Friday, February 26, 2010

Agility Here We Come!

Last night (Thursday) marked Ghilley's foray into agility with our first beginner's agility class.

We train with Dee Lulik ( and her All Fours agility group.

Dee is a truly remarkable trainer.  She has a natural affinity for dogs and her understanding of dog behavior is second to none.

She owns Airedales, a breed she loves.  She participates in everything with her bearded girls from conformation to obedience to hunting to agility.

Dee is also cutting edge with her agility training.  Her training techniques and methods are completely in line with the world class agility competitors.  I honestly think she is the best available agility trainer in the Chicagoland area and would expand that beyond the Chicago area too.

Ghilley will be my first dog that I train with Dee from the very beginning.  Duff was already in the excellent classes.  Honestly, we would may have gotten our MACH without Dee's training but seriously doubt it.

Robbie was an open-level dog but already showing ring stress when we started training with Dee.  Robbie has his MACH as well and we're closing in on MACH2 (slowly due a slow trial schedule).  He would not have even been excellent B level without Dee.

But Ghilley is my first step from the get-go with "The Master".  We train with Dee, privately, on Wednesday nights too, to help with foundation work.

The class work, however, is going to be great for us.  Currently Ghilley's training consists of Tuesday night conformation class, Wednesday night private lessons and Thursday night agility class.

The agility class finally allows for something that I have not done with Ghilley yet.  That is getting her attention on me with the distraction of other dogs in class.  I have not been in general obedience classes with the little gal so she is a little excited to see all dogs in class.  She is like a little furry pogo-stick wanting to jump on her hind legs to say "hi".

I patiently wait for her to stop and turn her attention back to me, big praise and cookies each time.  It will take some time but one thing Ghilley and I have is plenty of that.  She is also smart as a whip, like all my terriers have been, and it is a joy to train a smart dog.

Looking forward to working on homework and get to class next week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shovelling Snow...the new set of observers

MacDuff & Robbie early 2009

I live in a condo that is 2-levels with a sizeable patio.  My method of taking the dogs out is actually taking them for walks.  However, the 1st and last trips out for the day and night are patio visits only.

I started, years ago, to shovel my patio area every winter when it snowed.  It served two purposes.  The first was providing a walkway for the little guys if the snow was too deep.  The second was an enclosed place that was somewhat free of slippery areas for playtime.

Regardless, I knew that whenever I would go out to shovel, whether it was at 5:00 in the morning or 10:00 at night, Duff & Robbie would sit or stand by the sliding door and observe me.

Robbie would feel the need to bark at anything he saw as threatening, a person walking down the sidewalk (even across the street), anything.  His alarm bark would invariably trigger MacDuff to bark too.  But Duff's bark was an alarm bark, it was a beacon to me that he wanted to be outside with me.  His barking would disintegrate into all out howling by both boys.  We call this "singing".

I would wave them to silence if I happened to be out either too early or too late and was afraid their caterwauling would wake the neighbors.

But I could always count on doggie "music" to accompany my efforts to clean up the snow outside.  Now and then they may stop.  Typically Robbie would go look for a ball, but Duff would remain vigilantly at the door, waiting for me.

Now, I have a new reality.  Robbie is still there, of course (thank God), but I have Ghilley with him.

Ghilley's favorite thing in to jump up and down like a pogo-stick scratching at the leash I have dangled from the door handle that holds a bear bell.  The bell is what she rings when she has to go out.

She will ring that thing for any reason to go outside, potty, a squirrel, another dog, etc.

But it is quite humorous to watch her jump and want outside while Robbie watches for any intruders.

Occasionally Robbie will start in with his alarm barking but it does not trigger the response in Ghilley that it did with Duff.  Ghilley will not join in but continue to press her suit ringing the bell or watching me.

As I continue on with my task of shovelling, I will look into my condo to see what is up as I am met with silence.  No dogs at the door.  I peek through the window to see Robbie and Ghilley romping with each other on the area rug in my family room.

I smiled as I went back to shovelling.  It is great to know that my dogs have a way to break up the monotony and not stay at the door the whole time.

They would venture back, from time-to-time, to check my progress and then off they would go again.

I have to say I like how well my little man and little girl get along.  It pleases me a lot.  I cannot say that I completely miss the constant need to "sing" either.

But I will also say that the silence I am met with now is deafening.  I miss my sentry terribly.