Lifetime goals?

I waffle between "that's silly" and "it gives me something to work towards" concerning lifetime goals. Today is an "it gives me something to work towards" goal (and it helps I'm eating a fresh Montana Pomegranate caramel).

Thus, today I am posting lifetime goals and where we stand on the quest.

Buzz, since he's the oldest.
Novice Versatility-completed!
ARCH-1/5 QQs
UCDX-nothing... and we may have to scratch that one, but we'll just see

Bailey, since she's the youngest.
Versatile Companion Dog 4-right now we're just working up the ladder. A VCD4 is chock full of "the good stuff" that we aspire to. A VCD2 is next on the list.
JH-we've begun training and right now I'm looking for a new trainer.

Year goals?
Buzz--definitely his ARCH, and maybe we can grab a UCDX Q or 2.
Bailey--definitely her VCD2 and at least enter a hunt test.


The return of "boring-blog" layout is due to the return of an Aroha website. So far, our Home and Buzz pages are nearly complete.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

I'm off to the pet supply store to buy some cat food and NB roll, then I have to work on our camp business card, THEN I hope to get back to work on the new website... oh, wait, after I vacuum the house.

2009 Recap

As the year comes to a close, it's time for the annual recap.

January brought on the celebration of Bailey's ninth birthday. A happy and sad day. I'm thrilled she turned nine and is still here, but I'm sad that she'll be a double digit dog in not too many more days! No trials for us in January as I was in NYC for New Years and I started student teaching at Stonebridge!

February brought no trials once again, but it did bring all normal bloodwork for Buzz. He got a silver wellness panel this year as I was curious about his thyroid. Everything was within normal limits. It was probably a really boring month with me still settling in at Stonebridge. I can't remember.

March brought an AGILITY TRIAL! The first trial for us since August 2008! I was still concerned about Bailey's overall health so she just ran tunnelers (her first time in open) and qualified! Buzz ran in Tunnelers, Weavers, and Jumpers. Qualifying in all of his runs and his weavers Q finished his Novice Versatility! A long sought after title! We got a picture to commemorate it!

What a good boy he is! Click

April brought ANOTHER trial where I had Very Good Dogs. Buzz was only entered in Novice Jumpers where he qualified to finish his Superior Novice Jumpers title (10Qs). His FIRST Superior title! Bailey was my star that day. She was entered in Jumpers, Chances, and both rounds of regular. She qualified in ALL FOUR! What a good girly dog.

In May Buzz turned 11 and Bailey and I visited the TCVESSA specialty show. We didn't qualify in Open A, but it was a lot of fun to visit with friends. We also got a gift from our friend Ann--a copy of the English Springer Spaniel Illustrated Standard. HOW COOL! I really, really like that book! May also brought the "not-so-fractured" pelvis for Buzz and hip/elbow OFA xrays. The pelvis ended up not being fractured, spondylosis causes the pain, and his hips/elbows were graded as Good/Normal! Amazing results for an 11 year old boy! May also brought MY college graduation (it still feels weird to say "why, yes, I do have a college degree, a BS in Elementary Education") and with that my NEW, beloved CAMERA! It's sitting next to me right now. I really, really, love my camera.

June was my favorite month I think! We went to OHIO, finally! Bailey and I drove a LONG way to visit Kristen, Karin, and Abigail to help with the Ohio 4-H Teen Dog Experience. It was so much fun. We taught tracking, showmanship, agility, and obedience. We had an excellent time and can't wait for next year (except for that whole getting lost on the way back thing... that was not fun).

July contained our whirlwind trial weekend. Bailey ran 2/4 at the MAC NADAC trial finishing her NAC and qualifying in Jumpers. Then she got QQ#4 for her RAE in Duluth with a 1st (and a beautiful, glass photo frame) and a 3rd place. The next day she qualified in all three of her AKC agility runs! Q#3 and new NJP title in JWW, Q#2 in STD, Q#1 in FAST. Sunday Buzz and I went to our first UKC Rally trial. It wasn't the prettiest thing we've ever done, but we qualified with an 80/100.

In August, Buzz and I went to the MMBC APDT trial where we picked up our first RL3 Q and our first ARCH QQ!

September was an up and down month. We lost our resident granny cat, ruler of all, Baby. She is still sorely missed. She had a presence and boy do I miss that. But, Bailey did certify in tracking (on try #2). Though, the MMBC trial did not prove to be very good for us. I thought Buzz was ok with pain meds, but he was clearly not and was scratched. Bailey was also off her game after a beautiful Jumpers run to finish her NJC. We had a better plan of action though and she ran really well for me at the BOTC AKC agility trial. There she finished her NAP (but we couldn't qualify in JWW because she couldn't weave... blerg).

October was a close second favorite month. In October Bailey entered, ran, and PASSED her first Tracking Dog test. That was not only her TD title, but her VCD1! A VERY long awaited title for us. I was/am/will-be-for-a-long-time SO proud of her and of us. She was just wonderful. October also brought a turning point for Buzz. He's been receiving acupuncture and it has been ABSOLUTELY wonderful for him. He has almost returned to normal and is back to his half-age self (he's usually pegged at being about 5-6, and he's actually 11.5). It makes my heart swell to see him SO pain free and happy. He still gets pain meds on heavy activity days (usually Zeel), but day to day life doesn't require pain meds anymore.

November was pretty uneventful. We finally made it to tracking group again where Buzz was wonderful and Bailey was crazy! It did bring Buzz's third and fourth UCDX NQs and his second URO1 Q!

And that brings us to December. It's been a crazy month, feels like it came and left already. We'll be heading out to Leatherdale on Saturday and Sunday for the MMBC NADAC trial. The dogs and I are both excited as Leatherdale is probably our favorite place to run agility.

Title-Wise Year-End
WV-N 3/15/09
Novice Versatility 3/15/09
S-NJC 4/18/09

NAC 7/3/09
NJP 7/11/09
NJC 9/5/09
NAP 9/12/09
TD 10/25/09
VCD1 10/25/09

With multiple physically necessary breaks... I'm very happy. I have two happy, relatively healthy, senior dogs that continue to play these games with me, happily. That's all I can ask for.

I hope the new year brings more tracking, hunting, agility, obedience, rally, and some altered conformation for Buzz. We're expanding our repertoire...

Happy New Year to everyone out here in the blogosphere.

Rasza & Rascal (12 years old)

Bailey & Buzz (9.85 and 11.5)

Why not include the only picture of both dogs and I, that will hang in our NEW Agile Canines Training School?



A Fernandezlopez Challenge


"My goal is to do 1000 reinforced recalls with Gitta in the month of January 2010.

To make the math nice and round, I figure this means: 250 recalls a week (x4 weeks); which is roughly 50 recalls a day (x5 days a week). I'm planning on doing sessions of 10 which will only take about 5 minutes including setup. The location/distraction level will change each time she is successful on 8 out of 10 tries."

We joined, will you?


Christmas, the Nelson way

Pile things on the cat!

Until said cat gets sick of silly game and wants human to swirl ribbon to chase.

(while showing off his Beastie Band--a very early Christmas present)

Buzz's "Ella's Lead" custom Collar

Black and white first, because then you can't see how stained/red he is.

And the original, because you can see the collar for it's real value.

It's really beautiful! Thanks Ella's Lead! He's been wearing it since it arrived last night!


Fromm--Holiday Contest!


Rascal and I submitted a photo... he's a goober-cat!



I used to say that I never win anything, well... I've won a LOT of things lately, including this BEAUTIFUL collar from Ella's Lead. We entered in a contest on FLOT (to members only) and won! This is Buzz's collar as he's been wearing one in the house lately (being deaf and information-less scares me more than him getting his collar caught on something). Isn't it beautiful? When it arrives, I'll definitely get a photo of him wearing it.

Thanks Ella's Lead!


Cat in a Box

Memories of Summer

It was venison day here. That's kind of like egg day, it's exciting! Everyone had venison for breakfast (well, except me). Then the dogs and I went for a journey through the woods. Bailey did a LOT of running! She's actually a tiny bit tired, Buzz is VERY tired. We also got our Secret Santa gift from the FLOT SS exchange today! The dogs are thrilled with our loot!



thoughts on dog activities

Parts of a skype conversation from tonight

(me) I've had lots of throughts today

about lots of things... heh

(K) thinking is good

me too.

A lot of stuff I'd not thought on for ages.

I think Buzz'll be retired from agility after the January trial... it'll all depend on how he runs and how he feels afterwards, he LOVES agility... but I think he loves rally even more and if I stop paying for agility runs that are potentially? damaging, we'll have more money for pursuing other rally things

I think Bailey does obedience and agility for me these days--I seriously can't match her excitement/enthusiasm for tracking and hunting, regardless of how/when/why I work her and that makes me sad... I tried getting her amped up and gah... but I think she'd have a blast in Utility--so we just need to "get through" open?

and blaaaaaaaah

(Exciting conversation, no?)

That was the start, the middle was words like premack principles, predatory sequence... and guilt. I was feeling so guilty today. I got up late for work so Bailey only got yard time, Buzz got a snappy human when he wanted to sniff and roll in the snow, and when I got home I had "things" to do. We didn't get out for any real exercise today. I've been struggling for a couple months on the "is this for me or them" dilemma and her enthusiasm for tracking and hunting has really fueled that. She just enjoys those two activities (add in free running in a field and retrieving bumpers out of the water and you have Bailey's absolute FAVORITE things) so much that I was feeling guilty for "asking" her to do other things. Yes, it's a training issue, but it also comes down to early experiences and even semi-current training. Buzz is 11.5 years old now, when HE started "classes" (I can barely even call them that) enthusiasm was NOT desirable and was corrected. As a result, obedience was THE most boring activity ever. When he could escape it, he did. Bailey was trained much the same way. I've since done a complete change in training methods, but there was early imprinting that has lasting effects... ON ME! The only activities to not have THAT (and to be based on natural dog instinct and behavior too) ARE tracking and hunting.

The end? Continue doing what she loves, continue doing what he loves... and continue doing what I love. Incorporate them into the other training. Why can't I use birds for retrieving in obedience (Buzz would be downright giddy, Bailey would be ecstatic), why don't I use feathers on a rope to chase as a reward in agility? Many of these things CAN be used across the board.

As it stands, Buzz adores rally and is really starting to "get" tracking. Bailey may drive me crazy, but I can appreciate her (and even thank her breeder sometimes) and embrace her enthusiasm for the "natural" things in life. Less "controlling" control, more fun.



I've made it a priority to get all three of us into better condition. For the dogs that means running with me (for good cookies and toys) and playing with me (roughhousing and chasing). I've been good and have devoted at least half an hour to it daily.

Yesterday the three of us ran up and down the driveway (for canned food... yum). Today we played chase out in the yard until feet got cold and then we played in the basement. It took Buzz a while but he was eventually running around and being silly and even jumped on and off the couch a couple of times.

Yes, we'll do jumps and stuff too, but this is very important for generally being in condition.


Agility Training

Last night the dogs and I went to a run and done at a localish training facility. It wasn't very busy when we got there so that was great. I had no interest in working contacts, so I just signed up for three "JWW" slots. Buzz worked at 8" and Bailey at 12" where they each had one five minute slot and then split the last one. Buzz was feeling SO GOOD! He was running with me and turning and weaving. It was EXCELLENT! We played lots of RUN games and it was a lot of fun. We only worked for about four minutes, but that's all we needed. We started with just two jumps and worked up to about five. I was throwing a toy and treating for tighter turns and RUNNING. What a good boy he is.

Bailey still had some issues, but she was soliciting attention from me and wanting to work so that was excellent. She wasn't moving too fast, but we played a few race games and she DID play with me. Not too much to report on that front except she did 12 weaves multiple times, and single stepped. What a good girl dog!

I hope they offer this again as it is EXACTLY what we need. Work time and break time at our own pace to get back into the mental and physical game of agility.



The dogs love snow, I like snow. A snow day should be declared, correct?

I think so!



It's quick. It's easy. It's fun. It's practical!

Set aside ten to fifteen minutes every day (or twice, or three times each day is even better) to train your dog. Set a goal, keep the rate of reinforcement high, and get to work.

Today Bailey worked on sit stays and heeling. She's been having issues with left turns on and off. A lot of it is my body cue to turn isn't always predictable, so I am working on that part, and together we are working on them being a smooth transition. If my cue isn't timed correctly, she bumps into my leg and stops. My goal for today was two-fold, cue correctly and help her keep working if she bumps me. If she bumped me, I didn't click, but I did throw food for her. The reasoning behind this is the same reason I give "screw up cookies" in agility. If you give the wrong cue and the dog responds correctly, they are STILL right, so in the words of my agility instructor "reward that!" We had about fifteen repetitions of left turns. She hit me 4 times and by the fourth one she was bouncing at me, it wasn't such a big deal! This is to help us in a trial, because if I don't cue it correctly, I still want her to keep working. Her sits were VERY good today. Not a single break and this is while I was working Buzz too!

Buzz worked on sit stays and learning the difference between "down" and "mark" cues. He wants to lie down SO BADLY when I move my left arm any way in the downward direction. This is a good thing, that he's so amped about performing, but a bad thing in that I need to teach him to mark things (like the jumps in rally since I can't cue jump verbally, or his dumbell on the blind retrieve, or anything else I'd like to send him to). The session started with me doing limited movements with my left arm. I was almost able to bring it to level with his head by the end of the session, but we didn't get to the actual marking exercise today. Tomorrow we will work on the actual cue for down, instead of any left hand motion while in heel position!