Monday, January 26, 2015

USDAA trial update

Such a boring time of the year with not much going on to update.... Until we have a trial, which we got to do on Saturday! The girls and I drove down to Canine Sports Zone again, this time to play USDAA. I kept to the same schedule that I did for the AKC trial and left home right around 5:00 a.m. (actually a little before -- crazy, I know!). I was plenty ahead of schedule and even stopped at Walmart in the Dells to pick up a tarp, as I'd totally forgotten this and I keep failing to bring one to CSZ despite all of the reminders to do so. So yes, I have a tarp now. Much easier than dealing with the giant floor mat that I have that fits under my tent.

We pulled in right around 7:00 a.m., which was about the same time that we arrived for AKC, but the lot was almost completely empty this time! I even managed to score a crating spot right down in the front by the ring. This is risky with a screamer, but I thought it could work if I was there to manage the situation, plus that area is not very high traffic to dogs -- people yes, dogs not so much. The girls did just super in that spot! Kizzy had a couple of moments where I was able to tell her to hush, but she listened well and for the most part was perfectly well-behaved all day. The day went longer than I expected considering the small entry numbers, but there were a LOT of course changes and those add up in the day.

We started with P3 Gamblers. The dog walk was the 7. I'm more about picking a plan that keeps my dogs happy than accumulating the highest number of points possible, but it worked in well with my plan to completely avoid the weaves. There were weaves in every single class on Saturday; why throw yet another set at Secret? We started by going to the chute then the tunnel, a-frame, jump, tunnel, jump, dog walk, dog walk again --- Then Secret went shooting off over the tire (not planned) and took the #2 jump of the close. Had she kept going and taken #1 we would have been done, so I may have screamed a little at her to get her to turn back to me. She did, and might have been in the tunnel or somewhere in that area when the buzzer sounded. It took us a moment to get going on the gamble. Like most dogs, Secret started to come to the #1 jump instead of sending out to the teeter. I stopped her and got her re-routed back to the teeter and she did finish the gamble successfully, but the buzzer went off as she was taking off for the last jump. Story of our lives in Gamblers!

I'm going to admit, I had zero plans of Kizzy qualifying in Gamblers. I have worked NO distance skills with this dog. And it was a chute a million miles away. The majority of Kizzy's NQs in AKC Standard lately have come from a refusal at the chute. Yeah... The start ended up being a little different from this map and the judge stuck a timer on the jump beneath the a-frame, so we had to start there. We went to the teeter and then around the left side up to the dog walk, where she blew the first contact - so we did it again. She didn't stop, but she got it. Then we went to the tunnel under the dog walk and probably got another jump in at least before the buzzer sounded. I set us up and figured we'd at least try it -- and holy crap, she did it! Kizzy actually SENT out to the CHUTE! She got stuck in the end and I was not helping at all because I was still standing there with my mouth hanging open. When she finally got out I just kind of pointed at the double in disbelief and she took it! Whoa. Kizzy got a Gamblers Q!

Biathlon/Master Challenge Standard was up next. I've never actually gotten to play in these classes, so I was really looking forward to seeing what would be thrown at us. I thought this Standard course was loads of fun and very reasonable with regard to level of challenge. This course made me feel challenged enough without feeling overwhelmed. Secret got through the course clean AND under time by nine whole seconds! That was despite pretty much walking through her weaves, which kind of depressed me since I knew how many more sets we had in front of us for the day. She ran well other than that, though, and it was loads of fun! Kizzy actually really held her own on this run. I thought that she'd finished her weaves and took off for the tire. I admit, I thought I saw something out the corner of my eye that made me wonder what she did, and then the whistle blew when she was going through the tire. I still don't know exactly what she did, but apparently she must not have finished the weaves after all. Her only fault after that point, though, was that she took the tire under the a-frame (which is totally weird for her, but wow, she can do that now I guess!). That is kind of amazing if you think of it. I was glad that she didn't appear to have any chute issues after her hang-up in Gamblers.

Secret got to play in P3 Standard next. The judge changed the start of the course, so instead of what you see on the course map he made it a straight-forward series of two jumps (not a wrap). I liked the wrap, but oh well.  :o)  Secret had a very nice run on this course and her weaves were much, much faster, too! It helped, I think, that once I showed her the entry I got out of her way and got out of there. I think one of the reasons for the slow weaves in the previous class were because I had nowhere to go with that tight turn that followed. It's hard to say, though, because there have certainly been times when I've ran ahead and it has not inspired her in the least. Meh. She just is not feeling the weaves lately. This Q earned Secret her Standard title! I totally forgot to pick up a new title ribbon for her. Darn. Oh well, we really have too many already.

Kizzy was so, so, so close to a Q in her Starters Standard class! She needed a bit of a mental break at the weaves, apparently, and initially ran right past them and then stood in the middle of the ring for a bit. Then I had to restart them once more before she got them, and this time I made sure to fully pay attention and make sure she finished them, which she did. She had a very nice dog walk and stopped on the table! What a good girl! The rest of the run was perfect! Great teeter! Still no chute problems. Her time was 40.01. The SCT was 40 seconds. Seriously. She had 0.01 time faults. Blargh. That just sucks. Oh well, it's not like there won't be other chances. And lord knows I've had super close calls on time faults in the past -- I'm just not sure I've ever had 0.01 before. That stings a little.  :o)  You can't help but think, "If only I'd gone a little faster there." Oh well.

Steeplechase was up next. Two sets of weaves -- figures! Well, Kizzy needs weave practice in trials, so that's cool. But poor Secret. More weaves. She did very well, though, and I was again able to keep running ahead of her in this course. She picked up a Q and 2nd place in the class. Sadly, when Round 2 was posted for Sunday only ONE of the P20 dogs was going to be there. Well, good for that one, I guess!

Kizzy was highly distracted by the dog who had left the ring before us. She made it to the weaves before she took off towards the exit door -- which was thankfully closed all day -- and she took the finish jump on the way there. E! She came back, though, and made it through most of the weaves before I opted to just keep going. I didn't fix them on the second pass, either, and just finished our run. The weaves are obviously a stress point for her at trials right now and I figure we have other things to work on.

Snooker was our fifth class of the day, which is a little unfortunate when you need a SQ. Blessedly, though, the weaves weren't the 7-point obstacle! Heck, they weren't even remotely attractive to any plan that I might have considered! I made a plan of 1-7, 1-7, 1-7, 1-4. As it turns out, this would have been an easy Super Q if it would have gone as planned. Unfortunately Secret took 3 on the way to our third red, so no go, there's our whistle. That was okay, really, because this run was kind of painful. I had trotting Secret in this class. Trotting Secret is no fun. Kind of depressing really. I'm not really sure what caused it -- she didn't seem to like the turn I was asking her to do off the teeter and she just kind of shut down after that and went into trot mode. Who knows if we would have even gotten through the close at that speed. The bright spot is that she was at least spared from one set of weaves!

Kizzy is 2/2 in her USDAA Snooker career! She tends to follow me around pretty well, I think she will be a pretty good Snooker dog. While points pretty much count for nothing at this level, I went for a 1-6, 1-7, 1-7 plan because it seemed to work the best for Kizzy. It flowed quite nicely. The ring wasn't laid out quite like you see on the map. In the close I actually picked Kizzy up from the tunnel and scooped her up into the weaves -- had it been set how it is on the map it would have made far more sense to go up the top way. I did have to reset the weaves once but she got them on her second try and finished clean and under time. Yay for Snooker Qs!

Biathlon/MC Jumpers was our sixth and final class of the day. Holy brain power Batman... And legs, too -- this was a running course for sure. I definitely found this course more challenging than our Standard course earlier in the day, and I'm sure it took out many more teams. I did just a slight lead-out with Secret to call her past that 2nd jump, but she still directed right to it and nearly took it from the wrong side. She stopped RIGHT at the wing and stared at me for at least three seconds before I was able to call her around to take it from the right side. After that we somehow managed to get through the rest of the course clean! She nearly went over the jump after the weaves on the way to 8, then I kind of crammed in an ugly front cross after 9 because I didn't trust a blind as I was running it. After that everything went well to the end. She finished in 40.03. Standard course time on this run? 40 seconds. Come on -- twice in one day we miss a Q by the slimmest of margins?! Oh well, it wasn't a Q in MC Jumpers, but it was good enough for a Biathlon Q! Our first one! I'm still not really sure what it's good for, other than qualifying to run in those classes at Cynosport....

Kizzy was kind of done by this point. I don't remember if she got her weaves or not, but she E'd at some point or another. Right around the broad jump she started shaking her head like something was bothering her ears. I decided to pull her and quit at that point because regardless of what was causing her discomfort there was no point in continuing. It could have just been stress, too. Either way, she was done. She gave it a super good effort!

We got home at 6:30, which is still pretty good for a day trip down to Madison. We were pretty lazy yesterday and then I had to go teach classes at Petco. The weather can't make up its mind lately. We get snow and then it gets warm and goes away. Then we get more. It snowed this morning, but it might be gone by the end of the week. Can't complain too much, it could definitely be worse!

We probably won't be doing much of anything until our next AKC trial in the middle of February.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Secret's MACH! -- Part 2

I said this was going to be a multi-post occasion.  :o)  Today we posed with the judge for our official MACH photo, but while we wait for that I had our own little photo shoot when we got home today.

Secret was not in a happy mood during the photo-taking at the trial, so hopefully they got one with her ears up. Sitting between the judge and I with a bar being held over her head was not her idea of fun. Oh well. We tried.

Secret wasn't feeling her best today, either. She puked in the hotel room this morning (after I dragged her to the bathroom, thankfully) and a couple of large chunks of hoof came out. She doesn't usually get pieces off those things, but I guess she did this time. Better out than in. She was pretty subdued today, but still managed to pull off 11 points in JWW this morning. She had absolutely zero energy in Std, though, and only got 16 points. Yeah, she trotted from the chute to the weaves...

 The courses today were a bit on the boring side. Both of them were pretty much just up/down/up/down. Blah. I actually quite liked our courses yesterday, but these were my least favorite flavor of course design.

That said, the Klee Kai still couldn't get a Q to save their lives. Kaiser knocked #14 in JWW but otherwise had a very, very nice run. Kizzy had a bit of a spaz-fest at the start when the dog in front of her took forever to get the heck out of the ring. She ran off in that direction and took a couple of obstacles on the way back before refusing the tunnel again and taking another jump. Once she got started she was super, though! Missed the weaves. Again. That was 3/3 for the weekend on those.

Standard for Kaiser was a bit off the rails, at least at the beginning. He nearly went for the dog walk instead of the tunnel to start, then he went sailing off through the tire instead of taking the a-frame when I was way the heck over by the dog walk (i.e., not pushing on his line). He loves the a-frame, so that took me by surprise. Once I got him situated again he did finish the course nicely, though, including a teeter performance where he didn't jump off the side. Those are always nice.

Kizzy's Standard run was picture-perfect, if you don't count her acting like superman coming off the dog walk. And wonder of wonders, she got her first and only set of weaves for the weekend. On the first try even! Another high point is that she did the chute both days with no refusal. They have a nice chute at this facility, though, with a nice big, light/airy opening. She was also very much playing the part of a trained dog and going into the ring while the dog before was in and not holding back the next dog until I have her. Her end-of-run behavior was absolutely 100% rock solid with not so much of a twitch of keep-away. I think she's figured out the routine of, "let's go get good things together."

Oh, Secret's MACH video! Here it is!

I added cheesy music. It was too quiet in the picture parts.  :o)

Next up for us is USDAA in a couple of weeks. I was waffling between that or NADAC here at home, but I found out that the local club raised their price to $13/run unless you run 10+ runs per dog. It's not a household package, it's per dog. None of my dogs run 10 runs, maybe except Kaiser if I really felt like it. Luke won't run that many. I don't feel like running Kizzy in that many. And I'd go broke if I ran everyone in that many runs. So no thanks, I think I'll pass. I have other goals to work on.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

MACH Secret!

She did it! We came to the Lakeland Dog Training Club AKC trial needing just 23 points. I figured there was a pretty good chance we'd finish it this weekend, but you never know, right? Now Secret is officially MACH NATCH Secret. Maybe one day we'll get that PDCH put on there as well.  :o)

Our day started with JWW, which was kind of nice because there wasn't a huge amount of pressure. While a Q would be nice and the points were needed, there was no way we'd ever get 23 points on a JWW run.

Secret saved my butt (again) when I sent her to 15 and moved into a blind cross. She read my movement as a send to the off course jump and at the very last second I got her back to me. Even with that bobble she picked up 13 points in this run. That's very good for JWW! Only 10 points to go...

Kaiser NQ'd because I cued a rear cross too early at jump 6. I said "switch" and he switched. Before the jump. So my fault. I wasn't even planning to handle it that way. Kizzy couldn't hold on to her weaves and slipped out, so we just kept going. The rest of the run was clean. Yay Kizzy! She's handling the Masters courses like a champ.

While Secret gets the lion's share of the kudos for this accomplishment, I do have to pat myself on the back for holding it together pretty darn well for our second run of the day. It probably helps that the stress of NEEDING that QQ was off my shoulders and with only 10 points needed, if we didn't get it today there was a high possibility that either run tomorrow would net the same result if we Q'd. But still, I did pretty well.  :o)

Then we went into the ring and they had timer troubles. We were held up for at least five minutes. Sigh. We played at little at first, and then Secret just got super cuddly. Thankfully she jazzed right back up and all was well with the world. She put in a very nice run. I was probably a bit more stern about the dog walk contact than usual, mostly just because she was a little high today and I wanted to be sure she didn't pull one of her once-in-a-blue-moon fly-offs. She gave me a look like, "Whoa, okay, I got ya" and stopped like a good girl. Then everything was great until she hit the table and nearly slid off. In addition, the darn thing almost tipped over. Apparently it wasn't sand-bagged. After Secret's run it was... What would a MACH run be without Secret pulling one of her "I hate the weaves" moves (FYI, she had rockin' weaves in JWW). Mid-weaves she started sniffing. I gave her a "SECRET" and she popped her head back up and finished the weaves. The rest of the run was good to go.

I made her do a victory lap.  :o)  I think all she did was a jump and the tunnel under the dog walk and then I stopped to thank the judge. After the NATCH experience where she literally just stood and looked at me while refusing to move, I had no idea what to expect. I'm happy she played along to appease me today.

There is video, but I didn't bring my docking station along so it will have to wait to be posted until I get home tomorrow. The owner of the facility took a picture when we came out of the ring, but I haven't seen it posted on Facebook yet. There is a photographer at the trial this weekend but she had to leave before Std. She'll be back tomorrow and we can get an official photo then. So stay tuned, this is the MACH that never ends.

Kaiser had a super duper run. I'm very proud of the wee dude. And then he knocked the third-to-last bar. Forget QQing, I'm starting to feel like we just don't Q at all anymore.  :oP  Kizzy also did super duper in her Open Std run. The naughty stinker did not stop on the dog walk, but she got it. She also got the chute on the first try! And she slid to a stop on the table, what a good girl. The weaves got us again. She either missed the entry or slid out right away. We tried again since one refusal is allowed, but she popped at 10. It was probably my fault for stepping off too soon for the next jump.

Everyone did well inside today. I got there at 7:00 and managed to snag a sweet spot in a back corner where Kizzy can't see too much stuff going on. Hopefully we'll have a similarly quiet experience tomorrow.

Time for bed. I just took the dogs outside and suffered for a good 15 minutes waiting for Kaiser to poop. He appears to have developed some issues with pooping while traveling. That gets old when it's this cold outside. Oh well, I won the battle.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, Birthdays and Trials

Happy New Year! I don't even know what day of the week it is anymore, but I know that today is the 1st, so there you go. My schedule is so messed up from having a complete lack of any sort of regular schedule. As much as I've enjoyed the random days off, I do look forward to life getting back to "normal" in the coming weeks.

I realize I never updated anything following the second day of our trial in Oshkosh. The little dogs got to come inside as planned and things actually went really well. Kizzy only made noise a couple of times when people had puppies playing in front of her. I had the little dogs' crate up on the shelving unit and I think they like being up high. Kizzy pulled the cover off several times but didn't seem to be screaming, so I let them look out much of the day.

Kizzy and Kaiser had no Q's for the day. Kizzy hit the weaves (obstacle 3) in JWW too fast and while she made the entry, she just couldn't hang on. The rest of the run was super nice, though! I was especially proud of her Open Standard run, because she was losing her freaking head before that run and was hyper-focused on everything except me before we went in the ring. She got it together, though, and ended up with just two refusals in that run. The first was at the weaves when she once again hit them too hard, slipped, and popped out. Then she R'd on the chute after the a-frame. Oh well, it was a good effort.

Kaiser refused the table in Standard, which was right after the weaves and kind of odd. He also ran right past the teeter, which was naughty, so we just left after that. His jumping was loads better on Monday, though. Loads. In JWW he ran past the second-to-last jump, but that one was totally my fault.

Secret picked up QQ #21! She had another 9-point run in JWW in the morning. I didn't think her Std run was THAT slow, but she only got 16 points. Sixteen? Okay, well, better than nothing. At any rate, that leaves her 23 points from her MACH. Next weekend starts with JWW, so she essentially will have to QQ to get it on Saturday. Well, she *could* pick it up just with Standard, but I could celebrate without question if she got JWW first in the morning.  :o)  We'll see, I'm not going to stress over it. She'll get it at some point, likely next weekend -- although she certainly did have that weekend at Hounds where she only got two JWW Q's, which probably wouldn't net us 23 points. Meh.

Kaiser celebrated his birthday on Tuesday! He is now seven years old! Wow, that is so hard to believe. This officially earns him his "veteran" status in NADAC. That means that if I run him as a Skilled Veteran dog, he can now run 4".... Hmm. That might be fun. I'm presently trying to decide if I want to do NADAC at home the last weekend of January or go to the USDAA trial in Madison. I'll need to figure that out soon. I'm tempted to do NADAC just to see what happens when I run Kaiser at 4"! There's also that temptation of Champs being back in IL this year and figuring I should probably have a few NADAC Q's before signing up -- and Kizzy kind of needs to get out of Novice/Open, too.

Today we celebrated Luke's 11th birthday! I was head over heels into my horse life when I got Luke, but I've always loved dogs and felt like I needed a companion in my life. He very much enjoyed accompanying me to the barn every day (and to work), but he was eventually the catalyst that led to me leaving the horses behind and getting sucked into this world of agility. Couldn't have asked for a better first dog!

To celebrate Luke's birthday (and Kaiser's earlier in the week, I suppose!), we went for a nice hike this afternoon out on the trail. It was in the upper 20's and we still have no snow! What could be better? I'm sure we'll get snow eventually, but I'm going to enjoy it for now.

This weekend should be pretty quiet -- hopefully we can get out and play some more. I'm going to see about getting Secret in for another chiro appointment before our trial next weekend, so Saturday might be our best shot at that. I figure if it's going to be her big weekend then we may as well make sure she's feeling her best!

Looking back, 2014 was a great year for us. I can only hope that 2015 brings more of the same!