Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FUN-Raiser = Fun!!

We had a blast down in Davenport, IA this weekend at our first ever NADAC FUN-Raiser. I'd heard rumors of how they are run -- No running order, no gate sheet, no set order, etc. As someone who is very fond of structure, I wasn't sure how well I would handle it -- But we went with the flow and it was an all around great group of people there over the weekend.

Secret was her usual awesome self. She qualified 8/12 for the weekend -- going 3/6 on Saturday and 5/6 on Sunday!! More about that in a bit...

I was surprised at how Secret handled the turf at Quad City Dog Center. My boys don't have any problem with it and I've seen many very fast dogs run on the surface with little to no problem. Secret's feet were shaved on Friday before we left and I never thought it would be an issue -- She was sliding ALL OVER THE PLACE. She really wiped out a couple of times on Saturday. I have absolutely no idea how to explain it, but she seemed to get better as she got used to the footing.

Chances was up first on Saturday. It was an interesting little course, as it allowed for a "choice" halfway through. As your dog came out of a tunnel you had the option of a hoop or a jump going into a bi-directional tunnel. Whichever one your dog took first (whether or not it was the one you directed....), you had to then take the other obstacle on the way back. So many Novice handlers tried for the harder "out" on the first pass, only to fail and have their dog take the inner hoop -- Secret was no exception. She even shimmied over the line a bit on her way through, but apparently not with all four feet because it wasn't called. Thankfully she stayed out on the second pass and finished the run clean for her first Chances Q!

Open Regular was next and it was a lovely run (with a couple of diggers....) until she got distracted by something and totally spaced out for a second. She cut in past a hoop and then saw me and went, "Oh! Was I supposed to take that?" As a result she turned around and went backwards through the hoop. Other than that it was a lovely run -- She made up for it and put in a super Regular round 2 for another Q.

We had time faults in Open Jumpers and Elite Weavers, which is always a bummer. She was lagging to begin with in Jumpers and then I started to cut out on her line in preparation for a front cross, causing her to follow me and miss the jump. Due to her snail-like speed in that round, it caused us to be 4.5 seconds over time. Elite Weavers was very nice, but again it was like pulling teeth to get her to move. I was pleasantly surprised when she was ONLY 2.5 seconds over time. I expected more. She easily made time in Touch-n-Go, thankfully.

Sunday.... Oh Sunday. What fun that was. Thunderstorms -- BIG thunderstorms -- started to roll into Davenport shortly before Open Regular was to begin. I tried to take Secret out to go potty and had to give up when she heard the thunder. I could barely get her out of her crate before the run, so I didn't have high hopes. Thankfully we did make it through the first run -- slowly. Just as she finished, before I was able to get her leash on, there was a giant crack of thunder and she bolted a few steps out of the ring and stood there in shock. I tried to call her back into the ring to avoid getting eliminated, but she was frozen with fear. Another rumble of thunder went through the building and I jumped for her to get her leash on before she could take off. The judge must have taken pity on me for the thunder situation, as we didn't get Eliminated and ended up with a Q in that round.

The storm was at its high point when it was time for our next round. Honestly, I should have scratched it. I could NOT get Secret to come out of her crate for anything. I pretty much had to drag her out and as we waited our turn I couldn't even get her to look at me. She was so scared. Much to my surprise, she actually did start to run the course with me -- We made it three obstacles before a low rumble made her skirt around a jump. As I was getting her back, a REALLY loud clap of thunder terrified her out of her wits and she made a beeline for the exit. The leash runner had to blockade her to keep her in the ring until I got there. I let her go hide in her crate, she wasn't interested in anything else.

THANKFULLY there was quite a bit of time between Open Regular and her next class, Novice Chances. The storm held on as long as it could, but thankfully it passed and I was actually able to get Secret to go potty before Chances. I literally had to DRAG her out into the grass. Once she was out there a few minutes (I continued to drag her around...) she realized that it wasn't thundering anymore and she got much better. I worried that she would think the arena was a scary place because of her last run, but she bounced right back and got another Q in Novice Chances. Yay!!!

The whole extreme fear thing took a lot out of her and I wasn't sure Secret would be able to make it the rest of the day. It was a long weekend, after all. She was a trooper, though, and ended up finishing the day with Q's in everything -- she even made time in Elite Tunnelers! She was pretty done by Hoopers, but thankfully Novice time is very lenient. So even though she trotted a good portion of it, she was still well under time.

So lesson learned -- Pack the thundershirt for away trials. I wasn't aware that it was supposed to storm, so it didn't even occur to me. Guess I should just keep it in the car!

Secret finished her OAC and OJC titles this weekend. Is it possible that she is in Elite in four classes already? She still needs one more Novice Chances Q to finish up her Novice Versatility award -- And one more Open Q in Touch-n-Go to finish up that title. Baby Girl is on a roll!

(PS, the boys have videos on my YouTube channel as well if you want to see them!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Secret and Lexie are BFF

My dad shot this video outside the office this morning -- Secret heard them around the corner and ran off to say hello. She loves Lexie!

We leave tomorrow for Iowa! Yay!!!! Secret has been doing awesome on her dog walk and discrimination work this week.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trial pictures up already

GreatDanePhotos already has the pictures uploaded from the trial this past weekend. Secret's pictures can be viewed by clicking here. I need to get a shirt made for her.... But I don't know that there are any "shirt-worthy" shots this time (not the photographer's fault -- the weather sucked!).

I think we'll see Amy again in July, so hopefully we can get a good shot then.

She got some good shots of Kaiser!

And Luke is still looking pretty spry for almost 7 1/2. :o)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Secret's First Outdoor Trial!

She rocks. Really, I could end the post with that. 'Nuff said!

Yeah right. Like I'd really stop there! :o)

Secret continued her streak as the best baby dog ever and totally blew me away at her first outdoor trial. I hemmed and hawed and waffled about making the three hour drive on Friday because the weather report was not favorable. BUT, Accuweather claimed that Savage, MN was only supposed to have spotty showers (despite the wicked radar all around the Cities) and that it was actually supposed to be DRY from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Considering the trial started at 5:00, I thought it was worth going. I do, after all, really hate flushing money down the toilet.

The weather was gorgeous when we left the office at 1:00 p.m. We didn't really hit any rain until Cannon Falls, and it was (as predicted!) spotty. It wasn't raining when I pulled into Savage Park and parked the customary 10 miles from the trial site (okay, not THAT far, but it feels like it). But by the time I checked in and schlepped my crates clear across Timbuktu, the skies open up and dumped on us like nobody's business. I hadn't even set up my stuff yet -- it just sat out in the rain and got soaked while I stood helpless under a tent. The dogs were still in the car.

After realizing what a horrible conflict I'd have by running three dogs in Elite Weavers at a small trial, I moved the car and my gear to the other side of the rings to be closer to the action. I elected to not set up my tent, as it would have been more trouble than it was worth to try to do that in the wind & rain. Instead, I set up the crate/x-pen and wrapped the tent around it. It worked. For the most part.

I did not have high hopes for Secret's Hoopers run. Not because it was her first time running Hoopers. Not because it was an outdoor trial. And not because it was raining. But because it was thundering. I'm pretty sure I freaked out about that more than she did. I was certain she would absolutely shut down. And really, she was pretty ooged out coming out of her crate and then waiting our turn (although she saw a Cardigan Corgi right before it was her turn, and boy does she LOVE Cardigan Corgi dogs, so that made her happy). As soon as we stepped to the line and I took off her leash, though, she was all business! I didn't try for a lead out because I was so worried about her freaking out and shutting down -- so I was a little surprised when she actually took off and ran in front of me. Go Secret! Our first test involved two hoops side by side -- requiring us to take the "out" hoop. We practiced "Hoop Weaves" on Thursday, but we did not practice "out" hoops.... So we had to go back and fix that, but she got it on the second try! After that we did the serpentine-thingy test that was no problem at all.

Weavers was just plain awesome. It was Secret's first Elite run in ANY class. I have a "history" with Elite Weavers with Luke. It took us FOREVER to finally get a Q in that class and for a very long time those Q's came very far apart. Time was always an issue. I feel that the times in that class are tighter than any other in NADAC. I probably only feel that way because Luke had issues qualifying. He almost always makes time now -- Largely because I improved my handling and tightened our turns, but also due to the move to 24" weave poles. But still, we all know that Secret is not the speediest beast on the planet right now and I really had my doubts that she would make time.

She rocked it. She nailed every entry and she got faster as the run progressed! Her third set of poles was FANTASTIC. Yes, still hopping, but she was blazing! Go, Seeker, Go! :o) She came in two seconds under course time and won the class! Against very experienced dogs!! (Like Luke, who skipped a pole in the third set, so we just kept going.) Running three dogs in a small Elite Weavers class darn near killed me, but I recovered quickly when I saw how well Secret did.

It was pouring for Tunnelers. By that time I was so wet that I didn't really care anymore, but I wasn't sure if Secret felt the same way. Apparently all was good for her, though, since she didn't even feel like holding her stay at the start (naughty, naughty -- but then again, I hadn't asked for one the entire day). We recovered from that little bobble and she put in a good run. She slipped a couple of times and I think adjusted her speed accordingly -- So it wasn't blazing fast, but it was plenty fast enough to make time in Open and win the class. I checked and she was one second under Elite time, which is good, but we'll continue to work on improving that. She was, after all, only 0.3 seconds faster than Kaiser. From watching them run around the yard together, I'm pretty sure she can shave a few seconds off that. lol

Apparently running in crappy weather is even more exhausting than running in a normal trial. The dogs all crashed HARD for the trip home -- which is good, because then they weren't begging me for their dinner (which they didn't get until we got home at almost 10:30). I was exhausted all weekend trying to catch up on my sleep (I had to work at the shelter at 10:00 on Saturday, so it wasn't THAT bad), but it was totally worth driving up and running in the rain. So proud of my baby girl.

Thanks to some awesome friends who were willing to stand out in the rain, I have video!

I am uber-excited about our trip to Iowa this weekend!!! This week we will be working discriminations every chance we get. The a-frame is still in the garage...... Sigh.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Playtime (video)

Secret was actually playing somewhat nice with Kaiser the other night. Still taunting him enough to frustrate him, but hey, she's not knocking him over like usual. Times like these are when I miss Max. He was such a great playmate for Secret -- But I'm sure he's doing awesome in his new home!

It rained yesterday, so we did nothing in the wet grass. I did manage to drag out the weave poles after working at the shelter on Tuesday, though, and we got in some good practice time. I set up a trio of jumps on one end (set of 12 poles) and a trio of hoops on the opposite end. We worked entries at various angles, threw in some rear crosses and also focused on maintaining speed through the poles.

Even with the Jolly Ball employed for ultimate motivation, Secret did not want me leaving her in the poles. She weaved fastest, by far, with me right by her side or just slightly ahead. If I left her in the poles she slowed down considerably, so I guess I'll be babysitting her in her Elite Weavers run tomorrow. We need as much speed as possible. Thankfully NADAC doesn't require any tricky handling, so going way ahead to get into position isn't really required. Meanwhile, our homework is to maintain speed and motivation independent of my position.

Cross your fingers that Mother Nature cooperates tomorrow. The weather forecast isn't appearing to be in our favor. I will run in a light rain, but if it storms I'm sure they will call it off and perhaps just try to squeeze those three classes into the trial over the rest of the weekend (and of course, we won't be there!).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thundershirt! Bring on the storms!

Secret's Thundershirt arrived yesterday! Yay! There wasn't really so much as a cloud in the sky, but of course we had to try it on and model for blog pictures. :o) And from what I've read, they suggest acclimating the dog to the shirt during non-stressful times so that they don't always associate it with bad things -- so yesterday was as good a time as any!

Secret was.... Well, not pleased when I put it on. She kind of just froze up on me and wouldn't move. It made me wonder, does it work by making them comatose and unable to react to anything around them? lol

She was just odd and very reluctant to move in it. Yes, the Thundershirt is very snug, it's suppose to be (like a firm, secure "hug" around their body). But it's also very stretchy and easy to move in, so that's no excuse. I ran inside to grab the camera (okay, it's my phone) and she never even moved from the spot where I left her. I took a video to show just how much she didn't want to move in it. lol

The good news is that she quickly improved. I just left her in it while I went about my ritual of de-pooing the lawn before mowing. Eventually she started to wander around and graze like a cow (this is not a reflection of the Thundershirt, this is a daily occurrence....).

But then something notable happened! The neighbor kid (the good one, not the evil ones) must have had some friends over after school and they came out into their backyard to play tetherball -- and their tetherball set-up (seriously, who has those at home?) happens to be right next to my fence.

Normally this sort of sound (screaming children coupled with frequent random loud slapping noises) would send Secret into the garage to hide. It's happened several times when the other neighbors are out playing baseball or basketball. But this time Secret continued to go about her business helping me to "pre-mow" the lawn. It was a warmer afternoon, so eventually she ended up under the shade of the deck and was watching/listening to the ruckus next door, but she made no move to go hide in the garage!

So hey, thumbs up for the Thundershirt already! I will have to think of other ways to put it to use -- Maybe I'll try putting on her and going for a walk in the "scary field next to the tracks" that she hates so much. There is a possibility for storms coming up this weekend, but I'll be working at the shelter and am not keen on leaving her in it for a full day unsupervised. Regardless, I'm sure it will see plenty of use.

By the time I took it off her, Secret was back to her usual sassy, happy self.

I did enter the MMBC trial for this coming Friday -- All three dogs are doing the three offered classes (Weavers, Tunnelers & Hoopers). Cross your fingers for good weather. If it's cruddy outside I'll probably just save the gas money and scratch -- but who wants to do that?? We'll go into it with little to no training time, unfortunately. Last night I had to mow everything (seriously, Kaiser was getting lost in the yard it was getting so bad!) and I'm at the shelter tonight and tomorrow. I'll have to at least drag the weaves out into the yard. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit anxious about Secret's first time running in Elite!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Ha! I caught them! Secret and Kaiser love each other. Most of the time it appears as though they are trying to kill each other with their rough-and-tumble all out play style. Seriously, I yell at them all the time -- Last week Secret must have gotten Kaiser in the foot because he hobbled around on three legs for several days. He asks for it, though, by jumping up and yanking her tail all the time. But there are moments where they can be calm and snuggle together.

Secret says, "It's a lie! She photoshopped that picture above!"

I think the dogs like "wash the bedding day" as much as I do. I wish they wouldn't shed so stinking much. The amount of hair that comes out of the lint trap is kind of gross....

At any rate, as planned, I set up a nice little discrimination exercise with the dog walk last night. It was nothing fancy, just the tunnel under one end with hoops and jumps and weave poles thrown in for a bonus. For a treat, here is my super awesomely horrible Paint drawing:

I ran out of room. That should, of course, be 12 weave poles. ;o)

We warmed up with the poles. For the record, Secret weaves awesomely fast for her jolly ball. Even then, though, she still hops. She is a hopper. That is all there is to it. But she got down really low and hopped really fast, so I'm happy with her. :o)

Despite my super poor handling (I found myself having to support her through the pinwheel more than I would have preferred), Secret did awesome. She never got one wrong, even when I forgot what I was doing and didn't cue her until the last second. (Note to self, don't work Secret last. I lose all brain power and forget that she doesn't handle the same way as the boys.) Her dog walk performance was slower when faced with the discrimination, but I blame myself for that because I was throwing fuzzy signals to her because I wasn't trusting that she would get it right. Bad handler. She still drove nicely to the end position, though, and her dog walk performance in the other direction (without the tunnel underneath the approach) was super.

I have to give myself a pat on the back for not drilling her into oblivion with this exercise. I actually managed to keep it decently short and I quit while she was still happy and motivated. We finished with a nice hard entry into the weaves. Secret will be in *ELITE* Weavers at our next trial, so I'm really pushing her for speed right now. Luke and I struggled with time in that class for so long.... I'm very interested to see where Secret's time will be.

Speaking of -- I've more or less decided to make the trip to the MMBC NADAC trial in Savage after all. I'm working that weekend, but they are offering three classes on Friday night (Tunnelers, Weavers & Hoopers). Secret has yet to run Hoopers, so I want to get that out of the way (especially if I want to try to get her into Champs!), and technically Kaiser still needs one Hoopers Q, too. Luke could always use another Weavers Q and I'm still trying to round out his Elite Hoopers Q's and finish his Superior title. So..... That all makes it seem like a good idea to drive almost 400 miles round trip in a day for a total of 9 runs. It would be Secret's first outdoor trial, too! Entries close on Friday, so I have to get that in the mail soon....

Is it any wonder why I have to have a king-sized bed? Bed hogs.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Storms Suck

Spring is awesome. Storms are not. We have a big one passing through here this morning and Secret isn't a happy camper.

She's not a quaking puddle of fear, thankfully, but she stresses. Right now she's sleeping against the wall behind my computer desk -- This appears to be her safe spot to go to any time she hears a loud scary noise.

I finally ordered her a Thundershirt. I've been thinking about it for a while, but I finally caved when I was on the web site last week and saw that they come in PINK!!! Wheeeee! They say it's been shipped, but sadly it wasn't here in time for this storm. Oh well, I'm sure there will be others.

I was a very poor blogger and didn't take any photos -- But the dog walk is out at home! Yay!!! Secret "helped" me mow the lawn Friday after work, and with that out of the way, I managed to drag the dog walk out into the yard by myself on Saturday after my shift at the humane society. The a-frame will have to wait until I have help, as I don't really feel like throwing my back out attempting to move that by myself. Besides that, I discovered that the wheels on my a-frame mover are flatter than flat, so I need to go fill them with air first anyhow.

While we definitely need to get back to work on discriminations (because really, I feel we barely even touched on that last year and now Secret is seeing them in trials...), I thought our first session with the dog walk would be better spent on driving into end position. All three dogs benefited from a brush-up on this skill, really.

Last year Secret's contact work was pretty much all done for food, but I decided to use her beloved Jolly Ball to really encourage drive & speed. We started by doing a couple of "bottoms" (not the whole contact) and then sending to the next obstacles (hoops on one end of the dog walk, jumps set to 22" on the other side). I figured this was a good place to start since she apparently forgot her 2-on/2-off at the last trial! We only had one four-on stop this time, so that's good.

Once we moved on to doing the whole dog walk, I alternated between having her hold her stop and doing a quick release. I think we may start doing a few more quick releases in practice because it seems to keep her energy up higher and results in a faster overall dog walk performance. I realize that it's a slippery slope to a self-releasing contact, so I'll have to watch her and see what she does. Overall, though, I'm very impressed with how her contact performance has held up with so little training over the winter.

Next time, discrimination work!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lexie is here!

What is Secret peering at under the table? What is making her thump her tail so fast that it is a blur on camera? lol

Why, it would be Lexie! Lexie arrived yesterday from Canada and today was her first time meeting my crew. I think it was a little overwhelming for her at first. Kaiser was the worst, surprisingly. Secret snarked at first but then wanted to be best friends. Luke has not yet acknowledged Lexie's presence (as is usual with new additions, it seems).

Lexie decided that being under the table was her "safe spot" to go to when the other dogs were around. Secret & Luke can't fit and for some reason Kaiser left her alone there. But when my dad brought out the treats and my dogs started mugging him, Lexie was definitely interested in what was going on!

Here's a shot of the little cherub from above. Lexie is going on a weight loss program. She's done pretty much nothing (except eat....) for her seven months of life and it shows. If we are going to turn her into an agility star, we have to start by getting her in shape. :o) And how better to do that than to take her along on walks with us?

I can't believe how small she looks next to Kaiser. There aren't many dogs that make Kaiser look big!
And she's an absolute midget next to Secret. Secret is very interested in Lexie. I'm sure some day it will be mutual. :o)

I wish I had more to share, but we honestly have not done a lick of training since the trial last weekend. Nothing. Partly because of the weather, partly because of my schedule, and partly because I'm just lazy. We should be able to do something this week, though. My contacts are still in the garage.....