24 December 2009

lacking

Geesh!
2 weeks ago DJ's PS3 broke. No big deal? Well it's also our Blu-ray player, which means we can't watch all the newest dvd's. Eventually we'll get it sent to Sony for fixing.

Last Friday a virus ate my laptop. Literally just blocked internet access, installed itself on my control panel and blocked my access to antivirus software as well. Its currently and permanently turned off. Once I get the checks in for the next session of classes I will take a small chunk and get a new one.

And of course twice in the last week blackberry service has gone down for several hours, which always leaves me wondering whether its service or my device....

Last Saturday we got about 12" of snow. Its slowly melting but I can't do agility in the yard or take long hikes yet. And tomorrow or Saturday its going to rain and make it all a cold mudhole.

So basically we've been just running in the backyard every day and doing agility on Wednesdays. Excited to have two 3day weekends in a row. We hardly have any holidays at Fedex so 2 long weekends is just great. I'm getting a cold or something so this weekend I'll take it easy.

I am actually prepared for xmas this year gift-wise. I am happy with my purchases and happy to get whatever I'm given.

I also found out that even though IFCS members haven't been formally invited yet, the office pretty much considers it done and plans to send out formal stuff in January. Also the competition will be the indoor arena at the site in Britain, on a sand surface. So I'm glad I have the indoor which is probably similar enough.

12 December 2009

Wow 3 posts today. I guess it shows I'm home alone!



I just custom cropped and ordered these two prints from Doghouse Arts. Love how happy Seri always looks. Interesting contrast to Drifter, who is always looking very serious and business-like. Seri is just joyful in everything she does! Plus. . . they sent me a $10 coupon, AND you get 2-for-1 prints - 2 copies of everything you order! So I got 2 5x7's of each, with shipping only $30. Not bad. I don't have a lot of good shots of Seri, and I can use the extras as well. And yes, these are just tiny copies from the checkout page, they won't enlarge. Just wanted to show "Insanity" in action, looking pretty cool! I actually really liked how the vertical crop worked on that jumping shot.

Yes it's true, I'm a horrible liberal who thinks everyone should have the same rights


And I think THIS is really funny! Thanks Fail Blog!

Yet another weekend off

It's odd for me to have 6 weeks+ off between trials. I'm glad I entered the New Years trial though, 2 full months is a long time. I did a much better job this past year of not entering too many trials - I stick to 1 or 2 a month, and if I end up with more I usually take longer off afterwards. I only went to about 8 or 10 AKC trials all year, and my dogs did fabulous at the lower jump heights. I don't know about other areas of the country, but around here the spacing in AKC courses just doesn't lend itself well to the larger dogs. Some judges are fine, but I have to say the majority of courses are not geared towards large dogs who need TIME to judge their takeoff point for big jumps. Sure, some BC's, hopefully Seri included, will do fine with even spacing on tight turns with funky traps, but Drifter needs to judge where he's going. And even though AKC is supposed to be a minimum of 18' between jumps, most courses around here appear to be tighter than that. I'd say they must be wheeling wide corners on curves where dogs aren't actually going wide or something similar. Even straight lines must be pushing it distance-wise, those are often the toughest part for Drifter as the spacing is tough for him. He knocks many less bars at USDAA where the spacing is much more variable but somehow just works out better for him. And contrary to some people's beliefs, I think both venues have plenty of challenge to their courses, it's just different challenges. USDAA is challenging due to its speed changes, technical sections mixed in with fast sections - AKC is a more evenly paced, without the whacky speed changes, but the spacing makes the jumps harder, in my opinion.

Some people have dogs who just keep bars up no matter what. I am not one of those people. And I think some of those people don't even realize how lucky they are. (Some do!)

Anyway, I am home again this weekend. I haven't been able to get myself back into the rhythm of long hikes (it's been really cold! and I'm just feeling lazy!) but I have been taking the dogs to the local reservoir park for a 30 minute run on a nice hilly session. This is actually pretty darn good exercise as they get to go up and down hills at a moderate run. (I don't allow crazy greyhound sprinting because I want them to not get hurt, and I want them within sight in case we encounter a hiker). Wednesday between classes at the indoor I trained Drifter and Kiba on courses for the first time since we got back from Arizona. They both did great although Kiba was pushing her dogwalk contact a bit much. Seri is looking fabulous as well. I am hopeful that she will get a Team Q out of the way on New Years. And I'm also hopeful that 2010 will be a good year for getting her Q's for AKC, which will require more consistency from her.

USDAA is still frustrating as far as organizations go. Last year I and many others raised a bit of a stink about getting the national event moved east of AZ (look at a map, AZ is pretty damn far west in the country). It's been there since 2004, which means 6 years in a row we've been driving or flying across the country. Well USDAA waffled a bit last fall and then gave up and went back to AZ for this year. This year they announced that it would be moving, but they didn't have a site finalized yet. Now. . . it's still not finalized. They have possible dates and possible sites, but those of us who have spent thousands of dollars for six years running are starting to worry. This is awfully close, isn't it? AKC seems to have everything organized over a year ahead of time, and they move every year. Perhaps USDAA needs more office staff? Or a way to generate more profit so they can afford such? I don't know what the answer is, but we shouldn't be left hanging months and months into the qualifying period, and since we are hanging, a bit of transparency wouldn't hurt. Just a note, now and then, to let us know they're truly working on it. Because while I will have a really difficult time staying home from the event, if it returns to Arizona, I will do it. Even though I have THREE dogs who are more than capable of making the Finals in all 3 events, and 2 of them are fast enough to win individually as well... but for me, who works a 40-hour a week full-time regular job that doesn't pay all that much, to pay thousands of dollars every year to attend is just ridiculous. People in the west have had a easy time of attending for a long time now. A whole generation of eastern seaboard dogs have either had to travel far or not been able to attend.

I didn't actually intend for this post to be a rant about that, but the situation really gets my feelings up. This is just not a fair situation that has gone on for so long, and up until this last year we didn't really get any impression that USDAA was even trying to move the event. SIX years? That's no accident. They just weren't taking into account how difficult it is financially for some of us to get out there. I have no sponsor, I don't make millions, and it's hard to fly multiple dogs.

The other thing that is already making me a little nervous is that sure, I am on the list of top IFCS point winners, but they still have not extended formal invitations! I paid several hundred dollars for passport, titers, etc, I'm trying to make travel plans already, and yet they haven't *actually* told me I'm on the team! How crazy is that? We leave in FIVE months!!!!

This post is very scattered! Stream of consciousness, sorry. Deal. So I'm very happy to be on the team, it will be very cool to travel in the UK. Hopefully USDAA will soon step up and tell us what's what.

Here's a picture.
Doesn't that lush grass just look *wonderful*? Sure it doesn't rain. That's why the footing makes all of our dog's backs hurt every year: there's no padding! This is from 2008 but it was pretty much the same this year.

06 December 2009

Pics from AZ

These are just links to my pics from AZ. Some are kinda cool.

I bought this one as a big black and white print, cropped to vertical 8 x 10, matted.
This was a watercolor but I didn't buy it, didn't like the footwork that much.
I bought this as a 5 x 7 black and white, matted. Later I realized that this was right before his eyeballs shifted off the other way and he flew off course!
Seri weaves.
Above pics were all from Team Jumpers.
Below are from Team Standard.
Drifter demonstrates exactly how close he can get to the apex of the frame.
Some nice jumping shots. I like this one a lot. And the last jump on course.
Seri demonstrates HER version of skimming the apex. Which includes screaming and spittle.
And Seri looking actually pretty together here and here.
None of Kiba from that class.
Here's Kiba's watercolor version of the weave pic above. Cool but not $65 cool.

ETA: some of the links are lame but just hit "next" on some of them to see if there's any others if you're interested.

Trials

Well USDAA has the list of people who are at the top of the point standings for IFCS, and there's me:)

Still a little weird to think that after all this time, I'm actually going to BE a "World Team Member". I will admit it maybe isn't the world team I would have chosen. And secretly I am hoping that the "other" world team is thinking perhaps they should have taken me. . . I still think it's odd they'd choose a dog who is more likely to go off course over a dog who is more likely to hit one bar now and then. But whatever. This is Drifter's last hurrah at 26". We are entering 2010 Tournaments at 22", and AKC Nationals in March at 20". It will be fun to really let him go for all he's worth. 20" is very easy for him, I will really be able to push him. I can't do that at 26".

I decided to enter the New Years Trial up in NH run by BARK. Should be a lot of fun. It's in an indoor soccer arena, and I actually get Friday off for New Years anyway, so it's a rare chance for me to run a 3-day trial without taking a day off work. I'm also hoping Seri won't come in heat till afterward so that's a shot for a Team Q with her. So I've got that and then the Team event Jan 16th weekend down in NC. Then half a day of USDAA in Feb at Keystone, just running Gamblers and GP and going home - I can't stand the 3-hour wait between classes. Then a local AKC trial or two at 20" followed by AKC Nationals. I'll be trying to get the older 2 dogs their 2011 QQ's, plus Drifter's MACH is only 4 of them away. And Seri needs to get into Exc B so she can get her Tryouts Q's. After AKC Nationals I have the Mid-Atlantic Agility Showcase, which unfortunately is THE weekend after AKC Nationals, but I will probably go as the $5,000 planned prize money is too tempting for me NOT to go. I will probably not enter every dog in every class. And I might force Drifter back up to 26" starting there, so he has a good 6 weeks of 26" before we leave for England. Then we'll do a couple trials where I will run him at 26", whether AKC or USDAA, and try to focus on pushing him and leaving bars up. Then we have IFCS in May. . . after that I suppose we'll have a few USDAA Regionals, some more 2011 AKC Qualifying, and possibly USDAA Nationals at the end of September. If it moves. If it doesn't move, I'm not going. Must hold firm.

Or if I do go back to AZ, I sure as hell am flying. After developing a disability. And only taking one dog.

01 December 2009

BARK-NH?

Thinking of attending the BARK trial in NH on New Years weekend. Teams anybody?

My hope is that Seri won't be in heat yet. The last couple times she came in between around the 7th, so its cutting it close, but I could always switch out Trig if Seri does come in. Thinking I should be OK though. This would do 2 things: give all my dogs another shot at Tournament Q's so I don't have to freak as it gets closer to Regionals, and so I'm not worried while working towards IFCS later in the system. Also it gives Seri a shot at her Q's. As of right now all 3 of them have only one Steeplechase Q, so any Tourn chances are welcome. I don't have a ton of USDAA planned so this would be great.

it also gives me *something to do*. I was not thrilled with the idea of taking not only a month off, but TWO. TWO is too many for me, mentally. I am already missing trialing. This is also a RARE three-day weekend for me, since the New Year is on a Friday. I *may* even get lucky and get Thursday off, or a half-day, if there is small enough demand for service on Thursday. We'll see.

30 November 2009

So I'm pretty sure nobody who reads this cares, but anyway:

I am going to cancel my partial season tickets for the Phillies. If you ARE interested, leave me a comment and I'll email you. They are the Sunday plan, which is 14 games, all on the weekends, and you get rights to playoff tickets in the fall.

28 November 2009

Titles are shallow and pedantic.

Spent the last week or so doing a whole LOT of nothing with the dogs. Ran them in the backyard here and there. Taught the first session of the new classes, in our rented wonderful indoor horse arena. Hopefully it will continue to work out over the winter. It's a lovely sand/rubber mixture, that is not too deep and not too shallow, and they drag it to keep it even.

I did notice when I tried to run Seri on a couple courses Wednesday that she pretty much just refused to collect when asked so I stopped asking and put her back in the car. Collection exercises it is for a few weeks! Seri does this sometimes; her natural state of being is "EXTEND!" so I have to counteract that by working on collection and respecting my space with her. She won't run me over, but she definitely conveniently forgets all the lead-out collection work she's done sometimes. That's OK. Kiba actually went through a stage like this as well. At home on one jump Seri is remembering very nicely what to do, so I'm integrating more movement into the equation to make it more exciting. She'll get there.

I decided not to give Seri much time off from agility (aside from the week or so she already had to recover from the hard ground and long drive). She's due in heat end of December or early January, and I will probably send her to go live upstairs with my parents again, so she won't really get any work during that 3-week period aside from running with my mom's dogs in the yard or at class, so that will be her break. Drifter and Kiba are on break now, hiking and running but no serious agility training. I sent them over the dogwalk a few times Wednesday, and did some one-jump stuff in the yard at 12" and 16", but that's about the extent of what they'll do for a couple more weeks. I want to let their muscles recover with no repetitive pounding on them for a bit. Today we'll hit the park and go for a brief (60-90 min) hike, on leash (because it's Saturday and people may be out).

USDAA released their official point standings to team contenders. It affirms what everyone thought; 3 of us are tied for the 2nd and 3rd spots on the 26" IFCS Team. First tiebreaker is dogs defeated during the four 4-star trials attended. I win that! Drifter's average was about 10 dogs more than the next dog, who was about 10 dogs more than the 3rd dog, so that clearly breaks the tie. It kind of works out weird, and while I do feel like my dog performed well at the leading up events AND at Cynosports, of the other 2 dogs, the dog who won't make the team did better in AZ than the dog who will. They both did well at the smaller events, it just happens that one did better at larger events than the other. I am glad this came into play, but at the same time, the person who didn't make it DOES happen to live in a part of the country that just doesn't have competition. Not sure if I feel bad though. I had to beat a LOT more dogs to get my points than they did, so I guess it all works out in the end. My conclusion is; I'm really glad I made the team, I feel that I worked hard to earn it, including my very LAST run where I had to hang on to tie (glad I didn't know THAT going in!!). But I do think the point-earning system could use a bit more refining. There's still something not *quite* right about it. Hmm.

Anyway, USDAA hasn't made the phone calls yet, but there's no reason to think I won't get one!


Yes this is a rambling post, more than I have been putting up lately! And I'm not done.
After every large event i tend to look at what I did and didn't do well, whether I think my dogs are on the right "career path", and what I plan to do with them in the future.

A summary of my thoughts-
Drifter - as I've come to expect from him (with one exception - Tryouts) he continued to perform extremelly well under pressure. He came off his minor injury very well, only hit one bar all week, and brought home some ribbons, medals, a trophy, a shirt, and a world team berth. That said, I think IFCS is his last hurrah at 26". He is 7 years old, he is barely 20" tall, and he has a short, low-set neck. He can be fabulous at that height, but he is more fabulous at the lower heights. We will attend 2010 AKC Nationals at 20" as planned, and 2010 Cynosports at 22". This means Drifter will have to tolerate some jump height changes this winter/spring as we both prepare for IFCS at 26", and work towards qualifying for National events at 20" and 22". I think he can do it. We ran some 20" back in September and came back to 26" in October and he did fine. It's not the ideal situation but we'll survive it for one season. After IFCS in May, he is officially a 20/22" dog for the rest of his life. I'd like him to last. He's definitely not slowing down yet!

Kiba - i was SO thrilled that she was able to turn in the times to make Final rounds this year. She was the last dog to make it into Steeplechase Finals, but it was a pretty wide open course, not her specialty, and they only took 20 dogs out of that huge class, so for a 17.75", 27lb dog who used to run away if I said "no", that is a big accomplishment. She also had .5 second to spare in GP Semifinal - would have easily been in the Finals if not for the one bar. She did hit a few bars in AZ in other classes. 22" is by no means easy for her. It is comparable to Drifter at 26". She is turning 5 next week and has been pretty sound except for her recurring minor back pain. I will continue to run her at 16" in AKC and 22" in USDAA until I see a reason not to. I have full confidence in her ability to place at both National events in those heights.

Seri - well Seri had a few really big "baby dog" moments. But she also had some really good "adult dog" moments. She didn't hit a lot of bars. She DID miss a lot of weave entries but that doesn't really concern me for now. She didn't miss any contacts. She didn't break any stays. She only had 2 off courses and one was sort of my fault for assuming she "had" the right part of discrimination. Made Steeplechase Semi-finals. So I'm not sorry I took her, but I AM glad I wasn't trying to get her ready for Tryouts this coming May - not only because I won't be able to go (leaving for IFCS that weekend!), but because she isn't ready yet. My plan with Seri is to continue to hone collection skills and jumping skills, and impulse control, and to get into Excellent B and qualify for 2011 AKC Nationals and Tryouts with her, where she will run at 26". Not sure if she's ready or not, but we'll find out.

23 November 2009

Measure of Success


Back in 2007 when I first put Drifter down from 26" to 22", I set a goal of doing better at Regional and National events before I tried to make it onto a World Team. I figured USDAA Nationals is some of the best competition in the world (seriously!), and if I couldn't place there consistently, then I had no business on a World Team.

Well I think I'm accomplishing it. I was thinking about Drifter's career at Nationals the other day. He has placed (meaning winning a placement ribbon in something) every year at Nationals since I started taking him at 26 months old.

2004 he was at 22" because I wanted to let him mature before moving the jumps up. He WON 22" Team Gamblers. He also had the fastest time in Steeplechase Semifinals (there weren't quarterfinals till 2007) but hit one bar. I was happy.
2005 wasn't our best year, I was unfocused going in. At 26" and he got into GP Semifinals but then hit a bar. He did get 10th in Snooker EVEN WITH a bobble in the opening where he took the wrong color netting us less points than our plan had.

2006 was our first "big" year. Still jumping 26". He won the Grand Prix at the Northeast Regional for the first time (was only 3.5 years old) with a rockin' time. Then out at Nationals he got 2nd in Team Standard, 3rd in Team Gamblers, and ran clean in GP Finals with a 3rd.
2007 was my half and half year. I got fed up with the bars and him throwing his pelvis out and put him down to 22" - AFTER our first 2 Regionals (where he almost won down in GA), so I scrambled to get him qualified. Well we managed it. Then he won both the Semifinals and the Finals of Steeplechase, "won" the quarterfinals of Grand Prix (no ribbon for that). but he sort of flunked in Team classes - no E's but no great runs either.

2008 he started coming into his own. He had just turned 6. Won the Northeast Regional GP for the 2nd time. He got into Steeplechase Semi's from the quarterfinals. He won European Standard. 3rd in Team Standard. Clean but wide/no placement in Snooker and jumpers, and perfect but a greedy handler in Gamblers. One brain fart on his part kept us from Steeplechase Finals - ran around the broad jump. GP Finals we joined the masses of 22" dogs missing the dogwalk contact, but still got 7th as we had the fastest faulted round. Would have been 2nd by a hair if he'd been clean.

2009 he was awesome back up at 26". Won European Standard, 3rd in Team Standard, 1st in Team Snooker, 1st in GP Semifinal, and 3rd in GP Final.

So I feel like we've taken huge strides towards our goal of being on the World Team by doing so well at big events. I LOVE the big events, they are the sole reason I compete at the small ones. I don't have the money to be a title hunter, and I have come to believe it's not good for the dogs to trial a lot, mentally or physically. But winning at the big events, that's what I want. It's such a thrill - and I don't care if I don't win, as long as we layed it on the line successfully, that's what I really enjoy.

21 November 2009

AZ Recap

All the dogs did well in AZ. I survived my drive out/back alone with 4 dogs very well. Went through 3.5 audiobooks. Drifter looked 100% sound the whole ride out and felt great when checked before running.
here's the class-by-class recap.

Wednesday - European Standard
This was a fun little course, although I was a little frustrated that it was dogwalk-turn and don't take the jump right off the end. I hemmed and hawed about whether to just let Drifter run off course - if I turn him too much off the dogwalk he starts coming off a little early. I decided to just run like mad off the end and call when he hit the ground, and if he went off course I wouldn't care. He didn't.
Drifter - clean run, a little wide in 2 places but 1st in the class to start the week with a blue ribbon.
Kiba - a little over-the-top going in, she hit a bar and missed her aframe (I let her run)
Seri - WILD-ASS BABY DOG got walked off after; knocking a bar, running off her DW, knocking a bar, missing a rear cross cue, then going behind me to go back up the DW. All before obstacle 6.

Thursday -
Team Jumpers -
Kiba clean, ended up around 12th place
Drifter - Had a majorly disappointing WTF moment, and went off course out of a tunnel. I think that's his 2nd off course all year.
Seri - not too bad, jumped bigger and bigger as the course went on but survived with only a spin and one bar.

Team Snooker - I had a plan in the morning. I knew it wouldn't last. My plan had only 55 points. People were getting through 56 and 57. So I watched, made a new plan, and tried it with Kiba to see if I'd have time with Drifter.
Kiba - knocked the 7 in the opening but made it through my plan with 4+ seconds to spare
Drifter - awesome, ev en without a lead-out (his stay is shot, I get about 5 steps), only 26" dog to make 57 points for a 1st and another blue and a trophy
Seri - um. This plan was too much for her. 1 point:)

Steeplechase Quarterfinals: Only Seri was in this, the other 2 had byes into Semifinals. Seri was a VERY good girl here, her first run in the main ring. Only fault was a miss on the 2nd weave entry, quickly corrected, meaning she acheived Semifinalist status! Yay!

Friday-
Team Standard- good course, I worried about a few bars, and of course it was dogwalk into a corner meaning I had to run like a crazy person only to pivot into the weaves.
Kiba - clean, 14th place.
Drifter - clean, 3rd place.
Seri - not bad. missed a weave entry but otherwise clean.

Steeplechase Semifinals - due to poor scheduling, my 26" dogs had exactly THREE minutes of down time between Team Standard and Steeplechase Semi's. This sucks. It was sunny and warm and nowhere near my kennel tent so they got jammed in a crate together.
Drifter - was not "with it", still cooling off from Standard. Hit a bar and the broad jump. No Finals.
Seri - not bad, hit a bar and missed the weave entry (yes, that's a theme here). Someone asked me if we had bred her:)
Kiba - clean, good run but it was a bit of a wide-open speed course so I wasn't sure if she'd make it, being a little thing.

Grand Prix Quarterfinals - again only Seri in this class. She was SO GOOD until we got to the dogwalk/tunnel discrimination, where I thought she had the DW but I was wrong. Then she did the tunnel a couple more times for good measure. Once I got her on the DW she did the rest of the course clean, so I was pretty pleased. She's showing some nice moments of promise.

Afternoon Friday, I had Drifter checked out and he was quite sore. 2 runs that close together on the concrete-hard ground was a bit much for him. 26" is a good 6" over his shoulder, and he runs HARD out there. I think he was sore going into Steeplechase and would have greatly benefited from a 10-20 minute slow walk to warm up/cool down his muscles. Oh well. Nothing I could do about that.
Also that afternoon I found out KIBA made Steeplechase Finals! She was 20th out of 20 dogs to make it in! dogs on either side of her were VERY close in times, only hundredths off, so any wasted stride and we would not have made it, but I was very pleased with her, she's a good little smidget!

Saturday:
Team Gamblers - had an actual honest-to-goodness distance gamble. Only problem was there was a 10-point easy gamble and a 20-point hard gamble. I was the THIRD dog to run in my height so I had NO idea whether people would get it or not, but I figured with IFCS points on the line I had to try. Well Drifter spun too close to a jump before figuring out what I wanted and finishing the gamble. The judge called it a refusal so we didn't get the points, but if we had gotten it we would been top 3. Oh well again!
Seri was very good, although she also failed at the hard gamble, that's ok.
Kiba was perfect and nailed the easy gamble.

Grand Prix Semifinals (no Seri)
Kiba - ran first in a non-main ring. She was booking along really well and then hit a bar. Oh well.
Drifter - in the main ring. IFCS on the line. I knew I had to make GP Finals or my shot was over. He NAILED this course, fastest 26" time, for 9 more points and first seed into Finals.

Saturday night Steeplechase Finals!
Little Kiba dog was perfect. Again the course was a bit wide open so I knew our shot at winning was pretty slim, but she ran a great clean course and didn't put a foot wrong. We got 8th place, a pretty ribbon, and an IRS form to fill out for our $100!

Saturday morning Team Relay
Kiba's team was in 3rd going in, but the top 3 teams were only separated by 7 points. Unfortunately Kiba hit a bar and missed her weave entry so we didn't overtake anyone, but we did finish 3rd overall for another shirt, a medal, and a great big ribbon!

GP Finals
Drifter was the LAST DOG to run the course for the entire weekend! And he was great. I did lose a bit of time after the see-saw so maybe lost 2nd place and got 3rd instead, but I was so happy with him. (he 2-strided his aframe, which caught my eye and distracted me, then when I pushed out to the jump I lost sight of the see-saw and had to book extra-hard to get there so he didn't fly off and was behind when he came off of it, so he had a moment of "where now?") anyway, he got 3rd, behind Maverick by .07, and ahead of Icon by only .02! I was SO happy with his weekend, he was really good.

Afterwards I found out that we were one of THREE dogs tied for 2nd place in IFCS points. We are still awaiting final word from USDAA on who made the team, but Drifter should win the tiebreakers, he defeated the most dogs, got the most Tournament top ten points, and did the best head to head at nationals. I think! Anyway I am excited to go to England! How AWESOME would that be? A crowning acheivement for Drifter's career, and a fun trip for me! After this he is doing 20" in AKC from now on, and 22" for Tournaments in USDAA as that's what he'll jump at Nationals next fall (which WON'T be in AZ!!!!). We will do regular titling classes at 26" to maintain his form.

For now we are on time off. They are doing nothing at ALL for a few more days to heal them up from running on the super hard ground, then we'll resume hiking and running for a few weeks, and back to agility mid-December.

08 November 2009

I'm on the road to Arizona right now. I'm posting updates on facebook and probably won't update here much at all till I get back.

Last week Drifter pulled up lame, but I think he's going to be fine for the trial. He looks good right now. Tonight we are in TX, will arrive in AZ tomorrow evening.

30 October 2009

Busy and tired

Went to an AKC trial last weekend, our last trial before departing for Arizona for USDAA Nationals (aka World Cynosport Games, whatever). I had Drifter and Seri both at 26", and Kiba at 20". Kiba has been looking pretty sound since last Tuesday so even though I kept her quiet the rest of the week except for leash walking, I decided to go ahead and try running her. She ran fine, except she hit a bar or two in every run. Probably just a result of not practicing all week. She was certainly running FAST and except for cocking her foot a little funny on the table Saturday, which may or may not have meant anything, she looked completely fine. She was running like hell was on her heels on Sunday. Really pushing. Drifter ran pretty well, didn't knock a single bar all weekend, even at 26" in funky 18-feet-but-looks-like-14-feet spacing. However we had a couple other dorky issues that I feel like were just goofy or I got sloppy. We were clean JWW Saturday morning, then in STandard he did his typical border collie vulture sit on the table, but the judge wouldn't count. His chest and elbows were at least 6" up from the table surface, and his ass was down, so I'm not sure what position that is, but every other judge who's judged us has called that a "sit" and just counted. So I was a little bewildered and so was he. He is sticky on the table as it is, and when I tried to shift him to get him to get up and sit down again he jumped off. So that was the end of our double Q. When he got back up he sat in what looked like exactly the same position and she counted... I think that frustrated him a bit because one obstacle later he flew off the see-saw so I carried him off (yes i carry my dogs off on occasion, especially for blatant disregard of "rules"). I wasn't all that mad though. Just can't have him thinking early see-saws are OK - he will take that inch of wiggle room and run a mile with it - meaning he won't even THINK about waiting next time. Seri was pretty good, she Q'ed in both STD and JWW on Saturday, really good for her on wet grass. She's only in Exc A so it's not a double Q but I was very pleased. The courses were nice but certainly got "gimme's".

This is Drifter's idea of "waiting" on the see-saw.

Sunday I left Drifter out in a loop on JWW and didn't support him enough and he came in around a jump. On reflection I think that I've worked so hard on shoulder turns and such all year that if I don't obviously support something like that at a distance, he assumes I don't want him to take it, so that's OK. I restarted him and finished the course and he again didnt' hit any bars. Standard had a very straight sequence in it that was table - chute - jump, but there was another jump to the left of the proper one after the chute. I didn't even think about it, straight line, didn't worry about pushing to it. But I wasn't thinking about how I have to stand and lean over his table, which means when he goes through the chute I get left behind, so he came out and went over the wrong jump. Seri went between the jumps, and Kiba did it because I can lead out from her table. My fault, I guess, although I still felt like they were crossing in over my line of motion which is a no-no in my system. Then again, better to have them come in after a chute than run off and not pay attention.

Monday I did some bounce work on jumps, and when I went to cool Drifter off, he pulled up lame. On his left rear, which is NOT the side the iliopsoas injury of old occurred on. I let him rest a bit, worked the girls, and got him back up. Even worse. He was awful. He hunched his lower back, swung his back leg, just looked like a pathetic old dog. I immediately got a hold of Ria, our PT, and she said I could bring him out at night for an emergency visit. I was pretty damn sure he had not torn his ACL because I wasn't feeling any movement in his joint, and there wasn't much in the way of swelling either. Anyway I drove out to her place at 8:30 at night (my bedtime is 7pm), she worked him all over and he was a wreck. He must have tripped in a hole, landed funny off a jump, or maybe rolled a leg on a walnut or something, because he was truly a mess and he did NOT do anything obvious while I worked him. Here is what was wrong: Neck was tight, back was like a rock, pelvis was out on the left side (usually out on right if he's out at all), left knee "tweaked" but no serious damage, left shoulder a little tight. ouch! So all week I gave him aspirin 2x a day, Traumeel 2x a day, he's worn his Back on Track coat a lot, and I've iced his knee and then 2 hours later lasered it and lasered his back/neck. I went back out to see Ria on a regular appointment for all 3 dogs yesterday, and he is much improved. She called it 80-90% better than Monday. He is walking about 95% sound now. His back still looked tight yesterday but seems better today after being worked on again. His pelvis was still in. So he's off aspirin, no more ice. And today I took him for a 15-minute on-leash walking-only walk around the neighborhood. I figure the pavement is a good surface to avoid tripping or uneven footing.

I'm glad he's done no serious damage, but I'm a little frustrated that I can't do any jump work before I leave. Doing some bounce grids a few times a week really seems to build up his mental and physical fortitude for 26" jumps, and he knocks less bars. Hopefully the work we've done up to now will hold!

19 October 2009

Hmmm

Last week was pretty normal, taught classes, then on Thursday it started raining. And Friday it kept raining, and it kept on raining till Sunday morning. I am SO GLAD I decided NOT to go to Fair Hill this year. I had a weekend home! I didn't stay completely dry because I'm trying really hard to get my dogs as fit as possible, so we stayed in Thursday for an "easy" day and did our core workout (ball, beg, etc). Friday we went hiking with my mom and her BC's, an easy 1 hour on-leash hike (except Drifter, who's almost always off leash). Saturday we went to check out an indoor arena, which looks really promising for classes over the winter. SO happy to find one so easily, and the owner used to do a bit of agility herself so knows what's involved! After that we stopped at a different park and did a 20-30 minutes off-lead romp around several large fields. After I got back I braved the wet yard and did a bit of one-jump work in a non-muddy bit with all 3 dogs.

That evening Kiba got up from a nap and was lame. Uh-oh. On flexing it seems to be her left wrist. She is on rest, alternating ice and laser, and on the advice of our PT, mild traction (pulling it gently for 10 seconds) a few times a day. She is definitely weight-bearing 2 days later but still off. ARGH! Why do they always do this before a big event? Last year Drifter pulled his iliopsoas. This year it's Kiba's wrist.

Sunday I took just me and Drifter down to the park and went for a great 2-hour exploratory hike. This park is one I just started exploring a couple weeks ago. I have a rough trail map in my head but it's fun to see new places. Drifter is looking fabulous, nice muscle and he is moving great, nice and easy and energetic the whole time we're out.

Today I took Seri and Drifter and did about an hour's hike, but I tried to walk really briskly. Then when we got back we did a bit of bounce work on jumps in the yard. 4 jumps, set 6', 7', and 8' apart. We worked them both extending and collecting. Drifter was wonderful, didn't touch a bar (all at 26"). Seri hit one or two but got the idea pretty well.

Off to do some traction and then laser Kiba! Then feed, potty, and go to bed and watch the beginning of the Phils playoff game.

13 October 2009

Videos

All are also posted on my youtube account, link to the side of the page.

Drifter's Masters Snooker, nice opening, not so nice bar-knocking.




Kiba's winning Masters Snooker run in 22".



------

And now we are working hard on Drifter actually powering forward and up over the jumps. He didn't hit any tight corners or 180 degree turn bars, but he did hit a few on longer distance straight aways, and I'd also like to increase his speed and confidence. I was a little disappointed that we didn't win Steeplechase despite me pushing hard on Sunday, and I suspect it's the strides Drifter adds in to keep his bars up.

Today's jump grid: distances are approximately 8 and 1/2 feet, 9 and 1/2 feet, and a little over 10 feet, all at 26", starting basically right in front of the first jump:


Kiba's grid, first distance is 8 feet, then 9 and 1/2, just over 10. Notice that they have different striding and jumping styles. Kiba has more front end, Drifter has more rear.
Kiba at 22":

12 October 2009

Keystone USDAA Recap

OK, first USDAA for me since Chicago Regional in early August, first USDAA for Kiba since Keystone Regional back in mid-June.

I'm going to just go chronologically as that is how I remember it.

Saturday started out with Drifter in Masters Jumpers, it was a tough course. He handled very well, tight spacing lots of crosses, but just rolled the 2nd to last bar on a serpentine.

In the other ring I had Seri's Advanced Standard course. She was, um, excited. We've had 2 weekends off but she seemed to think it had been longer. She started out by crashing the 2nd jump, which earned her a "pause" correction (that's my "hey, pay ATTENTION" behavior), followed by a dogwalk where she ran off the end, another pause, 2 jumps to a see-saw flyoff, another pause, then the table. After the table - she was great, including a nice aframe. So half a goofy course, half a great course. OK. I can take it for a 1st run.

Next up was Masters Gamblers. The older dogs have tons of these so just Seri in this one. She was a smidge wild in the opening, broke her stay and got a pause for that, but DID both dogwalks really nicely. Missed 1 out of 2 aframes. Then got the gamble, her first Masters leg.

After that was Masters Standard, Drifter first. This course was YET ANOTHER dogwalk-into-empty-space course. I am seeing these courses all the time lately. Damn good thing I worked on that over the winter before Tryouts. It's getting really aggravating, because the more I see it, the more Drifter wants to come off early towards the next obstacle. Anyways this was a good dogwalk hit but his slightly slow table and wide corner after the DW earned him I think 3rd place. Kiba ran very well, jumping a little flat (hadn't competed at 22" in FOUR months!), hit one bar but got a high but solid 3-stride aframe hit.

Next up was Steeplechase in the other ring. Pretty nice course, no horrible issues. 2 weave poles, and the local viaduct jump was out. Drifter was up first, ran clean. I didn't push and he ended up 3rd, although he was only .2 seconds behind the dog in first. Seri ran next and was fabulous, hit one bar towards the end, had a lovely aframe, and beat Drifter's time by .07! Kiba was last, since they went down from 26", and she was nice and clean too, seeded in 3rd or 4th.

Last was Masters pairs, which only Kiba was entered in. Coming into this trial she needed only 2 Pairs legs and a Super Q for her ADCH, so I figured I'd actually enter those 2 classes. And she and her partner both ran clean and won the class, yay! Nice thing about Kiba is that she just sort of does what I want, all the time. I can push, or not, and she just does it.

So recap for Day 1: Drifter Std and Steeplechase Q, Kiba pairs and Steeplechase, Seri Gamblers and Steeplechase.

Sunday was COLD in the morning, 39 degrees! The grass was wet and didn't dry off very quickly. Which sucked.

First run, Advanced Standard for Seri. I led out doing my usual-for-Seri calming "lie down, liiiiieeeee doooowwwwn" voice, and guess what? Didn't work. Near jump #2 she just got up and ran up to me. She's young. I gave her a 2nd chance, said LIE DOWN in my serious voice and proceeded to continue my lead out. She jumped the 2nd jump. I scooped her up, said my polite "thank you" to the judge, and walked her out. She can't be allowed to do that. At least she doesn't creep, it's WAY easier to be black and white with a dog who stays or goes than with one who creeps.

Next was Masters Standard with Drifter. Remember that wet grass? Well again we had a dogwalk-into-space followed by tight turn to a jump in-your-face. So that requires me to a)run like hell down the dogwalk followed by b) slam on the brakes and pivot for the jump. Well I got a) just fine and when I tried b) I slipped and fell. HARD. At the time I felt fine, popped back up, growled at Drifter because he was sort of shopping obstacles instead of coming back to me, then continued on. His brain was fried though, he came off the table before I released him, didn't "understand" a back-tunnel signal, and came off the seesaw early too. Not a flyoff but not a wait. No bars at least!

Masters Snooker was next, Drifter and Kiba both in this. The 7 was THREE STRAIGHT TUNNELS "stacked" parallel to each other. Fun? maybe. Time-consuming? Definitely. I planned two 7's and a 5 (which was quick single jump). Drifter did my clever opening very, very well, then knocked the 2 at the beginning of the close. Annoying bar but I didn't get too mad.

At this point I to go run Seri in Advanced Snooker in the other ring. I planned a fairly easy, wide open course. It did require a start line stay as I had to lead out a good bit. She stayed like a freakin' rock:) And Q'ed. Lovely run, good weaves, good frame, no bars for a Q.

Back to Masters Snooker with Kiba. Checked the score table, highest scores were still 47-48, nobody had done 3 7's in time (a tight 46 seconds). Stuck with my plan. She was beautiful, rattled a few bars but none came down, she was tight and lovely and got her 49 points in 39.6 seconds, won the class for her last darned Super Q! Yay! Even though I had 6 extra seconds, retrospectively I'm still not sure that would've been enough to go down and hit that 7 one more time. A squiggle of 3 straight tunnels and then weed past them to the 2? Probably more than 6 seconds.

Steeplechase round 2! Somewhat twisty course, some funky spacing beginning and end with a big wide open jump-triple-aframe in the middle. Kiba up first, she was BLASTING and yet still SUPER duper tight on the wraps and front crosses. Won the class! Seri up next, did the opening great after another wonderful stay, then on the wide open section picked up too much "yahoo" and completely smashed her face and front end on the upside of the aframe. Finished the course with just a bar, but I think she hyperextended her right wrist. She is on rest, aspirin, and ice for a few days. She also got paint and a bit of "road rash" on her chin but no bleeding. She is functionally sound. Dork! Drifter ran 2 dogs later (I was breathing hard by now, running 3 dogs in the space of about 5 minutes), and he was good. I pushed hard but still only got 2nd by almost a whole second. Darned younger dog with a bigger jump. Still, for me to be able to push him hard, and he took it well, and left his bars up, that was good. So Kiba 1st in 22", Drifter 2nd in 26", and Seri 5th in 26" for a total of $77. Considering there were 92 dogs entered in Championship steeplechase I was a little disappointed. I think prize money has gone down over the last couple years.

Last class was Masters Jumpers again for Drifter. He knocked #4 when I took off running. I growled at him for it, then pushed him verbally for the rest of the run and got some 1-stride distances from him that made me happy, but overall 3 bars is a bit much for 7 classes, so a little disappointed in that, considering how fit he is getting. I have decided that because of the bar argument that never ends, I am not going back to Tryouts with him. If he doesn't make IFCS team he'll just do 20/22 from now on. I know I waffle about this all the time, and it's still really hard for me to do, but I don't like being mad at him for stupid crap. When he's at the lower height I can PUSH, he is FAST, and we can both come off the course happy all the time. Seri will have to be my FCI dog.

And no, Kiba won't be doing 26". On video I see a slight hesitation now and then at 22", which would only get worse at 26". She looked great though this weekend, once again proving a smidget is just as fast as a normal-sized BC!

ETA: And now today I woke up with an aching swollen right knee, sore right triceps and left forearm from landing on the hard ground. Good news is that we're not trialing next weekend. I do have video of my 2 Masters Snooker runs so the 3-straight-tunnels course will be viewable, probably tomorrow afternoon I'll get it online.

09 October 2009

trial this weekend

Finally back to USDAA this weekend. My last USDAA trial was the North Central Regional, back in early August. Little Kiba hasn't done USDAA since the Keystone Northeast Regional in mid-June! She's been jumping 16", first to get her AKC Nationals Q's (which she did quickly) and then because I didn't want to overwork her while she was on antibiotics. Well she's off them now, has been for over 3 weeks. The dogs have been working especially hard and I feel decently ready for this weekend. First test of Seri's reworked aframe. I expect the first run I'll get a big fat miss on a 2-stride wild thing, which I will pause and correct, and hopefully after that she'll remember to control herself. It's Drifter's first trial back up at 26" since August, however I never really stopped working him at that height so I'm not really that concerned. And our first run is Jumpers so he will have to get used to it quickly.

We also get to see our PT who we last saw at the start of our "work super hard to build muscle" period, so it'll be interesting to see how they held up. Also 2 days after I saw her, Drifter fell off the dogwalk at home. And they've started wearing their Sooper Speshul Ceramic mesh sheets (not really coats, don't make them warm) at night. Anyways, I'm interested to see how they are doing. Drifter's pelvis has not been out of alignment since practice day at Tryouts last May, and he still looks in to me (I can usually see it in his movement).

Overall I think it'll be fun to be back in USDAA. We have a 2010 Steeplechase, but I'm really not too bothered about getting Q's for 2010 until I hear for sure that the Cynosports will be moving. If they don't move, I won't bother spending money qualifying. My dogs all have way more Tournament Q's than titling Q's anyway, so that's not something I need for any titles, and they are expensive. Usually $22-25 per class, double that of a regular class.

Yesterday I went with Sharon on a hike I had planned to be about 1.5 to 2 hours. Well we ended up out for 3 full hours. It was fun but tiring. Which was OK, since the dogs didn't actually do much of anything Wednesday - I had tickets to the Phillies NLDS Playoff game. Which they won. So I was happy to let the dogs get tired out. I don't let them run like wild things when I hike. I hike specifically to build endurance and core and leg muscles, NOT to work on aerobics. So to that end the 2 girls are usually on leash and Drifter is loose, as he simply trots along a little bit in front of us.

Today it's been raining on and off so I will try to work them briefly later this afternoon if it's not too wet. I don't want to do core strength the day before a trial in case they get sore.

06 October 2009

these are a few of my least favorite things. . .

I see a lot of things regarding breeding dogs that bother me. Here's a short list!! I'm presenting this fairly light-heartedly, make of it what you will. I have a very, very strict set of criteria for breeding dogs.

Things that drive me crazy!

1. Breeding very young dogs. No, that OFA Prelim on your 16-month old stud dog does NOT mean you should breed him now!

2. Choosing for colors. The breed ring dogs are almost all black, but for some reason sports people want merles or reds or sables or whatever. Stop it!

3. Pretending health problems don't exist and either choosing to live in ignorance or lying about it.

4. Doing the health test, then breeding anyway with a bad result (especially applies to Pennhip)

5. Claiming all your dogs have perfect structure, but none of them look the same! They can't all be perfect. . .

6. Crazy contracts.

7. Crazy prices!!!! $2000??? Does it drive me to work and give me a massage? For that price it should pick up its own shit!

8. Pretending to be something they're not. If the dog has a HIT or went in a round pen once, you are not breeding working dogs. If your dog's 2nd cousin got its NA with a couple blue ribbons, you are not breeding agility dogs.

9. Using flyball times as the single most important criteria for breeding.

10. Did I mention breeding too young? Because average age of onset for epilepsy is 2.9 years. So. . . do the math. I like a dog over 4, preferably.

11. Anyone whose sole "career" is selling puppies? No thank you.

Oh, and just FYI OFA Prelim reports at 12 months only bear approximately a 39% consistency rate with the final reports at 24 months.



Here's an example of what I DO like to see; honesty. Tell the buyers if the dam's cousin seizes. Explain how close or far genetically it is, and how you chose the stud based on his family's history of NOT throwing epilepsy. Tell the buyers if your dog's pennhip score is mediocre, and then you damn well better show them an OFA report telling them that despite the laxity, the dog does not have dysplasia. And if your dogs have played around on sheep but mostly do agility, don't call yourself a working breeder. Agility is a SPORT. Say the pups may do well in "hobby herding" if you like. And so on.

Min-rant for the day! Off to teach agility this evening, then off to the Phillies/Rockies playoff game on Wednesday afternoon!

04 October 2009

exercise, exercise, and more exercise

That's what my dogs have been doing lately. Now that it's cool enough to hike again, we've been getting to the park 3-5 times a week, and either doing a 40 minutes off leash trot/canter on the wider grassy hilly trails, or a 60-90 minute girls-on-leash walk/trot on the really hilly, full of roots and rocks and streams trail. We also work on our Theraball 3x a week, we've increased our "beg" work to 10-15 seconds, 3-5 reps, 3-5 times a week, PLUS Seri can FINALLY stand up on her back legs from that position without falling over sideways! Progress! We've also been working short jumping sequences or bouncework in the yard a few times a week, aframes for the girls (Seri's getting a lot better, Kiba is still questionable) a few times a week, and courses at the field Tuesdays and sometimes Sat or Sunday. Yes, that IS a lot of stuff! And I can see it paying off! Muscles are growing. They've been increasing exercise pretty strongly since mid-September. That in addition to a good organic probiotic/vitamin supplement, and Glycoflex, and oil, and the ceramic blankets to help their muscles heal quickly. . . well they should be MACHINES by the time Arizona rolls around!

In other news, Drifter continues to have a weird mental block about doing the dogwalk in the backyard. It feels to me like maybe we've just done so many weird training things on that dogwalk, that he's never sure exactly what the hell to do, and it makes him suck back a little bit. That added to his dopey fall off it a couple weeks ago, and the fact that it's a 10" wide board (12" wide is standard in all organizations now), has led to me to just shelf that obstacle at home for now. I took the end ramps off and set up all my jumps and weaves and the frame instead. Gives me a lot more space to work with. Because while mentally I get caught up in "ohmygodmydogwalksbroken", realistically, most of our faults are "a bar". The dogwalk is now a "run in courses at the field only" obstacle for Drifter.

My lower back has been really, really tight and sore the last 10 days or so. I don't think I did anything to it, and it's never a shooting pain like a disc or something, but regardless, it is not fun to wake up and feel like you can't bend over. Last night I took the fluffy matteress pad off the bed and flipped the mattress over. I do feel a bit better this morning, still a bit sore but not quite as locked-up stiff, so we'll see if maybe the pad bunching up and moving around was the problem. Instead, today my neck is locked up. I am a wreck for 27 years old! At least my shoulder tendonitis has been behaving lately!

The final 4-star event was this weekend. Point totals aren't up but I know at least one other dog passed me. It was a dog i knew would pass me, so no surprise there. I'm hoping the other dog I thought might pass me at least didn't get tons of points ahead. Either way, I've got work to do at Nationals.

And if we don't make that team, I've got some work to do in AKC over the winter! I have been doing short sequences at 26" with Kiba in the yard and she's doing alright. She even powers over sometimes, and I don't see any stuttering. When I ran a course at 26" at the field Tuesday she stuttered a bit, but I hadn't done a lot at that height yet so I will continue to work it at home, then maybe do courses at 24" this week, and then the following week try 26" and see if I still get the "holy crap that jump looks big!" behavior from her. While I would not LOVE the idea of jumping her 26", if she can do it without hurting herself, I would maybe at least try to get her Tryouts this year (2010). And I'd only do 26" until she was qualified. We'll see. If she can't do it without stuttering or getting sore, I won't try at all. it's just that she's SO easy to handle and steer, she listens really well, and she tries HARD to avoid knocking bars down (unlike certain DRIFTERs I know). Anyhow, like I said, I'm on a "we'll see how it goes" page for that idea. Seri certainly isn't ready yet. I'm happy she got to Excellent A for now!

28 September 2009

coats?

I got Kiba and Drifter some fancy-pants not-so-cheap Back on Track Mesh Coats. My PT recommends them. They arrived today and they fit just about perfect. Drifter's tail is kept so low I don't bother putting it through the cute little zippered tail hole. They don't seem to keep the dog's skin too warm so I'll be interested to see if they make a difference.

And they will appreciate it, to be sure, if they do help, since my current philosophy is "work their asses off every day!"

Not in agility, no, but muscles. We do theraball core work, sit up and beg for long periods (currently 12-15 seconds at a time) and working on standing up from the beg. Also climing aframes in slow motion from a stand still. And hiking now that it's cooler. Sometimes we hike 5 miles mostly on-leash in a hilly, rocky, root-filled area to work on muscles and core, and sometimes we hike 20 minutes off leash on hills that are less dangerous to work on other muscles and aerobics. We also do short jump drills in the yard 3 times a week, aframe work for the girls to try to get better behaviors about 3-4 times a week, and work courses at the field once a week. We also get to run and do sprinting fun stuff at the field once a week. I want tired sore dogs right now. Because by the time November comes, they will be fit, crazy, agility machines.

I've been popping Kiba over 26" in the yard some more and she's actually powering over it. Wondering if the doxy might have made some minor improvement to her. I might enter a couple AKC at 26" over the winter *if Drifter doesn't make IFCS*. Then I'd have her and Drifter both vying for spots at Tryouts. We'll see. I may hate the way she does it and put her back down to 16 with the other smidget dogs. Poor little Kiba is just *exactly* the wrong size :-(

Speaking of sizes, how goofy is it that all dogs 17" tall and up have to jump 26" in FCI? Yet they have TWO divisions of small dogs? I mean really, why is it so wrong to have 2 height classes with border collies in them? it's a SPORT not a BREED SHOW! I'd rather see them do a 10-15-21-26 or something like that, to REALLY spread out the heights. Man, Kiba would just ROCK 18" if she was one single inch shorter!!



Could she jump 26?


24 September 2009

trial, frames

So I'm online so much lately with the blackberry and laptop that sometimes I forget to post on here. This is more of a musings and training journal than anything. I almost had video the other weekend but forgot to charge my battery. I do think one of Kiba's runs is on there.

Sunday went "OK" last weekend. No Q's with my mom's dogs. We had a pretty tough Exc JWW course that involved a bunch of front crosses, a long serpentine across the ring, and a 270. Drifter just nailed it, it IS super nice running him at 20" and not needing to worry about giving him lots of space to judge takeoff on every jump. I can handle him pretty aggressively. I am not sure whether or not i'd like to do Tryouts again with him or not, if I don't make the IFCS team. I would love to just make that team, make that our one European "Hurrah" and then let him do 20/22. But if we don't make the team, I'd like to be able to give FCI one more shot. He's still really sound and doing well. And while 26 is certainly harder for him, that is true of every dog to some degree. Is it harder for him than some dogs? Yes, I'm sure. But it's not as hard for him as it is for others. So we'll see. I am entering a few at 26" since as of right now I don't know if I'll make IFCS or not.

Anyhow to finish the beginning of that thought, he nailed that JWW but then had several brain farts in standard so didn't double Q. (broke his stay, jumped on/off the table, then popped his weaves on a slightly early front cross - I walked out at that point, 3 strikes of goofiness is just enough)

The last 2 weeks I've been working on the girls' aframes in the yard. I'm trying to get Seri's more consistent, and giving Kiba one more shot at a running frame. They're actually doing pretty well. I'm starting to see some consistency from Seri, and with the core strength work we've been doing she is showing a bit of improvement in body control over the apex. Kiba is doing well at not popping off ("popcorn dog" I call her!). I've just been using a jump about 10-12' following the frame to get them to focus forward, along with a pvc bar placed on whatever slat I'm using to help each particular dog control their striding. It's not always in the same place. Sometimes I have it up high to work on Kiba's stride over the top being longer, sometimes it's down low in the spot where Seri lands when she 2-strides so I can discourage that. sometimes with Seri it's on the UP ramp near the top to back her off so she doesn't get so close that she shaves chest hair off! I don't ever actually "train" them to step over the stride regulator - in fact I don't really use it to "train" them to "regulate" their stride. I use it to "encourage" them to shift their behavior slightly, and I never leave it in the same spot more than 5-1o reps before moving it again. I like to get rid of it as soon as possible and I try to use the jump to focus them forward. I've found that once they can stop thinking about what they're doing and just thoughtlessly drive down and forward, while balancing for something else and taking cues from me, it all usually comes together just fine.

It's pretty warm today, after a stretch of very autumnal weather. I'd just been starting to take them to the park again but it's too warm today so maybe tomorrow. No trial this weekend.

19 September 2009

DVGSD day 1

My father went to the hospital for 2 and 1/2 days this past week. If you don't know me real well, you probably don't know, but he's been living at home for a while now with a bad liver. He's on the transplant list but his levels aren't *quite* low enough to get a new liver yet in our (very populated) area. Well this week his kidney levels had dropped so the doc called and wanted him brought in for supervision. So even though he's home already, my mother stayed home to keep an eye on him and I showed Schiz and Singe for her today (Trig's in heat).

Last night Drifter fell off the dogwalk in the backyard. It was the stupidest thing. He was walking slowly, I was walking next to him, and he turned his head and looked at me, lost his footing in the rear, and just went kaflump right over the side. Of course then his striding was off because he was a little worried. I gave him a bit of aspirin last night and this morning just in case, but he ran just fine, won Standard moving at 5.14YPS (thanks to our faster table, YAY for Drifter suddenly deciding to love cookies!), and probably won JWW but I didn't check before I left. That's double Q number 16, I'm happy we're finally closing in on MACH, we should actually have it before AKC Nationals this year. I would feel kind of silly running my 7-year old super-talented dog with no MACH title still (most Nationals dogs have MACH's already!). Kiba's on 13 but she's younger so I'm not as bothered.
Seri was running at 26" now, in Excellent A. She ran the course great in both runs except she is just not looking where she's going and judging her jumps. Bar-knocking fool. Screaming and all.
Singe was pretty good, almost got around Standard for me but popped her weaves at pole 4 which is just weird. Knocked a couple bars in jumpers.
Schiz hit one bar in jumpers and then qualified but spent so long barking at me on the table that she only got THREE points for time - she was over 67 seconds!!

I also wanted to mention that after much hemming and hawing and stubborness, I have decided that I am willing to part with Drake. He is currently living with someone who was on the list for a puppy if we repeated the breeding. She's had him for about a week, and if she likes working with him and he continues to get along in her house, then she will keep him and i will sign him over. This really simplifies my life, having 3 dogs who are already mostly trained. I am sad to see him go, he was a real lover-boy of a dog in the house, but he really needs someone to spend a lot of time with him and lay down a good foundation. Now my tentative plan will be to wait until Drifter's ready to retire from heavy work (he turns 7 on Friday the 25th!), and breed Seri to keep a pup. I'm estimating that I will do this around 2011-2012. Preferably 2012. Not sure who I'd breed her to, and of course it would depend on her breeder/co-owner at least not nay-saying (she and I may have differing opinions). Right now I'm thinking of just putting her and Drifter together. Her neck would complement him, and while neither has the perfect shoulder layback, neither is bad. But he has great body control, strength, and awareness, and she just really doesn't. He also is a nice solid size, she's a giraffe, and their temperaments would mesh well I think. Anyways it's a thought, I also have my eye on some other dogs I might like. I've got time, now. I do hope that the woman keeps Drake, she's a great home, she's very nice and is a good trainer.

18 September 2009

still waiting

I didn't trial last weekend. This weekend I have a local (1 hour away) akc trial. Drifter is entered at 20" for the last time so I am going to try to just get more QQ's towards his MACH. He's finally up to 15 so only 5 more to go.

I've started whipping them all into shape. They saw Ria yesterday and all were a little tight above the shoulders, possibly fron running full tilt around the field. Drifter's pelvis has been in for 6+ months now without any slipping and his iliopsoas remains strong and flexible.

There is only one event left in the IFCS point collection before AZ. As of today I am stillhanging onto 2nd place. There are a couple other dogs with 1 event left who can pass my total. 1 of them I fully expect to pass me, as she's only 16 points back. The next is 19 so she may also pass me but I'm pretty sure I can get more points in AZ than that dog so if I'm in 4th by 10 points I may be ok. Other dogs still with an event to go are 30+ points back so even if they have a fab weekend they won't pass me by much. I'm happy to see 6 or 7 dogs in my height who must all be planning to attend this final event - the more to spread points out, the better for me! Especially considering that this final trial had the potential to be *tiny* based on its location.

07 September 2009

Nationals and Teams

I had a decent weekend. Drifter went 3 for 4, smacking the panel jump in standard on Saturday. Sunday he got the 6th and final Double Q he needed for AKC Nationals 2010. This means over 2 weekends, in 10 runs he qualified 9 times. 90% Q rate for 2 weekends is just fabulous, I guess he's really loving 20". Sorry to say he's not staying there for long. I withdrew from an AKC trial in early October as I don't want him doing too much 20" before we head out to Arizona for USDAA Nationals.

Also I'm not liking the way the IFCS point system is going to end up. I may still win my way on, but I'll have to do it at Nationals. I have already begun my ramping up of Drifter's fitness program. What I don't like is this; you earn points at 4-star and Regional events. OK. But you earn them up to 9th place (in my height) no matter how big the event is. Got 15 dogs in your height? Just don't be the lower 6 dogs and you get points. Got 60 dogs in your height? Well you better kick ass then. So say it's Snooker. You're at a 4-star with 15 dogs in your height. You get 40 points. Yay you got 8th place for 2 points! Now you're at a big Regional. You get 40 points. Sorry, that's 28th place. How is that fair? It's not. And I can't jet set around the country going where I please because I still have a job and I already stretch my vacation hours by doing what I do.

Sad to say, but I would rather have a system like AKC, where you qualify to try out locally, then everyone is compared against each other at 2 large events where everyone is head to head and you all run the same courses. (Those being AKC Nationals and World Team Tryouts). I would rather USDAA just do this. Qualify by, say, collecting at least XX number of points placing at Regionals, then attend Nationals and win your way on, and then hell, have a Tryouts! Tryouts are EXCITING and people like to watch them. It's fair.

On that note as well, I am hoping to maybe try to plan to hit Tryouts again as a contingency plan. I'd have to feel really secure in his jumping at 26" though, as we'd have to do AKC Nationals at that height. We will see. I don't like local courses at 26", but the Nationals courses weren't too scrunchy and he did fine at 24 out there, even went clean in the ISC at 26 on Friday (well I smashed a jump standard but HE didn't hit any bars)

03 September 2009

plans

I'm hoping Drifter gets his final double Q this weekend so I can move on mentally and really focus on preparing for AZ. I've got my schedule set now, assuming we don't need to enter an AKC trial in October last-minute (and that I can withdraw from the one I'm currently entered in). Then I can do 2 USDAA shows in October in order to prepare. I know it sounds like forever, but USDAA Nationals (Cynosport Games, whatever) are only about 10 weeks away. I have to finish planning my long lonely drive out (yes, alone!). But more than anything I need to get Drifter completely OVER prepared, including fitness, jumping skills, handling, contacts, weaves, everything. I want to so much more ready than we were for AKC Tryouts. I was ready for those, i want the next step up this time. With 2 extra IFCS-point gathering classes, there's 72 points for the taking (usually there's a potential 54) so there is a bit of room to overtake top people IF and only IF we can place high a lot. He's fast enough that he will if he stays clean. Especially at 26", there are very few dogs who can run with him. I want him ready to push.

Aside from that I've been proofing Seri's dogwalk and working on her bars. Kiba seems a little less heat tolerant on the antibiotics so I've been keeping her work sessions short. Once she's off the meds in 10 days I will start ramping up her fitness level and get her back up to jumping 22" again. She's not in the running for IFCS but I'd love to get her into one of the Final rounds this year. She's definitely fast enough.


Also I have been thinking; if I DON'T make the IFCS Team, I may go to a few trials where I know the footing is good and see if we can get some Q's towards Tryouts at 26". We'll see. Depends on where we are, how he looks, how he's holding up, if I can afford the trials, etc. I did think about doing the ISC classes in NC in January, and then entering the ones at Nationals at 26" as well, and maybe we'd win one of those and get invited. Or actually if I remember right, if you place top 3 at Nationals in 26" you get invited? That would be cool. I could do that. We'll see. This whole thing is just a "what if" that I was thinking of. After the 2 bad weekends in MD in July, I was very depressed about the whole thing. But I have to keep in mind that the footing is very bad down there, worse than Tryouts, and that some of the spacing was pretty tight (even though the rings are average size). I will wait till AZ is over and done. If I make the IFCS team it's not even something to think about. I can just go to England and be happy. Then let him jump 20/22 afterwards and focus on Seri. I was originally hoping Seri might get Q'ed for Tryouts for next spring, but she's still being goofy a lot so she won't be ready yet. Maybe for spring 2011. Hopefully.

30 August 2009

Berks recap

3 days of AKC. Relatively small trial, all 4-16" walked together and they almost couldve walked all 20-26" but there were just a few too many.

Drifter was jumping 20" and he was just fabulous. His stays are getting a little worse but that's not a big deal. He was lovely in every run and was 6 for 6 for 3 double-Q's. So he entered the weekend needing 4 for Nationals and now only needs 1 more.

Kiba went 5 for 6 with 1 knocked bar, so she got the last 2 doubles that she needed for Nationals. Nice to be done after only 5 shows!

Seri was pretty wild. As usual her handling is fine, a little wide here and there but no off courses. Weaves were great. But she's getting sloppy with her bars and keeps running off the dogwalk. I am going to stop running her at all, even in training, until she can stop reliably in the ring.

Anyway, feeling good about not needing to enter tons more AKC, which means I can concentrate on USDAA for October to prepare for those Nationals: very important for Drifter for IFCS.

29 August 2009

Berks Day 2

Drifter double-Qed again today so he's now got 4 for the year. Didn't see any of the weird takeoff choices today so I assume that was just an adjustment to the lower height thing. His table was slow so he only got 4th in standard. Kiba won std (2 second faster than Drifter but she's at 16) but then she had a weird misstep in JWW and crashed a bar. No big deal since its so unusual for her. Seri was a wild thing. She is getting overobsessive outside the ring, pulling, refusing to look at me, etc. If only akc would let me use a head halter! Annoying! Regardless, she almost Qed in each class, one bar late in JWW and a big goofy flyoff in standard. Oh well. She's also sort of mixing her 2 dogwalk criterias but I think that will sort out.

28 August 2009

Surely not

Am I the only one who thinks it's really weird that it's common practice in agility circles to buy border collie puppies from breeders who don't actually do anything with their dogs?

Not saying everyone does this, but it's a popular thing. Lots of breeders selling lots of pups to agility homes, but the parents either don't do agility (or anything, really), or are bad at it. Why would I want a puppy from parents who sit in the house/kennel/crate all day and never proved themselves? How do I know they have the right mind for agility? This is a sport that requires just the right kind of mind in a dog, not just a pretty body. And while I think there are lots of different types of mindsets that can be successful in agility (soft, hard-headed, careful, crazy, etc), there are others that just never quite make it. If the parents don't do something that requires speed AND brains (not flyball, thank-you-very-much, that's a great side-sport but tells me nothing of the dog's ability to learn and make decisions at speed taking the handler into account) then I'm not interested. I will consider working (sheep-working) dogs if I think they have the "want to" for agility (some don't but can still be great sheepdogs).

Idle thought on an afternoon off. I had an Excellent-only trial today, it started at noon and I was done by 2:45pm! Both dogs double-Q'ed, so I'm getting closer to being done for Nationals. Kiba got #5 so she only needs 1 more, which is great cuz I didn't enter her in all the trials to save some cash. Drifter got #3 so he's halfway. He loved jumping 20 although I did see him make some odd takeoff decisions. Unless it continues I will attribute that to him being used to 26.

26 August 2009

waiting

So now that I've completed my 4 4-star events, I have to wait while the last ones occur and everyone else who's trying for the team collects what points they can. Already I'm a bit worried. 3 of the 4 remaining events are relatively small, meaning dogs who go to several of them could potentially garner points with faulted runs. At the same time I am feeling bad that I "wasted" a few points by correcting knocked bars up at the Riverside trial. If I had pushed harder I couldve probably gained an extra 5-8 points and that could be all we miss it by when all is said and done. So instead I am hoping that lots of competitive 26's go compete at these events and spread the points out a lot. I am also going to up the fitness and jump training in preparation for Nationals as that will be my chance to regain points over dogs who commonly have faults or aren't quite as fast.

23 August 2009

Aussie Show Line BC's, a whole 'nother breed?

This is from a research project doing an extensive study regarding noise phobia and other genetic issues in border collies and a few other breeds. The study can be found here, I have simply copy+pasted some of it for the side information it found. So to repeat, this is NOT my work!


The following is verbatim from their website:

"Unrooted phylogenetic network constructed by Bayesian analysis, based on 4200 SNPs spread evenly across the canine genome. Blue = German Shepherd Dogs, purple = Portuguese Water Dogs, green = Australian Shepherds, pink = show Border Collies, red = working Border Collies.

To conduct proper studies of association between genes and behavior, we must first check for "stratification" (population substructure) within our breed samples. This is a question of immediate concern in breeds that are "split," or contain subpopulations that are bred for very different purposes. If we do not account for such structure before conducting association analyses, it is possible to obtain spurious associations between genotypes and behavior that reflect breed splits (such as show vs. working) rather than actual functional significance.

We included a small number of kennel club registered show Border Collies (primarily of Australasian breeding) in our Border Collie sample for genotyping, the remainder of which was made up of ISDS and ABCA (working registries) registered dogs. Our phylogenetic, clustering, and principal components analyses all suggest a genetic split within the breed between working and show Border Collies that is probably as large as the genetic distances between some breeds. We hope to collect samples from more geographical regions, and from different populations of Border Collies (working, show, and sport), to further explore these findings."

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So essentially in order to make sure a split within the breed did not skew their study, they listed dogs of OZ/Show descent separately to see if the genetics were different, and they most certainly were.

If you didn't know, the kennel club in Australia has been registering and showing border collies in the breed ring since the 40's and 50's, setting an official national standard around 1963. Sometime during that period, the stud books were closed. There was therefore some inbreeding and linebreeding taking place, and much showring showing. 60+ years is a long time to keep a breed separate; many breeds have been formed in much less time. So it should come as no surprise that the stockier, fluffier, loose-eyed broad-headed border collies from the show ring are not completely similar genetically to the rangey, all-kinds-of-coated, hard-eyed, narrow-headed dogs that still work sheep for a living worldwide.

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ALL information from the study should be considered copyrighted and is owned by the Canine Behavioral Genetics study. For more information please visit their website.


P.S. - this doesn't mean I *hate* show border collies. I know some nice ones. They aren't my cup of tea though. I like the weird personalities and structure and other things inherent in dogs from working lines, even though YES technically my dogs aren't "working dogs" anymore. I know that.

15 August 2009

dogs bikes and vampires

Currently Drifter is in 1st place for 26" IFCS point collection. Now there's 4 or so events left to go, so a few competitive may come up and pass us, but it feels good to be up there for now. Also we all have to compete against each other (and everybody else!) at Nationals in AZ in November. Should make Nationals interesting!

I am off this weekend and the next before doing a 3-day local AKC the last weekend of August. This will be my first all low-height trial; Drifter's at 20", Kiba at 16", and even Seri at 20" to help get her out of Open and Exc A as quick as possible.

Drifter only has 2 double Q's towards AKC Nationals, but hopefully jumping 20" should eliminate 90% of our faults (one bar!) and we should collect them pretty quickly from here on out. Kiba already has 4 double Q's and only needs 2 more. I'm hoping she gets them in the next 2 trials over 5 days of trialing. Her overall 2Q rate is about 50% so she is perfectly capable of doing so. Really, at 20", Drifter should be too.
Seri has 2 legs in each class of Open, so should be up into Exc A pretty soon at least. The next 2 trials she's still entered at 20", then we have a weekend off, and after that she's back up at 26" just in case I can push to get her Q'ed for Tryouts. We'll see on that one. She was a goofus last weekend. Been reminding her about dogwalks, she was coming off early, blending "run" with "stop" and coming up with "slow down and then leap off the side". Not the right equation, sorry! So I've been emphasizing the stop a lot, as that's what we'll use in 95% of our runs. it's a fast stop, no creepy creepy or anything.

I bought a mountain bike yesterday, couldn't go crazy but got a Specialized Hardock. It's really nice, and tomorrow Sharon and I are going out on a trail (former railroad). She's sore from trialing and I don't have all my bicycle muscles yet, so we'll take it easy. Should be fun though!
I even got the weird bike shorts with padding for your butt bones! Weird!

Also I have been really loving the BBC series "Being Human", about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost sharing a place in Bristol. All trying to be as human as possible. It's interesting and fun. And then today I found an On Demand anime series I liked called Darker Than Black. Always happy to find new stuff to watch, although Being Human is still running weekly and not on DVD here in the US yet, and Darker than Black is out on DVD, but not in a box and I'm not buying 6 DVD's individually at $17 when boxes are usually $50 or so (On Demand only had 5 episodes).

11 August 2009

Chicago/North Central Regional

Drifter had a pretty good weekend. I stayed positive with him and we collected 33 points towards IFCS. This places us temporarily in 1st place. There are a few dogs who are still in contention and almost certain to pass us, who haven't completed the 4 eve3nts yet. Then everyone competes against each other at Nationals.

We ran 9 classes.
Friday: Masters Standard - 1st and Q
Team Standard, 2nd by .01 of a second.
Team Gamblers - I put one closing jump in the opening, and wouldn't you know he knocked it, so we didn't place. If he had left it up, we would have been 2nd assuming we did the closing OK.
So day 1 = 8 points

Saturday
Team Jumpers - he had a fabulous run but I can't push him so 7th place. 3 points.
Team Snooker - I had time to do 3 7's but wasn't sure of that during planning so I did a 6 and 2 7's, still got 4th place. 6 points.
Steeplechase Rd 1 - this judge's courses all had some tight spacing and interesting angles that made it tough for big dogs. This course he handled well but hit a jump on a weird angle/space after the broad jump. Round 1 though, so we still got into Rd 2 no problem. Fastest 26" time that I saw.
GP Round 1. Nice open course. Ran full speed flawlessly and didn't let up. 1st place for 9 points.
So day 2 = 18 points for 26 so far.

Sunday Team Relay he was a butthead waiting to go (last) but once I released him he was perfect again.
Steeplechase Round 2; another tough course, although not tightly spaced. Great except he stepped on the last board of the broad jump pretty badly, also making his landing afterward kind of funky. However only 2 dogs were clean so he still got 3rd. 7 points. which made 33 for the weekend, 118 overall for our 4 events. Now we're done collecting till Nationals.

Some of Drifter's runs can be seen here, thanks to Dudley and Greg.
(Team Jumpers, Masters Standard, Steeplechase Rd 1, Steeplechase Rd 2)

Seri was a wild lulu monkey all weekend, knocking bars, leaping off dogwalks, and generally being a goof. However she didn't ONCE go off course, so that's something I guess. She made me re-assess whether it's the right decision to take her along to AZ for Nationals, but honestly she's not usually just a wild animal so I guess I'll drag her along. She will be in quarterfinals for everything, but what the hell, who knows what might happen.

02 August 2009

yesterday and today

Yesterday I was not feeling motivated, and totally enjoyed my day of lazy fun. DJ made breakfast, we watched all 5 Torchwood: Children of Earth episodes (a little over 6 hours!), then went down to Philly to see a concert. DJ loves country and I don't mind it, so we saw Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. It was a lot of fun, they both did quite a few songs and Keith ran around the floor (where we were) several times and even stood in the middle of the audience for a song. Didn't get done till after 11, which meant it took till about midnight to escape the sports complex (we were at the Wachovia Center, but Billy Joel and Elton John were playing the ball park across the street!). So we got home right at 1am.

Because I was feeling lazy, I did no packing or training yesterday. I did let the dogs out to run early in the morning when I got up, but figured I'd train Sunday (today) or Monday. Well today I woke up and it's STORMING and pouring rain. Well. That's just offensive. I need to clean out the van in preparation for the trip to IL coming up this week as well. So I started laundry and can do my indoor packing, but hopefully it will let up sometime this afternoon so I can do my outside chore and let the dogs out again. I can do some jumping exercises even in a half-hour break in the backyard, don't need several hours.

After the van's cleaned out we need to go drop it off at the garage so it can get its oil changed and a new set of tires all around, probably going to be a $700 event. It needs tires really badly though. Driving it in storms like we are currently experiencing can be a white-knuckle experience right now, as it hydroplanes really easily in standing water. So new tires for the trip.

01 August 2009

Something you may or may not know about me

I can be very obsessive. When I decide I want to buy something, I research it. Thoroughly. And as I research (online) I usually start upgrading what I want to buy. So I'm having fun with this mountain bike idea. I really enjoyed riding my bike as a kid, and also have a blast when I ride the dorky folding bike out at Cynosport in AZ. Combined with my at least mostly-retained sense of balance and skill set from riding horses cross country also as a teen, and I'm really looking forward to riding my future mountain bike on the trail. I have access to several off-road hiking/biking trails, along with the easier more relaxed bike/walking trail that travels 40 or so miles from here to Philly, which would be cool as well.

Now I'm not looking to race, but I AM looking for a bike that will fit me (comes in a small size), stand up to the test of me off-roading on it, look good, and last a while.

Also my birthday is September 1st so I got DJ and my mom to promise to kick in some cash to help out, thanks guys!
So here's the bikes I will be looking at when I get back from the Regional in IL next week:
Gary Fisher Marlin (black) and Marlin GS (available for $650 locally)
Trek 4500 (probably white) and 4500 WSD (locally $630)
Specialized Rockhopper base and Myka HT Comp ($640)

Each pair listed is a men's and a women's version which have pretty much the same components, not sure which will fit me, will have to ride them first.

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Agility wise, I tried not to overdo it this week as I wanted to make sure they had recovered from running on the slick floor last weekend. I need to clean out the car, train, and pack this weekend. Since I had "away" trials the last 3 weekends I am not really finding myself that motivated this morning to go out yet, so I may train tomorrow if the weather permits, or even Monday. Tuesday I am going out to see Ria, then have class, and Wednesday we are leaving in the afternoon.

31 July 2009

bikes

looking at mountain bikes as a way to keep myself in shape and have some fun on the trails when it's too hot or too many ticks for the dogs to go hiking.

My birthday is only a month away, so DJ and my mom may help me buy a good durable off-roader like this one that I love in Satin Bronze.

28 July 2009

Corgi Club brief recap

This was another akc trial at the same slick surfaced indoor as last weekend. I had the same dogs including Schiz.

I went into this trial withe decision to move Drifter to 20" in AKC firmly in mind. So this was to be his last 26" akc trial, and I tried to be more positive with him and even got him doing tricks for treats while waiting behind spectator chairs (lots of "lie down"!). He did hit a random bar in each run Saturday although aside from that he was great. Sunday he finally had a great clean run, smoked the standard course AND went down *immediately* on the table! I wasn't that worked up about getting a double though because the upper ring seemed extra slick that day, but even though he didn't Q in jww, he didn't knock any bars either. He ran around 2 jumps and slid into the 3rd weave pole! I think he was trying to adapt by not sliding and it made him go wider. That's better than knocking bars; I can work with wide.

Kiba popped off the table Saturday. Sunday she double Qed for her 4th of the year, which means she's at 10 total, half a MACH and only 1 behind Drifter. She likes 16"! She slid a lot in jww Sunday but was able to keep the bars up. She is now going to enjoy 4 weeks of vacation from agility while she finishes her aggressive course of doxy to battle the Lyme.

Schiz came very close to a 2Q on Saturday but missed her frame in std. She had an awesome 6.23YPS jww run that was the fastest time of all dogs and got us a lot of complements. Sunday she was whacko and went off course but at least did a great dogwalk.

Seri continued to cooperate in my quest to get into excellent by Qing in every single class. So she now has 2 legs in each class of open. I'm starting to be hopeful that we can actually get qualified for Tryouts! (Which we would then attend if Drifter doesn't make IFCS)