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I had so much fun this weekend. It was a tiny trial full of very nice and fun people. That is the big thing I've missed about USDAA in this area--the atmosphere is always AWESOME.

Panic ran wonderfully. I'm so pleased with him. The rubber-infill turf there is very nice, and I think the rosin/chalk powder helped him out quite a bit--the only run I didn't use it for was Steeplechase Round 2 and while he still ran well he did noticeably slip and knock a bar in that run, his only bar of the weekend.

It was so much fun to get out there with him again. He really is running great. Despite only running clean in one run, he looks and feels better than ever to me. If we did agility more than once every sixth months I'm sure the consistency would be there. I know that things can change in the blink of an eye, but at this rate I anticipate many more years to come for us. And we can still go down to 16 in the future!

Also wanted to share his Standard run in which he TOTALLY PULLED A BRIGHT and added an extra backside. Good times.

This weekend reminded me why I love agility so much. Good courses, nice people, and runs that left me feeling happy but motivated to train more. One day maybe I WILL be able to train more. Until then, I head back to school on Tuesday. My life is full of so many seperate sections right now, but I'm lucky to care so much about each one of them. Sometime I'll have a life that isn't so broken up.
aardogs: (PrettyPanic)

part 1

Once I gave up on Toby and decided I needed a border collie, we started fostering for border collie rescue so I could get some experience with the breed and find the right dog. Our first foster was Laila, a very sweet 8 month old tri girl. She was so sweet and so smart, a very easy introduction to the breed. It wasn't a love connection for me, but I loved working with her and Toby and Maxie seemed totally fine with her. Laila was all set to move up to Michigan and start her new life when Toby attacked her.

It happened seemingly out of nowhere. Toby was running in the yard with a toy, Laila came towards him parallel. He dropped the toy and latched onto her head. And shook her. And would not let go. This is another memory that is etched in my mind. I can't say how long it was before my mom and I managed to detach him, but it seemed like forever. Never, ever, ever, in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that would have happened. From my perspective, Toby had never shown any signs of aggression. Certainly the attack was without warning. No growling, snarling, nothing? Laila, ultimately, was fine. I think we can owe that to the fact that Toby is a golden retriever, probably not a lot of jaw strength there.

After this incident, a few things happened. The good thing that happened was that both my mom and I realized that we needed to learn a lot more about dog behavior. The bad thing was that Toby started reacting very strongly to the sight of any and all border collies. The resentment I started feeling towards Toby was awful. I don't think it is a stretch to say that I hated him. He had been around so many dogs without issue, so many foster dogs passed through our home, so why her? And now, all border collies. This one dog stood in the way of what I wanted for so many years.

These feelings, luckily, did not stop me from learning everything I could about stress, fear, and aggression in dogs. I attribute most of my education and Toby's training to a few different sources: Control Unleashed, Click to Calm by Emma Parsons, Protocol for Relaxation by Karen Overall, and Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. Ultimately, it was my mom who worked with him the most, as at this point we had both decided that I really shouldn't be doing anything with Toby because he essentially could not function without her. Which was fine with me, of course, since I was not very fond of him.

In the time that we've had him, Toby has attacked two different dogs in the same manner, with Laila being the first. The last one was nearly 7 years ago now. My mother and I both have gotten good at telling where his threshold is and how to manage his stress level. We also began to realize just how stressed out Toby was all the time, and I mean ALL the time. We have learned to read more subtle signs of stress and potential reactivity/aggression. Toby, in turn, has gained a much higher threshold for stress and has learned more obvious and appropriate body language for interacting with other dogs.

Panic came into my life about a year after all of this began. For the first few months I had him, I was living exclusively with my father. Panic and Toby never saw one another. The first time we attempted to introduce them, Toby began reacting before he even saw Panic--the thinking being that he had smelled Panic on me and recognized the scent from afar. I was discouraged, but I knew it had to work out. Panic was my dog, and nothing was going to get in the way of that. It took us about six months (and a lot of work) to integrate them into the same household. Today, they certainly coexist peacefully. Definitely best case scenario.

I thought I'd be able to wrap this up in two parts, but there will have to be one more.


Jun. 13th, 2014 12:03 am
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I think that may be the first time I ever used a hashtag.

I've probably posted this before, but every time I come across this video it makes me smile and laugh and cringe all at the same time.

Oh goodness, 15 year-old me and fluffy two-year old Panic. Adorable.

This is the video I made for Panic when he was technically our foster dog for MidAmerica Border Collie Rescue. Panic was our foster for about four months before we officially adopted him. I always knew he was "mine", but we really had to work hard to integrate him and Toby.

Time is a funny thing. This was seriously six years ago?!
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The summer is going well so far, so long as I avoid the pit of "Netflix all day". I mean, Netflix some of the day is fine, I've been watching Twin Peaks. Oh my gosh, what a show. So weird, so brilliant. I love it. And although I've heard a lot of things abot this show, I've managed to go my entire life not knowing any spoilers at all. I seriously have no idea what's going to happen, love it.

Panic and I spend a lot of time at the park. We go for a run in the woods and then hang out in this big field for awhile. It's relaxing, peaceful. Always makes me feel more centered. It's a fairly busy park, but the trail system is so extensive that we don't run into very many people. There's something so exhilarating about trail running that I just don't experience on the road. The movement of the trail cutting through the hillside, the sudden dips and turns. I reach this weird mode of peace as I run. I feel like my legs are acting separately from the rest of me. I simply have to put all my trust into them.The trail is uneven, full of jutting rocks and stones, and yet somehow my feet always find a stable place to land. Panic zooms through the woods beside me and probably feels the same thing. How can he run so gracefully through the undergrowth?

Yes, we have fun. Fun fun fun. Speaking of fun, we had a show this weekend and it was FUN! Yes, that's right, you heard me, fun at a dog show! Can you believe it? Local show. DCAA is great. Panic is great (duh). I kept my head on straight and embraced being there, surrounded by genuinely nice people that I'm very happy to call my friends. It made me want to trial more, although I know not every show is like this one. It was a great environment to be in. Very thankful. Very very thankful.

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I've never done much work with tricks at a distance with Panic, but for the sake of cute photos I've been working on it since I've gotten home.

I remember when I first got Panic, he couldn't sit up at all, just fall over into a big heap if he tried. He was very much a two-year-old puppy. He's no Bright, that's for sure. Still pretty cute.

I've been baking a lot of bread this summer. I've never been good at baking, in fact I think it's safe to say I've been notoriously bad at baking (anyone remember my gingerbread house?), but the bread is going well. I mean, it only has five ingredients.This past semester, I took a class about on the food system in the US which served to leave me disgusted with most store-bought food. It was a probably the best class I've ever taken, but at the same time eating sure was easier when I wasn't scrutinizing the ingredients of everything. It's funny that I was much more aware of what was in my dogs' food than my own food. Particularly things like bread. I LOVE BREAD. Bread, such a simple thing, right? So many unpronounceable things in store-bought bread. But home-made bread is so much better! Except for the kneading, that's quite a workout.

Mmmm Bread-and pumpkin butter! I just discovered this stuff, why didn't I know about it sooner?? 
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...but at really highly competitive, close competitions, do you think those really fluffy shelties would be faster without all their hair, or does all that hair help them become a more-aerodynamic bullet-like shape?

In any case, summer break is here. I used to absolutely love summer but over the years I've started enjoying it less and less. Last summer was probably the worst, although I can attribute a lot of that to my summer-long mysterious illness. The biggest thing is that I like to be busy all day every day. I'm not good at relaxing. There are probably a lot of factors that contribute to my summertime blues, even thought there are even more reasons to enjoy the summer.

I am recognizing the fact that remaining mentally happy and healthy takes active and continued work on my part. I'm not sure how common this is, and I suppose it doesn't really matter, but it's just something I need to be conscious of all the time. And it is something that is easy to forget. I have to remember that filling all my days with as much stuff as possible is not exactly a solution anyway. It's a good life, I don't want to waste it feeling bad.

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Taking two dogs out is so easy. Too easy. I can usually see both of them at the same time, how novel. Panic and Toby have been getting along quite well these days. Toby and Maxie were always together, two of a kind, and Panic would always go off and do his own thing. Now Toby and Panic regularly do stuff that is sort of almost like playing but not really.

Good Boys

Practical Agility Skills

More grey every day.

Back to school tomorrow until the beginning of May. Hoping to have a relatively uneventful rest of the semester leading into an exciting summer. 
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Trialling, I'm just not sure how to do it anymore it seems. There is definitely a pattern here of me going to trials and having wild mood swings concerning my involvement in agility and my desire to be there. I'm not sure what to do about it, but it takes a lot of focused effort for me to remain in a good place at trials.

The Cluster is definitely a different breed of show, however. Very big, very crowded, very long days. And for some reason I entered all four days! Not a great show to try to work on my mental state, but we made it through and overall I can say that I enjoyed being most of the time. Saturday was the worst, I ended up leaving right after our first run and going hiking instead. A good decision to make--I knew that day had gotten away from me entirely.

Despite Panic forgetting how to weave on most of his runs, I was surprised by how well the both of us were running. Panic definitely loves running on dirt. I think he had much more speed than he does on turf--I'm attributing the forgetful weaves to this. We even managed a few 2nd and 3rd place runs in classes of 100+ 20" dogs. I don't usually give placements much weight but I was genuinely surprised and thrilled that Panic (who isn't getting any younger!) and I were holding our own in such a competitive class. We haven't even seen one another, let alone practiced agility, since the first week of January! He's a good boy, I'm very proud.

We only got one run on film all weekend, but it happened to be my favorite run. A very fun course--with a backside! I'm pretty sure he hit his dogwalk, but it was definitely close so I understand not giving us the benefit of the doubt.

One day I will figure out this trialling thing again. I DO really enjoy agility, it's just been difficult redefining my relationship with it. Luckily Panic is always in it for pure joy. He loves going to shows, and I never get tired of how happy he gets when we walk into one. For that alone I'll keep doing it.  
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Every time I come home from school Panic looks wiser, like while I'm away learning in an institution he is here learning as well, from the earth, from the universe, I'm not quite sure, but there is some kind of wisdom there that is deepening all the time.

As much as I hate being away for so long, there is something very awesome about getting to learn so many new things about each other each time we are together. He is getting older. So am I.

This is the first time I've been home since we lost Maxie. It is strangely the same and strangely different. Her absence didn't hit me as strongly as I thought it would, but it has been hard in the smallest ways. Getting myself a late-night snack without her tapping nails and inquisitive ears right behind me, watching a person walk by our house without her high-pitched alarm barking, grabbing my car keys without her bouncing up and down next to me. She was such a huge presence in our lives. This weekend at our show Panic and I will definitely be running for her. Last night at practice we certainly were--a whole lot of fun and just a bit of naughtiness.


Mar. 3rd, 2014 07:43 pm
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Finally got around to purchasing this cute photo of Panic and I from the DCAA show back in September from Springfield Photography. Look at that great form! ;)

One day I think it would be fun to delve into agility photography. I'd love to capture some candid images. Love those little moments. Those are the ones you miss later on, not the jumps or weaves. 

No Content

Jan. 11th, 2014 11:15 pm
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Yum, ice. We've certainly had enough of it around here.

Toby loves it.


And cute.

Heading back to school tomorrow. It's been a good month in Louisville with good dogs. 
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I think Maxie and Panic were reading over my shoulder when I commented on Heather's adorable cuddly post complaining about my non-cuddlers.

Well, they're not touching me or each other, but this is still pretty cuddly, right? Right?

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This weekend was a great weekend of agility, just the kind that I like. Lots of nice, fun people. Fun courses. Fun judge. Nothing dramatic or nasty. Typically at shows I spend a large majority of my time in my crating space, reading or listening to NPR podcasts or taking several hour walks with Panic or otherwise being in my own world. This time, I did not feel the need to do any of that. I had never shown under this club, but they put on a good show. They have a NASCAR theme, which is really fun. And they didn't run FAST! Thank goodness! They did have T2B every day, but that runs SO much faster than FAST that I'm totally ok with that.

(Sidebar: What I am really hoping for is more ISC next year at small shows, since it can be run at every jump height. The one show that did ISC around here, the Louisville Cluster, decided to no longer run it. Come on!!)

Anyway, really fun show. There were a high volume of super cute terriers, which made it all the better. Look at this thing. A parson russel puppy with the cutest, most wirey coat I've ever seen.

We double NQ'd one day because of weaves, which was odd, and QQ'd the next day. I don't know how many we have, but we show so little I'm sure we're not close to a MACh yet. Maybe one day!

Standard yesterday was a really fun and interesting course, including a tunnel-tunnel-chute sequence.

Jumpers was forgettable, but we always have fun anyway.

Great to be back at a show. Our next one will likely be the Cluster in March. I sometimes wish we could do more, but I think we've struck a nice balance. Four shows in total this year.
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I recently got a new lens, the 50mm f/1.4, upgraded from the 1.8 which I've had for about 7 years. Still a fantastic lens but I'm excited about this new one.

Maxie will be 14 next summer, I can't believe it. I probably mention her age a lot, but it's just very hard to wrap my head around. She still gets around SO well. Very lucky to have such a cute, healthy, active old dog.

And this boy, well there are no words.


Dec. 12th, 2013 11:09 pm
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I'm home for Winter Break and it is so nice. Yes, this time as opposed to my other breaks this semester I really and truly feel home. Such a great feeling that I haven't felt in a long time. I'm looking forward to being busy with work and obsessively crafting. And wow, lucky me, I got into one day of the random draw of a three day show! I'll take what I can get I suppose.

Panic was briefly happy I was home, then wondered when the fun things would start happening.

Luckily for him I got home in time to jump into an agility class. First time since September that I did any agility. It was so great to be back at it. Panic was absolutely perfect, not a step out of place. He just absolutely amazes me. Lots of rust to get off on my part but he was just great. I, like Tammy, don't think a 6 or 7 year old agility dog is old. I think if we were training and showing regularly Panic would be at his best right now. He's just discovered his brain in the last few years. He is a good boy. Very forgiving and understanding.

September 2016



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