I can't believe it's time already - Noodle has passed her 2nd birthday so it is time for her OFA x-rays. In true Noodle style, she had a complete meltdown at the vet's office, and i had to bring her back to the x-ray room myself. A little sedation, and all went well. The vet was very pleased with her x-rays, he predicted a good to excellent rating on her hips. man, I hope so! I have a hard time reading x-rays because my natural paranoia takes over and I obsess over every smudge and shadow on the film.
Noodle was pretty groggy all day from the sedation. This, of course, meant that she was a wild woman from about 10pm on. Neither Pretzel nor I got very much sleep. Gotta love her!
Noodle has had bumps on her head and neck for most of the summer. they were scattered, and few and far between, up until a few days ago. Then she had a bump explosion all over her head and neck. Why? Who knows??? My vet gave me some antibiotics to help clear it up and stop any infection. She doesn't itch at all, doesn't seem to notice them. They are getting slightly scabby now, so I have to take action and try and get rid of them.
I am almost afraid to mention how great things are going with Corky and Cadence. Corky is moving like a million bucks now! It is kind of interesting how she has bonded extra hard with me over the past few months. Since I had to go out every day and change the packing in her feet, I have spent a lot of extra time fussing over her. The diva in her loved that! It really makes my heart feel good when she hangs her head over the stall and nickers to me when I walk up. I really feel that her positive attitude towards me goes a long way in making Cadence so attached to me.
>Today I watched the two of them playing outside, and got a few short video clips of Cadence cantering, and oh what a beautiful canter it is. Then I had Mark video me doing our nightly leading and foot-picking-up lesson. I like keeping a video journal of my training...gotta keep track of how far I have come! I am always trying to remind myself that I am making progress, one baby step at a time.
Redirect! That might end up being my theme for 2018. Don't give up - Redirect instead! I am a goal-oriented person. Yeah, that's putting it mildly. A more accurate description would be that I am obsessive about setting goals and working towards them. Sometimes, though, ya gotta face reality and re-purpose your drive into a new or different venture. Easier said than done? Well, just watch me!
So today I entered Noodle in an agility trial up in North Olmstead, which is close to where my mom lives. It was a great excuse to spend the night and hang out with my mom. Of course, this meant my poor non-dog-loving mom had to tolerate Noodle in her house overnight. The first thing Noodle saw when we got to my mom's house was a stray cat in the back yard. for the next 4 hours she paced and ran incessantly back and forth between the windows looking for cats. On the plus side, she exhausted herself enough to crash for the night around midnight and let me get a good night's sleep
Today's agility trial was a good learning experience for both of us. Noodle learned what she thinks she can get away with, and I learned that there are some holes in my training that need plugged ASAP.
Let's talk about the good things first. Noodle was perfectly behaved around ALL of the other dogs, people, judge, etc. This in itself is the greatest accomplishment, regardless of our Q-rate. She was hyper focused on me, and was actually really well-behaved (and I just know some of you naysayers reading this won't believe it, but it is true!).
OK, the good, bad, and ugly. First run was Novice FAST - only need that one last Q for her title. Today was not going to be that day. She nailed the send bonus easily, but then detoured off to say hello to one of the bar setters sitting in the corner. That burned a lot of time, and then because she came from such a weird angle after her visit, she missed the weave entrance so I had to restart them. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we had enough points, so it was an NQ.
Next was the ugliest class of all - Open Standard. She was seriously fired up. The second obstacle was the A-frame, and she actually launched from the yellow on the ascending side and flew over the peak and landed on the ground on the other side, with one back toe on the yellow. I cringed, the judge cringed, the crowd said "whoa!". My heart was in my mouth - this is how Pretzel injured himself 3 years ago and took a year to heal. I stood there, she circled back to me, and we earned a refusal. We went non and she did pretty well, but she did NOT stop on her 2 on-2 off on ANY of her contacts. Each one, I stopped and stood still and tried to mark her mistake before going on. But...3 refusals at the contact obstacles meant no Q's. Now I could have just run on, and gotten this Q, but i feel it will be to our benefit in the long run to fix this training issue early, so I sacrificed the Q in the name of training. And yeah, I don't regret it for a second!
Open Jumpers went really well. She was really tired by this point, and she took jump #3 at an odd angle and knocked the bar, so no Q. But other than that, it was a perfect run...I'll take it!
Our agility career is still a work in progress. I left the trail actually feeling pretty good. OK, we made some mistakes, and she did get a little wild and out of control in standard, but her behavior in and out of the ring was wonderful and her attitude was perfect. That is my #1 goal right now...and goal was achieved. So how could I be disappointed with that?
Today was a hot one, perfect day to do some water retrieve training. I left this day feeling like the world's most inept dog trainer. I sometimes wonder if my dogs are just that quirky, or is there something wrong with me that brings it out of them? Don't answer that.
Then Pretzel decides he is going to retrieve the dummy out of the water and drop it on the bank, and no amount of mind games is going to convince him to pick it back up and bring it to my hand. Frustration cannot begin to describe what I am feeling. Why does he decide some times to work with me, and other times to do his own thing? What makes Noodle decide in a split second to lose her marbles and nothing can bring her back to earth until she finally decides to come back herself? Sometimes you are a rockstar, and sometimes you are the rock hall custodian. I don't know. This is whewre i trot out my old mantra "Keep on keepin' on". We will see what happens next time. Meanwhile, I have a small plan to work on the retrieve for both of them. Stay tuned...
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Monday, August 6, 2018
Obsession can be healthy...sometimes
"If you truly want to achieve great things, you have to become slightly obsessive. Obsession is just a form of ultimate commitment to a goal."
Today was Noodle's "bad dog" class for the dogs in agility with focus issues. We are doing a lot of focus work - rewarding when the dog checks in with you. Noodle was a rockstar. Why? Because I have been doing this for at least 6 months with her, and doing it a LOT. I guess I have the benefit of having taken her to tons of conformation shows and worked focus with her. The focus is great when I have a handful of hot dogs and she is on leash. Different story when she and other dogs are off leash, and the agility adrenaline is flowing.
I had some disappointing news today. I don't want to get in to details, but let's just say I feel like someone I trust and depend on has given up on me and my dog. No, I wasn't blessed with the world's most perfect dogs that do everything first time perfectly and just breeze through titles. My dogs' titles have been earned with a lot of sweat, effort, and planning. Nothing came easy, NOTHING. I don't expect it to. So if you think I am just going to roll over and give up because of a roadblock in training, well, think again. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to double my efforts. Jan with a goal can be a scary, scary thing. You've been warned....
Tonight I took my camera out when the sun was just slightly setting, and worked on getting some shallow depth of field shots of the dogs. Yeah, it's a work in progress. I do love my photography classes, I am learning so much! Should have done this years...decades ago!
Earlier today when i was outside doing things, I called to Pretzel and he came running and totally slipped and wiped out. Now, I don't know if that moment was the exact cause, but he ended up really stiff and sore by evening. I noticed earlier in the evening that his gait had a slight hitch in it. Last night after he was sleeping on the couch for a few hours while we watched TV, he got up and was extremely sore. Once he loosened up, it got a little better, but there is something definitely going on. Both my dogs are so darn reckless with their bodies, it's amazing they aren't always hurt. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it this weekend and hope it isn't anything serious.
I need to bring out my actual measuring stick, but today we tried measuring Cadence with a rope. Looks like she is around 50" - which would be 12'2"? I'll get a "real" measurement with the stick next week, and then I will start keeping track.
If someone holds her lead rope, I can easily pick up all 4 feet, even her sticky left hind. I think it helps having something else for her to concentrate on, in this case it is the person at the end of the lead petting her.
I am beyond frustrated. Way beyond. Sometimes I wonder why I keep doing this! (Warning: This is a frustrated/disappointed rant coming up, better escape while you can!)
I entered Noodle in a UKI trial that was being held at the place I train, mainly because UKI is one of the few agility organizations that allows you to go as "NFC" (Not For Competition), and train in the ring. I entered Noodle in 2 runs to work on her contacts.
I hung out in the building with her for a half hour working on focus exercises. She was laser focused. I was really excited at the focus I was getting! Dogs were wandering into her space, one even sort of jumped on her butt and she just looked at him and then checked back in to me. All was great until a mildly aggressive dog decided to jump into her space, and of course she jumped on his back. All my hard work went *poof* out the window. One good thing about Noodle, is no matter what she does or how rough she plays, she has never ever hurt anyone or left a mark on anything. I'll give her credit for that, but her obnoxious behavior is so darn frustrating...especially when she had been pretty much perfect for the first 30 minutes.
Just my luck, one of the classes I entered just to train ended up not having any contacts in it (the main thing I wanted to train!). So instead, I mapped out a simple jumpers course. Other than one drive-by sniffing of the judge, she was spot on.
The second course had all of the contact equipment, so I was ready to train. Oh yes, and train i did. We had to do the dog walk three times before she finally held her 2 on-2 off contacts. Then we had to do the A-frame twice to get her to hold her contact. After that, we ran out of time, but at least we ended on a good note.
I need to put on my thinking cap and figure out how to get her brain unscrambled. It seems like everything - her training, her behavior - went out the window today.
Noodle's OFA x-ray results came in the mail today! Hips = Good, Elbows = Normal. Woo-hoo!!! Good thing OFA hasn't figured out a way to rate behavior. That's a test I wouldn't want to send in!
Tonight was our "focus and attention" agility class. Noodle, as usual, was ultra-focused and on her best behavior...but we all know better now. I talked with the instructors about her problems this weekend, and they feel like I pushed the envelope by working her so long under all that stress and chaos near the ring. She was accepting of a multitude of dogs invading her space, but the last one crossed the line, and I have to be more aware of what is happening to her. She is hyper aware of her surroundings, so what seems like no big deal to me is a very very big deal in her brain. It makes sense to me! So the plan is to only do a few minutes at a time of focus work in a stressful place, then put her up and let her relax before doing another couple minutes. Got it!
I always feel so much better when I have a plan. I can deal with problems, but I want a blueprint on how to go about trying to solve them. I'm all about planning, making a plan, and executing. Nothing is worse to me than floundering around without any direction. So now I have a tiny bit of direction, and I will run with it.
I measured Cadence today, this time with an actual measuring stick and level. She is 51 and 1/2 inches at the withers, and 54 and 1/2 inches at the hip. yep, a bit uneven. She is definitely hitting a growth spurt right now!
I discussed weaning with the barn owner. I originally thought about weaning at the end of September/beginning of October. She would be around 5-ish months old. I decided to wait until a stall opened up in the arena barn, on November 1st. It will be easier to wean if I can completely separate them. I know there are two schools of thought - some people feel it is best to completely separate and have them quit cold turkey, and some feel it is better to do it gradually with their stalls next to each other. I think at that point (November 1st) she would be over 6 months old, so just weaning with complete separation will be OK. That's how I have always weaned them, and although you get a couple days of sadness, they do tend to get over it quickly and move on with their lives. I don't know...still kind of debating it in my head.
On a whim, I entered Pretzel in 3 days of conformation in Muncie, Indiana. I have to confess that I really miss showing him! I feel like this summer has been all about Noodle, so I wanted to give my #1 boy some one on one time. He didn't disappoint me - picking up 3 select dog, 3 owner-handled best of breed, and two owner-handled sporting group twos! He showed great (this week's secret was chicken sausage fried on the George Foreman grill - he went wild for it!). We had a nice time this week. We got to spend time with some other Weimaraner people, Pretzel got to meet and play with some new Weim friends, and even do a bit of agility on Wednesday evening just for fun!
Pretzel now has 2,845 owner handled points. Only 155 points to go to hit our goal of 3,000. He stands as the #1 Weimaraner in lifetime NOHS points. Pretty cool!
Today we went to do some water retrieve training. Our ratings test is in a month! Of course, today my dogs decided that they should remind me who is really in charge. Not me! Pretzel continually retrieved the bumper and then dropped it on the bank and went off hunting for birds in the weeds. Noodle decided to swim out to the bumper, grab it, and keep swimming to the opposite shore and then stand across the pond from everyone refusing to come back. This held up our training for about 45 minutes, trying to wait her out. yeah, we know who won that one (not me!). It seems every time I get a glimmer of confidence, it shatters so quickly I can hardly remember it. It is frustrating, but you know me. Ain't giving up, no way! Time to go home and regroup, and rethink things.
Tonight I went out to the barn and turned Corky and Cadence out. I am thrilled to see Corky trotting and cantering 100% sound! I know she has been sound for weeks, but after the horrible spring we went through, every time I see it I rejoice. Cadence is almost all shed out - a lovely chocolate color with black legs, mane, and tail. Just gorgeous! Of course, I took a ton of photos tonight.
This is a cool series of photos - notice how Cadence is in step with Corky and matching her stride for stride. Amazing!
we made the long trek south to the Weimaraner Club of America agility trial in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The drive ended up taking much longer than anticipated due to a major highway closure from an accident. Ugh!
I was a bit nervous about running Noodle at this facility. The ring fence at the front is really see-through, as in you can hardly tell there is a fence there (it was just a mesh panel). We started off the day with Noodle in Time 2 Beat. She was pretty wild, but actually did OK. We had a wrong course, and she did take off a couple times to check out the dogs on the fence but came immediately back to me and continued on. I consider that a victory for us.
Next was Novice Fast. Noodle nailed her Send bonus, and stuck a beautiful 2on-2off on the teeter, for a Q and 3rd place! This was her last Q needed for her Novice Fast title, so now Noodle's new "official" name is CH Luxe All You Can Eat Spaghetti NA NAJ NF TKP CGC.
Pretzel got a turn at open fast (although he already got his Open Fast title last month, I didn't move him up). He went into the wrong end of the tunnel for the send, but otherwise did great!
Next was Noodle in Open Jumpers. She got very distracted by the other dogs milling around the ring fence, and ended up knocking a bar. However, she had some really great turns and collected jumping efforts, which I liked!
Last was Noodle in Open Standard. I felt like this class was a mess...her 2 on 2 off contacts went out the window, and she ran over to visit the judge three different times during her run. However, the judge only called one refusal, so she ended up qualifying! Hey, we will take it! Her first Open level qualifying run.
Time 2 beat in the morning was a hot mess for Noodle - she was so distracted, kept running to the ring fence, visiting the bar setter, etc. We didn't make it through the course before the buzzer...reminded me of the old days with Pretzel LOL!
Next was Noodle's debut in Open FAST since I moved her up after her novice title run yesterday. She nailed the send, and although we were a bit disjointed in our run, she did a perfect 2 on-2 off on her teeter and ended up qualifying! I was pretty happy with that run. Pretzel did Open FAST also, but missed the second jump in his Send.
Noodle actually did pretty good in her Open Jumpers today. we had 2 refusals and a couple time faults so we didn't Q. She ran over to visit the judge once during the run. Ironically it was the same judge we had yesterday in standard. I don't know why she ignores the other judge we have, but just wants to interact and play with this judge. I loved her jumping effort today, she put herself into some tight situations and managed to clear the jump and stay clean.
Open standard was a mess. Noodle ran to the fence halfway through her run and barked at another dog...just one bark, but the judge whistled her off. I was ready to pick her up anyways, because she needs to learn she has to focus on me and not everything else outside the ring. Frustrating...
Today was frustrating. What else is new? Noodle was extremely distracted in the morning, enough so that I decided to pull her from her Jumpers class. If I have trouble getting her to focus outside of the ring, there is no sense in trying to mangle my way through a course.
Pretzel had one run today - Excellent Jumpers. It was the exact kind of course he hates - extremely tight and twisty, with weaves at the beginning and nothing but a zillion jumps all one after the other with no tunnels to break things up. As usual, Pretzel proved me wrong and was eager and enthusiastic and did awesome! he obliterated a jump because I wasn't enough ahead and kind of ran into him and broke up his stride. he knocked a second jump - I blame that totally on him - but otherwise I was with how he ran. I know his shoulder has been bothering him recently. That old injury from 2015 keeps rearing its ugly head every now and then.
Noodle had one last run - Open Standard. She was bad. Extremely unfocused, all over the place, I ended up picking her up after the 4th obstacle and calling it a day. No focus = no play for Noodle!
I think 3 days was enough for both dogs, so we bailed on the last day and headed home. Noodle is not entered in anything coming up - I anticipate her coming in to season next month, and I also feel like we need to take a step back and regroup. So, that is what we will do for a while. we have a bunch of hunt stuff scheduled in September, so we will see how that goes.
I got up bright and early to drive 2 hours to west Alexandria for field training. Pretzel hasn't trained in the field since his hunt test in early May, and Noodle hasn't trained since she got hurt in March! I was not very optimistic about how things would go...and I was a bit worried about having entered both of them in the hunt test next weekend.
Of course, they both proved me wrong, oh so wrong! Both dogs held every single point for the flush. It was amazing! I would have never guessed in a million years that they would come back after so many months of not training and be 1,000 times better than they were before! I don't understand it, but I am not complaining! It's always hard to accept that some training things are truly out of my control - they just happen and nothing I did or didn't do made it happen. Thank goodness for naturally talented dogs.