Monday, February 28, 2011

Hi, Remember Me?

After a lengthy break from blogging I'm back. Sort of, we'll see how long I maintain my good intentions! So first I'm going to brag. Nikki, is awesome, we have worked very hard for a long time and things are coming together. Can I say I love this dog. She's so fun to work with even though not perfect and we still have a lot of behavior tweaks to work on. I'm glad we haven't pushed. But now it's time to be pushing, we hit our first agility trial for the year next weekend. Should be interesting, but I try to keep low expectations & remember that we are looking for our training weaknesses. Namely that I'm not probably training enough agility with her, as I have been really lazy this winter. But when we work, I know I have a teammate, we try to read each other, she's in tune, for the most part. It's a great feeling. I've worked so hard making sure she never knows that when I screw up she's doing something wrong. As a result she just keeps trying & having fun even if I'm working something out on the handling side. Love that!

For flyball, she has really made some amazing improvements in the last few months. Some of our issues, well they aren't issues any more. I made a tough decision to hand her over to Steve, his other flyball dog, Jester, turned 10 on 2/13 & is likely to retire soon. I keep saying that but he will have to eventually and Bridget runs best for me & Betty NEEDS me. Sigh. So I hand over my rocking awesome flyball dog to Steve. Steve has done a good job handling her and listening to me on how to handle her. I'm sure the knowledge that I will be VERY angry if he screws her up is a lot of pressure to deal with! Sorry Steve. I have high hopes that she will run under 4 seconds this year, we are just gearing up for our 1st tourney of the year. It is on turf, so I'm not sure if that will make a difference. Given her agility performance on the same surface, I suspect not so much! She ran a 4.02 in practice w/ no opposing dog to provide competition, first time we've timed her since November. She also performed at a UI basketball half time show, her first and usually a nerve racking experience for a new dog. Not her, she was flawless, even with Herky running along side of her...idiot! On the bright side, Steve now gets to deal with the intense tugging, slobber producing Naughty Nikki in the lane. It's a bit exhausting!

Betty continues to plod along. I think it's important to have an exceptional dog to show you that you need to make exceptions. Fellow classmates seem to enjoy watching me run Betty & Nikki back to back. Some say oh I see you have Nikki because of Betty, others say, I see you have Betty because of Nikki. I have Betty because she's still the most entertaining dog we own. I should not say plod b/c Betty does have sa lot of fire in her. We have a lot of amazing moments when she is running fast & happy. She really likes agility but it can be frustrating when her fear issues pop up in the middle of a splendid run. When she is ON I'm RUNNING hard to keep up with her, when she's OFF I'm walking & encouraging. Luckily I've got experience running multiple dogs so at least when Betty decides to be slow I can cope with it. On the other hand, she challenges my abilities in a totally different way than Nikki and it's kind of a nice change of pace. I hope to start trialing in NADAC so I can train in the ring for several trials & see how she does. And I'm going to take a leap of faith and really push her in flyball. C'mon Betty, you been doing this for almost 2 little doglet, fly!

Jester & Bridget continue to be steady and products of earlier training methods. Jester is retired from agility. Bridget is not & sometimes it's just so, so, so pleasant to run a trained dog. Even though her training has big gaps in it, I know where they are and accomodate. With Nikki & Betty, it's always a big ?

Zoe, hum, Zoe continues a slow decline in health but overall is happy. So it is with a almost 15 yr old dog. I love her so much, but hate to see her slowly drifting away.