Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Blog Hop!

I'm so glad I remembered to do this again this week. It's always fun discovering new pet blogs that I'd otherwise not be introduced to..... so here goes!! :)

For those of you new to my blog, hello and welcome! My name is Ellie, and I blog about my adventures with  my two spunky Border Collies, Cedar and Ember. Sometimes Scully, my hubby's curmudgeonly Boston Terrier, makes an appearance as well. We have a lot of fun around here!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cabin Fever

Seeing as it's winter, and generally cold and miserable outside, we haven't been doing a whole lot of training or agility lately. At least not the type that leaves both me and the dogs physically as well as mentally tired. As a result, both the dogs (okay, the collies) and I have been feeling rather stir crazy lately. Thankfully, I am lucky to live within walking distance of a huge park. On Christmas eve, we decided to harness up the ladies and take them to the park for a game of fetch. What do you get when you mix three ball driven, cabin fever-crazy dogs, a Chuck-it, and a big open space? Lots of fun... and some pretty awesome pictures, LOL. Here are a few of my favorites: 

Those of you who live in areas where winter puts a damper on your outside activities.... what do you do to keep your dogs mentally and physically exercised?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2013 Goals

I just love the promise that an impending new year brings, don't you?  In that spirit, here are my goals for 2013: 

First, what I learned in 2012: I learned that I am both stronger and weaker than I thought. I learned that I am a better dog trainer than I ever thought I could be, but that I need to work more on my mental game. I learned that Cedar is capable of being a team player, and that it can be fun and not stressful to run her. I learned that it is possible to have TWO heart dogs, and I've never felt so lucky. I learned how to be flexible and innovative in my dog training.  I learned that letting go of something you love a whole lot can be both heart-wrenchingly painful and a total relief... simultaneously. 

Most importantly, I learned that I need to make myself a priority. That was my biggest, most difficult revelation of the year. 

Now.... what I want to accomplish in 2013: 

  • Notice that I put me at the top of the list. This in itself is a goal. My biggest goal for 2013 is to focus more on myself.
  • Lose enough weight to feel better about myself
  • Continue to work on my speed and endurance
  • Complete at least two more 5k races, beating my personal best each time.
  • Complete a 10k
  • Finish my romance novel
  • Get a solid, easy, but polished hair/makeup routine together
  • Super awesome “dream” goals: Lose 65 lbs and get to my far-off “holy shit” goal weight.  Run a half marathon. Get published :P

  • Continue proofing weave poles
  • Get her into a regular schedule for chiropractic care
  • Finish her Excellent titles in AKC
  • Finish her Masters (Excellent B) titles in AKC
  • Finish Elite titles in all NADAC classes
  • Finish her Rally Advanced title, and maybe Rally Excellent
  • Super awesome “dream” goals: Finish her NATCH, and/or qualify for AKC Agility Nationals.

  • Train, proof, and become proficient at doing *independent* 12 weave poles in a variety of locations, at different speeds, points of entry, and with me in many different positions in relation to the poles.
  • Train, proof, and become proficient with all contact equipment, in a variety of locations, at different speeds, points of entry, and with me in many different positions in relation to the obstacles.
  • Start competing in AKC and NADAC agility trials
  • Finish RN (Rally Novice) title
  • Super awesome “dream” goals: finish an Excellent/Elite title in either AKC or NADAC. Finish a CD title.
Overall goal for the next year: continue to get healthy, and focus on relaxing and having lots of stress-free fun with my two best collie dogs!

I have a feeling that 2013 is going to be amazing. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays from Cedes of Change!

Well, it looks like we survived the end of the world. Yay! LOL

Scully looks so thrilled, doesn't she? 

Anyways, I hope y'all have a fantastic holiday and an even more fabulous New Year!

Here are a few more shots from our Christmas photo session a few weeks ago. What can I say, I love dressing my dogs up in clothes. Someday, I will have a tiny dog and he will have so many outfits that people will probably start to talk. Until then..... yeah....... stuff like this happens.

Oh yeah, today is the Life With Dogs Saturday Blog Hop!  Haven't signed up in awhile, but thought I'd do it today. Fun times!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 In Review

My good friend TSB blogged about this last week, and I thought it was a good idea, so here goes. :P  By now, y'all probably know how much I love reflection!

January was a pretty big month.  Not only was I just beginning to get adjusted to living in Washington, but on the 19th of that month, Ember joined our family!  It was a long, harrowing drive from Washington to Utah and back.... with a horrible snow storm in between.... but we made it!  All in all, I drove over twenty hours, through four states to pick her up. We ended up being stranded in Boise for a few days when the weather gods decided to unleash a horrible storm. The roads were atrocious, and scary, and closed... over the mountain pass anyways. So Cedar, Ember, and I hung out with Mary for a few more days.

Ember was so little that I had to shovel a path around the back yard for her to be able to go potty without falling into the snow. It was taller than her when she first came home... but not for very long.  We got to work right away on training..... working on basic manners, some tricks, and foundation agility training. She soon developed an insatiable appetite for learning.... a trait that still holds true today :)  I took Moss herding quite a bit in January, and things were still going pretty good at that point. We also started a CGC class with the Columbia Basin Dog Training Club. With Cedar, I continued to practice jumps and weave poles almost every day.... proofing the weaves as much and as well as I could.  But most of my time, energy, and attention was, understandably, taken up by Ember.

February marked our first agility trial of the year, the LBKC AKC trial in Caldwell, Idaho. It was a really fun trial, and the first one where Cedar had perfect weave poles the whole weekend! We got a fair amount of Q's, and Ember got her first taste of the agility trial scene. She hung out in the x-pen all weekend, and had a good time meeting people and watching all the goings-on.

Other than the trial, February was a pretty low key month. Ember and I continued to train and play around every day, and she added quite a few new tricks to her arsenal. Moss was her best friend at this point... and Cedar pretty much pretended she didn't exist.

Ember and I also worked a lot on socialization. We did a lot of stuff like this:


We had another AKC trial in March, and in addition to earning Q's and having some awesome runs, Cedar  finished her Open Jumpers title :)

Oh, and I got a title certificate of my own in the mail....

Ember and I started the Silvia Trkman puppy class in March. It was a blast, and a lot of the tricks really stretched my abilities as a trainer. Always a good thing!  We also started a STAR Puppy class with the Columbia Basin Dog Training Club, and true to form, Ember was the "star" of the class :)  I also did my first stint as an instructor's assistant for the club. 

Moss also passed his CGC a boss!

Probably the biggest thing to happen all month was getting the opportunity to attend the AKC Agility National Championships in Reno, Nevada. I went with my good friend, Mary, who was competing there with her Belgian Tervuren, Dani. WOW, what an experience it was!  Totally inspiring! 

Not only did I get to see a lot of great runs (and spy on the world team, LOL)... but Mary and Dani ended up doing awesome! They were ranked in the top 25 out of hundreds of 20" dogs. They were a thrill to watch, and it was a pleasure getting to travel with them. 

April was a particularly good month. Cedar and I attended BARC's spring NADAC trial in Caldwell, Idaho, and it was probably our best trial ever! I'll let this picture speak for itself:

Yeah, we were pretty much steak sauce. (A-1, get it? tehehe). And we also finished four titles. Other than the trial, things were pretty routine around the homestead (LOL). Ember and I continued working on building good foundation skills and learning new tricks for the Silvia Trkman class. I was feeling more confident about Cedar's agility because of the last trial... but continued to proof the weave poles. 

May brought nicer weather, an agility seminar, a trial, and more time spent outside in the sunshine. Ember, Cedar and I traveled down to Utah for a seminar with Loretta Mueller. I did the advanced handling session with Cedar, and a session on building drive and motivation with Ember. Loretta gave me some great tools to use with both dogs, and I learned that I had to be more conscientious of the differences between handling Cedar and Ember. Ember also got to see sheep for the first time! 

Cedar and I also had an agility trial.... the Spokane Dog Training Club's spring AKC trial. It was a very interesting trial. We only got one Q (1st place and High in Class in Excellent A Jumpers).... but we had some REALLY good runs with one little thing wrong. It was the first time that I felt like we could trust each other fully on course. That I could trust Cedar to do her job. It was a great feeling. So.... the trial was a failure in terms of Q rate, but it was a success in that it helped me gain confidence. 

Ember also passed her STAR Puppy certification :)

Other than the one agility trial I attended in June, it was a pretty uneventful month. Ember's training continued to go well, and I gave Cedar a little break to recover from a slight lameness issue in her left front leg that cropped up at the Spokane trial. By the end of June, she seemed like she was good to go, so I dusted her off and drove to Caldwell for the trial.  We ended up earning quite a few Q's and had some really great ones. Probably the highlight of the weekend was winning Time 2 Beat in a class of over twenty 20" dogs!!! 

There were more dogs on the next page :P
Because I was so busy with training Ember and trialing Cedar, Moss went to visit my friend Mary for some herding boot camp. I felt bad not being able to work him as much as I should have, and it was a good solution. Moss settled in right away and really enjoyed being able to work sheep every day. 
 Moss continued to stay with Mary over the course of that month, and although I missed him greatly, was happy knowing he was getting to do what he loved. At the end of June, I got an email from our mutual friend, Erica, asking if I would consider selling Moss. I was initially very much against it, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I was wracked with guilt and sadness, and it took me until the second week in July before I could give her my answer. 

We took the month off from competing in July. Cedar was due in heat, so I decided not to enter a trial I was planning on. 

Cedar turned five years old on July 12th. 

A few days later, Erica sent me another email gently asking me if I'd made a decision yet. By that point, I couldn't torture myself any longer. In a snap decision, I called her, and through tears, manage to choke out that she could have him. It was one of the hardest moments of my life. But I am confident it was the right one.

Ember and I continued to work on tricks and other training.

We also went on a camping trip to Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho, with our friends Doug and Jess, and their son Jaren. This was Ember's first camping trip, and also her first time swimming! She wasn't completely impressed by the swimming part, but she had fun hanging out in nature... as did Cedar and Scully.

Ember and Jaren became quite good buddies, too. 

We were all sad to go home! 

August was another fairly uneventful month. I gave the dogs most of this month off from "serious" training. Everyone deserves a mental break every once in awhile!

Joe and I went to Coeur d'Alene, ID for his best friend's wedding... no dogs in tow! My favorite part was getting to relax on the lake and not have to worry about being anywhere or taking care of the dogs. Bliss!

September marked the first set of classes that I taught by myself for the club. I taught a four week agility class, and an eight week "Home Companion" class... which was basically a remedial CGC type class. It was a fun and interesting experience!

Cedar and I attended an agility trial, this one fairly close to home in Benton City, WA. It was.... not our best trial. We didn't earn any Q's, and had only one really good run. Cedar's weave pole issues cropped up again, which was really disappointing. She also blew one of her start lines and got to experience her first "walk of shame" in awhile. I was more upset about the weekend than I should have been.

Cedar also earned her first Q in Advanced Rally at the club's fall dog show, earning first place.  My friend TSB came up to Washington to visit, and took some nice photos at the show grounds. We had a blast that weekend, cooked lots of delicious food, and watched more Bollywood movies than should probably be legal.

After we showed, I had her adjusted by a chiropractor who was offering her services on the show grounds. I had noticed that she had been knocking more bars than usual in trials, and coupled with some other physical and mental symptoms, I think her back and neck really were hurting her.  Cedar was initially really stiff and worried, but after the chiropractor adjusted a few things, she let out a big sigh and shook off. After that, it was like she was a totally different dog... her whole demeanor was different, freer, and more relaxed.  She moved better, and has performed much better in agility since. I wondered if the reason for her poor performance at the Benton City trial a few weeks was that she was hurting.

Not much exciting happened in October. I was feeling a bit burned out on agility, aside from training a few days a week, I didn't do much. Ember was really starting to come into her own as an agility dog, and by the end of the month we were running some pretty difficult sequences. She is a kick in the pants to run!

We did take a trip to the Oregon Coast. The weather was awful, but we had a blast as always. And Ember got to see the ocean for the first time!  All the dogs really loved getting to run and play on the beach.

The dogs got all dressed up for Halloween, and looked quite adorable.

November was the month that Ember turned one year old! I have made more of an effort to be physically active, so Cedar, Ember and I did a lot of walking and just enjoying each others' company outdoors. The weather was, generally, pretty nice. Crisp and sunny and perfectly autumn.

We attended an agility trial, our last one of the year. It was BARC's fall NADAC trial, and was our two year agility trialing anniversary!  This was probably our best trial yet. We finished two titles, earned a bunch of Q's, and had some of the fastest, most connected runs EVER. It was so much fun running Cedar that weekend. What a good partner and teammate she was.

I also completed my first 5k race on Thanksgiving day!  The hubby and I are hoping to make it an annual Thanksgiving tradition :)

Oh, and I turned 26 on November 21st. Joe got me a Kindle Fire. The first book I read on it was Warm Bodies. Loved it, and can't wait for the movie!

December has been the month of weave pole training. Ember is now weaving twelve poles reliably.... after a few set-backs, I think she's finally getting it!  I have upped the challenge in the past week or so, and she has proven up to the challenge so far!

Outside of dogs, in a stroke of extremely good luck, I landed a great opportunity to work with this adorable little mare:

I have greatly enjoyed our time together so far. Would you believe that she is an absolute nut for clicker training?

We also took some adorable Christmas photos, and Joe and I mailed off our first Christmas cards ever :P

All in all, 2012 was a pretty good year.... full of fun, challenges, and personal growth.  It hasn't been an easy year in a lot of ways, but I am so thankful for having the chance to live it.  I am looking forward to putting 2012 behind me and making 2013 my most awesome year yet! Bring it on!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weavin' Dog

Since my last post on Ember's weaving progress, we suffered a setback that I think was caused by trying to push for too much too soon. I moved the set of twelve to a new location, and everything fell apart :P. After that, Ember started to stress a bit about the poles, and couldn't even do six, let alone twelve.  

Well, crap. 

I knew she knew how to do it, but she is a dog that likes to be right. So I decided to take the challenge down a notch, and work on building speed and confidence before trying twelve poles again. So far, it's working out beautifully (knock on wood). 

I love her grin :)
I took a day or two off from training weaves at all with Ember. Then, I spent a session working entries on just a set of two. After she could do that reliably (pretty much right away), I moved up to four poles. I could see the lightbulb really start to turn on at this point. She was driving to and through the poles like she hadn't been before. Once she could do four poles reliably (took us two sessions), I tried six again. She was perfect. We worked six poles for a few days, then I added the second set of six back in, and gradually moved them together like before. A few days ago, I moved the two sets together, and we've been doing twelve ever since. She is a much faster, smoother, prettier weaver than she was before. I'm so proud! 

Here are a few pictures taken showing her newfound confidence and enthusiasm for weaving! She begs me constantly to go outside and train :P 

Such a good girl! 
Driving through with focus and happiness!
Starting to single-step! 
Here are a few video clips showing her progress. This is before the re-training:

And after! See how much faster she is, and how much more confidently she drives towards the end? 

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