Monday, September 24, 2012
Autumn is officially on us, but thankfully I was able to take advantage of another beautiful day that we have been blessed with -- This afternoon it was in the mid-70's, a welcome warmth after recent days with highs in the 50's and low 60's. I figured I couldn't NOT set up something for the dogs, and the open September issue of Clean Run laying on the table seemed like the most obvious choice.
Secret did great, when her handler wasn't a moron. There was even one point where I managed to almost get my finger bit off when I stuck it right in her mouth. Brilliant, I tell you. She got me with a back molar, so I'm lucky it wasn't worse than it was. I tried to get a picture but my camera phone wouldn't focus -- But I did get a good shot of it on video that I included at the end of her runs.
The purpose of these drills was to work the dog around a tunnel while keeping them in focus -- ie: Not tunnel sucking. Surprisingly, that turned out to not be a problem for any of them. This was most shocking for Kaiser, who, at one point, ran PAST the tunnel when I expected him to take it. lol Lesson learned, support your obstacles.
Secret had more dropped bars than typical (of course, "typical" is none), but every single one of them was my fault. In a way, though, it's nice to see her being more efficient over the jumps, too. So often she's over-jumping and getting way too much air.
Kaiser was a good little man, but that's pretty normal at home. ;o) He wasn't quite so zippy as I like to see him, but these drills required quite a bit of handling and he tends to be more careful in those cases. No knocked bars for the wee one tonight, which is nice, especially considering the jumps were set at 12". I'll be interested to see what he does at New Berlin next month for USDAA. I thought he jumped okay the last time we were there, but now I sit and stress about lighting for him... Showing outside made it obvious that his jumping issues are largely related to indoor lighting, but there isn't much we can do living and showing in the upper midwest.
Check it out, I made Luke his own video! Normally I just skip him on these drills or throw him in with Kaiser, but the old man kind of rocked tonight, so I thought he deserved his own video. :o) These exercises are not his cup of tea, but he did awesome. Maybe he's starting to get used to all the weird stuff I've thrown at him this year?
In addition to the beautiful evening, I suppose I'm also inspired by my jealousy of all the teams headed off to USDAA Cynosport this week and NADAC Champs next week. Sniff. I am stuck at home, without even a trial to attend until the middle of next month. There is a NADAC trial in Zumbro Falls -- one of my favorite trials -- but I can't go because I have to work. Sigh.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Her mind was a little blown and she just went into hoard mode. Kaiser did zoom off with a yellow duck and took it outside to avoid the wrath of Secret, but before I started this post she went out to get it and added it to her pile. And just to spite Kaiser, I'm sure, she decapitated his yellow duck first.
I figured I owed Secret some fun, since life is so crappy and dull for her lately. I mean, it can't be THAT bad -- We now play ball in the morning and frisbee at night, so that's more "fetching fun" than she used to experience. But I'm still gone 7 days a week for like 10 hours or more at a time, so that kind of sucks for the dogs. Okay, it sucks for me, too.
And now we don't even have a trial until the middle of October, so BOO on that. We haven't done any sort of agility work since our NADAC trial last weekend, though, so I shouldn't whine too much... OH, speaking of -- Super exciting, the results were uploaded to the NADAC web site already and Secret had a run index of 90.16 for her Jumpers run on Sunday! Wheee!!! It's her highest DRI ever!
Secret is making her own fun these days, another reason I figured it wouldn't hurt to throw a passel of toys at her. She continues to sporadically play tug with the landscape fabric under the rock. I've reached the point where I've given up and just cut it off and reorganize the rock when this happens. I tried once to "fix" it and decided this is an impossible task. In addition to the tugging fun, Secret is digging holes as fast as I can fill them these days. I'm almost looking forward to the ground freezing so that fun game stops at least.
This would be why we tell people with busy lifestyles that a border collie probably isn't their best choice for a house pet.....
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Today wrapped up a fun-filled weekend at Family Dog Center here in La Crosse! The courses this weekend weren't that bad. The Jumpers courses, as usual, were certainly the most fun/interesting to run. The Regular runs had their ups and downs, but the dogs had fun and that's surely what matters most. No matter what, I'll never be able to say that my dogs dislike NADAC courses. It's always good to have fun trial experiences!
Secret started out the morning with a WONDERFUL Jumpers run. She had the 2nd fastest time of all dogs in Elite (behind Flint, the world's most amazing Australian Shepherd) and clocked 5.9 yps. I do believe that's probably her best ever! There was one hitch when I over-handled a turn with a tight off course possibility, but after that it was smooth sailing with lots of pretty front crosses and a blind thrown in for fun. I love watching this run on video, she's really moving nicely!
The baby dog was the only one of my three to get Chances today. It wasn't nearly so easy as yesterday's course, but nor was it one of the hardest we've seen. Secret was a GOOD DOG and redirected perfectly after I called her too hard and pulled her past the jump. For real, she's now just FOUR Chances Q's from NATCH.
Secret saved my butt and ran clean despite my super crappy handling in the first round of Regular. There was this nasty hoop box that just called for an off course moment, so I was way over-handling. I also ran like a freak in the opening sequence because everything was all squished in one place and I didn't know where to put myself. lol Secret almost went off course to the weaves and then kind of lost trust in me for a bit after that. Thankfully I convinced her I wasn't a nutcase, until I almost shoved her off course again. ;o) Man, I'm glad she's becoming so forgiving of my mistakes.
Round two of Regular was much better, though, and Secret was a champ. She went Q/1st in that class, for a PERFECT DAY! Yay!! Good girl, Secret.
Jumpers was my fault for sure. I caused a knocked bar and then just did all sorts of stupid things because I tend to mentally quit at that point with Luke. I don't know why I do that with him more than the others, but I don't think he cares and at that point all I care is that he's having fun out there.
Chances was just kind of naughty. I called, perhaps a smidge late, Luke looked at me, looked at the tunnel, looked at me and took the tunnel. You darn dog. You're lucky I love you so much. :o)
I was trying to stay way lateral in Regular 1 because of the crowded landscape and apparently to Luke this meant, "jump off the side of the dog walk right above the yellow." We held it together nicely for Round 2, but my mistimed flailing arm totally caused the knocked bar.
I swear I didn't psych myself out today for Chances like I did yesterday. I don't even think I screwed up the run. I called him WAY early, but he could see that off course tunnel while he was in the other tunnel and I guess that's just what he wanted to do. He is a Klee Kai, after all. ;o) The course he made up was very pretty, even if it wasn't the right one. Several dogs actually took that route -- I joked that if that would have been the designed course, you know we would have had dogs sucking in to the jump left and right!
We still couldn't manage a Regular Q today. We got close, though! Apparently Kaiser didn't like my front cross following a jump after the weave poles and he took a detour to the dog walk. And he'd gotten his dog walk contact prior to that, so we should have been golden. Oh well. It wasn't the dog walk that got us on the 2nd round, either. Kaiser hit the a-frame wonky at the start and just didn't have quite the necessary "oomph" to pop into the yellow, so he got called there and then took the darn tunnel under the dog walk that he'd just taken as an off course option in the last round. Leave it to Kaiser!
We ended on a high note, though, with a lovely Hoopers run for a Q and his Open title (yay, I can fill in that spot on his record sheet and leave Open behind!). It wasn't his fastest run by a long shot, clocking 5.5 yps, but it was a nice steady run with a zippy and fun finish.
Family Dog Center randomly has agility equipment set off to the side at trials which is for sale. I saw the tire laying there yesterday and pondered it for a while. It's a small tire (I measured it today, it's 18") and I thought it would be good to have the dogs practice on a USDAA-sized tire. At the last trial Secret over jumped and plowed her head into the top of the tire. Hopefully practicing on a smaller tire (vs. the stretched out 24" one I have) will help the dogs to stay thoughtful about their tire performance. I have no plans of asking Luke to even attempt the small tire, though....
I think most people have a 20" tire by now, but this will do. And look how pretty it is! Mine is starting to look pretty beat up.
The only surprise I had was that my side lines apparently don't come off my other tire because the hanger hooks don't fit through the rings. Whoops. Well, there goes that idea. My tire also has the hanger hook attached to it that loops through the adjustable cord on top -- the new tire just has an open ring. Whoops again.
Carabiner hooks to the rescue! Thankfully I had several spares laying around. Five hooks and some parachute cord later and I have a functional (albeit not terribly "safe") hanging tire. Sweet.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Speaking of.... :o( Nope, the little man did not get his NATCH at today's trial, either. I totally psyched myself out. In Chances terms, it was an *easy* course that all three of my dogs should be able to do in their sleep. However, those are the courses you have to watch out for, as they seem to be the easiest to screw up. I had it in my head that Kaiser could easily screw up in two spots -- he could miss the turn away into the pinwheel and shoot off course towards the tunnel or he would come blasting out of the tunnel so fast that he'd run past the a-frame, as he has been known to do. He did both. Totally my fault.
Secret was a good girl today! She was running with good speed -- so good that I was totally late with a turn command out of a tunnel and she took an off course hoop. It would help if I would handle my dog, not just watch her, you think?
The second round of Regular went much better for a Q. Secret wasn't single stepping her weaves or anything today, but they were good trial speed for her!
I knew Secret could handle this Chances run no problem, and I was right. What a good girl. I do need to start being careful, though, because her contacts are getting sloppy.... That said, when I looked at my records tonight I see that the baby dog is now just FIVE Chances Q's from her NATCH! Holy cow, how did that happen?
Luke was a superstar today. It has felt like we just haven't "clicked" at the last several trials, but today we felt like a real team again. Luke had a perfect day, going four for four! Yay, old man! He's looking great at 12". There were no bonus line opportunities to tempt me and I shouldn't be trying them anyhow. Maybe some day we'll start to train for that again....
Aside from not getting Chances, Kaiser didn't get either Regular run, either. BUT, it was not for getting his dog walk called. ;o) Hey, I have to appreciate the little things here. He did have a lovely Jumpers run at the end of the day for his only Q, though. Hopefully we can improve on that tomorrow. And, fingers crossed, maybe I won't totally psych myself out over that darn Chances run.
And a super fun highlight of my day -- My friend, Colleen, let me run her baby dog, Jet. Jet just started trialing a few months ago and so far nobody else has tried to run him. Colleen didn't think he would run for me, but she was game to let me try. It was a giant thrill, as I've always wanted to try my hand at running a "really fast" dog. What a rush, he's an awesome dog!
Monday, September 10, 2012
I don't get completely skunked on a Chances course all that often. Usually I'll get lucky with at least one of the dogs, so the course at our most recent NADAC trial really threw me for a loop. As I mentioned in that post, all three dogs faulted in a different part of the course, so it was a deceptively difficult course. Namely because of the "box of doom."
Secret's first problem area was exactly where it was at the trial -- getting the furthest "out" jump before the 180 turn. As she did at the trial, I was able to redirect her over the jump, which left us no room to send to the tunnel. Even when I thought I was able to shape the turn better, it still was next to impossible to get the send to the tunnel -- even Kaiser, my tunnel sucker extraordinaire (to the point where he will jump in tunnels that I'm carrying!), struggled mightily with that part. Oh, and of course he also did exactly what he did at the trial and ran straight into the off course tunnel after the first turn.
I know Secret doesn't have 8 million repetitions in her and I could feel her shutting down every time we screwed up. I was frustrated with myself and then I got frustrated because Secret was giving up on me. At one point I just walked away and she stood and watched me (which I felt bad for doing, obviously). We tried once more after that and I decided to just run with her the whole way. Still, though, when we reached that evil box where she had been corrected too many times she just stopped. So I did, too. I put her away and worked the boys.
When I finished up with Luke, Secret acted like she still wanted to play, so I brought her out to try again. I switched toys from the rubber stick to a squeaky Wubba and she seemed a bit more jazzed. On the first go-round I didn't worry so much about the line and just ran with her to keep her happy. During our first session we'd never even made it to the weaves at the end of the course, so that was the main goal. :o)
She was much happier this time and I pushed for a bit more distance on each subsequent run. After a few tries we were hitting the Elite distance from the trial. I would hoot and holler every time Secret got the send to the tunnel, which really jazzed her up and made her weave fast. lol It also built up her confidence so that she was less hesitant through the box.
There is no doubt, this course really uncovered our weaknesses. This is one, even without a dog walk, that I don't know that I'd care to try again at a trial. It was just so demotivating for all of the dogs. Even Luke, though he got it fairly quickly tonight, just didn't seem to be a fan.
I got all three dogs on video, but only Secret's has been edited thus far. If I get around to the boys' video I'll add it later.
Monday, September 3, 2012
The whole business of setting up/tearing down wasn't that bad. The Alimagnet Dog Park where the NADAC trial was located this weekend was wonderful. Minnesota Mixed Breed Club used to hold their outdoor trials at a park in Savage, which was a nice park, but no matter how you looked at it the parking was horrible. I was able to park fairly close to my tenting area at the new park, so it wasn't that bad of a haul. I also minimized as much as possible, bringing only the soft x-pen for the boys and the soft crate for Secret -- all surrounded/contained by two metal x-pens so they could be loose when I was there. All told, I think I made equal (or fewer!) trips than I do for indoor trials and it was a closer set-up. On Sunday, at Washington County Fairgrounds, I set the tent up directly out the back of my car, so definitely no complaining there.
Saturday was a super long day. The alarm went off at 4 a.m. and even the dogs just looked at me like, "You're kidding, right?" They all enjoyed snoozing in the back of the car on the ride up while I tried to keep from having one of the panic attacks that seems to be plaguing me on long drives these days... Seriously, I don't know what the heck is going on, but all of my car problems this year have just built on top of each other and I'm convinced that my car is trying to kill me or something. Oh, since I last posted I had another car issue -- following the break-in, my car was dead the next morning. That was a fun day. A fun day with a 2012 Chevy Traverse loaner car. :o) So yeah, driving is giving me bad anxiety issues.... I'm thankful for the Xanax prescription I got last month from my doctor.
We got to the trial site in plenty of time on Saturday, giving the dogs time to potty and settle in. Elite Jumpers started the day. Kaiser was up first, running small to tall -- The little stinker shot off like a cannon over the first jump and then just ran off yonder with the ye-haws and eventually landed himself in an off course tunnel. I called him back to me, re-set him at the start (for an E) and then, of course, he ran a lovely & speedy course. Stinker. Luke slipped and completely took out the entire jump, but otherwise ran well. Secret was not terribly focused and dropped her head to check out the grass a time or two (several dogs were having big problems in that ring with smell issues), but she made it through the course clean -- and get this, somehow managed to get 1st in a fairly good-sized group (I counted at least 7). There must have been a lot of faults, because she only clocked 5.2 yps, which is slow even for her in Jumpers.
Chances was up next and it was Kaiser's big moment to shine! I was hopeful that he would get his NATCH at this trial because our favorite photographer, Amy, was shooting this weekend. She did Luke's first NATCH picture and I hoped to get one of hers for Kaiser, too. Sadly, it was not meant to be. I said, "out" and Kaiser went OUT -- way out to an off course tunnel that I hadn't even seen as an issue. Neither Luke nor Secret got it, either. It's a bad course to skunk all three of my dogs! They all faulted in different spots, which is interesting. Secret was doing well, but my poor handling landed me right against the line at a very bad spot. We actually got OUT of that little mess, but then I was still stuck at the line and we didn't have the momentum to send back out to a tunnel and she took the nearer jump option instead. Oh well.
The Elite Regular courses weren't much to write home about. Secret made it through them cleanly with no issues, which is more than I can say for the boys. The tunnel discriminations got Kaiser once (my crappy handling got him in the other). Luke also took one of the tunnels (that one was totally my fault, though) and in his second round I guess he knocked a bar that I didn't see and brought home one of those godforsaken 5 point Q's. I wish I could just say, "No thanks, I don't want it." I hate those things. The only quirk in Secret's performance was in Round 1 where I totally left her in the weaves and she decided that was rather unmotivating and almost completely stopped. I made sure to stick with her for the rest of the weekend....
The dogs were done at that point for the day, but I stuck around to work a few more classes since we were just going to be stuck at the hotel all night anyhow. We packed up and left around 4:30 or so, before they started running Tunnelers. We stayed at another La Quinta, but we will NOT be staying at the Bloomington location again if I can help it... There was nothing wrong with the facility itself, but it is just not set up well for dogs. There was hardly any grass to speak of and the parking/exit door situation is just crazy. It was like a maze! I know there were a few other LQ's in that area, so we'll keep that in mind for next time.
Kaiser!! What a little turd. lol Let's point out the good stuff -- he was running awesome and jumping just like he does at home. This leads me to believe that a very large portion of his jumping issues ARE related to eyesight and lighting issues. He was just spunky and full of himself, which meant he was a bit of a loon. He would have Q'd easily IF he would have gotten EITHER of his dog walk contacts.... His two sets of weaves and the bonus tire he threw in only netted him 14 points, though, and I think he needed 18 in the opening. Of course, for once he even managed to stop on the teeter in the gamble. Figures.
Secret's P2 Standard run started out with a bobble right away, but that was all my fault. She was actually jumping in extension down the opening line and I failed to properly cue the slight turn to the a-frame, causing a run-out. In Advanced, refusals are only counted on, you got it, contact obstacles. From there it was a lovely run, until the second obstacle from the end. Do you remember how she got on the dog walk in Chicago and jumped off before she hit the top? Yup, she did it again. What the heck? She didn't have ANY dog walk issues at the NADAC trial on Saturday. This tells me that we MUST plan a Gamblers course that includes the dog walk at our next trial....
Kaiser, Kaiser, Kaiser... With his new-found confidence he was off like a rocket at the start, which put me behind him at the a-frame (which I was approaching hesitantly due to his habit of running around the first one at USDAA trials). He sailed right up and over that baby -- and launched over the contact. Sigh. The rest of his run was GREAT, including a fabulous teeter AND a stop on the dog walk.
Pairs was up next -- Secret was entered; Kaiser was not. For the first time ever, Secret actually had a Pairs partner and wasn't a draw! I cannot, therefore, tell you how sorry I was for the person in our group who was a draw. Nobody would volunteer to run with her, and there were at least six, possibly eight, people who could have stepped forward. I apologized and said that I didn't feel Secret WOULD run twice in a row, plus she would then be required to do the dog walk and the odds weren't looking so hot. As it was, my partner ended up volunteering and ran with her. We had a great partner with a young Terv. It worked out perfectly, as she was hoping to get the first part with fewer jumps and I was glad to avoid the dog walk after what happened in Standard. Our partner knocked one bar, but we were still a good 10 seconds under time for 1st place. Secret had her fastest weaves of the weekend in that run -- of course, because I was holding "a toy." I was proud of her for holding her stay while I got the baton from our partner (who was not sure what her dog would do out there and was happy to learn that I could have Secret stay well out of the way).
I planned a very conservative Snooker run for Secret. The 7 was a set of six weaves and a jump and I just didn't feel like throwing it at her. It was hot, she was melting and I just wanted to get enough points to Q. That said, we did go for all four reds because it worked out that way. We did 1-2, 1-6, 1-4, 1-3 and then the buzzer sounded as we were going over the last 7 jump, so we got credit through six. And that's fine, I think I had it figured out that we needed to get through six and we did!
Kaiser's weaves are his strong point and I couldn't find a different plan that I felt I could prevent him from taking an off course jump, so I went for all sevens with him. P1 only had the option of three reds, so with him I went 1-7 (7 was still the same combination), 1-7, 1-7 and we got through six before the buzzer sounded. With his plan we only needed to get through five to Q. We impressed the judge, though -- Aside from being the only pair to attempt three 7's in P1/Starters, Kaiser had a little turd moment and shot past the weaves on the first approach. BUT, and I wish I had it on video, he took the weaves from the opposite direction on his recall to me, so I was able to continue on with the plan. lol I heard a few murmurs when he did that -- Heck, I was surprised, too, as I stood and watched him weave towards me! I just laughed and ran with it.
Our day ended with Jumpers. It was a very nice course for both dogs. Secret was getting pretty blah in the heat, so I spent a good 10 minutes rubbing down her belly with ice cubes prior to her run and I think it helped. She also spent some time that afternoon wearing Luke's (much too large for her) Cool Coat that I soaked in ice water from the cooler. She put in a lovely and smooth run for a Q/1st and her P2 Jumpers title!! That means on to P3 for the baby dog!!! I can't wait to attack those Masters courses.
With his lovely outdoor jumping, Kaiser had no issues and sailed through his P1 course -- also earning Q/1st and his very first USDAA title! Doesn't that work out just grand? Secret moves out of P2 and Kaiser moves in. :o) Works for me.
We were all ever so thankful to have a lazy day off at home today. Yay for Labor Day! And we are enjoying the treat we came home to -- my parents came on Saturday and laid down the pea gravel in the dog yard! The dogs were super interested in it when we arrived home. I don't know that anyone has "used" it yet, but they'll get their chance tomorrow.
The best news of all is that I only have one more week/weekend of work and then we get to play again! We have NADAC in La Crosse in two weeks and hopefully with TWO shots at it, Kaiser will get that final Chances run for his NATCH....
For Kaiser's sake, I am going to keep my options open and add more outdoor trials to our calendar. Unfortunately for him, we appear to be out of opportunities until next spring. The lighting at Think Pawsitive in New Berlin seems to be fairly good for him, though, so we'll see how it goes in October. I'm happy to have somewhat of an "answer" on his jumping issues. But mostly I was just so happy to see how much fun he was having without the stress of his vision issues.