Sunday, May 30, 2010

Respect the line that holds your dog.

You can do a lot of damage to a leg with a flexi. A dog runs the wrong way, it gets wrapped around a leg and pulled... ouch. It's even worse if the person is wearing shorts.

I watch people walk massive dogs on the tiny string, it's an accident waiting to happen.

Then there are the people who have problems controlling their big dog so they wrap the leash around their wrist and/or hand. When that goes bad it can break bones!

Long lines deserve our respect as well. I have a video of a friend of mine being pulled off her feet and dragged on the ground by her ankle while handling Bullet's line during bitework, I'm still looking for it. Thankfully she wasn't hurt, and Bullet didn't even notice!

Yesterday I was running Lexus with another dog and I had her dragging a Gripper long line. A Gripper line is great for when you are holding back a large dog in training. It has long lines of elastic through the webbing to provide grip. I love mine! That is, until puppy runs around my leg while dragging it. I was wearing a skirt and sandals. Seeing what was coming I jumped out of the way but the end still managed to catch my ankle and flick around, taking a few layers of skin with it. Nasty.

I don't recommend it!

Not enough time

Time. When I find myself wishing for something to hurry up and happen I remind myself of a fable I once heard. It was about a boy who was given his life as a ball of string and some scissors but was warned to use it well. He could cut out unpleasant experiences, or cut to happy times. At first he was careful but soon he was cutting out big portions of his life. It wasn't until his ball was much smaller that he realized how all experiences make a life and you can't go back. He'd cut away his whole life. The real fable is much better of course but I can't find any references to it on a quick internet search.

Right now I have many blog posts planned but no time to write them. I'm too busy enjoying the experiences. Some upcoming posts will be about (so I don't forget):

Why I lock the gates to my backyard.

Hero worship in the dog world.

Gardening with dogs.

The danger of barbed wire.

The longest hike ever.

Competing with your dog, a balancing act.

How many dogs to work?

And there I go, I'm sure I've forgotten some! There is one coming shortly, complete with pictures and possibly video if I can find an old clip.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Windsor Trial Continued

It was fun meeting everyone at the Windsor club and spending time there, they've got a great setup.

A nice surprise on trial day was an old friend showing up, and everyone from Frontier driving many long hours to watch. Thanks guys :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So Bullet got his SchH 2...

Or as I'm calling it, his SchH 1-1/2. Let me explain.

One thing I love about Schutzhund is that all scores are published. You see just how well everyone did... or didn't do. Let's just say it wasn't our highest scoring performance, but other than that I'm happy with the day and incredibly happy with Bullet because he can easily score better.

Each phase is scored out of 100. You need a score of 70 in each phase to get the title, but must score over 80 in protection to proceed to the next level.

May 8, 2010
Windsor Schutzhund Training Club
Judge: Bill Szentmiklosi (USA Pending)
Score: 90-74-76 (Tracking-Obedience-Protection)

As we only got 76 in protection we won ourselves the chance to try again before we can get our SchH III. Thanks to Tim Horton's Roll Up The Rim To Win I'm more than used to this. And a 74 in obedience! All I can say is that we got the score we deserved on that day. Ouch.

What I discovered was I need to be deliberate with my pre-ring routines and do my best to influence Bullet's state of mind. As much as you prepare for trial there are still things that happen that you don't expect, like how high your dog will get! Even though we didn't do our best, this trial showed me that Bullet is ready and with more tweaking, trial experience and proofing he'll do just fine.

My action plan for next time I enter a trial, which will be very soon:

For now I need to enter trials a little closer to home.
Because of my schedule we only got out to practice on the Windsor field with their decoy twice, I think Bullet (at this point) could use more exposure. With more trial experience this won't be as necessary.

With Windsor being three hours away we stayed in a hotel the night before. Bullet is not accustomed to this and was on alert and on edge the whole night. I don't have the money or time to just go practice this so we'll make do with getting up early from home and driving to trials.

My pre-ring routines are important.
There was a dog fight in the flight before ours which resulted in us going in much sooner than expected. I pulled Bullet from the car and on the field we went with no warm-up. This wasn't a usual situation but it showed me that I really must take care before I take him on the field. I usually do some obedience beforehand, some heeling, a small stay or motion exercise and I'll probably start doing a short dumbbell hold from now on. As it was, I did not have Bullet's focus, he was barking and eyeballing the blinds in a protection frame of mind. Very bad. This didn't help with his motions (esp the stand) and stay (which we lost 10 points for as he slid along on his belly too far to get anything). Some chewing of the dumbbell. Barking. Bumping. Things that add up!

Before protection I never signal what we are doing but I realize now that I should consider it. We walked down field and he was more in an obedience state of mind. In other words he was quiet - bad sign. I set up for the blind search, our bodies facing blind 3. My arm was up. Every fiber of my being was directing him towards that blind. What does he do when I tell him to revier? He circles around my body and does a friggin sendout!!! This was a classic trial case of "He's never done that before!". I called him back and redirected him to blind 3 again... and what does he do but go in the other direction, straight to blind 6. There is nothing you can do at this point but shrug and continue on.

After that it was the little things that added up to a score of 76. On his long bite he went straight and fast (point loss for some vocalization before I sent him...). The decoy caught him, the crowd clapped, and I didn't see what happened but Bullet flipped over on his back but got back up. He didn't let go but I had to give an extra out command. I'd much rather have to give Bullet an extra command than have him let go and not reengage :) The judge said he was pronounced in courage, overall I was extremely happy with his performance.

His tracking was good, the conditions weren't the best as it was incredibly windy but thankfully the thunderstorms and tornado warnings of the night before had passed. The ground was damp and the hay was thick, that helped offset the challenge of the wind.

Unfortunately I have no video of his protection routine or his track, the camera started to fizzle at the end of our obedience routine and it died before protection. Thanks to Valerie & Christopher I got most of his OB, here it is, warts and all. I wasn't going to show it but why not? That is Bullet and that is me, as we are and where we are at. The music is from my brother's high school band, Crash of the Nowhere.