Charlotte Dog Training Club AKC trial 3/12-14/10: Rue gets her AX and Miles earns QQ #5!

A little delayed on this trial post due to a new computer and issues uploading my videos to YouTube, gah.¬† Things finally seem to be working, so I will give this a shot ūüôā¬†

The pups and I headed to Charlotte last Thursday evening for 3 days of AKC agility.¬† I was looking forward to seeing some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while and I¬†just generally love this trial.¬† They always have great judges and awesome prizes.¬† Things typically run very efficiently as well.¬†

Furthermore, I had set this trial as a goal date for putting Rue back into the Standard classes.  She had been showing me that she was comfortable with the teeter in several different settings, so I was visualizing nice drivey teeters for her.  I was also excited to see if we could get a good startline routine going.  The weekend before last I brought Rue to a local CPE trial to give us an opportunity to work on this in a low stress environment.  What I found was that if I crated her very close to the ring, took her out 10 minutes before her run to potty and get some food rewards for the practice jump, let her rest and take her out just before run and jazz her up with her fav tug toy then she was really excited to run!  I was excited to try out our new routine here in Charlotte.

Friday:

No video for today unfortunately¬†ūüė¶¬† I entered both dogs in FAST and JWW, but only Miles in Standard today as I didn’t want to overdo it with the baby dog.¬† Exc. FAST was first and I planned a fun opening which went easily in the send bonus.¬† Miles handled it all like a champ and also had a gorgeous aframe in the opening.¬† He won the class with 74 points!

Lil’ Rue came out next for Open FAST.¬† I got her jazzed up with her bunny tug outside of the ring, then stole the toy, ran in the ring while simultaneously removing and dropping her leash.¬† We had a nice transition into running the course and she was wicked fast.¬† She did a 2 strided a-frame with incredible air time and landed in the yellow, whoa!¬† Unfortunately the send involved a forced layer and she did the offcourse jump (she actually did the Excellent send, hehe).¬† I was very proud of this run.

Next was Miles’ standard run.¬† Randy Reed typically has really nice big dog courses, but this one was a little tricky.¬† Miles handled a short lead out very well and flew over the dogwalk and nearly into an offcourse tunnel.¬† I probably didn’t decel or he was too far ahead to read it and I ended up calling him off the tunnel very very hard ūüė¶¬† He had his snout in the tunnel hole and I admitedly thought we got called for the offcourse.¬† I was so pissed at myself for calling him off that hard that I forgot to handle and pulled him around a jump with ultimately NQ’d us.¬† Again he had a brilliant a-frame in this run.

Last to go was Exc. JWW and both dogs were entered.¬† It was a pretty tricky course by Tracy Hanna with 4 boxes that we had to¬†navigate through, bleh.¬† I decided to do a lead out¬†to a lateral send with Miles and then planned¬†to just try to show the correct line of motion through the rest of the boxes.¬† He did a fantastic job and took 2nd place earning himself 12 points!¬† However, at only 4.75yps, I’m not sure where we lost time on this course…definitely bummed to not have¬†video to look at his striding.¬†

Rue and I did the same warmup/startline routine as we had done for FAST, but this time unfortunately we went to the line too soon and we disconnected.¬† She took the first jump and then stopped to stare at a piece of bar tape that was hanging down off the second jump.¬† She stared at it for probably 4-5 seconds (again wish I had video), but then went on to blow the course away.¬† I think she probably would have had a time very close to Miles’ on this one if she hadn’t have stopped since her official time was 38 seconds ūüôā

Saturday:

It poured rain over night so the fields were a bit sloppy today, but the air was brisk and the sun was shining so we were off to a good start!

Excellent FAST was first and I wanted to just try to rip it up with Miles and have a fun run since yesterday’s call off probably had caused him to¬†slow down in JWW.¬† I¬†left him in a stay¬†and he really was moving out!¬† He had a fabulous send and we took 3rd place with 71 points.¬† I had to repeat the teeter since he got on it from the side at the pivot, silly boy, so that cost us time.

Open FAST was next and I was excited to see what Rue thought of yesterday’s runs as it would be evident in this run today.¬† I decided not to do the teeter in either FAST run just to keep it fun and motivating for her.¬† We started out great with good speed over the aframe, but then she started to slow down.¬† This is odd as the frame usually propels her into high gear, so I figured something was wrong.¬† Well 1 jump later and Rue took herself to poop, oops!¬† Poor little girl was so embarrassed ūüė¶¬† I must say this was a first for me….hopefully I won’t have to revisit this again.

The day was running Small-Tall, so for the next two runs I knew that I’d have to run Rue before Miles.¬† I was a bit nervous about her Standard run as it was, but now even moreso due to the events of FAST, ack!¬† I forced myself to let it go and just visualize a happy dog who wants to do the teeter.¬† Well I guess it worked because she was brilliant!¬† We started out a bit slow and she was looking around and the judge and ring crew, but as soon as she hit the poles we were off to the races.¬† She had an amazing dogwalk and gorgeous teeter, yahoo!!¬† This earned her her 2nd AX leg and she got 1st place!

Next I got to run Mr. Miles.¬† I planned a lead out push past the 2nd jump, but I could tell he was not comfortable and he got up out of his sit so I just released him and did a forward motion front cross.¬† He was slow through the beginning of this course and then took 10 seconds to lie down on the table, sigh.¬† He managed to still make time and earned MX leg #9, but I was worried that something just wasn’t right with him.¬† Either it was still the call off from yesterday, or maybe it was too many lead outs, or maybe god forbid something physically awry.¬† He got 4th place and 4 measly points for this run, bleh.

The last run of the day was Exc. JWW.¬† The opening was a large circle of jumps and then a pull into a tunnel hole before opening up into a really fun a fast course.¬† Both dogs found the opening demotivating and Rue did some trotting, but then really opened¬†up at the weaves.¬† This earned her MXJ leg #2 and 4 points ūüôā

Miles and I managed to pull out a QQ with this run despite me nearly pulling him off the second-to-last jump.  He had an amazing save with that one!  I made sure to start with him on this course.  No placement, but 5.2yps and 11 points for my boy!

Sunday:

Even more rain overnight made for really sloppy fields this morning.¬† The club put a lot of mulch down which helped a bit, but wore down pretty quickly.¬† I knew that I wanted a motivating run with Miles, but also didn’t want to push too hard for speed for fear that he would get injured (his fall in Savannah really messed up his front end according to our massage therapist).¬† I led out about 1-2 steps just to shape his approach to the teeter a bit and he did a really nice job with his course.¬† I predicted that we’d have an issue with the rear at the jump before the poles and we did.¬† I need to learn to be more patient with those crosses and I also need to teach him to have more obstacle commitment in those scenarios.¬† Overall a great run!

Next was lil’ Rue’s turn to show me what she had for this course.¬† I decided to change my warm up a bit with her and instead of tugging outside the ring and just running in, I decided to engage her with the bunny tug and then transition her to tugging on her leash so that we could tug into the ring.¬† This seemed to work really really well for her as she didn’t trot once on this course.¬† She again had a brilliant teeter and awesome dogwalk despite me getting behind due to the soggy ground!¬† She actually beat Miles’ time by a fraction of a second on this run, wow!!¬† This earned her the AX title with another 1st place!!

Our last run of the weekend was a fun JWW course by Tracy Hanna.¬† I was psyched to not have to lead out with Miles and was looking forward to a really fun and fast run.¬† Miles looked great on this course, but I got a bit lost after the first tunnel and got caught a bit behind a wing which made me push into his line a bit and sent him offcourse, dang!¬† He recovered from that fine and really motored for the rest of the course ūüôā

Rue’s run was pretty good, but there was a small delay at the start that caused us to disconnect and for her to stop tugging unfortunately.¬† I’m hoping that this was just a situational thing and that I’ll be able to use this routine with her in the future!¬† Overall a great run, but she had some trotting in the beginning.¬† This did earn her MXJ leg #3 and 4 more points.¬† She now has 17 points and will start going for QQ’s from here on out!¬† How did that happen so fast?!?!

Overall I’m pleased with my dogs’ performances at this trial.¬† Historically this has not been Miles’ favorite place and I need to remember a year ago here he couldn’t even go through the tire.¬† I do think that for the next few trials I need to just focus purely on speed for him and start with him instead of leading out.¬† I will NOT (I need to write this on my hand or something) call him off an offcourse that I’ve sent him to….I cannot.¬† It’s very deflating for him.¬† I was a bit caught up in the fact that he only needs one more MX leg for his title and I cannot focus on that.¬† If it’s speed that I want (and I desperately do) then I need to just focus on that.¬† His yps at this trial were definitely below average ūüė¶¬† Granted I cannot base a trend on one weekend, but I do think I need to make a proactive attempt at correcting that possibility!¬† Miles had perfect aframes all weekend (5/5) so I can’t complain about that!¬†

Rue’s goals for the next couple of trials are speed and connection to me.¬† We will continue to work on our crazy warm up/startline routine as I really think she digs it ūüôā¬† Our next trial, she is only entered in JWW and then she has 3 weeks off before we travel for 2 days of AKC in Columbia, SC.¬† She is entered in Standard there, yay!¬† It’s interesting to me that while it’s natural for her to run faster in class/practice when I have a reward on me, but she really really seems to dig the international style courses that we train on much more than these AKC type courses.¬† Something to think about as to why.¬† I would imagine it’s because the international style requires more quick send and chase type movements from the handler than a big ol’ pinwheel does.¬† I wonder how I can keep moving more in these trial situations.¬† Hmmmm….

Up next:¬† 2 days of AKC indoors in a horse arena this weekend followed by Miles only in 2 days of AKC at his favorite trial location–Teamworks!¬† Then a couple of weeks off before heading out of town for more AKC agility!

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 ūüôā¬† Melanie and I then celebrated by going out to Doc Chey’s noodle house downtown.

Friday:

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

Saturday:

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 ūüôā 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 ūüėȬ† 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 ūüôā

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.

Sunday:

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…..

Cougars and foxes

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog, but that’s not¬†for lack of training more a lack of time.¬† Here’s what we’ve been doing….

Miles:

Just continues to get better and better with his adaptability to new environments and faster and faster each time we run it seems.¬† It’s to the point that I do not feel like we need to work together every day to maintain our skills.¬† In fact, he seems to be enjoying his break from trialing and frequent training because when we do work, it’s much more special.¬† He has become my solid dog which just blows my mind to think about really.¬† I never have any doubts any more when I take him out to play agility no matter where we are doing it….he’s just plain and simply¬†a rock star.¬† I think he has really just been reaping the rewards of me taking Rue to as many places as possible.¬† Where it used to take him a run or two of looking around while working, he now is able to enter a new place confidently and work with me without concern.¬† This to me is simply amazing!!

While up visiting my mom over Thanksgiving I brought the dogs to a drop in class at an indoor facility that I had brought Miles to last Christmas for some rental time and run-throughs.¬† Last time we were there I spent a good portion of our time just playing with him in the ring and letting him explore.¬† I didn’t do more than jumps and tunnels and maybe some weaves or an aframe here and there.¬† His attitude going into the class this time was a stark comparison.¬† He was confident and excitedly happy.¬† He worked very well for me, ran fast, and didn’t give a darn about the people, the other dogs, or the¬†teeter.¬† I just love when I can really *see* the improvements he’s made.

As far as my goals to improve my¬†handling skills and speeding up the dogwalk and table, well I guess we haven’t been working specifically on the latter two items.¬† Silvia had suggested that I try retraining him to a running dogwalk….or if nothing else just work on running across the board to build confidence in that piece.¬† This is something I want to start doing, but I think I’ll wait until after the Spring trial season is over.¬† The weather and lack of daylight have not allowed me to do any of the daily training that is required for this type of retrain and I don’t really want to do it in the middle of heavy trial season, so I think it will be a great Summer project for us ūüôā

This past weekend we¬†attended a seminar with Carrie Jones for handling work.¬† I worked Rue in the morning and Miles in the afternoon (more on Rue’s stuff in a bit).¬† For the first time in a while I felt like I really learned some valuable tools from a seminar.¬† This makes me very excited to work with her again at the Awesome Paws camp in February!¬† My big take home from this seminar was the importance of deceleration which is something that I really have a hard time doing.¬† Get me running and I really don’t want to slow down ūüėȬ† However, the difference in Miles’ path on course was amazing.¬† The whole thing was much more smooth and it didn’t slow him down at all, sweet!¬†

In keeping up with my reading of Jane Savoie’s Ribbon’s book, I’ve been continuing to work on my verbal affirmations and visualization.¬† To add more color into my visualizations, I’ve decided that Miles is a Cougar….slender and agile, yet extremely powerful with the ability to jump high and far.¬† He runs¬†extremely fast, yet quietly, and is lethal to the competition.¬† Sounds good, eh?¬†

Rue:

Oy, this little girl sure does keep me busy!¬† I’ll start by saying that I *think* she’s worked through her teeter issue.¬† I’ve been on a quest to get her on as many different teeters as possible as well as continuing to not have her stop at the end of the board.¬† I really think that was the major part of the puzzle.¬† As I’ve said before, Rue doesn’t like to be surprised by things….if she thinks something should be one way and it turns out to be different, she is quite offended.¬† Granted this is something she needs to work out for herself because there are going to continue to be instances when she guesses incorrectly.¬† I think that will just come with more experience and more exposures.¬† By continuing to bring her to as many places as possible and to experience as many different pieces of equipment as she can will only boost her confidence and her ability to recover.¬†

What amazes me is how she always keeps such a straight face…a poker face really.¬† This makes it very difficult to read her and continues to cause me surprise when she ends up showing her avoidance/stress behavior.¬† With this being so seemingly¬†unpredictable it’s taking me longer to figure out earlier on so I can help her before she reacts.¬† What’s interesting too is how she can portray stress in totally opposite ways…sometimes it’s that she trots around the course or stops to sniff one spot on the ground whereas other times she will go visit people or start frantically running and sniffing around the ring.¬† Perhaps it’s just a reflection of her overall motivation/confidence level at those times whether she stresses up or stresses down.¬† It probably doesn’t matter which response she has as long as I can recognize it.

At the seminar on Saturday, Rue did amazingly well and worked happily for her tug all morning.¬† Her first run was a little stressy and she left me to visit the spectators and her favorite canine boyfriend.¬† Carrie initially had me try just running away and calling her which didn’t work (doesn’t usually, but I gave it a whirl), so I ended up having her sit so she could refocus and then Carrie held her as I ran down to the start of the sequence.¬† I recalled her and then started the sequence.¬† Little muffin found the weaves along the way so quickly completed the set of 12 before joining me for the sequence.¬† This time she was completely successful.¬† So something to keep in mind to try next time she starts visiting folks during class ūüôā

Yesterday I got together with a friend to train some short jumping sequences.¬† This is someone she doesn’t see often and it was interesting to see that he added a lot of pressure for her.¬† Not only he, but the teeter was in the arena too.¬† She’s trained in the arena only a handful of times and it’s always been more difficult for her…the added lure of the wood chips for one is very distracting for her.¬† We’ve only ever done jumps and tunnels in there…maybe some buja board stuff when she was little, but the amount of time she’s been in there is not a lot.¬† And she’s never seen the teeter in there, ever.¬† I started working her with her favorite tug toy (the same one we used in the seminar and the same one I have used in class with success), but she was very distracted.¬† I’d get her engaged and then start a sequence, but after the first or second obstacle she’d start to sniff.¬† She actually hid in the tunnel and chewed on wood chips at one point, sigh.¬† After not being able to reingage her, I elected to carry her out to her crate.¬† I then brought Miles out and worked him excitedly before returning to give Rue another shot.¬† This time was better, but I still lost her to sniffing during a more difficult sequence.¬† Again I carried her out.¬† I felt bad because I didn’t really know what I could do to help her, but at the same time I was getting¬†frustrated and that’s only going to cause her more stress.¬† So carrying her out seemed to be the best option.¬† I was going to just end it there, but after talking it over¬†decided to remove the teeter from the picture.¬† I¬†took her back in and got her engaged with play.¬† We played for a little longer than normal and then started the sequence.¬† She was definitely better, but still got distracted.¬†¬†I was able to end her tug game while she was still engaged and then¬†wanted to see what would happen if I used food.¬† HUGE improvement.¬† I worked some more difficult sequences than before and she was still able to run¬†pretty fast¬†and I did not lose her.¬† I even had my friend stand in the middle of the sequence¬†and she did just fine.¬† I was pleased with this data for sure.¬† She was able to motivate for food just fine and she was also able to work past the pressure of the arena, the woodchips¬†and a “judge”.¬† I probably should have brought the teeter back in, but admittedly I¬†was pretty much whiped out ūüėȬ†

As far as my visualization and affirmations for the lil’ one, well she’s a red fox.¬† Resourceful,¬†clever, sly,¬†quick, and adaptable, yet independent and somewhat cunning.¬†¬†¬†I’m certain my little red fox will grow to¬†enjoy working more as a pack in time……

Silvia Trkman Seminar 11/22-23/09

For the past four days, Sivia has been hosting seminars at PBH.¬† This is her second trip to our club, her first was March of ’08.¬† I attended her Novice Handling seminar at that time with Miles and the poor guy was so overwhelmed by the auditing crowd and her difficult sequences that he could barely even jump.¬† What a difference 1 1/2 years can make!¬† It’s always nice to be able to look back at something like this and remind yourself just how far you’ve come.¬† Not only have I improved as a handler, but Miles’ improvment¬†in attitude and skill level is just incredible.¬† This time I signed up for 3 days worth of fun: ¬†Advanced Handling for Miles (wanted to do Masters, but T-day traveling conflicted with that), Contacts and Weaves with both dogs, and Young Dog Experienced Handler for Rue.

All day Sunday was the Adv. Handling seminar.¬† Silvia actually gave us some pretty difficult European style sequences…I definitely didn’t feel like we weren’t challenged.¬† Miles really aced all of the sequences and Silvia even¬†said that he was fast, wow!¬† I think he was the only dog that hit every single weave entry too…and they certainly were some zingers.¬† Not much else to say about the day really.¬† It seems the last¬†couple of¬†seminars I’ve been to with Miles (Daisy Peel’s and this one), neither one had much to say about him other than how good he is at following my motion and how I make good handling choices for our team.¬†¬† He’s such a good boy ūüôā¬† I know I definitely have more work to do with him, but it’s comforting to hear these folks saying such positive things about us.¬†

We got a 2 hour break after the daytime seminar before returning for the Contacts and Weaves workshop.¬† I took the dogs for a short woods walk and grabbed a quick bite to eat on my way back to PBH.¬† Silvia spent some time talking about her methods for teaching running contacts, 2o/2o contacts, and weave poles.¬† She then wanted to see each dog perform the dogwalk with and without turns in order to figure out what we might need to work on.¬† Rue was the only dog out of seven¬†with running contacts, so she wanted to see her first.¬† I was excited to show her off, but also a little concerned as there were folks lined up on both sides of the dogwalk which would definitely add pressure to Rue’s performance.¬† Amazingly, lil’ Rue came out of her crate ready to play and tugged vigorously with me despite the close proximity of the crowd.¬† Her dogwalk performance at first was less than full speed, but she she was doing the correct striding although hitting high.¬† After several more reps, she extended enough to start hitting nice and low and then we showed off some turns.¬† All in all I thought she did a fantastic job considering the environment.¬† She worked probably for 10 minutes all for a tug toy, woot!¬† Miles got to go last and I really wanted to get Sivia’s opinion on his dogwalk and how I could speed it up.¬† She actually said to me as I brought him out for his turn, “do you have any problems??”, ha!¬† I explained that I wanted to find ways to increase his speed and ideally get him cantering the length of the obstacle.¬† She relayed that he actually already was quite fast even though he was trotting.¬† She said that I could start playing with him on the contact board, like how I started with Rue’s running dogwalk, and see what I get.¬† If nothing else, it should help his confidence with running on a narrow board.¬† For the rest of the workshop we were able to pick to work on the aframe, teeter, or¬†weave poles.¬† I chose to work the teeter with Rue¬†because I¬†wanted Silvia’s opinion on her conflict¬†between that and the dogwalk and whether I should be keeping a stop on¬†the teeter.¬† Of course, I hoped that Rue would¬†do the teeter at all!¬† She again was a tugging fool when she came out¬†of her crate and had no issues doing the teeter both alone and¬†with the tunnel to start.¬† Silvia thought her performance was good…she was driving to a good position on the board and then running off the end.¬† No need to keep a stop unless I need a place to “catch my breath”, but I think I’m fast enough to be able to handle all running contacts with her ūüôā¬† Rue also showed off her aframe performance and weave poles (both just one rep) and she thought they were great.¬† With Miles, I again wanted Silvia’s opinion on his teeter.¬† She suggested that I continue to reward low in practice and also possibly say “contact” while he’s performing it to break his stride just like I do on the dogwalk.¬† I tried it and it worked ūüôā¬† She also gave me some ideas to try to proof his “running” aframe (running a bit ahead or a bit lateral) so that I might be able to have a little more freedom there.¬† I left feeling very proud of both dogs, but particularly excited for Rue.¬† Not only was she able to work through all that pressure, but she did it enthusiastically and for a toy!!

Monday morning I woke up to pouring rain and the prediction that it was going to continue until the afternoon.¬† This was Rue’s day for handling and I was sad that we’d have the weather obstacle on top of everything else.¬† Normally she doesn’t mind the rain and has trained with me in it before, but I was curious what she’d think about an agility seminar in the rain…would it be too much pressure?¬† The fields were already still soupy from the deluge we got two weeks ago, so this was just making things worse.¬† They moved the equipment to the top of the big ring in order to try to preserve the grass in the “real” agility area.¬† As is Silvia’s style, the sequences were all quite challenging for baby dogs if not used to the European style….lots of tight¬†turns, threadles, pushing out to the back side of jumps, etc.¬† I’ve certainly worked on all of these handling moves with Rue, but I can’t say that she finds that kind of thing particularly motivating.¬† Her first sequence was quite good and she handled it with good speed and had decent dogwalk performances.¬† She also worked enthusiastically for her tug toy.¬† I was feeling good about things after that until we tried our second sequence.¬† This one started with a jump heading towards the dw, but you were to push them to the backside of a jump that the dogs couldn’t see off the startline.¬† Lil’ Rue seemed a bit put off coming out of her crate…like she didn’t want to step in a puddle (odd), but tugged well for me and ran off the line headed for the dw.¬† She realized quickly that we weren’t going that way and managed to do the sequence well, but you could tell someone had let the air out of her balloon.¬† She managed a couple of jumps and then went off to visit the crowd.¬† On our second attempt she was even slower and again visited the audience after the same jump.¬† I really¬†think she thought we were going to the dw, then realized she was wrong and then slowed herself down so she would have time to be right.¬† The added pressure of the surrounding audience, the rain, the mud, and the tug toy didn’t help either.¬†¬†It was obvious that her interest in the tug was waning, so I switched to food.¬† She was able to think through the sequence better, but was still slow.¬† Silvia suggested that I give her lots of rewards for situations like that where there are choices and she needs to follow me.¬† She needs to learn that following me is rewarding and that she doesn’t need to search for obstacles as much.¬†¬†Also Rue probably needs more rewards for turns she thinks.¬† Silvia also suggested that if she’s going slowly to just not run her for that sequence and work Miles instead (like in class) so that Rue only does one speed in agility–fast.¬† One other idea that Silvia had was that if she wasn’t that into running to maybe start with something that she loves (ie. dogwalk or aframe) several times to get her going and then start adding more sequencing in to “trick” her into running the whole thing faster.¬† The third sequence was even more abysmal.¬† It was raining much harder and Rue really didn’t want to come out of her crate at all due to the mud puddles surrounding it.¬† Once out I did get her interested in a different tug, but as soon as I attempted to start the sequence, she¬†was¬†very slow, took a wrong course, but then sped up for a nice finish over the dogwalk.¬† Unfortunately when I tried again, she didn’t even run ūüė¶¬† I tried to get her to play but then she left the ring to pee.¬† I thought maybe that was her issue, but I never did get her back into wanting to do the sequence.¬† I got a few jumps out of her and rewarded, but still kept losing her focus.¬† Silvia suggested that I just have her run back and forth over the aframe, but she was still not very interested, so we ended there.¬† I’m hoping that a lot of the issues were mostly exacerbated by the heavy rain and muddy conditions.¬† After lunch, we moved inside the arena to do some jump/tunnel sequences.¬† I elected to just stick with food for her and much to my surprise she was much happier to run even with the crowd inside and the formerly very distracting wood chips ūüôā¬† The last two sequences we did were not so good though, but I really think she was just fried.¬† It was a very long day for her with a lot of distractions.¬†

Overall I think this was an awesome experience for me and the dogs.¬† Silvia offered some different perspectives and I’m going to just take all of this in for Rue¬†and work on the things that I can work on (ie. turns = fun, only running her when she’s running fast, and/or starting to integrate sequences in after running some dw’s, etc.).¬† I’m going to continue to use her tug toy as I really think this is the best way to motivate her for speed.¬†¬†Thankfully we have a bit of a break with Thanksgiving this week, but I am taking her to a drop in indoors somewhere new on Saturday.¬† I look forward to seeing what we can do there to help her.¬† I will certainly work Miles if I need to ūüôā

Miles is signed up to work in a Masters seminar with Carrie Jones in a couple of weeks, but I think I’ll split the time between both dogs.¬† Seeing that I don’t seem to get much individual attention when I work Miles, it might make it more worth while to give Rue the opportunity to work in yet another new place with yet another big crowd.¬† We’ll get there……

 

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 ūüėȬ† 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…..how 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā¬† 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.

Saturday:

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 ūüė¶¬† SUCH and nice run though and at 5.4yps I’ll take it!¬† He also had fabulous weaves in this run ūüôā

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.¬†

TTB

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.

Sunday:

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 ūüôā¬† 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 ūüôā

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 ūüėȬ† 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 ūüėȬ† 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.¬†

Saturday:

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 ūüôā¬† 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

Sunday:

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 ūüė¶¬† 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 ūüôā¬† 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 ūüė¶¬† 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 ūüėȬ† 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.