Sunday, December 28, 2014


Well, here we are. Today in Oshkosh, Secret earned her 20th QQ. Alas, there was no grabbing of a bar or a victory lap that followed, because we have not yet hit our 750 points.  ;o)  We're close! Coming into the weekend we were 80 points shy, so I knew that no matter what happened there was no way that this would be a MACH weekend. Forty points per run is a bit out of reach for us. Secret tried hard, though, and knocked out 32 of those points, which means now we have just 48 to go. We can do that in one more QQ and a Standard run, so we'll have to see what happens!

The courses today weren't overly challenging but nor were they completely boring. Poor Secret was only out of the van about 10 minutes before she had to run this morning, so considering that, the nine points she brought home on that run was pretty good. Kaiser was stuttering more than I like on his first run, but his second one was quite a bit better. Unfortunately he came back out of the #5 tunnel in Standard -- after several dogs took a very long time to come out of said tunnel, so I can't help but wonder if there wasn't something in there. No matter, the little turd left the table early after that anyhow.

Kizzy gave it a good go in Excellent JWW. We were good until she squirted behind my back when I tried oh-so-very hard to make sure I presented the #15 tunnel with me on the INSIDE. Then I think she missed the second-to-last jump because I was running the inside line and didn't really beat her to it.

Kizzy did super in her Open Standard class! She ran the whole thing flawlessly for a 100-point 1st place Q! Her first in Open Standard! Maybe she'll hit Exc/Masters in everything one day yet.  :o)  She was such a good girl and stopped on her dog walk & teeter, and did the table & weaves on the first try.

I don't have video from the trial today, but we did get to play at home again the day after Christmas! It was 44 degrees outside! Normally I don't do agility at home so close to a trial, but who could pass up that opportunity? I replaced the weaves with the table since I figured most of the dogs could use that practice before the trial.

We lucked out and missed the snow that passed by yesterday. Just a half hour to hour away they got several inches and we got nothing at home. Likewise, there is nothing over here in Oshkosh, so the trip over was easy going.

I stayed to help at the trial, so we didn't get to the hotel until nearly 5:00. This hotel is right on a golf course, and of course the golf course is closed this time of the year -- so we enjoyed a fun walk around part of the course before coming in to settle for the night. The dogs thought that was especially fun since they spent the last several hours of the day in the van.

Kaiser and Kizzy both spent the day crated in the van today because there wasn't room for me to bring both crates inside this morning. Tomorrow's trial is quite small, so I brought in a second crate and moved everything together before I left today. It's supposed to be quite a bit colder tomorrow, or else I'd enjoy the peace and quiet and leave them outside again tomorrow. Who knows, we'll see how Kizzy does.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! The holidays are in full swing here -- The dogs and I just spent the morning at my parent's house and I'll be returning there shortly. Everything went pretty well today, considering there were eight people and eight dogs present. Secret is the only concern in my pack, as she doesn't put up with anything from other dogs and my brother's two female dogs are stupid enough to challenge Secret until she puts them in their place. That happened with Daisy (basset hound) pretty quick -- Daisy is old and also just wants to be left alone, so they were fine after that. Their cocker spaniel is less savvy, though, and after several hours together Secret finally snapped at her. Only feelings were hurt, but the point was made.

It's actually pretty impressive that this was the only snafu in the 4+ hours that we were all there together. The two Klee Kai did great and Kizzy was her usual loveable self. Luke just wants to be by everyone and he's a happy camper.

The most impressive feat of the day was when we managed to get a family picture with all 16 of us!

We have never attempted this before. There was no planning that went into it, so it's a bit haphazard, but still pretty awesome that we pulled it off.

My dogs will get chewies and new stuffies when I get home later this evening, and they also got a couple cans of "special" dog food that I served up yesterday and will add to their dinner later tonight. Merry Christmas to them! I picked up a few more things for the hotel this weekend, too.

We'll lay low the next couple of days. The weather is supposed to be clear but colder, so we'll try to get out on the trail for a hike each day. Then Sunday we're off to play in Oshkosh!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I'm dreaming of a .... brown.... Christmas

Actually, it's not even that brown! I will be the absolute last person you hear lamenting about lack of snow at Christmas time. I'll never understand people who are all like, "It can go away right away, but I would like to have snow for Christmas." Why? What makes a silly holiday better because there is snow? Guess what, there was snow at Thanksgiving. Good enough! Call it good for the year and be done with it.

Last weekend the last of our November snow disappeared. Sadly, along with the 50-degree temperatures came quite a bit of mud, so we weren't really able to do much or play agility last weekend. The temperatures dropped this past week and everything froze back up again. That means we kind of have the best of both (winter) worlds at the moment -- no snow and no mud.

The ground is a bit hard, but I figured I wouldn't let that stop me! I was home on Friday burning up a day of vacation at work and I couldn't resist setting up what is likely our last Happy Hurdle Day exercise of 2014.

Secret was being kind of a poo-head. I went through three toys in her first session because she was struggling with the first weave entry and despite trying hard to keep my energy up I kept getting the "woe is me" face from her when I went to restart. I finally gave up and ran her again at the end, and I finally got a nice run out of her. The little dogs did pretty well, no real trouble spots to speak of (though Kizzy's first weave entry was far from tight). Luke got to chase his Jolly Ball around the yard while I put stuff away.  :o)

Secret had her yearly wellness visit with our regular vet on Friday and then a chiro visit on Saturday, so she just got to be a little social butterfly with everyone. She was totally messed up at the chiro, so I'm glad I squeezed this appointment in before our trial next weekend. I did finally get confirmations and we did get in for Sunday and Monday -- but Sunday was close to filling, so we just made it!

Today I had to go in to teach class at Petco, but that wasn't until 2:00 so I made sure to get out with the dogs and go hiking out on the bike trail. It was 38 degrees today! This is the kind of winter I can take. We went just shy of 4 miles today and everyone thought it was loads of fun. I figured I definitely owed it to them because I was kind of a lump yesterday and didn't do much aside from Secret's chiro appointment. Then I used that as an excuse because I figured she should lay low after her adjustment, right? Right? So yeah, we needed to get out today.

Aside from that, we've been pretty lazy this weekend. That's okay, lazy is good.

It's Christmas week! I've only got 2 1/2 days at work and then I'm off for five days. At least two of those days are at an agility trial or I wouldn't know what to do with myself. I can't believe 2014 is almost over.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

(More) Decals!

I went a little crazy with the decals when I first got my van earlier this year. God forbid anyone think it's a mom-mobile, so I covered it in agility-related decals to show that it's a DOG-mobile.  :o)  Plus it distinguishes it from all the other vans in the parking ramp, and it stick out at agility trials, too. On top of that, they make me smile, and that's why I love them.

I still have a lot of open window space available for more decals, but I never really settled on anything I felt I needed to have. I designed all of my original decals and just hadn't spent any time coming up with other designs I like. I do still want personalized decals for each of the dogs. I'll get there eventually.

In the mean time, I've always known that this set of "agility stick figures" existed because I saw them when I was getting ideas for creating my own designs. They are super cute! Someone posted a picture of them on my Facebook page around Thanksgiving and, since I was spending so much money around Black Friday anyhow, I went ahead and made an order on Small Business Saturday -- Figure I could support this small business, right? They are from Inky Dinky Dax Designs, BTW.

They arrived the next week, but I knew from earlier experiences that there are "ideal weather conditions" for applying decals to glass -- and below-freezing weather is definitely not ideal. The weather has been pretty consistently below freezing since I got the decals, so I just sat on them, waiting for a day when I could apply them and hoped I wouldn't be waiting until spring.

We are having a warm spell this weekend where it's getting in the 40s. It's a little damp out, but I figured now is as good a time as any. I ended up putting them on the driver's side sliding door. I figured that way I will see them often and get to enjoy them. They would have fit on the back panel, but it would have run right into the Klee Kai agility decal, so this location seemed best for the amount of space it took up. This is the first time I've actually applied them myself, so go me! I think it turned out super cute.

Things are quiet here until after Christmas, which is probably a good thing. I sent off a last-minute (literally) entry to a trial in Oshkosh the weekend after Christmas. I entered Sunday and Monday (yes, it's a 3-day trial that runs Sat-Mon) and swapped around one of my days off at work for this month. It closed on Wednesday and I didn't get entries in the mail until Monday. I ended up having to send it next-day air ($20....) to make sure it got there in time. Apparently they don't have 2-day mail, so it was that or Priority, which wouldn't have gotten there until Thursday. Sigh. I'm hoping we are in; apparently the trial secretary is down at the AKC Invitationals and won't be able to finish putting in entries until she gets home this next week. I didn't have time to email to make sure there were openings ahead of time. Oshkosh doesn't typically fill, so fingers crossed. Otherwise our next trial is the Lakeland trial down in Madison in January.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hounds trial update

This was our second time attending the Hounds for the Holiday trial, hosted by Cream City Canines over in Milwaukee. This is the largest trial we have in this area, running 3 rings for 4 days. Last year we just drove over for one day (Friday). This year I am burning up vacation and don't have anything local for a while, so we signed up for Thursday and Friday. I figured those would probably be days with lower entries, plus Thursday started (slightly) later, allowing for an easier drive over. Also, who can say no to two days of agility followed by a weekend to recover?

I admit, I was disappointed when I saw this snoozer of a Master JWW course. I had hoped that a trial this size would have funner judges that bring challenging courses. Zzzzzz. That said, considering that this was Kizzy's first time in Excellent AND her first time dealing with an environment like this, I was okay with it.

Secret was in the first group to run. She put in a very nice run right up to the end where I beat her to the tunnel (on the off side) and stopped. So she nearly stopped as well. We probably killed at least a second there but it wasn't a refusal, so she got a Q and 12 points. I think she ended up in like 6th place or something.

Kaiser was awesome! I have just come to assume that his first day of jumping is going to absolutely suck, so I was happily surprised to see him just go flying out of the gate. I was so happy to see him having fun and not stressing at all. He won his group by several seconds with 17 points.

Kizzy was a rock star for her first go at Excellent. I avoided rear crossing that last tunnel by running the inside line on that last loop of jumps. Somehow I (barely) made it and managed to keep her pushed into the jumps. And since she also managed to hit her weaves on the first try, that means that.... Kizzy Q'd in her first Excellent JWW run! Her time was only a little slower than Kaiser's! (BTW, Secret was fastest with 31.64, Kaiser had 32.22, and Kizzy had 33.61).

Secret was up again first for Standard. I did a sling-shot to the tire to call her over two, but she went for the a-frame initially and made a heroic effort to actually make it over jump two. The majority of the dogs were NQing at the weaves -- missing entries or leaving early. Secret hit pole 5 and just veered off to the right. Why does she do that? There was a goalie net behind the dog walk, I suppose it's entirely possible that a person/dog walked behind there at that moment, I have no idea. She also got called on her a-frame when I layered jump 18 to pull her for the turn. That happens like once in a blue moon, so no biggie.

I led out with Kaiser and did a rear cross into the weaves and thankfully HE did not have any problems there. He did, however, have a problem when I was behind while going to the table. I was trying to keep him off the off-course jump next to the table -- and he avoided it, but also ran right past the table. Oh well, can't get a Std Q to save our lives lately it seems.

Open Standard was the last class of the day. Kizzy was holding it together really well. She did super awesome in the crate all day, too. We were crated in a tiny lane between two of the rings and there wasn't a lot of dog action over that way. It helped a lot.

I was doing drop-n-go's with Kizzy both days so as not to lose her before we even started. I got in a front cross on the landing side of 4 and she nailed her teeter. I had us go a few steps after the teeter to line up better for a front cross to the chute, and then she refused the chute. That seems to be becoming a habit. She got it on the second try. She hit the weave entry but then skipped a couple of poles while going through them. Because you are only allowed one refusal to qualify, I elected to keep going. She stopped on the dog walk! Then she did her little table dance and earned at least one more R there (she acted like she thought it was time to be caught). I realized I was leaning over the table and when I stood up she got on it. Oh. Bad handler. I ran the right side of the final line and it worked out swell. Obviously an NQ, but a good run!

We got to the hotel around 3:00 and I attempted to take a nap. It's hard when you have given the dogs hooves to chew on and crunchy/squeaky plastic bottle toys that you bought for them at the trial. Oh well, I got enough rest that I was able to stay awake for my school seminars that I had to sit through at the hotel that night. I took the dogs outside for the last time a bit after 10:00 and that was the first time all day that Kaiser pooped. I swear.... Kizzy seems to go like 4 times a day and I can't get Kaiser to go once.

Kizzy's group was first in the ring on Friday and she was the 4th dog on the line. This is unfortunate because I think she still needs that settle time. Plus it was day two, when her brain is already on the fried side. THEN we encountered a freakazoid border collie hanging out by the ring while we were waiting to go. It was completely amped up and the owner was prodding it on and getting a reactive/frenzied bark out of it. It sent Kizzy over the wall and that was that. I was pissed off until I realized that the dog was running in the 12" Preferred class just a couple of dogs ahead of us, so they did actually have reason to be there and weren't just ruining it for the rest of us.... But still, rather unfortunate for Kizzy.

That said, she put in a valiant effort. I ran the inside and did a gross landing side rear cross (spin) at jump five, then a scoop and push to nine. I was trying to slow her down to control the entry into the weaves and that was when she decided she had enough and just kept going towards the ring entrance. Blessedly the ring worker was standing right there (the rings were not gated as I'd hoped) and blocked her. I called it quits and sat on the floor to collect her. She danced around me a bit but I did manage to get her before she got out of the ring. Win.

Kaiser was still having fun -- so much fun that he took a bonus jump when he failed to turn tight enough after nine and went over to take the double before going into the tunnel. He brought the double down on his second trip through, too.

Secret didn't run this class until the end of the day (after she ran Std). Her jumping was super, but her weaves just sucked. Did I over-handle the entry to the weaves and she got mad at me for it? Who knows, but she literally WALKED through them. I swore she was just going to leave them at least three times, but she managed to stick it out -- and then she picked it up again when she was out. Her weaves in Std had been fantastic, so who knows what was going on. Handling-wise, I beat her and fit in a blind between 4 & 5 so I didn't have to rear cross. Then a blind between 7 & 8 and then a fun little ketschker at 9 for a nice turn into the tunnel. Then another blind on the landing side of the triple. Even with that WALK through the weave poles she ended up with 9 points, which tells you how nicely she ran the rest of the course. I was expecting 6 points.

Here's our Master Standard course from Friday. You would not believe how much bitching there was over this course. I heard so many comments of how "awful" the course was. That it had no "flow" and you were just cranking the dog around the course. Well, maybe if you are a shitty handler... I heard numerous people say that this judge was going on their "list." This is the side of AKC that I absolutely hate. God forbid you see a course that requires that you actually have to handle your way through it. I had no problem with this course and rather enjoyed it. The angle from that 3/15/10 jump to the 4/16/11 jump was a bit harsher/shorter in person than it appears on paper, that was the only thing that took me by surprise while walking it.

Secret was first. I missed her walk-through while in the JWW ring with Kaiser, but I didn't stress over it at all. They were super great at this trial about accommodating conflicts, so I just figured I'd walk and run with the next group. This was nice, because I hadn't even gotten her out of the van yet and pushing back to the next group gave us plenty of time to chill and get ready. She rocked this course and loved it. It was picture-perfect, if you don't count that she left the table early. Sigh. I can't say I'm blameless, as I was the one standing there revving her up. Well, no worries about that 20th QQ this weekend! She now needs 80 points to go with that last QQ.

Kaiser's run was great. He always tends to get the courses that people complain about and nobody Q's on (and NQs the easy ones...). He had a nice, smooth run and once again won his group by several seconds with 21 points. No issues with the table this time since I beat him to it.  :o)  He did leave off the side of the teeter again, though, but thankfully he manages to stick a foot in the yellow before he jumps off. Wish we could fix that bad habit. Oh well, this was his MXP, finally!

Here's Kizzy's Standard course. But wait, you say, what is different? It's exactly the same? Well, almost. They didn't do the wrap jump after the table and we got the "easy" side of the tunnel in Open. Otherwise it's exactly the same. Okay. Guess we're up for the challenge.

I won't lie. I debated leaving after Kaiser ran Standard. I had to move Kizzy out to the van earlier in the day because her brain couldn't handle the added commotion of the day and she was making a lot of noise and getting all worked up. I didn't know if she had it in her to get through this course and stay in the ring. I decided to stick it out and give it a go.

I dropped her at the start and squeezed in a front cross between three and four. And she stopped on the dog walk again! I am so proud of her. Then there was that darn chute. Off she went, careening towards the front of the ring. I didn't chase after her this time, though, and just stood my ground and called her back. And you know what? She came barreling back! She did the chute on the second try, got her a-frame and then ran past the table. I made sure not to hover/lean and she popped right back on. The angle/distance from the table to 9 was atrocious handling from the left, but I needed to do that to get the tunnel and she managed just fine. And THEN she actually got her weaves! Heading towards the in-gate! I wasn't even expecting that, so happy surprise. She nailed the teeter and finished just great -- just two refusals on day two after a total meltdown! I'm very proud of her.

In some ways I wished we had stayed for three days, but it was very nice to come home. Now I'm toying with trying to get an entry in for the Oshkosh trial the weekend after Christmas (it closes on Wednesday and I wouldn't get anything in the mail until Monday). Can't decide on one day or two... I admit, I've got that MACH bug now and want to get it finished.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Admitting Defeat

I always say that I'm admitting that winter is coming when I turn my heat on. This year I caved like a day or two before Halloween. It was cold and my house wasn't getting above 60 on its own, so that's when I gave in.

Truthfully, though, the true measure of defeat is when I finally put all of my agility equipment away. I put the majority of my equipment into the garage about two weeks ago. I left the dog walk outside, though, hoping that we would get a chance to train a couple more times (more for Kizzy's benefit than anything else). Then it snowed. And snowed some more. And was really freaking cold.

I let it sit, hoping that maybe Mother Nature would smile on us and melt it off. This weekend we finally had a turn in the weather (by "turn" I actually mean "the stupid temperatures finally came back up to average"). By today the snow was gone from the yard and the dog walk -- So, following a trip to La Crosse because I had to run puppy playtime at Petco, then a 4-mile hike in West Salem on the way home, I squeezed in one final training session before putting the dog walk away for the year. Sigh. Such a sad time. Oh well, training went well!

Now I'll sit inside the rest of the winter and continue to apply new Jamberry nail wraps.  ;o)  I should have enough to get me through this dreary, miserable season. You have to find a bright spot, right?

Cold weather is supposed to hit us again this week -- I'm just hoping that we can avoid ice. I hate ice. I can deal with snow if I must, but ice just sucks.

Monday, November 17, 2014

100%, 50%, & 16%...

I'm no mathematician, so that 16% figure might be off -- but that's our AKC weekend recapped in fast-forward. Secret was Ms. 100% again, going 6/6 for the weekend and bringing home QQ numbers 17, 18, and 19! Before we go and freak out that she only needs ONE more QQ for her MACH, let's realize that she also needs 101 more points, so.... I'm sure no dog in the history of agility has gotten 101 speed points in one single QQ, so that's obviously not happening. This weekend I looked over her records and noted that since we started doing AKC, Secret has had NINE days of trialing where she has not Q'd in both classes on the same day. That's pretty darn consistent. So, the pressure is off on that 20th QQ because it will not be her MACH -- unless, of course, we have some sort of string of bad luck where she suddenly starts acquiring single Qs, and that is okay, too!

The 50% goes to Kizzy! She picked up both of her Open JWW Qs this weekend which -- GASP -- means that she earned her first Open title and is now an EXCELLENT dog. Umm.... Okay. Not really sure how that happened. She was super close to her first Open Std Q on Saturday (one too many refusals - you only get one). I'll get to Sunday later. Sunday was also Kizzy's third birthday! She got to go shopping at Petco after the trial.

The lone dog in the 16% club goes to Kaiser. He had a really rough weekend. His jumping on Friday was atrocious. He crashed the first bar in Std and then just had no confidence. He got through that course fine after that, but with much stutter-jumping. Then in JWW he went around like three jumps (I didn't fix anything, what is the point)? He was jumping better on Saturday but still going around jumps. Finally on Sunday he was back to himself, but we had a minor bobble in Std and then he finally Qd in JWW to end the day. His only Q of the weekend. So much for qualifying for Nationals. He ended up 45 points short, he needed 61 going into the weekend. Oh well, not like we were going anyhow.

Friday started with Standard. I'm going to post all of our courses from this weekend because I thought they were super. I thought they were just challenging enough to keep me on my toes and still be fun for the dogs. Sadly, they had a very low Q-rate all weekend. Ilze was lamenting at how her Q-rate is always so low -- she thought around 20-30%. I don't feel that these were excessively or unfairly challenging in the least. I'm not sure if there were consistent areas where teams were messing up or if it was spread out. All I know is that I hope judges never dumb down their course designs because people aren't doing the training they need to do to be successful.

That sequence from the dog walk to the weaves was tricky due to the combination of it being SO FAR AWAY and that darn tire being totally in the way of where I would have naturally been. I just made sure to get ahead of both dogs so that I'd be past the tire when they left the contact and it was all good. Secret got 22 speed points on this run.

If I have any complaints about the entire weekend it is right here. A wrap on the tire at jump #2. I was surprised to see this, as I didn't think that AKC was "allowing" turns like that at the tire. That said, I never saw any issues with it. I just didn't crank either of my dogs very tight around the turn. Secret definitely lost some impulsion there because I don't think she was expecting it.

Most people really liked that big loop in the middle. Meh. Secret doesn't find them very exciting -- Kaiser normally does, but this was his super bad jumping day. He went around jumps eight and nine. And the last one, too, I think. The close was fun! So many people wrapped to the inside of 17. I did a blended front cross. Both of my dogs went super wide off 16 -- Kaiser because that's what Kaiser does, and Secret because I was holding my breath trying to make sure I didn't cause her to knock a bar. She got 11 speed points on this run.

Saturday started with JWW. Again people were obsessed with the inside wrap at 9, but wrapping turning them to the right presented such a better line, so that's what I did. I want to say that Kaiser missed one (or two) of the jumps before the weaves again on this run. With both dogs I opted to run ahead in the weaves and front cross at the end so that I would be rear crossing at 18 for a nice tight turn. It worked swell -- so much better than those who nearly collided with their dog trying to stay on the inside for that push in that teeny tiny space between 17 and 18. Secret only got 8 speed points on this one. I didn't think she felt that slow.

With Kizzy I opted for an ugly rear cross after three -- and it actually was a rear cross (without a spin!) because she went WAY wide before she turned for the tunnel. Here an inside wrap was the proper thing to do, so that's what we did. I squeezed in a front cross on the landing side of 8 and then again after 10. She got through this whole course with 0 faults for a score of 100! She was so good!

I am sitting here staring at the picture of Saturday's Master Standard course and cannot for the life of me remember where Kaiser NQ'd. I led out with both dogs to get a front cross between 2 and 3. Both dogs got the dog walk contact with no problem. Both dogs got the teeter/table. Did Kaiser go around jump 10? I don't think so. I have no idea. I crunched in a front cross between the chute and triple with both dogs -- Secret is pretty much a superstar for getting over the triple with as little room as I gave her. Man, I have no idea where Kaiser NQ'd on this course... I'm not saying he Q'd because he definitely did not, but this is bugging me... Secret got 21 speed points on this one.

I remember where Kizzy NQ'd, though.  :o)  I led out just a little bit with her on this course, too, and went for a blind between 2 and 3. She stopped on the dog walk!! What a good, good girl! Then she stopped on the teeter! And the table! Then came the part of the course that I had no idea how I was going to get through cleanly with Kizzy. See that tunnel down there? The one that requires a pull/rear cross? Yeah, she still doesn't do those. So, coming off the table I just ran like hell to try to fit in a blind after 12 -- and so did Kizzy, right past the tire and over the next jump. That's okay, you can do that in Open and still qualify. I fixed the tire and then was obviously way behind for any sort of cross, so I pulled her up before she got close enough to the tunnel to call it a refusal and did some ugly stuff that didn't get called. Then she got her a-frame! And her weaves! And then she ran right past the chute.... Blargh. One too many refusals. Oh well, that would have been a pretty ugly Q anyhow.

It was a teeny tiny trial and we got done very early every day. I was going to take the dogs hiking on Saturday but when Kizzy stayed laying in the dog bed when I was vacuuming 6" away I decided to stay home and let everyone sleep. She had stayed inside all day on Saturday and was pooped!

Sunday started with Time 2 Beat, so I took my time leaving home that day. Our first run was Standard. The tunnel/dog walk at the start was the closest discrimination of the weekend - nearly NADAC standards there. I led out just a bit with Kaiser and ran with Secret and all was good (the tire was pointing at it anyhow). Front crossed after the teeter and then turned both dogs to the inside on that wrap at 9. Well, that was the plan. I must have done something super wonky with Kaiser because he turned the other way and instead of going with it and pulling him through the gap between the jump and the tire I had some word vomit and danced around a bit, and watched him back-jump instead of wrapping in either direction. Totally my fault. The rest of his run was super, with much better jumping than the whole weekend prior. With Kaiser I had more than enough distance off the a-frame for a front cross after 14. With Secret I had to do a rear on the flat after the chute and it worked fine. She got 19 speed points on this run.

I was pretty concerned about the start of the Open Std course with Kizzy. Which is probably why she had a total brain meltdown. Leading out at a tire? I was very unsure of that. A tunnel under the dog walk? I was super unsure of that. Stupid me unclipped her leash and then, when she stood up, I asked her to sit again. Adios, Kizzy! She was out. And then she was super naughty and was impossible to catch for the next five minutes while she ran batshit crazy circles around a border collie puppy before someone managed to scruff her. I took her directly to the van where she got to decompress until her next run. It was needed. Her brain had pretty much fallen out of her ears the moment we arrived at the trial that morning. She was having a holy freakout at the daycare dogs that were charging the fence as we walked past. Then she was squeaking inside and was basically inconsolable. I thought she was pretty settled before we went in the ring, but I guess not.

Last Masters run of the weekend! Fronts for Kaiser, blinds for Secret -- except for the rear cross I did with both at 16 for a nice turn. I told Secret I didn't care if she Q'd or not, but she did, and got 9 speed points on this one. Kaiser FINALLY got his only Q of the weekend and 16 points. Sorry little dyslexic buddy, you needed 61.  :o)

I had no flipping clue what to expect from Kizzy after her earlier performance. I hoped that her timeout in the van was what she needed. Her poor little brain was fried. I opted for a drop and go at the start to remove the pressure of any sort of start line. I started on the right side of one and then front crossed between 3 and 4. She went super duper wide after 5 (looking at the door?) but then came and hit her weave entry -- and then after a few poles got that weirdly vacant look and veered off to the right. I got her back and she finished them on the second try. From there it was just one more front cross between 8 and 9, then I just had to manage to not get lost until the end (seriously, I almost did). She stuck with me and finished clean and, holy cow, got her Open JWW title! She went 3/4 through this class, only NQing on her very first attempt at the class. Craziness. Then again, this is pretty much the only thing we ever practice, so it makes sense that she has more skills for this class than Standard....

So, our next trial is the giant Hounds for the Holidays 3-ring trial in Milwaukee. Yeah. In Excellent. Should be interesting.

And now it's time to complain. Today got up to 15 degrees for a high. It's only the middle of November. We have had freezing temperatures and snow for the last week. This sucks. A lot. I hate living here. This is going to be the most miserable winter ever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Oh NADAC....

I have been so busy lately that I admittedly have not kept up with the NADAC message board at all. I popped on for a bit today and oh look. Something changed again.

I have NEVER been a fan of the VT (video tape) aspect of NADAC. Originally the VT program was separate of the traditional program. Whatever, if people want their VT titles then go for it. Then VT points were allowed to be used towards qualifying for Champs. Then you could apply 50% of your VT Qs towards titles, but the other half still had to come from actual, real trials.

Well, now you can get a plain old ordinary NATCH in your backyard without ever attending a real life trial. How convenient is that? This is based on the "integrity and professionalism" of those who have been participating in the program. Because, of course, you KNOW people are going to be like, "This was really the 8th time we tried this course, but I'm submitting it like it's my first." -- Or, "We totally just drilled our contacts using massive amounts of treats about 20 times in a row, so let's quick get this next run on tape while Spot is still fooled into thinking I have food on me."

Thanks for devaluing the NATCH even further, NADAC.

There is an entire organization (VALOR) for those who have dogs who do not do well in trial environments (and truthfully, their courses are probably more interesting than NADAC's, so...). I have never found it appropriate for an organization to apply "qualifications" from runs you do in the privacy of your backyard and submit via video to be mixed with those earned in the stressful "you really can only do it ONCE" atmosphere of a trial. They are NOT the same. They should not be rewarded the same.

You sure as hell aren't going to see anyone get a MACH or an ADCH at home. I don't even see the value in it. People will be all like, "My dog is NATCH 12!" and now we'll have to quantify that with, "Did you actually earn those Q's at a trial?" And sadly, now it's entirely possible that the answer will be "no." My dogs have 11 NATCH/V-NATCH awards between them. I would be embarrassed to have anyone believe I earned any part of those awards in my backyard.... That is not what agility is all about. We train to trial. Those who trial are rewarded with titles and awards. I don't expect someone to bake me a cake for anything I do in my backyard -- that is called training. Training happens at home. Trialing happens at trials.

NADAC -- Anything for a buck!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Super WHAT?!

The impossible has happened. I was the biggest naysayer of them all, saying that Secret would never get a Super Q. I was wrong. Let's clarify one point, though -- It's not that I ever felt she was incapable of winning her class. She has done that a few times. It's just that EVERY SINGLE TIME we ran P3 Snooker we were combined with the P16 dogs. I actually thought we were destined for the same fate yesterday, but apparently someone titled and moved up from Saturday to Sunday because suddenly we had the magic number of 7 dogs in our class. Our own SQ(s?)! Not combined or based on the P16 class at all!

As it turns out, though, even if we would have been combined we would have still gotten the SQ under the new rules -- because Secret's score of 50 beat even the 1st place P16 dog! Their highest-scoring dog had 49 points. Holy cow! Way to go, Secret!

Our day started a bit before 5 a.m., which was really more like 6 a.m. thanks to the time change that I hate with a passion -- but it was to our advantage yesterday, I guess. We hit the road just after 6:00 and arrived at Canine Sports Zone around 8:10. I hadn't been worried about getting there early because the day started with the second round of Biathlon (I would have liked to run fancy jumpers, but it was an all or none deal, so...). Kizzy needed to be measured, so I found the judge after the class was done and promptly got chastised for not being there before the trial "when all the measuring happens." Really? There are 460 runs and you expect me to worry about getting to the trial before it starts when I won't be running for another hour? Whatever, the judge was nice enough to measure her --- and gave her a measurement of 13"! This judge was a CMJ, even. Not that it matters because it's all under 14", but 13" is definitely the lowest we've measured her at.

Secret's Jumpers run was our first run. The run order suited us well and gave us plenty of time to warm up and get psyched up, so Secret was in a very good mood. She put in a great run on this course for 4th place. She saved my butt when I got out of position on the 9-11 sequence to the tunnel. She could have easily pulled off the tunnel but she was a good girl and followed my verbal directions.

Kizzy's Jumpers run was up next. What a great USDAA debut for the crazy dog! I elected to do a running start all day after removing her harness while holding her. Historically we disconnect when I take things off over her head, so I figured I'd just avoid it and not bother with any stays -- and they weren't needed anyhow. We had another sloppy "rear cross" at the start, but after that it was great! She was beat (barely) by a dog who runs in the Masters level at AKC, so not too shabby.

Secret's Snooker run followed -- I drew out our path on the course map. I'm pretty sure nobody else did this configuration, but I thought it worked nicely. We had one  very close call when Secret started to go for the #3 tunnel on the way to our second red, but we saved it. There was one person M22 that went for and got all 7s, and maybe one other person who had 7-7-6, which surprised me. Usually people around here seem to go for broke for the points, but that wasn't the case at all and the Masters people in particular seemed to be avoiding the a-frame like the plague. Secret was just great on this course and opened up nicely in all of those wide open spots. Good girl! I can't even begin to describe how it felt when I saw the Super Q posted in the results.  :o)  Pretty sure I did a quadruple-take.

On Kizzy's map I drew the path she actually took. My plan varied slightly in that I was going to go to the tunnel under the a-frame after the last red. She went wide behind me and took the jump, so I was like, "Well, I guess we're taking the a-frame!" I had avoided that in my plan just in case she got called on the contact, but she was good. I wasn't sure about the out-tunnel under the a-frame in the closing, but it was far enough out that it wasn't an issue. I turned her to the inside after 6 and she refused the a-frame. Then refused the a-frame again. ?  She might have refused it once more before she finally went up and the buzzer went off. So we finished with 1-4, 1-6, 1-7, and 20 in the close for a Q!

Secret's Pairs run was next. In my confirmation I had a partner, but not on the gate sheet, so I ended up with an accommodating dog. This was a good thing, though, because I E'd the run with a bad turn from the jump to the teeter (we were the second half, the squares). Secret went wide and took the off course jump. Stupid handler. It was Secret's only NQ of the day.

Up next was Grand Prix. Secret had been kind of "meh" during the Pairs run and I wasn't sure how much she had left in her, but she was ready to go for this one! Her weaves still weren't as fast as they've been lately, but she opened up nicely in the other parts -- especially that line from the weaves to the tunnel! She ended up with a Q and 4th place.

It was getting so late and I was seriously contemplating leaving before Standard. I knew Kizzy's brain was going to be fried and it was Secret's 5th run -- but she'd run so well in Grand Prix that I figured we may as well stick around. And so many dogs had scratched Standard that I didn't think it would be THAT long until Kizzy's run.

Secret did a great job and took 2nd in her class.

There probably isn't much point in posting Kizzy's Standard course map because we only made it to obstacle 5, but it was a good start.  :o)  She did her weaves (on the second try)! Then she bounced off the table and lost her ever-loving mind. She started to do her crazy little Klee Kai "you can't catch me" dance in circles around the table, and then eventually she just said adios and took off for the exit. Yup, she was done. It was almost 8:00 p.m., who can blame her? It was a good effort. Didn't get to any of the contacts, but oh well...

We got home just before 10:00 p.m. It was a LONG day -- but very fun! I'm glad that we were able to give USDAA a shot again. I'm not sure when we'll get to play again, but hopefully soon. We have AKC coming up for our next few trials. We'll get Secret's MACH out of the way and then who knows, maybe she can get that PDCH after all!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I decided to just write this whole post in acronyms.  ;o)

This is going to be a brief yet overdue update. We got to play three days of AKC here at home this weekend! It was the Coulee Kennel Club trial and our judge was Katherine Rudolph. I "know" her from our trials over on the other side of the state, but my brain never connected that she was a judge (hello, she did Kizzy's first measurement....). She runs golden retrievers and is very conscientious of the large-dog style of running and designs her courses accordingly. She was also familiar with the turf at FDC and said that she purposefully designed her courses to not have tight turns that would cause dogs to slip and fall. To her credit, I don't think I saw anyone slip all weekend. The courses were not technical, but I didn't consider them so easy as to be boring. The dogs definitely liked them, and that is what matters most.

I don't have video from Friday and I'm too lazy to take a picture of the course maps. Secret brought home QQ #15 and I think it was 31 points that day. Kaiser got a Q in Std (which he needs), but kind of went off the rails in JWW. It was totally my fault, though, because I was late for the front cross after jump 3 and he went off course. I was so incredibly tired from my draining week at work that my brain more or less shut off at that point and he just did whatever he wanted from there on out. The trial was very, very small again this weekend -- we started running @ 2:00 and were on our way home by 4:00.

Secret had another super day on Saturday. She earned 14 speed points in her JWW run in the morning. Her Standard run was the fastest in the entire class! Unfortunately she jumped a bit flat coming out of a tunnel and knocked a bar. We need single Qs, though, so I wasn't upset in the least. I would have preferred the 24 points from her Std run, though!

Saturday was Kaiser's day for a QQ -- this was his 6th. His jumping was much better than it was on Friday, too, and it got better all weekend. I wish I knew what was up with this and why he's being so hesitant on day one. He's the opposite of Secret -- She starts out crazy and fast and gets slower at the end of the weekend, whereas Kaiser starts out slow & hesitant and gets better as we go.

Kizzy was super, super good on Saturday! We had too many refusals to qualify in Open JWW because it took her a little time to find her brain, but she did the whole course, including her weaves this time. We ran Standard at the end of the day and she was a good, good girl! She missed the weave entry again, but that was pretty tricky coming off the a-frame like that. She ended up with a score of 100 and her NA title! On to Open for everything!

Kizzy is the only one with video from Sunday. Again, I'm very pleased with how she ran! Okay, so she was pretty naughty on her dog walk and teeter in the Standard run, but aside from that I think she did awesome. The Open courses were barely any different from the Masters courses, so she stepped up pretty nicely, I think! She even hit her weaves on the first try in both runs this day!! Our JWW run wasn't the prettiest in the world because, well, we still don't actually have a rear cross. There were two spots where I just knew I wouldn't be able to get into position to beat her, so I did ugly landing-side rear crosses, let her spin and then kept going. Not pretty, but it worked and we got through clean for Kizzy's very first Open Q!

Kaiser had a really great day. He dropped the third from last bar in Standard on an otherwise lovely run, keeping him from another QQ. I had been hoping he could go 3/3 in Std for the weekend because that would have finished up his Master Std Preferred title, but it will have to wait for next time. Secret got QQ #16 on Sunday but not a whole lot of points -- only 18 in Std (she wasn't that slow in this run, I think it was wheeled tight) and dropped down to 7 points in JWW in a run where I felt like I was pulling her along. She was the first dog on the line and I don't think I spent enough time getting her going prior to the run. As it stands she would need to get 45+ points per QQ if her next four days are perfect. Yeah.... I just don't want to be one of those teams that MACHs on points. Whatever. It is what it is. As a side note, on Friday she officially qualified herself for AKC Nationals! (Kaiser needs 61 points.)

Did I post here about the Jamberry nails I had made? A friend on Facebook was hosting a "party" and posted a picture of these custom nails she did with a picture of her dog on them. I was like, "WHAT ARE THOSE? I NEED THEM!" So I joined her party and made my own nails. I attempted to put them on for the first time Saturday night. While I need some practice in applying them correctly, they are still SUPER CUTE! I will probably go bankrupt designing and ordering custom nail wraps now.

Tonight I took the dogs for a walk, but before doing so I took Kizzy out and did a quick training session with her to remind her how we behave on our contacts. She'll get there at trials eventually -- the current trend seems to be that she's great on day one and a leaper on day two. Tonight she was fabulous. I started pushing my distance, both laterally and running ahead of her -- and SHE HELD HER BOTTOM! I tossed treats back at her to reward her. This is huge progress! Hopefully some of it sticks at trials.

This weekend we are playing USDAA in Madison on Sunday. The run sheets were posted on their web site. We have 460 runs on Sunday. Four hundred and sixty. There are "only" 330 on Saturday, so I guess I picked the wrong day... It will be a very, very, very long day because Kizzy is one of the last dogs to run. Hooray. Can't wait. Oh well, I'm looking forward to the agility part of it at least.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Hurdle Practice

I finally managed to make it home in time to work the dogs before it got dark. I've been in all-day meetings at work again this week and yesterday I didn't even get home until 6:30. I'd planned on training yesterday, but so much for that idea. Today I got home at 5:00, so I figured tonight's the night!

All I knew I really needed/wanted to do was work Kizzy's contacts and weaves, but I figured if I was going to set stuff up I may as well do something that worked me as well as the dogs. Hence the Happy Hurdle set-up. This is the most recent course posted. It really appealed to me when it was first posted -- it wasn't as "crazy" as some of them have been. I knew the dogs should do well on it.

Kizzy did super on her weaves, but was king of pooing out on me about halfway through the course -- hence the food you see on the "most successful" attempt. Her contacts, table, etc. were all rock solid tonight, so I guess we'll see how that sticks this weekend!

Secret and Kaiser both had a hell of a time just getting through obstacle four on this course. Secret kept taking the wrong tunnel entry and Kaiser kept pushing out over that jump -- which is why you see the handling choice I did for his portion of the video.  :o)

My knee has been farked up for a while. I ended up bracing it before Kaiser's turn because it started to buckle on me again. Sigh. I hope it can make it through the 16 runs this weekend.

I was supposed to be off work on Friday because of the trial, but the report-out from this giant meeting is scheduled for 11:00 that day. I don't really feel like I can miss that, so this should be interesting. The dogs might end up coming and sitting in the van while I'm at the presentation. It's scheduled to go until 12:30 and if it runs late AT ALL then I would never make it home and back to the trial in time. We'll see, I'll figure out something.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Therapy Dogs

This weekend Luke, Kizzy and I started a new chapter in our lives -- that of a pet therapy team! We haven't gone through any official certification and I don't really have the time (or let's admit it, the desire....) to go through those classes. Maybe one day.

A while back I found out that the nursing home where I go to volunteer to help with bingo with the Lions club is cool with dogs coming along (well, if you don't count the one staff member who is crazy scared of dogs...). I believe it was in the beginning of September that I started to look into the possibility of volunteer opportunities with the dogs. The only requirements that they had were that the dogs be current on everything and that the activity director meet the dogs first to give the okay.

I filled out the application and went through the background check last month, but then it was one thing after another that caused us scheduling difficulties and kept putting off our ability to get together. We finally made it work last week and the dogs and I got the grand tour. I didn't have to work at Petco until 5:00 on Saturday, so we planned for me to go in at 11:00 for our first visit.

It was just a super visit! Luke was his normal chill self who was great about meeting everyone, but Kizzy was the real surprise of the day. She was born to be a therapy dog, apparently. She repeatedly jumped into any lap offered and cuddled right in to make herself at home. The smile she (and Luke, too) brought to so many residents' faces was just priceless. The staff member that went around with us told me that she had us linger with one resident a bit longer because it was one of the rare times she'd ever seen the woman express any sort of emotion (we were in the Alzheimer unit). Another woman just hugged and squeezed her for the longest time with a giant smile on her face.

We kept our first visit to an hour. I didn't want to overdo the dogs on their first visit and it was pretty much time for lunch by then anyhow. Kizzy slept the entire short ride home, so it definitely is tiring for them. I'm looking forward to our next visit.

There was a NADAC trial in town this weekend and I didn't go. At all. It was kind of weird, but kind of not. Several people in town for the trial stopped by Petco Saturday night and I got to visit with them, which was nice. I was hoping to maybe drive over to visit a bit on Sunday, but the day just got away from me and it got too late to bother. Saturday was busy with Secret's chiro visit, the therapy dog visit and work at Petco, but I kind of did next to nothing on Sunday. Oh well, those days are good to have.

We have three days of AKC coming up this weekend! It's another tiny trial. We follow that up with a day of USDAA the following Sunday, so I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Last-minute decision

A while ago I saw that Contact Sports Zone was hosting several run-throughs on a series of Friday nights. My schedule never allowed for me to go, but I always thought it would be a great opportunity to check the place out. The next one was scheduled for this past Friday, October 10, but I brushed it aside since I've been team-teaching a class at Petco on Friday nights. I was in the store to pick up some stuff on Thursday and found out that I didn't actually have to do the team stuff anymore, and the 4:00 dog wasn't going to be coming anyhow. Okay, cool, I have Friday night off.

I think it was around 2:00 on Friday afternoon at work that I realized, "but wait, there are run-throughs tonight." I was able to head out any time after 2:00 that day, so I started trying to figure out the logistics of going. Doors opened at 5:45, walk at 6:00, run at 6:15, two-hour drive... I just had to leave home by 3:45 and I'd be golden. But did I *really* want to make that drive on a Friday night? REALLY?

Well, yes. Yes, I did.  :o)  So I hustled home, tried to act "normal" so that the dogs would actually go to the bathroom (they always know when something is up and then nobody goes because they just want to leave). I changed clothes, threw together treats and out I went (and I realized later that I forgot all of Secret's fun toys, stupid me!). Luke stayed home, but Secret, Kaiser & Kizzy all got to go along for the ride.

It's a super easy drive to Canine Sports Zone. The first hour was all on I90 to the Dells, then you get off on Hwy 12 where it's almost all 4-lane roads. The drive is actually only about an hour and forty-five minutes, so that's pretty sweet.

I LOVED the facility. Absolutely loved it. It was everything I'd hoped for where Kizzy is concerned and more. The owner of this facility really lucked out with this find, as it is just perfect for agility. The floor rocks and I am just in love with the whole solid wall/closed door thing.

I brought one crate inside to let Secret chill and acclimate to the place. Kaiser got shoved in with her for a bit before his first turn, but I opted to keep Kizzy in the van between her turns. We had plenty of time between each dog so everything worked out fine.

When we went out to walk the course I was like, whoa. The person running the evening said at first that it was an AKC course and I was like, umm, I've never seen an AKC course anything like this. Apparently while I was outside getting my dogs she corrected herself and said she had an AKC course picked out but then found this one. I think she was thinking it was USDAA, but when I asked if I could see the map I saw it was actually UKI (the senior/champion designation at the top gives it away). Ah, that explains it.

I ran Secret at 20", since that is her USDAA height and I didn't feel any need to jump her at full height when I knew I wouldn't have time for a full warm-up/cool down routine. Kizzy was the lone 14" dog, but I really needed to give her a go at that height to see how she would do for USDAA. Kaiser got to jump his usual 8".

During Secret's first turn she acted like she'd never done a backside before on jump two. I was super proud of her flip off the dog walk into the set-back tunnel. She was very wide after the broad jump into the weaves, but got it, and had a strong finish. We had enough time left to start the course over again and then spent a little time schooling the broad jump to the weaves. During her second turn Secret had a completely flawless run, so we had a party and called it good with that one.

Kaiser was a space cadet for his first turn. He was in total la-di-da-di-da mode looking all over the place and taking random off-course obstacles while he was sight-seeing. He was stressing over something, although I'm not entirely sure what. His second turn was much better. He almost got through the run clean, just bypassing the jump after the teeter. I schooled his dog walk and teeter to finish his turn.

Kizzy was super duper awesome! She was a complete and total spaz, but once we got going she was very focused and exceptionally well-behaved. There was a "novice" course nested inside the champion course, but it was hardly any easier so for simplicity sake (for my brain) I just ran her on the main course. I never attempted the tunnel under the dog walk with her because I knew nothing good would come of trying, so instead I turned her to the inside after the dog walk and just ran to that next tunnel. Her weaves rocked all night, she never missed her entry and she never popped out. All of her contacts were 100% awesome with hits on the a-frame and stops on the dog walk and teeter. I am just absolutely thrilled with how she ran on each turn. There was no sight-seeing, no "what's that?" moments, no thoughts of leaving me on course. AND she totally sailed through the 14" jumps with no problem. We absolutely needed this and it was totally worth the drive.

The drive home reminded me that I hate driving in the dark, and that this is what I'll be dealing with for the next six months of trialing. Sigh. The adrenaline rush of running stuck with me for about the first hour and a half, though, which basically just meant I had to push through that last half hour in familiar territory, which wasn't that bad. We got home a little after 10:30, so it's not like we're talking midnight or anything. But for someone who is usually sleeping on the couch by 9:00 on a Friday night, well...  ;o)

We took it easy yesterday. After sleeping in and hanging around the house most of the day I finally got off my butt and took the dogs for a 3-mile hike out on the bike trail. Today I had to go in to run puppy playtime at Petco, so I packed Secret, Kaiser & Kizzy along for the ride so that we could go for a walk somewhere different on the way home. I left Luke behind because he was being gimpy on our walk yesterday; he must have tweaked something while chasing his jolly ball the other night.

Everyone did well waiting in the car and we hit up a new portion of the bike trail on the way home. I parked in West Salem and we walked towards Bangor. There was a lot of excitement when we first started off, with tons of emergency vehicles leaving town and heading towards Bangor. We could see them all lined up on the road from the trail, but I couldn't see what was going on. Turns out there was a car accident, I guess. At any rate, we didn't encounter anyone on our walk and I really enjoyed that section of the trail. It's fun to get out to walk in different areas.

As it turns out, I'm not scheduled to work at Petco next Sunday, which means that technically I could go to the NADAC trial that day. I need to figure out what I'm doing. I suppose by tomorrow, since that's the closing date....

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Well hello again, USDAA!

I've been saying for a while now that when Kizzy grew a brain I would return to USDAA. Kaiser and Luke are done with their days in this organization, but Secret is about halfway to her PDCH in her P3 classes and I'd like to see if we can't get that done. Nevermind that we have zero P3 gamblers Qs or that we have plenty of snooker Qs but no SQs...

I've been looking at the USDAA event listings going out for several months and it always seems like I have to give up something in order to attend one of the trials. This was holding me back, and I especially won't give up an AKC trial at this point when I'm closing in on Secret's MACH (and starting December 1 we're going to start the qualifying period for the next Nationals which is closer to home). So then there's NADAC. I don't travel for NADAC trials anymore, so this means giving up a trial right here at home in favor of having to travel. Hard choices!

At any rate, I impulsively decided to go ahead and enter one day of a USDAA trial at the new agility facility down near Madison -- Canine Sports Zone. I know a few people that have been there and everyone raves about the facility. Great footing, plenty of parking, plenty of crating, etc. Plus it's just under two hours from home, so that's pretty much a winner. But the best part?

Do you see that wall? That is the wall between the competition ring and the exhibitor area. Do you see that it is entirely solid? With DOORS? Part of me feels that I should trial Kizzy at this facility and nowhere else for the foreseeable future. I talked to a friend last night who went to the first trial at this facility and he said he feels the ring is perfect for a green dog. Not only do they not have to deal with the visual distractions outside of the ring, but he said it's also strangely quiet in the arena. I'm looking forward to it.

There is an AKC trial at this facility in January that I've already been planning to attend, but this USDAA trial will give me a good opportunity to check the place out before then. So, on Sunday, November 2, Secret will take a stab at USDAA again and Kizzy will make her debut -- in the 14" Championship class! I have never ran a dog the CH division of USDAA, so that will be a new experience. We'll see how it goes; if I feel she'd do better at 12" I'll just drop her down to Performance, but I figure we'll give it a shot.

This will be Secret's first time in the P20 class (we have not trialed since the height reorganization). I'm sure she'll go "wheee!" at the 4" height break from AKC. Will it be enough to help us get a SQ? Time will tell, I guess (it will mostly depend on the competition, though, I'm sure -- and the fact that there are never enough dogs in the P20/22 class to not be combined). Secret is running everything except for MC Jumpers, which was unfortunately only offered as Biathlon combined with MC Std on Saturday. Boo. Oh well, that's okay, she's got enough on her plate with Std, Snooker, Pairs, Jumpers and Grand Prix. Kizzy is entered in Std, Snooker and Jumpers for her first USDAA trial. There is no way I'm putting her in the ring with another dog until she gets her wits about her a bit more. Starter Standard will be the very last class of the day, so if the day is getting long and she's experiencing a brain meltdown, we may head home after Secret's last run. We'll just play that one by ear.

I'm looking forward to this trial! I do enjoy the different challenges in USDAA courses, there is no doubt. I'm less of a fan of how many runs there are ($$ -- this day will cost more than running all 3 dogs in AKC) and those stupid SQs. The USDAA Sounding Board has recently blown up again with the subject of SQs and the unfairness of combining height groups (the new rule for 2014 is worse than the old one in many cases), so I guess we'll have to see if USDAA ever listens.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Outdoor Agility!

Yesterday was our second outdoor trial of the year. I admit that I took a risk with the Memorial Day trial, as we know it can be hot and/or rainy that time of the year (it was both). When I entered an outdoor trial for the first weekend in October I figured it would be dry and cool, as that is "normal" for fall in these parts. I woke up to snow yesterday. SNOW!

I knew we weren't going to be experiencing any sort of beautiful fall day -- checking the radar in the morning revealed that this lovely weather was tracking directly southeast into the location of our trial near Madison. Awesome. The good news is that it wasn't sticking on the roads, so travel was safe. Also good was the fact that the trial didn't start until 9 a.m. and I only had a two hour drive. We left home right around 7:00, since the trial was starting with Time 2 Beat and I didn't need to be there for that.

The snow accumulation ended before the Dells, so that was good -- at least we shouldn't have to worry about running on snow at the trial. The temperature wavered between 34 and 37 degrees for the drive. The rain was actually starting to break up a little when I pulled into the trial site, but unfortunately the weather was following me down and it picked up again soon after. We never dealt with anything heavy, more just a constant light rain or drizzle. But at least it wasn't snow at the trial!

Master Standard was up after T2B. Several people were grumbling that it would be better to run JWW in the morning with the hope that the weather would clear up by the time we got to Std. There was no guarantee, though, so I didn't see much point. Besides that, it's AKC -- I don't even think it's an option to run in an order different than what was published.

I understood the grumbling a bit more once I got on the course to walk it, though. The contacts weren't rubberized. Whoa. When was the last time we've been to a trial that didn't have rubber on the contacts? Some people thought that the a-frame and dog walk were painted rubber, but frankly, once you paint over rubber it's absolutely no better than painted sand. The teeter was absolutely painted sand, and not even very textured. That said, my equipment at home is not rubber so it's not like my dogs have never seen this before -- I just didn't expect to go to a trial with this surface. In the rain.

The judge at this trial was Ilze Rukis. We know Ilze from her NADAC days and when Kaiser did TDAA, but we've never shown under her for AKC. I like Ilze, which is one of the reasons why I chose this trial. I was a little disappointed to hear a small group of people standing over the course maps talking about areas they perceived to be "NADAC-like" because Ilze is a "NADAC judge." It perturbed me a bit -- not only because Ilze doesn't actually judge NADAC anymore, nor because judges don't even design their own courses for NADAC, but because I don't think any of those people actually do NADAC so what the heck would they know? Whatever. I thought Ilze's courses were fun and am looking forward to running under her again in La Crosse next month.

Tall dogs were up first, so Secret was my first dog to run. I actually planned on doing a reverse turn at 3 to get a nice tight turn into the tunnel, but Secret was way ahead of me so I just had to pull her in. I did a blind before the a-frame and ran ahead to "scoop" her into the weaves and by some miracle it worked and she stayed in. Hooray! Unfortunately I didn't support the jump after the weaves enough for Secret's liking with the questionable footing, so she cut in and didn't take it -- or the double that followed. That's one thing I learned yesterday -- don't take anything for granted when the footing isn't perfect, because Secret will choose self-preservation every time. If I didn't make it perfectly obvious, she didn't do it.

Secret didn't have a problem with any of the contacts. She did pull up at the jump after the dog walk because she was balking at the person in a giant fuzzy coat sitting in the back corner -- the lady kept lowering her head every time a dog came towards her, which just made her a giant fuzzy blob. I think the dogs would have been better off seeing a human face at least. Oh well, I'd be more upset about it if we hadn't already NQ'd. Despite the errors, Secret still posted a good time and ran well. I know we need single Qs, but I'd rather they come from Std than JWW!  ;o)

Kaiser had a super run. The rain was wrapping up by his turn. Kaiser loves running outside -- he just jumps so much better outside with natural lighting. The cool temperatures (it got up to about 45) were to his liking as well and he was just a happy camper. I knew I couldn't pull off the same weave entry that I'd done with Secret, so with Kaiser I stayed on the right side and ran ahead to really point out the entry to him -- many dogs were entering at the 2nd or 3rd pole and I know Kaiser is prone to the same thing if the entry is too shallow, so I made sure to show him where to go and it worked. He had a really nice rear cross out of the poles into the chute and then I made sure to verbally support the jump more than I had done with Secret. There was a fine line here, though, with that off course jump so close. I stayed down on the inside, though, and we made it through -- and he stayed on the table! Yay! With a clean finish, we got a much-needed Std Q. There were very few Qs on this course, so I'm pretty proud of the wee man for getting through this one.

The rain was pretty much done save for a few spits here and there by the time we got to JWW. The wind was picking up, but it wasn't that bad. The footing, which had been holding up to the weather remarkably well, was getting a little more slick in spots (mostly just affecting the handler), so I took note of that during the walk-through.

I opted to leave Secret at the start for this run, which is something I very rarely do. I really wanted to beat her to do a cross at the top of the tunnel, though, as I really didn't like any of my other options for the 4-7 sequence. This worked really well and I got in for a front cross between 5 and 6, but then I cued too tight of a turn and didn't support 7, so she ran right past it to the inside. The rest of the run was really nice. I shaped the turn coming around 13 so that she'd be slicing 14 and not look at the off-course jump and it worked beautifully. Again, a really nice run with just the one flub. No points. Darn.

I led out again with Kaiser, but with him I held back and opted for a rear cross at six. I made sure to push out to seven and support the jump. At 13 I held my breath for a bit as I worried he would back jump it on the wrap due to how close I was, but he came through nicely and I was able to shape the turn. He seemed oddly distracted and looking off to the outside of the ring as he was coming by 15 so I called his name and he kind of took the jump sideways, but good boy for saving it! He turned on the afterburners for that final line and took off way early for the second-to-last jump, but thankfully he didn't crash it and he kept all the bars up.

So there you have it -- when has this ever happened? Kaiser got a QQ (#5!) and Secret didn't Q at all. I know I struggled with running outside more than the dogs did. They thought it was great. The ring reminded me a lot of my yard at home in that it wasn't flat and even. That took me a bit by surprise. I know the ups and downs of my yard and don't really notice it anymore, but you definitely notice it more in an unfamiliar area. The ring also had a noticeable slope; we were running uphill on the dog walk, for instance. There is a good chance that I was being more cautious and taking short-cuts, which led to Secret missing the jumps. Who knows, I get very spoiled by trialing indoors all of the time. I'm glad I got to this trial, though, if nothing else just for Kaiser. He just does so much better outside.

I did not for one second doubt my decision to not enter Kizzy at this trial. The ring was surrounded by snow fence, but the in and out gates were completely open. There would have been nothing to inspire Kizzy to stay in the ring if she felt like going to visit. In the Novice class they actually did have one dog go rogue -- he took off after the dog who had just left the ring and it took like five minutes for everyone to round him up. Yeah. Glad that wasn't Kizzy.

We got home at 5:00 and Secret spent the next few hours going absolutely crazy. I threw tennis balls for a good long time to wear everyone out, but apparently it didn't come close to taking the edge off. At one point while she was outside running laps she pulled one of the giant weeds out of the ground and thought it would be a good idea to bring inside for show and tell. She finally settled down once it started to get dark out, but man, it was nonstop there for a bit.

Today has been pretty low key. It's another cool day, I'm sure it's beautiful at the trial. At some point I should get my butt in gear and take the dogs out hiking or something. We went out on Friday and I got to pick sticky weeds out of the girls for what felt like forever. That kind of dampens my desire to go out on the trails, I guess. I should also school Kizzy's contacts and weaves a bit more. I'm not sure if we'll get to the NADAC trial the weekend before AKC or not. I have to get Secret into the chiro and that Saturday may be my best option. I'm still waiting to see the work schedule for Petco, but I'm going to guess I'm working that Sunday. We'll have to see how things work out.