Sunday, June 21, 2009

Agility club of Indianapolis Trial on Sunday

Wow, I have a great dog! JWW was our first class. Edie Allyn gave us an awesome flowing fun course. It was a blast to walk and I knew it would be fun to run. She also plugged her MP3 player into the speaker for the timers, so we had fun music to walk to! I love exhibiting under Edie!

I thought the opening was a straight forward two jump start to a front cross; but off the start, Devon was tentative. After the first jump she headed for an off course jump, which I called her off of but she went around the second jump. I started to go on, but then I realized we were in Open so I had one refusal. I wanted to Q; I'll admit it. We've had so many beautiful runs without a Q, I wanted that green ribbon.

So, I turned Devon around to get that second jump. It wasn't pretty, and she was stressed. She almost went off course again, but I got her straightened out and at least flowing again. I think at this point I said, "Ok Devon, we're back on track! Let's go!" and we did! I can't remember a time when Devon ran so confidently. She did an incredible job with this course, and I was no where I had planned to be.

It wasn't a pretty score, but she did Q and earn 3rd place for her second OAJ leg. Even more impressive to me was that she was only 3 seconds over course time with all the fussing around we did at the second jump. That means she was moving really well!

I was intimidated by the Open Standard course because it look really challenging to me on paper; it was a lot like the Excellent course. I was also completely wiped out before we ran this course. The two days of working had hit me by this afternoon. I have to say with all the work Liz and Annie did to help me in the JWW ring, it wasn't a tough job. And have you ever been to a trial where you had to turn away workers? We had so many workers! But being on my feet and watching the ring and rearranging schedules took it's toll. I was really glad we ran 1.5 hours earlier in Standard today than we did yesterday.

Once again Devon came through. She was hot and tired, too. And the batteries for the timers failed between the 24 and 20 inch dogs, which delayed her run. Those two things were minor, because worst of all I was micromanaging her on course. I knew it, and I couldn't help it. But I have a great dog who ran clean, did an awesome teeter and sprinted to the finish without even looking at the off course tunnel.

This clean run gave Devon her OA in four trials in two weekends. I'm so very, very proud of her!

I learned two things this weekend. First, Devon is a great dog who knows and LOVES this game. She's really starting to have a good time out there. Second, if I relax and run her, Devon runs great and fast. If I micromanage, she slows down into "being perfect" mode. I definitely want more of the great fast runs, even if they come with no green ribbons.

This is our last weekend of trialing for a while so we can concentrate on field training and tracking for the rest of the summer and fall. We'll still keep up with weekly classes so we can be ready for late fall and winter trials. I can't wait to start this girl's career in Excellent and start relaxing into an awesome team!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Agility Club of Indianapolis Trial on Saturday

Devon was AWESOME today!!! I was so pleased with her two runs, I was just busting with joy all day! In JWW, I have to admit I had some nerves. I hate this since I know it affects Devon. It's hard not to have a few nerves for the first run of a weekend, and since Devon and I haven't been partners all that long our teamwork is still building.

The opening of the JWW course had a very tricky weave entrance; it was the same for the Excellent dogs. You had to really trust your dog to have independent weave entrances for this one. Not only did I trust her, but I thought the line was better using a rear cross, so for the first time in competition, I rear crossed the weave poles. Devon nailed the entrance and never hesitated in the poles!

In fact, Devon stayed in the poles even though the photographer was shooting away and his shutter was really loud. The photographer pulled out at least two Excellent dogs with seasoned handlers, so I was especially pleased with Devon's focus. This was an area I worried over before we ran, but I decided Devon would have to work through these distractions, and I wasn't going to fuss over it.

I saved a near off course before a 180 in the back of the course, but I didn't save another one in the front of the course. I saw her head off, I thought I had her redirected and I took my eyes off her and she went off course. Bad mom. However, Devon was in good company with these two off courses, because I saw lots of Excellent level dogs end lovely runs at the same places.

I worried that Devon would worry when she found herself out of position relative to me when she landed over the off course, so I told her was brilliant. I thought later that I'm sure there were those outside the ring that thought, "That stupid handler just rewarded her dog for being wrong." Yep, I did because I want her to always think she's right! And after the class, the judge made a point of saying that I had a wonderful run with my dog.

Devon ran JWW at 8:30 a.m. and she didn't run Standard until around 3 p.m. It was a long day at a busy trial, and I had a headache and was very tired for her Standard run. To backtrack a little, last night we had severe storms and a tornado warning, so all four dogs and I spent about 20 minutes in the half bathroom below the stairs before going to bed. Then just as we were settled, Connor decided to throw up on my bedroom carpeting. So I got to bed after 10:30 p.m. and had to get up at 5 a.m. and leave the house at 6 a.m. I worked as chief ring steward for the JWW ring, so I wanted to be set up early so I could concentrate on my job.

So when it came time to walk and run the Open Standard course, I was worried I wasn't concentrating enough and I was too relaxed. Apparently this was just the ticket for Devon. She absolutely ran this course to perfection!

The two tunnel entrances were very challenging, and she never even looked at the off course ends of the tunnels. The triple, jump, tunnel sequence after the table was also a very tricky angle, and Devon made it look easy. And you have to check out those weave poles! In addition to nailing the off side entrance, Devon actually gets into her two footed stride at the end! Devon was the last 20 inch dog to run and she was the only clean run in the 20 or 24 inch jump height! She was 10 seconds under time, too, and took first place! This is a fantastic run, and it's her second Open Standard Q in three tries!

Devon ended her day with a massage from Susan. Susan thought her muscle tone and coat were great, likely due to a combination of the new raw diet and the field work she's been doing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Page the amazing water retriever

Again today the girls got to cool off with some fun bumpers in water. Page has such amazing water retrieving skills, I'm just shocked. She's retrieving these hand thrown marks like she's had training. She's even coming all the way up on shore with the bumper, usually sitting with the bumper a few feet away from me.

I remembered to take the video camera this afternoon to capture some of these water retrieves. I hope you enjoy them!

One other thing about Page. Apparently she's concerned about what I'm writing on the blog. The last two times I've tried to post, she has tried to climb into my lap to "help." She's also taking her paws and hitting the keyboard, so if you ever see a strange post, it might be from Page herself! Her favorite You Tube videos are of herself - does that shock anyone?? She'll sit on my lap and watch that very smart puppy on the screen! Her second favorite videos are of her brother Trix, so she votes for more video from him!

Another successful field session for Devon

After giving Devon Thursday off, I decided to go out this morning and do another T drill and focus on over piles. She had been successful Wednesday with over piles at 20 yards, so today I put them at 25 yards. I used what I learned on Wednesday to focus on being successful.

Devon came in on her first over cast, so I stopped her, replaced her, identified the pile and sent her on an over again. This time she turned and did a beautiful over! Later when I sent her on a left over, she again came in. I again corrected her by walking out to her and replacing her, then I walked to the over bucket and picked up a bumper and dropped it to identify the pile.

What I didn't realize as I was returning to my spot was that Devon broke her stay and was following me. I told her no, and she sat. From there, I used a back cast to send her to the back pile. She came in with her bumper and I praised her.

Now was the true test. I hadn't recast her to the over pile when I identified it. Would she remember it, or would I have to correct her again. I sent her, sat her, and gave her the over cast. Devon took the over line correctly to high praise and a fun bumper when she got in. I continued to work the drill to much success.

After several successful casts, I gave Devon a break in the van and got Page out. I repeated what I did on Wednesday with several hand thrown marks while Page was on a line. The first mark she kept, but every other mark she brought back to me. She got to hold the bumper and get praise and pets from me for being a brilliant girl.

After Page's time out, I reloaded the T drill, but I moved the over piles back another 10 yards so they were 35 yards from the center line. I wondered if I would have to reidentify the piles or if Devon would remember her line. She was an incredibly brilliant dog and remembered both over lines and had perfect over casts!

Not only was this a very successful drill for Devon on her over casts, but she also nailed every one of her sit whistles. This is a true sign to me the stress is minimal and she's handling the pressure of the learning and the drill well.

The ups and downs of training

This week has been a great example that there are good days in training and bad days in training. Yes, I'd love every session to be perfect, for everything to go right. I'd walk away always thinking I was a great dog trainer of my brilliant dogs. But, we're human and our dogs aren't perfect, and that's how my week has gone.

The bad...
Let's start with the bad so we can end on a good note. After a brilliant double T on Sunday, I thought I'd take Devon to the same field to do it again on Monday to reinforce her success. It was a good idea, but we didn't have success. They were mowing at the school yard, and I wasn't sure when they would need the field I wanted. I set up anyway, but I felt rushed.

Devon struggled to find her back pile, but we worked through it. Then she started coming straight in on her overs. Overs have been a struggle for us, and I do not know why. To me, it's a simple concept, but for Devon it must be hard. In the past, Devon will be successful to the over pile once or twice, and then in the same training session fail at the over pile on the third try. Why she fails when she's already been there is beyond my understanding.

I tried to work through the over problem, but then they needed to mow the field we were in so I stopped. I took Devon to the pond for fun bumpers and tried to figure out what went wrong.

One bad session for Devon on Monday was followed by a tough track for Page on Tuesday. I laid a TDX track for Page on Tuesday morning. It was about 500 yards long and had a lot of interesting woods work; we ran it at 1 hour and 45 minutes. Now, before you say or think it: yes, I know Page is only 4 months old. However, this pup is tracking advanced work with ease. She is all puppy until you put her to work and then she's all business. What I gave her she's seen before and handled well.

Page didn't start this track very strong. On our first leg, it started raining. Oh well, you have to track in rain, too! We worked through the first woods obstacle, and Page worked hard to find the track. This was surprising as she'd handled woods fine in the past. She tracked through a clearing to a turn, which she really struggled on. Turns in moderate cover are easy for Page, but this one took several minutes to work out. Then it was back into the woods where she really struggled. It was damp and I saw lots of deer tracks. Page wrapped the line around trees all over the place and sometimes twice. All this untangling didn't help her tracking at all.

After we worked through this section of woods, I thought things were on the upswing. She tracked strong on short grass, got a turn before a road crossing and dove into high cover. She tracked great into another set of woods and found the turn pretty easily. Then we hit the wall again.

Page struggled to find the new leg. To make matters worse, I had run low on trail markers and I couldn't find the leg either. I tell people all the time that even if you think the area you are in looks unique, you must mark the track. When you come back things will all look the same. Well, it happened to me.

Page went in a wrong direction, pulling me over some fallen logs then wrapping herself around two trees more than once. After getting her untangled, I was disoriented. I couldn't help her at all, and to make matters worse, we were both soaking wet. I ended up abandoning the track and walking us out back to the van. I never found my end article, so it's somewhere lost in the high cover.

The good...
On Tuesday, I gave Devon a break from handling drills and worked one new sight blind and her permanent blind. Devon lined the permanent blind and was all confidence. On the sight blind, she didn't get it at 85 yards, but when I stepped up to 60 yards she lined it. We did it four more times from different angles and as far as 85 yards. This was a very successful session.

On Wednesday, I went back to a different field and gave Devon a double T that was slightly shorter (100 yards on the back pile and side piles of 20 and 25 yards). I also marked both side piles with buckets. I started the drill as just a T with the more distant over piles, then stepped back to a double T. Unfortunately, Devon's overs got progressively worse.

The "good" about this drill and training session was that we trained through it successfully. When Devon is stressed, she loses her sit on the sit whistle. She'll stop, but she won't sit. An e collar correction for this makes everything worse, so I've decided to use attrition. Unfortunately she was so stressed on Wednesday, that attrition didn't even work. I could have stood there all day and she wasn't going to sit. Instead of collar correcting her, I walked out to where she was and made her sit by touching her collar, then walked back to my position.

This walking out to her was actually what solved a lot of my problems. It made me realize that when she failed on the overs, I was calling her into me - reinforcing her coming in which I didn't want. Once I realized this, if she came into me on the overs, I told her no, stopped her, then walked out and put her back to where she was when she made the mistake. I then identified the over pile for her or later didn't go as far back out. She was successful to the over pile with this "correction" of just replacing her and trying again.

After several successful fixes, I put Devon back in the van to rest and get a drink. I took Page out and for the first time threw some marks for her. I kept her on a line, and after "trieving" (or keeping) the first couple of marks, she began to "retrieve" the marks back to me. Instead of taking the bumper right away, I petted and praised her with the bumper in her mouth. Page could tell she was very brilliant!

Then I reloaded the T drill and brought Devon back out for more work. This was risky; would she be too tired to work? Would she just shut down when asked to do another session? Once Devon had time to cool off and think, she was very successful. On her second session, not only did she nail her over piles, but she was nailing her whistle sits, too! This told me right away things were going much better! I'm so glad I backed up and started "teaching" her again.

On Wednesday Page also had some fun on a motivational track. I gave her a 400 yard track with five turns in high cover. It was aged 35 minutes. High cover is tracking heaven for Page, and she had a great time with this track. Below is the track from just after the start to the 4th turn where she gets the line knotted around some very high cover.

Lessons learned...
For Devon, this has been a very beneficial week of field drills. I've learned to read her extreme stress signs of not sitting; and I've seen that no sit go away when she's learning. I learned Devon coming in on the overs may be something I reinforced when I called her in instead of going out and fixing it in the field. And I learned how to work through these problems to a positive end.

For Page, I learned that there are things that stump her. I learned she needs more work on woods. I also learned I need to support her more and be ready when things are too hard for her. I also need more trail markers so I know where I'm going!!!

For me, I was reminded that a good week of training doesn't always mean each session was good. It does mean that my dogs and I learned something from each session.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Field training successes

Even with one more agility trial coming up next weekend, I've really turned my attention to Devon's field work. I plan to put her in field training and VST practice immersion after next weekend. My goal is to have her ready for her Senior Hunter tests and VST test this fall. It's a huge goal, but with the way she's working, I'm very hopeful.

At the same time I could accept holding one of them until next spring. Maggie and her amazing boy Scorch just got their first SH pass yesterday. Her description of the test and especially the blind really scared me. It was "100 yds, over a point to open water and the blind was on a rock." Her advice was to train long and really teach Devon to mark and do long blinds. Whew, that's a tall order. So, now you see why it may be next year for this Senior.

I've also learned so much about me and my dog through this "transition" field training. The reason I like field is because it has challenged me as a trainer. It's brand new to me, but I'm a dog trainer and I have pushed myself to think through the problems and problem solve.

Devon is a fantastic dog. She works her guts out for me and frankly she deserves a better handler. It's her bad luck to be my "first field dog," the one you know you make your mistakes on.

The biggest thing I've learned in transition is to TEACH my dog the drills. In field because you have that e collar control, it's so tempting to correct when there's a mistake. However, I've resolved that each time Devon makes a mistake it's because I haven't taught her something and she's confused. Devon isn't a pushy dog or a willful dog. She is very biddable and she wants to do the right thing. Therefore if she makes a mistake, she's confused and I need to teach her.

Learning what I wrote above has made me a better field trainer, and it's directly responsible for the successes we've had lately. When Devon has struggled with "overs," we broke it down and just worked overs. When she's struggled with suction on the three in a row drill, I walked up until we got it worked out; then I slowly worked our way back to our starting point.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to work in a nice oval pond. On my way to the pond, I reviewed in my mind what I wanted to work on, and I landed on the "water force fetch" type drill. Devon went through this protocol nearly 2 years ago, but I thought revisiting a bucket and pile on the opposite bank of a pond would be a good reminder for upcoming water blinds.

I started her on a land blind I did on the property 2 weeks ago. I did the blind from several angles. As we worked this blind, it started to rain. Oh well; Devon passed her last JH test in a pouring rain, so we might as well train in it. A second distraction also started: dirt bikes in the neighboring field. This was a real distraction for Devon, especially when she could only hear them and not see them.

When we got to the pond, I tried to throw a mark to identify the pile for Devon. It went nearly 90 degrees to the left of the pile. Just great. She retrieved it, so I tried to send her cold and she didn't get the idea. I called her in and tried a second mark that went to the same place in the wrong direction. I let her retrieve the second mark and lined her up for the pile again.

Again, Devon seemed to mark the bucket but went left in the water to where the mark landed. I wanted to scream. I didn't want her to think she was wrong because of my errors. So I thought of one thing which was incredibly risky. If it worked, we'd be brilliant. If it didn't, I'd have to bag the drill...

I gave Devon a whistle sit in water. I've NEVER asked this of her. I knew there would always have to be a first, but I thought it would be when Mitch was standing over my shoulder telling me what to do. My wonderful little girl turned into me on the whistle - GOOD GIRL! I gave her an over, and she took it. She came in a little, but she took it. I gave her another sit whistle, then a quick right back and she did it! Awesome! I handled her to the bucket. What a fantastic little girl. I cheered ...

but it was short lived when she ran the bank coming back. Are you kidding me? Just when she was brilliant she starts cheating! When she wouldn't sit coming in to me with the bumper, I walked out and neutrally took it and threw it back into the water and called her around. We did this with Mitch when she first started cheating and up until yesterday it solved the problem.

I asked Devon for the blind again, and she needed to be handled again but she did it. She again cheated on the way back, so I stopped her and put her back into the water. I also moved the bucket down to the water's edge, hoping to remind her that she was to get back into the water.

The next time I asked for the blind, she lined it and with an early whistle and several comes from me, she got back in the water and swam back with the bumper. We celebrated with a break and a fun bumper; then I asked for and got two more perfect blinds. What a great way to finish! I really hoped we had some learning, too.

This morning I set up Devon's first double T drill. The back pile was at 135 yards; the nearest over pile was 30 yards out and the side piles were at 30 yards; and the second over pile was at 90 yards with the side piles at 25 yards. I only have three buckets, so I identified the farthest over piles with my blind sticks. This was my first mistake.

Even though I identified the back pile, Devon started angling to the over piles because they were marked with my sight blind sticks. I called her back in twice and decided to go fix my mistake. I put her in the crate and walked out to remove the sight blind sticks. Those piles had white bumpers and they were only 25 yards away, so I knew she could see them on the short grass. They would have to go unmarked.

When Devon came out, she showed me my second mistake (and luckily my only other one). I needed to walk up 30 yards to the first set of over piles and start the drill as a traditional T drill which she knows. Once she ran it successfully as a T drill to all piles, I grabbed my discard bumpers and backed up to the original line as she was going to the back pile.

At this point we started working the double T, and Devon was 100% successful at running it!! I have to tell you the first time she got the second over pile, I had tears in my eyes. This is an incredibly hard drill, and for us to get here because of the teamwork and relationship we have built together is amazing to me. I cannot tell you how rewarding today was for me.

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to continue our drill work and give discipline casting a try before we had to Mitch's at the end of the month. I'm hoping to start formal water work then. Maybe we can get this Senior this year! And if not, we're going to be really close.

Friday, June 12, 2009

An evening swim

There is a lot to love about my two Gaylan's girls, and one of the top things on my list is their work ethic. These girls are always up for another adventure. After leaving the house at 12 noon, working for an hour or more between them at the kennel club, running errands with me, waiting in the van while I laid Page's track, we finally got home ... for 20 minutes. The stop at home was only for dropping off the boys and a potty break for the girls. Plus I had to switch vehicles and get my field stuff for Devon. Then we headed back to run Page's 437 yard track and do a "short" field drill for Devon.

Devon did a nice drill. I set up a 110 yard sight blind for her; I didn't realize it was 110 yards when I set it up, so as usual I set up something harder for Devon than I intended. Unfortunately I forgot my nice sight blind stick, so I tried to use small flags. That didn't work and Devon struggled since it wasn't really a "sight" blind if she couldn't see it. I realized my mistake quickly before I did any harm, put Devon back in the SUV and took a white bucket out to mark the blind.

The look on Devon's face was remarkable when she came back out. She was much happier and worked the drill for me. We still had problems with coming in on overs. I fixed that by throwing some orange bumpers to her right and sending her to them. She also kept turning the wrong way on a right back. I had to tell her to sit 4 times in a row before she got that one right. But we got out of it without any battles and I think it was a positive, learning experience.

So after all that work, I decided to take the girls to the back of the property where I knew there was a small pond. I haven't been back there in a couple of years, but I hoped the water level was better with all the rain we've had recently. We were in luck! The pond looked great.

I took two bumpers with me, but I didn't hold any hope of Page actually retrieving them. After her last swim when she almost went under retrieving a ball, I figured she'd wait a while before doing any more water retrieves. Boy was I wrong! She charged right into the water and swam. And when Devon swam out after a bumper, Page went right after her and stole it.

The next time I threw two bumpers, knowing I could send Devon after a bumper left in the pond on a "back." I didn't have to worry. Page went right out after her bumper. It helped that the pond was very shallow; to the left Devon never swam and Page was touching bottom most of the way. But to the right both girls were swimming.

I had to go back and get the camera to capture the fun these two girls had, especially Page. Here are Page's first bumper retrieves in water!

Make sure you watch closely as Page exits the pond ... she trips and her head goes completely under!

Apparently the head dunking didn't affect her much!

Later, I sat Devon on an honor and just threw for Page. I see the first stages of a flashy water entrance here! And yes, each time she came out of the water, she curled up and dropped her bumpers in her "spot" in the grass. She didn't bring them back to me, but she was close and she never ran away with them! I'll take it!

After more swimming, the girls took a short walk to dry off. We went home and had dinner. After all that work today, it shouldn't surprise you both girls are already fast asleep with Page in "bed."

And Page was really something as I was downloading the clips from the camera to the computer. Page, who never wants to be held, kept asking to come up on my lap at the computer and watch that cute Golden on the screen. She was fascinated first by the clicker that she could hear on the computer, then by hearing me talking to her from the computer and finally watching that very smart Golden who looked like her.

Page sat for more than 15 minutes on my lap watching videos. I guess she had just as much fun as I did today!

Another VST track for Page

On the way home from the kennel club, I laid another VST track for Page. This track was 437 yards long and aged 1.5 hours when she ran it. However, it only had 15% non veg, so it wasn't a hard VST track. I wanted Page to get a track with a lot of obstacles, including non veg, a building, a short woods line and a ravine.

This is only the second time I've seen Page cast like she was doing on this track. I can only think the age on short veg is causing this casting. I think it will go away as she gets more scenting experience on aged tracks with short cover.

I did remember my camera for this track, and I'm glad I did. However, it's also hard to manage the tracking line and hold a camera. Poor Page gets some bad line handling from me for the sake of the video! The first time it irritates her, but the second time she was too busy tracking to really notice.

The first turn threw Page a little, but I thought she did a nice job through the basketball court. She also did a nice job before the playground. She did a lot of casting and searching on the playground area. School has been out for a couple of weeks here, so I found that interesting. Page did a fantastic job of indicating her first article, which was metal.

You can see Page isn't strong on the restarts after an article and a reward. I think she wonders if the track is over at this point. I think I'm going to only put one kibble in the articles on the track in the future. Articles on tracks are new to her, so I am expecting a lot to have her just drop her nose and go.

After she gets restarted, Page gets distracted by something coming out of the treeline. She did get back to work when I asked her. I had planned to go across the ravine, but it had more water than I expected and I was tired of wet feet this week. You can see Page doesn't hesitate to go across the water looking for the track, but she quickly realizes it's not there and comes back to find it.

I was surprised she wanted to push up the hill early before her turn. I can only think that the wind coming from the east was pushing the scent from the new leg down the hill at her, which was causing this early turn confusion. Page finds her plastic egg easily today; that's the one she missed earlier this week.

You only get to see two of the three parts of this track. Page tracked out to the glove very nicely, and she gave me a solid indication on the final glove, too. Those article indications are really solid when she's recently had a training session that includes a down or a nose touch! I'll have to remember that!

Free Friday training

The kennel club offers free member training on a couple of Fridays a month. Today was one of those days. I was able to go up early in the day, and I had the building to myself for 2 hours. What a great way to spend a Friday afternoon!

After I ran the boys, I brought Devon in for a couple of agility sequences. The course that was set up was the same one she ran this week in class, so I did some sequences that we didn't do earlier this week. Devon was very strong in her weaves, and I was pleased with her work.

After I ran Devon, I let her stay crated in the building while I trained Page. I have done some work with Page putting her through standards here at home, so I thought I'd do that in a new place. They also had the 8 inch table out, so I thought I'd play with that, too.

Devon has an automatic down on the table, and I really like it. I've been planning to teach Page the same thing, but she was slower in learning the down than Devon was. But now that the down is coming along very well, I decided to try the table today. Yes, I know I should really teach things at home first, but why worry about silly things like that!

The clip below is the second session that day on the table. You can see she picked up the concept in no time; she's very smart. I pushed the session way too long; but she was so stinking cute, I couldn't help it. This pup just makes me laugh all the time! BTW, the protesting in the background is Devon. She is jealous when her sister works!

Next we worked sending Page through the standards. I was really glad to work this here on different jumps and with the cone and other distractions. The next time I'm able to work in the building, I'll add in the wings on the jumps. I'm very proud of her work here. And as a side note, I set the camera on the 16 inch table, and Page jumped up on that one to do her automatic down, too!

The final agility exercise I worked on with Page was a tunnel. Once again I should probably introduce these things at my place first, but the tunnel was handy and she volunteered to go through it! The next time someone comes here to the house, I'm going to have to have them help me put Page into my tunnels.

Page also went into the obedience practice ring to work her walking on a loose leash, sit, down, and leave it. She's finally getting the leave it concept, which is good.

After Page's session, I brought Devon back out for some obedience work. I think her obedience is coming along very well. She still sits a little wide from me, but she's very straight and her gait changes are beautiful. Below are two clips from her obedience session. The first is her "get close" where I'm asking her to work close beside me in heel. The second is just some heeling practice.

I had four tired but happy pups on the way home!

A post from Connor and Ian

Earlier this week I got a voicemail from my friend Julie, a.k.a. "Ian's Grandma," checking on Connor and Ian. She said she wanted to make sure both of them were still ok since Devon and Page had taken over the blog. You know it's serious when Julie actually asks about one of the Goldens! But I know she has a soft spot for Connor since she used to dog sit him (just don't ask her to evaluate his intelligence level).

You can all rest assured that Ian and Connor are getting two meals a day, full supplements, plenty of out time and the usual spoiling. Connor still sleeps in the bed (when Devon doesn't kick him out); in fact Connor sleeps anywhere his little heart desires.

Ian feels he needs to be trained more, and he's still not sure about that wiggling little monster that invaded the house a few weeks ago. The most often used phrase in our house these days is, "Don't chase the black dog!"

However, I just realized a couple of weeks ago that it's Ian's fault he's getting chased these days. He's starting to engage with Page, and as soon as she engages back - and she's very appropriate when she does - he freaks out and runs away from her. Poor Page can't figure this out! He was the one who wanted her attention! Maybe she should just follow him and see if he needed her! Now you see why I'm saying, "Don't chase the black dog" at least 2-3 times a day.

Things are slowly getting better. Ian actually got the nerve up to stand still and be sniffed by Page after he engaged with her yesterday. I told them how good they both were, and everyone went about their business.

Today was actually a good day for the boys. The kennel club has member training a couple of times a month, and today was one of those days. So I loaded all four pups in the van and we trained for a couple of hours at the kennel club. The agility course that was set up was challenging for Ian, and I was able to run several sequences after I ran the course. Ian did great.

Connor even got to come in and run the course and some sequences before I changed the jump heights. Here's a little clip of the retired agility dog having fun.

I know Connor has lost muscle tone since being retired, so I made sure I warmed him up pretty well before he ran. Even so, I noticed he preferred to run with his rear legs together for more stability as older dogs do. I'm not worried about his hips, but it was a little sad to see he's starting to show his 9 years of age.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Page finally gets a challenging track

I was going to lay a TDX track today for Page and then give her a VST track tomorrow. However when I got 110 yards into the TDX track I'd planned, I was in water above my ankles. I was already soaked and had a few hours to go that morning, so I abandoned that track and rethought my plan.

We tracked with a friend for the rest of the morning, then I headed back into town. I had decided to do a field drill with Devon at one of the schools, and it would be a great place to lay a VST track for Page and give her some age. Below is her track:

I laid this track at 1 p.m. and ran it at 2 p.m. Page had been in the SUV traveling around and watching other dogs train since 7:30 a.m. It was a muggy day with humidity in the 60% range all day. This morning it rained off and on and there was very little wind. When I ran the track the sun was breaking through and it was in the upper 70s. The track was 387 yards with 119 yards of non-veg, or 31%.

Every time I throw something at Page I think is going to be a tracking challenge, she handles it well. So, I decided today she would get her first lesson in curb work.

The first "leg" of the track curved around the edge of the building. I wanted to start her with some alternating veg and non veg on the sidewalks. I laid hand prints every 3-4 steps on the veg to give her help and continued this throughout the track.

On the second leg we angled across the sidewalk and dropped into the curb. Here I added a piece of kibble to the hand prints about every 10-15 yards. I also put an plastic egg filled with kibble in the curb behind some grass that was growing up in the cracks.

Page got to say hello to a woman and her daughter as she was getting out of the SUV. This really fired her up and she was ready to take on the world! Page came off the start flag dead on the track. I gave her only a softly angled approach to the article, and she was nose down pulling right away. I was very glad to see her start just as strong on short grass as she does in heavy cover.

Page handled the first "leg" very well. She put her nose down and sniffed the non-veg where the hand prints were, taking the sidewalk crossings in stride. She was very confident through this soft curve around the building, pausing only long enough to sniff a drain pipe coming off the building.

She handled the angle from the grass across the sidewalk very well. When she got to the curb, she didn't drop down into it at first. She started to track up on the sidewalk above the track in the curb. I decided to follow her here to see if this is where she stayed. After about 10 yards, she dropped onto the parking lot and explored out away from the curb, sniffing the pavement. After satisfying herself it didn't go across the parking lot, Page came back to the curb and for the first time put her nose in the curb and really sniffed there. I could tell by her body language she got a strong scent and "found" her track. She was rewarded a few steps later with a piece of kibble.

Once in the curb, she tracked well to the plastic egg. I thought she found the egg, but then she seemed to track past it. I held the line and she sat next to the egg. I asked what she found and gave her the kibble from the egg. Was that sit an article indication? I wasn't sure.

This is where Page hit her first difficult spot: how to restart on non veg. She was so focused on the food, she found it hard to get restarted. I had to point to the curb several times and say track, but she just kept coming back and sitting and staring at me. Finally with some water, rescenting and steps forward and repeated pointing to the curb saying "track" she got started again.

She handled the angle back up onto the sidewalk very well. Page did a great job of checked all spots for scent before committing to the grass. Once in the grass, she tracked very strong to the metal article. Here she gave me a paw tap on the article and then sat beside it and looked back at me. Seems like the sit at the egg was an indication.

The restart at this article was much easier. Off she went again, easily tracking over a couple of more sidewalks to the last turn.

I was very interested what she would do on this final leg. Right after I laid this leg of the track, three girls rode up on their bicycles and ate lunch at the picnic tables and played on the equipment. They ran over to pet Devon before her field drill. I figured they wouldn't stay long after their lunch, and I was right. But what would their scent all over the playground do to the freshly laid track and a very green tracking dog, er puppy? And while I laid extra scent with hand prints, I didn't put any kibble down for her through this section.

Page tracked onto the concrete well and into the circle where the picnic tables were. Of course, being Bizzy's daughter, she had to check out all of the picnic tables to see if there was even a crumb left for her! Someone had a picnic and didn't invite Page! What a tragedy!

After scouring the picnic tables, Page got back on her track and tracked it well into the mulch playground. I think she would have tracked easily through the mulch had it not been for the empty McDonald's cup that once held a chocolate shake. That was simply too much for Page, and she stuck her whole head in the cup and started drinking the contents - YUCK! You can guarantee I will never drink a McDonald's shake after this experience!

I grabbed the cup up and told her to get back to work. "Are you kidding me??" was her only answer to that! Holding the cup over my shoulder wasn't fooling her; she was jumping at me in protest that she wanted to finish her find! So I walked back and threw it in the trash can. That was not a popular decision according to Page. She got mildly interested in tracking again, but only to go back to the spot of the cup and start eating pieces of mulch that had leftover shake on them. UGH!

I finally shortened up the line and walked her a couple of steps past this spot. Then I asked her to get back to work and wouldn't allow her to go back where the mess had been. It only took her about 20 seconds to give up and get back to work. At this point she was really hot and getting tired, so I wondered if she would actually be capable of tracking to the glove.

I shouldn't have worried. Not only did she pick up the track in the mulch, but she worked the concrete curb out of the play area and back into the grass. She tracked strong all the way to her glove, where she gave me another sit at the article and then a down when I walked up to get it. What a good girl!

Although this track challenged Page, she never gave up on it. She only had two rough areas, and they were difficult challenges. It's simply amazing to watch this little puppy track like a mature dog. I can't wait to see what I have the next time she runs VST. She learns very quickly, and the time in the crate on the way home, then a nap after a late lunch when she got here should have solidified her lessons into her little brain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Devon and Page's retrieving fun

On the way home from field training and tracking, I stopped to check out a pond I use. I thought the girls might enjoy a swim after a hard afternoon of training. Unfortunately there was someone fishing in the pond, so I decided not to be rude and swim my dogs.

I saw that they had put up hay in big round bales in the field, so I decided to walk the girls and take a couple of bumpers. I really haven't asked Page to retrieve bumpers, just toys in the building. She is starting to get in the habit of grabbing a toy in the morning and carrying it downstairs to the backdoor where I have to ask her to "give" before she goes out. Devon does the same thing, and there always seems to be a clutter of stuffed babies at the back door. I think retrieving will come quite naturally to her once we get through the force fetch, so I'm not even remotely worried about it.

Below are several clips of Devon retrieving and Page "helping." You can see Page does get the idea to carry the bumper, but it seems to be more fun carrying it by the rope! Now you can see why I can't help but smile and laugh at these two beautiful girls!

Needless to say both girls are really tired tonight. Page took herself to her crate about 30 minutes ago, and I haven't heard a thing from her since.

Field set up for Devon

Today was heaven and hell for Devon. Her heaven was she got to go get ducks. Her hell was her handler doing a less than stellar job of helping her out. The last time this dog ran marks was probably the WCX test in October. That didn't occur to me until after we'd run the set up the first time.

As usual Steve and I set up marks that were harder than we expected. I can't tell you how long these marks were, but I'm guessing the "go" bird was at least 100 yards away. The fall was on the face of a hill, but the dog had to charge through a section of heavy cover, then charge up the hill once they cleared the cover. All the dogs thought the bird was closer to the cover than it was, and they had problems getting up on the face of the hill. The second mark was probably 70-80 yards out. Most of the run was in short cover with the bird landing in heavy cover, forcing the dogs to charge into the cover.

It would have helped if I had run this as two singles, then put them together as doubles. Nope, I ran Devon cold on a double. Bless her for hunting up both birds. She never gave up, although she buzzed the gunners stations to say hello to Steve and Janet a couple of times. I'm sure in her nicest way she was asking for a hint because her mother was such an idiot!

I remembered to set up a sight blind for her to run after the marks. I set the blind in heavy cover to the right of the second mark. I knew it was long, but it looked straight forward to me. Boy, was I wrong!

I didn't take into account the blind was less than 45 degrees off the line of the second mark. Devon wanted to mark the second fall instead of the blind. I finally got her to settle in and mark the blind, so I sent her. She got halfway out and pulled left toward the mark. She responded to my whistle to sit. I started to do a right over, but she popped and took off to the mark area. I blew another sit whistle, but it didn't matter.

I called her in and she ignored that too. I hated to do it since the whole thing was really my fault, but I knew she wouldn't come in without a collar nic. I blew the come whistle and nic'ed her and in she came. Good girl!

This time I walked up on the blind about halfway to diminish the influence of the mark. It worked. Devon settled in and lined the blind. Later I walked it off and once I walked up on it, it was a 50 yard blind. I'm thinking it was at least 70 yards from my initial line.

The second time I ran the set up, I did it as two singles, then a double. This helped Devon's marking. I also didn't ask her for the long blind, but again walked up to where she was successful the last time. She lined it again.

I asked Devon to honor several times, and she did a fine job. She watches the marks and occasionally flinches with the dog is sent, but she isn't even thinking about breaking for the bird.

Devon did a great job today, in spite of her handler. I really do think she'll be successful in senior even with her handicap of a green handler. It's a good thing she's a really great dog!

More tracking by Page

On Tuesday I laid a track here at home for Page. The track was 200 yards long. The first two legs were 50 yards to left turns, then the last leg was 100 yards and we crossed my gravel driveway at 70 yards. The track was on short grass and it was aged 1.5 hours when we ran it. It was cloudy and 67 degrees with a light 8 mph wind.

Page started strong, even with the age of the track being twice what she ran the day before. She did a lot of casting on the first and second leg. I think this had more to do with the short grass and the wind than the age. She has been tracking in heavy cover, so the short grass was new to her and I expected to see a difference.

Both of Page's turns were lovely. She also handled the gravel driveway extremely well. She only gave a short pause at the transition and then nose down tracked across the driveway. I was especially pleased with her nose touch and down at the article when it had no kibble in it.

Today we did some field training with Steve, Janet and Sheree. I asked Janet if she would lay Page a track since Page has never tracked anyone but me. Janet was a real trooper and laid a lovely track with 4 turns and approximately 250-300 yards. We went down a hill to set up marks while Janet was laying this track, so it was also a blind track for me.

About 2 hours later, we returned to to run the track. This was the most age Page has done to date, and she's never tracked someone else. Add in that it was a blind track for me, and I didn't know what we'd have. The good news was that the track was in pretty high cover (up to my thighs) and it had rained while the track aged.

I've said that Page doesn't have the best starts, but now I'm rethinking that. Page has good starts; they just aren't what I'm used to. Donna told me when Bizzy is working field, she'll mark and seem to say to Donna, "I got it! Send me!" Now I think I know what that looks like by Page's tracking starts. When I've asked her to sniff the start article or lay down at the start, her attitude is, "No, I got it! Let me go!" and she seems to dismiss me. So I've let her go with that kind of start. And you know what, she does have it!

I brought Page up from the side about 3 feet behind the start flag. I pointed to the start article, a stuffed animal, and she sniffed it. Her body posture was slightly different like, "What the heck? This is odd." She started off and I let the line out, but then she circled to the left almost immediately. I let her go and work it out. She circled all the way back behind me and picked up the track there. She passed me, sniffed the based of the start flag again, and then almost seemed to shrug and say, "Well, this is different from the other times I've tracked so Mom must have lost her mind, but I'll play along" and off she went!

From the start, Page never missed a step in her tracking style. She tracked strong on the first leg. In the tall grass I had a good idea where the track went because I could see it even after 2 hours. However, when her head came up and she went left, I stopped dead. I was a little confused because the track looked like it went on straight; but sure enough I turned to my left and saw a path in the grass. I was standing on the first turn. Page overshot it by 25 ft., but she knew it and was working back to the turn.

Once on the new leg, it was nose down tracking again. She read the second and third turn much more quickly. On the fourth leg we started coming out of the heavy cover, and the fourth turn was in a roadway of grass much shorter than the surrounding cover.

This last leg of the track was very long. Page stopped about halfway up and investigated something in the grass. I called to Janet and asked her if that was the glove. She said no, it was farther on up. I told Page to track, and she did but came back to this spot. Finally I saw her eating something, and I realized she was eating rabbit poop. YUCK!! I told her to leave it and track, and she did. Several more yards and she found the glove. Page sniffed it and her tail went 100 mph and she stood over it, but she didn't do a down on the article.

This was an awesome track for Page. I am so pleased to have her track someone else and not miss a beat. And nearly 2 hours of age and a blind track was an added bonus!

Monday, June 8, 2009

This morning's track with Page

Devon gets the day off after a 3-day weekend of agility trialing, which I'm not sure she appreciated when I left this morning with Page to go tracking! After last week's successful track where I pushed Page on length and time, I decided to continue to up the challenge. Normally I wouldn't "test" a dog this much from session to session, especially when we're talking about a 4 month old puppy! But Page's work ethic and knowledge of the game certainly surpass her age.

This morning I laid a 580 yard TDX track with 3 turns aged 45 minutes. The first leg was 125 yards long. It started in short grass and within 10 yards went into cover. At 70 yards we had a mowed path to cross. I put a plastic egg with kibble 20 yards after the mowed path.

I laid the start as a TD start with a 30 yard directional marker. I want Page to get used to tracking past this second flag. However, I brought her up to the start flag at an angle. This was the first time I've done this, and Page worked it out pretty well. She hesitated only a second and check both ways before diving into the cover. Once in the cover she came to tire tracks/ruts in the cover. She treated these as cross tracks and investigated them both ways before moving on.

As soon as she committed, she came to a deer trail that angled near the track within 3 ft. She got in the deer trail instead of the track, but I could tell by her body language she knew this wasn't the track. She continue to work and even circled behind me until she worked out her problem to push past the deer trail to the track. All this work and tracking problem solving happened in the first 30 yards of the track, and I was really impressed with her work ethic. Most dogs would have given up and not started.

Once she was on the track, I don't think she ever slowed down! The mowed path didn't hardly make her blink today after she worked out that problem last week. She nose down tracked straight across it and leaped into the cover not 6 inches from where I stepped back into it.

However, we do need work on articles. She didn't even pause for the plastic egg even though it had kibble in it. She tracked just to the right of it by inches and didn't walk over it. I picked it up and didn't make her find it. I knew last week we needed work on article indications.

When Page got to the turn, she tracked past it, but with in 10 ft. turned to her left and got right back on the new leg. The second leg was 130 yards long. It was in the same medium cover with bushes, then went through a wet area that with rain will become a small ditch with running water. Immediately after this wet area the track went up an incline into woods. I put an article 20 yards into the woods. After the article was another 30 yards to a right turn in the woods.

Page never slowed down on the second leg; in fact a couple of times she looked back at me as if to say, "Hurry up!" She had no problem crossing the wet area and pushing up to the woods. In fact, she pushed up a little early toward the woods, realized it and got herself onto the track and tracked me step for step into the woods. She didn't have any problems with this transition at all.

Page did indicate the article in the woods, probably because she was tracking me footstep by footstep. She only indicated it by sniffing and stopping to stand over it and look at me. I rewarded her with the kibble inside the article (again noting we need work on articles!).

When I told her to "track" she only hesitated a second and got right back to work. However, this is when I got a little disoriented and started to doubt her. I mark my track with trail markers, because I know how disorienting the woods can be especially after the track is aged up. Page continued forward and I thought we angled to the right. I'm seasoned enough to know to trust my dog, so I followed her anxiously looking for trail markers so I wouldn't be following her in a wrong direction. Sure enough, Page was right and I was wrong. Page indicated the right turn in the woods just as I saw the marker on the tree. What an awesome little girl!

Leg 3 was 150 yards through the woods, back across the low wet area, through the cover with thorn bushes to a left turn. Page didn't have any problems through this area. She tracked confidently through the woods and I know she was going around the trees just as I did. She found the exact spot where I exited the woods (avoiding the thorn bush that ripped my knee and jeans when I laid the track). I had to slow her down so I could maneuver the wet ditch because she almost pulled me down it. I got a dirty look from her for that. Gayle was exactly right that this girl isn't going to tolerate my bad handling!

Before I knew it, Page was turning onto the new leg without even casting, just as she had on the previous turn. Leg 4 was 175 yards long. It continued through the cover, then into a large mowed area and back into medium height grass to her glove. There were several deer beds in this area and I kicked up a baby fawn (spots and all) when I laid the track. I also found a large, deep hole 6 inches from the track. I was glad I didn't step in it, and made sure I knew where it was so I didn't lose Page in it.

Page again tracked me footstep by footstep through here. She never indicated the deer beds, but right before the large hole, she caught a strong cross track and followed it left before returning to the track (maybe momma deer came back through looking for her fawn). I was able to keep her out of the hole. She worked the mowed area just like she did the earlier mowed path and didn't let it throw her. She was inches to the right of the glove on a tire mark and tracked right past it. I held her, which she hated, and she did find the glove.

Page ran this 580 yard track in 11 minutes. If she would have been bigger and stronger, she would have run it in half the time. I had visions of chasing Laurie and Dusty as track layer for their successful TDX at last fall's White River Golden Retriever Club test. I think I need tips from Laurie on handling and wild beast!

After finding the glove Page wanted to continue tracking. The length of cover and obstacles didn't faze Page at all; and the age of the track also didn't both her. What I need to work on now is article indications and tracking other people. I have a feeling I also need to work more VST with Page. I think TD and TDX work will be "easy" for Page, and shorter cover and non veg will be more challenging. This is where Page and Devon are very similar in their tracking. In most other ways, Page and Devon are very distinct trackers.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hoosier Kennel Club Agility Trial Day 3

Today was a MUCH better day! I was worried about heat and humidity, which was supposed to come in today. However, it stayed overcast much of the day which helped with the temps. We also had a nice breeze all day.

Today I also repeated what I did on Friday on how I handled where the girls were crated. I parked under some trees away from the rings near other doggie friends. It was cool and quiet back there. This is where I usually set up because Ian is so reactive in the crates/van. However, with the cooler temps and just the two Golden girls, I parked up by the rings behind our tents yesterday. I noticed both girls were awake and sitting up a lot yesterday, and I wondered if that had to do with the difference in Devon's speed.

I only came back to the van once this morning to put sunscreen on, and both girls were sleeping soundly. When it was about time for Devon to run, I moved the van up behind the tents next to the ring. Based on Devon's speed and performance today, I think this was the right thing to do.

The Open Standard course was a nice flowing course, and I thought it would be perfect for my plan to run fast and happy. Devon didn't want to sit on the start line, and I think it was because she wouldn't be facing the interior of the ring; you know how she has to make sure all her fans including the judge sees her on the start line!

I was patient and finally got a sit for the start. I took a deep breath and released her and executed my plan; and it worked to perfection! The run below is flawless. I was driving to my spots on course, but I was keeping an eye on her to keep her engaged. I gave her a beautiful line to the weaves, and she nailed the entrance and kept on going.

I also held my criteria on the table, and she looked less stressed. Yes, I lost maybe 3 seconds by making her lie down when he had already started counting when she hit her sit. Oh well! Devon was clean, earned her first Open Standard Q and was 10 seconds under time. Most importantly, she was really happy!

Since there were only 12 dogs in Open Standard and the Open JWW course was built and tweaked, we had a quick turn time to the next run. Devon was the second dog in the ring for this run. We walked up as they were getting in place and the first dog was on the line.

The JWW course was more challenging that the standard course, and I wanted to run it with several front crosses. I also knew from yesterday that by running with her from the start, I would have to precue all my front crosses so she'd know where we were going. Therefore, I knew I'd have to trust Devon to do her job as I pulled her through the course. As I walked, I made sure I knew where the spots were to keep her engaged as I turned.

We got to the line, and Devon was solid for the start and sat right away. However, much to my shock after she took the first jump, Devon headed to the left away from the second jump to the side of the ring. I was shocked and I was worried at first she was so stressed she didn't want to run. Then I realized what she was doing and what must have happened. The judge had been removing the numbered cone off the first weave pole and throwing it to the ring gates all weekend. As we walked up, I'm sure he did this again and my awesome little field dog marked the throw. She had to be patient until the first dog ran, but then she was going to return (i.e. retrieve) the cone to the nice man in the middle of the ring. Devon is so considerate!

Unfortunately as she came back to me, Devon back jumped the second jump for an off course. We wouldn't Q this course, but I was determined to work it (and now even harder) just as I had planned. Devon did an awesome job! She was tired and hot from her first run, but she did a fantastic job on this challenging course. I gave her a great line to the weaves, and she nailed the entrance once again. She was 4 second over course time, but she wasted more than that when she went off toward the cone at the beginning of the run. This is a "personal Q" in my book any day!

I learned a lot this weekend about me and my dog. Susan, you were right. I do need to trust her more to do her job. And because I'm running with her from the start, I also need to precue all my front crosses to give her the information earlier. I still need to watch for those wandering "environmental" moments and keep us connected, but she is ready for me to stop micromanaging her. I also learned that Devon does need her quiet time to rest so she can focus and be ready to run.

Devon is an awesome dog, and I'm blessed that she tries her hardest for me whenever I ask it of her!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hoosier Kennel Club Agility Trial Day 2

Hummm....I'm not sure how I feel about today's runs. At first I was going to say I wish I had today to do over again, or I wish I had yesterday's day today. However, after reviewing the videos on a bigger screen I'm not sure today was all bad.

I was very laid back and relaxed before our first Open Standard run. In fact, I was so relaxed I think I made myself nervous! For some reason I felt rushed and funky before our run. I shouldn't have. Devon tugged and warmed up really well, and I knew the course.

In the opening I had an out-of-body experience where I looked down on myself and wondered why I was shouting commands at Devon like a boot camp drill sergeant. Apparently the message got to my brain, and I did start telling her she was brilliant.

When I walked the course I thought that A frame would be too tempting for Devon. I thought I had pulled her out far enough, but I see I pushed her right back at the A frame. At this point I made the decision to turn her around for the tunnel. I shouldn't have. I should have gone on to the weaves and chalked this up for a training run. When I did aim her for the weaves she had a refusal and was stressed.

After the weaves we got it together for a lovely run. Her teeter was again awesome! I didn't push the automatic down on the table, and I probably should have held my criteria. However, I could tell by the head shakes I was getting at the end of the run, Devon was stressed.

I knew the refusal and the off course cost us time. However, I found it interested that Devon was more than 15 seconds over standard course time. As I watched this run, there was 14-15 seconds with the off course and the refusal. That means at her speed, Devon would still have been over standard course time if she had run this course completely clean. Right now I know Devon's not the fastest dog in the world, but she is cantering through this entire course. Needless to say I know why many dogs weren't making time in Excellent today. Only one dog out of all the jump heights (15 dogs running) qualified in Open Standard today, and that was our buddy Ripken and handler Holly.

My goal for Open JWW was to have a happy fun run. Devon had to run this course within 20 minutes of the Open Standard course, and it was getting very warm. I debated using a front cross after the triple into the 180 or a rear cross in the 180. Because a rear cross on a 180 went badly in class this week, I didn't try it today and opted for the front cross. Devon didn't have much warning on it since I didn't precue it so she went wide before the 180. Bad handler.

From this point I thought the course went pretty well. Devon clearly thought the people in the tents just south of the ring where the weave poles were had something great to eat. She air scented something before she went into the tunnel and at the weaves. And I didn't help by giving her a horrid line to the weaves.

We were over time on this course by 9 seconds, mostly from the wide turn after the triple and the refusal at the weaves. If Devon had run this course completely clean she would have made time. Pretty frustrating. However, I was in very good company; there were no qualifying scores in any jump height in Open JWW.

Tomorrow the runs are all about having fun and trusting Devon a little more to do her job. Because I have to run with her at the start, I'm going to have to trust her rear crosses. I do have to stay connected with her because she's distracted outside; but I have to balance that with not micromanaging. Generally, I need to lighten up and realize we're going to be in Open for a while, which is fine with me!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hoosier Kennel Club Agility Trial Day 1

This was Devon's first outdoor trial and only the second time she's trialed on equipment brand new to her. I've been taking some classes outside for the last couple of weeks and (no surprised to me) she's very distracted outside. I wasn't really sure what I'd have today!

We had a beautiful sunny day in the mid-70s. The breeze was just right to cool things off. I'm realizing I need more sunscreen tomorrow! This kennel club is primarily a conformation club, and they run this one agility trial a year. It's not run like any trial you've ever experienced if you're a season agility person, so you just have to sit back and enjoy it! That's what I've learned to do since it's 10 minutes from home and I get to enjoy my own bed at night.

First up for Devon was Open JWW. This was Devon's first time in Open JWW, but I was confident she could handle it. The opening was straight forward, but there were a few interesting little traps on course especially for green dogs. Both tunnel entrances had off course jumps only a few feet away.

Although I wanted to be in front of Devon pulling her through the course, I decided on two rear crosses for better flow. Both accomplished their goal; however the second one almost caused an off course. Devon felt my motion but because she was distracted she never checked in and continued forward. A hard call saved the off course, and I hate doing hard calls with her. I can see I didn't follow it up with high praise, which I'll have to make sure I do if I'm in that situation again. To Devon's credit, she didn't melt with the hard call and we finished in fine style.

Devon Q'd this course and took 1st place for her first Open JWW leg!

Novice Standard was immediately after Open JWW, and with so few dogs in Open and Novice, it was a quick turn around. The opening to the A frame was very tough for a baby dog. It was two jumps spread very far apart along the ring gates to a 90 degree turn to the A frame. To accomplish the proper line, the dogs had to slice the first two jumps. After the A frame was a pinwheel with an off course tunnel in the distance to a tough angle teeter entrance with the A frame calling their name. After the teeter, I thought the course ended fairly easily.

Devon was picture perfect on this course! Her teeter was very confident, even with the duct tape at the end to hold down extra weights. You'll see I did a good job of praising her on the teeter. Her table performance was also very strong. Her weaves were lovely even with the refusal. Although both videos look like she didn't see the weaves, I think her refusal on both were more about her being distracted. Both times she gave me lovely weaves on the second try.

Devon Q'd this course to finish her NA with a 1st place ribbon! She's moved up to Open Standard tomorrow!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Page's tracking - WOW!

I am just amazed at how mature Page is in her tracking. On Tuesday she did a 135 yard VST-type track at a local church. I really wish I had it on tape because of her focus. The track had 65 yards of veg with a metal article at 50 yards, then a double lane drive onto grass on an island where she had a plastic article. Off the island she went across the double lane drive again, then back into grass for her final glove.

I only aged this track 10 minutes, and I had hand prints and one piece of kibble at the second hand print on both non-veg. As I was waiting for the track to age, a teen-aged boy drove up in a golf cart and started sweeping up mulch around the islands that were about 20 ft. away from Page's track. I thought, "Oh great, there goes our track. What 15-week old puppy is going to track past a person who might want to play with her?"

I got Page out and went through our start routine. Imagine my shock when Page didn't even head check the kid that was sweeping by her! She got right to work. In fact, when he got into the golf cart and drove past her to the next island and started working again, I was in awe that she didn't pay any attention to him - in spite of the fact he was watching her!

I was so shocked at her tracking that when she started to paw something in the grass I thought, "What is she doing?" I had totally forgotten she had a metal article to find, and she was indicating it! She wagged her tail and pawed at it, then laid down and waited for the treats! Amazing!

After her track, I let her go play with the guy and explained what we were doing. She played with him like a typical puppy once she wasn't working.

Today I wanted to really push her and see what I had. I gave her a 405 yard track in medium to high cover with four turns and aged 30 minutes. I put one article on the second leg, and I knew there was at least one deer trail as a cross track on the first leg. There was no food on the track or in the articles (mainly because I forgot it!). 

The first leg was 80 yards to a left turn, then 65 yards with an article at 20 yards to an open right turn, leg 3 was 70 yards to a right turn, then 40 yards to another right turn and finally 150 yards to her glove. I'll spoil the ending by saying Page handled this track like a certified tracking dog! 

Below is the first half of the track from about 20 yards through the cross track deer trail, first turn and to the first article.

I had to shut the camera off to pick up the article, so here's the second half of the track.

I'm really just amazed at her tracking abilities and her work ethic at such a young age. Gayle told me she loves to work (just like her mom), and she doesn't like "down time" and I'm finding that to be true. 

We do have things to work on. Clearly Page's article indication is gone now that there's no food in the article, so I have to work on that. Now I'm glad I forgot the food, because I learned something. Also, she has only tracked me. I think our next track needs to be tracking someone new. 

I give up

Page is the funniest puppy. She has assumed from Day 1 that if the other Goldens were on the furniture she should be too. I've removed her, but I've never really told her no. How can I? She's right: they are on certain pieces of furniture so why shouldn't she be?

Yesterday afternoon she was playing in the bonus room with me and Devon. Devon gave up the playtime first (she wasn't really playing with Page, she was laying next to me while I was playing with Page) and headed for her nap spot on the daybed. Then I started working on the computer a few minutes later, and I realized Page was fading and would likely nap soon. After a couple of minutes I realized it was "too quiet" and quickly looked around for Page. She usually naps under my chair or feet. However, this is where I found her:

Did you notice how they are in the exact same position, almost like bookends? After I took the photo, she woke up and changed positions to get more comfortable...

and then fell back to sleep. Like I said, I give up. How in the world could I remove her from the daybed when she was so comfortable and absolutely adorable?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

This video doesn't need any words. I just saw this quiet playtime and stopped to enjoy it. The camera was nearby, so I thought I'd capture some of this for the day when Page isn't this small.