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 :-)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

8 months and 2 years....

A friend once told me that pregnancy lasts 8 months and 2 years. Well, I am into the 2 years part now. 39 weeks, to be precise. I am really tired, heavy, huge and uncomfortable.
So basically, forgive the blogging hiatus.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dog Chow Disc Cup 2008

As I'd mentioned before Karolina had been practicing with Uma for a disc-dogging competition. The competition was this weekend in Wroclaw (very looooooong drive from Warsaw). I was, of course, worried sick about Uma, since, as we'd calculated, she'd never spent a night alone (without me or Janusz being there) in her life. The dogs always go on holidays with us and the only times she gets to stay with Janusz is when I'm away at a conference. But, to make a long story short, Uma clearly didn't miss me one bit and handled the situation like a pro.

Uma was initially entered in the Starters division, but at the last moment Karolina decided to move her up to the Open Division. There was also a separate Toss&Fetch event, which they entered as well. There were 27 dogs entered in Open and 47 in T&F, but there were quite a few no-shows. All in all, they were OUTSTANDING, placing 2nd in Open Frisbee and 9th in T&F. Since this was a qualifying event for the Dog Chow Disc Cup Finals (the Polish National Championships) and the top 3 dogs in Open earn a place in the Finals, they have already secured themselves a spot in the finals. Pretty awesome for a debut. I admit I was not counting on them doing so well after training together for such a short time. It would have been sufficient if they just had fun and did their thing. The Q was the icing on the cake, so to put it.

The major drawback was the weather, there was a heatwave passing through Poland on the weekend and Karolina decided to pull her labrador Negra from the third round, as she was worried about Negra overheating herself.

I really wish I could have been there (too long a drive, too hot, too dangerous for the baby), but I am really excited about how well Uma did, about how much fun the girls had and about how much fun all my friends had and how well they did. The disc-dogging competitions are dominated by border collies, but they 2 Polish Aussies entered in this one did so well! Uma was second in Open and Lexus, a beautiful, black tri was first in Starters.

The results are here: http://www.discbusters.com/disc_cup_07_2ls.html
and I'm sure there will be pics and films soon.

Yes, there are some pictures and film clips!

These two awesome pics are by Lukasz Kowa:

Here's a clip of Uma's first freestyle:

It looks like there's only ONE missed disc at the most there. That is pretty amazing!

And here's a link to both the freestyles and the toss & fetch. The second freestyle was much worse with regards to catch-ratio:

And a link to Karolina and Negra's first freestyle (she pulled her from the second). The first one was AWESOME:

EDIT: Forgot to mention that Karolina and Uma also won the BEST FREESTYLE award. Way to go!