Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

No entries for a while, I've been busy with a new foster puppy we've named Strummer. He's an 8 month old smooth coated black & white Border Collie puppy and he has LOTS of energy. We got Lola when she was 8 weeks old and I must have mentally blocked the entire experience because I don't remember her being this crazy at 8 months. The BC rescue people are letting me foster him for up to a month to see if he gets along o.k. with the other dogs and to make sure we can handle 3 dogs. So far he's doing o.k. but occasionally he snaps at Cody or Lola when one of them have something he wants so we have to be careful about leaving toys lying around and doling out treats. The alarming thing is that he goes right for the face. I'm not sure if he's even making contact but I can't have him freaking out my dogs who already have fear issues. He also freaks out at other dogs when he's on leash and can't go up to greet them. He was a handful at obedience class and he only lasted a couple of minutes at the agility trial before I decided it was way over his head for now so he was exiled to the car. I'm willing to work through those issues if he can learn to be nice to my dogs. He's got a couple more weeks to settle in so we'll see how it goes.

The agility trial went great, we came home with 3 new titles and a huge stack of ribbons. Best of all, neither dog seemed stressed at all the entire weekend! Highlight of the weekend was that both dogs let me leadout for 3 jumps at the start line of the jumpers course, something I can't do if they're stressed out. Cody especially seemed to have his game face on and had one of his best trials ever. Lola and I had some communication problems, she missed quite a few weave pole entries and was stalling at the top of the A-frame but other than that did a great job.

It was a NADAC trial and Cody has his Elite (highest level) standard & jumpers titles so we're working on points toward his championship title (NATCH) in those classes. He picked up an Elite gamblers leg so only needs one more for his title. NADAC is constantly making sweeping rule changes which makes it a frustrating venue to compete in, esp. if you want a NATCH since the requirements are forever changing. As a result both dogs are way behind in the 'games' classes because I don't usually enter them all since I never imagined they would become a requirement for a NATCH. Cody finished up his Open (middle level) Tunnelers (course with only tunnels) title but has no points in Touch n Go (A-frame, teeter & dog walk plus tunnels) or Weavers (weave poles plus tunnels). I'm not sure I even want to pursue a NATCH with Cody since NADAC is starting to piss me off with their changes and I don't want to start over in Novice in those games classes. We may have our own private celebration if he gets all the points he needs according to the old pre-games requirements. Lola is younger so I'm planning on entering her in more of the games classes for now but if NADAC keeps this crap up I may just give it up altogether.

Lola finished up her Elite Jumpers title and picked up some standard points toward her NATCH and her first Elite Gamblers leg. She got her first Touch n Go leg and took third place in a huge Novice class of 33 dogs and finished up her Novice Tunnelers title, taking second place out of another huge class of 33. I don't think we had a single off course all weekend which must be a first. We had quite a few refusals though which is rare. She's finally starting to watch me more and is becoming unsure of herself and my cues. I need to make sure I don't move on to the next obstacle until she's committed to the current one. Before the trial I was working a little bit with precues, ie giving her a slight cue of what's to come while giving her a stronger cue for what she's meant to be doing first and it was hard for me to strike the balance just right and not confuse her. We just need more practice but that's easier to deal with than stress issues.

Overall, I was thrilled, esp. since they'd had a week of disruption due to the new pup and I couldn't practice all week for the same reason. I think those fun matches really made a difference. There's one this weekend that I'm going to try to get into.

Puppy training is going well too. Strummer already knew 'sit' when we got him and he's had one obedience class. We're working on eye contact/focus, down, leave it, and find it. He's so darn smart, he learns really quickly but he has the attention span of a fruit fly so it's exhausting trying to keep him interested for a whole hour in class. I've been keeping training sessions at home much shorter. I started working on recalls on a long line in the fields outside my work. We've been playing tug too which is good foundation work for agility. Now if only the little brat would learn some manners with my dogs.


  1. "Sit" and "down" are fine and all, but how's his "Train in Vain"?

  2. Funny Ariel! But I went through that experience already with Cody.

  3. Srummer: what a great name for a dog! Hope it's going well.

    Reading about Cody and Loda's agility training always reminds me of my dad when he used to train Brittanys, up until just a couple of years ago. He used to be a high school track coach and to watch him with those dogs was like watching him at the track with a bunch of lagging sprinters. My dad was a self-taught amateur trainer, but he and his "track team" regularly beat professional trainers in field trials all over the southwest.

    I wish he could still do it, because those were some of the happiest years I think he ever had.

  4. I meant Lola, of course. Sorry!

  5. I've only seen field trials on tv and they look exhausting. Too bad he can't still do it. I'm not looking forward to the day I can't do stuff w/ my dogs. It was frustrating enough sitting out just one agility trial.