Friday, January 18, 2008

He's back!

Reece is back in the household. I was here to greet him this time, and he glared at me from the back of my mom's Suburban. If the look wasn't enough to express his feelings, he made it more clear by barking and snarling as he came down the ramp and stalked past me inside the house. I already had his doggie beds stashed around the downstairs, so he just took up residence on one of them. The other dogs greeted him as he pouted. Mom stopped by today, and Reece got all excited when he saw her. He came up to her and sat next to her in an obvious plea to be allowed to go home with her. He was disappointed when she left with out him.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Playing with numbers

Ian had an awesome weekend -- his best ever. He won Sunday's Excellent B Standard class and took second place in Saturday's class. Saturday's JWW class was his fastest run ever, more than 7 seconds under SCT and 4.64 YPS. It earned him 3rd place. We walked away with 45 MACH points in three runs.

It's amazing to be a seasoned team and know exactly what your partner will do. I'm pushing us with every run to shave off even more time by pre-cueing turns and getting more lateral distance to get into position (which did bite us on Sunday's JWW run when I got too much lateral distance and put him in the wrong end of a tunnel). It got me thinking just how far we've come on our journey toward his MACH.

Ian finished his AXJ on Oct. 2, 2005. At the time, he was not competing in Standard because he was refusing all contact obstacles. From October 2005 until the end of June 2006, he was only earning MACH points in JWW. During that time he had 10 Qs and earned 39 MACH points. How amazing is it that in 8 months our team didn't even earn as many MACH points as we did in three Qs last weekend!

As we are closing in on the last 88 points to Ian's MACH, I'm really enjoying this time running him. He's an amazing partner and by trusting him and pushing us to continue to excel as a team, we're just getting better.

I had the best compliment this weekend. A woman I've chatted with for the last several months at trials complimented me on my runs that morning in Excellent. I thanked her and then she said, "Every time I'm at a trial with you, I always make sure I watch your runs. You're an amazing handler and you make it look easy." Wow! I'll cherish that compliment for a long, long time.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Got ... Fish?

Devon and I headed to the building to train yesterday morning, around 6 a.m. We've had a lot of rain, and I have some new ponds in my back yard. Devon sloshed through the water and ran to sniff something on the ground. Then she paused and pulled her head back to look at it. Then she sniffed it again, and I thought I saw this shiny dark thing on the ground move! She pulled her head back again and looked at me like, "Hey mom! This is weird!" She had found a crayfish. It was about 6 inches long (really big) and slowly lumbered toward a big pond of water. Devon wasn't quite sure what to do with it since it didn't have feathers or fur (she's an expert mouse retriever). Thankfully she decided this wasn't worth retrieving. A co-worker later told me crayfish smell bad. Ok, so dead mice and dog poop, which she is found of, DON'T smell bad??? I think it's all in the eye of the beholder!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reece, the part-time resident

Reece in Rally Excellent in April 2007 after two knee surgeries and 8 weeks of rehab with Dr. John Sherman of VetHab Rehabilitation Office in Raleigh, NC. (photo: Dick Clark Photography)

I've lost my Border Collie. He's now living with my parents. I'm coming to terms with the fact this really hasn't been all my decision -- it's been his!

Reece has continued to abuse his body in spite of arthritis in his knee and opposite elbow. He likes to herd the other dogs, so unless he's confined, he must be on a command (down) when around the other dogs. He doesn't see as well as he used to, so after dark he must go out the front door since it's difficult for him to navigate the steps on the back deck. It's also occasionally too difficult for him to come upstairs and join the "family" in the bonus room or to sleep in the bedroom.

My parents often dog sit for me, taking the unentered dogs when I trial. Before Thanksgiving, they took Reece and kept him for three weeks because of trials and the Invitational trip. When my mom tried to bring him back to my house, he wouldn't get out of her Suburban! His ears were pinned back and he glared at her! She had to bribe him out with peanut butter on a dog treat (are you getting a picture of maybe why Reece didn't want to come home and be treated like a dog?).

So, when Mom came to pick up Reece before Christmas, he was the happiest camper you've ever seen! No "Bye, Mom!" for me! Nope, he didn't even give me a backwards glance as his taxi arrived to carry him off to my parents' house. After New Years, there was no mention of returning him. I even offered to come get him, and Mom's response was, "Oh, we can keep him. He's having fun here and your house is much quieter without him." Truer words have NEVER been spoken!

So last night I went to my parents' house for dinner. When I got ready to leave, I went to say goodbye to Reece. The devil growled at me! He was worried I was going to take him away from his posh, retired lifestyle! I mean, he gets peanut butter on his treats, he gets to help my dad pick up sticks in the yard and feed the cats, he's out of a crate most of the day -- this is doggie heaven! I did have to mention Reece was getting a little chunky and to cut back on the peanut butter.

So it looks like I'm down to three dogs in my household now. Reece is still my guy, but I think I've been told which house he prefers!

New AKC Rally rules and non-regular classes

Devon in Rally Novice and Reece in Rally Excellent, April 2007 (photos: Dick Clark Photography)

I went to a seminar yesterday that went over the new AKC Rally rule changes and new non-regular classes. For those of you who do Rally, it's worth a look at the new rule changes. The most significant are changes fall into three categories:

1. Change in signs. There is a change in the performance of three signs, a change in a sign (but not the performance) and a new sign in Excellent. The "moving side step" and the "halt, side step, halt" are now done in front of the sign, moving off with the sign on your left. The "honor" is now done on a 6 ft. leash with the dog in a sit or down and you facing the dog at the end of the leash. The Novice "moving down" is now called the "stop and down." The performance has not changed, you are heeling, tell the dog to down, and you stop as the dog goes down. Finally there is a new sign in Excellent called the "moving down walk around your dog." This is a true moving down where you down the dog but keep moving; it's performed the same as the "moving stand walk around your dog."

2. All performances for signs have been defined. The "principle parts" of each sign have been defined, so judging criteria is more consistent. The principle parts of each sign are underlined, bolded, and italicized (they're hard to miss) in the rule book, so take a look.

3. New non-regular classes. There are five new non-regular classes. The Rally Pairs class is just like an obedience brace class with one handler and two dogs. It can be done as a Novice, Advanced or Excellent class. The Rally T Challenge incorporates time into the scoring. There is a standard course time and points are added or subtracted from your score for every full second under or over standard course time (sound familiar agility folks?). There is also a Rally T Challenge Team for a team of dogs. There is a Rally Team Competition, again similar to an obedience team. Finally, there is what I think is them most interesting, Rally Plus. This class is done off leash and includes traditional rally signs, then a period of silent heeling in a traditional L pattern with rally signs. This section is scored as obedience heeling. At another point in the class, you stand your dog and leave, and the judge goes over your dog as a Novice Obedience stand for exam, but you can talk to your dog as in rally. There is a place for an off leash Novice recall, and finally before you leave the ring, you do an on leash one minute stay as the dog after you runs the course (a blend of the Excellent honor and pre-novice stay).

I think the Rally Plus class would be a FANTASTIC class to enter before you put your dog in Novice Obedience. The club who hosted yesterday's seminar (Dayton Dog Training Club) is planning to offer this class at their July trial, so I think Devon and I might have to work on this!

Again, the bottom line is that if you do Rally you should read the new regulations! It will only take about 20 minutes or so, and most of the changes are self-explanatory if you're familiar with the performance of the exercises. The only thing that can be confusing are the non-regular classes, but I frankly doubt you see them very often.