How Bizarre


I have to say it feels so weird today....I have been alone and have the house all to myself. That does not happen very often but my husband took the girls to San Diego so my youngest daughter can go to a swim camp. I have been home taking care of the zoo. Kimmie the cat got outside last night and I could not find her for a long time,... I would have been dog meat with the kids if they were off for the weekend and I lost their cat-I was SO relieved when I finally found her. Kimmie is not allowed outside but sometimes she gets DETERMINED to get outside-laying in wait for the door to open so she can dash out. The kittens Ashe and Pixie were little terrors all night running all over my face and wrestling next to me while I was trying to sleep. I wonder if they do that every night?

Emma's swim clinic is at the San Diego University. I can not believe how self confident and focused she can be, and she was very excited to go to the clinic even though she will not know anyone and it will be a totally new environment. The clinic is for sharpening up turns-which is something that she has been working on....and how to get a little more speed. It sounds totally cool but the kids will swim about 4-5 hours today, have lunch and go to the college bookstore. It is really cute how they seem to treat the kids like the little athletes they are. I love being able to watch Emma do something she seems so focused about and has such fun doing and watching her gain a so much confidence.

I am just tickled pink Emma got to go and that she has found something that she really seems to like. It is really cute because when we are leaving practices there are always a couple of kids that will come up to us and tell her how fast she is or that she should be doing some swim meets, it just seems like a great little group that all seem very supportive of everyone, I think the coaches are pretty strict about everyone working together and not forming cliches or not supporting their team mates. It is suprising how Emma has never complained about all the work and is now talking about wanting to get ready to actually compete in some swim meets.

If Breeze can not do agility....perhaps we can join the circus, LOL!

Breeze is too funny, I wanted to work on pivoting on the bowl. The way this was supposed to go was Breeze would put her front feet on the bowl and then walk her back feet in a circle with the front feet on the bowl. Breeze remembers we were working on putting four feet IN a bowl, so guess she thought this was a variation of that trick. The balancing is really hard for Breeze when she has to get all her feet so close on a small area, she knows what to do it is just physically challenging, sweet Breeze is willing to try anything if there is the promise of a ball to play with ;-).

On the personal front, I went to one of those hair cutting places where you get who ever is there to cut your hair. I had no waiting but after the guy started cutting my hair.... he says it had been a slow day and he had been in the back watching videos on youtube before I got there. As he is cutting my hair he says he had seen a video showing some sort of technique for cutting hair and he was wondering why they had done it like that but he said it was working really well and he liked it. WHAT??? He was trying something he had seen on youtube and was not sure what the purpose of the technique was. YIKES, I have to say it all made me a bit nervous. It did not help when I said I wanted a little layering in the front and he was doing some heavy duty layering in the back, but once he cut a few cuts and I realized how much he was layering, what was the point of complaining, I figured at least we should make it all even. LOL, not to worry the hair cut seems OK, but it was a bit of a scary experience.


We had visitors on Saturday. It was a real bordercollie palooza! Pam came to visit with Bandit and Twix. Pam is a friend that I met after seeing her videos posted on youtube. She lives a couple of hours away so it was so neat that she drove all the way up here to visit with us.

It was a fantastic day,the dogs all got along wonderfully and had the best time. I had a great time too, it was great company. Pam brought some frisbees-my dogs have not really played with frisbees but they thought those were a lot of fun.

Lizzie suprised me the most because she usually tends to just hang out on her own and not really play with other dogs. Well she LOVED the dogs and really loved Twix,she was really flirting with him, but then he is pretty handsome. It was really cute how much she really liked playing with Pam who taught her a few freestyle moves. I was really suprised at how much Liz liked doing the freestyle moves, we just might have to explore that a little.

So how often do you just get to hang out for an afternoon in beautiful weather talking dogs? LOL, it was right up my alley.

Pam made a video of the dogs playing and check out how much fun they were all having.

just a little practice...

I have not worked on verbal "rights" and "lefts" in awhile, so I was impressed Cricket remembers so well. One of the assignments for the Sylvia Trkman course to shape four feet in a smaller and smaller bowl-well it as taken us a long time to almost get there, all three of my dogs were moving slow with this trick, but it is soooooo close now ;-)

Running Aframes and Running Shoes

The NEW shoes that make me run faster and jump higher! (at least it feels that way, LOL)

I kept reading what some people said about the Vibram Five Fingers shoes, so when I was at the REI store, I had to check them out. I LOVE going barefoot and I had heard Dr. Oz talk on TV about how good they are for foot health. Everyone who talks about them says they love them, when I tried them on- they felt marvelous so I went ahead and bought a pair.

I got the model that said it is for trail type uses, the sales person said this type is a good choice for your first pair of Vibrams because they are easier to adjust to. There was a little less BRIGHTLY colored pair that was tan and maroon-which would not have been as obvious, but my arch is just a little too high for those to fit well, so yep, I got a bright cornflower blue and yellow pair. I think these will get noticed,...probably noticed a lot more then I would have liked, LOL.

I got my shoes home and did have some pangs of remorse thinking I might be a little embarrassed to wear these to class or a trial the first few times....I know I am far from being a teenager and can imagine people wondering who I am trying to fool, and wondering if I really think I can fool people into thinking I am really running, hehehehe, but I have to say they are really comfortable.

I am sure everyone has seen little kids when they get a new pair of shoes and they swear they can jump way higher then before and they fly like the wind because of their new shoes.....LOL, well, that is how I felt. I really could move a lot better and for the first time since the hamstring injury I could really run, or my version of running. So guess people can laugh, because they feel great and I like my new shoes!

I know these are made with a little thicker sole or something then some of the Vibram models but it is freaky--it feels like I am barefoot but I have taken them through the pile of rocks, and the dirt and it feels like I am running barefoot but I can not feel the rocks and stickers. Whooo hooo! I am LOVING THEM!

I started teaching Cricket a running aframe with the Rachel Saunders box method,...a long time ago. It all started out marvelously, but over time we started having problems. What was happening was that Cricket would be pretty much perfect on the grids but on the Aframe kept ticking the box with her foot. The criteria for this method of learning the Running Aframe is that-
1. For Cricket she is easily able to do two hits on the aframe on the way down, so that is her criteria.
2. All four feet need to hit inside the box, and there should be a pounce into the box
3. No foot is to touch the PVC box
4. Most importantly you should NEVER reward the dog just hitting the aframe once on the way down, even if the hit is in the yellow.
5. The dog should have minimal looking at the handler or checking in-this was the criteria that I was not sticking to enough and I think it was the reason Cricket was hitting higher on the Aframe then I would like, and she was ticking the PVC.

I tried to fix our problems working with grids on the ground...and placing the reward out front instead of throwing it. We had a lot of problems with that, so more training so we could do that, and it felt like this would never work out, but HEY, CHECK IT OUT, I think we are on the right track now!!! We are running an 87.5% success rate over the last three sessions, so we might even be ready to move on to the next step. FINALLY. The video is nothing excited but if you want you can check out our progress, if not just trust me it is looking better.

Considering this aframe is with me moving a lot while Cricket is doing her aframe, I have moved the box lower on the aframe and I am able to move in many different positions-we have had a couple of big steps forward in our training..., by George I think we are going to get it.

A little training idea...not my idea but I like it!

Susan Garrett/Lynda Orton-Hill mentioned a thought about training our dogs that I found intrigueing. Their point was that in training (and I suspect in a lot of things in life in general) we practice/do the things we are really good at-we play to our strengths. Those are the things we find the most fun, the most rewarding because we do them well and want to repeat. We end up doing the same things over, and over, and over. Of course the problem is that our weaknesses and the small holes in our training do not get as much work, and the dog ends up bored doing our same go to behaviors all the time.

The suggestion was that you put down all your little training games, for example the 1-2-3 game, your restrained recalls, your crate games worked around distractions, maybe paw touches to a target, fast sits/downs at a distance, what ever little foundation behaviors should be revisited on a regular basis...put each one on a card and then put the cards in a baggie. When you go to train just draw a card at random from the baggie and work on what ever that card says. I deceided it sounded like a good idea, so I made about forty cards, I used most of the games from the SG recall course since most of those are nice foundation games, and made a few cards for some games that seem really important to play more frequently.

I think part of the reason going to a class or doing something like the SG recallers course, or the Sylvia Trkman elessons ends up being so great is just that someone else gives me a list of things to work on that might not be things I would remember to work on if left by myself-so I am hoping the cards work the same way and help my dogs and I keep our skills more up to date and our training time more fun and fresh.

Of course because I have a little OCD type behavior sometimes, I had to take my cards, write the game on one side, the other side has a few words to remind me of how to play the game, and of course I had to put some cute dog stickers on my cards, LOL. You can never have too many decorations on anything now can you?


We had a great weekend. Saturday Cricket got to go to a fun match- she ran a full course and did really terrific. The course had a lot of different skills from what we have been practicing, so it was really helpful by pointing out a few key areas to work on. OOOH and by the by....might be nice to teach the poor baby dog the broad jump. You would think since I have a dvd from Mary Ellen Barry about that...and have looked forward to teaching it, it would be something we would have done by now.. but this is our third time she has seen it and run right over the top-BAD TRAINER. The other things that we need to work on are helping Cricket understand me converging on her line. The great thing was Cricket was nailing some really hard fast weave entries and we really were communicating suprisingly well.

Breeze and I needed a little time together after last weeks news-so we went to visit and watch the DART USDAA test trial on Sunday. It was fun hanging around and seeing some of our trial buddies that we don't see that often now that we have not been trialing. Last week we had some snow flurries here in So. CA, but this week it was blazing hot. YIKES, the first few hot days are rough!

Who said life is fair?

Breeze comes from a pretty impressive family. At AKC agility nationals the owner of Breezes dad-Tracy Golden- won the 24 in class with Breezes half brother Blink. Breezes littermate Zing! owned by Gabrielle Blackburn won second in the 20 in class....Breezes Aunt Quick, and her aunt Driven have both had awesome careers. Breeze has the drive, the desire and she is so much fun to train and run in agility so todays visit to the vet was a hard one and felt just plain unfair ;-(.

Breeze was injured last summer doing weave poles and we took a very long break from the weaves- we have had regular laser treatments, chiro appointments, and lots of conditioning games. But once again it is really looking like Breeze just can not physically do the weaves without hurting herself. Even doing minimal reps of the weaves has ended up with her not able to do the weaves again. About three or four poles into the weaves she can not keep turning her back left and right to get around the poles, and she starts crashing into the poles-and looks like she just can not make it to turn before she crashes into the next pole- usually her hip gets hung up on the poles- she has bent a bunch of poles- When I see her do it it is obvious it is not a training issue but a physical issue. It might not be so bad if Breeze did the weaves slowly, Breeze doesn't do anything slow ;-).

Today my vet said that she does not feel that Breeze's back can handle the weaves and that she has come to the conclusion that this is not something that she feels is going to get better. With nine months of rest, treatments and exercise, she feels that if it was going to get better it should have had plenty of time by now. She said I could look into other treatments, or go to other people for more opinions to help but she has run out of things that she thinks will help. The vet said she feels Breeze could do agility runs without weaves ...

Of course Breezes long term soundness is the most important thing, and we have all known this day would be come sooner or later so when the vet was talking to me....I was pretty calm and agreed with her, we talked about other options for Breeze, and it all felt fine.

I got out to the car and all of a sudden it just did not feel real. I was having a hard time even thinking about it or trying to process the whole situation. I think I was afraid to think about it because I know I would have started bawling and getting home would have been hard. It had seemed we might be at this point a few times before...but Breeze has always rallied and we have had a reprieve. Breeze is just such an awesome dog to do agility with... and she loves working so much...I just wish all this had not happened to her-it feels so sad to think of giving up and moving on.

I think right now the plan is to keep conditioning her and maybe think about doing some USDAA jumpers, maybe some gamblers and just not do the weaves, maybe some NADAC tunnelers for fun and we can always do lots of tricks at home. I will take her in to get some xrays of her back although the vet said she just does not feel like they will give us any answers, but I guess it is a way to rule a few things out. My vet says that where her injury is seems to be in a place that is very difficult to isolate and exercise to overcome the weakness. I think it will take a few days of sitting and thinking about the whole situation to really accept a new plan. I know after things sink in I will remind myself that I am blessed and lucky that Breeze will be able to live a pretty normal life and is generally pretty comfortable-and she can still play, I am lucky it is just the weaves she can not do, it really could be a whole lot worse. Today it just feels pretty bad.

This was the last time Breeze was able to do the weaves, this was just last month and this time she was able to do them for a week or two before she started having problems again....It is just not looking good for her to stay sound for more then a few weeks. Watching this such a short time ago really makes it hard to really believe...

Breeze with the Spring Flowers

The California Poppy Field Preserves April 10, 2011
PHOTOS BY KAREN MOUREAUX-thanks so much Karen!

Today Breeze was the special doggie of the day-she was chosen to go on a special girls day out adventure!

First we went over to Leona Valley for a herding trial, a place I have never been. I had a heck of a time even figuring out even the general are the town was at, much less how to get there. We got there in time to watch a lot of duck herding, which seems so tedious and hard, and one duck even got hurt, which means...the owner of the dog had to buy the duck, YIKES, I do not think that is something I am going to take up anytime soon, but it was fun to watch. The ducks were very smart and did not want to move away from the gate where they get let out at the end of the run, they were tough ducks. Breeze was a little miffed that we just went to watch, she wanted to show everyone how herding is done-it has been awhile since she saw sheep and she knows it is high time to get back to herding.

I have only been to a handful of herding trials, but they seem much smaller and definately a different 'vibe' then agility trials. This was a very small trial and there had to be less then 20 people total there, just a handful of dogs. Within minutes of being there, the person who owns the ranch had come up and got my name and introduced himself, a lady who is involved in the Border Collie club had asked if I would like an application to join, I had met a few people that I ended up hanging around with for the rest of the trial, it was a very friendly crowd. Before I left the person who owns the ranch came up again and asked if I had any questions and gave me his card, web site address, etc..

Karen who is Breeze's breeder was there. Breeze has not seen Karen in at least a couple of months and it was so funny because Breeze was whining and crying and would not leave Karen alone. Geeze Louise, Karen does not feed Breeze, she does not throw the ball for her....but she gets that reaction? I have never seen Breeze act that way for me. I guess she LOVES her original Momma. After the trial Karen was kind enough to suggest going to see the California Poppy fields and getting a few pictures of Breeze. I LOVE them and I can see a floating frame for four photos to hang in the hallway with my dog pictures.

A Little Bit of then...and some Now

I truly love all my dogs, but Cricket and I have worked so much and so hard together from day one and that really has really made us such great friends-there is something about the bond you get when you work that much with any creature. I can not say enough about this little girl. So anyway.....this is our favorite recall game which was on the agenda for our ecourse yesterday. I had to throw super special treats so Cricket would go away from me.

The only thing I regret is that Cricket is about a year and a half old, dogs just do not live long enough and I am having so much fun with her that it makes me sad that a year and a half of our time has flown-it has gone so fast. I would like to be on this journey with her forever. How Corny is that? It might be Corny but Cricket has me wrapped around her paw-she keeps me smiling and laughing no matter what else is going on. How can you not love a dog who can do that?

Another first for the Crickster!

It must be spring fever, but it feels like we are finally shifting into high gear here. Our recalls are looking good and we are having a blast with the Susan Garrett course, because it is the second time around it is so much easier to take the games to the next level and we aren't struggling with the mechanics of the games, so we just get to have fun.

The Sylvia Trkman puppy course is a little intimidating-even though the lessons are not that hard, we are making good progress on our assignments but boy there are some fellow students that seem to be making amazing progress, way faster then our progress,a good reason not to indulge in comparing ones self to others...but it has been fun and I feel like we are doing fine.

Since I had my hamstring injury shortly after Thanksgiving...I have not been able to run so I have not worked on a full dog walk. I knew I would not be able to properly reward it or help Cricket out if I could not move. Well, today my leg is FINALLY starting to feel better and I can move a little more then I could so we tried our FIRST FULL DOGWALK. I had no idea how it would go, but considering this is her very first try......I am really excited with how it looks. Our hold at the end seemed to have disappeared somewhat....although toward the end of the session it seemed it was coming back to Cricket, but I am going to have stick to my criteria on that because I do believe Cricket is prone to getting a little excited at times.

We had a very sweet song to go along with our first try, but geeze, I tried to upload my video to youtube and first off I uploaded her first AFRAME video (not the dogwalk), so I had to delete that and then I uploaded my video with the nice song and they muted I had to go back and put in another song -about that time this song was sounding fun, LOL, and youtube has not muted it, yippie!!!

Recalls...not always a non contact sport!

The highlight of my recall work this weekend was today when I took the border collies to the park to do some restrained recalls...Cricket is doing so well, and I am able to get pretty much the whole way across the park and do her recalls-it is awesome to see her and how fast she runs to me-she is AWESOME.

It all went horribly wrong when Cricket caught up to me and I did a 360 degree turn with the toy, she had so much momentum that when she grabbed for the toy.....she caught my shirt, I heard a RIP!!!!! and sure guessed it....she had ripped my whole right boob area out of my shirt-Who knew it would rip like that??? OOOH CRICKET! It was great having to march with my dog past the playground full of children, the sheriff's dept and the parking lot before I got to my car. Unfortunately I had also cleaned out my car the other day and with the warm weather I had taken out my jacket. Ughghg, what a time for the car to be totally out of gas-the next stop in our adventure was supposed to be Target and the gas station. Well, we skipped Target and I really hope the car will make it back out to the gas station because I just did not want to go pump gas with my newly restyled shirt, thanks Cricket! I think the dog has a little drive!
(Cricket says it was NOT her fault!)

I will spare you all pictures or film of the event, LOL, no need to thank me for that!

How about a trick in progress???

Breeze and Cricket driving us to the park-guess it is safe as long as they are working together, LOL.

I got some video of our adventures and our trick in progress...check out the shorts, the green grass, all the kids at the playground at the park....yep we had some 90 degree days here in California.

With the work we are doing on our ecourses the girls and I needed a fun little trick to work on, and is super good practice working around the kids, there was a kite flying right next to us, people walking by and bikes.

Did I mention my dogs are terrified of kids? Except Liz...but boy get them working and they really don't notice kids. This was our second try at skateboarding, I can not believe how easy it is not a finished product yet....but...this is a video of how it is going.


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