Breeze and her Bling

I made Breeze try to wear her bling she got this weekend, LOL, she really was not impressed, but the ball she found while I was trying to put those ribbons on her went over better!

Another standard Q and a first, and then an ....interesting run, LOL

Quick trial update: 2 days, 4 runs, 3 firsts and 3 Q's, one title! Not too bad. 3 start lines beautiful, one well..., three contacts done wonderfully and a pretty iffy dog walk contact on the second day. two times we got the weaves first time and two times I had to restart the weaves, so you know what we will have to work on!

Quite a roller coaster for our second trial day. It was a rainy morning, and then a sort of hot and muggy afternoon. It was still very quiet at the trial venue because it is Friday, and by the time I had to be there the excellent people who are most of the trial....;-) were leaving. I did not see a lot of familiar faces, so it was a good day to meet people. I brought Cricket and Breeze. Cricket did pretty good with her relaxation work and just hanging out. Breeze did not pee all day which was worrisome and right before she went in for the second run I was really imagining her peeing in the ring because she was doing a lot of sniffing, but she just would not go. I told her she better hold it for another minute if she was not willing to go the million times I took her out-scouting out the best looking pee spots, LOL. We had hours, and hours between our two runs which was rough....but what is new?

So since I really only knew a handful of people and most of the people I talked to were running in my video ;-(.

First run-
A run to be remembered, no Q but a lot of laughs and I wish I could say a learning experience,....but not a lot of training going on in that run.

Actually really seemed like and walked like a very easy course. I had what I thought was a FANTASTIC plan, and I felt very good. I should have known that would spell trouble with a capital "T".

I lined Breeze up and stood on the take off side of the second jump, and the plan was to decelerate-make sure she was in handler focus mode-stand all the way to the side and make sure I was pointing way past the right side to go in the tunnel-we do lots harder discrimination. Well, ....I do not know if I did not decelerate and just thought I did (which is what I suspect), or if my feet were pointing the other way, or who knows because Breeze took off of the start line-BREAKING HER STAY (not by much, but she did!) and shot into the wrong side of the tunnel. It was really all over then, but Breeze and I bravely carried on. LOL.

The rest of the run is what comedy shows are made of. Maybe I thought I was doing a video on what not to do in an agility run. Ughghghghg. When Breeze came out of the tunnel I tried to put her in the right side, well, she turned and came back out...I put her back in,

This is the point that I should have just sat back and maybe even left the ring??? Or at least slowed down and taken a breath because at that point we were going down hill fast. So when Breeze came out correctly she did not drive to the jump at the top of the pin wheel. I went WAY out to support it, and I knew so much better but I was out so far that I did a front cross on the TAKE OFF side of the wing that was the third jump of the pin wheel. Not only did I make that tragic mistake, but I was way to the inside of a WING jump doing that silly maneuver. So with my fast long strided dog I found myself with no way to get around the wing on the jump and hopelessly behind and we were just at the start of the course. I raced around the wing and by that time Breeze is STANDING at the jump that goes around into the arc of jumps, we missed the weave entrance, everything that could go wrong did.

The only good thing about that run is :
A. It ended

B. No one was hurt-except a little embarrassed (me)

C. With how frustrating that must have been for Breeze to be trying to run fast and
to listen when there were NO directions that made sense coming from me MY BABY DOG
STILL RAN FAST AND KEPT WORKING. That takes a lot of drive and heart....Chloe my
first dog would have stopped and stood them until I got my crap together, and Lizzie would have left.

I am usually pretty good about going into another plan and can usually save a lot of runs, I think I am pretty good about substituting a front cross for a back, or decelerating at just the right minute but you would not have believed that if you saw us today.


After that run I would have liked to go home and take a bath, LOL. But noooo we still had a standard run.

I was pretty calm and the ring nerves had gone, like how could it go any worse then our first run...knowing that made it a little ....freeing...although it did keep crossing my mind...what if we do that all the time??? YIKES!

The standard run looked wonderful on paper, but when we walked it, it was brutal. The challenges on this course were the two first jumps were a real hard angle, and then there was very little place to turn your dog for the dog walk. If you had a huge lead out and Susan Garrett type arms where you could switch one hand then the other to signal different directions it would have been neat handled as a serpentine, but we don't have those skills and it is not something we would do. I had to settle for putting Breeze way over to the side of the jump and standing in just the right place so it was a straight line over the first two jumps, then run toward the dog walk and depend on her object recognition and rear cross the dog walk. I was not sure she would have enough momentum catching the dog walk to handle the rear cross and I did not want her to get hurt if she fell off or pulled off ;-(. Anyway, she did that marvelously. At the end of the dog walk she did not want to do her contact and I had to STOP, but it was after a few steps, I made her hold her down for a second, but I think that is where I got called for a refusal of the next jump.....what ever!

The last BIG hard part was that Aframe was all the way across the ring from the chute. Yikes, with a fast dog in high acceleration, I had to pull her over to the teeter, yell at her to stop on the end and do a rear cross while she held her teeter. People with small dogs that were slower were doing some pretty front crosses after the chute, but I just could not get there. After the teeter I slowed Breeze down on purpose and managed the weaves so she got the entry first time. I did not want to do that, she should be able to do it herself but she is not catching those first poles the first time when she gets all hyped up running a course. Another thing to work on.

After our disastrous first run, it was cool!

Weird as it might sound I am SOOOOOO glad to have such a disastrous run out of the way. It was sooooo UGLY, and I have never run a course even in class like that...not anytime that I remember...maybe when I first started??? It felt strangely like a relief though to have something handled that bad and to see no one even noticed, no one cared, and the few people that commented or were paying attention just shook their head and I knew in that moment they were letting me know they had been there before too!!! And I was so proud of my doggie to be out there trying so hard when she was getting nothing useful from me. So hope we don't have many more repeats of that run...but it did not kill me!

Oh soooo luckily there might be a video of that run out there, LOL. A friend thinks she got it on her Iphone, and I would like to see it so I can tell for sure what went so wrong, but not sure I will have the courage to post that little lovely thing. LOL.

CP BLEW BREEZE NAJ, TN-N...its official!

Thanks everyone for the well wishes-they seem to have worked!!!

I got to the trial about 12:30, it was a one ring trial so novice check in was not until 1:30, which made for a long day. I think it was about 4pm when I finally got to run.

I did a good job of keeping my nerves in check, although I had a little upset tummy when I woke up in the morning, but I did not do too bad I think in the ring nerves department.

First up was Novice Jumpers with weaves. Ann Croft judging. I left my course map at the trial so I do not have a course map ;-(. It was not a bad course and the biggest challenge was a point where you had to do a rear cross into the weaves and it was a hard angle. Breeze Held her start line stay, did the first part which was a pinwheel, then you drove to the jump that you had to rear cross-let the dog float out into the weaves....Breeze tried but she caught the second pole, so good girl, got right out and re approached with some gorgeous weaves. next there was an arc of jumps going out to a non wing jump, so the biggest challenge there was to RUN LIKE HELL, so I could support that jump that was WAY out there, with no wings so harder to see, then there was another rear cross and the last jump off at an angle. It was gorgeous, take a look for yourself on video....well, there is only video of the ground, the camera did not get turned on, so like the fish that got away you will have to believe me when I say it went without a hitch. No spins, no whirls, no frustrated barking, I was pretty silent, no waving arms, yippie. The course time was 48 seconds, and we ran it in 24:11, and that included the refusal at the weaves.

SOOOOOO WE GOT OUR NOVICE JUMPERS WITH WEAVES TITLE, making Breeze officially CP Blew Breeze NAJ, TN-N. Whoo hooo, so that means we go to open tomorrow in jumpers with weaves.

STANDARDFirst and our first ever Q in standard. Standard course time was 79 second and we did it in 43 seconds. One refusal for the table.

Second course was right after the first, the building was scary silent by then, and I could hear all my commands so well, it was weird.

First challenge wss a tire as the first obstacle, followed by a wing and a weird angle to the Aframe.
Mistake one-I wish I had led out a few LESS feet, maybe right before the wing, I was worried about her going around the tire, she didn't but that would have supported that more and what was I in a hurry for? I knew she would go to the aframe, so if I hung back and ran with her I do not think she would have started running for me and then I had to push her out a little bit and made the approach to the Aframe a little less pretty.

Excellent contact on the Aframe, she was rock solid.

Mistake TWO-I have been practicing the table with my table in the back yard and duhhhh, I left the high legs on it, AND this is another point I feel I should have hung back and not tried to get so far ahead, the lateral distance did nothing for me except make it harder to show movement to the table. So she refused the table, but once on she did her sit (I never train the sit so I was concerned over that one).

Next good thing is from the table to the weaves, I let her know right away, but she missed the entrance again, but she came back and caught them and did some gorgeous weaves.

Still more good things, a slight decel to let Breeze know to switch to handler focus and not keep blasting into the dog walk...which looked to make sense, so she read the turn to the chute, and I did another good thing yelling tunnel way early so as she came out from the chute she knew she was heading for the tunnel.

NEXT BAD THING-I did not push out on her line out of the tunnel, or go in and support her line to the teeter,....bad handler!

Next good thing was I know she almost blasted off the dog walk without doing her mat behavior, but I stopped and made her hold it for a second.

BAD THING, I was concerned about the broad jump, we never do those and this one looked way different then anyone we have ever I think I just sort of did not keep driving forward after the broad jump, or perhaps I should have just front crossed after the dog walk, I did get a spin and a bark before the last obstacle, so Breeze did not know where she was going--bad handler--too little info ;-).

ANYWAY, we met our goals, contacts and start lines stayed awesome, I was glad I did not have to do any longer lead outs because I was trying to set Breeze up for success. Weaves, well, she was not checking her stride and catching the first pole either time, guess we will still need some work on that! All in all I am very happy with both of us!!! I think we did good, not perfect but very good!

Poor Mini Me,...not safe from the Cricket

Tomorrow Breeze makes her debut run in a Standard run. I was working with a trainer who did not feel we should run Breeze on the dog walk because she was a bit of a spazz-so she has not done a standard run. I went home and trained lots of rear end awareness and playing on the board, then we spent the autumn and winter with frequent injuries,...but now she is ready to go....I hope ;-). So this will be our first standard run, and Ann Croft will be judging (she wrote the articles on Four on the Floor contacts that I used to train them originally) so how cool would it be if our Four on the floor works and looks pretty? I am not counting on it though, Breeze has been doing FANTASTIC with her contacts...but she always gets really over excited and it could all fall apart once we get into a trial. My goals for tomorrow and Friday are the weave entries, we have worked a lot on Breeze being able to check her stride and hit the entries, so hopefully....the contacts-hopefully they will hold up in the excitement of a trial and the start line. The start line is the iffy one, if Breeze feels a little nervous she will break and go around the first jump, so we have been working and lots of rewards for holding the start line until released and for going over the first we will see. So my goal is not to Q but to make sure my training holds up in the ring-so wish us luck!

The fun part of having a black/white border collie after having two more unusual looking dogs is.....YOU CAN GET LITTLE TRINKETS THAT LOOK LIKE YOUR DOG, LOL. This is a Build a Bear Border Collie, I got this way before I got Cricket, I thought I would get a cute like picture with Cricket ...seriously I thought she would just sit and get her picture what was I thinking...have I met Cricket??? I should have known, no sweet little sitting pictures today.

Check out that EVIL look she is giving that stuffed dog, hummm...what shall I do to that silly thing first?

As soon as I snapped the first picture Cricket grabbed poor Mini Me and ran to the chair-

Poor Mini Me was manhandled in the space of seconds...I have a sound box that barks in the poor stuffed dog, and Cricket thought the mini me was magical and was egging her on, just daring her to tear her stuffing out...

There is no mercy for stuffed dogs when Cricket is around...

Time to rescue poor Mini Me before my Build a Bear border collie is permanently damaged ;-) .

Foundation Seminar VOD has me thinking about my own handling system

I have been fascinated by handling systems trying to understand what the deal was for about the last year or two. I love to discuss handling systems or read about them, but it is not a popular topic of conversation and I notice if I bring them up most people get a glazed look in their eyes-on the surface I think they do seem pretty boring but gosh it is so interesting if you figure out the handling system you want to use and really try to understand it, and I think understanding it makes life so much more fun for the dog because a good system eliminates confusion, and who wants to run around while they are confused?.

Recently Diana posted that she was watching the Linda M. Handling Foundation seminar, (Awesome Paws Handling System) and the price had been discounted to $75 (from $175), and you now get a week to watch it (you used to just get 48 hours). I have read the series of articles and Linda's jumping book, and struggled to learn the APHS so I had always wanted to watch the seminar, but sitting for six hours with less then 48 hours and paying all that money if I could not get through it....those things always kept me from paying for the VOD until I saw Diana's post. I had an instructor that was teaching APHS when I started the border collies out, which was when I started to understand WHAT a handling system was, and why I wanted to bother learning about it, it was the system I learned with when I really started trying to understand handling-in another hundred years I am sure I will have a pretty good understanding, LOL.

I had originally trained Chloe in classes where I was not taught that I was using a handling system-I had no idea I was using a system, but I I really was originally taught using a Gregg Darrett handling system, although I did not know that at the time. Because the dogs in my class are handled with GD, I really notice there are some things they do that seem easier for them and their dogs, and there are some things my dogs ROCK doing that are very hard for the other dogs (I love when that happens), so always good and bad. But I have to say I LOVE my handling system and really love its benefits.

Why use a handling system and what is the point of having one? Well, I just think it gives you some structure and helps you make sure you are being consistent in your cues and how you handle your dog. Consistency makes for confident, fast dogs. Consistent cues in your handling system keeps you from training your dog NOT to do something one day and then asking them to do it the next in another situation and then not understand why the dog gets confused, or stops listening to you, or slows down because they do not feel confident of what is going to happen. It is like driving with a person that has a habit of yelling to turn NOW at the last second, soon you do not trust them to tell you when to get on the right freeway, you will probably slow down, drive in the right hand lane and do a lot of the sign reading yourself.

At first it was REALLY hard in class to stay consistent because Deanna usually gives her explanations based on what would work in a GD handling system, I would work on something in class and go home and think about it and realize that I have really disregarded some of the concepts of my handling system so I have to rethink and be happy Breeze is very forgiving. Some days it feels like I speak a foreign language and it feels like Deanna my instructor is speaking French-or GD, I need to listen and translate it to my home language English-or APHS, then re translate it to French to ask Deanna how to handle it and state the problems that I am having in relation to my system and how can I make it work and not be inconsistent so my dog stays happy and knows what I am doing. Deanna my instructor understands her handling system VERY WELL and the basics of APHS so she does try to help me out and when I feel stuck and am not sure how to handle something, but I think because she understands her system of handling so well, it is easier for her to help me with mine ;-).

So watching Linda's foundation video, I had my own V8 moment as soon as the video was on about five minutes, so I knew right away the money I had spent was SOOOOOO Well, worth it. I have been having a trouble with the backy up move, where you go up to a jump, maybe move backwards a few steps, open your shoulders and that is a cue to the dog that they need to collect and come around the jump to my side and we will go on. Breeze has been running RIGHT up to the jump, to where she is almost hitting it and STOPS COLD. A definite refusal, and of course the silly dogs fault.....OR WAS IT???? Yep you guess it, MY FAULT TOTALLY, I was forgetting forward motion, it all of a sudden hit me I go up there, think my dog really used to be terrific at that and I start thinking about where I am going next or worse yet stopping, Breeze reads my motion soooo well, that she just stops, wow, how cool would that be if I needed to pull her off a jump, LOL, not so cool when I want her to go over, but she was being a good doggie and doing exactly what I taught her. That is sort of the basic rule of my handling system and here I have been messing it up and did not even realize it, whoops! So how easily fixed is that, I just have to show forward movement toward the jump, even if I walk backwards toward the jump to do it. Whooo hoooo!

I was also really interested in watching the foundation video because Cricket is getting to that age where I have to make some decisions soon how I want to train her for agility. Unfortunately the classes they have here, based on GD use a lot of methods that are really not going to work if I want to train Cricket with the system I currently use, so the bummer is that I will probably have to train her at home, and with some privates occasionally as I can afford them until she has started trialing and is ready for the advanced handlers classes here locally. I have not had to train a dog from scratch totally by myself, so whew I am hopeful I will be able to do it. If not,....well, it is just dog thankfully no one will be horribly hurt and I will re evaluate ;-).

One thing that really stands out is that in the APHS there are really not a lot of things to teach the dogs...most of it is teaching the handler to handle things correctly based on what dogs naturally read about movement from their handlers. I have always been a little confused about how Linda starts dogs out so they get an understanding of reading the motion and in the very beginning stages I do think it is hard while the dogs are figuring it out. I remember not being sure if Breeze would ever get some of the ideas I was trying to "teach" and understand what we were doing as she ran courses with her head backwards almost the whole course, LOL, but it is pretty cool now that she has figured out what we are doing, and a lot of it sounds like you just have to give the dog time to figure it out. Watching the VOD helped me understand a little more about how Linda starts dogs out and listening to her I do think some of our earlier problems were just part of the learning process when using this system. Now most of Liz/Breeze/my problems are from times I stop dead in my tracks or am inconsistent using deceleration or motion.

Anyway, if you have a weekend to kill the VOD basically cost what it would cost to audit a seminar around here. It was really nice to be able to stop the VOD and rewind or replay parts I wanted to clarify, so that was nicer then auditing a seminar, although going to audit a seminar is an outing and this was sitting in front of my computer, LOL, not as glamorous for sure. I think there are some things that relate to any handling system you are using and some natural cues you may be giving your dog unknowingly that give some food for thought, so I would have to give the seminar a big thumbs up. Hopefully she will do another one with common sequences or some more advanced concepts. I really enjoyed learning about the converging lines when I was working with my former instructor and would love to hear her talk about them, but that would be in a more advanced seminar-so hopefully one day.

Herding ...instinct kicks in! Whooo Hooooo!

At 5 1/2 months old I had Cricket instinct tested, and she was not interested in sheep at all. I took her out yesterday and someone had flipped a switch, she just got a few minutes with the sheep,....but I think she was pretty interested! It is so cool to see baby dogs growing up and changing!

Lizzie herding: the time before this Lizzie had done one nice fetch and then was DONE, so I had asked Robin to work with her this lesson. Have you noticed kids and dogs are always better behaved when other people work with them? Liz always does good with Robin-I think sometimes I stress her out because I am learning too! Actually I have way more of a learning curve then any of my dogs do!


I am sorry, I feel like a proud Mom...this is just a little more of Cricket seeing sheep the second time, with no music, etc... but a little more of how she did then the first video shows. She was only with the sheep a VERY SHORT time, I just wanted to see if she had any more interest then last time.

update on Karen Overalls Relaxation Protocol work

First off the Real Big News.......

I entered Breeze in a trial on the 27th, and 28th of May. That is a Thursday and it should be a quiet trial, and it is at a place I am familiar with. If you REALLY want to know who needs the relaxation protocol, and to learn to control their nerves...well, that would have to be ME!

I sent in my entry, and after all the injuries with Breeze...I have not trialed in a long time...I really wanted to do this one and I think Breeze should be good for it physically but once I sent the entry I got an upset stomach. YIKES, stressing weeks before the time. How sad is that? I do not know anyone else going... I am sure I will see familiar faces on Friday, but the first trial I am doing all by my lonesome, so maybe I will do a search on the net for a Handler Relaxation Protocol, LOL.

I am working on the relaxation protocol with my three border collies. I am sure the shelties could use it too...but have to admit I am a little too lazy for that right now. LOL.

Of course as with anything I train, the three dogs all handle things so differently, same protocol, same starting point, but totally different experiences and challenges. What is new?

LIZZIE-ya know, knowing Lizzie's ADD nature I am sure people would think she would be the one this would be hardest for. They would be wrong. As weird as it is Little Lizardo with her zoomies and her stress difficulties...she understands relaxation and impulse control better then any dog I have worked with. It is true, even if that makes no sense ;-). Lizzie is on day 8 and gets on the mat and starts relaxing-she gets it. One of the exercises that has come into play is walking out of sight for 15 seconds, walking to the door and going out for 10 seconds, she handles it all really well, and really keeps herself relaxed. It might be my imagination but after we work on her mat work, she seems to follow me around more and to look to me when she is going to go over the top--Can not wait to see how this affects her in the long term.

CRICKET-She had a slow start, I had to do the first two days protocol for a few days because she really was not getting it, we limped along but now she is the champion. She really relaxes better then anyone else, even though she really had a slow start. I have been praising and treating when I see her close her eyes, put her head down in a relaxed manner, and now she sees the mat, tugs on the mat the entire way to the living room where we are doing the protocol, then when I put it down and start counting slowly, she flops on the side of her hip and puts her head down. She is a few days behind the others but what a good girl! The hardest thing has been me going to the door and starting to open it. Today Cricket got alert and looked at me, then made a choice to put her head down to relax, wow, that is HUGE-she chose to settle herself down and understood how to do that! I think this whole thing is teaching her to relax, and to look to me for what is expected and when she is supposed to settle she is learning how to settle herself, I can not imagine how much that might help in the future.

BREEZE-Yikes, Breeze goes through the exercises and was doing really well the first few days. She still does it well but the last two days she seems to think it is a shaping exercise or she should be ready to shoot off the start line. I started to treat for heavy eye lids, for putting her head down, for rolling to the side, well, she got confused and just started throwing out behaviors, so she is the only one I use the clicker during the protocol work to pinpoint the relaxed behaviors, we will see if it works. This last day she was in a hyper aroused state the entire time, she did the full day perfectly, but she was not relaxing, oooh Breeze. I think I will just do a couple of extra time sessions just working on shaping relaxing on the mat.

I am pretty proud of myself, each of the dogs takes about ten minutes, and I do it at breakfast time, so it takes me about an hour to feed all the dogs. I also have been taking Skyler out to play Look at That-from Controlled Unleashed -because we have a new neighbor dog and it is really upsetting Skyler-so I want to nip that in the bud now that we are working on everyone keeping their heads!


I have to give a shout out to a company I ordered my Cosequin from. Today I got my new order, 500 pills for $137 plus free shipping. I thought that was an EXCELLENT price, but in addition I placed my order yesterday at 11 am and by 10 am the next day it was at my door. Wow. The company is called Entirely Pets, and both times I ordered I was shocked how fast it arrived.

Mothers day 2010, and thoughts on picking puppies

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! On this terrific day I was thinking about the moms of my dogs...and some of the things I wish I knew before I chose puppies but as time goes on I am learning. All my dogs but one were bought, Skyler is a rescue, and by paying for puppies that were produced to sell...I was supporting certain things, good or bad. I am sorry to say that I did not always know what I was supporting or check out the situations nearly as well as I should have. I have come to think that because I bought dogs I really do have a higher responsibility to be more responsible then I have been with getting some of my dogs. I did the best I could but....I have learned a lot. Hope all my dogs moms have a great moms day-although I do not know where they all are, and I am sorry about that.

This is Nell who is Breeze's mom. Breeze was a part of her last litter and now she has a home with some people who seem really nice. I have seen Nell at some herding trials and she has went on to be a super star at herding. It was cool to see her looking really happy and in a great home.

Crickets beautiful mom is named Rumor. Rumor does Rally and agility and is co owned and lives with Lori. Lori is the best puppy grandma around. It does make me feel really great knowing that Rumor has a wonderful life and is a treasured pet. Getting a puppy from a mom that was really part of a family was a big requirement when I got Cricket, and that was not that easy to find.

I do not know the mothers of the other dogs ;-(, they are just names I could look up. I do wish I had known better at the time and had thought more about what I was supporting-which might have been a good situation, but I will never know. I know now that it takes a little time and effort and planning to really choose a good place if you are buying a puppy, to check out and confirm the health testing and how the parents live and are treated, how much work the breeder does with the puppies and that the breeder is really concerned with health and not breeding questionable dogs. I also have found that people that get dogs from some pretty crappy breeders will give glowing recommendations because they have never checked it out and their dogs are they assume everything is terrific,...I take that with a grain of salt now. My theory now is that you have to check out everything for yourself, look up the health testing and ask a lot of questions until you are satisfied you understand everything.

Lizzie came from a ranch in the wine country. I never even saw her mom, because I got her when she was like 14 weeks old and her mom was a working dog. As far as I know she is living in Northern California and herds cattle as a real job. I think part of Lizzie's problems come from being bred to herd cattle. Dogs that herd cattle react very quickly without thinking a lot. Think about a cow that could kill the dog- reaching out to kick them. They have to react quickly. Not saying most dogs that are bred to herd cattle as as challenging as Liz, but I think her breeding went amuck with those traits. I do know her sisters seemed very spacey and one had a LOT of fears, and I do know they spayed her mom after Liz's litter-humm, think that says something.

Skyler was a rescue, he had parvo and no one wanted him because they were scared of the parvo, so I really did not know his mom, but I did find out his dad was a very scared, fearful, reactive dog.....hummm, wonder why he is? Sky's dad was a dog that never should have been bred, but I am surprised at how many reactive, fearful dogs are bred. Skyler came from a back yard breeder who had two dogs....and wanted to make a little money, not necessarily breed healthy dogs-mentally or physically. I would not go that route again without knowing a whole lot more about what I was getting...but Skyler really needed a home, so..guess he was meant to be here.

Chloe came from Salt Lake City, and I never met her mom, can you tell my dog picking criteria has changed a lot over the last few years? Chloe was just a really cool dog my mom ran across....they were some funky stories about the actual home she came from, the place I bought her was like a co breeder with her actual first owner. I did not do a whole lot of checking at that time. She is a great dog and it worked out, but I truly have no clue what type of breeder I was supporting with my money. I just lucked out that she is a terrific dog.

Cricket is getting the hang of Lefts and Rights

I just love her eyes....

One of the things we have been working on is "rights" and "lefts" with fading out cues. I do notice in the video that because I reach over to get the food and then go back for right I end up doing a bit of a body cue, grrrrr. I will have to video that in some other places with the food elsewhere to see if I do that all the time. But, we are getting there.

Cricket is 7 months and she is definitely has a LOT of energy and focusing is harder for her lately, there is just so much to see and do, many cats that NEED to be chased and so many people to say "hi" too. LOL. Even with all that energy, Cricket still makes time in the evening to cuddle, and I love that about her!

Back to Dr. Karen Overalls Relaxation Protocol

Dr. Karen Overalls relaxation protocol is a set of exercises where you systematically teach your dog to relax in a sit or a down, or on a mat and look to you even and stay calm even when there are "weird" things happening around them. Using food and quiet praise the dog learns to associate good things with different stimuli. Basically it teaches a dog using classical conditioning to feel more relaxed. I have used it when I was working on Skyler and some of his reactivity issues, but gosh I know this will be great for the other dogs too. I think it will be a great foundation for some of the training I would like to start doing with Cricket, namely some of the advanced Controlled Unleashed work and I figure it would be good for the other dogs too, as long as we are at it!

If you just try to wade through the protocol on paper it looks daunting and confusing, but a few years ago I found someone had made MP3 files to walk you through the protocol, which makes it super fast and easy to actually do it. Here is a link to Champion of my Heart that has MP3 files you can download that talks you through the relaxation protocol, they really help when doing the work so you can concentrate on what you are doing and not be flipping through papers or fiddling with stop watches to figure out what to do next. I downloaded the file to my IPOD, it makes it so easy and they are working perfectly.

Here is another link to the written protocol-

I took Cricket to a trial this weekend to work on her staying calm and connected because we have worked on that on the side lines of agility classes for awhile and I figured we were ready to move on to some more challenges. LOL, guess I raised the bar too high and too fast because Cricket was amazing outside the area and walked on a loose leash and was terrific, but when she saw dogs running, or moving quickly past her she was a little whirling dervish, LOL. I have just got the new Controlled Unleash Games DVD which I will talk about more in a different post once I watch all of I got a ton of ideas on things to work on but I think I would like to work on some foundation behaviors for the controlled unleashed work.

I think a little of this work might help Breeze relax at the start line, she does great but I do notice signs of some stress when she is at the start lines at trials, and I would like her to be happier for the start line, even though she is doing marvelously on her start line-I am not sure the stress will not come back to bite us later on, so might as well work on some things that might help that down the line.

Liz is the queen of the stress cadets, so it goes without saying it could NEVER hurt to have her do a little relaxation work.

I am going to work on the relaxation protocol here at home, then take it as many places as I can, starting out with working in the living room, then the back yard, then the front yard, then maybe Lowes, Home Depot, Pets Mart, the agility yard, and work up to where we can try to do that eventually at trials, first from a long distance away and then getting closer to the action.

Our first day of working on the protocol the results were pretty predictable. Breeze was a super star even though all the other dogs started running around, the kids were walking in and out. Liz did really well. Cricket....well, lets just say she is pretty distractable. Her first session I ended up doing with Liz next to her which gave her the idea, team mat work, her second session with the first day protocol was much better and she was able to do it on her own-good job Crick! Great job Breeze and Liz!

Another Proud Moment for me, and vets appointments for the pups

I had another of my PROUD moments the other day. I was at Target walking through the store with my cart and my two teenage girls. Well, I guess I was not paying attention and walked right into a man in a wheel chair with the cart. OMG, you can not imagine how mortified and embarrassed I was, I really felt like an idiot. When I got done groveling and apologizing to the man and making sure no one was injured...I asked my daughter, WHY didn't you tell me I was about to run into a WHEEL CHAIR? My daughter said well, I figured you knew......OMG, SERIOUSLY, that is disturbing on so many levels. Could my daughter really think I am the type of person that would run down people in wheel chairs with my shopping cart on purpose? LOL, I sure hope not! KIDS!

Apparently Oprah needs to widen the scope of her drive to get people to pledge to not drive distracted-(not to drive CARS while texting or talking on the phone..) to include not being distracted while driving shopping carts.

We had a marathon vets appointment, I had four dogs to take on the hour trek to our holistic vet.

OUR BIGGEST LOSER: with a weight loss of 6 lbs in the last few months to a perfect weight is...........

SKYLER> who just turned EIGHT, and got a clean bill of health, including a gold star for his teeth, eight years old and the vet does not feel there is enough tarter to clean them...raw bones from raw feeding ROCK for keeping teeth nice!

Poor Skyler had to have his rabis shot....that is so ridiculous when he has had how many of the shots and I know he is protected....I fully support the rabis challenge study so we do not have to keep re vaccinating dogs without doing research to see how long the vaccine actually lasts. If anyone wants to contribute or to just check it out you can find more info at

Liz got her rabis shot, and had had a full blood panel and is in PERFECT health, yea Liz! OOPs, except she has gained a few pounds and is now on a diet, sorry Liz! She says she is not the only one who likes their food a little too much in our house....

BREEZE-Breeze was so sick the weekend after her foot was swollen and she was lame, when she had been injured there was a small red spot where it hurt. It was in a strange place and we could not figure out how she could have done that or how it related to the injury. So now we are thinking she got bite or a sting or something...although strange it did not turn more black/blue, or ooze anything, but Breeze is looking much better...I just wish she could let me know what happened.

Soooo...the plan is to wait until the end of this week and then see how Breeze does and let her go back slowly to her activities, FINGERS CROSSED.

Of Course we did not leave the Crickster home! She comes to visit every time we go to the vet. Cricket ran up and down the stairs at the Bass Pro Outlet, worked on not jumping on EVERYONE, we are down to her jumping on only 50% of the people, LOL, and she learned about the elevator, so she was an extremely good girl. She does get over the top when we got to places with polished floors, it is so bizarre as she looks like she is swimming across the floor because she is trying so hard to run, and is so over the top her feet end up sort of swimming along the ground, being too calm is not Crickets problem for sure!


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