Sunday, March 15, 2009
I squish dead fish between my toes
It was so nice to have a quiet weekend at home with no obligations other than a fun match on Sunday and that was fun, not an obligation at all. I took Lola and Strummer up to Powerpups again for another little fun match. I'm starting to think I like fun matches up there more than trials. It's only $5 a run, I can have all the do-overs I want, a full 90 seconds in the ring, Lola can stuff her face with treats on the table, I don't have to wait in line all day for my runs, and if I don't like the course I can make up my own.
I decided to try sardines for treats for the first time and the good news/bad news is that they were a big hit. Good news because I got some spectacular tables from Lola and great recalls and attention from Strummer at the practice jump while the other dogs were running the course. Bad news because, ugh, have you ever handled sardines? And the smell! It was all I could do to keep the contents of my stomach where they belonged while I was removing them from the tin. Somehow I was picturing tiny individual fish that I could grab by the tail and dole out one whole fish at a time. Instead what I got was big fish parts that needed to be de-boned and fell apart into slimy disgusting bits in my fingers and became even more special with the addition of dog slobber. We have Susan Garrett to thank for this mess. The sardines were a suggestion from her email newsletter which I was just on the verge of canceling because with all I had going on last week I got behind on my email and my inbox was getting overrun and most of the suggestions I'd already read seemed to be geared at beginners and please, no more crate games, the woman does love her crate games, but I have other ways of dealing with impulse control issues that are more practical for me and I grow weary of hearing about games and crates and woe to my poor neglected inbox. But the sardines turned out to be a good tip and unfortunately I think I may have to buy some more for special occasions and how did I ever come to this?
As for the fun match, Strum's dogwalks were good in that he didn't miss any but when I run with him he adds an extra stride and slows a bit on the flat plank as opposed to when I stand still and send him to his treat gizmo so we'll need to work on that. Next week I'll also start adding obstacles on either side of the walk. His first A-frame was perfect, I was incredulous. The second one was less so, a bit of a leap over the apex which I'm trying to get away from since that tends to lead to some spectacular acrobatics including sometimes leaping over the apex and completely missing the A-frame on the way back down. My heart can't take much more of that. More work with the frame is in order but I think he'll be good enough by his debut in standard in 3 weeks. Teeter and weaves were great, he went flying off the table in one rep so we'll have to work on that but otherwise his tables were great (mmm, sardines). He was running a bit amok as far as following the course went and most of this was due to my handling going right out the window. This was mostly because I kept stopping to reward the obstacles and getting off track when I started back up again.
Lola went flying down on the table first time and that was before she knew about the sardines so of course I broke them out right away and let her munch away. Her table training away from the ring has been going so well lately, maybe there's hope. I alternated rewarding her and no reward as well as the amount of time I held her on the table. I got in 3 reps per run and rewarded 2/3. The second rep of the second run was the only time she hesitated and went off stress sniffing but I quickly got her on. I didn't reward her for the first table and when she realizes she's not getting rewards for every rep she starts to balk but this is exactly what we need to train for and why I need to keep taking her to matches. She did everything else no problemo, such a sweet happy girl. I'm so tempted to retire her from USDAA and we'll stick to DOCNA but her table has been an interesting training challenge and we'll see if my crazy made-up training scheme will work in the end. In the meantime I need to see if I can find a less slimy brand of sardine or maybe some other kind of small fish that is an actual whole fish and not fish parts. Or maybe I need to seriously reconsider how I'm spending my free time.
In other news poor Cody has to go in for surgery tomorrow to have a skin flap removed from his eyelid. It didn't seem to be bothering him and I was hoping it would fall off on its own somehow but it got bigger and his eye started oozing green stuff then red stuff so I decided it had to go. I'm not worried about the surgery itself but I am worried about anesthesia on a 10 1/2 year old dog. Poor guy, I'll have to spoil him next week to make up for it.