moving day

This is the last post to this Word Press site. We finally have a new website, Power Paws Agility and the blog is integrated there.

The new website has been a big project and certainly a learning curve for me. I have learned a lot about websites I never knew I would want to know. And I discovered that just because I knew how to make a post on a Word Press blog that that knowledge would certainly not qualify me to create a new Word Press website! I know just enough about the inner workings of websites to get myself into trouble with my web gurus while I am playing around making changes and making them crazy at the same time. Thanks to Terry and Nathan for helping get me started, but most sincere thanks of all to my new web genius Chris!!

I have lots of good stuff planned for the new site like more articles and videos and a store. So, don’t be a stranger, come drop by and leave a comment on the blog if you like the pretty new digs:)

Thanks for reading,

NJG

PS: all the old blog posts have been moved over to the new site so you don’t have to search here if you are looking for an older post

Scoop OAJ

I can hardly believe that Scoop will be three years old in a month. I want my lost year back! Ok, enough whining:) Scoop and I went to his first competition in almost a year and he did really well. No Q’s on day one, but on the second day he got his third open jumpers leg to finish the title and this weekend he will run in EX jumpers for the first time. His last time in the AKC ring was exactly a year ago, his 2nd open jumpers leg was on 2.12.2011, almost exactly one year between open jumpers legs!

Here is a video of the jumpers run and the EX standard Q we almost got till I dumped him in the weaves and had to pay for it with his departure.

Scoop is still getting weekly massages and last week he got one on both Friday and Saturday, Maybe that was why he was good on Sunday!

My student Mary VanWormer sent me a link to a really interesting article on why massage heals. I found it an eye opener and it has even more confirmed the need to have body work done on my dogs. I am now trying to adjust the time I spend working on Scoop myself so that I save time after training and not necessarily before. I really don’t think I can make time for both! Warm-up, stretch, train, then a least a little time devoted to massaging his tightest parts.

I hope our success continues and am really looking forward to this weekend instead of with the trepidation I have felt for so long on his progress.

I hope your youngster is right on track and that you make some time and same some money to spend on those valuable massages for your competition partner!

NJG

momentum

It’s been a while since I wrote about Early Take Off. Like lots of projects it is often difficult to maintain momentum when the goals are grand and the steps to reach that goal are small and mostly informative in nature. Some time ago I wrote a  Q. and A. about Early Take Off based on questions which I have been asked over the years, I am just getting around to publishing it. You can read it here and it will have a special page of it’s own  here on my site. Linda Mecklenburg has written more on the subject and I hope to help keep that momentum going with this article. Read Linda’s new pages on ETS on her website http://www.awesomepaws.us/.

I hope you will share it with others, and keep the information and dialogue open about this frustrating syndrome.

I promise to write about how well Scoop is doing soon. With the help of Cindy Difranco’s massage video I just might be able to keep him moving soundly. I love the video, and think you will too.  http://www.difrancodogz.com/

All the best to you and yours, and sincere hopes for a fab 2012!

NJG

Questions and Answers about Early Takeoff,  by Nancy Gyes

Q: Why do dogs drop their head and add the little steps before they take off for a jump?

NJG: That is sometimes referred to as stutter stepping or measuring. Many, but not all ETS dogs add a small step and drop their head just before they take off early for the jump. Some dogs only do this on spreads or on jumps that are at least 20 feet apart and on a straight approach. Some dogs just take off early without the head drop. It is one of the known symptoms of ETS, and we do not know for sure why some dogs do or don’t do this. As the dog drops his head he might be trying to locate the jump by moving his head up and down.

Not all dogs that add steps and drop their head have ETS. At times an injury or body discomfort can cause a dog to add steps before they jump. Dogs that are uncomfortable jumping do not usually stutter step as well as take off early, they might even take off quite close to the jump.

Q: Why do some dogs jump short distances just fine but take off early for a jump once the distance between jumps gets to around 20 feet or more?

NJG: Since dogs cannot tell us what they see we can only speculate that since ETS dogs have greater difficulty jumping the longer distances, that they have more problems seeing or perceiving where the jump is when it is at a distance greater than around 15 feet.

Q: When *should* a dog take off for a jump?

NJG: Each dog has a comfortable takeoff distance for a jump. If the dog takes off 8 feet from a jump, but lands 8 feet from the jump, then that might be considered jumping long, but the jump distance is equal on ascent and descent of the jump and so is not considered “early”.

Q: How early is early?

NJG: On occasion a dog without ETS takes off at a slightly greater distance than they land on a jump. It could be a sign of beginning stages of ETS or it could be nothing at all. If your dog consistently takes off 7 feet from a jump but lands only 3 or 4 feet past the jump that would be considered early.

Q: Is ETS a problem with depth perception, and is there a test for that?

NJG: There is no eye test for depth perception in dogs. Our dogs cannot tell us exactly what they see and don’t see, and there is nothing in the dogs’ eye that is able to be measured to test their depth perception. Dogs’ eyes are different from ours and they do not have as good depth perception as people. We don’t know for sure how this affects their jumping.

Q: My sheltie usually jumps fine, but sometimes takes off a bit early for a triple, is that ETS?

NJG: It could be. Once you have your dog’s vision checked and you have also ruled out any kind of strain or injury that your dog might have, you would then begin to suspect ETS, especially if any of your dogs’ siblings, parents or other relations have ETS.

Q: My students’ dog jumps worse in the poorly lighted barn where we train, is that normal?

NJG: Some ETS dogs jump worse in poorly lighted buildings or under lights outdoors at night. Some struggle with different footings, like matting or dirt when they usually train on grass. If your dog is already stressing about their jumping it would be normal to expect a dog to struggle even more on different surfaces or in different lighting they are not familiar with.

Q: What kind of vision tests should be done on my dog? Are they expensive?

NJG: You should have a retinoscopy. In the SF Bay Area the test costs about $200. It could be more or less depending on the Animal Opthamologist you use.

Q: What is a retinoscopy, and do they put the dog to sleep to do it?

NJG: Your dogs’ eyes are looked at by the veterinarian using a retinoscope  and your dog will be awake and usually the owner is with the dog. The entire testing might last an hour.

Q: The local animal eye doctor does not do the recommended vision tests, where should I go?

NJG: You need to look for a veterinarian who is a Diplomate in Veterinary Opthamology, and that has tested many dogs using Retinoscopy. Some Veterinary Opthamologists have the machine but are not well versed in its’ use. Try doing a google search in your area or call some of the local Veterinary eye clinics for information. The retinoscopy is a test to determine a dog’s acuity. This potentially would determine if the dog is near or far-sighted, or if the difference between the eyes is great enough to warrant a prescription for contacts.

Q: My dog’s eyes have been checked and they are totally normal, is that common with ETS dogs?

NJG: Yes it is. ETS dogs usually test for being considered to have a normal range of vision.

Q: If ETS is a vision problem, why can’t you test a dog’s eyes to diagnose it?

NJG: There are many different kinds of diseases in people and animals, and not all of them are able to be diagnosed with specific testing. Some diseases are diagnosed by elimination of other diseases being present which CAN be tested. We are still hoping that advanced research may indeed discover something about our dogs’ eyes that will point to an answer regarding ETS.

Q: Why does my ETS dog jump angled jumps and jumps on a circle better than straight on approaches?

NJG: The current thinking is that since the jump is on an angle, that your dog has an easier time distinguishing the distance, and height of the jump since you have wings which are offset from each other. This could give your dog more perspective of the jump. There are some writings on dog vision which discuss the difference in how dogs see horizontal lines differently from vertical lines. This might explain why our ETS dogs need the vertical wings to help them analyze where the horizontal jump bar is. The most difficult jump for an ETS dog to distinguish is a jump that is placed 21 feet or greater from the previous jump and the dog has a straight approach to that jump, and the jump has multiple bars like a spread.

Q: I was told by my trainer not to get ahead of my dog so much, does it help to run right next to a dog that jumps early?

NJG: ETS dogs seem to struggle at times to find exactly where the jump bar is, so when the handler is a considerable distance forward of the jump, that gives the dog one more thing to consider in deciding where to take off for the jump. These dogs often do best when the handler does not run out too far ahead of the dog. This can be especially important when your dog jumps a spread.

Q: Do some dogs recover from ETS?

NJG: If your dog really has ETS they do not actually “recover”. Sometimes the dogs are only minimally affected, and for many years of competition the handler can manage the places on the course that the dog might take off too early. Over the years there have even been dogs with ETS on the AKC World Team, and many of those dogs and of course others compete at the highest level. Other dogs are affected more intensely and it is obvious that they are struggling too much to be jumped at regular completion heights.

Q: My friends and trainer tell me my dog is injured and I should not compete with her. I have had her checked by every kind of expert there is and they say she is totally sound. I think she has ETS, what should I do?

NJG: First, make an appointment for a full eye exam. There is no diagnostic tool yet for ETS, that is one of the goals for the trainers and veterinarians who are interested in helping owners with ETS dogs. Go to Linda Mecklenburg’s webpages and read the three articles on ETS and leave your name and information about your dog in the comments section at the bottom of the ETS pages. Awesome Paws- ETS

Leave your dog’s name, current age and age of onset of problem, eye test results if have have them and a link to a video of your dog jumping if you have it available.

Q: I have never corrected my dog for dropped bars, and I train very positively with her. I have been told that I have created the problem of early jumping by training incorrectly. Is there something I could have done to make my dog jump like this?

NJG: No, ETS is not “handler induced”. Almost all dogs can jump if they are sound, built reasonably well, and have normal vision. We can help or hinder our dogs’ who seem to have ETS, but in my opinion you cannot “give” your dog the symptoms of ETS, (taking off early). By correcting an ETS dog when they jump early or crash bars the problem can seem to get worse as the dog loses confidence, and the dog takes off even earlier to avoid touching the bar, which then leads to a circle of even worse jumping.

Q: What kind of jump drills could help my ETS dog?

NJG: Some owners of ETS dogs have found that training on straight lines can acerbate the problem. They do well with confidence building on training arcs and circles. The way to keep an ETS dog happy is with building confidence and adding lots of reinforcements to the kinds of patterns your dog already jumps well.

Video tape your dog so that you can watch them jumping in slow motion and possibly discover the areas that your dog seems uncomfortable. Repeated exposure to grids where your dog takes off early and appears uncomfortable may not be the right kind of training for your dog, especially if the bars are coming down. Build up your dogs’ confidence, use lots of rewards and absolutely no corrections. For some dogs even stopping to reset the bar points out an error to your dog and they may jump less confidently and henceforth, earlier, after you fix a downed bar.

Q: What can I do to help further the studies on dogs that take off early?

NJG: Your participation in open discussions about ETS may help your dogs as well as many others in the future. There is good reason to stay optimistic for many of our ETS dogs. Lots of dogs do not get progressively worse. We want to support handlers and dogs who are currently in this situation so that as many as possible can continue to participate in the sport they love in the most functional way possible. There is much to be learned by our dogs that show less severe signs. They ARE however related to the ones showing more extreme signs. We want to support the people who have ETS dogs and take advantage of the opportunity to learn from them.

What makes them worse, what makes them better? We can learn from that. Those handlers who believe their dogs may have vision problems are seeing patterns in how they can help them cope better in the way they train and handle. We can learn more about what the problem may be by observing these handlers who are very aware of their dogs’ tendencies to take off early. We also can look at familial patterns, as ETS seems to be hereditary since some families of dogs produce more ETS dogs.  While we hope a genetic study will be forthcoming, it may take a while for the DNA project to get started and for the studies to find the links.

Thanks for remaining open minded and supportive of research about ETS. With your help we may discover the cause of this problem and hopefully the cure.

Happy Holidays

The dogs and I are home alone today, enjoying a very quiet Christmas. Jim is with his family in Seattle and for a variety of reasons I decided to stay home. Our house sitter Joan was busy at her other job, and deep down I know I also wanted to stay away from my regular pilgrimage to Washington state and my family. With my Mother gone now, I was just not up to visiting siblings and driving right past our family home where strangers now reside.

Scoop and Ace and I are going out to train in the agility yard that is mine all mine today:) no guests, no classes, no students to share our space with today. Then I will take all 6 dogs on a long walk around our little 15 acre haven and enjoy the beautiful winter day.

Marcy took some goofy Christmas photos of us this week, and I learned a bit more about creating cards in photoshop while putting together our annual card. It was fun and I made quite a few versions as E-cards and a totally different one to print. Yeah, VERY late to put cards in the mail but I will get away with calling them New Years Cards! Even 15 year old Wicked obliged to hold still wearing a Santa hat long enough for her cute photo. She is almost totally deaf and blind and there is no way to tell her to stay, but she was so cute acting her usual silly self. Here are a couple photos that should have made the card.

I am looking forward to my husband Jim coming home so I can open up the Christmas presents hidden in his office. I *almost* wanted to open the edges of the wrapping paper and peek inside like I did as a kid, but I am resisting like the adult I am supposed to be! I hope that you are having a wonderful holiday with your family and your pups this year. Enjoy every moment, and never forget how short a time we have on this planet and with our precious friends and loved ones.

Happy Holiday and Best Wishes for a fabulous 2012!

turkeys

Seven of them walked past my office window this morning so I snuck out quietly and stood behind the redwood tree to snap a few photos. They blend into the surroundings so well, they are perfectly camouflaged. The dogs fuss at them from behind the fence sometimes but they don’t seem to care. Occasionally when the dogs are all put up for a meal or hanging in the house, the turkeys fly into the dog yard to investigate the dogs’ refuge. Our local wildlife are very used to the dogs and cats being safely tucked behind the fences and they meander within a few feet of the dogs totally confident that the wire will keep them separated. We don’t see the turkeys everyday, and it is such a coincidence that they came for a visit today as last night I watched a great Nature show on TV called My Life as a Turkey. If you see it on the tube,
don’t miss this really interesting program about imprinting and living with a flock of wild turkeys.

I got home last night from the 3 day AKC Show at Rancho Murietta.  Ace and I had a good time hanging with friends and running in the trial. Ace got three doubles and a triple, AKC lingo for qualifying in agility, jumping and FAST all on the same day. Our only error all weekend was not qualifying in one of the FAST classes offered. I put too much power and speed on the send and overshot a tunnel. Totally fine, I really only do FAST classes to get on the contacts if they have them as I show so seldom I like to take advantage of the opportunity to train them in a ring setting. “The dark arts”  as I call the skill required to be competitive in gamblers and FAST classes is not really my forte, that is my husbands specialty! Jim and I like to joke that he teaches them to send, then I teach them all to get reeled back in.

Hmmm… that sounds like job security!
I found a cute pic of Scoop from exactly one year ago, happily holding of one his favorite toys.
Scoop stayed home with Jim, I didn’t want to be tempted to take him for a hike or get him revved up watching agility and not be able to do anything with that pent up energy. We are headed back to the neurologist and orthopedist offices this week on the continuing search for a specific diagnosis for his discomfort. In the meantime he is just hanging out in the house bored unless we play calm clicker training games.
I was helping a friend this week to clicker train a retrieve on her sheltie. Have I mentioned that I think all dogs should have a manufactured retrieve? There are some skills that are so important to making agility training easier, and a good retrieve is one of them. If you can train a dog, you can train a retrieve, I see absolutely no reason for anyone to have the excuse that their dog won’t play with toys so they obviously can’t retrieve. And I would ask, what does toy play or tugging have to do with the perfect retrieve of any item you designate?
Well???
I hope you have as great retrieve on your youngster as I do on mine, and if you don’t, well get on it!
Nancy

searching

The past couple weeks have been all about searching. I have been prowling the internet searching for a design for a new website that will integrate this blog and do lots of other stuff my site can’t do right now. Hopefully this is the last post I will write on this WP format, and that seamlessly these posts will show up on my website.

I have been searching for the answer to Scoop’s continued discomfort in his rear, especially in his left hip area. More x-rays and even an MRI only told us that he really DOES have great hips, and his pelvis isn’t malformed or some such thing. So back to the nebulous soft tissue treatments. For now he does not even get to go for runs in the field, he is on leash walking which is driving him nuts and he is telling me vocally daily that he wants to DO something. I could be playing lots of little tricks and games, but sort of find a lack of inspiration other than keeping his brain engaged a bit. We are just treading water for now.

The search also continues to find the right level of anti-seizure medication for Panic. He was 11 two days ago, happy birthday P. He is also “Silvertips’ High Anxiety”. wonder what in the world I was thinking with those names?? The boy has naughty spots galore and I think I have a grey hair for each one of them.

I am off to teach a seminar here at the house today. LONG commute to work, hmmm, about a hundred feet I think:)

I hope you also have wonderful plans for your weekend which include playing with your agility dogs!

Nancy

world travelin’

I have been home from the Agility World Championships just over a week but it feels like a month. The schedule went something like this… unpack bags, write CR article all one day, more desk work, herding lessons, more herding, more playing with my friend from North Carolina Maureen Robinson, many hours of desk & email catch-up, jumping workshop, pack the RV, drive 4 hours to Yosemite, hike and play 2.5 days then drive 4 hours home, unpack, dog massages, obsess on getting ready for power paws camp, many hours of teaching, camp work, teach, camp work , teach, swim & walk dogs & repeat as necessary! Whew.

Looking at the schedule it reads like a lot of play time, wonder why I am dead tired and feel like I have been working too many hours:)

The Agility World Championships were incredible. Being with Ashley and Luka every step of the way to their Gold Medal was amazing, no less though than the wonderful celebrations we had afterwards. Check out the video of Ashley’s Gold Medal run and trip to the podium as well as Tori’s jumpers run which immediatley preceeds it on this video.

I am very proud of our team and all they accomplished. Tori, the totally hip and poised 19 year old from Florida with her perfect little border collie Rev won the Team Jumping class and were just a dropped bar away from an individual gold medal! Barb Davis had a phenomenal 2nd place finish in jumping and JD and Tantrum took a 4th in team jumping. There was lots’ more good stuff, check it all out!

http://www.akc.org/events/agility/world/2011/placements.cfm

Today I was entered in a trial and thought better of attending….too much paperwork and fighting off my annual cold. I am going out to pack the car though and get ready to go to one of our only local agility trials for the next couple days. Unfortunately without Scoop entered in a single class. I wish I thought he was on the mend, but after another vet examination, I am left with still more questions about why he still has some discomfort in his rear assembly. I have 2 orthopedist appointments coming up, surely one won’t be able to convince me what is really going on, and since I am planning on wanting a second opinion, it is already scheduled. Did I mention that I am completely obsessed with getting to the bottom of what might be ailing this dog or any other I have ever owned? I hate not knowing if they are in any kind of discomfort. The latest theory is that even though Scoop’s hips looked good in radiographs, there might still be a problem. Sigh. Before I left for Europe 3 weeks ago I decided to lay Scoop off from all field running and of course agility. He swam and hung out in the yard, but no other exercise. The first jumping in three weeks didn’t go very well, even after the break, and we are on hiatus until I have answer. I am slightly regretting the  herding lessons I took with my friend Maureen Robinson last week, now that I think he is still broken, but on the flat he is sound as a dollar and raring to go and we had soooo much fun.

I will put up some great Yosemite and World Championships photos as soon as I get my hands on them.

I hope you are headed for a fun weekend of agility or hiking or adventuring with your dogs, I know I am looking forward to this weekend with mine!

Nancy

here’s the scoop on Scoop


We have been in a training doldrum, his physical health still a big question mark. A month ago I wrote that I thought we were ready to really start working hard, but the last few weeks have left me with even less confidence on his health. I haven’t felt that he was sound enough to really work. But today I am happy to write about Scoop.

For the first time in well over 6 months I had a great jump training session with Scoop last night. We were just fooling around on a small setup I used for a workshop yesterday. I heard a tick or two of bars but for the most part Scoop looked great jumping. He could collect, he did his serps just like he used to do, and he could threadle without crashing into the wings of the jumps. He drove down the closing  lines with no added steps and flew over the last jump in each sequence. We had so much fun and his jump style looked soft and round and not at all uncomfortable. I didn’t want to stop we were having so much fun. I was almost afraid to go to the field today, worried he wouldn’t be the same. But tonight I went out for a short jumping and aframe session  and he was great on all of it. Yeah for us.

Weeks before Scoop’s fungus was diagnosed back in May, he was starting to have all sorts of jumping and contact issues. I knew it wasn’t just behavior, it was physical. Why would a dog who was seeming to progress at a steady pace in his training suddenly totally backslide.  In the middle of trying to find the solution from vets, and therapists, up popped the fungus which I then hoped was the real issue since we were stuck with it and that was a REAL diagnosis. Scoop has been recovering from the fungus just fine, but the physical issues and his jump style were totally changed. I felt like he was broken but no one found anything drastically wrong with him.

The past week, which was no different from many, he was seen by two of my vets, two times each. He had needles twice, once with electricity applied, he got adjusted and poked and prodded and worked on in the lower back and pelvic area. He seemed tight and maybe a bit off in his pelvic region, but not enough to account for his continued crappy jumping. In desperation I contacted my human massage therapist that has never worked on dogs before. He agreed to see him and we had two sessions this week and another one is scheduled for a couple days from now. He found all sorts of pain in his upper thighs, old scar tissue in the muscle and lots of muscle adhesions which need to get worked out. Do I have a new dog? I guess only time will tell. I do think I have more of a real diagnosis and hopefully also a way to reach the heart of the problem. The massage therapy along with acupuncture and adjustments I hope will put us on the right track this time.

I love my dog. He seems to love me and love training. He has the best feet, a handsome head, and a silly streak a mile long. He is a talker and a cuddler. He has some of the nicest qualities of any dog I have had and so far he loves all people and all dogs! After training he will send to the dog bathtub and totally immerse himself and stay there calmly cooling off, but he is not obsessed with the water like many dogs I have owned. He loves to swim and will stay in the pool exercising, carrying his toy, but he does not bite the water or intake gallons, a big no no if you want to exercise your dog in a pool daily. He seems toy crazed, but is totally controllable around toys. He carries a toy in his mouth on every walk, and never interferes with the other dogs. He is quick twitch when it comes to behaviors. He takes positions fast, and he is not stalky. His stays seem to be great (now:)) He is in many ways a trained agility dog. We should be in the ring competing with all his siblings!

Will we back there soon? Time will tell.

I hope you and your young dog are well on the road to success and earning lots of ribbons in the agility ring and I equally hope that I am just a step behind you.

NJG

A note about my massage therapist. This is the same therapist that totally cured my plantar fasciitis some months ago. I had two intensive massages of my feet to knock down all the tightness and muscle adhesions. Those first sessions lasted two hours each but at the end I was pain-free and remain so. He is a miracle worker and I will never again believe that plantar fasciitis isn’t totally curable with therapy instead of the incorrect stretching I was doing along with trying all sort of gimmicks and orthotics which created even more pain. He is in San Jose and if you want his contact info, for yourself or your dog, write me directly at powerpaws@aol.com.

Scoop Take 2

Scoobie went in to get scoped a couple days ago and had another treament for Aspergillis. He also got his hips and head radiographed. The head shot was to see if the fungus had traveled further up into his head. GREAT NEWS! On scoping there was no visual sign of the fungal growth in his nose, and the radiograph showed that it has not traveled into his head.

Scoop’s internist decided to do another treatment even though the fungus was not visible.  A dog’s nasal area looks like folds in a piece of fabric, with all these little hills and valleys and tunnels. The nasty little fungus could have been hiding in one of those little crevasses. The biggest trauma in the treatment is putting him under anesthesia for a few hours. The actual treatment takes about 90 minutes while they fill up the cavity with fungus poison and then roll him around a few times to make sure the meds get to every surface.

Dr. Helen Hamilton explained that the fungus is really slow growing, and the body does not really try to fight it off. But unfortunately once it takes hold it just moves in like a visit from a bad relative! Scoop is still on two anti-fungal drugs and will remain on them for many more months I suspect.

And more good news; his hips looked really great. How convenient that my orthopod and internist share an office and I could get two procedures done at the same time! He sure seemed to take a long time to wake up, but I am an absolute expert at sitting on my vet’s floor with my dogs for these events. I hate to think how many hours I have spent of my life in those back rooms. 4 years of chemo with Scud, and a long succession of minor and major surgical repairs and fixes and x-rays and so on with all my dogs over the last 25 years  of working with the same vets!

While I have been lightly training Scoop on and off for the past 4 months while we have been dealing with and treating the fungus, it has not been with much conviction or passion. For some weeks before the diagnosis Scoop was just sort of “off”. I was struggling with his A-frame training, he was pulling lots of bars and just plain didn’t look good on jump drills. There were lots of other little signs that he wasn’t right, but until the snurfling started I had no idea what it was. I am hoping that all the discomfort in his head was what was causing a variety of training issues. So, now on to getting this juvenile finished with his training. I have been cutting him lots of slack of course, blaming his behavior or lack of it as the case may be on the fungus. I haven’t pushed him to do very much, not really knowing if he was uncomfortable. BUT, I am on a mission now and hope to have time to share stories about Scoop Training, Take 2.

This morning we started the day with a long walk around the fields. After breakfast we worked bounce jumps, 5 in a row, 22 inch height, 8 foot distance and then I put up a straight grid of 5 jumps at 26 inches, with bumps on the ground in between so that his one stride on the ground in between was even. We did some decel front cross and “flip your hips” training for a few minutes as well. He cooled off with a swim in the pool afterwards and I think looked like he could go do it all again afterwards.

Stay tuned for stories of a new and improved and hopefully trained border collie named Scoop.

I hope you are having a great training weekend with your youngster, I sure am with mine!

NJG

An absence of sadness…..

Ace and I came home two days ago from the European Open which was held in Austria. The adventure had a rocky start with plane cancellations and a couple rescheduled flights, but after day one the entire journey totally rocked. Channan Fosty, Susan Cochran, Laura Jones and myself spent 3 days prior to the event in the beautiful area that is called Salzkammergut, a lake region in Austria in the area of Salzburg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hiked, ate, explored, ate, played tourist and then ate some more. It was so fitting that we were together in our travels as well as competing on Team USA 1, one of 4 large dogs teams (of 3 or 4 handlers and dogs) competing at the EO for the USA. Our team went into the Team Relay finals in third place, and while we did not medal from our team run, we still got to visit the podium for our trophies for our overall 3rd place team scores which was a real bonus. Our team was one of only 10 teams to make finals and the only US team to do so.

 

 

The actual team winners were the three teams which made it through the incredible relay course designed by Judge Gabi Steppan. Finland rocked the audience with 4 clean runs in the Relay with a team of 3 “pups” and their Dam. How cool was that?

The European Open is a really interesting event in that they include each country in the individual finals. You can get into finals with a class placement, or you can be one of your countries top dogs. Daisy got there through a placement, and Ace and I were the top US large dog. There were only 2 large USA dogs in Individual Finals, Daisy Peel with Solar and Ace and myself. Ace and I finished in 7th place, barely 1.5 seconds off the winning time. I have not seen the run on video, I don’t know anyone who filmed it.:( The Finals was held on Saturday night in a driving rain storm and most folks were huddled under umbrellas trying to stay dry. It would not be the EO without a little bit of weather challenge. We had perfect weather every day that week other than for the four hours on Saturday night for the finals.

I have been to 4 European Open events and Ace made finals each of the 4 years. This is the first year they have had a finals for Team. The winner is usually based on cumulative scores over the jumpers and standard rounds. The first year in Italy I fell down in the finals which were held in a sand arena and I found a deep bog and was down on my butt. I usually do pretty well in final rounds but that was certainly not one of my better moments. I can’t remember what place I had three years ago in Germany, but two years ago in Holland I got to the Podium and took home a bronze medal. I would have loved to repeat or better that finish, but I am not at all disappointed with what we accomplished. For a little dog that is not a speed demon, and who spends most of the year jumping 22 inches, finishing in 7th at what I think is the most competitive international event in the world is a huge honor. There were about 350 large dogs at EO jumping 26. Many of the same faces we will see in two months at World Championships were competing, and the class is twice as large as the WC with almost as many countries participating.

I have been going to International and National agility events since 1993. I have been lucky and had lots of high placements, but I have had my share of failures as well. The days following some of those wins and huge successes I used to describe my mental demeanor as being an “absence of sadness”. I often had a big letdown after a huge success, and I would not have described my attitude as being totally happy. I was simply happy that I wasn’t sad! Happy that I had not failed. I wanted too much not to fail as opposed to wanting to do the best I could. I wanted the wins a lot, but my focus was on “not losing.” For a while “not losing” helped me win. I threw everything I had at the finals runs, I would rather have bombed than lost, but the feeling afterwards wasn’t as joyous as it could have been. I hope that attitude is long behind me. I want to give it all I have when I am lucky enough to make a finals run, but I won’t commit hari kari the next day if I don’t win, and if I do win, I am damn well gonna enjoy it!

I am really happy this week. I was thrilled to be the only US handler to make both Individual and Team finals this year! My little dog did all he could do for me, and we didn’t have any huge errors or E’s. And I am happy that I kept a good attitude before during and after the event. I was excited and a little bit nervous prior to runs, but I could still breathe and smile and play with my dog and make small talk with friends while still staying connected and focused on the job.

The mental game that I talk to students and members of the World Team about I hope I am actually living and practicing and reaping the benefits from. Reading books, and articles and blogs on the subject has changed me over the years. I hope it will help me continue to help my students and those I coach as well.

I am happy this week that I don’t just feel an “absence of sadness”. This was probably 8 year old Ace’s last year at the EO and I want to enjoy all my lovely thoughts about the great experience we just had.

Scoop, well, just isn’t ready for me to consider International competitions yet. I sure hope that I have those goals to look forward to with him when I feel like he is really healthy and I can trust that setting a goal to go to Europe and get on a podium with him is actually achievable. I am training Scoop every day I am home, but I know he still has this creepy fungus growing in his head and I am sure it is affecting how he works for me which is really not 100% right now.

Tonight he was a good boy though and I am looking forward to being home the rest of this month to train him, after I get back from a weekend seminar. My happy thoughts and I are headed tomorrow morning to Portland to teach for the weekend. And today was a good day. I had some of my favorite students for classes, and I opened a box from Clean Run that held my Alphabet Drills book. Yeah!!! This was definitely NOT an absence of sadness day!

I hope all your happy days are really happy and that your pup dog is well on his or her way to helping you achieve all your dreams and goals. Mine have already done so for me!

Nancy