Monday, October 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Training Therapy

Winter is a really hard time for me. By the end of December I usually run out of steam overpowered by cold and darkness. I continue struggling through the next few months drowning in work, laundry, kids homework, tests, gymnastics, gymnastics competitions, flu, strep, guilt that the dogs hadn't been worked. I am starting to come up with more and more excuses why I cannot get up at 5:30 to work the dogs, why I cannot get up off the sofa and do some retrieve or scent discrimination exercises that only require few minutes of my time.
I keep on telling myself that if I just sit here staring at the TV for an hour or so, I will feel better tomorrow and get back on track, but of course tomorrow there are more reason why I cannot do this or that. I blame time change that forced me back into the darkness in the morning after I saw the daylight around 6a.m., I blame the rain the cold anything else that fits the bill.
This evening I had a pleasant surprise - both kids were occupied with different activities that didn't involve me, until 8 in the evening. I came home and realized with the surprise that it's still light and even pleasant outside. After quick calculations I figured out that I still have about 40 min of the daylight. I grubbed the dogs and headed to the nearby school to do some work.
I started the usual race against the time, pressed by the view of the sinking sun, when suddenly everything stopped. By the time I started working with the second dog I forgot about the time, the rush and the sun. There was just me and the dog. Nothing else mattered. When we were done and I looked at the watch I discovered that it's later than I expected and the most importantly I felt centered again and ready for the kids, dinner, bedtime stories or what ever else the rest of the day was ready to throw at me.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Match

We went to our first official Open Match. I didn't expect things to go as poorly as they did today. We did qualify though, but Brandy was a nervous wreck and that is not good. It felt as if it was our first time in the ring ever. If you do not see the signs of her being nervous you can go and see my "insurance leg" video and compare it to this one. Watch her tails, last time it was wagging this time it's vibrating. On top of everything when she gets stressed she starts pooping in the ring. She did it twice today and that is after I took her out to do everything she needs to - very embarrassing!
We have 4 more matches that we can use to clean up our act or we will not be allowed to go in the ring at the end of April:-(

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ...

I always have a "Love hate" relationship with the snow in Maryland.
It's so pretty when big snowflakes fall off the sky and the trees are covered with snow. Dogs love it,well at least Brandy, Shamu just seems to like eating snow. Brandy had a few minutes of crazy zoommies - running around me in circle and barking from time to time. But tomorrow, the snow will become such a huge pain! Maybe I'll manage to take few nice pictures in the morning.
Well, I took Shamu out first and it was so pretty that suddenly I didn't want to go to bed anymore. So I took Brandy out and decided to do some work. First, we did go outs.
I thought it would be interesting to do go outs int he middle of the night in the snow. I have no idea how she was finding those targets, must be the nose, but she did really well with that part. However, she stopped sitting on the command. She was doing so well yesterday with sitting and suddenly she stopped. She would stand there instead, so I would have to go out and correct her. She did managed to give me a couple of sits anyway.
Next we worked on "drop on recall". This was going really bad. I think she was running so fast that she would just fly and would drop much later. I would correct her all the way back to the spot, and do it again - same outcome. Damn, I bet it's because I just set the date for upcoming obedience trials! Well, I reduced the distance drastically. Dropped - beautifully. I increased the distance to 15 feet - very nice drop. Back to full distance and I finally got a nice drop on the full distance. I decided not to push my luck anymore and quit right there.
Next we did gloves. Again, I thought it would be neat to do white gloves in the snow. She did pretty well with gloves too, except after each time she picked it up she was shaking it as trying to kill it, or maybe she was shaking the snow off.
Another not so good thing - she was blowing me off on stay commands. I'll leaver her on sit/stay and I find her standing when I look back, pretty frustrating. The snow must be messing up with her brain - she gets so excited about it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Playing with the camera

My husband had own a pretty nice camera and few nice lenses for about 5 years now. I never took time to figure out how to use it in any mode other than automatic.
Finally I've decided that enough is enough and spent few hours on Sunday reading a chapter in the book about exposure and reading a book about the camera to figure out what the buttons do.
Last night I was eager to try what I learned during our Thursday night class. Wow, what a surprise it was. I can't say I've become a professional photographer, but the pictures are so much better already! I would've never been able to take anything even close to this in the automatic mode indoors!
I really enjoyed taking pictures of Rugby, photographing is little white dog is so much easier and fun! Here are few examples, you can see few more here (

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everybody! The things had been so busy that I kind of abandoned my blog, I will try to do better this year.
Yesterday we got together at Applewoods for a holidays photo shoot, here are few pictures.

This is the new kid on the block, his name is Shamu. I will try to talk about him in a separate post.

The quick summary of events from where we left off.

We were all excited to go to the terrier specialty in October and finish our CD, but unfortunately Brandy decided that she'll get into season 2 or 3 months early this year and it happened just 3 days before the specialty. So to our HUGE disappointment we had to miss it. We did get our CD, however, a month later in Salisbury MD on November 13th with the first place and the score of 195.5. We also go our insurance leg the following day with the first place and the score of 196.5. I was very very proud of Brandy. I think she gave me that day all she had, this was by far our best run. We also got a lot of compliments from bunch of people including the judge. It was definitely a lot of fun!.

On Nov 1st we also started working in Utility class. This proved to be pretty challenging as now we have to work on our Open and Utility exercises. We put the drop on recall on hold until CD is done, to prevent interfering with the novice recall so we really had to start working on it. Plus all other Open exercises we had a pretty good handle on fell through the cracks starting the end of the July as we were preparing to show in Novice so we had to put it all back together. Not to mention that days had become very short and cold, I need to get up no later that 5:30 am so I have a chance to work the dogs, making things very difficult for me. Getting up at 5:30 and dragging myself out in the cold and total darkness is quite depressing and challenging, it;s so much nicer to stay in my cosy bed until the daylight comes.
Lukily for us, I had some time off I could take between Christmas and New Year so we had chance to work during daylight and finally get to some jumping. We can't really do any jumping in the dark as I worried that Brandy will hurt herself, so, usually, we have to save jumping for the weekend.
On Utility front Brandy turned out to be some kind of genious of scent discrimination, or so I was told. After about two weeks of working with two metal articles and what seems being totally stuck without any progress, something suddenly clicked in her head and she just got it! Starting that moment she was prgressing pretty quickly. We gradually increased number of metal articles to the 4, then moved on to the leather ones. When Brandy was able comfortably work 3 leather articles we finally mixed leather and metal together but still keeping number of articles at 3. She seems to have no problem what so ever with this setup so hopefully we will add two more articles on Monday. On the not so good side, it requires almost no effort on my part and no pressure on me to practice more, so we only do one scent discrimination session on most days, except the week when we worked metal and leather articles separately. Today I managed to squeeze two sessions in - morning and evening, I sure hope this will not come back and bite us in the butt.
I think the biggest problem with scent discrimination I have is keeping my hands free of other smells. In the morning I smell like lotions, soaps and perfumes as I am getting ready for work. I cant do articles before my shower as there nobody who could scent them for me as everyone else is asleep. In the evening I smell like food and dish wash soap. For Christmas my kids got me a very nice lotion, but as promised on the tube the smell stays for 24 hours, no kidding!! I find myself constantly struggling with keeping my hands "naturally scented". Few times it happened that as I was ready to do articles one of the kids would come to me asking to peel the orange, of course I would help and then realize with horror that now my hands smell like an orange and that smell will not go away anytime before bedtime:-)
Ok, I think this is it for now.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kennel cough

so, right after we were finished with the trials, Brandy came down with the kennel cough. It wasn't really too bad, as she only coughed for one evening, so I gave her a week rest and then we started working on the open stuff again. Brandy had a blast jumping and retrieving but this morning she started coughing again:-( I don't know if it's a new infection or if the old one came back - this is a real bummer as we have to stop training again and Montgomery show is getting closer and closer.
Theoretically the kennel cough lasts 2-3 weeks. It has been two weeks today so maybe it's the old one and she will get better soon.
To help her with the cough I've decided to make her a drink that I was given as a kid when I would get sick with the cold. It's suppose to help with the coughing. I loved it!
I took some warm milk ( warm so I could melt butter), added butter to it, honey and raw egg. Mixed it all together and gave it to her warm. When you make it for people it's a bit more fancy, but she loved it just the same. I am not really sure if it made her feel any better or not. She didn't have any severe coughing after that, but it might be just a coincidence. We'll see how she is doing tomorrow.
I just found a story about the drink I made, here it is:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Trail videos

Here are the videos from past weekend:

Score of 194

Score of 191

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The real thing!

This weekend Brandy and I finally had our first experience at obedience trials. We didn't do too shabby although I was a bit disappointed with our performance on the second day, but I was still very happy with the outcome. We showed at novice A and we got 194 and the second place on the first day and 191 and the first place on the second day. Even that I am saying I was a bit disappointed it's only because I've seen us do better during matches, but in overall I am very very happy to get first two legs in first two trials and place on both days!
The group stays was the most scariest thing I had to do. I didn't realize how long and scary that one minute sit stays feels until our first match. As I was standing yesterday and literally counting the seconds until the min is over and as I counted about 40 seconds and thought that we are out of the woods, a pointer that was sitting pretty nicely till that second decided that he had enough and not just broke and headed for the owner, but started galloping like crazy around the ring. The second pointer wasn't too far behind them and before I could even blink two of them were heading for Brandy stopping short of running her over. For the split second I thought that everything is over as Brandy lowed her head and was ready to charge and punish those who disturbed her peace, but before I even had a chance to blink, she changed her mind and turned away. Such a good girl!! As judge was shouting for everyone to get back to their dogs, another dog broke. Now we had bunch of dogs and bunch of people running around the ring chasing after each other! We all, but one had to redo the stays:-)

(To see the video correctly you might have to open it in full screen, I guess I need to stop shooting wide screen videos. Unfortunately my husband was too busy watching what was happening rather than looking through the camera, but this should give some idea of what was going on. also I have to same that the chase was continueing way past him stopping the recording)

Today, I think it's fair to say that everyone was hoping that that pointer will not show up. Including those that were not part of the our class, but no, the person showed up. Luckily for everyone, the dog did the same crazy ring as yesterday, but before the stays, so they were excused from the ring and stays were pretty quiet.
I do not understand why people would do this kind of thing?! ok, maybe things happen and your dog can suddenly loose his head, but why in the world would someone bring that dog back the following day? hoping for what?! putting her dog and other dogs in danger, that's just stupid and irresponsible!
I got a lot of compliments this weekend on how attentive Brandy is and how solid her stays are and what a great dog she is and the bright future we might have in the obedience ring. Hearing that and watching other dogs performing, I was very happy that we train the way we train, and that my dog looks at me because of the connection the two of us have and not because she expects me to spit a chunk of a hot dog out of my mouth!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


So we finally entered our first trials that will be on August 28/29 weekend. And it seems that right after I wrote the check everything got broken. The heeling is broken, we cannot do left turns any more. Brandy is lagging during the heeling. The fronts got broken. For some reason Brandy had decided that the right thing to do is to sit in front of me and to the side, no more just in front of me. What the hell?! I don't think that many explanations are needed to describe how frustrated I am . The clock is ticking, and we are on vacation the week of the 16th. I am scared to make things worse, and not sure if I should be working on this or just leaving it alone.
I think I am a big problem in this picture, so I might just try doing the heeling pattern without the dog, and just ask my husband to call it for me.
We have our last "show and go" before the trails this saturday. The exciting things is that I am going to enter Brandy in open and novice. This will be our very first attempt at the open run through. We are not really ready for the open, as we do not have all the pieces together. We do not have a broad jump finished and we do not have drop on recall, but retrieves on the flat and over the high jump are coming along pretty good, well at least they were comming along pretty good until I started messing up yesterday - Brandy kept on going around the jump on the comeback, and I was too slow to interfeer in time.:-(

Thursday, July 29, 2010

working on the retrieve

Here is a couple of quick clips that I made over July 4 th weekend. Because of the dog aggression issues, I am always interested in finding dogs that I can use a training aid. This particular dog is always out on the back yard and likes to bark a lot, unfortunately the owners started locking him up when we show up, don't really know why:-(
Another problem with this dog that by now it stopped being a good distraction because Brandy simply ignores it, my guess is the big chunk of it is due to the fact that the dog is barking because he wants to come and play and not showing any signs of aggression.
I forgot to bring my tripod with me, so I decided that I will not video the toss and the camera would shake too much anyway, instead I would throw the dumbbell first and then turn on the camera.
My second goal was to start laying foundation for scent discrimination work for Utility, that is why I was specifically aiming for the tall grass.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We did some torturing of Brandy to make sure she will not jump at the small dogs that people love to carry around. She absolutely hates it , and it was a big problem few times.
I love the video. I find it's amazing to see how she is turning away from the temptation to make sure she can control herself.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

another match

This past Sunday we went to another match.
It's interesting how my impression of the match different from someone watching the recording. After we were done, I thought it was terrible, but watching the video makes me think we did pretty good. The set up was perfect - just what I was afraid of when thinking of the real thing. The space was tight, and owners didn't care where their dog sticks it's nose. If not for the toy that Brandy had to carry, I would have been in real trouble. On the ring next to us was a papillion doing an open run through. If you pay attention you can see how Brandy's body language changed at the end of the on leash heeling, when papillion was doing the jump, so I get a chance to correct her, and few more times until I thought I got her attention.
During stays, on the ring next to us was a tiny boston terrier, doing utility, so Brandy's head was following the dog, but she never broke her stay. However, I was pretty disappointing with Sit/stay, I didn't feel it was solid enough. Brandy was trying to get to know dogs next to her - not cool! I guess I need to find another match to go to ASAP, as I got ahead from Margot to enter Brandy in trials at the end of august. I hope it's not too late and the registration is still opened.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

back to the agression problem

Although I have my sight set on the CD title before the end of the year, I still have a lot of work to do where aggression is concerned.
And a week and a half ago, I was reminded yet again that I cannot forget myself and keep the eye on Brandy at all times. The thing about the terriers that once that button is pressed that turns "cold" terrier into the "hot" terrier you cannot undo it. you can manage it, control it, but you cannot completely erase it. So when you are dealing with terriers it's very important to keep them "cold". Brandy on the other hand is smoking hot.
We spend lots of work last august on teaching Brandy that attacking other dogs will not be tolerated in any way. Ellie and Rugby were two brave ones that we used as baits. To read about it more go to look at the august of 2009 to 5 or so posts that called "taming of the beast".
Brandy was doing pretty good where small dogs are concerned, especially with Ellie and Rugby. They could walk under her nose and she would politely turn away. That doesn't mean of course that I could live her out of sight with either one of them.
However, Brandy still has one big issue - she cannot help herself when one of toy breed dogs is being held in the arms by their owners. Brandy is not the only dog who has that problem that I know of, so my advice to the owners of small dogs: if you have to pick up your dog into your arms in presence of another dog that you do not know, do not walk in close proximity to that dog.
As it became obvious that this matter cannot be ignored any further, we had to do some extra work to correct it. One of the things we did were using a retrieve to teach two dogs to work together. To see what we did, go to and look up post dated June 28 2010.
Although this doesn't address "dog in the arms" problem explicitly this is just one of the steps of the rehabilitation program. And please, do not attempt this at home without the help of the professional trainer.:-)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The match

So yesterday we went to our vry first match. If we were at trialts we would have NQed, as not only I forgot to give Brandy a stand command I also stepped off with the left foot, really can't blame her for following me. Otherwise, except her lagging on the fast off leash heeling it wasn't too bad. IT was 96 degrees yesterday, so she probably decided that it was too much to ask of her by making her run after me. I guess we still have things to work on.
For some reason the video is not embedded correctly in the blog as part of it cut off, if you want to see it in proper format, please go directly to youtube, until I figureout how to fix it.