First of all a very special thanks to all of you who demonstrated your generosity by donating to the Valencia children in Vancouver (please see Friday’s blog post). No this was not a scam, no my blog had not been hi-jacked, yes this is a terrible tragedy and yes I am very proud of my sister for her compassion, springing into action doing what needed to be done. It kind of reminds me of my own parents who,  while operating only on my father’s merger steel-worker’s income, and with a bevy of children of their own; not only adopted another and took in yet one more when one of my brother’s best friend’s parents died, but they (my parents) also took in foster kids as I was growing up. There was never a dull moment in the ole Garrett homestead.  For those of you that have not had time to make donation, please do so, any amount will help if all of us make an effort.

The past four days we have had an awesome camp here. Graduate Skills camp is open only to those that have been to at least one 4 day Skills camp in the past.

Working rear crosses with the clear tunnel.

Working rear crosses with the clear tunnel.

 For the first time ever I did all of the head instructing at this camp. I must admit I really liked the new format. Call me a control freak, but it allowed me to see all of the progress in all of the areas of work by the students. Of course I was more than capably assisted by Lynda O-H. At times Lynda had to lead some of the exercises as I came home from Europe with a flu bug:(. Our four areas of focus at camp were; contact, weaves, jump training and handling.

During our last handling session worked rear crosses at tunnels, a skill that can often be a weakness for many agility dogs. We started by rehearsing the skill on a very short tunnel (I like to use a chute barrel for that) before moving on to a full length clear tunnel where the dog can see the handler crossing behind and are more likely to turn in the correct direction. The clear tunnel really helps with the dog’s understanding.

I threw a ton of brand new games, grids and challenges at the group. What I do is play around with the games or jump grids with my own dogs for a year before I spring them on students. I like to play around with anything new myself to make sure they produce the results I am looking for before I ask the students to give them a try. This camp is perfect for such a presentation since all of the students are well versed in our program to start.  It was four very packed days of work with some slap-chop laughs and some philosophical moments throw in that all embraced well.  

A great quote came from the weekend from Claire Duder. Clare can always be counted on for some gems. While introducing some contact games I challenged students to push their dogs to fail in order to create a greater understanding of that which is correct (just like I describe in my 2×2 weave training DVD). It is kind of like playing mind games with the dog. Here is Claire’s gem; “The more mind-games you play with your dog; the more mind you have to play with.”  It’s a keeper.

I think this is the best crop of upcoming agility dogs that has ever come out of our program. Not to discount the many phenomenal dogs that have come through the Say Yes puppy and skills system, but I think collectively this group has a large number of talented dogs rather than just one or two. 

Today I am grateful for some much needed down time to help me get caught up on work around here (and pay some much needed attention to Feature before we head to USDAA Nationals in October!).