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Monday, January 31, 2011

Dog Sports Junkie

Alright, now that introductions are mostly out of the way - I figure I'll get started with what this blog will mostly be about.


I'll be the first to admit it, I'm a dog sports junkie. Is anyone else out there?

I've never won any sort of championships, I dont have the fastest dogs out there - I just like to have fun setting goals and achieving them. I will argue that Clementine is crazy smart beyond belief - but that's for another day.

This past weekend started out with flyball practice. We have a tournament next weekend and it will the the first tournament for many of our club's new dogs. It will only be TeeVee's second tournament. We worked a lot on passing this week, which is what TeeVee needs. He has crazy chase drive and it has taken nearly 2 years of training for him to even run in a lane against other dogs. The patience has paid off and now he does great, but will often want to chase the dogs in his team as they run past him. He is now passing some other big dogs WITHOUT lunging, but is developing a hard eye and creep until the dog has passed him, then he runs normally. This is not acceptable either, but it is better than it was. Whats a few more months of work?

Sunday we took a trip up to Valdemar Farms to have TeeVee's herding instinct test and for Clem to have a lesson. Clementine and I took herding lessons for a little over a year, but that was two years ago. Life got in the way for a bit. Here's the thing... out of everything I do with my dogs, working Clem on livestock is by far my favorite. I never see my dog happier than when she is working stock. Our instructor (Cathy Balliu) says that she is like a Turbo Charged PT Cruiser... she has only two speeds. Stop and GO! Because Clem is more Cattle Dog than Border Collie, she doesn't have much of an eye. Instead - she paces quickly to get the stock where they need to go. We took a break from herding in order to start agility, which Cathy thought would help her off lead obedience. As you can see in the (long) video, she has some nice downs and distance most of the time.. but every once in a while (notably around 5:40 and 6:30) she has a real temper tantrum. I ended up getting in a shouting match with her and we really butt heads. Cathy told me to just ignore her and let her work through her arousal level. BEST ADVICE OF THE YEAR. If you watch the whole video, you can see a noticeable difference.

Clem shows drive with the stock that she doesn't show with anything else. Yes, she loves flyball, disc and agility...but it's not the same. She eventually gets bored or tired and thats it. She'll even work stock in thunderstorms, despite normally being severely thunderphobic.

When we left off with lessons two years ago, she was up to herding a flock of about 10 sheep at a time, doing outruns at about 50 yards and starting to drive the sheep through gates. We're going to back up a bit in an attempt to get a bit more control since she is such a hot head.

Lesson of the weekend: Sometimes you just need to shut up and let your dog work some things out on their own.

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