Monday, January 26, 2015

USDAA trial update

Such a boring time of the year with not much going on to update.... Until we have a trial, which we got to do on Saturday! The girls and I drove down to Canine Sports Zone again, this time to play USDAA. I kept to the same schedule that I did for the AKC trial and left home right around 5:00 a.m. (actually a little before -- crazy, I know!). I was plenty ahead of schedule and even stopped at Walmart in the Dells to pick up a tarp, as I'd totally forgotten this and I keep failing to bring one to CSZ despite all of the reminders to do so. So yes, I have a tarp now. Much easier than dealing with the giant floor mat that I have that fits under my tent.

We pulled in right around 7:00 a.m., which was about the same time that we arrived for AKC, but the lot was almost completely empty this time! I even managed to score a crating spot right down in the front by the ring. This is risky with a screamer, but I thought it could work if I was there to manage the situation, plus that area is not very high traffic to dogs -- people yes, dogs not so much. The girls did just super in that spot! Kizzy had a couple of moments where I was able to tell her to hush, but she listened well and for the most part was perfectly well-behaved all day. The day went longer than I expected considering the small entry numbers, but there were a LOT of course changes and those add up in the day.

We started with P3 Gamblers. The dog walk was the 7. I'm more about picking a plan that keeps my dogs happy than accumulating the highest number of points possible, but it worked in well with my plan to completely avoid the weaves. There were weaves in every single class on Saturday; why throw yet another set at Secret? We started by going to the chute then the tunnel, a-frame, jump, tunnel, jump, dog walk, dog walk again --- Then Secret went shooting off over the tire (not planned) and took the #2 jump of the close. Had she kept going and taken #1 we would have been done, so I may have screamed a little at her to get her to turn back to me. She did, and might have been in the tunnel or somewhere in that area when the buzzer sounded. It took us a moment to get going on the gamble. Like most dogs, Secret started to come to the #1 jump instead of sending out to the teeter. I stopped her and got her re-routed back to the teeter and she did finish the gamble successfully, but the buzzer went off as she was taking off for the last jump. Story of our lives in Gamblers!

I'm going to admit, I had zero plans of Kizzy qualifying in Gamblers. I have worked NO distance skills with this dog. And it was a chute a million miles away. The majority of Kizzy's NQs in AKC Standard lately have come from a refusal at the chute. Yeah... The start ended up being a little different from this map and the judge stuck a timer on the jump beneath the a-frame, so we had to start there. We went to the teeter and then around the left side up to the dog walk, where she blew the first contact - so we did it again. She didn't stop, but she got it. Then we went to the tunnel under the dog walk and probably got another jump in at least before the buzzer sounded. I set us up and figured we'd at least try it -- and holy crap, she did it! Kizzy actually SENT out to the CHUTE! She got stuck in the end and I was not helping at all because I was still standing there with my mouth hanging open. When she finally got out I just kind of pointed at the double in disbelief and she took it! Whoa. Kizzy got a Gamblers Q!

Biathlon/Master Challenge Standard was up next. I've never actually gotten to play in these classes, so I was really looking forward to seeing what would be thrown at us. I thought this Standard course was loads of fun and very reasonable with regard to level of challenge. This course made me feel challenged enough without feeling overwhelmed. Secret got through the course clean AND under time by nine whole seconds! That was despite pretty much walking through her weaves, which kind of depressed me since I knew how many more sets we had in front of us for the day. She ran well other than that, though, and it was loads of fun! Kizzy actually really held her own on this run. I thought that she'd finished her weaves and took off for the tire. I admit, I thought I saw something out the corner of my eye that made me wonder what she did, and then the whistle blew when she was going through the tire. I still don't know exactly what she did, but apparently she must not have finished the weaves after all. Her only fault after that point, though, was that she took the tire under the a-frame (which is totally weird for her, but wow, she can do that now I guess!). That is kind of amazing if you think of it. I was glad that she didn't appear to have any chute issues after her hang-up in Gamblers.

Secret got to play in P3 Standard next. The judge changed the start of the course, so instead of what you see on the course map he made it a straight-forward series of two jumps (not a wrap). I liked the wrap, but oh well.  :o)  Secret had a very nice run on this course and her weaves were much, much faster, too! It helped, I think, that once I showed her the entry I got out of her way and got out of there. I think one of the reasons for the slow weaves in the previous class were because I had nowhere to go with that tight turn that followed. It's hard to say, though, because there have certainly been times when I've ran ahead and it has not inspired her in the least. Meh. She just is not feeling the weaves lately. This Q earned Secret her Standard title! I totally forgot to pick up a new title ribbon for her. Darn. Oh well, we really have too many already.

Kizzy was so, so, so close to a Q in her Starters Standard class! She needed a bit of a mental break at the weaves, apparently, and initially ran right past them and then stood in the middle of the ring for a bit. Then I had to restart them once more before she got them, and this time I made sure to fully pay attention and make sure she finished them, which she did. She had a very nice dog walk and stopped on the table! What a good girl! The rest of the run was perfect! Great teeter! Still no chute problems. Her time was 40.01. The SCT was 40 seconds. Seriously. She had 0.01 time faults. Blargh. That just sucks. Oh well, it's not like there won't be other chances. And lord knows I've had super close calls on time faults in the past -- I'm just not sure I've ever had 0.01 before. That stings a little.  :o)  You can't help but think, "If only I'd gone a little faster there." Oh well.

Steeplechase was up next. Two sets of weaves -- figures! Well, Kizzy needs weave practice in trials, so that's cool. But poor Secret. More weaves. She did very well, though, and I was again able to keep running ahead of her in this course. She picked up a Q and 2nd place in the class. Sadly, when Round 2 was posted for Sunday only ONE of the P20 dogs was going to be there. Well, good for that one, I guess!

Kizzy was highly distracted by the dog who had left the ring before us. She made it to the weaves before she took off towards the exit door -- which was thankfully closed all day -- and she took the finish jump on the way there. E! She came back, though, and made it through most of the weaves before I opted to just keep going. I didn't fix them on the second pass, either, and just finished our run. The weaves are obviously a stress point for her at trials right now and I figure we have other things to work on.

Snooker was our fifth class of the day, which is a little unfortunate when you need a SQ. Blessedly, though, the weaves weren't the 7-point obstacle! Heck, they weren't even remotely attractive to any plan that I might have considered! I made a plan of 1-7, 1-7, 1-7, 1-4. As it turns out, this would have been an easy Super Q if it would have gone as planned. Unfortunately Secret took 3 on the way to our third red, so no go, there's our whistle. That was okay, really, because this run was kind of painful. I had trotting Secret in this class. Trotting Secret is no fun. Kind of depressing really. I'm not really sure what caused it -- she didn't seem to like the turn I was asking her to do off the teeter and she just kind of shut down after that and went into trot mode. Who knows if we would have even gotten through the close at that speed. The bright spot is that she was at least spared from one set of weaves!

Kizzy is 2/2 in her USDAA Snooker career! She tends to follow me around pretty well, I think she will be a pretty good Snooker dog. While points pretty much count for nothing at this level, I went for a 1-6, 1-7, 1-7 plan because it seemed to work the best for Kizzy. It flowed quite nicely. The ring wasn't laid out quite like you see on the map. In the close I actually picked Kizzy up from the tunnel and scooped her up into the weaves -- had it been set how it is on the map it would have made far more sense to go up the top way. I did have to reset the weaves once but she got them on her second try and finished clean and under time. Yay for Snooker Qs!

Biathlon/MC Jumpers was our sixth and final class of the day. Holy brain power Batman... And legs, too -- this was a running course for sure. I definitely found this course more challenging than our Standard course earlier in the day, and I'm sure it took out many more teams. I did just a slight lead-out with Secret to call her past that 2nd jump, but she still directed right to it and nearly took it from the wrong side. She stopped RIGHT at the wing and stared at me for at least three seconds before I was able to call her around to take it from the right side. After that we somehow managed to get through the rest of the course clean! She nearly went over the jump after the weaves on the way to 8, then I kind of crammed in an ugly front cross after 9 because I didn't trust a blind as I was running it. After that everything went well to the end. She finished in 40.03. Standard course time on this run? 40 seconds. Come on -- twice in one day we miss a Q by the slimmest of margins?! Oh well, it wasn't a Q in MC Jumpers, but it was good enough for a Biathlon Q! Our first one! I'm still not really sure what it's good for, other than qualifying to run in those classes at Cynosport....

Kizzy was kind of done by this point. I don't remember if she got her weaves or not, but she E'd at some point or another. Right around the broad jump she started shaking her head like something was bothering her ears. I decided to pull her and quit at that point because regardless of what was causing her discomfort there was no point in continuing. It could have just been stress, too. Either way, she was done. She gave it a super good effort!

We got home at 6:30, which is still pretty good for a day trip down to Madison. We were pretty lazy yesterday and then I had to go teach classes at Petco. The weather can't make up its mind lately. We get snow and then it gets warm and goes away. Then we get more. It snowed this morning, but it might be gone by the end of the week. Can't complain too much, it could definitely be worse!

We probably won't be doing much of anything until our next AKC trial in the middle of February.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Secret's MACH! -- Part 2

I said this was going to be a multi-post occasion.  :o)  Today we posed with the judge for our official MACH photo, but while we wait for that I had our own little photo shoot when we got home today.

Secret was not in a happy mood during the photo-taking at the trial, so hopefully they got one with her ears up. Sitting between the judge and I with a bar being held over her head was not her idea of fun. Oh well. We tried.

Secret wasn't feeling her best today, either. She puked in the hotel room this morning (after I dragged her to the bathroom, thankfully) and a couple of large chunks of hoof came out. She doesn't usually get pieces off those things, but I guess she did this time. Better out than in. She was pretty subdued today, but still managed to pull off 11 points in JWW this morning. She had absolutely zero energy in Std, though, and only got 16 points. Yeah, she trotted from the chute to the weaves...

 The courses today were a bit on the boring side. Both of them were pretty much just up/down/up/down. Blah. I actually quite liked our courses yesterday, but these were my least favorite flavor of course design.

That said, the Klee Kai still couldn't get a Q to save their lives. Kaiser knocked #14 in JWW but otherwise had a very, very nice run. Kizzy had a bit of a spaz-fest at the start when the dog in front of her took forever to get the heck out of the ring. She ran off in that direction and took a couple of obstacles on the way back before refusing the tunnel again and taking another jump. Once she got started she was super, though! Missed the weaves. Again. That was 3/3 for the weekend on those.

Standard for Kaiser was a bit off the rails, at least at the beginning. He nearly went for the dog walk instead of the tunnel to start, then he went sailing off through the tire instead of taking the a-frame when I was way the heck over by the dog walk (i.e., not pushing on his line). He loves the a-frame, so that took me by surprise. Once I got him situated again he did finish the course nicely, though, including a teeter performance where he didn't jump off the side. Those are always nice.

Kizzy's Standard run was picture-perfect, if you don't count her acting like superman coming off the dog walk. And wonder of wonders, she got her first and only set of weaves for the weekend. On the first try even! Another high point is that she did the chute both days with no refusal. They have a nice chute at this facility, though, with a nice big, light/airy opening. She was also very much playing the part of a trained dog and going into the ring while the dog before was in and not holding back the next dog until I have her. Her end-of-run behavior was absolutely 100% rock solid with not so much of a twitch of keep-away. I think she's figured out the routine of, "let's go get good things together."

Oh, Secret's MACH video! Here it is!

I added cheesy music. It was too quiet in the picture parts.  :o)

Next up for us is USDAA in a couple of weeks. I was waffling between that or NADAC here at home, but I found out that the local club raised their price to $13/run unless you run 10+ runs per dog. It's not a household package, it's per dog. None of my dogs run 10 runs, maybe except Kaiser if I really felt like it. Luke won't run that many. I don't feel like running Kizzy in that many. And I'd go broke if I ran everyone in that many runs. So no thanks, I think I'll pass. I have other goals to work on.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

MACH Secret!

She did it! We came to the Lakeland Dog Training Club AKC trial needing just 23 points. I figured there was a pretty good chance we'd finish it this weekend, but you never know, right? Now Secret is officially MACH NATCH Secret. Maybe one day we'll get that PDCH put on there as well.  :o)

Our day started with JWW, which was kind of nice because there wasn't a huge amount of pressure. While a Q would be nice and the points were needed, there was no way we'd ever get 23 points on a JWW run.

Secret saved my butt (again) when I sent her to 15 and moved into a blind cross. She read my movement as a send to the off course jump and at the very last second I got her back to me. Even with that bobble she picked up 13 points in this run. That's very good for JWW! Only 10 points to go...

Kaiser NQ'd because I cued a rear cross too early at jump 6. I said "switch" and he switched. Before the jump. So my fault. I wasn't even planning to handle it that way. Kizzy couldn't hold on to her weaves and slipped out, so we just kept going. The rest of the run was clean. Yay Kizzy! She's handling the Masters courses like a champ.

While Secret gets the lion's share of the kudos for this accomplishment, I do have to pat myself on the back for holding it together pretty darn well for our second run of the day. It probably helps that the stress of NEEDING that QQ was off my shoulders and with only 10 points needed, if we didn't get it today there was a high possibility that either run tomorrow would net the same result if we Q'd. But still, I did pretty well.  :o)

Then we went into the ring and they had timer troubles. We were held up for at least five minutes. Sigh. We played at little at first, and then Secret just got super cuddly. Thankfully she jazzed right back up and all was well with the world. She put in a very nice run. I was probably a bit more stern about the dog walk contact than usual, mostly just because she was a little high today and I wanted to be sure she didn't pull one of her once-in-a-blue-moon fly-offs. She gave me a look like, "Whoa, okay, I got ya" and stopped like a good girl. Then everything was great until she hit the table and nearly slid off. In addition, the darn thing almost tipped over. Apparently it wasn't sand-bagged. After Secret's run it was... What would a MACH run be without Secret pulling one of her "I hate the weaves" moves (FYI, she had rockin' weaves in JWW). Mid-weaves she started sniffing. I gave her a "SECRET" and she popped her head back up and finished the weaves. The rest of the run was good to go.

I made her do a victory lap.  :o)  I think all she did was a jump and the tunnel under the dog walk and then I stopped to thank the judge. After the NATCH experience where she literally just stood and looked at me while refusing to move, I had no idea what to expect. I'm happy she played along to appease me today.

There is video, but I didn't bring my docking station along so it will have to wait to be posted until I get home tomorrow. The owner of the facility took a picture when we came out of the ring, but I haven't seen it posted on Facebook yet. There is a photographer at the trial this weekend but she had to leave before Std. She'll be back tomorrow and we can get an official photo then. So stay tuned, this is the MACH that never ends.

Kaiser had a super duper run. I'm very proud of the wee dude. And then he knocked the third-to-last bar. Forget QQing, I'm starting to feel like we just don't Q at all anymore.  :oP  Kizzy also did super duper in her Open Std run. The naughty stinker did not stop on the dog walk, but she got it. She also got the chute on the first try! And she slid to a stop on the table, what a good girl. The weaves got us again. She either missed the entry or slid out right away. We tried again since one refusal is allowed, but she popped at 10. It was probably my fault for stepping off too soon for the next jump.

Everyone did well inside today. I got there at 7:00 and managed to snag a sweet spot in a back corner where Kizzy can't see too much stuff going on. Hopefully we'll have a similarly quiet experience tomorrow.

Time for bed. I just took the dogs outside and suffered for a good 15 minutes waiting for Kaiser to poop. He appears to have developed some issues with pooping while traveling. That gets old when it's this cold outside. Oh well, I won the battle.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, Birthdays and Trials

Happy New Year! I don't even know what day of the week it is anymore, but I know that today is the 1st, so there you go. My schedule is so messed up from having a complete lack of any sort of regular schedule. As much as I've enjoyed the random days off, I do look forward to life getting back to "normal" in the coming weeks.

I realize I never updated anything following the second day of our trial in Oshkosh. The little dogs got to come inside as planned and things actually went really well. Kizzy only made noise a couple of times when people had puppies playing in front of her. I had the little dogs' crate up on the shelving unit and I think they like being up high. Kizzy pulled the cover off several times but didn't seem to be screaming, so I let them look out much of the day.

Kizzy and Kaiser had no Q's for the day. Kizzy hit the weaves (obstacle 3) in JWW too fast and while she made the entry, she just couldn't hang on. The rest of the run was super nice, though! I was especially proud of her Open Standard run, because she was losing her freaking head before that run and was hyper-focused on everything except me before we went in the ring. She got it together, though, and ended up with just two refusals in that run. The first was at the weaves when she once again hit them too hard, slipped, and popped out. Then she R'd on the chute after the a-frame. Oh well, it was a good effort.

Kaiser refused the table in Standard, which was right after the weaves and kind of odd. He also ran right past the teeter, which was naughty, so we just left after that. His jumping was loads better on Monday, though. Loads. In JWW he ran past the second-to-last jump, but that one was totally my fault.

Secret picked up QQ #21! She had another 9-point run in JWW in the morning. I didn't think her Std run was THAT slow, but she only got 16 points. Sixteen? Okay, well, better than nothing. At any rate, that leaves her 23 points from her MACH. Next weekend starts with JWW, so she essentially will have to QQ to get it on Saturday. Well, she *could* pick it up just with Standard, but I could celebrate without question if she got JWW first in the morning.  :o)  We'll see, I'm not going to stress over it. She'll get it at some point, likely next weekend -- although she certainly did have that weekend at Hounds where she only got two JWW Q's, which probably wouldn't net us 23 points. Meh.

Kaiser celebrated his birthday on Tuesday! He is now seven years old! Wow, that is so hard to believe. This officially earns him his "veteran" status in NADAC. That means that if I run him as a Skilled Veteran dog, he can now run 4".... Hmm. That might be fun. I'm presently trying to decide if I want to do NADAC at home the last weekend of January or go to the USDAA trial in Madison. I'll need to figure that out soon. I'm tempted to do NADAC just to see what happens when I run Kaiser at 4"! There's also that temptation of Champs being back in IL this year and figuring I should probably have a few NADAC Q's before signing up -- and Kizzy kind of needs to get out of Novice/Open, too.

Today we celebrated Luke's 11th birthday! I was head over heels into my horse life when I got Luke, but I've always loved dogs and felt like I needed a companion in my life. He very much enjoyed accompanying me to the barn every day (and to work), but he was eventually the catalyst that led to me leaving the horses behind and getting sucked into this world of agility. Couldn't have asked for a better first dog!

To celebrate Luke's birthday (and Kaiser's earlier in the week, I suppose!), we went for a nice hike this afternoon out on the trail. It was in the upper 20's and we still have no snow! What could be better? I'm sure we'll get snow eventually, but I'm going to enjoy it for now.

This weekend should be pretty quiet -- hopefully we can get out and play some more. I'm going to see about getting Secret in for another chiro appointment before our trial next weekend, so Saturday might be our best shot at that. I figure if it's going to be her big weekend then we may as well make sure she's feeling her best!

Looking back, 2014 was a great year for us. I can only hope that 2015 brings more of the same!

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Well, here we are. Today in Oshkosh, Secret earned her 20th QQ. Alas, there was no grabbing of a bar or a victory lap that followed, because we have not yet hit our 750 points.  ;o)  We're close! Coming into the weekend we were 80 points shy, so I knew that no matter what happened there was no way that this would be a MACH weekend. Forty points per run is a bit out of reach for us. Secret tried hard, though, and knocked out 32 of those points, which means now we have just 48 to go. We can do that in one more QQ and a Standard run, so we'll have to see what happens!

The courses today weren't overly challenging but nor were they completely boring. Poor Secret was only out of the van about 10 minutes before she had to run this morning, so considering that, the nine points she brought home on that run was pretty good. Kaiser was stuttering more than I like on his first run, but his second one was quite a bit better. Unfortunately he came back out of the #5 tunnel in Standard -- after several dogs took a very long time to come out of said tunnel, so I can't help but wonder if there wasn't something in there. No matter, the little turd left the table early after that anyhow.

Kizzy gave it a good go in Excellent JWW. We were good until she squirted behind my back when I tried oh-so-very hard to make sure I presented the #15 tunnel with me on the INSIDE. Then I think she missed the second-to-last jump because I was running the inside line and didn't really beat her to it.

Kizzy did super in her Open Standard class! She ran the whole thing flawlessly for a 100-point 1st place Q! Her first in Open Standard! Maybe she'll hit Exc/Masters in everything one day yet.  :o)  She was such a good girl and stopped on her dog walk & teeter, and did the table & weaves on the first try.

I don't have video from the trial today, but we did get to play at home again the day after Christmas! It was 44 degrees outside! Normally I don't do agility at home so close to a trial, but who could pass up that opportunity? I replaced the weaves with the table since I figured most of the dogs could use that practice before the trial.

We lucked out and missed the snow that passed by yesterday. Just a half hour to hour away they got several inches and we got nothing at home. Likewise, there is nothing over here in Oshkosh, so the trip over was easy going.

I stayed to help at the trial, so we didn't get to the hotel until nearly 5:00. This hotel is right on a golf course, and of course the golf course is closed this time of the year -- so we enjoyed a fun walk around part of the course before coming in to settle for the night. The dogs thought that was especially fun since they spent the last several hours of the day in the van.

Kaiser and Kizzy both spent the day crated in the van today because there wasn't room for me to bring both crates inside this morning. Tomorrow's trial is quite small, so I brought in a second crate and moved everything together before I left today. It's supposed to be quite a bit colder tomorrow, or else I'd enjoy the peace and quiet and leave them outside again tomorrow. Who knows, we'll see how Kizzy does.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! The holidays are in full swing here -- The dogs and I just spent the morning at my parent's house and I'll be returning there shortly. Everything went pretty well today, considering there were eight people and eight dogs present. Secret is the only concern in my pack, as she doesn't put up with anything from other dogs and my brother's two female dogs are stupid enough to challenge Secret until she puts them in their place. That happened with Daisy (basset hound) pretty quick -- Daisy is old and also just wants to be left alone, so they were fine after that. Their cocker spaniel is less savvy, though, and after several hours together Secret finally snapped at her. Only feelings were hurt, but the point was made.

It's actually pretty impressive that this was the only snafu in the 4+ hours that we were all there together. The two Klee Kai did great and Kizzy was her usual loveable self. Luke just wants to be by everyone and he's a happy camper.

The most impressive feat of the day was when we managed to get a family picture with all 16 of us!

We have never attempted this before. There was no planning that went into it, so it's a bit haphazard, but still pretty awesome that we pulled it off.

My dogs will get chewies and new stuffies when I get home later this evening, and they also got a couple cans of "special" dog food that I served up yesterday and will add to their dinner later tonight. Merry Christmas to them! I picked up a few more things for the hotel this weekend, too.

We'll lay low the next couple of days. The weather is supposed to be clear but colder, so we'll try to get out on the trail for a hike each day. Then Sunday we're off to play in Oshkosh!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I'm dreaming of a .... brown.... Christmas

Actually, it's not even that brown! I will be the absolute last person you hear lamenting about lack of snow at Christmas time. I'll never understand people who are all like, "It can go away right away, but I would like to have snow for Christmas." Why? What makes a silly holiday better because there is snow? Guess what, there was snow at Thanksgiving. Good enough! Call it good for the year and be done with it.

Last weekend the last of our November snow disappeared. Sadly, along with the 50-degree temperatures came quite a bit of mud, so we weren't really able to do much or play agility last weekend. The temperatures dropped this past week and everything froze back up again. That means we kind of have the best of both (winter) worlds at the moment -- no snow and no mud.

The ground is a bit hard, but I figured I wouldn't let that stop me! I was home on Friday burning up a day of vacation at work and I couldn't resist setting up what is likely our last Happy Hurdle Day exercise of 2014.

Secret was being kind of a poo-head. I went through three toys in her first session because she was struggling with the first weave entry and despite trying hard to keep my energy up I kept getting the "woe is me" face from her when I went to restart. I finally gave up and ran her again at the end, and I finally got a nice run out of her. The little dogs did pretty well, no real trouble spots to speak of (though Kizzy's first weave entry was far from tight). Luke got to chase his Jolly Ball around the yard while I put stuff away.  :o)

Secret had her yearly wellness visit with our regular vet on Friday and then a chiro visit on Saturday, so she just got to be a little social butterfly with everyone. She was totally messed up at the chiro, so I'm glad I squeezed this appointment in before our trial next weekend. I did finally get confirmations and we did get in for Sunday and Monday -- but Sunday was close to filling, so we just made it!

Today I had to go in to teach class at Petco, but that wasn't until 2:00 so I made sure to get out with the dogs and go hiking out on the bike trail. It was 38 degrees today! This is the kind of winter I can take. We went just shy of 4 miles today and everyone thought it was loads of fun. I figured I definitely owed it to them because I was kind of a lump yesterday and didn't do much aside from Secret's chiro appointment. Then I used that as an excuse because I figured she should lay low after her adjustment, right? Right? So yeah, we needed to get out today.

Aside from that, we've been pretty lazy this weekend. That's okay, lazy is good.

It's Christmas week! I've only got 2 1/2 days at work and then I'm off for five days. At least two of those days are at an agility trial or I wouldn't know what to do with myself. I can't believe 2014 is almost over.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

(More) Decals!

I went a little crazy with the decals when I first got my van earlier this year. God forbid anyone think it's a mom-mobile, so I covered it in agility-related decals to show that it's a DOG-mobile.  :o)  Plus it distinguishes it from all the other vans in the parking ramp, and it stick out at agility trials, too. On top of that, they make me smile, and that's why I love them.

I still have a lot of open window space available for more decals, but I never really settled on anything I felt I needed to have. I designed all of my original decals and just hadn't spent any time coming up with other designs I like. I do still want personalized decals for each of the dogs. I'll get there eventually.

In the mean time, I've always known that this set of "agility stick figures" existed because I saw them when I was getting ideas for creating my own designs. They are super cute! Someone posted a picture of them on my Facebook page around Thanksgiving and, since I was spending so much money around Black Friday anyhow, I went ahead and made an order on Small Business Saturday -- Figure I could support this small business, right? They are from Inky Dinky Dax Designs, BTW.

They arrived the next week, but I knew from earlier experiences that there are "ideal weather conditions" for applying decals to glass -- and below-freezing weather is definitely not ideal. The weather has been pretty consistently below freezing since I got the decals, so I just sat on them, waiting for a day when I could apply them and hoped I wouldn't be waiting until spring.

We are having a warm spell this weekend where it's getting in the 40s. It's a little damp out, but I figured now is as good a time as any. I ended up putting them on the driver's side sliding door. I figured that way I will see them often and get to enjoy them. They would have fit on the back panel, but it would have run right into the Klee Kai agility decal, so this location seemed best for the amount of space it took up. This is the first time I've actually applied them myself, so go me! I think it turned out super cute.

Things are quiet here until after Christmas, which is probably a good thing. I sent off a last-minute (literally) entry to a trial in Oshkosh the weekend after Christmas. I entered Sunday and Monday (yes, it's a 3-day trial that runs Sat-Mon) and swapped around one of my days off at work for this month. It closed on Wednesday and I didn't get entries in the mail until Monday. I ended up having to send it next-day air ($20....) to make sure it got there in time. Apparently they don't have 2-day mail, so it was that or Priority, which wouldn't have gotten there until Thursday. Sigh. I'm hoping we are in; apparently the trial secretary is down at the AKC Invitationals and won't be able to finish putting in entries until she gets home this next week. I didn't have time to email to make sure there were openings ahead of time. Oshkosh doesn't typically fill, so fingers crossed. Otherwise our next trial is the Lakeland trial down in Madison in January.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hounds trial update

This was our second time attending the Hounds for the Holiday trial, hosted by Cream City Canines over in Milwaukee. This is the largest trial we have in this area, running 3 rings for 4 days. Last year we just drove over for one day (Friday). This year I am burning up vacation and don't have anything local for a while, so we signed up for Thursday and Friday. I figured those would probably be days with lower entries, plus Thursday started (slightly) later, allowing for an easier drive over. Also, who can say no to two days of agility followed by a weekend to recover?

I admit, I was disappointed when I saw this snoozer of a Master JWW course. I had hoped that a trial this size would have funner judges that bring challenging courses. Zzzzzz. That said, considering that this was Kizzy's first time in Excellent AND her first time dealing with an environment like this, I was okay with it.

Secret was in the first group to run. She put in a very nice run right up to the end where I beat her to the tunnel (on the off side) and stopped. So she nearly stopped as well. We probably killed at least a second there but it wasn't a refusal, so she got a Q and 12 points. I think she ended up in like 6th place or something.

Kaiser was awesome! I have just come to assume that his first day of jumping is going to absolutely suck, so I was happily surprised to see him just go flying out of the gate. I was so happy to see him having fun and not stressing at all. He won his group by several seconds with 17 points.

Kizzy was a rock star for her first go at Excellent. I avoided rear crossing that last tunnel by running the inside line on that last loop of jumps. Somehow I (barely) made it and managed to keep her pushed into the jumps. And since she also managed to hit her weaves on the first try, that means that.... Kizzy Q'd in her first Excellent JWW run! Her time was only a little slower than Kaiser's! (BTW, Secret was fastest with 31.64, Kaiser had 32.22, and Kizzy had 33.61).

Secret was up again first for Standard. I did a sling-shot to the tire to call her over two, but she went for the a-frame initially and made a heroic effort to actually make it over jump two. The majority of the dogs were NQing at the weaves -- missing entries or leaving early. Secret hit pole 5 and just veered off to the right. Why does she do that? There was a goalie net behind the dog walk, I suppose it's entirely possible that a person/dog walked behind there at that moment, I have no idea. She also got called on her a-frame when I layered jump 18 to pull her for the turn. That happens like once in a blue moon, so no biggie.

I led out with Kaiser and did a rear cross into the weaves and thankfully HE did not have any problems there. He did, however, have a problem when I was behind while going to the table. I was trying to keep him off the off-course jump next to the table -- and he avoided it, but also ran right past the table. Oh well, can't get a Std Q to save our lives lately it seems.

Open Standard was the last class of the day. Kizzy was holding it together really well. She did super awesome in the crate all day, too. We were crated in a tiny lane between two of the rings and there wasn't a lot of dog action over that way. It helped a lot.

I was doing drop-n-go's with Kizzy both days so as not to lose her before we even started. I got in a front cross on the landing side of 4 and she nailed her teeter. I had us go a few steps after the teeter to line up better for a front cross to the chute, and then she refused the chute. That seems to be becoming a habit. She got it on the second try. She hit the weave entry but then skipped a couple of poles while going through them. Because you are only allowed one refusal to qualify, I elected to keep going. She stopped on the dog walk! Then she did her little table dance and earned at least one more R there (she acted like she thought it was time to be caught). I realized I was leaning over the table and when I stood up she got on it. Oh. Bad handler. I ran the right side of the final line and it worked out swell. Obviously an NQ, but a good run!

We got to the hotel around 3:00 and I attempted to take a nap. It's hard when you have given the dogs hooves to chew on and crunchy/squeaky plastic bottle toys that you bought for them at the trial. Oh well, I got enough rest that I was able to stay awake for my school seminars that I had to sit through at the hotel that night. I took the dogs outside for the last time a bit after 10:00 and that was the first time all day that Kaiser pooped. I swear.... Kizzy seems to go like 4 times a day and I can't get Kaiser to go once.

Kizzy's group was first in the ring on Friday and she was the 4th dog on the line. This is unfortunate because I think she still needs that settle time. Plus it was day two, when her brain is already on the fried side. THEN we encountered a freakazoid border collie hanging out by the ring while we were waiting to go. It was completely amped up and the owner was prodding it on and getting a reactive/frenzied bark out of it. It sent Kizzy over the wall and that was that. I was pissed off until I realized that the dog was running in the 12" Preferred class just a couple of dogs ahead of us, so they did actually have reason to be there and weren't just ruining it for the rest of us.... But still, rather unfortunate for Kizzy.

That said, she put in a valiant effort. I ran the inside and did a gross landing side rear cross (spin) at jump five, then a scoop and push to nine. I was trying to slow her down to control the entry into the weaves and that was when she decided she had enough and just kept going towards the ring entrance. Blessedly the ring worker was standing right there (the rings were not gated as I'd hoped) and blocked her. I called it quits and sat on the floor to collect her. She danced around me a bit but I did manage to get her before she got out of the ring. Win.

Kaiser was still having fun -- so much fun that he took a bonus jump when he failed to turn tight enough after nine and went over to take the double before going into the tunnel. He brought the double down on his second trip through, too.

Secret didn't run this class until the end of the day (after she ran Std). Her jumping was super, but her weaves just sucked. Did I over-handle the entry to the weaves and she got mad at me for it? Who knows, but she literally WALKED through them. I swore she was just going to leave them at least three times, but she managed to stick it out -- and then she picked it up again when she was out. Her weaves in Std had been fantastic, so who knows what was going on. Handling-wise, I beat her and fit in a blind between 4 & 5 so I didn't have to rear cross. Then a blind between 7 & 8 and then a fun little ketschker at 9 for a nice turn into the tunnel. Then another blind on the landing side of the triple. Even with that WALK through the weave poles she ended up with 9 points, which tells you how nicely she ran the rest of the course. I was expecting 6 points.

Here's our Master Standard course from Friday. You would not believe how much bitching there was over this course. I heard so many comments of how "awful" the course was. That it had no "flow" and you were just cranking the dog around the course. Well, maybe if you are a shitty handler... I heard numerous people say that this judge was going on their "list." This is the side of AKC that I absolutely hate. God forbid you see a course that requires that you actually have to handle your way through it. I had no problem with this course and rather enjoyed it. The angle from that 3/15/10 jump to the 4/16/11 jump was a bit harsher/shorter in person than it appears on paper, that was the only thing that took me by surprise while walking it.

Secret was first. I missed her walk-through while in the JWW ring with Kaiser, but I didn't stress over it at all. They were super great at this trial about accommodating conflicts, so I just figured I'd walk and run with the next group. This was nice, because I hadn't even gotten her out of the van yet and pushing back to the next group gave us plenty of time to chill and get ready. She rocked this course and loved it. It was picture-perfect, if you don't count that she left the table early. Sigh. I can't say I'm blameless, as I was the one standing there revving her up. Well, no worries about that 20th QQ this weekend! She now needs 80 points to go with that last QQ.

Kaiser's run was great. He always tends to get the courses that people complain about and nobody Q's on (and NQs the easy ones...). He had a nice, smooth run and once again won his group by several seconds with 21 points. No issues with the table this time since I beat him to it.  :o)  He did leave off the side of the teeter again, though, but thankfully he manages to stick a foot in the yellow before he jumps off. Wish we could fix that bad habit. Oh well, this was his MXP, finally!

Here's Kizzy's Standard course. But wait, you say, what is different? It's exactly the same? Well, almost. They didn't do the wrap jump after the table and we got the "easy" side of the tunnel in Open. Otherwise it's exactly the same. Okay. Guess we're up for the challenge.

I won't lie. I debated leaving after Kaiser ran Standard. I had to move Kizzy out to the van earlier in the day because her brain couldn't handle the added commotion of the day and she was making a lot of noise and getting all worked up. I didn't know if she had it in her to get through this course and stay in the ring. I decided to stick it out and give it a go.

I dropped her at the start and squeezed in a front cross between three and four. And she stopped on the dog walk again! I am so proud of her. Then there was that darn chute. Off she went, careening towards the front of the ring. I didn't chase after her this time, though, and just stood my ground and called her back. And you know what? She came barreling back! She did the chute on the second try, got her a-frame and then ran past the table. I made sure not to hover/lean and she popped right back on. The angle/distance from the table to 9 was atrocious handling from the left, but I needed to do that to get the tunnel and she managed just fine. And THEN she actually got her weaves! Heading towards the in-gate! I wasn't even expecting that, so happy surprise. She nailed the teeter and finished just great -- just two refusals on day two after a total meltdown! I'm very proud of her.

In some ways I wished we had stayed for three days, but it was very nice to come home. Now I'm toying with trying to get an entry in for the Oshkosh trial the weekend after Christmas (it closes on Wednesday and I wouldn't get anything in the mail until Monday). Can't decide on one day or two... I admit, I've got that MACH bug now and want to get it finished.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Admitting Defeat

I always say that I'm admitting that winter is coming when I turn my heat on. This year I caved like a day or two before Halloween. It was cold and my house wasn't getting above 60 on its own, so that's when I gave in.

Truthfully, though, the true measure of defeat is when I finally put all of my agility equipment away. I put the majority of my equipment into the garage about two weeks ago. I left the dog walk outside, though, hoping that we would get a chance to train a couple more times (more for Kizzy's benefit than anything else). Then it snowed. And snowed some more. And was really freaking cold.

I let it sit, hoping that maybe Mother Nature would smile on us and melt it off. This weekend we finally had a turn in the weather (by "turn" I actually mean "the stupid temperatures finally came back up to average"). By today the snow was gone from the yard and the dog walk -- So, following a trip to La Crosse because I had to run puppy playtime at Petco, then a 4-mile hike in West Salem on the way home, I squeezed in one final training session before putting the dog walk away for the year. Sigh. Such a sad time. Oh well, training went well!

Now I'll sit inside the rest of the winter and continue to apply new Jamberry nail wraps.  ;o)  I should have enough to get me through this dreary, miserable season. You have to find a bright spot, right?

Cold weather is supposed to hit us again this week -- I'm just hoping that we can avoid ice. I hate ice. I can deal with snow if I must, but ice just sucks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

100%, 50%, & 16%...

I'm no mathematician, so that 16% figure might be off -- but that's our AKC weekend recapped in fast-forward. Secret was Ms. 100% again, going 6/6 for the weekend and bringing home QQ numbers 17, 18, and 19! Before we go and freak out that she only needs ONE more QQ for her MACH, let's realize that she also needs 101 more points, so.... I'm sure no dog in the history of agility has gotten 101 speed points in one single QQ, so that's obviously not happening. This weekend I looked over her records and noted that since we started doing AKC, Secret has had NINE days of trialing where she has not Q'd in both classes on the same day. That's pretty darn consistent. So, the pressure is off on that 20th QQ because it will not be her MACH -- unless, of course, we have some sort of string of bad luck where she suddenly starts acquiring single Qs, and that is okay, too!

The 50% goes to Kizzy! She picked up both of her Open JWW Qs this weekend which -- GASP -- means that she earned her first Open title and is now an EXCELLENT dog. Umm.... Okay. Not really sure how that happened. She was super close to her first Open Std Q on Saturday (one too many refusals - you only get one). I'll get to Sunday later. Sunday was also Kizzy's third birthday! She got to go shopping at Petco after the trial.

The lone dog in the 16% club goes to Kaiser. He had a really rough weekend. His jumping on Friday was atrocious. He crashed the first bar in Std and then just had no confidence. He got through that course fine after that, but with much stutter-jumping. Then in JWW he went around like three jumps (I didn't fix anything, what is the point)? He was jumping better on Saturday but still going around jumps. Finally on Sunday he was back to himself, but we had a minor bobble in Std and then he finally Qd in JWW to end the day. His only Q of the weekend. So much for qualifying for Nationals. He ended up 45 points short, he needed 61 going into the weekend. Oh well, not like we were going anyhow.

Friday started with Standard. I'm going to post all of our courses from this weekend because I thought they were super. I thought they were just challenging enough to keep me on my toes and still be fun for the dogs. Sadly, they had a very low Q-rate all weekend. Ilze was lamenting at how her Q-rate is always so low -- she thought around 20-30%. I don't feel that these were excessively or unfairly challenging in the least. I'm not sure if there were consistent areas where teams were messing up or if it was spread out. All I know is that I hope judges never dumb down their course designs because people aren't doing the training they need to do to be successful.

That sequence from the dog walk to the weaves was tricky due to the combination of it being SO FAR AWAY and that darn tire being totally in the way of where I would have naturally been. I just made sure to get ahead of both dogs so that I'd be past the tire when they left the contact and it was all good. Secret got 22 speed points on this run.

If I have any complaints about the entire weekend it is right here. A wrap on the tire at jump #2. I was surprised to see this, as I didn't think that AKC was "allowing" turns like that at the tire. That said, I never saw any issues with it. I just didn't crank either of my dogs very tight around the turn. Secret definitely lost some impulsion there because I don't think she was expecting it.

Most people really liked that big loop in the middle. Meh. Secret doesn't find them very exciting -- Kaiser normally does, but this was his super bad jumping day. He went around jumps eight and nine. And the last one, too, I think. The close was fun! So many people wrapped to the inside of 17. I did a blended front cross. Both of my dogs went super wide off 16 -- Kaiser because that's what Kaiser does, and Secret because I was holding my breath trying to make sure I didn't cause her to knock a bar. She got 11 speed points on this run.

Saturday started with JWW. Again people were obsessed with the inside wrap at 9, but wrapping turning them to the right presented such a better line, so that's what I did. I want to say that Kaiser missed one (or two) of the jumps before the weaves again on this run. With both dogs I opted to run ahead in the weaves and front cross at the end so that I would be rear crossing at 18 for a nice tight turn. It worked swell -- so much better than those who nearly collided with their dog trying to stay on the inside for that push in that teeny tiny space between 17 and 18. Secret only got 8 speed points on this one. I didn't think she felt that slow.

With Kizzy I opted for an ugly rear cross after three -- and it actually was a rear cross (without a spin!) because she went WAY wide before she turned for the tunnel. Here an inside wrap was the proper thing to do, so that's what we did. I squeezed in a front cross on the landing side of 8 and then again after 10. She got through this whole course with 0 faults for a score of 100! She was so good!

I am sitting here staring at the picture of Saturday's Master Standard course and cannot for the life of me remember where Kaiser NQ'd. I led out with both dogs to get a front cross between 2 and 3. Both dogs got the dog walk contact with no problem. Both dogs got the teeter/table. Did Kaiser go around jump 10? I don't think so. I have no idea. I crunched in a front cross between the chute and triple with both dogs -- Secret is pretty much a superstar for getting over the triple with as little room as I gave her. Man, I have no idea where Kaiser NQ'd on this course... I'm not saying he Q'd because he definitely did not, but this is bugging me... Secret got 21 speed points on this one.

I remember where Kizzy NQ'd, though.  :o)  I led out just a little bit with her on this course, too, and went for a blind between 2 and 3. She stopped on the dog walk!! What a good, good girl! Then she stopped on the teeter! And the table! Then came the part of the course that I had no idea how I was going to get through cleanly with Kizzy. See that tunnel down there? The one that requires a pull/rear cross? Yeah, she still doesn't do those. So, coming off the table I just ran like hell to try to fit in a blind after 12 -- and so did Kizzy, right past the tire and over the next jump. That's okay, you can do that in Open and still qualify. I fixed the tire and then was obviously way behind for any sort of cross, so I pulled her up before she got close enough to the tunnel to call it a refusal and did some ugly stuff that didn't get called. Then she got her a-frame! And her weaves! And then she ran right past the chute.... Blargh. One too many refusals. Oh well, that would have been a pretty ugly Q anyhow.

It was a teeny tiny trial and we got done very early every day. I was going to take the dogs hiking on Saturday but when Kizzy stayed laying in the dog bed when I was vacuuming 6" away I decided to stay home and let everyone sleep. She had stayed inside all day on Saturday and was pooped!

Sunday started with Time 2 Beat, so I took my time leaving home that day. Our first run was Standard. The tunnel/dog walk at the start was the closest discrimination of the weekend - nearly NADAC standards there. I led out just a bit with Kaiser and ran with Secret and all was good (the tire was pointing at it anyhow). Front crossed after the teeter and then turned both dogs to the inside on that wrap at 9. Well, that was the plan. I must have done something super wonky with Kaiser because he turned the other way and instead of going with it and pulling him through the gap between the jump and the tire I had some word vomit and danced around a bit, and watched him back-jump instead of wrapping in either direction. Totally my fault. The rest of his run was super, with much better jumping than the whole weekend prior. With Kaiser I had more than enough distance off the a-frame for a front cross after 14. With Secret I had to do a rear on the flat after the chute and it worked fine. She got 19 speed points on this run.

I was pretty concerned about the start of the Open Std course with Kizzy. Which is probably why she had a total brain meltdown. Leading out at a tire? I was very unsure of that. A tunnel under the dog walk? I was super unsure of that. Stupid me unclipped her leash and then, when she stood up, I asked her to sit again. Adios, Kizzy! She was out. And then she was super naughty and was impossible to catch for the next five minutes while she ran batshit crazy circles around a border collie puppy before someone managed to scruff her. I took her directly to the van where she got to decompress until her next run. It was needed. Her brain had pretty much fallen out of her ears the moment we arrived at the trial that morning. She was having a holy freakout at the daycare dogs that were charging the fence as we walked past. Then she was squeaking inside and was basically inconsolable. I thought she was pretty settled before we went in the ring, but I guess not.

Last Masters run of the weekend! Fronts for Kaiser, blinds for Secret -- except for the rear cross I did with both at 16 for a nice turn. I told Secret I didn't care if she Q'd or not, but she did, and got 9 speed points on this one. Kaiser FINALLY got his only Q of the weekend and 16 points. Sorry little dyslexic buddy, you needed 61.  :o)

I had no flipping clue what to expect from Kizzy after her earlier performance. I hoped that her timeout in the van was what she needed. Her poor little brain was fried. I opted for a drop and go at the start to remove the pressure of any sort of start line. I started on the right side of one and then front crossed between 3 and 4. She went super duper wide after 5 (looking at the door?) but then came and hit her weave entry -- and then after a few poles got that weirdly vacant look and veered off to the right. I got her back and she finished them on the second try. From there it was just one more front cross between 8 and 9, then I just had to manage to not get lost until the end (seriously, I almost did). She stuck with me and finished clean and, holy cow, got her Open JWW title! She went 3/4 through this class, only NQing on her very first attempt at the class. Craziness. Then again, this is pretty much the only thing we ever practice, so it makes sense that she has more skills for this class than Standard....

So, our next trial is the giant Hounds for the Holidays 3-ring trial in Milwaukee. Yeah. In Excellent. Should be interesting.

And now it's time to complain. Today got up to 15 degrees for a high. It's only the middle of November. We have had freezing temperatures and snow for the last week. This sucks. A lot. I hate living here. This is going to be the most miserable winter ever.