Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"College, hooman? That dudn't sound fun."

Marge's face in this picture reflects my sentiments about the past twelve hours.

Forgive me for the off-topic rant, but today has shown me that Wednesdays are going to be the worst day of the week for me. I am in class from 10-2:15 and 3:35-6:20, which means I am at the campus the entire day. Due to the deplorable parking situation, I wound up walking about a mile and a half today with two textbooks and a laptop in my bag. Usually I wouldn't mind the good exercise, but walking around a college campus without my walking buddy Marge just isn't appealing to me. Nor is carrying my bag containing all that bulky stuff.

It's actually ironic that we missed Tuesday Training yesterday, because despite the start of the school year, there has been a fair bit going on.

Laugh it Off, Part 2
Some of you may remember that I posted a whine on here early in August about some family friends who came over and basically (unjustly) tore apart my approach to Marge's training. Well, they were back again this week, but the visit was much more pleasant on my end. I was upstairs when they arrived, so my dad let them in, and Marge did growl at them, but that isn't really surprising. As soon as I came into the room, though, Marge mustered up the courage to go over and sniff them. Due to this, I was told by our company that perhaps I have "the magic touch." A far cry from previous comments, and I'll take it! Marge was relatively relaxed the rest of their visit and only growled on one other occasion, when they made their way into the kitchen where her and I were and everybody wound up in uncomfortably close quarters. But, overall, I think Marge did a great job.

Out and About
Because college has started, I don't have as much freedom to take Marge to the beach or park rather than walk her near my house. So far, with the exception of this morning when a foghorn totally took her by surprise, she has been doing alright. With the cooler weather, she seems more willing to walk on the sidewalk rather than in the field. I haven't really tested how far she'll actually go, and we've only stayed within the range of a few houses, but it's a start. We had a great walk in the field tonight, actually.. I wish I had my camera, because she was being such a goof play-bowing to my sister and I while simultaneously biting and growling at the grass. She can be a funny dog. It was a nice way to end the day after the foghorn spoiled our morning.

Agility Training
Last night, due to the expulsion of last week's bite offender from the agility class, we were the only ones at class and will be next week as well. We didn't go the full hour, but did get a fair bit done in the 40 minutes or so we did have. We started with a box sequence that contained 4 crosses.. I think Marge did an absolutely fabulous job with it. It took us only one or two tries before we were able to run the 9 box jumps and one tunnel successfully.

We also worked contacts using the zone honor, and there now seems to be some debate as to whether Marge needs the 2o2o contacts or can just do a running contact. Marisa said her stride is conducive to a running contact. Honestly, I think we'll probably go with 2o2o because it seems more reliable, but at least using the zone honor is getting Marge to run all the way down to the bottom of the A-Frame for now.

Teeter work continued this week.. this time, we had tables under both ends of the teeter, and I kept running Marge across. She seemed to do pretty well with this game. She really loves going over to the Teeter, even without the tables there, but then jumps off as soon as it bangs. I can't figure it out. If she's afraid of it, why is she so eager to do it? Seems like the underlying association hasn't fully changed, but the operant behavior has been built up. Trying to find ways to counter this.

Class Changes
I found out this morning that my Agility class is no longer being offered because I am the only one left in it. This means I'll have to move up to the 8:00 PM Advanced Beginner Agility class. The dogs in this class are slightly ahead of us, in that they can perform all the obstacles and all have some form of a contact behavior, but I believe Marge is right on par with them in terms of jump, tunnel, chute, tire, weave, etc. performance. To make up for this, I will likely have a couple of private sessions with Marisa after class.

To me, the most important thing is that Marge is not rushed into anything. I've been given the OK for a while now to move up to this class, but wasn't really planning on doing so. Although the class is big, Marge knows most of the dogs in it, so I don't forsee any problems in that respect. I think most runs are done without anyone else on the field (unlike beginner, where we all did small sequences among one another), so that will help Marge, too.

So, that's where we're at right now. Fortunately, after tomorrow's morning class, I have Friday through Tuesday off from school. I'm hoping to do alot with Marge during that time, including a trip to High Rock Park for a hike, which I've been anxious to go on for a couple of weeks now.

Lastly, here are some pictures of Marge on the beach, taken this past weekend. We've gone there a couple of times recently, since the summer crowds have died down and Marge absolutely loves running on the sand.


PoochesForPeace September 3, 2009 at 12:25 AM  

Oooohh, love that last pic. And I just have to say, a fog horn? Really?! What is it about your neighborhood that will come up with the most random thing in the world (at least to an Ohioan) to sound off when Marge is walking?! Hopefully all the odd noises will eventually help Marge to be very desensitized.

Martha September 3, 2009 at 3:41 AM  

Love the pictures of Marge on the beach - relaxed and happy!
Martha & Bailey xxx

Dexter September 3, 2009 at 6:07 AM  

We had an agilities class where it was just me and Taj and we had to stop after about 45 minutes because our brains got fried. It must be hard walking without your pal close by your side. I bet she misses you on those long days too.

I have to wear one of those super long leashes when I go to open places. Something about an unreliable recall.


BRUTUS September 3, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

Wow, you HAVE been busy!! Glad to hear things went better with your family this time. I have always found that people who are related to me are my harshest critics. If you have positive attention from them, then you must be on to something good!!
We too are doing box exercises to work on our crosses. 2o2o works great for us - started using just a flat board on the floor with clicker training. Once Brutus got the association of back feet on = treat, it was really easy to backchain it to normal obstacles.
Great beach photos - I'd call the second to last one "Tired Marge", love the one of the pawprint in the sand - definitely a framer!!
Hope you have a great, relaxing weekend with Marge!

Michelle & Brutus

Scout and Freyja September 3, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

The best was the last, the photos of Marge. Our momma is crazy in love with her ears! She want to kiss them a LOT!

Anna the GSD September 3, 2009 at 11:18 AM  

Mom says: "Ugh, I do NOT miss parking/walking across campus! I mean, why must the parking lots be 20 gazillion miles from any buildings??"

I say: Marge, you will kick doggy booty in the new agility class! You'll catch up to those other dogs quick and be zooming through tubes and stuff soon!

Natalie September 3, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

Wow, those pics are great. Marge is such a good looking dog. And it looks like you both had a lot of fun!

I know how you feel about classes, the class we were just in started out with a ton of people the first night at orientation, and fewer and fewer people would start to come towards the end. So by the last few classes, we had about 6 dogs and handlers. Now in the new class, the next progression in this series, there are 4 dogs and handlers. It's almost individual attention! But it's nice cause we all work well and know each other pretty well by now.

Good luck with college and training. Can't wait to read more.

Sue September 3, 2009 at 1:25 PM  

Have cooler temperatures arrived in New York? My dogs are loving the cooler weather and are acting silly. Marge seems to be more of a cool temp dog, too.

The beach pics are really cute. Glad the relatives have backed off.

Sam September 3, 2009 at 6:27 PM  

Because I know my sister would kill me if she knew I didn't give her credit, that very nice paw print picture was taken by her. :)

Thank you, everyone!

Astrid Keel September 4, 2009 at 1:41 PM  

OMD! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the second photo! LOVE! My momster is also in LOVE with that photo! Marge, you are going to rock advanced agility, we just KNOW it!

Sam, hope school goes well... My momster sure is glad not to be lugging 300lb books around campus anymore...!

Kathy Mocharnuk September 5, 2009 at 5:55 PM  

WOW, Marge looks terrific on the beach, she looked like she really had a lot of fun! Good for you with the person that doubts your training plan but isnt it funny if it works it is MAGIC and not that you are a terrific trainer-which I personally think you are a very good trainer so I doubt there was any magic touch involved.....So do you have a plank or something to practice and teach a contact behavior at home? I am sure you will catch up to the rest of the class really quickly, sounds like you are almost there

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