May 30, 2009

Pinch Me II

Miikka WON the Open today in Red Deer, Alberta.

I can't believe it.  She ran an amazing trial and STOPPED on every whistle on her blinds.

Kenny has done amazing work with her and always told me to keep the faith, that she'd come around and be the dog I always knew she could be.  

She two whistled the water blind and was the only dog to do the last test correctly.

Darbi got dropped after the water blind.  She had a handle in the first series that hurt her chances.  She tried hard though.

Both girls are on the bed right now with me at the hotel room.  We are a happy little family.

So very, very happy.

May 27, 2009


Here they are!
On the left is FC AFC Tartan Prime Time, who not only WON the Amateur at the Centennial Trial in Colorado this week-end, but also qualified for the US National Amateur with this win.  He is the daddy of Darbi's 6 month old litter of pups.
Darbi is very proudly showing off her second place ribbon behind Prime, and actually has her ears up for once.
I am still over the moon.

May 25, 2009

Pinch Me

Darbi got SECOND in the Amateur this week-end in Colorado!!!!
I can't believe it.
I have to admit walking to the line for the last test, I though I couldn't do was THAT hard.
She pulled it off.  WE pulled it off.
Goes to show...have faith.
I have tears streaming down my face today.  She has been through a lot and I have been through a lot.

Neat part was that Darbi's baby daddy Prime WON.  Boyfriend/girlfriend...1st and second.  How cool is that?

The field of dogs and the competition was amazing.  2008 High Point Open Dog in the US was 4th behind Darbi, and other 100 AA point/National Finalists in the field.  Unreal.

May 19, 2009

HOT day in CO

It was a hot one today.  90 degrees F.  I'm totally slacking and didn't take any pictures.  I'll take some tomorrow...promise.
I got my butt thoroughly kicked at the trial this week-end.  Darbs had some bad luck, and Miikka tried real hard but didn't get through the first test.  We'll train hard this week and try again on the week-end at the trial in Fort Collins.
Miikka is stopping MOSTLY reliably now, with a few slipped whistles that are few and far between.  Her marking has gone to crap though because of the mental pressure she is under, but we're going to work hard to bring it back up in the next couple weeks before I go home.
Darbi is training well, and only gets into trouble when she is being lazy...her biggest downfall is laziness from time to time.
Pics to come soon...

May 14, 2009

Hanging in Colorado

I made it to Colorado safe and sound and it's so much fun hanging with the girls again.  They were super excited to see me and Darbi started screaming as soon as I walked into the kennels.  She NEVER screams.  They both look great and are real happy.

We trained on this test yesterday.  3 gunners out run as a double and a single.  Then we ran a big water blind.

I took this picture of Ollie and Daisy.  Daisy WON the Open last week-end in Nebraska and Ollie was second.  Great week-end for Horsetooth.  Miikka didn't make it past the first series and Darbi was dropped after the land blind after getting hung up in some drag back.

Darbi bringing home a bird in training yesterday.  She is a very happy girls these days and does everything with tail up and a good attitude.

Watching the flier.

Darbi is entered in the Open and Amateur of the trial this week-end in Colorado.  Miikka is still up in the air...she's stopping on every whistle, but still popping occasionally.  I'll sleep on it.

May 6, 2009

All in the family

I went for a walk yesterday with Maiya.  She is a one year old lab and is cute as a button.

Maiya's sire is "Satch", who is also Miikka's sire.  Maiya's dam is a daughter of Darbi's sire "Rex".  "Satch" is also a littermate to Darbi's mother "Boo".

Still with me?

It was so much fun hanging out with her.  She looks just like Darbi, but acts just like Miikka.  For example, like Miikka, she swam around in a pond forever chasing after geese who were smart enough to stay JUST out of her reach.  If Darbi was here, she would just stand there and shake her head.

I asked her owner to take a couple pics of me and her and, like Miikka again, the photo session was an event full of rolling, licking and general naughtiness.

(the whole time I'm saying "sit, get serious, c'mon, sit up, stop clowning around")

And finally...
(notice my fingers digging into her chest...I believe I was holding her front legs off the ground)

I miss my girls.  Just a few more days now...

May 5, 2009

Peanut's problems

So, about Miikka.
Of course I can go on and on in this blog extolling my dogs' virtues, but like any other dogs, they are not perfect.

Peanut has a problem.  A big one.


Now, to say she doesn't stop EVER is an exaggeration.  She does stop...90% of the time.

She is such a good marker she can make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but marking isn't everything.

Miikka was a great stopper when I got her back from her Basics pro.  She stopped on a dime.  Somewhere in her first year back, I screwed her up...bad.  I'm not sure what it was, or how it happened, but all of a sudden I found myself in a deep hole with her.  Rookie mistakes, some would say.  I probably pushed her too hard, too fast and made her run big dog blinds before she was ready and gave her corrections she didn't understand.

But regardless of how it happened, here we stand.  The first year I put pressure on her for not stopping, and hindsight has taught me that the pressure was ill-timed and I made the problem worse.  I was forcing her back essentially.  More pressure put a pop in her.  That's bad.  It wasn't there until I got my hands on her and screwed her up.

Then, when I blew the whistle, she would go into another gear and just take off.  I'm embarrassed to say that I even had her hearing tested and of course, she hears perfectly fine.  All fingers pointed back on me and poor Peanut and I were left with just each other and the elephant in the room that we refused to talk about.  "But she can mark", I would always say, as if that is all that mattered.

So we carried on as if she didn't have a problem.  I made the blinds easy and short enough so we didn't have an issue, and that solved nothing.  We merrily went on our way for another year with my head firmly entrenched in the sand.  She was not progressing in her blind work, and I was ignoring the problem and pretending it would go away.  She could mark the big dog marks..."man, she can mark", but her blinds were baby dog blinds and we left well enough alone.

Finally after seeing her crush marking tests at trials to go out on blind after blind, I finally had to face reality and start doing something about the problem.  Any pressure (mental or otherwise) on her and her marking went down.  To be expected.  I didn't like that, so we backed up the bus time after time.

She didn't understand what I was asking and I didn't have a clue how to ask it.  Blinds were great up to 200 yards and then all hell broke loose.  Whistles became "stoptional" and casts were "suggestions".  Because I was too afraid to enforce any rules and put a pop back in her, I did not do anything, thereby creating a nasty, nasty habit of an out of control dog.

Now, poor Kenny has been training her all winter.  He knew her "problem" and has been dealing with it.  Miikka is running blinds with the big dogs now and he is enforcing the rules and created high standards and expectations.  Since she has not felt any pressure in a year or two due to my fear of applying it at the wrong time, she freaked out at first.  Her marking went down the toilet and her blinds were horrific. And her pop came back.  Kenny stuck to the standard and kept it consistent every day.  

The standard being YOU WILL STOP.  Marks will be thrown and blinds will be run and YOU WILL STOP.  

Slowly, but surely, she is coming around and stopping more reliably and her marking is coming back.  She's starting to get it.

She is still frustrating in that she will have two good weeks of work, and then out of the blue, she will blow Kenny off at the end of a long water blind.  I created a long standing habit that will be tough to break.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Miikka is entered to run the Open at the West Nebraska this week-end.  Our goal is not for fame and glory...we will "win" in our minds if she make it to the blinds and STOPS.

When I go to Colorado in a week to spend two weeks training, I am going to learn a lot about how and when to apply pressure to keep her on the path she is on.

I think this is what dog training is all about.  It isn't all a bed of roses.  Every rose has its thorn (excuse the 1980's hair band reference), and it is how to deal with those thorns that makes one a dog trainer.  It is way fun to have the dog succeed every day on every test, but at what cost?  When does personal ego, self-satisfaction and downright fear over-ride the advancement of the dog?

Ignoring problems does not make them go away.  They are still there, bubbling under the surface waiting to rear their ugly heads as I shake my head in frustration wondering why she isn't "fixed" yet.

Poor Peanut is right.  But together we will get through this and be a better team for it.