Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Enough with the rain!

It's like living in Seattle or London without any of the perks of actually living in a nice city such as those.

Blargh. It's been raining pretty much nonstop since Sunday. I had reached the point where yesterday I said I'd take the dogs out for a walk when I got home regardless of what it was doing, but I weenied out because it was coming down rather good when I got home. It did let up about an hour and a half later, but by then we'd pretty much settled in for the night -- so basically the dogs have done nothing since Saturday (we did five miles on the bike trail - picture below!). Yay for total inactivity.... Fingers crossed for tonight. It was still raining this morning, but maybe we'll luck out and get a break this afternoon??

We had a vet appointment on Monday. Aside from really hating the Rottweiler that was in the waiting room (and I'll guess that the Rottweiler wasn't a fan of other dogs, either, based on the fact that the owner was trying to hide him in the back corner) Secret did very well. She was friendly and social -- and Dr. Randy even commented that her tail wasn't tucked to her belly button when he came in. She wagged it, even! I think she's decided that she likes Dr. Randy, though, so once that happens we're pretty much golden. Secret got her Lyme & lepto boosters (fat lot of good the Lyme vaccine does us....). Kaiser was due for his yearly wellness and Lyme booster.

We have lots of vet appointments coming up over the next few months! It's nice to spread out the cost and I don't like to overload anyone with all of their vaccinations at once -- but it sure is a lot of appointments.  :o)  Luke is next up in a couple of weeks for a couple of shots, then we'll be back in June for his wellness, more shots plus one more for Kaiser, then Kizzy's turn is in July. Then we're clear until Secret in December and it all starts up again. I don't want to think about how painful it would be to do everyone at once!

Secret has the first of her two "pre-trial" chiropractor appointments tomorrow morning. I'm not even sure when we last saw Dr. Marta, but it's been too long. I'll see if she notices/says anything about Secret's body condition. I believe she was around 46.1 lbs on the scale this week. Randy said that's only a half pound lower than when he last saw her, but he thought she was bonier than he remembered -- specifically he commented that he felt there was less muscle over her top line. We really haven't been doing a lot of jumping lately, I explained, and frisbee has pretty much stopped since the snow started to melt (the yard is fine now, but it's always so damn windy lately!) --- so that might be an explanation for less muscle? Or I suppose I could feed her a little more, she surely wouldn't mind.  ;o) An extra pound wouldn't hurt -- I do think she probably looks a little better at 47 lbs.

On the flip side there's Kizzy... I'll be curious to see where she's at with her weight. I have never had trouble getting my other dogs to what I feel is their optimal body condition, but with Kizzy it's a constant struggle. I feel like I feed her nothing and she just always looks like a chunk to me.

I finally got a start date at Petco -- I go in a week from today to get started on the paperwork and then we set my training schedule from there. That means this is potentially my last free weekend for a while. I'm very tempted to drive to MN to watch the International Team Tryouts. I've never been there in person. But then I heard that 4 Legged Flix is supposed to be streaming it online. They did an awesome job with AKC Nationals, so now I figure maybe I can stay home and watch it online AND maybe even get to work my own dogs a bit. We'll see.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter makes for a Perfectly good day of AKC!

Yesterday we got up at the butt crack of dawn (I guess it's been a while, though, so I shouldn't complain too much) to make the drive over to New Berlin to play AKC. Normally when doing one day of a trial I like to do Saturday and then enjoy sitting on my butt all day Sunday to recover from the long day and the drive. Not even realizing it was a holiday weekend, I opted to enter Sunday this time because they tend to be a little smaller (knowing that the trial didn't fill because I entered at the last second). It was a two-ring, two-judge trial and I think they had fewer than 330 runs combined, so entering on Easter definitely worked to my advantage. We were back on the road home before 12:30 p.m., and that's after putzing around a bit. I was even able to make Easter dinner at my aunt's house.

The dogs did great. Secret brought home QQ #3 and Kaiser earned an unofficial QQ and now needs just one more Q in Excellent Standard before he gets to start the countdown for his PACH.

Secret was up first in the Standard ring. The 24" class was scheduled to start at 8:30 (Time 2 Beat started at 8:00 in the other ring), but it ended up being pushed back past 9:00 a.m. because they had to wait for the teeter out of the T2B ring. I have no idea why, I would think that Think Pawsitive has more than one, but whatever. I crated out of the car and did not bring any crates inside this time. There was plenty of room that I could have, but I didn't even bring any spare ones along. This may have been a bad idea, as I do think that maybe Secret does benefit from having some time to decompress in the trial environment. I think it's hard for her to go straight from the car to the ring without getting used to everything going on around her.

I did my best to get her revved up before her run, but it was pretty pokey. Weaves at the start are never fun for us, and then they were followed almost immediately by one of the dreaded Think Pawsitive tunnels. I will NEVER understand why, but Secret just hates tunnels at this place. And god help us, they are always like 30' long (seriously, they are the longest tunnels I have ever seen). She came trotting out of the tunnel under the dog walk, but thankfully she did pick it up nicely at that point.

She was happy and barky at the table and had a great finish to this course. Like most people, I was really struggling with how I would handle the triple after the a-frame. For reference sake, the chute after the triple changed places with the jump following it, if that would play into your handling choices at all. The off course jump 18 was a VERY attractive option for many dogs. Most people were opting to stay on the right side of the triple and rear cross the jump, but there were lots of errors in this area. I ended up pushing hard, did a blind after the a-frame and ran up past the triple and it worked beautifully. I also got in a nice front cross in the tight space between 17 & 18, which resulted in a much nicer line than the multitudes of people doing a rear cross on the landing side of 18 -- more often than not this move resulted in the dog face-planting and sliding on the turf before finishing their course.

Secret picked up 15 speed points (definitely a bit low) and 4th place on this run. Despite it being a smaller trial, the 24" class was HUGE! This is likely due to the club being hosted by the Doberman Pinscher Club and also having the Rottweiler National Specialty being ran at the same trial.

Kaiser's JWW run was up next in the other ring, but blessedly I had zero conflicts at this trial and felt like I was able to give everyone the attention they needed. I led out to jump 2 to help get a nice turn and avoid the off course that would be more likely if I was running after him. He did great with this, but then stalled so long in the tunnel (yet another 50' tunnel....) that I started to worry that he was going to come out the entrance -- if he would come out at all.... I heard several people grumbling about their dog getting "stuck" in that tunnel, so who knows if there was something in it or what.

At any rate, he did come out the proper end and we continued on. I did a front cross on the landing side of six, taking care to rotate enough so that I wouldn't push him straight over the off course jump. He had his typical lovely weaves and I went ahead and threw a blind at him between 10 and 11 since there weren't really any off course options in front of him. From there it was pretty straight forward. He's twitchy around tunnels, so I didn't push to get in front of him after 17 and just did the rear cross at 18. The 8" Performance Masters class was actually quite good-sized at this trial, but Kaiser was the only one to Q so he picked up 1st place and 16 speed points.

Secret's JWW run was next on the schedule. I knew blinds would work well for her pretty much everywhere on this course, so that's what we did. If I thought she was pokey on the first run, this one was worse. She came trotting out of the never-ending tunnel and never really picked up speed like she usually will. Of course, this wasn't a very motivating course with her the way it was split up with tunnel, weave, tunnel with a few jumps in between. I was ahead of her at jump 13 when I looked back and she darn near refused it before hurtling herself over it in a not terribly graceful manner. After that I made sure to support the triple and the double that followed, and then I zipped in place for a blind between 17 and 18, which did seem to light a little fire under her butt. But then we were done, so.... However, AKC does reward consistency, and consistent we were --- So Secret picked up her third QQ and six speed points. She seems to average 10 points in JWW (highest was 15, lowest before this was 7), so I mean I guess it could have been worse. At any rate, I called the chiropractor this morning and she has two appointments before the big 3-day trial in La Crosse. I know she's way overdue.

I think Secret was done by 10:30! Then we just had to wait a bit for Kaiser's Standard run -- and because he's still in Excellent, he was one of the very last Masters dogs to run. I so badly want for him to be in Masters that I had to try very hard to make myself not hover and handle him like a freak. We had a few, "OMG, did she call that?" moments on this course. On the teeter he did what's becoming a bad habit -- rode the tipping point down to the ground and then jumped off the side. Thankfully he had a paw in the yellow, so yay for the Klee Kai, I guess.

I *wanted* the little stinker to hold his wait on the bottom of the dog walk so that I could get ahead a bit to support the table, but Kaiser didn't think that was a good idea. Thankfully he DID think the table was a good idea and actually jumped on it and stayed there. I had no problem leading out from the table to be on the right side of the next jump and then I pushed hard on the a-frame and was well ahead and in place for a front cross before the triple. My little off course king managed to not go off course in the hardest part! Yay! I was too hesitant and didn't feel like I could make the front cross at the end without pushing him to the dummy jump, so I chickened out and did one of the bad rear crosses like everyone else. It worked, except then Kaiser said, "forget you" and was going to leave to go get his treats --- leaving the ring in AKC is a VERY BAD THING and even if they come back in that's an E. He didn't make it ALL the way out between the two gates and I didn't hear a whistle, but I honestly had no idea until the results were posted if we had a Q or not. We did! Hooray! That's 2/3, so hopefully we can wrap up that title in La Crosse!

Kizzy came along for the ride because the trial info said that there would be a VMO present. I never saw anyone measuring, but nor did I ask, so we're still waiting on that second measurement. I made sure to get her out several times and took her in to show her the rings between Master & Open. She did fine, probably largely because of what we did on Saturday:

We went back up to the Experimental Forest and this time the stupid snow & mud was gone! It was a beautiful day on Saturday -- It was the first time we hit 70 degrees in OVER SIX MONTHS. How depressing is that? We have the longest winters ever...

We ended up hiking 6.2 miles! Normally I try not to do anything "too active" the day before a trial, but I was worried that if we didn't do something the dogs would never go to sleep that night (and we need to go to bed early for that drive, so...). And once you make the drive somewhere to hike, you feel like you may as well take advantage of it. We ended up going all the way to the end of this trail, which was just under 3 miles, then we hit up an extra bit of field road on the way back to make sure that we would hit 6 miles, because I like even numbers.  :o)  We saw a few people up there that day, but no dogs. Everyone had a great time and miraculously, I have not found any ticks.... (Knock on wood)

Tonight I set up the giant arch of hoops in the yard -- six hoops (and one jump standard without a bar) spanning the radius of the yard. The only purpose of this exercise is for everyone to run as fast as they can, and I think this is just what everyone needed. Everyone was hauling ass, which was good to see. I feel Kaiser's been being more "careful" at trials lately, so it was nice to see him flatten out again. And Secret, holy hell, she can really move (if only she'd do it at trials...).

I kept Kizzy's sessions very short and never did the full arch with her. Her first turn was with a toy and she was doing great -- until she wasn't, and she left with her head up sniffing at something in the corner. There was something in the air tonight, as Kaiser kept getting pulled that way as well. I somehow, by some lucky fate, managed to snag her collar as she tried to bolt past me when I went to catch her and end the fun (that she ended by choosing to leave me). Oh, was she MAD!!! That was NOT in her plan. I just scooped her up, carried her into the house and stuck her through the door and had Luke come out for his turn. I kept Kizzy's second turn VERY short with just a couple of runs. I scooped her up while she was playing tug and then fed her a bunch of yummy treats before putting her back in the house. I had just a few treats left over after Kaiser's second turn, so I had Kizzy come out once more and take a few short passes for food, ending with a collar grab while she ate treats. I definitely need to continue to end the fun when she chooses to leave the game, but it is so stinking hard to catch her. Totally lucked out tonight....

We'll keep playing this game. It's good for everyone! Sometimes I get so caught up in the fun handling stuff that I forget how important basic speed work can be.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Kaiser's super awesome NATCH ribbon

I'm not sure how I completely forgot to share this, but at our trial this past weekend I was presented with Kaiser's NATCH ribbon that he earned at the March NADAC trial at Family Dog Center. FDC has moved to these amazing personalized ribbons that somewhat remove that "instant gratification" that we're used to getting when winning large awards, but I'd say they are worth the wait!

They do still have some of the traditional style ribbons left over, which make for handy props when posing for your NATCH photo -- which then gets placed onto your super special personalized ribbon. It's such a fantastic keepsake. I'm really looking forward to having one for Luke's NATCH 5, especially since it will likely be his last. And I dare say I'm now kind of tempted to drag Secret out and make her get the nine Chances Qs that she needs for NATCH 2, just so that she can have a super special personalized ribbon, too.  ;o)

I posted the photo on Facebook this morning and a friend made a comment that "FDC's entries just went up." lol  Isn't that true, though? We agility folks are kind of ribbon whores in that way. We go to where the good bling is! I fully admit to hand-picking trials when a NATCH has been on the line, based on bars & ribbons. Now that I'm not traveling for NADAC anymore it's not quite the issue, but I used to try to make sure I was spreading the love and getting bars and ribbons from a variety of clubs in the area. We did a pretty good job of it, too. I should share my loot pile one of these days. Or, you know, actually do something with it to display it nicely....

There was a really fun Happy Hurdle Day course posted this week on Ann Croft's Agility Coach Facebook page, so I couldn't help but run home and set it up. Thankfully this was possible because we did NOT get a foot of snow like our friends in Minnesota did the night before last.... We did get between 1"-2" on Sunday night, but thankfully it melted by Tuesday and pretty much just served to help green things up nicely. I might have to think about mowing in the next week or so.... No complaining, it's not shoveling.

The dogs did well on this course. I jumped Secret at 20" to keep her fresh and happy for this weekend. I was most impressed with how well all of the dogs did with the tricky weave entries -- even Luke! The angles are hard to see in the video, but the course was set very true to the map and you can see that they aren't too easy. I did cheat a bit and shaped the entry to 4 with most dogs (especially Luke). The entry to the second set of weaves (9) was killer only because everyone wanted to take the off course jump on the way there. Snooker skills!

With Kizzy, I kept her turn short and opted to work only with food (cheese) since she's been having some distraction issues lately. I also feel like she really hates some of the rear cross exercises I've been working with her on lately in an attempt to get her to actually do them... And her response to those exercises seems to be that she's slowed down on me a bit. I'm a little perplexed by her complete hatred for rear crosses, but we'll figure out a compromise one of these days. I know all of my dogs have initially struggled with rear crosses at tunnels, but never like this one. I think everyone would benefit from a return to the big jump arch for some fun speed-building work again. I don't think Kizzy has ever played that game, actually. God help me, because she doesn't have distance skills, so I'll be running! lol

In other news, life will be changing for all of us shortly. With the addition of the van (or rather, the van payment), I knew I was going to have to look for a second job again. I worked two jobs for nearly three years and it's been exactly one year since I left my job at the Humane Society. It's been nice having that time off (to face it, be a bum on the weekends, because lord knows I never do anything productive when I'm not trialing), but that's coming to an end, as yesterday I accepted a position to be a dog trainer at Petco.

It will be a while before I actually have classes to teach, as first you have to go through all of the basic training for the general positions in the store, and then you have to complete like six weeks of their mentoring program (it used to be 12, so hooray for that), but once that happens it sounds like I'll be able to pretty much set my own schedule AND bring a dog to work with me! How fun will that be! And don't forget about the discount -- that was my main reason for seeking employment at Petco. I would have taken any position just for the discount. :o)  During my interview I was asked if I had applied at PetSmart and I openly said, "No, because I don't buy anything from that store and the employee discount wouldn't do me any good." lol  Honesty, it works every time.

My start date is pending the background check being completed, but I assume that it will be within the next couple of weeks. I think the dogs are used to me being gone now that it won't be too hard on them -- that was my main reason for backing off the Humane Society job, because it was hard on the dogs when I started my job at Kaplan and they were left home every day, and then I was also gone on the weekends. Now that they are in the routine of, "Mom leaves, we get Kongs" they seem to be okay with it.  ;o)  This job does involve working until 9 p.m. on week nights, though, and I'm sure that will take some getting used to -- but we may be able to talk my dad into visiting them on his way home from work those nights. We'll see.

We get to go play AKC in New Berlin on Sunday! It's a small two-ring trial thanks to it being Easter and all, so I'm looking forward to getting done early (especially since I'm driving over at 4:30 a.m....). We haven't been to Think Pawsitive for almost a year, when we last ran USDAA. I enjoy the facility and can't wait to see what their AKC trials are like. I'm hoping Kaiser runs okay there, as he's only ran 12" at this facility and of course, his jumping was absolute crap....

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Finally, I feel like the van is "mine." It has felt so.... boring. So.... naked. In the parking garage at work it has looked just like all of the other vehicles parked next to it. Sure, I've got my personalized plates -- but it just wasn't the same.

This weekend at the NADAC trial, our awesome friend Kelly hooked us up with some rocking decals! For some reason I sometimes like to pretend that I have graphic design skills and play with various editing software that I have no idea how to use. And sometimes things actually come together and I end up with something I really like! lol One of the things I always liked most about my Klee Kai Agility decal was that I made it, so this last week I sat down and came up with a couple more designs. I actually really love how everything turned out! Choosing colors was about as hard as it gets, but that worked out, too.

Of course, as soon as we (and by that, I mean Kelly, because I'm useless at such things) applied them, I instantly started thinking, "Hmm, I could put something there, I should put something there...." lol I mean, look, there is empty window space! For the back end, though, I'm seriously considering doing a mirror image of the border collie on the other side, and then possibly doing paw prints with the dogs' names going up the (currently) empty bottom corner.

Luke thoroughly enjoyed his weekend as an only dog. I did, too, although I will admit there were many times when I found myself wishing the other dogs were there because I knew they would enjoy some aspect of the courses we were running. Even Secret would have LOVED the Regular courses today because it was essentially a Jumpers course with contacts and weaves (it didn't even have a tunnel in it, so weird).

Luke needed to get both Jumpers runs and both Chances in order to come home with NATCH 5 this weekend. He's been on a streak lately with something like 6 Chances Qs in a row, but looking back on my records his last Jumpers Q was in October!! I had no idea it had been so long... Darn all that fancy handling. lol

Well, unfortunately it wasn't meant to be and we NQd in Chances yesterday. It was so close, though! The course ended with a dog walk/tunnel discrimination and with the way Luke has been about his dog walk lately I knew that he would prefer to take the tunnel option. If I called too hard I was liable to pull him off the dog walk completely, so I figured I'd just cue the dog walk normally and if he took the tunnel then well, he was choosing what he felt was best for him. And he did. Everything up to that point was lovely, though, and it was a decently tricky course.

I'm glad for that NQ, though, because otherwise I fear I would have played it "safe" in Jumpers, and what fun is that? With nothing to lose, I figured I'd handle the course the way I wanted to, which means BLIND, BLIND, BLIND!  :o)  I did "chicken out" and throw in one front cross when there was an off course tunnel as an option, but otherwise I blinded my way through the course and Luke did a FABULOUS job and picked up one of the Qs he needed!

He also got to run one round of Regular and Hoopers yesterday. Regular was a good effort, especially with two dog walks in it, but I apparently dropped my arm and he crossed behind me on a sequence. Whoops. Sometimes blinding will bite you in the butt, I guess. Hoopers was awesome and I blinded the heck out of that run, too. lol

We got to play some EGC after the trial. Family Dog Center will be offering EGC runs the Friday of the their next trial (June), so judge Jim set up a couple of Novice courses for people to play on and get a feel for the game. This is where I really found myself wishing the other dogs were there -- or at least Kaiser, as I've been curious to see what he would do on these courses. Luke rocked it, of course. Our first course was "gaters" and he missed one gate on the first go for 2 faults (still a Q) and then nailed it on the second go for a clean run. After that we set up extreme hoopers, or whatever the thing with the giant circle of gates is called. He stalled out in the gate circle both times when a send to the far hoop was required, but redirected so I have no idea if that would be a Q or not. It's not likely that I will enter EGC, but it was nice to have the chance to try it out.

Today Luke just had Jumpers and Chances. Jumpers was so fun because I think I threw in like six blind crosses! I probably didn't need to blind my way through a serpentine, but why not? Ha! Luke's Jumpers and Hoopers runs were all clocking in around 5.5 yps this weekend, which is totally awesome for the old man. He likes the blinds! Chances was totally a Luke course today. It didn't even have any contacts, just nice and flowing with jumps, a tunnel and the weaves. He nailed it --- so now he just needs one more Chances Q for that next NATCH. Hopefully we can do it in June with one of our favorite judges, Roger Coor.

Unfortunately for all of the dogs who were stuck at home this weekend, the weather has been pretty crummy. There was a HUGE storm that blew through yesterday -- It was so bad that a ton of rain blew in through the dog door. Wonder what everyone thought of that?? At least we were able to sneak in a walk after I got home yesterday. Not so lucky today. It's been raining steadily since I got home, so we are stuck indoors tonight.

Looking forward to AKC next Sunday! Hopefully Luke forgives me for leaving him at home again after his "only dog" weekend.  :o)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oshkosh Kennel Club AKC Trial

So here it is, Tuesday, so I figured I should probably get around to doing a write-up about our trial at Oshkosh Kennel Club this past Friday & Saturday! I'm really growing to like this facility and the people who regularly attend their trials. The drive over is not bad at all and the dogs seem to do well there. Unfortunately it looks like there aren't any more trial opportunities there until this fall. Boo.

Friday's trial didn't start until 11:00 a.m., which was especially nice considering the weather. It was doing this nasty mix of snow/rain/sleet here at home when I left, but in less than an hour it all turned to rain and I pretty much just drove through drizzle all the way to Oshkosh. The roads were fine for a change, thank goodness! We ended up making good time and pulled in around 10:00 a.m., which meant I had a whole lot of time to kill. They were starting with Master FAST, so it was going to be a while.

This was the first trial I've gotten to crate out of the van and it was AWESOME. I did haul one crate inside to have a "home base" of sorts to keep stuff and to use before and after runs. This worked so well. It was so amazingly stress-free to not worry about the dogs barking (or screaming...). I'm sure it had to have been nicer for them as well! The weather was a little cold on Saturday morning, but I cranked the heat on the drive over and then the sun kept things comfortably warm. By noon or so I rolled the windows down because it was actually getting a little stuffy in there.

We ran Standard first on Friday. The order was small to tall, so Kaiser was up first. Unfortunately this run was an NQ right at jump 5. I didn't support the jump because I was in a hurry to beat him past the tire for the push to the right, so that was my fault. There was lots of good stuff in this run, though, like getting his table, a nice little flip from the dog walk to the tunnel and a nice closing.

Learning from my mistakes, I made sure to support jump 5 with Secret -- so much so that I ended up running with her and doing a blind before the a-frame. Then I threw in another blind after the tire, and then for some reason front-crossed her onto the table. Oh well, it worked. Her weaves were fairly pokey, but she, too, had a really nice flip into the tunnel followed by a nice, fast finish. It was good enough to pick up 2nd place in a class of 14!

It was a fun little JWW course. It started out with an "almost backside" at number two that had the dog jumping back into your line and sometimes Kaiser can be iffy about stuff like that. He was a champ, though. I handled him conservatively through this course and made sure to support everything and not take anything for granted. We had one OMG moment when he came out of the tunnel the first time and went straight to the weaves, but we saved it and stayed on course. Kaiser picked up a Q and his AXJ-P title! On to Masters for the wee man!!

Secret did just great and I pushed to stay ahead of her with the blinds on this run. I used blinds everywhere on this course and it worked great. I ran ahead on the weaves so that I would be ahead to run the outside line (blinding again as she finished the poles) and she was much speedier on this run. She picked up 1st place in this run for QQ#2!

Our La Quinta was pretty swanky -- I used reward points and it's an "8000-point" location, so I knew it would be nicer.  ;o)  When I opened the door and saw the room I was SO GLAD that I packed a sheet to cover the bed (and that I left the dogs in the car until it was in place). White linens! Eek. With the cruddy weather that day it could have been really bad! I'm thankful I finally started to practice good dog stewardship in the last year. lol

One of the neatest things about our hotel was that it was right on a golf course -- which happens to not be open yet this early in the season, so we went out and wandered around for a bit in the horrible wind and yuck. Secret got to chase off a couple of geese, which she thought was the most awesome thing ever (especially when she jumped up and almost got some tail feathers...). She needs a part time job chasing birds off airport runways or golf courses. Then she almost went swimming while wearing her Back on Track blanket, but thankfully I was able to talk her out of that.

The JWW course on Saturday was fairly friendly. Kaiser really appreciated the flowy NADAC flavor that it had, especially in the middle. The big dogs were struggling with the weave entry off the triple, but Secret managed it just fine. She picked up another Q, 3rd place and 10 speed points (she got 10 on the JWW the day before as well, so she's consistent).

Kaiser nailed his first Masters run, won the 8"-P class and got 18 speed points. Whee! Now if only we could get a Std Q...

Unfortunately nobody managed to pick up a Std Q on Saturday. Secret's only fault was in the weaves. I was on the a-frame side of the poles and the judge was standing over by the teeter. Secret cranked her head towards the judge right in the middle of the poles and skipped one. Nice, Secret. She was the first dog and I noticed that the judge stayed further back after that. Oh well. It happens. The rest of her run was very nice, although I probably shouldn't have put in a blind between the jumps following the table. With the a-frame calling her name, Secret went way wide on that turn. Sometimes a front would be better...

Kaiser was pretty much a hot mess on this course. He left his weaves early (??), took the off course jump after the a-frame, took the long way to the table after the chute (three extra jumps...) and then had a table fault. I led out from the table to do the front cross with him and he had a zippy finish. He's still just 1/3 of his Exc Std Qs....

Kaiser got to redeem himself on the Time 2 Beat course. I entered him in this because I knew we'd be waiting around for Kizzy's runs, otherwise I don't usually see too much value in entering it. Kaiser was the only 8"-P dog in the class (the other one entered was absent) so he just had to run clean for another 10 points. He almost took a second trip through the tunnel at the start, but put in a nice run after that. It didn't feel that fast, but he did end up with one of the fastest times in all of the heights, so I guess it wasn't that bad!

Kizzy did well and tried hard. I was really happy with her FAST run on Friday and how well she stuck with me. She ran past the first jump in the send and I wasn't sure if that faulted us, so I just kept going and finished with the NQ. Unfortunately she had a bit of a fly-off on the teeter during that run and it apparently wigged her out a bit. She started Std strong on Saturday with some nice weaves, but then bailed off the dog walk right at the top. Then she went halfway up the teeter before bailing, then refused the a-frame. Poor thing, she's never really been spooked by contacts before!

Jumpers was good until I lost her about halfway through. She again did her weaves (2nd try), but I lost her on a cross at the back of the course and she ran for the exit and popped through the gate to get to the other dogs. So much for not leaving the ring in Oshkosh... Too bad she figured that one out.

Kizzy will be taking a break from trialing for a bit. I was running her throughout the winter more or less to just get/keep her on equipment during our weather-induced hiatus, but now that we can train at home again it's time to work on solidifying her skills a bit more. A running trend has been that I lose her on crosses, so there is some sort of disconnect happening there. I'll just keep working with her at home for now and see if we can't find a few opportunities to train in other places -- but right now I couldn't tell you when her next trial will be.

There is NADAC in La Crosse this weekend and I have decided to only enter Luke. With AKC this past weekend and then again on Easter Sunday, I figured the old man deserves a weekend by himself. He's running four runs on Saturday and two on Sunday. If he qualifies in both Chances and both Jumpers runs that will be NATCH 5 -- at which point I think he just may retire. We'll see. I haven't fully decided yet, and probably won't until it happens! I stuck him in one round of Regular on Saturday so that he has a chance to warm up and run before Chances, but I've pretty much pulled him out of that class already due to some of the struggles he's been having with the dog walk. He's been hesitant about entering the dog walk at the last few trials, so the last thing I want to do is risk a fall. We'll take it easy and see how it goes this weekend.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


After watching my last video, I got to thinking that maybe Secret's lack of energy wasn't so much related to her need for a chiropractic adjustment -- but instead maybe it had something to do with the lack of energy that *I* was giving off. Especially with a dog like Secret, I can't really expect her to be jumping out of her skin if I'm giving off "blah" vibes.

So tonight I set another Happy Hurdle Day course (hot off the press today!) and went into our training session knowing I had to bring some energy of my own to the party. It made a HUGE difference with Secret. I'm thrilled with the run I picked for the video, but you should have seen her weaves the first time we went through. Holy cow, she was moving! She even pushed the poles around, so Go Secret!

Kaiser was Kaiser. He always seems to have energy whether I do or not.  :o)

Kizzy and I are struggling slightly at the moment. I started working on "calm" with her -- especially at trials -- and she seems to be losing interest after a bit. Calmness doesn't float her boat, at which point I tend to go get food so that I can still keep her focus. It occurred to me tonight after her turn was over that perhaps it wouldn't hurt to bring out her food-stuffable jackpot toy a few times to reinstate the "happy happy." In her defense, there are a LOT of smells in the yard right now -- one was so good that she stopped during her turn to roll in it....

Luke even did awesome tonight! The old man still has it.

Tonight is the calm before the storm. Now they're saying 4"-6" of snow Thursday night into Friday. Isn't that exciting.

Two days in a row!

Okay, so this is incredibly tardy... The last couple of nights I've ended up sitting at the computer until almost 9:00 and didn't feel like staying there any longer to do a blog post.  :o)  So here's just a quick update before I get too far behind.

We got to play AGAIN on Monday after work! Although it was incredibly windy and I didn't think we'd get through it without all of the jumps blowing over (we did), it was 67 degrees outside and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to set up something and play with the dogs. We did our first Happy Hurdle Day course of the year! We have a whole winter's worth of courses to catch up on, although admittedly not all of Ann's courses appeal to me. Some are just a little *too* "international" in flavor and probably not quite motivating enough to do on a continuous basis.

This one was fun, though, and everyone did great! Kaiser (surprisingly!) probably did the best and knocked out a couple of clean runs straight out of the gate. Secret was lacking a bit in the motivation/speed department, which leads me to believe even more strongly that she really needs to get in to see the chiro. Hopefully it doesn't affect her too terribly this weekend. I just entered Secret & Kaiser in a day of AKC over in New Berlin on 4/20, so I should probably try to get her in before that and not wait until before the La Crosse trial in May. Kizzy also did super, but I did have to switch her from toys to food due to the distraction of BIRDS landing all over the freaking yard during her turn. She tried hard, but the allure was too strong and she just couldn't keep focused. Once the food came out things went much better.

I forgot to mention in my last post that we went hiking this weekend! Saturday was a nice day in the upper 40's/low 50's and I -- foolishly -- thought that maybe the trails up at the experimental forest would be starting to clear. This was based on my snow-free yard, which has absolutely no correlation to anything located at the top of the bluffs....

The trails were still completely snow & ice covered, which made for some slow-going at times. This was preferable to the top of the fields, though, which were mostly mud with patches of snow interspersed. My choice of footwear was based on the expectation of at least mostly-dry land, so I was woefully unprepared.

We put in five miles that day, which made for some very happy, albeit muddy, dogs. Thankfully there was enough snow towards the end of the trails that the dogs got at least somewhat cleaned off before getting into the van. Everyone had towels in their crates and by the time we got home most of the nastiness had come off the dogs and into the towels, so clean-up was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be! I love having wash-n-wear dogs.  :o)

Lest you think spring has actually sprung in Wisconsin, we are back to crap weather again. Yesterday had a high of 34 with snow flurries. Today is supposed to be in the 40s so we will likely try to squeeze in a bit more agility fun at home tonight, but then the weather is taking another turn for the worse. The real kicker is Thursday night through Friday --- of course we would have winter storm warnings when I have to drive across the state! The original forecast was for sunny and 50s on Friday, which I thought would be perfect for crating out of the van at the trial. Now I'm undecided and should probably plan for all circumstances in case it ends up being too cold. Sigh. The winter that never ends.

And finally, still no dental floss. I'm starting to think this will be like the Christmas squeaker that magically appeared in March....