Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tell Me Thursday - #4 (and I'm even posting on a Thursday!!)

It's that time again - time for Tell Me Thursday brought to you by Laura over at Crooks and Crazies!

1. How do you search for and then choose a trainer?
I found my trainer by searching on Google. It was when I got my first dog and I had no idea that trainers were different so I had no idea what I was doing. But it all worked out in the end because my trainer, Ace Russell, is so amazing!!! I have met people who have paid well known trainers $90+ an hour for a private lesson to learn what Ace has taught me - specifically about interacting and understanding your dog. He just has this amazing connection and intuition when it comes to dogs and he's quite logical so I really appreciate that. I'm stubborn and if I don't think a trainer knows what they are talking about then I will refuse to listen to them (I can be quite a difficult student) but Ace is the only trainer I have ever had who's opinion I respect. I think I tend to drive other trainers crazy because if they suggest something that I know goes against Ace's philosophy, I'll ignore what they say. And then if they insist that I do what they say I will simply say, "I'll run that past Ace and if he says that makes sense, then I will try it."

Here's Ace, running Starbuck for me when I was injured. They had never run together before and Qd in 2 out of 3 runs! Should have been 3 for 3 but the crazy girl left the ring without her leash causing an NQ.

And he's pretty much a celebrity to all dogs. Starbuck is usually quiet, but the very moment she spots Ace, even if it's from 100 feet away, she will start howling and chattering and running over to him as fast as she can. And he gets that kind of reaction from most dogs.

2. The dog world is small and.... uh.... talkative. After choosing a trainer how do you handle those people in your life who don't believe in that trainer/trainers methods and criticize them to you?
Easy - I ignore them, I don't like arguing with people and I find that those who want to criticize something tend to want to argue. In fact, I don't talk to many people at trials. I think it's because dog people sometimes remind me of high school... and I hated high school. I don't like drama, I don't like gossip and I don't like cliques, which leaves only a handful of people that I will talk to at trials. And that is totally fine with me. I'd rather be hanging out in a corner with my dog by myself then hanging around people who gossip and criticize others. That's probably why I get along with Ace so well because he's also like that.

 Nari and I about to run in the Grand Prix Quarterfinals at the 2011 Cynosport World Games.

I once had someone ask me what handling system I used. Since I had no idea what a handling system even was I said, "Ummm.... I don't know? The Ace system?". Then they went on to tell me how I had to use a system and which seminar I needed to go to, etc. I just blew them off. Ace has always been there for me so I don't appreciate random people coming up to me to tell me what I should or should not do. Especially if they do not know my dog and do not have that much experience.

I have been lucky to meet a great group of supportive people who have been awesome - especially because I've only ever taken private lessons and don't belong to a club. The first person who was truly supportive and nice to me (besides Ace) is Jean Lavalley and I am so grateful for all of the encouraging words she's given me. She's also an AMAZING handler so I am very lucky that we end up at a lot of the same trials so I can watch her in action!

3. Do you believe that a person's personal life should influence your choice of a trainer? (i.e. do you believe a person's choice to be a party animal outside of work would affect your choice?)
Nope. Not unless they are a serial killer or robber or their personal life interferes with training. Of course I can't stand gossip or bashing people so I wouldn't work with a trainer who did that.

4. When you have a break through moment with your dog, do you feel that moment makes your connection stronger with that dog and makes the next step in training easier?
Definitely. I've learned that Nari doesn't like corrections (they slow her down because she doesn't like to make mistakes). Once I learned that I just let Nari always think she is right and things go much better. Starbuck has taught me never to take anything seriously. Took me a while to learn that from her but once I did things got a lot easier with her.

Ace, Starbuck and I work on the most dreaded obstacle - the table! 

5. Do you stick with just one trainer, or do you go to multiple sources for help?
I've only ever worked with Ace for agility. I was having trouble with Nari's confidence on the dogwalk so he told me to check out Silvia Trkman's stuff. I love how she handles her dogs and how she loves her dogs for who they are. So I watch a lot of her youtube videos and got a couple of her DVDs. I think I'm going to start trying to get to some seminars eventually.... 

A happy girl on the dogwalk - 2011 Cynosport World Games. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tell Me Thursday #3 - whoa, I wrote another post!

It's another Tell Me Thursday (on not a Thursday) - brought to you by Laura over at Crooks and Crazies!

1. What is one lesson you've learned this week?
My dogs are awesome. 
I really need to learn more from my dogs. They don't hold grudges, they don't gossip, they just live in the moment. And my dogs love me for just being myself. I've been noticing how other handlers interact with their dogs lately - it just looks like they don't love their dogs or are somehow disappointed in their dogs. I hear people say, "I wish my dogs was..." faster, smarter, taller, shorter, smaller, bigger, etc. I've learned that my dogs are perfect just the way they are and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. My dogs love me so much that when I tell them to run through a silly obstacle course they do it with a smile on their face instead of thinking I'm insane... now that is pretty awesome.

2. Who or what might you have been in another life? What might you be in a next life?
Another life - a sea dragon or maybe one of those jellyfish that have all of those colorful lights? Those things are pretty freaking amazing. Next life - hmmm... a bush in the shape of a bear... 
Seriously - who has those things?? (note: not my bear bush, just one that happened to show up at my parents'!). Or a cheese brat. Have any of you had a cheese brat before? HEAVEN ON A BUN!!! Seriously, you have to have one NOW because it is the most delicious and magical thing you will ever have eaten! Maybe you can't find any because my parents bought all of them in a 30 mile radius of Waterford, WI and brought them all to me... mwhahhahahahahaha!!! 

3. What unusual things do you like the smell of but don't usually admit it?
Cheese brats!! Okay... so I'll pretty much tell everyone how delicious cheese brats boiled in beer and cooked on the grill smelll...mmmmmmmmm!!! 

4. What are your thoughts on continuing on vs. retiring when a trial run is going badly? How do you decide? Where do you draw the line?
I always continue when a run is going badly. I know it's 100% my fault so I just make sure that I do whatever I can to make sure my dog ends on a happy note. And if my dog is just not getting something on the course, I'll step to make it easier and then I'll even go off course to make sure they are happy. 

5. This is a call for questions or subjects you'd like to talk about - I'd appreciate suggestions (and please come link up so that I'll be sure to see your post), so here's your chance!
Dog treat recipes! I'm tired of hearing about all these dog food/treat recalls so we've started making a lot of our own dog treats. I really need a recipe for low calorie, light colored treats that my dogs can see easily in the grass when we are training distance skills. I've been using popcorn for that but am looking for some variety! 

 Hope everyone is having a great week! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tell Me Thursday - #2 WHOOHOOO - I finally posted!!

Okay, okay, I'm so late on these! I've been busy trying to get my stupid foot to heal so now I'm playing catch up on the blog. 

Finally.... it's Tell Me Thursday #2 - brought to you by Laura over at Crooks and Crazies. 

1. Stopping your dog - what do you prefer? On their feet? On their belly? Some combination? 
Hmmmm... does this have to do with sheep herding? Well, my dogs don't herd sheep but they are constantly trying to herd the cats. Usually I'll say 'Leave it' which means freeze and stop whatever you are doing. Starbuck is the worst offender of herding cats, started when she was a crazy little puppy.

2. At what point do you start teaching this?
I try to teach the 'Leave it' when they are young. Otherwise, you get little puppies stealing a case of your cheap beer and hoarding it in their crate! 

3. Do you have a favorite dog? I won't tell. 

Each one of our dogs is my favorite for different reasons:
Starbuck - favorite prankster 
Nari - favorite best friend, she seems to understand me the most and I think we have similar personalities
Alpha - favorite cuddler 

4. What is the #1 thing a dog can do to push your buttons?
When Starbuck insists that she is going to hardcore makeout with me - kind of drives me crazy. She'll just come out of no where, plant a paw on each of your shoulders and then totally like the crap out of your entire face. That and when Alpha will just stand in the middle of the living room, bark once, stare at you, wait five minutes and bark again and then when you finally take her outside all she wants to do is try to chew on as many sticks as she can instead of going potty. 

5. Brrrrr..... it's winter. What is your favorite soup recipe? 
Yeah....ummmm... recipe?!?! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hooray for Tell Me Thursday! 2012 Edition, #1

It's the first Thursday of the new year and Tell Me Thursday is back! Brought to you by Laura over at Crooks and Crazies. 

The questions for this week are: 
1. What is your favorite new toy? I know you have one, so you might as well go on and fess up. 
I loved everything, but I think it would have to be the citrine necklace my Dad gave me. We didn't have that much money when I was growing up (4 of us kids shared a bedroom that was 9x11 feet, I'm really surprised we didn't kill each other). When my Dad gave me the necklace, he said that he had always wanted to give me a birthstone necklace. You could just see how happy he was that he was finally able to give one to me. I love it! 

2. If you're going to be caught under the mistletoe, who would you LEAST like to be with?
Hmmm... Starbuck, right after she ate that rotten crayfish out in the agility yard... YUCK!
But I'd give her a kiss on any other occasion - she's so cute! 

3. New Year's Resolutions - for your dogs - share! 
I don't really do New Year's resolutions. But after Nari and I got injured this past fall, I just decided we're just going to have fun. Who knows when each of our last runs will be, so we're just going to go out there and run fast and run happy. I'm just going to let them be who they are and have fun with it. They love conditioning and doing tricks so we're just going to be doing more of that. And they love to trial so we're just going to have fun with it and not worry about the outcomes but celebrate the journey.   
There they are, all napping after Thanksgiving dinner. Awwww!!! 

4. New Year's Resolutions - for yourself - share! 
I took my dogs to the vet before Christmas and the vet said they all looked happier. She said she thought it was because they had been doing more conditioning and we've been feeding them better food (we make most of their food now). So I thought if my dogs were happier because of the extra exercise and better diet then I should get off my lazy butt and join them. Since I'm still waiting for my stupid foot to heel (plantar fasciitis and stress fracture in my heel) I've been doing more weight lifting - which is totally boring but it's all I can really do. And I've been going on the Jacob's Ladder for a couple of minutes. That thing is EVIL - it's this never ending ladder and you feel like dying after 2 minutes on it. I also decided to go on an anti-inflammatory diet since I hurt my foot. So far it's been going great, mostly eat fish, chicken, veggies and fruits and I'm cutting out grains, bread, desserts and so far I don't really miss them. And I have more energy!
Not sure my husband is that excited about me having more energy, I kind of drive him crazy. 

5. How did you handle the holiday food situation? 
I find that if you eat veggies, fruit and protein rich foods first then you fill up and don't overload too much on desserts. I didn't deny myself any of the tasty holiday food, just ate a little less of it. But my Mom made scalede (it's an Italian cookie which I have no idea how to spell) and I ate a ton of it! It's pretty much fried cookies coated in honey and the most delicious thing in the world!