picked him up and hugged him to me. 
 Needless to say I packed up my things, left a note on the door, and rushed off to the nearest clinic.  I also have to give Vito props for doing an amazing down stay when I shoveled the other 2 dogs in the car and got ready to carry him.

I think Vito went into shock as he was SUPER relaxed while waiting at the vet's office.  I admit it was nice having my neurotic dog so calm especially when we had to wait for an hour.

They partially sedated him for the stitches and I asked for the drugs to be given in the exam room with me holding him.  The injection was done just fine but 30sec later Vito started screaming just as bad as when the accident happened!  When he finally stopped in what felt like an eternity, the vet poked in and apologized for not warning me that with anxious dogs they often react strongly to feeling the drug!
All stitched up!
 Unfortunately Vito did not have a good rest of the day.  I carried him into work with me and tried to set him up with his favorite person there.  But Vito would not lie down and just kept crying :(  Even when I could be with him he was only happy if I sat on the ground with him and let him snuggle into me.  I ended up loading up the boys and leaving work early just so I could set him up at home.  He was very greatful and has been passed out on the bed next to me ever since.

I'm not sure how long he will be on restriction for.  The vet didn't think anything was broken but she had to remove some tissue that was already starting to bruise and die.  With the location of the wound he doesn't want to put much weight on the leg right now.  We will just wait and see.


The Good Morning Dance

This is what Vito does 90% of mornings.

The funny thing is he is not a morning dog!  Often times Vito won't even get out of bed to go outside with the other dogs in the morning and when he does finally get up sometimes he will just look at his food dish and then turn right back around to plop back in bed.  But every morning whether he eats or skips it he does this happy morning routine.  Even if Adam is still under the covers Vito will just plop down right on top of him to dance!  The only mornings Vito does not do this is if I'm the one still in bed :)

Vito does have mild allergies but they aren't enough of a problem for me to look into the source.  He has enough issues I'm dealing with so a little eating of his foot every now and then some itching is ok with me.


Ring Entries

The past few months I have been focusing heavily on one small but important aspect to Vito's obedience training.  At trials Vito would usually warm up pretty well but the second we walked into the ring he would disconnect and look for something to stress about.  Even during our practice time it wasn't always easy to get him to wake up at the start without a lot of effort from me.  Although once I got him going things were crazy and fun.

Ever since our lesson with Nancy we have been working on ring entries and set ups.  Race into the ring and sit in heel position waiting.  Wait-wait-wait and then one step of heeling before partying.  Now we're to the point where I'm taking 2 steps in, remove the leash (a former big trigger!), and then race to the set up point.  A different set up point each time and sometimes a few more steps of heeling.  If I'm not getting a connection with Vito as we walk into the ring, I exit and ask him if wants to try again.  The past few sessions I've started to add the additional pressure of having another person stand in the ring giving orders and crowding us.

This video is from one of our sessions 2 weeks ago.  Vito wasn't quite as enthused as I'd like when I ran to the set up spot, but I could sense his anticipation in waiting to take that first step and am happy with his first, forged, steps!  We'll work on not forging later :)  I know if I can keep his focus and excitement for those first few steps of heeling then I got him for the rest.


Separately we're also starting to work on down time.  Vito needs a lot more work on transitioning between exercises and also not disconnecting when having to wait.  I'm hoping waiting in heel position is going to help with that, but I'm also having him do a 1+min down stay while I ignore him and then have him do a heel set up on the release.  Of course we have a huge party after!

My next plan is to re-work on fading the food and toys and focus again on just playing with me.  This is something we were pros at during one point but when his anxieties increased this went out the window.  Hopefully he will feel comfortable enough to start this in a few more weeks?


Wish List for an Instructor

The topic for this latest Dog Agility Blog Action day is What Makes a Good Coach.  I have to admit that I wasn't too inspired by this topic.  Unlike many people who only have maybe one or two options available to them, I live in a major metropolitan area where I have several fabulous instructors to choose from.  Unfortunately, my financial situation is gloomy and we manage to play the sports I love purely through a work in exchange for classes system at the local club.  I really do love my current instructors dearly but beggars can't be choosers.  Of course a great instructor doesn't always directly correlate between national events won and their ability to help others.

 So here are some of the things I've treasured dearly about my current and past instructors and some things I wish we had a bit more of.

1.  Working with each team's chosen confines and strengths.  I love it when an instructor who doesn't personally do blind crosses is able to give advice on where to properly put one in for a team who utilizes them instead of chatizing a team for a poorly executed one.  Or helping someone figure out how to handle a sequence if they have physical confines.

A good coach should be helping the team in front of them, not just try and make little models of their own handling.

2. Pushing each team to try something different or just with more speed, greater distance, and tighter turns.  While a coach does need to respect a team's choice of handling system, everyone needs encouragement to be better handlers.  I have been disappointed with some instructors since it seemed like just getting through the course cleanly was the only goal.  Push me, criticize me!  I expect to sometimes be upset when leaving a lesson from a great coach as I'm pushed beyond my comfort zone.  But as long as I'm not pushed outside of my personal philosophy of training I'm ok with that!

3.  Staying on top of current trends and new techniques, but not changing everything overnight based on the latest seminar.  Agility is evolving quickly and it can be hard to not only be knowledgeable about every new thing but also adept at teaching it to others.  But I think making an investment in a few seminars is a must for any good instructor.  On the other side, someone who rushes home and flips everything upside down for their students, after each new seminar, is only going to confuse their students and result in conflicting philosophies.



The Corgi wanted to share that he too had agility this past weekend.  Friday afternoon we went to a NADAC trial where I told him he could do just one little day of an outdoor trial for me.  The weather was gorgeous that evening so I thought he would agree.

Weavers I found out his answer.  Twice on the first set out of 12 he popped out and I finally said screw it and continued on.  The next set of weaves he looked at it and then turned the other direction to take an off course hoop.  That got a Lancifer! so he came back weaved fine, and did his last set just fine.

Touch n Go was next and the first time since our little re-re-re-re....train of the contacts in a trial setting.  I was just looking for some kind've effort in stopping on the contacts, in any position!  (Technically he now has a 4 ON for the aframe and back to the 4 on the floor for the dogwalk, although he has been throwing in his super old 2o2o every now and then; but who can keep up!.)  Lance made me laugh by stopping just above the yellow on the aframe, and with a plea he came down a few more steps!  The first dogwalk he was confused and stopped 4 on, I told him good enough.  The 2nd dogwalk he did a cute little hop into his 4 on the floor.  This was the only run I got on tape.

Tunnelers he had fun and qualified despite having to run outside.


Crazy Toller at USDAA!

This Labor Day weekend I took the Toller and I to a USDAA trial.  It has been 2 months since our last agility trials!

And oh my goodness, what a comeback we are making!!!  Vito had zero stress about anybody in the ring and was super pumped about going in and each every run.  Sometimes he has made me work really hard to get him engaged with me even warming up, but not this weekend!  I think there were times I even had that obnoxious dog while waiting to go into the ring.  Yes,  I think his toller screams could be heard by everyone.  Even when I seemed to screw up and take him out way too early for each run, my problem morphed into how to keep the red dog from beating me up rather than how to keep his focus.

The runs themselves were ok.  We qualified in 4 out of 6 runs and he even covered for me on mis-timings in gamblers and some late front crosses.  On Saturday he got progressively faster with each run!  Sunday wasn't quite as speedy but he remained excited to be there.  I think we're at the point where his difference in speed, especially notable on the weave poles, is more to do with thinking too hard rather than anxiety :)

I also tried my hardest to talk to him this weekend.  I gave verbals for many jumps and cheered through courses.  But then I watched the videos and I can still be WAY more obnoxious out there!  It's so hard to change!

Adv Gamblers- Q
We had fun doing the dogwalk twice.  Both hits were nice but he wasn't really running.  I also hesitated when I misplanned the buzzer by 2 seconds and Vito barely recovered any speed to get the little gamble.  But he's a good dog so he sent out anyway for a Q :)

Adv Standard- Q
I had to do a late front cross of the dogwalk since we don't have any turns and the good boy barely called off the tunnel.  He recovered speed faster this run and finished up nicely for our first advanced standard Q.  Sadly there is no video.

Adv Jumpers- NQ
I ran right into the ring and started immediately since I let myself be distracted by a conversation.  Vito enjoyed it and had his best run of the day and his happiest jumpers run of all time!  Jumpers is not usually his favorite without the contacts and tunnels to break it up.  He knocked a bar though :(

Adv Gamblers- Q
Vito didn't like my repeat of the tunnel and this slowed him down so he had barely any speed going through the chute.  He turned to me before exiting and took a tumble.  He seemed ok coming out so I paused a bit to rev him and kept going.  Vito did one of his best teeters in a trial on the gamble!  This earned him his first Advanced title!

Adv Standard- E
I thought he was jumping with more difficulty than normal on this run and he knocked a bar in the beginning.  He has never downed automatically on the table in a trial, and this time he barked at me when I finally told him to down :)  But that sass didn't transfer to the weave poles.  I then didn't hold my little cross long enough to keep him off the dogwalk so we just did it twice and skipped the little part with the chute.

Adv Pairs- Q
Super delay before this run but Vito just got more and more amped waiting!  I wish the weave poles weren't second on our half.  I did a very late front cross  in the serpentine :(  After the finish jump Vito just shot out of the ring and ignored my calls to come.  He ran to where I put his ball and then brought it back to me!  Apparently I have to stash the ball a little further away in the future!  I still can't believe my "good dog" did that.
We also got a standard fault on this run, but I can't for the life of me see where on the video.  It's the last run in the compilation video if anyone can spot it.

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