Thursday, December 31, 2009

Make the Leap

2009 has presented us with a number of challenges and hurdles in our path.

Back in the summer, I was bitter about what I was up against. I was sad and upset that Marge had taken a turn (or two) for the worst, and had some really bad stretches where everything just seemed wrong. I could not find the good in things, and I focused solely on what our failures were, forgetting to acknowledge the successes.

I think I've changed my attitude. In fact, I haven't felt this good about Marge in a long time. I've been trying to focus on our strengths and remain determined to make our weaknesses just a little less weak. I feel, after a full year of working and living with Marge, that I now understand her needs better than ever before.

When presented with a hurdle, I've found that an individual only has two choices. No matter how long you mull it over or put it off, everything comes down to one final decision: you either make the leap, or you don't. There is no other way to slice it.

Even during my darkest days with Marge, I have never given serious thought to giving up on her. I made a commitment when I signed that adoption contract one and a half years ago, and that commitment remains. I made the leap in adopting her. She's made leaps in her training, being more brave than most dogs I know, when she looks up to me for guidance and reassurance in the face of something bothersome. How can we go back now, or ever? No matter how high or how frequent the hurdles get, my one wish for the New Year is that Marge and I will continue to make those leaps. Together.

Look how far it's gotten us so far. We've taken leaps and we've had some amazing moments to give luster to the gritty hard work we've done together. I wonder how far we'll be when the clock strikes 2011. It seems far from now, when we're ringing in 2010, but, in reality, it's just around the corner. And that is yet another reason to always stay positive, make the most of what you've got, and make the leap.

Superb Scribbles

I seldom fully participate in blog awards, but I think that this one is really special because there is strong meaning and purpose behind it. Sue over at the Portuguese Water Blog awarded this to me the other day.

I've always liked writing, especially about the topics that are near and dear to my heart. MargeBlog is the perfect blend of these factors for me - I get to write casually about what is arguably my favorite topic in the world, all the while sharing ideas and stories with others who hold similar interests. For that reason, I am honored to have been named a Superior Scribbler.

I will pass this on to five people who I think are deserving of this award. I know some of my blog friends do not participate in awards, but, regardless of that, I wanted to choose those who I feel express the same blend of enthusiasm about both writing and the things that they love in their life.

I know, for sure, that I could not come up with the endless cartoons and dialogues that the authors of Nigel, Sola and Truffles' blog deliver to us nearly every day. Life With Dogs has been a constant source of laughter for me during my almost-year of blogging. Every once in a while, they throw in a poetic or thought provoking or even tear-jerking post.

Michelle at Brutus' Blog is able to switch gears so quickly in her writing, and, like me, incorporates her dog into nearly all aspects of life. Who else do you know could describe the signature "Turporken" dish and talk about her beloved dog's holiday gifts, all in one post? She always keeps me guessing - I don't know if I'll open the blog to find training news, cute pictures, or tales from life on the road in their RV, Earl. Thanks for being so full of surprises!

Mango's Great Adventures
Mango and Dexter are obviously the faces of this great blog, but I know there is another person behind the scenes who is responsible for the hilarious content of this blog. "Mango Momma" has helped to give Mango and Dexter such unique voices on their blog. I sometimes catch myself saying things like "Most Excellent!" just the way the Mango himself would exclaim.

I confess that KB's blog was the first to come to my mind when I saw I needed to pass this award on. There has never been a day where I didn't enjoy going over to visit her blog. The words that she writes are just as poetic as the pictures she posts. I think the most common comment on her blog must be "WOW! That's amazing!," because I know even I sometimes cannot find the right words to describe how remarkable what I just read was.

Though their posts are short, they are frequent, and I am always ready to read them. They switch effortlessly between writing from the human perspective and the dogs' perspective. Their video essays of their walks in the woods their pictures of brilliant sunsets and other landscapes make this blog really worth going to. When I go there, I feel as though I'm being presented with the little bits and pieces of life that truly characterizes the day-to-day adventures of the Thundering Herd.

I will post the rules, for those who wish to pass on their Superior Scribbler award to others.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom she/he has received The Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on her/his blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit This Post and add her/his name to the Mr Linky List. That way,we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on her/his blog.
I think many, if not all of the blogs that I read are deserving of this award. Every day, I look forward to coming on and reading all about your latest adventures.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday Training 19

I'm very proud of my girl for the way she handled herself last night (Monday).  A longtime and very good friend of mine, who we'll call B, stopped by for a visit, when - long story short - plans went awry and he was in the neighborhood and left with no where to go (that's what happens when all of our friends are home from college and plans don't get finalized 'til the last minute).

Due to Marge's issues with the front door (and with men), I kept her down stairs in the basement with Jessica while B entered the house.  Once he was seated in the kitchen, I called her up to me and fed her an entire slice of cheese, bit by bit.  I had told B to pay absolutely no attention to Marge, and, unlike so many of our house guests, he was willing to help.

Marge had no problem with his presence, for the most part.  She did give him one grumble when too much pressure was put on her, but I think it had a lot to do with the fact that she has come to expect treats from all people, including scary ones, so she was vocalizing her wish for a snack in addition to the fact that she was slightly nervous by the situation.

Otherwise, she walked around the room as usual, came up to bop B with her nose a few times, was comfortable enough to drink water, lay flat on her side, and try to get the remaining pieces of treat out of her Waggle toy as we chit-chatted for a couple of hours.  She acted pretty much the same as she normally does.  She gave lots of tail wags and even jumped up on him a couple of times.

I gave her lots of cookies and a lot of verbal praise.  For once, I can say that she experienced an almost purely positive meeting with a male visitor in my house.  Thanks, B, for all of your help - we don't get to do stuff like this very often, so I cannot express just how monumental this was for Marge!  A little help can go a long way.

Maybe, eventually, the "accepted persons list" will be expanded to fully include people like B.  I'd say this was a great start.  This gives me hope that Marge doesn't have to "hate" all men by default - in the right situations, she can really flourish and become friendly with people.  They just have to be able to ignore her and not pet her - which is the hard part, because you can't control people. It is for those reasons why Marge is now so completely enamored with my boyfriend, Louie.  In the beginning, he simply left her alone and let her approach on her own terms - now, they are inseparable!

At the end of our visit, I leashed Marge and walked B out, and we girls went on our first night walk in nearly a week.  It was short, but she enjoyed herself.  I was quite glad for that; given how well she did in the face of a stranger, she deserved a little fun.  Good girl!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Acting Like Nerds

Though I originally planned for a massive setup with 8 jumps, 12 weaves, a tunnel and a dog walk, I decided to make things a little more simple and work on some skills-type stuff with less equipment.

I've long scoured and have several course maps saved on my computer, hopefully for future use one day, but this one fit in the space I have available so well that I just couldn't resist them - even though they were some of the hardest courses I've ever practiced without my instructor around!

So, a HUGE thank you to Steve of AgilityNerd for putting this stuff together for those who are pitifully course-building-challenged, like myself.  All courses in this MargeBlog came came from his blog and are his property.  You can find additional maps and information on these courses in the AgilityNerd post linked in the previous paragraph.

An equally large thank you to my wonderful boyfriend, Louie, for being so nice as to sit in the cold training hall with me and take all of these lovely videos.  What ever would I do without him?!

Here is the video:

Though I don't expect many to read this, since recovering from the holidays is probably the greatest priority right now for most people, here are some notes:

Sequence 1

Sequence 1 wasn't too bad at all and started us out on a good note, save for that pesky 6-7-8.  I think I ran it multiple ways, but I don't really like how I handled it in the run shown in the video.  

Sequence 2  

I had the most fun with this course.  We didn't work on it long at all - I think we ran it clean on the first try.  Off side tunnel entries and offside weave entries didn't present a problem at all.  The ending was nice and flowy, so it was fun for Marge.

Sequence 3

Oy, threadles.  I practice them sometimes at home, but still have a lot of trouble with that whole "backy-uppy" thing.  I tried that and an opposite side handling of the opening, but I don't think I did either particularly well.  Surprisingly, though, going from 8-9 was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I did go the "long way," around the far side of jump 8, but it was the safe way. Notice when I tried going the other way around jump 8 that it was harder for me to find my path and we almost wound up at the weaves.  Very cool little course!

Sequence 4

By far, this was the hardest sequence of the night.  Well, at least 6-7-8-9 was, because I gave up on it.  My problem was that I was trying to beat Marge down the line to jump 7 (as I whined about in the video) and sort of will her into the tunnel even though I knew she wouldn't go on her own.  In retrospect, front crossing to keep her on my left as she came over jump 6 probably would have helped some.  I may have tried it, but it's not on tape so I'm not sure.

Sequence 5

This course really opened up my eyes as to how important lateral motion is. The first few times, I was in Marge's path for the weaves and she was SO not getting them. Then, since she was tired, she was doing all sorts of wacky stuff like skipping poles or starting on the wrong side (thus the bent poles). I was afraid of Marge blowing by the weaves if I pulled too hard to the right, but it didn't happen and she found her entry perfectly. The final 180 was pretty tricky. I think because of slight differences in how I had everything set up, I could NOT front cross the weaves and get her over 8 and 9. Fading from the weaves and pulling hard worked just fine for us.

Our biggest problem tonight was drive ahead, especially to the tunnel, though I suspect it at least partially had to do with Marge being tired towards the end.  Several of my readers have commented that I should begin to throw treats for Marge rather than always feed her out of my hand; I've always done it to some (small) degree, but did try to implement it a bit more tonight.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to try sequence 6, although I was really curious as to how I would handle it.  Maybe next time!

Thus concludes our final agility post of 2009.  And, what a year for agility it has been!  Beginning in April and culminating in our debut November trial.  We may be able to squeeze in a dual Rally/Agility practice some time during the week, but I'm not positive that it's going to happen.  We have no agility class tomorrow, so we won't be back on course until Monday.

I am pitifully behind on commenting blogs - I sort of took an unofficial hiatus over the weekend.  Will catch up sometime this year - I promise. ;)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Slip Slidin'

I had a whole post planned, talking about the snowy hike we went on in a brand new park yesterday and expressing surprise that it's already Christmas, but forgot that I had these adorable videos of my silly dog from last week.

(As a disclaimer, I wasn't expecting that death-defying leap at the end - she was enjoying the slides so much that I didn't see it coming - good thing the flooring is made of wood chips for prone-to-falling children!)

We're wishing you a Merry Christmas the MargeBlog way - with slides and island music!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Training 18

Agility class didn't go as well this week as it did last week.  I had to go by myself, which set the stage for Marge having to be put in new situations - without any one to hold her leash and due to her aversion to going in crates while at the hall, she had to stay in the room with us during equipment set up.  I tried to get her to do a sit stay or a down stay in a corner somewhere, but she wouldn't have any of it and kept getting up.

The first offense was when she growled at one of the incoming handlers.  Not so good, considering she was off leash.  Thankfully that person knows Marge and has a grumbly dog herself, so it wasn't an issue.  Marge was fine with her the rest of the night.  Unfortunately, I guess Marge's anxiety about people coming through doors holds true in the training hall as well, though it was nothing compared to the reactions she's had towards my dad in the same situation at my house.

She also snapped at Maddie twice - I'm not exactly sure why, but she may have been resource guarding one of those times, seeing as she promptly and vigorously put her head down into her water bowl directly after, and lapped up all the water quickly.  She also gave a grumble/bark and got excited when Maddie ran zoomie laps, ironically following the play bow she gave to Marge.  Marge did give a half bow back a couple of times, and interacted with Maddie as usual for most of the night, so these slip ups are interesting, to say the least (except for the zoomie incident).

I guess the reason I was upset with these little events was because there were less dogs there to begin with - only two others as opposed to four others - so I was kind of expecting Marge to be more comfortable.

On the bright side, she was quite happy to greet our classmate, Susan, while we were waiting together in the other room for class to begin.  Susan doesn't try to pet Marge or anything like that, which I think is why Marge likes her.  Also, Marge saw one of her most favorite people from the club on the way out, one of our old instructors from Beginner Obedience and former agility classmate.  

She got nose-to-nose with a Golden girl as we were leaving, too, and did just fine.  She has engaged in play behaviors with this dog before, so I'm wondering if that has anything to do with it.  She got cookies for her politeness.

The agility itself actually went pretty well - sadly, I have no photos or video, nor do I have a course map because my free trial of Course Designer just ran out.  To summarize: 
  • dog walk contacts were good; no A-Frame out this week to worry about (we still haven't started working on our new contact criteria for the frame)
  • worked diagonal/far side tunnel entrances, and I think we did well
  • weaves were spectacular, I think she found her entry all but one time (and that time it was my fault due to my positioning)
  • teeter was okay; it's a VERY slippery and squeaky teeter, so for Marge to perform it fully was a big deal.  One of the other dogs had trouble with it.
  • we worked a threadle for the first time - it was very hard to handle, especially given the tight quarters!
  • we worked "soft backs," where the jumps are set up down a line but not in a straight line, and I had to switch sides two or three times in a row.  Her backs are really nice and solid - I attribute it to all the flatwork we did in the beginning.
And that was really it.  The courses were fun and challenging.  I feel like the design of the courses that we've had indoors are better for a novice class than the courses we had outdoors, because there's a good blend of easy parts and hard parts.


On one other note, it looks as though the snow is going to complicate our walking situation.  We've only gone out a couple of times since the storm, but our night walks haven't been great - not terrible, but not great. I walked her around the neighborhood Monday night, and to me, it seemed like the lack of things to sniff might have made her more hyper-vigilant about her surroundings. (I honestly do believe that if Marge's nose is on the floor, she feels better.)  Her head was up the entire time and she looked kind of like she was just walking to get it over with, though she never shut down or panicked and always took treats.

It improved somewhat as we trudged through the snow on the unpaved side of the road - something I didn't want to do, but felt like I owed it to her to end the walk on  a good note.  She was acting kind of strange - she looked like she wanted to continue, but kept looking at the enormous bank of snow to the side of her.  I'm not sure if it was a reflex reaction of sorts, as if she was just seeing it in the corner of her eye and wanted to check it out (she was SO confused by a big chunk of snow jutting out - she approached it as if it were a dog), or was longing for a way to plunge in to it and sniff the trees and telephone poles buried underneath it.

The temps are supposed to go up this week, so maybe we'll have some melting and our usual routes will be available to us again soon.  In the meantime, I'll continue to monitor the situation and see how it goes.

To make up for my lack of photos today, enjoy some more pictures of Marge out in the snow from our adventures yesterday.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Little Blizzard

It didn't officially reach blizzard conditions here in New York, but it sure did feel like one!  I had to wake up at 6AM to trudge down three blocks and deliver heavy Sunday newspapers to 100 waiting customers with my sister.  Normally, we get some help from our mother, with the car, but because of how bad the side roads were, we did a lot more walking than usual in a foot of snow, sometimes two or three feet in places that the wind had distorted it.  If I may be honest, it was dreadful - better than what I expected, since many people had already begun cleaning their properties, but still very cold, wet, and tedious work. Let's just hope that the Christmas tips this year make it worth it.

It didn't end there - we did a lot of clean up outside after that.  I dug out around my car, fearful that the snow plows would pile up on the snow already there and totally block me in.  The three of us -  mom, sis, and me - cleaned the walkways, the driveway, and the sidewalk, too. It was a lot of work!  

Marge got not one, but TWO snowy walks today in the field, in addition to a play session outside in the yard.

On the first walk, we plummeted into a field of total whiteness.  After initially getting upset over the huge bank she had to climb, thanks to the snow plows, we tumbled (literally) into solitude and a heck of a lot of snow.  She ran around like a kid at Christmastime on her 50' line.

She began to adopt the "hop like a bunny" strategy, an action I see performed often by dogs who frequently see snow.  She looked absolutely adorable doing it.

True to my nature as an obsessive and impulsive picture taker of all things dog, here is a short video of the fun:

We didn't stay out too long - if we were out ten minutes, it was a lot. Walking through snow is hard work! Marge makes it look easy here, but the reality was that she went home and passed out in her crate for at least a half an hour, not even budging when I left the room.

One more snow-covered shot. Marge looks like Harry Potter with the obnoxious trail of snow scarring her forehead.

After some recuperation, we headed out into the yard.  The plan was for my sister and I to build a snow man, but the snow was very light and fluffy, so it didn't stick together well.  Maybe we'll finish it tomorrow.

Marge made trenches with her body by mozying back and forth.  

In one of the clearer areas, she performed her "up" trick instead of the "beg" that I asked for. I don't think she wanted to sit in the snow.

Then looked up at me with the face that I'll never get sick of for as long as I live.

She stood behind the wind drifts, careful not to send herself crashing in to them.  I guess that, although she likes snow, she doesn't like really really high snow.  I won't have a Bailey on my hands here any time soon.

In the wake of our failed snowman, this snow drift became a makeshift igloo where Marge crawled in to to retrieve a couple of treats. The picture doesn't show it well, but it was a couple of feet long underneath the snow! Good thing it didn't fall on her.

A few laps around the yard later, we called it quits and headed inside...

...Only to go back out, on our second walk of the day! It took us to one of our favorite places. I don't know how I made it there in snow-caked pajama pant and unsatisfactory boots, but yes, we walked down to the beach.

Marge was happy to hit the familiar sand, but was slightly bothered by the sounds of a loud and large pack of kids at the other end of the beach.

Still, she was willing to navigate around the snow and rocks with me (it's hard knowing where to step when everything is covered in white!) to take in the gorgeous view.

We didn't stay long, just hung out enough time to take a breather from wading in the knee-deep snow.  Shortly after this picture was taken, an odd but strong wave sputtered over the rocks in little squirts and nearly got Marge wet, sending her running off far away out of its reach (as far as the 20' would allow, anyway).

The return trip beckoned, and it was time to head home. Marge began to joyfully hop over the mounds of snow again, but I opted to just watch and laugh and smile instead of take many photos. She was having a grand time.

Once off of the beach, we clung to the guard rails near the field and connected road, where nature had laid out a perfect and easy walkway for us. Snow drifts can be good, sometimes!

Suffice to say, I am POOPED. Marge will not be getting her night walk today; I'm tired, cold, and even after a hot shower, still feel the tingly feeling of snow of my feet and legs. Marge is curled up in a corner, snoozing the evening away. I can't blame her - and let's hope her nap lasts for a few more hours!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Big Snow Begins

The snow began this afternoon and promises to continue through out the night. At the first sign of snowfall, we headed outside. The ground was still clear, and only flecks of white began to dot Marge's ears and face.

She played for a few minutes with her tennis ball (chased it, but wouldn't pick it up -- weird) and humored me by posing for pictures.

A few minutes ago, we headed back out for a potty break. It's starting to add up out there.

She started running around and play bowing. She gets really playful in the snow. I'm the only person in my house who's happy to see it add up for that reason.

Here she is before going inside. Understandably, she doesn't like it getting in her face. Hopefully, the wind will die down and we can go out and have some fun tomorrow.

Hope you all stay safe and warm - this is a big one in many places!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rough Ruff

I recorded this the other night.  Marge was antsy and looking for something to do.  She went over to Layla and play bowed, but got swatted at (as is usually the case).  Then, she came over to me seeking a solution.  

I've never posted a video of Marge barking.  She's not a big barker. It took her a week when she first got here to even let out one bark.  Things like this only happen on infrequent occasion.

So, I present to you - attention seeking, overstimulated, bored, playful, and loud Marge.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Training 17

After a stretch of not a whole lot of training stuff going on, we've actually had a few new developments this past week.  I'll try to keep it brief since I have lots to talk about from yesterday's agility class, but, to sum up the big stuff:

Winning Back the Neighborhood - An Update
As many of you know, I've been walking Marge at night when it's quiet out with the hopes of expanding our list of places we can walk without Marge getting scared.  The walks have been great lately, for the most part.  Her recovery seems better after scary things, she's usually unbothered by people walking by. 

Sunday night, we took a pretty long walk down a route that Marge has not been on in at least six months or so, probably longer.  She was responsive and curious, but nervous - I don't know HOW nervous, because sometimes I don't know whether her drive forward (not that she really pulls) is due to trying to move away from an area or simply due to interest and exploration.  She perked up when we passed her good friend Buddy's house (I need to arrange a play date) and seemed really comfortable after that. 

I don't know if it was just my imagination, but she seemed to avoid walking in the direction of the location where a really loud noise scared her over the summer - the event that I think really helped precipitate the down turn she's experienced.  We avoided the area, and she was okay.

Door Breakthrough
Marge is still fearful of my father despite living in the same house as him since we adopted her in June 2008.  Her fears are worst when he comes in to the house through a door.  So, this usually leaves me scrambling to give her cookies once I hear he's walking in.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen, and I heard someone come in through the front door in the adjacent living room.  I thought it was my sister and did not call Marge to me to give her a treat like I usually do - instead, I just left her alone, letting her go in to the other room on her own terms to see who came in.  To my surprise, she stopped dead in the hallway, wagged her tail a little bit and turned around back to her favorite kitchen corner (next to me).  Because she didn't go running up to the entrant the way she would if it were my sister or mother who came in, I knew it was my dad.

I was SO happy that she didn't growl.  I jackpotted her as best I could, though my timing was probably too late.  I have been working on this for a long time with her, so I'm hoping what I saw is actual progress with the door situation.

My boyfriend suggested that perhaps the fact that I played it cool rather than got all hyped up trying to give her treats conveyed to her and that's why she wasn't alarmed by him coming in.  It's definitely something to think about.

I predicted in a post last week that I wouldn't have fun at my indoor agility class.  While definitely more stressful in some ways from the outdoor classes, I actually really enjoyed it.

The hardest part about it is figuring out what to do with Marge while I set up equipment, walk the course, etc.  I always try to have someone tag along with me - either Louie or Jessica.  However, everyone seems to be relying on the crating room as a place to stay while the equipment is being brought out.  The problem with that is that Marge can't see where I am when she's in there and gets distressed.  She wasn't TOO bad, but I think I need to think up a better management plan next time.

She was not reactive - there were a quite a few people and dogs moving in and out around her, and the only time she voiced her concerns was when her little friend, Maddie, started running zoomies on the course.  

I think she sort of regarded the whole thing as just another ring rental, only with some people watching.  That's certainly how she acted - she strutted around like she owned the place, for the most part.

From an agility standpoint, she was excellent.  This course was originally adapted from one of the Standard courses at the AKC Invitational - I predicted this on Johann's blog just hours before class - but it looks pretty unrecognizable due to the size constraints of the room.  Here's the approximate course map (I'm going from memory):

She ran like a DREAM.  Here's part one.  I wasn't even expecting any videos, but my oh-so-sweet boyfriend decided to take a couple on his phone:

  • Led out two jumps to help her into the tunnel.  Absolutely no obstacle discrimination problem there.
  • Back cross to the teeter - we practice backs on the flat all the time, so this was no big deal at all.  Marisa emphasized that we cross after the dog gets it head out of the tunnel so as to not confuse the dog and cause them to look all over the place to see where they have to go when they come out.
  • The teeter itself - she did it, albeit cautiously.   I was expecting a MUCH more fearful response from her.  I'm actually excited for Marge and the teeter this winter, since I think it'll be available to us during private practices.
And, the second half:

  • Teeter to jump to A-Frame was self-exaplanatory.
  • A-Frame contact - looks like we're going with a running.  I told Marisa my concerns about Marge jamming herself on the A-Frame in attempt to get into the 2o2o position.  She said running will be fine, and that because she has some idea of the 2o2o, it shouldn't be too hard to teach her where she's got to go.
  • There were quite a few options on how to handle the jump-jump-weave.  During my first run, I tried a landing side front as she came over the first jump and back crossed into the weaves.  Not a problem.  This time, she told me to do a rear cross over the first jump.  Worked fine, too, though it kind of caused Marge to ask, "What? Where do I have to go next?"
  • Her weave poles were the best I've seen in quite some time.  I can't explain it - she had a stretch of pitiful weave poles and now it looks like they're shaping up again.  This is the set from our outdoor agility classes and not the set from our indoor practice runs, so it may be an issue of spacing.
  • Triple to tunnel - we did have one problem with this because I didn't turn enough to direct Marge into the tunnel.  I corrected it, though, as you can see in this run.
  • There were also multiple ways to handle the ending, but I did the landing side front seen in this video every single time because it worked well for me.  
I really enjoyed the course.  Marge was both fast and accurate, something I did not think would happen given the tight space and possible stressors.  I hope each subsequent class is as good as this one.

Her success working around other people and dogs in the training building actually opens up the possibility for an unjudged Rally match here in January.  We do a lot of Rally exercises, but haven't done a whole course in a long time.  It's only $5, so it might be a good thing to try just for the experience.  We'll see!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Funny Faces

I've caught up with almost everyone's blogs, but I promise to get to the remainder of them by tomorrow.  My agility update also won't come until tomorrow - heading off to class pretty soon.

In the mean time, here are some candids from Marge's walk this afternoon.  In some of them, I was throwing a treat for her to catch, which explains the open mouth and slobber.

And, Marge's still-in-progress "beg" trick..

Friday, December 11, 2009

New York Winter

That's it - it looks like winter is officially here.  No more of those fluke 65-and-sunny days are forecasted.  The wind has been whipping around like crazy, making it feel even colder than it already is.  More windy days are in the forecast, and tonight the RealFeel is estimated to be a whopping 6 degrees.  

Nevertheless, I suited up in multiple layers and even a hood and gloves (two things I barely ever wear) because Marge really needed a good, long walk.  

We extended our usual route to the beach, walking a little farther in almost all directions.  It was about an hour long, and spanned at least two miles. 

Marge pranced through the grass, completely unfazed by the cold and wind, and scoured her environment for things to sniff.  I cannot emphasize enough how different she becomes when the weather is cold and she's itching for exercise.

As we made our way closer to the beach, we passed the deserted swings, basketball courts, and playgrounds.  I'm pretty sure this is the only time in Marge's life where she's ever gotten to explore here, because, as you can imagine, there are teems of scary things here during the warm months.

Just minutes later, we reached the sand. It was so dry compared to our last few visits after rain storms that it almost reminded me of a desert. Marge was anxious to round the bend and run across the long strip of beach beyond that grass, but I always rein her in first and make sure that no one is there. It's a popular spot for offleash dogs.

We were in luck. There was no one in sight, so the fun began.

The water behind her looked wild, grey, and frigid.  The waves weren't high, but they looked very strong.

We walked along the beach some more, reaching a point where we could climb up the sand wall and reach the paved paths through the woods.  Though I don't enjoy it nearly as much as our secluded hikes, it's still a nice place to have within walking distance.

Here, she leads the way.  Almost all of my videos of Marge are from agility practice, so I thought this was something different.  

We reached the field just a few minutes later, en route to our house. Her ears stood straight up as I called her to me.

She lunged outward as I threw a treat for her into the grass.  It's one of her favorite games to play, and, during the summer, keeps her occupied so she doesn't focus on the activity going on around her.

One more shot before we crossed the street for home.

We reached home and I was frozen.  Marge, of course, still had more in the tank.  I'm sure that very shortly after this is posted she'll be jumping all over me, wagging her tail and poking me with her wet nose in an attempt to get me out the door yet again.

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