Since coming back into agility this spring, I have worked hard to update my handling methods. It seems as though the days of the 'airplane' front crosses are gone and are replaced with a better turning cue using the opposite hand of where the dog is located.
My previous turning cues were ' jump in front of the dog and toss'...but I can see by watching other handlers that the opposite hand turning cue make so much more sense and just look better. I also have what my agility instructor calls 'verbal diarrhea'. I talk too much on the course. Especially when I think its a particularly difficult course for me to handle, and I am not confident. I start running my mouth with lots of 'Here' Go' ' Jump'..blah..blah...blah...
Today, Cindy challenged us to run a course using no arms and no verbal cues except, 'gooood dog','tunnel' (since the tunnels were tucked under the A frame and dog walk), and 'weave'. Did I mention that we couldn't use our arms? 'No Ninja Chops' she said to me...yikes! I walked the course with storm clouds overhead. 'No way will he respond' I thought I wasn't the only one..the whole class was doubtful that their dog could run the course with only forward movement and shoulder pulls.
Well...I kept my arms to myself, and my mouth shut. And guess what? Liam did great! In fact, it was our best run this week. I kept moving and the less I said the more I focused on my body and feet, and the more I felt that I was communicating. Liam had his tail wagging and was MOVING!
Something else I found was that not talking to him so much, slowed my head down so that I could enjoy working with him instead of nagging. Liam is big, smart and obviously knows the sport. It makes me gleeful to work in such a close partnership with him and I love that he is so forgiving on the agility course!
I just cant see to get out of my own way today. The weather has been rainy, gray and stuffy. We have been so spoiled with sunshine that this one gray day has put me into a funk. And I don't think I am the only one. I had 2 therapy dog visits scheduled today. One at Florence house (which is part of the homeless shelter designated for women only) and the hospital. I arrived to Florence house expecting the usual warm welcome. My dogs LOVE going there! It was complete opposite of what I expected...the woman were grumpy and completely uninterested in the dogs, so we left after 5 minutes. The dogs seemed a little confused about why their usual friends not were wanting to pat and coo over them. So I took them to one of our favorite fields for a romp. Which wasn't really a romp, just a soggy walk. I forgot my rain jacket (I wasn't planning for a hike), so I came home wet. I cancelled our second therapy appointment as I just didn't have it in me to be social. We are going to agility class tonight and I am hoping that running a course will make me snap out of this!
First, my dad took a terrible spill and broke his hip. Once his hip was repaired then they found that he had fluid on the brain, so back to surgery he went. Currently he is stable and and speaking a little. He still confused and will be in the hospital for few more weeks before he is moved to a nursing facility. It sucks that he is 3000 miles away living in Seattle WA. My older sister is making the trip out to take care of him.
Then I received my first speeding ticket EVER! All this time I thought my beige mini van was similar to Wonder Woman's invisible plane.... but thanks to officer Wendy...my dream of never being noticed by cops has been shattered.
The only saving grace this week was that Lacey the cardigan had her puppies...5 total. 3 boys & 2 girls ( sadly, one boy the went to the rainbow bridge). I have been plastered to puppy cam so much that dishes are piling & dust bunnies are blowing. I peeled myself away long enough to go to work today (I was able to sneak a peek on my lunch hour ). But here I am..back on the computer and the cam just a keystroke away. Watching newborn puppies is like meditating. Their little bodies randomly pulse in a dream state or watching them pull themselves around with their rubbery legs seeking out the heat of mum. I am trying to study the patterns of black and white flashes so I can see them as individuals. Its like nerdy science and heart melting cuteness all at the same time.
Today I made a visit to my former employer, dropping off something for a friend who still works there. For a year and a half, between dog training gigs, I worked a corporate job. I had my own cube, phone, extension and name plate. Steady hours, insurance and paid vacations. I left back in January to jump into the world of non-profit work, dog training and (sometimes) eating ramin for dinner. I wouldn't go back for anything. Although I had a lot of corporate perks, there were more negatives than positives. Like the wacky schedule that didn't allow for me to attend agility classes and forget trialing. I couldn't do therapy dog visits, and the only time I saw any of my dog friends was when they posted their brags on facebook. I spent idle time in my cube writing 'corporate haiku's' and always felt out of place.
Here is a couple of my haiku's..anyone who works in the cube village may understand these cries for help!
ALONE IN MY CUBE UNINSPIRED, UNIMPRESSED M&M'S FILL VOID
CUSTOMER SERVICE HAIKU: CHATTER IN MY EAR SURROUNDED BY SHADES OF GRAY LACKING EMPATHY
CUSP OF THE WEEKEND MOCKED BY BILL GATES COLD TIME PIECE THWARTING MY ESCAPE
Seeing a few of my old co workers reminded me that I made the right choice by leaving. I make it a rule to never say never...but I hope the universe continues to be kind so I can do what I love.
I brought Molly back to the shelter today hoping she will get adopted as Mondays are really busy. The 4 of us headed out early for a long walk and a visit to the dog park for good off leash romp. I tried to film her running on my cell phone..but I couldnt get my act together. She is just so fast! I gave her a bath and blow dry and then took her back to her kennel. It just about broke my heart. She has a A LOT of fans in the shelter staff and if she doesnt get adopted today, I will bring her home tonight. I wonder if this back and forth thing to the shelter is doing more harm than good. Its been proven that people dont want to' make an appointment' to see a foster dog, but want to meet the dog when they walk in. Cant say as I blame them. I will keep my fingers crossed that today will be her day.
I met this fantastic little border collie mix at work. She has been a the shelter for a couple of weeks, and I just fell for her. She is small, about 25 lbs, smart and the type of dog who would break down quickly in the loud chaotic shelter environment. So with my husbands blessing, she came home for the weekend, and may stay with us until she gets her forever home. She is all about comfort, and likes to lay on the couch and snuggle. She loves tug and frisbees. She is fine with other dogs, but is somewhat of a social nerd. She can get a little resource guardy with the dogs regarding people. I am chalking it up to her lack of confidence, and we are working on it. But other than that, she would make someone a fantastic pet/agility/disk dog. At only about a year old, this dog has a lot of potential!
My newest obsession is crates...more specifically traveling crates. With a new puppy pending, I feel I need to come up with a better traveling system. The one thing I hate about my van (Honda Odyssey) is that the only the front windows roll down. So if I leave a dog in the car (like at agility class), the only way they get good air low is if I open all the doors. The problem is that my big dog Liam is 42 inches long and 27 inches at the withers. So a crate that fits him doesn't leave a lot of room for 2 small corgi size crates. I decided to try a giant Veri Kennel and crate Liam and Gimli together which leaves room for a medium crate for puppy. If the giant kennel works, then I may invest in a XL wire crate which gives good air flow, but isn't great for safety. Or maybe keep the Veri Kennel and invest in crate fans. Aahhgghh...the things that keep me up at night!