Thursday, September 24

OSU Demo and Classes

So yesterday, we had the OSU agility demo at the vet school. I elected to take Merlin and not Popper, because last time I took Popper, they had grills going, and it just overwhelmed his poor beagley senses. Merlin has only done one other demo, so I figured it would be good practice.

The ground was really soggy, and I guess there were all sorts of good smells coming out of it, because Merlin went nuts sniffing and pawing at the ground, and ignoring me. He never does that in agility. I was getting frustrated when Joanne, who owns Irish Wolfhounds, asked if I wanted to try some Captain Crunch. At that point, I'd try anything. It was instant success with Merlin - I gave him one, and he became fixated completely on the bag - which Joanne still had. So she gave it to me, and BOOM - instant and flawless attention. If he started to drift on a run, I just touched my pocket so the bag would crinkle, and he would switch himself back to me right away. Even later that night, when I showed it to my fiance, Merlin's eyes were large and attentive on that bag. I afterwards referred to it as the "Magic Bag of Noms."

It truly was magic - I took it to class with us, and Merlin managed to fix all the issues he's been having problems with.. He took the weave poles perfectly after other obstacles; he corrected himself when he was about to jump through the space between the tire and the frame, to go through the tire itself... I was SO PROUD of the little guy! He was awesome. I was even more proud when they told us he was cleared to go on to the next level of agility classes. Way to go, Merlin!

I kept the Magic Bag of Noms out for Popper's class too - and I was not disappointed. We were doing threadles, which were previously our downfall, and Popper ran them like a champ. I was astonished, pleased, thrilled - all those and more. Popper wasn't as obsessed with the Captain Crunch as Merlin (Popper is a hound - he just likes food, period), but I swear that bag was magic. He ran everything well, and ran the whole time, which is unusual for him because he doesn't do well in the heat/humidity normally. We had a bit of trouble with the weaves, but that was my fault because I have not been diligent in my practice at home. Popper was also promoted to the next level, which caused no end of joy for me, because we had already done that class once together, and I became so frustrated and upset with it that I had vowed to give up agility. We worked really hard, and took a recreational class to get the joy back into the sport, and that worked like charm; it was exactly what we needed to keep going strong. :)

We celebrated the awesomeness of the little boys with ice cream cones!

And yes, I have Peanut Butter Captain Crunch on my shopping list - never again will I underestimate the power of the Magic Bag of Noms!

Thursday, September 17

Saved by Leashes - Twice!

I packed up Roofus, Popper, Blossom, and Merlin, and headed over to my parents' house for a few hours of fetch and frisbee. When I was a few houses away from theirs, there was a "Road Closed" sign. Not to be deterred, I turned around and went the back way.

The back way was blocked as well, and there were all sorts of people milling about. I rolled my window down to ask a man, who happened to have a large dog, why the road was closed. "Gas leak," he said. I thanked him, and in that instant, Popper bolted from the passenger side seat, through the driver's side window. I managed to snag his leash as it trailed out the window. The next second, Merlin got it into his head to go tumbling after him, but I was prepared now, and I got him before he had two paws on my seat, and stuck him on the passenger side floor. I got Popper back into the car, and away we went.

That has never happened to me before. I am very upset at Popper for having so little self control that he felt the need to fly out my window to go visit a dog. Merlin is reactive so I am not surprised at him, although he has never tried to jump out the window before.

When we got home, I put my dogs in stays, and opened my door. I grabbed Popper's leash, when Blossom decided it was her turn to bolt out of the car, and goes running down the sidewalk. Blossom is deaf, so the only way to get Blossom back is to capture her, praying the entire time she doesn't see you, otherwise she'll RUN. I shut the door, took off with Popper after her, and stepped on her leash. Thankfully she always wears a harness, so the jolt of a sudden stop wasn't too bad.

At this point I was pretty happy to get back into my house and stuff all the dogs inside it.

Twice in one day! I don't ever have a problem with dogs in my car. I think it may be time to reintroduce Popper to the doggie seat belt, and I believe I need to get Blossom one as well, since she is deaf now and a PITA to catch if she can slip out the door. This was quite an eye opener - just because your dogs don't normally do something, or have been trained not to do something, does not mean they will not do it at some point! I always fear the off-leash dogs that are "perfectly trained," because it only takes a second for something bad to happen. We all were lucky this time.

Roofus, I will note, was an exceptionally good boy the entire time and the only one I am not annoyed with at the moment.

And my dogs are still full of energy and have not gotten their exercise yet!! :( We're going to try back later.

Friday, September 11

Agility Run-Thrus

I was super eager for BRAG's agility run-throughs tonight.... I wanted to see if Popper's attention disorder really was an outdoor-specific thing, or if he was just totally ruined at trials.

It's an outdoor thing.

It's a huge obstacle to conquer. I don't know if we can do it. We're sure going to try - at least one of the games every time Merlin does an outdoor trial. So I will focus on the indoor ones and hopefully we can finish our level 1 title before the year is out.

Merlin, on the other hand - freaking amazing. I think Popper started out amazing, too, but I can really see Merlin going all the way.

Monday, September 7

Flash Point Agility Trial Sept 6th

Both my little boys participated in Flash Point Agility's CPE trial yesterday. They both did the last one, as well, which was last month, but it was at their facility. This one was held at the Morrow County Fairgrounds in Mount Gilead.

I'm pleased to say that Merlin obtained his first ever Qs this weekend! He Q'd easily in both Jackpot and Fullhouse, and unfortunately a bit of trouble with the tire in standard caused us to be over time, so we did not Q in that one. His first run out, he was absolutely amazing, incredibly responsive and FAST. We probably could have gotten first place if I hadn't been more worried about getting the jackpot and getting to the table immediately. We had plenty of time I could have used to get more points, the whistle hadn't even sounded for the "get to the table" warning. The second run was also very, very good. The third run (standard) he kind of lost it. I think me making him do the tire correctly (took quite a bit of time) really took a lot of the fun out of it for Merlin, and his focus just got all out of whack from it. That tire is really becoming a PITA to me. I'm not sure why my dogs hate it so much.

Popper, on the other hand, was completely out of it. A lot of it, I think, has to do with being outside, and also that we were at a fair, with a LOT of livestock close by, and manure everywhere. The beagle part just takes complete control. I was so happy because it was a nontraditional jackpot, I thought Popper would finally get his elusive Q in that game. Instead, he spent his time staring out of the fence, and bounding happily wherever he felt like it. I will give him the positive that his "GO TABLE" is awesome, I can tell him that from the other side of the ring, and he will zoom full blast to it, wherever it may be.

His second run, after I couldn't get his focus back, I said, Okay, goodbye! and started walking away (not out of the ring - I can't bring myself to do that *yet*) - and guess who comes running onto the dog walk? He stopped, looked at me, wagged his tail, so I ran over and we did the dog walk. I had his focus for two more obstacles after that, and then we had to go to table. I think this is what I'm going to have to do at outdoor trials from now on, until he gets the idea that in the agility ring, he has to focus on me and the obstacles. We don't have this issue at indoor trials or in class, so it's something I have to work on entirely at a trial. I'm not made of money by any means, so whenever Merlin has an outdoor trial, I'll just enter Popper in either fullhouse or jackpot and use that time to get my point across. That way, it's not a huge financial burden to me to at least attempt to get his outdoor attention loss under control.

Tuesday, September 1

Popper's Ball Obsession

We always thought it was Merlin with the neurotic ball obsession - but he's got nothing on Popper.

Before storms, Popper will always go outside, find his ball (which has been slyly repurchased and replaced over and over again - he's rather hard on balls), and put it on my windowsill inside the house, presumably to "watch" the thunderstorm from the safety of inside.

Since it's been cool out, I've just been leaving the back door open for the dogs to trot in and out at their leisure. Popper immediately gets his ball every morning (I keep it outside because it's disgusting, and he can be ball aggressive), brings it into my bedroom, drops it on the bed, and cuddles with it the rest of the day.

Yes, in this one respect, I think Merlin is definitely the less weird dog.