Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sight Hound Sports & Pax Updates

I dont know why I do this to myself...another dog sport to get addicted to...

To get involved in lure coursing and whippet racing, at least in my area, you have to find someone that is willing to mentor you. Through Pax's breeder I found a family that lives near me and raises whippets and runs events.

Pax and I drove to their home last weekend during the major flooding. I wanted to take the opportunity, despite the crazy flooding and rain that was going on. We even skipped a 5k that we planned to run, but thats another story.

We sat around and talked about training whippets and the logistics of getting involved with sight hound sports. I learned a lot about this breed, realizing how very different whippets and border collies are. This was especially evident when Pax was loose in their yard and ran away from me to go into their dry, slightly warmer garage while I was calling him...and I've worked on his recall quite a bit. Not enough clearly.

Anyway, they set up the lure and showed me a few practice runs with their dogs. Wow! You have to see this in person to realize how fast they go! It is truly amazing to watch. When it was Pax's turn I was nervous because he was cold and wanted to go inside. He got a little bit excited watching the other dogs run, but not especially.

They took him to one end of the field and I waited near where the lure would stop to retrieve him. I quickly learned that I had nothing to worry about! He seemed to run just as fast as the other dogs. When he got to the lure (a plastic bag) he really was trying to kill it. Then he ran off and embarrassed me again with his bad recall. I figured this out quickly and on his next runs, I rewarded him for getting the lure and then calmly took him and walked off. I was very proud.

Next time we will work on putting him in the box and then this Spring I will compete with him!

random racing whippets


In flyball Pax is doing great in some areas. He is doing super fast wall work for either a ball or a tug. Last night we tried him on the chute with a really steep angle, more angled than a flyball box. We put a ball on it with velcro and he got it and returned to Ben for his tug!

He isnt doing as well with dead ball retrieves when another dog is present, especially a really exciting dog. If he has to chose between a dead ball and a running dog, he will chase the other dog. Since he clearly wont have a problem with learning the box, we are going to focus his training on distraction issues.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pax Flyball Training

Flyball training with Pax is going well. He is easy to train so far! I was expecting major challenges and maybe those challenges are still yet to present themselves. In team practice, I havent been able to set up a distracting environment for him yet.

Head to head recalls without baby gates - no problem. I think a head to head ball retrieve might be a problem because he does like to race other dogs for the ball. Im not worried about it because he is so ball and tug driven. I think/hope he won't have issues with other dogs in the flyball setting.

At home we are working on ball retrieves, as he likes to do several laps before bringing the ball back. And we are working on forming his box turn. Here is some video of his wall training.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cloverdale Flyball November 7-8

Indigo and Epic ran this past weekend in Cloverdale for a NAFA tournament. It was our 3rd tournament with the trailer and it was awesome! I love being just a few steps away. Ben was able to spend a lot of time working on the computer while Finley napped in the trailer. She didnt miss any of her naps and that made everyone very happy!

I am in the process of figuring out a better option for video and we only have 5 people at this tournament, so no photos or videos from this tournament.

Indigo raced in the same position (3rd) all weekend passing Ezri. She ran her best passing time ever of 3.86 with lots of 3.9s and 4.0s for the rest of the weekend. She has lost some weight and we tried not feeding them a big meal in the morning. Also we tried giving her Rimadyl on Sunday morning, but she didnt seem any different with that.

Epic keeps speeding up and seemed to enjoy running in start in almost every race. He ran a best team time of 3.80 with all 3.8s and 3.9s for the weekend and not one error. Ben got his first perfect start with Epic as well!

Pax had a great time meeting people and dogs and watching racing. I have high hopes for him not having distraction issues, as he was able to tug anywhere. They opened up the racing lanes for practice on Saturday night and we were able to do several recalls with him. He was little bit nervous at first, but went right for the tug.

Our next tournament will be the first weekend in December. Hopefully we can take the trailer and I can get some video!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

herding isnt exactly a dog sport

I know that herding and dog sports are two different things and many people stick to one or the other. I love both for different reasons and time and money are my only constraints to being fully involved in both.

We spend the majority of our time doing flyball for several reasons. All of our dogs can participate. There is a weekly practice that is a fun social time and it only costs us $5 per dog. Indigo was fully trained before her first birthday, Epic learned and was competing 5 months after we got him, and I expect Pax to be ready sometime near his first birthday. Agility takes a bit longer, but is attainable with lots of practice at home and a good instructor.

I love herding because its relaxing and quiet. The drive to Dianes farm is lovely and being outside at the farm with all the animals doing their jobs is a major (and welcome) contrast to our everyday life. I love giving my dogs the opportunity to do what they were originally bred for. I have been wanting to enter a sheepdog trial for a long time, but the process of getting there seems close to unattainable. Herding lessons are expensive and its hard to find time to go more than once a week.

Indigo is not cut out for herding. We tried for several years with several instructors, and she did not progress. I was afraid that if she continued she would injure herself or kill a sheep. Since she is exceptional (in my opinion) at flyball and agility, we decided to retire her from her short herding career.

Epic came to us with quite a bit of training. He had a good start on his flanks and could do nice outruns. He has lots of talent and because of this, is a blast to train. I actually feel like Im learning something when I go herding with him. Anyway, Ben took him to a lesson with Scott Glen recently and it was determined that he doesnt know his flanks as well as he should. Now our new goal will be to get him doing his flanks properly without any guidance. He needs to know what the words mean. Then when he knows them very well, we will move on to driving. I need to remember to enjoy the training process and be patient about getting him into a trial.

At our last lesson we worked on having him circle the sheep and gave him the flank command when he was doing it correctly. Every few minutes I rewarded him by allowing him to fetch the sheep.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Updates On The Dogs

Indigo: Something is wrong with my girl and I cant figure out what! Its so frustrating. We have done massage, chiropractic, xrays and now we are testing her thyroid and next we will do a tick panel and then accupuncture. Its really frustrating because I dont know what her problem is. I dont know if she is in pain or if there is a training issue? Her flyball times have slowed down from 3.7/3.8 to 4.2 in start. This is a big change for her. After a lot of activity she seems to get a little bit of an arched back. It is really frustrating because I dont know if I should rest her or do something else to help her. Anyway, Indigo and Ben are having a great time training with Heather and Michael Bruce in agility They are working on Bens handling skills and will start 2 X 2 weave training as soon as we get the weaves we ordered!

Epic: Epic is doing great! We decided to keep him out of agility and focus on flyball and herding. He has gone to Diane Pagel's farm a few times for board & train and we are looking for a longer term training arrangement so that he can start trialing. He had a lesson with Scott Glen a few days ago and now we are working on teaching him his flanks well. He knows them, but not perfectly. He needs to know them well and correctly before we can move to driving. In flyball he keeps speeding up for Ben. He is regularly running 3.9/4.0 in the pack. We could not be happier with how he turned out.

Pax: Our introduction to the world of sighthounds.... He is a great dog and fits in well. I am taking puppy agility with him. He has a great amount of drive and focus as long as we keep the sessions short. So far we have worked on tug drive, walking a ladder and walking on a long board. Training will be a challenge compared to working a training addicted border collie, but I have high hopes for his future. In flyball we are working on flat recalls, targeting, "over and back" and just last night we introduced one jump. We will most likely hold off on lure coursing and oval track racing until the Spring.

CanAm video

Here are videos of our two Can-Am teams. I still need work on my video editing skills.

The Open Team: Jet City Jumpers Buzz The Tower
The Regular Team: Canine Mutiny BiCostal Pirates

And another video by my friend Sue from Canine Mutiny

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CanAm 2010

My teammate on Jet City Jumpers Flyball team (Joy) and I drove all the way from Seattle to Indiana for Flyball nationals. We brought my two border collies and two of her border collies. It was quite chaotic with just Joy and I taking care of 4 border collies and of course my daughter Finley had to come along too.

We decided to switch Indigo and Ezri onto my favorite east coast team, Canine Mutiny. We tried to put together the fastest team possible with our two girls along with two of their border jacks, Stingray and Slingshot.

We had quite a disadvantage with no possibly for a team practice. Also Indigo has not been her usual speedy self for the past year and Slingshot was still not recovered from an earlier injury. We managed to pull it together enough to run a 16.3 and entered the finals. It was a single elimination and we were eliminated on the first round against Burnin Rubber. We didnt have much of a chance against them with their 2 border whippets, whippet, and border stack.

I was very impressed with our open team. We all ran very well together and got some great times. On Sunday we put Indigo, Epic, Ezri (our three JCJ border collies) on a team with Stingray and ran a 16.1 with a .16 start. We were very excited to have won Open Division 1 that day.

Overall it was one of the best flyball experiences I have ever had. It was amazing to watch the top teams compete for the championship.


We stopped to visit Ezri and Indigos breeder on the way. L --> R Indigo, Ezri, Prancer, Brita, Dazzle

Our accomodations at CanAm

Our crating area
TV screen for listing upcoming races

Proof that we made it to the finals!

the crowd watching the final races

interesting prop used by NET

A family photo of Race (from Orion Border Collies) kids. L --> R Ezri, Indigo, Razor, Speed, Drive

CanAm 2011 has been announced and will be at the same place and same time. Unfortunately we probably wont be able to make it next year. We are hoping to be able to compete in UFLI nationals next year depending on where it is held.

Monday, October 18, 2010


yet another blog

I decided to separate my dog training ideas, thoughts and reports into a new blog to keep it all separate from my day to day report on our life. I named the blog after my border collie Indigo, my best girl and the one that taught us all about the world of dog sports.

We currently have 3 dogs, 2 border collies and a baby whippet. We started out, as most people do with a mix breed dog that could learn dog sports, but wasnt especially good or driven to be trained. Of course we figured if we were going to get another dog, it might as well be a border collie. Indigo was a joy to train in flyball and now is doing great for Ben in agility, but we needed another dog for Ben to run in flyball and for herding. We tried Indigo in herding, but she turned out to prefer running full speed at the sheep and injuring herself and them too many times. She is a true sport dog and not a stock dog.

That is where Epic came into the picture. We got him as a partially trained herding dog with the hope of entering him into herding trials some day. He was trained for flyball in 3 months and is running for Ben in tournaments.

When you get involved in dog sports, getting more and more dogs becomes part of the addiction. We had two wonderful dogs that are successful in their sports, but that is not enough! After considering several other breeds/mixes (borderjack, borderstaffy, another border collie, staffordshire bull terrier and JRT) we decided that our next dog would be a whippet.

I started looking a kennels with the plan to get one in the next year or so, but a very cute little red whippet was available right away. We tried him out in our house and immediately decided to keep him. Pax is now 6 months old and is in training for agility, flyball and hopefully will try whippet racing and lure coursing.

Deltabluez Epic

Ignited Indigo