Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lure coursing and Canada

First off, I managed to talk a friend into video taping my dogs at lure coursing practice this past weekend. And, reliable friend that she is, she uploaded the videos to youtube for me, enabling me to share them here.

Pallo lure coursing:

Koira lure coursing:

The loud clicking noise is the lure machine, as the person filming was standing right next to it. And, of course, the dogs are going so fast its hard to get a good video. This course was a straight 100 yards. The other practice area is large enough to do a slightly longer course and zig-zags, which I think I will try my dogs on next time we practice down there.

On a different note, I am getting my packing list together for the weekend doing flyball in Canada. Passport for me and rabies certificates for the dogs are at the top of the list, since I figure I can replace anything else if I really need it, but not those.

The longer I stare at the list, the longer it gets. I'll have to do some interesting packing to get it all in the car in a way that fits me, both dogs comfortably, and my rideshare person who is coming along most of the way (company, and help paying gas, basically a win win situation). Its my first time doing a ride share for a long trip like this, so hopefully it goes well.

I'm getting really excited for a weekend of flyball fun. I hope there is a photographer there, since I have almost no good pictures of Pallo or me doing flyball. Then again, it is an indoor location, which is great for most things, but tends to make pictures less than stellar.

In any case, I'm super excited, and I bet Pallo would be too if he knew what was going on. Koira will hopefully get a chance to practice on Saturday after racing is over. Here's hoping for good, clean, fast runs.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A new trick and a blog hop

My dogs are in the process of learning a new trick. This is a totally self indulgent trick, meant to allow me, the human, to be extra lazy. The trick? Close the door.

When I get up in the middle of the night to let the dogs out to potty, I leave the door cracked a little so the dogs can just push the door open and come right back inside. This does mean, though, that I have to stay awake and standing until the dogs come back in so that I can close the door behind them.

No more of that nonsense.

Today, I took this unbearable situation into my own hands, and, with a clicker, a black X of electrical tape, and handfuls of treats.

I put a black X on my door, about nose height for the dogs (or, a little over nose height for Pallo, a little under for Koira, since my dogs are no where near the same height). Using my touch stick, I got the dogs to touch their noses to the black X on the door. I faded the touch stick quickly, treating for nose touches on the X.

One trick training session down, both dogs will reliably touch their nose to the door. Koira snaps her head back to me right away after making contact, anticipating her treat reward, so we need to work on hitting the door harder and pushing. Pallo did really good, even adding in a foot to "slam" the door, but I pushed him too fast by opening the door a little for him to close, and the noise scared him a bit despite a HUGE jackpot of treats for it. By the end of the session, he was happily hitting the closed door again, and we will work our way up more slowly next time.

Other tricks learned this week include Pallo learning to Roll Over, which he now offers every time he gets confused, anxious, or doesn't know what I want him to do. Koira is learning "Speak" which might be a mistake, encouraging her to bark, but I am hoping I can get two different ones, a loud bark, for "Speak" and a soft bark for "inside voice". We'll see how far I get with that.

I have been wondering, do you teach the same tricks to all your dogs, or do each of them know different tricks? What is your favorite trick to train, and what trick is your dog's favorite to offer?

Pallo's default is the "roll over" now, but for Koira, default is "Wave", which often ends up being her thrashing her front leg around in the air.

While you are enjoying your Saturday, please stop by the Pet Blog Hop and visit some other pet bloggers! We will be spending our Saturday at Lure Coursing practice, and hopefully getting the camera back!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Koira ran in a lineup for the first time in well over a year!

With the great progress Koira has been having with doing full runs, we decided today to try putting her in a lineup for the first time since her rather horribly failed tournament last January.

And the best part, Koira ran great! First time out, I ran Koira first, with Raff, a Keeshond on our team, passing into her. Koira didn't even seem to notice him other than dropping her ball once, which may have been from him crowding the lane a bit (or might have been her spitting balls for no reason). Second time out, we switched it around, running Raff first, followed by Koira. Again, she didn't even seem to notice him there, even when I was passing closer (though we didn't do any close passes yet).

Passing and other dogs in general were never a problem for Koira. She has never really been distracted by dogs in the other lane, or had issues with dogs in her lane at all. But, being able to run in a lineup is an important step in training before we can head to a tournament with her. The main issue she has is lack of motivation heading to the box, but running her in a lineup seems to help with that, if anything. Plus, we think that her desire to return to me will eventually help speed her up down to the box as well as from the box.

My next training goal with her is to run her between two dogs, with one before her and one after her. And I will throw a party to celebrate when she single strides the jumps on the way down as well as the way back to me (currently she double strides to the box and single strides back to me).

Pallo did good at practice too, except for tripping and taking out a jump. We were running him at 9", which is his measured jump height. He tapped one jump, then somersaulted into the next one, taking it out completely. Luckily, he was not injured at all. And, he loves flyball so much and has such confidence with it that he ran just fine the rest of the night, not even tapping any of the jumps.

And, just for a bit of a laugh, Pallo trying on booties for the first time.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Magical Circles?

(First off, my camera is still not in my possession, and I probably won't have it for another week, so I want to thank my cousin for taking these pictures at the park, and the previously posted pictures with the glasses. Otherwise, I wouldn't have any pictures to share.)

I found a frisbee at the local grocery store for only three bucks, and thought, oh, thats a perfect frisbee for the dogs. It was all soft on the edges, with some give, and seemed pretty flexible.

Koira took one look and decided the hard middle piece needed to be removed, and proceeded to shatter it.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo then realized he could see through it, making it the most preferred frisbee in his world.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

He didn't really like it when it got stuck to his face though.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Koira became a pro at flipping it around from over her face to under her head, so it didn't get stuck on her nearly as much.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And, Pallo did great at running into the steam at the park to wash off the belly mud before getting back into the car.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

3-D Cat

I told Martha I was going to a 3-D movie for the first time ever. Martha was intrigued. She said she wanted to go too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Martha believes the 3-D glasses are very glamorous, and wants a pair of her own.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

She thinks she'll just steal mine.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

If I don't give them to her, she'll just chew on mine so I can't enjoy them anymore either.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

She looks great in them too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Friday, April 15, 2011

Saturday Blog Hop and some collars

I picked up some leather scraps from a local shoemaker, with the idea of using them for dog collars and leashes.

First step was to sort through all the scraps, picking out the biggest pieces, most colorful, etc, then sort and cut to size.

Next step was to pull out the sewing machine and get started.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I made three collars total and one leash. I have more leather to work with, but ended up getting a bit bored with the sewing.

Koira's new leather collar:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo's new collar:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Both dogs together modeling their collars:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I didn't get a picture of the leash, but really liked how it turned out. The other collar I made ended up a little large for either of my dogs, but pretty cool looking. I have to decide if I want to alter it and keep it, or find someone who has a larger dog and needs a collar.

Enjoy the Saturday Pet Blog Hop!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Welcome to the 80's

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

My dogs think they are just so hip.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Koira knows she is super cool.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Or, you know, a science teacher. One or the other.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo just knows he is the coolest thing to set foot on this earth. Or set foot on the air, either.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Breed Specific Legislation

As you may have noticed, if you read my blog, I do not support Breed Specific Legislation. I don't recall that I have mentioned it specifically on my blog in the past though.

Koira, my beloved little girl, is a dog who would easily be labeled a "pit bull type" by most people. I will not argue with this label. I will, however, object strongly if told that what my dog looks like makes her inherently dangerous to people and all living things.

Apparently in the dog world, there is a story going around about a dog in Ireland named Lennox who, due to BSL in Great Britain, has been taken from his family, held for 11 months without them being allowed to visit him, and is now slated to be destroyed. Lennox has no history of aggressive behavior*. This is all, apparently, happening because he appears to be a "pit bull type" dog.

*I don't know this dog, these people, or all the details of this story. I am simply relating what I have read about this story, which may be lacking in some relevant facts. What I object to is the classification of a dog as aggressive based solely on its appearance, which I cannot say for sure is or is not the case here. 

Wow, you mean he has four paws and a tail? Seriously, people, any dog, any time, can be labeled as one of the "bad breeds" or a mix there of. You may not own a pit bull, so don't care about BSL. It doesn't affect your breed. Well, thats what pit bull owners said 30 years ago when it was German Shepherds and Rottweilers that had the bad reputation. And, when, 10, 20, 30 years down the road your breed is added to the list of dangerous dogs (or, doG forbid, cities, counties, states, and countries start banning all dogs, no matter the breed) you will wish you stepped up earlier to say something.

BSL doesn't work. Period. Stricter penalties for dogs who show aggression, regardless of breed or appearance, and stricter penalties for those people who misuse and abuse dogs, are the only two ways to reduce the risk dogs pose to society.

But really, you are about 1000 times more likely to die of a car crash, heart disease, or cancer than a dog attack. For that matter, you are 5x more likely to be killed by a strike of lightening than by a dog attack.

In any case, should you feel the need to speak out, here is what you can do:

1. A petition is being signed in hopes of overturning Lennox's death sentence. You can find a link to it, and other details of this particular case at http://frugaldougaldog.blogspot.com/2011/03/save-lennox.html.

2. Keep an eye on your own local, county, city, and state legislature. Bills come up regularly that will restrict dog ownership, and many of them deal with BSL. Make sure your representatives know where you stand on this issue.

3. Make sure your dog is providing a great example of a well balanced, safe dog. Take your well socialized, balanced, friendly dog with you to dog friendly events and locations, to help show the public how friendly, calm, and nice dogs can be.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some serious fun

Lure coursing was a total blast.

I arrived a few minutes early to get situated. A ton of people were there, with Whippets, Greyhounds, Salukis (I think), Boxers, Siberian Huskies, and a ton of other breeds, mixed, purebred, sight hound, and non.

The first run of the day was a straight away, run singly. Koira was the seventh dog up, so we had a chance to watch some other runs first, and get a feel for what was going to be happening. I tried to get her to watch the coursers while they were out there, but she was more interested in laying in the grass.

As our turn got closer, I made sure to find someone in the crowd willing to be a "catcher" for us, basically, a person standing at the end of the course to catch the dog if it didn't want to return to the owner. Another person who came along volunteered to catch for my dogs, and I caught for her.

Koira's turn came. I walked her out to the field, and stopped to talk to the lure operator, letting him know it was our first time. He warned us to stay away from the lure rope when moving, as it can be sharp, and gave us the basic instructions: Grab the lure, walk down to the start pulling it, get the dog excited for the lure, wave to the operator, let dog go.

Koira was super excited about the lure (white plastic bags on a rope). I got her revved up, waved at the operator, and sent her off. She ran the whole course (130 yards I think). Once the lure stopped moving, she gave it one look, then came running back to me.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Her second run she was excited already, and ran a bit faster, but I don't think she fully extended and gave into the coursing instinct fully. She sure had fun though.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo was up a bit later in the list. I wasn't sure how he would like this game, but got him excited for the lure, revved him up, waved, and away he went. He did his bounding leap that is his second fastest speed, leaping and bounding in huge strides after the lure. Then when it stopped, he grabbed it and thrashed until the catcher got a hold of him (you don't want to call a dog off the lure, since it is the whole point of the game).

His second run was even better. Instead of bounding, like he does while playing, Pallo leveled out, lowered down, and really dug in after it.

Not really a graceful greyhound though...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Again he snatched up the lure, and held on good until the catcher looped a leash around him and brought him back down the field to me.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The day was a ton of fun. We ended up having to leave a bit early, since I had to work that afternoon too. I stayed long enough to watch some pairs run in the second go around with everyone, which was a lot of fun. Catching proved to be pretty fun too, getting a whole different view of the dogs' expressions after the lure.

Down side is I left my camera and sweatshirt on the side of the field. I'll be getting them back later this month at our next practice hopefully, but until then the blog may be a bit short on pictures. These pictures were sent to me from the generous people at practice.

(I apologize to any lure coursers out there if I mangled any of the terminology, and would be grateful for any corrections.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lure coursing and the Blog Hop

Looks like Koira, and possibly Pallo, will get a chance at trying out lure coursing tomorrow. The kennel club hosting practice finally decided the field is dry enough. I have to work at 4, and practice is at 1, so I might be running it a little close, but they did say I could make sure my dogs get at least two runs in if I let them know I have to leave by 3.

I'm excited for trying out this new sport. I've never even seen lure coursing in person, but have read about it, and I think Koira will really like it. I'm not sure how Pallo will react, since his prey drive seems way lower, but I will probably go ahead and see how he likes it. Koira I think will love this, since she loves chasing things. We play with our homemade lure toy, a tug on the end of a lunge whip, and she goes totally bonkers for it.

Also, make sure to check out the Saturday Pet Blog Hop. Every week I find some new blogs I want to follow along with. Its a great way to find more blogs, meet new people, and learn new things.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Pallo and I are winners!

Back at the end of February, I entered this picture of Pallo in Fido's City Guide's February Pet Photo Contest. http://fidoscityguide.com/wp/

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thanks to a total of 25 votes (mostly through my great friends and family, who I bugged with Facebook), the picture was the winner of the month!

Evanger's (http://www.evangersdogfood.com/) is the company sponsoring the contest. Just this week, I received my box of prizes from them. I was told the prize would be dog food. It was so much more.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Sure, I got a bag of dog food. The package also included cans of dog and cat food, four types of dog treats, a bird food supplement, a 2011 calendar, and a number of coupons.

Since I don't have a bird, the bird supplements will be headed to our local humane society as a donation, along with a couple of the types of canned food that I don't care to feed myself, but which the dogs there will be very happy to get. The treats will be greatly enjoyed by my crew, and the kibble we will save and use as treats as well.

Pallo is a great fan of Evanger's treats.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

When I drug all our prizes outside for some good sunlight pictures, Koira decided it was the perfect opportunity for some sun bathing.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And I couldn't resist taking a picture of the budding leaves on my blueberry bushes. I put the bushes in last year in the spring, and they produced a few berries for me. I'm hoping for a bigger crop this year.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Meat, Flowers, and the Park

I posted two days ago that I went to a local agility trial in the morning. I did watch some of the runs and went around to some of the booths as well, but I was really there for two reasons. One, to meet up with some friends. Specifically, to split up some meat we had purchased as a group (warning, raw meat picture later in post). Two, to take Koira to the chiropractor, in hopes of solving her mysterious limping issues that way. We also had the added bonus of a visit to an unfamiliar park to play in.

The day was beautiful.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I left the frisbee in the car, since the footing was pretty muddy underneath all that lush green grass.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The dogs didn't seem to mind though, since I did agree to bring out the chuck-it and a racquetball.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We didn't stay too long, but the dogs did get a chance to run off some energy and enjoy some new scenery.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pallo and Koira both went to see the chiropractor. Pallo had a funky neck thing again, which the chiro down in California commented on as well. She thought it was from being walked using a flat buckle collar but this chiro suggested it might be something about how he is hitting the flyball box. As soon as she said that, it brought to my mind the pictures of Pallo, nose totally squished against the box face when the ball doesn't pop out fast enough, followed quickly by my mental note that our boxes have too much lag time between trigger and plunger. We're fixing it soon, so hopefully that will help the neck thing.

Koira did have enough of a jam up in her mid back that the chiropractor (while not making any promises) thought it likely to be linked to the limping. Basically, what she did say was that it was certainly bad enough to have caused some lameness. So hopefully the whole mystery limping thing will go away now. Fingers crossed.

The other reason for meeting up at the agility trial and dog show was to split up some meat with two friends. Specifically, the three of us decided to try out a bulk ordering group by purchasing two calves to split three ways. Which we did in the parking lot.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I'm a bit surprised, and worried, that no one so much as commented on the fact that two women were casually sorting through a huge pile of bloody meat chunks in the parking lot. What kind of town is this, anyway?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My take on agility

First off, I will start by saying I don't run agility. I have never taken a class, and have watched precious few classes. And, I realize that for some people, it is everything they want in a dog sport, and they love it.

For me, flyball is the sport of choice. I love participating in it, watching it, training it, and just generally being around and helping out with the sport.

I spent the morning at an agility trial, which underlined for me some of the main things that makes me prefer flyball to agility. Now, keep in mind, this is my take on comparing the sports, and is totally based on my limited and admittedly biased experience with the two.

First and foremost, flyball is a team sport, while agility is an individual event. Yes, by individual I mean one dog one handler. Sure, you make a lot of friends, have people you hang out with at trials, people you train with, etc., but at the end of the day in agility, it is you and your dog, alone, who determine the outcome of the day. In flyball, it is the combined work of your four handlers, their four dogs, and your box loader. Often tons of help comes from a team captain, a pass caller, ball shagger, and your backup dogs and handlers. Sure, it is disappointing sometimes when your dog runs great and you lose the heat, or no finish, because of a mistake by someone else. That is something you don't experience in agility. But, in flyball, when you achieve something as a team, be it a new best time for the team, a new title for a dog, initiating a new dog, handler, or box loader, etc, it is something the whole team celebrates and goes through together. You don't just have friends or training buddies at a flyball tournament, you have teammates. And to me, that makes a huge difference.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

At the agility trials I have attended, both with friends competing and just to watch, there is a lot of down time. Lets face it, watching people walk a course or rearrange equipment between classes is not all that exciting. Then, if competing, you spend most of the day sitting around waiting for your next run, generally (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) only getting out there and running 2-4 times total in a day, for about 30 second to a minute. At a flyball tournament, sure, we often get started a bit late. But, once the racing for the day begins, it keeps going steadily all day, with the exception of the very occasional conflict and generally a single lunch break. You get to get out there with your team and race normally 5-8 times in a day, and each race takes 5 minutes or longer. In between races, you can always watch the constant action, or else hang out with your team, talk strategy to people who it will effect directly, and eat from the potluck of great food most teams bring along. All in all, flyball days seem to move much faster, and have more packed into them, than agility days. Then again, I've never competed in agility.

The third thing is how much easier flyball is to understand by the casual observer. Break it down, and it is a race. The first team with four dogs to cross the finish line wins. The winner is indicated by the judge after each heat. You don't have to know much about the rules to get excited over who is going to win. Agility, while a lot of fun to watch, is much more precision oriented. Many things can go wrong on a course that someone unfamiliar with the specifics of agility will not understand, or even notice. At the end of a course, they may not have any idea if the dog did good, bad, or just okay. And, since it is individual format, not run head-to-head like flyball, there is nothing for the casual observer to grab onto and cheer for.

This photo, which I am using from Surf City Flyball Club's website (listed below), shows what I mean about a head-to-head race. An obvious winner, and something an audience can clap for even without knowing anything about the sport.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Being the sport that I have immersed myself in (as we say, flyball is not just a sport, it's an addiction), there are a ton of other things I love about this sport. These are just the top three that going to the agility trial this morning brought into solid view for me. Those of you who do agility, please feel free to comment, correct, or generally brag about your sport being better. I just wanted to share why I think this sport is best for me, and would love to hear from some people as to why you love the sport you participate in.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Canada, here we come

Looks like Pallo has a team to run with in Canada at the end of April. I'm really looking forward to this, since we had to miss the team trip up there last weekend. It was surprisingly hard for me to hear about all the fun times they had up there. They did great, and I'm happy for the team, but wish I could've gone along, and been a part of the whole thing.

But, we will be going up there with part of our team at the end of April, so hopefully we will have some fun times, and get a flyball fix that lasts until the local tournament in July. I'd still love to go to the two June tournaments in Alaska, but that is a goal that will likely have to wait for another year.

Flyball practice last night went pretty good. Pallo practiced with a box jump in, and his turn has gotten really high on the box again. I think we will continue to run with the prop for another few weeks, or start doing one run with, one without, to encourage him to keep his turn high.

We were going to try wall work at practice with him, but he gets so excited when we get there, I don't think it will work if there are any other dogs in the building working on the box. He just gets so amped up and confused.

He managed to reaffirm my statement that he can not run start. Part of this is because I find it rather cruel to have the height dog running start most of the time (with some exceptions) because of the possibility of reruns. Height dogs are already doing enough for the team without having to potentially run 2-3 times as many times as the other dogs due to reruns.

My other reason is Pallo specific. He likes to watch the other dogs, both on his team and the other team. As long as at least one dog is on the course or has just done the course when he is released, he runs great. In start though, he veers to the other lane badly, or just looks confused. I think I will work with him on this when we get the chance, but because of Reason One that I don't like height dogs running in start, we probably won't focus on it for long.

Koira did pretty good. She did a few full runs, and a number of partial runs, but was dropping her ball a lot, and back to not making much of an effort to catch it-- like, just not bothering to close her mouth around it even. Previously when she had this issue, the chiropractor had to do a major adjust on her upper neck and jaw, which helped fix the issue. Since the Chiro is only the next town over for the weekend, we will probably head over there on Sunday morning before I head to work to get her adjusted.

I work starting super early tomorrow morning, so may not make it to the blog hop if I sleep in. If I don't please stop by and visit, and I will make sure to do some blog hopping when I get the chance this next week. And, everyone have a good Blog Hop.