Monday, March 22, 2010

Goal Work

Happy Monday, all.

I'm pleased to announced we all survived the weekend. Joe's gone back to work and I'm getting back to my routine (or such as it is). I haven't written in days now so the incredible shrinking word count in continuing to do just that. My cushion was down to 13,500 words as of this morning. This time, however, life did get in the way. But, before anyone take offense, it was totally worth it.

Saturday, I took the Gator Girl down to obedience class. It was warm, really warm, like near seventy degrees warm, and so we went to the local high school to work on their athletic fields. You know, the ones right next to the signs saying "No Dogs Allowed On School Grounds"...And who happened to drive by (twice) as we were working? The police. He stopped and watched us for a while but didn't say anything. One theory is that there were eight German Shepherds and two Belgian Malinois out in the field (out of a class of eleven dogs total) and he thought he might be better served staying in the car. It should be noted that while some of the dogs have bite training (more on that in a minute), they are not vicious dogs (more on that in a minute too). Another theory is that the cops don't care if we're on the fields...the school department does. Plus, we're responsible dog people who clean up after their dogs.

After the obedience portion of the class (in which the Gator Girl totally flunked the portion which required her to sit still for thirty seconds), six of the German Shepherds, the two Malinois (the Gator Girls) and one Briard stayed after to do some Ring Sport training.

For those of you not familiar with Ring Sport, it's a three part competition sport in the dog world, most popular with German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds (I'm putting Gators into this group), Rotties, Pit Bulls, know, your typical police/protection dogs. The Briard is also an occasional competitor as is the Bouvier des Flanders. The three parts are as follows:

Part One: Obedience. This includes exercises such as heeling off leash, healing while wearing a muzzle, distance commands (you stand at one end of the field, your dog waits at the other and you shout (or signal) things like "Sit!" or "Down" and they perform whatever task while staying in a certain area (creeping is bad), food refusal (you throw food right at the dog and he or she does not eat it. If a piece of food should happen to land in the dog's mouth, the dog is required to spit it out.), and retrievals.

Part Two: Agility. This includes exercises such as the high jump (the competition height is around four feet), the broad jump (the competition length starts at like 9 and a half feet...the Gator Girl has done ten feet successfully) and the palisades. The palisades is particularly awesome. It's a wall, starting at around five feet and has a maximum height of seven and a half feet. The dog runs straight at the wall and literally scales the wall and then jumps off the other side. It's pretty awesome to see. The Gator Girl does not know how to do this yet. Yes, I said 'yet'. It is my intention to teach her this exercise although I know that teaching her to scale a seven foot wall could possibly come back to bite me in the ass. And speaking of being bitten in the ass..

Part Three: Protection. This is bite work. This is where some poor schlup (in my house, it's always me) puts on some padding and stands there while someone (in our house, usually Joe but Heather's done this too) sends the dog to attack the poor schlup. There are distance attacks and escape attempts on the schlup's (more commonly referred to as 'decoys') and one exercise called "defensive handler." I found a pretty good video of this on youtube:

The Gator Girl hasn't learned this particular exercise yet either. But we're working on it.

But now, here comes the disclaimer: the dogs in our group who work on this do it for fun. They're not hard core protection dogs. They're family pets first and foremost. There are people who have dogs just to compete in ring sport trials but we are not among them. You can give the Gator Girl the attack command and unless someone's standing around wearing a bite sleeve or another target, she's not going to do anything. I know this for a fact because I constantly command her to attack Joe and she never does. It's the same with all the dogs in our group. The dogs love the work, they love the game. None of them are mean or vicious. None of them are maneaters.

That said, that's what we worked on after obedience class on Saturday. We did some bite training. The Gator Girl performed admirably. I was proud of her, particularly because in the past she's had some performance anxiety about working with people who are not her mommy and daddy.

Anyway, Sunday I went to Chuck E. Cheese's with two of my girlfriends and my godchildren. If I knew how to post a picture in this blog, I would do so at this time. If you're one of my Facebook friends, you can see one of my profile. We had a great time. We eat pizza and play skeeball and whatever other games are around, but mostly skeeball, because I don't suck at it and the kids usually end up with a significant amount of tickets to exchange for prizes at the end of the day. This trip, I managed to hit the 450,000 point mark which earned me an extra 250 ticket bonus. Lights flashes, alarms went off, it was embarrassing. But the kids loved it so that too was worth it. A particular highlight for me was reading the story my goddaughter is working on. It, too, was pretty awesome and I absolutely loved reading it. She says it's not done yet, that she still has more to write, and I honestly can't wait to read more.

And now we're back to Monday. And now I'm back to trying to reach my goals.

First of all, I have to report that I have achieved one of the goals I set for myself back in January. No, not the one about finishing Second Nature (didn't you see the incredible shrinking word count thing?) and no, not the one about de-cluttering the house (Sorry Joe. I know you were hoping.). Nope, the goal I reached was the one about trying yoga.

And I have my brand spanking new Wii Fit to thank for it.

I managed to track one down at the local Wal Mart after quite a while of waiting and waiting so now I can be verbally harassed and abused by a piece of machinery in my own home (Note to the Wii Fit: Stop groaning every time I step on you. I'm not that heavy.). I've started using it, about a half hour a day, about three days a week (depends on what else is going on, you know?) and I always start with yoga. I've done the sun salutation, tree, half moon, warrior and chair poses. I think I've tried a couple more but I can't remember. Every now and then, I add a new one. If the Gator Girl or Big is around, there are some poses I just can't do because I will end up being on the bottom of a Shepherd Smackdown so mostly I focus on the ones that will not end up with me underneath two hundred pounds of dog. But it still counts.

I have achieved one of my goals. Good for me.

But that leaves me with a whole bunch more to work I'm going to leave you and get to it.

Here are my goals for the week:

1. Work out on the Wii Fit at least three times for thirty minutes each time.

2. Get the Gator Girl to clear an eleven foot broad jump. Weather permitting, of course.

3. Cross the 70K word mark in Second Nature

4. Finish reading The Keepers of Sulbreth by Susan Gourley and The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner.

5. Send out the Effigy submission packet I said I was going to send out, you know, before now.

Hope you're having a good Monday.

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