Happy 5th Birthday Vito!



After returning home from the corgi specialty Saturday evening, I gathered the dogs to head to a NADAC trial on Sunday.  Not the smartest choice maybe, but at the time of sending in entries I was aching for an agility trial!

Lance seemed excited, but maybe a bit tired :)  He NQed in both rounds of regular, something that I don't think he has ever done!  Knocked bar in round 1 and an off course I didn't see while walking.  Round 2 had another knocked bar and not one, but two missed contact/tunnel discrimination!  No consistency either, first discrimination he took the closer aframe over the tunnel, second time he took the further tunnel over the dogwalk.

Thankfully he got another elite chances Q, the reason I really wanted to go!  It was a fairly simple course I thought, but surprisingly the success rate for others wasn't as high as I expected.  Jumpers he also did a nice job, but his tiredness definitely showed as his YPS was down to 4.4, a full yard slower than normal :(  He seemed to be having fun though!

Toller screaming loudly continued on each start line!  He did a few chest vaults while waiting for bars to be set and was quite obnoxious :)  I also felt like he was being relatively speedy out there but his YPS didn't quite show it.  I'm not sure what the disconnect was with that.  But I was happy he was happy!

First run was tunnelers and he broke his start line :)

Second run was Regular and he pulled off a jump as I sent him for a front cross I was going to do after the 180.  We just ignored the mistake and kept going.  His dogwalk was back to no added strides, but wasn't quite as extended as I would have liked.  A bit high.  He was a little naughty after the aframe as I could tell he wanted to run out of the ring and get his ball, but he listened and turned wide :)  He DID run out of the ring after we finished though and had to be called back in!  Naughty Toller!!!

Third run was Chances and it was definetly a Vito course!  The rear cross was done well before the line so that Vito was running again by the time I had to send him.  And then just a little line to the dogwalk!  This time Vito actually omitted a stride on his dogwalk!  And again was very high.  I much prefer that to extra strides though.

Last run was jumpers.  I didn't get video, but I felt as though Vito was actually running the same as his other runs.  It was a smooth run, no wide turns, skipped jumps, nothing.  But he was over time by a measly .18seconds at 4.72 YPS.  This shocked me.  It also makes me stressed about future jumpers run with him.  While 4.7 is not his fastest speed in jumpers, it's also not unusual for him.  Especially since jumpers is often the last run of the day and it's his saddest class.  In NADAC you can't run proficient 20in in one class and skilled 16 in another the same trial.  I also can't enter skilled to get the added time but jump him at 20in still.  While I'm not opposed to jumping Vito at 16, I haven't seen any added enthusiasm or better jumping style when I've done that at practice.  I also would like to keep his jump height closer to USDAA's 22in so there's not such a huge difference between trials.  But maybe this is just thinking for nothing.  A local club is going to be offering 3 more UKI trials next years that I'm extremely excited about.  If I replace NADAC with UKI than it doesn't matter as NADAC definitely has the tightest standard times of all organizations.

Oh, and Vito won the costume contest!  Will share pictures on Halloween :)


Gracie- spayed!

Gracie got spayed today!  Yup, it was decided that she is not to be a breeder dog for future service dog puppies.  And then I wimped out and decided I wanted to spay her immediately so I wouldn't have to deal with a heat cycle.

So tonight the background sounds are similar to that of a tea kettle.  Poor Gracie.  At least she's not as loud as Chuckles was.  No dog will ever be as pathetic as he was coming out of both his neuter and his xrays.

Happier Gracie of her at the hotel.  Being a good girl and not getting on the bed despite the corgi repeatedly teasing her.


At the Corgi Specialty!!!

Road trip!  Lance and I, along with cheerleaders Gracie and Grandma, headed off to the Lakeshore Corgi specialty show.  The first time Lance and I have ever had an overnight for a trial!  Unlike the Toller, Lance and Gracie know just how to sleep on long car rides.

The trip was about 6.5hrs including a quick stop for lunch.  We came down Thursday night so that Lance could have a quick 5 minutes of ring time.  Since we have never shown at a hotel or on carpet, I wasn't sure how he would do.  Lance did pretty well and was only a little distracted by all the delicious banquet smells all over the carpet.  He was a bit weirded out by a section of the carpet in the lobby section and I could never figure out if it was the specific pattern of carpet in that area, a weird smell, or the way the sun light was reflecting the pattern.  Thankfully the ring area didn't have most of those issues for him.

Friday held two obedience trials back to back.  So Lance went in the ring 4 times plus stay.  Montage Video!: http://youtu.be/iAfhBEn8Myc

Utility #1- NQ
First run and Lance was a bit distracted for the first bit of heeling.  Did a pretty good job of staying in position, but not with the attitude and focus I've trained.  Became very happy on the signals though!  AWESOME fronts and finishes and no real issues with anything until we got to directed jumping.  Then on the first send out Lance stopped just past the halfway point and looked at the bar jump next to him. Without me saying anything he then quickly headed back to the go out spot.  I breathed a sigh of relief and then signaled the jump.  Lance however spied Grandma video taping as I gave the signal.  He moved, but started coming towards me.  Just over halfway he realized his mistake and without me doing anything he immediately headed back to the correct jump and took it!  The opposite direction.  Then started heading back to me but caught Grandma's eye again and kinda froze.  Wow.  I never could have imagined failing direct jumping that way!!!  Very creative Mr. Corgi, very creative.  At least you're thinking and realizing your mistakes!

Open #1- Q 197, High in Trial!, Obedience Master title!
Time for Open and Lance reverted back to being a little uncertain for the heeling.  This time it only lasted halfway and he was perfect by the time the figure 8 rolled around.  Fronts and finishes continued to rock!
Going into stays we were first and we also did them in the middle of the large ring.  I'm not sure if Lance was less stressed due to either of those facts, or maybe because there were only corgis in the ring, but Lance gave me fabulous happy eye contact on our way in the ring and during our set up.  He was still a bit stressed as I left, but much much better than most groups.  And he held it!  First place, high in trial!  We were short a dog for OTCH points, so the win and points don't count.  But he got a cool plaque and huge ribbon :)  This was also more than enough score points to complete his Obedience Master title!

Utility #2- Q 193, 1st place
Awesome heeling!  Fronts and finishes starting to suffer a tiny bit more, but otherwise doing really well.  Great glove pivot and eye contact.  Article #1 I'm not sure what happened.  He gave me a heart attack as he ran right past the pile and started sniffing about 5 feet away.  Sniffing lasted a good 5 seconds before he came back to pile and immediately snatched the correct one.  Article #2 was great.  We qualified with a generous score of 193.  And another first place!  I was sad, but happy for me, that the second place corgi also had a stopping of the search during article #1 so we evened out on that for points lost.  This first place counted for points and we got 2 little points.

Open #2- Q 195, 2nd place, High Combined, UDX leg #7
Still awesome heeling!  Fronts and finishes diminishing even more.  Not awful, but lost at least 1/2pt on each exercise due to a front or finish.  I could tell he was getting a bit tired as his retrieves and drop on recall didn't have the bunny butt running he usually does.  Stays remained the same in hapiness level and he held them again!  We're now back up to tie our record of 6 long sits in a row.  So that's a total of 12 out of 13 held recently.  Hope!

So, so proud of the Corgi!  I can't believe how consistent he is becoming in obedience and how much he continues to enjoy it.  I can actually believe that next spring we should finish our UDX and just maybe we can some day finish an OTCH.  Currently we sit at 2 of 3 first places and 17 points.  Way more than I ever thought we would achieve.  

Link to the crazy go out fiasco in trial 1: http://youtu.be/R7axRAeAtwI



Gracie got to play with her brother quite a bit this last week.  Mr. Rooney was in for some boot camp, aka basic manners training.  Boot camp #2 for him, as the first one was our puppy swap back in March.

He was quite happy to be at the kennels and a little too obnoxious with the other dogs, even for a  Labrador!  I think all the pictures I have of him and Gracie playing have Angry Face featured.

Rooney reminds me a ton of Gracie.  The same weird bark, the same head tilts, and overall super sweet and hard working personality.  Just a 15lb difference in size!  He was a fast learner and a very respectful dog once he knew the rules.  Only a little bit of testing!

And on an unrelated note, Lance and I are headed down to Chicago this morning for a Corgi Specialty!  Wish us luck in the obedience ring!


Lance Advanced Teamwork trial

Now the recap I've been dying to tell!
On Sunday after just completing the group stays I rushed over with the corgi to see the Advanced Teamwork ring.  Exercises were to be: heeling, glove seek back, moving down, and send away.
Whew, no object placement exercise, but the send away one worried me!  We convinced the nice judge to help us out by using some white tape to make the box instead of the barely visible blue tape he had down.  Thank you!  (Video is at the end!)

Heeling was first and Lance seemed to be more pumped on his 3rd time in the ring, 4th if you count going back for stays.  He had some forging in the beginning, a silly no sit until told, and then I could tell he got visibly excited as he saw we were going to the box!

The glove seek back was next.  More heeling!  Our halt was at a corner of the ring and Lance was certain that when I sent him out to find the glove that he was supposed to run to his box instead!  Very confused corgi danced around in the box a little, and then even touched the ring gate.  Then he suddenly saw the glove and sprinted towards it very proudly!  A little too proud maybe as he flung it in the air :)

And more heeling followed for the moving down.  Normally one of Lance's favorite thing to practice!  He seemed a bit unsure of in the ring and I ended up dropping my shoulder and looking back at him as I left.  He watched me do some heeling on my own and then was certain that when I was finally allowed to call him to come join me that it was a trick.  A second command and he was happy to join me!

Position changes followed.  Leaving the dog in the stand for stand-down-sit-stand-sit-down-stand.
I was worried that Lance would see the stand-down-sit as the utility exercise and sprint towards me on the stand cue.  He didn't, but must have been thinking hard as his butt rose a tiny bit on the stand cue but ultimately needed a quick second command to get it.  No problems with the down to stand!  On my return he must have thought I was resetting him as he walked towards me and curled around.

And the best for last!  For the send away we started in the right corner, so dog on outside.  I was somewhat relieved as I knew Lance would be a tiny bit less likely to just go to the side wall when I sent him instead of going across the ring.  But Lance locked onto the cone and sent out beautifully!  I was also happy that both positions the judge picked were a sit.  Keeping it simple for us!  For the box send, Lance didn't hesitate at all.  He went flying across the ring to pounce in the box and then wanted to keep going to come back to me.  He did sit when I told him to, just not in the box!

Overall I am extremely thrilled with how Lance did in this class.  Despite not being fully prepared on the exercises, he remained happy and confident.  It was very entertaining and at least 3 people I talked to afterwards said that they would be interested in doing it if we offered the class again next year!

Fun video!


UDX leg #6, Placements!

Saturday Utility
Lance was on!  Much improved fronts and finishes and pretty good heeling.
Main points lost were for barking on one of the go outs, for doing a very poor glove pivot, and one detour on a finish to look at the other ring where a friend was competing.
Biggest pros were much improved fronts and finishes.  Pretty good heeling.  Remembering his sits on the go outs and nailing his signals.

Lance ended up in a 3 way tie for first place!  I again wasn't prepared for the run off but Lance did a very nice job.  A wide on the about turn placed us in 2nd place and a few more OTCH points!

Saturday Open
Lance was definitely a bit more off going into the open ring.  Much more looking around and a bit of stress.  Heeling was first and Lance had several wide moments for the first half and a no sit.  He pulled it together for half #2 and did a great job.  Fronts and finishes continued to have a higher success rate!

Best part- Lance held his sit again!  I saw definite sniffing on my way out of sight though :(

Sunday Utility
Happy, happy corgi.
Glove turn was actually really good this time, and continued streak of not auto marking the glove!
Go outs were beautifully executed again, but costly in terms of barking.  One bark on the first send, and two more barks as he took each jump.  Errors of enthusiasm!
Sadly, Lance looked up as someoen in the audience coughed as the judge was putting the first article out.  He then saw Daddy and stared lots.  When I cued his direct send and pivoted Lance didn't quite move with me.  His brain caught up a tiny bit later and he completed the turn but I had to give a second command to send him to the pile.
Other issues: Took 2 small steps as I left him on the signal stand and took a good 3 steps as I left him on the moving stand.

Sunday Open
Wow, much much better than on Saturday!!!  Lance nailed everything!  He lost a total of a 1/2pt on the heeling/figure 8 (although I think the judge was a little generous) and then had 2 fronts and one finish.  Held his stay again!
This earned us Lance's highest score ever, 198, and that score was actually good enough for 2nd place!!!

So Lance earned his 6th UDX leg on Saturday and a total of 5 OTCH points this weekend!  I'm actually starting to think that it might be possible to put an OTCH on him!

We also did the Advanced Teamwork class on Sunday and I'll write about that in another post :)


Practicing AKC's Advanced Teamwork

2 days.  That's how long I have until Lance competes in the AKC Advanced Teamwork class.  Over a year ago I begged our trial chair to offer this class at our club's obedience trial.  I wanted new exercises to train and I thought the class sounded completely cool!  It was a great plan and at the time I had about 14 months to train everything.  Then 10 whole months, over 6 months, and now 2 days.  Yikes.  It's not like I haven't worked on anything over the past year, but I certainly didn't give this class the attention I wanted to.
I initially put off the training because I decided to work hard on phasing out the food in Lance's training and this mission was incompatible with training new exercises.  Operation no-food went really well (yay!) but somehow this still remained on the back burner.  Oh well.  The training I have done has been really fun.  Lance loves learning new things too, and he certainly loves all the food treats he's been getting recently as we try and cram for our exam!

The Advanced Teamwork class is non titling and involves a complex heeling pattern and the judges choices of 4 other exercises out of 7 choices.  Most of the exercises are variations of ones in utility.  I made a cheat sheet of rules here.

1. Object Placement- Here the dog goes out to a thrown object, sits and keeps it in his mouth, and then goes to the directed cone and drops it, returning to the handler without.
Likelihood of our success- poor!  Lance does have all the key points trained.  He has a distance interrupted sit while keeping the object.  A distance send to the cone.  A distance drop.  And a recall while leaving it.  But put them all together and the chances of one breaking down is high.

2. Scent work- Dog is sent from 30 feet away to a pile of 10 objects, all different objects, only 4 of the same material.
Likelihood of success- high.  This is just the basic utility exercise so training to different objects wasn't hard.  The hard part has been trying to find a variety of objects that are easy for Lance to pick up.  Our chance of failure will likely be if Lance doesn't like the feel of an object in his mouth (since of course I still need to practice him picking up all the items!)

3. Seek back- While heeling the handler drops a black glove and continues heeling.  Dog is sent back to find it, the glove will not be straight forward.
Likelihood of success- high.  While I admit I have really never practiced this, I have no doubt that Lance will run out and look for something to retrieve!  We've done find the article pile so this is very similar.

4. Moving stand, sit, or down- While heeling, the dog does a moving stand/sit/down on judges order while handler keeps on heeling.  Dog is then called to heel as handler stops.
Likelihood of success- moderate.  Lance's moving down and stand are in the bag.  A moving sit was actually very hard for him.  Calling to heel should be easy from any position.

5. Baseball Gloves/Drop on Recall- Dog is started at the #2 base position, with glove behind him.  Handler is across the ring and calls dog to come, cues a down halfway.  Then directs dog to the correct glove like in the UKC exercise.
Likelihood of success- moderate.  Lance has done the CDSP baseball glove (go out style) pretty well.  He still needs practice on sending back to #2 sometimes.  There's also the chance that Lance won't do his drop on recall, or will start heading to glove #1 or #3 before I cue the drop.

6. Distance Control- Dog is left in a sit/stand/ or down at the end of the ring and the handler cycles the dog through a posted order of 6 position changes.
Likelihood of success- moderate, although I expect creepage.  Lance is mostly very good, but the down to stand is his hardest and he sometimes sits instead.

7. Send Away- Handler and dog start at one corner of the ring.  Dog is sent to a cone straight ahead at the other corner and then does a sit/stand/ or down at the cone (judges choices).  Then the handler directs the dog to the other far corner (diagonal from handler, perpendicular to dog) where a chalk box is set up for the dog to do a sit/stand/ or down inside.  Handler than starts walking and cues the dog to catch up into heel position.
Likelihood of success- low.  Hardest and newest exercise by far!!!  First Lance had to learn to go out to the cone, which in and of itself wasn't hard.  Some difficultly lied in the fact that we start next to the ring gates and Lance sometimes wanted to just head to the side and touch the nearer gates instead of going all the way down.  Then breaking :( the sit he is so used to doing from directed jumping in utility and cuing a down or stand.  We're still not complete at that step.
But hardest step was the perpendicular send to the box.  Coming up with a hand signal was very hard as my hand raising means come in towards me and take the jump from utility.  I settled on the opposite hand pushing across my body, although this does turn my shoulders and technically is a no-no. Oh well.  Lance's success rate on the first try with this send is maybe 70%.  Then actually getting him to stay in the box instead of automatically jumping in and out and heading towards me.  The sit/stand/down problems from the cone are the same.

Overall, not the success rate you want before a trial!!!  On the positive side, since I don't expect anything other than complete failure I should be very relaxed.  Only one other brave soul is entered with me and I know they're in the same boat.

For those curious, here's a video of our practice of some of the exercises:


Review- Tucker's Chicken Breast Jerky

The boys were sent some Tuckers Klassic Kellies chicken breast jerky treats to review.  Vito was VERY excited to get the package.  I honestly don't think I've ever seen him this excited about dog treats before and I take real salami and other meats to obedience trials.

The jerky came wrapped individually in the bag.  This confused me at first but as I opened a piece I saw that it was very greasy and pretty soft!  Unlike all the other chicken breast strips treats I've seen before, (all those ones that were recalled and made in China!) these strips were incredibly easy to break up into smaller pieces as long as you didn't mind your hands covered in grease.

I'm not exaggerating when Vito told me these are his favorite food treats ever.  He actually jumped up and stole a piece right out of my hand in a very un-Vito like move!  He also offered a version of his handstand trick.

Practicing his beg was very hard.  So excited!

These treats are made in the USA, both meat source and processing, and is 100% human grade quality.  Natural Pet Warehouse is having a huge sale on them right now, so don't hesitate to check them out!


Vito CDSP Triumph!

Vito got to play in a CDSP trial this weekend.  The relaxed and happy obedience organization :)

Vito woke up in his crazy mode that happens some times, and more and more often.  So add the car ride, and then having to share his crate with the Labrador for the first time and Vito was a bit high at the trial.  Vito's arousal level and stress levels are so intertwined.  But instead of melting and wanting to stare at people, Vito chose to expend his crazy panting and nervous energy into work.  Warming up was amazing and Vito played hard with me.

Going into the ring he had a little moment of hesitation.  Very much wanting to look around but I was happy that he did remember his new rule of eye contact for taking off the leash, after one restart.  Going to the drop on recall was a bit of a lag and then he pulled it together nicely.  A  happy explosion to me when I called.  More looking around on the setup for heeling so I said we weren't ready and did some bouncing with my knees like I do when I'm teasing him to start in our heeling games.  Very happy heeling followed!
Retrieves were also happy!  The go out he ran straight for the corner of the box line for a quick sniff and then corrected himself to go straight.
So a Q!  And high in trial!

Vito had a much better wake up and thus a calmer car ride and calmer trial demeanor.  Hanging out and then warming up to go into the ring he was psyched.  I think he was more hyped up than Saturday and he did have 2 reactions to people.  Thankfully both were pretty small and easy to get him back working.  Stressing up is certainly easier than stressing down!

Going into the ring was even better than Saturday!  His eyes shot up to mine as soon as I reached for the leash and he only gave a very tiny glance to the judge.  Heeling was first and it was very happy.  2 little sneezes near the beginning got us a lag but for the most part he was right there.  In between exercises he was much more willing to jump up on me, and eat a cookie of course, and did happy heeling to the next setup.  Both retrieves and the drop on recall were done done at full sprint!  We NQed on the broad jump as either Vito wasn't aware of its presence or his brain remained in goofy mode as he did a tiny little hop onto the middle of it.
Best video ever:

Happiest NQ ever!  I was debating about whether to enter him in round 2 on Sunday, but after that run I knew it couldn't possibly get better!

Our precision wasn't there on our fronts and finishes either day but I wasn't' expecting anything different since we really haven't done any precision work in over a year.  Happy Toller goal was met and exceeded :)


Gracie 10 months

Holy cow.  Gracie is definitely a late bloomer in terms of drive and energy.  She's always had a really great work ethic but lately her intensity is, well intensifying.

Here is Gracie doing her best impression of a border collie.  Recently she's been doing a very fast down whenever she sees a dog at a distance at the dog park, or out in the yard at work.  Then as the dog gets closer she continues her freeze and flattens her head.  Of course then the obnoxious body slamming aspect of her Labrador heritage comes out as she charges the unsuspecting dog.

Biggest challenges this month continue to be jumping up during greetings and being good on long downs.  Service dogs have to be content to do long down stays at meetings, restaurants, church services, etc.  Gracie is becoming a bit antsier and standing up more often.  She refuses to just go to sleep in case she misses something exciting.

Working on:
1. Object placement: Clean up is done, targets the bucket nicely with an object and doesn't try to step in it anymore :)  Adding height to the chair for future "rise-drop" is still on the to do list.

2. Moving downs- Mostly has a fast drop while heeling.  Needs a bit more work on getting the mostly to always while I keep on heeling instead of stopping.  Have also done a few drop on recalls from short distances.

3. Light off- just started to combine light off with switch on, all at nose level height.  She needs a bit of a warm up on moving her chin down on the wall before she is consistently good in a session.

4. Recalls- Not as good as they were a month ago, especially for coming to people other than myself.

5. Bucking bronco!- Yes, I finally started teaching my favorite trick of a leaping 360 flip :)  She's picking it up very, very fast!


Obedience games on the road

Vito is continuing to progress, in some ways, with his obedience training.  Still working extremely little on actual behaviors and focusing completely on engagement.

Progress is hilly with the first test.  The ability for Vito to start training on the first attempt with 100% of the attitude I want is mostly getting better.  But it can still take multiple exits and restarting on occasion.

The second aspect I just started working on with Vito is very short sessions of no food or toys.  Success in this is HUGE in many ways.  With Puppy Vito this was very easy to do but as his anxieties started to increase after his 2nd birthday I lost this ability.  The pushing and shoving I would do suddenly became too much pressure and only served to shut him down.  I've been slowly building it back up by trying very hard to insert myself into the use of food rewards, doing lots of relieving of pressure through backing up and/or running away, and creating high value for his hand touch and chest vault tricks.

Today I walked to the park with Vito to see how he would do with this game in a "new" place.  Vito's been to the park a lot for some off leash sniffing and we used to practice disc there, but he hasn't really done much obedience work there.  Here's me acting like an idiot:

I'm giving our session two thumbs up!  Pushy Toller appeared and he happily engaged with me for a full 4 minutes of play/work!  I did give him two treats in the last minute but I'm hoping they were the bonus cookies they felt like rather than bribe cookies to stay connected.  Our play was definitely obnoxious and I will eventually work on toning it down so that it could actually be useful in the obedience ring.  But for the now, the scratches on my arms and belly are a fun reminder.


Bubba- Diabetic Alert Schipperke!

This week Bubba left me for good.  He finished up his final training and took a long drive to South Dakota to meet his new momma and start a new job as a diabetic alert dog.

Fingers crossed that it's a good match and that Bubba embraces the job.

Gracie says goodbye

Good luck you crazy, crazy dog.
First reports are good.  Bubba's 1st alert was at 1am that first night!

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