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Friday May 1, 2020

Pandemic Day #50

Look how far we have come in just a month and a half! It's hard to believe that just 2 months ago I was going about my business, making plans and dog show entries, and then suddenly life as I know it came to a grinding halt...and is still halted. These numbers look huge, but I still can say that personally I do not know ANYONE firsthand that actually has or had the virus. It hasn't hit me close to home yet. Hoping it stays that way, but only time will tell.

I watched Cadence being worked today, and got to ride her for a little bit. She feels 100% more solid underneath than she did just 3 weeks ago. Today I felt that I could move my legs and shift my weight and she didn't overreact like she did the last time I rode her. This is proof that she is definitely getting broke! I am thankful she is in such good hands, this is one area of my life that I feel I do not have to worry much about...and as any horse owner knows, that is MAJOR!!!.

Pizza and I took a walk with our walking buddies this afternoon. My COVID-a-thon miles are now up to 74.47 miles...whoa! Getting closer to my 100 mile goal.

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Pandemic Day #51 - hope on the horizon

Today was an overall good day! I started the morning off by checking the AKC website for shows this summer and found quite a few shows that have not cancelled yet. I put them ALL on my calendar, because if they actually happen, I am gonna BE there! That gives me something to look forward to.

I did another 4 mile walk this afternoon, bringing my COVID-A-Thon mileage total to around 78 1/2 miles! Then I went home and did my "homework" for my online agility class I am taking. Today we did Box drills, and I worked with Pizza (Noodle already had a major agility workout as we attempted to do a UKI trial-at-home course...ugh). I LOVE her enthusiasm, and she actually focuses better out there than Noodle or Pretzel does. It's fun to have a purpose to my training, and a specific plan to work on.

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Never let your memories be bigger than your dreams.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pandemic Day #52 - all about agility today

Nuttin' but agility today! In the morning I worked on my jumpers course with Noodle. UKI is offering at-home agility trials, so I entered her in two jumpers runs. I set up the first one on Saturday when I got the course maps. It was SO crazy confusing. The idea for it is to use limited equipment and space so people can do this at home, but only having the 5 obstacles makes it extra confusing. I worked on it for days, and either Noodle screws up, or I forget the course, or we do it clean without the video rolling. I worked some more on it this morning, and my plan was just to make a go of it this evening and see how we do.

Pizza and I split a private lesson with our besties Deb and Dazzle, and it went really well, aside from both pups trying to run over and play with each other. I need to work on her obedience, her focus and her sit stay. Instead of using "around" when going through the jump standards (with the bar on the ground), I should say something like "go" to have her go forward through the jump. Eventually when I have a bar to jump, I will use the "jump" command, but she is too young to jump just yet.

When I got home, I brought Noodle outside, set up my phone on a tripod and went to run the jumpers course, and finally nailed it! I was really happy with her focus, and my memory! I did notice one thing - her focus on me was a LOT better when I brought her straight outside on a leash and went right to work. Earlier today, and this weekend I let her run around the property while I set up the course and figured things out, and when I brought her over to work, her focus was shot. I need to remember this...less is more with her, I think. Bring her outside and go right to work, and let her run and play afterwards.

I still have one more jumpers course to do that I haven't even set up yet....and it is due Wednesday. Yikes!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Pandemic Day #53

Pretzel and I spent the day at my mom's. Pretzel is so good around her, he watches her so carefully and can always tell when she is hurting. He amazes me sometimes with his gentle nature and empathy...who would have thought that rowdy bull-in-a-china-shop puppy would grow up to be such a wonderful companion? This makes me extra excited to be bringing home one of his sons or daughters in a month.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

No more counting stupid pandemic days

I am DONE counting the pandemic days. Yes, it is still going on, yes, we are technically still in "lockdown", I am just tired of the whole subject.

I worked Noodle and Pizza with my field trainer today. Noodle did great - pretty steady and worked well with another dog. We did a little retrieving at the end and she did well. Pizza was able to point and hold one bird, and also did a little retrieving at the end. It was a good day. When i got home, I had one last UKI jumpers run to do before the deadline tonight. We got it! I think this course was a lot easier than the first one, or maybe because I broke it down into segments in order to memorize, that made it easier. We recorded our run, uploaded it, and got another clear for a Q!

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

A great day in the field

It was a fantastic day training with my friends in the field today - it was sunny and warm - mid-60s! Being outside is so healing to my brain, and being with friends is even better. For a few hours, my life felt "normal" again and I forgot about the pandemic.

Both Pizza and Noodle did well. Pizza has such a huge run on her, it is going to be hard to control her as she gets more and more confident. On the flip side, Noodle has a lot of run when we are doing our "fun" training, but I feel like I have a pretty decent handle on her. It is fun to watch her work, and how her body and instinct reacts when she scents the bird. Amazing to watch...I could do this all day!

If nothing else, this pandemic is allowing me to spend a lot more time on field training than I would have been able to under normal circumstances. Not having any agility classes, dog shows, or any other social events has freed me up to do the one thing that we can do safely and with social distancing - working in the field. Plus, being outside makes me sane!

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

It's a two-Q day!

Noodle and I are entered in another at-home UKI Agility trial this week. This time, they offered Beginner/Novice (which is more like AKC Open) levels. We entered two jumpers classes, and for once I was able to do both of them on the first day of the trial...and the first run I actually nailed on my first try woo-hoo!. Noodle was spot on today, and when she is like this, she is SO fun to run. Who am I kidding, she is ALWAYS fun to run (when she is not causing trouble)!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A great day in the field!

Here are some photos of Pizza and Noodle in the field today. Noodle was spot on and held through the flush and the shot beautifully. Pizza actually went on point and stood still for a brief few moments, which is huge for her!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020...later

Self-control is not a Pizza thing

Yesterday, Pizza and I split a private lesson with Deb and Dazzle. It was an, um, learning experience! My #1 issue I need to work on is Pizza's focus ( big surprise there!) - having two puppies working at the same time was pretty much impossible as they constantly wanted to run off and play with each other. I need to work a lot on her focus and also her discipline...her sit-stay is very brief and inconsistent (another shocker LOL!).

Today, Deb and I got together at my house to work the puppies together - making one sit on the platform and relax while the other worked. We actually got quite a lot done today! We worked on:

  •  ★ Tunnel command
  •  ★ Backsides
  •  ★ Bypass Tunnel command
  •  ★ 2 on/2 off on the practice board
  •  ★ Start line stay
  •  ★ Tunnel/jump discrimination
  •  ★ Focus while another puppy is sitting in the ring

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Friday, May 15, 2020


I went out to see Cadence and to ride today. She is doing fantastic! Every time I ride her, she feels steadier and more relaxed. It comes so naturally to her. I've never owned one so natural, and it is an amazing thing to watch how she just carries herself so easily. This was a great spirit-lifter after hearing the bad news that a dog show that I was really counting on going to next month has now been cancelled. Damn virus. When will life be normal again?

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Finally a 100% happy day

Today is one of the first days that I can honestly say I was 100% happy, and not stressing about the future. What changed? Pretty simple - it was a nice, 80-degree day, and I was crazy busy doing all of the things I loved, from sunrise until bedtime.

I started the day by planting my garden - vegetables (zucchini, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, oregano, rosemary, pumpkins) and flowers. After that, I mowed - one of my very favorite chores! It's such a favorite of mine, I cannot even call it a chore. It is better described a passion.

After that, I set up this week's two jumpers courses for Noodle's UKI agility runs. I brought Noodle out and she NAILED the first run on her very first try! I gave her a break, and then brought her back out for the second run. Bam! She nailed it. I have learned something very valuable about working with Noodle while doing all of these UKI trial-at-home runs. She is one thousand times better and more focused when I bring her out on leash, and get right to it. No warm-up, no focus games, just walk out there under control and get to work. I am filing this little bit of information for the future...and the future is approaching in a month and a half as I have entered her in jumpers only at an AKC agility trial in early July. With the new pandemic rules, there will be no crating inside, and no one is allowed in the building until it is your turn to run. This a perfect opportunity to get Noodle into a trial that has very little of the trial atmosphere. Kind of funny, I feel strangely confident in her after doing all of this field work the past few months. She has been so focused, and for the most part obedient in our field work, and it seems to be transferring over into other areas. I guess we shall see.

I dropped the bars to the ground and brought Pizza out to work on some things. She was much more improved on her 2 on 2 off contacts on the practice board (her mistakes last time were my fault for not practicing them the past few weeks). Tunnel bypass command is going OK...about 50% accuracy. I am not totally convinced she really understands the bypass command, and I feel like some of our successes have been from sheer luck.

While our focus still needs work, I am loving Pizza's enthusiasm. I really need to work more often around other dogs - I feel this distraction will be our downfall and I am at a major disadvantage not being in class with other dogs right now. I hope I will be able to train through this when the time comes.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Gotta be more fun!

Yesterday's wonderful day is just a memory today...it was ugly and rainy all day. Pizza split a private agility lesson with Dazzle. Although I love her enthusiasm, I was pretty disappointed in her total lack of self-control today. I lost count of the number of times she left me to go run over to interact with Dazzle. In her mind, Dazzle is much more fun than me. This is something I need to change. We worked a bunch with me running with her tug toy, getting her to chase me and play. I have to become the #1 fun thing in her life. It's a struggle when I am feeling frustrated. Right now I am not doing any new stuff with Pizza, I am just trying to reinforce the concepts that she knows, while doing it with distractions. It will come, it will take time but it will come!

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Thursday, May 21, 2020


Four straight days of rain, over 4 inches of rainfall, and it looks like the garden I worked so hard to plant on Sunday is mostly washed away. I am heartbroken. I hope it can be salvaged. My dogs have been going insane, stuck inside. Pizza decided to eat the wall in her kennel (but some hot sauce helped stop that today!).

But on the plus side, restaurants finally open today to limited seating. All bars and restaurants have been closed since early March. This means I have had to eat my own cooking for over 2 months. Tragedy! The governor announced also that "non-contact" sports can start happening. This means dog shows! I am super hopeful that the Lima show at the end of June is going to happen.

Despite the awful rain, I had a really good morning. I started off with Noodle in agility class. She was probably the best she has ever been - super focused, super fast, and super accurate. What more could I ask for? I think the two month break has definitely helped her, she is much more focused on me and obedient at a distance (possibly all of our field training has helped that?). Man, it was SO fun running her this morning. I think she also had a blast.

After Noodle's class, I brought Pizza in to sit on her cot and work on relaxing and focus while another class is going on. For most of the class I had her sitting/laying on her cot outside of the agility area, but towards the end when they were running a full course I brought her in to the agility area and worked her on her cot with the dogs running nearby. Shockingly she was really really good! We managed to spend the entire hour pretty much on her cot, relaxing. I brought most of her breakfast kibble with me, and I randomly fed it to her one kibble at a time, rewarding her when she was relaxed on the cot. This was really nice to see, because not being in an actual class with her is really hurting our focus training.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

And just like that, the rain stopped

Thank goodness it stopped raining today. I am not sure my sanity could take the hit of another day of rain. It has been raining non-stop since Sunday night. My rain gauge today shows 4" of rain, and that came after Mark dumped an inch + out on Monday. My garden may be completely washed out, not sure if the plants I planted on Sunday will survive.

I took the girls field training with my friends for the day. It was wonderful to get outside. Noodle started off the morning on fire, held through the flush and shot on the first two birds. The second bird flew off and landed far away, and I sent Noodle over there to re-hunt the bird. Dumb bird walked out in the middle of the dirt path and Noodle went on point, and held for the longest time while I tried to get over there as fast as I could, but the temptation was too much for her and she flushed it. It was a disappointing mistake, but it shows me that my control over her kind of goes to pieces when I am really far away from her and can't get to her in a timely manner. Something to think about.

Her last few birds were textbook perfect. She is picking up the scent from pretty far, which is impressive but I know it will be a disaster at a real hunt test where I don't actually know where the birds are planted. My goal is to get better at reading her so I know how far the bird is from her point. What I really love is her work ethic when working with another dog. She is all business and could not care less about another dog working in the field with her. Whuda thunk that with her? Someone bring me down, because I actually have hope.

Pizza Pie worked awesome today. She doesn't hold for the flush, obviously, but she is establishing a really nice point and holding it for a little while. I think that is pretty good considering she is only 9 1/2 moths old!

Well, I try not to think about it, but today I should have been showing Pizza at our National Specialty in Harrisburg, PA. It has been postponed until late September, and who knows if it actually will happen? It is hugely disappointing to me, I have such high hopes for my girl and our career has come to a screeching halt...and I am losing all of those valuable puppy months! Stupid pandemic. I stacked Pizza and worked her, pretending I was showing her. It wasn't nearly as satisfying, but it is nice to see the photo and realize how much she has grown. Our time will come, I just know it. I have to be patient. That is not always a strong suit of mine, but I have been getting better at it the past few months. I've had no choice!

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

It's all about agility today

Today was gorgeous, and I spent pretty much the entire day doing agility with all three dogs. Heaven! I started off the morning by setting up my UKI Jumpers courses for Noodle. We went out and nailed both pretty much on the first try! I went back inside and reviewed my video...and dang, I left off the last jump in the first course. Back outside we went to re-do it...good thing I noticed!

After that, I set up a backside jumping exercise and worked all three dogs on it. Pizza did it with bars on the ground, Noodle jumped 24", and Pretzel jumped 16". It was really interesting to review the videos of all three dogs and see how different they approach the backside jump, based on their personality. Pizza went like a shot out of a cannon and just ripped around that jump wing as tight as could be and low to the ground. Noodle approached it with a lot of care, and really wrapped the jump nicely at 24", being careful to lift herself out of the way of the jump to clear it. Pretzel barreled forward and jumped it a bit wide, typical of him to go at it hard and worry about accuracy later LOL!

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Tuesday-Thursday, May 26-28, 2020


FINALLY the day has arrived...time to fly to Texas to see Pretzel's (possibly last) litter of puppies! As usual, my flight hit a snafu when I flew from Columbus almost all the way to Baltimore (where I had a connecting flight), only to have the plane turn around and head back home due to a problem with the air tower. We refueled back in Columbus, and headed back to Baltimore. Luckily, since ALL flights were diverted this morning, all connections were also late, so i had plenty of time to make my connection.

I am thoroughly pleased and really excited with these puppies - they are ALL beautiful, and every one of them has show potential. Making a decision as to which puppy will go home with me next week is hard. I narrowed it down to a boy and a girl, and I have been torn up trying to decide. Both have so many pros and so few cons, it is a difficult decision. I am holding off announcing my decision until I fly back down next week. I need to have time to really think things through.

Meanwhile, here is a complete overload (and I do mean overload!!!) of puppy photos for you.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

It's an outside kinda day

I met my Weimaraner pals for a bit of field training this morning. Since I felt guilty for being gone all week, I brought all three dogs. Pretzel got a chance to hunt a couple birds, and he actually caught one and *drumroll*...brought it back to me! Quite unlike himself, and unlike Pizza who also caught one and ran around me for 15 minutes. That is the most frustrating thing. She ran around with it for 15 minutes, and when she finally came to me I praised her and let her carry the bird back to the car. We then did a little retrieving on a check cord. What's truly amazing is that the bird stayed alive though this whole thing! Pizza has a very soft mouth, which is a big plus.

When I got home, I set up this week's agility course for Noodle's UKI trial at home. This week I entered two standard runs instead of jumpers. It was so much fun...she nailed them both. I am loving this, and I am loving her new work ethic. Last summer she never worked well for me at home, always distracted by smells, and people around the neighborhood. I am feeling really good about her agility right now. I think some has to do with my new routine. When I plan to work her, I don't let her run around loose outside beforehand. I bring her to my agility field on leash, and we train in a controlled manner. Then she leaves on leash, and gets to run free later. Sounds so simple, but it is setting her up to focus on me, which is what my end goal is.

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