More Boxes and training in cold weather!

This is the next step of Crickets Box for the Aframe running contact. I was actually pretty shocked how good she did. I edited for time but I did not edit out any mistakes, I think that was our first 100% successful training session, weird, hope it was not a fluke!

This is just to show you all where we spend three nights a week training. Can you believe they do swimming when it is 34 degrees outside and the kids are using an outdoor pool. On the last clip Cricket is looking back to the area where the kids are swimming. I have to say that the kids swim for 1 hr 45 min three times a week in the night and a session on Saturday morning and it sure seems like a long time now that it is so cold. I was so cold it was hard to get the mechanics of training right my fingers were freezing...There used to be LOTS of joggers and people walking their dogs, but strangely enough I have the park mostly to myself which is a bit eery! Breeze was also working doing some recall practice, and Lizzie and I took a long walk practicing heeling but those practices were in the areas where the lighting is not as good so they did not get filmed.

Cricket's test!

Well, have to admit that I really am enjoying "homeschooling" Cricket. I really enjoy teaching obstacles and know how I want to teach things and I really like being able to go as slow or as quick as Cricket and I want to go and being able to concentrate on what we want to focus on.

The downside is that right now gosh it feels like a jambled mish mash of skills. It would be nice to have a class that would break things down into small bite sized pieces every week and not have to worry about having a plan, LOL, but right now it just seems every time I turn around I think of something else that I really feel we should work on.

We took some time out to work on some tricks, just some fun shaping and that really reminded me how Cricket likes to work. Cricket will keep working and working and be very happy, but shaping some tricks I really realized how much better Cricket does with short sessions with really high rate of reinforcements...she will work forever, but she really learns so much faster if I do not get greedy when we are training. So I am getting more strict with myself and taking my stop watch out to remind me to keep the sessions really short and sweet.

One of the things we are working on is the Running AFrame so this is some of our beginning box work, I am checking to see if I think Cricket really understands to look for the box and to pounce into it with all four feet.

Breeze was back at the vet last week. The vet is pretty sure her back is the cause of all the problems but it is at a place that is hard to strengthen with just exercise. She had thought the back issue would heal much more quickly then it has, so she is going to have us continue with weekly laser treatments and she says that for awhile we might only be able to do weaves once a week with Breeze....which is fine.

Luckily though she does feel Breeze will be able to over come this and do fine I really liked hearing that. The vet does not think it feels like Breeze has disc disease although she did say that if this is not treated correctly this is this type of injury that could become chronic and lead to disc disease, so as far as I am concerned if we have to keep Breeze out from weaves and really tight turns until spring, that is fine by me.

For now it is weekly vets appointments, since it is the Christmas season with the busy schedules, crowds, and the bills Christmas brings, LOL, not exactly the best time of the year for that....but when is a good time?

more celebrations-and a recap of what Cricket has been up to!

Cricket before her GOTTCHA DAY:

Today is my birthday and we just celebrated Crickets GOTTCHA DAY!!! I met my little pumpkin in person when I picked her up from the airport the Friday before Thanksgiving last year.

I had never got a dog I had not been able to cuddle and pick before, and at the time I had not met any of the dogs from Hillcrest where Cricket came from.
ON the day I went to pick Cricket up I had to wait for HOURS for her to get to the cargo area so I could pick her up. When they let me go back to get her I will never forget that first site I had of her, with her little freckles looking anxiously out of the crate. She was so cute, not how I thought she would look but sooo cute.

I grabbed the crate and put it in the car, I had staked out a nice grassy area and had brought an xpen so I zipped to the grassy area and got my xpen set up and went to let Cricket out to potty. Poor puppy was covered in Diarrhea, her mat was soaked. Cricket was not going to go on the ground, she snuggled and cuddled into my neck and would not move for about five minutes. As soon as she felt like someone was going to take care of her she got down and started tugging. It was like she was ready to begin the new chapter of her life.


I have been very bad, I have lots of videos of our work but a lot of it just seems so boring, even though I think it is huge stuff for us ;-). I am also doing a lot of work at places while my daughter is swimming and that is when it is pitch black so the videos are not great because of that.

Our big things are we are working on the box for a running Aframe. I thought Cricket was ready to start putting the box in a grid...but yesterday she started acting like the box was a broad jump and jumping over it. I reviewed my tapes and I think she was doing that when I stand in the forward position and I think she was reading my position as an extension cue and got a little excited. I think I also was rewarding with just a little too much oomph and forward a little further and put those all together and I think it just excited her too much-she was doing so well and it was really suprising when she started the leaping. ANYWAY, think we will be ready to put the box into grids VERY quickly, but of course I want to make sure the behavior of pouncing in the box is very strong first.

We are working on the 2020 for the dog walk. I have been using parts of Susan Garrett's stair work to teach the position. I go a couple of times a day to a real estate office with stairs outside, and I think that is really helping get a nice pounce into position and a nice weight shift, I am experimenting with the technique Rachel Saunders did in her Clean Run articles where the 2020 is taught without a nose target-she says that helps the dog focus on the position and not confuse that the behavior is just the target/nose touch, and I can deliver treats a little higher up to encourage the weight shift off the shoulders, and then do some dropping food on the ground to reward to encourage a straight position-VERY different then how I taught Chloe the 2020-the last time I worked with that position. I am also working with Elicia Calhoun's on the Board teaching Cricket to body target on a board just big enough for her so she gets a lot of body awareness about where she should be-she is a super star with that work. We are ready to put her 2020 onto the dog walk now that we have the position down and now that the teeter is pretty much trained--we will probably put the position on the dog walk in the next day or two by back chaining.

The teeter is marvelous, I used the Wendy Pape teeter video to break down the teeter into the end behavior, getting her used to the height, learning to square herself up for the entry, so her teeter is looking good.

The Cik/cap turns are very cool, it has really helped us work on object discrimination without the agility obstacles so we can get that really fast, happy before we add in obstacles. I think that cik/cap work is doing really great things for developing object focus and confidence.

As far as handling I have been working through the Linda M jumping book and series of articles and yesterday Cricket was able to do a full little sequence and considering we have not done a lot of actual sequences, she is amazing so far at reading everything.

Of course we have been working on sends to the tunnel and table and around the world with the tunnel, she does really well with all of that and it really helps when we are learning new sequences because I can stick a table or tunnel to help get some fantastic drive forward using them like giant targets.

I am feeling a little scattered and like we have so many things going at one time that I am looking forward to the weaves....but want to get the aframe box work to a grid first. I am going to do the 2x2, and am considering using a few of the variations from the recent Mary Ellen Barry article about 2x2 training in Clean Run. She does a lot more entry work at the 2 pole stage, which seems like it might develop a little more value for that entry and those first poles which are so crucial.

Anyway, I will try to get some video soon. Today for my birthday Breeze and I are heading down to the vet. Hopefully I can find a new park or place where Cricket, Breeze and I can do a little work/play and of course we will have to stop at the doggie boutique ....think it will be a good day.

Cricket at six months:

Happy Gottcha day Breeze!.

Well, it has been FOUR YEARS since I brought my beautiful, fluffy little blue merle bundle of joy home. I named my cute little bundle of Love ASH which was her litter name-her litter was named smoke names because she was born in the early morning when there was a fire very close to the ranch she was born at. I loved the name ASH but then thought if I was mumbling....judges might think I was swearing at her, I chickened out and named her Breeze.

The journey my little Breezie and I are on is a long winding road and as so many journeys it is not at all the journey I had envisioned when I picked up little Breeze for the ride home from the ranch four years ago. I guess it is the journey that was meant for us, and I have learned an awful lot with Breeze by my side, so guess I can not complain too much, except for an occasional rant and expression of frustration in my blog ;-), I do wish some things were different but I love having Breeze in my life, and all in all it has been a great journey.


I can not imagine what it must feel like to read my blog....because I get tired of saying once again....Breeze got hurt in class. I just find it so ....unbelievable to be typing that again. I really thought she was feeling better after her last treatment and she looked so much better and actually got the weaves the last three days....the first time she has looked really good since the start of last summer.

Tonight in class, her weaves had some really bizarre striding, I could see it as I ran, but by the sixth pole she could not maintain the striding and SLAMMED her hip into the pole-bending the pole-like a big bend in it. Breeze SCREAMED-a sound I never want to hear again. Of course I walked her out but she was obviously hurting, and JUMPING and trying to go back in the weave poles-Breeze really is a nut and doesn't care how much it hurts, she wants to go!.

When I saw how funky her striding I should have pulled her out, but number one it happened so fast I was just watching and trying to figure out what she was doing and number two she is just doing such weird strides part of me doesn't know how much I just have to let her go and figure out how it is best for her to move her body. Up until then the last two days her weaves were so gorgeous. Breeze is an excellent weaver if she feels good, but that is sure where her discomfort is showing.

I do not know what to do with her anymore, she gets her chiro and acupuncture treatments every month to six weeks and has for years, I do tons of core exercises and rear end stuff, I make sure to warm her up and walk her out after exercises and we do a lot of massage and stretching. I use her Back on Track jacket, she is on Adequain and lots of supplements, but the vet feels that things are catching up with her and now we are seeing more injuries and compensation further up her body from how she compensates for what goes on with her hips.

I am wondering if I need to just let her work on jumping and take a break from the weaves until spring. Her vet does not want me to quit with her because she wants her joints moving and working, but I am thinking maybe it has to be without the weaves until it warms up. Except for weaves and the aframe Breeze looks so good, she is running nice, she is jumping beautifully, she is reading all the new moves we have been working on and she is so happy. Well, after tonight she is really limping but I am thinking that is that huge hit she took to her hip, that was so nasty.

To tell you the truth I sort of really just wish we could get our last Q for her open title and then maybe it is getting time to retire her from trialing. Not sure we would be able to get a q because of the weaves.., and I know Breeze really does not give a durn if she finishes her title, and it will not improve her life I am going to have to do some thinking and more talking with the vet when we go on Tuesday. I could give it a try and not practice weaves and just see how she does in a trial, or do some USDAA jumpers....or just make peace with just having fun with my girl-although the vet keeps encouraging me not to stop agility with her, but guess we can do agility without trialing, I just wish someone could give me some answers.

I would quit in a minute if any of the vets said I should and I ask every time I go in, but both our vets keep telling me that for her mental health and keeping her joints working they do not think I should just quit, although gosh even talking about wanting that last Q makes me feel so guilty.

Cricket and Breeze's vet visit






Breeze and Cricket got two new big pink balls because they were such good girls at the vet today.

Cricket got to go to the vet to get her rabies shot. She was fantastic, she marched into the vets office like she owned the place and was trying to run and jump at everyone she saw. She looked like she was wiggling and wagging her back half so hard she could wag it right off. Cricket is one happy girl. Unfortunately, it is the vet that Breeze usually goes to by herself and she was not happy Cricket was acting so excited in her vets office, so she kept giving Cricket the stink eye trying to warn her to settle down and kept going over and grabbing her muzzle in her mouth when Cricket would get too exuberant. Poor Cricket it is hard to have a big sister that runs such a tight ship.

Cricket got to go to the cute little boutique we found after the vets office. The groomer there just LOVED her and kept giving her the most marvelous treats....Cricket picked out two of the best pink balls, we have never seen such big balls with feet, it squeeks so nicely and it is PINK-I think they are called cuz balls, but this one is much bigger then the other ones we have. The second ball is a jolly ball but does not have a handle, lately the handles usually do not make it past the first play session so it is good there are no handles, maybe this one will last at least a week ;-).

Breeze....What can I say about my Breeze? Last summer Breeze hurt her back/neck area and was not able to do the weaves in a trial. After that it seemed she got a lot better but never really got totally well. We were having a lot of weave problems but sometimes it is so hard to tell, is it a training issue or is it that the weaves had hurt and she got used to avoiding them or are they still hard for her??? How do you ever really know?

We have worked on Breezes striding through the weaves with some WAM weave poles and I put her through slightly open channels--Breeze was having a gorgeous stride through the weaves as long as we had aids to make it easier. The minute I tried to go back to regular straight up and down weaves she could not maintain a stride through all twelve poles. As she got down the line of poles she would sort of just not be able to continue striding and would have to skip a pole, then gather herself and start again. As time went on I could tell she really was trying hard and knew what to do but she just couldn't do it.

Then I noticed the Aframe stride had changed. She has had the same stride for three years and why would she change so drastically now? Hummm, my suspicion was increasing.

Last week at class I noticed that Breeze who always has the tightest turns was turning these giant, wide turns. Deanna said she saw Breeze cranking her head and neck into a tight turn but her back end was just not able to follow, her back legs were working really hard to try to pull her rear end around a turn but just were not doing well. The last day or two I was practicing in the park - just sending Breeze around trees, light posts, etc so I could really watch and at times doing right hand turns her back end almost flew out from under her, she really seemed to have trouble maintaining her footing and working her back end.

Well, the doctor said that Breeze was really not feeling good, her neck was way out, her vertebra mid back were really out of place. Her right hip was really high and twisted. So Breeze got an adjustment and a laser treatment for her back and some acupuncture and she will go back for the same treatment next week. It was funny because as I was holding Breezes head and the doctor manipulated her vertebra mid back I could feel Breeze just sigh and relax-even though she is not fond of being touched, it really seemed to feel good to her. I have never seen such definite signs of relief from her before. So today we have light activity, half regular activity tomorrow and pretty normal activity until next week when she get another treatment and see how things held up. Poor Breeze, I am really getting pretty tired of the non stop injuries. I really hope this helps her feel better. The good thing is other then the things I noticed during agility, Breeze looks pretty good most of the time,...she is not dropping bars, she looks good running, she is not taking weird steps so hopefully we get her neck and back worked out and she will hit another good patch physically!

The vet was really pleased with all the rear end work we had been doing, the perch work, the backing up stairs, the sits to stands and the core work, and of course the stretching, I have concenrated the stretching more on her hips and back legs, and from the work the vet did today I think she needs more stretching on her front legs and shoulders, which makes sense with the problems I saw striding through the weaves and over the aframe.

Hazards of training at the park...

I was at the park practicing weaves with Breeze the other day and normally if people want to stop and watch is a public park and that is just good distraction training. Some of the nicest people are dog owners with their dogs at the park.

This lady was funny. Her dog had a cone on, and was lunging, growling and barking at Breeze, and of course on a flexi leash. Breeze stays with me, so I was not worried about that, but the lady kept coming and standing right where I was working at the entrance to my weave poles. I am sure the dog was very sweet, but had a little leash frustration, just not in the state of mind for an excited border collie to try to get past him to get to her weaves.

distractins at the park from kathy bordergirlsmom on Vimeo.

She never said anything and I was not going to walk up to her with the dog obviously not under control. If the dog had been standing where the lady was, it would have all been good.

I had not meant to film this lady and I was surprised when I found that footage on my training tapes, LOL. I know it might not be cool to post a video of others....but this is how I justify it...
1. no one in my town or state looks at my blog and would see the video, LOL,
2. I am posting it on the blog and not youtube,
3. my video camera was in clear view and able to be seen, although I had just expected to catch our weaves, not a visitor!
4. It is hard to even really see her- I would not even recognize her from the video.

THANKS for every ones help and suggestions. This is a new striding for Breeze, which bothers me because the vet has said she might not be able to do agility much longer and we have found permanent physical changes lately, so her changing her striding in the weaves and on the aframe is a little worrisome to me.

the plan is:
teaching her to handle stride regulators
making a chute for her contact
Always releasing to another obstacle and a toy on the ground-if I throw the toy she looks to me, that is what I always did before
be really careful about never releasing when she is looking at me.

I have worked the stride regulators so she knows to jump over them now, first on the ground then putting them on the aframe, and I looked at her old stride to try to help her go back to that to try to figure out where to place the regulators.

I will make the stride regulators smaller.

I am going to fade the pvc on the side away from me on the contact fairly soon, and then fade the size of the pvc that is between her and I-hopefully that can morf into a small piece of pvc, perhaps I will spray paint it at that point to make it blend into the ground too, we will see.

This is our practice from today. I did some shaping for looking ahead and I am very happy with this stride, although the aframe is lowered, and we have the regulators in place obviously. I am concerned about too much retraining and the repetitions, especially when Breezes career is very possibly close to over, and now that winter is here-last year Breeze was not able to do agility until it warmed up in the to be honest my big goal is to finish up our open titles before she has to retire, but hopefully I am wrong about that one-and reading more into the stride changes!!! Breeze has also just been more excited so maybe that is what is happening. It would be neat if this is all just more excitement on Breeze's part!

Still on the Journey! needing a little maintaince..

I am always having to remind mysef it is about the journey, right???

First off I have notied that Breeze is striding way differently over the Aframe. She used to be very consistent and have two hits on the way down, landing really solidly in the yellow, on the upper third but it was easy to see. So this stride is still working so far, kind of working if you squint, am I being too much of a freak to worry about it? It just does not meet the criteria I had set and seems like it has the potential to get a lot uglier, and seems like it could be worked on. Actually after I was watching I think the excited performance is better then her performance when she is not over the top, LOL, go figure.

I could see when I was running and watching I thought she was hitting the yellow, but a lot of times it really looks iffy.

Not sure if she is getting more confident, or less confident, if that is a normal break down of a behavior that just needs maintaining, or if she is just landing where she is planning to reach on that last stride to get into her position.

Soooooo ANY THOUGHTS ON HOW TO MAKE THIS LOOK PRETTIER-throw them out! I am thinking perhaps a stride regulator to make her reach further down after the apex, then encourage her to reach further down for her second hit??? To me it looks like when she lands further down from the apex she puts in a couple of strides, so that she can still hit the TOP of the yellow and reach for her position. Maybe some jump grids like Rachel Saunders does in her running Aframe video???? I just dont want this to deteriorate further!

The other bummer is that I seemed to have scratched my video camera lense, there is a big blurry spot in the middle of the screen, ughghghg, and that isn't getting better by ignoring it either, LOL. The video camera works wonderfully, but I think I might have ruined it with the big scratch or what ever that is. I feel like a doof for not being more careful with my poor little camera.


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