Monday, February 27, 2012

Ember Updates

Ember is now 13 weeks old and still doing amazing.

She's turning into quite the beautiful girl, too <3

Starting to get leggy, that's for sure!

Over the past few weeks, she's added a lot of new experiences to her socialization list. She attended her first agility trial as a spectator, and did awesome. She went to the vet for the first time (her breeder gave her her first set of shots) and did awesome. She experienced her first blow-dry... and while she wasn't thrilled by any stretch of the imagination, she stood for it and took treats with a waggy tail (picture above).

She has such a fantastic temperament, and takes everything in stride. I just love her.

Today, we started the first set of lessons in Silvia Trkman's online puppy class. I'm SO excited to do all of those tricks with her! She's so smart and fun to work with that I think we'll have a blast.

For the next two weeks, we'll be working on recalls, "frog" (kick out the back legs while laying down in a "frog" position), paw touches, and standing in progressively smaller and smaller boxes/bowls. With the exception of "frog," this is all stuff we're doing already. I'm excited to work on refining those behaviors, though. She's such a good girl! Stay tuned for videos and updates regarding the class :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Toy Review: Woolie Dog Fleece Tugs

Several weeks ago, Mara the K-9 Knitter from Woolie Dog approached me and asked if I'd be interested in trying out some of her products with my muttley crew and doing a review on my blog.

Uh, DUH, I said yes! In fact, I was flippin' stoked. The sad fact is that I'm kind of a toy whore... or at least a toy hoarder.

My dogs are pretty active, love to play, and are notoriously HARD on their toys, which is perfect for me because I like to buy them :P

But anyways, Mara sent me a couple of her all-natural sheep's wool tug toys, and I've taken the time to really test them out. She sent me a medium sized tug (perfect size for adult Border Collies) and a small sized one (or, as it *should* be called, Ember-sized, hehe). She also sent me a really nice handmade card!

First impressions: these toys are really sturdy, have a nice feel to them, and are sized perfectly for hands and doggie mouths. Plus, the colors are vibrant and cool, which my dogs could give a crap about, but I'm all about aesthetic appeal.

But, of course, the real test was to come. Historically, my dogs aren't terribly picky with toys, but they *can* tear up a grocery-store stuffed animal in under a minute.

I apologize for not having more pictures. I took a bunch, but my laptop is on the fritz and I was not able to access all of them. But I think there are enough here for you to see just how much my dogs loved these toys!

Cedes thought the medium-sized tug was perfect.

Ember attacked the small-sized tug with her characteristic fierce enthusiasm :P

And Moss about pulled my arm out of the socket with his joyful tugging on the medium-sized orange beast!

I give these toys my full endorsement! They have been hanging out around the house for two weeks now, and still look as good as the day I pulled them out of the package.

This is a great product that I would definitely recommend. If you're interested in trying out a Woolie Dog tug of your own, you can buy them from the Woolie Dog Etsy shop, which I'll link to again here. They are reasonably-priced and very high quality!

Thank you SO much, Mara, for the opportunity!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lizard Butte Kennel Club Agility Trial-- 2/17-2/19/2012

Joe and the gang got back last night from our first agility trial of the year, the Lizard Butte Kennel Club AKC trial in Caldwell, Idaho. This trial also marks our first anniversary competing in AKC agility.

This past weekend was one of my most favorite trials EVER, and I haven't stopped smiling today just thinking about it :)


I almost don't have the words to describe just how good she was, how good we were together. It's like she's hit this whole 'nother gear, and matured 10000000x over the winter. She did her weave poles perfectly every time (well, she missed one entry, but no 10th pole pop-outs in TEN runs!!!!) and behaved like a dog with much more experience.

We earned five Q's this weekend, two in Open Jumpers, two in T2B, and one in Excellent Standard. These Jumpers Q's were the first we've earned in AKC Jumpers since March 2011.

Last year, Cedar's weave pole issues were the cause of endless frustration for me and a lack of progress for us as a team. I can't tell you how many perfect runs we had last year that weren't Q's because of a 10th-pole pop-out. This fall and winter, I spend a lot of time proofing the weaves, working difficult entries, pushing her towards independent weave performance regardless of my position. I guess all that work paid off :)

I also did my first-ever blind cross in competition :P

Here are a few videos of my favorite runs from the weekend:

Our first Open Jumpers Q:

Excellent Standard Q:

Open Jumpers Q #2:

Time 2 Beat Q (& Second place in a huge 20" class):

Ember got to come along and was a total rockstar puppy. She met a TON of people, was super friendly and happy, good in the car (no carsickness, yay!), good in her crate at night, and overall just a really good girl, especially for a 12 week old puppy on her first ever road trip!

I'm pretty sure that she is going to have prick ears when she grows up. I'm excited... never had a prick-eared BC before!

Here's a video of her meeting and playing with an Aussie puppy and a Pyr Shep puppy :)

The drive home was easy, with dry roads going over the mountain pass we have to cross to get back and forth between WA and ID. It's a good thing that we left yesterday instead of today, as it was a total blizzard in the mountains this morning!

Cedar was definitely ready to get home ;)

I can't wait for the next trial!

Stay tuned for a toy review of tug toys from Woolie Dog this week! I would have posted last week, but my laptop is on the fritz and I lost most of the photos that I took of the Collie Crew playing with their new favorite toys.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ears To You

These next few weeks (10-13 weeks) are probably my favorite period of early puppyhood. Ember is now almost 11 weeks old, and has grown and changed so much since I brought her home at 7.5 weeks. She is getting more leggy, a bit more independent, has figured out the household routine (including house and crate training) and... my FAVORITE part, is starting to get the wonky ears! People that tape or glue ears to get the shape they want (stupid, IMO) are totally missing out on this part of their puppy's development. I love not knowing how their ears will end up until they get through teething :P

Right now, Ember's ears are looking really cute. I hope they stay something like this in maturity.

They seem a bit more, er, symmetrical than Moss's did at 11 weeks, hehe:

Who knows what Ember's are going to do. Her father has prick ears, and her mother has big, heavy rose ears, so it's not clear genetically what will happen :P

I do know that she'll be damned cute, whatever her ears end up looking like.

Ember is continuing to do well with her training. Most recently, we have been working on back up (using the Susan Garrett method she talks about in Shaping Success), pivots on the plank, targeting with both front and rear feet, mat work, and going to a "mark" on the floor (a dog bowl right now, will transition to an "X" of tape soon and offering behaviors. She's a smart little cookie!

Right now, she and Moss (and Scully, kinda LOL) are outside running around like mad. Ember is getting a lot more confident and strong with the other dogs now that she's not so tiny. I can feel that her strength as increased when we play tug. She now pulls a lot stronger against my hand. I need to work on retrieving and getting a more consistent "out" command.

I should have a new video up tomorrow. I just realized I forgot to post her 10 week video on the blog. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.... ;)


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I apologize for not writing more consistently... little Ember is sure taking up a lot of my time! :)

She is now 10 1/2 weeks old and is doing AMAZING. She is almost totally housebroken, still sleeps through the night, knows a billion tricks already, and is just a joy to have around.

During her first week or so with me, we worked on targeting things with her nose. Last week, I introduced her to paw targeting. This week, we are working on impulse control, going out to a target, mat work, and verbal commands for behaviors she knows hand signals for. So far, she can do the following on verbals alone: sit, down, spin (turn to the right), twirl (turn to the left), touch (hit my hand with her nose), smack (hit an object that isn't my hand with her nose), stand, and hit it (paw touch).

Behaviors she knows (verbal, hand signal, or both): sit, down, spin, twirl, touch, smack, hit it, wave, shake, bow, stand, go to your mat, push (bump a beach ball with her nose), beg, bow. She also goes to the door when she needs to go outside, will go in her crate on command (and be quiet in it), and walks on a leash. Not bad for a little pup! :)

I've been getting her out more, too. We've been on two major excursions this week, to the hardware store and to Petsmart. She was a total rockstar on both trips, and was very friendly towards new people, taking treats from everyone and being her normal waggy and cute self.

A few more pictures:

I love how sassy she is, too. Keeps life interesting!

Although she is fun to train, she also is down to chill out on the bed or couch with me at the end of the day. What a good girl. Did I mention I love this puppy?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thoughts on Motivation and Commitment

Earlier this evening, I wrote out a big long post in which I waxed on and on about my insecurities, commitment-phobia, blah blah blah.

Here's the deal: the time has come for me to make a decision about my future goals for herding. I need to either commit to wanting to trial, or commit to being content with just doing it for fun. Either way, I owe it to Moss, myself, and to my friends helping me out, to figure out exactly what my goals are.

I feel like Moss and I are on the edge of really starting to figure things out, at least in this stage of our herding journey. With more commitment on my part, and a little bit of bravery, we could potentially make some huge leaps this year. Or, we could keep doing what we're doing and progress at the same comfortable, slow, noncommittal pace.

As of right this moment, I am not 100% sure what I want to do. But in the spirit of progress, I will write down a goal for herding following the "SMARTER" guidelines. SMARTER is an acronym, meant to help with goal-setting, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluate, Revaluate. I learned about this method from the second part in the "Agility Mind Gym" series, which appeared in this month's issue of Clean Run. I am finding this series of articles very helpful and illuminating.


My goal is: To learn to blow a reliable "lie down" whistle (I have trouble getting the high tones consistently).

Specific: I will be able to blow a consistent, clear "lie down" whistle, under varying conditions and levels of stress, by March 1st.

Measurable: I will perform this skill accurately at least 80% of the time.

Attainable: I feel like this "mini goal" is attainable to me, both in level of difficulty and time-frame.

Relevant: This skill is important both for every-day stockwork and trialing.

Time-bound: I will accomplish this goal by March 1st.

Evaluate/Revaluate: I will report on my progress periodically.

Here is a video of Moss and I working sheep a month or so ago. For some reason, I never uploaded it at the time. I think we look pretty good!

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