Cathy Slot Jumping Weekend

Finally my notes are ready. Apologies in advance for the mixed fonts in this post. Can I just say that the Blogger Post editing sucks. And I don’t do HTML.

A few weeks ago now I attended and worked Cypher at a jumping weekend conducted by Cathy Slot from Queensland. Cathy has had the honour now of working with Susan Salo’s methodology a number of times now including a whole week in Canada with Susan Salo herself in 2006. She emphasised she was sharing, to the best of her ability and recollection, what she had learnt from working with Susan and also through working with handlers and dogs on the East Coast. Cathy regularly reiterated through out the whole weekend that she was by no means an expert in jumping she never the less felt that Susan’s training methods had helped a large number of dogs who struggled with jumping and even dogs who needed to make their style more efficient and tidier. Cathy said that she was happy to share as much as she could, given that Susan Salo had indicated she wouldn’t be able to come to Australia to teach everyone herself.She also referred everyone to Susan’s articles in Clean Run (US) magazine. The following notes and images were transcribed from my scribbles at the three day weekend. If you are working from these notes, please remember that there isn’t a “set recipe” for all dogs. I must say it required a quite radical change in my usual methodology towards teaching jumping. I have been of the belief that keeping grids low for too long will results in dogs’ becoming lazy over jumps especially if when toes are clicking against bars or bars are being dropped that we do not mark it in some way. I’m all for getting them jumping at competition height asap so that there is less repetition on heights they will not see in trials and less chance for bar touching/knocking. The following weekend meant a rather big change in that approach however it is the first time keeping grids low has made sense to me. I can see that there is very good rationale behind it. I am using the following grids with all three of my dogs – only one of which has a bar knocking problem, the other two are needing improvement on their general style and ability to scope and take off points. Cathy did mention that once the dog is jumping full height, Susan will continue get them to jump a variety of heights, including during sequencing/exercises, usually including higher than their competition jump height.

  • Jumping Grids are a lifelong training skill

Every time your dog jumps there are multiple components to that skill/behaviour performance.
It’s like a question with multiple parts and if one part is wrong then the whole question is wrong.
The components of Jumping:

  • Path
  • Distance
  • Appropriate Judgement of Take Off Point
  • Weight transfer
  • Angle of Elevation
  • Height

Dog needs to be able to SCOPE which equals reading ahead and adjusting their stride. We want dogs to anticipate the job ahead.

The Dog’s job is to have a focused mind and be physically able/skilled.

Susan Salo’s Theory is that as handlers we interfere with the dog’s process.

Dogs naturally want to carry 75% of their body weight on their front, in front of their shoulder line.

The efficient dog often seems to be slower in appearance when being watched but in reality is quicker.

Agility equals a hugely complex problem solving exercise.

In weaving we don’t want the ‘pitter patter’ effect but we do want to see them driving into the weaves and maintaining their rhythm. The reason why Susan Salo uses jump grids is so she can control the environment and teach the dog rhythm.

Good jumping sounds soft and rhythmic. We need to listen more carefully to our dog’s jumping style. We do not want to see the dog pulling on shoulders or being inverted over a jump.

A lot of grids will be bounce work. The grids are designed for the dog to be successful not to catch the dog out.

  • PROOFING

We are not to do these exercises to death. We do not have to perfect #1 before going onto #2 etc. Susan Salo is changing everything all the time otherwise the dog learns a habit.
There are only two scenarios in all the grid exercises where you have the heights of grids at full height.

Jump humps are for 6 month old puppies. See image.

We need to think about the bars we use for proofing and make sure we use a huge variety of colours, sizes and looks.

With regards to speed the speed will come once the dog gets understanding.

Distance Exercise – Most important because every time the dog does it the picture has changed. IE a jump has changed distance in relation to the jumps prior or after it.

On Bend Work it’s important to note that the dog’s weight is inequable in distribution. The longer the stride the harder it is for weight transfer.

Susan Salo: You cannot have a dog who is perfect across the whole realm of jumping components.

Puppies & Jump Humps – Designed to help with:

  • Spatial Awareness
  • Path
  • Extend and Collect
  • Look Ahead and Read

The Dog always determines how fast you move on.

Plus independent performance of the jumping skills is what also determines progress.

Susan Salo: The dog should do what’s in front of it unless I tell him otherwise.

When doing grid work a lure or toy is used. High drive to a toy is very beneficial however food on a target plate can also be used.

When watching the dog jump we are looking for:

  • Ease of Motion
  • Fluidity
  • Smooth movement between obstacles

Dropped Bars are a matter of Cause and Effect

The cause is often outside of the dog’s power. Therefore both Susan and Cathy believe that punishing dropped bars is inappropriate and unfair.

Every hour of agility training that you do you should be putting in two hours of conditioning work.

Susan Salo: Prior to commencing bend work get a dressmaker tape measure and measure the width/circumference of your dog’s thigh muscles on both sides. If your training is more on one side than the other then you will notice a difference in the thigh measurements from one side to the other.

Most important repetition is the one you do the very first time because that reflects the dog’s natural way of jumping and ability to read the “puzzle” set.

Dog should use minimal effort to get over bar ie just enough to get the job done.

In Foundation Work:

For an unbalanced dog – give the dog the easy side, then hard side and finish with the easy side. Always finish with the easy side for the dog.

Perch Work – the weight should be on the front. Add a jump hump to each side of the perch so the dog has to step sideways with hind feet over the jump hump.

Ladder Work – Looking for trotting and rewarding low.

Tugging – Shouldn’t do it from side to side or up and down. Tugging should be back away from you in a straight line.

If a dog is knocking the same bar in a grid then you need to make the jump before or two jumps before look different visually.

BE CAREFUL OF NOT OVERFACING DOGS.

When Proofing only change one thing at a time:

Walking

Running

Sending

Coming in from behind

Throwing of the toy

We need to constantly ask ourselves Are our expectations too high for the dog?

Sit position is recommended at the start line however not with crunched shoulder position. The angle of the shoulders in the sit should be open and not closed via the dog crouching or going ‘vulture’ like.

Susal Salo: In her opinion the dog sees each jump as a specific jump they don’t generalise well.

Bar type and stripes affect the value of the jump to the dog.

Colours & Shape – Yellows and pale greens fade into the background.

Susan Salo: Some days it may not be what you think is successful as long as the dog is still trying you are successful.

  • SET POINT – this is the place at which the dog organises their body to leave the ground. The head should be low and the back soft and relaxed.
  • REPETITIONS – The Set Point Exercise can be done up to three times a week.
  • Whenever you do BEND grids should always start and finish with STRAIGHT lines

We always start off with the SET POINT exercise because there is no speed. It presents the correct take off point to the dog.


HURDLES

  • With Wings
  • Without Wings
  • Round Bar
  • Square Bar
  • Flowerpots at Wing
  • Flowerpots Under Hurdle
  • Something flapping
  • Panel Jumps
  • Tyre
  • Double Spread as a straight oxer
  • Triple spread as a rising spread

NEVER DO THE GRIDS NEXT TO A FENCE. Why? Because then the dog is not choosing and we don’t see it’s natural style.

Susan Salo: Does not like shaping the tyre. Trains hurdle first.

When the dog jumps two bars at once in the grids: lower grid then go in and reward between the two jumps in question.

PROGRESSIVE GRID Measures: 1 jump hump plus 5 jumps at 5, 6, 7 and 8 feet apart. IE Each grid is longer than the one before.

If dog puts an extra stride in then you should compress the jumps.

Cypher was not reliant on my movement as to whether he got his rear end under him well.

When training the Broad Jump put the bar at the beginning of the boards.

MOVING GRID – (helps dogs judge distance) 4 bars plus jump hump
Jump hump then 3 ft to first hurdle, then 6ft to 2nd hurdle, 6ft to 3rd hurdle then 15 ft to 4th hurdle. 6 Repetitions.

Rep #1 – Start as above
Rep #2 – Move last hurdle out half a foot
Rep #3 – Move last hurdle out another half foot
Rep #4 – Move last hurdle out another half foot
Rep #5 – Move last hurdle out another half foot
Rep #6 – Finish with the same as Rep #1

The amount of distance to move out or in on each repetition is determined by the dog. It does not have to be a minimum amount, the main thing is that it moves every time.

Once dog is understanding the above grid and is bounce jumping then can start with the 4th hurdle at 16 ft, 17ft, 18ft and so on. Should be able to move out to 21 feet for medium/large dogs after much practice. The last jump bar only can be moved up to full height. All other bars should stay low no more than 300 and can be lowered if necessary. If dog is surprised by placement of the last bar (or perhaps you want to check if they really intended doing what they did, eg after a bounce to 15 feet, instead of one stride) then do not move that bar out to see if they repeat the same performance. If so, it was intentional, if not it probably did catch them by surprise.

For small dogs the measurements are 2ft from jump hump then 4, 4 and 9 feet.

If dogs are two striding between 3rd and 4th bar then still move out at least one inch and
lower the jumps.

Reward effort EVEN IF dog puts two strides in or jumps two bars at once. Up to 21 feet is average for a Border Collie. 23 feet expected for average large dog.

The last bar can also become a tyre, flowerpot jump or spread.
Always be assessing the mental attitude of your dog.

When do you do what grids?

BALANCE GRID – Standard maintenance is just before a competition and once after the competition. For a high maintenance dog – then 3 times a week. Once a week is sufficient for a dog with no jumping issues. Once a fortnight do the SET POINT exercises.

Maintenance should happen before working in seminars and you should do the balance grids after these and competitions.

Bend Work should be done once a month for standard maintenance.

Basic Bend Work once a fortnight.

TURNS – Most dogs can power in or power out of a turn but cannot do both.

Susan Salo: The average speed dog can beat the superior speed dog many times over if it can use what it has and knows how to bend.

SLICE: What dogs do when taking jumps at angles. Susan Salo works the tyre into the slice.

GRIDWORK SUMMARY

Start with – Straight Grids then go onto Bend Grids and then Slice Grids

Always Finish with Straight Grids.

SET POINT EXERCISE. See images.



There are two options for where the handler can stand. Option A: In line with the toy or lure but at least 2 to 3 meters away parallel. Option B: In line with the dog but at least 2 to 3 meters away parallel. Handler needs to be out of the picture as much as possible. Handler may take one step forward.

Cypher needs to work on feet not moving when I go back and reward with food on the start line.

Dogs front two feet should be as close to jump hump as possible. Dog does not have to be perfect but you want the dog to be making eye contact with the lure/toy.

If the dog just launches and doesn’t put a stride in over jump hump and he does that twice in a row then move jump hump back away from jump in 3 inch increments. Also reward in the gap between the hump and the hurdle.

When doing this exercise do not alternate between lead out and send. Pick one option and repeat a few times on both sides. Then do the one you didn’t start with. This exercise starts with bar low and works up to normal height.

If the dog is not rounding nicely over the bar and is pulling with shoulders change the look. See picture below. Start with one piece of long PVC coming down one side. If still not happy then add the second piece on the other side.


For Puppies

Start with both pieces of long PVC forming a V from each upright and use a jump hump on the ground instead of a bar.

Don’t Forget: For all SET POINT exercises change the look of the bar/uprights (whole picture) in order to PROOF.

BALANCE GRID

5 Jumps plus 1 Jump Hump

For Medium/Large dogs

Jump Hump – 3 ft – Bar 1 – 6ft- Bar 2 – 6ft – Bar 3 – 6ft – Bar 4 – 6ft – Bar 5.

This is the Basic Standard Grid.

Always place Lure or Toy 2 stride lengths from the last bar.

Things to Look For:

  • Is dog landing in centre between two bars?
  • Does dog gets it’s back end underneath them?
  • What does the dog’s jumping sound like? Loud or feather like
  • What si the dog’s head and rear end doing?

Cypher’s style/form changed when I sent him as opposed to when I did a lead out.

BALANCE GRID VARIATION

Have 3 bars low and 2 of the bars high. (Still never at full height)

Bar 1 – Low (Medium large dogs 200)

Bar 2 – High (Medium large dogs 300/400)

Bar 3 – Low (Medium large dogs 200)

Bar 4 – High (Medium large dogs 300/400)

Bar 5 – Low (Medium large dogs 200)

Still 4ft apart for Small Dogs and 6 ft apart for medium/large.

Ultimate aim: To remove Bar 3 in order to one stride between 2 and 4.

PRIMARY BEND GRID


Exercise 1. 8 Repetitions.

Rep 1 – 3 have dog bend round one side three times. Keep the dog on a circle path with the placement of lure/toy.

Rep 4,5 6 have dog bend round the other side three times. Again keep the dog on a cicle path with the placement of lure/toy. Handler always positioned on the inside. May take a step forward if dog cutting inside of uprights.

Rep 7 and 8 – One in each direction

Cypher good at bending left, bending right more awkward.

Don’t forget should always do the STRAIGHT BALANCE grid before and after BEND and SLICE work.

Exercise 2

See Image

This exercise can be worked as a figure 8.

SLICING

See image.

This exercise teaches the dog to slice jumps (ie take them at acute angles)

To make slice angle more acute move jump humps out sideways. Three reps on one side then three reps on the other side.

The middle bar can be moved up to full height.

With slices it is important to work both equally.

Basic Grids can be turned into slicing grids. Exchange the bar in the slice exercise for a tyre and for a spread.

PROOF SLICES LIKE ANYTHING ELSE.

BEND WORK IS NOT PRACTICED ENOUGH – REMEMBER TO TRY AND KEEP HANDS AND BODY OUT OF THE PICTURE.

Troubleshooting:

For dogs that jump with heads high and gazelle like do the SETPOINT exercise that is set up for puppies except instead of jump hump as a bar you use solid panels. The two pieces of PVC are also V set on the landing side of the jump (the BACK of the jump). Jump hump is 3 ft away from jump panels.

Dogs with Early take off: MOVING GRIDS.

HALF CIRCLE WORK – A progression from Bend Grids.

See Image.


AIM: Want the dog giving 3 performances irrespective of where the handler is.

Rep #1 Dog does Bar 1, 2 and 3 (Toy placed on ground between 3 and 4)

Rep #2 Dog does Bar 3, 2 and 1.

Rep #3 Dog does Bar 1,2,3,4 and 5.

Rep #4 Dog does Bar 5,4,3,2 and 1.

Problems: Change things in the following order if not successful:

1) Lower the heights first

2) Break it down into segments second

3) Bring Arc in or out thirdly

Make sure you return to a balance grid variable heights after this work.

DOUBLE OXER GRID

See image:

  • AIMS: Trying to get the dog to have rhythm
  • Cathy noted our dogs have good toy drive
  • If you do run down the lane then you automatically increase drive and length of stride and you’ll never know if he actually understands/scopes/judges well

Progression: Not testing to see if the dog bounces each jump. If the dog is not bouncing then bring the heights down THEN bring in the last two.

Testing to see if dog judges that it needs more effort for each bar.

WHY WE USE A TOY. It decreases the impact of the handler.

Susan Salo: A dog can take anything up to 12 months to develop a good jumping style. Earlier for scoping skills to develop.

SCOPING: The dog’s ability to read and adjust stride over a number of variable distances and jump heights. This only starts to happen after a dog is completing the BALANCE GRIDS very well.

Six Meter apart jump lanes can be used for handling practice.


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An Eventful Week

Phew. Deep breath. I think I’m sleeping in Monday. The past seven days have been a flurry of activity for me and I need to chill this week. Did the movies on Tuesday and watched The Golden Compass with some friends. I liked it, not Movie of the Year material yet still very entertaining and absorbing. It stayed quite close to the Philip Pullman books and I liked the theological aspects present in both formats. The bears were impressive and pulled no punches in the brutality of their hierarchy. Lyra was played by a girl who looked very much like the image I had in my mind of the main character when I was reading the books. Worth the movie ticket price. Cloverfield wasn’t. I left the cinema with a vague sense of being ripped off and a growing desire to write the film makers demanding my money back for what was obviously a fairly cheaply made movie with an underhanded marketing ploy. Last time I fall for that one. If you like hand held dodgy film work for an hour and a half combined with a few special effects of a monster, very little character development and no story apart from Monster destroys city then this is the flick for you. Just make sure you don’t suffer nausea with watching a screen constantly in motion with someone’s hand holding a mini-cam.

Wednesday and Thursday we (Tim, myself, Cypher and Spryte) took a trip to just outside of Dongara to stay on a rural property with family. 4 hours north of Perth, the property is huge and the beach side of the highway and is really in a great location. We had a relaxing yet energising stay taking the dogs on long walks, checking out the property, swimming in the pool, doing some dune 4 wheel driving to the beach and generally engaging in very pleasant chatter about what animals would be raised there, what improvements would be made and the benefits of a rural life. I have to admit I am very much taken with the idea of being able to step out the back door and just walk for ages without signs of neighbours, traffic, city noises, other dogs or people. Tranquil, serene and peaceful are all adjectives that apply.

There were a couple of other dogs there and Spryte learnt to deal with them whilst Cypher suffered in not so much silence but more with much vocalising of his displeasure with the arrangements. The boy really needs to realise that if I am within 10 feet of him he doesn’t have to do his manly macho posturing in order for me to feel safe and that everyone knows he’s full of the proverbial as when push comes to shove he’s the biggest piece of chicken faecal matter out there. So that was a very nice but short break from suburbia and one that we hope to repeat sometime soon! Photos posted below.


Some of the gardens round the house.



Cole – the most chilled out cat I’ve ever had the pleasure
of meeting. So does not give a stuff about dogs and can
intimidate them all with a single swipe of his paws.

This is Molly and no she is not fat…
that’s 11 puppies in there born 4 days after we left!


Beans – 8 months old and probably a cross between
a bully something and a kangaroo. She has the most
gorgeous temperament and is probably quite ADD.








Spryte likes to use her pointy end in playing.

Got back in late Thursday night and then was up again early Friday morning to ensure that I was down in time for the start of the seminars by Greg and Laura Derrett. Greg and Laura came out from the UK and gave us three days of tuition. Despite the stinking hot weather we’ve had around here recently (38 degrees celcius in the shade) I do believe that everyone got something out of their workshops. I had to help out a friend that day with an event up in Whiteman Park (remote control cars – buggys they call them). The State Championships were being held and I helped out with the canteen whilst Tim took photos. A couple of good ones posted below but he has more at his www.yourdogphotos.com website.



Back in the afternoon to get ready for a trial. Spryte was entered in NFC (Not For Competition) but I scratched her as she had run pretty hard at the beach and given herself a blister which broke causing her to limp. I trimmed the skin off and she was fine after a while. Cypher was feeling pretty wiped out I think. He’d swum quite hard at the beach the day before as the current was quite strong and spent a long time running up and down. I think he must have been feeling it because he dropped bars in a couple of courses, went clear in two classes but was feeling quite slow to run. Raven was very good. I pulled her out in her first run – Open Jumping as she dropped a bar. Then in Masters Agility she tried so hard and I was a completely crap handler and cost her a qually. In Open Agility she dropped a couple of bars and then in Masters Jumping crap handler came out again and opened mouth unnecessarily and pulled her off a jump. *Sigh* Of course she kept all her bars up. Grrrrr ARGH!! I seriously do not know when I am going to get it through my head that our silent runs are always our best runs. That was proven beautifully on Saturday night. Masters Agility was our first run and I was a wuss and released her before I got to the point I wanted to be and she dropped a bar so we withdrew. Then I had Open Jumping with her and said maybe three verbals at the most and she ran clear there. Open Agility she ran beautifully in a very fast time and I apparently kicked an upright as I ran past it knocking the bar off! Clutz! I didn’t even realise I’d done it till after the Judge and timekeeper told me. Then last run of the night was Masters Jumping again, kept mouth closed through most of it and she ran clear and came 2nd. I think my 2008 mantra for running Raven will be ‘Shut Up’. Or perhaps I should just invest in some gaffer tape.


The highlight for me on Saturday night was running young Spryte. I entered her in Novice Jumping in NFC and walked the course to see if I would actually run her. It was a very nice first course so I decided to go ahead. The SCT on it was 34 seconds I think. I was very pleased with her by the end of that run as not only had she run it clear she had also run it with the quickest time of the class in 19 seconds. That was a really nice way to start our trialling career. The judge wanted to know why I had her in NFC as she would have won but I explained the reasoning. To me this was like a show n go or a fun match just to see where she was at. Although she ran well I know she can run faster so I’m hoping with a few more NFC runs under our belt her confidence and speed will increase. A friend videoed it so it was good to watch it back. She took a couple of seconds to orient herself after the chute tunnel so I perhaps should have spoken to her there.

Tim was there taking photos with the new Nikon D300. I really like the speed of this camera, it can take up to 8 frames per second. Below is a four shot sequence of a seesaw by one of the fastest dogs in the country. Domino obviously executes a two on two off seesaw (and is one of the only dogs either brave enough or kamikaze enough to have his front paws hanging off like this) and is trained and handled by Gina O’Keefe. He’s owned by Gina and Liz Alcock. I daresay his seesaw is around 0.5 to 0.7 from paw on to stop.





During the day on Saturday I audited Greg and Laura. The Advanced session with Greg in the morning and the Puppy session with Laura in the afternoon. Both workshops were good in that they gave me exercises, drills, little games to work on with all my dogs. We watched some footage of the nose touch seesaw application and some of the jump grid work they do plus flatwork and how they use tugging. Greg spoke about teaching a running a frame and the issues associated with it. His Detox and Susan Garrett’s Encore are currently the only two dogs who have been taught it. He’s still not sure if he will teach his next dog a running a frame till Detox is 4 and showing evidence of it’s benefit over the nose touch. Lots of interesting discussions took place and I will write up some of my notes soon.


Sunday I had booked private lessons with Laura and we had one first up in the morning. Sue and I had our young dogs there and Cathy had Snazzy. She set up the double box grid and tested our dogs initially just to see if they were up to doing some drills on there. To be honest I wasn’t sure that Spryte would be, unlike Raven and Cypher she is not a dog you can train over and over and she’s still giving everything she’s got. I take the less is more, quality over quantity approach with her. So I brought Cy with me just in case. However she was great, she had several runs on several different sequences and she coped very well, Even when I brought the Frisbee out after using food she was keen to get to it. Not Cypher level keenness (let’s face it….that level is more a manic kind of keenness) but keener than I thought she would be. An absolute bonus was that we broached the cutting behind tendencies that show up from time to time not just with Spryte but with the other youngsters. I wasn’t sure how to combat that however Laura broke it down and explained very specifically what to do in this situation. We need to avoid at all costs the cutting behind to the extent that if we see them doing it we whip around and grab them to make sure they don’t complete the cross behind. It’s an issue that can become a huge bane in your training and trialling and it’s something we need to work on everyday. I also covered Cy’s seesaw behaviour (different in trials compared to training), the cue we use combined with deceleration to indicate a turn, rear cross timing, front cross timing. So much stuff to do I’m glad I took notes. I really need to write up a training program for me as I can easily see that everyone misses out training something. I think the best way to avoid that is to write up a training program. Yes because I have so much time to write these sorts of things! Hmmm….perhaps I shall write up a book, a week by week break down of what to train, the duration of particular training and when to train it; it should give, in the long term, complete coverage over everything! Sounds very technical and methodical to me (and so not my modus operandi) but surely it has to be better than the haphazard approach I have now which is “Oh crap that went wrong, I now know what I’m training next session”.

I have been mucking around with photoshop and some images. There are some really nice backgrounds out there on stock image websites and learning how to manipulate them, render and lift off foregrounds has been interesting. Not that I’ll ever use this name or prefix to breed but it’s fun to play around with it.

The next big event on the calendar for us is Friday night. I finally get to see The Police live in concert for the first (and no doubt the last) time ever. All I’ve heard about them so far has been excellent and I cannot wait! Agility people will realise how much this means to me when they know I’m actually giving up a trial for this concert. It takes a lot for me to miss a night of agility! However there was no hesitation on my part. That said, Rave and Cy are still entered, I figured Robyn can have some fun with them and she can remember all over again the joys of running Masters courses. *Evil grin*

2008 – Better than 2007 surely!

January 21st 2008

Well still have lots of updates to do here. I am just waiting on approval to post my Cathy Slot jumping workshop notes and the Stacy Peardot seminar review will be up here soon. Stay tuned. On other fronts things are moving along quickly. I’ve realised today there is ten days left before I have to go back to work. I really wish time could slow down during holidays that would be a very handy trick.

So the Spryte is 18 months old today! Officially legal for competition now. Our first real competition will be at the beginning of March at our Western Classic. I am entering her in the NFC (not For Competition) entry for a while first though – she’ll get a few runs in just to get some experience and for us to figure out what we need to target in training. I know we still have loads to work on and she is no where near the skill level that Cypher was at this age but then again I now have three dogs training and less time to train them with. We have made a concrete decision on the contacts – she is doing a 2on2off dogwalk and a running a frame. She’s played on the seesaw a couple of times but we’ve done no formal work on it yet. The weaves and the dog walk have had the most attention and now I am focussing on flat work and body cues and the turns/change of sides. She is not one of these dogs who will just train and train and train, so in a way it is good that I have three to train because it means I don’t overface her on stuff. Her toy drive is slowly increasing and I have to be very careful about when I use them because bringing them out at the wrong time certainly causes them to devalue in her eyes. It’s exciting though, having a new dog to take into the ring, I’m looking forward to it whatever it may bring.

Cypher had a great start to his 2008 trialling season on Saturday night. He had one run in Excellent Gamblers class and finished 1 point behind the winner yet quicker by several seconds. So that was a well earned 2nd place and his 4th leg of GDX, one to go! Then he had one run in Jumping and one in Agility for the fun teams event and pulled off two lovely clear rounds. I really think the grid work and exercises I have been doing from the jumping workshop have helped. So he helped our team to first place. Things I want to work on with his trialling this year is tightening up his turns and experimenting with transitioning to running contacts in trials.

Raven also had a great start to the year, still in remission (despite Simone being paranoid at one point, booking an appointment with Ken and then being told quite happily that I should go home and enjoy Christmas with my very much still in remission Border Collie) and enjoying life to the full. She has the equivalent of a puppy coat on now, which is great for summer but does make her look so much smaller and younger (till you spot the grey on the face!). I was a bit concerned that perhaps I had been too relaxed with her over the break as when we came back to training she was knocking bars all over the place. Then I started to do some grid work and set point work with her and it must have helped. Three runs last Saturday for three clear rounds! She won the Masters Gamblers class with 99 points for her 2nd leg (her third go at GDM) and then she pulled off two clear rounds for the teams event despite being the Reserve dog! So she helped us get rid of a DQ and faults score and put in a cracker agility round. She was quite simply a star and I was absolutely chuffed with her. I really hope this sets the tone for the year but one can never count on *anything* with Raven!

So the big events coming up – Greg and Laura Derrett arrive on Thursday and are here for workshops on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We have two trials on the weekend – Friday and Saturday night as well. So it’s going to be pretty hectic. The club goes back on the first Tuesday in February and that is going to be full on, we have so much to to try out this year. The big event for today – apart from Spryte turning 18 months, is that Tim’s new camera arrived, a Nikon D300 and of course we had to go down the Canine and test it out (despite the heat and the rather stark sunlight). So below are some pics we took today. I must say trained dogs are certainly easier to get photos of.

Cypher – throw the damn frisbee!

I shall use the ‘look’ and see if that gets me any joy.


Up…..!

Up….!

And away!

The Cypher Toy – World’s First Live Dog Tug Toy

Mouth open…

Mouth closed….

Does the hippy swivel shake aerial maneuver whilst
catching frisbee…see boys *can* multi-task

The joyful romp of the holder of the frisbee

Oh well least he won’t be unbalanced…she tugs on
both sides with equal exuberance

Raven – I don’t even like the frisbee that much

But if there’s a chance I can catch it before that riff raff does…

Then I will do my darndest!

Uh huh…there you go! That’s what front paws are for!

The Ready Steady Go! Shoot.
Take 1. Spryte can’t bare to look.

Take Two – and we all know Raven cheated and broke her start,
just look at that face!

Take Three – we’ve nearly got the hang of it

Take 4 – Hurrah! Perfect!
Ready! Steady! Go!!!

I had to do a closeup crop of Spryte with her eyes squeezed
shut! Hilarious! Think I’ll have to buy her some sunnies or something!

Spryte is very good at beating Cypher to the frisbee now,
much to his disgust though he pretends otherwise.

She definitely does the Nyah Nyah Nyah face quite well.

Spryte likes running. Fast.

Very Fast.
Especially when she gets the opportunity to
beat Raven somewhere. For a girl with short legs
she sure knows how to use them!

Cancer Research

Wow….long time no update. I have lots to update with too…it’s all sitting in a couple of word documents offline. I will be updating very soon I promise. In the meantime I read this article today and it was sounding very promising. It’s great news for Lymphoma dogs and hopefully humans as well in the future.