Corky has a definite baby bump now...and the best news is she can partially blink her paralyzed eye!!!! Still no movement in her left ear or the left side of her face, but the left eye can now partially blink. This is progress and that is GREAT NEWS! I hate to admit it, but I am starting to hope a little...
Well, my big question to be answered was whether Noodle could retain her focus and obedience doing agility at a place other than where she trains every week. This can sometimes be a nightmare...and believe me I was worried!
Well, we drove 2 hours to a place in Cincinnati that was having agility run-throughs (oh the lengths we go to get our dogs trained!!!). The course they set up was rather difficult with two backsides...um...we JUST started working on those this week! Our first run was not too bad, her momentum carried her of the teeter, and of course she missed the backside on the first attempt. I called for the weaves a litle too late and she missed them, so we had to backtrack. About 2/3 of the way through the course she missed a jump, and saw all the dogs waiting on the other side of the ring fence. She started barreling over towards them, I called her back, and she came right back to me! Sounds simple, but believe me, this is a major accomplishment. We ended strong and together.
Our second run was almost perfect! She came off the teeter, so I corrected it, but she nailed everything else...and had ZERO distracted moments! I was thrilled. This is a big question that was answered. I feel a little better going in to our trial in Ocala next weekend. A LITTLE better. I am worried because it is in a horse arena with 4 open sides that she will get too distracted with other people and dogs walking by. But, it is time to see what we can do in that type of situation.
I am so happy with her focus, and her accuracy! Oh yes, and doubly excited over her enthusiasm...that is the best part.
We left Ohio this past Wednesday in a blizzard, headed south to Florida! "Florida again?" you ask? Well, we actually have a legitimate reason - Mark's family reunion is next weekend in Ft. Myers. We decided to head down a week early to take the dogs on the boat and hit the beaches. of course, this means I was tasked with finding a dog show to hit on the way down. This time I decided on agility!. What better place to do agility in February than Ocala, Florida in an outdoor covered horse arena?
OK, let's just sum up today by saying this definitely wasn't my most successful agility outing. In fact, I can say with quite certainty that it was my absolute worst agility trial ever with Pretzel. He seriously did not want to do ANYTHING. I am not sure if it was the two days he spent in the car, or the new exciting smells in the horse arena dirt, but he was not cooperating whatsoever. We had four runs, and in the first three runs I had to stop, go get Pretzel, take him by the collar, and excuse myself. Embarrassing? Yep!
In true Pretzel fashion, he pulled it together for our last run (Open Jumpers), and although we missed a jump (and I didn't want to spoil his decent run by making him go back and correct it) it was a fairly decent run, albeit rather uninspired. I think he needs a day at the the beach more than I do!
Of course, the moment I was really waiting for - Noodle's very first AKC run. I entered her in Novice Standard only, at the end of the day. The trial ran small to tall, she she was the LAST dog to run in that ring. I spent a considerable amount of time working with her on leash during the day - practicing focus games and working on her attention. She was doing really well. Then...crunch time.
Good, bad, and not really all that ugly! The good: she held her start line stay beautifully. The bad - she did come off her dog walk contact and didn't hold it, and she bypassed a jump to go visit the ring crew along with having a few moments of joyful running around. However, she came back every time, nailed the rest of her 2 on-2 off contacts, kept every barn up on her jumps, and flew through the weaves (after she first missed her weave entrance because she was running so fast). She took a few extra obstacles, did a lot of visiting, and still managed to finish 2 seconds under time! Unfortunately, our off-courses and a missed jump kept us Q-less today. I learned a lot from this run - she is VERY distractable when the ring has 4 open sides with other people walking around. We also need to practice more with random people (i.e. ring crew) sitting in the ring. Overall - not too bad. Not great, but a step in the right direction.
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!
What an incredible week...we spent 7 days in Florida taking the dogs out on the boat and hitting the beaches. I just love the Ten Thousand Islands! The weather was perfect - mid 80's and sunny every day without a drop of rain.
Noodle, of course, decided by the second day that the beach was mighty tasty, and started eating all sorts of junk on the beach. Later that evening, she threw up gallons of sand, broken shells, and pieces of driftwood on the floor. The bad thing is she taught Pretzel the joys of beach-eating, and he started! So the rest of the week they spent a lot of time running the islands in basket muzzles to keep them from ingesting too much junk. Silly dogs. One good thing about beach running every day - Noodle had a HUGE appetite every evening we got back, and inhaled her food. Yay!
We conveniently happened to be traveling right past a conformation show on the way home, so I entered both Pretzel and Noodle on Sunday and Monday just for kicks. I must admit I miss showing Pretzel terribly, so I couldn't resist pulling him out of "retirement" for a couple days.
On Sunday, I just showed Pretzel. Man, it was fun! He really seemed to enjoy it again, of course he enjoys my undivided attention! We earned Select Dog (and it was a major in dogs so that earned us 5 grand champion points, for whatever it's worth) and Owner-Handled Best of Breed. Got nothing in the owner-handled group, though he showed really well. It was blasted HOT at this show! Who would have imagined Florida would have a conformation show in a building without air conditioning? I certainly wasn't prepared, having packed long-sleeved suits. Oops!
On Monday, I convinced Mark to take Noodle in the ring. I just love it when the 4 of us are all showing together as a family. Pretzel got Select Dog again, and Noodle got Select bitch! How fun to be standing next to each other in line for the ribbons! Then the two of us had to go head-to-head for Owner-Handled Best of Breed. Of course, Pretzel won...he is so much more mature and seasoned. It was a lot of fun.
We topped off our weekend with a hard-earned owner-handled Group Three! I just love love love my Pretzel. He was so much fun to show again. I may have to "dust him off" in another month or show and show him again just for fun.
We got home from Florida yesterday evening, so tonight my friend and I rented the agility training facility to practice with our dogs.
Noodle was...well...typical Noodle (albeit a bit ramped up). She did everything very well, but her attention span was minuscule. We would be in the middle of a sequence, and in a split second (sometimes over mid-jump) she would decide to leave and go visit my friend's dog on the other side of the ring. On the plus side, she came right back every time I called her, but on the minus side this happened 7-8 times and it happened even when I had her complete focus and attention (so I thought). I was pleased with her handling of the obstacles and following my body language, but frustrated with how short of a time I was able to hold her attention. A work in progress...I guess...
I had a private agility lesson with Noodle today. It was fantastic! I haven't been so pumped up in a long time...mainly because my instructor is so positive and she had a lot of good things to say about Noodle (she actually said Noodle is looking like a "seasoned dog"!). I have been working hard, training hard. Noodle was FULL of energy, but we had some really nice sequences tonight. We worked a lot on rear crosses...we have them down on the flat but I needed to work on my timing doing rear crosses over the jumps.
My homework: Work on her weave entrance from a close, angled jump; work on rear crosses over jumps; work on being able to move away from the weaves while Noodle completes them; and work on doing 18+ obstacle courses without treats. Oh yes, and start treating/rewarding her 2 on 2 off after doing another obstacle after the contact...don't reward every time right at the contact obstacle. Make the next obstacle the reward.
Of course, I keep reminding myself not to get too high and positive. We were in a private lesson with no other dogs and no distractions. But, it's a start. Keep on keepin' on!
I see more improvement in Corky's facial paralysis! Her ear and the side of her mouth are still droopy and unresponsive, but she is actually blinking when you wave your hand close to her left eye. YES!!! I am so glad. I'd love to have more progress before she gives birth,
but this is a step in the right direction. She is due (assuming she goes the same number of days as last year) on March 31st. You'd better believe I have NOTHING planned that weekend!
This is what happens when it rains for over a week straight and the dogs can't get outside to run and play. Noodle is on full diva protest mode. She just stands there and barks at me, as if I had any control over the weather...
I rented the agility building to train with my friend tonight. It was like we took not one, not two, but a hundred steps backward in training. Noodle was completely unfocused. She left me to run over and try to play with my friend's dog over and over again, to the point where we had to just take turns instead of splitting the ring and training together.
Also frustrating - Noodle's stopped contacts seemed to become "optional". Sometimes she did them, sometimes she didn't. we must have worked the A-frame a dozen times, and she would just come off on to the ground and stand there looking at me as if she didn't make a mistake. So frustrating! I am not sure what to do about this, we didn't seem to make any progress in our training all evening.
On the positive side - Noodle's weaves were outstanding. Ok, that's something, right? *Big sigh* I hate taking these massive steps backwards. This is especially worrisome since we have a trial in two days. Oh boy...