Running is Better than Jumping

The Boys and I trekked to the eastern half of our state this weekend for an AKC trial.   It was a new location for us, and turned out to be a great opportunity to try out our running dogwalk contacts in competition.  Little Desmond was a gem, and was often found upside down, napping in his crate in the car.

I switched Duncan to running contacts (instead of stopping him at the bottom) about two years ago to keep his motivation high throughout the course.  As usually happens without any extra training, running turned to jumping, and in the excitement of a trial, jumping the entire yellow contact zone was pretty easy for my little guy.  I’ve been taking an online running contact course since the spring, and am starting to see Dunc figuring out that his job is to run off the end, with no leaping.  He still does the Flying Puppy imitation from time to time, but more often, the faster I go, the lower and faster he goes, and he’s coming down the entire board, running right off the end.  Retraining his contacts has been a long haul, with the acceptance that we’re going to miss some Q’s.  While we’re not done yet, I can see definite progress, and his confidence and speed are on a steady increase, too. I adore seeing my boy run with joy like this.

Here’s a short video of our running contact progress in trials this year:

And if you’d like to see the entire run of the last part of the clip, here it is:

Get off my board, Des!!

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Life is a Trip Outside

Desmond has been home with us for just about two weeks.  I didn’t want to start in on working with him right away…I wanted him to figure out his new home and siblings, first. And every 20 minutes, (and inevitably at 3 am) we’re outside singing the “go peeee…go peeee” song to him.  If our neighbors were closer, they’d think there were quail, pheasant and some sort of endangered GoPee bird in the neighborhood.

In two weeks, he’s not only settled in, but he’s starting to take over, so we’re off and running!  Manners are coming first.  Things he needs to know…like not only staying off the table, but not walking on my plate of food sitting on that table.  (I know, rookie puppy mistake, it’s been a few years).  Not sharking my fingers when I give him a cookie.  Sitting nicely to take the cookie (ouch, shark, my fingers!!).  This baby is food motivated and I love it!

I introduced shaping to him right away, and he demonstrated immediately that he’s a very bright little boy.  (Apologies right now, I’m going to be a gushing puppy mama, so if this offends you, you might surf elsewhere).  He caught on right away that I wanted something, and started to offer behaviors to get his cookies.  He gave me a sit.  And a down.  And a bark, a jump up, a high-five, spun a circle, then started repeating them all, with random jumping bean imitations thrown in for fun.  I sat there, clicker in my hand, mouth open, thinking “I’d better pack a lunch if I’m going to stay ahead of this kid!”

I. Am. Ecstatic!  He’s going to be a hoot!  I’m sure we’re going to have challenges, but again, Dunc has taught me never to underestimate energy and desire.  I will try to remind myself of this when Des turns into a teenager…

Why DuncanDes?

It’s probably no surprise that blogging is new to me.  I generally think that most people wouldn’t find my life to be all that interesting on a day to day basis, so have felt little need to write about it, let alone do so publicly.  This is a leap.

What would lead me to blog about my pups?  By going on continually about my fur family, people are going to realize how far I’ve fallen off the Crazy Dog Lady cliff!!  I’m certainly not trying to reinvent the training wheel (that would be dog training), and am no expert.  I have however, found my life to be irrevocably changed by the journey that Duncan has taken me on while we find our way in the agility and dog training world together.

In one sense, I’m giddy about the prospect of training Desmond, and want to share that with a few very Doggy friends who appreciate gratuitous puppy photos and training chatter.  And in another, I feel by writing about what I’m doing with Des is also a tribute to Duncan.  Without Dunc to show me the way, to forgive me for not knowing better and to gamely try anything new I’ve thrown at him, there would be no Desmond.  Then again, I’m sure Dunc would be just as happy without having to share his toys with a baby brother. With luck, that will change.

And if you’re wondering, I put a lot of thought into what to name this.  I considered all sorts of witty little plays on words and hidden meanings.  And laughed at myself, because that’s not really my style.  I call my boys Dunc and Des, just nicknames for their full names.  DuncAndDes looked silly, so Dunc(an’)Des it is.

Meet the Boys!

Welcome to Dunc and Des’s blog, a compilation of our canine adventures!

Duncan is my four year old Mini Aussie…a sweet boy and ball fetching machine.  He is the pup who opened my world to dog training beyond sit/stay/beg (that would be me begging for the sits and stays).  He has taught me patience, empathy and how to find different ways of finding success when the traditional way just wasn’t his speed.  He is my first agility dog, and we’ve been venturing all around the NW this year trialling up a storm.  He is a very special boy, who continually reminds me that running around agility courses is all about having fun with your special teammate.

Desmond is the new kid.  He is a baby Mini Aussie who came home to live with our pack in mid October and is quite full of himself.  In the coming months, I’ll be writing about new adventures working and playing with this fun loving and outgoing little boy (in between chasing him around the house trying to retrieve whatever object he just made off with).

Welcome to our adventure!