Winter storm 2010

I know I still need to do a trial update from last weekend, but I’ve been trying to catch up in other areas.  So I interrupt my regular blog to bring you a picture and video of the snow/ice storm that hit NC Friday evening through Saturday.  We got about 4″ of the white stuff followed by freezing rain.  The roads are a complete mess, but having an SUV and being from NY, I did manage to drive a couple miles to some hiking trails and the gym 🙂  Unfortunately, my marathon training has been put on hold this weekend….was supposed to run 18 miles, but had to settle for 1.5 hour walk in the woods,  60 minutes (~7mi) running on the treadmill and 30 minutes on the stationary bike yesterday.  Maybe that equals 10 miles of running on the road??

Here’s a shot of the pups from our hike.

And a video of the houligans in the fresh snow in the backyard….

I’ll attempt a trial update later today……:)


CPA USDAA trial 1/16-17/10: Miles gets Perf Speed Jumping, Perf Grand Prix, and PVP Team Qs!

Whew, what a way to try to get back into the swing of things!  After exactly 2 months from our last trial, I entered both dogs in a local USDAA trial not knowing that this thing would eventually become a 3 ring major indoor event!  Craziness.  Both dogs were on teams….Miles with Melanie Miller’s Viszla, Austin as the “Spider Monkeys” and Rue with Bill Gates’ young Golden, Shadow and Samantha Seal’s young BC, Early to become “Rue’s Shadow–Early Spring”.  I had high aspirations for Miles’ team and wanted to focus on fun and training for Rue’s team.  I also did enter Miles in PII Standard both days along with Perf Speed Jumping and Grand Prix, while Rue’s only titling class was Starters Jumpers on Sunday.


I arrived very early on Saturday morning after meeting my friends the night before to set up our little city of crates to get Rue measured.  My first run wasn’t scheduled to be until about 1pm, so I crawled out of bed at 5:45, threw on my running clothes, grabbed Rue and headed out to Raleigh.  I was first in line for measuring and the little monkey was the perfect angel to stand very still for the measuring judge…..20.75″, sweet!!  I then grabbed some course maps, threw her back in the car, drove home, ran 11 miles, showered, ate, and headed back to the arena with two excited pups.

First run was Team Standard.  The way they were running things was you were assigned a group, either A or B.  You walked a course in one ring with your group, then switched to the other ring, then ran both.  This was a lot for my feeble out-of-trial-practice brain!  In any case both courses looked very fun and unbeknownst to me there are no tables in any of the team/tournament classes, woot!  Miles was up first and I was psyched to be able to use our mad skillz with lateral distance off of the poles.  I was late getting to the gate, so the poor boy didn’t get any cookies.  Of course on the way to the ring, he dropped his ball and it rolled into the middle ring just as a man was about to lead out….gah!  Knucklehead.  So anyway, they were shouting for us, so in the ring we went.  We were clean and this was undoubtedly his best run of the weekend and, of course, it’s not on tape 😦

Lil’ Rue got to play next in Team Standard.  Unfortunately, since we’re not teetering right now I had to “E” us right off the bat.  I planned a nice fast loop around the outside that allowed her to do her dogwalk (she got a good hit and a nice push out to the tunnel) and her favorite, the a-frame.  She had a blast and looked great!

Next, Miles got to run Team Jumpers.  I thought he did a great job, but it was evident that he was looking at the crowd.  I think in his first run it was so rushed that he hadn’t gotten the chance to even think about sight seeing before we ran.  He put a lot of extra strides in on the run and hesitated in the poles a bit, but overall he did great and got another clean run for the team 🙂

Rue followed pretty quickly and I think this was her best run of the weekend.  A little slow to start, but overall a brilliant job by the littlest one!

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I had to walk Miles’ PII Standard course.  Nothing like trying to be in THREE rings at once!  Nice course, lots of fun and a solid Q for the boy despite losing a ton of time on the table.  This was his first PII Std leg.

It didn’t seem long before we were walking both the Steeplechase and Team Gamblers courses.  Steeplechase looked like a blast and I felt like I had a solid plan for Mr. Man.  I ended up running Miles in Team Gamlers, then Miles in Steeplechase, then Rue in Team Gamblers I think.  In any case, it was a blur.  Monkey had a great Team Gamblers run, but something spooked him going into the last tunnel…..he fortunately got enough points to nab a Q.

Steeplechase went as planned, but I forgot momentarily where I was going after the first a-frame.  Thankfully he was a good boy and hit his contact while I gathered my thoughts 😉  It was a little slow for him, but I figured it was his 5th run of the day and his first day back into trialing in a stressful environment, so I was pretty pleased.  He got a Q for this run too!

Last run of the day was Rue’s Team Gamblers run.  I picked a fun teeterless course for her and thought it went pretty well.  She was a bit slow on her dogwalk…not quite sure why that happens sometimes, but it seems when the course starts jump or tire and then dw, she’s kinda slow.  Although that wasn’t the case in Team Standard, so something to work on.  She did a good job for me…flaked out for a second to look at the judge, but chose to stay with me for a Q 🙂


I wake up to a sad and mopey Miles 😦  He barely wants to go for a walk and I drag him down the street.  He had a little bit of soft stool, but generally just looking tired or something.  We get back to the house and his typical insane “I’m gonna eat” routine was not present at all.  He just kind of moped into the kitched and layed down to wait for his food.  When I released them to get their yogurt and egg concoction, he was slow to go over to it and slow to eat.  Hmmmmm, wth?  Then as I’m getting ready for the trial…showering, etc.  he’s falling asleep with his head up in the air in the bathroom.  Definitely not a good sign.  Is he sore?  Sick?  Stressed?  Just tired??  Gah.  Knowing that I have 5 more runs planned for him was not encouraging.  I decided to head out and see if maybe once he got there he’d perk up.  No, not really.  He wasn’t acting sore at all, just tired, or stressed, or sick. or all three.  I asked my friends to help me to keep an eye on him during our runs to see if they could notice anything wrong.  If he looked lame at all, I’d pull him….especially from Steeplechase finals.

Grand Prix and Team Snooker were set up first.  I was so worried about Miles that I basically just stood in the middle of the Snooker ring and stared.  I couldn’t find a plan for either dog for the life of me, so I just figured I’d look at the map later, watch some other dogs, and wing it.  We got to run Grand Prix first anyway, so I knew there would be a lot of other dogs to watch.  Miles did a decent job in GP, but was definitely slow.  He looked around a bit and crawled across the dogwalk.  He looked at the teeter like he might refuse it, but decided to get on it anyway.  Somehow we squeeked out a Q.  After his run, he squeeked out some more soft stool….

Somehow by the grace of God, I figured out two different Snooker plans for my guys.  I ran Rue first and we had a great run going until I forgot which side of the frame I was supposed to be on and made a severe push into her line and she launched herself off the frame.  Too bad because if we had finished that obstacle, we would have Q’d 😦

Miles’ run went a bit smoother, but I forgot that I had to go to the closing, so wasted precious seconds which caused us to be one weave pole away from finishing the closing.  He still Q’d which gave him his 4th Q for his team 🙂

Again, somewhere in the midst of this I had to walk and run Miles in PII Standard.  By the time we got to the line for this run, he was definitely not acting himself.  He barely pushed back at me when I held him at the start line and it showed.  He was slow and stressed….slow to down on the table and worried about the photographer which ultimately led to a teeter refusal….his first since July 😦  He was brave and got on it and then flew for the rest of the course 🙂

Our last set of walk throughs were for DAM Team/PVP relay and Steeplechase finals.  I debated about pulling him from Steeplechase finals, but wanted to see how he did in his relay since I actually thought the Steeplechase course looked like one that he would enjoy.  The “Spider Monkeys” were the 2nd team on the line for relay and I picked the 2nd half for Miles….no teeter 😉  Melanie and Austie had a great run and we weren’t too shabby.  Other than a refusal at a jump…was he looking at something??…we were able to Q, take 3rd place in relay, and our team came in 6th!!

Rue’s little baby dog team did remarkably well in relay too!  Sam and Early went first, then Bill and Shadow, then Rue and I.  All 3 dogs ran fantastically well and our relay Q kept us out of last place 😉  No video for this one which is most unfortunate.

I debated again about running Miles in Stp finals, but then just decided to go for it.  Well, I should have pulled him b/c he was definitely not all there.  Very slow, lots of extra strides, looking around everywhere, wide turns, etc.  He was clean, but no where near fast enough to get any $$.  Lesson learned for next time.  I must say he had me quite concerned by now.

Our last run of the whole weekend was Starters Jumpers.  I don’t think they could have come up with a simpler course for this run to be honest.  I guess I was overconfident or Rue was overtired because we made a mess of this run.  She didn’t want to come off the line, then went to visit a ring steward, then some tunnel bags, then another ring steward, etc.  At that point she had gone around 1 or 2 jumps, so I just made it a point to reconnect with her and try to finish the course.  I asked her to “sit” which she did very quickly and then we went on to finish the course.  She even got a burst of super speed!

I left the trial with mixed emotions.  On one hand I was super proud of Miles for getting all but 1 Q for the weekend.  This was our first time back together in a while since we hadn’t had class or done much practicing.  On the other hand, I was worried that I had a very sick or very stressed dog on my hands.  I told myself that if he didn’t seem “back to normal” by Tuesday that I’d take him to the vet for some lab work.  Little Rue really impressed me with her focus (except for that last run, hehe) and her ability to handle the tough Team courses.  She ran 3 tough courses both days and did Gamblers and Snooker for the first time.  She actually carried her team with only having that one “E” in Team Standard 🙂

Teetering on the brink

I thought it was due time to update on Rue’s teeter progress.  We had been making some good headway until just before we left for Christmas when I rented some time at an indoor facility with a friend.  Rue has been here many times and was successful on the teeter in class a week or so earlier.  She again showed no signs of an issue on her first rep, so we decided to add more pressure.  Melanie stood close to the teeter and Rue bailed at the pivot 😦  I’ve never seen her do that.  We worked different tactics and eventually got her back on, but she was slow and waiting at the pivot.  Hmmm.  Finally after working some other stuff with her, we used Melanie’s dog Austin as a “see one, do one” demo dog.  Austin did the teeter while Rue watched, then Rue did the teeter.  This went on for about 5 reps or so and by the end she was back to driving pretty hard across the board.  Of course now I had to leave for NY the next day with only a few potential opportunities to practice.

Fortunately I have made some contacts in NY and was able to get both ring rental time and run-through exposure.  I rented some time at Sugarbush Farm shortly after Christmas. Rue did just fine on the teeter when it was just me and worked well for food and her tug toy. The owner came in to chat during my practice time, so I asked if he’d play judge for me and stand near the teeter. At first Rue had a difficult time and bailed at the pivot. I put her right back on and she was fine. She did several reps among other short sequences and this was all working for her tug toy, yay!

Feeling good about things I elected still to head to High Goal Farm for their New Years Eve run-throughs. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while might remember that I brought Miles here for run-throughs last year and he was like a deer in headlights. It is a relatively small and loud indoor space with matting for the surface. The ring is surrounded on three sides by crating space. Both times the run-throughs were the night before a very popular trial, so the facility is very lively with a lot of folks setting up for the weekend. I have to interrupt this post about Rue to say that this year Miles was AMAZING! He couldn’t give a care about the environment or the teeter or anything…heck what’s better than agility?? Plus we got to bring his orange ball into the ring, sweet!

Rue certainly seemed unaffected by the environment and happily played with me outside of the ring and performed well at the practice jump for cookies. When we entered the ring, she was initially a bit slow on her dogwalk (maybe thinking it was the teeter??), but then was blazing on her second attempt. She did a couple great aframes and got a wicked 300 degree soft side weave entry 🙂 After all of those successful things, I set her up for the teeter…she refused. I put her back over a jump and then she got on the teeter but would not move past the pivot. Unfortunately, they called time on our run as she was stuck on the pivot point. I did the only thing I could think of and that was to pull her off the teeter in a playful way and then ran her through a tunnel and over a jump to the exit. She tugged aggressively at the end of the run outside of the ring. Huh.

I’m still not convinced that this is a fear, but something has shaken her confidence with this obstacle. Or maybe she just doesn’t love it enough. Is it a choice she’s making? I do know that Rue deals with pressure by avoiding. I also know that she doesn’t like to be “wrong”. And she sure doesn’t appreciate surprises! In any event, I have a problem on my hands. Now as much as I love to have a project and as much as I love finding the solutions to problems, I sure would appreciate it if I could have a different obstacle to work on this time 😉

So bummed, frustrated and concerned on New Year’s Eve quickly I found myself inspired, energized and excited to accept my new challenge on New Year’s Day. I went swiftly to the local hardware store and returned with an 2x10x8 board and a 6″ width section of PVC piping. A few screws and wood scraps to anchor the PVC to the board later I had myself a mini teeter and the ability to play the bang game in my mom’s basement…woot!

The plan was/is to get lil’ Rue to love the teeter more. I taught her correctly how to perform the obstacle, but I don’t think she ever really liked it. She’d do it because she was “supposed to”….not exactly the kind of attitude I desire from her. I am currently working her bang game on my home teeter every day. The end is nearing parallel to the ground, but I am very conscious not to increase the height unless she’s really leaping up on it and slamming it down. A cool aside to this project is I’m realizing that she’s actually beginning to respond to me pushing back on her chest as a way to fire her up! I’m not sure if that’s a product of my tug and retrieve games that I’ve been playing with her or whether she’s just really wanting to get on the teeter or what. Either way, I’m stoked!

I’ve pulled her from all of her upcoming Standard runs too. I will not ask for any full teeters anywhere until I am certain she’s ready. For now we’ll work on getting more trial experience along with those JWW Q’s. I feel it will not be long before she’s begging to do the teeter again 🙂

Happy New Year!!

The new year invites a sense of renewal and increased motivation for me in many areas of my life.  I find it necessary to think about where I want to be at the end of 2010. 

For one, I’ve found a rekindled passion for running after nearly burning myself out completely over the summer.  I’ve entered a local marathon in March and am already 6 weeks into the training and feel fantastic!  This will be my 4th marathon in 7 years with my personal best time being 4:13 in my first race in Napa, CA.  This time I *will* finish sub 4hrs.  I definitely feel way more focused and commited to my training this time. 

Secondly, I’m nearly finished with the Ribbons book (Jane Savoie).  I feel this has been instrumental in my growth, both competetively and personally.  Mainly, I’ve been working very hard on changing my attitude. I think that’s probably the one area of my personal psyche that needs the most attention. I’ve tended to be the type of person who “hopes for the best, but plans for the worst”. A lot of that probably stems from the sudden loss of my father when I was 20yrs old….15 years ago almost to the day. From that I think I learned to prepare myself for the worst outcome so that I wouldn’t be disappointed or hurt. But that’s not a very fun way to live. I *want* to be positive, I *want* to expect the best and be prepared for that outcome.   Holiday time is especially difficult for me and my family. We’ve got a few “stinkin’ thinkers” here, so I’ve been really working on “diluting the negative”.   I would like to work towards being more even keel in my moods and finding fun in more situations.  I thank my friends for helping me to start on this new journey and this book is a great guide.

As far as agility and the dogs are concerned, I took a look at the goals I set for both dogs a few months ago…some are the same, but I’ve changed/added some for 2010.


Long Term Goals (Define Your Destination)

Miles: MACH by fall 2010

            Qualify for and attend 2010 USDAA Nationals

            Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Nationals

            Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Invitational

  –Rue:   Qualify for and attend 2010 Southeast USDAA Regionals

                 Qualify for and attend 2011 AKC Nationals

                  Qualify for and attend 2011 USDAA Nationals


Short Term Goals (Make a Road Map)

 – Miles: MX/MXJ by spring 2010

                  Earn Q’s in Performance Speed Jumping, PVP and Performance Grand Prix by spring 2010

                  ADHF (Golden Retriever Agility Dog Hall of Fame) by summer 2010

This month:

 – Learn how to communicate the difference between a lateral motion rear-cross and a forward motion/deceleration rear-cross

– Trust him in longer lead outs if needed in competition

– Practice pushes into a tunnel under the frame/dogwalk

– Practice lateral pulls off the aframe

–  Practice discriminations without having to go so deep to get the tunnel

 – Maintain at least 5yps course times in JWW and at least 4yps course times in Standard

 – Achieve and maintain consistency at speed earning at least 130 points per month

Rue: AX/AXJ by early summer 2010

              Earn a Q in (at least) Steeplechase by late spring 2010

 This month:

– Make the teeter a favorite obstacle

– Tug in as many different locations/situations as possible

– Achieve a reliable and drivey start line routine

– Visit and train in as many different locations as possible

– Alternate running courses without cookies with higher pressure short sequences with rewards on me

– Ask neighbors to come over and watch us train and act as ring crew/judge

– Start working more seriously/systematically on dogwalk turns

– Achieve and maintain at least 4yps in JWW and at least 3yps in Standard


 Word your goals thoughtfully:

– Rue is motivated to work/play with me
– I am confident in my handling choices for each dog
– Miles slams into a down on the table
– Rue had a fast and drivey teeter
– Rue runs fast and extended
– Rue and I move together as a connected team
– Miles rides the teeter all the way down

Know the reasons why:

– Winning is fun

– Proving that Goldens can be very competitive in agility

– Becoming a more credible dog trainer

– Pushing myself beyond my limits



 – More letters after/before my dogs’ names

– Recognition from peers, instructors, and elite competitors

– Credibility

– Sense of accomplishment

– Fun

 – Sense of self-worth


– Fear of failure

 – Fear of injury

 – Embarassment