29 December 2010

Support ME!!!

Team USA for the WAO is working on several fundraising projects, including (as mentioned in the comments on the previous entry) a book of courses and exercises and articles for purchase, possibly through Clean Run. This has been done for Team Canada in the past, and our manager was involved in that, and it worked out really well. So please look forward to that!

Also this morning I spent a little bit of time creating some merchandise for a Cafepress shop. 10% of the money goes to me, and will all go towards my trip to the WAO in May 2011. Please help me and Drifter out! I'm not one of the "big name" instructors yet, and I don't make tons of money every year. We're just a talented team who's asking for help going overseas to KICK BUTT! (in a polite fashion, of course;)

So, buy some stuff! Most of the designs are just stock designs that I edited to make them Drifter themed, but some of them are pretty cool, and the standard graphics are very typical of what you see at Old Navy type stores these days, so you could wear them anywhere. I particularly like "Drifter is my homeboy." I'd love to go to a trial and actually see people wear that! LOL!

28 December 2010


Team USA for the World Agility Open is all chosen now, and overall I think it's a pretty damn good team. We're definitely going over there to kick some butt. I'm happy to see that there are more countries signing on, so it should be more competitive than I originally worried about.

The Team is looking for sponsors and donations. Sponsors can be anybody with something to contribute, if they can give us goods that help us, that's great, if they can donate some money in exchange for advertising, that's great too! If you know of anything, feel free to comment and I can pass the lead on to our manager.
So far Clean Run has signed on to help, both as a sponsor and by selling the US-themed Comfortflex harnesses (buy some!). Our manager is looking into other leads as well. I am optimistic that we will drum up more funds than USDAA did for the IFCS Team this past year, at least. (we basically paid for all our own travel expenses, and shipping a dog to the UK is *not* cheap).

If you are interested in donating to the Team, please let me know and I can send you our manager's info, or please contact her yourself! The WAO is a unique competition - it's the first international, open competition that is created and sponsored by competitors, there are no kennel clubs or higher purposes involved, and I think it's going to be a really fun event! No ulterior motives, just great competition! And since Teams are smaller and more limited than the EO, it's a bit more exclusive and top-tier, more cream-of-the-crop and less really big classes (I'm sure the EO winners are very talented, but there are a LOT of dogs at that trial, and I know people make finals with faults sometimes).
The WAO only allows one Team per country, with one dog of each jump height, so it will be interesting and high-pressure to watch the Team dog runs. Agilityvision will be there livestreaming as well.

27 December 2010

So, you may wonder....

What sort of things am I doing with my puppy?

Well I'll tell you. It is so different being home with a puppy all the time. This is the FIRST time EVER that I haven't had either school or work during the day, so this puppy doesn't spend as much crate time as my previous ones have. Even though he isn't crated as much, he is by far the best behaved puppy I've had at this age (Drifter was older when I got him and so was Freeze). He will wrestle like a maniac with the other dogs for a while, will play fetch or tug with me, but after he's had his hour or so of fun, he will simply lay down on the floor or my lap, and go to sleep. It's quite nice. I can even get up and walk around and he will continue staying there. I don't know if it's because he's that much calmer than my past pups, or just due to having more time out of the crate. It's possible that the 4 hour crated periods (my mother let them out partway through while I was at work) made the previous pups a little less likely to just snooze when they were out. On the other hand, this puppy seemed to come with a "no button" as his breeder put it. If he is getting into something naughty (eating paper, fuzz, biting an older dog, whatever) all I have to do is give a mild verbal correction, and he immediately stops and comes running to me as if to say "okay, what should I do instead?". I KNOW some of my previous pups did not do this. Seri, in fact, used to sort of stick her tongue out at me when I gave a verbal correciton, and then go right back to what she was doing. It took months of patient escalation to get her to understand what I meant (meaning start with "no" or "aaah", then growl a bit louder, then just go get her and remind her she's being naughty, if she goes back to it even after I've removed her then she'd go in the crate for a bit).

Anyways, he is a well-behaved, sweet puppy. When I train him, he is a very smart puppy. So far I have been taking it easy with his training. I do want to get a very good foundation on him, as I am determined to have a dog who is really ready to go at 2 yrs old this time. The last few dogs I've trained have gotten the short end of the stick in training at a young age. So far he knows Sit, Down, Stay (I can walk about 5 feet away, or hold it about 10 seconds), he is learning to heel on both sides and he sits automatically when I stop. I've taught him to go round a jump wing over a bar on the ground, but we only do one at a time, and we come back to heel position and sit afterward. He knows how to put his front feet on a box and rotate his rear feet around it, and he also knows how to jump up on a bigger box and lay down automatically (like a table). He comes when called, and he potties outside except when I forget to let him out after playing for a long time (he's so good I forget once in a while how long it's been).

So yeah. He'll be 16 weeks old tomorrow, and I do think he's got a pretty good list of behaviors for his age. I'm not an obsessive clicker trainer, I don't do thousands of tricks with my pups, I just want them to learn how to learn, and instill the right foundation for what I do. Most of all he's learning to be a good house dog!

Today we romped in the snow, will probably do some core work (even Strafe does this!) then romp in the snow some more.


26 December 2010

Pretty Puppy, More Ramblings

Friday I take Strafe to the vet for his final round of DHLPP. I will hold off on the Rabies for a couple weeks so as not to stress his immune system too much. I will also schedule Drifter's neuter. That's something I've been considering for a while. Drifter is 8. He had one litter, and I don't plan to breed him again. He has never been an issue and has a pretty solid temperament, so I always just left him intact because I like the easy muscling of the intact male, and I don't feel a dog should be neutered for no reason. But now with his valve disease, I am worried that if he develops a prostate issue after his heart has enlarged, then neutering will become difficult and dangerous due to the risk posed by anaesthetizing a dog with a cardiac issue. Right now he should be fine. he also has a small benign bump on his eyelid I'd like to have removed. So poor Drifter will get the ole "snip snip" in a few weeks. He should be recovered in time for a few AKC trials mid-late February.
Did a little bit of training with Drifter at 16" this week, no weave poles and only a couple aframes. He looked good, although he seemed a bit sore that night after a bit of agility plus an hour+ hike with friends. Overall I think his soreness is dissipating nicely, and he is beginning to get fit again. I am looking forward to the last full year of competition with him, and without having to work full time during the best hours of the day, I am hoping to get in the habit of regular exercise and keeping him as fit as possible. I hope to add a 2 behind both the NAC and the MACH titles before he retires in early 2012. And perhaps a gold medal or few at the WAO this spring.
Seri did some training. I am encountering some confusion in the switch BACK to a running dogwalk. This is only to be expected, after all she started with a stop, I switched to a running, then went back to a stop, and now back to a running. The good news is, at trials she totally forgets she ever knew how to stop at all, so it's only in training when more of her brain is active that we have the confusion problem. Her jumping is improving in leaps and bounds, and she is starting to adapt to the tight distances she has traditionally had issues with. The new handling style around tight corners has cleared up most of those knocked bars (in training at least). I even got *too much* collection the other day, which is almost unheard of for Seri, so I was happy.
What's with all the Xtra Normal videos suddenly? I find most of them mildly amusing, but not wildly funny like some seem to think they are. Oh well. Whatever.
Oh, and here's an example of the types of videos I spend my time watching. Pay attention to how she manages every single jump the dog takes - where the dog takes off is of special import to great european handlers, as if you manage the takeoff, the landing will go in your favor, so you can actually move on earlier rather than standing in the landing area for a while to get the turn. (this is Lisa Frick who won the FCI individiual WC the last 2 years in a row).

21 December 2010

Mores stuff

So since I'm on a roll, figured I'd continue showing you what I'm working on with my dogs. Because they are currently on a tough conditioning program and the ground is very frozen still, we are only jumping 8" in the yard, so we can really focus on breaking it down to handling cues and responses, and I don't have to worry about them hurting themselves landing funny or slipping. Actually the top layer isn't really frozen during the day, but it is just very hard dirt.

With Seri I did some slightly more advanced applications of our new blind cross maneuver. We worked on one on an angle, which we haven't introduced before, followed by a line where she must stay in with me and follow my line and not look away at the other jump.

The 2nd exercise I decided we needed to start working on, because a couple times she did take the off course jump. So we broke it down to its basic bits and are working on this exercise now. she's very reliable on a regular pull-through, but this sort of pull-past jump is more difficult, as she wants to move away from me when I accelerate (a normal reaction for a border collie), so we are going to be working on this one for a while, till I can move away quickly after cueing the jump.

With Drifter, I am always remind him to stay close to me and not turn or look away until specifically told to do so. I've been looking at some of the courses from the judges we have for the WAO, and was reminded that sticking close on a regular shoulder/post turn has never been a strong suit for him, and so we worked on some of that with some basic exercises to isolate the skill. For both of these, I led out a little bit, then just ran ahead of him and turned my shoulder. I did not do any false turn/drop shoulder/looking at him stuff, all just shoulder turn, find the line, and go.

And here's an example of something we might see at the WAO. Looks like fun, right? I love challenging courses... and I'm very excited to run them at 55cm (actually a little less than 22") so I can really just run and not be worrying about bars like I do at 26".

17 December 2010

Handling 2

Please read the last post first, this is a follow on assuming the same sequence. This is a blind cross I've decided to teach Seri. The approach to the 2nd jump starts out the same as the last way, where I deliberate begin to push the dog's takeoff to the left side of the jump so that she will jump from left to right on an angle.
As I get close enough to the jump, I turn to face her and bring up my right arm. The initial step of this is to keep the arm down near me to call her in to me. Once she gets close, and I am in position - blocking half the jump, basically - I lift my right arm give her the cue to jump. It's a bit of an arm motion, up and back, with the shoulder somewhat involved. It is an obvious, irrefutable cue to jump. My positioning blocking half the jump tells the dog to wrap around me, and thus the jump wing.

The dog lands and I pick her up on the left side and move on. Because this cue ALWAYS means to wrap the jump wing (me), it is ALWAYS a pull-through maneuver, and she should never take the other jump when I do this. So far in training, she is doing this very well. Once she understands the cue, and I get my positioning right every time, I should be able to cue it and begin running immediately again.

Previously wraps and pull-through's have been difficult with Seri, not because she won't do them, but because she has a lot of trouble keeping the bars up and turning tightly. These 2 handling styles (new to me, but I certainly did not create them) seem to help both these issues tremendously, and I have some hope for our future!


I know I don't often talk about actual handling and training particulars on this blog, that it's more of a journal. But today I'm going to show you one of the changes I'm making in the way I handle Seri. Seri is 4 years old, is very fast, a big jumper, and a bit prone to knocking bars if she picks up speed. Which she does, a lot. I've noticed she has a lot of trouble with decelerating around a jump. She just doesn't seem to understand how to do all of her slowing down before she jumps. So I've decided that, rather than continue fighting with it, I'm changing it up a bit. So far I'm getting great results. I've decided to make changes that bring my handling more in line with the handling of the better europeans, who run pretty technical courses all the time, but still often have great distances to cover between some sections of the course.

Here is a sequence to imagine. Pretend it's in the middle of the course.

Here's how I'd normally handle it with Drifter or Kiba.

Here's how I'm starting to handle some of these with Seri.

These 2 ways to do the turn allow the dog to keep a relatively high speed, and while the path the dog takes may be a bit longer, it is very much worth it with a dog like Seri who has such a high ground speed and is at risk for knocking the bar if handled the first way. I'm also working on teaching her my very first deliberate blind cross. I will make that and post it separately in a few minutes. I generally don't like blind crosses, but I have been spending a lot of time watching video of dogs in europe, and I think this particular cross is worth teaching to a dog like Seri, as long as I maintain consistent handling cues for both this, and when I don't want her to jump behind me.

15 December 2010

Sorry just today I realized it's been 2 weeks since I posted. I haven't been trialing lately. The puppy is growing very, very fast. I am not worried at all about him turning out smaller than I want, and I'm even a little concerned he may be a BIG BC when he's done. I'd love for him to be right around 21"... but there's no way to predict this stuff! This past weekend I taught a seminar in NY. I had a good time, the people were very nice, and I'm going to be back in February. My mother closed on the new property last week, so we are getting into a higher gear in regards to packing. So sometime soon I will be a Maryland resident. What do you call that? I am currently a Pennsylvanian, I suppose. A Marylander? Anyway, the property is 15 acres, almost 10 of which is a fairly flat field, which will eventually have an indoor on it, but we won't be able to move forward with that until our current house is sold, and we've lived here (with dogs) for 26 years so that will take a bit of cleaning and updating.

Last week I took Drifter to see Ria. Even though he was a qualifying fool at the last few trials, i could tell he still wasn't right, and hasn't been since Louisville's awful dirt tweaked him. He was pretty sore, and it took some work to get him back together, but we've got a plan to get him fit again, and I'm going to take it easy on him with agility for a while. We've got a USDAA trial coming up in early Jan but he's not going to run Team. I need to make sure he's extremely fit and feeling great by the time AKC Nationals and the WAO roll around in the spring.

I've been taking some time here and there lately to watch some video of european handlers who do very well, and I've been working to adapt some of that style to the way I run Seri. She really likes it. I began to change my handling for her a bit at USDAA Nationals and I think it started out well. Unfortunately our courses here in the US in both venues tend to be too straightforward to let this style really shine, but the way they work every single jump, and some of the cues they use for wraps especially, work very well for Seri. The way I cue Drifter and Kiba relies on the dog taking the cue for a wrap, and understanding that they have to decelerate and turn tight. The way I cue Seri allows her to maintain more ground speed, and relies more on her being able to pivot tightly around my body and jump the jump in more extension. It basically means I have to work harder than her sometimes, but that's OK! I will demo some of it in CRCD sometime soon to show what I mean.

04 December 2010

Let me tell you a story...

Back in February 2005, Drifter was 2 years old, Freeze was about to turn 6. I was still working on many things with Drifter, but Freeze required little to no maintenance training - she was soft and had jumping issues, so was already backing down and Drifter was filling the shoes of being my "main dog". I have a habit of browsing border collie breeders' websites online, I have done this for a long time; it keeps me updated on who's doing what in border collie land. Well I found a breeder who had a leftover puppy that was related to some dogs I know. These dogs are pretty good at agility, but not over the top. Since I had Drifter who was a very driven, pushy young dog, I thought it might be nice to have a pup that was not over the top, even though the video showing the 12-week old pup described her as "a fireball". Well after a bit of thought, even though I wasn't even looking for a puppy, I decided to get this little fireball of a pup. So after calling the breeder and arranging for shipping, little Kiba came home to me. She was small, even at 12 weeks when I got her, but I figured she was just slow to mature. I hadn't had a BC puppy younger than 4 months, so didn't really realize just how small she was.

Kiba definitely had some drive. She loved to play, and was a natural born fetching dog. Drifter hated fetching, and much prefers to watch others do it. However, when I began to train Kiba to do agility, I ran into some problems. She wasn't running full speed, and she was very afraid to do things wrong. I train my dogs in a manner that asks them to problem solve and come up with answers on their own, and Kiba just couldn't handle being asked to do this if it involved being wrong at ALL. I remember training weave entries, and if I even looked at her funny, she ran back to my back door and flipped upside down and refused to come back. I did not ever YELL at Kiba, but I did not want to repeat the mistakes I'd made with Freeze, who was also soft, so I was determined that Kiba would at least learn to work through her mistakes. This meant I still had to communicate that she had made a mistake, just that I would do so gently, and afterward I would ask her to do a behavior she could perform easily. Kiba was the first and only dog I've ever shown at 15 months old, because I felt that the exciting environment of trials would help her kick up her speed a notch. I also felt that with her small size and lack of growth (she was the same height at 6 months that she is now - just under 18") I could be sure her growth plates were closed around a year. I rushed her contact training to get her into the ring, and I jumped her at her 16" height. I ran her in about 3 or 4 trials in the spring of 2006 at 15-17 months old, did a few USDAA trials over the summer, and she did indeed get excited and begin to speed up. At that point I was focusing on Drifter's career and felt that Kiba needed some retraining for her increasing drive levels. So I gave her some time off from trialing. She began to really pick up speed and that following winter she won her first local Grand Prix, surprising even me. I had thought for sure she'd never be THAT fast. I took her to USDAA Nationals in 2007, and she managed to get through all the DAM Team classes without a single E, a great accomplishment for a not-quite-3-year old dog. Here's a pic from that first trip to Scottsdale, Kiba demonstrating her signature Flying Squirrel technique over the aframe.

In 2008 I learned the AKC Nationals would be on the East Coast in 2009, so I re-entered the world of AKC and Kiba went from being in Open in March, to qualifying for Nationals by early November, with a fairly limited number of shows. She was so consistent that she had 6 QQ's, but still didn't have her MX or MXJ yet - when she Q'ed, she QQ'ed. At Nationals in '09 I ran her at 20" and she was in the top 10 going into the Finals, where her brain promptly exploded and she flew off the see-saw, missed her aframe contact, and knocked at least one bar, BUT she stayed on course through the tough tunnel/dogwalk discrimination that many good dogs were lost to, and she had the 2nd fastest time in 20". Not bad for a midget, especially a midget's first time at Nationals jumping in a category that included dogs up to 22" tall. After realizing I could not hope to catch the time of dogs 4" taller than her, I decided to let her jump 16", and she really began to shine. As the year of 2009 wore on, she split her trials between 16" in AKC and 22" in USDAA, culminating in making Steeplechase Finals and ending up 8th with a clear round. That Final round was an odd experience for me. When Drifter makes a Final, and I run clear with a great run, I expect to either win or be close to doing so, but with Kiba I felt that at 22" the jumps were just too big, and even though she had a GREAT run, I would be lucky to get placement ribbon, and so I was pleased with her 8th place finish. Also as this year went on, Kiba began to have recurring back soreness that would migrate up and down her back. She is a little thing, and she doesn't move well. In the winter between 2009 and 2010 I decided to move her to Performance 16" in USDAA. I was beginning to see some stutter step striding at 22", and just didn't like her not being at her best. The thing that told me I was doing the right thing for sure was AKC Nationals in 2010, this past spring. She was jumping 16", and after 3 days on the hard dirt of Tulsa, her back was doing very well. She made Challenger round, but due to a missed aframe contact in the Standard run on Saturday she did not make Finals. Due to her funny movement I was never able to get her to run the aframe properly, but because her behavior is FAST and she hits the yellow much more often than she misses, I have decided not to add a firm behavior to it.

Kiba's first trip to USDAA Nationals as a P16" dog went well, and she placed and won many classes, making all 3 Finals, PSJ, PVP, and PGP. Due to a wide corner she placed 3rd in PGP, but I'm happy to have a dog who stays sound AND can be in the top placements when she has a great run. Her speed is much higher at 16" and because she is so small she is still jumping - this is the height she belongs at - 22" is just not a fair height for her.

Kiba yesterday-

Kiba is a weird dog - she has many not-so-endearing habits like squealing at the ceiling when someone walks around upstairs, and not the sturdiest of dogs either, but I'm glad I have her. I have a feeling she'll retire somewhat early due to her on-again off-again back soreness and poor movement. She's a bit straight front and rear, and runs all on her forehand, so a traumatic front end injury could easily end her career. But at 16" she seems to be holding up well, and she may compete a few years past Drifter's planned retirement in 2012. I hope to some day be able to win a Final with her, or maybe add a NAC to her name! Right now her accomplishments read as follows:
2008 1st Place Team Relay
2008 2nd Overall DAM Team at USDAA Nationals (out of 200)
2008 went from Open to 6QQ's in about 14 trials.
2009 3rd Overall DAM Team
2009 8th Place Steeplechase Finals
2009 AKC National Finalist
2010 AKC Challenger Round participant
2010 AKC Nationals, placed in ISC JWW and Hybrid Rds
2010 USDAA Nationals 3rd place PGP Finals 16"
2010 USDAA Nationals won or placed in several individual classes at P16"
So all this rambling and bragging is to say,
Can't believe you're six already, now please stop staring at the ceiling and whining about the monsters in the kitchen.

28 November 2010

New Video, and a couple belated ones.

Switching to Vimeo to see if the quality is better. Lately I've had trouble running my own YouTube videos smoothly.

Starting with the oldest video, here is Drifter's MACH run from last July:

Drifter's MACH Run July 2010 from Rosanne DeMascio on Vimeo.

Next up is Kiba's PGP run from October, the only run I managed to get recorded from Louisville:

Kiba's PGP run at USDAA Nationals 2010 from Rosanne DeMascio on Vimeo.

Last is Drifter's runs from today. This weekend he went 6/6 in AKC, getting 3 double-Q's in a row, bringing his total up to 25, and he has qualified 12 of the last 14 runs, and both NQ's were minor table issues. Not too shabby. Now he is getting a month off to finish healing up his tweak from Nationals, which unfortunately is turning into a stiff spot for him.

Drifter's Sunday runs from KESSC Nov 2010 from Rosanne DeMascio on Vimeo.

23 November 2010

I've added some new pics of Copenhagen at the facebook link on the previous post. I do plan to eventually post them all here with an actual narrative of my trip, hopefully maybe thursday I can get that done.

Statue at the center of the square at the royal palace in Copenhagen. In the background is one of the royal residences, with the flag up, indicating that the queen's sister is at home!

Went to 2 days out of 3 of an AKC trial this past weekend. Drifter QQ'ed on Friday to earn his 6th and final Q towards Nationals, so now he and Kiba are both all done. I had high hopes that Seri might earn another Standard Q, since she is STILL stuck in A, but no, she was brilliantly awful for the first 3 runs. I know I was gone for a few days, but it hadn't been THAT long since I'd trained her, only a week! the last run I at least had her head back, and she went where I pointed her, but she still missed a weave entry and knocked a bar. So I skipped Sunday and slept in. The first few nights back from Denmark the puppy did not understand why he was in a crate alone, instead of in a big pen with his siblings, and woke me up every few hours screaming. He is a smart little booger though, and now he's sleeping very nicely at night (I let him out when DJ leaves for work at 3am), and seems to understand that if he's in the crate, it is quiet time. He has figured out that he can entertain himself by rolling around and playing with bones or other chewy things, or his beds. Which is fine!
This week is Thanksgiving. DJ is staying at his parents' house for 2 nights because he is helping with the family dinner. I'm still really shy about his family, and I also feel bad for my mom being alone for dinner now, so I'm staying home. We may try to find a place to go out to eat. Or maybe we'll just stay home and make pizza and watch a movie.

This weekend we have another AKC trial. I'm convinced Drifter is still not 100% after his hamstring pull and subsequent weird tweak at Louisville. He is sound, no doubt, but he just doesn't seem that strong, and doesn't recover quite right if he trips on something at a walk. So if I run him I may run him Friday/Sunday with a day off in between. I'll see. He ran very well last weekend, and was 3/4 with the NQ being another damned table fault (need to practice that). Nice jumping, won all 3 classes (out of 4 pages of 20" dogs), and was nice and low in the contacts (a sign that he is feeling OK).

11 November 2010

Busyness continues

Updated puppy face, beginning to be a face to break hearts!
Saturday I attended a seminar with Seri. She was a little too excited on the first sequence, which was twisty and required attention on her part, but after that she wasn't bad. Couldn't quite bring herself to tuck in and get a tunnel/aframe discrimination on one, but otherwise she was mostly a good girl. I can't say I really learned anything, except to solidify in my mind the finer points where my own handling differs slightly from what most of the APHS instructors teach. Not by much, but there's a few things I do differently. I think I rely more strongly on shoulder direction and handler speed than they do. Those are my 2 strongest cues, coupled with motion but in some instances speed and shoulder counteracts motion (and whether they teach it or not, this is true in most APHS handlers too - think about moving backwards but expecting the dog to aim for the front of you, for instance).
Anyways, Sunday I drove down to Raleigh NC, and Monday and Tuesday I taught private lessons at my friend's house. I really enjoy teaching private lessons over seminars, and I don't really understand why people really like seminars so much. Seminars are alright if you just want some practice with your dog, and want to get a general idea of how someone handles. But if your eally want to GET BETTER and understand exactly all the concepts behind handling (or contacts, etc), a private lesson is really the way to go.
Anyway, yesterday (Wed) I drove straight to my indoor from NC, taught classes, and finally headed home. Today I have to get ready to leave, because tomorrow I am flying out in the evening to Copenhagen to pick up my puppy! I can't believe how fast this all happened. I am glad to be home from work (or school) for the first time with a puppy, and he can go almost everywhere I do, and not have to be in his crate for long periods alone. My mother has always done me the favor of letting my dogs out and feeding them while I'm at work, so they weren't alone more than 4-5 hours at a time, but that's not nearly the same as being home with them. A whole new experience! I've also never flown with a dog or puppy as carry-on before, and I'm nervous he's going to be a little big for his bag. He will be 10 weeks old on the day I fly home, and he's starting to grow his legs! The other americans who are flying to get their pups assure me they've never had any problems with it, so I just am crossing my fingers and hoping all goes well!

02 November 2010

Entirely too cute.

(Post edited to add updated puppy face)

Not being at "regular" work gives me a little more time to write here, i guess. I've got a busy few weeks coming up. Well, really, a busy month. Tomorrow is my first day of classes at the rented indoor for the winter. Saturday I may get to take Seri to a seminar, we'll see. Depends on whether my mother (pulled her hamstring) is able to run or not - if not I will run instead. I don't often run in seminars - the International Course seminar with Linda in August was my first in about 5 years, and really she didn't "teach" me things so much as she exposed a flaw or two and gave me an insight or two on finessing certain things - very tweaky stuff, but useful nonetheless. I've been training myself for so long now that I've gotten pretty good at getting better. Anyway, Seri could always use some more practice is an exciting atmosphere, and the presenter is someone I don't find to have a big annoying ego so I will gladly go and run if I can. Then Sunday I'm driving down to Raleigh (7.5 hours), Monday and Tuesday I'm teaching private lessons. Wednesday I'll be driving back home early so that I can still teach classes. Thursday I've got a private lesson and packing/organizing to do because that Friday (the 12th) I leave for Copenhagen to retrieve my puppy! I come home the following Tuesday, Wed I have class again, then 2 AKC trials to finish up Drifter's AKC Nationals qualifications.

Speaking of which, Andy Hartman got sacked, which is pretty sad. He was nice to me before I knew who he was, just some random "suit" at Nationals in 2009 when I first attended and made Finals with Kiba and Challengers with Drifter. Then I saw him at USDAA trials as well, down in NC, and he is such a nice guy, I can't imagine what kind of ridiculous beef AKC had with him to fire him like that, but they clearly had it planned, since not 24 hours later they announced who was taking his job, "effective immediately". Sad, and I don't really know his successor, but people who do seem to think she's up for it. We'll see. I will not be boycotting AKC, as I realized and grudgingly accepted long ago that AKC is a large organization, with profit in mind and politics internally, and if I didn't already know that, I wouldn't have been paying attention. Luckily the agiltiy program within the organization is run fairly well. Hopefully that continues to be the case.

Found out all the boy puppies have all their "equipment", nothing retained ;)

01 November 2010

Could this be the new face? Perhaps...

This weekend we were at a local AKC trial. Kiba was sitting on 19 QQ's coming in, but hit a bar in the first run Saturday, and then Sunday in the 2nd run got all the way to #16 and missed a totally obvious weave entry, so no MACH for her. She isn't entered in any trials in November, since she already has her 6 QQ's for Nationals, so she is just going to be almost-MACH for a while.

Saturday morning Seri got her first Exc B JWW leg, her firt B leg ever since she is still in A for Std. She got 2nd place, in very good company, and I was pleased with her. She did not manage to get any other legs; she is still usually the one-bar wonder in most classes. The courses were very open, and that's bad for her. She is OK with a lot of turns, but straight aways she just starts over-running her takeoff spots and hitting bars. Oh well. She handled pretty well.

Drifter did well, going 3 for 4, his only mistake was Saturday in standard - he hasn't run 20" at an AKC Trial since, well, quite a long time ago, and I forgot he would have a 16" table. Added to that was that this is a slightly odd looking table, with a really thick (8"?) wooden top on it, rather than the standard 4" variety. Well he slowed down, looked at it, then deliberately hopped on and off. That was his only fault all weekend, so Sunday he picked up QQ #5 towards Nationals. We have 2 more trials in November so I'm pretty optimistic that he'll get #6, especially jumping 20". He even won Standard on Sunday, over some pretty stiff (younger) competition, so I was pleased. He ran very well.

Unfortunately he looked sore after his last run again. I think he was not completely healed up from Louisville, and I will be giving him a few weeks off now until our next trial.

I also heard from my breeder and now have a pretty good idea which puppy I'm bringing home!

28 October 2010

Well we're almost at the end of my 3rd week of not working a "regular" job. I can already tell my finances will be tight for a while, but that's OK. I will deal with it as best I can until classes get going. Today we moved our equipment down to the indoor I'm renting once a week for the winter. Once classes get going next week, I'll at least have some income from classes every 6 weeks, with less of the random-ness of being subject to the weather, excepting of course heavy snow, which generally is not that common around here.

Tomorrow I'm heading back out to Ria's. I'm helping her and David get their schedule online so they aren't dependent on having a "big book" in hand in order to schedule people, and also so that I can begin to remotely schedule via email. Working off part of my big bill from Nationals - there were more "emergency" visits to the PT there than they've ever seen before due to the funky footing (and awful candy-striped tire). Then tomorrow evening I'm doing a 3-hour workshop at Barto. Over the weekend I'm trialing all 3 dogs in AKC. Hopefully Drifter will pick up a QQ or 2 towards Nationals - he still needs 2 more. Kiba needs 1 QQ for her MACH, and Seri just needs to get out of Exc A Standard.
Not working every day makes it much, much more difficult to keep track of days of the week, not to mention dates! Very strange.
Tuesday night the zoning for the building on our possible property was approved, so we can move forward with the sale now. i need to clean and pack. A LOT.
I've got some seminars and workshops coming up in some various places. I'll be in NY in December, OR in January, a different part of PA later January, then back in NY in February. I would like to try to plan something more in December, possibly in NJ, to help recoup the costs of traveling to Denmark and buying my puppy (who is SEVEN weeks old already! Wow!) - she's not letting them go till 10 weeks, so he'll probably just barely fit in his under-seat bag, but most people I've spoken to haven't had issues with borderline sized dogs being hassled.

22 October 2010


Next big adventure, is flying to Copenhagen to pick up my puppy. I'm trying to do it on a budget, as much as possible, because....

The WAO win-on Team spot for each height went to the Grand Prix Finals winner. Well I got 2nd, yes, but the winner in my height is Canadian, therefore, I get the spot. So Drifter is officially on the WAO, and gets to go back to England at 22" to kick some tail before his International career is over!

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to try out for 2012 IFCS. The answer is no. I know with it being in the states it is very tempting, but Drifter will be 9 and 1/2 by then, that's about when I'm looking to retire him permamently. I will be focusing on Seri. Why not Seri? Well, because IFCS qualifying is this coming year, 2011, and will cost a LOT of money. I will not be having a LOT of money to spend. Especially after getting nothing back last time. Several competitors are stepping up early this time to help USDAA with the process so I expect 2012 Team members will have a more smooth experience than I did, financially, but I would rather focus on getting Seri onto the AKC Team, which has always been where I wanted to be. She's been performing very well as I've been changing up my handling a bit with her, and I'm very hopeful she'll be READY by Tryouts 2012.

21 October 2010

Cynosport wrap

So, I brought my netbook to Louisville with all these great intentions of recapping daily, but just was too tired by the end of most days to bother, as clearly I haven't updated in a while.

I've mentioned European Standard from the 1st day, the mysterday delay causing us a 2+ hour delay in starting (the timers apparently were shipped to the wrong place??). Kiba won P16 for that class, which got no medal or trophy but a nice blue ribbon. Drifter did not run, and Seri ran reasonably well with a few "duh" moments.

Day 2 was Team Gamblers only for all 3 dogs. There was on course gamble involving weave poles with the handler in a very restricted area. I knew Kiba would not do this gamble and so ran like mad round the rest of the course to get as many points as possible, and she did fine. Drifter probably would've done the gamble, but I did not want to risk his toe by doing the weaves before they became absolutely necessary, and so devised a course with only right hand turns, and we got a good amount of points. Seri I knew absolutely COULD do the gamble, and so she ran a modified version of the course I ran for the others, and she even went out and took an extra contact in the closing (triple points) and got tons of points - she finished up 2nd place in the 26" class for her first ever medal and ribbon at a National event! I was very pleased:)

Day 3 was Performance Grand Prix Semi-finals, Team Standard, and Steeplechase Quarterfinals for Seri. Team Standard was a pretty difficult course, especially due to the large wings and tight spacing and funky footing in the West Hall rings (4 and 5). Those rings always seemed to be crunched spacing-wise compared to the 3 main rings. Drifter ran Team Standard first, and it started with a weird 5 jump, same side pinwheel, with off course traps and no side changes, many dogs were anticipating a rear cross or flip and turning away from the handler, "guessing" that a change of side MUST be coming, and even though I was very clear with Drifter, he did this. And so I walked him off after 4 jumps. Off course. My Steady Eddy dog. Oh well. I modified my strategy a bit for Kiba and Seri, leading out past 2, and then setting a line through 3 and 4 to take out some off course options for them. Kiba ran clean and I think ended up 2nd place overall. Seri ran 1-4 really well, but was sure I was rear crossing 4 and ran off in the wrong direction barking! I yelled "lie down" and "come" and she came back with only time lost, and finished clean for a 7th place run! Her 2nd placement! I also had Kiba's PGP Semi's, which she ran very nicely for a 2nd place seed going into Finals, and Seri's Steeplechase Semi's which she ran very well, just hit the last board on the broad jump, so didn't place but easily qualified to run in Semi's.

Day 4 (Friday) was Team Snooker, Steeplechase and PSJ Semi's, and PGP Finals at night. Team Snooker I devised a plan that was high points but not overly difficult, and also not likely to win. It went pretty well with all 3 dogs, Seri knocked a bar in the 5 in the opening but continued on through to the end for decent points, and Drifter also hit a bar on an opening color. Kiba missed her contact on the frame in 6 in the closing. So they all got decent points but not amazing. PSJ Semi's went very well for Kiba, with her taking 1st place seed for Finals to be held Saturday night. Seri and Drifter unfortunately did not run Steeplechase Semi's till the very last group at 5:30 in the small building, and the footing had deteriorated very badly, and was deep and slippery on the hard 270-ish turn, and both of my dogs hit the same bar, as did several other very nice dogs in our group. Someone told me only one 26" dog from the last 2 groups made it through to Finals due to the poor footing. It sucked, as it was unfair - the early groups had a hard, wet surface, and the late groups had a dry, deep one. Neither was ideal, but the deep stuff was awful. Drifter was clean aside from slipping and being unable to keep that one bar up. Not only that, but I KNOW it was the footing that caused the knock, as an hour later when I got him out for a walk, he was VERY sore on that side, in a very odd place that he has never been sore before, but a place that makes sense for a dog sliding in deep dirt. Sigh. Oh well. Nothing to be done. Should've been in there. PGP Finals was pretty late, and Kiba had one wide corner where she thought I wanted a rear cross before I corrected her, so she lost a bit of time, but I don't think we would have gotten 1st even without that. We ended up 3rd, with a pretty good run, a trophy, a medal, and a podium visit. Her run here.

Day 5 (Saturday, by which point I had no clue WTF day it was!) was Team Jumpers, Grand Prix Semifinals, and at night PSJ and Steeplechase Finals. I knew Team Jumpers was Seri's last run of the week, and I also knew her Team wouldn't make the Final due to a few mistakes by Team-mates, so I really wanted her to run clean or near-clean, and try to be a top dog overall in 26". Well it was no cake walk in Jumpers, and once again the big dogs were in the crunchy small ring in the West Hall. Well Seri did slide on her face, and once again she had a screaming running moment where she ran off the wrong direction, but I got her back and finished without fault again! She didn't place due to the screaming and faceplant, but she did run clean about 3 seconds off the top times. Drifter was in a different ring, and he had a nice run except for hitting the double. I was a little worried since he'd been so sore the day before, but he seemed to be moving fairly well. Kiba also had a nice jumper run, very very fast and tight but hit a bar as well. GP Semifinals was my big stressy run of the week. Drifter had yet to run "perfect" since we'd gotten there, and he just felt a bit rusty and out of tune up to that point. He had handled well in Jumpers but the bar bugged me. Well I went out and did what I know we do best, and he was great. Not quite perfect, as the beginning wasn't really a strong point for us (pulling around past obstacles out of a tunnel), and his teeter was slow as I held him forEVER, but he placed 6th for a good spot into the Finals.

Last on Saturday was PSJ Finals. I have no video, sorry, you can watch it on VOD if you have it. Kiba started out well, i let her run her frame and she hit it, but she started drifting out wide on a long slow curve near the end, and I think she was slipping a bit (hard packed sliding, not deep), and she hit a bar. Would've been 2nd without the bar! Oh well! Good girl anyway!

Sunday I did not enter "Rekoons" and so got to sleep in a bit. Good plan, yay me! Kiba's Team got 3rd in Relay with a lovely run (although Driven punched me in the butt when Kate handed me the baton!) and we finished in the top 10 overall out of 143 PVP Teams. Drifter's Team ended up 49th with 2 E's, and Seri's in 51st. But the biggest news was that SERI finished 4th overall 26" dog individually! Hurray for crazy screaming dog!!!

Finals was slow in coming. I wasn't unhappy overall with USDAA, it just seemed like things moved slowly sometimes.... anyway after the walk through as Ria was working on Drifter he tweaked himself again, in the same spot he pulled Friday. She worked the worst of it out of him but he was not 100% when I started warming him up. This made me really nervous, as I really wanted to do well, but I really didn't want to hurt him! She said he should be fine, just might be sore the next day after sitting still. So I dutifully walked him for a long time before letting him warm up properly for the run. Did no warm up jumps, just a little cantering with no sharp turns. And then it was my turn and we ran. I did not feel that it was a great run. He slipped horribly going into the weave poles, he slipped partway through the poles. He looked sore weaving. He hit high on the dogwalk contact (another strong indication he's not feeling super great). But he handled brilliantly. Very smooth path, even if he wasn't pushing himself. And we were in 1st for several dogs. Susan beat us with Encore, as I knew she might. Always a threat, that one! I was thrilled to get 2nd with my poor beat-up 8-year old dog who'd had only one training session since early September and had 6 weeks off for a hamstring strain! He's not doing agility all the rest of this week, but surprisingly he doesn't seem sore at all, he's not limping or anything. So we will take this weekend off for some easy hiking, see Ria on Monday, and then hopefully try to get our last 2 QQ's next weekend!

Long post, whew!

12 October 2010

2010 USDAA Nationals Day 1

I got out here yesterday afternoon, staying in a small suite so I stocked up on groceries. That $90 should last me the entire week on food, although I will probably go out at least one night.

Today we started the day by getting together with 2 friends and driving half an hour across the river to a state park in the edge of Indiana. It was a really pretty hike, we could see the river, and some interesting rocks here and there. We only hiked about an hour but that was about right for a day-of-agility hike, I wouldn't want them to be tired or worn out in any way. After that a friend and I went to brunch at Cracker Barrell - french toast, yum!

I stopped back at the hotel briefly to gather my things and change into agility clothes, and then we went and set up at the site. Crating is in a single large building, between the 2 buildings the agility is in - and the 2 agility buildings are NOT close. And the ring entries aren't even on the near side for the Broadbent arena, so we have to walk all the way around to get to the ring gates, which doesn't seem to make much sense. I desperately hope I have no almost-conflicts because there's just no quick way to get from one ring to another with a dog exchange in the middle.

Anyway, for largely unknown reasons (timers missing? course tweaking? it looked all set...) we didn't walk and start running till about 90 minutes after the scheduled time of 3pm, but I stuck it out and ran both Seri and Kiba in European Standard. Seri had 2 minor duh moments, missed a weave entry, and may have missed her aframe (I didn't watch), but overall I was pleased with her, she was mostly paying attention and didn't hit any bars. Kiba ran at like 7:45pm, and had a really nice run, I let her run her aframe independently so I could handle ahead and she hit it, though not very deeply. She posted a very good time and probably placed pretty high - I will check tomorrow.

Back at the hotel, just fed the dogs and even Drifter was really hungry. I didn't run him today because I didn't want to risk hurting his toe, but he seems tired just from the hike and being at the trial. Now for a quick dinner for me, walk the dogs, and bed.

10 October 2010


Here is a picture of Drifter bumping a wing in IFCS Biathlon Jumping. If he hadn't smacked this wing, he would've had Silver. If he hadn't hit either of the bars (1 in each class) he would've had Gold. His combined time was several seconds faster than the dog that won.

And it looks like perhaps we'll get a do-over - sort of. Yesterday morning I went down to the Keystone trial, which is only 20 min from here, to get him measured by a CMJ. I had emailed her ahead of time to see if she'd try, and she was willing. On my own last weekend I got him at 19 and 5/8, which is 19.625", just under the cutoff of 19.69" required for 22" at the World Aglity Open.
I had also contacted the coach for the US team for the WAO, and she said as long as the dog measured under consistently, it didn't matter how close it was to the cutoff. So this whole week I spent having Drifter stand and relax for cookies, as he can be a little too tall if he's all uptight. Thankfully this is one area where his short, low neck actually helps him out. My mother measured him before the CMJ came over, and she was able to get 19.5 or a little over. After the walk-through the CMJ offered to measure him (she wasn't actually measuring at the trial, just doing me a favor), and so we did. She said she'd do 2 measurements for me, a strict one, and a more relaxed one. Well we stand him up, I show him the cookie and then move it farther away so he isn't tensed up by licking/chewing at it. She held his collar, we squared him up a little bit and he relaxed, and she said her strict measurement is....


Woohoo! So we are official to try for the 22" team for the WAO in England in May! I am so pleased by this - we have a lot of points towards selection already, having placed or won just about every category that earns points for selection (GP Finals last year, AKC Nationals, IFCS event, USDAA Regional, and Tourn Top Ten). Plus running at 22" this coming week at USDAA Nationals, where individual classes also earn points. This means I will be cancelling some of my plans for AKC trials that included ISC classes, since I really don't think Seri is ready. She is a year or 2 behind where she probably should be, as a 4-year-old, but as long as her wrist stays strong, the rest of her body is very resilient and she should have a good long career. So Dec/Jan will be taking it easy (and teaching!), February prep for AKC Nationals, March AKC Natls, April hopefully prep for WAO, and May WAO.

Also exciting is that my friend whose long-distance boyfriend lives in England is planning to be visiting him during May anyway, and he is from Wales, so she is hoping to come down to the trial with him, and afterward we will tour Wales with a local! I am excited to see the Welsh countryside and coastline, as it is supposed to be quite beautiful!

So, plans have changed from the summer, but I am happy with the current one. No EO, no FCI for 2011, but we get a WAO instead, which sounds like fun.

08 October 2010

Today was my last day at work. Scary! But exciting! i will be teac
hing more after this, and packing, and keeping my dogs fit. I will probably take it very easy on trialing during Dec/Jan so I don't overspend my uncertain budget. I am looking forward to teaching in new places though.

Drifter's hamstring is all healed. I ran him on a few courses during class on Wednesday, and his stupid toe was bothering him again. This toe has been hurting on and off since late July. i am starting to think he must have some arthritis in it or something. It is the same toe he yanked hard when he was about 2 years old. I thought all the rest for his hammy might help the toe, but it doesn't appear to have made a difference. He will be lasered, iced, Traumeel'ed, and Max-Freeze (a gel) every day for a few weeks to see how he does. I need to trial him till he gets his last 2 QQ's for AKC Nationals, then we'll try a 2-month lay-off from agility to see if that will do it. Very frustrating. Prolotherapy has been suggested to me, and if I can afford it I may try that in December... we'll see. Or just lop the darned thing off, maybe.

Tomorrow we are going to get a CMJ to see how short we can measure Drifter. My new tentative plan for him is to get him measured into the 22" class for the WAO and try to make that team. If I can get him down there, then he won't have to do 26" again. He's 8 now, and with the hamstring pull and the repetitive toe injury added to the mild heart condition, I think it's going to be time to start tapering off with him. I think 2012 will be his last year running, perhaps retiring after AKC Nationals that spring. That's right around when my pup will be coming out too, so the timing is pretty good. Poor buddy... wish the toe would heal! Anyways, assuming I can get the toe to stop hurting, AND get him measured under 19.69", I would really love to compete at WAO in 22" class. I would love to see more of England and Wales. (on a budget of course!)

Seri is doing very well, as is Kiba. Kiba is now one QQ short of MACH, and is all qualified for Nationals finally. Seri needs more conditioning, and lots of work, but I'm looking forward to being more serious with her in the coming year as Drifter begins to step down bit by bit. (he's not ready yet, of course!)

Anyway, leaving on Monday morning for Kentucky. Not anxious at all about running my dogs, just hoping Drifter's toe doesn't hurt too much!

27 September 2010

Another short point by point post.

The seminar with Ria went well, I learned a bit, most people learned a bunch.

Drifter's hamstring is *good* but he was a bit stiff all over. Guess that's what happens when you can't do any normal exercising for several weeks. He's cleared for off leash hiking and increased ball work.

Drifter turned 8 on Saturday. Hard to believe. I feel that he should be both 4 and 12 years old, like he's been running forever with me, but he's still ready to be in his prime, still not quite mature. While we've never been awful, it's been a bit of a long road to find consistency with him, and I feel like we've still got more to do to finish our career.

And on that note, last Monday my regular vet heard a heart murmur while doing a quick listen to Drifter, and so Thursday I saw a cardiologist. He had an echocardiogram (ultrasound) done, and he has developed slight thickening of both the mitral and bicuspid valves. So far, there is a bit of leakage but no enlargement of any chambers, and he is pretty asymptomatic, I mean, he hacks/coughs maybe once every week or two, and doesn't seem to be overexerting himself any more than usual. Anyway, he needs a chest x-ray every 6 months and so far is on no medication. I did order all the good heart supplements I could research over the weekend. Sigh. It's always something, no?

I am seriously considering applying for the WAO team. It sounds like it shouldn't be a conflict of interest for the AKC Team, so assuming Drifter stays healthy, I could attend Tryouts, then fly out to England if I made the team, with no negative consequences except to my wallet.

Speaking of my wallet, I put in my 2 weeks notice at work. Our new manager, not nearly as personable as the last, and his new stiffer policies added to me needing extra time to myself to condition and train myself and dogs, plus I need to begin packing and cleaning for our move (don't know when yet, waiting for zoning to clear for training building before we buy). So I am relying on teaching money from here on out. I have a lot of things waiting to be scheduled so I'm hopeful I'll be alright, but I'm strongly considering cutting USDAA out of my schedule for next year to save money, since I'll be focusing heavily on AKC World Team anyway... we'll see.

No picture today, sorry. I'm off to bed now. This was a heavy hitting entry, no?

18 September 2010

Drifter's healing well from his hamstring strain. He's up to 2 twenty-minute leash walks every day, and tomorrow we're going to attempt a leashed 45-min hike to see how he does with a bit more elevation change. I can see he's still unstable when he steps on things like rocks or walnuts, but overall his gait is vastly improved over even 3 or 4 days ago. I think he should be just fine by the time we leave for USDAA Nationals in Kentucky.

Seri is doing well in training. I've been running her in class to get her into a more exciting situation. I have decided to buckle down and just have the argument, and stop her dogwalk. She is not the same kind of naturally tight-turning dog that Drifter is, and I'm worried that she will never turn "on a dime" off the contact if I allow her to run 96mph off of it like she does when she runs. This would be just fine for US competition, but europe right now is trending towards really hard DW approaches and exits, and I'd like to have the consistency, control, and independence to handle things like backsides of jumps after the DW without having a foot race and an argument. Consistency has always been something I've struggled with, with my particular set of pushy dogs. Seri carries a LOT of ground speed, more than Drifter, and should be perfectly competitive with a really fast stopped DW contact. I will work the run a bit before big national events and maybe let fly in the Finals now and then (she's freakin' fast!).

Now that the weather's cooled off, I'm getting back to hiking more regularly. Poor Seri after her 3+ month hiatus, is still very out of shape, and a mere 50 minute walk has her dragging along tired at the end. So therefore we're doing it 4 times a week or so until she can go longer. I prefer to walk about 90 minutes or so when I go out, but this summer was SO HOT I just couldn't do it. We'd have all melted. This probably contributed to Drifter's injury, unfortunately. I'm hopeful that by leaving my "real" job, next summer this won't happen. This is the 3rd time Drifter's suffered a minor injury at the beginning of the fall season, so he was layed up before Nationals, and I'm thinking that makes a pattern, and I'm guessing the lower conditioning level is the problem. Next year I can get up at the crack of dawn and go out for a walk/run every day, just around our property if nothing else. And swim, hopefully!

Kiba's doing well, nothing much different to report there. She's even calmed down a tiny bit in the car and has ridden in some wire crates lately - normally she's spins and drools and looks a little "out there" if she can see out the top of her crate and out the windows.... crazy little dog.

My puppy is growing quickly. Because of Danish Kennel Club registration procedure, I have to submit a name by Wednesday, which is very weird for me, I'm usually a "make a connection and learn the puppy's personality before naming it" type of person.

09 September 2010

Good News: Seri ran at her first trial in over 4 months, and while I expected only insanity, I actually got some decent runs from her, and she Q'ed in JWW on Fri and Sat to finish her AXJ. Kiba QQ'ed on Saturday but tripped and hit a bar with her face on Sunday. Drifter loved the new positionless table, and turned in a 5.33YPS standard Q at 26", that's our fastest ever.

Bad News: Drifter's toe was hurting so badly Friday after his runs that I couldn't run him at all Saturday. Then on Tuesday, toe looked great, did some dogwalks and BAM he's limping in the rear. He strained his medial hamstring on the right side. So now he's off till USDAA Nationals in KY.
Good News: My puppy was born on Tuesday Sept 7! Male. I have to go to europe to pick him up. Should be fun! (pic is one of the pups, don't know which is mine yet) Good News: I *think* I will have enough teaching business and cleaning/moving stuff to do so that I can quit my job. Soon.

Bad News: I don't have a full-time indoor for the winter so may have to make do with workshops every week or two. I'm available for teaching!

Good: Have tentatively scheduled a seminar in Oregon (will be my first time in the PNW) and should be back in NC, and possibly TX in the winter/spring.

31 August 2010

Ria Seminar

I still have spots available in the Conditioning and Structure Seminar with Ria Acciani MPT. She is a most excellent PT, way more than a mere massage, she is a fully trained, degreed and certified human physical therapist who then switched to working on dogs years ago after completing the canine rehab coursework at the U of Tenn. She is extremely knowledgeable regarding how the parts of a dog's body work together, and is an expert on physical rehab and conditioning. Her knowledge of structure comes from knowing how each piece should move and how each muscle is attached and moves, rather than from reading breed ring dog books or pictures. This seminar will be invaluable for the serious agility handler!

30 August 2010

Good Weekend I Guess

NE Regional this past weekend, at Dreampark in NJ, just an hour away. Normally an hour is just fine commute wise, however the scheduling this weekend had Steeplechase finals finishing at 8:30 on Sat and GP Finals finishing at 7:30 (for me anyway).

At this trial I had Drifter running Team events at 26", so as not to get too used to 22" when we have AKC again this coming weekend at 26". He is running GP/Steeple at 22 since that is what I thought we'd be doing this year when I got the Q's back in the winter. So mixed up heights. Friday started with Team Gamblers, in which Drifter was pretty much retarded. Wouldn't stay, couldn't find the first weave pole, flew off the see-saw, and then knocked a bar. Bad! Next up was Steeplechase Round 1. I had decided coming into this weekend that I am going to run him like every single run is the national finals, as that is what he likes. I don't know what it is about that style, whether it's just that we stay connected more, or it keeps him mentally engaged, or what, but i ran Steeplechase very aggressively and he was 2nd in Round 1, behind only Denise's Zippity (world team dog). Kiba also ran aggressively and won her P16" height. She was not on Team, so that was her ony run on Friday.

Saturday dawned bright and early (walk thrus at 6:40!), starting with Grand Prix Round 1. Both Drifter and Kiba had byes, but ran Round 1 for practice. I had different goals with them, with Drifter again I wanted to run aggressively, and thus chose a handling strategy with all front crosses that had me driving through the course as quickly as I could, but also involved not gearing him down too much for every little corner. That's my balancing goal this year, to find what speeds around corners keep up our YPS the best. I've found sometimes I'm getting corners that are too tight! So anyway, I pushed, and he won Round 1 by almost 2 whole seconds (30.55 and next dog was 32.41). Very good result! Kiba I wanted to work contacts, as hers aren't really full running or independent, and she hit the first bar so I was relaxed and worked her as I had planned.

Next was Team Snooker, where Drifter missed a weave entry (weird!) and so I had to abort and only do 3 reds instead of 4, but we still finished and did ok for our team. I was happy that after running GP at 22" in the morning, he didn't hit any bars in Snooker. Next up was Team Jumpers, a nice course, interesting enough that I thought we would do well but Drifter tried to anticipate a rear cross, I pulled him back to the jump in time to avoid the refusal but he knocked the bar because of the weird jump/not-jump confusion, then he pulled off a jump later on when I gave him an early decel cue - which we corrected with just time loss and an R.

Once the Team classes were finished we had Steeplechase Round 2. This was a very interesting course, and again I chose the most aggressive handling options that I could with Drifter. And it paid off, he won by a comfortable margin. Kiba hit a bar early on, so I really pushed her after that and she turned in a blistering time, so even with the fault ended up 3rd. Between them I won back more than I paid in entries!

Early again Sunday morning, and we started off with Team Relay. Drifter's team was in 5th so we had to run in reverse order at the very end of the the class (around 11am, after starting at 7:30!). We had a very fast relay course, possibly won the relay, and ended up 4th overall out of 70 teams. After that there were 2 masters classes which I didn't enter, so I had an easy afternoon of reading a book and talking to friends. Finally around 4 or 5 we got started in Grand Prix. This course didn't really allow me to use my new-found super-aggressive handling skills, but I tried to pick the smoothest strategy that still kept Drifter engaged the entire course, and we had a pretty nice run. Didn't blow away everyone's times quite like in Round 1, but he still had a wonderful run and we won the class once more. Kiba also had a nice run, although she had a slight bobble, faultless thankfully, and she won her class as well.

So Drifter is the 2010 Northeast Regional 22" Steeplechase and Grand Prix Champion,
And Kiba is the 2010 Northeast 16" Performance Grand Prix Champion!

Off to AKC next weekend, it's Seri's re-debut after her long injury and spay surgery layup. She's entered at 20" so I'm sure she'll be a lunatic. She's not really ready but I wanted to get her back out to get her mind back in gear.

23 August 2010

Busy busy lately, still, neverendingly. Last Wed I drove out to OH for my first clinic/seminar/camp as an attendee is more than 4 years. It was an International Coursework seminar with Linda. I have not actually ever worked with her before, but I was aware that my handling system and hers are pretty darned close, so I was sure she'd be able to give me tips and understand how I work. And sure enough, nothing she said contradicted what I thought. Some of the 2nd and 3rd hand things I hear about the APHS system don't jive with my handling, but I don't think those things are straight from the source, I think they are interpretations. Anyway, I am not a devotee of anyone, but I really enjoyed running lots (and LOTS!) of tough courses. I felt that Drifter and I did pretty well at handling the complicated bits, even though we didn't run very many of them cleanly on the first try. Mostly our issues were minor, the 25" center-to-center weaves got him a few times (they go on forever for him, I guess), but he found his rhythm. I discovered I really can get just about anywhere when I put my mind to it. We collided out of a straight tunnel and I bruised my bottom. And my legs were tired. But it was good. I'd do it again. Not sure I need anything as intense and costly as privates, since as Linda said, I really do know what I need to do to fix things that go wrong in most cases. But I will go back for Tryouts Prep if it's offered again next spring. I'd go to the local International seminar, but it's filled with local students of the instructor that's bringing Linda in, so that's a no-go. I did enjoy how small this was, ony 7-8 dogs. Good easygoing group too.

Anyway, on the puppy front, I was signed on for a litter that would be born this November, but the bitch came in too early and they are waiting till next spring now. I told them to keep me on that list, but I am also looking around. I found another european litter, same stud, different but also nice bitch, that I am looking into now, but not sure if they'll have a puppy for me or not. And will be born soon, which I was hoping to wait a little bit but again, I'll take the right pup when/where it comes up. I am OK with this fall, and I'm OK with next spring.

We looked at a property that my mother's going to make an offer on. A bit far from my current workplace but I am hoping that I'll be gone from there within a year. DJ is sad about the longer commute, but what can we do? Zoning in PA is really restrictive... Also DJ and I are both a bit sad about work, as our new building boss is not nearly as personable and friendly as the outgoing one. This one sort of came in and is changing everything up in sort of a not-so-nice way. So everyone's a bit cranky right now, us included.

Regionals this weekend in NJ. Not really that excited, I'm just not that into it this year. It's fun, but whatever! I don't like how the 2nd round of GP is the last class on Sunday. Hate that scheduling. It's like keeping people hostage. Lots of people would be thrilled to be on the road early after a 3 or 4 day trial, but no. . .

Well that's my random thoughts for today. I am available for seminars, I get good reviews, please shoot me an email if you're interested rdrift at gmail dot com!

16 August 2010

European Options

(Working the wrap in Snooker at IFCS WAC)

So I was thinking about taking Drifter to the EO next year, in Austria. Now this morning I hear about this World Agility Open thing, which is in exactly the same venue our IFCS was at this past May. Very tempting, assuming it isn't something that is considered in 'conflict' by AKC (the EO is OK). I really did love England, and I wanted to attend EO 2012 back in England BUT it's during the Olympics, which means travel is going to be expensive and difficult, so this might be a fun way to get back over there, at an INDOOR event on great surface, in a wonderful area, and spend some more time in the places I wished I'd spent more time this spring. Something to think about, anyhow. I need to learn more about it, how to get on the team, who can go, etc. i want to be sure it's going to be a BIG DEAL and lots of good people will show up, like at EO. If it's not, then I'm not interested.

Aside from that, we did AKC again this past weekend, our first trial since BHAD at the end of July, where Drifter QQ'ed for MACH on Friday, then quadruple NQ'ed the rest of the weekend (sad!). Well he's apparently decided he can't jump a double on a 90-degree turn, as that's what he did this weekend, although he also fell off a dogwalk on a just plain AWFUL approach angle, but that's still weird because he can usually conquer a dogwalk from any angle/speed. This one had zero grip though, so off he went. He did Q in JWW both days with me running full out and pushing for front crosses, so that is gratifying at least. JWW is no longer an issue for us, in fact we have quite a few more of those than standards this year, which is just the reverse of what our record looked like in 2008. Progress of a sort, I suppose, although our Q rate is not getting up where I want it. This week I'm off to my first seminar/camp of ANY kind since 2006, as I'm heading out to Linda's International Coursework seminar. Should be good hard fun. I do enjoy a challenge. After that I have the USDAA Regional at the end of August - I did the annoying thing and entered Team at 26", even though our GP/Stp Q's are at 22", as I don't want him to get too used to 22" when we've got AKC the next 2 weekends at 26" again.

Seri's spay incision is healed. She was spayed on the 3rd, ripped her stitches out on the 5th and got staples, and somehow "lost" her staples yesterday on the 15th. This dog is something for sure. She had her staples in the afternoon, she slept with the e-collar on, and when I got up they were gone. Incision is healed up nicely, thankfully, although due to her picking it will bear more scar tissue than Kiba's does. That's OK. No beauty contests anyway. She's plenty pretty!

I think I am importing a puppy next year. From Europe, from nice working/agility lines. Very cool.

Kiba's closing in on her MACH, i had to look it up, she has 16 QQ's now. i lost count. 20 is a high number to remember when you don't show every weekend!

01 August 2010

money and harnesses

I'm encouraged that I may be able to leave my full time job soon in exchange for a part time job working for someone I like at a job I'd have some fun with, and the rest of my income from teaching. We'll see. I'm still recovering from the trip financially. And now it looks like we may actually be getting zero reimbursement for it. We were told to plan for nothing, but we weren't really given the impression that we would, in fact, get nothing. In the past team members have always gotten something back. Oh well. The other thing irking me a bit is this:
A month or so before we left, a team member contacted Comfortflex about making a patriotic harness for her dog. The company was vert excited and in fact quickly manufactured wonderful red/white/blue harnesses with stars and gave them to the team for free. They told us they'd let Clean Run sell them as a limited edition, and that Clean Run could then donate proceeds for our team. Because of the late timing, the harnesses did not go on sale before we left, but apparently even though they were created for the IFCS team, Clean Run is donating proceeds to AKC. So that made me a little sad to find out. Not even a mention of our team on the page! Again, oh well.

I'm going to attempt to save up money to go to EO next year. Its in Austria, which sounds beautiful. But we'll see. For now I'm just trying not to go broke!

29 July 2010

Another brief post:

Went to a 3-day AKC trial last weekend down in Salisbury MD. Great site, only down side is the big bright skylights in the ceiling that make bright sunspots on the floor. May have lost a Std Q due to that, as he REALLY misread a takeoff spot on the last jump Saturday. Regardless, he QQ'ed on Friday, his 3rd in 4 days of showing, and that finished his MACH title, finally. I've shown AKC so sporadically with him, it was good to finally get that done. So he's now NAC MACH ADCH Drifter OF (we finished our OF as well!).

The rest of the weekend he hit bars or had silly mistakes, so I was pretty disappointed, as I really think we need to get our Q rate way up there to be seriously considered for the AKC team. Also, as a personal goal I am really trying to get our consistency to be a strong point rather than a weak one. I was gratified to hear more than one person say they were surprised he was knocking bars - that shows the progress we've made from the rushing 3-year old Drifter who would over-run his takeoff spot all the time! He really isn't hitting many bars this year, so I ran my hands over him and am pretty sure he must have mildly tweaked something in his rear Saturday morning on the weird mis-jump at the end of Standard. He was chipping in a bit more than usual Sat/Sun, and this was causing the other bars. Oh well. We'll get there. I am really trying to enter AKC trials on a regular enough basis for our strengths to shine through and pull our averages up.

I only had him at this trial, for financial reasons and to let Kiba have down time between trials. Her back has been pretty bad this summer, and I don't think back to back trials are going to be great for her. She needs QQ's for nationals still, but I'm confident she'll get them before the end of November. She is also 3 (ish?) QQ's away from her own MACH. . .

Seri is looking good lately, and I went ahead and bravely entered her in a 3-day AKC trial on good soccer footing at the beginning of September. Because she gets spayed next week, that only gives me about 2 weeks of jump work afterwards, so I entered her at 20" her first time out and skipped FAST. We'll try to get a few legs towards our AX/AXJ titles, and once she's in B we'll make a token effort to Q for Tryouts. I know she's not ready for the Team, but I'd love to get her the experience and exposure. Most people don't know her at all yet.

19 July 2010

2 weeks

Well I never did go through more photos from our trip. A lot's happened in the last few weeks. But to finish our UK story, briefly, competition videos are on my YouTube page which is linked in the sidebar. i have the classes uploaded individually. Each one pretty much tells its own story; we had a lot of really close moments. A bar in each round of Biathlon kept us from the Gold; we ended up 4th. A stupid missed weave kept us out of placing in Individual Jumpers (his only bad weave entry). A back-jump/missed rear cross cue kept us from Gold in Ind Standard. But. He ran well. In fact he really only hit one bar - the other one he smacked the wing, not the rail itself.

Monday after the competition I attempted to drop Ria off to fly home, but the ash cloud had cancelled all flights out of Bristol so she went with us over to the capital of Wales; Cardiff. We toured all around the castle and fort, went to a vodka bar for lunch (I had a drink called "Purple Rain"!), then went down to the bay side, walked around, enjoyed seeing the familiar settings from Torchwood and Doctor Who, then had ice cream overlooking the water. After that we headed back, I took Ria to her airline-provided hotel in Bristol, and we crashed for the last night. Tuesday we saw a tourist-trap cave to waste some time; drove on some of the TINIEST "ROADS" i have ever encountered - seriously barely one car wide, I was afraid to go to fast for fear of oncoming traffic, or sheep, or whatever! And once back to London, I walked Drifter, dropped him off at the cargo terminal (a little scary!), gassed up the rental car, and got on our way. No timing problems this time, no dog problems, no nothing. Smooth. On arrival in Newark we got our stuff, passed through customs, went to get the car (much easier to pick up the dog crate after getting the car!) and got to QuickPak just in time to pick Drifter up without a hitch. He was fine, as always, although I feel bad for the poor guy. He never seems dehydrated, and he's never hungry even when he should be, so he gets through no problems and I wouldn't hesitate to fly him again. Well, maybe a little.... but I'd do it.

Last weekend I went to an AKC trial on one day, and USDAA the next. And Drifter was great. He double-Qed at 26" with 2 nice strong runs. Then Kiba Q'ed in PSJ for her 2nd Q, so she's Q'ed for that at USDAA Nationals. We also tried for PGP but she knocked a bar. I also found out about another close relative of Seri's beginning to seize. So after hearing about the first one a few weeks ago, this new one, and some serious thought, I decided not to breed Seri. I love that dog and think she's got all the potential in the world, BUT the risk is a bit too high for me. In addition, I am getting her spayed and she will be able to get back on track for her career as soon as she's healed from that (assuming we get the green light on her wrist being healed, which I expect to get soon). She WILL be at USDAA Nationals (not in GP, no time to Q after being laid up all summer). And I'm hoping maybe I can get her to Tryouts. She won't make AKC NAtionals, but even Tryouts would be fun. I am currently searching litters in Europe instead, looking at different lines of dogs that consistently produce natural jumping, healthy dogs. I've found a few I like, one this fall, one next year, and a couple others I'm waiting on replies about.

Drifter seemed a bit "dumb" on the doxy. I'd never heard that before, but since I've taken him off it he's gone 5/6, with the only NQ being a just *barely* refusal of crossing a plane by like 3 inches before taking something without even doubling back. . . His jumping is looking fantastic. I'm hoping to be able to push him a bit soon. I am very hopeful we can pull up our Q rate from our 2 not-so-great trials in April and June. I know that consistency and keeping bars up are our keys to getting on the radar for World Team selection next year, as those were our weak spots last time. If we can just keep our bars up, and get our Q rate up (we were above 50% in '09, but I want to be around 80%), we can do it, I'm sure. He's doing very well.

04 July 2010

Couple random pics

A few random pics from our sight-seeing with the Moureaux's on the Tuesday before the competition. All are from Karen Moureaux at dogsportphotos.com

In no particular order!

After Stonehenge we tried to find another nearby stone monument, but ended up finding "Woodhenge" instead. Which, disappointingly, was more like "Concretehenge" since the wood monument had rotted out long ago and been replaced by concrete placeholding "stumps". Weird.
Drifter and I walking among Woodhenge and thinking it a bit silly:
Group shot. Drifter is bored. Driven *LOVES* cameras.

Drifter is very bored, but also relaxed! (he's rolling)

Group shot. I apparently closed my eyes . . .

View of the side of our hotel. Gorgeous, no?

Cheddar, heading back to the cars after finding out the cave tours were closed for the day.

Parking area at the gorge. Dark grey Audi in front - yeah, my upgraded rental car! A4 2.0TDI wagon. Loved it! Totally want a diesel now!