Tuesday, July 14, 2009

puppy pictures!

Body Language, weaves, and sheep

Dogs communicate through body language, postures and facial expressions... obviously. This morning attested to that fact when Seek and I had a funny moment of innocence. I woke up with Seek curled up in my arms. She turned around, excited I was awake, and started to sniff my face. I stuck my tongue out at her. She pulled her head away and stared at me with bewilderment, ears raised up, cocked head. It was a very cute face. The best part was yet to come... Seek, with her mouth closed, stuck her tongue out at me!! I kid you not, her tongue came about an inch and a half out of her mouth. I busted out laughing, which of course she then put it away. Too funny!! I tried to get her to do it again, no dice.

Later in the day we headed out to Fido's Farm for some agility training. Seek is really pulling it together. She has come a long way. I stopped using treats all the time for reward. I decided to start using her favorite thing as a reward, her ball. This worked so well, I thought why didn't I use the ball before!!?? I taught her weave poles in one day. I had been working on weaves for almost a year. Now she can do 12 weave poles (20 in.). It's incredible. I have only trained with the weaves maybe 4 times since I brought out the ball. She desires the ball so badly it made her learn the weaves. Also today was the first time she had control on the teeter. She had always launched herself off of it. My friend Jeff was at Fido's with his red bc Emma. She is going to be a star. So I asked Jeff to help me with Seek and the teeter. I stood at one end to hold the teeter and slowly let it down. It was very strange, Seek just all of a sudden knew how to do the teeter today. She went up it, got on a perfect pivot point and let it come down and got into a touch position (she is still learning touches, almost there). I couldn't believe it. It's like she just decided this week to be perfect in agility. With her touches, she will do a touch on any side of a board. I can have her plant her back feet and pivot from left to right without moving. The hard part is getting her to touch when she is in motion, running through the obstacles. She will even back her feet onto a touch on her own when we play touch games. She knows her job. She is just so fast that stopping is painful to her (not physically, but emotionally), she just wants to go go go. "Stopping is the boring part mom!!"

Yesterday Seek had her second session on sheep. She did so well. I am learning too. She is almost ready to be out of the puppy pen. She has another puppy lesson and then hopefully she will be ready for the field. I think she can do it. She has amazing control of herself and listens well to commands. We are working on her downs while around the sheep. She is so intense though, she slowly goes down ready to pop up in an instance. I have worked with her down stays at a distance. She does these well... not so much around the sheep yet. She won't move, but I have to touch her leg before she obeys. Her favorite thing to do is play fetch. I can have her stay (standing, sitting or laying down), throw the ball several hundred feet away, then tell her "ok" when she can fetch. During this I can say "leave it" and she will immediately stop and wait for another "ok" before fetching the ball. She is so smart. That's what's great about border collies, they are so eager to please... how many dogs can you stop in motion??

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shepherds whistle

How the hell do you get these darn things to work??

It's a beautiful day today! We woke up, and instead of doing our usually frisbee routine, we immediately headed out the door for some hiking.  Seek and I had a lovely morning, hiking the trails of a nearby park. The trail is somewhat short, so we did it twice. The trails at this park are the un-official off-leash trails. But before heading to the trails we picked up Seek's best friend Henley (my mom's Catahoula/SMD), and of course stopped by the coffee stand. Can't live without my coffee. 

There were a few dogs on the trail. The first we met was a poodle with all it's fur, all fluffy and happy. Then came the fetch gig the dogs always coax me into. They found the "perfect stick." They only want the one stick. If you try to throw another they will ignore it, they have to have the same stick! So we played fetch for awhile. This isn't very easy when hiking, lots of tripping over dogs, sticks smacked against the back of your leg while the dogs run by, etc. Henley has this funny habit of keeping Seek in check, he used to also do this with our bc mix Lucy, a.k.a. Lucifer. Anytime Seek goes off the trail to explore and I have to call her back, Henley will growl and jump on her or snap at her, almost like a bitch would her pups. However, if Seek disappears off the trail and comes back on her own without me calling her, then it's fine... Henley doesn't care and leaves her alone. Maybe he thinks she's in trouble if I have to call for her, or maybe it's his way of herding. The next dogs we met were two young cocker spaniels who were very friendly and not at all intimidated by Henley (about 110 lbs). Apparently they live with some newfoundlands. We wrapped the trail one more time before heading back to my mom's.

When we got to my moms house, we decided we were up for some fetch with the chuck-it, and some pool time. Seek thinks the pool is bath time. When I put her in, she looks so akward just standing there, so dramatic. While playing fetch, the field we were at had some sprinklers going. Anytime Seek's ball would get near them, she would take the long way around to get the ball and not be sprayed. She loves the river or lake though!

Off to the granary we went. I was just there yesterday. I ended up getting Seek some food that didn't have corn in it, made by Pinnacle. My cats hated that food, so I wasn't sure if Seek would like it. The taste test proved she was ready for a change. So today all we got was some Royal Canin cat food and a trachea for Seek. Seek loves going to the granary, because she gets to meet other dogs and the people that work there spoil her with treats. At one point she was hanging out behind the counter with the workers, apparently she was ready to work for treats. They thought it very cute.

Well, the last part of our nice day closed with some agility practice. We were working on some foundation skills, such as going forward and not turning to me for a treat or to see what was next. NO MORE SPINNING SEEK! Seek has improved a bunch. She used to constantly spin and bite me. So I used a tug for her to go on and not look back. This worked very well, naturally. Then we practiced her down stays with some jumpers and wrap work. She was doing very well. She is so much more focused when we practice agility at home. At our facility she gets so excited and wound up that most of our time is spent working on calming her and getting her to focus. I was very proud of our training session. We kept it a little short and then played tug afterwards. 

Right now I'm sitting in the back yard while seek lays in the shade crunching on the trachea we picked up at the granary and a pizza is baking in the oven, life is good. Nala, our feline abyssinian companion is laying under some chairs on the back porch and Yum Yum, our dearest Main Coone is definitely up to no good. She doesn't even have to look for trouble, it always seems to find her. She has a split personality disorder. One minute she is sweet and loving, the next she turns into "ick ick" and runs around the house at full speed growling at herself. It's pretty entertaining. It stimulates Seek! Some nights when I bring Yummers in the house she will be mad and immediately beat up the nearest sibling. Oh Yum Yum. 

Seek is now rolling around in the grass all silly, she is so cute! She always cleans herself off after eating. She usually uses the rug in the front room or my bed for her napkin. 

I am off to work in an hour and a half. I work only 2 nights a week. It works out perfectly. Every day is a Seek day. All my time is spent and devoted to giving Seek a fun and happy life. When I am at work I think of her and miss her. I usually never do anything for myself, not because I can't, but I choose to hang out and do stuff with my pup instead. It works for me and it works for Seek.

Au Revoir!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Seek's first time herding

Well well, this blog hasn't been updated for quite some time. I forgot the password. Schmool. 

Seek had her first herding session on Sunday May 24th. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I just knew that I had my fingers crossed in hopes Seek would be an excellent herder. Of course I'm sure everyone goes into their first session thinking that their dog will immediately go into expert herder mode, maybe some do...


She had 3 rounds with 7 minute breaks in between.

The first round I brought Seek into the round pen (not sure if that's what it's called... I am a beginner). She had no confidence whatsoever. She pretty much walked around eating the poop off the ground. I was a little worried, but wasn't about to give up on her. I see the way she looks at sheep and cattle when we drive by them. 

We took a break to give her some time to think about what happened.

Round two. A little bit of improvement... she started to eye the sheep a bit. Again I wondered if she had any herding instinct in her. Still not so much confidence going on. She almost looked as if she were in trouble for being near them. During this round I ran after the sheep while calling Seek to come with me and praising her for running with me. Of course she just wanted to be near me. At one point we actually picked Seek up and put her on top of the sheep to get her aware and let her touch them and know it was okay.

Time for another break. My instructor explained how sometimes it just takes 3 sessions and by the third they are working. 

WOW! Was she right or what. Round three, we get inside and Seek immediately goes to work. Thanks to all the praise we gave her in the first two rounds she built some confidence. She looked as if she had been doing it for years! I was so excited, I had been waiting for this moment for a long time coming. 

Here is a video from the third round. You can laugh at me for being afraid of the sheep.

And some pictures.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Seek is going to be a champion

Agility 101:
I can't begin to explain the speed this girl has on her! She is like speedy gonzales... but a border collie. Well, today was the first day of completing a whole course. Seek and I have never done this. It was really fun. We were the first to start off, and with a bang I must say. Perfect run. Next time around not so perfect. I find it hard to complete touches (since Seek wants to stop and touch, but then is ready to go...without the "OK" command), and get back on track. Seek is so fast that when we have to stop and do touches, I can't continue my path of shortcuts, therefore once we are ready to leave our touches, Seek is so far ahead she starts to spin, waiting for a command. Argh!

Besides me being too slow, Seek understands the object of the sport and did I mention she LOVES agility? Well, she's only a year old, but this summer when she is 15 months old and there are trials in our area (which I've already looked into), then we will compete. I can't wait!