Saturday, December 4, 2010
Well I should be able to update with lots of news of agility, but sadly that isn't the case. Partly due to the van breaking down again (can't say anything more about that in case it becomes a court case) and partly because all recent training has been cancelled due to snow.
There has been one of my monthly training days with Lee Windeatt since the last post. I had lots of really positive comments from people who came. Unfortunately as I warmed Zazzy up for her lesson she scraped her pad. It healed in a couple of days, but it did mean that I couldn't run her in her lesson. Booo. So much effort goes into organising the training days!
I was really pleased with Deece. We still have contacts, weaves and tight turns to do (not much then!), I hope the weather won't prevent that happening!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In her agility, Zazzy's contacts and weaves were not as good or confident as I was hoping, the volume of dogs and distractions definately affected her, but she does look happy at the end. My handling of the line before the turn to the dogwalk could have been better, I was relying on calling to her to turn, when I should have got my right hand up to indicate a turn coming up as well!
Jumping class - I called too early and pulled her off a jump.
Second jumping class. Bit messy as she came out the tunnel, I was too late in indicating the rear cross.
There were times (especially in the queues) that Zazzy got quite stressed about the other dogs around her. Although it was amazing to see how she transformed when she realised that she recognised her friend all of a sudden! I still have lots of thinking to do about helping her cope with scary lunging dogs, flags etc.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Deece, 14 months old. When Deece was a puppy I had noticed that he prefered always to lead in the canter with his left leg. I did a lot of circle games with him using cones, and this seemed to help him become balanced using either lead leg. I had completely forgotten about this until Lee put up a figure 8 jumping exercise to teach him to change the lead leg. I recreated it and videoed it so that I could see how he was doing (hard to see while you are working with the dog!).
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
This seems a good point to refer back to something Stuart said in his seminar that I found particularly interesting, so I have done a little more googling to find out more.
He talked about why it hurts when a joint becomes immobilised. This can happen if a joint is hyper-extended (taken beyond its natural position), because muscles around the joint then 'clamp down' to protect it from damage (the feeling of muscles going into spasm). The theory for this pain is explained by the The "gate control theory" proposed by Melzach and Wall (1965).
In the gate model of pain, the neural fibers that carry the signal for pain and those that carry the signal for proprioception* are mediated through the same central junction. Because signal transmission along pain fibers is slower than transmission along proprioception fibers, the gate model suggests that intense stimulation of proprioception fibers can block the slower-moving pain signals.
This means that when your vertebrae or other joints are free to move normally, there is proprioceptive feedback constantly occupying your neural pathways, so you feel no pain. However, if a joint becomes immobilised there is no proprioceptive feedback mechanism occurring to block the pain signals, so you feel pain.
The "gate control theory" proposed by Melzach and Wall (1965, 1979) identify cellular structures in the substantia gelatinosa in the gray matter of the dorsal horns of the spinal cord, which act as a "gate" that when "open" allows the perception of pain through the reticular formation and thalmus, with response from the limbic system, among others. When the mechanism is stimulated to "close," the gate inhibits the perception of pain. Two types of fibers as identified by Melzach and Wall affect the way pain "gets past, or affects the gate." Small fibers affect the "T cell" and act to "open the gate" when noxious stimulation occur. Larger fibers affect the "SG cells" located in the substantia gelatinosa in the gray matter of the dorsal horn to act in response to proprioception and touch during changes in body movement. They inhibit the T cell response and "close the gate." This in theory changes the course of noxious or painful stimuli, and causes a natural analgesic effect. "Inhibition of pain is increased by stimulating the mechanoreceptors (larger-fibers) in two ways: by movement and activity of muscles and joints, and by manipulation of the joint."
Melzach R, Wall PD. Pain mechanisms: A new theory. Science 150:1965; p. 971.
Melzach, Wall. Gate Control Theory. Churchill Livingston; 1979; pgs. 21-23.
What this means is that by correct manipulation to re-establish normal joint position and movement in a joint, the pain disappears.
Proprioception refers to sensory information telling us about our own movement or body position, so that we do not have to look to see where our body parts are to know where they are and what they are doing. It provides perception that helps integrate touch and movement sensations. For example, it allows us to walk in complete darkness or touch-type. Receptors for the proprioceptive sense are in the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue. The stimuli for these receptors are movement and gravity. Proprioception, the "position sense," sends messages about whether the muscles are stretching or contracting, and how the joints are bending and straightening. Even when we are motionless, gravity stimulates the receptors to create proprioceptive messages without our being consciously aware of them.
Kinesthesia is a term that is often used interchangeably with proprioception, although use of the term "kinesthesia" can place a greater emphasis on motion, and they seem to be separate physiologically. Proprioception and kinesthesia are seen as interrelated and there is considerable disagreement regarding the definition of these terms. Some differentiate the kinesthetic sense from proprioception by excluding the sense of equilibrium or balance from kinesthesia. An inner ear infection, for example, might degrade the sense of balance. This would degrade the proprioceptive sense, but not the kinesthetic sense. The affected individual would be able to walk, but only by using the sense of sight to maintain balance; the person would be unable to walk with eyes closed. Proprioception is, in essence, a feedback mechanism; that is, the body moves (or is moved) and then the information about this is returned to the brain, whereby subsequent adjustments could be made. Kinesthesia is a key component in muscle memory and hand-eye (or paw-eye!) coordination, and training can improve this sense. For example, the ability to catch a ball requires a finely-tuned sense of the position of the joints. This sense needs to become automatic through training to enable a person to concentrate on other aspects of performance, such as being aware of where other people and objects are.
Monday, November 1, 2010
A lovely calm relaxing hour walking in Richmond Park before work was very welcome, as everything has been extremely hectic and busy recently. Fab weekend, I organised a training day at the Dog Barn on Saturday, which all went really well. I trained Deece, Zazzy and Kaydee with Lee which was brilliant (no video though sorry). I also ran two co-ordination and balance workshops which went really well, while Lee taught two more training sessions. Quite a long day, exhilerating and exhausting, learnt a lot, and met some lovely people and dogs. I have had lots of really lovely positive feedback for both our courses, so thanks everyone for that, for coming along, being fantastic to teach, and for making it all so worthwhile and enjoyable.
I might get round to writign summaries if I have time!
Monday, October 25, 2010
So, time to put a training plan in place...
Well last year I trained with a lot of different, very good, people. I was looking for someone who could help me with Zazzy. Of course at the end of the day (/year) there was no magic wand or secret to help with her lack of omph. In fact, with hindsight, as she is such a sensitive soul, it could be possible that trying different things might have knocked her confidence and slowed her down. SO consistency in her training over this winter is what I'm aiming for. Huge thanks to Karen and Toni Dawkins who talked this through with me. We are very sad to loose Toni from the UK, our loss is Belgiums' gain. Anyway, I asked who she would recommend that I take Zazzy to for training, and she said Lee Windeatt. I have seen how good he is with Beep, as well as needing no introduction concerning his own dogs of course. Setting up training, however, has not been that straight forward, as neither of us have our own place to train. So I am arranging one training day a month, so that other people can also benefit from his training, so that hiring a venue becomes affordable, and so that it is worthwhile for Lee as well.
Phase one then, before even starting to train, Lee wanted me to get Zazzy driving to a static toy. Easier said then done, but I have perservered with this, and what good advice it was. I am now seeing the benefit of it. As I was running Becky this weekend I remembered that I did use static toys all the time until more recent training with Zazzy. I stopped using them as Zazzy was completely disinterested in them. However, we have played and played and played, and she is now happily running to her toy. Before I was always throwing toys, running and tugging with her, and giving her lots of verbal encouragement. Lee wanted me to stand still, cue once, and let her get on with it. I have done this with lines of jumps, weaves and sending Zazzy onto the dog walk so that she goes to the end on her own. This has built her confidence in what she is doing. Although she was pretty slow at first, that has improved as the reward is always waiting ahead of her.
Kaydee is doing little bits. She looks a bit 'scuttley' to me, she puts in lots of little strides. She extends well over jumps but can't, or won't, extend her strides to bounce between even the lowest jumps. This could be due to bad memories, as she couldn't do this when her back hurt, or it could be physical. I am, however, obsessive about watching her to detect any indication of pain, stiffness or lack of extension. I can't see any, and she seems soooo much happier in herself too these days. I have also realised (thanks Natasha!) that when I run her 'properly' she looks really good, if I keep watching her as she runs, she becomes hesitant ('what's the matter? What's the matter?') I will keep working on her fitness (carefully!), especially trying to build up the muscles in her back end, meanwhile I am just trying to give her big spaces and short exercises, and to get her driving forwards. Her contacts are pretty good, I am now proofing them by sending, recalling and running as fast as I can past her, front crossing at the end etc.
Deece is 13 1/2 months old now and starting to learn about agility equipment. We have done straight lines to a dead toy, and a front cross using a fan of three jumps. He is learning his end position in 2 on 2 off contacts. This video was taken this last weekend, this exercise puts together a recall, send on and front cross.
At the end of a good weekend, some training and lots of lovely walks.... I need a bigger sofa!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I wanted to increase Zazzy's drive to a static ball. I have been working on tugging and chasing a thrown ball seems like forever, but 'dead' toys are of little interest to her. If I put a ball down, Deece or Kaydee run to the ball and get it, and they think that's fun. If I call them they bring it back to me, and sometimes we then play with the toy. Or I reward that, or we might move on to something else and use the ball as a reward.
If I put down a ball for Zazzy, she just looks at me. I decided to use treats to reward interest in the ball. She looked at the treats and offered a down, a wave, and a number of other behaviors. I put the ball down close, and rewarded her for moving vaguely towards the ball, then upped my criteria so that she would run to it and touch it. But sometimes she stopped briefly to look back at me before running to it. At first I just waited until she touched the ball, marked and rewarded, then thought that I didn't want her stopping, I want her to go fast and direct. So I called her back when she stopped, to try again, but in that split second she had already turned back to touch it... grr. Reward or ignore? I ignored that and asked her to try again. She stopped, she went to go, she stopped again, she came back. So I put the ball in my hand for her to nose touch from a close distance, but now she thinks this is a nose touch exercise, when what I want to do is get her to find running to the ball rewarding. I tried to move the ball away from me but she just offered loads of other behaviors again instead of going towards it. Hmm. Got Deece out, held Zazzy and let Deece go get the ball. She seemed excited by this. Held Deece, let Zazzy go to get the ball..... she stopped, looked round, lay down, whined at me. ... oh my. If you have a dog that is easy to reward, rejoice and count your lucky stars!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Results have been.... mixed. The Lake District holiday was fantastic, fabulous, and fun. Zazzy won two grade 4 classes at Lune Valley, and her first grade 5 class seemed to arrive very quickly after that, at the Rugby show. Unfortunately, following a (to other dogs maybe!) fairly innocuous incident, Zazzy had a few weeks during which she left the weaves early (all it took to spook Zazzy was a judge cutting across a cloth tunnel travelling towards her while she was in the weaves, while rushing to get into position to mark our up-coming A-frame). So in training I upped her rewards for weaving, and then proofed them by stopping and starting, waving my arms, and generally running about erratically. Then I got some friends to run up and down alongside her in the weaves as well. Good girl she coped with that. So that took us up to Rugby and her first g5 class. At Rugby I was horrified when she emerged from the van on three legs half way through the weekend. I packed up and went home, full of dread and worry, to find her pretty much sound again when we got home. After careful searching I found what looked like a sting on her foot. Poor Zazzy, but at the same time, phew! Glad it wasn’t anything worse! We went to the UKA Nationals and I judged and trained Zazzy. At the Agility Club show we had an Olympia novice qualifier, but were a second off the lead and came 6th. At Burridge we were very close to the lead time, just like last year she came 4th (top 3 qualify). But this year we were lucky! Sharon had already qualified, so we were through to the semi!!! Wooo hoooo!!! I enjoyed the the KC International Festival, I had a much better camping spot not too far away and that made a huge difference. On the ring where I was helping, I really felt for the ring manager who had to contend with people offering his garden fence to their dogs for them to pee up, plus people leaning on and denting his van, and some other really really rude people. Zazzy’s performance was a bit erratic, she came 2nd in one class, but was slow in others, however she did qualify for the novice cup final. We had an awful run in the final, in the main ring, she didn’t want to move towards the edge of the ring and missed out parts of the course…. Oh dear! Around that time she began missing weave entries regularly and I didn’t know if this was due to a physical reason or another ‘thought process’. I took her to a chiropractor, who found something and did an adjustment, and after that she could weave again… how guilty did I feel! Always worth getting your dog checked out! At the same time, however, I had been very quick to say 'weave' followed by 'yes' when she entered the weaves, and so she had been wrongly told she was correct a number of times for getting the weave entry but then skipping the next pole. So I made sure I said 'weave, weave' and waited until she completed them before telling her she was good. So maybe that was a large part of it as well. Anyway, next it was Dogs In Need. Again Zazzy got trophies in some classes, and was not so good in others, but she qualified for the finals (video already posted in the last blog). She doesn’t normally hit poles, and in fact I think the one she hit in her final run is only the second she has knocked this year! She did look very tired by the end of the week though. Some dogs seem to get fitter the more they compete, and I am a little worried that she looked so tired, after all it is only 9 runs in total over the week. DIN was our last show, so just the Olympia semi to go. Zazzy had one week off, and one week with minimal training before ‘The Big One’. So the day arrived, and we had a warm up run first, where I thought she ran quite well, and she came 2nd. Out of 36 competitors, 16 get through to Olympia, so we pretty much hope that a clear round will be enough. However, it was not to be. Zazzy missed the weave entry (OK it was quite a hard entry from a tunnel), and just to make sure we didn’t scrape in on 5 faults, hit the long jump on the run home too. Oh well never mind, I’m pretty pleased with her for getting there. We can all have 20/20 vision with hindsight, and it’s clearer to me now that she runs a notch down in competition compared with training, and that she feels any pressure, and is affected by anything she doesn’t like (rain, heat, other people or dogs moving or making a noise, strange looking objects…. Etc etc) so I think that continuing to work on motivation, drive, looking more to me for reward, and counter-conditioning as many distractions as I can, is my way forward over the winter. And more weave training (after a thorough check out!!) of course!!
Very slowly and gradually Kaydee has been doing more agility. It has taken all year, but she is now doing full height jumps and all the equipment. I was over the moon, my optimism was beginning to grow, and I arranged for her to start training at North Downs, which has a superb surface in an indoor school (just what she needs for winter training, I want to avoid any slipping!). She was due to start in about half an hour.... but a couple of days ago I took her for a run, and she was pacing rather than trotting. This flags a potential problem, it could mean that she is uncomfortable. So I booked her in to see an osteopath tonight instead of starting her first agility class in two years. I can't see anything so want a professional opinion. Would you believe it, the clutch has gone on my van, which means we are not going anywhere tonight. Boooo.
Deece has just turned a year old. He is really gorgeous, a lovely friendly, happy soul. He is keen, motivated, loves toys, switches easily from toys to food and back, we have done lots of foundation work (crate games, shadow handling, co-ordination and balance, cone games etc.) and I am really looking forward to starting some equipment with him. Well he has already met a plank, tunnels, small jumps. Will try and get some video of him.
Well, she is fabulous (and noisy) as ever. We are still having fun, doing some bits of agility, but now that she is approaching 11 I am not thinking of doing agility competitively any more, although she certainly still enjoys coming out to play. Everything now is just for her enjoyment. Yes with little 'serious' training she is becoming even naughtier in her old age! But she certainly owes me nothing and deserves as much fun as she can have.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
My gorgeous Blue Eyed Boy was given peace this week, after six months of worsening heart trouble, fitting, and loosing the use of his hind legs. How lucky I am to have had Boogie in my life. He really lived life to the full, and made the most of every situation. He was a full-on happy and playful boy, he loved to rip up cardboard boxes (the bigger the better!), loved to run, and loved any type of ball (in particular footballs!! Although any ball would do, and he was rarely without one.) He was a master ball finder, if we ever left home without one, he was sure to locate one while out on the walk whatever the terrain or weather, day or night. His motto was 'Let's Play'. It was very hard to bear the day that he stopped wanting to play.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
and lastly found my way to the top of the big hill that overlooks the showground (forgotten what it is called though) (and forgot to take the camera too) on my last morning.
I then left for the Tuffley show (Berkely House, Gloucestershire). Another fantastic venue.
I really enjoyed my weekend at Tuffley as well. Zazzy again was running really well, but I made mistakes. In her KC qualifier I said 'go' thinking she would move off the A-frame with me, but she was very good and went straight on just like I have trained her, I should have said 'left'. Think I just about recovered quickly enough that she didn't realise my mistake, and despite that elimination she carried on smoothly to do a really good run over the rest of the course. She impressed me with her run round a very tight and tricky course, but seemed to stumble in the weaves and missed the last weave pole. I was later told she had spooked at the judge who was rushing very close by over the cloth tunnel to get to the A-frame. So more distraction training needed! She did a good run in the CSJ qualifier, just missing out on going to the final by less than 0.2 secs (top 2 qualified). I chose to play it safe and front cross to prevent her going down the more obvious end of the tunnel, and lost a bit of time by giving her more ground to cover than necessary there.
Got home Sunday night, and Monday was very lucky to be able to train with Dawn Weaver, Toni Dawkins, Polly and Karen. A fabulous day. Deece's sisters (Galaxy and Lotus) are looking phenominal already, you can really see how slowly and carefully Dawn has taken the first stages of their training, lots of shaping and attention to detail! I was a bit embarrassed to reveal my comparatively rough half started efforts with Deece! Toni made us laugh by saying she can't be doing with all that shaping stuff, she had just plonked Kite on the end of the contact plank and told her she was good. There's probably a bit more involved than that I bet! Toni's baby, 'Cute', is also looking absolutely fabulous. I took the opportunity to do some fast pulls to the 'wrong end' of the tunnel with Zazzy, and got Toni to stomp up and down by the weaves while Zazzy ran through them. Shame I can't have another go at those courses now that I'm ready for them!! I'm really happy for Toni about her move to Belgium, although at the same time sad that we are 'loosing' her. However she promises to come back for a week every month for the foreseeable future, I hope she will be able to keep to that! One last thing I have noticed is how much better Deece is moving - balanced and co-ordinated - follwing our hill walks. I can really see why Silvia Trkman rates her trips into the mountains so highly for getting her dogs physically prepared to do agility.
After the Newton Heath show, it was up to the north-western part of the Lake District where I stayed in Thornthwaite http://www.stayinthornthwaite.co.uk/?c=lanefootfarm&a=index
A farm campsite where the chooks and lambs kept us company:
We had the most wonderful walks in the hills, including Hay Stacks:
Whinlatter Forest (no pictures though), Knot Rigg:
Lords Seat (no pictures, it rained - gasp!! So all we could see was the inside of a cloud!!)
Plus other woods and lakes
Monday, July 5, 2010
Back to earth now with a bump after such a fabulous holiday. I was thinking oh wouldn't it be lovely to live in such a beautiful place? I wonder what that would be like. I would love to live somewhere more dog friendly, with lovely walks close by. My walks in the hills showed me that we are really not fit! Not that I didn't really know that. When I was younger I had plenty of drive and self discipline. In the last few years it has all dwindled! I suppose partly because of retiring Becky and Kaydee and not seeing any immediate reason or motivation to keep pushing myself to keep fit. It's also quite hard around here to find a place to go for walks or runs unhindered. I constantly worry about what other people and other peoples' dogs are doing, since the problems I have had in the past have been so devasting and detrimental. I have to drive 45 mins to get anywhere nice and my time is pretty much already accounted for, working full time, teaching two evenings a week, training one, shopping on the other and then usually off to a show Fridays to Sundays! Oh excuses excuses. When I chose my career I was concerned about the world and the environment, I didn't think making lots of money for moneys sake would be my route to happiness (although naively I didn't realise the salary might be so meagre that I might not have enough to pay for all the necessities!), and had a huge interest in how plants work and plant research. While that is all still true, I have frequent conversations where people have said that they do not believe there is enough proof of man-made climate change, or there is a problem with bees populations crashing (and so what if that happens anyway), etc etc etc. I am not sure quite where the communication has failed but it seems that not everyone thinks that the environment is damaged by human actions, and I'm shocked that people don't think that it's a problem even if the proof is provided that it is. We seem so detached from how important the environment is and how it works. And it depresses me that while there is relatively little money spent finding out more about our planet, how it works so that - at least - we know the extent of the damage/how to prevent more damage/how it can be restored to a healthy state, meanwhile footballers, filmstars, popstars, bankers etc earn such disgustingly huge amounts. Food, air, water, climate affect us all, they are fundamental, precious, how can people think it's not their problem, not worth investing in, not more important than a film, song, bankers' bonus, or football match?
I have never heard anyone say, oh s/he made his/her millions by being a good scientist, have you?
Well I did really really enjoy my holiday in my little caravan (despite its leaky window and barely working fridge), and I suppose at the end of the day at least I can put my hand up and say I did make sacrifices to my life style to try and do what I could. But right now I just feel tired!
Oops that was not really about the holiday sorry. Will finish that later.
Sorry about that rant, not hard to spot the person back at work who wishes they were still on holiday is it?!
It was not my intention to pick on any individual, just to try and point out the (imo) perverse priorities of our society. Look back in history and see how the last trees were cut down on Easter Island to build and move monstrous statues designed to appease the Gods. This lead to environmental degradation, loss of firewood, and the demise of all the people on the island. Such disasters could not destroy such an enlightened civilisation as ours now could it??
Sunday, July 4, 2010
From Arley Hall we travelled on up to the Lake District, where I made camp at a small campsite on a farm. We spent the week walking in the hills, and paddling in the lakes. Mostly glorious weather, it was just fantastic.Lots of sheep meant all dogs had to be kept on a lead at times.....It turns out that Deece is quite a water baby!
Monday, June 14, 2010
I have been to a few shows and really enjoyed them. I was at Thames last weekend, famous for the live band Saturday night which was/is FABULOUS. They have been playing at Thames for 11 years, that's longer than I have been going! I guess people who do agility are active, movement loving people, because boy they love to dance! The place was packed, the atmosphere fantastic, just brilliant. Agility wise I think Zazzy is getting happier and more confident. The weekend before, at Hinckley, her first run was good, but it developed into a very hot day and she hated the heat (not sure I liked it either though), dropping from one or two to more than six seconds off the pace. This weekend I thought she was running really well, the connection was there, she did everthing I asked and we started to run! Loved it. Becky had a go in the veterans class, recognised some old friends in the queue which is lovely, and she thoroughly enjoyed herself as always. Kaydee had a go in the allsorts, and she absolutely flew round. She seems a lot happier in herself these days. I realised that I don't see as much of my friends who are walking different courses and standing in different queues to me these days. The course walking banter was always a lot of fun. But of course if there are championships to go and watch that gives plenty of opportunity to catch up!
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