Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mindless Musings

I read one of my nieces' blogs today and found out that after having attended less than a month of university that she has decided to drop out as she is not 100% sure if university is where she wants to be right now. That's certainly her decision to make but it got me thinking about how my brother, sisters and I are so very different even though we have the same genetics and similar upbringing. Our views on politics, religion, language, you name it differs greatly amongst us. We also seem to have big differences in our attitudes about seeing things through to the end once you start which seems to have been passed on to my nieces and nephews. I had misgivings about university when I started and who knows what they want to do when they grow up, I still don't! But when I started university, I knew I could do it and even when, in my second year, I nearly had a failed year, I stuck it out and got my diploma. I think more than anything else I learned in university, I learned if you worked hard you would achieve some measure of success. What you studied might not even be directly related to your future career but the experience of university (or any other post secondary education) is of great benefit to any future endeavors.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shaping Obstacle Performance

With my young fellow, Beckett, I back trained, for the first time, the contact obstacles. Ceilidh and Tucker were trained by just having them learn the obstacles with the contact criteria coming afterwards. For Tucker, there never was two on two off; he just did running contacts. For Ceilidh, who began to jump over the contact zone, it required some retraining and we had different criteria for the contact obstacles. The A-frame was a running contact as her natural jump off point was in the contact zone and we trained for a complete stop in the contact zone on the dog walk and the teeter.

An interesting thing happened with Beckett. I had back trained the contact zone behaviour and I used the word "target" with a target dish for that behaviour.  I didn't start using the obstacle name (frame, walk-it and teeter) until we were doing the complete obstacle.  Shortly afterwards Beckett started to stop far short of the contact zone especially on the A-frame where he began to stay right at the top of the A-frame and the only way he would come down was to put his target or a treat down. I thought perhaps I had progressed too quickly with complete obstacle performance and started some additional back training. When I just asked him to "target" he would and when the target was in place, he would perform the full contact obstacle correctly but once the target was removed, he would again stop at the top of the A-frame or on the down ramp of the dog walk. The teeter wasn't as bad as his stopping point was four paws in the contact zone.

In class last Saturday, my instructor, Jeannie suggested making the target progressively smaller and not use the "target" command at all. So last night in my other agility class, Viv and I tried shaping the behaviour without the "target" command and by just waiting until he offered the "two on two off" contact behaviour. We started on the dog walk with the target in place at first. The first time, Becket stopped just as he started the down ramp of the dog walk but moved progressively down the ramp. Each time we repeated the obstacle, he moved further down the down ramp before stopping until finally he was coming right to the end of the dog walk.  On the A-frame, it took quite a bit longer for him to come down and Viv and I had to move away from the frame and wait him out but in the end he was coming down from the top to his contact position. He still isn't driving to the contact position so that will be something we have to continue to work on. 

I found it very interesting (and a bit frustrating) that he appeared to know what the "target" command was if that's all I asked him to do and knew the obstacle command as well but that using both commands caused him to stop where he was as soon as the "target" command was given. What goes through their minds is somewhat of a mystery to me. I hope we can repeat last night's obstacle performance and continue to "shape" the behaviour I want.  Now if we could just learn to weave!! But that's another story.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Booming Times in the Office

There's a new building going up right beside my work and since we face the construction site, its hard not to take some time to watch what's going on once in while. Last week we got the notice that they were going to begin to do some blasting which will continue until end November or early December.  I brought my camera in to work this week and took a couple videos of them charging the holes and setting off the charges.  It's rather interesting to see how close they can be to the actual explosion by using the blast mats which contain any of the fragmentation from the bedrock.  What you see in the video happens three to five times a day, sometimes its a little more dramatic.

Definitely not as exciting as doing open detonations on a demolition range.  It will be interesting, though, to watch the building go up beside us but there's no doubt that we'll be losing our view of the Gatineau Hills.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beckett's Agility Fun Trial Debut

Last weekend, I took Beckett to his first agility fun trial at Dogz, a training facility in the west end of Ottawa. We had trained there before so the location wasn't totally new to him. I decided before we went that I would try to run the complete courses (with treats provided at key locations) but if it proved too much for Beckett to handle we would just do short sequences. I also decided that we would not attempt the weaves at all but I didn't want to just run right by them. Fortunately in the Standard course, obstacles 3 and 4 (two jumps) were parallel to the weaves so I just did those two jumps a second time rather than run by the weaves. It was a good thing too, as it was 12 weaves that were set up on course and Beckett isn't even doing 6 weaves yet. We're getting there though.

It was beautiful agility weather, cloudy and cool with some sunny periods, although sometimes it was a tad warm when the sun was out which meant jackets on, jackets off. Tucker also came along as a spectator but I did take him over to the practice ring where he did a few jumps and tunnels for his favourite treat, chicken hot dogs. What am I saying Tucker's favourite treat is any FOOD!! Beckett also got to have some free play time with his best bud, Whistler, a sable Sheltie only 3 days older than Beckett.

In our first Standard run, I tried a false turn to get Beckett from the jumps to the tire, since we should have been doing the tire from the weaves, it made for a very awkward entry to the tire. The second time around, I did a front cross which worked so much better and put Beckett on a nice line for the tire and the next obstacle, a tunnel. We have to work on our contacts though, he likes to sit at the top of the A-frame now and usually stops way up on the down ramp of the dog walk but for a young fellow his teeter isn't bad.

In the Jumpers course, the first time around we did the Starters course and the second time we did the Advanced course. In the Starters course, he didn't get out to the second jump of a pin wheel and I wasn't in a good position, having tried a front cross, which put me behind him going up the field. When we ran the Advanced course, I didn't front cross but just stayed on his right side which worked much better. In his Advanced run, I wanted to try a hard false turn from a jump to a tunnel, unfortunately, there was another tunnel right there so in my mind I'm thinking "false turn, tunnel" so what did I do, but put him in the wrong tunnel. Even with the extra tunnel, he ran the course in 28.9 seconds and the standard course time for Minis was 47 seconds. I'm going to have to work on distance with that boy because when he gets going, I'll never keep up.

Some parts of the weekend were bittersweet though. Beckett looks so much like Ceilidh that there were times on the videos that it was her I saw. Two moments in particular stand out, in the first Starters course after running the course, we were practicing jumps to a tunnel with a rear cross and on the second attempt, Beckett refused the tunnel and began to spin and jump; it was classic Ceilidh. When I saw the video of the first Jumpers run, just the way Beckett sat on the start line and then sprung off the line, for the first few seconds I saw Ceilidh. At the beginning of the second Jumpers round it had started to rain but by the time it was Beckett's turn, the sun had come out again and there was a beautiful rainbow. I tried to take a picture of the rainbow but my camera batteries were running low. Luckily for me, Lyne had videoed a few seconds of the rainbow which I incorporated into my video on Beckett's debut. The video is long so if you don't have a fast internet connection, it will likely take quite a long time to download.

We are looking forward to our next fun trials, Krazy Kanines in October and Red Gate's in November and December. Maybe by then we'll try the weaves. Go Beckett Go!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Family Adventures - Part Deux

Well, I promised to continue the story of my family adventures with three of my sisters and two of my nieces. On Friday, 20 August, Karen, Juanita, Maureen, Jessica, Kayla and I went downtown to take a cruise on the Ottawa river. We took cruise on the Empress of Ottawa and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful day and sites from a perspective I had never seen before. Before we went on the cruise we had a few minutes to walk up to Parliament Hill. Jessica and Kayla had their picture taken with the Mounties, a very iconic Canadian symbol.
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario The Eternal Flame
Chateau Laurier Hotel (where my Dad's reunion was being held) and the locks to the Rideau Canal.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, the domed part of the facade was designed to represent a Haida Indian ceremonial mask.

At the Rideau River Falls

The Parliament Buildings with the rotunda of the Parliamentary Library.

After the boat cruise we had lunch at Darcy McGee's, a pub on the Sparks Street Mall. During lunch, Kayla kept us in stitches, like what do you say when a waitress asks if Pepsi's alright after you ask for Coke? You say, is Monopoly money okay?!?

We then took a stroll down the Sparks Street Mall. The Sparks Street Mall is an open air pedestrian mall, it used to be very vibrant but now could use some rejuvenation. After a bit of shopping it was time to head home.
I like this shot with Parliament Hill in the background, the street sign for Sparks Street and Maureen, Juanita, and Kayla in the shot. The next shot is just taken looking back up the Sparks Street Mall. There are always musicians on the Mall during the summer months. And what with a Scottish heritage, how ken ye nae love a piper?! The next shot of a sculpture of a bear eating a salmon, that I took just to see the spider webs! The final shot is of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the Honour Guard manned by Naval personnel during this the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy, although during a ceremony at the Cenotaph held for Air Force reunion that my Dad attended, the Naval personnel were replaced by Air Force personnel.

Dinner on Friday night was hosted by Juanita and Joe at their place. The evening ended as Jessica posted on Facebook, with an east coast kitchen party in the screen room.

Saturday was another shopping day. Maureen left, late morning, to head back to Kingston. I took Karen, Kayla, and Jessica to the Train Yards, an outdoor shopping centre, and to the Place d'Orleans Shopping Mall. I had Dad, Karen and Kayla over for supper as Joe and Juanita were attending a friend's wedding.

Sunday, was Dad, Karen and Kayla's last day in Ottawa. Joe took Dad and Karen to the Diefenbunker Museum in Carp while I took Kayla back to Place d'Orleans as a security tag had not been removed from a pair of jeans she bought. The Diefenbunker is an underground bunker designed to house the Canadian Government in the event of a nuclear war; it is now a museum to the Cold War. We had another wonderful dinner at Juanita and Joe's then it was back to my place. Dad, Karen and Kayla left my place on Monday morning extremely early, like at about 4:30am so that they would get back to Moncton early enough for Karen and Kayla to head back to PEI that same day. It was wonderful to have them up for a visit, hope it isn't so long before our next visit together. Perhaps Annette will be able to join us next time, so all of us sisters can have some more family adventures.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Family Adventures

Since my Dad was coming up from Moncton New Brunswick for a military reunion, my sister Karen and her youngest daughter Kayla took the opportunity and came up with him for a visit to Ottawa. They arrived on the 17th of Aug about supper time after what my niece called an "uber" boring trip. The 17th of Aug marked the 25th wedding anniversary for my sister Juanita and her husband Joe so after a family dinner out they came over to my place for dessert.

After they opened a few gifts, we all enjoyed cake and coffee.

Karen and Kayla stayed at my place while my Dad stayed over at Juanita and Joe's.

The next day, Karen, Kayla, my niece Jessica and I went down to the Byward Market to do some shopping (mostly just window shopping) but a few purchases were made.

We had lunch at Zak's Diner, home of the best milkshakes in Ottawa, if you ever have a craving for one.

After lunch we headed up to the Rideau Centre so that Kayla could hit all the stores she can't shop at on Prince Edward Island. The store she especially wanted to go to was LuLulemon, where she bought herself a pink hoody sweater.

After some wishful thinking in the Apple store, we headed back to Juanita and Joe's for supper.

On Thursday, my Dad headed down to the Chateau Laurier for his reunion. Karen and I prepared for a BBQ supper as everyone coming over to my place for dinner. My sister Maureen and her daughter Caitlin came up from Kingston. Caitlin was up from New Brunswick along with a friend for a week long visit. It was really nice to have so many of us together. But to Juanita and Joe's surprise, I had invited a few of their friends to join us after supper to celebrate their anniversary.

Juanita almost ruined it by working late so I was beginning to wonder if we'd even finish dinner before the guests began to arrive. All of the food trays that Karen and I prepared during the day were hidden at my neighbour, Julie's place so that no suspicions were aroused.

The evening turned out very well and everyone especially enjoyed the scrapbook Joe's sister Yvette had sent to them as a remembrance of their first 25 years together.

I can't believe I just blogged about something other than my dogs, amazing!! Anyway, stay tuned for Family Adventures Part II and our girls' day out cruising the Ottawa River and trolling the Sparks Street Mall.