Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rally-FrEe practice

The local freestyle club, Redwood Empire Doggy Dancers, is holding California's first Rally-FrEe trials tomorrow (one in the morning and the second in the afternoon). Chimera and I are entered in both, though we only need one more qualifying run to earn his novice title.

Today they hosted two WCFO freestyle trials, and a run-through at the end. I volunteered as the camera person during the freestyle runs, and brought Cai into the building for practice during breaks and the run-through. As has been the case recently, I was prepared for explosive reactivity and no focus, and instead I had a very, very good dog. There were minor incidents of growling or barking, but he was easily redirected. In the ring, he was focused 90% of the time (though with treats and personal play).

I would still prefer not to enter him into any trials yet, and do more proofing and fun ring time instead. However I couldn't pass up the opportunity to support the growth of Rally-FrEe! We'll do more fun matches afterwards to balance things out.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Second Rally-FrEe Novice leg

I participated in December's World Wide Video Event. This was our run:

We qualified with a score of 168 - much better than our previous score of 133! We still lost some points for Cai losing focus, and for overly-obvious signals, but both things were much improved. We lost 7 points on the playbow since Cai did a down. D'oh!

Last Saturday we met up with two members of a local freestyle club to prepare for an event on January 10-11th. Saturday will be two WCFO Freestyle trials, and Sunday will be two Rally-FrEe trials. I fully expect us to lose points again for Cai losing focus, since there will be other dogs and people moving around. But I'm crossing my fingers for earning a third Novice leg and our title!

On a side note, Cai's leash reactivity has improved so much, that he did not bark or growl at the other dogs in open station wagons! He wagged his tail and his body was loose, even though he was pulling toward the dogs. Inside the building, he did get upset when the youngest dog was playing and jumping around, but he was quiet the rest of the time. Good boy!

We're practicing again this Saturday.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Full Metal Papillon

I made this coat a couple of years ago for Dragon, but Chimera is almost exactly the same size. (He's a good replacement.) My family went to Truckee, up in the mountains, for Thanksgiving, and Cai needed coats to keep him warm and dry. He didn't like this one very much, since the sleeves are restrictive, and ugh, the hood.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

First Rally-FrEe Novice leg

I got three of my former Rally-FrEe students to sign up for a video competition with me. I knew that Cai wasn't quite ready - I hadn't done enough prep work for going through an entire course without rewards, and he still gets easily distracted. However I wanted to go ahead and compete so that I could see where any other holes show in our training, and get an objective evaluation.

Here was our entry, due on 11/17/14:

We qualified with a score of 133 of 200. (125 points are needed to qualify.) The scoring in this sport is strict, which I like! We got dinged for: large/obvious hand and body cues, doing more of a pivot instead of a proper circle on the 270s, and Cai's loss of attention. My own stress made me revert to the large signals and smaller circles, so I need to remember about that under pressure.

I'm glad that we did this competition and I saw these problems. Now to continue practicing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Back to agility!

After a month long break from agility class, Chimera and I were ready to run again! Cai did great; it was like there was no break at all. He was completely quiet in his crate between turns and was frequently offering the behavior of lying down with his head down - something I reward because it is self-soothing for him. The only silly mistake he made during his runs was that when I took my eyes off him to look ahead at the next jump, he cut behind my back to run up the teeter.

We've been working on the teeter here and there during private lessons with Sandy, and he was doing well, but I was still so nervous about letting him do the full teeter without any support (ie, changing the speed, reducing the bang, or delaying the drop). I was scared that he wasn't ready, would get frightened, and then we'd have to backtrack the training. I'm sure that this fear was because Dragon had trouble with the teeter that we didn't resolve before he died, so the issue still hangs over me. Plus, I always err on the side of caution when pushing a dog to do something. Clearly, in this case I was too cautious, as Cai had no problem with the full teeter experience and kept trying to go toward it again. The history of reinforcement was winning out and he was getting sucked toward the teeter like other dogs go for tunnels. Wow!

With that obstacle behind us (pun intended), I decided that Cai is ready to trial. We still need to attend fun matches as often as we can to work on focus in new places and among many dogs. However there is a small club holding TDAA trials about an hour away, a few times per year. That easy-going, less crowded atmosphere will be perfect for our debut.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Baby's first emergency vet visit

Chimera has been staying with my parents while I do a long pet sit. This morning my mother called me to report that he had been lying down a lot with his head between his front paws (rather than the more relaxed lying down on his side) and not following her around as much. He'd also stopped walking and hunched his back here and there. I suggested a GI problem and said to monitor him closely. An hour later my dad called - he was now hunching over a lot and his back legs were shaking. My parents both took him to the nearest emergency vet.

It turned out that one of his anal glands had gotten infected, swollen, and burst. It was bleeding when they reached the vet. Fortunately, the vet's assessment was that pain killers and two week of antibiotics should clear everything up.

I wasn't able to drive down and meet them because I had to teach two training classes while this was going on. That may have been for the best, though - I would probably have been a crying wreck in the waiting room.

He's doped up on pain meds but is resting much more comfortably.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overview of recent adventures

Oops, it's been months since I last updated Chimera's blog! I've simply been too busy to keep up with logging all his adventures. During the past couple of months:

Cai and Jasper (my kitty) got check ups at the vet at the same time, and the tech and vet were both impressed by how well they got along.

Barney the French Bulldog came over to play for five days, and he and Cai rough housed almost nonstop, as usual.

Cai and I went over to Luz and Catriona's for dinner. I made him wear his belly band, which was a good thing because he lifted his leg on their curtains. Cai played with Sweet Pea and annoyed Nopalito.

He turned 2 years old on July 27th!

We went to Tahoe with Sarah and River and Owen. Cai still did not want to swim, but he did swim twice to get to the island in the middle of the pond we were all playing on.

I took him to a small dog playgroup a few times, and to a small dog park once. Cai still gets super excited (overly excited) about greeting other dogs (especially small dogs), but he is less interested in playing than he used to be. He still loves to chase and be chased, but he'll also spend a lot of time just sniffing and exploring. Sometimes he gets fixated on sticking his nose up a particular dog's butt (usually a female), and then I have to put him on leash to stop him. So I have decided to stop taking him to playgroups and dog parks. He's out of the puppy "play with everyone!" stage.

He spent a weekend with my parents while I did a petsit, and right now he's staying with them for three weeks again. He's following my mother around non-stop and jumping onto her lap every time she sits down. He's becoming a real lap dog. She's giving him walks twice a day. I'm happy that he's doing well, and happy that she has a little companion.

We went to a park with Sherry and Jacques to practice obedience and agility in an abandoned tennis court. Cai still freaks out if he hears tags jangling, but he's slowly continuing his progress in being less reactive at the sight of dogs. We also worked on his recall, and I can see his ability to focus improving.

We did a mini agility demo at Dodger's Paws to celebrate their re-opening after a move. Again I was impressed with his improved focus. It's all coming together!

This past Sunday we attended Paws in the Park, a fundraising fair for Valley Humane Society. I ran an agility ring and a rally-free ring and we did demos. Cai did perfectly in agility and did very well in rally-free (just a little distracted toward the end). My dad was there and took these cool photos of us! (The jumps are TDAA sized and I had them at 8" to make it easy for him in this distracting environment.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Twenty inches

Chimera loves to greet and play with other dogs, especially other small dogs (even better if they're white and/or fluffy, like other Papillons). In agility class today, we did contact proofing exercises with one dog running the a-frame and the other on the dog walk, with white dividers making a solid wall between the two dogs. Cai saw that the chihuahua was on the other side of the wall. I cued him to run the dog walk, and then he kept going to get around the wall, going over a 20" double jump along the way. He only knocked down one of the bars. I was annoyed but impressed. The chihuahua was too interested in his owner's treats to care about Cai sniffing his butt.

Later he took an off course and jumped another 20", a single bar this time. He cleared it. What a cool dog.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A very dirty dog

We took a trip to the Albany Bulb with some friends this morning.

Somehow he was able to pull the stick out of his tail on his own, with a minimal amount of fur loss.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Catching butterflies

Found this small butterfly net at an arts and crafts store. It has a telescoping handle. It'll be a perfect prop for Musical Freestyle.

I can hold it and have Cai put his front paws on the edge, put his head inside, jump over it, or I can use it to give choreography cues that look like they're part of the dance. Or he can hold it and either walk around with it, or just hold still while I toss small and light props into it. I can feel a routine developing already.