Thursday, November 17, 2011

Therapy Thursday

 I've mentioned before that Jam is a certified Delta Society Pet Partner.  Over a month ago, we were asked by a social worker who is also a Delta Evaluator, to be ambassadors and do an initial visit to a residence that is part of the Rockland County Association for Learning Disabilities and has wanted a pet therapy team for a long time.  Jam was a hit and I was honored to be asked back and offered to do weekly visits.  The residents or consumers as they are called, are mostly men in their mid-twenties with ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders) plus developmental disabilities and neurological issues and are non-verbal.
 Our visits have been powerful, for me and also for the positive effects of the therapy visits on the consumers.  Jam seems to be a calming influence and the staff see wonderful reactions, such as smiling, laughing and the individual behaviors expressed by the men.  Each visit, the men, especially the one pictured, get more comfortable with Jam and it was exciting to see him initiate petting her - a truly big deal for him.
The consumers enjoy petting Jam and helping me give commands for her to do tricks.  It is important to understand the population and know what to do to make them feel comfortable and safe when interacting with Jam and to also keep her safety paramount.  Jam loves going on the visits and gets extra special treats!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Jam Agility

 Fabulous photos by Barry Rosen, taken at the SICDTC Agility trial in November.  These were from Jam's Excellent Standard run.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Excellent JWW Agility leg #1

We had perfect fall weather for this weekend's Staten Island Companion Dog Club's agility trial.  Jam made me proud with her jumpers runs and earned her first qualifying leg on Saturday, in the 24" Excellent A class with a 3rd place!  To earn the AXJ or Agility Excellent Jumpers title, Jam needs to earn two more qualifying legs.  Jam also has one AX or Agility Excellent standard leg so she is on her way to earning these high level titles.

She came very close to qualifying on Friday in JWW, with a terrific run but slipped on the mud and missed the tunnel entrance at the end of the course.  The standard courses were a challenge for us with a very difficult weave pole entry on Friday, that wasn't doable for us and on Saturday, Jam slipped off the teeter.  She did manage to nail her weaves in three of our four runs and had awesome start line stays.  We'll be working on speeding up her weaves as well as teaching independent weaves and difficult entries; important skills at the excellent level, especially if we want to be competitive.  I also tried to apply some of what we learned at the Tracy Sklenar seminar and I feel that although we are a work in progress, Jam was more responsive and my handling was improved.

A highlight of the trial was seeing many friends that I have not seen in a long time since we have not trialed locally in awhile.  It was exciting to see how well their dogs ran and cheer them on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jam-in at the Tracy Sklenar Masters Agility Seminar

Always looking to learn and improve my handling, I was excited to have the opportunity to participate with Jam in a Tracy Sklenar Masters/Advanced Agility Seminar.  The seminar covered course analysis and how motion, footwork and position can give your dogs information for fabulous runs.  Tracy Sklenar is a world class agility competitor and a great instructor, bringing humor and her excellent eye to help handlers get faster, more accurate and consistent runs out of their dogs.

Jam and I were up to the challenge and as hard as it was to learn a new handling method, running for acceleration and less arm and verbal cues, I had to trust my dog and it worked!  We also enjoyed and learned from watching the other dogs and handlers, many of whom we've taken classes with and known for years.