Monday, August 25, 2014

More AKC, More Fun, More QQs!

I debated titling this blog post, "In which Kizzy becomes an actual agility dog," but we'll get to that later.  :o)

I've been very absent in my blogging of late. The last week was just so busy. Life consisted of work, school, work, work, and more work. By the time Friday rolled around I was BEYOND ready to pack up the dogs and take off for Oshkosh. We had two days of AKC on the calendar. It feels like it's been a long time since we've gone over to Oshkosh, but I'm sure it's only been a few months. Oh, it was April -- because it was my first trip with the van!

The dogs did just super this weekend. I didn't know anything about the judge in advance, but hoped that since she was from IL (the land where fun courses seem to abound) that this would mean she'd bring fun courses to the trial. There is nothing inherently wrong with the courses, but nor did I consider them to be overly challenging in any aspect. They were nice courses that flowed well, I just always wish for more "fun stuff." I really hope that AKC rolls out some sort of new program for those of us asking for these challenges.

Friday was awesome because we didn't even have to leave home until 9 a.m. If only that was the case for all trials, especially those where we have to travel. Despite having a super, duper boring week and being full of pent up energy, the dogs actually traveled quite well over to Oshkosh. When I say "the dogs," of course I really mean Kizzy, as the other two always travel well regardless.

We arrived a little before noon for a trial that started at 1:00. There was still plenty of crating space available. Unfortunately summer has finally hit us and it was way, way too hot to consider crating anyone from the car, so I knew I was going to have to make it work with Kizzy inside this weekend. I had her share a crate with Kaiser and pretty much just used the game plan of taking her out any time I took anyone else out. Not leaving her behind and taking her out to hang out by the ring a few times seemed to keep her happy and she was actually super quiet all weekend! A few people who are familiar with her even said something to me about it and how they had noticed how much better she's gotten. This made me so happy!

We started with Standard on Friday. This is where I finally got to experience all of that pent up energy. Secret ended up with a total of 30 points -- 21 in Std and 9 in JWW. I believe she got third and second place, respectively. Kaiser brought home 42 points between the two classes and won both (with actual competition for a change). It was a great start to the weekend. This was QQ#11 for Secret and QQ#3 for Kaiser. We're getting there.  :o)

It was probably around 5:00 when we got to our hotel for the evening. We hunkered down for the evening and the dogs got new chew toys and stuffies to keep them occupied while I worked on homework for the next four hours. We'd done quite a bit of walking at the trial and this, combined with the heat, thankfully seemed to appease them and we had a pretty quiet night.

Saturday started with JWW and both dogs had a really great start to the day. Secret won her class with 10 points and Kaiser won his with another 16-pointer (and his MJP!). They were both running so well!

I did not have any concerns for the Std course, and of course this bit me in the butt. Secret (third dog on the line) was moving out nicely across the dog walk and I might have released her a little early (if she was planning to stop at all). I said "tunnel" and she LOCKED into it. Unfortunately she locked into the wrong end. lol  During the course walk I had totally not even seen it as an option. I did one of my screeches, but unfortunately she was too far gone and couldn't stop. I put her back in the correct end of the tunnel and then she zipped behind me to start going up the dog walk. From there she had a nice finish, if you don't count me playing chicken with her on the last blind cross and getting in her way.

With Kaiser's super sensitive space issues I did not figure that the tunnel after the dog walk would be an issue. If I move at all into his space he'll move away, so I wasn't worried. Of course, he NQ'd well before that point anyhow, so it didn't even matter. He nailed his table -- YAY! -- and then ran right past the teeter that came next. It didn't really surprise me, considering he just hasn't been a huge fan of the teeter lately (we're working on it at home now that I actually have stuff out).

We were all wrapped up with the Master dogs by noon and I tell you, it was so tempting to want to just drive home. We still had Kizzy's runs to go, though, and I wanted to stick it out to give it a shot. Unfortunately for us, JWW was last, so we had to do Std first and who knew how that would go. As a reminder, this awesome trainer, yours truly, didn't bother to get any contact equipment out of the garage until two weeks ago. I don't think Kizzy has seen an a-frame since March, it's hard to say. Basically, this is a really bad training plan. Don't follow it.

But look what happened! It's a freaking miracle! I'm still not quite sure how it happened. :o) I'm sure all the walking over the two days helped bring her energy level down to a more manageable level. There was a level of focus, though, that I don't believe I've yet experienced from Kizzy in the ring to this point. I'm still just giddy over how well she did. Kizzy was the last 12" dog in the class, so we had the buffer of a height change and didn't need to worry about the next dog in the ring. The owner of the dog before us requested that we wait until the dog was caught and I had no problem obliging to this. Kizzy has already shown me that she focuses a bit too much on the prior dog if given the chance to watch. We ended up entering the ring after the dog was on leash but before he left the ring, but Kizzy still kept her focus on me.

I started Kizzy very poorly in Standard. Honestly, I've never started her at the chute before. I didn't trust her -- mistake -- and did a running start with her like I'd done with the other two dogs in Std, only I started her way too close. This resulted in Kizzy going around the chute for her first R, but she did it on the second try. Then she did the tire! Hooray! Seriously, this is a big deal because in the two minutes I was able to spend doing agility in the last week she was going through the spaces in mine and not through the tire itself. Thanks to a stop on the dog walk (for real!) I was able to front cross before the tunnel that followed, but she still got another R there. I had to remind myself that we were still okay, we could still do it (ever the optimist considering how much of the course was left).

Kizzy hit the weave entry correctly but skipped a pole in the middle. I praised her and brought her back, and she got them on the second try. Then she stopped on the table! Then she did the a-frame with a perfect hit, I think in two strides! Then she did the teeter and stopped on the end! I was kind of freaking out inside and am lucky I made it to the end of the course at that point. What a good, good, good, good girl!

She got a lot of treats. She had gotten a lot of treats before the run because I'd gotten her out too early. Then she got more treats. I think this might be part of the reason why she was a little more subdued and manageable for JWW. Ha! She was so tired and so full... I asked for a sit-stay in the second class and actually had to prompt her a second time to actually leave the start line. Um, what?

The rear cross up at the top of the course was unavoidable. I did just briefly lose Kizzy there, since you know, we still don't know rear crosses. She stopped and looked out towards the peanut gallery for a moment before rejoining me on the course. Again she hit the weave entry and skipped a pole, but got them on the second try. I fit in two front crosses after that. Go me! Trust the baby dog! And the best part? At the end of the run she STOOD THERE. No silly games whatsoever (the first class she bounced a bit and then rolled over onto her back again). It was an honest-to-goodness 100-point Q! It's her first unofficial QQ. Awwww.

She was so pooped that she didn't even touch her cow ear on the drive home. Nobody did. I think this hot spell has been a hard adjustment on everyone. We've been so spoiled this year and just aren't acclimated to the heat and humidity. I think it's supposed to get better this week, though.

Tonight was just gross outside, but I had to do something with the dogs to keep them quiet during my two hours of class. I got home in time that I set up a very simple circle drill that included the dog walk, jumps, the teeter and the table. Basically just reinforcing everything from the weekend to make sure none of it was a fluke for Kizzy. After all, we only have two weeks until the next trial now. It kind of blows my mind that I might actually be faced with making a decision to move Kizzy into Open JWW, but let's not get ahead of ourselves....

I need to get Secret in to see the chiropractor, but I have no idea when I'll fit it into the schedule. She ran so well this weekend that I'm tempted to let it slide, but the last thing I want is for her to experience any discomfort that brings down the giant happy trip she's been on lately. She's been having so much FUN at trials lately and it's wonderful to see. Kaiser seemed to have a lot of fun this weekend as well and was doing super well with his jumping. No doubt he appreciated the more flowing course styles.

Things are still going well at Petco. Last week I scored another new dog bed. This one was originally $60 and I got it for less than $10 after my employee discount was applied. The dogs seem to love the memory foam beds. Now I'm waiting for the memory foam crate pads to go on clearance so I can scoop those up.  :o)

I had my first official "dog trainer duty" yesterday. The store advertises puppy play time every Sunday, but neither of the trainers were there this weekend. The executive decision was made that I would step in and do it when we ended up with four puppies (some days there are zero, you never know). I love puppies, so this was obviously a terrible inconvenience for me to do. Ha! It was fun, but also good insight on the stuff I will experience once I'm teaching my own classes there. People....

It's a holiday weekend and I actually have nothing on my schedule for three whole days! It's unbelievable!

Oh, and I forgot my pink chair at the trial on Saturday.  :o(  I remember this about a half hour out and could not justify going back for it. The bag is busted and the chair itself is getting up there in age. But now I must find a new pink chair. Because, well, pink.

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