Friday, January 29, 2010

Good day, sunshine

Arnie here: mom found out that Bentley might have a new home. Bentley is a foster pug that lives with us. Mom volunteers with PugPROS (www.pugpros.org), so we're always having pugs coming and going. Gracie and me were PROS pugs, so we know the drill. We got to stay, but not everybody gets to. So we're really happy when one of the fosters "gets a bite".

Bentley came to live with us last springs, with his brother Zack. They were about 8 years old, and had lived their whole lives outside. I mean 24/7 outside - isn't that crazy? Their owner was never able to housebreak them, so she built them a shed, and that was that. Last spring, she decided to move back east, and thought they'd freeze if she took them (you think?), so she gave them to PROS.

When they came to live with us, they were HUGE. Not just "kind of overweight" like mom says we are. I mean gigantic, 40 pounds-of-pug huge. They went on a diet, and you can tell they felt so much better once they lost some weight. They were able to jump on the couch, and run around the yard, and play with toys. Mom made them indoor dogs right away, and they never had ONE accident, EVER. They're kind of boring, but so is Levi. They all just nap together on the dog couch, and live for dinnertime.

Around Christmas, a very nice lady named Ruth came and met Zack. She wanted a nice, sweet dog, and he is that. She fell in love with him, and he lives with her now. He sleeps on her bed, plays with his own toys, and takes walks in San Francisco. Mom's really happy that someone realized what a special pug he is.

Some people were sad, because they thought Bentley might miss him, but he doesn't even seem to notice. They didn't really get along that great - I think they were kind of sick of each other after all those years. Mom kind of figured we'd have Bentley forever, because older pugs are hard to find homes for. But today, she got a message from someone interested in Bentley. They fell in love with his picture on the web (which doesn't do him justice. He's much thinner now.) We'll see if it works out, but it would be so cool if it did. Mom says he's got a lot of years left in him, and would make a great little buddy.

I'll keep you posted.



This is Bentley (when he was chubbier)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Defining Success

Gracie here: Last weekend, someone came up to mom and asked how we were doing. She answered, "we've gotten 4 Q's today". This person replied, "well, that's not how I define my success. Too bad for your dogs that you do".

First of all, my mom didn't know this person very well - kind of a "hey, how ya doin" kind of thing. Second of all, my mom doesn't define HER success by Q's either. But she realizes that a) most people DO define success that way, especially when they don't know us very well, and b) Q's may not be the definition of success, but they are a measure of success. Since this person doesn't really know the trials and tribulations that mom, me and Arnie have been through, telling her those details would have been pointless.

So to set the record straight, here's how mom REALLY defined my success last weekend:

1. I did my contacts quickly, accurately, and without fear. I get a little worried the first time I get on new equipment, so mom worries about that with me.
2. When I did a HUGE teeter flyoff, I went right into the next ring and did 2 more teeters without fear.
3. I sat at the startline. I didn't sit/stay - don't get crazy now. But I was able to concentrate long enough to sit when I really wanted to run.
4. I hit my weave pole entrances about 80% of the time. It would have been 100%, but mom's still working on her timing with me.
5. I got a really hard jackpot. I had to go into a tunnel, send out to a jump (which I went past, so mom had to call me back and send me away again), then come to her and go into ANOTHER tunnel far away, and pick the right entrance out of 3 choices.
6. I made really good time.
7. I went through all of my tires, getting better and better every time.
8. I paid attention to mom every minute.
9. I didn't attack any other dogs.
10. I peed and pooped outside, when mom told me to, even though it was cold and wet out.

This is how she defined Arnie's success:
1. He only lost focus twice the whole weekend (10 runs).
2. He did the same really hard jackpot that I did.
3. He stayed motivated, even though a lot of the time he had to get a few treats on the fly, then tossed into his crate because I had to run next.
4. He learned 2 new tricks waiting for his runs: Look Pitiful, and Stretch.
5. He was able to heel through lots of dogs and people, without getting distracted.
6. He did really hard tunnel/dogwalk discriminations - which are REALLY hard for him, since he LOVES tunnels.
7. He hit his contacts every time.
8. He got most of his weave pole entries.
9. Once he was in the weave poles, he never popped out until he was finished.
10. He didn't drop any bars.

Things mom DIDN'T do all weekend:
1. Treat us any different after a run that we screwed up on.
2. Blame us for any screwups - she said it was her fault EVERY TIME.
3. Check to see our scores or Q's until the very end of the day.
4. Forget to give us treats, or forget to pay attention to us - we got lots of walks and play time.
5. Pick up any ribbons - she doesn't really care about the placements or Q's, compared to how WELL we did.

So you see, Q's aren't a big thing with mom. But since most people know what those are, and could care less about all those other successes we had, she tells people our Q rate. But Arnie and me know those aren't that important.

Like mom says to us EVERY time she loads us into the van just before we head for home:
"Thank you for being the best pugs anyone can run agility with. Thank you for being my dogs."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bars on the Ground, Bars on the Ground

Can't get a Q if there's Bars on the Ground.

Gracie here: We did agility this weekend, and it was SO much fun. We were at WAG, and it was a CPE trial. Mom had a bunch of free entries (she wins them in workers' raffles), so Arnie and I ran 5 runs both days. Since I usually only run 1 run a day (because I wasn't solid on contacts), this was the BEST WEEKEND EVER.

Arnie did pretty good, but mom says he still "has his moments". On a few of the runs he was more interested in looking around than running the course, but he still got a bunch of ribbons. And he does pay attention when it counts (that's what mom says). And considering what a complete nutcase he was when mom sprung him from the pound, and how hard they've worked to learn agility, he did really good.

I, on the other hand, did awesome. And I'm not just saying that - mom said it, too. She called me "little miss can't be wrong". I've only been showing in agility for a short while, and have never done contacts in a real show, but you never would have known that. I never hesitated, ran as fast as I could, and was ready for more, more, more!!! Mom says I'm the agility pug she's been waiting for. And I didn't know it when I came to live with her, but she's the mom I'VE been waiting for - I never KNEW I would love agility so much, but I do.

The only bummer this weekend was that it rained early the first morning, so the whole weekend was really muddy. Arnie sloshes through puddles, but I HATE getting my feet wet. Luckily, mom picks the driest routes, so I didn't have to give her the glare too much. Here's a picture of what we had to walk through to get into the arena.



We have next weekend off, but then we get to do it all over again the weekend after that. I can't WAIT!!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

Arnie here: We're having some major weather here in California. Not as bad as the "rest of the country", because they get that snow stuff. But we've had a week of rain and BIG wind. We have a giant puddle in our yard, we get really wet when we go out and go potty, and a giant tree branch landed on our deck. No damage, but lots of cleaning up when the weather gets nicer.

But......AGILITY CLASS WAS CANCELLED!!!! Our teacher, Kathi, called to tell mom that the power was out, so no class. I was prepared last week, when the van was dead, to miss class. But this came as a shock. WE had power - I just figured everybody else did. So no treats, no running, no visiting, NO FUN. The worst part is that we have a trial this weekend, and I was hoping that we could work on a few things before we show. Well, that mom would work on a few things, like timing and position. But we'll have to work it out.

Tonight, we pack our bags and the van (mom likes to do things ahead of time. Waaaay ahead of time). She'll write down what classes we're in (because her mind is going, she says), and make sure she knows what classes we can move up in for the next day (if we Q).

We hope that 4 Legged Flix will be there, taking video. They do a great job, and mom always ends up buying our runs from them. Here's me in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQeojFWN1-E

Mostly, I hope the rain stops. WAG is always fun to show at, but it gets really muddy if it rains.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weird Pug

Arnie here: Gracie has a very strange habit. Mom adopted her when she was 2 years old, and she had this habit when she came to live with us. Gracie likes to hide behind the curtains. Not all curtains, just the see though kind. And she doesn't just hide there, she sits so that she's looking through the veil. And just sits there. For hours.

Do any other pugs have this weird habit? Gracie won't say why she does this, but I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into this?

Here's a photo of her just sitting there:


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some get it, some don't

Gracie here: my mom has a toy that Arnie and Puck go NUTS for, but the rest of us just don't get it. It's called a laser pointer. It's looks like a lipstick thingie, but a red dot shoots out the end and goes onto the floor. She uses it to exercise us in the backyard. But I can't see it. Neither can Snap or Levi. We just look at the 2 goofballs, and wonder what makes them love the thing. But we chase them while they're chasing the dot, so we all get exercised.

Arnie and Puck can't stop looking at the spot. They chase it, scratch at it, and obsess over it. If they even hear the jangle of the chain the thing is attached to, they start looking for the spot.

In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, here it is on video. The one looking at what appears to be NOTHING is Arnie. The one watching him make a fool of himself is me, Gracie. Enjoy.....

video

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whew - we went to class

Gracie here: Stacey pulled in the driveway, right on time. But her car was in the shop, too. So we drove in a car. I don't think I've ever ridden in a car. It was kind of weird. We still rode in a crate (mom says we always have to ride in a crate in a car. It's safer for all of us. We're protected in case of a crash, and we don't get into trouble running loose in the car) but the crate was sideways. It took some getting used to, but Dobbie was next to us, and told us that the woozy feeling would go away. And when we got to class, we got out of the side of the car. I wasn't even sure that you could DO that.

Class was a blast, as always. And I was the star, as always (not counting Toby, who's always perfect. And Kelli, who is really fast. And Blazer who tries SO hard. And Bella who listens to her dad every time. And Dobbie, who runs like a sports car. And Jack who runs with enthusiasm.) But I was DEFINITELY better than Arnie. We worked on front crosses, mom's least favorite handling move. But she likes to work on them in class, to make herself better at them when we show. I'm pretty good at them, if she would just get out of my way, and tell me BEFORE I'm past the jump which way to go. But she does try.

The worst part of class was working on "stay". We work on that a lot, because mom says I'm so crazy I need a "stay". I don't think I need one, because they're SOOOO boring. I just sit there, waiting. I'd rather be running and spinning. But I get cookies if I sit for a few seconds, so I "stay". But I don't have to like it.

I'm so glad we got to go to class. And even more glad that the van will be done tomorrow. Back to riding straight in the car, and getting out the back end.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The van is sick

Arnie here: Mom says the van is sick. Not sick like when Gracie eats too many treats and pukes all over the back of the couch. Not sick like when Tango couldn't walk for a long time before he died. But sick, like WE MIGHT NOT GO TO AGILITY CLASS TONIGHT!!!!

The van stopped working out of the blue, and it's the transmission. Mom says it will cost a lot of money to fix, and we might have to cut back on our showing a little for a few months. It will get fixed in time for our show next weekend. But it won't be done until tomorrow, and we have class tonight. If Stacey doesn't go to class, we won't be going. I can't stand the thought of that. What will I do if I can't hang out with my friends in the 7:30 class? Who will run in the 12 inch group with Jack if me and Gracie aren't there? Who will show them how to run the fastest? Jump the highest?

I'm trying not to think about it too much, but I'm mentally preparing in case we can't go. And trying to think good thoughts, like mom says we should. Even though the van is dead, she says it could have been worse. We could have broken down at a show miles from home. Or on our way to class at 10 o'clock at night. Or the day before a show, and we wouldn't be able to go at all. We have another car, but we can't fit with 2 dogs and all our gear. So I'm trying to think positive. I could be missing class because I was hurt or sick. But it's hard when you love class soooo much. So I'll just keep hoping Stacey pulls in the driveway to pick us up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Out of Shape


Arnie here: Mom broke the news to us today. We're all out of shape and need to start exercising and get on a diet. We've been down this road before. Every winter, when we spend way more time snoozing on the couch next to the woodstove, and way less time running around the yard, we get the "talk".

Mom explains that we're working dogs, and staying in shape helps when we run agility. She says it also prevents injury, and makes our times better. She tells us we can't be weekend athletes.

This means we'll get less kibble in our bowls. Not the end of the world, since we get treats, too, when we train. Gracie will be furious, since she lives to eat and NEVER thinks we have enough kibble in our bowls. But she'll have to deal with it. It means we'll play more in the house. Mom gets out the tug toys, and we take turns chasing it down the hall, running back, and playing tug, HARD. She says it helps us aerobically, and the tugging builds our back legs (better for jumping). We used to be able to do this as a group, but Gracie doesn't play nice. She attacks us when we run to the toy, grabs the toy every time, and tries to bite us if we come near it. So we have separate play time now. It also means we go out to the yard and run over jumps. The jumps are already in the yard, because we were working on distance this fall. But when we exercise, we just run over the jumps, back and forth, building endurance. Gracie can do this all day, but I get distracted by birds and squirrels and things in the yard. I need a lot of cookies to remember to keep exercising.

It also means we get woken up a lot earlier, because mom gets up to exercise herself (she's part of the team, she tells us). I don't see her cutting back on the kibble, but she might be eating light at lunch?

It's the price we pay for being agility dogs. We have to do the work, but we also spend a lot of time training and playing. We get to go to class, and spend weekends playing on the equipment at trials. It's important to remember this when the fire is really cozy and we'd rather be hanging out on the coach. But the trade off is worth it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

There's been a takeover


This is Gracie writing. I DON'T like the way my human portrayed me in her last post, so I'm taking the situation into my own paws and writing this myself. Well, with a partner - Arnie and I will be handling the posts from now on.

First of all, I'm not that small. CPE tires are pretty big, so it's just a matter of perspective. And I KNOW I'm supposed to get through the middle. But I like thinking out of the box (or circle in this case). So I try and mix it up a little, to keep it interesting. The only thing is that my human really wants me to go through the middle. It has to do with Q's (whatever those are), so she steps in front of my path when we get to that obstacle. It's different from her usual flailing about, running this way and that way. The tire thing is deliberate - she's blocking me. So to preserve myself, I'm going to start jumping through the middle. She wins. This time......

Here's a photo of me jumping a regular jump. If you'll notice, I'm not that small in this photo. And I always go through the middle part of these jumps.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Agility photos

I got some photos back from Arnie and Gracie's last CPE trial.

Here's Gracie jumping through the tire. She looks so tiny compared to the jump. We've battled with the tire a little. She doesn't always jump through the center - between the tire and stanchions seem to be the same thing to her. But she's getting better, and more often than not goes through the middle.



I got a great shot of Arnie on the dogwalk. I have so many photos of jumps and tunnels, but very few of the contacts. Arnie has a running contact, and this shot shows he's well into the yellow, but running fast. I LOVE this shot.

Wednesday Night Class

Our class at Placer Dog started out as a bunch of misfits. Arnie and I fit in right away - we're a motley crew of seasoned handlers with brand-new dogs & brand-new handlers with brand-new dogs.

Our first classes were a comedy of errors. Our dogs were distracted & prone to errors. The handlers were busy learning to run these fast dogs while working on our handling skills. The newbies were learning new skills, and the old-timers were un-learning bad habits and replacing them with better skills.

Over the years (yes, years), our handling has tightened up, our dogs have become more focused, and trials are being entered. Overall, we're more successful than not. Regardless of the Q or score or time, our class is usually the one's standing at ringside cheering on our classmates. We celebrate the victories, sympathize with the defeats, and offer advice on what to try.

Last weekend, one of our classmates got their first MACH points - the first points for the class. A brand-new handler with a brand-new dog, they have been the stars of the class since the first day. The handling is smooth, the dog is eager and willing, and they truly work as a team. They blazed through Novice, Open and Excellent, and are now working on their MACH.

Great job, Kim & Toby!!!!!