BRAC AKC trial 1/22-24/10: Rue earns her AXJ and Miles nabs his 4th QQ!!

Last weekend we headed out to Asheville for one of my favorite agility trials in one of my favorite cities.  It’s held indoors on dirt with 2 rings and I was certainly curious to see what Mr. Miles thought of it after the 3-ring circus of the preceding weekend.  All week he had been acting totally normally and was his typical crazy self in his Tuesday night class.  He had a great experience at this trial site last May, so I was hopeful for a good weekend.  I headed out Thursday afternoon in time to set up and hit the B-match.  Both dogs did one 90sec run and they had a blast.  Miles did 2 successful teeters, but thought about the 3rd one.  Otherwise he was brilliant.  Lil’ Rue had a blast chasing me with her bunny fur tug while we avoided the teeter and hit every other obstacle 🙂  Melanie and I then celebrated by going out to Doc Chey’s noodle house downtown.


After a less-than-restful sleep (Rue was too excited by the fact that there were 4 other dogs in the room, hehe) we arose at 6am to get ready for the day.  Tall-small today with Exc. JWW first.  The course looked fun and Miles was the first 24″ dog.  We did our typical warm up and headed to the line.  Unfortunately, I didn’t support the 2nd jump and earned us a refusal.  Miles turned out a pretty decent run otherwise despite some sightseeing.

Rue faired better with the 2nd jump, but took the wrong end of the tunnel.  I honestly thought she’d probably do that, but was mainly focused on just keeping her running so didn’t do much other than run at the tunnel.  If I had rotated for a FC, she would have nailed it, but again I didn’t want to slow her down.  Just wanted a fast and fun first run for the weekend 🙂

The Exc. Standard course was very fun.  The opening was very similar to JWW, so I knew I needed to make it a point of supporting the 2nd obstacle better for Miles.  He had a great run, but got called for the up on the teeter.  He kind of turned wide and I *think* thought about refusing it, but then got on from the side above the yellow.  The rest of the run was fabulous.  A little slow on his table, but not horrible.

I pulled Rue from all Standard runs this weekend to give ourselves more time for her teeter retrain.

Last run of the day for us was Open FAST.  I planned two different courses for the dogs.  I wanted to test M on the teeter a bit and also wanted to try a 90 degree soft side weave entry with a rear-cross.  Pretty ambitious, but he handles those fine in training.  Well he had a great teeter and hit his entry, but then spaced out for a second and didn’t wrap back into the poles.  I restarted him, but then he popped out at pole 10, so we just went on.  He handled the gamble like a champ and we got just enough points for a Q and his first OF leg.

I actually planned a totally different course for Rue than the one I ran.  There was an AKC rep at the trial and he decided that the gamble line needed to be moved out which changed my whole plan for her.  I didn’t have much time to walk a new one, so I just kind of winged it.  Again just going for speed with her…I wanted to give her several opportunities to chase me (she loves that) and I wanted to give her the chance to get on her favorite obstacle, the aframe.  I think she had a blast in this run!  Look at how much speed she picks up both when I push on her line out of the first tunnel and again after I leave her after the frame.  She got her first OF leg and her picture in the Asheville Citizen Times for this run 🙂

I left the trial site around 4pm as they were getting ready to run Excellent FAST to go back the hotel, work out on the elliptical trainer and shower before meeting several folks for dinner at a local Thai restaurant.  The food was great and the converstation was even better 🙂


A bit more of a restful sleep and Small-Tall today, but still up at 6am with Melanie as she has 2 dogs in the 16″ class.  I headed to the trial site around 7:40 for the obsessive walk-through and then took myself for a 9 mile run in the foggy mountain air.  I got back in time to watch the 16″ dogs tackle JWW which helped to solidify my plan for my pups.  I walked the course again a few more times and then had to wait for the large 20″ class to be nearly over before Rue’s turn.  She handled this course amazingly well and again really accelerated when I pushed in on her line off the start.  I need to remember to go in a support her more in pinwheels and such.  She has no problem sending out to obstacles, but she’ll slow down if I’m not driving into them with her.  She was decently fast off the line with this run too 🙂 This made her 2nd AXJ leg with a 4th place finish and her best time of 5.2yps!

Miles had a great run going.  He allowed me to take a decent lead out, but I didn’t support two of the jumps after the tunnel well and he went around them.  Again, in training this wouldn’t have been an issue, but obviously in a more stressful indoor venue he needs more support for me.  I keep forgetting that he’s only 4yrs old and just a baby dog too!  However, I must remark that he had gorgeously fast poles in this run and it was actually a 5.9yps run…woot!!

I left after these runs to take a shower and collect myself for Standard.  It was going to be a long day with Excellent FAST predicted to run until 8ish.  So I brought a change of clothes back to the site so that we could all just head to dinner straight from there.

I was excited for Std with Miles because it really looked like a course that we could execute well despite having to go through a box twice, yikes.  I made sure to support and work every obstacle with him and he did fabulously.  Unfortunately he turned wide and ran around the second-to-last jump.  I don’t think that was my fault, but just that he didn’t see it when he landed from the previous jump and I was hauling butt to the finish so he just came with me 😉  He had a fabulous teeter, but was a bit tentative going into the tunnel in the corner due to the photographer.  He recovered from that despite giving them a sideways glance twice on the dogwalk and had a pretty decent down on the table.  Overall I was very pleased with this run. 

I had a conlict between his Standard run and Open FAST, so again didn’t really get a chance to walk the course much.  I came up with the same plan for both dogs for the sake of sanity.  I actually missed both of my runs while doing Standard, so they had to quickly squeeze me in at the end.  This meant that Miles didn’t get much of a break at all and then there was just one dog between him and Rue.  Miles did a fantastic job with the course that I planned and handled the gamble really well.  He got himself 73 points, a 1st place and his second OF leg!  I was super thrilled since he had zero downtime between the runs.  I had to beg for help from a friend to take him out to play fetch while I ran Rue..

Rue’s run was pretty spectacular as well.  I mishandled her weave entry so we had to reattempt them, but otherwise she was fired up.  I got a beautiful blind cross in after her frame, but then called her too hard for the tunnel discrimination in the gamble and she came to me instead of into the close end of the tunnel.  Amazingly she kept working for me, found the right tunnel hole and had a smokin’ finish.  Unfortunately, the refusal cost us the bonus and the Q.  I love how we just ran in the ring and started running the course.  I’m sure that will be difficult to replicate in the future, but she liked it 🙂

I stayed to watch my friends run in Excellent FAST and then we all headed out for some Mexican food before I retired to the room to watch the Duke game.


Finally a decent night’s sleep!  Again, up at 6am and frantically packing up my stuff, showering, and grabbing the essential cup o’ joe before getting to the site.  Today was Tall-Small and it started with Standard.  Miles was again the first 24″ dog and I just knew that today was our day.  He had been doing so well, but just little oopses here and there had been keeping us from the Q.  I was pretty pleased with this run.  He was a bit slow on the dw, but then picked up speed.  He had a gorgeously fast sit on the table and somehow avoided being called for the up on the teeter today.  He again went wide on his turn and hopped on from the side.  Something to be aware of for training, that’s for sure.  He got a Q for this run, 17 MACH points, his 7th MX leg, but no placement.  He came in 5th.

Again, Rue was not entered, so we had a bit of a wait for JWW.  This was a fun course that allowed me to start with both dogs.  Miles did a fantastic job through the box again and turned out a respectable run for MXJ leg #7, 11 MACH points, and QQ #4!!

Lil’ Rue was not as thrilled with this run.  I was admittedly worried that she’d visit the scribe right off the bat with the way the start line was facing.  So I decided to put her on my right which forced a rear at the tunnel, but also opened up a choice b/w the jump and the tunnel off the line.  She definitely is slower and concerned when she’s faced with that and I should have known better.  She released her stress by visiting a ring steward briefly, but I was able to refocus her and burn up the rest of the course.  Thank goodness she was fast for the finish because we squeeked by with a Q and her AXJ title even though she was 4 seconds over time, phew!!  She took 4th again for this run.

Overall, the dogs had a great weekend and I had a ton of fun hanging out in the mountains with friends, both new and old.  We now have a bit of break in trialing.  Miles is entered locally for USDAA just in Perf. Speed Jumping and Perf. Grand Prix on 2/13…hoping for a bye or at least some Q’s to get him fully set for Nationals.  Then we head to Florida for a 4-day Awesome Paws Camp at Wendy Pape’s place with her, Linda M., and Carrie Jones.  On the way back, I’m hitting a 3-day AKC trial in Savannah, GA.

Until then…..


Teeter musings 11/19/09

For those of you who know me or have been following my blog for a while know that I’ve had quite the journey training Miles to do the teeter.  It wasn’t until February of this year that he dared to do a teeter outside of the one I have at home.  Because of Miles’ issues with this obstacle, I felt like I did a very good job giving Rue a better foundation for it.  So you can imagine that I’m a bit perplexed to find myself back in the same type of situation again with her.

 With Rue I’m fairly certain it’s not a fear that’s getting us with the teeter, but more of a lack of confidence in her job on the contacts.  I’ve trained her to have a running dogwalk and aframe, yet she’s supposed to stop on the teeter.  I think she is just very young and hasn’t quite yet learned how to for sure tell the difference b/w the dogwalk and the teeter and so if she’s just a little stressed, she can’t think, loses her confidence and avoids one or both obstacles. 

Rue’s typical response to pressure is to leave me and go sniff and eat grass or visit whoever else is in the ring.  That’s been her way since she’s been with us.  I used to lose her to this kind of thing all the time (even during games of tug if she felt too much pressure) until I figured her out.  So I just think she hasn’t had quite enough training time yet and with the pressure of a trial and with her rapid success up to the Excellent level, it’s come to a head. 

Thankfully now that we are on a break, I get lots of time for more training!  Rue truly is one of the most self-confident dogs I know, but she also doesn’t like to be surpised by things.  So I’m sure if she thinks it’s the dogwalk and then it moves, it shakes her confidence (and vice versa).  And now for my plan to test my theory…. 

Day One:

I had the day off on Monday (woot!) so I decided that I’d bring Rue out to PBH to work on some dogwalk and teeter stuff.  I wanted to first see what she did off the bat.  I’ve noticed that the times when she’s been less confident/drivey with the teeter (and dw) are when the dogwalk is the 2nd obstacle.  If we go back and look at her trial history, she did refuse the teeter at the PBH trial on day 2 and you could argue that the spacing out during her run on day 1 had to do with the teeter/dw as well. 

 So I brought her to the big ring where we’ve barely ever practiced, never have had class, and pretty much have only done a couple of run-throughs and the trial.  I figured this might be enough “unfamiliar” for us to start.  I brought her out with her tug toy and pretty immediately lost her to a massive sniff fest after about 10 seconds of tugging.  She spent about a minute or two sniffing all around the ring before I could finally get her to re-engage.  Well, at least I know she’s feeling some pressure 😉  So once I got her tugging again, I brought her down to do the dogwalk (I wanted to do dw first then teeter since this has been the trend for her issue).  I did dw-jump-tug twice, then a short sequence of jumps, aframe, and dogwalk, then tried to get her to do the teeter.  She was successful, albeit slow, and didn’t tug right away.  I got her engaged, then tried jump, 180, teeter….and she left.  Took herself to the kiddie pool…yes it was hot out, but still… curious.  She then had a few successful reps, but then I ended up losing her again to sniffing.  The video is long, but I think gives a good overview.  Nearly all of our training sessions when she was a pup used to look like this….thank goodness we’ve moved forward from that!  It’s hard to say whether this was all teeter stuff at the end or just waning motivation from me using a lower value tug or it being hot out.

After letting her cool off in the pool I thought I’d try to see what I could get using food.  Historically she pays better attention and learns better with food, but is way more motivated/faster when I use the tug.  Perhaps I should have started with food today, but who knows what would have happened.  I actually found it relieving to be able to reproduce some of her stress in training.  Here she is with food….

Then I played a little with the bang game…

We ended the session with some fun tug/chase games designed to help her want to go past me better and to build drive.  She thought it was tons of fun and boy was she racing me to the toy!  In the end, I think this was a very important lesson to have had for both of us.  It’s more clear to me now that it’s not a fear, but I still need to figure out how to help her feel more confident.  I’m now toying with the idea again of not keeping the stop on the teeter.  At least or until that becomes a problem for us due to her flying off….

Day Two:

I debated about bringing the dogs to Bon-Clyde for our usual Tuesday night drop-in class, but on our lunch time hike Rue was favoring her right rear leg a bit.  After examining her, all I could find was a little abrasion on one of her pads (probably from the astroturf over the weekend) and thought the sand surface probably wouldn’t do that any good.  So I decided to bring them to the Masters level run-throughs at PBH.  I figured that I could have some folks act as a judge in the ring to add the pressure I needed around the teeter.  Much to my delight, my friends had set up the European Standard course from 2009 USDAA Nationals.  I thought that course looked fun on paper and I was right!  Very fast.

First time through with lil’ Rue I made sure to reward her with tugging after the obstacle before the teeter.  I wanted to reward her for all of the hard work she did leading up to it and also break her speed so that she would have time to process.  I had a classmate acting as judge who she doesn’t know well too.  Not suprisingly, when I set her up to do the teeter she left and started sniffing.  She did end up having to go potty, but I really think that was a secondary reason to sniff…the primary being the teeter, but I’ll never know for sure.

Once she relieved herself, she was more than happy to tug again and then had no problem doing the teeter and the rest of the course.

And one more teeter for good measure…

For her second turn, I decided I would run the course through the teeter and reward after it, instead of before and after.  She showed no issues and ran like a missile!

Day Three:

Last night, before teaching my class, I asked one of my students if she’d stand near the teeter for me while I put Rue over it.  She kindly obliged and as seems to be the pattern, Rue went to visit her and avoided the teeter the first time.  I got her back with me and she got right on, no issue.  Then I did a little sequence and ended with the teeter…again, no problem.

So now what am I to do with all of this information?  For one, I’m for sure not concerned about it being a fear and that I don’t need to go back and retrain the teeter from the ground up.  I think I simply need to continue to bring her out to as many new places as I can and have folks in the ring with us.  When that ceases to be a problem, then I’ll need to up the distraction/pressure ante for her some other way.  In the meantime, I’m not going to ask for a stop at the end.  I also need to figure out if I need to somehow signal to her ahead of time if it’s the dogwalk or the teeter or whether that will just resolve itself in time and with more experience.  I’m also debating about entering her one day in a local NADAC trial.  Even though there are no teeters, it could possibly help by just getting her more trial experience, but with easier courses.  Of course it certainly doesn’t hurt that Silvia Trkman’s coming to PBH this weekend and Rue is working in a contacts seminar and in an all day handling seminar.  We’ll see what the queen of the running dogwalk has to say about the little Miss 🙂

That’s all for now…..



Moore County Kennel Club AKC trial 10/24-25/09: Miles gets MXJ leg #5!

Miles DKC AKC 9-09 (2)

Another new trial site for us and what a beautiful place!  The trial was held at “Corgi Hill Farm” in Carthage, NC.  The drive there was nice among  beautiful countryside with some gorgeous Fall colors and the site was actually a working farm full of sheep, ducks, and Corgis 🙂  I only entered Miles this weekend because I wasn’t sure what Rue would be doing at the time.  I was a bit sad that I couldn’t run her this weekend, but at the same time judge Tom Slattery had some wicked Standard courses that would have been very tough for her since she just moved up to Excellent.


Warm, humid and raining on and off all day.  Somehow Miles and I managed to avoid the heaviest rain, but some folks weren’t so fortunate.  Of course rain makes Mr. Man that much faster/crazier for some reason.  This was a very small trial with only about 45 Excellent entries and with the weather forcast, there were quite a few scratches.  I was glad that I was slated to be timer for the small dogs since otherwise I would have gotten there a little later and would have missed the combined walkthrough.

Excellent Standard was first to run.  The course wasn’t too bad, but had about 4 discrimination points and at each one you wanted your dog to take the inside obstacle/tunnel hole (our least favorite).  I walked the course about 4 times and came up with an independent plan.  Since doing the goal setting exercise last week, my focus really was speed.  I want to see our Standard course times getting better and ultimately would love to be seeing 4yps consistently.  Once I took my position as timer and started watching some small dogs I realized I walked the course and completely neglected the table, agh.  What the heck??  This isn’t Grand Prix, sigh, why am I so dumb sometimes.  Fortunately, it made sense where it was and I mentally made a plan for it. 

Miles was uber excited to warm up…actually I don’t think he’s ever been this bouncy outside of the ring before.  Seeing that it was a new place and there were two huge tents over the ring entrance that were flapping heavily in the wind gusts, I was most impressed with his exuberance!  As expected, the course ran really fast.  I unfortunately got stuck managing the dw to tunnel entry and couldn’t get in position for my blind before the a-frame which caused a refusal.  Since that NQ’d us, I just pushed him for the rest.  He had an awesome stay on the table where I led out about 15ft, wow!  I failed to indicate the correct tunnel hole after the teeter (which he rode all the way down, yeah) which made the weave entry quite difficult, but he got it anyway.  I should have kept moving while he was in the poles and gotten on the other side of the triple, but I hesitated and he popped out.  He had a beautiful line of offset jumps to the finish.  If you take out the time lost getting him on the frame, this was a 4.2yps Standard run!!

Melanie, Leila and I then took our 7 dogs for a nice long walk around the property while we waited for all of 8 Open and 4 Novice dogs to run.

The JWW course looked fabulously fast.  I was very very excited to run this course as I thought it would be one that we could execute well.  I think I’ve been a little hesitant lately about front-crosses as I’ve had 2 very recent occurances where I couldn’t get there and was forced to rear on the fly.  So I planned two rears in this course, but unfortunately I was there in more than enough time and my lack of motion made the rears very difficult.  Miles saved my butt on the first one and miraculously pushed out to the double even though I was way behind, but he just couldn’t do it at the last one.  I was literally stopped and he did what he should have and pulled off the jump for a refusal 4 jumps from the end 😦  SUCH and nice run though and at 5.4yps I’ll take it!  He also had fabulous weaves in this run 🙂

Today they also planned to demo the new Time To Beat (TTB) class at the end of the day.  I decided after looking at the course map that I’d stay and run lil’ Rue.  I figured it’d be good experience for her at a new site on new equipment and since it didn’t “count” I could mentally treat it like a show and go.  The premise of this game is very similar to USDAA’s Steeplechase in that it’s designed for speed and you compete based on jump height, not level.  So there’s just one course for all levels.  This course had the a-frame as the one contact obstacle (it will be either be that or the teeter, never the dogwalk) and you had to do it twice.  Otherwise it was just jumps, a tunnel, and 12 weaves. 


Rue did quite well with this course.  She was slower at the beginning and added extra strides, but from the weaves on she was cookin’.  I should have talked to her in the tunnel because she came out looking to the left which made the next jump very difficult, but she was a very smart puppy and saved it!  She finished in 30 seconds which put her 3rd in the 20″ height class out of 10 dogs and just behind and Aussie and a BC.  Yay Rue!  I’m thinking that she really doesn’t like when I push back on her at the start as she’s been tending to trot before the first jump when I do it.  I’m going to experiment with baby lead-outs versus sending her through my legs and taking off running.  I will also continue to reward pushing back on her collar and having her touch my hand for cookies to see if I can build drive for that game too.


Much cooler today than yesterday and far less humid which made it much more comfortable for everybody.  The Standard course looked even more evil than yesterday with a hard call off both ends of a tunnel to go into a pinwheel, yuck.  I figured I’d give it my best, but if he took the tunnel oh well at least he’d have more fun that way.  Well, I got what I expected and he called off the first tunnel hole and went into the 2nd one, so I went with it.  After watching the video I think I may have had better luck if I kept my stinking arm down, oops.  He found the tunnel to the pinwheel fun and I cheered for him for doing what I obviously told him to do which got a chuckle out of the judge 🙂  We got called on our teeter today, which was a surprise as it really wasn’t that bad….maybe he called it since we had already NQ’d??  I’d like to think that!  He had a beautiful table that he had to really hold onto as he was flying at it and then went into his down reasonably fast.  His tunnel to dogwalk was beautifully tight and the rest was fabulous.  We had a bar after the frame not sure what I did there, but probably was frantically trying to get to a front cross that I hadn’t planned in my walk through, but I wanted to test his weave entry and independence.  He rocked that part.  Totally hit his entry and let me get about 10 feet lateral and way far ahead of him.  I don’t think he’s ever weaved this fast in a trial, ever.  He was SUPER happy with himself too!  This run was actually 3.8yps even with the extra tunnel and the little hesitation to down on the table.  WOW!

We again did our 7 dog, 1 mile walk between classes and Rue got to see horses for I think the first time.  She thought they were quite neat 🙂

Once again the JWW course looked super fun…lots of places for fronts and nice areas for them to really open up and rip.  I was brave today and planned all fronts including one after the weaves (which was actually a “backy uppy” followed by a front) which required me to have lateral distance off the weaves again.  Well I must say I think my boy quite liked this course!  I was able to do my whole plan and he responded so nicely and didn’t even look at any of the offcourses that were eating up dog after dog.  He ran this in 5.2yps and was still 3 seconds behind Melanie’s Awesome Austie!  But 2nd place with 16 MACh points ain’t bad 😉  So this makes MXJ leg #5….

Overall I thought Miles and I did really great this weekend.  The courses were very hard and we still were able to pull them off with only 1 or 2  mistakes in each.  I’m so thrilled with how fast he was running especially given that it was a new place.  He far superceded my yps goals in each run and had some *amazing* weaves!  I was also very proud of myself for not trying to play it safe and go for the Q.  I would have felt really terrible if I slowed him down to try to be perfect and even worse if we still NQ’d so this was a big accomplishment for me!  I got so many compliments on our runs too, which is funny as only 1 was a Q.  Just goes to show you that slow and accurate just isn’t as memorable or as flashy as fast and dirty : D

Up Next:  A new patient evaluation for both dogs at a sports vet in Virginia.  I’m looking forward to learning more about my dogs’ structures and what I can do to help keep them as sound as possible.  Following that both dogs are entered locally for AKC 11/7-8 and then we’ll be taking it indoors for a show in Concord (same site as the AKC Nationals this year) the following weekend!

Autumn Winds Agility Club New Hill, NC 10/17-18/09: Miles gets QQ #2 and Rue earns her OA and NAJ!!

Rue 10-18-09

I’m so proud of my Goldens this weekend!  They both ran fast and happy and had some major milestones.  Of course it being nearly 30 degrees cooler than last weekend only helped 😉  I’d never been to this site before, so there’s always a bit of uncertainty and anxiety about what Miles will think of the site, equipment, etc. 


Arrived bright and early at 7:30am.  It started raining about 5 minutes after I left my house and I was quite worried since I didn’t really pack much in the way of rain gear.  Thankfully it stopped by the time I arrived and ended up being about 55deg, cloudy, and mildly windy all day.

Excellent Standard was first running tall-small and I was pleasantly surprised by a fairly wide open course.  My only concern was with the opening, but I planned to start with him nonetheless.  He was excited to come out of the car and didn’t seem to miss a beat during our warm up.  We were the 3rd dog on the line and the first 24″, so it was a nice quick warm up and right into the ring.  Miles read the turn away from the offcourse very well and we got the rear, but he extended out of it so much that we almost bought a dummy jump.  I’m starting to realize that we might need to start working on our rears because they’re no longer a guaranteed tight turn.  He seems to be powering out of them quite nicely now, so I need to start working on how to signal the difference between a tight rear and a forward sending rear.  The rest of the course ran as planned, even down to the eternity it took him to “down” on the table.  He had great contacts and weaves, but kinda thought about refusing the strange appearing chute for half of a second…silly.  He ended up getting 3rd place and 10 points for this run.  He easily could have had a 1st or 2nd place time if it weren’t for the dang table.  Also, notice the teeeeeeny tiny wings they use here…haha!

Excellent JWW followed not too far behind.  They had two rings going, but only one judge so there was some delay to get started.  This course was also pretty nice and open….not too much collection needed at all which is right up our alley.  Miles flew off the line nice and fast and we got nice speed going down the back line when I again attempted a rear cross.  He read the rear fine, but again carried out so far that he got his nose about 1cm away from a tunnel hole before turning his ears on and pulling off of it, phew!  The rest was beautiful, except for him turning the wrong way over one jump and making me sweat it out, and he turned in a respectable time.  Unfortunately, we did not place for this run and only got 8 points, but it was our 2nd QQ!!  I think if I had cued the turn better in both places we would have been very competetive.  Just something to work on with the rears.

Open Standard was almost exactly like the Excellent course except that the first and last jumps were removed.  I felt really good about this course for lil’ Rue and was excited to try out my “only turn on the flat” handling today!  Unfortunately, with the start being as it was I couldn’t figure out a motivating way to get her going and elected to put a front between 2 and 3.  As expected this slowed her down quite a bit, but she did the 180 like a good girl and then the rest was beautiful!  She kicked it up in the weaves, had a great teeter, fast down on the table, caught sick air on the frame, and *finally* had a running dogwalk like she does in practice.  Yay!  I was SO excited to see her running so nicely and happy!  Not surprisingly, Rue didn’t even take a second look at the new equipment 🙂  She’s so solid in that department, thank goodness.  This run earned her OA leg #2 and she had the fastest time of all jump heights!!

I then had a fairly long wait before Novice JWW, the last course of the day, ran.  It looked great and, like the Excellent course, full of extension.  I planned to do two landing side rears on the flat and one forward motion front-cross after the weaves to set up a push to the correct end of the tunnel at the end.  I’ve never done landing side rears with her in practice before, but I figured we’ve done them enough in shadow handling that hopefully she’d read it okay.  The first one was a bit awkward, but moved well and I praised the heck out of her for doing it.  We then picked up a ton of speed down the back line and I guess the late cue came as a surprise to her b/c she slammed into my leg and knocked me over.  Somehow I miraculously got up very quickly and was able to regroup and get her back on course.  She didn’t seem bothered by the fact that I pretty much fell on her and happily picked her speed right back up and had a fabulous ending for our NAJ title 🙂

After the trial, I took the dogs for a short trail run at Jordan Lake.  We all enjoyed stretching our legs out and filling our lungs with the cool air 🙂


Small to tall today, so I “slept in” a bit and arrived around 8:30….perfectly timed to watch the 16″ dogs run Exc. Standard.  Melanie texted me on my way to the site to tell me how awesome the course was, sweet!  I was definitely excited to find a much more motivating start to the course today.  I found a nice plan for my boy and got him out of the car about 4 dogs ahead.  Once again, he was happy to do his tricks and quite motivated to get to the start line.  I almost couldn’t hang onto him at the start, cool.  He took off like a flash into the tunnel and had a very naughty teeter that the judge decided to give me a gift for.  He was trucking along great until he made the turn for the table and a huge gust of wind picked up the EZ up tent that was over the timer/scribe.  Oh boy.  He put his front paws up on the table and then hit the brakes 😦  The judge quickly saw what was happening and told me to “abort”.  She told me to leave the ring, get his head back together and get back in the lineup!!  Wow, what a nice judge!  So we waited for 2 dogs to go before heading back in for another try.  The judge told me that since I had been clean up until the table, she wasn’t going to be judging anything up to that point, but that I had to complete everything along the way.  I think I was so excited that Miles was not only running again, but got on the teeter that I stepped forward just enough to kick him out to an off course.  Obviously that didn’t “count”, but it did take up some extra time.  Honestly though, I was just so psyched that my previously scaredy cat pup was trusting enough to come back in and give it another go that I couldn’t be happier.  Miles was so smart and got right up on the table, quickly sat, and then finished the rest in fine style!  He got 3rd place for our 3rd MX leg and 20 MACh points!!

Again Excellent JWW followed quickly after Standard.  I really liked the course as it again promised to be very fast.  I elected to start with him as usual which made the weave entry a bit more difficult, but he was very smart and found it fine (even with a little look over to the scribe tent before the weaves).  I was very proud of the rear before the tunnel as that’s a scenario where I’ve pulled him off the jump in the past.  Unfortunately I didn’t support the jump after the tunnel, but I didn’t let him know that he missed it 🙂  I didn’t get the yardage for this run, but based on his time and the 16″ yardage, he was well over 5yps!  Probably one of his fastest JWW runs to date….guess he is getting faster in those poles.

The Open Standard course didn’t change too terribly much from Excellent, but the judge did decide to offset the jump after the dogwalk 😦  I again planned for as much extension as possible and all crosses on the flat.  Rue was excited to go in the ring and had fairly good speed off the start.  She picked it up even more as we went along and turned in a fantastic performance for our OA with yet another 1st place!!  That makes six straight Standard Q’s all with 1st place finishes!  Holy moley, she’s in Excellent.

Last, but not least, was Open JWW.  The course remained exactly the same except parts were re-numbered.  Unfortunately in the very short time between runs, Rue tried to chase a squirrel after which she was suddenly VERY interested in all of the woods that lined the Jumpers ring.  I think that distracted her enough that when coupled with a demotivating start, led to her having a little “moment”.  After the weaves she kind of wandered off towards the fence, not far, but enough to get her a refusal and to get her on the backside of the next jump.  After what seemed like forever, I was able to get her back around to the the front of the jump and get her going again.  I knew we’d be close on time and decided to just put a rear before the double.  She did the jump, but slowed down a bit to do it.  We got great speed going again to only come to an abrupt halt when I tried to put a landing side cross in before the tunnel.  Rue very obviously thought that was garbage and showed me that by trotting to the next jump.  Thankfully she didn’t hold a grudge long and picked it up for a strong finish.  Miraculously we were only 5 seconds over time and that, combined with the refusal, gave us a Q by the skin of our teeth.  Thinking back, I bet Rue had it all under control…..”don’t worry Mom, I’ll speed it up, I just need about 5 seconds here to think about something.  Ok I’m good, let’s go!”.

All in all, I think this way of handling Rue is going to prove to be the way to go for at least a little while.  She seemed to respond very nicely to it in all but the last run, but that may have just been a fluke.  I think we certainly need to practice those landing side rears so that they’re more fluid and not demotivating or dangerous 😉  I am still having a hard time conceptualizing exactly where to put the fronts which is why I picked the late rears this weekend.  We’ll be working on this a lot now that she’s on a bit of a break.

Up Next:  MCKC AKC next weekend with Miles only, then they both go up to have a new patient visit with Dr. Regina Schwabe (sports vet) in Virginia the following weekend.

What I learned from last weekend and what I’m doing about it….


I’ll start by saying that my mental game is improving, thank goodness.  My friends and I have also decided to have a book club and read “It’s Not Just About The Ribbons”.  We’ll read a chapter per week and then discuss what we learned and how we’ll apply that to our lives.  My book is on order from Amazon–can’t wait!

Another positive realization for me was that I finally feel like the Excellent courses are no longer over my head and are completely doable for Miles.  Not only that, but I’m starting to be able to concentrate on handling paths, yardage, etc. to try to find the fastest and most efficient way to get from Start to Finish.  It feels really good.

I need to continue to come up with my own plans for each course and not let what others are saying influence my decisions for my dog.  It stresses me out to much to constantly listen to others talking about what could go wrong if you do x y z.  Argh.  

I have gotten better about running faster and not babysitting, especially Miles.  I need to continue to work on my timing with him to avoid confusion and/or wide turns.


The boy continues to amaze me with his transformation in the last 6mo-1yr.  It really hits home when you can compare his attitude at the same place but separated by about 7 months.  He still has his stressy moments as evidenced by him popping the poles in Standard the first day last weekend, but those are very rare anymore.  Most times he might look at something, but continues to work without losing focus and speed.  I find that he’s noticing things less and less though.  Further, he seems to be almost completely unaffected by the photographer now.  I haven’t seen any pictures of him lately where he’s looking at the camera, sweet!  He’s also allowing me to leave him in a short lead out without it affecting his speed off the line.  This is HUGE.  He has also not had a teeter refusal since the Concord trial in July.

What’s getting us still is speed, especially in Standard.  He’s just still not that competetive with his times and I know he’s still not as fast overall in trials as he is in training, but we’re getting there.  In competition, his striding is pretty good, but he does still add some unnecessary strides in some places.  My timing could definitely be better so that we avoid really wide turns.  Mostly his biggest time wasters are the table (when it’s a down), the weaves, and the dogwalk.

His table is all stress related as it’s a break in the action and he has a chance to think about his surroundings.  I have to remember to tell him “down” as he’s getting on the table before I lose his concentration.  Generally this gets better as the weekend progresses.  I don’t really have a definite plan here…maybe do some foundational table stuff with him that he never got when he was learning.  Of note, he offers a very quick down almost automatically in practice and sometimes even offers to do the table before we start a sequence if it’s close by.  Having said that, I point more of his issue to plain stress versus a “table issue”. 

With the dogwalk, I’m toying a bit with the idea of a retrain to running.  Not sure that I’ll do it, but I’d love to find a way to motivate him to canter the entire length of it.  It’s tempting though because since switching to the modified running a-frame, his speed and confidence has skyrocketed.  Instead of site-seeing from the top, he’s flying over the apex and frequently giving me a 3 strided frame.  As for the dogwalk, in training he’s typically cantering until the downramp and then trots into 2o/2o.  In trials, usually he ends up trotting the middle and end planks and then *sometimes* stops in his 2o/2o.  I’ve been bad about early releasing him, but he’s also self released before due to stress, so at least I feel like if I say it’s okay to break then at least he’s not making that decision.  He’s still 100% stopped in practice.  I may try varying the time that I leave him in his end position in practice to build drive by keeping him guessing.  I find that 2o/2o contacts really only work well if the dog is motivated to get to the next obstacle.  He certainly is during practice, but a bit less so during a trial.  I’m hoping that building a little more intensity into the 2o/2o in training might help with speed.  If not, Silvia Trkman’s coming to PBH next month and both dogs are signed up for her contacts/weaves seminar 😉

And speaking of the weaves, ugh.  I’ve just about given up on getting this dog to single-stride.  We’ve been through several retrains with 2×2’s and the channels.  I cut the poles way down to 20″ tall in order to encourage a lower head position which that definitely did help with.  I also purchased 24″ weaves a few months ago, but still no effect on his striding.  I can say that since the last retrain this Summer, his entries are way more accurate on the soft side, his head position is lower, his speed has increased, and he’s much more independent with regard to my motion and lateral distance.  I don’t know that he’ll ever single step and I have to wonder if it’s uncomfortable for him with his mild elbow dysplasia??  I have a set of 6 knuckles that can convert straight poles to a weave-a-matic style, so I may try those during the winter break.


I’ve been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster regarding the lil’ one over this past week.  Don’t get me wrong, she is doing a phenomenal job considering her age and the short time in which we’ve been sequencing obstacles.  She’s one smart turkey, but she’s starting to really show her lack of confidence in trials.  Obviously, she’s a baby dog and there is a lot of new stuff that she’s trying to process out there, but I want to make sure she’s happy and having fun. 

She’s very accurate and wants to be right both for herself and I’m starting to see glimpses that she wants to be right for me too 🙂  Her speed has me concerned…not really her speed so much as the trotting on course.  I don’t mind if she’s slower right now in trials than she is in practice, but watching her trot makes me sad.  Most times it’s only for an obstacle or two in the beginning, but still.  Granted, I’m very pleased that she is able to break out of the trot and open up for me as I’m sure a lot of dogs would trot the whole way if that’s the way they started out on course.

Her motivation level is also something that I’ve struggled with on and off for a while.  It’s been very difficult finding something or some way to really rev her up.  One day it will be a tug toy that’s the best thing in the world and another day she’ll wonder what’s in it for her if she plays with it.  Same thing with food.  Further, what works indoors can frequently fizzle out when outdoors.  For instance, I can turn her on just by looking at her a certain way inside, but outside where there may be hunting to do??  Forget it.  I have to work MUCH harder to find that on switch.  I’m not complaining, just something we have to continue to work through.

Another observation that I’ve made is that when it comes to practicing and sequencing, she’ll often slow down and show less enthusiasm if there is someone in the ring acting like a judge or an instructor.  I’m fairly certain it’s because she’s conflicted between visiting that person and working with me, so she slows down in order deal.  This is something that I can certainly help her work through in practice both at home and in class, which is nice.

I’m not convinced that trialing her right now is a bad thing because she seems to be improving at each trial as evidenced by her yps, particularly in the JWW runs.  However, I will have no problem pulling her from the few she is entered in if I start to see the trend going in the opposite direction.  That being said, I know I need to continue to expose her to many different places and situations as well as moderate how and with whom I’m practicing. 

I’m planning to take her for a few more drop-in classes at different facilities for varied equipment and environmental exposure.  I’ll also try to get her out to different run-throughs when possible.  While there, I will vary between easy courses/high distraction and hard courses/low distraction as well as what’s in between.  Just this week, we went to an Open/Excellent drop-in class at Bon-Clyde and had a FANTASTIC time. 

Here’s how it went:  The first run was an 18 obstacle course and I just wanted to see what happened so I treated it like a trial.  She was way faster than she is in a trial, but was about the speed she is in class when the instructor is close and adding pressure.  Her weaves were pretty slow, but her dogwalk was quite nice and the rest was cantering and accurate.  The second run was 7 obstacles and I brought food in and stopped to reward after her painfully slow weaves and then again at the end before running out to jackpot.  She popped out of the poles to visit another dog, but very quickly came back and re-attempted the weaves.  Our third run was again a short sequence and I used…..her bunny tug.  She was soooo crazy!  I’m still in awe of how fast she ran off the line.  Yet she was still able to focus on what I was telling her to do, kept all the bars up and had a sick dogwalk with a really low 3 paw hit that I rewarded with tugging and then stole the tug again and finished the sequence followed by more tugging and then I let her win the toy.  We left the ring and I gave her meatballs 🙂  I’d say that was a very successful training session!  The unfortunate thing is I’m not sure how I’ll reproduce it, but I’ll sure try!

We’re signed up for a drop-in at another local center next week for more exposures.  In the meantime, something else that I’m going to play around with is being a little more sloppy in my handling.  It has come to my attention that I may be giving Rue too many turning cues too early and that could be a big factor that’s slowing her down.  I’m going to go back through Linda Mecklenburg’s book and work on just trying to turn her on the flat and give her as many extension cues as I can over jumps.  I tried it in class last night and it for sure made a difference in her speed and enthusiasm.  I’m excited to see what happens this weekend!

PBCA AKC trial PBH 10/2-4/09: Miles earns his AX along with his first ever MACh points in JWW while Rue cleaned up with 3 Q’s and the NA title!!

I am still beaming with pride from this weekend.  Not because we did fairly well in the “Q” category (Miles was 2/6 and Rue was 3/4), but because of all that I learned about myself and my dogs.  I had been feeling “off” since we started back into heavy trial season in the beginning of September, but couldn’t really figure out why.  I had high hopes of getting Miles his Excellent A titles so we could start accumulating QQs for AKC Nationals.  It was easy I thought…he’s so consitent….but what I failed to realize was that my mental game needed help.  I had become so focused on the Q that I had lost sight of what was most important.  It took a few trials and me feeling bad about myself and my handling for babysitting M around the course to finally get my head straight.  It’s not all about the Q and I wasn’t happy with that as the focus point anyway.  I had to take a step back and think about where we were just a few short months ago to see it.  Miles has only been trialing full height in AKC since the end of April…and he had only just started doing the teeter in public a month before that.  What the heck??  He’s still a BABY and I’m still very new to this.  I was letting my competitive nature get in the way.  So, after a less than stellar start to the weekend on Friday, I decided that my goal was speed and speed only (well happiness too).  I wasn’t going to babysit, I was going to RUN…just like we do in class….and see what that got us.  So onto the report….


Excellent dogs only, so just Miles ran.  The trial started at noon with Excellent FAST (Miles is still in Novice, so we were not entered).  What had been predicted to be a mild day was pretty darn hot and humid, bleh.  Fortunately, my friend go there early and saved me a shady tent spot 🙂  The courses looked great for the day, challenging yet flowing with more than enough space for a big do to open up.  Truthfully, judge Kathleen Rupprecht had fabulous courses all weekend (I can’t say I wasn’t a little nervous when I had found out that she ran Lhasa’s)!

Standard was very fast and fun.  We had a little hesitation on the table to get into a down…not unusual on the first day of a trial weekend.  The rest was pretty great except for an unfortunate bar and me misjudging the ending.  Miles came out of the chute so extended that we completely missed the second to last jump.  He sure did find the finish jump and his cookies though!!  I tried using raw chicken as his reward for this run to see if it was the fact that he runs super fast in class because he’s running for his dinner (raw chicken) or if it’s just the difference between class and a trial.  Preliminary verdict:  it’s the enviroment not the reward.

I love love loved the JWW course on Friday.  Super fast and fun.  I mishandled him after the tunnel and rushed a rear cross causing a refusal.  Otherwise pretty perfect and fairly speedy.  The video is messed up, but maybe it’s worth watching…

I left Friday feeling particularly down on myself.  Miles did fine, but something was missing.  I promised myself that the rest of the weekend I was going to handle for speed and work on continuing to tweek our warmup routine to see what works the best.


Up at 5:30 and went for a nice long training run in the pitch black morning with my headlamp on.  Very cathartic…so glad I did it!  Got to the site around 8:30 to watch some FAST and get my head straight for the day.  The courses again looked great, except for Novice Standard.  Yet again we got a course with a turn off of the dogwalk.  What compounded the issue was that the dw was the #2 obstacle, was pushed up near the timer/scribe, and had a very poor/possibly unsafe entrance to it unless you led out.  More about that later…

Excellent Standard was awesome fun.  The start was less than motivating, but because I was going for speed and not the Q I chose to start with him which forced a tight rear after #2 instead of leading out a bit to signal a wrap.  Miles did just fine with the start and read the rear well.  Everything was great until he noticed that they were moving an EZ up tent and wouldn’t release from the table until it was “safe”…silly boy.  Still turned out a respectable run for our AX!  What’s cool is that when I watched the video you can see they start moving the tent while we’re on the startline and are carrying it while he’s on the dogwalk and teeter.  He didn’t even notice it until he stopped on the table.  The old Miles would have absolutely melted 😀

Novice Standard was just as much of the nightmare on course that I had feared on paper.  Horrific entry to the dogwalk as well as a  high pressure location of the startline and dogwalk.  Oh well, I told myself that first and foremost I needed to get her on the dw safely and then worry about the rest as it happened.  I can’t say that I was surprised at the amount of conflict she exhibited during this run.  She very much disliked having to stay at the start and then trotted across the dogwalk 😦  She met her criteria and did the turn, but then got distracted my ring crew under a big colorful umbrella.  I got her back and on the seesaw which she also walked up.  She thought about visiting the judge while she was stopped on the teeter, but chose to go with me only to go visit a ring crew.  Once again she was a very good girl and chose to come right back to me and onto the table.  I didn’t wait for her to go into a down before telling her to sit because I knew that would be even more demotivating especially since the weaves were next and they were headed towards yet another ring crew!  She released fine from the table, did her weaves albeit slowly, and from there picked up her speed.  Her a-frame was brilliant, she read my front cross into the chute very well and then flew to the finish even with me having to push hard on her line to get into the tire.  Yay Rue!  She worked through a TON on this run and still chose correctly each time.  What a very very smart little girlie 🙂  This earned her a 1st place even though she was just 2 sec under SCT and got her a 2nd NA leg!  Definitely not doing any more start line stays for a while though!

The Excellent JWW course again was super fun.  I tested a short lead out here and he did just fine…even with a delay due to the judge yelling at the gate that she needed to have us enter sooner (oops).  Miles did an amazing job despite my momentarily forgeting where I was going after the weave poles.  I never quite got my head back and ultimately my poor timing in a 180 caused him to turn sharply to hit a standard and drop a bar.  Fantastic finish though!  A friend told me she thinks that was the most stretched out she’s ever seen him 🙂

By the time Novice JWW came around it was after 5pm.  I was exhausted from getting up early for my run and being out in the sun all day helping to build courses, etc.  The nice thing was that it was cooling off at this point and there were bits of shade in the ring.  My goal for this run was to make it fun and to give her early early early cues so that she had little time to be in conflict.  I think we accomplished that goal.  Even though she still is no where near her “normal” speed, she looks happy in this run.  Unfortunately the little stinker learned where her cookies were and decided to take herself back over the start jump in hopes of rewarding herself early.  She again was a VERY good girl and came back to me (over the jump again of course….awesome foundation what can I say) and finished well….and then got her cookies 🙂


Had more thoughts and plans for the day.  Of course those thoughts and plans kept me from sleeping very well, but I was feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.  JWW was first and without the addition of FAST, I was hoping for a much shorter day.  I was at the trial site until 7pm on Saturday, ugh.  In any case, I promised myself that I was going to run like I do in class for both dogs.  No babysitting, no safe plans, just go for it and see what we get.  I also decided that I wasn’t going to get Miles out until only 2-3 dogs ahead.  It occurred to me that I really need to take advantage of his spastic energy that he gets when he comes out of his crate 😉

Excellent JWW was first and they were finally running small to tall so I got to watch plenty of runs before our turn.  It was tall to small Friday and Saturday which also messed with my brain.  Furthermore, I told everyone that I wasn’t going to discuss my handling plan with anyone.  I had been feeling like I had been overanalyzing courses and worrying about every little offcourse or potential bar, etc.  The truth is, Miles rarely knocks a bar and is so very responsive that the only time he goes off course is if I’m a complete idiot and tell him to go the wrong way.  So I walked the course, came up with a plan, ran the plan and we Q’d and we took 1st place and earned our very first MACh points (16 actually)!  Sweet!!

Lil’ Rue’s Novice JWW course looked very fun and much more flowing than yesterday’s.  I can’t say that I wasn’t a little concerned that she’d take herself back over the start jump like yesterday though!  I was very proud of her in this run.  She actually opened up a bit in a few spots and read my cue to turn in the box very very well.  Nice weaves despite a sharp turn to the entry too.  Overall very nice run for our second NAJ leg with a 1st place!  Of note, I used liverwurst as a treat to warm her up and canned sardines as her reward.

Pretty quickly it seemed we were ready for Excellent Standard, yet another fun and fast course and this time with a tunnel start, yahoo!  I took Miles out 3 dogs ahead and quickly ran to the ring for a few warm up tricks.  Unfortunately I told him to twirl (rollover to his left) but he decided it would be more fun to rollover (rollover to his right) and rolled right into the tent pole.  Oh boy.  Small amounts of fear insued b/c Miles was certain that it would eat him.  He had a bit of a hard time letting go of that for the first part of the course, but once he hit the tunnel before the weaves it was gone from his mind.  I didn’t support a jump after a poorly placed front cross that I had obsessed about during the walk through, which earned us a refusal, but I was super happy despite it!  Definitely feeling like I need to plan my courses on my own at least for a while to see if that helps my mental game.

Last but not least was Novice Standard.  Again a tunnel start directly to the dogwalk and a pretty much straight exit to a jump.  I was psyched to see what I could get from her in this run.  Rue really did do amazingly well and this earned her the NA title!!  However, she was slow again on her dogwalk and refused the teeter twice.  Something she’s never ever done.  Really not sure what’s going on there.  Might need to rethink having her stop at the end as that might just really be causing a conflict again between the teeter and the dogwalk.  Or maybe she just needs more training and reiforcement for the stop on the teeter and the running dogwalk.  Need to think about this.  In the meantime, I will do some short sessions with both this week before her next trial and see what we get. 

Up next:  Charlotte AKC/PBH USDAA this weekend followed by New Hill AKC and Moore County AKC.  Rue is entered one day in Charlotte and two dayse in New Hill and then she’s taking a break 🙂

Durham Kennel Club AKC trial 9/25-26/09: Miles earns his second AX leg and Rue earns her very first Std. and JWW Qs!!

What a weekend for my pups!  The weather was predicted to be really really crappy, but somehow we managed to avoid anything more than a little sprinkle here and there.  The good thing about that was it was cloudy and quite cool…since there’s no running water at this site, it made it much more comfortable for the dogs.


Excellent only, so just Miles was entered the first day.  Both courses were walking very big dog friendly so I was totally psyched.  Most unfortunately, I got a call from my uncle that my great uncle had gone into a coma due to bleeding on the brain and wasn’t going to make it.  This was during my walkthrough for Standard.  Needless to say, I wasn’t very focused and ended up walking the same loop about 6 times before realize that I hadn’t even seen the rest of the course.  My head and heart weren’t really in it, but I tried to find a way to put on a happy face for Miles.  He actually did fantastic and I directed him very confidently into the wrong end of the tunnel at the second to last obstacle.  When I realized that I told him to go in the #7 hole instead of the #19 hole, I very loudly said “shit”.  Nice.  Fortunately the judge was very nice and actually was chuckling a bit when I turned to apoligize to him after collecting my dog.  Miles did exactly what I told him to do, so I wasn’t going to call him off that tunnel hole, so we just went with it and took our NQ.  This run didn’t get on tape…probably a good thing 😉 

In between runs I had Rue measured.  We had done a lot of this as she had been growing up, but admittedly hadn’t measured her in quite some time.  I new that her growth plates were closed at 10mo when she had her OFA prelims, so I wasn’t stressing about her height at all since she was consistently measuring about 20″ at home.  I wasn’t concerned about her height while being measured, but more about her standing still…or standing on the table at all since we had worked so hard on an automatic down.  Well she did fine, but did something at first to make her measure about 21.5″, gah!  I asked if she could do it again, which she did, and we ended up with 20.75″.  Still a little tall I think, but good enough for AKC.  I will need to practice with her at home to make sure we get her consistently measuring under 21″ for USDAA.

The Excellent JWW course was technical in parts, but at the same time didn’t require any collection at all…sweet!  I had a good plan and worked really hard to get my mental game back.  I stupidly rushed him at the poles and pushed him into the second hole.  He clearly knew that was incorrect and wouldn’t continue weaving until we fixed it 😉  The rest went beautifully except for a bar near the end at a very tricky spot where the dog had to converge on you and basically run across your feet to a rear cross jump.  Not sure if he slipped or hit the standard or if he truly hit the bar.  I didn’t hear anything, but saw the bar fall.  He was super happy on this run though!


My mom came down from NY late Friday evening for the weekend in part to celebrate my birthday, but also to watch Rue’s debut (or de-Rue as my friend was calling it).  So I dragged her out of bed at 6am for a potentially very long and rainy day.  I was sooo appreciative of her coming along and being a trooper for the whole day.  Thank goodness we didn’t see the 90% chance of rain up to 1″ total that they were predicting!  They were running Exc Std, Exc JWW, Open Std, Open JWW, Novice Std, and Novice JWW in two rings, but with one judge.  The trial moved very efficiently and there were quite a few scratches from folks being nervous about the weather.  I think we were done with Excellent by 11:45.  Doug and the girls arrived around 12:30 to be sure to catch the de-Rue too 🙂

The courses today seemed much more challenging than yesterday and more twisty turny.  Thankfully I decided to bring my brain along!  Standard ran great and I was so proud of Miles.  He actually stopped on his dogwalk…I am not certain he’s done that in a trial in eons!  He also had a great teeter both days without flying off.  He was a little slow to down on the table, but all in all a beautiful run for our second AX leg and a 1st place!

The JWW course was full of boxes, ick, and was eating dogs up left and right.  And the bigger the dogs got, the more it ate them up.  Miles did an amazing job in light of a very hard call off the tunnel at #3 and being more distracted than usual.  We got through most of the hard stuff to lose him to an offcourse at the end, boohoo.  I knew that ending was going to be tough and I thought I had his attention so I released him to jump, but he got sucked to the obvious offcourse anyway 😦  He thought he was perfect and I didn’t let him know otherwise.  He worked through a lot on that course and didn’t lose any speed or knock any bars despite it!

The Open classes were very small and were done and gone within an hour of starting, so that meant the time for Rue’s runs was getting closer!  I tried to let go of any anxiety, but I’m never quite sure yet what I’m going to get out of her.  It was only a week ago that I started working her in the ring without any cookies on me!  And last Sunday I met Melanie for a quicky private just to run a Novice type course without cookies and with her being “judge” just to test the waters a bit more.  She did pretty well, but visited Melanie twice and also visited some really interesting mushrooms on the ground that she found while on the table.  I was able to get her back quickly both times, but I was certainly not going to be surprised by any visiting during the trial!

Both Novice courses were quite baby dog friendly.  The Standard course did have a nice offcourse tunnel right in the beginning and also a choice b/w teeter and weaves, but otherwise was very straightforward.  I was surprised that there was a pretty hard turn off the dogwalk to the broad though.  Dang we’d been working really hard on straight exits in the last week and leaving the turns alone.  I brought Rue out about 15 dogs ahead of time.  I wanted to make sure she was nicely warmed up and that we had some time to connect.  We did a little jog around the ring so she could see everything, potty, and loosen up and then headed to the practice jump.  She did a really nice job there with focusing, so we left to wait outside the ring and do tricks.  I started teaching her a new trick last week so I was anxious to see if she could do it here…yup.  I also sent her out and around the legs of the tent to work on handling focus.  She thought that was really fun!  I used thawed frozen fried fish sticks as her warm up treat and realized as I was about to go in the ring that I had totally forgot to bring her post run reward of cat food with me!  Dang it!  So I secretly placed her bag of fish sticks outside of the exit area and figured that was better than nothing, plus she *really* likes them.  As we entered the ring I never once doubted that we’d have a great run.  She was focused and happy and very confident as we stepped to the line.  I elected to put her in a sit, but to not lead out as I didn’t want to lose that connection.  What a great job she did!  Met all of my criteria without a question, didn’t even look at the offcourse tunnel, thought about taking the teeter a second time, but quickly redirected herself to the poles, and had good running contacts.  Definitely her aframe and dogwalk hits were a bit high, but she did them happily and quickly 🙂  Rue earned her first Q with a 1st place finish!  She was totally exstatic to shove her face in the bag of fish sticks and to play tug/chase with me, yay!

Last but not least was Novice JWW which was basically a big “S” shape.  I was psyched to run the course, but again wasn’t totally sure who I’d get in the ring.  I remembered her cat food reward, but since I had given her all of those fish sticks for her last run and Miles ate all of the frozen Bil-Jac, all I had left were a few meatballs and some string cheese that was graciously given to me.  Neither of those are really favorites of hers and she wasn’t as excited during her warm up.  We still had a nice run, but she sniffed a bit before taking the first jump and was trotting/slow cantering for the majority until the last 5 jumps when I just decided to take off ahead of her.  She responded nicely to that and finished very well for a Q and a 2nd place 🙂

So, not sure what happened here…but I have some theories.  Either she was a little mentally tired after the Standard run and really only got about 10 minutes to rest in between runs.  Or possibly her tummy was full of fish sticks and that was good enough for her.  Or she connected the fact that she got fish sticks before and after her last run which she loves, and decided that since I was giving her meatballs before this run that she was thus working for meatballs and that wasn’t very motivating.  Or she was more distracted in this ring (Miles had been too) due to more activity outside of it and that took up enough of her mental processing that she couldn’t do her job and be fast at the same time.  She was certainly happily surprised by her cat food reward and once again had a very fun wrestle/tug/chase session with me.  I have no doubt that she was rewarded well at the end of that run, so I will have to play around with the variables and see how this plays out.  Of course, training isn’t linear and I’ve seen this reaction from her before.  We’re still learning about each other and this is obviously very new to us.  I have no doubt that we’ll figure it out and that she’ll gain confidence in her job and go faster in response to that.

We are entered on our home turf for AKC next weekend….:)