Monday, September 19, 2016

Crunchies! (is Humans Peoples calls "bottle")

SUMMARY: The best toys are the cheapest and come from the recycling bin.

Updated Sept 23: Squink photo and comment about the 30 years between Amber and Tika.

Thanks to Squink's Human Mom for the summary line and the idea for the post. Dogs love plastic bottles!  Well, mine always have, anyway.

Squink - September 2016
Photo credit: L Halliday
all the rest are mine, As usual.

My first dog, Amber - 1981

How could I not have photos of Sheba, Remington, or Jake with bottles?? Well, maybe I do in a photo album somewhere.  

Tika - 2011

Boost - 2009 (can't find bottle photo, but still, nice recyclables toy)

Chip 2015

Zorro - 2015

And just happen to have one of a friend's dog--

Future World Champion Dash (TBD) - 2008

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Friday, September 02, 2016

Wordpress Photo Challenge: Mirror

SUMMARY: Do photographers dream of android cameras?

Stepping into a photographer's dreamscape. Surely it would resemble this?

This was a tough one to choose; I like so many of my reflection photos, both older and recent.  This, from Monterey's Cannery Row, I've worked on recently.  It is in fact a simple double window reflection but I love its surreality. I've been playing with the lighting and dreaminess.  Debating adding a large hawk on the wing in the bright but empty sky. Hmmm.  Good opportunity for me to practice my layering and combining skills.

Blogging friend Change Is Hard often does the weekly Friday photo challenges provided by WordPress, which sometimes inspires me to participate, too, rather than simply admiring hers even though that's fun, too.
    >>  See what others have contributed for "Mirror" <<

    Can't resist my dragons!

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016

    Shoot the Chute

    SUMMARY: Buh-bye to another piece of equipment.

    Today, an amazing thing happened: USDAA and AKC on the same day did away with the chute ("collapsed tunnel")! It's a rare case of the Powers That Be listening to competitor's concerns and petitions and acting quickly--and I don't know that the 2 organizations have ever done anything in concert before!

    The other astonishing thing is that I don't think I've seen any topic, in all my years on Facebook with all of the agility friends there, where it seems like everyone was posting about that one topic all day long. The crowds rejoiced!

    I always thought it was fun to see dogs learn how to get through the fabric part of the chute--they couldn't see where they were going, the material was pressing on their face and head and back, lots of challenges. The down side is that, as dogs have gotten faster and faster, more and more dogs are getting tangled in the material no matter how carefully the chute is "fluffed" before each dog's run. Tres bad juju.

    So, its time has come and gone and now everyone's discussing what to do with their barrel and their fabric.  I don't know what I'm going to do with mine.  The former I might just drag out into the yard for the dogs to play on. Nice fabric that I've stored carefully for 15 years or so (and used only a few times when Boost was young, maybe when Tika was younger)? Dunno, dunno, dunno.

    In memory of Mr. Chute, here are some highlights of his glory days. (In order: Tika, Boost, Fawkes, Jake, Remington, Tika.)

    Sunday, August 28, 2016

    Class Activites This Week

    SUMMARY: What we worked on in class yesterday.

    Raw notes primarily for myself and a classmate. Gives just a flavor of what we've been working on since June.

    1. Loose leash walking in a circle, both directions, dogs on both sides for each direction.
      Keep dog's attention on you--if attention wanders, your rate of reward is too low.  If dog moves away from you, turn 180 from direction he's going and walk.  Remember to release and play pretty often.
    2. Always always maintain criteria for exiting the crate. 
      (I've been 99.5% consistent with Zorro.  Lately he seems to have decided that sitting to wait for exit isn't as good as lying down to exit. I think he's just experimenting. We'll get through this.)  (Oh, realized that he doesn't send to his crate very well from more than a couple of feet away--confused because we haven't worked on it. I'll work on it. Maybe.)
    3. Periodically stop and ask for a sit or a down. Work on getting fast responses.
      (Zorro is pretty good on the down almost all the time, but for some reason is confused about sitting and turns it into a down.)  Keep working on gradually introducing distractions (food descending in your hand slowly, etc.).  (Oops. I haven't been.) This week Penni walked closer and closer to the dogs, giving us warning so that we could up the rate of reward.  (Zorro did pretty darned good at paying attention to me after a quick glance away.)
    4. SIDE NOTE: Watch for your dog's brain frying.
      If looks like he's had too much, work loose-leash walking back to the crate for him to get a little rest. (Zorro survived until just about the end of class.  My brain, however...) Per Moe, young dogs are still forming pathways and being shaped by all of their experiences. SHORT training sessions. Can easily do 3 or 5 or 7 sessions through the day of 2-5 minutes depending on your dog.
    5. Step-behinds.  Dog in sit. Stand next to him. Feed treats in front of him. Step back beside his thigh. Keep feeding in front of him. Step quickly across to his other side, keep feeding in front of him, but not if feet move or stands up. Fine if dog's head swings to follow you, but you want dog to always be focusing forward (and it's easier for them to keep their balance).
    6. Line-ups--dog standing, sitting parallel to you, not at an angle or in front or off to the side.
      Moe just demonstrated this, didn't assign or have us do. Goal is to have dog move rear end back towards you.  Hand in collar, keep head in position close to you just as a pivot point, step across (into) muzzle so has to turn head, which should swing butt. Keep stepping across until he moves butt and then reward.
    7. Restrained recalls, 2 each acceleration, deceleration, shoulder turn, front cross into dog, one of each on each side.
      Agility is about fun and fast. You don't want dog walking or trotting to you, but running full out. So quickly get to position and quickly release the dog. If dog won't let you go very far, work on those durations for sit and meanwhile release ASAP just before they're ready to break on their own.  When you throw toy on accels, don't just watch, run to meet dog.  (Zorro is now at least chasing a "lotus" toy with cheese in it. Still won't play with it or anything, but that's progress, and he didn't take off on his own to go exploring.)
    8. Contact trainer board; wobble board or bang game.
      Trainer board: Try to get dog to hop on right up at the end, not in the middle and step/walk to the end.  The instant that all 4 feet are on the board, feet quickly on the end of the board, before the dog has a chance to look up at you; want him focusing on the end of the board.  Ditto bang game.  (Zorro was doing fine then started skewing his back feet away from me off the board. Waited for him to fix it, which he eventually started doing again.)
    9. HOMEWORK: Work on strong touch to target held in your hand.
    No class next week. It's USDAA Western Regionals Championship Weekend hosted by The Bay Team, as it is every year.  I have signed up to work just one day.  

    Class for Zorro

    SUMMARY: Foundations for Agility, mixed results

    Three or four months ago, I signed up me and Zorro for a Foundations (of agility) class in Morgan Hill with instructors whom I know pretty well, but this is the first time I've taken classes from her/them.

    First, let me say that the primary and backup instructors are wonderful. Their instructions are clear, their demo dogs are useful in demoing what they are trying to convey, they work their way through all of the basics in a careful, methodical, rational way so that in theory the handlers and dogs come away with the best possible foundation for becoming agility stars or at least fun companions.

    I say theoretically because I'm a lazy, slovenly, excuse-ridden participant. More in a bit.

    Second, let me say that the class is intended for (older) puppies. Zorro was 2 when we started, although I sure have seen a lot of puppy in him. Some of the students have never done agility or similar basic obedience training. Some students have trained and run multiple agility champions. So it's a mixed class of people, but the instructors are careful to make sure that the *dog* gets the information that he needs, and to remind us that every dog is starting from scratch even if we think that we know what we're doing.

    Which is lovely for Zorro; just being there, in fact, is wonderful training for him as he learns to be around other dogs and to pay attention to me in an environment that's interesting in every direction. We've seen a lot of improvement in him in these 3-ish months.

    In short, it's a great class and I feel privileged to be part of it.
    Chip comes along for the ride and gets to get out for a while before class (if I'm early enough) and after class to practice some of the things that I practiced with Zorro in class.  Apparently the field is plenty interesting.

    However, for me, here are the things:

    • I really wanted a Saturday morning class because weeknight evenings can be frantic after work, with traffic and stress and all, and so much else goes on on weeknights. However, this class starts at 8:00 a.m., sharp, and it's 30 minutes from here. Sooooo I'm getting up at 6:45 to the alarm, with barely enough time to dress myself, collect my stuff and my dogs, and be on my way.

      BUT: I had grown to despise getting up early to the alarm for dog agility after 18 years of it, and now I find that I still resent it deeply despite a long break from agility.  It was my choice to sign up, but, ugh, dragging myself out of bed, bleah.  Affects me more perhaps because I've not been sleeping well.  (That's a different story.)

      Also, if I've had a rough week physically and am particularly painful Friday night, I'm just not going to get up and go. Also, if I've had a very bad night and am awake until 4 in the morning, I'm just not going to get up and go.  Also, well, hmm, surprise, there are other things that happen on Saturdays sometimes that I really want to do but can't if I don't get home until 10 a.m. So maybe Saturdays and/or 8 a.m. are not good for me personally.

      I realize that I am WAY WAY WAY over the excitement of being out and about before most of the rest of humanity, on the road, in the early light--at least, for dog-related things.  The other day, I did it (up at same time on Saturday, drive 30 minutes) for something new and different, and it felt so much better.
    • I had been neglecting my dogs' trainings. Chip has been here over 2 years, Zorro over a year, and other than shaking hands and doing nose touches to my hand, they barely know more than when I brought them home.  But it was tough to do much with them, because my damaged bodily parts start hurting so quickly. At least, I think that was my excuse. I dunno, I would get excited for a day or 2 and then back to, eh, whatever.  SOOOOO I thought that going to class would be perfect for me. I've always been a bit competitive (duh) and I've liked being able to go to classes having done the homework and maybe more, over all these years.

      BUT: Turns out that it hasn't motivated me much at all, telling my that my reluctance is pretty deep (already knew, but just thought this would help). I think that some of it is how much I still miss my Merle Girls themselves and also all that they could do.  Maybe something else in addition to the physical aspect, but dunno what. Dunno. Dunno. I come home from class feeling excited and energized, but within a few hours, it's gone.  I occasionally practice some things.  Some things more than others.  But very little of any of it, in truth.  Zorro's amazing improvements in class have more to do with what I said earlier, him just learning to be in that environment and how to pay attention to me.

    I haven't decided whether to drop the class.  I feel in some ways that it's my only chance to drag me out of my doggie doldrums and my training truancy.  Still, now I'm starting to feel that I'm behind so many other people with their little tiny cute puppies who now already do more than both of my dogs put together.

    Well, OK, maybe not that much or for everyone, but some people, you know who they are, the people who go home and do their homework and also have experience training their previous dogs.

    Instead of going home and blogging. Reading facebook. Editing photos.  Napping.

    Mine are such smart, active boys, though, and deserve and need more intellectually and physically than I'm giving them.  So I can feel badly about it and still not get up and do anything about it.  Tsk.  Humans.  Yet I'm paying for a class that I'm attending barely more than half the time.  (That wouldn't have happened in the olden days, either.)

    This isn't even what I was going to blog about.  So that will come in a separate post.
    Well, OK, some improvement: A year ago I wouldn't have been able to get this photo at the park at all.  This time I barely got it; every time I moved away to set my camera, Chip sat up. And then start to move. And so then Luke would move. BUT I did get this, and they didn't run off while I wasn't holding their leashes here, and that's an improvement.

    Wordpress Photo Challenge: Frame

    SUMMARY: A fun bending-reality diversion with Tika and a jump

    Blogging friend Change Is Hard likes to do the weekly Friday photo challenges provided by WordPress; She posted  this "frame" photo. I don't use WordPress (I'm in Blogger and like it), but I do enjoy seeing how different people interpret different challenges. Lots of beautiful photos. And sometimes I participate.

    Here's mine, from an old photo; Tika always stretched the Possible.

    I haven't looked at all of the Frame postings, but browsed some. I particularly like:
    >>  See what others have contributed for "Frame" <<

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    Googled My Dog's Name and This is What I Got

    SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday

    FYI, just a couple of words:

    • Googled "Tika Clicker" (oops, messed it up; now these are the first images!)
    • I paged down and took screen captures until my photos (that is, my photos or from my blog or photos of me & my dogs) no longer made up at least 50% of the images on the screen
    • Purple blobs are items that are not mine

    >>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. <<