Monday, September 29, 2014

More Happy Hurdle fun

I fail at updating this blog with any regularity anymore. We played on another Happy Hurdle Day course on Friday, but apparently I forgot to post anything about it. I guess that's what happens when you work 17 overs over the weekend and attempt to get homework done, too. Only one more week left in this term! I am looking forward to starting new classes. This next week should be pretty simple and then I have a whole week off before the next term starts. Down time! Hooray! Oh wait, I should probably use that time to prepare more for my dog training classes. Oh well.

So. Happy Hurdle Day. Ann Croft posted this exercise on her Agility Coach Facebook page this past Wednesday and I thought it looked decently fun. There have been some lately that just make me go, "Ugh." I think it's obvious that I enjoy a challenge, but some stuff is just ugly (backside, wrap, wrap, backside, backside) and I know would not be motivating to my dogs. This particular course had enough forward movement interspersed with the fun stuff to keep everyone happy -- even Kaiser, who was, incidentally, the only dog who had two perfect trips and was done (video less than 3 minutes, score!).

This course did reveal Secret's biggest weakness -- obstacle commitment when my feet aren't moving. I stop, she stops. Errr, no hon, we have to fix that. We first struggled at jump 2 when I planted in preparation for taking off to the weaves. The expectation is for her to wrap the jump and myself, but Secret will often pull up short when my motion stops. I need to work on keeping my feet moving, but it wouldn't kill her to learn to follow through with obstacle commitment instead of lurching to a stop.... Coming back around to that jump for number 6 also caused her to pull up short a couple of times when I planted in preparation to move off in the other direction. I think she may have pulled up once at jump 11, which I JUST realized that I took from the wrong direction. Every time. GAHHHH. I hate it when I do that. Dratted international course maps with their numbers on every side.  ;o)

Kizzy did well, too, still jumping at 14". Just think how easy-breezy those 12" jumps will be for her when she has her next trial. Maybe I should put her at 8" at the NADAC trial to see how fast she goes. Ha.... Once again Kizzy needed a little refresher on the weaves before we got started. I think this is telling me that we should work on the weaves a bit more before her next trial...

It was so nice out this weekend. It would have been great weather to take the dogs swimming and I'm kind of bummed that we missed out on that opportunity. Hopefully we'll be able to squeeze in another trip to the river before it gets too cold out.

Speaking of cold (?) -- We are playing agility outdoors near Madison this weekend and the current forecast calls for a high of 59 degrees. The dogs are going to LOVE it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kaiser made the Target website this year!

Look what I found today! I make it a point to regularly scan through the pet costume pages on the Target website this time of the year just in case I might get lucky and spot Kaiser. Despite being the model on the blinky bee costume last year, he wasn't on the website, so I have never been sure of how those pictures get chosen (vs the ones on the packaging).

Kaiser only modeled one costume this year because we went on the very last day and were pretty much just batting clean-up, providing them with any shots they felt they didn't have enough of already. He just missed out on getting to wear a hotdog costume, too, because of the two little dachshunds that were being shot at the same time. Darn wiener dogs anyhow.  ;o)

I had previously come across the dinosaur costume he modeled, but it was only posted in medium and large sizes. Kaiser modeled the small. Well, when I looked today the small was posted -- and there he is! With a cat. lol  Poor cat. What a good cat, though! How many cats do you know would sit and stay through a photo shoot?

So now we will start Kaiser-Watch. If I recall correctly, the pet costumes didn't come out until a good week or more into October. I'll have to start dropping in on Target to see what I can find. It would appear that nothing was used from his bed shoot last fall, so it would be neat if he made the costumes again.

I hope Kizzy gets the opportunity one day as well -- I still think they would love her expressive little face. But for now, Kaiser will remain the only star of the family.  :o)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Today is the first day of fall. This typically tends to bring with it that panicked feeling of, "OMG, winter is coming! We must train ALL THE THINGS!" The days are noticeably shorter now, and by 7:30 it's already getting too dark to pick poo from the yard. It's 8:00 write now and it is blacker than black outside. Wasn't it only a month ago that it was light out past 9:00? Seems like it.

I've had a super wonderful Petco schedule lately that is letting me spend more weeknights at home with the dogs. Tonight on my drive home from work I tossed around the idea of going on another hike, but then changed my mind and decided that no, we should do some agility. Because, you know, pretty soon we won't be able to do that for like six months again.

I finally moved my dog walk when I mowed on Sunday, so I sat down and started looking on for something to play with tonight (because me and course design, we aren't so hot). Basically the mission was to find something with the dog walk over on the right and an a-frame without a tunnel under it, since, well, I still don't have a functioning one of those (goal for next year?).

Lucky me, rather quickly I found this:

Only boo, it appears to be set up incorrectly for my current dog walk placement. Easy enough, we use the editor to do this:

And there you have it! The tire got moved to where the chute is and we started on number two. I put the broad jump in place of the triple because, well, I did. The a-frame magically materialized into a tunnel. I realized afterwards that I could have safely placed the chute as the first obstacle off to the left of two, but oh well, nineteen obstacles was plenty.

Secret continues to be in her freakishly happy mood. I don't know what she's been on for the last several months, but I hope it sticks.  :o)  I let her stay out again after her turn was done. She stayed out of the way during Kizzy's turn, but towards the end of Kaiser's turn she started following us around and offering stuff -- like even going into the weaves after him. I'd given her the jolly ball to chew on today, so I practiced a couple of Ketschkers into the weaves and boy were those some nice weaves. Happy Secret is fun!

The little dogs did great, too. Kizzy made it through the course with just a dropped bar at the jump after the dog walk (I was jumping her at 14" again). She gave me some very nice dog walks today. I realized after we were done that I should probably start proofing her a bit more on those to make sure she actually has an understanding of that whole stopping thing. I'm pretty sure right now she's stopping because I'm stopping, and we know how well that works in trials. I worked a couple of rear crosses with her in spots on this course and lord knows this is something we need to continue to work on. The difficulty tends to stem from her not really driving ahead well at home. We've actually gotten some decent rear cross attempts at trials because she runs like a crazed bat out of hell in that environment. I need to get her moving ahead like that at home.

Kaiser did great if you don't count that one crazed dog walk where he didn't even think of stopping and missing his weave entry the first time through. But he totally slid to hold on to his table, so hooray for that effort!

Luke got to chase his Jolly Ball around the yard while I put everything away. He seems okay with the idea of not doing too much agility these days so long as he gets to chase stuff. There is still much barking while the others are working, though, lest I forget that he's in the house waiting for his turn to play.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How things have changed!

I remember a time when Secret didn't care at all about toys. She liked food, sure, but she was always pretty slow when food was involved. I worked and worked to turn her on to toys. When it finally started to click, she'd still turn off if food was around. I had to always make sure she had her turn first, because if I brought her out after Kaiser and she saw that I was giving him food, that was it -- she wouldn't work for toys anymore.

Tonight we played on a Happy Hurdle Day course from the Ann Croft Agility Coach Facebook page. It's been a while since we've done one of these! Ann posted one this week that was inspired by some of the fun stuff that just happened at World, so I definitely wanted to try my hand at it.

Secret was a very good girl during her turn (despite biting right through my nail on my thumb....) and I pretty much let her have her biggest reward -- I let her stay in the yard and chew on her plastic frisbee ring while I ran the little dogs. It's her happy place; she just totally zones out.

After I'd ran Kizzy and Kaiser I was feeling a lot more comfortable on the course than when I'd ran Secret, so I wanted to see if she'd give it another go. I still had the treats in my hand from Kaiser's turn, so I figured I'd "let" Secret work for treats instead of a toy this time. She was having none of it. First I could barely get her away from her frisbee. I got her all barky and revved up like before one of our trial runs, but it just wasn't there. When she came trotting out of the first tunnel I said, "forget it." I went and grabbed her stupid plastic ring and then she was on! Open bag of treats on the ground, but she wanted the nasty old busted up remains of a frisbee. And she had a great run! What a weirdo. I'd say all of that work I put into her toy drive paid off, though!

Here's that super special bite wound she gave me. It actually looks a lot more impressive now (typing is fun, by the way). We'll have to see how pretty it is in the morning. It wasn't Secret's fault -- We were tugging on the fabric frisbee on the way back to the start jump and my thumb just slid between her teeth. Watching it on video, I think I actually held it together really well. I can't ever freak out over something like this because I don't want to totally risk shutting Secret down. So I just finished running her with my bleeding thumb and then worked the little dogs and got my open wound covered in gross treat grease. Oh well, it cleaned up well.  :o)

The little dogs did well, too! Kizzy had the jumps set at 14", which will be her USDAA height here at some point or another. I do really want to get back to USDAA to finish up Secret's PDCH, but her MACH is the priority at the moment. Once that is out of the way maybe I'll sacrifice some AKC trials to go to some USDAA. But then there's Kaiser's PACH..... Excuse me, but where is my sugar daddy?? I really thought I'd have one by now.


Oops -- NADAC

We went and played at the local NADAC trial on Saturday, and apparently I failed to post absolutely anything about it. Oops.

I almost stayed home. I was seriously *this close* to turning off my alarm and going back to sleep that morning. Honestly, if it weren't for Kizzy being entered and Kizzy needing the ring time, there is a good chance I would have said "screw it."

But Kizzy was entered, and so were Luke & Kaiser, so I got up and went. I enjoy the judge who was there this weekend (Rachelle Jensen) and knew that I would regret not going. Granted, I didn't get there any early. I think I rolled in around 7:40 for an 8:00 trial. I made the executive decision to crate out of the van all day since I was only there for one day and it was going to be like 62 degrees outside. I felt a little bad because I know Luke likes to hang out at trials and schmooze with his fans, but he seemed happy enough with the time he spent inside before & after his runs.

Luke got to run in all of his normal classes (so that would be Regular, Jumpers & Chances) and he did great in all of them. I'm always wondering, "When should he retire?" His running was solid enough this weekend that I don't think he's quite there yet. Luke went 3/4 for the day, with his only NQ being when I didn't support an "out tunnel" under the dog walk because, let's face it, lately I have to work REALLY REALLY HARD just to get him to take the dog walk -- so I sluffed it, I admit, and I rotated my body too soon in order to get into place for a blind after the tunnel -- and Luke promptly went right up the dog walk. Um, what? Oh well, good boy. Guess he's feeling more confident about the dog walk these days!

I've decided that Kaiser should maybe finish up his second V-NATCH one day, so I just stuck him in the two games that were offered that day (Weavers and Touch-n-Go) and, of course, Chances -- because who ever passes up the opportunity to get much needed Chances Qs? I thought TNG would be first (because that's usually how it rolls at this trial), but they ended up going straight to Chances after Regular, so Chances was Kaiser's first run of the day. He was a good boy and nailed it. I apparently got too close and pushed him off the side of the dog walk in TNG, but he got a nice easy Q in Weavers (although it certainly won't be a 100 DRI because we did have to redo an entry).

Kizzy had a bit of a Kizzy day. Her first Novice Regular course started with a dog walk/tunnel discrimination, which I didn't worry about a bit because she never takes tunnels. Of course, then she jumped right off the dog walk at the end, so.... I stood there and waited for her to put herself back on, and she just jumped right off again. Oh well, so much for training.

I didn't have much hope for Kizzy's second round of regular because this time we needed to do the "out tunnel" under the dog walk coming back around. But you know what? She did it! I about peed my pants in surprise and excitement. And it was a 20' tunnel, even! Craziness. The judge gave us a gift on her a-frame (I would have called it) and Kizzy didn't stop on the dog walk but ran through the yellow, so somehow we actually managed to get a Q and she finished up her first NADAC title. So now Kizzy has her NAJ and her NAC. Woot, woot!

Jumpers was a nice enough course for the Kizzy-dog, but she completely lost her brain for that run. There was a dog running a few dogs before us that just had Kizzy in a tizzy. He'd been in the Intro Regular runs, so it wasn't an issue then -- but he was in Novice Jumpers and well, that was the end of that. I could barely get Kizzy's attention with super stinky treats before the run. It started well -- I did a drop and run, but as soon as we changed direction and turned back towards the peanut gallery she was gone. There was a moment when I thought she was coming back, but she just turned and went out the other door. Sigh. I really had hoped that maybe that whole business was behind us, but apparently not yet.

Oh well. We'll keep plugging away. I'm kind of at a loss on how to handle that exact situation, though. There is another NADAC trial before the next AKC trial, so maybe I'll go back and we'll work on it some more. If nothing else I can at least stick her in Open Regular now to work on 12 weave poles before she sees them in Open JWW.

There isn't much else going on at the moment. I am not scheduled to work at Petco at all until my classes tomorrow night, so it has been a nice week of actually getting to be at home with the dogs at night. I'm not working at all on Sunday, so I'm REALLY looking forward to that. Last night we went out for a walk on the bike trail for the first time in ages. Tonight I'm hoping I have the energy to set a Happy Hurdle Day course.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

AKC Day 3 - Secret's Perfect Weekend!

This is going to be a quick post because I have a lot of homework to get done tonight.  :o)  But I had to be sure to post Secret's super awesome news of her PERFECT WEEKEND of AKC! She picked up QQ #'s 12, 13 & 14 and a grand total of 113 speed points. Wow. She was just on!

I never really know what to expect from Secret on day three of agility. She can be on or she can be just going through the motions. She started out this morning in the ON position. Her Standard run was just beautiful. As it turned out, it was under 40 seconds and was the 4th fastest time in the entire class -- and the three that were higher than her were within 1-2 seconds. That's super awesome!

It took FOREVER to get to Master JWW today for some reason. We had the exact same number of runs as we did yesterday, but it took about an hour and a half longer. I don't think that's what brought Secret down from her super-high. The course, dubbed by the judge as the "crop circle course," did nothing for her. Secret is not a fan of circles because, well, I'm kind of just standing there and what fun is that? At the end of the course where I did get to open up and run she kicked it in gear, but most of the course she kind of loped along and was three-striding between jumps. It was still good enough for 10 points, for a total of 38 for the day.

Secret is standing at 488 points with her 14 QQ's. If she kept up her perfect streak she would need to average 44 points per day. Um.... Not going to happen. I'm starting to wonder if I need to throw runs after the first Q of the day or what. I'm hoping for a couple extra Standard Qs, as we undoubtedly get more points for those (except for yesterday, I still think that was like 10 seconds off somehow). I know it's a "good problem to have," but I just don't want to finish a MACH on points. It's like when Luke finished his V-NATCH. Both times it was on Weavers and I always had to wait for results to be posted to make sure we were under time. What fun is that? Oh well, we'll see what happens. Odds are that I'll flub up something not on purpose here eventually anyhow.

Kaiser did not get any Q's today, but he was running very nicely -- by far the most confident and fun runs he's had this weekend, so I was glad to see that. In Standard I thought I was being "smart" by taking the dog walk on the right side to prevent him from taking the wrong side of the tunnel following it. I did not envision him popping off to the side to take the panel jump first. Oh well. In Jumpers he was going along really well until he landed on the triple. Thankfully it did not seem to phase him too much and he still finished well.

Kaiser is sitting at 314 points with his 4 QQ's. I am not concerned about him having points when he goes for his PACH.  ;o)  I don't think he'll manage to qualify for Nationals this year -- Secret should with her next Q (or two, if one comes from JWW). It's not like I planned on going out to Reno, but it's still fun to say you qualified. I'll have to keep track for next year because it will be in Oklahoma, which is a much easier drive. This past year tracking was easy because nobody hit Masters until after the qualifying period began!

Kizzy also did not have any Q's today, but I am still thrilled with her overall performance! Her brain was turning into a bit of mush -- so much so that I went and put her in the van after her Std run just to be able to rest a bit, which I think she appreciated.

The judge was very kind and did not call her dog walk or a-frame in Std. Due to this, she actually had a qualifying run going until she flew off the teeter at the end. The most awesome parts of this run were when she totally nailed her weaves on the first try and stopped on the table! She also did the tire -- both days! -- so that's another win!

Kizzy's Open debut in JWW went very well, I think. She hit her entry to the weaves but her overtaxed brain couldn't hold it together for all 12 poles in a trial today. We gave the weaves one more go. When she skipped some poles on the second try we just kept going since at that point the run was an NQ anyhow. Then, because I wasn't in the right place, she did a rear cross! Yay!!! The rest of the JWW was clean, which is pretty darn good for her first time in Open! I'll take it!!

We went to the beach for a swim following the trial. Then the dogs lazed in the shade while I mowed the lawn when we got home. Now they shall be bums as I do my homework, and compete with the computer for my lap (in Kizzy's case, at least). Must be nice to be them. We have some super fun beef trachea to keep them occupied during my classes tomorrow. Lucky dogs. They deserve it. They are awesome.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

AKC Days 1 & 2 - Pretty Awesome!

I never got around to recapping yesterday, so today will have to cover both days! Both days were awesome. There, done.  :o)

Yesterday I was so, so tired. I worked at Petco Thursday night and then went to work for almost 5 hours on Friday before the trial. I left a little before noon, ran home, threw stuff in the van, grabbed the dogs and left around 1:00 for the trial that started at 2:00. Thankfully the dogs don't tend to need any real time to settle at Family Dog Center since the location is so familiar to them; plus Kaiser was up first, and he's fine. That said, Secret walked into the building like she owned the place. She has been in such a good mood lately.

Kaiser struggled yesterday. I was sad to see the anxious stutter-jumping return, especially since he had such a good couple of days in Oshkosh a couple of weeks ago. Family Dog Center is familiar surface and lighting for him, so I don't know what that was all about. I didn't get around to shaving feet until last night after watching Secret slip a few times, so perhaps that was part of it? Bad me for not shaving before the first day, I guess. I didn't publish Kaiser's video because it was nothing to write home about. He only incurred one refusal in each run (one was my fault, one was the stressed jumping) but it was just sad Klee Kai video and I don't like to look at that.

Secret, on the other hand, was one freaky happy girl! She picked up 41 (FORTY-ONE!!!) points yesterday. Granted, I do think this judge (Rod Ramsell) tends to wheel a little on the larger side, but she was moving very nicely. This was QQ#12 for Secret. Hooray!

Kizzy's run was not first today, but I'm still going to jump straight to her because I am so proud of her! Coming into this weekend Kizzy had two Novice JWW Q's under her belt. That meant that if she ran clean today, there was a chance of me having to make the decision to move her up to Open. Eeek! That is kind of terrifying!

Well, she was awesome.

The blind cross in front of the tunnel in JWW was kind of awesome, but also kind of necessary since she still won't rear cross into a tunnel. I didn't want to waste a refusal there if I could help it.  :o)  She went a little wide to cause the next refusal, but we were able to save it and finish clean after that. Yay! Her very first title! Kizzy NAJ!

Rod brought some really nice courses and I knew that the Novice Standard run was doable. If anything, my biggest worry was starting with the tire since sometimes Kizzy still goes through the empty space in the frame... I set her up pretty darn close to the tire at the start and she got it! I love, love, love her teeter and how she's going all the way to the end and riding it down. So confident! She almost got her weaves on the first try and she kind-of-sort-of stopped on the dog walk.  ;o)  There was a table bounce, but that's okay, because she got everything else! Wheee! She is 2/2 for Standard Q's now. Actually, I got to thinking and really, she's batting 100% on her return to the agility ring. Guess it was a good decision to pull her for those several months to work on stuff.

Kaiser redeemed himself today, picking up QQ#4! As I mentioned earlier, he was jumping much better today, which made me very happy. He got aspirin this morning just in case it's anything physical and I spent more time massaging and warming him up before his runs. I also made him wear his Back on Track coat, which more or less makes him shoot me with daggers with his eyes. I attempted to have him wear it to bed last night and I ended up feeling so bad for him that I took it off. I don't know why he hates it so much.

Secret actually beat Kaiser by four seconds in JWW this morning, but he picked it up by Std and ended up beating her by about that same amount. He was back to being much happier again. I hope it continues for tomorrow. At the chiropractor last Saturday the vet did mention that she thought he was a little tight in his left shoulder region, so maybe there is a little something going on. Who knows.

Secret continues to be my steady little (not so little?) rock star. She is as honest as the day is long. So long as I don't screw things up, we're pretty much golden. I'm just so tickled at the level of fun she's having these days. Yesterday the judge came up after our run and told me how much he enjoyed watching her, because she was running with a huge smile on her face the whole time. That makes me so happy. That's all I've ever wanted.

In JWW this morning Secret picked up an astounding 15 points and had a yps of something like 5.65. That is awesome! Somehow she only got 16 points in the Std run today. A friend with another 24" dog also had several points lower than usual, so I don't know how this was wheeled. I'm not going to complain, though, because his yardage has been very "friendly" this weekend and it all works out in the end. Even still, that's another 31 points for today. We're still nicely on track for Secret's MACH, although I certainly won't be upset if she picks up a few more single Q's -- but please be in Standard, Secret.  :o)