Mid-Atlantic Regional

Back from our adventures up in Barto, PA for Keystone Agility Club’s Mid-Atlantic Regional.  The club did a really fabulous job hosting this enormous show.  So thank you to Keystone, MEB, George Mariakas and the fabulous judges for taking such good care of the competitors and for making the site even better than ever!

This trip was all about Miles since we didn’t have much luck getting our SF Byes up in Michigan.  I didn’t have him entered on team so I could just concentrate on PGP/PSJ.  I decided to keep Rue entered in PGP/PSJ just for practice, but I was excited mostly for our team with Mardi Closson and Sassy.  Certainly, I was particularly happy to be able to run her at all after she had suffered from a HUGE corneal abrasion last Sunday night.  We had our doubts that she would be well enough to run, but she healed up super fast and off we went to Pennsylvania.

Overall I was very happy with the weekend.  Rue was for sure not running her best as far as speed goes.  She is in a false pregnancy right now and this time of her cycle is the most difficult on her mentally.  It was also quite hot in the afternoons and she may have still had a little discomfort with her eye.  That said, I think she put in the best effort that she could given the circumstances.  Each time we go through this though I think very hard about spaying her……

Anyway, onto the details and video:

Friday was only Team/PVP runs, so Rue ran Jumpers, Snooker, Gamblers, and Standard in that order.  Miles was thoroughly bored, but was a good boy in his crate all day with breaks to retrieve his ball.  The courses were definitely challenging as they should be.  Rue was a perfect pup and took 4th in Jumpers, Q’d in Snooker, had a great opening in Gamblers, and ran clean in Standard.  Sassy also stayed clean and helped out greatly in the points category as well.  At the end of the day we sat in 11th and were above the cut-off!

On Saturday, Rue and Sassy ran Relay.  They had a fabulous run and took 1st Place in Relay and moved up to 10th overall for the team Q!!  Miles also finally got to play.  His first run was PGP Rd 1 and was a freebie since we had a Bye to Rd 2.  He was a crazy man, broke his stay, and we were off to the races. This was my favorite run with him all weekend for sure.  He took out a jump wing on the way to the seesaw at the end, but his time was very competitive 🙂  He also ran PSJ Rd 1 along with Rue.  It was a very technical course but I was able to hang onto his monkey fuzz and we made it to Rd 2!!  Rue also made it into the next round, yeah!

Sunday brought us the Finals rounds of PGP and PSJ.  I had also entered Miles in Masters Challenge Jumpers to try to finish up that qualification for Cynosport.  PGP was a tough course for both of my dogs.  I was thankful to get to run Rue first to get a feel for it.  All I wanted to do with her was to have fun and test a couple of things.  She had a decent run despite a demotivating start for her.  I tested pulling laterally off of her DW and she had a HUGE leap, whoops!  Somehow it didn’t get called, however…..humph don’t like that.  In any case, it was a good test run for Miles.  His run started off great until we got to the jump before the aframe.  He read a wrap as a rear cross and we spent several seconds getting him from back jumping and then nearly taking the dogwalk again….aaaack!!  I held on and we finished, but lost a good deal of time.  What stunk was Rue was sitting well into the Bye range while Miles was hanging out in 8th.  She didn’t need the Bye AND she didn’t deserve a Q at all since she totally biffed her DW.  There were 18 entries, so I knew they would only give 9 dogs the SF Bye.  With 6 dogs in the next group, my outlook on getting the Bye for Miles was dismal.  I would have never thought that I could take away my own dog’s Bye with my other dog!!  Somehow, all 6 dogs in the other group had faults and we GOT THE BYE!!!  OMG OMG OMG!

Our last run was PSJ Finals.  Miles was up first.  The wind had kicked up and was blowing the EZ up tent around over the start gate.  He was super duper nervous and I knew there was no way in heck he’d stay at the start line.  Fortunately I was able to think on my feet and we got it done.  He finished 4th and got another SF Bye!!!  Rue’s run was really really nice.  I chickened out in the closing line and caused a ton of lost time.  She probably could have made the podium, but oh well.  Perhaps subconsciously I did it on purpose so as not to potentially affect Miles’ Bye again 😉




2013 Halfway update

Gosh I haven’t been around here much…guess that’s what happens when nothing too pressing is going on!  Plus Facebook is just easier, I admit……but figured it was due time for a blog update since I haven’t written about the pups after we got back from USDAA Nationals last October.

We had a fair bit of time off after that per usual…time to reflect, recover, and start thinking about the goals for 2013.  All this time my main focus with Rue has been for her to have fun out there and now, halfway through the year, I think I can FINALLY say that we’ve arrived.  It’s becoming more difficult for me to remember back to how she was even a year ago because now when we step to the line I am confident that we are in for a fun time!

Our first trial back after USDAA Nationals was a tournament only show up in Barto, PA put on by MEB’s club KineticDog.  I have NEVER been to a more awesome “local” show than this one.  The club was fantastic, the site beautiful, and the equipment was just awesome.  Both dogs had a fabulous showing there and we took home lots of ribbons, placements, money, and Q’s for this year’s Cynosport Games.  This was the first time that I thought, wow, I have the same dog in a trial that I have in practice!!  Go Rue 🙂  Miles and his awesome teammate Sassy/Mardi Closson “Kiss My Sass” took 6th Place in PVP, yeah!

Our next stop was to Asheville for one of my favorite USDAA trials of the year….BRAC.  Once again, I was not disappointed!  Again, Rue was on FIRE and Miles was his typical awesome self.  Both dogs got lots of Qs, placements, and money again 🙂

At the start of 2013, we saw another of my favorite USDAA shows with CPA in Raleigh.  No other local show can generate the energy of a big show like this one can.  3 rings, thousands of runs, lots of vendors, just simply awesome.  Miles used to be terrified of this arena, but now he struts around there like he owns the place.  Both pups again had a fabulous showing.  Miles earned his PDCH under Scott Chamberlain on a tough Jumpers course too, yeah Miles!!  Rue and her teammate Maverick/Dudley Fontaine “DAM it feels good to be a hamsta” dominated PVP and finished 4th overall for that needed team Q.



In February, we took a marathon trip up the East Coast in search of PGP Regional Byes.  Our first stop was Dream Park, NJ.  Both dogs ran great, Rue had the fastest time but dropped a bar after a poorly timed blind cross, so Miles ended up with the bye…yeah!!  We then headed a few hours north to Greenwich, NY where Rue kept all the bars up, won the class and got the Bye 🙂  Mission accomplished.  After a brief stay in Baltimore, MD for a medical conference, we headed back to Barto, PA for some more USDAA and lots more fun and Qs.

Ever since last year when Rue qualified for AKC Nationals, I had debated if I was going to take her.  We stopped doing AKC last May after she finished her MACH and got her last QQs for Nats.  I had always noticed that Rue ran better in USDAA so that’s where we had decided to put all of our energy.  After a lot of debating, I decided to take her to Tulsa….what did I have to lose??  So Rue was entered as 1 of 409 dogs in the 20″ class…holy smokes that’s a big entry!!  I went there with absolutely no goals other than to have fun and run fast.  Rue was SOOOO excited to be there, she couldn’t wait to get into the ring (yay!).  Since the 20″ class was so big, they split us into two groups and my group actually ran Rd 2, Standard, first.  I wished it was the other way around because she historically is fastest in her first run and I had hoped that we’d get JWW out of the way early with a fast run, but that wasn’t in the cards.  Needless to say, she smoked the heck out of Standard and finished in 33 seconds 🙂  Rue held onto 3rd place for quite awhile, but after 409 dogs ran she ended up around 30th place.  JWW, our next run, was not as speedy.  It was a demotivating start for her and we never really got going.  Her time was decent and cumulative after 2 rounds we sat in 46th place (they were taking 31 to finals)…what?!?!  Wow.  Sunday’s Rd 3, Hybrid, was the perfect course for the little Miss.  I was so excited to get out there and just lay it down….but something happened in me and I was all of a sudden so nervous and focusing on going to the finals…something that I had never thought was possible.  I hated the way I was feeling…obsessing about things that I shouldn’t have been and watching dogs that were ahead of us in ranking crash and burn did not help my mental status at all.  So I took Rue for a nice loooong walk and had a talk with her….together we decided that it was far more fun to just go for broke and let the rest work itself out.  And go for broke we did…so much that I was late on a FC and she took the 3rd to last bar.  Oh well, no finals for us this year, but that was not our goal.  Overall her times would have put her in 26th place…out of 409 dogs THAT is something to be very proud of!!



Our next several trials were AKC trials.  I decided since Nationals was so fun that we needed to try to get qualified again…especially since it’s in Pennsylvania next year, woohoo!  Rue picked up her 4 QQs right away and we are nearly halfway to finishing the points and individual Qs needed to qualify.  She’s running great at 24″ and consistently wins Standard and places high in JWW.  Miles is LOVING Preferred and is 1 QQ away from NAC and then we’ll just be getting points and individual Qs for him too.

And our last adventure before wrapping up the first half of 2013 was a trip up to Michigan for the USDAA North Central Regional. I was THRILLED with both dogs’ showing there.  Rue continues on a hot streak and was speedy and happy all weekend.  She amazed me by going 3 clean in PGP with a 2nd place in the local qualifier on Friday and then blazed through Rd 1 and completely SMOKED Rd 2 to take 3rd place and the Semifinals bye to Cyno.  Likewise, she also blazed a trail through PSJ Rds 1 and 2 and picked up yet another SF bye!!  Crazy kid!  Miles did fabulously as well, he won PVP Standard and went clean in Rds 1 of both PGP and PSJ.  Unfortunately, the monkey side of him took over in Rd 2 of both and he had a brilliant flyoff on the seesaw in PGP finals and found an early tunnel in PSJ finals.  I guess he wanted me to go to more Regionals, haha!



And so there you have it…..blog updated…check 🙂  Next we head back up to Barto, PA for the Mid-Atlantic Regional in 2 wks.  Then a very light schedule through the summer before picking things up in the fall before USDAA Nationals!



IMG_1643I wanted to go more in depth about the wonderful breeding I posted about on Facebook the other day.  I’m VERY excited about this!  Rue’s litter-sister, Punch was bred just before Christmas to a really nice field dog named Shag.  Gayle Watkins (Rue’s breeder) bred to Shag last year and got some great pups out of him.  This litter will be raised by Jill Brown in Canada, but she will be using Gayle’s puppy raising system which you can read about here:  http://www.gaylans.com/raising.html

Jill was nice enough to provide me some write ups of the expecting parents 🙂

Can. MOTCH Gaylan’s You Quack Me Up


Punch is a stylish little bitch whether competing in obedience or field. An enthusiastic and accurate partner in obedience, Punch has earned her MOTCH in Canada and finished her American CDX in one weekend while visiting friends in New York.  She has multiple Am/Can High In Trial awards, as well as a 200 out of Open B.   On her last trip to the States she won the Utility A class at the 2012 GRCA National Specialty.


Punch started her field career by earning her Canadian Working Certificate and Working Certificate Intermediate on the same weekend.  Just a few weeks later she finished her Junior Hunter title.

While at the GRCA National Specialty she also came home with her Working Certificate Excellent.  The icing on the cake  was when Punch earned her Certificate of Conformation Assessment at the same specialty.  Her WCX and CCA completed the requirements needed for the prestigious GRCA Triathlon Award.


Even though Punch loves to work (and play!), she also has a wonderful on/off switch making her a joy to live with, as well as a blast to train.  She has a beautiful water entry and is a fast, strong swimmer.  She has no preference between clean or dirty water 😉


Punch is a small, balanced, athletic bitch that moves cleanly coming and going.  Although I would prefer a bit more substance, she is nicely muscled, has beautiful length of neck and a strong loin.   She has a lovely topline, correct tailset and tail carriage. She has a pleasant head with a kind expression, nice pigment, a dark eye, full dentition and scissors bite. Her coat is smooth, medium gold in color, with correct texture and undercoat, allowing it to dry quickly.


Punch has OFA Excellent hips, normal elbows, heart and eyes. She is also clear for prcd-PRA, PRA-1 and Ichthyosis, and has no history of skin allergies, ear infections or hot spots.

Punch’s littermates include:

•  OTCH Gaylan’s Catch A Rising Star UDX3 OM5 AX AXJ OF OBHF CCA CGC


•  MACH Gaylan’s Mad About Rue OF ADHF PTM AAD ASA AG CGC

•  Gaylan’s Little Tramp CDX TD MX MXJ MXF CGC

•  Gaylan’s Laughing Out Loud RA OA AXJ NF AD SSA SJ CGC

•  Gaylan’s Second City Stand Up NA NAJ JH WCX VC CCA

•  Gaylan’s Siriusly Not Joking CCA

•  Gaylan’s S’ M-A-S-H ‘N Success Can CDX JH WCX

They all have their clearances and seven have OFA Excellent hips and the last is OVC normal. All have had their elbows x-rayed and seven have normal elbows and one has asymptomatic, unilateral grade 1 Elbow dysplasia. All have clear eyes and normal hearts.

Punch’s dam and sire have/had all clear eye exams but her maternal granddam does have a mild case of PU.  One of Punch’s littermates died at 3 years of age from a stomach ulceration. He was diagnosed with Grade 1 stomach cancer but we will never know the relationship to that tumor and his untimely death. The remainder of Punch’s relatives are healthy, sound dogs that have been active and competing successfully throughout their lives.

Punch’s Mother, maternal Granddam and maternal Grandsire are all still happy, healthy, and active at 8 1/2, 11 ½ and 12 ½ yrs of age respectively.  All three have excellent hip ratings.

Punch, Grandpa Goose, and Mama Dart:


UH Trifecta’s Shag–edelic CCA CD WCX MH *** 




Ten-year old Shag is a bold, hard-driving working dog who has excelled with his first time owner and handler. As a young dog, Shag made the 2004 National Derby list and became Qualified All-Age before the age of 2. Since then, he has earned Open and Amateur Field Trial Stake placements in the US and Canada, made it to the sixth series of the Canadian National Open Retriever Championship in 2007, finished his Master Hunter title handily, and earned his Companion Dog title with placements. 


I recently had the opportunity to spend time with Shag and loved what I saw. He ran well in the GRCA National Specialty Field Trial, marking and handling beautifully. He showed he is strong in the water and has an excellent nose. After the run, he schmoozed with me, looking for belly rubs and pets. He even took the time to play with the young puppy that managed to escape its owner!  Shag exudes confidence! No matter where he goes or who he is with, he takes everything in stride. He gets along well with other dogs and people and is happy to hang out at home with the kids when he isn’t training or competing. 

Shag up-close ZF-8270-93411-1-006

Shag is a handsome dog with a masculine head and athletic body. He has an intelligent expression with a dark eye and very good pigment. He has a scissors bite with full dentition. His coat is dead straight and wash-and-wear with good undercoat. He has appropriate substance with good depth and breadth of chest. He has good angulation front and rear with adequate forechest. Shag’s topline is level and strong and he carries his tail straight off his back. He moves like the athlete that he is although he is a bit longer in leg and lighter in bone than is ideal.


Shag’s pedigree is filled with talented working dogs that also had good health and longevity. Shag’s sire was the great Rugby, AFC Emberain Rugby. Rugby won his first Derby at 10 months of age, is the only golden in history to be on the National Derby list before he turned a year, and became both an Amateur Field Champion and a member of the GRCA’s Field Dog Hall of Fame at the age of 4. Rugby was an excellent sire, producing pups that excelled in field trials, hunt tests, obedience and agility. He died unexpectedly at 9 1/2 of an unknown illness, possibly tick borne, but apparently not cancer. 

Shag water blind

Shag’s dam was Grace and Lisa’s wonderful bitch, Audie, who was QAA and a Master Hunter lived till 14 according to her owners. Audie

produced a number of ** and *** dogs, including Trifecta’s Bet on Me***, who is a double-header winner (winner of the Open and the Amateur stakes at the same field trial). 


 In this pairing of Punch and Shag we expect intelligent, focused working dogs with the ability to excel in any performance game. They will do best with experienced handlers who want to compete at high levels in multiple venues: obedience, field, agility, and/or tracking. They will be confident, stable animals who will seek to be working partners with their trainers. This pedigree has very good longevity, soundness and health. 

To view the pedigree on this upcoming PunchXShag breeding, visit:


There are many things that I love about the fall….cooler weather, beautiful foliage, apples, fires in the fireplace, sweaters, jeans, and boots….but one of my favorites is taking some time off from agility and letting the dogs be, well, dogs.

Nationals are done, Rue and Miles rocked, and now it’s time to rest a bit, recover.  It’s time to reflect back on our year together, think about our accomplishments…and about the things that we had hoped to accomplish, but didn’t.  Now is the time to start to make plans for the next year…what local trials do I want to do, what Regionals do we want to attend, what are my goals for each dog and for myself?  I love to plan…this makes me giddy with excitement!

This past year brought a few injuries for me.  I learned a ton about proper posture, better running technique, and the importance of stretching and warming up.  I’m not getting any younger and it’s evident that I need to be aware of some of my limitations, but also take control and make myself stronger and more balanced.  I started with a new personal trainer in January whom I love.  He kicks my butt on a regular basis, but I still love him 😉  I also found the most amazing chiropractor in the world who helped to rehab my shoulder after I dislocated it twice in the ocean while shredding some awesome waves.  She has taught me about kinesiotape and it’s benefits in healing and kept me from needing to have surgery.  This past year I also started teaching a foundations class at a local facility.  I LOVE teaching and so far have had the most amazing experience and the most wonderful students and dogs.  I look forward to teaching for a long time to come 🙂

The dogs have had a lot of accomplishments this year.  Miles continues to enjoy agility and continues to get faster and more confident.  That boy made me work to get him qualified for Cynosport and dang I was all set to not take him, when he said wait a minute, and proceeded to finish up his local Q’s and both semi-finals byes at the Chicago Regional in August.  He did it in fine style too taking silver in both PSJ Finals and PVP Pairs.  Thanks Monkey!  “Original Golden Mafia”:

There was a little set back in the spring when I felt like I didn’t want to run him any more.  I was putting way too much pressure on myself and had all of these expectations from him and neglected to focus on what was important….and that was FUN.  I had forgotten about joy.  I felt horrible and I knew he felt it too.  Part of it was that Miles had his first seizure in April and I was terrified that something would happen while we were running.  I was also crazy worried about injury for him because he just seemed “off”, but that was likely more me than him.  We just couldn’t seem to get it together.  Bars were falling a LOT and his JWW yps were not up to par.  After a lot of thought, I made the decision in July to move Miles to Preferred in AKC.  This negated any chance we’d have of qualifying for the NAC in 2013, but I made the decision for Miles…not me.  And boy, let me tell you, he LOVES him some 20″ jumps!!  Hopefully once AKC implements a break away tire, we can set out on getting him qualified for 2014 NAC in Preferred!  Miles also had a stellar showing at USDAA Nationals this year.  He was the most confident he’s been yet at a big event and was just on fire.  He only put a foot wrong once, in PGP Semi finals, but everything else was spot on.  I got in his way in PSJ Semi finals and cost precious time which put us out of the cutoff by 0.4 seconds and one placement.  But, he was squeaky clean in all team classes and made it to PVP finals where his team, Dogs ALoud, took 8th in Relay and 9th overall out of ~150 PVP teams!!


As always, I’ve made a movie highlighting each dog’s past year.  Here is Miles’ year in review (excluding our recent trip to USDAA Nationals):


Now onto Rue.  Wow, what can I say…this girl has really stepped up to the plate in the last year.  I still cannot even believe how much she has accomplished in her 4yrs, unbelievable really.

In summary, Rue earned her MACH in March, she was in the top 25 Goldens in AKC agility for the 1st quarter of the year, she earned a spot in the Golden Retriever Agility Dog Hall of Fame (ADHF), qualified for 2013 NAC in Tulsa, OK, won or placed in several USDAA Regional events, earned semi finals byes to USDAA Nationals, earned her USDAA PerformanceTournament Master, is ranked in the top 5 Golden Retrievers in USDAA tournaments, and ran her heart out in Denver in all of our runs and ended up making it to PGP Finals taking 3rd Place at USDAA Nationals!  Rue was the only Golden Retriever to make the Finals in PGP and she got to get on the podium.  So blessed, so blessed.  We still have lots to work on…I know she can go even faster as she gains more and more confidence in the ring 🙂

And now, on the brink of her spay surgery, it’s time to look back to her year:


We are very excited for our next adventure!!

~ Kristin, Miles and Rue

The “off season”

After USDAA Nationals last October, I tried something different with my training/trialing plans.  I described it in a previous post titled “Deep Thoughts” http://wp.me/plxyX-dy.

Essentially, the idea is that I split up my year into two seasons, both of which ultimately lead to a key event….likely a National of some sort.  Those seasons are divided into thirds with the first portion devoted to rest, reflection, rebuilding, and retraining.  The second portion is devoted to experimentation, ie. let’s see how well these new things hold up in a trial setting.  The third and last portion is then time to execute which leads up to the key event.  The hope is for those last several weeks to have very solid runs where the focus is on outcome goals….to Q, to win, etc.

This schedule worked VERY well for me and Rue.  It allowed us to have fun and play with some things initially without any pressure, but then when it came time to get it done we were a very solid team.  We ended our season with the USDAA Regional in Palmyra, PA.  Rue had an incredible showing there as I talked about in my previous post.  Yet, even with a stellar run in PSJ Finals, we ended up missing the qualifying cut-off by .02 seconds.  Rue can definitely give me .02 seconds……heck, she could probably give me a full second or two.  At this point, Rue’s advantages are her running contacts and her tight turns.  Where I think we need more speed are in straight lines (ie, more extension work), especially off the line.  A reliable and stress free start line stay has to be made a priority.  If I could get out ahead, even a little bit, I think I could get more extension from her off the line.  The other main things for Rue and I are more independent contacts and faster/more independent weave poles.  Our goal trial now is USDAA Nationals at the end of September in Denver, CO.  Rue doesn’t have any trials lined up for the summer except for SE Regionals in Perry, GA in a month, a local USDAA trial in July, and possibly NC Regionals in Crystal Lake, IL in August.  So we can really focus on our retraining without any pressure of trialing 🙂

So for this phase, in the next 6 weeks, I need to figure out what I will do about her start lines.  Right now, I can get maybe one a weekend while trialing.  I’ll probably need to invest in going to run throughs and group classes fairly regularly to really train this properly.  I can also try simulating that pressure by setting up a short jump sequence in a public park.  For her weave poles, I am going to go back to the channel work we started last fall and continue to progress.  Unfortunately, my channels are 20″ spacing so that doesn’t really help much once I start closing them up.  I borrowed a friend’s 24″ channels for a long time, but didn’t take full advantage and now they’ve been returned.  Silly me.  I may need to put those on a to be purchased list.  Anyone want 20″ channels??? 😉  I just signed Rue up for Silvia Trkman’s Running Contact online course.  Rue was taught with Silvia’s method back in the dark ages, but she has since evolved her approach to teaching them a bit and I’ve also found that while I may not have needed reliable turns before, I certainly need them now!  Her class starts on May 21st!  Lastly, for extension work I’m doing big jump grids/race to-from tunnel type stuff.  I’ll also work on general conditioning with a focus on speed….so restrained recalls, hill retrieves, etc.  Here’s what we did yesterday:

I also think this method of training/trialing can be a very good thing for me and Miles, but as I’ve mentioned, something else has been lacking and I didn’t quite see the same results last season that I saw with Rue.  Be that trust in his training, be that fear of injury, be that I never fully let go of expectations with him.  Or maybe it was that I let go of taking him to Reno, so never really had a “goal trial” for him.  Not sure, but figuring that out is a definite priority.  Our focus right now is Golden Retriever Nationals at the beginning of September.  I’m on the fence about Cynosport with him.  Last year was very disappointing and our performance at the Palmyra Regional was eerily similar to what happened at Cyno.  In Palmyra, he had a really nice PGP Rd 1 run…..except for an up-contact call on the DW.  We also had a really nice run going in PSJ Rd 1 until I sent him off course.  These same two errors kept us from moving out of Quarterfinals last year at Nationals.  Add that to the stress of getting two dogs to Denver….just not sure it’s worth it.  On the flip side, I feel like I’m giving up on Miles and that feels awful.  I chose to not take him to Reno and now I probably won’t take him to Denver.  He’s a great dog…why do I feel this way??  The good news is, I have time still to figure out my answer.  And, we also have GR Nats to look forward to.  I’ve never been to our breed National before…should be a blast!  The site looks and sounds beautiful (Purina Farms outside of St. Louis, MO) and the judges are great, yay!  Miles and I will also be doing some solo trialing this summer, which will be good for us I think 🙂

So here’s what I have lined up for me and Miles in the next 6-7 weeks:

1)  Become more of a team again.  I will spend more time reflecting on what we’ve accomplished together and go forward in *full faith* with the skills that we have as a team.  I will go to the line with him focusing on how *athletic* he is and on how *fast* he is.  I will *be excited* to run him, no matter what the outcome.  I will stay *in the moment*.

2)  Revisit our up-contacts.  Perhaps through Silvia’s course, I will get some fresh ideas for this.

3)  Go out of my comfort zone and really push him on course.

Miles and I played around a little bit yesterday too.  We set up and ran the Team Jumpers course from IFCS World Championships which is going on this weekend in Texas…go USA!!  I thought he did remarkably well on this course and NO BARS, yeehaw!  We also did some extension grid stuff like I did with Rue because he likes it and it certainly can’t hurt for him to be more stretched out in straight lines.  It’s also great speed/sprint conditioning.  Miles doesn’t do the dynamic ball work that Rue does outside, we do a more moderate version indoors with more controlled movements.  I found he has a tendency to be a bit too insane with the dynamic work and gets himself injured.  Here’s what we did yesterday:

Thanks for reading!

Home sick, hello blog!

A friend recently encouraged me to get back into writing my blog.  I find that I end up posting so many things to Facebook, that I don’t even think about my blog.  However, when I looked back at “recent” blog posts, I realize just how helpful it is to me to see what was going on.  The purpose of this blog has always been more of a record keeping journal….data collection….stream of consciousness type of thing. So anyway, here we are.

Last time I visited, I spoke about my back injury.  Ugh, that was a LONG road.  I ended up leaving the chiropractor I had been seeing and went to physical therapy.  I spent about 6 weeks in PT with twice weekly visits while also continuing to see my massage therapist about every 3 weeks.  Finally, I got strong enough to be discharged from PT and found a wonderful personal trainer who I’ve been with now since the beginning of January.  I see him once a week on Wednesdays after work and boy does he push me!  I also found a new, wonderful, chiropractor who I see once a month and still see my massage therapist with the same frequency. I finally am feeling like I’m getting stronger…and faster.  Since my injury was born from running distance, that’s been the slowest activity to recover.  However, I’m now comfortably running 5 miles twice a week….a far cry from what I used to do, but at least I’m running!  I plan to add another day of running in soon and see how I do.  And now when you see me at trials, I’ll have an agility ladder, lateral resistance bands, and a foam roller….all to help with good warm up/cool down.  One thing I learned through all of this…I ain’t gettin’ ANY younger, sigh.

And now to the dogs 🙂  Both are healthy and crazy as ever.  Miles’ little back thing in October was pretty short-lived and he’s been back to his regular activities since November.  After a long period of internal debate, I decided to NOT take him to Reno, NV for AKC Nationals.  It was a very difficult decision for me, but ultimately I felt that the stress and cost of the travel was too much for an event that I wasn’t sure I cared enough about.  His performance at the NAC in 2011 was stellar, but something told me that it wasn’t worth it to go this year.  So I chose to focus on local AKC to get him qualified for Tulsa in 2013 🙂  Yet, poor buddy….I’m not totally sure what has happened to us as a team, but we’ve been out of sync much more than we’ve been in sync which is not helping me mentally.  I’m starting to lose faith with him as a partner and don’t look forward to my runs with him as much as I know I should.  I desperately need to fix this, but I’m really not sure how I can.  He is a stellar dog and he deserves for me to be 100% for him.  We are so connected mentally that I know he’s feeling some of this as well.  I’m seriously considering a mental game coach at this point.  But, on the positive side I’ll share videos from two trials in the past few months where I felt we were really connected.  I watch these often to try to channel the emotions.

Here he is at BRAC USDAA in December.  Miles was teamed with Tracy Hirsch and her BC, Pilot.  Miles and Pilot ran great together and ended up taking gold.  Miles actually got the Top Dog award too!  He also played in PSJ and PGP.  He came in 2nd in both rounds of PSJ and missed the second to last jump in PGP.  BUT, this was the first trial that I’ve seen him hit ALL of his up contacts, woohoo!

And then there was the AKC trial in Chatham, VA in mid-March.  Again, just felt really in sync with him.  I had some errors, but Miles was brilliant.  No bars all weekend and he placed 1st in all Standard classes.  On Sunday, he had his fastest yps Standard run ever at 5.05yps earning 32 points!  Miles also earned his 2nd QQ for Tulsa at this show.

Onto lil’ Rue.  WOW, is all I can say.  Something has kicked in with this girl and we are having the time of our lives out there.  Between November and January, Rue finished her qualifications for USDAA Nationals in short order, including a win in PSJ Round 2 at BRAC (Miles took 2nd due to a bar) as well as a PGP win at CPA in January to earn a Regional Bye!  Rue also teamed with Tracy/Pilot at the January CPA trial and their team took bronze.  Also, since January, Rue has earned 9 QQs, her MACH, qualified for 2013 AKC Nationals, and earned her way into the ADHF with 3 double placements!!  She is on a roll and I don’t believe it’s ending anytime soon!  Not only has she been consistent, but dang she’s gotten SO fast.  I know she still has more in her too so I’m very excited for our future.  In February I decided to try entering Rue at 24″ in AKC.  She’d been practicing at this height for over a year and was very comfortable with it.  I am quite pleased with the results of her at 24″ and time will tell if I keep her there for a while or if I move her back down.  She’s certainly faster at 20″, but she is still turning in yps over 5 in JWW and over 4 in Standard at 24″ which have been our goals.  Granted I believe Rue could certainly go faster and should be closer to 6yps in JWW and 5yps in Standard, but that will come in time I’m quite certain.  I could post a zillion videos of hers, but I’ll limit it to her MACH video and her runs from the Palmyra (Mid-Atlantic) Regional.

Her MACH came over the weekend of AKC Nationals in Reno.  Didn’t I say that *something* told me Reno wasn’t the best idea????  I think this was the way it was supposed to be.  Not to mention, I found FIVE 4-leaf clovers on one walk during the week preceding her MACH.  I had found two of these in my entire lifetime before that walk.  How weird.  Anyway, here’s her video.  Not her fastest runs, but I think this was one of the only times I’ve ever felt pressure to “go clean” with Rue.  I tell ya, I don’t like that feeling.  But, we got it done 🙂

And now for the Regional.  Rue competed in PVP Pairs with Mardi Closson and her young boy, Screech. This was a “just for fun” team and despite Screech E’ing in Standard, me scratching Rue from Jumpers and Screech only getting 1 point in Snooker, our team finished only 2 spots below the Q cutoff!! On Day 1, Rue flew through Gamblers and earned a shocking total of 69 points for a Q and 2nd place (for comparison, I ran Miles on the same course and only got 49 points…she was flying). Rue also went clean in Standard and was one spot out of the Q. I pulled her from team Jumpers b/c it was a terrible course for her. Amazingly, Screech pulled out a 2nd place finish on that course…wow. On Day 2, Rue flew through Snooker with a respectable 43 point finish and a 5th place Q. Rue and Screech then got to run Relay and finished 6th out of 31 teams!!

Also on Saturday, Rue competed in Round 1 of PGP and PSJ. I am pleased to say that she was clean and fast in both earning a 4th place Q in PGP and an 11th
place Q in PSJ to move on to Round 2/Finals in both events. Rue was the ONLY non-Border Collie in the finals!!!

Sunday was Rue’s time to shine. The courses we got for finals were very very friendly for her skill set and running contacts. I had full faith in our team
and in her. Stepping to the line with her in PGP Finals was such an honor. She was SOOOO fired up. I attempted to do a short lead out, but she was having
nothing to do with that. I remember saying “oh God” as we both shot off the line….off to the races! What I planned to do after the DW didn’t exactly
happen, but somehow a combination of ninja moves and Rue’s brilliance, she got into the correct tunnel hole. We lost a bit of time b/c I was shell shocked at
what just happened and then ran the wrong side of the next line forcing a rear at the chute. She still finished 9th out of 19 dogs and got a freaking Bye to
Semi-finals at this years Nationals!!! OMG, wow. Only non-BC to compete in Rd 2 and she beat more than half of them with a messy run??? I’ll take it!

Our last (and 8th) run of the weekend was PSJ Finals. Again, Rue was really over the top fired up. She really feeds off the energy at these big events and
it is so fun to see. It was so cool to be the first team to run our jump height (we were seeded last going into finals). Holy poo, she ran like the darn wind
and put in a time of 28.44. I watched team after team E or get faults and Rue hung on for a long time in the top 5. However, two really fast BC’s ran at the
end including Paulena Simpson’s dog, F5 Tornado, and those dogs shot the qualifying time down to 28.42. OMG, we missed the cut off by .02 seconds??? No
PJS Semi finals Bye for my girl at this show, but holy cow…. .02 seconds???  What is that, a fraction of a sneeze?? She finished 6th in a sea of fast BC’s,
my little Golden Retriever. SOOOO proud, so proud.

Here is part of her run from PSJ Semi-finals.  It cuts off the beginning of 3 jumps, aframe, jump.  Rue squeaked into Finals based on this run and was the only non-BC to do so!

That’s about the best recap I can give of the last 6 months.  There are plenty of other videos to watch on my YouTube site (tailsofgold).  I’ll be back later to discuss our next set of training goals.  Now that we’re past our “goal” trial for the spring, there is lots to do to get ready for Cynosport in September!!!

Happy training!


Continuing on from my last post, we’ve had a few hiccups.  We’re still in our “retrain” phase, but between Rue’s heat, Miles hurting his back, and then me hurting my back, it’s been interesting.  Miles’ injury was thankfully very short lived, but both dogs had to miss a USDAA trial at the end of October.  My back injury started not long after he got better and is still ongoing.  Through chiro, massage, yoga, and not running I’ve managed to get it a bit better but still not at all where I’d like to be.  Very depressing really.  Running has always been my “therapy”, so trying to exist without it has been difficult.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to still work with the dogs to some degree and Rue has been to 3 trials.  Miles has been to one.

Right now Rue thinks she’s pregnant….she has very pronounced false pregnancies and the hormones really affect her.  During these 63 days, keeping her attention and her interest in training/running with me is really put to the test.  This is the best she’s done with it so far, but she’s definitely not at her best.  We’ve been continuing to train our Silvia Trkman foundations and she can now do multi-wraps with the bar at 10″ pretty successfully.  We’ve also spent time going back to open weave pole channels and play chase the toy through.  The weaves are probably her least favorite obstacle and we lose a lot of time on course depending on when the weaves occur.  If they’re early on, she’s painfully slow.  If they’re at the end, I can count on a fairly fast performance.  So I’m trying to retrain these and make it all about powering through them to get to the toy.  We started with 12″ wide channels and are now at 9″.  Working on entries as well as driving ahead even if I’m not moving.  Miles and I are pretty much still concentrating on his up contacts.  We’ve had 11 sessions and I don’t think he’s getting it, so I have some new ideas to try.

Which brings us to the last two weekends.  Rue was entered one day at Teamworks for AKC on 11/13.  This is an outdoor venue and definitely NOT her favorite place to trial because there are so many distractions both visually and olfactory.  She actually ran pretty well though.  Had a bar in JWW, but ran great other than a bit of a trot out of a tunnel in Standard to get 4th place and 20pts.  Then Rue and I traveled to one of her favorite indoor venues in Concord, NC on 11/17. Again, due to her false preggo she’s not running even close to 100%.  She had a pretty speedy Standard run at 4.3yps but popped the last pole.  Her JWW started slow, but ended very very well for a Q and 9pts.  Geez if she could only run that speed all the way through…she’d be incredible!  On Saturday and Sunday (11/19-20) we were entered in a USDAA trial at the site where we used to train.  Rue ran fairly well and picked up a PSJ Q with a 2nd place in Rounds 1 and 2 to her brother.  She missed her DW contact in PGP because I failed to give her any information about a turn and she left the DW high.  She also ran Masters Pairs with a friend of mine and her BC.  Rue ran really well in her half, but we got an E when our partner found the poles a bit too soon 🙂  Her 3rd run on Sunday was Masters Snooker.  She gave me trotting off the line and for more than 3 obstacles, so we left the course without a party.  Yes it was 75 degrees out and yes, it was her 5th run of the weekend and yes she had trialed the previous Sunday and Thursday and yes she thinks she’s pregnant.  HOWEVER, she had just given me a LOT more in her other runs that day, so I had to make it clear to her that trotting does not end in any sort of party/food/play/etc.  I haven’t had to do this in nearly a year, but it’s been an effective reminder in the past so I used it.  She doesn’t show again until December 17th which will be indoor USDAA.  I pulled her from several classes that I had originally entered her in because I realize that this is a tough time for her.  Her “puppies” are due sometime between Christmas and New Years, so hopefully it will be all out of her system soon!!

Here’s her highlights from these last few shows:

And then there was Miles.  I did not enter him in either of the AKC shows that I brought Rue to.  He doesn’t need any AKC Qs for anything until the qualifying period for 2013 Nationals starts on December 1st.  And since we’re in our “retrain” period, I thought that wasting $$ on AKC would be silly.  We do need USDAA Tourney Q’s, however, so Miles also ran last weekend.  He was entered in 4 classes on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.  He picked up a PSJ leg with a 1st Place finish in both rounds.  He also took 1st in PIII Standard and 2nd in PIII Snooker.  He was an off course away from a PGP leg, a PIII Jumpers leg, and another PIII Std leg.  Oh and we missed the Gamble in PIII Gamblers.  Overall, I was super pleased with our weekend.  I had no focus on qualifying, but simply used these runs as “training”.  When there were handling options, I chose the ones that would be hardest for us.  We did a lot of rear crosses, haha.  It was also cool to see his dogwalks.  He only missed one up-contact all weekend, which was sweet!  I still think I need to figure out a better way of helping him to understand what the criteria is, but it was nice to see that he can hit it 😉

Miles is also off until our 3-days of USDAA in mid-December.  This trial was supposed to be the first in our 2nd phase of gearing up towards Nationals and to be used as a test of what we’ve trained.  However, due to above mentioned injuries and the Thanksgiving holiday we’ve not gotten to where I thought we’d be with his understanding of the up-contacts.  I’ll still use this trial as a “test” trial, but also realize that I cannot test his ups quite yet….

Deep Thoughts….

As some of you may know, Miles, Rue and I recently competed at Cynosport World Games last month in Louisville, KY.  This was Miles’ second trip and Rue’s first.  It was overall a great trip.  Rue blew me away with how well she handled the pressures of a REALLY big show.  She brought her a-game to each and every run and was rewarded with making it into PGP Semifinals.  She also had very solid team runs.  I couldn’t have been more proud of her!  Miles’ time at the games was a bit disappointing.  He missed his up-contact on the DW in PGP Quarters, had an off-course tunnel in PSJ Quarters and then he and his teammate both tanked in Snooker.  Don’t get me wrong we had some GREAT runs, but it made me rethink some things for him.  Of course, keeping it all in perspective as compared to last year he was super confident and VERY fast.  Can’t complain about that!!

Here are the videos:

Since we returned from the games, I and both dogs have been in a period of rest and recharge.  I figure there were 24 weeks between USDAA Nationals and AKC Nationals which makes for a very convenient  separation of three 8-week periods.  The first 8 weeks are planned for rest, reflection, rebuilding and retraining which is where we are right now.  The number one item on Miles’ list for retraining is to attempt to teach him to hit the up-contact.  That one thing alone has cost us more USDAA runs than any other issue.  I decided to try using a board on the ground and reward him for hitting the “up” similar to how I started training Rue’s running dogwalk with a plank on the ground.  We’ve had 5 sessions thus far:

Rue is on a slightly different path as I don’t plan to bring her to AKC Nationals this year.  Instead, her “goal trial” is the Mid-Atlantic USDAA Regional in Palmyra, PA three weeks after AKC Nationals.  Conveniently, that breaks down to three 9-week periods.  For Rue’s retrain, I’m concentrating mostly on revisiting our Silvia Trkman Foundations Class exercises.  This online class was a true turning point for Rue and I this past summer.  We both benefited from going back to the basics and we still have more to work on so even though we completed the class, we are going to go back and make sure those things are solid.  We will also continue with a lot of conditioning (both dogs) and working on speed, speed, speed!  My other desire for Rue is a startline stay.  We’ve avoided them because starting with her is more fun and less stressful for her and most times I’m fast enough to be able to do what I need to do with a running start.  However, because we start together she’s not always as fast as she could be because she’s not totally sure where we’re going next.  If I can get to the point where she will allow a little leadout, I think I could get her the information much sooner which will increase her confidence and speed off the line.  So here’s what we’ve been working on so far:

We will have a few trials during this retrain period, but I will not expect any of our new behaviours to be solid at all.  Here’s to happy training!