I'm a big fan of free will. I think that most people are reasonably intelligent and able to make decisions for themselves. I'm not a big fan of people or organizations that decide to make decisions for me when I'm fully capable of doing so for myself.
In case you missed it, NADAC has once again done something that irks me. They are taking away your CHOICE to jump your dog at their measured height once they reach eight years of age. And once your dog reaches the age of 11, you are going to be forced to enter the Skilled division and follow a different award path than you have for the dog's entire career. It has been announced that this will not take effect until January of 2014, but since Sharon seems to gung-ho on the idea and so many minions are pleased with the announcement, it would not surprise me to see this fast-tracked and implemented sooner.
To be clear, I'm a big fan of the Veteran division (which begins at age seven) and the Skilled division. Luke ran in Proficient Standard on 12/31 and as a Vet the very next day when he turned seven -- I was going to take that height break as soon as I could. That was my CHOICE, as I was aware of the fact that jumping 20" was not the easiest thing on his body and that he is just better off at 16". That said, I know a good number of older dogs with builds more suited to jumping that continue to jump their measured heights just fine. Many of these dogs are competing in multiple venues at higher heights, so I take issue with an organization that says, "You *must* do this now." I really do feel that it should be left up to the dog's owner to determine the comfort level of the dog and what they are capable of doing.
I made the choice to run Secret & Kaiser in the Skilled division, so I obviously don't have a problem with it -- but I do have a problem with forcing people to take that track if it's not something that interests them. Luke is two years away from being forced to take another height drop, but I can tell you that if I were to run him at 12" today the ring crew would be very busy after our runs. He plows through 8" and 12" bars as though they aren't even there. By the time he's eleven it may come to be that he is better off running as a Skilled Vet, but again, that should be MY DECISION.
I really do feel that the vast majority of people in NADAC are looking out for the best interests of their dogs. I also feel that if a person is jumping their dog too high, it generally doesn't take long for someone to have a friendly discussion with them about the benefits of taking a height break. Ultimately, my biggest issue is simply taking away the choices that competitors with "younger" dogs get to make on their own. Let ME decide what is best for my dogs.
I don't know what's up with NADAC these days, but all of these changes are starting to irritate me. BTW, five weeks until our next USDAA trial. :o)
Enough ranting, onto training. I believe I shall declare this the Year of Backyard Dogs. At some point or another I suppose I'm actually going to have to do some training with the contacts, but I really do enjoy these exercises for the simplicity of setting them up and the fact that they force/encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone and work on new things.
Because I am currently reading the February 2012 issue that I recently received with my order, that was the obvious choice for our drills last night. The exercises were described as, "back to the basics" type drills and the first several were pretty simple. I chose exercises 6, 7 & 10 because they offered the chance to work on threadles, push-throughs and a back-side jump. It wasn't until I got out there that I realized only one of my drills actually used the weave poles. Oh well. I spliced everything together again -- And again, just click the picture to blow it up to see numbers.
Everyone rocked the first drill, easy peasy. I did get in Secret's way once and caused a knocked bar at number four, but that was the extent of that (FYI, I edited these videos more than usual to keep the crap out for brevity).
I was surprised at how well everyone listened to my pull into the correct end of the tunnel on the second drill. Kaiser especially so, since he found this so difficult the last time we saw this. We all struggle with threadles, so that's something to work on this year. Secret was doing the oddest wrap/turn at jump five to start with. The article wanted the dog to wrap the jump to the left, but something I was doing was causing her to flip and turn right. A wrap is a wrap, but that was wrong -- I started to go a little deeper into the jump and she managed to work it out. The 8-9-10 sequence went better for all than I expected --- That was a tight little space for them to jump into me!
I knew getting the number two jump on the third sequence was going to be difficult for everyone, which is why I specifically chose that drill. We need to work on a lot more of this type of thing! This is where most of my video editing occurred, as all three dogs took the wrong side of #2 on several occasions. In the clips where you see me standing waaaaaay out to the side, it's most likely because we'd just had two or three poor attempts.
Here is Secret's video:
The boys have a video, too, this time! They are together because theirs is shorter. Kaiser was pretty much perfect and didn't have many takes and I didn't ask Luke to do much. Note, I moved Kaiser back to 8" because the last few times I jumped him at 12" he just wasn't very speedy. I was happy to see him more himself again.
I didn't include it on the videos, but I also did weave work with all three dogs -- specifically, working on rear crosses. It would be nice to have more confidence in these to be able to do them at trials when needed. The dogs tend to do really well with rear crosses into the weaves at home, but they all showed me that they did get pretty rusty on this skill. All did well letting me cross behind while slicing that jump on the bottom, but the very sharp rear cross from that jump above the weaves was difficult. Everyone ended super well, though, so that's fantastic! Something to keep working on, for sure.
Happy news to share! Missy has a potential adopter coming to meet her tomorrow, so I'd appreciate it if everyone could think good thoughts and cross your fingers and toes! She has been with me seven weeks now and she deserves to find a home of her own! This person is driving from three hours away, so I'm very hopeful that he will love her and decide to take her home. He saw some other puppies that came into rescue this weekend and is trying to decide, I guess. Come on, who wouldn't want the puppy that has all the hard work done for you? ;o)