Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Anonymous....

I know I should ignore and/or delete this comment that was made on the last trial results post. Biting comments made under the veil of anonymity don't have much merit, after all.

But I can't. Ignorance irritates me, which is why I feel the need to respond.

It is a well known fact that course times in NADAC are less lenient than in other organizations -- We'll use CPE and AKC as an example, for in those venues almost any dog should be able to achieve Standard Course Time. One of the reasons that NADAC does not fault refusals is because it has been stated that the SCT is an obstacle in and of itself. For many dogs, a refusal or two will put them over course time. Luke has always been a great example of this with his Weavers runs.

Apparently I missed the memo that any dog who runs at less than 7 yps is assumed to have a Q rate of at least 80%. Funny, I seem to see a lot of teams out there moving at speeds less than "noticeably fast" who still struggle to Q consistently. Isn't that what keeps us coming back to this game?

Our dogs are living beings with minds of their own. Just because one is not moving at a blinding speed does not mean they are not capable of making mistakes. OR that the handler is not capable of making mistakes.

I have never claimed to have World Team aspirations with Secret. I am well aware of where she is at in her training. She has been a "precise" dog from day one and has been coming out with more speed at each trial. We are on a completely different journey than a team who has speed out of the gate and struggles for precision.

When you get a puppy from rescue and have no idea of their parentage, it's generally a crap shoot. Secret's litter did not turn out to be high-drive performance superstars (Secret's brother is very much like her despite their different upbringings). They are thinkers. They also ended up freakishly tall and very much unlike the compact little speeding bullets that are so popular in agility today.

Secret is not yet two years old and I am excessively proud of how far she has come in this time. This is a dog who had zero interest in toys, no motivation to run, and not a whole lot of desire to interact with me. Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows what we have gone through.

So thanks, Anonymous, for your incredibly insightful comment. And for reminding me to not allow anonymous posting in my comments section. Good day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's done!

It is official. Our entries to the 2011 NADAC Championships left in the mail yesterday and my credit card is smoking from the PayPal payment sent yesterday afternoon. :o)

And yes, those entries included one for Secret!

I stapled a little note to her entry explaining how Secret started to trial in February and has had a grand total of 16 days of trial experience. In that time she has managed to get all but one Chances Q (and the stupid Hoopers Q, but I said I had entered & Q'd in the class every chance we had). As a formality, I requested that she be considered for second chance entry if she didn't get in on the merit of her achievements. But come on, she's gotten 53 Q's in less than six months. If that isn't merit, what is?

I wonder if she will be the youngest dog in attendance? Coming in a very close second (by ONE day!) will be our friend Robyn's dog, CeCe -- Another amazing achievement there! And CeCe actually got both of her needed Hoopers Q's, so they beat us in that race. lol Can't wait to see how the baby dogs do!

Monday, July 25, 2011

FDC's Grand Opening Trial = HUGE SUCCESS

The Grand Opening of the new arena at Family Dog Center was a huge success -- Not only for them (largest trial ever!), but also for Secret. She - Was - AMAZING.

The short story is that Secret Q'd in 10/12 runs from Friday - Sunday, earning first place in all but two (and really, one of her 2nd place runs was a "no time" run because they failed to start the timers, so she got SCT). Secret earned her Open Touch-n-Go title as well as her Elite Regular title, going 4/4 her very first time running in Elite!

Friday was just super fun. Everyone was very excited to finally see the new addition at Family Dog Center. It's been in the works for some time, so it was great to see it completed. The turf was a bit slick on Friday (Secret totally face-planted in Tunnelers), but they added a lot of sand to it overnight and I thought it ran very well for the rest of the weekend. There were a lot of unfortunate "accidents" on the turf (of the soiling nature) and Secret ALMOST became one of them, but thank heavens I can read her squat and I got her outside in time. Whew.

Secret seems to like the new arena! She was raring to go from the beginning on Friday and started off the evening with a Tunnelers run that came out at 6.0 yps! By far her fastest time ever!!

She Q'd in Touch-n-Go, earning her Open Title in that class, but the judge was in the middle of the arena and we once again had some issues (although not nearly as bad as last time). Our judge was Lorne McGee, who is about the nicest judge on the planet, so I spoke to him after everything was done on Friday and he was kind enough to come over and spend some time with Secret. I am so thankful for the time he spent with us and his help over the rest of the weekend to get her used to having someone in the ring. He stepped out into the middle for several of our classes and Secret finally seemed to get used to the idea -- So YAY for that!

Saturday started out with two great runs in Elite Regular. I definitely made the right decision to move her up to Elite for this trial -- She handled the courses with ease. I also felt really good about my decision to move her to Skilled, as she just seems so much happier and more comfortable at 16". The 16" Skilled division at Champs is going to be horrendously competitive, but who cares -- We just want to have a good time. :o)

We NQ'd in our first Elite Touch-n-Go run, but I have to take all the credit for that one. If you point at the tunnel, you should expect your dog to take it. lol The rest of that run was lovely, though -- Including a WRAP at a hoop. Can you believe it, a wrap in NADAC?! There was a lot of buzzing in the course walk when that was discovered, but I was thrilled to see something different.

We wandered outside for quite a while before Chances, but apparently it wasn't long enough. Thank goodness that Secret has long legs and it's pretty obvious when she's heading towards the squat position. I stopped her short before she could start anything and excused us from the ring. We barely made it to the grass before she went, so THANK YOU, Secret, for holding it. :o)

Secret rocked the Jumpers courses both Saturday & Sunday. She was moving very nicely and we only had one near off course on Sunday morning when she started to head for the tunnel, but thankfully she listened and was able to turn in time. We like Jumpers courses! One more Q is needed for her EJC title. Woot!

The day continued in marvelous fashion on Sunday. Hoopers was her second class and I picked a pattern with lots & lots of front crosses -- Which is good, because Secret wasn't terribly motivated for this class, but she likes front crosses and it kept her going. She did hoop weaves again! She was the first dog on the line and they didn't have the timers figured out, so she just got SCT for that run.

I wasn't sure about the Chances course for Secret, because it involved being restrained at the dog walk again -- But thankfully I could go with her further than the last time. I thought for sure we were done when she came to me off the dog walk again, but believe it or not, she actually SENT back out to the jump! I about fell over, but was able to compose myself to call her back to the next jump, as it appeared she was on her way to an off course tunnel. The next difficult part for us was a switch out to a tunnel. She did it! From there it was a pretty easy call through a hoop and then a run out. I started celebrating way too early (with two hoops to go, lol), but thankfully she managed to keep running a straight line and we got a much needed Open Chances Q!

Secret was starting to drag by the end of the day (despite the Power Boost supplement I was using for the first time -- but still, when you're tired, you're tired!), so her Regular runs weren't quite as speedy as on Saturday, but they were well under time. My only surprise was that her second run was six seconds faster than the first. While it was happening, I thought the second run was soooo slow, probably because she trotted through two hoops. Watching the video, though, she did make up time nicely in other spots. (Speaking of video, sorry for the poor quality in the last half -- Somehow the camera got turned to "night shot" mode and I ended up with a lot of blurry video.)

Overall, I am just beyond thrilled with her performance. When I first started running her in February it was almost a joke that we might possibly finish our requirements for Champs Qualifiers by the deadline. Well, baby girl ended up just one Chances run shy (I don't count Hoopers, because she's qualified every time we've seen the silly class so there isn't much I can do about that...). I don't know about you, but I think that is pretty darn amazing.

(The boys have videos as well -- If you click on the video it should take you to YouTube and you can find them there!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I got video! Dock Jumping!!

Sorry for the crappy photo quality, but it's just a couple of still shots that I pulled off the video. Yes, video!! I got video! Bethany was willing to stand on the safety of the shore with the camera and film us -- Because after all, standing in 90 degree water isn't really all that cooling, and you pretty much risked your life trying to walk on the slimy landing anyhow. lol

Secret was a SUPERSTAR. I had no idea what to expect, so I didn't even think to get the camera out at first. After a couple of tries, I realized I had an awesome little dock jumper on my hands, so I ran to get the video camera -- So the first jump in the video is actually her third or something. Then the dock started to get pretty slippery and the jumps weren't so spectacular, but I am SO EXCITED to get her jumping off a carpeted surface at the competition.

There was zero hesitation on Secret's behalf, so I'm really hoping that it translates to the dive pool at the State Fair. I am going to try hard not to get sucked into a "comfort zone" at this dock that I found -- There was nobody there and it was pretty much perfect -- But instead I will try to keep finding more docks to practice on so that Secret continues to gain confidence in new settings.

But eeek! It was so fun! I won't even try to get into how hot it was, though. Bethany and I pretty much started to sweat the instant we stepped out of the car. It is so gross here right now. Secret actually would lay in the shallow water to rest between tosses -- she's never done that before. Although the water was easily 90 degrees, so I'm not sure how cooling it was!

Here is the video! Clips from Luke & Kaiser are included as well. We tried to get Rascal to jump in, but he didn't really want any part of it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

This heat is deadly...

So yeah, the heat index has been well over 100 the last few days. So what did I decide to do? Why, I set and ran the above course posted by Steve at AgilityNerd! I set it on Saturday, which was by far supposed to be the coolest day until about next Monday. But it was still pretty hot. I'd actually placed all the jump bars Thursday evening after working at the shelter, but then it rained all day Friday and we weren't able to play.

I took my time finishing the set-up on Saturday, so as not to kill myself before we even started. I let the dogs wander around while I picked up poo, but then stuck them in the house while I built the rest of the course.

I had to do some slight tweaking due to my dog walk having an 8' center plank vs. 12' -- but it was easy enough by just shuffling the jumps on the bottom a bit lower.

I'd watched Steve's video several times to get a good idea of how he handled the sequences -- He did the option without the dog walk in his video, though, whereas I did the one with the dog walk. Having stopped contacts was definitely to my advantage for getting into position for the ending.

Secret really impressed me! The weave entry took a couple of tries and I ended up shaping the entry more than I would prefer (by pushing her out slightly after jump 4) -- But the second time I brought her out she was getting it much better on her own.

Really, the only part of the course that we could not seem to conquer was the line from 9 to 10. I never really got it set to my satisfaction -- I couldn't make it feel right and even the boys (who have much better sends than Secret) even had their share of issues because the line was so off. I tried to stay ahead of Secret (haha!) on the right and then even tried staying on her left and doing a rear cross, but we never got through that section without a spin or off course.

Secret did three reps on our first try and then was just done from the heat and humidity. I tried to get weaves out of her and she walked through them. I let her rest in the air conditioning while I gave the boys their turn (holy heck, Kaiser nailed it!), then I brought Secret back out and let her run it a couple more times at 8". She was nicely refreshed and did great, including super nice weaves. I was about ready to fall over dead by that point, so we called it quits.

I was actually too wiped out to put everything away, so I left it out with the hopes that maybe we would get a shot at it again on Sunday. No such luck. It was just way too miserable outside. All we did yesterday was wander slowly around the yard while I put everything away to keep Kaiser from peeing on it any more than he already had....

Tonight we are going on a search for a dock. Quite honestly it's probably too hot even to do that, but the dogs are starting to get a bit pent up so we will see what we can handle. I'd love to say that you can expect to see video, but I'm kind of hesitant about activities that could lead to the camera being dropped in the water. ;o)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dock Jumping!!! Yay!!!!

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's.......! Okay, that is totally not Secret in the above photo. Thank you, Google Image Search. ;o)

But maybe it COULD be! lol

Going out in today's mail are the entries for Secret's (and Luke's) VERY FIRST DOCK JUMPING EVENT! I am so excited I could pass out. I have been wanting to try this event *forever* but they are never anywhere near here and always conflict with my agility schedule.

I happened upon an event being held at the Wisconsin State Fair next month. The competition runs from Monday through Thursday -- and since my day job is fairly easy to get away from, that works out perfectly!

Of course, I stumbled upon this two days away from the closing date, so there really wasn't much time to dawdle with entry decisions. I sent a quick e-mail to Bethany to see if she wanted to schlep along and when she said she was game, I said, "Yay!"

So.... Monday, August 8 will be Secret's dock jumping debut. It is the day before her 2nd birthday! I have no idea what to expect. Maybe I should try to find some sort of dock to practice on before then....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sharing Spaces

Sorry Kaiser -- I had one picture that you looked good and Secret looked awful, but this is her blog so her good picture wins. ;o)

Because this what happens when I try to use Photoshop -- hahahahahaha --

At any rate....

Secret has never been much for sharing. In fact, while I wouldn't go so far as to call her a resource guarder, she does happen to think that the world and everything in it belongs to her (if she wants it, that is). If Kaiser takes a toy or chewy that she thinks she would like to have, she barks until he gives it back. If Luke gets to a ball before she does, she barks. If she wants to lay somewhere, she lays on top of Kaiser (for real....). You get the idea.

She also has never been fond of sharing space with strangers. She's not fond of strangers, period. This is not for lack of socialization when she was younger, but I feel a good deal of it comes from *me* not generally being comfortable around strangers and she feeds off this.

For all of this and more, I'm very proud that Secret was able to go to the river and totally not freak out when we found other people on the little beach last night! We've been very spoiled on our trips lately and have had it all to ourselves. There was a trio of younger adults (I feel so old to say something like that) that were hanging out when we arrived. When I asked if they were okay with the dogs they claimed they were leaving, but then were interested in the dogs and hung out for a bit.

And Secret was actually okay with it! Well.... She kept giving them a wary eye, but she managed to engage with me and her toy and move past that. In Secret's world, that's great! This, coupled with how well she did outside the ring at the trial on Saturday, makes me very happy. I don't know that I mentioned it, but she was actively seeking out individuals to say hello and was also interested in several dogs. I don't think her tail ever touched her belly the whole day. :o) I'm happy to see a more confident dog emerging.

Another bonus of the day yesterday -- Secret managed not to lose the brand new $9 Water Wubba that I bought. lol I'm always hesitant to take brand new toys to the river, but Secret seemed to have such a love affair with the old busted up Wubba that was destroyed on our last trip that I thought this one would be safe. And it was. We love the Wubba, I guess!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fat Chances!

I had an entertaining discussion with my friend, Robin A, at the trial on Saturday. She has an interesting philosophy regarding the difficultly level of the Chances class. Or perhaps I should say, a sliding scale. It ranges from "Slim Chances" (where it can be assumed that you have a reasonably good chance at succeeding) to "Morbidly Obese Chances" (where you essentially don't have a chance in hell). We all agreed that Saturday's course was right there in Morbidly Obese land. For Secret, at least!!

But Chances aside, Secret had a really good day! She Q'd in 3/4 runs and got her Novice Hoopers Title! See that giant blue New Title ribbon? MAC has the largest I've ever come across. Love me the ribbon bling-bling.

Hoopers was up first and I was happy to see HOOP WEAVES in the course! Not sure why -- I mean, Secret has only practiced them once and then I never touched on them again. I have no idea why I thought that it would be a good idea to plan a course with the HW. That said, I did have a back-up plan in place if everything fell apart, but it involved getting the "out" hoop of a side-by-side pair in the middle of a pinwheel, and that took a couple of tries last time we saw it.

The first test was just a big arch of hoops up at the top of the ring, then the HW test had a single hoop prior to the HW to start. Secret entered on the wrong side the first time, so we had to restart the test (thankfully it wasn't very far). She got it right the second time, did one weaving motion and then stopped and barked at me. I'm sure the fact that these hoops were made of the most giant PVC I've ever seen probably threw her off a bit -- Mine at home are simple 3/4 and this looked almost like 1 1/2"! Definitely more of a "jump" over the bases. At any rate, I got her going again without missing any part of the pattern and then it was a quick turn and run through the finish hoop. Secret Q'd and got first place -- Out of TWELVE dogs! :o) It was nice to have some actual competition for once. Usually the trials are so small that we're lucky to have two other dogs in our group.

Secret got a bit of a break before her first round of Open Regular. I am so happy with this run of hers! She was happy, sassy & moving! Considering this, I was pretty shocked when I looked at the results and saw that she was listed as having 10 faults for that run. Uhhh...... I may have come off a bit psychotic as I looked into this, but gosh darn it I was not going to take an NQ for such a nice run!

My friend, Rich, was timing that run -- But he was also video taping for me, so he was no help. lol The scribe could not remember what the call was (or if it might have been written on the wrong line) -- and since I was late in looking at the results (because hello, I assumed it was a Q!), I don't blame her for not remembering. THANK GOODNESS I had the video tape. In a break between rounds I approached the judge and asked her about it and explained that I had it on video if she would like to watch. Thankfully Pam Smith is a wonderful & kind judge, so she readily agreed to it. After watching the video she proclaimed that it was, indeed, a clean run and she took care of it with the score table. Phew!

The second run was not quite as awesome as the first, but still good nonetheless. Secret was spooked by the giant fan RIGHT at the start line and I was happy she managed to get through the first hoop in a straight line. I'm not sure if she wasn't a fan of my blind cross before the weaves or what, but she was especially slow through them and then she went, "Ooh, what is that?" at a big white spot on the floor right after them. It made me feel better to see a couple other dogs sight in on some of the painted spots on the floor.

Positive note -- She actually went to the bottom of all of her contacts this time! Yay, Secret!

Finally we had our Open Chances class. They switched the schedule around to try to avoid conflicts between the two rings, so we ended up running Open before Elite. I'm not sure that it matters, but I would have liked to have gotten a feel for the course with the boys first. Oh well. No matter what, the course was well beyond her capabilities at this time. Good heavens, this course even looked challenging at the Novice level! It really was one of the more difficult ones we've seen lately. And from the looks of it, Sunday wasn't much better so we didn't really miss out on anything. :o)

The first road block was that Secret had to go to the end of the dog walk with me nowhere near her and being forced laterally away from her. She didn't like that. Then I had to somehow convince her to go way out to a tunnel in la-la land while I stood there at the line (having left myself no room, of course). She came right to me off the dog walk and started barking and bouncing at my feet because I was acting like a crazy person (in her mind, at least). It quickly became evident that she was not going to send out that far to the tunnel, but then she crossed over the line and it didn't matter. I moved a little closer and did achieve a reasonable send, then I moved back across the line to practice the rest of the course.

The next part was two hoops that you took as a 180 -- You (or your dog) could choose which to do first, but then you had to do the opposite on your way back to the tunnel. Secret went between them. hahaha Silly girl.... Whatever, keep going! I tried to send her back out to the tunnel, but nope, not happening -- She needed more help with that. And finally, you had to get the "out" tunnel under the dog walk -- So up the dog walk she went. Truthfully, though, in looking at the video it is obvious that I did not assist her in any way with choosing correctly. I was also a little too sharp in my correction of her choice, which I felt bad about after seeing how happy she was to go sailing up the dog walk. We made the run out fast & fun, though, so we ended this dreadful course on a good note.

So that makes Secret's Champs tally:

8/10 Regular
0/2 Chances
2/2 Jumpers
2/2 Weavers
2/2 Touch-n-Go
2/2 Tunnelers
0/2 Hoopers (but we have our Novice title now!)

I have to send our entries for the La Crosse trial soon -- I'm planning to keep Secret in Skilled, but let her start to run Elite now. She seems happier at 16", so why not? She still needs to get one more Open Touch-n-Go Q for that title, but otherwise she's at Elite in everything other than Chances (and Hoopers, of course). I think I'm going to shoot for running her in 5 classes each day, plus perhaps 2 on Friday night. We'll see -- I need to figure out what the boys are doing.

Good heavens, I almost forgot to add her video. :o)

I went through our trial sheets and realized that this was only Secret's 13th day of trialing. Aside from two full weekends in La Crosse and the Funraiser weekend in Iowa, all of her trial experiences have been single days. She has managed to accumulate 43 Q's in this time, which I think is pretty amazing for my baby dog. (We won't compare her to where Kaiser was at this time in his career, lol -- that would be sad -- for Kaiser....) But I do wonder how she'll take four days down in Springfield come October.

The boys got their runs lumped into one video since they only had five between them. I had thought Kaiser should take it easy with all of his recent medical stuff, but he showed me that I'm silly and that he's ready to rock and roll. He was having a blast! And poor Luke... We just never clicked in our two classes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chances are....

I still can't get over how long of a dog Secret is. Please ignore the copious amounts of dog hair on the dog blankets. It would appear that my dogs will never all come together and decide to dump their hair at once. They think it is better to take turns so that our lives will always be fuzzy and filled with hair.

As I have no doubt mentioned several times now, Secret is running Open Chances at our trial on Saturday. To date, I believe we have worked specifically on "Chances Skills" exactly once. So... I figured that might be a good thing to do last night! Bethany & Rascal came over to play, and I set the following course that a fellow blogger posted -- It was the course they ran at Quad City Dog Center this past weekend (which we sadly could not attend).

I love how she included the lines for all three distance tests, giving us plenty to work with. The boys got to play, too, of course. Luke was awesome and pretty much could do no wrong. Kaiser was a bit put off by the heat and the distraction of Rascal -- He did the distance line but took the a-frame, then didn't really feel like going out to the hoops anymore. Ah well, he has perfect weaves at a distance, so I let him get away with it. He tends to be more willing to cooperate at trials and hates repetitive drilling. Northern breeds.... lol

My goal with Secret was, of course, to be successful at the Open line. Once we got over the distraction of me carrying the toy (?? hello, I always have it, dear!), Secret surprised me and sent out to the hoops in stupendous fashion. And then she took the a-frame. Okay, try again!

Never happy to be wrong and thus feeling the need to try something different, Secret skipped the furthest hoop, but she did get the tunnel and I kept going -- At which point she entered the first weave pole and then ran over to me (thus crossing the line). I may be guilty of not supporting the weaves since she pretty much always nails (and holds) her entries, but it still surprised me.

Her best run of this session occurred when I stuffed her ball down my shorts (that was lovely, trust me) to A) not distract her and B) make sure she will still run well without a toy as a "lure." She nailed it and I gave her a break while we worked with Rascal. When it was Secret's turn again she decided she didn't feel like working anymore and trotted off the start line and went around the jump.

It was hot, she saw Rascal getting food and she just wasn't giving a rip at that point. So I did something I haven't had to do for the longest time and put her back in the house while I worked with the other dogs. Someone was NOT happy and I heard her barking several times. Ah well, that's life!

I brought her out when everyone was done and ran her through again with the bars still set at 8" (we'd been doing 16" previously, so still not a huge effort). I also brought out her Jolly Ball for a change -- I got my happy & fast Secret back and she totally nailed it, easily with me handling from the Open line. We ended with a few reps across the dog walk and the a-frame.

Chances will be Secret's fourth & final class of the day on Saturday. We'll see what kind of mood she's in. Ultimately it all comes down to the course, I'm sure!