Saturday, December 15, 2012

December-Keegs Christmas Serenade

It is a busy month and classes are now over until January.  Probably won't get much training in but we may be able to make to a fun match on Monday and maybe a CPE trail at the end of the month.

This video was from a few years ago; I always like to post it again at the time of year. I just love the kids laughter and you just have to smile when you hear Keegs and the kids.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Kiah, Keegan and me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Backyard Training

Today is another Dog Agility Blog Event Day - December 5, 2012; please visit all the blogs at: (  Please leave comments, we all enjoy hearing what you have to say.

I don't have a lot of agility equipment at home or a lot of room in our backyard so a lot of our "backyard training" is working on focus or working with 4 jumps. My yard is not fenced either so working a small area makes it easier to keep the dogs in my yard.  I do have a set of 12 weaves loaned to me from a friend and will have them until her puppy is ready to start training on them later next spring.  I leave them in the basement since they are metal and too heavy to move back and forth.  If the weather is bad I have an option to get some practice in on weaves and can still work on focus.

So what can I do with just focus and 4 jumps, a lot!!!!!  I can set up small sequences to practice treadles, serpentine's, go outs, 270's, 90's, front crosses, rear crosses, obstacle discrimination, pull and pushes just to name a few.  Where do I get these sequences?  If we have a particular problem in a class I can pull a short sequence from our problem area; for example, if we have a problem on obstacle discrimination even though it was not a jump, I can put a jump where the obstacle was and practice the correct sequence.  Another source is Steve Schwarz's ( jump box drills. Steve also has a course box jump generator you can use to create a course you want to work on or you can create your own course from the "blank" course generator (

In the winter we do our "backyard training" with classes plus I am lucky that our club allows the members to have a key to the building so we can train when no classes are being held at the facility. We also do some short sequence work there along with full courses if they are setup. My basement is not finished and has a very smooth concrete floor so I don't do any jumps there in the winter. Someday I would like to put some matting in the basement so I could do more at home.  I do have rugs under the weaves so the dogs can get a grip or it would be too dangerous to let them weave. 

I know that I will get some great ideas from the other bloggers participating in this topic and hope you will check out all their blogs too.

Run clean, run fast :-)


Monday, December 03, 2012

Forest City Nov-Dec Trial

It was a wonderful long weekend; the trial was so much fun and our club workers make it such a good experience.  I worked in the office this year helping enter sheets, getting info ready for the judge to review, got results filed in the books and  labels out to those who had Q'd.  I have to give so much credit to trial secretaries, can't believe how much work they do in preparing, working during the trial and the post work that makes a trial run so well.  Renee Fulcer is our trial secretary and she is just awesome so if you are looking for a great person to run your trial check her out at her event page

Kiah and Keegs did well this weekend, Kiah got her Open title in standard and her first leg in Ex A jumpers. Keegs got a leg each in his Open Jumpers and Open Standard.  I really have to work on moving, keeping ahead of them and my front crosses (UGH!!!!).  I really need to work on distance with Keegs, teach him to go out and work direction better.  Kiah and I need to work more on communication, she sometimes anticipates what she thinks the next jump will be and takes it without checking or listening to me.  I also have to work on queuing her faster.

I will post their scores once they are published.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

November 2012

November 23 & 25-Went to the club to practice both days.  Started out running the full course with both, then worked Keegs on short courses with rear crosses and "outs" to jumps, he is really starting to get it.  Kiah knew the course, so I worked on pulling her off the next obstacle so she would pay attention to me and not take what she thinks should be next.  She watched and listened so much better after she figured out it wasn't going to be the same sequence each time we ran.  Our club's 3 day trial is coming up next weekend and really looking forward to it.  It is always a great experience and I love to hear all the positive comments about the trial.

November 14 -  Was able to fit a class in last night for both Kiah and Keegan, it was really great to see everyone and how well their dogs are doing.  Keegs did well once the instructor reminded me to keep moving, he wants to be with me and if I slow down to wait for him he stops.  Kiah was really excited to be there and did awesome except for the times I forgot the course, whoops :-(     She did catch a smell at the tunnel on the second run and it was tough getting her away from it but she finished the course like a pro!  Love those two, so blessed to have them in my life.

November 4 - Went to the club yesterday am to help with the work getting ready for the trial at the end of the month.  We added more pellets to the turf, a couple of places were low.  Also I was asked to help keep the agility pages updated on the club's website; it will be fun.  They were going to have a open practice later in the day but I didn't have the dogs with me and a few things I had to do when I got home so they left the equipment up for me to use this morning.

I worked Keegs on rear crosses and go outs, he did really well.  Ran the easy course first and then ran the more difficult course with him 3 times.  Kiah and I worked on discrimination's and watching me so I can pull her off the off course obstacles.  My timing is getting better and she is watching more.  A great way to start the day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Follow my posts

Just added a "Follow" button to my blog.  Please click on it to follow us.  Not quite sure how this works but thought it would be fun to see how many people will follow us.

Barb, Kiah & Keegan

Monday, October 08, 2012

October, 2012

October 20, 2012 Car-Dun-Al Trial:
No Q's on Saturday but had a lot of fun at the trial and I see improvements on both Kiah and Keegan.  Keegs had to wait a long time before he ran so he had a great time running around to visit bar setters and see what is going on. Kiah did pretty well on her ExA JWW run, she had her moments of being distracted by something at the weaves but she recovered well and did not shut down.  On her open standard run she thought the smells were much more interesting then running the course with me.  Video's of Kiah ExA run and Keegs Open Standard run.

October 14 - Went to the club this morning and practiced on a fun standard course.  The club left it up from the Friday night's run thru so people could use it to practice.  Kiah and Keegs did really well and pretty much wore me out.

Worked distance and discrimination obstacles with them.  Kiah is listening to me more and I am giving her faster cues.  Keegs pretty much watches me so I worked some more rear crosses with him. The rear crosses  still confuse him a bit and he will spin after the jump to follow me but he is getting better.

We have a trial this Saturday and if the weather is cool enough I may crate them in the car. The place has a small crating area and I hate to set up just to have to take down again that evening besides I'd prefer leaving spaces for those who are trialing both days.

October 8 -I missed classes last week due to a migraine so nothing to report on classes.  Classes are done for this session and I am not registering since the Wednesday classes will be discontinued due to an outside group renting the facility.  Our classes have changed to Tuesdays and Thursdays which I cannot make.  I am taking a class at the local community college on Tuesdays and sub for a bowling league on Thursdays.  I should be free on Tuesday since this is only a 6 week class at the community college for the session starting in January. 

I am continuing to work Keegs on his weaves and he is doing so much better. I am moving faster and trying to build some distance.  Since we can't make classes this session I plan to work them on Sunday's at the club, not as good as a class but it will work for the short amount of time we are off.

We have a one day trial coming up on October 20 and a 1 day and 3 day trial (our club's trial)  in November.  I usually don't do any trials after that as I never know what the weather is going to be like and hate to skip a trial due to weather.  Our first trial will be in March back at the club again.

More later on our training sessions at the club........

Friday, September 28, 2012

September Trial

September 29, 2012 - No Q's for Kiah, her runs were a bit up and down but her attitude continues  to be positive and that is all I really am looking for now.

Keegs was having a grand old time on his Open JWW run, popped out of the weaves and missed one jump but he sure had fun.  Gotta smile at his antics.  He did settle down a bit for his Novice Standard run and now has his Novice Title in Standard.  He is picking up some speed, we were 10 seconds under standard time where we have been previously close or overtime.  He got a nice Title ribbon. 

September 28, 2012 (excellent only) - Kiah's Excellent A JWW run was a bit fast and wild, she took the discrimination jumps so I was getting her back on track several times.  She kept her enthusiasm and was having fun so that is what counts.

Kiah and I go to the K-9 Agility trial in New Berlin this afternoon for our first Excellent only trial.  The doors open at 1pm and the trial starts at 2pm; Kiah will run only a leg in 20" Excellent A preferred, she is still in Open in standard.  The class goes from tall to small so it won't be a late day for us.  I don't plan to take Keegs but he will be going tomorrow and  I will just set up for him today.  It will be a long day tomorrow with Kiah in Excellent JWW and Open Standard and Keegs in Open JWW but still in Novice Standard which will run small to tall.  I am hoping Keegs will be able to get his Novice Standard title so we will be done with Novice.  It would be nice if Kiah got her Open title too but I am still focusing on her enjoying herself and not getting her stressed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September Classes

September 27, 2012:  The classes (same for both novice and open) was broken down into 3 sections, contacts with tunnel discrimination, difficult entries to weaves and jump course with either a serpentine or threadle.  Kiah did really well  but didn't want to overdue since we have the trial coming up Friday so we just worked each area twice.

WOW!  Keegs did so much better on his weaves, only popped out once or twice and is picking up some speed.  I am so proud that he is doing so well on his weaves plus he did his contacts, paid attention to me and did his discrimination challenge and even did a serpentine without any issues.  Did the same with him but we did work the weaves more times just to give him some practice.

September 19, 2012:  Keegs is beginning to pick up some speed and I can work him at a little more distance.  Weaves is still our biggest issue, this week training is going to be on entrances and not popping out of the weaves when I am on his right.

Kiah was awesome, still doing great with distance unless my signals are a bit too late or not clear.  She is focusing on me and having a good time so that is all I ask of her.

Trial coming up at the end of the month, same place we were in August so hopefully Keegs will do better.  Kiah will run Friday in excellent a, should be a short day since it is excellent only.  Hoping that Kiah gets her Open Standard on Saturday and Keegs his Novice Standard.  Then no more novice classes and the last dog of the day!!!!!  Didn't enter on Sunday, we all 3 need a rest and play day.

September 12, 2012:  It was so good to get back to classes, see everyone and get a good workout.  I was surprised at how well both Kiah and Keegs did without any training for 3 weeks.  I think they were happy to be back and I am sure getting those special treats doesn't hurt.

Christine, my instructor, creates fun but challenging courses; this week it was a jumpers course.  Kiah and I had fun, confused her a bit with some of my handling but she was a good sport and carried on.  She amazes me, she is sooo good with distance and gets better all the time.  It sure gives me more confidence in running her.   

Keegs course was Kiah's jumpers course but modified for his novice level. We did do 12 weave poles which is good since he is now in Open in jumpers.  He is picking up speed on his weaves (his good side) but continues to pop out on his bad side.  His good side is with me on the other side of the weaves and his bad when I am on the other side of him.  Either I am doing something I don't realize or he just doesn't get it yet.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What makes a good coach or instructor?

Today is another Dog Agility Blog Event Day - September 5, 2012; please visit all the blogs at: (

Another great topic.  I have been so lucky, most of my instructors have been wonderful and I have learned a lot from each one of them.  Actually I have learned quite a bit from the few instructors I had who weren't so good too.

Now that I have been in agility for a few years if someone asked me what they should look for in an instructor for a beginner I would have to say, go watch a few classes in your area.  Look for an instructor with a positive attitude and see if the students in their classes are having fun as they learn.  Find one where the instructor has a good relationship with both handlers and dogs.  Notice if their classes are small enough so each team gets equal time with the instructor and if the class level is balanced.  Are the teams a mixture of advanced along with beginners where the beginners take up all the time and the more advanced teams don't get feedback or help?  That may sound good to a beginner but as you progress you don't want to be the one who doesn't get much input.

Safety is a big issue for me especially with a beginner team.  The very first agility class I took was with an instructor who was nice as she could be.  I wasn't aware she had never done any classes prior to the one I was taking.  As we were learning obstacles, she had them at full height rather than a training height for beginners dogs.  My dog had no problem going up the teeter but when it bounced off the floor she freaked out.  It took months and a different instructor to get her over her fear of teeters.  Having the obstacles at full height was dangerous for those beginner dogs and we were lucky no one was hurt.

Some instructors prefer different systems of training developed by other advanced handlers which in itself is not a bad thing as long as they are open minded enough to realize that it may not work for all dogs.  Your instructor should be knowledgeable enough to have several different approaches to handling and/or training.  The instructor should also be open minded enough to listen to a handler if they have an idea or tried something at home that seemed to work better. 

A instructor should be able to give constructive criticism without demoralizing the handler or putting down a specific breed saying it should not do agility.  I have sadly seen instructors say if they want to do well in agility they should get a different breed of dog; they will never get a Champion title in agility with the breed they have.  How sad is that??????

Personally I prefer classes for training, I like having other people, dogs around to help with socialization and preparing for trials.  I prefer private lessons for specific issues that just can't be addressed in a class setting.  If I hadn't done private lessons with Kiah I believe we would never have come as far as we have this year.

As I said in the beginning I have been really pleased with almost all of my instructors, their attitudes, knowledge and the commitment to their students.  I admire them for the amount of time it takes to prepare for classes, researching problems or ideas to help their students become successful and just for the commitment it takes to want to be an instructor.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and please visit the others too.  I know I will :-) 

Please feel free to leave comments, I love hearing from others. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

August Trial

Over all a great weekend, Keegs got more trial experience in a larger venue with 2 rings and strange disembodied voices that said "Ready" and the count down for the table.  We sat near the speaker on Sunday for the excellent standard so he would get used to the voice and he did well after a while.  I think it helped that a friend held him while I walked a course and videoed a friend. I think Keegs fell in love with her, she was so good with him.  He just sat there contentedly while she petted him.   

As usual Kiah had her ups and downs.  Saturday she got her Open P Jumpers title!!!!!!!! Finally in Excellent A; exciting and scary at the same time. Her standard run was tentative but she did have some wonderful moments.  I was told that I am not the same handler as when I run her in Jumpers and that could be a big part of her problem in Standard.  Too careful due to the contacts etc!

Sunday we had a wild run on Jumpers but it was wonderful to see her up and animated, that was a fun run.  Standard was a no go, she just stood and looked around so I pulled her.

The first run on the video is Kiah's last leg for her Open title; the second run on the video is her first run in Excellent A.  It scared me when she knocked the bar but she kept going and wasn't limping so we went on.  The third run on the video was Keegan last run of the trial, Novice Std.  I messed him up, we were supposed to go right to the A-Frame.  I was pleased that I could keep his attention as much as I did, the rest of his runs he had no interest in being out there.  For the open & novice the judge did a manual count, not sure why.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August Classes

Probably won't be going to classes for the next few weeks :-(  I work at a 2-year college and we are preparing for students to come back to classes.  I normally work 60-65 hours and work two to three weeks straight without any time off preparing computer labs and updating computers for faculty-staff. The first week of classes is really hectic so will probable miss that too.  I hope to be back to classes on September 12; sure do miss class and my agility friends. 
August 22, 2012 - No classes for us this week, my brother-in-law's father passed away and the Visitation will be Wednesday evening.

August 15, 2012 - The new session of classes are starting tonight, really excited to see how things go.  I have been bad and haven't done a lot of practicing with either Kiah or Keegan.  Hopefully it was a nice break for them and they will be ready to go.  More later.....

We worked on obstacle discrimination and weaves in both classes, a little difference in the courses for the different levels but a challenge for both, Kiah & Keegan.  Was happy we were able to work on weaves with Keegs.  He has a hard time with rear crosses too, he spins right after the obstacle wondering where the heck I went.  Kiah is wonderful with rear crosses, good thing since I am usually running behind her.

Got to see my friends new Border Collie puppy, what a cutie he is.  He is going to be one awesome obedience and agility dog.

Classes won't start back up until the week of August 13,2012 so I plan to make notes on our training progress.  We will have some fun classes during the break and will see how those go if we go to them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

July Trial

July 28-29, 2012 -American Belgian Malinois Club Trial, Camp Bandy, WI -

Keegs got his Novice Jumpers title on Sunday; no other Q's but some nice runs and most important is he is having fun out there running the courses.

Kiah had her ups and downs. Her last run on Sunday was her jumpers run, she had a wrong course but it was an awesome run.  She was up and having fun, even though she had the wrong course she recovered, didn't freak out and finished well.  Overall I am happy with her and her runs.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July Classes

Classes are going well for both Kiah and Keegs.  Keegs is still having problems with weaves, he does much better at home.  I am sure one day it will click and he will have great weaves; the potential is there.

Week of 7/16/12- Missed class with Keegan, he was limping Sunday evening but seems to be doing much better now.  Hopefully we will be able to make it next Monday but if he is still favoring it I won't take him to class as we have a trial next weekend and I want him better for it.  We will see how things go.  Missed Kiah's class too, had bad weather and finally some rain so stayed home to enjoy it and not fight traffic to class.

Week of 7/23/12 - Keegs is still favoring his leg a little (although it doesn't seem to slow him down in the least bit when he is outside) so we didn't go to class. I think last night's class was his last one before the next session.  After the trial this weekend he will have a couple of weeks to recover.  I hope I don't have to pull him from the trial but I will if he looks the least bit uncomfortable.  I am also going to setup an appointment with a Chiro to have him adjusted to see if that helps.

Kiah's classes were fun; practiced different crosses and did mini courses.  Those are fun for Kiah, she gets treats and toys after only doing a few obstacles which keeps her spirits up.  Next week is make up for July 4th class and we will do a fun class on Tuesdays during the 2 week of break.  Wonderful news, Kiah and Keegs will be going on the same night to class, no more driving 2 days a week.  Ky's class will be at 6pm and Keegs class will be at 7pm on Wednesdays. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June Trials

June 30-July 1, 2012 - Forest City Trial: 
What a wonderful weekend for my two awesome Boxers.  My boy Keegan did me proud by qualifying in all 4 of his novice P runs with a 1st (std) & 2nd (JWW) on Saturday.  Sunday he got a 2nd (std) and a 1st (JWW).  He seems to be having a great time and he is so much fun to run with.  He is still pretty much a pre-novice dog and we have both have a lot to learn about running with each other but we are getting there.

Kiah is doing so much better at trials then she used to.  She is beginning to show more energy and enthusiasm and I am pleased with her progress.  Saturday she did well, no Q's but I was happy with her runs.  Sunday she qualified in both of her runs with a 3rd in std and a 2nd in JWW.  I was especially happy with her JWW run.  She is still a bit slow on her weaves but at least she is doing them, just have to make them more fun for her again.  Kiah now has 2 legs in both OpenP Std & OpenP JWW.

Our next trial will be the last weekend of July, so we will have some rest time but will continue with our training.

Kiah's videos:

Keegan's videos:

June 23, 2012 - Cudahy Trial - Novice and Open only:
Had so much fun at the Cudahy trial with Kiah and Keegan.  Kiah didn't do so well on her first run (standard), she wanted her toy so when I released her at the start line she took off to get her toy and the judge whistled us off :-(    Keegs did well for his second trial and the first time away from the club. On his standard run, he didn't do the weaves and missed a jump but got all of his contacts.  He had a great time and so did I.

Kiah did so much better on her jumpers run, she had energy and seemed to be enjoying herself more.  No dragging her head or sniffing the ground which is a big improvement for her.  Her video is posted below.

Keegs did the whole JWW course but I am not sure of his time or how many faults he had.  Cudahy only posted the dogs who qualified so I am not sure how close he came.  It was a fun run and I am so proud of him and his progress.

Here is Kiah's run:

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Positively ATTITUDE!

Dog Agility Blog Event Day - June 6, 2012; please visit all the blogs at: (

What I have learned:

Wow, so much has to do with "Attitude" so where do I start?   I guess a good place to start would be a quote; For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” Harry F. Banks. While it is a great quote, I would change it to "For success in agility a positive attitude is essential".  It is not something which was learned recently or over a period of time, my trainers have always mentioned a positive attitude would be essential to our success as a team.  As with many things in life knowing something and practicing it can often be difficult.

When I first started to write this I had planned on going a different direction, mentioning many things you hear from trainers about keeping a positive attitude, some suggestions on keeping training fun, etc. and did leave some of it at the end of this post.  Then as I was thinking about what else to write I started thinking about all that I had learned about myself and my particular problems keeping a positive attitude.  Figured that maybe others of you had similar experiences and could relate to mine so that is how I ended up with this kind of funky and disjointed post. 

OK, I am going to bare my soul which is very difficult for me.  Please don't think this is an excuse, that I am feeling sorry for myself or don't like who I am.  In fact I do like myself, am happy with the person I have become and proud of the accomplishments in my life.  Just as with many others there are some hurdles which get in the way of staying positive in certain situations.  I am an "introvert", very introverted, probably 27 or 28 "true" responses to the 29 questions of "Are you an Introvert" ( so some things are difficult for me.  I am also a bit shy, not as shy as I was as a child and young adult but still shy in new situations.  I never really read about being an introvert until recently, I always kind of mixed up shyness with introversion and never understood why I was just so down and tired after doing a trial.  Here is a part of a definition about  having an "introvert" personality that opened my eyes and sums up how I feel.

Introverts tend to get their energy from within, so being with people is draining. After a day filled with people or activities, introverts tend to feel exhausted and empty. To recharge their batteries introverts need to be alone reading, daydreaming, painting, or gardening – any solo activity fills them up again. This doesn't mean introverts have to live alone in a cave in the hills or on Walden Pond; they just need quiet time to come back to themselves. (

This is so true for me.  Probably that drain of energy and emotion is communicated to my dogs in those types of situations.  Don't get me wrong, I love being around people especially family, close friends and agility people.  I always look forward to going to trials or would never have continued in agility.  I will admit it is often difficult at a trial to keep myself positive and up even when enjoying myself.  There has to be a lot of agility people who are introverted so if any of you other introverts out there have some tips on how you keep yourself positive please feel free to comment, any suggestions would be appreciated.  OK enough of that, just wanted to point out what I've learned about myself and something which I need to learn to overcome to be successful.

The following are some observations learned while training and helpful hints from others:
I think one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is having fun is contagious.  If I am projecting positive vibes, my boxers will perk up and have fun.  When I see them having fun it pumps me up and we end up having a wonderful time.  I try to keep training sessions short and always finish on a "positive" note.  Don't train the same thing over and over, vary what you are training so it doesn't become boring or frustrating to either of you.  Don't push your dog into something they are not ready to do, give them time to acclimate themselves to a situation before putting them into it.

Things I found I need to work at the hardest:
Stress is just as contagious as having fun; if I see Kiah becoming stressed at a trial I stress more which in turn makes her more stressed.  I have to learn to ignore that stress and just plan to have fun when we run no matter what happens.  Kiah needs a lot of positive praise when running at a trial, I find myself (and others have told me) praising her but not with the enthusiasm that gets her going.  I tend to concentrate on running the course rather than running her and having fun.

I have learned so much from working with Kiah, sadly due to making many mistakes with her.  Hopefully those mistakes will benefit future dogs with my being a more positive and happy trainer.  A trainer that learns to enjoy the experience more and doesn't over think every situation or experience.  Keegan still seems to be enjoying himself at trials although we have only done one so far, he will be doing two trials at the end of June.  Depending on how he does at these two trials will determine whether he will do any others this summer or wait to the club's trial in December.  He will go slowly and not be pushed into situations he is not prepared to handle.  

That is all I have to say for now and I hope you visit the other blogs on "Attitude" and other articles.  I am looking forward to reading them and know I will learn something from each one.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

June Classes

June 18-20, 2012 - Keegs and Kiah classes:
Didn't make it to Keegan's class, had a migraine and it was way to hot to deal with a headache.  Kiah's class was fun, we did several short sequences instead of running a whole course.  It was great for what we are trying to do with Kiah to get her back to enjoying agility more which will hopefully transition to a trial.  She got lots of praise, treat and toy rewards at the end of each sequence. 

June 17, 2012 - Practice session:
My friend met me at the club and we did some short practice sequences with Ky and Keegs.  One person at the end of a line of jumps or contact, calling with lot of praise and treats at the end. Keegs was having a blast and actually did better than Kiah with a line of jumps.  Never thought Keegs would go so fast on the A-Frame that he would miss a contact but he did so we worked on him hitting his contacts. Ran a course at the end but both were tired and hot so we quit. 

June 11 & 13, 2012 - Keegan & Kiah's classes:
With this warm weather, Keegs tires out pretty quickly but he tries and he is making progress each week.  Kiah continues to do really well in class unless I mess up on my handling.  Sometimes I forget to give her precise commands or not early enough as if she can read my mind. She amazes me sometimes and I do think she does read me really well.

June 6, 2012 - Kiah's class:
I have to say she is just awesome in class, if only I can bring just a little of that to a trial we would do so well.  I am working with a trainer on short sequences to get her excited again and I can tell she is having furn.

June 4, 2012- Keegan's class:
Good class last night, started out kind of warm in the building but the AC finally kicked in and it was cool.  Keegs did so well, he is beginning to pick up some speed doing his weaves.  We are doing some distance exercises and he did pretty good.  I am excited to see how he will do in his second trial the end of June.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Web Design

I have been working on starting a web and blog design freelance business.  I am in Information Technology and don't know why I haven't thought about doing this sooner.  It all started when a friend asked me to help update her blog and website, it had been a while since I had done any designing but decided to help her anyway.  It was so much fun and absolutely loved doing it, so much so I wanted to do some more.

My business is called "Fire Dogs Web Design"  after my two boxer's AKC  "Fire" theme names.  I have my domain and a free hosted website which I will use until I finish designing my website and get my logo created.  If you get a chance please visit my blog and website:

Sunday, May 06, 2012

May Trials

May 26-27, 2012 Smack Dab Trial (Naperville)

The Thundershirt and calming spray seemed to help while walking around at the trial but not so much during the runs.  I think it has gotten to be pretty much habit that she dreads getting out on the course and running.  She did have moments of doing a few obstacles but mostly she just sauntered around and took her time.

On Saturday, if she had been a bit faster we would have Q'd in JWW but ended up 13 seconds over with a refusal the first time on weaves.  I did get out in front of her and run more than I usually do at trials but it didn't work in the other runs.

Plan to schedule some sessions in July with a trainer to see if we can't get back on track.  Two trials coming up in June; a small venue with only novice and open dogs on Saturday June 23rd and my clubs trial the end of June.  Both Kiah and Keegan will be entered in those.  There is one in July but not sure if Keegan will be entered or not, closing date will be before he runs in June so I will have to think about it. I do plan to enter Kiah in July.  Work is hectic in August so will not schedule any trials that month and may even skip September but will depend on how they both do in June and Kiah in July.

May12-13, 2012 Lyons Township Dog Club (Villa Park) - 

It was not a good weekend for us again.  I thought since we were running FAST first thing in the morning Kiah would not be too stressed or tired of being crated and we would do OK.  Not the case, the whole day she was slow or just did well on small segments of the course.  Sunday was even worse, in JWW the judge made a comment that she thought she was done :-(  and we left.  Renee, a trainer and friend ran her in Standard for me.  She tried something a bit different with her; she sat on a chair in the staging area not playing with her just trying to get Kiah relaxed.  Kiah was still slow, finished the course at 70 seconds and SCT was 76.  Renee was right in her face, calling, clapping and praising her and ended up with a Q.  I plan to try the same thing with her along with her Thundershirt to see if that helps her relax.  If she is relaxed I won't get as tense and not stress her out even more. 

May 4-5, 2012  Northwest Obedience Club (Crystal Lake) -

It wasn't our best weekend, Friday was a really long day, there had been really bad storms the night before and our JWW judge was not able to land at the Chicago Airport.  By the time she was able to land the next day and get to the trial we started 3 hours late; thank goodness it was JWW and not Standard.  Kiah was pretty stressed out which stressed me out and our runs were not good at all.  I did pull her in Jumpers she just had no interest at all.

Saturday it was a bit better, we got to the trial about an 1.5 hours before we ran but she was still stressed even with Keegan there.  I am not sure what to do for her to make her more comfortable but did just order her a thundershirt to see if that will help her.  I hope it gets here before next weekend for our next trial.  I don't think I will take Keegs with us and see if I can bring her out more to see if that helps.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

May Classes

Last two weeks in May is the break between sessions so no classes until June.

Kiah & Keegan - May 14 &16, 2012
Last class of the session and we did our testing to see if either would go up to the next class.  They think Keegan needs more experience and confidence so he is staying in his class.  Kiah got excellent on all of her tests but we don't have an Open title so we are not eligible to move up.  I am happy that we are staying in our classes since Keegs does need more confidence and the open class for Kiah is fun and challenging.

Keegan - May 7, 2012
Keegs continues to improve, still need some work on rear crosses, as he spins if he doesn't see me on the same side I was prior to his jump.  Can't rear cross too soon or he spins right before the jump.  Still practicing weaves so he gets used to me doing both sides.

Kiah - May 2, 2012
A really fast, fun jumpers course last night. Kiah had a great attitude and was having fun even though I gave her some confusing signals. I kept forgetting where to go on the course but she stuck right with me and was ready to go when I figured it out. If she does half as well at the trial this weekend and I remember where I am going we should have some fantastic runs and hopefully a Q or two. There should be several people there I know, if they stick around for open I hope to get some videos. I am excited about trialing again which is good since we have two more trials this month.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April classes

Keegan - April 30, 2012:
Keegs seems to have more problems with heat than Kiah does; he is my slobber, drool boy during classes. I will have to watch him carefully to make sure he doesn't overheat at a trial. We now have a set of 12 weaves a friend is loaning me for the summer so we will be able to practice more often. My weaves are all made out of PVC and they continuously fall over. I don't want to glue every connection or they are too hard to move to practice. The weaves my friend loaned me are more like the weaves at a trial, so much better!!!!!

Will start Kiah's in the May classes section.

Keegan - April 10-23, 2012:
Missed classes on the 16th but was able to be there on the 23rd. Still having issues with weaves but a friend is going to loan us her 12 pole weaves for the summer so we should be able to get in more practice. I have to keep going and not wait for him, if I slow down he gets distracted and then he misses obstacles or knocks bars. His next trial isn't until the middle of June so we have a fair amount of time to get extra practice in.
Kiah - April 12-25, 2012:
Missed her class on the 18th too. On the 25th we worked on distance, she is awesome with distance commands and we only had one area where we had some issues. At a trial I wouldn't have run her the way the instructor wanted us to run in practice so I don't think we would have that issue. It is good to practice different ways to see what will work and what won't work. Kiah's next trial is next weekend so it is coming up fast.
I don't think I will ever get as much distance with Keegan as I do with Kiah and that is OK. He is a different dog and he has a different personality. I can't box him into a running style that doesn't work for him, just find the way that works best for him where he has fun doing agility.
Kiah and I continue to do obedience several nights a week with a play session after with both dogs. Her spirits are still up when we run and seems to be having fun. No stressing at trials, have to keep that in mind and you will notice I keep writing it to remind myself.

Keegan - April 1-9, 2012:
Keegan is beginning to pick up on commands, still a lot to work to do but there is a big improvement especially on his weaves.  We are beginning to get some distance and he is doing some "sends" to equipment.  He appears to really like contact equipment since he will take those if he is confused about where I want him to go or we walk by them. Keegs won't be trialing until mid-June so we have some time to work on our weak points.

Kiah - April 1-11/2012:
Kiah continues to do really well in class.  No problems with weaves in class only at trials so I have gone back to treating or throwing a toy at the end of the weaves.  She still watches me and is awesome with "sends" and go outs.

Last night's class was so much fun, a really fast and challenging course practicing front, rear and blind crosses.  The first couple of runs we did really well but on one of the last runs I was apparently flapping my arms so Kiah had no idea where she needed to go.  Once I kept my arms up, she did well and took the jumps.  That is one of the things I will need to keep in mind not to do when we are trialing.

Another thing, before the first run I was warming her up and playing with her (no toys or treats) and she was having fun.  That first run was so fast and she really paid attention.  I didn't do that on the following runs and she was still fast but not as fast as the first run so another reminder "To have fun with your dog"!!!!!!  I have gotten better but still need to relax at trials and keep it fun for Kiah.

Monday, March 26, 2012

WAGS Agility Trial - March 23-25, 2012

It was an interesting and fun weekend but 3 days of trials with an hour and half drive one way made a long weekend for us.  On Friday, Kiah got her JWW title and 2nd place, I am so proud of her.  We are having some problems with weaves though, not sure what is going on and something we will have to work on. In standard, she took the dog walk instead of a jump and I am pretty sure by the confused way she looked at me I sent her there.  No videos this weekend so no way to verify it.

On Saturday, no Q's but no zooms and she watched me, so I am still really happy with her runs except the weaves in both JWW and Standard.

On Sunday, she got a Q in JWW, got the weaves on the second try was a bit slow and we were over time almost 4 seconds.  She was heading for a wrong jump but turned as soon as I called her and we finished the course without any other problems.  Std was another story, she did not want to be there; had to keep calling her to do obstacles, no weaves and no energy.  We did finish the course but I am sure we were way over time, never did check her stats.

I am thinking I may have given her and Keegs (he was there to keep her company)  too many rich treats after her JWW run.  When I got them home they both wanted to eat grass, Kiah ate enough to throw up and appeared to be more energetic afterwards.  Next trial more praise and less treats.

Kiah's  Q results are posted on the results page, didn't get any of the other run information and WAG only sends the qualifying information to you (found out later that they post all results on their web page so I have the information).  They are fast sending result information, got it last night only a few hours after the trial ended.

Decided no trials for us in April, just classes starting back up again this week.  Gas is high and I think Kiah needs a break for a while.  I plan to enter 3 trials in May but not sure about June yet besides the clubs trial at the end of June.  We will see how gas prices are at that time.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 17, 2012 Car-Dun-Al Agility Trial

We didn't do as well as I had hoped.  I could tell that Kiah was a bit anxious which stressed me so I wasn't as calm as I needed to be. Our first Open standard run was a bit slow, missed a jump and back jumped it, then she did not do the weaves correctly all 3 times. The last half of the course was good and we finished well.  In Novice jumpers we had two refusals and ended up 9 seconds over SCT due to several minor zooms.  The zooms weren't run around the course zooms and she came right back so that is an improvement.  I didn't bring Keegs with us but plan to bring him next weekend maybe with him there she won't be so stressed.  

I know I can't expect the same results as she had at our club where she is really comfortable but as long as she is having fun and continues to improve I will be happy.  I know the dogs in excellent have their good and bad days so I can't expect perfect results every time.  I will not get discouraged and will keep a positive attitude.

Monday, March 12, 2012

3/9-11/12 Forest City Agility Trial

What an awesome weekend; Kiah did well, I am so proud and happy with her progress.  On Friday she got a Q in Standard, first place and almost Q'd in Jumpers but the last bar fell.  She must have barely touched it since I didn't hear the tick.  Someone said I slowed down so it pulled her back a bit; my bad.

On Saturday, she did well again but I was kind of over excited in standard, she followed everything I told her to do (at least what she could figure out) so we didn't Q.  I calmed down in Jumpers but took her over the wrong jump on the way out so it was bad handler all day Saturday.

Sunday-Kiah was perfect and I did much better in my handling so we Q'd in both Standard and Jumpers.  She got a 2nd in Standard and a 1st in Jumpers.  This gave us our Novice Preferred Standard Title and our 2nd leg in Jumpers.  I am on cloud 9 to see what an improvement she is making and we are both having fun which is the best part.  I have videos I will post later.

Keegs, my silly, wonderful boy had fun at his first trial.  On Friday he didn't do much more than take a few obstacles and visit all the bar setters on the course.  Saturday was much better, not so much visiting and more obstacles and on Sunday he improved more.  This weekend was exactly what I wanted to see from him, since the trial was at the club it was a great place for him to get trial experience.  We may do a NADAC in April and then our club has another trial on June 30-July1 so I will enter him in that too.

I just have to add how wonderful agility people are; so many have seen our struggles the past few years and came up to us to congratulate us.  My club members have been so supportive and my trainers are the best in the world.  Renee and JoAnne thank you so much for helping us get this far and for your continued support.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

If I knew then what I know now - Don't get discouraged, it may take time.

Dog Agility Blog Event Day, please visit all the blogs (

I would like to share one of the most important lessons I have learned in the past year; don't get discouraged, it may take time.  I know everyone hears "this is supposed to be fun for you and your dog" when they are learning agility but hearing it and actual practice is often difficult when you are a beginner and have a beginner dog.

My Boxer Kiah is my first agility dog, she can do well in class situation but has a difficult time at a trial. I have some pretty awesome agility trainers and she knows her obstacles well.  After 2 years of trialing and not doing well at trials due to zooms, refusing to do equipment and inattention, I was really getting discouraged. It showed in my confidence, my lack of confidence in her at trials and trialing was no longer fun for either of us.  Kiah even got to a point where her head was hanging down, apparently with dread, when we went out to practice a run in class.  I was afraid I was ruining her and was thinking about retiring her last March when my agility trainer suggested I take some private lessons from an obedience trainer.

I felt I knew my dog, things in theory I knew but really didn't know, if that makes sense. The trainer is awesome and I learned so much.  I learned that Kiah is "soft", her feelings are hurt easily and she is "hard (lots of drive)" when she is obsessing with something and nothing penetrates that obsession.  I had one obedience class with Kiah when I first got her and although we practiced some basic obedience at home it was not enough for the her.  It is a continuing process and without continued training you backslide.  With the help of the trainer, I began to learn more about controlling her, making her want to work with me and have fun doing it. We try to practice almost everyday, she gets excited when I tell her we are going to train.  I keep it short and then we play for a while.  My confidence is coming back; we are beginning to have fun again and are doing much better at trials.  I am prepared to take baby steps with her and each step forward is a joy.

I heard somewhere you should start a journal and write in it every day.  Mine will say; DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. KEEP IT FUN!!!!  I also plan to post it on my refrigerator so I see it often :-)

So if you are having a similar experience, don't get discouraged.  It may take some time to find the trigger that makes you and your dog a team but it will come.  Just remember to smile, have fun and enjoy the experience with your dog.


Sunday, February 26, 2012


Almost to the end of February so decided to go to the club to work with Keegan on his weaves and a jump sequence.  Keegan will knock bars not because they are too high but I think it is because he doesn't control his back feet well yet.  One of the trainers suggested putting up several jumps in a row at different heights and at a closer distance so decided to give that a try.

There was a teeter, 12 pole weaves, 2 jumps and a tunnel already set up so just added 4 jumps to that to have a mini course.  Set the  jumps at 20, 16, 24, 12, 22 and 16 in a row; the first couple of times he knocked bars but then got the hang of it and didn't knock any more bars.  We do really well on one side of the weaves but need to practice more on both sides so I can do either at a trial.  Keegs still needs more practice for his entrances, he is getting better but sometime still misses them or runs right by the weaves.

Worked Kiah on the same sequence, she knocked a bar the first time too but the rest of the time she did them all without a problem.  I also realized a couple of times that I could give her better cues to show her where to go or to give her a better angle to successfully complete the obstacles.  She really gives me a workout and I love it.

In less than two weeks we will have our clubs 3-day trial and I am really getting excited.  Kiah and I have a trial almost every weekend in March.  I am hoping we finally get out of Novice; keep your fingers crossed for us.

More soon!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February, 2012

Classes have been going well for both Kiah and Keegan. 

Keegs continues to improve each week but is still having some issues with associating names of obstacles.  His contacts are really good but he does not stay on the contacts which I don't have a problem with as long as he doesn't jump off.  Weaves are better but we still have to work hard on entrances and building some speed.  It will be interesting to see how he does at his first trial (at our club) in March.

Kiah is still doing well in class but we haven't trialed since early December so I am not sure how she will do in a trial environment.  We are on the wait list for her first trial in March but we will have the clubs 3-day trial the next week and Keegs will be there to keep her company.  She continues to watch me and pay attention.

My goals is to run both dogs like I do "most" times in class. I need to run them with the expectation that they will follow me and not wait for them.  When I wait for them it slows them down and they don't pay attention.  I also need to work on front crosses which I will really need to do well so I don't get in their way.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January, 2012

Hope everyone has had a wonderful start to their New Year.

Classes will be starting up next week for both Kiah and Keegan.  Kiah and I did do some special classes during the break, they were a lot of fun.  We did a Standard, FAST and Tunnelers course but missed the Jumpers course.

Took Kiah on a couple of long walks with my sister, BIL and their two Springers. I let Kiah off leash, she did really well;  I was proud of her and how far she has come in her training.  We ran into another couple with a boxer and the two boxer girls had a blast running together.  I also got brave and let Keegs off leash on one of our walks, he was really good and minded very well too.  The dog walk is in a wooded area with cement paths for walking your dog but also people walking by themselves or bicycles.  You can also take a wooded path for your walks too but we stay on the cement path.  We have had beautiful weather for this time of year so it has been really enjoyable.  I have not been not brave enough to take both dogs at the same time as they do tend to be a bit crazy together. Maybe later this spring I will see how they do.

 I have high expectations for Kiah this year and Keegs will be entered in his first trial in March.  It will a be 3-day trial at our club so he should feel pretty comfortable.  We will see how well he does at the trial before I enter him in other trials. 

More later as classes start back up.

Classes have started back up.  Just a few notes as to things we need to work harder on.

Kiah:  Haven't been working her in obedience as much and I can begin to see her slipping so that will be a priority for us in February.  March will be a busy month if I can get in all of the trials I have entered. 

Keegan:  He is entered in our club's trial (FCDTC) all 3 days in March, his first trial ever.  I really need him to learn distance and entry on weaves.  He has a much harder time learning names and associating with an obstacle but he is getting there.  He will be my velcro dog.