Monday, June 22, 2009

It's been a while

It's been a really long while, in fact.
Baby's all grown up, dogs are alive and kicking. I'm apparently not the most consistent blogger in the world.

But I want to brag :-)

Uma has been catching lots of discs recently. So has Eden.
I dunno how this came about but we actually just missed a big agility trial and went to a disc dogging qualifier event instead. But it was worth it. Uma qualified for the USDDN World Championships in Cartersville, GA. I'm considering going, though I haven't made the final decision yet.

So here's one of her routines from last weekend

And here's Eden's better routine:

Aren't they both cute though totally different?

And Eden is about to make her agility debut two weeks from now. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two in One: Cute Baby and Frisbee

Here's cute baby picking up Uma's third place trophy from the qualifier on Sept. 6:

fot. Malgorzata Kalbarczyk

fot. Malgorzata Kalbarczyk

Here's Uma working on getting that big trophy:

fot. Malgorzata Kalbarczyk

Eden working hard on her 7th place finish :-)

Cute baby with handsome daddy:

Cute baby being generally cute:

Don't be fooled by cute baby Irminka wearing blue. She is a girl, I'm simply not a huge fan of pink clothing. I didn't buy anything pink for her when I was pregnant. But we have received some pink clothes and blankets as gifts from friends, so now she does own some pink stuff as well.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Uma goes silver!

Uma goes SILVER!
So I haven't been blogging much... mostly on account of not doing much doggy stuff. Agility is really still on hold, though I do practice once a week, sometimes twice if all goes well.

Anyway, Uma and Eden and I played frisbee on the first weekend of September. I entered Uma in the last disc dogging qualifying event on Saturday in Open Frisbee and Eden in the Young Dogs category. Eden was Eden and did all I could expect from her, she took a 7th out of 11, with a pretty lousy catch ratio and really wide arcs on all her returns with the frisbee. But I'm proud of her anyway, she was clearly having fun and enjoying herself and so was I. She is an aussie with all the border collie problems (low catch ratio and wide arcs) and without the border collie advantages (speed and intensity), but she has this amazing cuteness which actually encourages me to keep on working with her. And I'm not giving up on her.

Uma did well on Saturday, taking a third in the qualifier and therefore qualifying for the finals on Sunday. She had already qualified for the finals in June with Karolina, but because the two have not been training at all since that time, Karolina gave her back to me and let me compete with her. I think Uma is the only dog in the history of the DCDC Nationals to have qualified for the finals in the Open category with two different handlers. She also qualified in Toss & Fetch with Karolina.

The national finals took place on Sunday, where we did even better. On Saturday she had some 5 or 6 missed catches in each routine and on Sunday I think she had just one miss in the second freestyle.
In Toss & Fetch I jammed the first throw straight into the ground, but luckily Uma was quick enough to allow me to do 6 throws. The remaining 5 were good and she caught them beyong the 30-yard line.

This gave us a totally unexpected second place in the finals among a very talented group of dogs. This means Uma is the 2008 Reserve Polish Champion!!! How cool is that?!?!

All right, the girl who won the champonship is 14 years old, which puts our achievement in perspective, but still...
Another Aussie, Lexus, won the Saturday qualifier and came in third in the finals. Wieslaw & Lexus were really the most amazing team out there with probably the most innovative routine I've seen. I'm actually very surprised we were scored higher than they were on Sunday. Karolina and Negra had awesome freestyles and blew their toss & fetch round which put them in fourth place in the finals. But their freestyle rounds were to die for. The complete results are here:

Oh, and the weekend after that we took Eden to a herding instinct certification. This was pretty much a formality, because she works sheep on a regular basis, but she needs the certificate in order to compete in herding trials (it's a prerequisite) and I'd like to try to do a ranch trial with her next year. Of course she passed and received a very nice written description of her working style, which ended with the judge praising her stamina and fitness: "dog in excellent working shape." She was also entered in a conformation show on the same day, where she did not do anything and received a long and detailed description which ended with the conformation judge scolding her for being too lean: "chest too deep, too much tuck up, dog in too much of a working condition." Oh, I love the irony.
Not that she deserved to win anything, she has blown ALL her coat and looks kind of like a tailless rat.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy first Birthday Eden!

It's hard to believe but Eden just turned a year old. My little puppy is growing up. She still acts like a puppy and looks like a puppy (I constantly hear questions like "So how much more is she going to grow?") and I think she'll keep that puppish grin forever. She's a cutie and possibly the sweetest dog I've ever had. She's most certainly the most undertrained dog I've had, but hey, well... at least she's happy. Isn't she?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Here she is

The world's most beautiful baby :-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

not dog related - -remodeling update

Totally not dog related, but have to post it somewhere. Our kitchen, a work in progress...

Here's what it used to look like when we moved in:

Here's part 1 of the demolition stage:

Then we had the wall between the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom pulled down to create a breakfast nook:

Concrete on the floor:

Floor heating has just been installed:

Floor tiles and wall tiles & paint on the walls:

Cabinets in the process of being installed. The countertop still needs to be cut and adjusted:

Here Janusz is installing the oven:

And here the row of cabinets is almost ready, there will still be one more cabinet below the green one on the right hand side. These pics are taken from the breakfast nook, which is at this point empty, we need to get a table ;-)

some book/dvd reviews

My due date has passed, but no baby yet. So I am officially 10 months pregnant ;-)However, since I have wrapped up everything at work that means I have some time to do stuff that does not require a lot of moving :-) Yep, for the first time in about a year I've had some time to read stuff that is not related to my dissertation (which, BTW, I have completed, submitted, it's over and done with and if all goes well and the reviews are favorable I should be PHinisheD in September).

I had been looking for a really thorough running contact program for Eden. I started out wanting her to do a 2 on/2off, but after putting quite some effort into it I just don't think she has the speed and impetus to be successful with the method I used for Uma. The basic problem turned out to be her slowing down on the descent ramp, a problem which I easily solved with Uma by upping the motivator used to reward the dog in the 2 on/2off, that is switching from treats to a game of tug. With Eden, well, the promise of a game of tug does not cause her to lengthen her stride. Noth that she doesn't like tug. She just doesn't see the point in running full speed for her game of tug.

So after some deliberation I ordered Ali Roukas Canova's Running Contacts DVD. And... I love it :-) The biggest problem I've encountered so far with all running contact methods is that they were somehow incomplete. It seemed to me that they all skipped some basic step. Or, as I think is the case with Silvia Trkman's method (or the renditions of her explaining the method that I've seen on tape, as I haven't had the pleasure of working with her)they are too mechanical and don't allow the dog to completely understand the task, to think it through. Ali's method is very detailed, thorough and it just makes sense.

In summary, she does two things at the same time and completely independent of each other:

a) she teaches the dog long striding on contact obstacles (yeah!) by using a hoop to go under, a toy reward at the end and restrained recalls toward the toy. She is, however, very much aware of the fact that if the hoop was to go off, the dog would be very likely to jump off the yellow. So the hoops are just an element of the method, something of a management tool, while the most significant part requires quite a lot of thinking on the part of the dog. of course, she starts out with a low dogwalk and increases the height gradually.

b) Simultaneously with the hoop stuff she teaches the dog to touch a touch board with two front paws. The secret is TWO front paws, as it makes it much easier to distinguish a correct performance from an incorrect one when two paws are the criterion. She teaches a kind of "pounce" on the baord, by holding it in her lap as she is squatting down on the ground. Another ingredient which, I think, adds to the success of this method is NOT transferring the touch board to the contact obstacle quickly. In fact, she uses the touch board as an obstacle in itself while working simple jump/tunnel sequences. Again, what I have found a problem with attempting to teach running contacts to students was the transition from the board on the ground to the board on the contact onbstacle.

I still need to view the DVD again, think about it etc. but I feel encouraged to just try the entire method, section by section.

I also ordered Linda Mecklenburg's book on jumping, because I loved her articles in Clean Run, but missed quite a few of them. I also love it, though the one thing I wonder about is whether the fact that she teaches everything when the dog is NOT excited and with minimum speed involved will not hamper Eden's speed on course even further. It's one thing to work with a naturally fast border collie, but with Eden I do have to worry about getting the maximum speed out of her. But again something I'll have to chew on.

Oh, and a little video of Eden doing frisbee from last week:

Karolina tries to squeeze in a practice session with Uma every week, which keeps me motivated to work with Eden. I am 39 weeks pregnant in the video, so all that can happen is I might induce labor. Which would ba a GOOD thing at this point :-)