In Which I Give Unsolicited Advice On Dealing With Adversity And Show Java’s Rally Obedience Tricks

If I counted it right my “30 posts in 30 days” was actually “25 posts in 30 days” which was about five times more than I usually write in a month. Not too shabby. I’m glad it’s over though 🙂 When I started I thought I will be writing about agility and daisies and unicorns, but then it turned out to be wrist and toe problems and witches and bad luck spells. It took a lot of strength to fight depressive thoughts. I think this was my most successful fight so far. So yay! I guess.

Here’s what helped:

  • TheObstacleIsTheWayListening to Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is The Way over and over again. I first listened to the audio book in the beginning of June and I thought it was pretty awesome. Then the reality of Java’s injury hit on June 15th and I found myself going back to it again and again. This is such a first-world-problem to have. No children dying, no epidemics or hunger to fight. But it’s a real problem to me and a real source of sorrow. The Obstacle Is The Way helped me get past the emotional side of it, to act and find other things to focus on. Ryan’s book talks about practical applications of stoicism and while that made me write it off at first (who wants to be stoic? Not me!), the book quickly changed my mind, especially since the stoic principles actually helped me to deal with a rough month better then I have in the past. I might read works of Marcus Aurelius or Seneca in the future. That’s how good this book is.
  • Especially with both dogs injured it’s easy to stay at home a lot and be less active, but that is such a mood killer. I tried to spend the same amount of time on my feet even when we weren’t going for long walks.
  • Helping to train Trinity was a blast and so was our little Whippet Agility group. It makes me feel connected with the sport even though I haven’t been running around equipment all month. It feels good to help others and see changes in their dogs.
  • And of course Rally Obedience! It was great to have something else to focus on, something that we could do regardless of injuries.

Yesterday we had our last Rally class and since Ruby had some mysterious tummy problems I decided not to fill him full of treats, so it was Java’s chance to shine. And shine she did. It’s obvious that she had less practice at it than Ruby and she is a bit bouncy on all exercises which makes it look a bit less like obedience and more like a flavor of Whippet Ballet, but I’ll take it 🙂 She did really really well with distractions. There was a dog barking, an unknown Golden Retriever next to our path (Java didn’t even glance at her), lots of rattling of treat containers and toy squeaking (distracting, but manageable) and instructor tossing a ball into the air while she was heeling (very tempting, but she made the right choice!!!). So proud of my girl 🙂

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4 thoughts on “In Which I Give Unsolicited Advice On Dealing With Adversity And Show Java’s Rally Obedience Tricks

  1. Java looks like she’s having so much fun!

  2. Hi Andreja,I hope you do not mind my asking how did you train your whippets to recall,I have a twelve month old whippety girl who is very good on recall but not 100%,she is not ball or toy oriented when out of the house,but is dog mad and just loves to play with other dogs.We also have a rescue Lurcher girl who is amazing and hardly leaves our side but Cassie gets bored with her and goes off looking for more fun. Cassie never goes out of the park but when you call her she just takes a message and gets back to you,no amount of treats will bring her back until she is ready not even finely sliced Wiltshire ham.I realise this is not acceptable and wonder if you could offer some advice,she also has travel sickness so it is difficult taking her to training classes,we are building up the time in the car doing short distances Sadie travels very well and I am sure this is helping. I love reading your posts and would love to have the same amount of fun with Cassie,there is a Fly ball group about a mile from where we live but they do not do obedience training, do you think this would help. Look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Georgina (oh writing your name takes me back to reading The Famous Five as a child!), Cassie sounds like a pretty typical whippet… at least in Slovenia many whippets are like that. When you say “she is not ball or toy oriented when out of the house” does that mean she will play with toys inside? How about in a fenced yard, if you have one?
      I taught my dogs recall using Susan Garrett’s Recallers (you just missed it! The online course closed a few weeks ago and won’t reopen for about a year). While I cannot write about Recallers program in details, I can tell you what I would do.
      Recall can be a measure of how fun your dog thinks you are. More fun than doing nothing in the house? Sure! More fun than chasing a dog in the park? Nope 😦 You can become more fun with food or toys or the games you play with that food/toys. The more you play, the more value the play will have for Cassie. But just playing more probably won’t be enough, because she is also playing with other dogs at the same time and thus building up the value of playing with them… so you’re trying to hit an ever-moving target. To start I would not take her to places where she would play with other dogs for a month (she is 12 months old, so this won’t set her back in her socialization). During this time I would play with her a lot – try to expand toy play to new places and play with food wherever she would be willing to play. Experiment with different types of toys, different foods, playing styles. I would find what she likes best and then try to make it better and better. I would want to see her smile the ways she smiles when she’s running with dogs. That’s the goal, but it probably won’t happen in a month. After the first month I would let her play on leash so that I could practice recalls and playing with dogs would actually be 5s play – recall – 10s play – recall – 2s play – recall – finish. In addition I would make sure to play with her in separate sessions at least twice as long as she would play with dogs, including Sadie.

      I would read this article: and make a list of distractions that I can recall her from – everything from boring things like a piece of crumpled paper on the ground to more exciting like a dinner bowl and Sadie. Rank the distractions from 1 – least interesting to 10 – most interesting. I would then practice recalls as outlined in the article, but I would pay special attention that they are FAST, even if that means I only get to do five recalls per day instead of 25. Slow dog = not excited about rewards = you won’t be able to recall her from exciting things.
      All recall training will be limited by the value of your rewards, so I would really work hard on getting that whippet smile.

      Flyball class could be great because a fast and excited recall is basis for any good flyball dog, but it would depend on how good the trainers are at the flyball club…

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