Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just us girls - And Secret was AWESOME!

Due to something that came up on Saturday (more in a bit), the decision of "do I take Secret alone to the USDAA trial on Monday" or "do I bring the boys along for moral support" was made for me. Secret and I were heading out solo for our first time participating in Team/Performance Versatility Pairs and I had NO IDEA what to expect.

Mind you, the last time we even attempted this was last June when she more or less had a mental breakdown on me. It was a USDAA trial over at Think Pawsitive (so same as this day) and my father was along for the ride. I guess I'll never know if she was wiggy because of that or if it was the unfamiliar experience of being by herself that made her come unglued and act completely stressed. For a dog that came into the house as #3, Secret doesn't tend to get a whole lot of alone time (and she prefers it that way).

But looky-looky! I don't think Secret minded being alone on this day! The baby dog blew away her competition to handily bring home the (somewhat fake but still an honor) "title" of Top Scoring 22" Performance dog for the entire day! As you can see, she even ended up third highest Performance dog, which I think is pretty darn awesome. And if I might brag here (haha), she even managed to score higher than a dog that recently won at AKC Nationals.  ;o)  I am terribly proud of Secret!

The reason I ended up taking Secret by herself is because my Vue ended up in the shop all weekend. I took it in for an oil change on Saturday so that everything would be all set for our trip across the state on Monday. I mentioned off-hand that it had been running louder at higher speeds and asked if they wouldn't mind looking into that. Well, $700 later... Turns out I had a bad bearing (perhaps two, as I'm taking it back in tomorrow because I think there is still something off).

Because this was discovered at the end of the day on Saturday and they didn't have enough time to get that sucker popped out and replaced, they were kind enough to send me home with this Chrysler Town & Country. Typically they do NOT allow pets in their vehicles for any reason, but they were super awesome and knew that I had a show I needed to get to. While it would have been lovely to pack this thing to the gills and really test it out with all three dogs, I figured I'd at least do right by them and try to avoid as much dog hair as possible by just bringing Secret.

I LOVED IT. Maybe I won't end up with a Town & Country (they seem to be one of the more expensive mini vans out there), but it sure did seal the deal that I need to get one of these things sooner rather than later. It would just make life with the dogs so much easier.

I hoped that starting off in a new vehicle wouldn't be enough to set Secret off from the start. She was a little whiny when we first left (not until 6 a.m., mind you -- how awesome was it to "sleep in" before driving over to New Berlin?), but she quickly settled in and slept the whole way.

I was actually the third person at Think Pawsitive that morning -- I guess after showing Saturday and Sunday most people didn't feel like getting there any earlier than they had to. Normally we crate in the back room by the grooming business because it's quieter and out of the way, but there were no crates in there at all and I wasn't sure if I should even go in there. The main crating area was almost empty, though, so it appeared we would be able to set up out of the way in a quiet area. It worked out well for us and Secret only barked when someone brought a dog through to go play in their pool -- and that's only because every dog in the place got set off when that dog came through. I wonder what it is about some dogs...

At any rate, Secret started off clingy and weird. I ignored her when she groveled. We spent quite a bit of time wandering around outside since we had so much time to kill and Secret seemed to start settling in.

Our PVP partners, Scott & Ricochet, showed up not terribly long after we did. It was also their first day of showing for the weekend so they were fresh and ready to go.

Our day started with Jumpers and it was a fun course that didn't throw anything too out of the ordinary at us. I wasn't sure what dog I was going to have with me, but Secret surprised me and she was happy and ready to go when I took her out of her crate for this run.

I managed to avoid doing any sort of lead-out the entire day, which I think Secret prefers. I started this Jumpers course on the right and pulled Secret around in a post-turn before sending to the tunnel. The majority of teams opted for a front cross, but Secret is always faster when I stay to the "inside turn" of a tunnel.

She came barreling out, which surprised the heck out of me because she has a history of hating the tunnels at TP. I did a blind cross between 6-7 and again between 10-11 after sending her over the broad jump. Secret's weaves were very nice in this run, as they tend to be for the first set of the day. I ran her a couple of steps out of the weaves before doing a front cross to turn to jump 15 and then ran for home.

It was SUCH a nice run. The whole thing felt just fabulous and Secret was really moving out nicely. Definitely wish I would have gotten it on video, but my partner and I were back-to-back the entire weekend and unfortunately had no way to tape each other (he's a video addict as well, so at least I know I have someone I can go to if we run into each other at other trials!).

I have a lot to learn about how Team events are scored. In a run that felt like this Secret would typically be at least 10 seconds under SCT for P3 Jumpers. Her run was just over 30 seconds, so imagine my surprise when I saw that the cut-off for a Q was just over 31 seconds. It was humbling to "barely squeak by" on a run that felt that awesome. Secret got 2nd place in the class, but the fastest 22" dog had a time of just over 26 seconds. That was my first lesson in how one dog can "screw over" the rest of the class. lol

Our partner unfortunately E'd just after the weaves. We're pretty sure Ricochet didn't even see jump 15 and she took the next one instead -- several dogs did the same. Oh well, it's just one run!

Snooker was up next. Again with the "different rules for Team day" -- We were actually required to take all four reds, which IMO made it a bit more challenging to come up with a workable plan for a dog like Secret.

I started with the top red, took the four jump, then the red in the middle/bottom, then the seven combo followed by the upper red. At this point the plan was to take the seven combo again, but Secret decided the tunnel would be more fun. Thank goodness that was the six combo!  :o)  Oh, back-track... Secret ran past the a-frame the first time, so we wasted some time pulling back around to do that without taking anything else in our path.

After the unplanned six we ran through the two jumps and over to take the lower red. Here I planned to call Secret to the left/lower side of four on the way up to start the close, but I apparently pushed her to take the right/top side. CRAP. I opted to wrap her into me to avoid the off course three and then sent to start the close with a rear cross at two.

From there I got to breath again. :o)  Everyone thought that the 6b to 7a sequence was rather interesting (myself included). For some reason it never even occurred to me to get into place for a front cross after the tunnel (I totally could have). Instead I got all fancy and flipped Secret to the outside and brought her back around for a nice figure-eight. It was quite lovely. The buzzer sounded when Secret hit the a-frame, so we managed to get through six in the close. Had we not wasted time on either the a-frame blunder or the wrong turn at 4 we would have gotten all the way. Oh well, Secret ended up with 45 points and won the class! She was in first place after two rounds and she never lost it after that.

Our partner, unfortunately, had a 1-point round. Ricochet must have knocked the bar on the five jump before diving into the tunnel for a whistle. Oh well. I think we were 7th of 8 at that point?

Gamblers was our third run of the day. Things were moving along nicely, as there were 8 PVP teams and about the same number of DAM teams.

Again with the different rules -- You had the opening period to accumulate points. The seven-point obstacle was the dog walk, but ONLY if done from behind the line. If you did the dog walk but crossed over the line it was worth 0 points. Once the buzzer sounded you had 16 seconds (for us, at least) to accumulate double points. If you didn't make it over the finish jump before the second buzzer sounded you lost all of your gamble bonus, but kept your opening points.

I started at the tunnel, running past the finish jump with Secret (it wasn't live, but the judge didn't want us to use it in the opening). I sent her across the dog walk and she wasn't super speedy, so that confirmed that we would NOT be trying for more than one of those in the closing. When she came back over the jump at me I sent her right back over for another 7, then sent through the tunnel and hauled butt to the a-frame.

My very unscientific calculations (ie: gut feeling) had figured the buzzer would go off after I had done tunnel-tunnel and somewhere around being back on the a-frame again. Thanks to that first slow dog walk, though, the buzzer sounded pretty much right as Secret came out of the tunnel the first time. Oh crap. That was a long way to go in 16 seconds with a dog walk in there... My mind raced as I tried to think of how to get to the finish line faster. I look at the map now and see -- oh, duh, do the a-frame and two jumps on the way to the finish. It didn't occur to me then, though, so I just kept on with the original plan.

I sent Secret back into the tunnel and took off. I totally didn't care what she did on the a-frame, but she's not really one for leaping contacts so we got that. I really pushed her over the dog walk and released as soon as she got a toenail in the yellow. Thank GOD she came driving out of the tunnel and I scooped her up and got her over the finish jump -- and NO BUZZER. Holy crap, I couldn't believe it. Turns out we had a whopping 0.78 seconds to spare there. lol

Secret had a SEVENTY-TWO POINT Gamblers run! Remember what I said about one dog screwing up the whole spread? Yup, it was Secret. She was the only 22" dog to Q in that run, as the second-place dog had something in the 40's or low 50's.

Our partner was literally 0.2 seconds over time, so they didn't get the bonus points. Bummer. Good thing Ricochet is screaming fast and got over 30 points in the opening, though!

Secret got a little longer break while they ran Grand Prix (I didn't enter her because there was no way she'd last through six classes). Next up for us was Standard and the only thing that worried me about this course was that it started with the chute. Argh. Secret hates the USDAA chute. She'd really seemed to like the AKC chute last weekend so I was hoping maybe she'd think it was fun at first, but that was a no-go. She more or less came out of it walking, just as I'd feared.

Secret was definitely starting to drag on this course. When she hit the weaves she darn near completely stalled out on me -- not helped at all by the fact that we had a sharp left turn to make after the weaves, so I didn't want to get ahead of her.

Long story short, Secret finished this run clean, but it took her 50 seconds to do so. Again, she likely would have (barely) made time in P3, but thanks to the 1st place dog having a screaming fast time of 36 seconds, we were about 9 seconds outside the range of a Q. Oh well, the clean run padded our lead a bit more.

Ricochet struggled a bit on this course with a few bars and refusals, but she DID NOT E. Hooray! Good girl, Ricochet!  :o)

Going into the final round, our team (Target Practice) was one spot out of Q range. We crossed our fingers that other PVP teams would crash and burn, and hoped for the best.  ;o)  Honestly, though, this wasn't really a tricky Relay course at all and that just didn't happen.

After Standard, it was pretty obvious that Secret didn't want to do any more weaves the rest of the day. We took the top half of the course, which was a double blessing since the second half also had a chute.

While waiting for our turn Secret fell IN LOVE with an 8-month-old Aussie that someone had brought for socialization. Absolutely in love, I tell you. She was pouncing and playing and just being a general lunatic, so I let her be stupid with him pretty much until right before we went into the ring. The end result was that she was as high as a kite and she flew through our half -- granted, it was pretty much all jumps, so that also makes for Happy Secret (we like teeters now, too!).

I squeezed in a quick blind between the tire and the tunnel then handled the last serpentine of jumps from the bottom/right so that I'd be in a good position for the hand-off. The judge had deemed this to be a "reverse relay," which meant that the person running did NOT have the baton and would have to take it from their partner before the partner could begin the next part of the course. I was super bummed about this at first because Secret always thinks the baton is a toy and runs faster -- but it worked out and we had probably the best hand-off of the day.

I think Ricochet had a bar and a couple of refusals. Our time was good, but the refusals put us down in the pack a bit. Oh well, we figured that was it for us.

Imagine our surprise, then, when results were posted and we were ABOVE the Q-line! As a matter of fact, all eight PVP teams got a Q! Apparently that doesn't happen often, but all of our scores were within a percentage of the top team, so we all Q'd. Hooray! So in addition to being the top scoring 22" dog, Secret also got her very first PVP Q!

I thought the whole day was loads of fun. The whole trial just seemed to have a different feel/atmosphere than a normal trial day and it was wonderful to have a partner to bounce things off of (especially in New Berlin, where I still don't really "know" a lot of people). I couldn't have asked for a nicer teammate, either, which was super wonderful.

We can't wait to play in Team again! Unfortunately it doesn't look like we'll even have the chance until Labor Day weekend, which will be our first chance to play USDAA for several months. I'll have to decide if I would rather get a Team/Tournament Q or if I think continuing to work towards PDCH is more important I guess.

This Saturday is our last USDAA opportunity until then. It is outdoors at Lake Elmo, MN and currently there is rain/thunderstorms in the forecast. It seems to decrease every day, though, so fingers crossed! Secret is entered in five runs -- Gamblers, Snooker, Pairs Relay, Standard and Grand Prix. I kept her out of Jumpers since she finished her PJM title and I knew she wouldn't have a sixth run in her anyhow. Luke gets to play in Jumpers again, though, along with Standard and Gamblers. Kaiser gets to come along for the ride (no worries, he has NADAC coming up two weeks after that).

And finally, I got into the AKC trial in Burnsville, MN at the end of June! They ended up not having to do the random draw after all, so everyone who got their entries in by draw date got in. Sweet!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Switching Gears

Time to switch gears. While we fully enjoyed our happy little trip back to the land of Novice this past weekend, now it's time to start looking forward to this weekend! On Monday Secret and I are heading over to New Berlin to play in Performance Versatility Pairs (PVP/Team) for the first time.

Yes, we've been competing in USDAA for over a year and we have never played in Team. I figured it was one of those things that seemed better put off until Secret was running more confidently in the new organization. She started off fairly rocky with the teeter hesitation and other things, so in the back of my mind I kind of decided to put off entering Team until she had moved her way up to P3 and proven that she is more comfortable with things.

Well, that time is now!

I'm looking forward to it! We found ourselves a partner through a great Facebook group that lets people post that they are looking for teammates. Our other half is a lightning fast (and a little crazy, lol) Golden Retriever named Ricochet. We've seen Ricochet at trials at Think Pawsitive -- Kaiser was even teamed up with her for Pairs once, but the dog was being ran by someone other than her owner. Scott kindly agreed to team up with Secret and together they are "Target Practice."

My only real hesitation about Team is that it's five runs in a day -- I just don't want Secret to be completely flat/done by the time Relay roles around... I also need to decide over the next several days if I'm going to risk traveling alone with Secret or if I'll schlep the boys alone for moral support. I really feel like I need to test the waters with solo travel one of these days, but I don't know if potentially sacrificing our team is the way to go... I suppose I can feel better knowing that our teammate has gotten two PVP Q's since agreeing to run with us.  ;o)

I had hoped to get in some motivational agility practice tonight, but I caved and mowed my lawn. I have not done any agility since the last time I mowed -- which was just this past THURSDAY -- and I hate it when I have to move the agility equipment around without having even used it. I sucked it up and was an adult, though. We wanted to play, but there is a chance of rain the next couple of days and honestly the lawn just couldn't wait any longer.

The dogs don't care. They love it when I mow because it's a traveling salad bar for them. Kaiser might be a little bummed because I knocked down the majority of his dandelions. Seriously, I think the little guy ate his weight in the things last night... No worries, I'm sure they'll come back!

By the way, I'm very grateful to the person from Coulee Kennel Club who snapped the top picture of Secret at the trial this weekend -- and then put it on their Facebook page! That picture is the end of her Jumpers run on Sunday -- which was by far her slowest run of the weekend. Considering that, I think she looks pretty good!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

27 more QQ to go!

Day two of our AKC trial debut was just as successful as the first! Secret brought home another QQ today, which means hopefully we can keep moving our way up quickly and get to the fun courses! I have to say, I really did like the Excellent courses this weekend. The AKC style is slightly different than USDAA, but I think in a way that appeals more to Secret. The spacing is a little tighter, but seeing as Secret isn't really one to extend out and have a huge stride, it fits her well.

We could have slept in today, but I opted to go in at 8:00 to help work the Excellent class. I'm curious to see how other AKC trials work, because the number of people who volunteered at this one was PATHETIC. The trial was run by the Coulee Kennel Club and they were almost entirely reliant upon their meager member attendance (most of whom weren't even running in the trial) to fill positions. Getting any of the actual trial participants to step in to set bars or whatever else was needed was like pulling teeth. I guess now I understand some of the threads I've seen on various agility lists. I've just never ran into that at NADAC or USDAA.

The day started with JWW, which means that Secret didn't have to wait quite as long for her first run since that runs faster than Standard. She definitely was not overly peppy going into this run. The reason for this became apparent a short while later when we were walking outside and she had a bad case of diarrhea. Sorry girl, I guess a person can feed too many Charlie Bear treats... (Something new I'm trying mostly because of Kaiser)

We got through the course without any faults (thank god, because it was as straight forward as they come), but I got a little too far ahead of Secret on the opening line and she really slowed down on me. She finished well, though, and she definitely jumps nicer when she is moving with more energy.

We waited forever for Standard (the Masters dogs were having a boatload of problems today...), but Secret was much peppier when she came out of the crate before that run! This course went jump, jump, teeter -- and again I'm very happy with her teeter performance! I feel we mutually screwed up the tunnel entrance a few obstacles later -- I darn near just continued on to the dog walk without fixing the tunnel, but thank god I've spent so much time reading the rules because in the back of my mind it flickered, "Hey idiot, you can still qualify with an off course in Novice Standard!" Of course, then she promptly refused the table. I can't say I blame her; Secret was probably reading my hesitation because the thing looked lopsided when we were walking... I did get her on it after she barked at me for what seemed like forever, but thankfully she stayed planted in one spot and only incurred one refusal.  ;o) She sailed through the rest of the course as I held my breath and prayed for no more faults. We finished on a 90 and got a Q!

I enjoyed our first weekend of AKC agility. In general I still think the people are kind of nuts, but thankfully I'm not really bothered by that sort of thing. I worked the gate for every Masters class and really got an up-close experience with these people. I'll be happy to be a voice of reason among the insane. lol

Since things went so well, I suppose we ought to keep it up, eh? I have to get our next entry in the mail TOMORROW to make it in time for the draw date, so that's on my agenda for this evening. We'll just head up to Minneapolis for a day at the end of June and try to make some progress on getting Kaiser's height card. That is, assuming we can get in. Fingers crossed that we'll get lucky!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

AKC Debut!

I would call today a success! Today we attended our very first AKC trial. It's always a different experience going back to the world of Novice. All of those poor, scared and inexperienced handlers and their green dogs... lol Then there's me, who's all like, "Wahoo, gotta love these short, fun and motivating courses!"  ;o)

Because we don't have any height cards yet, that meant that we had to get to the trial first thing to get measured. I knew Kaiser had to get measured, but I was surprised to find out that Secret had to be tortured measured as well. I thought the way I'd read the rules was that she, being over 22", wouldn't have to be measured unless a VMO was present to get the measurement she needs for her permanent card. Apparently this is not the case, however, and the judge said he would have to get a measurement to confirm that she was over 22". This seems silly, but whatever. Secret has never been measured in her agility career and found the whole experience rather traumatic, but we survived and duh, she's over 22". She was somewhere under 24", but our judge (Rod Ramsell) opted not to push her any further since it was pretty obvious she was not going to measure into the 20" class.

Obviously I was far more concerned about Kaiser's measurement. He was a good boy for his measurement and we did get the declaration of 14" that we needed for our runs in 8" Preferred to count today. The judge asked what I had him entered in and I think when you say you are already entered in Preferred they may tend to be slightly more forgiving. He did pretty much state that Kaiser is RIGHT at 14", though. Honest to god, we have no wiggle room at all. Of course now that I got his measurement for the weekend I wish he was entered both days, but oh well. Some day we'll get that silly height card and will be able to relax.

It was probably 11:30 before our first class. The day started with Standard and small dogs were up first. Kaiser was the third dog in the class and there were only seven dogs between him and Secret -- but it ended up being more than enough time...

Kaiser was a super good boy! He had a lovely dog walk and he didn't appear to even think about pulling a "Superman" off the teeter. He did, however, run past the table. Holy cow, the AKC table is wee! I don't really blame Kaiser for running past it; I don't think we've ever seen one so low before. We actually got called on a refusal and a run-out at the table because he jumped on it from the backside (whoops, I forget the rules), but you can still qualify with that in Novice -- Yay!

From there it was smooth sailing -- well, with the exception of the super exciting a-frame maneuver. Kaiser didn't think he needed to put any strides in on the downside of the a-frame, so he just flew over the top and bounced through the yellow. Eek! I'm not sure what that was all about. That happened to us a few times on the higher USDAA frame, but AKC now has a 5' a-frame for the 8" dogs, so it shouldn't have been a different pitch than the NADAC frame. Perhaps he saw slats, thought, "higher!" and stepped on the gas. Oh well, we gave the crowd a show. Kaiser got a Q and had the second fastest time of the class -- he was 0.5 seconds behind Secret!

Yup, Secret had the fastest time of the class. Go figure, right?! She was a rock star today and seemed to be enjoying herself. I don't think Secret minds sitting in the crate for four hours before her run at all! Nor does she care about spending another four hours in there before she runs again! lol

I left the course maps at the trial today so I don't have pictures to share, but Standard started with the chute. This was Secret's first experience with the short AKC chute. Considering she's not a huge fan of the heavy/long USDAA chute, I think she was happily surprised to find the end of this one so quickly, which was probably the reason why she picked up speed nicely for me at that point. Secret NAILED the teeter today -- I was so proud of her; it was probably one of her most confident teeters to date! Then she hopped on the table with no hesitation (first time on a table that tall) and landed in a down. GOOD GIRL! There was just so much to love about this run and I'm thrilled that she was so happy.

We didn't have any problem with the height, either, I'm happy to report! Secret handled the 24" jumps (including the double -- we didn't have a triple today) with no problem. I was sitting next to the judge during a walk-through at the end of the day and he made a point to tell me how nice her jumping style was over 24" and that he thought she was a lovely dog. That was very nice of him to say, especially since he didn't know any of our history or how much I went back and forth over which height to enter. We'll keep up with 24", I guess, and if Secret decides it sucks we can always move down.

The JWW course was pretty straightforward and fun. Kaiser was, well, Kaiser.  ;o)  I have no idea what happened, but he slipped around and took the backside of a jump, earning us a refusal (allowed in Novice) and a wrong course (not allowed in JWW). Stinker. No QQ for the wee man today, but it was so fun getting to run him at 8" in something other than NADAC. I think we'll actually have a lot of fun in AKC. We introduced a lot of people to the Klee Kai breed today, that's for sure...

Secret had another nice run! We did get a refusal when she pulled up short in front of a jump, but with that being our only fault of the run we still managed a Q and yet again the fastest time in the class! The refusal came because the start of the course didn't allow for much running and I was starting to come up short for a turn, so she read my lack of motion and stopped. Yes, well, that's an issue we know we have to work on... After that it was wide open and smooth sailing, though, and Secret finished up the course beautifully.

The world of AKC agility is something else, though, I tell you. Not only are the personalities of those participating just vastly different from what I'm used to, but the handling was also surprisingly different than I see even at USDAA trials around here. I have never seen so many blind crosses in my life! But hey, I guess that means these are my people and we'll fit in well. lol I also don't think I've ever seen so many people screaming and pleading with their dogs on course. Good heavens, I think a lot of those people would have more success if they'd just keep their mouths shut so that their dogs wouldn't be so distracted... Settle down folks, settle down. I was also surprised at the amount of "reactive handling" I saw, but I suppose that kind of goes hand in hand with the screaming.

We go back for more fun tomorrow! I debated taking Secret by herself and leaving the boys at home, but our friend Erika is there and Luke likes to hang out with her, so I figure they can come along. It will be a long, boring day for them, though. Hoping for another fun day for Secret!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


It was 90 degrees on Tuesday (I think the high was actually 92, but I digress), so it seemed like the perfect day to take the dogs swimming for the first time this year!

It was actually thundering a little and raining when we left home, but I figured that would just help to chase everyone away from our swimming spot for a while. It was fine when we got to the park and lucky us, we did get our little beach all to ourselves for almost the entire time. A couple of teenage boys wandered in after we'd been there nearly a half hour, so I figured we could let them have it.

The dogs loved it! Well, Kaiser didn't love it because his flexi broke and he had to stay on a six foot leash... But the swimming dogs loved it!  :o)  The water was pretty high and the current fairly fast, so I tried to be careful of that when I threw the toys -- but Secret's bumper still ended up wedged in a tree a few times. Sorry, Secret...

Because the water was so high I decided against seeing if Secret still liked the jumping spot. Maybe next time.

Last night I set up the drill posted on Clean Run's Exercise of the Month for May. It wasn't exactly the most motivating set-up for Secret and we were kind of "meh" last night. I say "we" because I just don't think I was giving it my all, either. This probably was not the best final practice to have before a trial weekend....

My first mistake (?) was deciding that Secret was going to work for her Woolie Dog tug rope. I don't know why, but she's just not feeling that thing this year. I got her tugging with me, but as you can see in the video she wasn't terribly jazzed about it. I used her busted up frisbee for her second round and you can see a noticeable difference. I figure the first round is more similar to the energy I get from her in a trial, though. The key is to figure out how to up that...

I actually brought Secret out for a third go on another drill. The bars were still down at 8" from Kaiser & Luke's last turn, but it didn't help. She was just done, even with her Jolly Ball. Yes, it was warm -- around 80 or a bit over -- but I was a little less than thrilled. I put her back in the house for a bit while I brought the boys out to play, then brought Secret back out and just had her run through the tunnel and after her ball to end on a good note.

The boys were awesome. I was struggling a little with Kaiser getting the correct tunnel entry on the second drill, but video doesn't lie and it was all my fault. That right there is why I make these things -- Without video I'd be oblivious to all the ways I screw things up.  :o)

Our first AKC trial is this weekend! I'm looking forward to seeing how things go. Mostly I'm just nervous about getting Kaiser measured. And if I understand it, this measurement might not even count for anything if one of their "certified" measuring people aren't in attendance? I've read the rules about 800 times now and it sure sounds like measurements by the judge don't count for the height card unless they are one of the few certified measuring people. I'm sorry, but that's crap. The good news is that they should have those people at the trials in the Cities -- but I think we're out of luck for this weekend. Oh well.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I survived!

Look what we did today! This morning I dug out the old roller blades (and when I say old, I mean OLD -- I've had these things since.... ummm... I'm pretty sure I bought them in high school). I bought good ones, though, and they are standing the test of time. Back in the day they got used quite a bit, but obviously they've just been collecting dust the last several years.

Largely the reason for that was because of my gravel driveway. It terrified me to try to go up and down that thing, and jumping the curb to walk up and down the grass yard wasn't my cup of tea, either. So, now that the driveway is fully paved I figured I didn't have much excuse to keep the old blades in storage.

I put them on in the garage and rolled around for a bit to get my feet under me again. Whoa, it's been a while.

Secret was TERRIFIED of them. She was scared of them before I even put them on my feet! Once I put them on and started moving around, though, it was just too much for her. I couldn't even get Secret to stay out by us; she retreated into the house to hide and wouldn't come out so long as I had those silly contraptions on my feet.

Oh well, her loss. I figured I'd start with the boys anyhow, since I assumed them to be more "trustworthy" on my tottering feet. The boys have been out on the blades several times and neither has ever had a problem with them. I elected to take everyone out separately so that each could go at a comfortable pace for them and because I figured it would be good for ME to spend more time out and about.

Luke went first. I always put him on the pinch for stuff like this because I don't want him pulling me around on wheels. He was, no surprise, a perfect angel. I let him run for a short stretch, but otherwise kept him checked back to a nice ground-covering trot.

Just like riding a bike, the whole roller blading thing came back to me pretty quickly. Lord knows I couldn't do any of the "fancy" stuff that I did years ago, but at least I can move forward, go around corners and stop. lol

Kaiser went out second and got to wear his harness. I used to run him on a pinch because I didn't want him pulling on his neck, but he has the harness now and I don't really care what he does in that. I didn't make him pull me or anything, no worries.  ;o)  Part of the reason I wanted to take each dog separately was so that nobody was pushed out of their comfortable pace -- Namely, I was concerned that Kaiser would have to run too much to keep up with the big dogs.

Well, Kaiser wanted to GO. The loop we were doing was roughly 15 minutes per dog, but Kaiser was probably one of the faster trips! Every time I tried to check him back and get him to ease up he just kept moving forward to run again. I guess that's the husky ancestry at play!

Finally it was Secret's turn. On each trip back I was passing the dogs off through the garage into the back yard and she was waiting back there when I brought Kaiser in for the swap. She saw that I still had the scary wheely things on my feet, though, and whined before going back in the house.

I grabbed her harness from where it was waiting in the garage and went back out by the deck steps to call her back out. I managed to get the harness over her head while she stood on the deck and then somehow got it snapped under her while she was still coming nowhere near my feet.

The flexi was already attached to the harness, so I just let her go where she needed to go to feel comfortable at this point. Once I got to the front garage door, though, she figured out that I was heading outside, scary wheely feet and all.

We got through the door and then it occurred to me that I had no idea how to get down the driveway without killing myself. I was almost certain that if I just started rolling down and hitting my break (like I had with the other two dogs) that Secret would bolt on me. I just had her in her harness and would have had ZERO control at that point. I had debated putting Luke's pinch on Secret as a backup to the harness, but she's never had on on before and I felt like if we could just get going she'd be fine.

I elected to walk down the grass in my yard and then stepped on to the driveway for the very last part when I knew there were no cars coming. Secret was tucking tail and scooting back and forth for the first few yards, but then she seemed to figure out that the weird things on my feet weren't going to kill her after all.

Everything was pretty much golden from there. She startled the first time I hit my brake, but didn't try to do anything silly. We really only had one "oh crap" moment and it's entirely because I was farting around with my phone (taking pictures) and not paying attention. I don't know if she stopped to actually go to the bathroom or just to sniff something, but I ended up pulling the harness clear over her head. Guess maybe I need to get that resized to her "not wearing a back on track blanket under it" size... I paid more attention after that and we were all good. Thankfully that happened in an area without any houses on a big empty street.

I had three very happy dogs when I got home! I'm going to have to try to be good about keeping this up. Lord knows I could use it as much as (or more than) them! I was out for 45 minutes today; we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

World Team? Maybe not just yet. ;o)

This past weekend AKC held the World Team Tryouts just a hop, skip, and jump away over in Hopkins, MN. One of these years I would really, really love to go watch -- but wouldn't you know it, this ended up being the one weekend that I was working at the shelter. It's probably for the best, though, considering that I drove over 3,000 miles in April. Maybe it's time to stop taking so many trips (that aren't for trials, at least!).

Because I was working all weekend, I didn't spring for the live stream. I thought about it because they offer video on demand for a period of time after the completion of tryouts, but I figured I could be patient and wait for people to get videos posted online. Each day, though, I looked forward to getting a chance to check out the courses as they were posted online!

Last night I decided to set up the first round from Saturday, a really fun looking Jumpers course (will I get my contacts out this year?). I built it starting at the top of the yard to try to cram in as much of the course as I could manage. I ended up omitting the first jump and replacing the broad jump with a single. I also couldn't manage the last jump without sending a dog straight into the deck, so I left that out. And finally, because I only have two tunnels in my possession, I replaced the tunnel on the right with two hoops. In actuality, that was probably more difficult than had it been a tunnel!

My dad decided that last night was the night he was going to bring dirt to edge the new driveway with and gave very little advanced warning -- so I was just finishing setting the course when my parents arrived. My immediate thought was, "Oh great, now Secret will never run." She struggled greatly when Bethany and Rascal first started coming over -- Now my parents AND their dogs were here to serve as a distraction, but honestly it was probably a good thing for us to have to work through.

As anticipated, Secret was a superfreak when I first brought her out for her turn. She didn't want her udder tug at all and was being pathetic and dropping to the ground to grovel like she always does when she wants attention and doesn't want to play. After attempting the first few obstacles and having Secret come trotting out of the tunnel I abandoned the udder tug and went straight to the Jolly Ball.

Surprisingly she played! We had some struggles starting out -- mostly because I was handling like garbage due to feeling rushed (I begged my mother to video us so I wouldn't have to prop the camera on the fence like usual and she was concerned about the fact that their dogs were being giant asses and barking in the garage where we'd crated them -- oh, and of course my dad was out working while we... weren't). Considering how distracted and discombobulated I was, it's a miracle that Secret worked with me at all!

My mother finally begged out after a couple of failed attempts (backsides and threadles/push-throughs were not our friends last night) and I went back to using my old trusty fence as a tripod -- and things got better! We finally were able to get the sequence after the weaves, but the threadle/push sequence was our nemesis all evening (with all three dogs, so I guess we know what to work on!).

I had all jumps set at 24" for the first couple of sessions (with my mom videoing and then after she left). I brought Secret out for one more session after I ran the boys and set everything at 20" to give her a break because it had been a pretty exciting evening with everyone there. I'm very pleased with her jumping as of late and hope that she does equally well at the AKC trial next weekend -- her first time jumping 24" at a trial.

The boys got their turn to play, too (yes, while my dad was still out front working... I'm a bad daughter). Kaiser struggled more than usual with this course. Heck, it took us forever to get through the opening because he kept going wide on the wrap before the tunnel and taking the jump to the side. There was NOTHING my body was doing to even remotely point him in that direction; he just decided that's what he was supposed to do. Once we got it figured out he was fine. Kaiser also struggled greatly with the threadle sequence. I also don't think he took the correct final obstacle even once... lol

Luke was surprisingly awesome. That threadle sequence probably would be easier with wings and using jumps that are wider than 3'.... Especially for a dog Luke's size. Oh well, it's good proofing.

As mentioned earlier, my parents brought their dogs along. Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder because my dogs weren't complete jackasses to them for a change! Or maybe it's because we've seen them more frequently on their turf lately, who knows. But my dogs were actually rather civil, minus Secret going after Wes once when she apparently thought she owned my mom. Yeah, that doesn't work for me.

Kaiser was an exceptionally good boy, though, and was playing with Lexie and even a bit with Wes (he wasn't attacking Wes, which is a huge improvement). They had a close call when a stupid, stupid squirrel went running along the top of the fence (almost falling into the yard!!) and the dogs all tore across the yard to go after it. Secret was, thank god, in the garage at the time and missed this. Kaiser was so focused on the squirrel that he somehow let it slide when Wes jumped straight on top of him. Oh Wes, I'll protect you, but that's just stupid...

I was glad that everyone got along, as I guess Wes & Lexie are staying with us for a day next month. Sadly, I think Lexie has pretty much forgotten her miniscule agility training, as I couldn't even direct her through the tunnel. Granted, I didn't have food and that girl's world is ruled by food....

I got my final confirmation for the AKC trial yesterday. Secret and Kaiser are both the only dogs in their respective classes/jump heights. The Novice classes are pretty sad. They ended up with around 220 runs per day, so the day should go by quickly enough. It's a wonder that trials in the Cities fill with massive wait lists, yet nobody bothers to make the drive to La Crosse... Oh well, it works out for me since I didn't enter until the last minute!

I mowed the lawn tonight for the first time this year. The dogs followed behind and chowed down on the fresh salad bar that the mower kicks out -- guess nothing has changed there! They are more cow/horse than dog, I swear.... Then I threw out a ton more grass seed and watered the lawn in attempt to get the bare spots to grow. I suppose that means we shouldn't run on it for a while to let it get started.... So the dogs will be happy that the coming days will bring more hiking again! Maybe I'll get brave and dig out the rollerblades now that I have that nice driveway I can safely roll down....   :o)