Since conveniently there was a dog show up in Michigan this weekend, I entered it, and headed there after my two days of training with noodle. Mark drove the motorhome with Pretzel and met me at the show. Noodle had the joy of having zero competition (weird, I know!). It was a great chance to practice some new things with her. Today's breed didn't go very well - she and I were not on the same page when it came to gaiting. This is definitely something I have been working on and experimenting with. However, when it came time for the owner handled group (we opted to skip the regular group all weekend due to the heat) we managed to get our act together and pulled off a Group 4! This was pretty good, because the competition in the OH Sporting group was deep deep deep. I felt pretty good about this little white rosette. It's been a long time coming!
Today was another day at the show, another chance to practice. Our morning breed didn't go as planned...yet again...but Noodle really turned it on for the OH group and moved up a notch to pull off a Group 3! It was horribly hot and humid, and the show was in a non air-conditioned building. Normally I love the heat. Oh who am i kidding - I still loved the heat! Keeping noodle cool was the issue, and there was really no way to keep her from panting during the class (she hates her pretty cooling coat I bought her but she is going to darn well have to get used to it!).
Accepting my limitations is sometimes the hardest task I face. I don't like to believe something is impossible. This has driven me for years, but sometimes you have to step back and be realistic. Realism sucks! But in being real, one can re-focus on a new goal with a new purpose. So 2019 will be a year of re-focusing. Setting my sights on new things, accepting my changes in direction, and being happy for the joy of the moment. Sounds good, doesn't it? well...we shall see!
Today's breed judging actually went pretty well - I think i have a few things figured out with Noodle. Either that, or she finally gave in and decided not to pull sideways and try to drag me around the ring. It was probably the hottest day of the weekend, but she was stellar during the group judging. The group was really large. We made the cut, but no placement today. I am totally Ok with that because I felt like she showed the best she has ever shown, and that means we are making PROGRESS!!! The P word is the thing that probably makes me the happiest.
I still miss showing Pretzel. When he turned on his "presence", he was so eye-catching and powerful. It was nice to have him along with me this weekend, but it's not quite the same. It hurts a bit to think that it probably never will be quite the same. Age, accident, and surgery have taken its toll, and he is not the same dog. But inside, he is definitely the same dog...my heart dog!
Noodle and Pretzel got to do some field training today! Since my field trainer I had used the past few years does not have time to train us anymore, I had to look for someone new. This new trainer came highly recommended, and I was really happy with how things went. Noodle, of course, was a wild child and had NO discipline. Kind of interesting - the field trainer gave me some impulse control (i.e. "whoa" training) exercises to do that are very similar to the ones that the behavior trainer up in Michigan is having me do. I just need to be diligent in training her. GOALS!
Pretzel was thrilled to be back to work. I was thrilled to have him back, and to see him so gosh darn happy. He, of course, was a complete rock star. He showed us some beautiful points, and he HELD them (which was even more important!). My field trainer actually took a couple pictures of him on point with her phone because he looked so good. I could have laid right down on the grass and cried, I was so happy. My whole goal with this zillion-dollar surgery was to make him able to do things he loves, and hunting is at the top of his list. So now I have NEW GOALS...and nothing makes me feel better!
Since I have been gone, Cadence hadn't been worked in over a week. For some reason, this bit of a break really made her wild! I had to work her on the longe line for quite a while to get her to calm down...including letting her have some race time off the longe line in the indoor. I worked some in-hand stuff with the chain lead. I think I need to use it a lot to get her used to it. She is so much better in moving her feet on cue than with just a plain lead snapped to the halter. Don't get me wrong - in no way is she close to being trained for halter...I am lucky when I can get her to move her feet at all!
I measured Cadence today - 15'2" at the withers, and 15'3 3/4" at the hip. Slight bit of growth!
Today was all about Noodle. We started off the day with a 4 hour agility seminar. Noodle was great! I learned a lot of things. we worked a lot on front crosses today. One thing i definitely learned is that timing and placement of front crosses mean everything! After almost 4 hours, Noodle was pretty wiped out. But...the day wasn't over for her yet!
In the evening, we headed to a Cynosport Rally trial. I haven't really done Rally with Noodle in several months, but we actually practice a little bit every single day. I find it really improves her focus when i go through some of the rally exercises. She was wonderful! We just did one run - a Level 1B rally class, she scored 209 our of a possible 210 (1 point off for a slightly crooked sit) qualifying and 4th place. I think we might be ready to make that big step into AKC rally in preparation for the Weimaraner National Specialty in October. Gotta have goals, you know?
I got the urge to dust off my camera and take some photos this morning. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning. I wish it could stay like this forever! Here are some photos from today:
Later today I went out and worked Cadence outside. She was about as perfect as can be - no bucking, good attitude, it was wonderful. I used the chain and worked her a little in hand in setting up for halter. She actually did pretty good today - she is just starting to grasp the concept of moving her foot on cue. Today was the first time I was able to work her with the chain and she kept a good attitude about it. Normally I work a bit with the chain and she is unhappy, so i end up taking it off and working her with just a plain snap on the halter. However, i have zero control over her feet with just a snap. I think once she figured things out with a chain, then going backwards to just a snap will be ok.
I loaded her in the trailer today. She did balk at first with her front feet on the ramp. I out-patienced her, and she eventually walked in and ate some grain out of a bucket. After I was done with that, I got Corky out and groomed her a bit. Her hind legs look great - the scratches look pretty much healed up, but of course when I picked her back feet I found a good-sized abscess in her left hind...ugh. Luckily she doesn't seem too sore on it.
I started off the morning with a rally lesson with Noodle. My focus now is on the AKC rally signs, preparing for Weim nationals in a couple months. I also decided it is time to bite the bullet and enter some AKC rally trials, so before I could have second thoughts i entered Noodle in a couple days at Smithfield in a few weeks. I've got goals! I have been working a LOT on Noodle's impulse control. I really think she is improving a lot, but I might be viewing this with rose-colored glasses. i don't know. The true test will be when we do some field training on Friday - will she control her impulses at the "whoa"? I guess we shall see! I am busting my butt with her - so much training, so much analysis. This is my dog, for better or worse, and it is up to me to make her into the great performance dog that i know she has inside of her. At some point this summer I just decided to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, and just work with the dog I have. And what I have is probably the funnest dog I have ever trained (is funnest a word? It should be, I deem it so!).
I headed out later to work Cadence, again outside. She was wonderful. I pulled out the clippers to start working with her on them again (haven't touched them to her since the Powers). At first she went a little nuts when I just touched them to her face, turned off. She tried to bully-walk into me. Oh heck no! I took the lead rope and made a slight war bridle out of it so it went over her nose. She stopped walking over me immediately, and actually stood perfectly for me to clip her face, muzzle, bridle path, and . First time without a twitch, and by the end of this the rope wasn't even a factor. This girl always surprises me.
Next on the agenda for these animals - field training for Pretzel and Noodle on Friday and an open show for Cadence on Saturday. Oh, and did I mention that Chevy is coming back on Friday to spend 3 weeks with me? Life is a-gonna get crazy!
I took the dogs to field training this morning. Man, I am learning so much! No surprise that Pretzel is a bit farther along than Noodle. He is holding his point really really solid, even holding through the flush. I think for him, my biggest issue will be the retrieve, because he can be a bit iffy with retrieving.
Noodle did great with her impulse control today. Much better on her whoas. I can see her learning with every step we take. Today we had birds in the launchers and we let her approach on leash and point, and the minute she creeped forward in her point we released the birds. This is to teach her that if she breaks her point even a little bit, she will flush the birds and lose them. By the end you could see the wheels turning in her head and she was starting to figure it out.
Chevy came back here last night, so today he spent the day running like a lunatic with Noodle (he is torturing her, it is funny to see). He forgot a lot of his training for conformation, so we are starting from scratch to get him back up to speed before his first show next weekend. His futurity is in three weeks!.
Well I intended to take Cadence to an open show today. When I checked the weather yesterday, it said 80% chance of rain, thunderstorms with strong winds and hail. So I opted out. Of course, I wake up this morning and there isn't a cloud in the sky, and we are down to 10% chance of rain. I wasted a perfectly good day...ugh. I went to the barn and worked her, she was pretty good although really energetic. I used the chain for halter practice, and she did awesome at setting up and moving her feet on cue! Just goes to show, this training stuff comes in little spurts. Gotta have patience!
We had another great morning of field training today. We planted two birds - one in a launcher and one next to it. Noodle would go on point, and if she made the tiniest move forward we would launch the first bird. When she scented and held on the second bird, we picked it up, showed it to her and reinforced the "whoa", and then released it and fired the blank gun. The theme today, as will be probably forever with her, is patience and impulse control.
Pretzel had some great impulse control for the most part. Both dogs need to learn that when they do not get the bird they need to come back to my side and heel away. Yeah, right! That might be the hardest lesson to learn of everything.
The problem I am noticing with Pretzel is that it seems we have lost our connection. After 4 1/2 month in a crate and major surgery, it is almost like he lost his desire to work with me. I cannot describe how this depresses me. I need to work on repairing out work relationship immediately. I am going to go back to the beginning and reward eye contact, and simple tasks.
The gorgeous photo posted above looks so exotic, doesn't it? Little do you know that it is just Noodle standing on top of a weed-infested dirt pile left over from our house addition construction. The light behind her was gorgeous tonight, and in a split second i got the most perfect shot...with my phone, no less! I never seem to have my good camera handy when these moments occur.
I haven't posted a video of Cadence lately, so here she is!
I am walking the length of the arena with her to teach her to stretch out and use her stride, and to also hold herself on straight lines instead of constant curves. I think she is doing great!
Her halter/setup training made big strides this week. I am using the chain, and she is becoming more accepting of it so I may just plan on showing her with a chain (which is what 99% of the people do). I can use very subtle cues (well, they are subtle for her!) to move her feet instead of a lot of pushing and pulling. This video makes me pretty happy because it is proof that I have made big progress this summer since our Tom Powers show.
I just had to share yet another gorgeous photo of Noodle during sunset on my property. It's hard to say what is more beautiful - the sky, my property, or my beautiful dog! I just love this girl to pieces! Love her spirit, and her desire to work and please me.
I got up at the crack of dawn (heck...3:30am isn't even cracking dawn yet) to take Chevy to a show in Madison, OH to practice for his futurity in a couple weeks. This was a key show because it not only was his first show since he finished his championship 2+ months ago, but it was also his first show as a "special" (i.e. Champion). He remembered a lot of what he learned last spring (thanks to a week long refresher course at home!) and managed to nail a Select Dog, with a champion defeat! I was really happy with how he showed - he was happy and excited, and showed very little nerves.
After the show, we headed to my mom's house to spend the day with her. Chevy was a complete gentleman, and it was almost as if Pretzel was there. He even laid in the same spot on the carpeting as Pretzel.
Later that night we checked into one of the scariest Motel 6's in Ohio - Mentor. People were fighting in the parking lot, there were permanent residents of questionable morals living there, and my room smelled very stinky. After having only 3 hours of sleep the night before, I was too tired to find a different place to stay so we toughed it out. Note to self: No more Motel 6's!
Chevy nailed down another Select Dog with a champion defeat today. I am so proud of him. It is almost like showing Pretzel again, only Chevy doesn't move as big as Pretzel did at the gait. So while less showy, it is actually easier to show him.
After the show we headed home for some play time with Noodle (and apparently a very large stick!). I love showing Chevy, but it is hard when I know he is leaving to go back home in a few weeks. I am SO ready for a puppy of my own! I think I have learned a lot (thank you, Noodle!) and I am excited to put this knowledge to the test with a new clean slate.
I will say that (and I don't want to jinx myself) I have seen a LOT of improvement in Noodle's behavior lately. This focus and impulse control work is really helping us. I am excited to head back to Michigan next month to work some more with the trainer/behaviorist and continue to make progress. Oh Noodle, please don't do something stupid to break my heart...I actually have hope now!
I had a great Rally lesson this morning. We are working on cleaning things up - mainly straightening her sits and downs. I entered her in Rally 2 days next weekend for her AKC debut. Time to get ready for Weim Nationals! #goals
So today Cadence was a brat. Funny, she started off about perfect, then we reversed direction and she went wild - bucking and leaping in the air. She was constantly dropping her nose to the ground. I think she figured out that when she does this I have a hard time pulling her up. I had to bring out the chain and use it under her chin to control her head. Maybe I am not working her consistently enough? Or maybe it is because it rained last night so she didn't get her usual night turnout, and was a bit too full of energy? Hard to say...
Today, Cadence was about perfect. Like night and day from yesterday. We had a wonderful smooth work, Her setups in hand are improving, and when we were all done we loaded in the trailer for a snack. All's good!
Today was another get-up-before-dawn day. I loaded both Chevy and Noodle into the van and left around 5 am for as show. Today was going to be an interesting day - Chevy was entered in breed, and Noodle was entered in her very first AKC Rally class (novice).
Chevy showed wonderful for me - I have nothing to complain about other than we got pretty much ignored in the ring. Oh well, he had fun and it was good practice for the futurity next weekend.
I had some time to practice with Noodle before her rally class. She was doing really well for me. We went into the ring, and immediately her nose went to the ground. She hoovered up some scraps of paper, and a a few dust bunnies. I was able to get her back a few times and we did have some really nice moments of heeling, but overall it was NOT pretty. At one point she became mesmerized by the obedience ring (which was very loud for some reason) and started watching the dog jump over the jump and retrieve the dumbbell, and totally ignored my commands.
Amazingly we qualified with an unimpressive score of 74 (70 is passing...out of 100). Oh well, I'll take it! I have to work more on her focus. Yeah, BIG surprise there! We try again on Monday, so we will see if we get any improvement.