Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Training & Stuff in the Works

Over the last few days I've snuck in five minutes here and there working on some exercises Vegas needs to hone for our drill team routine. One of them is backing up for a count of eight. She can do it brilliantly when working between the baby gates but not so much outside of them. In fact, in between the gates she doesn't even focus so much on the food and I can verbally queue her to move backward. She's even moving back to about a count of 16. Outside the gates she's very distractable and resistant plus she curves a lot in her movement and I don't see any fluidity in her hind end. So while we're working on backing, I'm also working on additional hind end awareness, primarily using our Fit Ball balance disk for right now.

The other tricks we've been working on are quick and smooth spins in front of me going both directions. I'm happy to say those are going fabulously. In fact, I'll have to catch it on video because to see how tightly she turns and bends her body is a truly sweet thing to see for such a large dog. Now to start fading away the food lure....

Yesterday my friend, Lindsay, and I went to Corvallis for a freestyle competition. I had seen the announcement on a local dog Yahoo group and thought it would be a great place to get ideas for tricks to put into our drill team routines and also see how this type of routine really comes together, how precise, what kind of music, you name it. We arrived around 10:15 am and stayed for a good couple of hours. It was neat to see some novice routines, some more experienced teams, a wide variety of dog breeds represented, and to definitely get some ideas for things we can implement in the future. We then were fortunate enough to get to visit with some almost six-week old fawn Great Dane puppies which was completely fabulous! I can't believe I hadn't seen Dane puppies since Vegas was a baby and wow do I wish I could see them way more often! We got to go outside with the whole litter, 11 pups, and boy were they rambunctious. They have energy and spunk and teeth. Boy do they have teeth. And the puppy breath! We stayed until they were all crashed out tired and mama was fretting over being away from her babies for so long.

After driving home I did work with the dogs a bit on some tricks and before I knew it had to head off to a meeting. It was a whirlwind weekend and Sunday was definitely the highlight. This evening Vegas and I headed off to drill practice with Pam to join Lindsay at our Monday night practice location. We did get some trick troubleshooting accomplished and I think an agreement on how to plan better what to work on, setting deadlines, and when our next practice is. I'm really glad everyone is flexible to change the routine based upon what our dogs need. I really have a hard time getting Vegas to move forward from a heel position (either side) when I have no forward motion. I was really struggling and felt myself starting to get frustrated when I spoke up. We're going to try a step forward with one leg to encourage that forward motion. Plus, I had "downing" Vegas with my rump in the air so we played with some stylistic changes that would best be explained in video. Hopefully next practice....

When I got home I had all these grand ambitions and plans for things I really need to get done. Of course I floundered on all that. I spent some time mourning, worrying, trying not to imagine what life without V would be like and of course ending up with that all I could think about, and in the end, just gave into some extra time spent cuddling my dogs. I'm lucky to have them and I know that. Boy how poignant that gets when the fragility of life smacks you in the face.

Once I got on here I started watching videos. Here are some of my favorites of the night and that have given me some great ideas to work on with Vegas.

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