Tuesday, 29 March 2011

All I want is a Photograph

The lovely generous people from UpAndOver Agility Dogs clubbed together to get us a very lovely Christmas present (as usual). Now I know it may seem like a while since Christmas but we have only just managed to arrange to collect it. Last year's present - the flight in a Helicopter didn't happen until August.
This year we have a voucher for a photo from Pet-o-graphy. He specialises in taking photo's on a white background and, although each dog is taken individually, can then group them.
It makes for a stunning photo so you can imagine how gorgeous our lot will look.
The individual photo's were taken this weekend at AJAX.
For one who once spent an hour getting the dogs to stand in a group to get a decent photo by a lake this sounded, in principle an easy task. All I had to do was take the dogs one at a time to his stand then get them to sit and look for head shots and then lie down sideways for the group set up.
First up Devo who has brilliant start line waits but absolutely no understanding of doing a sit wait on the photographers sheet. Result - harassed handler and photographer ( Chris) thinking how am I going to get through this.
Next the gorgeous Flint who is very photogenic and behaved beautifully. Result - absolutely brilliant photos and faith restored that I could actually control my dogs.
Next Chris thought it would be easier to bring 2 dogs over at once - entrance Kodi and Torro.
Kodi thought this was a very serious business and looked suitably intelligent and serious. Chris questioned if that was what he's really like as although the photo's were good something didn't seem right. Spot on Chris - Kodi is a real show off so serious intelligent look does not suit. We got him doing some tricks. Result - you'll have to wait and see but it is sooo worth it :)
Torro was a star and luckily decided the hair and ears slicked back Edwardian look (his normal photo expression) was not required today. Result - Torro at his handsomest showing off his beautiful eyes.
Next up was Rhyme. 2 things to remember about Rhyme - he doesn't come back when called and he loves the world more than coming back when called. Armed with this information it would seem fairly obvious to anyone NOT to take his lead off so why.............
Result - Rhyme in ring with lovely little terrier. Not just any ring, he has got style, it was the Tug E Nuff agility qualifier. Thank goodness the Masters had finished. Exit a very red faced Karen Laker. I was so embarrassed I rushed off without fully apologising - sorry sorry sorry.
So Rhyme and Christie who wasn't there that day will be getting their photo's done at Shuttleworth :)

Friday, 18 March 2011

The Culture Clash - or is it?

I may have mentioned that Sharon (Happy ? Birthday) lent me The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. As the title suggests it points out the total difference in culture of ours and our dogs and how understanding it will help us provide a better relationship with them.
You know me - it's all about relationship :)
One theme that is regularly brought up is that dogs live in the here and now. Here's an opportunity to eat (steal food), run (ignore recall), chew (damage furniture) etc etc. Humans on the other hand need to understand what, where, who and why? This preoccupation has us soul searching and looking into childhood events for reasons (excuses) for day to day happenings.

How sweet and amusing it would be to live for the here and now. Not to have to worry if :
spending time with the dogs meant the dinner was late ..... oh I possibly do that one,
chatting to people at shows made you miss your run .......like on Sunday,
you felt like a bottle of wine the night before a show........like Friday,

OOPS well maybe Jean has more concious than me as I've not been soul searching on any of those LOL.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Kodi and Crufts :)

Absolutely brilliant is all I can say about Mark & Kodi at Crufts this year.

On grass during last year with Mark not being fully fit Kodi was not matching the times of the top 10 dogs and we did wonder if his age was going to mean a reduction of the brilliant performances we'd seen when he was younger.

Since his in clandestine meeting with a certain Wren he seems to have got something off his chest (or other area) and has regained much of his speed and power.

Much credit must go to Mark's psychology learning - he's a good student and can definitely practice what he preaches. Knowing how many very good fast dogs were there and being 5 faults down in the first round (a dampener for many people) he pulled off an amazing agility run in the 2nd round and therefore gaining a place in the final.

Still with such an impressive line up it is credit to him and Kodi to step up to the line and so very nearly do the double. Dawn and Breezer did an brilliant run with running contacts so to be so close is awesome.

Well done Kodi and Mark - I'm very proud of you both :) :)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Trouble, Sadness and Foundation Training

The last couple of weeks have been a haze of van and car trouble, ICAT massage course and birthday celebrations.

Amongst all this we also had the sad news of Ruth having to have Kimba PTS due to a brain tumour. Kimba was one of my massage models and was a brilliant one. She was so gentle and happy to be massaged. She will always have a place in my heart and I'm sure will leave a large gap in Ruth's life.

On Wednesday we had our Foundation training with Greg. It is very interesting seeing how dog's learn and what they teach themselves if we are not clear of our criteria.
(It was also so very cool to have such great friends that made a special evening as it was my birthday too)

I am reading The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson at the moment and really like her way of pointing out that dogs are animals and any time we credit them with human emotions we can open the door to choose aversions to correct behaviour. That is not to say that dog's are not amazing and work so hard to share our lives but attitudes that promote punishment or removing a reward in case the dog is "getting one over on you" is not helpful in any relationship building. Dogs are not capable of thought processes that go in that direction. Dogs will do what is rewarding and easiest in their lives and live in the here and now.

How does this all affect Rhyme's training? Well for Agility Foundation it is important to have a dog that is focussed on you and finds the rewards you give them well worth any effort in order to attain them. Ways to achieve this vary considerably to the extreme of no other interaction except with you including any food and play. This builds a total bond with you and a strong working ethos. It can also be very hard to achieve within day to day life. It is not something I have a history of achieving LOL.

Anybody that sees me with my adult dogs can not help but notice the strength of bond between me and them. They are focussed and ready and able to try to do anything I ask.

Look back at them as puppies and you see none of this. More of "Hello World I'm your man - bring it on" and "Who IS this woman hanging around cramping my style?" At this time I am always left wondering what it is I do or don't do to allow this to happen. Then suddenly they grow up and I'm their world so maybe I should just relax and be prepared for that moment they are ready :) As we don't do any equipment until they are fully grown then this is fine really - isn't it?

So why do any Foundation training? Although things have worked out ok, I do want to improve - it would be a boring day in agility (and a lie) if I really thought I could not get any better. Not everyone can be a World Champion but ANYBODY can dream :)