Chaos Crew

Chaos Crew

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Your dog's last agility run - do you want to know?

Skye hurt himself somehow a bit more than a week ago. He's been to the vet and they didnt find anything specific, and he had a visit with the doggie chiropractor at a local trial 10 days ago. His back is sore, and he apparently tweaked his front right wrist too. He could have done it during one of his 100mph blasts chasing one of the many rabbits wandering the property this year. I really dont know what he did, but he is obviously sore. The vet prescribed Rimadyl after some bloodwork and that seems to help.

So, I got to thinking that at nearly 10 years old, maybe we have already had our last agility run together. Maybe he will bounce back and be just fine, and I would enter him in a run here and there as I've been doing over the last year, but maybe not.

Would you want to know that "this" is your last agility run with your dog?

I am torn on the subject. If I knew, then certainly there could be a huge celebration with lots of favorite treats at the end, and lots of hugs and probably some tears.

When you don't know, you are just out there playing the game that you and your teammate love together, just working the course and having a good time. I hope we can all appreciate every single run that our teammate gives us, no matter whether it was a disaster or a blue ribbon Q. You really never know if you just had your last run. 

Last July, my wife tore her hip labrum. This necessitated surgery after getting MRI's and dealing with a good deal of pain. The surgery had a minimum 6 month recovery time and everything was going great, until she then experienced a bulging disc in her lower spine - a likely result of trying to do some sit-ups to strengthen her core. The disc caused sciatic pain and numbness in her leg and foot. After trying to work through this for about 6 weeks, there was some complication with the nerves that caused extreme pain in her left foot, making it uncomfortable to wear socks or shoes or even have the bed sheets touch the foot. Now she has had numerous injections in her back and upper leg area trying to overcome the latest challenge.  So here we sit, nearly 1 year later from the original injury, and she still isnt back running agility. 
Granted, she has entered the ring a few times to try and see how things were, but she isnt running right and doesnt want to do the sport halfway.

In the meantime, her now 13 year old superstar dog "Baby", who needed just 1 more Double Q to earn a PACH and PAX to go along with all her other accomplishments, has been retired from agility due to failing vision and hearing.
I actually ran Baby for a weekend back in April to try and get that last double Q. On the first day of the show, she ran great and had a smoking 1st place standard run, followed by Jumpers with 2 knocked bars. She seemed a little sore that evening, so we scratched her from the second day. On the last day I ran her Jumpers first and she missed the weave entry, probably because she couldn't see it too well, so I elected to not run her in Standard.

It turns out, that was probably Baby's last ever agility run. I wish Katrina could have done that with her, and had a big celebration for all the awesomeness of Baby's career. Katrina did have Baby entered in a show in May, but elected to not run due to her own health issues.

You really never know.

This was the last run Skye gave me at the USDAA show in Pueblo. It was a very nice Q in Jumpers. If this was our last run, I am OK with that. He is a great agility teammate, and an even better "best friend".

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How do YOU measure your Success?

This time for agility blogger action day, people are writing about "Success" (

The subject is open to interpretation, and of course, success will mean something different for every person out there.

To me, in order to have success, you must have some goal that you are trying to reach, no matter how big or small that goal might be. In an agility run, I might have a goal that my dog will stay at the start line and let me lead out two jumps. He may knock every bar, miss every contact and have a couple off-courses, but if for that particular run, I set a goal for my dog to meet his startline criteria, and he did, then I can view that run as a success!

Ah-ha! So to me, success is indeed a measurement against your goals. The same could be said of failure, or not meeting a goal that you've set, but it's better for the human mind to focus on what it will take to meet your goal, and not dwell on the failures along the way.

A bit more than a month ago, it was time to start training Envy on her weaves. Previously I had introduced her to a 2x2 weave in an attempt to get her to understand how to find an entry. This went pretty well. I had decided that I wanted to train her actual weaves using the channel method, as I feel like it encourages speed through the weaves, vs. the 2x2 method which encourages thinking. Rip was trained just on 2x2's and though he has good entries, everything else about his weaves (footwork, speed, confidence) is really lacking, so I didnt want to go there again, but I digress....

So, I set the channel weaves fully open and brought Envy out to them for our first session of backchaining the open channel. She was really freaked out about this! She wanted nothing to do with these weaves and was really concerned about being near them, and I was just asking her to run through 3 open poles!
Ok, don't panic I am thinking to myself.

What the heck does this have to do with "success"? Well now my success is not going to be measured by "Can Envy weave 12 poles". No, not even close. My goal for the next session was: can I get Envy near the channel weaves without her getting freaked out by them! I went out with her to the channels and we played tug nearby, and then I got out some tasty treats and tossed them near the poles and she happily ate them, moving around the poles to eat those treats. That was it - then we went in the house. Success!

Your goals need to be broken down into the little bits and pieces that it takes to achieve your ultimate, bigger goal. I've always been of the mindset that you not only need goals, but need a plan on how you are going to achieve them. I could throw out a goal of "I am going to win the 20" class at AKC Nationals", but what good would that be without a plan to make that happen? Break your goals down into the smallest pieces you need to in order to have success along the way, and keep you striving toward your ultimate ending goal!

Where is that tennis ball???


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Envy agility training update.

I haven't written much about Envy's training. She attends a class once a week, but more importantly, I try to work with her a little bit nearly every day.

She has moved up to jumping either 16" or 20" jumps and is a very nice jumper and does not hit the bars.

About two or three weeks ago I started training her on some channel weaves. Prior to that, I had introduced her to weave entries using a 2x2 weave. She is doing really well after an initial period where she worried about them. Each day we practice them, I see more and more confidence.

Here is a short video of our weave practice last week:

We are also working on our teeter performance. I have been following a DVD by Jen Pinder on teeter training. This is coming along great.

As for the dogwalk and Aframe, I have decided to train a running contact. I initially thought about doing a solid 2on 2off performance, but I know myself and I would expect that the performance of 2o2o would deteriorate as I got into a trial atmosphere. I also am not a big fan of the stress that stopped contacts puts on the dog, especially the Aframe. I was hesitant on doing a running contact because of how unreliable they seem to be - at least with those people that I know who have trained it using Sylvia Trkman's method. They really seem like an effort in frustration, where it's beautiful when it works, but so difficult to fix when it doesnt work.  I am trying Dawn Weaver's running contact method. I will give further updates on this as we progress.

There is still a ton to work on, and I am in no hurry to get into the ring before we are completely ready. I would think that we would be ready before she is 2 years old (in February 2015), but we will see.

We've done all the obstacles, but of course spend most of our time with jumps and tunnels at this point.

She is a lot of fun to work with and loves to tug tug tug for her reward. She also likes the floppy disc frisbee's which work great as tug toys and throw/catch toys.  Envy is more of a 'thinker' than a 'doer' type dog. She does have a good work ethic though and doesnt shut down if we repeat a sequence multiple times. She just really seems to enjoy our training time together!