Agility Class Boot Camp

Before putting buns on the grill at a Fourth of July barbeque, Penny and I got our buns grilled at our very first agility class with Chicago Agility. It was a great training experience for us both. Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, agility, puppy

When we walked in, neither Penny nor I was certain what to expect

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Despite having run for an hour at the beach earlier that afternoon, Penny was still itching to let loose at the beginning of the lesson

Dee, the Director of Training, is part ringleader, part maestro, and 100% awesome. In just our first class she dropped so much new training knowledge, tactics and strategy on us that my head is still spinning.

What I enjoy most about the class is the focus and attention it requires from both Penny and myself.

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Of course, Penny wasn’t focused on me at first – she just wanted to romp with the other pups

Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, agility, puppy

When I wouldn’t budge, Penny gave me the stink-eye and resigned herself to sniffing around the ladder

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Which is just what we were hoping for! We’re taking baby steps to shape a positive relationship with the equipment. Each time Penny interacted with the ladder she got lots of treats and praise

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By the end of the exercise Penny was practically a firefighter with the way she was going up and down the ladder. Granted, it was not even close to the right form, but we’re only just getting started

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No that’s not an evil creature (well, I guess it depends on who you ask), that’s Penny checking out the tunnel at the end of class

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Whether she darted through to get to me or to prison-break herself so she could play with the other dogs is anyone’s guess

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Ok, no guessing needed. It was a prison break. The inmate was quickly apprehended

Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, agility, puppy

After the physical exhaustion of the beach and the mental exhaustion of class, Penny-girl slept like a rock

I think this agility class is going to be great for Penny, me and Eko’s sanity. He’s certainly earned some quiet time. We have plenty of homework to keep us busy so I’ll be sure to share some of the fun training-exercises we learn along the way.

Hope everyone stateside enjoyed the holiday!

The Best Kind of Weekend

Weekends are great. Summer weekends are better. Three day summer weekends? (Insert Italian hand-kiss motion here.)

The thing about holiday weekends is that we get to enjoy them together. It’s not just my vacation or your vacation, it’s the country’s vacation. The world slows down, the grills turn up and we get to celebrate each other.
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Holiday weekends make everyone smile

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So whether you’re hitting the beach at full speed,

Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, puppy, smile.

Or hitting the beach at 0 mph,

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Or just unwinding at home,

We hope everyone has a great holiday weekend with friends and family! We’ll have a short video posted tomorrow, but will be shutting down after that to enjoy some R&R (with a couple RRs!)

We’ll catch everyone on Monday. A special thanks to all those who work over the holiday so the rest of us can enjoy ours. Cheers!

Summer School

As you may have heard, Penny somehow converts dog food and water into rocket fuel.

NASA, take note

Penny gets plenty of off-leash exercise but she’s at that age where she’s pretty much tireless. For the past couple months I’ve been looking into a few different options to help Penny channel her “creative” energy.

My first thought was to feature her as a stunt-dinosaur in Jurassic World but unfortunately those plans fell through

Penny’s an eager student when we’re training so I decided to look into a summer training course. Nosework isn’t really Penny’s speed/style, and while I hope to take her lure coursing this summer, there simply aren’t enough opportunities to make it a regular activity.

We naturally landed on a class that would rely on my dinosaur’s natural proclivity for forward and upward movement

A class which also utilizes Penny’s ability to squeeze into tight spaces

So that’s why we’re kicking off this holiday weekend with Penny’s first agility class at Chicago Agility. The eight-week course should provide an excellent outlet for Penny’s energy while helping us build better communication.

I know a number of you have experience with agility, so any tips/advice you have in advance of tomorrow’s class would be greatly appreciated!

That Moment When…

My approach to photography is the same as Penny’s approach to life – go wild until your battery runs out. Thankfully we live in the digital age and I don’t go broke developing thousands of photos, 90% of which end up in the trash.

My favorite part about photography is sorting through the blurry and out of focus shots to find photos which convey a moment of realization. They’re not necessarily my “best” photos, they’re photos which are meaningful because of the realization they represent.
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Like that moment I realized I may never fully understand what dogs find comfortable

Or the moment I realized these two guys had a good thing going

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, dogs, cute, marking our territory

One busy day I thought about skipping a trip to the beach. This photo was the moment I realized I should always make time for this joy in my life

While many photos represent moments of realization for me, my absolute favorite photos are when I catch a pup have a moment of realization.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, dogs, cute, marking our territory.

Like the moment when I give the release command and Penny realizes it’s treat time

Or the moment Penny realized she’d made a miscalculation and Eko realized he’d taught his sister a lesson

Recently I caught a “moment of realization” that never fails to make me crack up when I look at it.

When Eko and Penny are in full-romp mode at the beach it is a tangled blur of paws and teeth and tails and growls. It’s certainly a sight to behold. Last week, while Eko and Penny tore down the shoreline a very ambitious French Bulldog decided to assert his dominance.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, dogs, cute, marking our territory

The little guy barreled toward Eko and Penny while aggressively barking

At first Eko and Penny were too caught up in play to notice the pup. But when they did turn their attention to him, I caught a perfect moment-of-realization.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, dogs, cute, marking our territory

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”

The Frenchie stopped running and stopped barking in a single instant. I’m guessing his heart also stopped as Penny and Eko came sprinting over. To his credit, the Frenchie did an excellent imitation of a statue while Eko and Penny sniffed hello before resuming their game of tag.

Anyone else capture any good “moments of realization” photos recently?

Like a Bad Penny…

Summer means the dog beach is usually packed with pups, even during off-hours.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, montrose dog beach, cute

Eko sticks by my side, but I get one good look at Penny before she dives into the fray

I was worried I might have a tough time keeping an eye on Penny amidst the throng of people and pups, but I’ve developed a simple system that makes finding Penny a cinch.

First, look for the fastest moving thing on the beach. If it’s not Penny, proceed to step two.

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Step Two: Look for the blur chasing the fastest thing on the beach

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, montrose dog beach, cute

Next, check for the pups playing fetch. Penny is usually trying to fetch them

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Happen to notice another crazy pup that’s not Penny?

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Keep your eyes glued. Nutty dogs always find each other

And if there are no bouncing or speeding pups?

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Look for the biggest pup in the park

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, chicago, adventure, montrose dog beach, cuteBecause despite being the size of a Newfie’s head, Penny loves crashing into the giant breeds

But who has time to run then fetch then bounce then crash? Which is why the easiest way to find Penny is to look for the one pup that’s running, fetching, bouncing and crashing all at the same time.

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She’s an excellent multi-tasker

Penny gives me plenty of things to worry about, but losing her at the beach certainly isn’t one of them. Because like a bad penny…

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She always turns up!