Sunday, March 11, 2012

Handling Seminar

  Today, I attended a day long handling seminar with Gemma.  It was basic but I still learned quite a bit!  The mystique around accumulating points was clearly explained (and understood!) and I took away some very good tenets:  I'm always an ambassador for the Collie so I should know/understand the breed standard to be able to explain why this breed is so great and, when I'm in the ring, I'm a salesman for  my dog.  Which means, for me, to be more confident and assertive, especially when dogs are lined up for the judge's final look.
  Gemma didn't embarrass me with her ring behavior--actually, she was great--but I made a couple of silly mistakes.  That was another lesson from today--practice visually everyday how I will present a dog in the ring, because, when I'm physically in the ring, my mind can go blank (how well I know that feeling!) and then my body will just do what it needs to do to present the dog to its best to the judge.
  I've been working with the dogs the last few weeks, concentrating on the little things, not sweating about some less common things and Gemma has responded the fastest.  She's turning into a show dog before my eyes!  We think we want to take a break from showing until the fall while I concentrate on training the dogs (and myself) but with Gemma's newfound talents, I'm not so sure...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It Must Be Spring

  It feels like spring is just about to pop out!  The pussy willows are covered in catkins, the trees have buds and the geese are flying north.  I even thought I heard some spring peepers last night after I fed the dogs!
  The dogs are acting spring-like, too.  Lots of energy, wanting to play, almost demanding to spend the days in the yards, even if it's cloudy.
  I let them play one day last week when it was especially nice.  The boys have been testy with each other (another sign of spring!) so only Gibson was in the big yard with the girls.  I planned on having him share the time outside with Mosby and taking Ref and Jackson on a long walk.  While I was letting everyone out to play, Sophie looked quite lonely in her small yard.  I decided to try Mosby (age10) in with her for some company and senior play.  She seemed happy to see him, although he didn't seem so eager, rolling his eyes and hesitating at the gate.  After making sure they were getting along, I went inside to grab some lunch and get the leashes for the younger boys' walk.
  The peace lasted for only about 20 minutes!  I put Ref's collar on him, attached it to a coupler then opened Jackson's gate to put his collar on.  Ref started to posture and challenge Jackson, who immediately acted like a tussle would be an appropriate afternoon activity.  I started to drag Ref away but could hear barking outside.  Jackson ran out of the kennel to see what was going on.  When I got outside, all the dogs were barking and Sophie had Mosby pinned up against the fence.  Now, I'm not sure that Sophie had actually started a fight, considering she's almost 13 and arthritic but it did match her behavior in her younger days.   On this day, I think she may have forgotten her age, tried to pick a fight, lost her balance and ended up leaning against Mosby who had the fence to support him.
 I got Jackson back into his kennel, then went to rescue Mosby.  He was more than happy to get away!  He gave me this look that said "Sophie's crazy!" and enjoyed the consolation treat in his kennel.
  For her part, Sophie seemed pleased with herself although she was stiff the next day.  But no matter how nice the weather, or how lonely she looks, no more opportunities for senior citizen fights!