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Monday, March 30, 2009

Client Success - I'm so Happy I could Burst!

As the title suggests, I'm so happy I could just burst! But before I self-implode in my excitement, I'm determined to get this story on paper so I can remember this moment.

After all, sometimes you're successful in building a relationship between a client and their dog and other times they just don't want or can't take on the responsibility a dog encompasses....Luckily, tonight was a success (and that's why I want to remember it!).

It all stated last week when one of my Train-While-You're-Away clients engaged me to work with their two 11 month old Labrador Retriever litter mates. My client started off by making it clear that the 'Free to Good Home' Craig's List ad was already written and sitting in his computer.  Bottom line, my clients were frustrated and I was their last hope. 

After meeting and working with the dogs for a few days, it was clear they hadn't received ANY training. I could understand how the owners felt overwhelmed as these pups were growing, competing with and escalating each other to frantic actions. As with every dog, there is always good news. In this case, they were sweet dogs, had a great work ethic and had the potential to be incredible family pets...just what the client was looking for.

In approximately 5 hours of training both dogs, they had made remarkable progress and I was excited to share with my clients what their dogs were capable of and how my clients needed to maintain the training.

In my final meeting, I presented my clients with a 5 page summary which outlined the issues at hand (based on what the clients had told me and what I observed), our training goals, the training accomplished, client homework, suggestions to items the client mentioned (such as how to solve a muddy backyard) and of course I did a hands-on demonstration with each dog and then walked my clients through the steps so they could maintain the training in the future.

By the end of our meeting, my clients were pumped up and thrilled to see what their dogs could accomplish with just a little bit of training. They went from being skeptical to all smiles as I walked out the door and were excited to now be able to take their pups on walks and to integrate them more into the indoor family atmosphere.

What a great night! I'll be sure to follow up with them in about a month to see how their doing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Course Analysis - Exc Std Southern, CA

This weekend I've been judging down in Southern, CA at the Hollywood Dog Training Club.

The site is at a beautiful equestrian park so in the background were the mountains and western style horses & horsemen - the perfect site for an outdoor trial on grass.

This was a nice, small, intimate trial and we finished by 1:00 p.m. each day.  I have yet to do yesterdays Exc JWW Course Analysis (later today), but wanted to do today's Exc Std while it is fresh in my mind. First, I want to say Kudos to those who ran the course as they made it look like a ton of fun! I hope they enjoyed the course as much as I liked watching them.

OK, onto the course analysis. Today, I really wanted to focus on the handling lines that people did do that I really liked because when it works, it's so darned smooth and pretty to watch!

On the map, there is a Red line which correlates to the handler's path on the first part of the course and the second green line correlates to the handler's path on the last part of the course.

Focusing first on the Red path, what I really loved about this was that handlers supported jump #3 and then let the dog's natural path take them into the chute. By not going up to the chute entrance, handlers were able to get down to the chute exit and execute a front cross prior to jump #5. Those that didn't follow this path ran the risk of being late on their front cross which meant the dog had a longer yardage as it had to come back on their path to the handler. Some of the handlers that executed this sequence beautifully were Stephanie Spyr & Lorie Burbee (sp?). Others were just as graceful, unfortunately I don't know their names!

What I remember most was Stephanie Spyr's front cross out of the chute - specifically that her dog didn't have a wasted step or stride as it exited the chute, but rather came immediately in to her. Stephanie was also confident in where she needed to be and was stationary by the time her dog came out of the chute. Clearly this team has worked hard on this maneuver and it shows. I was so impressed, that I've decided to spend some time breaking this down just a bit more so that I too can have this responsiveness from the chute! Nice job Stephanie.

As for the second line, the highlighted handler's line in green for the closing was unconventional and gloriously beautiful!  It saved the handler from some extra maneuvering. For example, most handlers did a front cross between the tire (#16) and the teeter (#17) which sometimes resulted in a wider route for the dog if the handler was a tad bit late in their execution and still left the handler focusing on how to get their dog into the correct side of the #19 tunnel. 

By following the line in green, the handler was able to "pull" the dog down to the teeter and meet them at the bottom of this obstacle and already picking the dog up on their right-side.  Since the dog still had to finish the teeter and turn toward the #18 jump, handlers were a stride ahead as they began their last sequence on the course.  This stride was more than enough to prevent dogs from curling in after the #18 jump to take the wrong side of the #19 tunnel. Lori Burbee handled this portion quite nice.

There were so many dogs that I was enthralled with. I mean watching their speed, spirit and the teamwork was just so amazing that I was left staring in amazement. There was a beautiful athletic black lab who just took my breath away. Another was Amy Peikoff's Boo who's heart showed in every step on course. I had a chance to visit with Boo & Amy afterward and Boo was just as precious in a "pet" environment as she was doing agility. But the list doesn't stop there. Several incredible cattle dogs and some well-focused border collies are also among my "Wow" list. All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Southern, CA.

To continue on with the course analysis, I enjoyed watching the various handling styles and the additional skills that handlers executed effortlessly were:
  • Leadouts at the beginning of the course. Lots of solid stays and people worked them and meant it when they said "Stay!"
  • Some absolutely wonderful rear crosses at the #9 jump as folks sent their dogs to the #10 weave poles. This is a skill EVERY handler should have, but you have to work to get it!
  • Incredible contacts. Regardless if they were 2 on 2 off, running contacts or 4 on the floor, the contacts at this trial were amazing.
  • A salute to sit-stays - most folks were able to leave their dogs at the table and move out past the #13 jump.
  • It was so much fun to watch the triple, tire, teeter sequence - handlers gave their dogs a nice path and it really flowed quite well.
  • Hooray to EVERYONE who diligently connected with their dogs at the end of the run, put their leash on and left the ring together. I was very impressed by the conscious effort this group made to follow this newer rule.
Thanks Southern CA for your great hospitality and for sharing your talented dogs.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Latest Trends in Hotel Pillows - Judging Stories

Judging Agility sometimes includes flying and driving to various parts of the country and almost always means sleeping in strange beds.

While talking about hotel chains, I once began a statement with the words "I've been in a lot of hotel rooms in my time...."....Ouch, that came out so very wrong! Regardless, the statement is true - I've slept (alone) in a lot of hotel rooms in the name of judging.

Room amenities & styles have changed quite a bit over the years. For example, the "Save the Planet..." signs with their plea to reuse towels wasn't around 10 years ago and neither was free WiFi.

But the latest hotel trend doesn't have to do with hairdryers, fancy soaps, mini-sewing kits or shower caps, but rather pillows!  Lately, every hotel I've been in has a minimum of SIX pillows on the bed. My bed at home has a mere 3 pillows, one for me, one for my husband and another small cushion I stole from the couch.

I have to admit that it's a gorgeous arrangement of fresh fluffed white puff featured in front of the headboard. Each time I walk in and see the pillows overlapping on the bed, visions of me sitting mixed in the middle of all of them while furiously typing on my laptop brings a smile to my face.

Just when I think the experience couldn't get better, the Holiday Inn Express has surprised me with their Pillow for Dummies approach. They cleaverly thought to mark each pillow with the appropriate pillowcase - soft for softer pillows & firm for those firmer choices (see pictures above). 

No more guessing as to which of the six pillows is right for you!  Nope, Pillow for Dummies is a step-by-step guide for Head & Neck Selectiveness Syndrom (prone to frequent travelers) and is stylish and matches all decores. Pillow for Dummies is available for only a short period of time (since pillow cases wear out from use) so act now! Don't miss out on your FREE TRIAL offer - available only at....Holiday Inn Express!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Taxi Cabs and the Twilight Zone

Ever take a taxi cab? If you have, I'll bet you'll be able to relate to today's Blog....

I don't care what city you're in, the minute you open the back door and get into a Taxi Cab, it's like entering the Twilight Zone. For me, the theme music starts, my vision begins to blur, my head starts to spin and I've quickly realized it's best just to stare out the passenger window and not look ahead. Then, just when I think the experience can't get worse, I realize the cab driver wants to chat! Chatting means they're not looking ahead...not good.

Why not look out the front you ask? Well, let me share a few of my cab experiences and you'll quickly see why I try really hard to melt into the seat and become invisible!

First, there was this cab ride in Chicago where the craziness of it's cab drivers is second only to New York.  We get in and as we're heading across the city to the museum, people are literally jumping out of our path so as not to be hit. We're so close to the cars around us that I have to practice focusing on my breathing so as not to hyperventilate. The weird part was that the city pedestrians & drivers were acting like this was just a normal day at the office.

Next, there's the infamous cab ride in Las Vegas. As my now husband and I are sitting in the back of the taxi van heading down the strip toward our romantic dinner destination while our NASCAR-wanna-be driver is FLYING at top speed and swerving in and out of traffic. We're flipping around in back like a hamster in a speeding ball and I'm looking to Dan with pleading eyes to save us. He's frozen in fear, or else he's hit his head a few too many times on the side windows to realize that our situation isn't normal. 

As we come upon a cross walk, there is an elderly gentleman making his way to the side walk in a turtle fashion.  Our cab driver, being the sensitive individual his is, not only speeds up and races toward him, but yells "Hurry up old man or I'll give you that hip replacement you've been whining about!"

I didn't actually see the gentleman jump out of the way as I was mesmerized by Dan's large saucer-like eyes and when he jerked to cover his face, I thought for sure I'd hear a thud. No thumping or thudding and I'm not sure how we missed the older man, but I swear somebody was practicing a planned movie stunt at our expense and one day we're going to see our faces on some B-rated TV comic reality show.

That brings me to today's cab ride. The club regretted that their normal hospitality person wasn't available and asked me to take a cab from the airport to the hotel. Visions of my prior cab experiences dashed through my head and I knew what I'm in for, but I plaster a smile on my face and hope for the best. The other thing that doesn't help is I once saw an NYPD show about a cab driver that would steal people using a cab cover and then kill them...So with visions of murder both in and outside the cab, I begin the trip.

The ride starts out quite enough, but midway through he asks me if I have directions to the hotel. Great. I have an address and a phone number, that's it. He says not to worry and off we go. Typical of the cab driver legacy, we're weaving in and out of traffic on the California highways, do a few quick stops and then a few fast lane changes to keep going. The icing on the cake is when my cabby puts on his driving glasses (you guessed it, he hadn't been wearing them previously) and I realize we're now doing 35 mph on the highway vs. the 70+ we'd been doing just a few minutes before. I can't help but wonder if he really knows where we're going and at that moment, he slams on the breaks and pulls onto the median. It appears the exit that was about 50 feet back is his destination so I just sit there staring out the passenger window, cowering in the seat and waiting for a rear end impact that luckily never comes.

After getting onto the desired off ramp safely, he laughs and apologizes. Of course I laugh as well, smile and say "no problem". What I'm really thinking inside is "You scared the cr*p out of me!" Somehow those words don't seem like a good idea since I'm not yet at my destination and he ultimately has control of the locks and windows (remember that NYPD show I told you about?).

Well, we do get to my hotel and I'm grateful I dyed my greys last week or I'm certain they'd be really, really silver for this weekend's show. But, I did make it safely and with yet another story from judging.

Class Course Analysis - March 18, 2009

One of the things I like about this class lesson is the funky lines in the beginning. 

While the dog's path between #1 & the weave poles looks straight on, in reality (on our course), the entry to the weaves wasn't so straight on so students had to be sure to work the entry.

We also worked to get the dog to wrap tightly around the left stanchion on jump #3 on its way to jump #4. We then pushed dogs to jump #5 and allowed them a wide turn for a better approach to the #6 weaves while the handler did a front cross.

The next series of obstacles that was a fun challenge was #10 to #16. After the a-frame, folks did a front cross to send the dogs to jump #10. There was a mere 12' here so the spacing was small and needed to be precise.

After the front cross, handlers were encouraged to RUN and push the dogs to jump #12 rather than go into that corner pocket. After the dog took #12, handlers were encouraged to turn and RUN to stay in front of the dog. The ultimate goal was to do a front cross between #15 & #16.  The front cross turned into the greatest challenge, not because people couldn't make it down there, but they had to fight the urge to jump in toward the #15 jump which tended to push the dog into the tunnel.

Instead, handlers needed to be patient and do the front cross closer toward jump #16. Once the front cross was taken, it put the handler in a great position to handle the remaining part of the course.

The last challenge was going from the #19 tunnel to the #20 tunnel. The 5' of space from the exit to the entrance forced handlers to really work the last tunnel and not take it for granted.

This was a runners course!!!! : )

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Just Give me 1 minute Please - Judging Stories

Often people think judging is glamorous, exciting & royalty-like. While those things are a bit of an exaggeration, judging is still a great personal experience and you come up with the goofiest things to share.

A fellow judge and I were talking about some of our experiences and inevitably, exhibitor etiquette came up. In this case we focused on common courtesy. It's funny because as the conversation continued we found that we've both had a surprising & similar experience while judging.

First I'll focus on my fellow judge. They mentioned about how, during a trial break, an exhibitor followed them into the bathroom to "talk agility". Now I don't faithfully read "Dear Abby", but I'm pretty sure that falls under the "What the heck are you thinking?" category.  We laughed because this wasn't just "at the sink talk", but rather full fledge "in the stall" chatter. My fellow judge was left baffled by the attempt at conversation and we laughed that there seems to be no moment of peace when you're the judge.

I had to chuckle & reflect on my own experiences as they told me their story. Unfortunately, I have to admit I wasn't surprised. You see, I've got a few "bathroom" stories from judging assignments as well.

Just like my fellow judge, I too jumped into the bathroom in between judging classes. Now keep in mind that a bathroom break is a luxury while judging. Most of the time I never see the facilities at a site because I'm too busy keeping the trial moving, standing in the middle of the ring, doing paperwork, preparing my courses, wheeling my courses, mathematically determining course times, briefing folks, measuring dogs, answering questions and much more.  Basically, when you're a judge, the only time to yourself is the 20 seconds you spend in a bathroom stall - not a pretty picture, but unfortunately a true reality.

So back to me, I'm judging an indoor trial and literally run off in between classes to use the facility for a mere 20 seconds. As I'm locking myself in the stall, an exhibitor yells "Lisa, are you in here? I have a question for you...." and proceeds to hunt my specific stall down and ask me questions about their run!  I'm baffled. Heck, I'm more than confused and worse yet, I feel trapped and just plain weird! I can't help but wonder what kind of an answer this person was looking for and what it is I can say to make them go away! 

Picture it for a moment, they're standing up against my bathroom stall door, in a public restroom and all I can think about is the purpose I came in for and NOT their question.

To my credit, rather than being put on the spot, I said "Please don't tell me you just followed me into the bathroom and trapped me in a stall to ask me a question?"  After all, I'm certain whatever it is can wait until I get back out into the ring....They did leave me to my 20 seconds of peace.

The moral of the story, if a judge goes into the bathroom - leave them alone! There is no hidden doorway or window for them to escape to and I promise they'll be back.

Class Course - March 11, 2009

While designing this course, I thought I'd be creative and add 2 sets of weaves in the same area. I'll admit, I was secretly hoping I'd get a few worried looks from students who might be concerned their dog would be confused.  Well, I certainly was disappointed and thrilled with how everyone handled the challenge without a moment of doubt - Joke was on me !

The next challenge was to stay ahead of the dog and execute efficient front crosses between 8 & 9, 9 & 10 and 12 & 13.  

This required students to send their dog, refrain from going down to the obstacle, trust their dog, work on body language, plan their front crosses & RUN!

Have fun with this course!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Great Tumbleweed Adventure

After Sunday's high wind experience on the West side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, I can now say I'm experienced in Tumbleweed Tag (more on that below).

Pictured here is a real tumbleweed I've named Turmoil, or Turmi for short.  The name just seemed fitting with it's whip-around lifestyle!

After judging at a spectacular trial in the area, my-in-laws came over to drive me back. The plan was to hit a few wineries on our return trip and make an afternoon out of it.  Well, we hadn't planned on the 40-60+ mph winds that flew in a few hours prior and so the adventure began.

It started immediately upon entering the highway and the Suburban could barely maintain a straight path on the road - forget sticking to just one lane! Not to worry, Dad's a great driver, which is a good thing because not long into the trip, LOTS of rolling objects began to cross the road. You guessed it - tumbleweeds!

There were dozens of them at any given moment. The funniest site was an older Buick that was "hit" by a tumbleweed the size of a bail of hay! POOF! As the tumbleweed stuck to the front grill and in the driver's front wheel well and branches went flying. The driver soon pulled over for tumbleweed extraction and we decided that was a 75 pointer.

The Tumbleweeds continued, some big, some small and all were on a cross-country mission. After hitting (or being hit) by a few smaller tumblers, we weren't able to dodge Turmoil II and POOF! It embedded itself into our front grill.  Dad pulled over and told Mom to get out to clear the debris - that's when the fun really began - just because we stopped moving didn't mean the tumbleweeds weren't still crossing the highway!

A few moments into our extraction process, Mom gets wiped out on the side of the road by a rogue tumbler. She's a hearty soul and doesn't go down, but later reports "those things are prickly!" We laughed that a tumbleweed would be able to suck up a hairy dog of any size and keep right on rolling across the open spaces without stopping.  Personally, I think it's true!

Next, we decided to stop at another winery and I get to thinking that a picture of a tumbleweed is needed for this blog. I mean a picture is so much better than a verbal description! So I tell my Mom she needs to get a tumbleweed. As I mentioned earlier, she's a hearty soul and is always willing to jump in on a good story.

As we pull off the highway and onto the side road leading to our next destination, a huge tumbleweed goes flying by. With just a little bit of prodding, Mom is jumping out of the barely stopped vehicle (thank goodness for Dad's quick reflexes), jumps a culvert and is racing up a hill chasing this tumbleweed. As I sit in the car laughing, I'm amazed at how successful her two partial knee surgeries were last year and that her climbing skills are almost comparable to that of a billy goat.

The winds were a bit faster than she was and the tumbleweed got away. But as she turns around, I have just enough time to say "here comes another one!" and she yells "I've got it!" and puts herself in a linebacker crouch where she's preparing to block & grab the oncoming tumbleweed! Guess she doesn't remember they're "prickly"...

Now I'm not as fast as she is or I would have thought to get the camcorder running so that all of us could witness this event together. Fortunately for her, the tumbleweed veers left and her tackling skills aren't put to the test - instead, she's able to grab it - bare handed. 

We manage to wrangle it into the back of the Suburban where it proceeded to block Dad's view all the way home. These are family moments that just can't be bought!

Turmi is now comfortably sitting in our garage. Mom says I need to put him in a crate and not forget to feed him. My husband was surprised by his presence when he came home from his own judging assignment late that night, but only shakes his head as I tell him the entire story of how the tumbleweed got into our garage.

And that my friends, is my Tumbleweed Adventure.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Creating Straight Lines in a Curve

This sequence is from yesterday's Blog & the Exc. Std. course from Pasco, WA on 3-15-09.

Review of Yesterday

Yesterday I gave an overview of the path (in green) that most handlers used and the resulting dog path (also in green).  I also shared a suggested path for handlers (in red) and the resulting dog path (also in red) and the "why" of the path in red.  Now I'd like to focus on the "how-to's" to accomplish this path.

One of the items I mentioned yesterday was creating straight lines which would allow you and your dog to RUN. Today, I'd also like to focus & add on the details on how a handler's shoulders & hand signals come into play, especially on a sequence like the one here. Hopefully this note will help to tie all of the thoughts together.

The Assumptions

OK, let's go through some basics so that we're all on the same page.
  • We're going to focus on body language as the main means of communication between the dog & handler in this exercise.
  • Next, since we're using body language, we're going to concentrate mainly on our shoulders. This will include our arms & hands since they are attached and can arguably be called an extension of our shoulders .
  • Speaking of shoulder placement - if both you and the dog are parallel & facing straight ahead, I call that Open Shoulders which cues RUNNING or a straight line. If I turn into my dog to face them, this cues collection and the dog should come in to me (think of the beginnings of a front cross, you turn into the dog and they should collect their stride and come in toward you). For this exercise, we're going to work on a shoulder position which is in the middle of these two examples.
  • Physical Movement, or a lack of our physical movement plays a significant part in communicating with our dog on an Agility course. To go further, the direction of our movement can be just as important. Motion can be as sensitive as shifting your weight to one leg or the other (think about that detail - it can be a very powerful statement to the dog).
Putting it all Together - Creating the Handler's Straight Lines

We're going to use Shoulders & Arms as well as Physical Movement to create 2 straight lines in our curved sequence. The first step is to have the handler push up into the top of the curve to create the first straight line and then "pull" back down to create the second straight line. 

Rather than a traditional rounded pinwheel where the handler hangs out in the middle, I'd like to challenge you to think of a whip or the effect that occurs when a dog hits the end of a leash - there is an instant pull-back. That's what our goal will be, except our dog will be paying attention, reading our movement & body language and won't end up on it's butt! 

Here are the steps:
  1. Start - The dog and handler start out parallel, with the dog in front of the chute. Handlers need to be aware of their position and work the 1st obstacle - don't take it for granted. 
  2. First Handler Straight Line & Movement - The plan is that the handler's line will be from the chute up in a slight diagonal toward the middle area between the chute exit & the #2 jump (for smaller dogs, the handler may need to go a bit closer toward the front area of the #2 jump). Depending on your dog's speed will determine where the handler starts & when the handler begins movement. Ultimately, the goal is to be pushing your dog to the top of the handler line as it exits the chute. Handlers will need to time it so that they are moving with the dog to this point.
  3. Handler Shoulders - As the dog is exiting the chute & the handler is moving on their line, the handler's shoulders should be squarely facing the middle of jump #2 (indicating the next obstacle the dog should take), AND the hand and foot closest to the dog (in this case on the right) are also extended to support the jump as well. 
  4. Handler Shifting of Weight - I keep my feet spread while pushing to the top obstacle and keep my weight on my front foot (in this case the right foot).  In preparation for the next step, my back leg (in this case the left leg) is ready and pointing down in the direction I want to go to next.
  5. Executing the Pull - To begin the second straight line or the "pull", my physical movement begins when I simply shift my weight to my back leg (in this case the left leg), while keeping my shoulders & hand out and continue to point to the top of the line where I just came other words, your shoulder & arm placement doesn't change (fight the urge to swing your shoulder & arm around in the direction you'll now be moving). In summary, you're only incorporating movement of your lower body, which cues the dog as to the direction you're now going. 
  6. Practice the Send & Pull - To practice this step, send your dog to the #2 jump, be sure your supporting with your right leg & arm and shift your weight forward to the right leg. Either before or as the dog takes the jump, keep your shoulders and arm the same and shift your weight to the back leg - your dog should pull into you.
  7. Second Handler Straight Line Movement - By keeping your shoulders & arm stationary, it allows you to stay ahead of your dog, look back over your right shoulder and "pull" your dog on the path of the second straight line. Again, resist the urge to turn your shoulders forward in the direction of your movement. Think of yourself as being in the start of a front cross except your outside arm (in this case your left arm) isn't coming around to pick up the dog.
Practice - Remembering the Finer Points

Ok, I'm the first to admit that a purely verbal approach to teaching this handling maneuver isn't my first choice. I'm a visual learner and I'll bet most of you are too. Short of having me come do a seminar, joining one of my classes or doing a private lesson, I can understand you may have some challenges while figuring this out. That's to be expected.

Here are some tips to help:
  • Break the sequence down into small, manageable parts so that both you and your dog can be successful.
  • Small parts will also help you pinpoint where things might be going astray.
  • Remember to focus on 1 obstacle at a time.
  • After pushing to the #2 jump, if you find your dog heading toward the dog walk or the #11 jump, I'd guess that you're turning your shoulders & opening them up to indicate a Run motion. Remember, your hand should be pointing to where you came from and your shoulders should be facing the dog's path - it's a semi-collection cue.
  • Another possibility is that you're inadvertently moving more like the handling path found on the green line and pushing toward the dog walk or #11 with your physical movement. Remember, it's a straight line up and a straight line down - no rounding, but more of a whip effect.
  • Trust your dog! If you're at the Excellent level, chances are you've taught your dog some great points and the two of you have to figure out this new handling item. Give it time and go into it with a sense of humor. Allow you and your dog to make mistakes and if you have to, break it down even more than you had planned.
  • Remember, this is a tool to have in your handlers' tool box. It's always nice to have additional skills. Another benefit of this skill is that it allows you to do less running and keeps you ahead of your dog.
Lastly, I recognize I've given a lot of detail. If you need help, have questions or want to make a comment, please do so.  I like interactive! : )

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Excellent Std - Pasco, WA

This was a course that I ran today in the Pasco/Kennewich, WA area at the Club's first trial.

Let me first start by saying that I plan to put this trial on my "Must Attend List" since it was so much fun, a terrific club, a wonderful site and just FUN!

Today's course was well done by the handlers that had an opportunity to run the course. Unfortunately, extreme wind gusts (40+ mph w/ 60 mph gusts) came into play around 12:30 and I wasn't able to finish the Excellent 16" class or run the 12 & 8's due to safety reasons.  Bottom line, I couldn't control or ensure the safety of the wonderful & heavy duty equipment due to Mother Nature's interference.

Although I wasn't able to see all of the dogs run the course, I thought this would be a great time to talk about how our handler movements, actions, shoulder direction and support arm can affect a dog's view of the course.

Real Handler & Dog Path

On this course, I have two areas marked. The first is between obstacles #1-3. In green there is the real-time handler path and the corresponding green dog's path. As you can see, after the chute, handlers turned their shoulders 90 degrees and ran with the dog taking a parallel path to jump #2. The result, as seen in the green dog path, was that the handler's forward motion and shoulders indicated a "run forward" cue to the dog and falsely indicated that the expected path was to #11, rather than queuing a turn toward obstacle #3. 

Suggested Handler & Dog Path

A suggested handler path and the corresponding dog's path is in red. Check it out on the map for a good visual and then read on as to the reasoning why....

The red path allows handlers to support all of the necessary obstacles, as well as get into place for the next sequence. In return, the dog's path is clear and efficient - no wasted yardage or off-course options. 

Remember, maneuvering a course is more than just getting you and the dog from one place to the next - after all, we know there is going to be side switches and changes in direction at any given time. As a handler, your goal should be to use the side switches and direction changes to your advantage...put them in places that will give you the most bang for your buck. This means you want to try to create as many straight lines on a course as possible since straight lines give you & the dog the ability to run at full speed.  Just remember that a straight line toward an off-course option is not suggested - this is where putting your side changes and change of direction in key places is important.

How to Know When to Change Your Handling Path

First, when deciding on a handling path/option or decision, it is best to look at the dog's "perfect path".  A perfect path will give the dog the most success with the least amount of yardage and the least amount of off course options.

When I'm stumped as to which handling choice I should take, I'll walk the dog's path and decide where my "handler" (i.e. me) needs to be in order to give the necessary handling information. By walking as my dog and seeing what my dog sees (such as off-course options & the angle an obstacle needs to be handled from), it allows me as a handler to make handling choices based on the information I've determined my dog needs from me in order to run the perfect path.

Conclusion & More to Come

Hopefully the above is clear as mud . Seriously, as questions if you're not sure what I'm referring to.

Tomorrow I'll go into more detail on creating straight lines when there is a curve. It's one of my favorite topics and deserves an entire day devoted to itself : )

I'll also talk about the 2nd red & green line later this week.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Course Analysis - Pasco, WA

To the left is a Jumpers course that I designed and ran today in the Pasco, WA area.

First, let me tell you what a GREAT trial this has been!  This is the club's first agility trial and they have seen to every detail possible.  As a judge, I was put up in a wonderful hotel which has all of the comforts of home, a terrific restaurant where I was able to get a hardy meal and the club members have treated us wonderfully!

Seriously, I told my husband that we need to put this show on our "must go to" list - it's just been so nice (and small!).

As for the dogs that ran my course, I really had to work hard to find challenging areas beyond the usual missed weave pole type of fault.

There were three areas that caused handlers' concern.  The first was the #3 tunnel entrance.  While many, many folks did a fine job working their dogs into the correct end of the tunnel, others left it to the "hope & pray" method of handling to see where the odds would fall .  Those folks generally got the wrong end of the tunnel and earned themselves a wrong course.

Most folks did a lead out to after the #2 jump and did a front cross to guide their dog into the correct end of the tunnel.  One handler did a WONDERFUL job of shaping the dog's path by leading out past #1 and using them self as a post to make #2 to #3 a straight line approach, which worked beautifully and allowed the dog to gain speed as it accelerated.

I was also amazed at how many people drove down toward the exit of the tunnel which tended to put them behind at jump #5. Because folks took the push out to #5 for granted, quite a few dogs pulled in early prior to taking #5 because their handler began focusing on & turning toward #6 before the dog was fully committed to #5 - this caused dogs to pull off of #5 and incur a Refusal.

Also, as several handlers came into the #7 & #15 option, they were confused as to which pass through & jump they should be taking next (since they do go through this area twice) and potentially incurred an off course if they took the wrong jump.

Interesting to note on the ending - not one dog took the off course jump next to #18.  The majority of dogs clearly saw the jump, but redirected their path toward the correct obstacle without hesitation.  By this point in the course, the dogs were in a good stride and connected with their handler who didn't have far to move during this last sequence.

It was a fun course to watch and these folks did an incredible job running the course and putting on a fine trial.  Be sure to put this event on your calendar for next year!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tiger Mountain - Hiking with the Dogs

Yesterday a friend of mine & I went hiking on Tiger Mountain with our dogs.

I hadn't been hiking for years, which is sad because that was one of the reasons I moved to Washington - to enjoy nature and get some exercise on those big hills .

Being from Chicago, which has no hills, it's always amazing to me the difference in weather at the various elevations. To the left is a picture of a portion of the trail (an old logging road) we came up. As you can see, it's pretty steep and still full of snow.

The temperature was about 55 degrees so we had on just a sweatshirt and we were pretty warm throughout the incline! Talk about exercise, but also talk about some wonderful views. The dogs were really loving it, being in nature and being able to run up and down the trail with us.

The entire trail to the top is approximately 4.5 miles and they say the first 1.5 miles is the steepest part. Holy cow, it was a workout!  We went a total of about 2 miles up and then hiked the 2 miles back down.  When I first moved to Seattle, I said I'd love to train to climb Mt. Rainier which is an elevation of approximately 14,400 feet...Today's hike on Tiger Mountain was a mere elevation of 1,375 feet and we didn't even start at the very bottom!

I think I'll start my hiking career by getting to the top of Tiger Mtn, then move onto Cougar Mountain and then maybe Rattle Snake Ridge after that.  Perhaps the best way to continue to see Mt. Rainier up close is from an airplane flying overhead.  It's a lot less work!

I took Spot on this trip because he is a wonderful traveling dog. He has quite a bit of stamina, is very solid in strange situations and listens well off-leash. Since there are ridges with extreme drop-offs, potential wildlife to contend with (Bears & Cougars, although that's very rare) and other hikers, it's important to have a well-trained and experienced dog when going into the wild.

I'd like to bring Ru at some point, but will probably keep her on a flexi until I feel a level of comfort with her as she is an inexperienced, naive & incredibly curious pup.  All good things to have in your backyard, but not in the wild .  At least she has a good recall!

Sounds like I've got a couple of great things to add to my training list as well as my personal exercise agenda!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sadie - Rainbow Bridge

I'll admit it - I'm on my third glass of all fairness, they are the tiny glasses, but you get my point.

Today didn't end as I had expected.  It started off with a wonderful hike in the lower mountains and that's what I thought today's blog would be about. Unfortunately, life has a way of taking unexpected turns.

Sadie, our 14.5 year old Chocolate Lab had a stroke/a seizure/an episode...something from which her body couldn't recover. My husband made the brave choice to give her peace and I am so incredibly impressed by his bravery, selflessness and the caring with which he handled the situation. 

We were lucky. We were able to call the family together (Dan's Parents and both of us), we had a friend drive us over to the vet's so we could focus on the moment and a vet friend meet us so the experience would be more personal. We were together to say good-bye and we were together when we buried one of our own.  It was the way Sadie would have liked it.

With that said, I'm not afraid to tell you how I felt throughout the evening. First, I hated knowing we were at that point where a decision on Sadie's life needed to be made. We all knew this moment would come, she was 14.5. But secretly, we had all hoped she would pass in her sleep, dreaming of tennis balls, birds and bumpers. 

Looking my husband in the eye and gently prodding him to think of the thing we had all hoped wouldn't come up was so tough. Knowing that he was praying the moment hadn't arrived while tightly holding onto his dog with all of the care and love possible...this is what marriage is all about - the good and the really not so fun moments together. Balancing the truth and backing off to give him time to make his own decisions. Then coming back in again to support the direction he chooses.

I know this moment isn't/wasn't about me, but I couldn't help but remember the last time I was faced with this situation and Dan and I were there together. It was when I had to make a choice about putting Coal down at the young age of 4.5. It was horrible and I felt as if Coal had been ripped out of my arms - that's how it is when a soul hasn't had a chance to go through the natural process of a full life.

With Sadie, she did have a chance to go through life and progress naturally. That's the big difference this time around. Knowing she lived a long and wonderful life and that we all had a chance to come to terms with a natural ending before it came. Sadie kindly gave us the time to say good-bye and eased herself gracefully into the next stage.

But back to see, the last time I was here, my husband was such an incredible support for me. Losing Coal was horrible and I was not prepared to handle it. Dan was there every step of the way. He let me cry, he held me, he supported me. Oh heck, I was a wreck and he still loved me. So tonight, I wanted to live up to that wonderful & supportive example.

I wasn't perfect...I guess I pictured myself as a strong individual carrying us both through the moment. The truth is that I couldn't speak after I asked my Mom-In-Law to meet us at the vets. I broke down while asking our vet friend to meet us to handle the final moments. I felt utterly helpless & useless while standing by & watching my husband come to a conclusion that I knew in my gut was the truth. And I blubbered to my husband's non-doggy-type boss about how he wouldn't be in to work because we had to put a dog to sleep...

But regardless of my personal emotion, I did my very best and all that matters is that I held my husband with love, gave his head a soft shoulder to land on, cried together, carefully wiped his tears, thought to bring a soft blanket to wrap his beloved dog in and suggested the prettiest place on our property for her final resting place.

Sadie helped to teach me selflessness. She loved Dan above herself. She looked at him with loving eyes and she always had a shoulder to lean on when times weren't perfect. That's a tough act to follow, but Sadie made it look easy and effortless. I can't help but feel that Sadie was guiding us this evening - I know she had an impact on me....

From my heart, I want to say "Sadie, we love you so very much".

Monday, March 9, 2009

Client's Dogs - The Relationship We Have

Working with my client's dogs is an honor and something I take very seriously.  I also treat my client's dogs as if they were my own.

My dogs are my "children" in that they are a part of my family, I love them, I care for them, I think of their best interests and I want to provide positive experiences for them.  I approach the relationship with my client's dogs in much the same way, while also keeping in mind the goal for which I was hired to achieve.

The relationship I have with my client's dogs inevitably becomes bonding and personal for both of us during the training time.  Don't get me wrong, the dog's still LOVE thier owners, but I do get a chance to step in as a surrogate 'Mom'.  

What makes it personal and allows the bonding to occur is that I let the dogs see my silly playful side, sometimes they live in our home for an extended period and I always rejoice & share in the excitement when they're successful at something. 

The point is, I often do bond with the dogs and get to enjoy their distinct personalities.  Tala, pictured above, is one of my favorites.  Her Mom, a client who has become one of my best friends, brought her over to my yard for some fun playtime during one of our many snow storms over the last few days.  I took the snow opportunity to take pictures of my dogs and also Tala. In the past, I've only photographed my own dogs and so it was an honor to take some time to photograph her.

It's interesting, but not surprising, that I was drawn to Tala's eyes.  The eyes say a lot about the soul and Tala's a very neat dog.  She's very smart, intense, honest, she loves attention, but she's also an independent & thinking dog.  She's not the type to be won over with just food or toys and she's not the kind of dog you could try to force into doing something she wasn't subscribing to.  I think that's a big reason I like her so much!  With Tala, you've got to be an open book and while you can't be a pushover, you better have your ducks in a row and be clear on your training expectations because she'll call you on it if you're not!

After taking about 30 pictures of Tala (on top of the many pics of my own dogs), I took some time today to crop them.  I was amazed at how consistent Tala was in the pictures.  She was as solid as a rock and there were so many good shots.  Enough that I really started to play with the cropping and cut out all but her eyes in several shots as a different way of looking at her.

I've since uploaded the pictures on my account so her Mom & Dan could enjoy them as well.  I guess the creative part of me was wanting to come out and I wanted to share a little gift with her human parents as well.

Thanks Tala for the great shots and for posing in the snow for me! : )

A Day Full of Interest!

OK, the interests mentioned in my title maybe interesting to just me, but boy was it a day!

It started out a bit "off" since we had to spring our clocks ahead an hour last night. That meant a nice lazy morning just hanging with the dogs, going out to breakfast with my husband and enjoying the beautiful snow that had fallen while we slept.

Next, we were off to Home Depot to return quite a bit of extra wood & supplies from our current project (a mud room, which is really going to be a very large 23x8' dog & hobby room for me).  Of course we needed to buy different items for the next phase of the project which is installing the fully insulated & raised floors where the dog beds & crates will be located (it looks amazing!).

What made this trip & the day special was the snow storm we got to enjoy for a few hours.  It was like Christmas! The type of snow that makes you want to bring out your sled or skis, curl up next to a warm fire and just watch the huge flakes fall.  The dogs had a wonderful time playing out in back - their Aunti Becky came over and let them out while we were on our way back so they had lots of play time, even while we shopped at HD.

Once the floor project was started, I came in to do the exciting chores like cleaning the bathrooms, dusting & more...I'll admit, there had to have been an inch of dust and dog hair in the place, but this is my first weekend home in quite awhile and it will be my last for a bit as well.

Ru was off at the Seattle K.C. show this weekend showing in Conformation by her Auntie Angel. Angel mentioned how stressful the show can be and it comes out in people's actions.  Ru was in heat and even though bitches in season are allowed to participate in Conformation, poor Angel got the brunt of it from some overly stressed and unrealistic folks.  Angel's got a way of taking odd situations, keeping them realistic and simply laugh at the ridiculous nonsense around the show ring - I wish I had her knack!  At any rate, that's EXACTLY why I chose not to go to this show - the nonsense.

My observation of Conformation shows has been both good and bad.  Unfortunately, when it's bad, it's been REALLY bad! There are quite a few nice people in Conformation and being an optimist, I can't help but believe most are like that.  Unfortunately, as is true with most situations, the one's who aren't so positive or nice really have a way of sticking in your mind and tend to elicit very strong negative opinions.

I can understand why movies such as Best In Show where made and why quite a few non-conformation folks, including the general public, have a negative opinion on the world of Dog Shows.  From their point of view, we are odd ducks (me included!). Odd ducks are great, but when those ducks act like an elitists, it turns off those who aren't tough minded, confident in the dog field (btw - that's everyone with less than a decade of experience) & thick skinned.

Any way, my point is that I can't help but think that at times, the AKC is bringing on our own negative publicity by our ridiculous actions.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reiki Class I - Trainer Education

I'm big on my own education and attend at least 2-5 seminars each year, not to mention the countless videos, books, magazines, organizations and coaches I take advantage of. Today's seminar was for my own personal interest on Reiki - read on to find out more : )


Often times I feel a connection with my animals. I can't see it, I can't put scientific evidence to it, but I can FEEL it. When my dog is laying next to me, there's a certain comfort & connection that occurs when I make eye contact, smile at or place my hand on them.  I can  feel it and based on their positive reaction, I firmly believe that they can as well.  

Sure, you can argue the pleasure of a simple touch is self-rewarding for some animals and maybe even for me...and some even say that animals love us only because we provide food for them. But I'm a dreamer - I want to believe that my animals love me because they have chosen to do so.  Further, I want to believe that on some spiritual level, we're connected.

Reiki, which literally means spirit life force is one of the Eastern philosophies and is based on the belief that everything has an energy. I find this interesting since in science, all things living and non-living are made up of molecules & atoms.  No molecules, no atoms, no object, no life force...

 A little about Reiki

"Like their counterparts in traditional Chinese medicine who use acupuncture, as well as their counterparts in the West who use therapeutic touch (TT), the practitioners of reiki believe that health and disease are a matter of the life force being disrupted. Each believes that the universe is full of energy which cannot be detected by any scientific instruments but which can be felt and manipulated by special people who learn the tricks of the trade. Reiki healers differ from acupuncturists in that they do not try to unblock a person'ski, but to channel the ki of the universe so that the person heals. The channeling is done with the hands, and, like TT no physical massaging is necessary since ki flows through the body of the healer into the patient via the air. The reiki master claims to be able to draw upon the energy of the universe and increase his or her own energy while performing a healing."

Reiki is definitely one of those things where although it has a well-documented history, Reiki itself is not necessarily scientifically based.  I'm the first to admit that even reading the description above makes me think of voodoo dolls and magic tricks.  However, I have to refer back to molecules, atoms and all kinds of small things that make up the universe and everything in it - couldn't these things be considered a universal life force?

What did attracted me to Reiki is the following:

  1. Reiki is similar to meditation. It's about letting our thoughts go, being at peace & letting positive energy flow through us. 
  2. Reiki is very grounding and relaxing for the giver and the receiver. In Reiki, the universal life force creates warm hands when it flows through the giver. The giver gently places their warm hands on the recipient - think heat pad, hot soup, holding a warm coffee cup, etc. - all very comforting.
  3. With Reiki, I get to take my warm hands, place them on my dog(s) and just be with them. Reiki requires no detailed & speciality knowledge by me and I don't have to try to "figure out" where or if there is a problem area on the recipient.
  4. With Reiki, there is no need for physical manipulation or other specialty training (such as with massage and physical therapists) and I don't have to be a doctor, chiropractor or acupuncturist - I can just be me and simply act as a conduit for the universal energy around us.
  5. Best part - I only have to focus on being in the moment and what is below my hands.
Now, I get the spiritual portion of Reiki can throw people.  I mean first there is the leap of faith that the universal energy Reiki is based on exists. Next, who is to believe that an individual is strong enough to channel such energy through their hands and lastly, common folks can do this?

I'm sure there are more questions to be asked, but at some point one chooses to take the positive and just go with it.  With Reiki, that's what I've chosen to do. I believe in the power of touch, I believe in my invisible feelings and I trust in a relationship bond that can't be measured - so why not believe that the warmth in my hands (whether from the universal life force or an increased flow of circulation) is a good thing? : )

For Reiki classes in the Washington area, I recommend  you'll enjoy Polly very much.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Class Course - March 4, 2009

For class course challenges, I often take the course from a previous week, make some interesting changes by adding in what I feel is a great skill to be practicing and keep a few things the same. Of course my students don't realize there is a plan to my madness and they come in thinking "Oh, this is just like last week..." WRONG!

Each week I want to challenge my students to think and not become complacent.  However, at the same time, I want them to recognize patterns and to tackle them with confidence. That's why along with the new challenges, I will often keep similar sequences from prior weeks so they have an opportunity to run them again and solidify their skill.  This helps the skill become ingrained & become a natural part of their skill set.

Check out last week's course as compared to this week's course to see the differences.

On this week's course, I made a few subtle changes such as a  chute, a serpentine (which happens to be taken twice from two different angles) and I adjusted the #9 jump and the #11 & #12 jumps so that the angles were more exaggerated.

After running the course, here are the skills I had each team work on:
  1. Leading out to the end of the chute, making eye contact with the dog and using their lead hand, to "draw" the path from the jump to the chute entrance.
  2. Picking up the dog on the right side after the chute and sending them to the #3 jump.  Most handlers wanted to immediately start turning toward the #4 jump prior to the dog's commitmet and needed to be reminded to have their shoulders facing #3, to have their weight on their right leg and to be supporting the jump with their right arm.
  3. In the #3 to #4 serpentine, handlers need to be sure to call the dog over #4 by dropping their right hand to their BACK (in this case, right) leg.  Be sure not to lean forward, which encourages the dog to by-pass #4 (not what you want).
  4. Send the dog up to the #7 jump and do a Front Cross closer to the a-frame vs. a F/C closer to the #7 jump which results in a bad angle to the a-frame for the dog (although an experienced dog should be able to compensate).
  5. Be sure to push up to and support the #9 jump.  Check out the handler path I've posted in green - it's different from the real world where most handlers chose to follow their dog down to the end of the teeter.  This is where independent contacts come in handy and I highly recommend you teach them to your dog (this also means you need a clear criteria of what the contact performance should be) so that you can stay out of the pocket after the teeter and put yourself in a better place to manage jump #11 & 12.  By staying out of the pocket, handlers are able to get themselves to the landing side of the #11 jump, which provides a clear and smooth path for the sequences' to come.
  6. The next challenge was #18-20.  There are several ways to work this sequence.  Wed's classes worked it with front crosses & Thurs' classes worked it by using a post turn and then a f/c so they picked the dog up on their right and pulled them between the serpentine jumps.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Class Course - Feb 25, 2009

This course is a take-off from an exercise from the Stacy Peardot-Goudy Novice seminar Ru & I attended.  The main difference from Stacy's course was that she had another tunnel approximately where the #10 & #11 jumps are located.

The biggest challenges were:
1) #3 to #4 (people didn't drive down to the tunnel exit to pick up their dog - remember, where the dog's head goes, the rest of the body will follow. Get the dog's head turned toward the #4 jump, don't assume they're going to automatically turn into you especially since they see the dog-walk as they exit the tunnel.

2) #13, #14 & #15 - If handlers met the dog at the end of the #13 tunnel, they were behind for the straight line of jumps coming next on the course which resulted in dogs curling in toward the a-frame.  

The key to this sequence is to push the dog into the tunnel, stay on the right side of the jumps (dog on left), get yourself to the landing side of #14 while keeping your left lead hand pointed over the jump and at the dog (so you're looking over your shoulder) and to make eye contact with your dog as they came out of the tunnel - these two strong signals are a clear indicator to the dog of your expected path). As the dog moves toward the #14 jump, the handler can execute a front cross between #14 & #15 and move down the line toward #16.

3) The next challenging place on the course was #18 - #20.  An earlier front cross before the a-frame should easily put the handler on the other side of the a-frame (dog now on left) and ahead of the dog.  By being ahead of the dog at the #19 jump, the handler can cue an "early" (code word for TIMELY) front cross prior to the dog taking off for the jump and by using the right hand, which indicates the side the handler will be picking the dog up on upon completion of the course.  

Immediately after picking the dog up on the right, the handler must FULLY turn to the left and commit their movement to the tunnel so the dog isn't left wondering if they're going back up the a-frame of to another obstacle on the way to the tunnel.

This last sequence is a true test as to what our shoulders are saying.

4) Last, but not least, handlers need to drive down to the end of the weave poles, especially since the poles are heading toward a wall.  When heading into a wall, dogs tend to pull-up and handlers can't afford to do the same.

Overall, this course was run best when handlers chose to be SILENT rather than racing to throw out verbal command after verbal command.  Running the course using mainly body language allows handlers to focus on the task & skill needed in the moment since this was a fast moving course that required handling.  Verbal "here's" and "come" wasn't going to cut it on this one because there were so many options and so much real estate to cover between obstacle #1 - #22.

Give this course a try and see how it runs for you.  Remember the points mentioned above and thank you Stacy for a wonderful course with a ton of exercises.

A Training Plan/Log - Intro

My husband and I joined a gym a while back and I've been working toward getting back in the groove of working out.  I like free-weights & weight machines, but I don't have the desire to remember all of the weight numbers or reps I'm working at for each of the machines or exercises I do.

Sounds lazy, I know, but several things come into play 1) I don't want to reinvent the wheel each time I return to a machine, 2) I often change up my workout plan/exercises based on my goals (who can remember what poundage I did last week), 3) I have both daily, weekly and long-term goals (i.e. lots of numbers & information to already track in my head)  and more importantly, 3) I just want to plug my ipod in, veg out and then get on with my busy day.

To help me track it all and to free up my mind to focus on the tasks at hand, I bought a cute & small pink sparkly covered note pad.  The sparkles were a bit of an indulgence, but hey, gotta have some fun while sweating!  With this book, I can track the type of exercise, the weights & repetitions used on it and more.

You might be wondering what this has to do with Dog Training.  Well, all of the points above are true for the time I spend with my dogs.  1) Not reinvent the wheel, 2) often change plan/exercises based on goals, 3) daily, weekly & long-term goals, and 4) I just want to be in the moment with my dog.

Over the next several weeks, I'm going to discuss the Training Plan/Logs that I use and I'll share a few of my goal sheets as well.  I've spent the last 5 years on this plan and you'll have an opportunity to help me finalize a few things that I'm sure will be helpful in your life as well.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

In a friend's blog they talked about how they went on-line and took the Myers-Briggs Personality test.  Well of course I was intrigued - I love new things & learning is way cool!  Back in the day when I was in Corporate America, every few years a boss would come up with this "brilliant" idea to have their entire group take some sort of personality test.

One test typed people as Thinkers, Feelers or Doers and depending on your personality, the T, D & F would change order with the most dominant trait coming next.  I was a big D (doer) and my F & T were about equal.

Another test put people in color categories: Red, Green, Blue, etc. I don't remember what color I was, but I do remember thinking this one reminded me of either the game Twister or Kindergarten - I always thought it a bit dumbed down to put college educated & grown adults into a color category!

And then there is the Myer-Briggs Personality Test which has long since been the most complete personality profiling of all.  For those that think personality testing is akin to reading your horoscopes (which by the way, I'm a Pisces) - why not give this a try and see how accurate it is? The link is:  You'll also get the results for the Keirsey test as well (mine is at the bottom of this note).  

I took the Myers-Briggs test and below are my results. I have to admit that after having read the description of me, I feel much better.  While growing up, there often were times that it was obvious I didn't think the same way as most people, even though my thoughts seemed perfectly logical to me. The explanation below hit the mark with me and made me feel like I wasn't a weirdo.  I mean if they've got me categorized, I must be "normal"...right?

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

I'm an: Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

ENFJs are the benevolent 'pedagogues' of humanity. They have tremendous charisma by which many are drawn into their nurturant tutelage and/or grand schemes. Many ENFJs have tremendous power to manipulate others with their phenomenal interpersonal skills and unique salesmanship. But it's usually not meant as manipulation -- ENFJs generally believe in their dreams, and see themselves as helpers and enablers, which they usually are.

ENFJs are global learners. They see the big picture. The ENFJs focus is expansive. Some can juggle an amazing number of responsibilities or projects simultaneously. Many ENFJs have tremendous entrepreneurial ability.

ENFJs are, by definition, Js, with whom we associate organization and decisiveness. But they don't resemble the SJs or even the NTJs in organization of the environment nor occasional recalcitrance. ENFJs are organized in the arena of interpersonal affairs. Their offices may or may not be cluttered, but their conclusions (reached through feelings) about people and motives are drawn much more quickly and are more resilient than those of their NFP counterparts.

ENFJs know and appreciate people. Like most NFs, (and Feelers in general), they are apt to neglect themselves and their own needs for the needs of others. They have thinner psychological boundaries than most, and are at risk for being hurt or even abused by less sensitive people. ENFJs often take on more of the burdens of others than they can bear.

TRADEMARK: "The first shall be last"

This refers to the open-door policy of ENFJs. One ENFJ colleague always welcomes me into his office regardless of his own circumstances. If another person comes to the door, he allows them to interrupt our conversation with their need. While discussing that need, the phone rings and he stops to answer it. Others drop in with a 'quick question.' I finally get up, go to my office and use the call waiting feature on the telephone. When he hangs up, I have his undivided attention!

Functional Analysis:

Extraverted Feeling

Extraverted Feeling rules the ENFJ's psyche. In the sway of this rational function, these folks are predisposed to closure in matters pertaining to people, and especially on behalf of their beloved. As extraverts, their contacts are wide ranging. Face-to-face relationships are intense, personable and warm, though they may be so infrequently achieved that intimate friendships are rare.

Introverted iNtuition

Like their INFJ cousins, ENFJs are blessed through introverted intuition with clarity of perception in the inner, unconscious world. Dominant Feeling prefers to find the silver lining in even the most beggarly perceptions of those in their expanding circle of friends and, of course, in themselves. In less balanced individuals, such mitigation of the unseemly eventually undermines the ENFJ's integrity and frequently their good name. In healthier individuals, deft use of this awareness of the inner needs and desires of others enables this astute type to win friends, influence people, and avoid compromising entanglements.

The dynamic nature of their intuition moves ENFJs from one project to another with the assurance that the next one will be perfect, or much more nearly so than the last. ENFJs are continually looking for newer and better solutions to benefit their extensive family, staff, or organization.

Extraverted Sensing

Sensing is extraverted. ENFJs can manage details, particularly those necessary to implement the prevailing vision. These data have, however, a magical flexible quality. Something to be bought can be had for a song; the same something is invaluable when it's time to sell. (We are not certain, but we suspect that such is the influence of the primary function.) This wavering of sensory perception is made possible by the weaker and less mature status with which the tertiary is endowed.

Introverted Thinking

Introverted Thinking is least apparent and most enigmatic in this type. In fact, it often appears only when summoned by Feeling. At times only in jest, but in earnest if need be, Thinking entertains as logical only those conclusions which support Feeling's values. Other scenarios can be shown invalid or at best significantly inferior. Such "Thinking in the service of Feeling" has the appearance of logic, but somehow it never quite adds up.

Introverted Thinking is frequently the focus of the spiritual quest of ENFJs. David's lengthiest psalm, 119, pays it homage. "Law," "precept," "commandment," "statute:" these essences of inner thinking are the mysteries of Deity for which this great Feeler's soul searched. Personality

All Idealists (NFs) share the following core characteristics:

  • Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
  • Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic.
  • Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
  • Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.
Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the "not visible" or the "not yet" that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Excellent JWW - Columbus, OH

This was a fast and fun running course from the trial this past weekend in Columbus, OH.  There were two areas that seemed to cause the most problems, however, the majority of the dogs ran it great and only by being really picky did I come up with these two areas

The first area was  between jumps #9 & #10.  Several folks put a front cross in between the two jumps.  If they left the dog at the poles and were able to clearly be in front of their dog there was no issue.  However, if they were with their dogs, their motion tended to push the dog toward the off course jump #13 and they were left begging "HERE"! Also, an early front cross left folks cutting the line between #10 & #11 close and they really had to push to #11, which created another hard call off from the tunnel and also the #2 jump so they could get the dog back on track to #12.

The other area that posed a challenge was #15 to #16.  Several folks pulled away to start the long ending run before the dog committed to #16 and the dog pulled in, incurring a run-out.

I seem to be leaning toward the notion that the most errors occurred on course are from a handler not supporting a jump/obstacle.  For the heck of it, I'm going to really start watching this even more to see if this is correct.

Basically, it seems obstacle performance (i.e. contacts/table) & an unsupported obstacle are the most errors in agility....anyone have any thoughts on this?