Friday, September 30, 2011

'Stupid' Videos, Another Comparison and Google nearly broke my blog

Actually I will start off with the first one... Hatty of the hatness... This morning I decided to try out Google's new and improved blog lay-out.  All fine and well right? WRONG.  Widgets gone missing, previews not the same as real views.  Some of the concepts look very nice, but until Google sorts outs those bugs, I will just stick to my original look.  Haha, I suppose not even Google is perfect.  I like the new dashboard and post lay-outs though.

So I finally got off my lazy arse and went SOMEWHERE ELSE to train, can you believe it?  I was invited to train at another agility handler's (very nice) grounds and I actually made an effort.  He was very surprised when I set up the video camera.  And when I told him I video'd ALL my training sessions, he go the typical 'are you insane?' look.  Honestly though my 'stupid' videos has been the biggest influence on improving my show performance.  Ja, I am somewhat anal, analysing  all my vids, doing frame-by-frames, timing splits.  But if you train on your own, how else do you do it, I ask you with tears in my baby blue eyes?  This same person has been having some SEVERE issues and he doesn't know why or how to fix them?  So isn't that the solution?  I have also gotten many queries from students saying 'yes, but he does this/that/whatever when I train and I don't know why'.  My stupid videos that clog my hard drive (all our hard drives in fact) have been the key to solving so many of my issues.  As  you can see from the below video, a stationary camera on a tripod doesn't really suffice when you are trying to film training on a 30mx40m arena though... so we will call this 'training at a distance'.  Yes that little spec on the camera is Spaz, promise.  As for the Steiner-Meister, I am super impressed.  It was the very first time he went training 'somewhere else' and to top it all off, the other guy's bitch (just a few meters away in the kennel run) was in season.  I set up a very basic 2 jump tunnel exercise and Volt coped very well, he wasn't distracted, he didn't lack confidence.  Even though his turns weren't perfect, he was definitely in working mode, he called off the other dogs to come and work.  A good start and a good confidence booster.  My confidence of course.  He of course needs a TON more of this before he starts competing, but all in all I am a happy chappie.

And yet another example of my stupid videos... I always try and explain this to my students (and very few REALLY understand) obstacle performance is NOT, no NEVER just about the dog 'doing the obstacle'.  Yes your dog can 'do the dog walk' touching, both contacts... BUT is he doing it at full speed, is his striding ideal, is performing the criteria etc etc.  This is especially applicable to the poles... Yes a lot of dogs can do the poles, but a lot of dogs are NOT performing them at optimum level, because people do not bother to LOOK at what their dog is doing and try and do it correctly.  Volt is doing the channel... in fact he is 'getting his entries', he is driving ahead and doing the channel on his own and this is brilliant, but he is still figuring out his striding... now I know that he is 'doing the channel', but he is not performing anywhere near optimum, so what is the point in closing them more.  I am patient and from the video you can see that he is starting to have moments where he is getting the striding, I am more than happy to wait for some more consistency before I proceed with the ever frustrating process of Weave Pole Training.  But without my 'stupid videos' how the hell would I monitor this specific factor?  Seriously I am not superman with the whole x-ray vision thing and I don't have an eidetic memory (unfortunately).

I also did another comparison between Volt and Chaos... now given that Spaz has a ton more experience and training, I have ALWAYS had one problem with him.  He is a tall dog, no, in fact he is a giant at 57.5 cm (22.6 inches), which I like, I LOVE my tall BC's.  However, Chaos has a ton of ground speed, but struggles with acceleration, he is a 'front wheel drive' model.  So on a course, where jumps are set between 5m and 7m appart, he never gets to use his full speed.  Volt is a tiny little boy at 33.5cm (13 inches), but with a ton of acceleration, super all-wheel drive.  So today I set up an tight pin wheel.  Chaos has a ton of experience and familiarity with this set up and HAS to work damn hard to control his stride, which results in him appearing very slow in the exercise but very tight for a dog of his size.  Volt gets to use a lot more of his speed, but his inexperience causes him to be fast, but wide... wider than Chaos!  Not that I am unhappy with Volt, he is doing quite well for a 13 month old and the mistakes where I pull him through gaps are MINE, but it is interesting to note.  The other interesting thing was and you will see, that I kicked a wing on one of the pin wheels and Volt ran around the jump, very concerned about the noise.  Once again a confidence thing.

I actually have the weekend off shows, can you believe it?  I am really looking forward to it, but at the same time I KNOW that I will end up being bored out of my skull...  Wish me (and the hubby) luck... I am crabby when I am bored...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fear of Failure, Knowing when to let Go and Finding Balance

As you can see, all serious agility stuff... Quick recap on this weekend's show.  Chaos is working really well at the moment, and even though we are working well together, I still fail him more often than I would like.  Partly because I have a small war raging in my mind at the moment.  I personally do not think that there is a lack of quality in dogs or handlers in South Africa... we have brilliant dogs and decent handlers around, but our entire system and attitude in the country leans towards complacency and more detrimental 'laid back' handling.  I have made up my mind that I want to work on a more aggressive handling style, well when the course calls for it of course.  This is all fine and well, but all my coaching and influence locally has favoured the laid back attitude.  And have you ever tried to overcome deep-seated learnt reflexes?  Eish, not the easiest, we are getting there though.  Here are our rounds for the weekend and yes I was in quite a silly mood when I made the video...  Oh and by the way, I KNOW there are glitches in the videos... I re-wrote the movie files a million times and this was the best I could do...

I am not particularly stressed with our mistakes, in my eyes Chaos is doing well and we are slowly achieving my long term goal.  This does not take away the fear of failure, not so much with Chaos, as with Volt.  Chaos has already proven that he can cope with my shortcomings and correct my mistakes.  But that fear of failure with a young dog is something we cannot get past.  Every time a new 'agility puppy' joins my household, I am faced with the fear that I will fail my dog completely.  This fear diminishes as a partnership builds, but it is still a reality.  I honestly believe that I owe it to each of my dogs to train and run them to the best of their potential.  Of course they only do agility because they love it (a love which I create by the way), but since they always give me everything they have, don't I owe them the same?  Yes, they don't give a damn about winning the World Champs or Qualifying Certificates, but that is not the point.  They are guaranteed to enjoy agility all the more if I do it properly.

Having said that, I don't think perfectionism has a real place in agility training.  That is the beauty of what we do, it is all about try, react and adapt. Each dog is different and the best dog trainers in the world are not the ones that hammer on perfection every single time.  Training is about conveying what you want, but then making the dog think and WANT to do what you want every single time.  It is also about recognising when it is time to adapt YOURSELF to enhance your dog's performance.  So often I see the two extremes of this scale.  There are those that hammer on the finer things from day one, they tend to do so many repetitions it makes ME dizzy, never mind their poor dogs.  On the other end, you have those that always just 'let go', creating so many bad habits in their dogs that you need a whole alphabet to list them all.  As much as I like 'getting it right' and as much as I think we should all strive towards that golden phrase, we have to be realistic... in you agility career you will NOT get every turn perfectly tight, your dog will NOT stride every line perfectly.  Of course we need to learn from these mistakes and try to do better, but we have to find a balance between 'letting go and correcting'.  Sometimes letting go, is actually good for our dogs.  I am not talking about obstacle performance.  There, you as a trainer, damn well better give your dog all the skills necessary to perform obstacles correctly.  It is 100% our responsibility to give our dogs these skills, so no, I will never let a missed contact or a missed weave pole entry go, but that is because I train these. The right way and a lot.

Having moaned about that.  In the last week, I decided to test Volt's skills.  I have worked hard on foundation training and at some point, you have to string all these skills together to actually see where your weaknesses are. Then go back and do some more foundation work to strengthen those shortcomings.  You will see a lot of mistakes here.  A lack of commitment to the tunnel, some wide turns, one or two striding problems on tight sections, hat I can name a mile long list, some of it I let go and some I corrected. That is the way the cookie crumbles.  This whole exercise made me nervous, because of my fear of failure, but I think Volt came through it with a good grade.  I very rarely do technical training like this, but it was time that I tested myself.  Obviously we have tons to work on in the next few months, before he competes, but all in all I am happy with our progress.

My other big problem has been that I am a LAZY COW.  I am so lucky to have a full set of equipment in our yard, that I have been lazy to go and train anywhere else.  This of course has massive implications, especially since I only have a small space to work with, which forces my dogs to work tightly.  I have now made a deal with myself that I WILL WILL WILL go and train in different environments, in fact I am blackmailing myself... no beer if I do not go and train somewhere else at least once a week!

Last but not least, I am continuing my informal long term study of 'small dog vs. large dog.  More accurately at this stage it is Volt vs. Chaos, but I will branch out on this later.  The subject of today's comparison was Slaloms.  Both needs some work on this, but that is why I make these videos... to learn.  You will see I adjusted the distance of the jumps this time, to suit their different sizes and try and get a more accurate comparison of their actual movement and striding.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Last weekend's show, Computer Frustration and Being Clumsy

Hmmm, what shall we start with tonight?  I will have a quick ramble about LAST weekend's show, yes I know, I have been terribly lazy.

Spaz didn't have the best day, he was just off... I can sympathize, I mean just ask the hubby, every now and again I get so cranky that he fears flying crockery, other days I just DO not want to do anything and some days I am like an ADD squirrel on acid, bouncing off the walls... no I am NOT bipolar or manic depressive (those the PC terms?), I am just trying to state that we all have different moods, so do our dogs.  Spaz was off.  I checked him out, did some good massages during the week just in case, but he honestly seems fine.  I think he was just off.  I give that to him, he got some good time off agility this week.  We trained today and he was back to the super-uberness!

Here is the video of last weekend anyway and YES I KNOW I made a spelling mistake, but my stupid video editing software AND converting software is playing up, @#$%^@#$^@$%^ which also means the next instalment of my on-line training course will be a day late...

Anyhow, back to my actual reasons for posting tonight... first of all, I REALLY managed to do it this week.  First I had a whole pile of books fall on my head (trust me you don't want to know how I managed that), resulting in a slightly swollen and bruised face, then I managed to run into a wing while training the Stein and to top it all off, thinking I am Wonder Woman, I ignored a 'wet floor' sign in a local mall and wiped... as in big time.  One of those arms flailing, head hitting the shelf, legs twisted under my body WIPE OUT.  So we will see how the bruised body handles the show on Sunday...

I have some serious agility things I want to write about in the near future, but I am still thinking about them... watch this space.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Writing, Learning and Knowing it All

Just as a matter of interest, I have always loved writing.  Growing up I wrote endless short stories and poems and dreamt of one day becoming a novelist (well and a professional jockey and secret agent, but never mind that).  So this whole blogging thing was kind of inevitable.  I have never given a crap whether I am GOOD at writing, I really just do it because I enjoy it.  I am grateful for this as I sit here writing this blogpost, because when I first booked Volt, I made a decision and stuck to it.  I have been writing a training journal/diary/general weird-arse thoughts document on him since the very first day that my booking of him was confirmed.  I wrote down everything, the doubts I had about importing a dog and choosing an unfamiliar breed, my exact goals (with insane specificity I realise now), every little bit of training and playing I did with him.

I already predict that this document (which most likely will be a good size BOOK  by then) will be the most important tool in training my next dog. He has already taught me so much.  And he has benefited from every dog I have owned before, the problem is that these benefits were only from memory, which is exactly why I wrote it down this time around.  Quite frankly I think my dogs have benefited from every single dog and student that has crossed my path in agility.  And it really p***** me off when people DO NOT have this philosophy.  People so set in their ways or blind to their weaknesses that they just keep doing the same ol' thing and refuse to learn.  People who know it all.  I am not saying that each new dog and each new day will be an improvement, BUT at the very least YOU can be an improvement for each new dog and each new day.  Moral of the story, none of us will never know it ALL.

I have really been enjoying the on-line training.  I have to say if I get positive feedback from this, I will definitely consider doing some more of these!  It is very time-consuming and quite hard work actually, but very enjoyable indeed.  I am really looking forward to seeing the results of my students.

Now, I am really sorry to keep on raving about this Super Pup of mine, but I just HAD to make this video.  This morning I decided to challenge Volt, more to see how he coped with the challenge than monitor his success.  So I worked over competition height (35cm) for the first time as well as worked more challenging pole entries.  Now keep in mind, I have been building up jump height from 5cm when he was about 6 months old to 35 cm now. In essence I built his jump height skills by 14% in 6 months, I was really set on teaching proper jumping skills.  And I have also been working entries into the channel since the very first day I started teaching him the poles.   So the general concepts were both already there, but I did up the ante on BOTH skills in one morning.  Something I never do, I normally concentrate on one skill at a time and just do maintenance on another, but I wanted to know how he would cope with this and he was fantastic.  I have included the only two 'failures' in the video, one mine and then one his.  His success rate is high, making me happy with his progress... and then right after that I remember how much work there is still to be done before he will be ready to compete... looking forward to all that work though!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

About the Stein, Small Dogs and The Comparison

Today I am dedicating my blog to little man Volt.  That in itself is an amusing comment, since Volt does not think he is a little man.  He is NOT one of those irritating little dogs that thinks he is a Rotweiller and yaps at big dogs like a chiuaua on steroids, but he does think he is a Border Collie.  Not surprising I guess.  He is not a lapdog and while he loves lying at my feet he is not one for lying on my lap and only happy with being picked up for about 30 seconds then he wants to go and DO something.

Since I got him, I have had to answer a ton of questions.  Some about his lines and breeding, these I can answer easily, I spent so much time researching breeders and his breeder is such a lovely lady, always willing to answer questions.  Of course I also get a lot of questions about the breed as such.  Now after researching the breed for about 2 years before actually getting one, I am damn book smart on Shelties, but being book smart and living in the real world are two different things.  Volt is my first and only Sheltie, so he really doesn't represent the entire breed and since he is so friggin awesome my opinions are quite high at the moment.  Then of course there are the small dog vs. big dog questions.  Now those I am taking as it comes...

I don't have a lot of agility info at my disposal actually.  First of all, since all dogs are different, Volt would be inevitably be different, so that is the first fact to consider.  There are little things that to me seem to be 'small dog' traits, but I might be wrong.  It has been 10 years since I have owned and trained a small dog.  Also, it seems that the majority of the 'big name' trainers, dvd's, books and info available, refer to large dogs/Border Collies.  Obviously a lot of this is applicable to ALL dogs and as always I adapt little things to my own way of training and dogs as it is.  Inevitably I am going to compare Volt to the dogs I see every week, I am going to be chasing those times, those dogs mostly happen to be large dogs.  In the long run I don't know yet if it is comparable, but it has encouraged me to start an informal, long term study between large dogs and small dogs.  I started off by doing some short sequences with Chaos and Volt and timing these.  Here is a short summary video of this:

And as mentioned in my previous post, I have started teaching Volt some poles and here is a short progress video:

He has caught on to the concept very quickly.  He understands very well and already has a 80% consistency rate.  The understanding is definitely there.  However I have all the time in the world, so I will not be rushing it.  After I made this video I moved onto the next step and placed a jump before the poles and Volt got it first time round and did three perfect repetitions  at which point I ended the session.  My first priority is independent drive ahead.  My second priority is entries.  I believe these will be the key to success and really hoping that his striding and rhythm will come naturally, but that will only become apparent once I start closing the channel some more.

I am beyond happy with his progress, his attitude and his eagerness, so I am not going to push it.  I am leaving him to develop on his own and having fun.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

For Fun, Competing and Weekend Warriors

I know I have nagged on this subject on numerous occasions, but once again, I just CANNOT get over it.

I HATE it when people say '..., but I just do agility for fun'.  Please note the but before hand, since that is normally pre-faced by, 'you may be competitive' or 'you have a fast dog' or something else utterly useless.  Yes, I am competitive, but TRUST me, I do agility because it is fun.  Hell, what other motivation would I have?  The thousands in prize money?  The fame?  The attention of paparazzi?  The scores of super hot male models that haunt my doorstep because of my achievements in the sport?   My sole motivation for doing agility is because I enjoy it and more importantly my dogs enjoy it, hence FOR FUN.  A more correct phrase would be '..., but I do agility casually' and often the more accurate '..., but I do agility socially' and the less polite '..., but I am a weekend warrior'.

With the terminology out of the way, I want to pose a question.  What is so terribly wrong with being competitive?  I like being competitive, my dogs have no clue, but I train them and give them all the skills to be competitive, I don't just expect them to jump from the womb straight onto the podium.  Actually, my first motivation for training my dogs in every aspect of agility (and doing it properly as well), is NOT winning.  It is because I feel that it is very unfair to compete in agility, if you have not ACTUALLY given your dog the skills to do so.  Ja, it is a hard game, trust me I know, I have been training dogs for about 19 years now.  But if you didn't actually teach your dog to properly negotiate a jump/poles/contact obstacles/tunnels and now you go off and try to string all those obstacles into a course, you are bound to cause physical and/or mental harm (yeah this part is probably you screaming, because the dog isn't doing something right because he doesn't KNOW what is right).  My main concern when training religiously and relatively often is to make sure the sport is actually fun for my dogs too.  And for those of you that know my dogs, you can SEE they love it.  Now the fact that I LIKE doing things well and winning and doing the best round I possibly can, is up to me.  As long as I keep my dogs happy and healthy, what is wrong with that?

Now with ongoing arguments in South Africa (since 1997... when the friggin sport started here), the following scenario has developed.  You, who trains... maybe once a week, don't bother with proper contact methods or taking the time to train decent poles.... You, who's dog is unfamiliar to handling manoeuvres, causing you to scream seven times, leading to a freaked out dog, wide turns, spins and bubbles. You now want to be able to achieve exactly the same as me, who trains and cares and researches and reads and asks and tries and works so damn hard.  Somehow that doesn't feel fair.

Perhaps I should explain... lol, again.  We have a small agility community.  Previously our rules stated that a minimum of 5 dogs had to compete in the class in order for the winner (provided they had a clear round) to receive a Qualifying Certificate (the kind-of equivalent of a Champ Ticket in the UK).  This DID leave certain provinces and especially small and medium dogs at a disadvantage.  A brilliant small dog, could go clear on a tough course in a spectacular way and get... well a handshake, a sample packet of dog food and nothing else. I suppose this is a very hard concept for the USA and UK blog readers to understand... you have stiff competition at every single show/trial/event.  In South Africa we have probably a TOTAL of 30 medium dogs and 40 small dogs in the entire country, spread over 5 different provinces.  I will use TvN and her stunning mini Aussie as an example.  To my knowledge, he is the only grade 3 medium dog in her province, yet he is a brilliant little dog, a very deserving National Champ and more importantly a dog with Championship Status.  Now most probably (sorry T, I know you read this and you KNOW I don't mean offence in any way), her awesome dog might not have achieved championship status if the rules had not been changed.  Because according to our new rules, the class size does not matter.  If you achieve a clear round, you win the QC, however the judges have to abide my a minimum speed.  Seems simple enough right?  Apparently not.

Once again there is a campaign to drop our standards even more.  Correct me if I am wrong, but if a status or title was achievable by everyone, we would all be walking around with a Sir/Mr. President/Ph. D/The Honourable/Majesty in front of our names.

Of course I recognise the problem of course measuring.  I am a judge and I know how measure my courses.  I have watched other judges and know how they measure their courses.  You know what?  So be it, judges decision is final, learn to accept that and recognise that tomorrow is another day.  THAT subject is for another post.

Returning to the original problem.  Let's use me as an example.  I am currently competing with two dogs.  Chaos and Quake.  Chaos is a very good dog (yeah, yeah I am biased, but right now that is not the point), he most probably does not have the capability of winning the AWC (then such a small percentage of dogs do), in fact he is not the best dog in this country, but he definitely deserves to be considered on a smaller scale.  Quake... well he is just not as good as Chaos, I love that dog to bits and I would fight you to the death if you tried to take him from me.  But honestly, as far as sport is concerned, it is kind of like comparing Usain Bolt to... well ME, since I also used to do the 100m sprint at school.  That doesn't mean I am going to stop competing with Quake, since he enjoys it, same as I enjoyed doing athletics at school.  Quake has plenty to achieve, BUT if he is able to achieve the exact same titles as Chaos, there is something wrong with the system. Why should I have even bothered to perfect my handling and training and technique and performance with BOTH dogs, if Chaos could have achieved the same if I had been completely mediocre with him and gone full out with Quake?

I work hard with all my dogs, I try and keep balance in their lives.  Their lives DO NOT (contrary to popular belief) revolve around agility.  Their lives revolve around me, and mine around theirs.  It is a fair balance. Any balance after all requires more than one weight.

I have been blessed with every single one of my dogs (this coming from a completely non-religious person means a lot).  And I love them regardless of ANYTHING else in the world and if you're reading this and you cannot say the same about every single one of your dogs, then I suggest you re-examine your life.

I am, however, asking all you weekend warriors and social handlers and mediocrity seekers to NOT try and take away the very little I have achieved and work so damn hard to do.

So after that rant and rave I will just make a short mention of today's show.  First of all, I withdrew Quake after a few jumps... there is something not right, so will have x-rays and bloods done this week, my little special needs man is not feeling okay :(  It makes me sad in a big way, but such is life with our animals.

Chaos however is looking good, good, good... man that dog is spectacular, I f$%(* it up OFTEN as per my below video, but he just tries his heart out and tries to fix my sordid, ineligible handling.  What a special quality for a dog to have.  So here are our rounds from today, I owe Chaos a ton of apologies, sorry bud, yes we know I suck!

Volt is learning the poles, apparently he is aiming at learning them in record speed, but i am holding back a bit,  since I feel that he is such a golden boy already I am NOT going to push it.  I will post vids of that later this week... they deserve their own special post though...

Have a good one!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Year, New Toy and A Win

First and most important, a huge happy birthday to my little Sheltie man, Volt.  I actually cannot believe he is a year old already.  I am enjoying him so much, not JUST because of his differentness to the BC's.  He is really on hell of a character (luckily not a character from hell) and he is one bundle of pure potential.  I look forward to many, many,  many, many, many... etc (take the hint my boy, just live forever) years with him.  He has been so much fun and been the cause of more than one pulled stomach muscle, always good for a laugh.

On the note of Volt, a less positive one I am afraid, I am already starting to feel the 'height-ism' that so many small and medium dog handlers complain of.  There are a ton of young pups around the same age as Volt, being discussed and looked at and monitored and gossiped about.. but somehow he never comes into contention.  He is never even considered.  Of course this does not apply to all my agility buddies, but there is a definite trend.  Now quite frankly, in our province there has not been any small or medium dogs that can regularly compete with the large dogs's times (sorry peeps, you know that is the truth), so I even though I feel he has a lot more potential than the local small dogs, I have NO idea how he will fair compared to the speed and times of the large guys.  And quite frankly I don't care about either of the two things.  I honestly don't give a crap if other people give a crap about me and my dogs :) I know my dogs always were and forever will be of the super awesomeness.  End of story.  But it is just an interesting observation that small and medium dogs obviously do not get considered in the same league around here... Haha, who cares, I will just kick arse anyway!

So on to my new toy... I have bad news for you blog readers... I have a brand spanking new video camera, HD and the works, so I will probably be driving you insane with tons of videos for the next few days/weeks/months/years...  Unfortunately I have not figured out how I can convert the awesomeness of the HD quality to an actual usable format, but I am working on that part.

So now to today's show.  Nothing noteworthy to write about Quake, since he had a real Quake day, moments of speedy brilliance, followed by disinterest, followed by more brilliance... Oh my hat.  He had fun at least.

Chaos is being super.  One or two misunderstandings between me and him, but he is so responsive I cannot complain.  Today was an open show (for the UK readers, that basically means there was no champ class), so I went out with the thought in mind that I would hold my contacts... which I did, although my handling was LATE, LATE, LATE in his entire contact round, I am not too unhappy.  His non-contact he was The Super Spaz, even with me panicking, he got a nice clear to win the class.

I explained the sport of Dog Jumping in my previous post.  I did a very conservative round in the first round, to get my clear in order to go through to the jump-off.  This is not normally my style, I either go full-out or nothing, and this was not a conscious though today.  So I have no idea how it happened, it is only once I watched the video that I realised exactly HOW prudish I was in my handling... an honest WTF moment.  The course was a bit tighter (shorter distances) than it seems in the video, but honestly, none of us handled it very well and it was all over the place.  I have a love/hate relationship with Dog Jumping, because as you can see from the below video, there are four decent dogs, with semi-okay handlers, that manage to pull off mediocre (or less) rounds, because Dog Jumping encourages you to go 'just clear' in the first round and hell for leather in the Jump Off... Now in all fairness, three of the four handlers in the clip (myself included), do NOT normally do this, we are all or nothing type of people, so I have NO idea what was up with today...

So we all went through to the jump off and the handling got a lot better there.  First of all, good friend C, pointed out to me a few weeks ago, that Chaos has a bad tendency to knock when I am in front of him with my arm down (signalling a turn) and she was quite correct.  Now I  know a lot of people have the tendency to say 'yes, but he knocks cos you are talking on the jump/moving/turning/standing on your head and singing twinkle twinkle little star.  And for a lot of people that IS a problem, BUT as I have mentioned a million times before in this blog I consciously train these things, so I expect my dogs not to knock.  Of course I have to brush up on specific behaviours continuously (jumping into me, come command etc etc), which is why I was so glad C spotted the current problem. So in all honesty I am a slight spot disappointed with this knock, but it just gave me some training ideas for the week.

Now can you all please note the lekker (translated as good, awesome,  appetizing, amazing, comfortable... this all depending on the context of course... in this case I would go for awesome) start Chaos had up that first straight, good speed.  That is the kind of speed I would like to maintain throughout the course in the long term.  Funny  last year this time, I was crying into my pillow, wishing me and Chaos could mature, however now (that he has turned 5), I seem to have changed, chilled a bit and I am happy for him to grow at his own pace.  I am happy with where we are and quite happy to see where we are going. In the last year I have been force to learn to completely compartmentalize my life and I think THIS has made the difference.

Anyhow I shall leave the rest of the moaning, philosophising and VIDEOS for another day this week.