Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Utility Dog

My brother came to visit last weekend. Like all little brothers do, he had to cause some sort of good natured trouble. At one point my pen was thrown clear across the room, bouncing out of view, behind a chair. Homework becomes much harder when you don't have a writing utensil. After a few minutes of begging, I accepted the fact that my brother was not going to return the pen to me.

All hope was not lost however, since a certain Maltese was beside me on the couch. He was still laying down when I marked the other end of the room and gave the 'Rugby, Sevens' command. Since we teach the go-out with a hidden retrieve, "Sevens" has an implied retrieve attached to it. It does NOT however imply that he make a sharp left turn to find out where my pen had bounced. To accommodated this, before he reached the end of the room I have another command - 'Fetch.' There wasn't anything else Rugby-sized on the floor, and I know Rugby has an affinity for pens and pencils, so I was confident that it would work.

Sure enough, Rugby paused and looked around for a second before he spotted the pen, pounced on it and brought it back to me. The best part of it was he had to pass my brother on the way out and on the way back. Both times, my brother tried hard to distract him and pull him off course, but Rugby resisted the temptation.

Teaching the Go-out part of Directed Jumping for Utility? Totally worth it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grass Stains

Rugby and I went down the street to get some training in before I had to go back to school, and before the thunderstorms started. Our neighbor dogs, were out again today barking up a storm. We rushed over to get some work in before they went inside again.

This time I set up scent articles about 20ft from their fence. I stood 20 ft away from the pile, so that Rugby was being sent straight towards the barking Pugs (and the Pomeranian too). He was VERY distracted by them. He got the metal one right, but took three tries to get the leather one without help from me. By the third try with the leather article the dogs were called inside and our distraction was gone. Good timing!

Sometime before we were finished with our gloves, go-outs and heeling (all of which were lovely) I noticed something very strange about Rugby. He had grass stains on his feet!

Grass Stains

That is a first! I think he was going for that authentic 'Rugby player' look! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Going to School

StatueRugby went with me to school to train last Friday. Not too many people left on Campus by the time Friday afternoon rolls around, but it was good that we went anyway. There were just enough distractions to make the trip worthwhile. We did gloves, signals, retrieving, go-outs and LOTS of heeling. (He was also sporting his Applewoods Dog Training vest for the trip.)

The funnest part of our trip was when we weren't doing any of those things though. As we made our way around school, I realized that the bike racks would make perfect Rugby sized jumps! I had him jumping back and forth between the 'loops' of the bike rack and finally had him jump straight through so I could get a picture of it.
Bike Rack Jump

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rugby the Name

Our new friend, Reilly, is asking where people come up with their pet's name. Here is how we came up with 'Rugby.'

August 20, 2008 I woke up early and flew down to Alabama. Later that afternoon, I was sitting in the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport with an empty dog carrier, a collar, leash and a puppy contract. Less than two minutes had passed before a woman with short blonde hair walked into the airport lobby with a 12 week old ball of fluff stuffed securely under her right arm. He was coming home with me.

The flight home didn't leave for another hour, so the breeder stayed with us while I got acquainted with this nameless fluff. Not too far outside of the airport was a large grassy area that we took the white dog to do his business and play a bit before getting stuck on an airplane for a few hours.

He didn't do any of those things though. Instead, he barked.

He barked at pedestrians, and he barked at litter, and he barked some things just because he felt like it. No attempts to distract him were successful. I was beginning to wonder what I was getting into bringing home this particular dog. He barked until a group of guys came out of the parking garage, passing the grassy area on the way to the airport. The little dog was infatuated with them, sat and stared until they were no longer in sight. Glad SOMETHING got his attention!

The breeder said her goodbyes to the little dog and we made our way back into the airport and through security. This was the when he had to finally go into the carrier that I brought for him. He wasn't happy about it at all. He barked some more, he dug, he chewed, he scratched, and tugged at the carrier. He was the noisiest three pound puppy I had ever heard.

The carrier hung over my shoulder as I tried to ignore the noise as best I could. I hoped people wouldn't notice that it was MY puppy making all the noise. He continued to dig and tug and chew despite the same group of guys he saw earlier standing near by. He didn't notice they were there, or didn't care any more because he continued to bark and carry on inside the carrier.

Those sharp puppy teeth can really do some damage on a soft sided carrier. Before I knew it, the little dog had made a sizable hole in the back end of the carrier. Big enough for a three pound ball of fluff to fit through, to be exact.

He decided to take part in the oh-so-self-rewarding task of acquiring freedom. He squeezed out of the hole and leapt towards the ground. That is quite the fall! Luckily, one of the guys from the parking garage was watching the whole thing and before I even noticed he had escaped.... the guy reached out and snatched the puppy out of the air. He neatly tucked the puppy under his right arm until he stopped wiggling and took a big sigh of relief.

I don't think the parking lot guy realized what he had just done. I couldn't help but think of the broken legs the puppy would have had if he made it all the way to the floor. I also couldn't help but notice the duffel bags, he and the rest of the guys were carrying. They had "Birmingham Rugby Team" embroidered on the side in bright green letters, with white trim. I thanked him profusely and watched the poorly contained puppy with both eyes the entire flight home. It wasn't until we had made it back to Maryland and I was sharing our story with the family that we decided to name the trouble maker dog "Rugby."

I think thats what happened. Or maybe one of our friends saw the name in a dog magazine and suggested it to us. Hmmm..... I can't remember.

PS- Rugby did NOT chew through his carrier (not for lack of trying) and did NOT jump to the ground. There was also NOT a rugby team at the airport when I picked him up. The Alabama bit and the barking his head off bit are both true. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jack Russel Terrors


If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting a Jack Russel Terror before, take my word for it, they live up to that name! Rugby remembers the kind of stuff Rosie gets into around the yard from her previous stays at Applewoods. Rosie and Rugby had the yard to themselves for a while while the big dogs dried off inside and they took full advantage of it.

Rugby wasn't taking any chances with Rosie and made sure to supervise her every move. It is only logical, since he is practically an expert on the yard rules.
Exploring Together

I can see the wheels turning in this picture. "What does she think she is doing?!"
Rosie shows Rugby the ropes

Rugby purposefully planted himself in her way so that she would leave the stumps alone and start acting like a normal dog (you know... on the ground and all) again.
Stump is all yours, Rugby!

And before you get the idea that Rugby was learning a trick or two from Rosie, you should know this was part of his plan. You see, Rugby could keep an eye on Rosie with much more efficiency from the stump on the left. Thats all.
I *think* I can reach it!

He even acted as traffic control for part of their yard time. He perfected the act of literally keeping his eyes on Rosie AND running beside her at the same time.
Catch me if you can

Nice work today, Rugby. I knew we could count on you! 

P.S. - Rosie is not actually a "Terror," but it does make for a better story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rugby got into some Asprin...


I knew that model kit wasn't a waste of money.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Details

Rugby got his third and final Utility leg today. He was a little bit better than yesterday. Part of our warm-up routine involves doodling with some fronts. Today, half way through the warm up, he said he couldn't remember what front was! :-O There were a couple fronts in the ring that were further away than usual which is a brand new problem for us to work on. I wonder if that is a reflection of his warm-up routine.

Even though he still went really fast on the fast, I was expecting it and I think it looked a little more fluid than yesterday when I had to catch up to him. He didn't blink on the directed jumping and did the scent articles with ease.

We still really need to clean up the heeling, and the gloves and the fronts and finishes. I am contemplating finding BIG DOG gloves for Rugby to use, maybe they will be easier for him to get a hold of? We have lots to think about before we go into the Utility B ring in a couple weeks.

Today's Score: 195 (1st place)
Signals - 1.5
Scent - 1/2
Directed Retrieve - 1.5
Directed Jumping - 1.5

Open Score - 196.5 (2nd place)
First place was 196.5+ (we lost the run-off to a very nice, deserving dog)

Rugby was also High Combined with a combined score of 391.5!!

Good boy, Rugby! 


We are back from a busy show weekend. Rugby is crashed out on his new favorite bed (that he won with his first Utility leg). I took a picture, but since it isn't PG13, I censored it. I'll fill in the details a little later. :-)


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Only One More

Rugby earned his second Utility leg today at the Shenandoah Valley Kennel Club's Trial. He was SO excited to be there and all that energy = sloppy work in the ring. These were our major faults -

  1. FAST transition - He did that without me. I had to sprint to catch up to him! 
  2. Leather Article - I'm not sure why this was so hard. Maybe because it was in the same place as the metal article? He thought it was a trick? He indicated he had the right one, then proceeded to check the pile 3-4 times before bringing it back. He even picked the right on up, then put it down again to re-check the pile. 
  3. Directed Jumping - I held the high jump signal for a little longer. Rugby contemplated taking the bar jump instead. He took a second after standing up to weigh his options and luckily, he took the correct jump! His love for the bar jump is what NQ'ed us at the first trial and he made the same mistake at Thursday night class. Guess we still need to practice this more! 

Score - 192 (2nd place) 
Signals - 5 (OUCH!)
Scent - 1/2 
Directed Retrieve - 1
Directed Jumping - 1.5

I am hoping that since he was able to burn off that energy today, he will turn into that nice working dog (that he is every once in a while) by tomorrow. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Smart Dogs

Directed Jumping Proofing

See Rugby all the way out there? Margot gave us a good idea the other day. She had us leave the corner gloves out while we did go-outs so Rugby would have to go where he is sent. Just another way to reinforce the 'taking direction' part of both exercises. 

The past three times we practiced this Rugby ignored the gloves and gave me great go-outs. To make the exercise a little bit harder, after a good Directed Jumping exercise at ring distance with the gloves in the corners, I moved each jump out 6 additional ft.

If you look close, you can see the gloves way out there with Rugby too. They were much more tempting since both gloves were now inside the jumps, AND Rugby had to go much further to get to each of the jumps. After three tries, he got the hang of it and did the entire Directed Jumping exercise with the gloves and jumps set like that. Good job, Rugby! 

Rugby & Diesel Waiting

Halfway through the training session, Rugby and Diesel had to wait while I rearranged the jumps. Rugby got to wait in his crate so he would stay warm on the sidelines. This was also the first day I trusted Diesel enough to leave him on a stay and not back tie him to something (although he did keep his leash on). He officially has a "hold" now too! Good job, Diesel!

Diesel 'Hold'
P.S. - It wasn't really that dark out, but the flash makes it seem that way.