Saturday, June 8, 2013

Around The Town

 I have been trying to take pics of things I do with Ben--sometimes the camera works well, sometimes it doesn't.  Which is why I have no pics of him graduating from 2nd Grade and only one of Friday Chess Nights.  It's been a fun couple of months!
PS You will note I finally figured out how to get the dates correct on my camera!

Subbing in for mom and dad at Book Author Day
Waiting for the game to begin


Halftime Break

Uh - Oh! Man down!!

Second Grade Graduate!!

Ben posing under the newspaper article about himself
Ben and his 2nd Grade teacher-Ms. Kelly

A typical Friday Chess night at Tropical Smoothie

Bowling--those Wii lessons are really paying off!

Just a little excited over his bowling wins

Germantown Charity Horse Show Grand Prix

Ben-- the horse photographer

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dang Smart Dog

Yep, I got me a dang smart dog!  Spice has a very good memory and I think I may have lit the fire yesterday.  Today we spent another 5 minutes on happy heeling and today she actually was bouncing on her front legs and wagging her tail!  Again it was only 3-6 steps at a time, but ya gotta start somewhere, right?
A couple of finishes thrown in and I think I know what my sticky point is on that.  When I am getting her into heel position I often us "get back" which she understands.  When I do the swing finish I've been using a "swing" command.  That is only about 50% effective without a hand signal.  Lightbulb moment!  I experimented using "get back" instead of "swing".  Updates on whether that ups our effectiveness in later posts.
I decided that putting off open training was just silly on my part.  This dog is not going to get confused and she gets as bored as I do with too much novice and repetition.  Today's sit,down,stand,down work was briefly reviewed and then I started giving her the down command from a distance.  Okay, so it was only three feet.  We tried it twice, she came into me on the second attempt and laid down.  No treats for that.  She did a slow down from three feet the next two times--PARTY!!  But of course I pushed and tried for one more.  Big mistake on my part!!!!  Collies do not like to repeat over and over the same exercises.  For reference see Bryce and his refusal to do jumpers with weaves or too many rally courses in a day.  Spice complied but I did nothing productive with that last one than confuse and piss off my dog. 
We took a short break and sat on the front stoop to see where her dumbbell retrieve is.  Again, I will admit that teaching the retrieve ranks right up there with heeling and the broad jump for me.  I have trouble focusing on it, why should Spice be any different?  Amazingly she totally remembered the clicker--what's not to like, click-treat-click-treat.  Spice gets it, I can see it on her face.  I hold the dumbbell. She poked the dumbbell right away and got a click-treat.  After a few of those I moved to waiting for her to mouth it.  She took a few seconds and then started putting her mouth on it. Click-treat.  Then I waited for her to actually take it in her mouth.  This took much longer.  I remember this part.  She mouths it, wags her tail, cocks her head and looks cute.  No click-treat for that Spice!  We got three really good take it in her mouth and we quit.  My hip started to hurt from sitting on the steps and I was almost out of hot dogs. 
I don't know what we will accomplish tomorrow.  Ben has a chess tourney and then we are going to the Germantown Charity Horse Show to see the big Grand Prix event in the evening. 
I would like to get out the jumps tho...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 2013

Present day Tennessee...

After a couple of months of settling in to our new space, Spice and I, well more I, are going to start training again.  I have no idea if we will ever compete again but it makes both of us happy to train.
It's been a great time here.  I have gotten to catch up on life with my sis, can now navigate around the area without getting lost, just a note here--all roads lead to Poplar and from Poplar I can find my way home.  Who needs Garmin? 
Ben has been a joy and I have cherished the time going to soccer games, chess nights, watching him earn his Tae Kwon Do yellow belt, filling in for mom and dad at school book day, seeing him graduate from second grade, teaching him about volleyball and flag football (who knew I was such a font of info?), playing board games, Wii sports (found out I only do Bowling with any accuracy) and Mario Kart is our latest thing. 

Spice is teetering on the edge of being ready for novice obedience.  Her heeling is the only true obstacle to our success.  This is entirely my fault.  For the past two decades all of my obedience dogs have stunk at heeling.  Not just off leash heeling either.  I believe it is because I don't particularly find heeling very much fun and that translates directly to Spice.  She is pretty much in tune with my thoughts, feelings and physical being.  Dang it...
After a consultation with my training mentor, Sahra, we are going to re-train or maybe a better way to put it is to learn to have fun with heeling.  Today we spent a total of 5 minutes on heeling.  I got out the hot dogs which is a Spice favorite and we did some very short heeling with many food rewards, continuous chatter from me about what a good dog she is, marking the good stuff with Yes and all in sessions of about 3 to 6 steps each.  I didn't get bored, Spice didn't bored and it was all positive.  I didn't worry if she sat when I stopped, only that she was rewarded for happy, focused heeling.  Then I threw in about a minute of refreshers on focus.  She remembered all that she learned an eon ago.  So I can raise both arms at shoulder height and she will focus on my face without any verbal encouragement with about 90% accuracy.  Good girl Spice!  One happy at a trot recall, two sit-down-stand-downs, and two swing finishes (one verbal, one signal) and we were done.  Ten minutes tops and I nearly had to drag her back into the house. 

I think tomorrow we will start working on getting a happy dumbell retrieve--she loves the stuffies, but I don't think retrieving Ben's monkey over the high jump will be allowed.