30 June 2009

A perfect example of why your eyes can't be trusted

And why you can never trust a running handler who "saw" their dog's feet in the yellow! Your eyes will do whatever they please sometimes, including changing colors on you.

There is no "blue" spiral.

29 June 2009

Drifter Baby Debut!

The pup my mom kept from the Singe/Drifter litter, Trig, made her debut this past weekend in AKC. She is 17 months old, and qualified 4 for 4, although she had a few minor mistakes.

Saturday Novice Std - Trig's first run EVER!
Saturday Trig JWW

Weekend

Well with no trial till July 10th, I just don't have much to write about. I try to keep this blog at least vaguely focused on agility, anyhow.

last Friday i went to NJ and taught two workshops on handling, which I thought went pretty well. It was a pretty diverse group of dogs, with only 3 border collies out of both groups of 8 each. Several dobermans and several german shephereds, but not drag-around agility-hating ones, so that was cool. We have some really nice GSD's in this area, I must say.

So I was back by Friday night, and my feet were tired, so Saturday I did some brief work with the dogs in the yard and then settled in to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special from last December. It was awesomely clever and funny, as usual.

Sunday we went to see Transformers 2 in Imax, which was great. I looove watching good movies in Imax, it is really so much greater than a regular screen. Loved the movie, loved the nods to the Transformers show and movie of old. Great humor in that it wasn't really geared towards today's kids, but towards younger adults like myself who grew up with Transformers but are now looking for a slick funny action flick.

Today I took the dogs swimming after DJ and I spent about an hour chipping down the trim piece at the bottom of the casement window in the kitchen so that the new air conditioner would fit. Yesterday afternoon our 9 year old unit started making a bizarre rattling noise that I couldn't get to stop no matter what I did. Now we have a remote! Exciting!

This week is pretty normal; class Tues/Wed, swim the dogs again Thurs, then I have off Friday for July 4th (even though Friday is the 3rd). I need to call the vet to get Kiba's rabies vacc and heartworm/lyme snap test. I also need to get new tires for the van before we drive out to Chicago in August, but I'm putting that off because it's probably going to be $600+ for a set that can do pouring rain at highway speeds, which is what I want. Good thing I had a seminar!

ETA: OMG YOU CAN NOW GET DESIGNER SNUGGIES WITH LEOPARD PRINT! AWESOME!
(only, sadly, Billy Mays will never try to sell me another item. Goodbye Billy, I always thought you were the best shouting-infomercial-hawker there was!)


And because I like pictures, here's a picture from summer 2006 of Drifter playing with baby Seri. Don't worry, nobody got hurt:-)

25 June 2009

Today I'm getting ready to head over to NJ to teach 2 workshops tomorrow. This will help pay for my planned 3 trials in July. Right now I'm just hanging around, doing laundry, touching up seminar plans, and debating whether to take the dogs to the park. I probably will once I change the laundry over - it is warm and humid today, getting up around 90.

Yesterday while training Drifter landed from a bar and took a few steps of limping with his right rear leg. I immediately stopped him and checked him over, but it was gone that quick. I'm hoping he just stubbed his toe, and I'm watching him like a hawk. I'm also debating who to take with me to the seminar. i haven't done much seminar/all day teaching work with unfamiliar students in the last few years, and having several dogs who are fully competent available to me is sort of a new thing.

There was another 4-star USDAA out in Utah, and Drifter dropped to 5th in the standings. Everybody else above him has either the same or more events (2) as we do. I will do my best to run "seriously" up in MA in a couple weeks, but more than anything I want to continue the trend of being able to run him "like I mean it" and not babying anything. Because if we don't make top 3 and go to IFCS, I darned well plan to go to AKC Tryouts and MAKE IT this time.

22 June 2009

Doctor Who?

I know most of you who bother to read this are agility people, but too bad. I'm so excited about this!
The 2008 Doctor Who Christmas Special is finally going to broadcast here in the states! This Saturday at 9 on BBC America! Woohoo!

AND AND AND:
July 20th we get BBC America HD just in time for Torchwood Children of Earth! AND the 2nd Doctor Who special.

I know, my geek is showing, and I don't care. I am so happy we finally get to see these. They broadcast in the UK back in December and then Easter time, so it took them long enough. (Doctor Who I mean, Torchwood is new to everybody in July, we are only about a week or two behind on that one)

now to watch Transformers in Blu-ray on the PS3. Which pretty much proves my geekdom.

20 June 2009

Rain!

This is some kind of weird June here in the Northeast. It's been 70's and rainy/stormy on and off all month. Today it's about 75F and RAINING again. No storms so far at least, but it's really just pouring buckets outside. I had the forethought to get the dogs out for a brief run in the yard this morning, but it was more of a "run off the excess energy" sort of thing than it was a "build/maintain muscletone" sort of thing. So we're kind of stuck in that department. I did plan to give them a bit off from serious agility work anyway, since May/early June were tough months. Kiba actually doesn't have to jump the "big-for-her" 22" jumps again till I get ready for USDAA Nationals. She's entered in a few AKC trials in July at 16", I'm really crossing my fingers to get some doubleQ's. With my decision to travel to MA and IL for IFCS points with Drifter, it's going to limit how many AKC trials I can attend, so I'm hoping all the work I've put in over the winter will help her and Drifter get their qualifications rather quicker than last year.


Because I am a geek, I've spent an inordinate amount of time searching the web looking for relatives to my dogs. Drifter's father "Ned" was actually imported from Scotland as an adult working dog. Before he was imported, he sired at least one litter of pups over there, and one of those pups is doing agility, and she's been bred and has pups who are also doing agility. Anyway, I think Drifter resembles his father much more than his mother, and I'd be interested to meet relatives if I went over to the UK for the IFCS competition. How interesting would that be? Fly across an ocean to compete against Drifter's own sibling or niece! I dont think they'd be competing, but it's an odd thought nonetheless.

Here's Drifter, in the yard. He's my resident "flat dog" when other dogs play fetch. I especially think his profile and head shape are like his dad's.



Here's a small picture of his father winning some high-points award from a regional working club. (I think it was only Pro-Novice; I heard he never really adapted to whatever sheep we have in our area). He's the one on the right, the red smooth. Note the head shape?
Here's Ned working. Bad scan, sorry.

19 June 2009

Geography lesson, and some geekdom

So I mapped Clevedon to see where the heck in the UK the IFCS event is being held. it looks a little over 100 miles west of London, not far from Bristol. (I've never been to the UK, so pardon my complete lack of knowledge!). But more exciting, it's RIGHT across the bay from Cardiff, where they film Torchwood and a lot of Doctor Who! Yes, I'm a geek, I love those shows. I would love to take part of a day to drive over and see the great theatre and other landmarks seen in the shows. No, I don't expect to run into them filming, but just seeing some of the "familiar" landmarks from a favorite show filmed in a different country would be really, really, cool for me. Especially shows I enjoy so much but that are not so popular or easy to find fans of over here. Heck, we still haven't seen the latest 2 specials yet! (so mad about that! come ON already!).

OK geekdom over for now.

18 June 2009

AKC Tryouts rules still say you can't compete in "conflicting" international events and says to check FCI Rules to see which are conflicting, which obviously doesn't include the EO even though that's a non-pedigree event. However I've been searching actual FCI Rules and can't find anything of the sort. Ideas? I don't think FCI has barred anyone, but knowing AKC they wouldn't take the chance.


Anyone know the actual passage in FCI that lists the "conflicting events"? I had the impression it was originally a rule trying to keep the IFCS from becoming too big and drawing people away, but I don't see why Europeans couldn't attend both when they are months apart.

oh, and one more thing!

Just because one judge calls more contacts than another does NOT mean he is a worse judge. In my experience the average judge leans toward leniency, and I am much more often surprised by the fact that they didn't call a contact than I am that they did.

Plenty of people have made comments lately about judges being unable to judge running contacts because they are so fast and rare. I've got news; Drifter's been competing with running contacts since early 2004 and aside from a few minor issues with AKC judges early on, most judges have been able to judge him just fine. Yes there's always that one judge who hasn't caught on, but 98% or more are fine, and won't call it if they do fail to spot it. Contrary to popular belief, judges are NOT out there hoping to fault you. They are doing their damnedest to keep a level playing field.
I do NOT feel that handlers, who are running, giving commands, turning, glancing around all at once, can see contacts very well. I have watched MANY runs where a contact is called, and the handler storms about claiming their dog had several feet in the yellow, meanwhile I witnessed the dog jump right over it.

So the moral of my diatribe is that the judge is staring at the contact and getting paid to do so, so trust them to do their job. Judge-bashing is not something I take kindly to, and I honestly don't believe judging calls like contacts should be changeable once the dog has left the ring.

odds and ends

Forgot to mention that I finished up Harry Potter audiobook #7 the other day. I basically blew through all 7 books on cd in about 10 weeks - started the first one on my way to AKC Nationals back at the end of March. So, if anybody's got any good suggestions I'm listening. I like the individual Dean Koont and Stephen King types, but I'm more inclined to enjoy an addictive series.

Also, while I'm not 100% sure IFCS is my preferred international venue, sitting in 3rd makes it easy to think about making the team. I think the biggest thing I'd have to get past is accepting that Drifter would never compete in FCI. However, I think Seri would be ready for Tryouts in spring 2011 easily, so I would be giving up that competition with one dog but trying soon with another. And England does sound like fun, more fun than Slovenia. I would love to visit the UK, that's top of my list!

So maybe it will be Drifter at IFCS 2010, then put him at 22 for the rest of his career, and take Seri to FCI Tryouts 2011.

17 June 2009

Current 26" IFCS Point Standings

Not the whole list, but the bit that matters:

Soda, Jen Pinder: 77 points after 3 events
Maverick, Dudley Fontaine: 76 points after 2 events
Drifter, myself: 59 points after 2 events

Soda has been to one small 4-star and 2 large Regionals. Maverick has done one small 4-star and one large Regional.
Drifter has done 2 large Regionals. So adding a small 4-star event in July may actually boost us temporarily into 1st.
(because smaller 4-star's have less dogs, but award the same exact amount of points for placements; for example I could run Team Standard at Keystone Regional and if I have 5 faults I won't place, or maybe 9th/10th, but at a smaller 4-star I could possibly be 3rd. Big difference in points!)

16 June 2009

Well I've done more thinking on the world teams, and I've to a decision that really isn't a decision. For now, I am going to take Drifter to the next 2 "close by" 4-star events: Riverside and the Regional in Chicago. I am only taking him, which will make it easy to share travel to save money, and mentally relaxing for both of us as well. I will use those trials to practice pushing him a bit and working on smoothing out kinks in consistency, and also to continue correcting any bars that fall. I will also try to open up a line of communication, even if its brief, with the AKC world team coach, to see of there was any other reason aside from bars that they didn't choose me, and if there's anything else they felt I needed to work on. If I get a very encouraging note that bars were the only thing, AND I find that Drifter continues to show tremendous improvement in that area, I may still decline the IFCS team on the gamble of making the FCI one instead. When September/October rolls around I will have a better idea what my Q rate in AKC at 26" will be, and if it looks good or not, and also if I am even in the running for IFCS. If not, I will focus on FCI. If I am, I will have to make a decision then. I am not sending my Intent form until last minute for these reasons.

15 June 2009

I slept not so well last night. Now I'm quite tired. Running 3 dogs at 2 Regionals only 4 days apart is not for the faint of heart.

I'm also spending a lot of time thinking about the 2 World Teams. It is looking very possible for me to make the IFCS team, and I've decided to go ahead and attend the required 4 events and try to collect as many points as possible. My dilemma is two-fold though. The big speed bumps on my way to IFCS have nothing to do with ability. The first is that I would rather be on the FCI team. That is the bigger, more exciting, more prestigious event. Its more of what I picture a world championship to be. IFCS seems more like 10 countries getting together for fun and games in comparison. The other issue, of course, is money. AKC pays a lot of their teams expenses (sponsorship helps). USDAA really does not (and can't afford to). I am not exactly rich. I turned down a chance to compete in the EO for financial reasons already.

So I waffle thusly: I think I can get on the IfCS team, and England is a great trip to go on. But if I could guarantee I'd make the FCI team instead, I'd do that.

I may send an email to the akc team coach and ask what it would take to make it next year and if she thinks my chances are good. If its just bars, I think we can clean that up.

Then again, its hard to turn down a guaranteed spot on iFCS is we make it.

I guess its sort of a good quandary to be in, but it is a very tough decision.

14 June 2009

Keystone, brief wrap up

So still no video. I've discovered that sometimes I'd rather just run my dogs than worry about getting video. 99% of the time I know exactly what I did wrong, so really the video is for other people and just for my enjoyment.

Friday:
Drifter won Team Standard, won Team Gamblers, and got 2nd in Team Jumpers by tenths. Snooker I front crossed the end of the weaves abruptly before he was to pole 11 and he popped looking at me like "what?". We fixed it and finished for around 38 points but no placement. No bars.

Kiba had small faults in Team Standard, was about 15th in Gamblers, 3rd or so in Jumpers, and also about 15th or so in Snooker.

Seri had a bar and a refusal in Standard, was probably about 10th or so in Gamblers, had 29 points in Snooker with some serious crazy "lie-down"s to avoid back-jumping stuff, and got around clean in a really tough Jumpers for 3rd place! Which was awesome!

Saturday:
Drifter's one team-mate was lame and didn't run, so his team didn't do so great, but he ran his part of relay clean after some fumbling on my part to get his freaking leash off. GP round 1 was dogwalk into the corner with nothing in front of him, then a sharp turn to the chute. This meant every single dogwalk so far had been dogwalk followed by sharp turn, and he got wise to it and left a little early, so 5 faults for the contact. He ran clean in Steeplechase and won the meaningless 1st round for the 2nd weekend in a row.

Kiba's team had only 5 faults in relay and took 2nd overall. She was clean in GP and about 7th or so. And she had only one bar in Steeplechase so made the 2nd round.

Seri's team was in 3rd (!!!) going into relay, but both Seri and her young team-mate E'd in relay, so it dropped us to 32nd, but we squeaked in a Q (33 teams qualified!). She somehow ran CLEAN in Grand Prix to make the 2nd round, was really pleased with that, but then went off course AND smashed into a jump wing in steeplechase! D'oh!

Sunday:
Grand Prix was first, with some weird wrap/threadle things. I went the safe route and got Drifter through clean, including deliberately driving him straight off the dogwalk in order to assure his contact, then putting in a late, wide front cross afterwards. He ended up 5th with a semifinal bye. Which is what I really wanted. Yay! Steeplechase was a good course and had 2 frames, which very much benefits him, but he knocked the 2nd or 3rd bar, and I paused to growl at him, then went on and pushed hard, and he came in 9th with the LAST semi-final bye by hundredths of a second. So I'm displeased about the bar, I guess, but he got both byes, and out of 9 runs at 26", he only knocked one, single, bar. Which is HUGE for him, a really good improvement.

Kiba ran clean in GP to also get her semi bye. She then sort of dorked out in steeplechase at the same time I dorked out, and we had a knocked bar and an off course into the wrong side of the tunnel. That's OK, she got that bye last weekend.

Seri knocked bar #2 in GP round 2, but muddled through the rest OK, so not bad for a baby dog weekend, with 2 clean runs on the tough courses.

Now I'm at home, and figuring out how to afford 2 more 4-star events. This is really tough for me, as 6 weeks ago at Tryouts I had made a firm decision NOT to try for the IFCS team, but now he's collecting points and I feel like he's running so well that this is the thing to do. At the same time though, I would really rather make FCI team. But FCI is so much harder to get on the team.... and there are no guarantees. And he's almost 7. He's no young sprite with many years of 26" left in him. And IFCS is in England! Which is one of the places I'd LOVE to visit!

but the money! Ai!

If I make the IFCS team, I will need financial help, in a serious way! I'm doing extra teaching this summer just to pay for what I'm already doing. I am still going to make a small effort to qualify for AKC Nationals; Drifter and Kiba already have 2 QQ's out of 6 so at least they're on their way.

09 June 2009

Canine Capers Regional Wrap-up

OK so I did not get ANY video. My friends were all in the same group and it was humid (although cooler than I've ever seen Georgia in June) and I hate wandering about with camera and dog looking for a videographer. I should get some this weekend with my mom attending.

I'm going to go chronologically, as that's how I usually think of it. I'll start with Drifter's weekend. Overall he was fantastic. He ran "clean" in 6 runs, had 1 bar in 2 runs, and was pretty much just retarded in relay, which we'll count as an outlier since that always makes him crazy. No other mistakes.
Drifter's Friday: Team Jumpers first. I always worry that he'll forget he's jumping 26", even though he rarely hits the first bar. And he ran clean. We don't always win jumpers because he has to judge his jumps a bit more than some dogs and I can't just run and push like a maniac. He took 4th. Good start.
Team Snooker: only 3 reds, which is unusual (but appreciated!) for Team. We did three 7's and finished in 39 seconds for 2nd place. He was lovely, really working the jumps with the long distances followed by hard turns.
Team Gamblers: My bad. It was the type of gamble where you have 30 seconds total, and if you don't cross the finish before that, you lose ALL your points. Well I got greedy. We got 0. Not his fault though, once again he was absolutely flawless.
Team Standard: Lovely. 1st place.
So he was 4/4 on Friday, only "flaw" being my too-ambitious plan in Gamblers (trying to get all the bonuses!)
Saturday started with Relay, which just went badly. We stayed on course but we went second, and he refused to stay so I could back up to get around the jump wing, and when I grabbed him so we wouldn't go prematurely, the judge docked me 20 faults cuz it looked bad (I grabbed the only thing I could, his ample scruff skin). Then he didn't see a jump because our 1st team-mate had knocked it. Then he knocked one himself and I paused and said "hey!". Our team pulled a Q overall somehow so now he's Q'ed at both heights.
Next was Grand Prix, which we had a bye for but I am trying to work on consistency, and by now was getting excited to place in all my classes. He ran flawlessly AGAIN and got 2nd place by .08 of a second. Steeplechase round 1 he again ran perfect and was first going into round 2 (no ribbon or points for that).
Sunday he caught the old one-bar-disease that plagues us now and then. I planned my handling in Steeplechase Final with a mild converging line at the end, which I know is hard for him, but he had been doing so well I thought he could handle it. Wrong. Bastard!
Then Grand Prix (a tough one) he hit the bar after the aframe, on a relatively straight line. I held his see-saw, and still had the fastest 26" time by over .5 of a second and ended up 6th, only 5 dogs were clean in our height. So no semi-final byes, but to run 6 clean runs over the first two days was a pretty good showing, I think. If he does it again this weekend at Keystone I will be rethinking the whole IFCS thing that I had decided not to try for. . .

Kiba's weekend was a typical Kiba weekend. She hit a bar or two on Friday, Got a good but not amazing amount of points in Gamblers and Snooker, and got 2nd in Team Standard (awesome for the smidget!). Her team didn't Q but it wasn't Kiba's performance that did it. Sunday she had a fabulous Steeplechase Final and ended up 8th. It was a fast course that really led to the speed/power dogs doing well (as long as they had good weave entries), and she's just too tiny to keep up with those types of dogs. Still, she got the bye easily. In Grand Prix she joined many other experienced dogs in flying off the see-saw (weird!) then she leaped off her dogwalk and I told her off a bit, so not the best run to finish on, but overall she was typical "point-and-shoot" Kiba.

Seri was right where I wanted and expected her to be. She had no E's in Team, although she, like Drifter, got a big fat ZERO in Gamblers - her fault rather than mine, as she was sort of running amok a bit on that run. But she did manage to run clean in the first round of Steeplechase, which meant I ran all 3 dogs clean on a challening course, which made me happy. Sunday the courses were just over her head, and I was happy that she went where I wanted all weekend.