Saturday, April 14, 2012

I Love My Red Solo Pup

I send you over the jump, proceed to party!

Okay, so maybe I have that Toby Keith song stuck in my head. Whatever. Don't judge. And maybe one of Ember's nicknames really is Red Solo Pup.... even though she's not red. But she is the "solo pup" in our household, so there is that. And she's awesome.

Like, seriously awesome.

She is doing great with her training, and growing like a weed. She is 17" tall at the shoulder and 21 lbs right now. Any guesses on how big she'll be when she grows up? I am guessing 19.5" and 34 lbs. Right now, she's pretty much all legs and ears :)

But she's plenty cute!

And totally full of personality.

She told me that she wants you all to enter our blog contest. Just sayin'. ;)

Here's a video showing some of her tricks and updated behaviors, taken yesterday. She's pretty cute, eh?

Oh, and if you haven't entered already, please make sure to submit a caption in our contest giveaway here or on our Facebook page! As a reminder, you could win your choice of a hand-braided kangaroo leather slip lead, lanyard, or clicker tab! We only have two entries so far!

I finally remembered to do the blog hop again this week. Fun!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Caption Contest--Win A Cool Prize!!!

To celebrate becoming, I've decided to commemorate the occasion by offering to give something back to YOU--my faithful readers! I know I haven't been a great blogger friend over the past year or so, and this is my attempt to make it up to you. Well, at least one of you.

My good friend Chloe of Icon Design to offer an awesome prize for the winner.

All you have to do is tell me what you think Ember is saying in this photo:

And "like" the Cedes of Change Facebook Page (if you haven't already)...

And you will win your choice of one of these three amazing prizes:

1) Hand-braided kangaroo leather slip lead
2) Hand-braided kangaroo leather lanyard
3) Hand-braided kangaroo leather clicker tab

I own a show lead from Chloe and it is GORGEOUS. She does a really nice job and has a great eye for creating artistic and beautiful color combinations. Here are a few examples of her work:

This one's mine :)

Note that these are traditional clip-style show leads. You will win a slip lead (with a ring end), a clicker tab, or a lanyard (like, for a whistle). I will update this post with photos of the other items as I get that information from Chloe. I believe you will have several different color combinations to choose from.

You can post your captions either to this post, or to the Cedes of Change facebook page wall. You will have between now and May 6th to enter. Winner will be chosen based on cleverness and how much the caption makes me laugh. Hey, it's my blog... I can do what I want ;)

I am excited to see what y'all come up with! Thanks to Chloe for offering to donate such a fabulous prize :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Everything Just Got A Little More Awesome (And a Contest!)

A few days ago, I finally sucked it up and paid to give Cedes of Change an "official" place on the web. Soooo.... in the future, set your browsers to!!!!

To commemorate this momentous occasion, I am going to hold another contest/giveaway. Full details will come tomorrow, but let me tell you... the prize is worth it! Definitely our best one yet :) Stay tuned for details!

To hold you off til then, here are a few cute pictures of the gang, taken today.

Ember is 20 weeks old now, can you believe it??

Could Cedezz be more beautiful?

Or Moss more handsome?

I think not.

Check back tomorrow for contest information!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ember, the S.T.A.R. Puppy

Today, Ember had her first S.T.A.R. puppy class with the Columbia Basin Dog Training Club. I got there early because I wanted to give her time to get used to the new environment. She was a little nervous at first (didn't want to come out of her crate, and really wanted to go back to the car when we were walking around), but she relaxed after a few minutes. By the time we were ready to go in and start class, she was calm, relaxed, and focused. Just what I like to see!

We got to work pretty much right away. We started by doing some loose-leash walking around some strange-looking objects on the floor (a goose decoy, a baby stroller, etc). Ember would sniff everything politely and then look up and make eye contact with me. What a good girl! She did great on her loose-leash walking and was very happy and focused. We also played around a little bit with her 2o2o on a box that was on the ground. She was awesome! I was glad to see that she has generalized that behavior to be able to do it in different environments.

(Doesn't she have the most beautiful tail?)

We also worked on coming when called, stays, greeting other people and dogs, and some other stuff. The instructor talked a lot about basic dog ownership/training... stuff I already know. So I spent most of my time focused on Ember and keeping her engaged and interested in what we were doing. She was very, very good. I was so impressed. I had anticipated her being much more fearful and cautious her first time out, but she tackled this challenge with her trademark enthusiasm and trust in me. I just love this puppy. Can you tell? ;)

At the end of the class, the instructor paired off the puppies and attempted to do some free play time. Unfortunately, the puppy Ember was paired with was a bit aggressive, so I decided to take her out of the situation. Hopefully next time we can find her a more appropriate playmate. I don't want to scare her. If there isn't another suitable puppy for her to play with in the future, I think I'll just skip this part of the class. She doesn't need to learn to obsess about chasing other dogs anyways. The instructor really liked Ember a lot, and, without being too cocky, I'd say she is one of the best puppies in the class. I'm so glad!

After the puppy class was over, I put Ember in a crate because I had volunteered to assist the class after Ember's. It is a CGC class, with the same instructor as the one who teaches Ember's class. This is a good foot in the door for me, as I would like to start teaching classes for the club. As it turned out, only two dogs showed up for the CGC class, so I got Ember out to help the other dogs get more used to walking in crowded environments. She was great again, if a little tired (obviously, hah). But we did some more loose-leash walking, focus work, demonstrated how to charge the clicker and shape eye contact, and even got in some tugging/retrieving play at the end. We were both relaxed and having a great time.

I can't wait for next week!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mind = Blown

I got home late last night from the AKC Agility National Championships in Reno, NV.

Wow. Just... wow. What an experience. Unforgettable. Amazing. Inspiring. Overwhelming. It's hard to put into words just how freaking COOL it was to be there. I'm really glad that I went to Nationals this year without a dog. It was great to go without the stress of competing, so that I could take it all in and figure out how an event of that magnitude runs, pacing, unique challenges, etc. All good information for next year ;)

I started out last Wednesday by driving from Kennewick to Boise, to meet up with Mary, who I would be traveling with. The roads were fine, but there were some suspicious-looking storm clouds about an hour out from Boise. It was like driving into the dark. Creepy. But I made it to Boise just fine :)

The next morning we got up early, starting our drive to Reno around 6 AM. We had to get to Reno by mid afternoon so Mary could check in, get her exhibitor packet/number, and so that we could unpack all our stuff in the crating area.

The drive went very smoothly. We made really good time, getting into Nevada before lunchtime!

Of course, we had to stop and play some nickel slots at the border :)

Finally, we made it to Reno! They already had the next morning's Standard Warm-up courses set in the main arena...

It didn't take long for Mary to get checked in and for us to get set up. There were already lots of dogs and people there, and the energy in the place was already pretty electric.

After walking around a bit, we went and checked into our hotel. It was SUPER nice!

The next morning, we got up and headed to the trial. Mary wasn't running the first run, so we had some time to do some shopping, watch some runs, and relax.

I bought quite a bit of stuff over the course of the weekend. Here is some of it:

After awhile, it was time for Mary to go walk her course. There were quite a few 20" dogs... 267, in fact! It took HOURS to get through the 20" class every day. OMG. After awhile, all the Border Collies just blended together, lol

Here they are setting up the Time 2 Beat course...

Mary didn't run until about three hours after her walk-through. She had a great run, but knocked a bar. Good thing it didn't count for anything, as it was just a practice run! Mary was very happy with Dani, though, and it set a good tone for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday was the first day of "real" competition. There were two rounds, one Jumpers and one Standard (without the table). Mary and Dani ran clean in both rounds! The weather was pretty awful on Saturday, with insane winds and SNOW. It was freezing!

You can see the storm clouds starting to roll in to Reno:

Here is a photo of the general walk-through for Jumpers/Round 1:

One of the coolest things about Nationals was seeing all the "big name" handlers. I think the entire USA World Team was there, and I got to see most of them run. They were pretty easy to find, as they were all wearing their red team jackets. Here's a stalkery picture I took of them on Saturday, LOL:

It was really inspiring to see so many great dogs and handlers competing all in the same place. All I could think about was how much I wanted to be there, competing with Cedar.

Here are some of the awards:

Ember's breeder was also there competing with her BC, Gyp. She would have made the finals in 20" if not for an unfortunate refusal in Round 3 :(. But she and Gyp are an amazing team! She brought Ember's mom, Tag along for the ride, even though she wasn't competing. It was fun to see her, though!

Sunday dawned early and cold. It was the last day, with Round 3, the Challenger round, and the Finals on the schedule. Round 3 was Hybrid, which was a standard course with one less contact (no Dog Walk). This was the last round for most of the dogs, excluding those eligible for the Challenger and/or Finals rounds.

Here's the Hybrid courses set in the main building:

Mary and Dani did GREAT, with a clear round on this VERY tough course. It was a great way to end their nationals experience! They were both very happy :) They ended up finishing 25th out of 237 in the 20" regular division with three clear rounds!!!!

After Hybrid was over, it was time for the Challenger round. This was for teams that didn't quite make the finals, but were close enough in the running to warrant the opportunity to win a spot in the final round. Also, those teams that won the Time 2 Beat round on Friday earned an automatic spot in the Challenger round. What a TOUGH course! I think it was more challenging than the Finals!

After the Challenger round was over, it was time for the Finals! It was positively electric in the main arena. It was really fun and exciting watching the finals rounds, especially the 12", 20" and 26" heights, which were the most competitive. The Dog Walk/Tunnel discrimination was the end of many great teams, including several handlers on the USA World Team. I think Cedar could have gotten it ;)

Here's the map:

Overall, going to Nationals was an incredible experience, and very motivating. I am still trying to process it all :) Since moving to Kennewick, I've struggled with feeling motivated to train. I haven't really found a new group to practice with up here, and it gets boring training by myself :P. However, right now, I am completely jazzed about agility! I really hope that Cedar and I can qualify for the 2013 Nationals in Tulsa, OK. I'm going to try really hard to make that happen.

After all, what could be better than experiencing Nationals as a spectator? Why, experiencing Nationals with my best girl dog, Cedezz.

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