Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wait, wait... Don't tell me.

So we're not going to have agility class this Saturday because we'll be in Portland living large at the Hotel Monaco with Art. This is all fine and good and super wonderful, but here's the catch...

Last Saturday, I told our instructor that we were going to be gone just as we were hopping in the car. Not smart on my part. I can't quite remember all the things she said we should work on. I'll just keep adding to the list...

Here's what I have in my notes from that class session:

Front Cross
Parallel work
Adding vertical / horizontal distance from the hoop
Adding the "Hoop" cue

We've been sorta working on front crosses with the tennis ball as a lure. She's finally gotten over her urge to spin left when she's on my left side. (Having the ball in the right hand before the turn helps, but I fear I might be adding an unintentional body cue there.)

I really do need to work on feeding Grete more for being parallel. There's been a little bit of progress on getting her parallel before throwing the ball though. That's good, I think.

Unfortunately, we haven't been working outside as much, so it's hard to add distance from the hoop in the basement.

We've mostly been trying to make the box fun. She gets in. I try to do a clicker jack pot to make it exciting, but all the spinning around to find treats in the bottom seems to annoy her more than anything. I think the right thing is to work on "catch" with treats so she doesn't have to spin in the box. In the end, neither Grete nor I RUN to the box. I need to work on that. I'm afraid to add the cue for "box" until it is as exciting as "Kennel" or even "Hoop" to her.

I've also noticed that her "touch" is degrading so we'll have to work on that. The close target plate work is going well, I think.

What else... I wish I had taken better notes in the parking lot!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


In other news, agility is going quite well. Now that things have settled down with the house, we found time to practice with equipment at the house 4 times last week. I'm going to keep better track of our practices soon, but I'm excited that I'm finally getting better about keeping them short (less than 30 min) and productive. It helps to have a variety of tasks to practice so that neither Grete nor I get bored.

Here's a typical session:

* Get out the hoop. Run through it for a minute or two. Tossing treats or toys.
* Get out the HP computer box that Grete's big butt fits in. Shape for 1-2 minutes.
* Get out her old rug. Let her do something super easy like "go to your rug" and relax
* Do some "play" with the toy -- practice her new release word "Break" which means -- go ATTACK whatever it is ahead of you. Not just "ok" go get it -- but ATTACK. ZOOM!! "Ok" is still her normal "go be a dog" release word, but "break" will be more of her agility release word.
* Get out the hoop again for fun.
* Get out the weaves but only practice the first one. (We're only to gates -- i.e. 2 poles, so I need to tweak the next set initially.)
* Do some "touch" because it, again, is easy and fun.
* Do some "jump" to get the toy.

After we do these various things for about 20-30 minutes, I call it quits, and without fail, Grete stands at the bottom of the stairs refusing to come in. She loves it and wants more, more, more...

We also do some "practice" at work. We generally work on "break" with the tennis ball. I'm sorta sloppy, and I've been sorta working on "right here" to mean get to by my side so I can hold you back from the ball. (Opposition reflex stuff.)

However, I should get more militant about that. No tossing the ball unless she's parallel. I think that will really help, but it's an idea I haven't run past our trainer yet. I kinda like the idea of "nothing good comes to you unless you're paying attention to me and right at my side with your long butt in line."

Lastly, with the ball and fetch, we're still working on "left" (spin) and "right" (spin) as a holdover from our first classes. This is finally exciting because she's finally got "left" on a verbal. "Right" is still confusing.

However... this might have to be put on hold as this is polluting our ability to do front crosses. [ Another reference: Agility Nerd] When she's at my left side, she wants to do "left" so she'll do what's called a rear-cross instead. I get this feeling this is "No Good." (tm)

In any event, I think my biggest homework for the next two weeks will be working on parallel flat work: one or two steps forward while staying perfectly parallel, the push and pull turns (as my trainer calls them) and the very slow "front cross" that we're working on. We'll just have to sneak in a lot of parallel work at our little backyard practice sessions, when we're playing fetch, and on our walks around the neighborhood. Also, the one step forward practice should help with Grete's terrible heeling. Maybe. I can always hope.


Sorry we've been so quiet lately. It's been hella-busy with getting my old house ready for sale and getting an offer. The good news is that Grete loves our new home. She always has - even since she was a little puppy and the idea of me moving in with Jason was just a twinkle in Grete's eye.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Grete's butt at the BBQ

Sadly, neither Jason nor I thought to take pictures at the BBQ, and thus this is the only proof of Grete's participation in said BBQ. In fact, this isn't proof at all since this sort of photo could have happened any day. She loves her sticks, and she doesn't so much love the camera. FWIW, we have no pictures of Mia, the last of the three dogs that came to visit our little backyard.
Photo credit goes to Maggi:


Congee or Kanji or however it was said / pronounced / spelled was one of the dogs that came to the BBQ. He was the youngest.
Photo credit goes to Maggi:

Jaeger (and Divya)

Jaeger was one of the three dogs that came to the BBQ.
Photo credit goes to Maggi:


yesterday was a huge day for grete. there were a total of 3 new dogs in her backyard yesterday for the bbq. as a result of all that excitement, she's been downright tuckered all day. here she is... not watching rick steves on pbs. the very thought of taking a train through germany exhausts her to no end.