Thursday, December 25, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I am exhausted after 2.5 days of CPE! What a great trial; lot of fun and laughs and great runs by
We’ve worked hard on the weaves in the last two weeks, and I was interested to see how that transitioned to the trial environment. I’m happy to report that
Unfortunately in my rush to get home from work, eat lunch and back across town to the trial, I forgot the video camera.
Colors, Level 1
She was successful going to the tunnel, but she did look behind me at the dogwalk before making the correct choice – good girl to remember he training! Because I had to take her to the tunnel entrance, I was slightly behind when she came blasting out the other side, and she came toward me out the tunnel when she needed to push out to a jump. I held my ground and continued to indicate the push, but she seemed (to me) to not be reading it. About the time it crossed my mind
Standard, Level 2
This was a lovely, flowing standard course that allowed me to front cross on the landing side of a pinwheel;
It’s video time! I’m doing something different this time with YouTube. I think it will allow you to view the clips in a larger format, which should be easier on the eyes.
Jackpot, Level 2
We started the day with Jackpot. For those who play USDAA, this game is a form of Gamblers. However, in CPE you can have “non-traditional” Jackpot, where the judge makes up the rules. This run was one of those. I planned my strategy to get me to a point where I could work the weave poles. Unfortunately, it took me longer than I anticipated and
Unfortunately she was too distracted to weave. She gets very distracted by the sandbags under this particular dogwalk; and even though we class here weekly, she’s still distracted. I’ve finally decided it’s not only the shape and color of the sandbags, but it’s also because she doesn’t usually see sandbags under dogwalks without tunnels (think about that and it’s true; she’s very observant!). I took the better option to just leave; primarily because I was required to!
Fullhouse, Level 1
This is my favorite CPE game, mostly because it’s so easy to play and it’s fast and furious (like a jumpers course). It’s a point accumulation game, but within your points you must have three single bar jumps, two circles (tire, tunnel) and one “joker” which is a spread jump or contact. And you only get 30 seconds to get your points and get to the table to stop the clock. They give you a 5 second grace period, and then they start taking away one point per second until you stop the clock. Again, greed kills on this one – see why I like it?
Devon did an awesome job on this course. Her only mistake was coming off the A frame when I front crossed -- and my mistake was not marking it. Oh well! She read the deceleration to cue the turn to the A frame (and away from the tunnel) great, and she did a nice job on the rear cross to the tunnel (not her strong point). This course earned her a second place (right behind a border collie).
Colors, Level 1
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Connor earned his OAP Saturday, finishing his career. While it is a sad thing to really retire this wonderful dog, I’m glad we could go out with two beautiful runs that included perfect weave performances.
Connor would have been perfectly happy to be a companion dog; in fact he’s from a “pet” litter. He was exactly what I needed to follow my hard-driving border collie Reece. He’s been my patient partner as we learned agility and tracking. Although he will never reach Ian’s accomplishments in agility or Devon’s accomplishments in tracking, he allowed me to learn the sports so I could do great things with the dogs to come. He has been patient with the younger dogs, playing with the puppy Ian when no one else would and teaching Devon how to run the pack as a benevolent leader. Connor has given me a love for Golden Retrievers, with their versatility and biddability that ensures the breed’s place in my house forever.
Connor has had a very good performance career, and one that many would envy. While I wish we could have gone to greater heights because I enjoy our partnership, I know he prefers to just have fun and not be competitive. When things got too tough, or especially when I got too competitive, Connor said this isn’t for me and left the ring. During the past 4 years he has taught me valuable lessons on being a good teammate and putting things in perspective. And like every good teacher, he’s rewarded me for lessons learned; in our case he’s given us a “second” agility career in the last 2 years, earning his AX, six MXJ legs, 18 MACH points, NAP, OJP and OAP.
But most of all, Connor is part of my heart. My sweet boy who shares the couch and the bed, who is really only concerned about “going” so he does not miss out on getting pets and possibly treats from others. So if you see him at a trial any time soon, please spend some time telling him what a great dog he is. We’ll both appreciate it!
I’ve already posted about Devon’s big weekend, but I need to talk about what a good job Ian did. The courses this weekend were very though and times were tight. Ian qualified in Standard on Saturday, placing third, and just popped a weave pole in JWW. The weave entrance in Standard was horrendous, and I was pleased Ian handled it so well.
Sunday was a much more difficult Standard course, with another very difficult weave entrance off a triple. Coming out of the weaves was even more difficult; and an extremely challenging tunnel/dogwalk discrimination was made nearly impossible because the handler was restricted by a jump and the tunnel and sandbags were both yellow – the same color as the dogwalk contact. The best way to handle this discrimination was to V set the line off the table, over the jump and handle the discrimination with at least 10-12 feet of lateral distance to the dog; in other words a completely handler independent discrimination.
Ian was the third 24 inch dog to run after two 26 inch dogs. As the first 26 inch dog ran the course, I realized I needed to change my handling strategy and front cross after the triple (always risky) to be between Ian and the judge. He’s really struggling lately with judges moving in the ring, and on Saturday his head was pivoting in all directions watch the judge. Ian nailed the weave entry but nearly came out of the weaves three different times, before I managed to get him through them clean. He handled the worst dogwalk entrance I can remember (his least favorite obstacle) with perfection, and we crossed the last obstacle with a CLEAN RUN!
That clean run was one of the best highs I’ve felt in this game! I can only remember one other run (and it was NOT in the Invitational) where I felt better than this one. I’m competitive against the judge and the course, not the other exhibitors. To me, each run is a test of our agility team of two. When we turn in a completely perfect performance against a nearly impossible course, I’m thrilled! What made this one even better was to that Ian battles his “judge demons” on this course, and we won!
And speaking of winning, Ian was the ONLY 26 or 24 inch dog (out of about 20 dogs) to qualify on that course. That was an awesome feeling! Ian may be winding down his career, but he’s still giving me thrilling moments.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
You’d think these three expectant faces are ready for their Christmas presents. However, they’re being good, obedient dogs and waiting at the top of the stairs for their release word. I got tired of Ian munching the other dogs at the base of the stairs. He likes to get his sneak attack in when the dogs are coming down the stairs and not paying attention to where he is. This would usually cause (1) Connor to back up the stairs, and (2) Devon to retaliate and a game of chase and chaos to start. So, to fix the problem, I instituted a “wait at the top of the stairs until you’re released” policy. This way I can proof stays and release words and be at the bottom of the stairs to control Ian’s manners. (Pictured from left Ian, Connor and Devon)
Ian’s trialing career has now gone into a period of highs or lows. After giving me a thrilling day on Friday, Saturday was the opposite. Actually, I would have been fine with him completely crashing the course. Instead, he decided once again he couldn’t weave with the judges moving and people watching. UGH! That’s the ONLY thing he did wrong on both courses. I made him get back in the weaves and do them. However, I was worried I’d create a performance issue (again) if I got on him too much.
So, on Sunday morning, I decided we were going to have fun. I gave him lots of warm up time with happy talk, and he was wagging his tail clear to the start. The opening was tough with a wrap from a tunnel to the dogwalk, but he did that well. I was quiet and gave him distance in the weaves, and once again he popped out. I told him that wasn’t acceptable, and turned him around. When I asked for them again, I said, “Ready, ready, WEAVE!!” He raced in and I continued my wacky cheering voice. At that moment I realized the problem. I wasn’t being crazy like I am in the backyard when we do weaves. Ian was worried in the weaves because I was too quiet and not cheering him enough. Goodness!
So I cheered him all through the rest of the course, which was brilliant. I was also running faster and with more purpose. He got a fun happy jackpot party after the run. So, my goal for JWW, the last run of the weekend, was to run with purpose and really have a ball in the weaves. Ian was brilliant! He was confident, fast, and you should have seen him weave! He was 8.03 seconds under SCT for a whopping 4.59 yps – his third fastest JWW run in his career. What a goober! He enjoyed his jackpot party after the run and we ended the weekend on a great note. I guess being 50% and earning 21 MACH points isn’t too bad for a three-day trial.