Making Vows

Thanks for all of your well wishes and words of advice last week. Shiva is doing a little better this morning. She’s actually slept through the night the past couple days, which is nice for all of us. I am pretty convinced now it was the kibble. I checked the ingredients and noticed one of the primary proteins was lamb, something she’s not had much of before. We suspect she might have an intolerance to red meat. For the next while I am going to keep her on the bland, homemade diet, and then will try to slowly reintroduce a brand of kibble she has done well on before. It sucks that we’re going to have to throw all of this stuff away. At eighty bucks a bag, it wasn’t cheap! But at least now we know what to avoid in the future.

We also had another agility workshop on Sunday. This one was on advanced handling techniques, basically teaching us slow humans how to communicate better with our dogs on the course. It’s pretty cool to know a trainer with an indoor agility arena in her backyard. Otherwise due to the pouring rain ala Tropical Storm Ophelia, the seminar would have been cancelled. Shiva had a great time, of course, while I worked hard to cram as much information into my head as I could in a five-hour period.

We’re still having a lot of the same issues. Most of them are my fault as it seems like the rules keep changing. Once I get used to one method of doing something, a trainer will ask me to experiment with something else. My uncoordinated mind and body has to start at the beginning again. However, Shiva does have her own struggles. She hates, hates, hates to collect. When she is running at top speed, she gets frustrated when I make her check her stride in a sharp turn. It often causes her to growl or bark at me, letting me know she is not thrilled with the situation. If my cues aren’t exact, she will choose to ignore them and speed ahead. With this dog, timing is everything. These collection issues are part of the reason we have yet to conquer the dang weaves. She will frequently “woof” at me if I make her slow down and perform them properly, instead of just plowing through and knocking them all over. Apparently destroying the course is a lot more fun.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been at this for two years and still have yet to enter a trial. This surprises a lot of people. But I need to feel remotely confident of my ability to keep Shiva with me before I can enter such a nerve-wracking environment. While I could have jumped in and started competing this past spring, or even last fall, I know it would have been a disaster. Agility is supposed to be fun. Dealing with the mortification of my dog blowing me off to run through a tunnel over and over and over again would not have been a good time. Well, not a good time for me, that is, Shiva would have had a blast. I think by waiting and training so much before ever entering the ring will help us in the long run. I still don’t anticipate ever bringing home a ribbon, or even moving beyond Starters, but I hope I will enjoy myself and actually want to go back.

To keep myself honest and accountable, I am going to publicly set the goal of entering our first, real live trial in the Spring of 2012. By next April, Shiva and I will give this competition thing a go. I vow. And I fully expect you all to hold me to this.

What goals have you set lately? Are you and your dog working on a new behaviour? Are you just hoping to get through Monday without losing it? I want to hear about it!

36 thoughts on “Making Vows

  1. Congratulations on feeling ready to set your goal.

    I attended a wedding yesterday where everyone gathered was supposed to affirm their support of the couple. If that’s what you need from your readers, let me be the first to answer the question: “Will you support Kristine and Shiva in all their efforts to enter an agility trail in April 2012?” with “I will.” I know everyone else will too.

    I saw the effect of not walking Honey as much since I broke my toe at Saturday’s March. She had definitely backslidden a bit in her calm behavior in a stimulating environment because I hadn’t been working on this with her very much.

    Honey showed signs of the routine Golden Retriever “greeting disorder.”

    It’s nice to know that failing to meet one of my goals doesn’t mean I’m back at square one. I just need to get working on it again. I’ll take your work with Shiva as my inspiration.

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    • LOL. While I do really appreciate the support, what I think I need more often than not is a sharp shove to get moving. Encouragement is great but it doesn’t always inspire me to get off my butt, especially when I am on the verge of bailing.

      Not at all! I didn’t really meet any of my summer goals. It’s October 3rd and we still don’t have that handstand. ut after a few little sessions in the past couple weeks, Shiva is right back where she was in May before the Great Season of Laziness. I have no doubt you and Honey will succeed. And at least you have a good excuse for not meeting your goal! 😉

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  2. Repeat after me: “I need to walk the dog more.” That’s been my feeble goal for two years, and I have yet to achieve it.

    There was a study released last week that reported that people who embarrass easily are perceived as more honest and trustworthy by others. You’re the most nakedly honest blogger I read, and you embarrass ‘way too easily, so I guess that fits. 🙂

    Just keep having FUN. If you’re having fun, and Shiva’s having fun, who cares about the rest? The sun does not rise or set based on who wins agility trials. As far as Shiva’s concerned, the sun rises and sets on YOU. The world revolves on love. And you and Shiva have lots of that.

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    • Maybe you need to make the goal concrete. Sometimes giving yourself specifics helps inspire you to move forward. Instead of saying “I need to walk the dog more”, you could say “I am going to walk the dog twice a week” or “ten times a month.” Or whatever it is you are able to reasonably achieve. That way you will have a very clear measure for success! Just as we need to make our criteria very obvious to our dogs, we should probably do the same for ourselves.

      Thanks for all of your kind support. Some days I really need it!

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  3. We are so sorry to hear about Shiva’s tummy… Hope she’s feeling much much better.
    Good luck with the agility workshop. Its great that she is making so much progress!

    Dommy’s been always on lamb and rice kibs… until lately we introduced the duck kibs 😀 but he’s also on 1/2 raw meals now. So far we are doing great with his meals. He is eating again.

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    • Yay for Dommy! That’s such a relief. The little things can be so concerning. I hate to always be rushing for the phone to call the vet if it’s something I can figure out for myself.

      Duck sounds good, actually. 🙂

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  4. You and Shiva have inspired me to start doing agility with Pearl, despite the fact that she has a permanent case of the zoomies. Our first class is later this month when a new beginner class starts up. You and Shiva have come such a long way and I feel lucky I get to share in the excitement of setting new goals and making them happen. Your positive attitude and focus on having a good time and being a team with your dog is what made starting to do agility seem possible for me. Thanks for that and glad to hear Shiva is feeling a bit better!

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    • That’s great! You and Pearl are going to have a great time. Agility has definitely increased the bond Shiva and I have. It is a fun way to increase your dog’s confidence, and your own, while participating in a challenging new activity. Just be prepared, the addiction digs deep before you even realize it.

      Good luck!

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  5. I hope Shiva is well on the way to feeling better.

    I have to agree that the more important issue is to have fun with your dog. If you are having fun then whether you enter a trial or not is irrelevant. Just enjoy the special bond that you and the Shivmeister have. I won’t hold you to anything! LOL

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    • That is NOT helpful! I can’t have a way out or I know I will back down. I am such a coward at heart. 😛

      Year of Badassery, right?

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  6. Wow 80 bucks a bag, you must have a hard time keeping weight on her to go to such a high dollar food. I hope her tummy settles down soon, lamb often does really well with dogs with other allergies, or it will be the culprit. Could try a buffalo base as that tends to be bland. Good luck, food issues are always tricky.

    I will try and hold you to your goal/vow… I hope to at least run Luna at Nationals in May… even if she makes a fool of me, I want to try it. Not sure where we will be at though by then. Time will tell. I also looked up a CGC test in my area, and there is one Oct 17th. I hope to test Luna there. Couple areas to brush up on but I’m hoping she will pass with flying colors, especially since everyone else seems to think she would.

    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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    • I can’t remember the exact cost. It’s quite likely I was exaggerating. I would have said the brand but since I know it is not the fault of the company I didn’t want to unfairly penalize them.

      Good luck with the CGC! That’s awesome. I am sure you will ace it. And good luck with Nationals as well – that’s an awesome goal! I’ll be cheering you on!

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  7. I think my vow is to work with the dogs training them for at least 2 hours a week. I know that’s nothing compared to what you do, but considering we do a sum total of like zero hours a week, or maybe 15 minutes, this’ll be good for us.

    We buy food for Mak at close to $60 a bag and it still upsets his tummy. 😦 Sometimes I wonder if he would be better off with some chicken and rice instead, but is that enough protien and stuff for them? Don’t they need fatty oils or something like that? I should probably do research on these things…

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    • Hahahahaha! You think I train with Shiva more than two hours a week? I guess if you count the walks but as far as set “training-only” time we might barely squeak in with an hour and a half. And that’s only due to our weekly hour-long agility class. Sure if there is a workshop, that’s a lot more, but on average… Shiva makes me look like a much better handler than I am. If my next dog is a slower learner, I am screwed.

      I should do research as well. Since it’s only temporary, I am not too worried, but if I want to switch to fully homemade in the future, I would need to know these things.

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  8. Poor Shiva with tummy issues! I hope she feels better soon!! Puppies with wonky tummies are no fun! Instead of tossing the kibble, maybe try putting it on freecycle or putting a note on a community board, i’m sure SOMEONE can use the kibble. Some shelters even accept open bags of food as donations (or you could ask a local rescue).

    We will definitely support you and keep you to your vow! If we can get back in an agility class, we may even join you in signing up for a trial by spring time.

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    • I thought of that but we threw out the actual bag. I always keep the bags after we empty the food into our container but the one time we actually cleaned out the closet with the food bags from the last year (gross, I know) is the one time we actually needed something from there! Figures, eh? I don’t know if anyone would accept the kibble without that. It’s kind of sketchy.

      Yay! I hope you do get back into it as I’d love to hear all about it!

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  9. Gosh, I was gone a week and I feel like I missed so much! Shiva will always keep you on your toes, won’t she? Our Chicken also doesn’t do well on lamb — the symptoms were similar with him. Let’s hope that’s all that it is, and you will be back to normal soon. Does your pet store allow returns? Many of our boutique stores will take food back even if it’s open. It’s their way of helping you feel ok about trying new foods that you’re not sure your pet will like / get along with.

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  10. Like aleksandra said…my pet store will allow people to return food that their dog doesn’t do well with…worth a shot.. Hope Shiva is feeling better soon.

    I never set goals for myself…too much pressure for me, I get all anxious about it. Trialing is a good experience, even if you don’t have perfect runs. It always gives you new things to work on, and things to be extra proud of!

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  11. If the pet store won’t take the food back, you can also donate it to a rescue or shelter. Some of them will take open bags too.

    I think all the work you’re doing with Shiva is great. Even if you never do a trial, you’re both having a good time and learning a lot – and that makes it worthwhile! Your goal is great though, good luck!

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  12. Fingers crossed that the food switch does the trick. If you can’t return it, you might be able to donate it to an animal shelter. I totally agree about the agility – anything I do with my dogs should be fun, not full of stress and worry. That’s not to say that I don’t stress in the ring – I TRY not to, but I often do, but I try not to compete unless I’m sure we can do it. For example, not usually, but every so often, Toby runs from the ring without explanation, (another moment where I wish they could talk) – and rather than worry about him taking off, I only compete indoors. Good luck and I hope you achieve your goals, but more importantly – even if you don’t, I’m so glad to hear that you’re keeping it fun!!

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  13. My pet store also takes food back, so I would give it a try 🙂
    Since Cali is nearing her 13th birthday, my vow is to be more patient with her on walks and let her sniff to her hearts content (but WOW it’s hard . . .I like to keep moving, especially now that it is getting cold and rainy!). I’m certain you and Shiva will meet your goals . .it’s what you do 🙂

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  14. Oh don’t throw the offending food out! I’m sure there’s a rescue or shelter that could use it, even if considered a small donation.

    Returning it to the store is also an option.

    Congratulations on setting a firm goal! I have no doubt you’ll get there.

    No specific goals for us. We are working Moses back into a walking routine, and are slowly increasing time. We’re at 10-15 minute stretches currently, and I can tell when we reach the 15 minute limit, he is a little tired and worn out (spinal surgery and months of rest will do that to you, I suppose). So actually, scratch that – there is a goal. My goal is not to push him too hard too fast and risk setting progress back. That’s going to be the toughest part, since we’re all ready to get back to being outside and active with him.

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  15. Hey, make sure to donate that bag of kibble to a local shelter or even a local food bank. Humane societies often need high quality food donated, and many food banks give out bags of dog food to people as well as people food, to help out the pets in their life as well.

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  16. Good to hear shiva is doing fine. I suggest you make her run. I have made it a habit that i run a mile atleast with ginnie everyday. My vet suggested that it really helps in their metabolism. Dont start immidiately, just skid into the habit. And yes, dont just throw away the dog food. Either exchange it with somebody or donate it.

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  17. You and Shiva are always an inspiration to me – no joke. I wish I was as good about working with Bella on things. She’s just so cute and snuggly, and I’m lazy… so we end up napping together on the couch far too often!

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  18. I’m glad Shiva seems to be doing better! One of our dogs couldn’t eat lamb at all! It just did not agree with him, but other meats were fine.

    We’re working on Morgan not barking at everyone in the parking lot when we go places in the van. She’s fine when we’re moving, but stopped, she’s doing the Cujo impersonation any time anybody walks past, and hubby’s younger brother and sister teasing her in there Friday night didn’t help. *sigh* There are no goals at this point, but we would like to get the behavior under control.

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  19. With KPA murdering all my time, of course we’re learning new behaviors. So many it’s hard to keep up! Right now we’re working on heel position. Elli has always been expected to come to my front for attention, it’s another of her default positions, including eye contact (which everyone thinks is amazing and so fantastical…blah) but omg, getting her to like being in heel has been some kind of tragic let down, lol.

    I tried choose-to-heel. I tried rapid reinforcement in stand-heel position. I tried platforms without barriers. And now I’m trying platforms with a wall on her left side, to keep her in line, otherwise she comes at an angle, where her butt is away from me. SO frustrating. But we’re getting there. The walking hasn’t even begun yet. And then there’s introduction to all the distractions… dear dog. Long process?!

    I think it’s an excellent idea for you to wait to enter until 2012. Really, it is about pacing yourself. Shiva still has years ahead of her, so definitely don’t rush!

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  20. Glad to hear Shiva is feeling better. The food roller coaster is such a pain!

    Our goal is to enter at least one Rally match (be it ADPT or AKC) in the next 6 months. We have been taking obedience classes since Sophie was a puppy. I just need to stop worrying and give it a go!

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  21. Who says you have to compete? As long as you’re both having fun, right? Although I bet the temptation is crazy to just try and see how she handles it. So glad she’s feeling better! Right now Dante and I are working on him not freaking out and practically screaming while I’m making his meals. He’s always been excitable at mealtime, but now that we’re in the new place he goes absolutely beserk, and it sounds like I’m abusing him or something! Can’t imagine what the neighbors think…

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  22. I am glad Shiva is feeling better- and way to go on your goal!

    (side note on the dog food- if you haven’t opened any of the bags yet your pet supply store may take it back (mine did)… or a rescue might take it, even if the bag is open)

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  23. Sorry to hear about Shivas bad tummy, although the Agility workshop might just have done the trick in making her feel back to normal!It’s great to hear that you have a goal and I’ll be watching all the way, mine is to stay focused totally on blanket ID and make it the best year ever :))

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  24. I think if you are still motivated to go to classes and learn even if you are not trialling then that is a really good sign. You are doing the right thing for yourself and your relationship with your dog, and that is what counts! Good luck with the 2012 goal.

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  25. I have no doubt that you and Shiva can enter a trial and excel if you want to. But I also like that you have waited so long, and there’s nothing wrong with waiting even longer. I never have been much of one for competitive sports:)…and the important thing is just that you’re getting out to do something with her that you both enjoy!

    My goal is to take Fozzie for more solo excursions to public places to work on his leash excitement. You’d think I would have gotten to do more of it in the looong time he’s been my foster dog, but there’s always some reason not to! I’ll keep trying, I really will 🙂

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  26. Our goal is to go to the rally event here in December. With my new work schedule its ahr dot fit time in for training. Leaving before dark and coming home after dork many days just stinks!

    I can’t wait to see y’all next year in your first match.

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  27. Glad to read Shiva is on the mend. In the ‘old days’ people and dogs didn’t seem to have nearly as much in the way of digestive and behavioural problems. I can’t remember what we fed our dogs 30+ years ago, but I know we ate healthier and I’m sure they ate much more naturally too.

    I have so many vows and resolutions that I could do my own blog post about them. The most pressing one is to mow my lawns before nightfall, so I’m off to do that now:)

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  28. ok, so i am way late on this (been trying to catch up on lots of blog posts!) and i’m glad shiva’s doing better, but $80 for a bag of food????? was the bag at least 50 pounds? holy smokes! and i thought blue buffalo was expensive!!

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