July 31, 2009

Happy 1st birthday!!!

Dazzle turned 1 year old today and had a GREAT birthday!
We started the day by going to the other side of town (a little over an hour away) to work on his herding. He had GREAT fun chasing the sheep, but as a result I have pulled his entries for a herding test coming up in 2 weeks. I agree with the instructor that he's not ready yet. It seems the more often he gets in with sheep, the less control he seems to have. :-( He needs to see sheep often enough that they are "no big deal" instead of being an exciting and novel activity.
I don't think I can afford to have him around sheep that often right now, so I think his herding will be going on hold till I can either get our own sheep or somewhere closer becomes available with sheep that are pretty "sticky" for him to learn on. It's not like we don't have enough other venues to pursue! :-)
VIDEO: Herding part 1:
(Part 1 is just his intro to the sheep till I went to get a ball. Not very exciting)
VIDEO: Herding part 2:
(Part 2 actually has some herding and some chasing)
VIDEO: Herding part 3:
(More chasing and herding)
After herding, we went to their neighbor's pond to do dock diving! They have a regulation dock and even a set-up for "Extreme Vertical". This is a new segment of Dock diving in which the dog tries to go more for height and not as much for distance. The bumper (toy) is held in place on a rig that holds it about 8' off the end of the dock and is adjustable in height. A Malinois holds the World Record height of 8' (because that's as high as the equipment would go!)
We started on land and had Dazzle jump up to get the toy - no problems there. Then we held the toy just out of reach off the end of the dock- lots more hesitation with that :-) But he did do it several times! Then I tried to do too much and have him get it from the competition rig. No dice :-) So we went back to distance throws. I'm sure that with practice, he will do the Extreme Vertical too, but we were just there for fun and the EV was stressing him out a bit.
VIDEO: Dock Practice and fun
By the end of our day, you would think he would have been tired! But no, he kept going out on the dock as I was packing up to leave and I had to catch him to get him back in the van. :-) He was having SO much fun I hated to leave, but it was getting late.
By the time we got back home (almost 2 hours later since I stopped for my food and a bag of dog food), he was ready to play more!
Here's to many many more active years together!

July 25, 2009

circles, circles and more circles!

Since a big thunderstorm cancelled our kayak trip this morning, but the weather turned nice by afternoon, I decided to do more practice on his circling. I borrowed a cool gate for this that expands from about 1' diameter to about 15' diameter. The photos above are from the video I did of our training session today:
VIDEO: Circle training
I don't know if it will help in the herding pen, but at least I'll know he has a foundation of cues for each direction and the "wait" (stop) practice is helpful too. I'm not up to the point of adding verbal cues for the directions yet, but I think I'll be able to add them soon. This is actually our second practice session and Dazzle had 2 dips in the pool between runs today :-).
Thank-you Lonnie for letting me borrow your gate! I think it's going to do the trick!

July 23, 2009

Family Portrait

I took these just before camp, but forgot to upload them...
Left to right: Bear, King, Coyote, Buster, Dazzle (Bear is actually a bit smaller than King, but because he's lying sideways, he looks bigger. He's also not as fat as the photo makes him look :-)
Here's a better one of Bear...

"Dock" Diving photos

These were taken at the event right after camp by Teri. After seeing the photos, I have to say the "dock" was even smaller than I thought! Maybe only 2' wide? It's hard to tell in the photo how big the drop is to the river. They did have someone in the river during the competition to help the dogs find the exit ladder, retrieve toys, etc. and the water was to his waist, so it was deep enough for the dogs to go under when they landed. These photos were taken after the event...

One tired pup!

July 21, 2009

July Camp

The July camp was LOTS of fun! Dazzle earned 5 more badges and was TIRED by the time we got in the van to head home :-) We didn't hike with the campers, but occasionally I took the golf cart out and let him run off leash around the trails with me. He's so good about checking in and mostly staying in sight. Only rarely going off trail after a chipmonk or squirrel or good smell, but coming right back.
He got the CPR badge the first night during that class. He wasn't so sure what Beth was trying to do when she was trying to get him to lie on his side to take his pulse and demonstrate that a person (that's not the owner) can do that, restrain him and check his respirations. He also had to let someone (not me) put a muzzle on him (which was no problem) along with a few other requirements I don't recall off the top of my head. I learned how to do CPR on a doggie manikin, which I hope I never have to do to a real dog!
Dazzle was a great demo dog for the Dog Scout class I taught each day. Thankfully he was also very good waiting in the room with just a baby gate across the door when I had to do things that were easier to do without him. He got loose once when some kids were petting him and the gate fell. He checked the computer area first then ran right to my "office" and found me. :-) He seemed content to curl up behind my chair, so I let him stay with me more often when I was in my office doing paperwork.
We got a great photo of all the Dog Scouts in uniform, but for some reason it wasn't on the photo CD. I'm checking into the whereabouts of those photos.
Dazzle won the Devil Duck game (staff catagory) this camp by retrieving 6 ducks before time ran out. He was really having fun with it!

On Wednesday evening it was cool enough to have some lure coursing! Dazzle really loved it (as I thought he might) and earned the lure coursing badge. At the end of his first run, he acted like he wasn't sure he wanted to get near the lure (a plastic bag) once it stopped. But after the second and third runs he had no problem with it, he did a quick sniff then came to me when I called.

VIDEO: Lure Coursing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3FaO2hRkXI

Above is a 2 minute video of his 3 runs set to music. Below are a couple photos from that video. It was overcast and late evening, so the lighting wasn't bright enough to get good action shots with a regular camera.

Dazzle earned his Obstacle 2 and 3 badges at this camp. No agility photos though. We didn't seem to be out there when the photographer was there. He earned the Obstancle 1 badge at the June camp, so this time he did the Dog Walk, Chute and a low jump for Obstacle 2 and the Tire, Teeter and Table for Obstacle 3. He is very confident on all the equipment now. Almost TOO confident because he goes so fast he misses contact zones. I will be doing lots of contact zone work with him separate from the obstacle training. I think once he learns that I WANT him to touch the part that is a different color, he will do it well.
We didn't participate in the talent/dance contest at this camp, but there was some tough competition this camp! Lots of great routines including some exhibition only (not being judged) runs by Gloria Voss (the World Canine Freestyle Organization judge that taught the freestyle classes this camp). I wanted to attend those classes, but it seemed there was always somewhere else I needed to be during her class time :-( She is going to be holding a 2 day seminar at camp in September though! Not sure if I'll be able to attend or not.
Dazzle also earned the Dog Care badge. He had to show he would tollerate his feet, ears, head and body being checked and handled, nails getting clipped or filed, eyes, ears and teeth getting cleaned as well as anal sac expression (oh joy!) He was a trooper and fell asleep during the brushing and nail filing part. :-) I had to demonstrate I knew about things like nutrition, parasites, vaccinations and other dog care basics.
We participated in the IMPROV competition on Saturday at camp and Dazzle got 3rd place in the novice class. DSA will soon be offering titling events for IMPROV and I think he will do well with it! It is very unique in that you never know what the judge might ask you to do. There are only very basic outlines for the exercises that are open to interpretation by the judge and compeditor. It awards thinking outside the box, teamwork and problem solving skills. Some of the exercises include having the dog do behaviors he knows while staying at least 3' away from the handler (5' away in standard level), being able to send the dog to a designated spot 15' away that may or may not have some sort of visual target for the dog, and being able to have the dog walk on unusual surfaces/objects or otherwise come in contact with weird objects without the leash going tight. It's lots of fun and can be very challenging!
After camp, we attended a festival that had "dock diving". I put that in quotes because there was nothing official about it ;-) The dock was about 4' wide and 8' long covered in carpet. There was a hill the dogs had to run down to get to the dock and it was about a 4' to 5' drop into the river from the dock! But the turn out for the event was amazing and most of the dogs did jump in and some jumped quite far! There were several Dog Scouts in attendance and Lonnie with her dog Panda tied for 1st place in the big dog division (I think it was an 18' jump?), but they lost the jump-off that broke the tie. Indi, a 16 week old puppy (who also earned her Dog Scout title during camp) did some spectacular jumps with excellent form, but was nosed out by a Springer Spanial that jumped 1' farther than Indi. So even though Dog Scouts didn't take home any trophies, we had lots of fun! Dazzle jumped twice and went 7' the first time and 9' the second jump. Several of the Dog Scouts have done standard competitions and said their jumps were about 5' shorter on this "dock" than in real competition. So that means Dazzle might actually be jumping in the 12' - 14' range on a real competition dock. The distances were just "eyeballed" and we weren't sure what the judging standard was (if it was the nose or back feet or what).
Teri, a member of DSA, lives nearby and came to visit the event with her dog and took some photos. I'm waiting to get them and see how they turned out!
After the Dock Diving event, we went to an ice cream place for lunch and the dogs rested with us on the covered outdoor patio during the meal. The weather was wonderful! Sunny but still comfortably cool in the shade. Then we went back to the river for the Duck Race. Several of us bought tickets, but none of us won the $1,000. :-( It was still fun to watch and a great afternoon on the river banks!

Ducks being dumped...
Dazzle was facinated by the ducks and several of the dogs really wanted to go get them! Nike was "cheering" them on to the laughter of the crowd.
On our way home, I stopped to get dinner and noticed a field of flags at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. It was a memorial to fallen heros. I thought it looked like the perfect backdrop for some photos and I was right! You can see how tired Dazzle looks in the first photo :-)
His regal pose :-)
Now I need to get caught up on a huge to-do list including nearly 1000 emails! OY!

Pro photos

The following photos were taken by Joanne Weber. She is a professional photographer as well as one of the photographers for camp. We had our private photo shoot the day before camp 2 and I am in LOVE with these photos! Every one she took is excellent, but these are my most favorite...

"I love you mom... now throw the ball!"

The daisies are a perfect setting!
Frisbee photos...
Unintentional big jump! My throwing skills still need work
Deep grab! No chance THAT one is getting away!
Happy Dog!
Dock Diving too!
I love how she captured the reflections too!
Big Jump!
She got several cool splash photos! This is my favorite
Thank-you SO MUCH Joanne!!!

July 20, 2009

June camp photos

Here are a few of the photos from the June camp. Not all of them are edited and available yet, but these are from the first batch I'm uploading for Joanne, the camp photographer.

Dazzle the Loch Ness Maligator
You want me to retrieve what?

Playing the "Devil Duck" game... Object is to have the dog retrieve as many of the ducks as possible in 60 seconds without picking up a red devil duck. Dazzle got 5 ducks before he decided the red one looked good :-)

Our camp photo...

July 08, 2009

Herding practice

Herding practice was interesting, fun and informative this morning. The sheep took one look at Dazzle and decided the opposite side of the ring from where he was, was where they were staying! I think if they had their preference, they wouldn't have even been in the same pen with him! LOL
The sheep are normally worked by Corgi's, so I guess Dazzle was pretty intimidating. It made it harder because I think their "bubble" was somewhere outside the fences of the pen :-)
Mostly we worked on a long line on self-control. We did a short bit with him dragging the line, but because the humans weren't together and the sheep were bolting in 3 different directions, it was a disaster. So we went back to leash work. But even during the chaos of the chasing (and the leaping sheep), I don't think Dazzle was completely in lizard brain. I think there was thinking going on. He just had no idea how to group them, so he chased them one at a time. He calmed down pretty easily right afterward.
His self-control was good for the most part, but sheep are SO hard to behave around! Especially ones prone to that exciting bolting behavior! LOL At one point, he decided that a cat that wandered into the pen might be easier to herd :-)
I couldn't set the camera in a place to get the whole ring, so there's a lot of gaps. But I think you'll get the idea. What we mostly were working on was his choosing to stay along the fence (where the "bubble" was) and not rushing straight at them. A few times it was my poor leash handling and inability to keep up with him that caused him to go straight at them when the line got tight.
It was 2 long sessions with several short breaks in which we didn't leave the pen. Between the 2 sessions, we did come out and Dazzle played with some sticks in the shade, then was ready to go back in. The videos are edited for length.
I think Dazzle was sensing that I had no idea what I was doing and so he wasn't listening to my cues as much as normal (that and the fact that there were SHEEP mom! SHEEP!)
Part 1 (9:11 min):
Part 2 (6:56 min):

July 06, 2009

Not much new

I spent the first part of last week just getting caught up on all the stuff that piled up during my time away at camp. The first day back, Dazzle mostly slept. I think he was still recovering from camp too :-) But by Wed./Thursday he was starting to get stir crazy. Mike said he was making up his own games in the yard which included high leaps for no apparent reason other than joyful energy, rolling around, pouncing on invisible toys (bugs maybe?) and running full speed. The other dogs were giving him room and staying inside because his energy levels were higher than they wanted to deal with! So I had to be sure to put aside time for training and ball throwing to keep him happy :-)
We're pretty much back on schedule now and I'm mostly caught up and Dazzle is sleeping in front of the A/C vent. I have gotten info on some herding trials coming up next month and in September and I hopefully now have a time set aside to work him with some sheep. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that his natural talent will get us through the instinct tests :-) After that, I'll need to do more work with him.
As I suspected, Dazzle had NO problem with the fireworks on the 4th that we could see and hear all around our house. He went out and played in the yard like he didn't notice it sounded like WWIII was taking place :-) Bear also spent most of the evening sitting on the back step watching the light show. Coyote, on the other hand wasn't willing to stick more than the tip of his nose out the dog door even if Mike and I were outside. Thankfully for him, people around here only shoot fireworks ON the 4th of July and not every evening starting in June and going nearly into Aug. like it was at the old house.
I took avantage of the overcast filtered light yesterday and took the photo shown above. I love the way it turned out! Dazzle is still 24" tall and also 24" long, so he fits the breed standard of being "square" in proportion :-) I haven't weighed him lately, but would guess he's between 55 (the last known weight) and 60 pounds. I need to get an updated "family" photo since the last one I have was from Christmas.
I'll post more after we play with the sheep :-)

July 01, 2009

Videos and photos

I finally had a chance to edit the photos and videos from camp. Not many this time, but some good ones!
This is several Dog Scouts in full uniform. Dazzle is far to the right because the other Belgian "Grrr'd" at him and he was respectfully giving him plenty of distance.

This is a photo of the ribbons we won at the C-Wags event on our way to camp. It also shows the trophy we won at camp, but I have a better photo of that near the bottom. While at my parent's house for the C-Wags event, I took some portrait type photos of Dazzle. He's becoming quite the handsome dog!
I think he's smiling for the camera in this one :-)
At camp, the Steers (fellow campers) took some nice photos of Dazzle doing dock diving. Can you say "Flying Maligator"? A link to his Dock Diving video is below all the photos.
Patiently (or is that not so patiently) waiting for the cue to move!
I have no idea how far he's jumping, but it looks good to me! I'm going to enter him in a Dock Dogs competition in MI the Sunday following the July camp- wish us luck!
Another flying maligator! If his front legs were out he would look like "super dog!"
"Can you see my badges?"
Here's a close-up of the trophy. He did really well so I did feel like I was dancing with the star! We took 1st place in the "staff" division. Link to the video is below.
VIDEO: Dock Diving