I have really enjoyed working with both dogs this year. I believe my shaping and handling skills have improved a lot. Stella still can get frustrated easily but she has improved and I have discovered how valuable play is in our working relationship. I did not have any real 2012 trial goals in mind for Stella other than gettiing her CGN but we had quite a successful year. She started with her Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) and then we added a CKC Rally Novice title (RN), CKC Pre-Novice Obedience (PCD) and a CARO Rally Novice Magna Cum Laude (CRN-MCL) to the mix. We have also dabbled at conformation showing and currently have three points towards her Championship title. Stella is only 19 months old and I am thrilled with my relationship with this wonderful little girl and look forward to lots more adventures in the year ahead.
Riley completed his CKC Rally Excellent (RE) in spring as well as his CKC Pre-Novice Obedience (PCD). We had planned to try for our Novice Obedience title but things started going really wrong for him physically so I stopped training and trialing with him in May. We did xrays in june and that started us down the path that ended with his recent surgery. He is doing awesome now and is feeling pretty energetic. Two more weeks of major restrictions and then we get to start increasing his activity levels slowly. I'm not sure what our training challenges will be in 2013 but I am thinking of aiming for a tracking title and starting nosework with him. A lot will depend on how the next few months work out physically for him.
It was a wonderful year of learning for me. I started with Clicker Expo and also attended wonderful weekend seminars from Michelle Pouliot and Denise Fenzi. Now I'm hooked on seminars! I feel that I am really starting to find my "style" but I can also see that learning will never end!
I am happy with our successes this year but the titles really aren't all that important to me except as a way of setting goals and working towards them. Those goals help me figure out my path and keep some of the procrastination in check :). I am blessed to have a supportive husband and good friends who understand this strange fascination I have with all things dog. I truly treasure the "family" vacations and daily adventures with my dogs (and cats!). That point has been driven home this year with Riley's problems and surgery and I hope for health and happiness for many years ahead.
Happy New Year!
Here is a video of me skiing this week with Sam (my mother's dog) and Stella. Watch to the end to see my crazy little wigglebum Stella being her happy self.