Sunday, December 21, 2008

K9 Athletes CPE Trial weekend

I am exhausted after 2.5 days of CPE! What a great trial; lot of fun and laughs and great runs by Devon. We used this trial to train. I love this venue, and I wish I had time to do more of it. The courses are fun, and the dogs love it. I had two goals for the weekend: 1) continue to build teamwork and 2) work weaves!

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 Devon’s weaves were successful (eventually) in all but one run, which was a timed game and we just had to leave the course. The only other time we tried something that didn’t work this weekend was when I asked Devon to run by a tunnel opening quite close to her -- she wasn’t ready for that! However, in addition to great runs, we were rewarded with 8 Qs in 10 runs!

Friday afternoon

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

Devon’s Colors run was lovely and very fast. I selected an option that would present her with a tunnel/dogwalk discrimination where she had to take the tunnel. This is actually the harder discrimination for her, as she’s highly rewarded on contacts.

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 Devon was a baby dog and didn’t know not to hit me, she read the push and took the jump (instead of me)! A couple of friends did notice the split second of panic that washed over my face! Whew!


Standard, Level 2

This was a lovely, flowing standard course that allowed me to front cross on the landing side of a pinwheel; Devon read it beautifully. The weaves were near the end of the course after the dogwalk, with a right hand entrance. I stuck with her and made her weave them. She showed very little stress, only 20% or less of what she showed 2 weeks ago. On the fourth try, she got the weaves! We had a party at the end of the weaves and then sprinted four jumps to the finish!


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 Devon got caught by something odd in the tunnel before the weaves. Either some smell caught her or she thought I turned around and was running the other way and started to do the same.

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).

Standard, Level 2
This was our best Standard run of the weekend. It was a difficult two jumps at 90 degrees to the dogwalk entrance, but she did a great job reading that and being fast off the start. She made her weaves on the second try -- yippee! Because I was on the wrong side of the weaves, I made an awkward push to the tunnel, then showed forward speed out of this straight tunnel almost shooting her into an off course. Once I saved that, I settled down and we had a lovely finish to the course. I made sure I reinforced that A frame contact since she blew the one before it.

Colors, Level 1
I should have quit after the Standard run today. Devon came out of the crate ready, and showed no signs of being tired. I selected the harder course and asked her to angle toward a jump less than 10 feet from a tunnel entrance. This wasn't the right thing to do, since she went into the tunnel. I did call her, but once I realized she was committed I let her go and made the run fun. She came off of jump #4 and I was behind for a front cross at #6 but insistend on it anyway. Not our best run. I thought she was the tired one, until I looked at the video, and now I'm wondering if it was more because I was tired, too. I wish I had that run over again to run the easier course and have fun with my dog on the last run of the day -- like Agile Gold did!!


Jumpers, Level 2
This was a simple, fun Jumpers course. Devon was up and bright and perky and ready to run. You may have noticed in some of the earlier runs she's wagging her tail on the startline. This continued and she was getting very serious about the fun she was about to have! Devon was picture perfect and placed second behind a fast border collie. Unfortunately the camera didn't start when it was supposed to, but you can see enough to enjoy the run! 

Snooker, Level 2
Snooker is about the hardest agility game to play. While CPE is more open and gives you way more time that USDAA, it's still a hard game. I had fun with Nancy (Mickey's mom) planning a flowing course. It did require pushing from a tunnel to a jump and wrapping them back 180 degrees. It also had a long run (30 ft.) from the last "color" (a tunnel) back to the #2 obstacle in the closing. 

This was the best run of the weekend! Devon handled this course like a pro! She read every single handling request, was fast and never looked at the other options in her long run. She was really ready to run, too. When I asked her to sit at the start line, she actually talked a little! How very funny! And the ring crew ratted her out and said she took a quick peek at them as if to say, "I'll be back!" She kept her promise and jumped on all three to make sure they got her time and scribe sheet correct! Devon took third place in this class -- once again BEHIND TWO BORDER COLLIES! 

Wildcard, Level 2
Wildcard is a fun handling game that requires you to make a choice between two obstacles at three different places in the course. Those two obstacles vary in difficulty and are placed right next to each other. In theory, the handler directs the dog to the choice; but if the dog makes the choice for you, you must adjust your handling on course as you run.

I selected the weaves as our one harder obstacle. I was quizzed later by someone as to why I chose the weaves, and it was simple -- we were training and not focused on the Q. Devon got the weaves on the second try, and she read the rear cross into the tunnel the best she did all weekend. We had a lovely run (and we did Q).

Standard, Level 2
Well, we should have stopped on the very successful Wildcard run. Devon was tired, and she just wanted to be petted before her last run. I remembered how tired she was the day before on the last run, but I was too greedy for another shot at the weaves.

Unfortunately it took us five attempts at the weaves before she got them. I know many thought I pushed too much for that perfect performance; it crossed my mind too. However, two people who are skilled dog trainers told me they thought I did the right thing. One person point blank said to me she wouldn't have repeated them that often and wondered what I was doing. However, she said the look on Devon's face when she did them right said, "Oh! I have to do them right to go on!" She thought I knew my dog pretty well and did do the right thing. I hope that's what Devon thought. The rest of the run was very nice, and I hope she remembers that part!

Final thoughts
I think we had a very successful weekend. Devon ran strong and just got more confident and faster with each run. Four runs a day is one run too many right now; and three days in a row might be too many, too. A good friend said we were really confident with the teeter, and it's no longer a stressor for us. That's a REAL success!!

I think that's the other thing that was so great about this trial -- the wonderful support I had from my friends and fellow agility enthusiasts. There were so many compliments for Devon -- her speed, her confidence, how happy she was. And I loved seeing her confidence build over the weekend. From the first run where she wagged at all "her fans" as she came into the ring, to quickly realizing this was a fun game and she could greet them later! Turning her to the first jump and having her wag her tail because she couldn't wait to attack the course was an awesome feeling. 

I wasn't nervous once with this girl at my side. Like our other venues, this has quickly become about me and Devon having fun. I'm so very lucky to have this talented, verstatile girl at myside!

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