Dec 032014
 

by Doranna

_DSC3932-(ZF-4919-11231-2-001).SM“The emperor has no clothes” has never been a popular (or easy phrase) to utter.  Not even in agility.

So we’re talking about continuing education (training) in this blog event, but first…let’s talk about those courses.  I promise this leads straight to training!

Anyway, you know the courses I mean.  During walk-through half the handlers are grimly unhappy and the other half are quite blithely and vocally certain that those who are unhappy would in fact be happy if they had only trained properly (or completely, or with the right system, or…). Continue reading »

Dec 012014
 

by Doranna

Post-tracking boyz, synchronized sleeping

Post-tracking boyz, synchronized sleeping

Yep, we had our big once-a-year local Variable Surface Tracking test on Sunday.  Beautiful weather, for sure–the best I’ve ever had for a test.  The best photos do not include me, because I wore a hat all day so no thanks, but the Beagle boyz are the important ones anyway!

Connery was track five of six and Dart was track six, so we watched the first tracks and then waited for Connery’s turn in the quiet of a parking lot distant from the test “home base.” The tracks are laid all over a large campus.

After the tracks are run, the handlers and the club and the tracklayers meet up at the “home base” parking for a tailgate lunch.  We all talk about what went wrong and right and say nice things about each other’s dogs, talk about other tracks we’ve run and what we plan in the future.  Fun, right? Continue reading »

Nov 172014
 

by Doranna

cb.dart.visiting.848My lesson for the month: Plans mutate.

(Probably my lesson for life, but let’s just stick with the month.)

I’d intended to blog about the treadmill thing again today, especially in the wake of my aggravated feet.

Then again, this fall I’d also intended to adopt a socialization-resistant kitten as a barn cat (yes, this cat sleeping here on my office chair), get caught up on my paperwork, get a book started/finished before the end of the year, target completion of Connery’s PACH title, and figure out how to relax when it was time to relax.

And in the really big picture, I once thought to keep beating my head against traditional publishing until I finally found where I fit.

One thing at a time, I guess.

In any event, I’m not writing about the treadmill thing today.  Because things change, and yesterday I went tracking, and as it happens the tracking was all about things changing.

(The meta here is just killing me.)

Continue reading »

Oct 062014
 

by Doranna

speech-bubble-mdThe broken brain.  It is Teh Stoopit.  It looks at things it’s known how to do forEVER and it says, “I got nuthin’.”

When it comes to the dogs, I can often see it coming…if not always.  “Nope, can’t teach this new skill right now, because it will break something that I need in the immediate future.”

When I was teaching agility and rally, I saw broken dog brains all the time.  Dogs learning how to back up would forget how to sit.  Dogs learning to stand from sit would forget how to finish to heel.  Dogs learning to stand from down would forget something else altogether. Continue reading »

Aug 252014
 

by Doranna

The dogs are far from bored around here.  We’re getting ready for an obedience trial next weekend, so just went to an obedience match this past weekend.  After that comes an agility weekend.  In the meantime, we’re training for the December VST test, without any real assurance that Dart will be ready.  He’s got the nose, he’s got the understanding, but he works so intensely that he uses himself up about halfway through and turns into a puddle of goo.

So naturally, it’s time to introduce a little chaos into their lives by way of Mickey Cat. Continue reading »

Aug 182014
 

by Doranna

This year, with the varmint invasion at an all time high–from rabbits to squirrels to pack rats to mice to gophers–we put into action tentative plan to acquire a barn cat–a cat of such nature so as not to be a viable adoptable indoor pet.

We have an agility friend with connections in high places at our awesome localish (in the city) shelter, Animal Humane. Okay, very high places. She runs the thing and is also a talented animal yenta. She hooked us up with a reclusive 7-year-old named Calypso whose ability to cope with humanity deteriorated daily during her stay there…and during her transition period here. She fled upon release, disappearing into the arroyo. No one was truly surprised, but it was hard all the same.

In short order, another kitty opportunity cropped up: a fourteen-week old little guy who had made clear his hatred of being handled. Continue reading »

Jun 042014
 

by Doranna

cb.dogwalkbay.crop.0058Qualifying!  Winning!  Titles!  W00t!  Rah!

Because hey, that stuff is fun.  It’s lots of fun.  The green Q ribbon is a revered thing.  Add a bit of placement ribbon color and…you know…

W00t!

But if it was the only marker of success, I can’t imagine many of us would keep training, keep entering…keep running.  Keep on with our little public humility lessons.  Because with some dogs, those placement ribbons never come, and with others, the Q ribbons are a rarity, and with still others, the lessons in humility are ongoing. Continue reading »

May 212014
 

We take a lot of photos of my dogs when I’m competing.  Partly for the same reason one takes photos of anything–keepsakes, bragging rights, and (these days) Facebook shares.

But in large part, it’s a great way to figure out exactly what happened in the ring—things that seem inexplicable in the moment, but become all too clear with a series of photos or a bit of digital recording.

paw.916The thing is, it’s easy to blame a dog for what happens in the ring.  And it’s true, sometimes Dart simply “gives me the paw.” But more often it’s worth digging down for deeper understanding, because more often it’s about subtle things that humans don’t take into account because it doesn’t bother them.

The weekend before last, we went to our area’s biggest yearly AKC obedience and rally trial.  It’s a regional qualifier with a huge draw, and it’s held inside (unusual for this area).  The building is a thing of unceasing chaotic din even when humans and dogs alike are using their indoor voices. Continue reading »

May 062014
 

yymm.dd.dart.storycover.28.NOT.SMDart, as usual, is teaching me lessons.

All three of the dogs stay pretty active, like little elementary school kids with a stack of play dates.  However, Connery is a mature boy with lots of seasoning who never did need a ton of proofing, while Rena is on a hiatus from most things (another story altogether.)

Meanwhile, Dart is a spark-bright boy who lives intensely, notices everything, out-thinks himself at every turn, and needs extensive proofing in all possible circumstances.  He needs to do, not to practice doing.

But there are only so many opportunities to do, especially in this area.  So when they come along, we make the most of them. Continue reading »

Apr 222014
 

by Doranna

Connery is a breedist Beagle. 

cb.MACH.bawhBEWARE!” he bays, if a problem breed comes into his orbit.  “DO NOT WANT!”

If he spots such an individual while we’re running an agility course, I can be pretty sure he’s going to bring down a bar or pop a weave, because he just can’t think beyond the worrisome presence of that dog.  He tries so hard that it’s palpable but he just.  Can.  Not.

To be fair to Connery, he has reasons.  Good ones.  Like his objection to Boxers?  The first dog who attacked him was a Mastiff—a huge creature with a head the size of Connery’s whole body.  A big fawn dog with black points and a big squoosh face: close enough to a Boxer, if you’re Connery.

Obviously, if that Mastiff had closed his jaws around Connery, it would have killed him.  But I screamed, and Connery screamed, and he fled a desperate circle at the end of his leash.  Will I ever forget the sight of those massive jaws snapping closed against his tucked butt? Continue reading »