Friday, August 29, 2008

We're a Training Team

Last night was Agility Class, as are most Thursdays, and Ceilidh was being her usual self. That means checking out each spot on the mat between runs and trying to say hello to every person in the room. And last night was mostly lecture, so most of the time was between runs. Of course I try to keep Ceilidh busy with little behaviors - spin, touch, sit, down, front, etc., etc..... Toward the end of class last night Ceilidh had gotten up from a sit or a down - I forget which - so I pointed at her rear end which is one of the signals I've taught her to sit. And she did. What a good girl. The instructor saw that and stopped herself mid-sentence and said, "You point at her butt and she puts it on the floor???" Yup, just like she's supposed to!
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Couch potato heaven

Roc is just exhausted! It's been almost a week since the festivities ended in Beijing and still the little guy is just worn out. Two solid weeks of sports on tv - if it wasn't the Olympics, his Cubs are still in contention and his beloved Bears are about ready to start the season. That dog's idea of paradise is a wall of televisions with his favorite bed planted right in front of them.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Second verse, same as the first

Well, Sunday's results weren't much different from Friday's - at least on paper. Dax and I had a lot of fun (okay, Dax more than me). We didn't qualify, didn't even complete the courses, but she stayed in the ring! She had to go and greet the jump-setters in both Jumpers and Standard, but she came back to me and we did actually finish the last few obstacles, in order, in both rings.
There were a lot of things to be happy about. The most important is that we both had a blast. Spending time with our agility buddies was great. Our instructor says that "A bad day at a dog show is still better than a good day at work." Even though I really love my work, it's true!
We even had a little "posse" of Novice teams to hang out with - sharing our course plans, nerves, and cheering each other on.
Julie and Goku come pretty close to qualifying, so I went with her to check the results. The judge was sitting at the table where scores were posted, so I asked her what the "E" meant. It means disqualifying faults. Dax and I set a new record - we got 6 of them! I was laughing about that and the judge asked if I had the "adorable Frenchie." I told her that yes, that was my girl, and the judge immediately offered to take her off my hands - I couldn't possibly want to keep that much trouble.
She's wrong. That's just the kind of trouble I like.
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Well - it could have been worse

Thank goodness we got that first agility trial done with!
The good news? We had fun - which is the point.
The bad news? That was the only part of our goal we achieved.
Have I mentioned that Dax is one of the friendliest dogs in the universe? She thought it would be a wonderful idea to say "Hello!" to the jump-setter in the Standard ring rather than take the A-Frame. When she got no reaction, she deigned to play with me a bit longer - until she saw the opening in the curtain dividing our ring from the next! She dashed through to say "HI!" to everybody in the Open ring - fortunately they were between dogs and she came back to me. Needless to say, our Standard run was over.
I'm told it was very unusual, but we had the unfortunate scheduling to be due in both the Standard and Jumpers ring at pretty much the same time. Standard and Jumpers Novice rings had their walk-throughs simultaneously, and it was just too much for me to try to keep two courses in my head. I thought I was okay for Jumpers, but I got really, really, lost about half-way through. The good news there was that Dax stayed with me, she even did her weave-poles! She did find the tunnel absolutely fascinating to sniff, but after thoroughly checking it out, she did come play with me again.
So - we'll try it again tomorrow! Our goals remain the same - stay together and have fun!
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Should I, shouldn't I - next time maybe

So Hope is at her first Agility Trial today and I'm feeling a little guilty. Hope worked up her nerve to actually enter a trial and show up for it and I'm here at the store. Ceilidh was great at class last night and she's been much more focused. I do have a good excuse for not entering the trial - that whole torn cartilage thing, plus the worst hip bursitis pain ever to have been experienced by a human being - at the deadline for entering. But now I'm feeling just about fine. So I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, next time I'll dance too.

Meanwhile - keep your fingers crossed for Hope and Dax! Hope told me her goal was to have Dax stay with her and not greet the jump-setters in the ring. Also, maybe a bigger goal - to have fun! Because if it's not fun why do it?
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm making everyone around me a little crazy right now. I can barely concentrate on anything, I'm extraordinarily clumsy, can't settle, can't eat, can't sleep.
Okay, that's an exaggeration. I can always eat and I'm not sleeping because I'm staying up too late to watch the Olympics. But I am making everyone nuts.
It's all because Dax and I are entered in our first agility trial this coming weekend. I've never been athletic, never been competitive, never voluntarily opened myself up to be judged before I got involved in the world of dogs. I was that pitiful, clumsy fat kid (with glasses, of course) who was always last to be chosen in gym class.
So now, at the tender age of old, I'm getting involved in this nonsense. Why? Because I've been sitting on the sidelines watching for long enough. Wish us luck. This weekend Daxie and I are going to dance!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The glory of sport

I'm not a sports fan. Really, I'm not.
There are teams I love and follow religiously - the Cubs and the Bears.
Aside from that, not so much. If the tv is on during the weekend, unless my teams are playing, it's much more likely to be tuned to the Food Network than any sporting event.
And yet - every two years I turn into a practically-religious sports fanatic. There's something about the Olympics that I can't tear myself away from. I'm losing sleep staying up to watch. Even at work I'm on the computer watching the Equestrian events. I'll even watch Badminton if it's on. I've changed from Good Morning America to the Today show - just to get an early-morning Olympic fix.
I'm almost afraid to think what I'll be like if Chicago wins the 2016 Summer Games. I can almost guarantee there'll be a sign on the shop door: Gone to the Olympics. Back in 2 weeks.
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Friday, August 08, 2008

Gaining Some Focus

Last week I was stymied by the loss of focus my lunatic Ceilidh was exhibiting at Agility class. I attributed it to the presence of four new dogs in class. Last night was a little bit better, but that new Border Collie thing just makes Ceilidh nervous! Our instructor did quite a bit of lecturing last night, which Ceilidh hates, so we had plenty of time to practice some quiet behaviors while we were listening. Sits, downs, stays, spins, touches and even Ceilidh's famous dance got a workout! But I think it kept her focused and eager to run and jump. She's still not sure about that Border Collie thing, though...
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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bits and pieces

All kinds of little doggie tidbits around here:
  • Our obedience club finally(!) found a new home - we'll be starting classes again on September 2. NSDTC is the oldest AKC-member obedience club in the country. We've been around forever. But the days when dog clubs could meet in the high school gym, or the park district multi-purpose room are over. The excuse the facilities use, true or not, is that their insurance companies won't let them. Fortunately, as doggy-day-care places gain popularity, there are some options available.
  • We're happy to say that the new puppy owners are asking for advice - and seem to be following it! The latest was "why is he biting us?" and the answer is: because he's four months old and that's what puppies do! Teach him not to! The family seems to be paying attention to what we're telling them - they still seem happy with the puppy, so we're hoping for the best.
  • On a not-so-happy note, our new neighbors with the bulldog have to find a new home for him. After consultation with every sort of expert: veterinarians, trainers, behaviorists, they've been forced to accept that their situation isn't right for this particular dog. I have to admit his behavior has me stymied - he adores everyone except his family and is aggressive to them. I know they'll all be better off, but we're saddened by the situation.
  • Dax and I are getting ready for our first Agility Trial! Just thinking about it gets my nerves going, but I'm doing my calming mantra: "No matter what happens, I still get to take her home. Even if we're stinking awful, she's still mine and no one can take her away." And the other classic, which is "Breathe. Remember to breathe."
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Friday, August 01, 2008

Losing Focus

Last night was the first night of a new session of Agility Class. We had gotten very spoiled over the last few months as our class' participants had stayed pretty much the same, with perhaps someone taking a session off and then coming back. Well, there were FOUR new dogs last night. Ceilidh was all over the place. The first course was a series of five jumps with three front crosses scattered in there. Ceilidh jumped the first one, and then had to make sure that our instructor was the same. OK. We started over. We got the first two, and then Ceilidh had to make sure that the instructor hadn't changed. Whew, still the same. Well, we made it through our little course the next time, but missed the last cross. Oh well. It's amazing that, even though the dogs do not go visiting, that even the presence of new dogs can have such an effect on poor Ceilidh. Sometimes even I forget that Ceilidh is prone to acting silly and losing focus. Thank goodness I remembered our focusing techniques and the rest of class was pretty good, finishing with 24 weave poles, done properly the first try!
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