31 March 2010


4-Week Sessions starting 2nd week of April in Glenmoore PA!

New Session! 4-Week Session starting April 13 and 14! New - Tuesday Skills Clases!

Beginning Tuesday April 13th:
2-4pm Open Time for Private or Semi-Private Lessons to work on individual skills
4pm Contact Skills - Learn how to increase the dog's understanding of how to perform the obstacle, Will incease speed, consistency, and ability to enter and exit the obstacle safely at any speed or angle.
5pm Weave Skills - Help the dog learn to find the entry from any angle and "hang on" to stay in. Also will cover timing of handling maneuvers around the weave poles.
6pm Jumping Skills - Focus is on giving the dog experience in many different jumping situations, and helping the dog figure out how to work through many difficult jumping situations.
Each Skills class is 60 minutes long and is limited to 6 dogs, cost is $100 per dog.

Beginning Wednesday April 14th:
2:30pm Masters Coursework - variations of standard and jumpers courses to fine tune handling and obstacle skills.
4pm-5:30pm Open time for instructor training and Private/Semi-Private Lessons
5:30pm Masters Coursework - same as above.

Thursdays before June: available for Private Lessons from 2-5pm
Thursdays starting in June I may be teaching classes in Quakertown area!

Please email me to let me know what you'd like to sign up for!

30 March 2010

NAC Drifter has a nice ring to it right?

The drive home after was grueling and I'm still pretty sleep deprived. All in all a great weekend. Both dogs ran in Challenger Round so neither had a horrible weekend. Kiba ran in 16 and was 2nd in ISC JWW on Friday, somewhere around 10th in JWW on Saturday, and 4th in Hybrid Round Sunday. She hit a bar but had a rockin' time in Challengers - not enough to beat Angie and Dylan anyway, but still fast! Drifter had a bar in each run on Fri, turned out he slipped in the first one and was sore for the 2nd. Sat he won Standard, Sunday he ended up 12th or so in Hybrid (I ran very conservatively to be clean), then won Challengers to get into Finals, then won Finals with the fastest time of all heights! (Although I'm sure if we'd been at 26 that darned Solar wouldve been faster...)

I do have *some* video but not all. I will probably upload it Thurs.

I've also been thinking about what to do with Kiba. She has been hitting a lot of bars at 22, and at 16 even on Tulsa's hard ground she held up really well. If I switch to P16 in usdaa though, she'd either have to requalify everything or just stay home. I'm leaning toward the latter for this year. She does not travel well; she pants and cowers. She runs fine at events but isn't a good traveller. So its a tough toss up. I don't really want to pay all the $$ to requalify her in Perf. Maybe I'll go easy and just take Drifter and Seri this year. And the same for akc next year? (Perry GA, most likely, which is 15hrs drive for me) but without a Nationals goal I have trouble finding purpose for a dog, so maybe just akc for her? Obviously I haven't figured it all out yet.

I am planning more akc this year...

18 March 2010

I don't usually care about internet "trends" but why the hell not

Answers to the questions posed on Full Tilt's blog.

Why is "competitive" a bad word for many people?
- Because for some people it has connotations of "win at any cost". Implying that the dog is promptly beaten with a two-by-four if it misses a contact or weave, etc. I personally am very competitive and happy to be so. I love being in the biggest, most competitive jump heights and classes. I love it more when I win, but when I don't I am frustrated for a bit, then go home and make myself better.

Should everyone be given a "participation ribbon"?
-This is a sport, not kindergarten. I am NOT paying an extra $1 a class just so everybody gets a dinky ribbon. Nothing is free. If you want a ribbon, earn it. I do not subcribe to the "rainbows 'n butterflies" philosophy.

If you want to win, why do people assume you will have a bad attitude?
- as others have answered, because some of the people who want to win DO have a bad attitude, and they blame their attitude on wanting to win. I want to win, and I think MOST of the time I do not have a bad attitude. I like to think of myself as taking no BS and not involving myself in "cliques", and sometimes I come off a bit unsocial, but I don't think it's a bad attitude.

Is there anything wrong with doing agility "just for fun"?
- no but don't expect to beat me, or other competitive people. This is a sport, not just a game. You can have fun, sure. I have fun. And for that matter, "just for fun"? I do agility because I LOVE it - which means it's fun for me. My dogs have fun, I have fun, but I am ALSO competitive. I do sometimes correct my dogs in a negative manner for things regarding agility. Not with a two-by-four, and not for things they don't understand.

Why do some people think competitive people are to be avoided?
- Because some competitive people ARE to be avoided. Especially if they had a bad run. Whew!

If you fail, why do people make excuses? (my dog had the fastest time in standard, well yeah, they knocked 2 bars and missed their A-frame contact....but STILL).
- Well first, I don't think that's an excuse, per se. An excuse would be "my dog didn't win because I held my contacts" as another commenter posted. This is more of an example of someone trying to demonstrate to others that their dog really IS the best dog. Which, like healthy trash talk, is a perfectly healthy thing for someone to think about themselves/their dog. I am much more bothered by someone saying "gosh my dog really sucks!"

Do people that are not as competitive actually have BETTER dogs due to the lack of pressure to perform perfectly?
- Nope. They sure don't beat me, anyway. And my dogs are great "dogs" as well, they sleep in the house, on the couch, on the bed, and go hiking several hours a week...

Why must a person that wins be almost OVERLY humble, almost to the point of not even being happy for what they did?
- now THIS I have an answer for. Because our society punishes braggarts. It's NOT accepted to walk around after a great run boasting about it, even if it is justified. It IS ok to smile and be happy, but if someone congratulates you, you are not allowed to say "Yeah it sure was great! We're the BESTEST!". Now when I win, I don't say much because A) I already know I'm the best, no surprise there:) and also B) I'm just not an emotional person. No drama. Sorry.

Why can't many people be happy and gracious when others are successful?
- As someone else answered, because if someone else won, it means the other person didn't. And as Mia mentioned, sometimes the people who won dont' deserve happy and gracious congrats. OR they've gotten so many already they don't need more.

Do "just for fun" people always have a more positive outlook on trialing than those that are more competitive?
- Do "just for fun" people trial? Why? Thought they were doing it just for fun? Oh now they want TITLES just for fun??? I think they're lying to themselves.

Why do people spend a great amount of their time looking for that PERFECT dog to "take them to the spotlight"?
- I don't look for the perfect dog "to take me to the spotlight". I look for one of the many dogs with the potential to be a great agility dog. I am the one who will craft it into a spotlight dog, or not. That said I certainly did have my share of non-spotlight dogs. And the dog IS a good part of the equation. It is patently NOT TRUE that a good handler/trainer can win in agility with any old border collie chosen at random. But there are many, many different pups that could potentially win with the right mix of encouragement, training, conditioning, and handling.

All in all, I AM a competitive person. I DO want to be on the World Team (I'm on one already). I don't think I've ever come off as unapproachable to anyone who's actually approached me. I DO look a bit unapproachable when I'm off on my own being the introvert I naturally am. I tend to inspire a feeling in people that I am mean, or have no sense of humor, am cold, etc. None of which are true. I am just an introvert by nature and don't gravitate to chat with people I don't know. As far as bad attitudes go, I have been around most every big name person in the sport at some time or another, and some definitely have questionable attitudes. There are certain people I avoid after a bad run, certain people I congratulate and some I don't. I don't tend to expound upon the amazingness of others, as I believe I'm better than everybody, and I LOVE a good-natured trash-talking session.

Agility is a COMPETITION. It is also my LIFE. I've been doing it since I was all of 10 years old. I will probably never stop.

14 March 2010

My dad has been back in the hospital this past week. He's not doing very well; basically he needs a new liver as soon as they can find him one. He's fairly stable right now, and lucid, but he's not healthy. I am hoping something comes up before I have to leave for AKC Nationals in 10 days.

Went to 2 different trials this weekend. Saturday I went to an AKC trial in NJ. It was an indoor trial at the great Dream park in NJ, but the weather outside (I crated out of the car, the crating room is tiny and crowded) was just terrible! Pouring rain, really hard driving winds, etc. Roads were closing because of flooding nearby. The site stayed OK, and the parking is flat and paved so no problems there, but everyone got soaked just walking the dogs to potty for 2 minutes. I actually ended up buying a waterproof coat from a vendor. Which is fine, since I don't have a good weatherproof coat, really, that isn't an oversized rain coat.

Kiba ran well, she tripped and just didnt' jump right on the last jump in standard so didn't QQ, but was otherwise perfect, blowing away the JWW course with some insane time. I felt that she was turning more tightly at 16" than she was last week, when I felt that she was just running full out and not wanting to decelerate for corners. 16" isn't a bad height for her, with her constant sore/tight back, but she can really open up over it. Drifter was at 26" again, and he was absolutely perfect in JWW in the morning, but just had a major brainfart run in Std in the afternoon, beginning with missing his dogwalk contact (he seemed to just misstride somehow over the 2nd apex, not sure if I was too far ahead or if he just didn't judge it right) and ending with almost going off course and knocking another bar. D'oh! Seri hit bars in the morning in JWW and missed a weave entry in the afternoon in standard, but at least kept her bars up. She is a very talented and capable jumper; even at 26" she has a lot of flexibility in takeoff spot, but she just gets so excited that she doesn't look ahead down the line and guage her speed and stride. Yet. I felt like she was more tuned in for standard at least.

Today I went to Keystone's makeup USDAA trial. Unfortunately this meant a day to day change in jump height for Kiba and Drifter. Kiba had to go from 16 to 22, and Drifter went from 26 to 22 (not nearly as difficult). Kiba had trouble. She hit several bars, but otherwise was listening well. Her back seemed a bit tight to me, so not sure if it was physical or just her flattening out too much after doing 16" the day before. Drifter was very good except for staying like an untrained dog, which is to say hardly at all. He returned to evil creeping. But he won both Gamblers and Grand Prix. He's fully qualified for USDAA Nationals now so I think I probably won't enter him in any more until Regionals end of August. That will make it easier for me to focus on Seri. Speaking of whom, she also got the gamble for her 2nd Masters Q, but was a total dork in GP and got walked off halfway through for assuming my shoulder pull was a rear cross and blasting off the wrong direction. I also ran Trig today since my mom is in the hospital with the my dad. She was really, really good for me, getting a gamble Q on a tough gamble, and only a single refusal in GP. I forgot how much of a baby she was and didn't show her a really angled jump well enough.

Drifter's been running so well at 26" in akc that I'm having second thoughts about him being done with 26" for good after IFCS. I am now thinking I might throw him in a few AKC trials at 26 - on good footing! - and see if I can get him Q'ed for Tryouts one more time. Plenty of dogs running full height at 8-9 years old. If he doesn't look good, I'll drop him down, no issues. Regardless, he is so well trained and I'm so used to him, that i feel I can do this and at the same time put a lot more focus on Seri. I'm not sure if I'll get her to Tryouts or not. She is a slow maturing dog who needs more skills and drills type work. I would love to take her a good work-heavy camp over the summer but simply can't afford the $500+travel it would take. Oh well. I can figure everything out myself, just would like to take her somewhere and focus on her. She's a good girl, just very. . . excitable!

And speaking of Seri, I've pretty much decided that next May (2011) is when I'll breed her. I have even found a stud I like for her. This dog had one offspring on the AKC World Team, and numerous healthy litters of intelligent pups who excelled at obedience and agility. He is from working lines and was also talented on stock. A fast, but thinking type of dog. Nice structure. . . if you're interested feel free to email. I would highly prefer to sell puppies only to people I know personally enough to be able to feel safe and comfortable with where they are going. Seri is a very sweet, athletic, healthy dog. But she's a LOT of dog. She's fast and loud in agility, with more "Go" than "Slow" right now. But she's got lots of nice relatives out there too, and in fact her littermate just qualified for Tryouts this year. Nothing's certain yet, timeline-wise - if she DOES qualify for Tryouts I'd like to take her, but she's due in heat May 5-7, tentatively, so that would be right around Tryouts time, so we'll see what happens.

07 March 2010

This, my friends, is how you make a weave entry. And this too! Love his weaves, he is just awesome at shifting his weight to get his ass in there!

I also love this shot.

From last July. I'm sort of hunting for a great shot of Drifter in motion...

ETA: and yes, we do achieve a full double-suspension gallop across the dogwalk!

04 March 2010

Sage Hill Most Wanted

In the summer of 1999, I was just beginning to look for a border collie puppy when we travelled to Cleveland for USDAA Nationals. When someone offered me a 4 month old pup that she wasn't getting along with, we decided to bring her home and see how she got along. This pup was Freeze, an only puppy with no littermates. She is an older half-sister to Gayle York's Credit, and thus aunt to several World Team dogs. Freeze was an odd dog, even for a border collie. She was the smartest damn dog I've ever trained (still true!) but also very soft. She knew lots of verbal commands and was very athletic, but had issues judging jump distances, and was very worried about going the wrong way. She couldn't tolerate me being anywhere near her landing space for a front cross or lead-out, so I ended up doing "artificial" rear crosses for almost every turn, even though I could have easily done more fronts. (I think this may have lead to the weird misconception that used to run the rumor mills - that I "only do rear crosses"). She acheived her ADCH and LAA-Bronze in USDAA, her MX and MXJ in AKC with very limited showing, but knocking bars was always an issue, and she was so soft I couldn't work on it much. When I started showing Drifter, Freeze immediately fell to "second dog" status because of her difficult issues, even though Drifter wasn't steady or consistent yet. With Drifter, I always know what dog I have when I step to the line. With Freeze, it was like Russian Roulette. Sometimes I had a quick dog who was within 1-2 seconds of the top times. Sometimes I had a worried dog who was not only mediocre speedwise, but just plain worrying her way around the course. And I never knew what I was going to get.

In January of 2006 i was attending an AKC trial when a friend offered to take Freeze on a vacation of sorts over the winter. This friend had a difficult to get along with sheltie who had a chronic illness, and Freeze was one of very few dogs this sheltie got along with well. So I let Freeze go live with her, and quite by accident her neighbors fell in love with Freeze while out walking with my friend every morning. They had recently suffered some difficult losses, and when my friend could no longer keep Freeze, they immediately offered to take her. I was hesitant but since my friend lived so close and could offer advice, I let them try it. Well they all got along fabulously and I made the tough decision to let Freeze be officially rehomed to live with them permanently. I already had Kiba at that point, so wasn't lacking in dogs to train, and Freeze did not stand up well to the rigors of agility training.

Freeze's 11th birthday was this last Tuesday, it's been over 4 years since she left me for her wonderful retirment home. Here's a few recent pictures of her, fat and happy, enjoying the easy life!

02 March 2010

Snow, how I detest thee!

the snow is slowly sorta melting into the ground. Know what melting snow + dirt = ?
MUD that's what. But before it turns into mud, it turns into slush. Slush + freezing temperatures overnight = crunchy snow. Ice. I tried to run my dogs in the yard today on the remaining snow(ish) and in 10 minutes I saw pink feet so I gave it up.

Looks like Thursday I may be calling the rehab place 40 minutes away that sells swim passes. Expensive - hiking is free! - but better than my dogs doing pretty much nothing. We only get to do agility 2x a week, and therapy ball and core exercises are great but they don't really keep the dogs aerobically fit. Sigh. More money.

I am officially hoping to teach more after IFCS, so if you've been wanting me to show you how I do it, please feel free to ask! I mainly do weekends but holidays are great and if you're going to pay me enough I'll skip work to come to you! (agility makes more money than work, every time!) I won't do "running contact" seminars, but I'll gladly work with people on an individual basis to help their individual dogs with the contacts. Speeding them up, switching to running, whatever.

This coming weekend I am not trialing but have rented a local (well over an hour away) indoor to train in again. Seri was whacky last weekend and needs some reminders about certain things, and Kiba needs to remember that she CAN decelerate and turn tightly even when jumping 16".