Monday, June 29, 2009

June 28 Agility Camp

We had absolutely perfect weather for agility this weekend. Domino finished his first round of classes on Saturday and I still am amazed that I ended up with a dog I can walk off leash with great recall in such a short period of time. He did a great job, learned that tiny dogs are not toys and proved to me that he has one of those 100% reliable temperaments. "Plays well with others" definitely is his middle name.

Sunday we were off to agility with cooler weather.

After a morning of going over each of the individual practice obstacles and working on our hand signals and some more technical things, we took a break for lunch which means swimming time for the dogs. Domino surprised me by taking his first true swim. He was so proud of himself!

Although Ra doesn't go for swimming, he did manage to go from totally huggable to incredibly muddy over the course of the day.

They all had fun playing in the tall grass and the creek.

Domino of course practiced his pit gator impressions.

He seriously has that one down very well. But Charm gave him a run for his money.

This may look like a picture of tall grass but there are three dogs in there somewhere!

Occasionally they emerged next to the creek.

Muddy and wet and full of leaves and grass.

And no matter how Marja tried to rinse off Ra, it just got worse and worse.

Then it was back to work on some contact obstacles for everyone. Charm has the teeter down pat so she saw it as an opportunity to kiss the trainer.

Domino was not quite so sure.

But with a little professional help he made it.

Maggie is always a true competitor.

Then it was time for a timed run through. Charm waited her turn in the shade under the picnic table.

Ra waited while Marja ran the video, resplendent in mud.

Everyone made their runs with various mishaps along the way. Marja and Ra had the ultimate test of the A Frame, but as soon as Ra saw a treat he was all about it. Domino and I had a serious balk at the tire and the teeter and sometimes Domino gets stubborn, but I was pleased that instead of chasing chipmunks...he actually carried over his obedience training and listened. Miss Charm was on the way through a stellar run when she decided she was going to stop at the bone jump, but after a little attitude she made it through.....until.....she decided that even with the stop watch clicking, she could afford a potty break. So she finished in second place behind Maggie.

So here's out video of our timed runs. Ra and Domino are doing pretty darn good for just a few times at agility and Charm is beginning to look like she might be an agility dog some day. After some more swimming we played flyball and Charm and Ra beat Domino and Maggie very solidly! They had fun. We had fun. And now we go to individual schedules until camp starts again in September.

If you don't think dogs enjoy agility, you should be in the car with them when they realize they are getting close to camp....they get soooooo excited.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ahh...Progress...Gotta Love It...

Today dawned so beautifully that I packed up the dogs and my little Kodak (since my Canon is on summer sabbatical with Marja) and headed out for a walk on the nature trail, only to be greeted by dump trucks, road graders and steam rollers!

Some committee somewhere decided that the nature trail was too "natural" I guess and decided it would make for much faster traffic through the nature part if it is blacktopped.

Oh how my spirits dropped. First the forest, now the trail, when will it end...this progress? The only thing that made me feel better is that the workers asked me if I liked the improvement and when I said no, they said they didn't like it either. They said some progress is not an improvement. That people like the flowers and what not...oh well. Lots of creatures met their demise today.

Some chipmunks excavated themselves out from under all the fill and I hoped that they would relocate before they were sealed in with blacktop. I felt sorry for all the creatures trapped beneath the trail now...

With a big sigh of relief, we came to the end of the "improvements".

And left the sounds of construction behind us.

I always seem to be photographing things on their way to oblivion.

Timeless things that are doomed to fall by the wayside of man's desire to get from point A to point B faster.

Nature increasingly has to bow down to some concept of order which involves no dirt or bugs or chaos. But to me this new order is all about chaos.

So instead of watching squirrels and rabbits play in the grassy trail ahead of us, the fill seemed to stretch like a desert, disconnected from anything.

To make it easier for people to pass through while seeing nothing.

A crane stepped to the edge of the trail, and confused, turned back. While the dogs panted in the sun reflecting back and were anxious to be off.

And as always I dream about the day I sell my house and can move farther away from "improvements".

There is just not much people can build that seems very impressive in comparison to all the intricacies a woodlot has to offer.

I hope that all the improvements don't mean that dogs are the next to be prohibited.

Its a strange sort of world when you think about it though, a county that can't afford to remove snow all winter goes out of its way to pave a trail in the middle of nowhere.

But I suspect that nature is a bigger enemy to most than I can imagine.

Offending some sense of structure that makes the faint hearted uncomfortable.

As though they can somehow separate God from nature and make him love man best.

But I think nature will always be his favorite child.

We are just the backward ones that are tolerated.

Swatting horseflies off the dogs ears and stopping now and then to explore this thing or that, we meandered our way through the morning.

Until the heat of day gently turned us towards home.

And my photos and thoughts turned from joy at a beautiful morning to a eulogy for things lost pointlessly.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 21 Agility Camp

It's been a dedicated effort so far this summer working with the dogs. Domino is finishing off his first round of CGC class next week and doing great. He'll continue in the fall after the hot weather cools down and take his test. I can vouch for the fact that dog training not only creates well-mannered dogs, it creates a deep bond between you and your dog. I would never have believed my boisterous boy could work off leash in the midst of dogs and rampaging chipmunks! What a treasure he is!

Yesterday we were off to agility camp with Marja and her dog, Ra.

And Domino's good friend, Maggie.

We battled muggy weather, rain showers and all to get a day in with lots of swimming breaks for the dogs in between and lots of ice and ice packs on hand.

But under the tall trees we found some respite from the weather and one and all had a great day of agility.

I wonder sometimes what the dogs think of agility camp? But the most outstanding thing is how much they watch each other and it is obvious they are fully engaged mentally.

Agility is one of the most and least competitive sports at the same time...the dogs swing towards the competition while the handlers take misteps in stride.

Afterwards we were off to a barbecue at the "Eureka Dog Park" as we like to call it. Where the dogs took turns pulling neighborhood kids in a wagon and practiced their begging skills.

The dogs were completely worn out and ready for naps.

Here's some video clips from the day with Marja and beginner Ra taking a try at the regulation course, and then me and Charm doing our run through and me and Domino doing our run. The course was a bit slippery after the rain so the beginner dogs skipped the contact obstacles, but Charm finally got the teeter and made it through pretty well.

I am looking forward to next week because I think Charm is ready for a timed run through the course. She and Maggie are teaming up over the summer for some weekday run throughs, and Maggie is a tough competitor. Going into fall camp...we should be well set. Maggie and Charm are tearing up the fly ball course and just a click away from being able to play for real.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wisconsin Life_ Down by the river

Yes we're still hiking and exploring in new venues....the dogs wouldn't stand for anything less. We've discovered a lot of new places to wander of late. Yesterday, it was off for a walk in the marsh to reach the river.

My daughter Marja invited us to join her on one of her trails for some fun dog time and photo ops.

The trail was a very pleasant surprise.

With tall marsh grasses...

Flocks of pelicans...

And most importantly, lots of silty river banks with great access for swimming for the dogs...

And the scenery was wild and stunning...

Even though a few rain drops fell for a short time...

All this hiking with the dogs lately has really made me appreciate Wisconsin.

There are still places where the dogs can run free and play.

And even roll in rotten, stinky dead fish...Charm!

Back into the river for Charm.

Domino still has to be on a leash because he thinks he is the great and fearless hunting dog of the north sometimes.

No, his collar is not used for control, its for the noise correction for an over-obsession with anything that might live in a hole in the ground. Domino has the focus of the single-minded sometimes.

And a true talent for getting as muddy as possible.

But he is best at pit gator impressions.

While Charm is the best otter impersonator.

She loves playing hide and seek in the tall grass.

Then it was off to what we like to call the local dog park...Marja's house where Charm enjoyed some playtime with Ashlynn.

And Domino got to roll around with someone as sturdy as him.

We did pick up a tick or two along the they make a super heavy duty frontline?

Then it was playtime for all the dogs.

Charm is a changed dog and socializing very well after training. And Domino is always my happy, happy boy!

Matter of fact, for the first time ever, Domino did not obsess over the papillon at obedience class, even if he was right next to it. He was all manners, manners, manners. Domino was so good he got lots of compliments and I have to admit this training class has really worked well for him. All the chihuahuas of the world can breathe a sigh of relief! Domino has figured out that they are dogs and not chipmunks. YAY!