Sunday, September 13, 2009

Video! (08/21/09)

Sorry we've been so silent lately.

Hard to believe we've only been training with Cloudine for 1 year, 3 months, 8 days. It seems much longer because we've come so far.)

Even harder to believe that Grete is 2 years, 4 months, 19 days old. She seems much older and wiser. :-)

(Cloudine had a perspective student stop by class this Saturday, and while we were talking the subject of how long I had been training came up. I totally thought it had been 2 years at the time because I'm terrible with dates.)

Every week I vow to buy a video camera for class OR find my old point and shoot and bring the GorillaPod. I have no idea where my old point and shoot is (and the Nikon D90 doesn't do a good job of focusing on moving targets) and I still haven't bought one... but a couple weeks ago, Cloudine brought her camera and thus we have... wait for it... A VIDEO!

(To be honest, I really, really wish I had a video this last Saturday. The course was harder and we did so much better... IMHO.)

But here you go... A VIDEO!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tentative Teeter Totter

I made a teeter totter prototype tonight. I'm pretty excited about it for lots of reasons. First, I did it all by myself. Second, Grete seems to "get" that pulling down the board is the first step. That was huge and exciting. She even put a paw on it. I think she likes it. (I hate to say it, but just writing that makes me think of that Beyonce song... "if you like it then you shoulda put a ring paw on it")

The pivot is pretty close to center, and so it moves nice and slow without weight. I do need to make it shorter in height overall because it is pretty wobbly, and I think I'm going to upgrade the legs to the thicker PVC pipe. (What you see in the pictures is all re-purposed jump parts from around the basement.) I also want to figure out a way to add some tension to it. Right now, the pivot is a larger piece of PVC with a smaller piece sent through it. I think if I can slide some material in-between the two pipes, it will help it feel more solid.

In any event, behold my handy-girl-ness.

Tentative Teeter Totter

Tentative Teeter Totter

Tentative Teeter Totter

Tentative Teeter Totter

Monday, May 11, 2009

Teeter-totter Temptations

Grete and I are having trouble with the teeter or see-saw. Since we don't have one at home, our practice (and thus our progress) is limited. For a while, I tried putting the board across the two couches at home, but even that was too scary for her. (Too much wobble?)

I did some research online tonight, and I'm still not sure what to do next. We might make our existing 8' board into a mini teeter with a 12" pvc base similar to this but without the ability to disassemble the board. That might help, but eventually, Grete is going to have to learn that a competition teeter isn't a scary thing.

However, real teeters are huge. They're normally 12 feet long.

This is why I'm just lusting after the one that Dog Agility USA sells.

It folds down! I could carry it. $450 is still a really, really steep price tag though. Belated birthday present for Grete's 2nd birthday?

I also like the seriousness of the J&J Dog supplies competition teeter. The base is $265 so that is a little better. We would have to make a new plank though. Maybe we could make a nice heavy plank that folds and locks with rubber chips and still come in under $300?

Both of these serious teeters here have tension adjustment. I think that might be super useful someday, but I'm not sure.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Wow. Looking at this, it was a pretty darn good run, and my trainer is completely right. Grete followed my accidental body cue on the back corner jump. I thought she had committed to the jump, but she had not. Gotta stay with her longer.

BTW, that first jump was the first panel jump Grete had ever seen. They covered them the week before, and we missed that practice. It totally makes sense that Grete would have second thoughts about the first jump because it wasn't a jump to her - it was a wall! (That was also our first broad jump in the middle too!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What the world needs now...

The world needs...

* A Chuckit made out of Nylabone. Someone should make that.

* More agility videos. I can provide those.

Nothing really exciting so I'm not bothering to embed them. Just some jump grids and a fairly simple tunnel course.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life is better with a cameraman

Jason came to practice on Saturday and manned the camera for everyone. You should head on over to his blog and check it out. Agility Class @ iStrain.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saturday Practice iPhone photo

I was lazy today and didn't bring the D90 to practice. Actually, it was more than that. Since the D90 only takes 5 minute videos and since they're huge, I have soon found two things to be true:
(1) Running up and down the loft stairs takes away from the time I can spend listening to my instructor do her instructy thing.
(2) I can only really record my runs. One card is not enough for everyone. (That's how my first video got cut off.)

Jason promises to come to practice one of these days and be my camera man. :-)

In any event, here's my iPhone photo of Val and Luna zipping to the tunnel. This was after a table stay for a start, and 4 wing jumps set on a diagonal line. This was a lot harder than it looked because of the wing jumps. All the dogs wanted to go to their handlers and were a little hesitant to go away from the handlers to take the jumps.

That said, this was super fun because it was the first time that Grete and I really got to RUN together. As in, I had to RUN LIKE MAD. It was seriously fun. I wish we could do this more. I totally need a barn in my backyard!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Big Weekend in Dog Land



Los Angeles:

(Too bad I'm on-call and really can't get away that much.)

I have a passion for potty training

A co-worker wrote to the pets list asking for advice. Normally, I try to stay out of non-work email threads because I can get sucked in, but I failed this time.

Here's the email:

My girlfriend and I got another dog so that our dog has a playmate. She’s 5 months old, and the breeder said she was potty trained, but I don’t see this as being the case. We’re having some problems with her:
1. Its hard to pick up a 60lb malamute and carry her outside when she starts peeing on the carpet. The stains are also a LOT bigger.
2. She seems almost determined to go in the house. I took her and our dog for a 6 mile walk yesterday. During the course of this walk she did not go to the bathroom. As soon as we got home and I let her off the leash, she bolted for the bedroom and peed on the bedroom floor.
3. When she does go outside, I treat her. She’s learned how to go in and out the doggy door, but still prefers to go inside the house. I’ll stay outside with her for an hour or more and she’ll sniff around and play, but she wont go to the bathroom.

Any suggestions on:
1. Breaking this habit
2. Carpet cleaner to make sure there aren’t any stains.

(After the initial email, it was established that she doesn't go in the crate.)

Here's my essay:

First, the good news: Given that she doesn’t go in the crate, you probably don’t have to take her to a vet or a behaviorist. Yay!
Second, the bad news: This is might be hard, but you can do it!

RE: Breaking the habit in the bedroom:

Move the crate to a clean unsoiled area of the house. Don’t let her into the bedroom anymore until you have completely cleaned the carpet. Serious cleaning. If you can, rent a cleaner. Run it until clear.

Then, apply an enzyme cleaner heavily. (e.g. Buy at least a gallon of Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution, and don’t be shy. Petco has both. SS is supposedly better than NM, but NM worked for me with time and persistence.) Put garbage bags and heavy things on top of the sopping wet carpet to SLOW the drying process. You want to really let the enzymes REALLY work before drying out.

This isn’t so much for your landlord but for fixing the behavior. Worry about the stains once you fix the problem. (Renting the cleaner will probably help anyway.)

My experience with repeated indoor urination comes from a confused (and stubborn) cat, but the same principle applies. You have to make the room “new” again. I moved the litter box back upstairs and cleaned and dried and cleaned and dried and cleaned again. Only once ever last molecule of urine was gone would my cat use the litter box downstairs instead of the painted concrete floor. One accident can put you back to step one, so you want to be fairly serious about this process. (BTW, Never ever use kitty litter or sand to stop flooding in your basement with a cat in the house. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Stupid in hindsight.)

RE: When you want her to go:

Go to the SAME SPOT in your yard outside.
Give your command.
Have really, really good treats. (See below.)
Wait 15 minutes AT MOST. This isn’t sniff and play time. It’s business time.
Come inside.
Wait, but watch.

At the FIRST sign of ANYTHING (sniffing, squatting, looking concerned, the faintest whimpering, even breathing a little different), grab cooked chicken or roast beef and lure her to the door ASAP. Run if possible. (BTW, buying roast beef at the salad bar in PacMed is cheaper than most grocery stores.)

Go immediately to THE SPOT. Give your command.
Treat only if she goes. (Again, waiting no longer than 15 minutes.)

Party with the beef or chicken or better-than-gold treats and “good potty” like it’s 1999 and there’s no tomorrow if she goes. Duration of the party is important as well as quality. Tear up the treat and give her praise and treats for at least 5 full seconds. Longer treat parties really make an impression.

If she doesn’t go, tell her “too bad” and go back inside. Wait. Repeat. (The “too bad” is optional. Light negative markers sometimes help.)

Heck, if you’re into clicker training, use a clicker when she goes outside – and I bet you’ll get a dog that goes on command faster than you can say “Do your business.” (NOTE: You have to “charge” the clicker first! Don’t just click outside if she’s not familiar with the clicker. )

Sadly, I would also abandon the doggie door until she really “gets it.” I might also consider leaving Candie inside just to reduce stress and increase focus. Then again, Candie might add to the motivation. You could try it both ways. 

The 6 mile walk should be a reward for when she goes in THE SPOT.

As an aside, I bet she was holding it the whole walk waiting for the bedroom. Not out of spite or anything, but because she just hasn’t grokked going outside at her new home. Somehow she got the idea that pee belongs in the bedroom. It’s in the carpet, I bet. (See cat story above.)

BTW, you’re totally on the right track by leashing her to you. Keep up the good work. It’s all about managing the behavior inside by catching it before it happens if at all possible.

Good luck, and I really hope this helps!

I feel your pain. Really, I do.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Saturday Practice Videos

I'm behind on uploading videos of our practices at the barn, and I have to run take a shower right now, so I promise to add more commentary later, but for now, in all their HD glory, here are two separate visits to Rivendale, taken with the D90 strapped to a chair via the DSLR gorillapod.

Wednesday Practice Videos

Jen brought her digital camera to last Wednesday's practice. The theme of the night was 180s, and as you can see, I need to figure out how to keep the motion going so that Grete and I don't stall out.

We decided that the first course was too hard, so we switched it up, and the second course was pretty easy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Grete isn't perfect.

Today Grete did something she never does. She went up the hill from the dog area and into the upper parking lot.

It was super muddy, and I knew there was no way I could get up the hill to the parking lot without crawling on my knees, and so I freaked out a little bit.

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Here's why...

I thought she was playing "Keep Away" with Ollie, Cooper, and Kozmo. She had her Jolly Ball in her mouth and kept running to the edge of the play area.

The thing is... I know Grete has a problem with Kozmo. From a human perspective, Kozmo is a GREAT dog. She's an adorable tri-color Australian Shepherd puppy. For whatever reason, Grete does not like Kozmo. I have two theories: First, Grete's dislike of Kozmo might have to do with being herded by Kozmo too much. Second, I think Grete may pick up on the fact that I think Kozmo is super-cute, and she might be a little jealous. I'm not sure. (Either way, Kozmo doesn't take Grete's attitude personal. She likes Grete just fine.)

The point of the story is that she was guarding her Jolly Ball and not playing Keep Away. It is a fine line, but given her somewhat sullen mood earlier today and the appearance of her arch rival Kozmo, I should have seen it coming.

No harm was done. She came down to the side of the hill, and she stood stiff as a pole as I told her to "stay" and "sit" and "wait" and every other stationary command I could think of at the time. I pried the Jolly Ball out of her jaws and praised her... And all the while Kozmo stood there sincerely smiling at me.

Lost Dog: The Saga of Pogo Continues...

My friend Jerry at work lost their family dog on Friday. It's been an emotional few days for them. You can read about their efforts to find poor Pogo here: West Seattle Blog: Pogo’s odyssey: A lost-dog search takes a wrenching turn. Basically, she was found, but the helpful well-meaning folks who found her lost her by way of a front-door escape!

If you see Pogo, please immediately call the Hoffmeisters, and don't let her out of your sight! (Or twitter me! Just don't let her out of your sight!)

Here's their posting copied from the West Seattle Blog.

LOST WEST SEATTLE DOG (added 2/20/09)

WHO: Papillon dog: She weighs about 7 lbs. She is a mostly white long hair with brown patches and a long fluffy tail that curls over her back. Her name is Pogo. Ironically she is out without her collar on -we just bathed her and she escaped.

WHERE: North Delridge

WHEN: 5 pm tonight

CONTACT: If you have her, please call 206 353 9331 or 206 353 9334 immediately and we will come and get her any time of day or night. Reward. Betsy, Jerry, Isaac & Rebecca

Saturday, February 21, 2009


today at practice we tried the weaves in the barn for the first time. uff da! we really need to break out the weaves more often - perhaps daily with distractions - with toys instead of treats. I also completely forgot our new rule: if grete gets on the table without cue, release her immediately. no treats! more notes and videos later!

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Video: Wednesday Practice at Fircrest

Extra huge thanks go to Jen for bringing her video camera. I'm definitely going to have to bring the D90 and try the video next time just so I can get some more action shots. :-)

For those that are curious, this is course #3 in the Clean Run Sourcebook Volume 2.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Grete has "graduated" from Cloudine's beginning agility, and on Saturday we will be going to Rivendale for the first time. She said it is a LotR reference, but looking at it now, I think they spelled it wrong. Regardless, we're excited! We'll finally be honest-to-god running -- and on dirt! It's going to be awesome. On to Intermediate Agility!! On to Moria!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Why didn't I read this sooner?

!Mushiness Alert!

I love Grete. Along with Jason, she's the center of my world. For the past 592 days, we've been together almost non-stop. We sleep in the same room. We "work" in the same office. We go to class together. Aside from shopping trips, social functions, and vacations to different countries, she's always with me, and I'm always trying to understand what she's feeling.

And yet... I still feel like we don't always connect.

I'm working on changing that.

And what do I do when faced with a challenge?

I research!

I picked up a bunch of books from my local library, and I have to say... Most of them were crap.

I do not recommend Why Do Dogs Like Balls?: More Than 200 Canine Quirks, Curiosities, and Conundrums Revealed. It's a waste of paper. Nothing revealing here.

I also do not recommend How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication. It's too dry, and it seems rather dated. Also, at the risk of offending the "scientific community" surrounding animal behavior, I don't agree with some of his stated facts about X behavior having Y meaning.

I'm also struggling through this somewhat old-but-still-new-age book: The Tellington TTouch : A Revolutionary Natural Method to Train and Care for Your Favorite Animal. I might have to see a demonstration and/or rent a video. The magic TTouch seems hard to learn from a book. (That said, I've been attempting to do some tiny little circles on Grete, and she seems to REALLY like the gentle circular touch.)

I DO recommend this book: Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs

Aside from instilling in me a strong desire to take my meager fortune, abandon city life, and buy a farm, I'm actually learning a thing or two from this book. It is also an enjoyable read. I strongly recommend it, and I wish I had read it sooner.

Krypto (aka Bolt)

Meet Frank's new puppy, Krypto! (He is named after Superman's dog. I didn't even know Superman had a dog. I am not worthy to be Frank's friend.)

Allegedly, his favorite toy is not the girl pink octopus but a manly (but puppy-sized) tennis ball. There is hope for the world yet. Krypto will save us all!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Shit... and the shit that hits the fan when we talk about shit.

My two cents:

I think Erik Lacitis gets paid more for stories that have more comments. I agree that pet waste can be a problem, but if you're going to bring the children into this, you should talk about disposable diapers and all the other crap that comes with babies. If you're going to talk about the dangers of pet waste in water, you should talk about the dangers of 41,250 lbs of BAGGED poop in our landfills. This article is flinging shit all over the place and not dealing with the full story on any of it. I think this article stinks.