Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Busy Week

We've been keeping ourselves quite busy lately even if we didn't have agility class last week. It's staying light so much later, we've gotten a lot of training in. We've gotten quite a bit of weave pole training - Iris is now doing the first three poles without cages. Finally we're making some good progress! Iris had a very hard time getting past no cages on the side that I wasn't on. It seems like once we got over that hurdle, we've made much faster progress.

The big progress this week was really when I brought Iris to watch some of the NADAC trial on Saturday. I fully expected her to have regressed a little because we haven't been anywhere with that many dogs and people since last fall. Nope! Iris was awesome. I was able to bring her much closer to the ring (and therefore, closer in general to dogs and people moving around) than I've ever been able to in the past. The only thing that still seemed to get her worked up a little was other dogs barking. She was able to just hang out with me while I chatted with a couple people fron our agility class. She even lay down in the grass for a bit. I was very proud of my girl! She was wearing a gentle leader, which I admit I do feel is a little like cheating because Iris is definitely better behaved with it on. On the other hand, if she's behaving better to begin with than I have more oppertunities to reward her for good behavior. There's another NADAC trial next weekend that I'm really hoping to get her over to since we seem to have some good momentum. It might be a little tough since I have a couple other things going on, but we might be able to squeeze it in on Sunday morning.

Tonight, we were back to our regular agility class. It's a full class of six dogs. The course was short with a dogwalk/tunnel discrimination. Also, there was a line we weren't supposed to cross, but I'm pretty sure I was bad about remembering the line. The problem with the discrimination is that Iris loves the dogwalk. If it was up to her, she'd choose the dog walk everytime. I'm pretty sure if Iris was designing her own agility course, it would be mostly contact obstacles and flying off the end of the teeter would actually be required instead of against the rules. Unfortunately for Iris, tonight she was supposed to be in the tunnel and not on the dogwalk. Once Katrin reminded me just how much I need to push Iris to get her in the tunnel, I think we did pretty good. Last time we saw this dogwalk/tunnel set up, I seem to remember a certain red dog sqeeezing in between the tunnel and the wall in order to climb over the tunnel and onto the dogwalk. Iris did a much better job tonight. She went over the dogwalk a few times, but I did get her through the tunnel a few times too. Because I had to be so close to the end of the dogwalk to get her into the tunnel, I ended up doing a rear cross before the last two jumps. I'm sort of thinking about putting her in the 5 Directions class next session instead of the Tuesday class. I think we're both a little weak on the directional commands. I don't think Iris has a great grasp of some of the commands and even if she did, I never remember to use them anyway. I'm not always the most vocal person and sometimes I feel like I forget to give Iris enough feedback. Something to think on.

Tomorrow night, we're starting a reactive dogs class for agility dogs. It should be interesting. We met with the instructor, Carolyn, last week. I think it's going to be a really good class for Iris and it's right down the street too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Agility and Stress

Iris was really not herself during class on Tues. I should try to write about class sooner so that I remember it better, especially on nights she's acting odd. A few things I noticed:
  • Iris fidgeted during most of the drive to class. Normally she sleeps for most of the ride.
  • There were a few different cars coming and going to take care of the horses during our class, and Iris was very aware of them. It's not unusual for her to be extremely aware of cars, but there haven't been any cars coming/going during class all winter.
  • Iris pooped before class and in the arena during class. She always poops before class starts and never does a second time. Ok, it's not the first time she's gone in the arena, but it's only when she doesn't go before class starts. Poop looked normal but maybe she wasn't feeling well?
  • Iris' jumping was terrible. A few times she plowed through a jump bar face first. For her to be crashing through the jump bar with her face, she wasn't getting much height at all. I'm not sure if this was because she wasn't feeling well (something was sore? Out of alignment?). Her gait looked normal to me. Or maybe she was just wasn't paying attention a all to what she she was doing? She seemed more weirded out by the other dogs than she usually is. I don't think this was a vision issue. Other than during that one class, her vision seems like it's still ok.
  • Iris was having more trouble focusing on me at the start line than usual. Katrin had me start with Iris instead of leading out which did help.
The only time I really felt like Iris' brain was on agility and not something else was around the dogwalk. She loves the contact obstacles, so she didn't have any trouble with the dogwalk/tunnel discrimination. The tire was out again, and Iris still struggled with it. I really need to build a tire! I want to build one that is displaceable, but I don't have good plans for it. Hmmm. I'll have to think on that one.

No agility class next week, but we might be starting a reactive dogs class. I think Iris would really benefit from another reactive dogs class. I can't manage the drive to Franklin twice a week right now, so I'm going to try a class closer by (even though I really like Emma).

On a completely unrelated note, a couple different people have commented on how good Iris' coat is right now. She is very soft and shiney right now even though she hasn't had a recent bath. I guess her new diet is agreeing with her.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jay Sisler

The Working Aussie Source posted an old (1950s) home movie of Jay Sisler working his preforming dogs! If you know anything about Aussies then you've heard of Jay. Jay's rodeo show put the Aussie into the national spotlight, and most Aussies now have at least one of his dogs in their pedigree. So even if you haven't heard of Jay, you've probably met an Aussie descended from his dogs (including Iris!) His dogs even appeared in a couple of Disney films including Stub: The Best Cowdog in the West. I didn't realize that one was available on DVD, but now I might have to pick it up.

The best part of the movie might be just how much the dogs seem to enjoy working for him.

Part 1

Part 2

Of course I love the Aussies, but that Greyhound is pretty amazing too!