And Happy Birthday to Vito

Six years old already, wow.  And graying like an old man!


Happy Halloween

Vito as the Riddler.  Full of questions, but sadly he doesn't share the answers with me.

Lance as Batman.  Of course.

Pyra as Harley Quinn.  Adorable sidekick.

They do have hats.

Epic battle between good and evil.

Trick for Treat?

I think Batman was defeated.


Pyra 14wks and Video

Miss Py had a few new experiences this past week.  Most of them at the agility trial where she learned about lovely dirt floors and horses.

She's starting to lose her puppy fuzz and look like a real toller now!  Well, still a golden retriever actually.

We played with toys and leaves outside and mainly used food inside the arena.  Partly because I didn't want the toys covered in dirt and partly because she's very food focused and toy love is not quite as high yet.

Training wise the only new thing is she's starting to get the concept of biting an object for her retrieve training.  Py had a nice nose touch previously but wouldn't open her mouth until this week.  We also are building some distance on our sends around cones and trees for little puppy agility!

Our little pivots and side steps for heel work are pretty hit and miss right now.  Lovely some days and other days she is completely insistent that I must want her either between my legs or in front of me.


Chuck It Agility Toller in NADAC

The Chuck it Launcher experiment continues for trial #2!  Results were even more screaming than the first USDAA trial and holy cow he actually RAN in all 8 runs over two days.  Many runs didn't just come close to backyard practice speed, but actually were full speed!

In the first run of the weekend he actually screamed a little bit DURING his run!  He doesn't even do that at home!  And it was jumpers, zero contacts on course!  Sadly, no video of that run.  But yes, he knocked his yards per second out of the water and the danger we can sometimes be in of not making time in jumpers wasn't there at all.

Q rate wasn't so high.  We had an off course in each regular run, a knocked bar in that jumpers run, and another knocked bar in chances.

Touch n Go was my absolute favorite run of the weekend.  Personal best of 6.78YPS and fastest time of all dogs.  Bonus of a super nice turn off the dogwalk with an off course hoop staring straight at him.  Best Vito video ever:

And he even did distance!  With a (late) rear cross! Stupid knocked bar prevented him from getting a vary rare chances Q for him.

So now I'm spoiled.  I had made peace with Trial Toller and now I'm super psyched for Chuck It Toller.  Trying hard not to have expectations for our next trial.  Next might not be until after Christmas though unless I travel.


The Corgi back to Agility!

NADAC trial this weekend.  Lance's 4th and 5th day of trialing of the entire year so I was eager to get back to agility with him!

Sadly Lance seemed a bit off all weekend.  Slower than normal and pulling off of obstacles.  Not sure if it was due to the slightly deeper dirt surface, general aging, or what.

He did 4 run on Saturday and 5 on Sunday.  The last run of the day on Sunday was jumpers and it was just sad.  Poor Corgi was stuttering horrible and much slower than earlier :(

Sad Jumpers on Sunday

Not so sad Regular on Sunday

On the positive side we did knock out another Chances Q on Saturday on what I thought was a pretty tough course with only the 1st and last obstacle not behind the line.  4 more left for his NATCH and since the next NADAC trial isn't till end of December it doesn't look like we made our goal this year.  Hopefully next year we will get to play some more agility and whatever it is that slowed the corgi down this trial will be gone.  He's never been interested in playing agility on grass so training at home isn't really fruitful.  It involves lots and lots of rewards for baby dog efforts of speed.  Weekly class seems to be going fine.


Pyra 13wks

Pyra at 13 weeks seemed like a really big milestone for her.  At 10 weeks I remember feeling like the lightbulb was starting to come on in her training sessions.  She was learning that she was in control of the cookie delivery.  And now at 13 weeks I feel like the light is getting brighter.  This past week Py started offering most of her behaviors and you can see the wheels just turning in her head.  Her Frog Legs trick that we were still struggling with a pillow under her hips she was able to purposefully offer for a cookie!

A few people who have watched our quick meal training sessions have commented on how I'm really not using any commands at this point.  I'm just in no rush.  Right now her training has very little to do with learning words and lots to do with  Py figuring out how to communicate with me and discovering body awareness.  If she offers a behavior other than the one we were working on I usually just go with it.  I might later regret that I'm letting her hop from one thing to another but right now it's still cute and fun.  I suppose that's how most naughty behavior start!

I'm also heavily managing Py's focus when she is out and about with me.  We still have our romps at the park where she can just sniff and explore, but pretty much everywhere else when Py is on the ground I'm in training mode.  I almost always have a toy or cookies on me to reward her for offering behaviors and for keeping focus on me.  If I'm not able to give her that feedback then I'm just scooping her up in my arms.  Or in her group class she's either in my arms or in her crate for 80% of the class so that the remaining 20% she can give me full effort.  An hour class is too long for any dog, but especially a puppy!

Still working lots on chase me games to try and cultivate a love for running.  While Py is still fairly uncoordinated she is sure gaining speed.  I can no longer out race her and I've added the words Go Go Go to her tiny vocabulary.
And Py continues to claim the highest point of the couch.  She says it has the added bonus of easily being able to see whatever food I'm eating.

Toller bonding.

The Duck continues to be slightly bigger than the Teacup Labradors of Gracie and Fiona.  She weighs 19lbs today!


Lance Obedience- More Advanced Teamwork

Lance had a pretty busy weekend at our club's obedience trial.

Saturday we were entered in 3 things- Utility, Open, and Advanced Teamwork.

Went amazing!  Happy AND precise corgi!  Only point lost other than fronts and finishes with a naughty mouthing of the glove on his front.  Actually I thought he was really working his fronts and finishes and was shocked to see him lose points on several.  Apparently I didn't see what she saw.  Score was still good enough for 2nd place and 3 little more OTCH points to bring us up to 49!  The run earned us his Obedience Master 2 title!

Nice run but not quite as great in the precision.  A little more forging in heeling and not quite as great fronts and finishes.    Down first for stays which of course went well.  Then on the long sit he lied down at the 1 min mark.  *Sigh.  Most frustrating problem ever.

Advanced Teamwork
I was excited to see the exercises posted for the class to be the most straightforward ones.
Heeling involved lots of slow time!  Then more heeling for the glove seek back exercise.  I wasn't sure Lance knew I dropped something as I didn't even see him flinch but he ran almost straight for it!  Then on the scent object he dropped the little piggy on his return but then brought it nicely.   The moving sit went well, but I did cheat slightly by turning my shoulders into him.  The moving sit is certainly the hardest of the 3 options!  Transition changes were oddly the same 3 changes done twice: stand-sit-down-stand-sit-down.  The first down to stand I forgot to say his name before the command and he just sat until I repeated my cue.  The 2nd time around I remembered to say his name and he did if fine.  So our only O point exercise!

Sunday we only entered in 2 classes.  I hadn't entered Open as I wasn't sure how the sit stay would go on Saturday.  Turns out it was wise decision.  

Another very nice run that I thought went even better than Saturday! Until signals.  On the right turn to stand your dog Lance looked ahead and I should have delayed slightly in giving my signal.  I didn't, and Lance sat.  Told him to stand again and he did a great job.  
Sadly as the first dog in the ring we set the tone and 100% of Utility dogs failed signals. :(

Advanced Teamwork
More heeling, this time the focus was on halts out of fast time and out of slow.  Lance missed the fast time halt but did a nice job on the slow.  Then we had object placement but the cones seemed much larger than the 18-20ft described!  Lance sadly dropped the item as I told him to sit at a distance.  I then re-cued the pick up and tried to direct him out but he didn't do anything.  On the 3rd send out he did a nice job of finding the cone and dropping it in the correct spot.  And then he brought it to me when I cued him to come.   So fail on that exercise!  

We then did scent objects which Lance did a nice job of again, this time with a plastic/rubbery thing we use to help attach leash hook ups to wheelchairs at work.  Moving down was next which I found much easier than the moving sit from saturday!  Finally we had the drop on recall/baseball glove exercise and I learned from Vito and slyly pointed out the glove to Lance as we setup next to it.  Lance has done the baseball portion from CDSP so it was similar minus the go out being replaced with the drop on recall.  Ended up taking first in the class of 5 dogs, with Vito of course bringing up the rear.


Toller Obedience- Advanced Teamwork Trial

Sat- Wildcard Open

Very happy outside of the ring!  Heeled perfectly all the way to the ring and then lost it a little bit.  Wouldn't look at me for taking of the leash and jumped on the steward coming up behind him.  Setting up in heel for the first exercise he wouldn't fix himself to line up straight and kept glancing around him.  But then we took that first step and he turned it on!  Thank God!  There was a few more glances in the heeling and I ended up giving him a 2nd command (likely unnecessary as he glanced away right at the fast time.  But mostly he was attentive and drivey in the heeling.

Jumped on me nicely at the finish of heeling and played with me on the way to the figure 8.  More looking at the stewards coming in and again he had a hard time setting up in heel.  But then he did a fantastic job of staying focused and driving for the actual figure 8!

Basically the same issues for the drop on recall, retrieves, and broad jump.  Looking around on the setup and slow to sit but great attitude on the actual exercises.  Actually I think he did less looking around at each new setup.  And for the first time in a recent trial he actually did a beautiful broad jump!

Our "Wildcard" exercise (get to skip 1 exercise) was the long sit.  We joined the group stays at the down stay where Vito did his very first out of sight stay in a trial.  He seemed confused going into the ring and setting up, and then even more confused when the judge moved us from the end into the middle (in catalog order).  But the stay itself seemed relax as far as I can tell.

During awards Vito was absolutely fixated on the stewards with the milkbone biscuits.  I could get him to do a sit stay but he would not look at me and barely move to turn away.

Sun- Advanced Teamwork
The big day!  Outlook was not high for actually passing the exercises.  I just hoped that he wouldn't lose confidence and be hesitant about not knowing what to do.  Confidently failing is what I wanted!

So yeah, we failed every single exercise other than heeling for a grand total of 30 something points out of 200!  Even the down in motion which he should have nailed, we failed the call to heel portion.  I'm not sure what he was thinking!
But awesomeness!  I am so happy with how he handled the ring and I think that is the most fun we have ever had at a trial.  There was a little glancing around in the heeling but it was even better than Saturday's Open run.  And then he got his toy in the ring!!!  And then he confidently brought me back a little plastic fire truck on our scent object.  Happy, wrong, Toller!


Goodbye, again, Miss Gracie

Gracie moved in with her new mom yesterday!  Hopefully their training together will continue to go well and she won't be coming back to me yet again.

I had Gracie the longest, by far, of all the service puppies I raised.  I admit the house feels really empty without her.  Py makes our count of dogs to 3, it really just feels like I have 2 dogs and a puppy.  Or maybe it just feels lighter because 4 dogs was a little crazy, at least when one of them is still learning all the rules.

 We did get to go to the lake a few more times in the bonus extra month I had her.

Last family picture.  Somehow it seems fitting that she didn't want to come further up and join the others for the shot.  She's moving on to more important things.


Pyra 12 weeks

Since Py turned 12 weeks I've taken her to the nice disc golf park a few times to swim in the lake and run on the paths.  She is pretty darn independant on our walks and really doesn't care if she is abandoned while she checks out a good spot.  Luckily Pyra really likes her food so she is mostly coming when called and also likes to check in every now and then to beg for some more.
Some more accidental swimming! But only did it once and then has been careful not to get too far in the water.

She seems to have come up with her own solution for couch overcrowding.

Vito is pleased.  Until sometimes she falls on top of him.

At this point we're nice and settled with her routines.  Almost too comfortable in that it's easy to forget that she's still a puppy and really does need constant watching.  But Py knows about watching other dogs train, mostly uses the rock potty area without prompting, chews slightly less on naughty items, and runs to her crate when asked.  Too easy.

And on Neurotic Toller days, Vito will even play with her.  Meaning he will growl very loudly the whole time and pin her to the ground often.  But he's in a play bow the whole time so Py can clearly stop panicking :)  Actually she does really well with all the dog's she has met, including Vito.  Very confident and bounces back easily from being pushed around.

New thing we worked on this past week was re-visiting hind feet on a box.  She had done one session a few weeks ago but then I stopped due to some confusion and struggling with Frog Legs.  Frog still sucks, but it's going a little better.  I also introduced nose targeting a dumbbell for the start of formal retrieve training.  And we've recently started to do some pivoting in heel without her little perch.  Biggest hinder in that training is her tendency to auto sit.  I've learned from previous puppies that I really don't want the sit at heel introduced so early as it interferes in fluid motion when they're still learning.


Panic Now- Advanced Teamwork Entries

Our club's obedience trial is coming up this weekend and we're offering the Advanced Teamwork class again this year.  Basically it's Utility+ for those not familiar with the class.

While I really haven't practiced any of the exercises this year I decided to enter Lance in it both days just for fun.  I have convinced a few other members of the club to enter on Sunday and actually I only entered both days just so if someone else entered Saturday they wouldn't be alone.

And then I entered Vito on Sunday.  I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking.  Vito also hasn't had any practice with the exercises this year.  Just a little bit off and on since I mailed in the entry form 3 weeks ago.

Here's where we are at, in practice.
1. Heeling-  No problem doing any turns in slow time or fast time. Yay!

2. Object pickup and placement- Well Vito does have a very good distance sit and hold with an object, but we're at maybe 75% success with that piece as sometimes he ignores the sits and just comes.  Direct to cone was pretty easy, additional sit has same success rate as the original sit.  Drop at a distance, good.  Come without object only 50% success.  He really wants to bring me the object!
Chances of getting through the exercise, at home, moderate to low.

3. Scent work- I thought for sure this would be in the bag for Vito as he usually really likes scent articles and I rarely practice.  And then I tried it with all the new items and his brain exploded.  Frantic searching at first.  Thankfully I've done it a few times since then and he seems to get more relaxed with each session.  I think our chances of getting through the exercise is high.

4. Seek back- I don't know, never practiced!  I think this is one of the more simpler ones, especially if the dog sees the item drop as you heel.  If he doesn't see it then I'm not entirely sure Vito would go on my command to get it.  I think he will twitch and then send on a 2nd command to search.

5. Moving stand/sit/down- Moving stand and down should be easy as we do practice this on a regular basis as part of our heeling.  Moving sit I expected to be hard as Lance had a really hard time learning this last year.  But Vito's doing well.  Chance of success is high.

6. Baseball Gloves with DOR- Hmm, also not really practiced more than once.  Vito has a drop on recall and in theory should know the 3 casts.  Actually doing so, probably low.

7. Distance control sit/down/stand- This one I actually do practice with Vito quite a bit to help our signals.  He can have the most beautiful verbal stand at a distance.  Until he just twitches.  Chance of success- moderate.

8. Send Aways- ha!  No chance of Vito getting this one.  I think he could go to the cone, but he's not confident yet to go straight out vs veering off the wall/gate that we're standing right next to.  Then going parallel with the ring gates to the box is a foreign concept.  I've had a few lessons and there's no way he will even have the tiniest chance of getting it by this weekend.

So overall Vito kinda knows all the exercises minus the last one.  Fingers crossed the judge chooses Vito's best exercises!  But even then, I know our chances are even lower at a trial than in practice.  Stress will cause him to doubt himself and he will forget everything he knows. It should be entertaining.  Lance will only be slightly better with his odds again.


Back to 1 Jump Work

Have I mentioned recently how much I love having my own yard and my own agility equipment?  I haven't had the time to use it as much as I hoping this summer due to my teaching schedule, a few strained muscles, and of course trials.

Having the ability to practice agility outside of the club has dug up a huge hole in Vito's jump training.  I have a bar knocker.  The issue hasn't really been there at trials except for a little bit this last weekend.  And at his agility class he rarely knocked bars as well.  But it had been starting to crop up recently at his class the last few months.  Mainly on tight turns.  Now at home it's been showing up constantly.

I've come to the conclusion that Vito just doesn't see keeping the bar up as part of his criteria in jumping.  It wasn't/isn't so much of an issue if he's not running full speed.  But when he's very excited his brain kinda falls out and he doesn't make much effort at all to not hit the bar.  Since at home he's extremely excited to play agility and earn his ball there is mass screaming and mass bar knocking.  I've gone back to 1 jump exercises and his success rate is not high.  Perfect if I bring out food as reward, really bad with any toy.  I've been trying to slowly raise the height of the bar and have almost zero handler motion, but progress is incredibly slow.


Pyra 11 wks

And just like that the socialization window is starting to close as Pyra turns 12wks old tomorrow.  Nagging questions of whether we went enough places, met enough people, experienced enough different noises, surfaces...

Pyra did go to her first agility trial this weekend!  Mainly stuck in her crate (quietly!) but she did come out for some tugging and a few treats.  Going back and forth between the two rewards certainly needs some more work.  The Duck is all about food these days.

And we knew it was inevitable but she made it up to the taller couch this week.  Vito's couch.  He's still doing a pretty good job of pretending she doesn't exist!

Except sometimes it's just too busy and crazy for him.

Only 1 new trick was practiced this past week.  Pyra has been learning to back up towards me, to return to being between my legs.  We are pretty consistently up to about 2ft now, with a treat tossed out to reset her.

Py also started her first Puppy Agility class this last week.  It'll just be fun to have her in a group class while working on those important foundations.


Chuck it Agility Happiness

I was talking to a friend a little while ago at the club about the Chuck It and how I avoid using one with Vito and avoid walking the dog's where there's any possibility we can run into another person who has one.  Chuck it= brain explosion.  And then of course the light bulb went on as I clearly have not been utilizing Vito's #1 reward.  So I ordered a mini Chuck It launcher which arrived just in time for the trial this weekend.

Oh the screaming.  Vito's Toller Scream at trials has been lessening quite a bit in both intensity and duration.  This weekend he was not shy.  Although since it was an indoor trial it wasn't exactly set up to use as an easy motivator.  We made it work, loudly, and then after each run I ran outside in the cold for a few actual throws.

We got our 2nd Master Gamblers Q!  2 Q's in 16 attempts, well overdue!  I think the gamble had a pretty high success rate on the teeter-switch away to the far end of the tunnel.  Most people drew their dog over the line to them and then resent them out from a stand still but Vito doesn't exactly go far from me in trials.  We ran it "in flow" and he actually did it without any hesitation.

Standard was a nice happy run.  Normal slower trial teeter, weaves, and table but overall he was running on his faster side.  Knocked a bar right on a front cross right after the teeter and it looked like just a really awkward take off.

Last run of the day was our 2nd time attempting Fancy Standard and our 2nd Q!  Fun and fast course with quite a few off course opportunities but not a ton of collection needed.

First run of the day was snooker and apparently it was too early for both of us.  Not nearly as much screaming as Saturday and  I over-snookered and took Vito by a jump in a 3 part combo.  Realized my mistake and was able to smoothly correct it, but then that put me on a different line and my plan briefly fell out for a second.  Just as it came back to me Vito jumped the wrong way and then back jumped to come back to me.

Next run was Steeplechase and he was screaming loudly again!  Nice, happy run except for knocking a bar on a 180.

Our last run was Standard and this had even more screaming.  And then Vito RAN!  He even did his teeter faster and then loudly sassed me on table!  Sadly he knocked the second to last bar.  Definetly my favorite run of the weekend though!

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