30 April 2010

ETS and packing

So in the midst of final preparation for my trip, and this article about ETS comes out in Clean Run. I normally don't read Clean Run but so many people are blogging about this I took a glance at it while eating some cereal yesterday. I've also looked at Linda's online article previously. What's disturbing me is that so many people think ETS is a load of bullshit.

It's absolutely not.

Now, is "Early Takeoff Syndrome" something a dog inherits, that causes only weird jumping issues? No, of course not. it's a combination of some mental softness/confidence issues, and depth perception, in my opinion (which is similar to what Linda concluded, I believe). I had a dog with a mild ETS issue, and I know quite a few dogs with ETS issues. Some breeds, terriers especially, are very prone to it. Border collies are one of the ones where it seems to run in lines. Now, when I had a dog with an early takeoff issue, I went back and did a LOT of jump work with her. We did bounce grids (pre-Susan Salo, who doesn't float my boat), jump lines with varying distances, sending, recalls, big spreads, everything. And sometimes she'd look good for a while. Sometimes she wouldn't. I believe that I know what I'm doing. And I couldn't "fix" this dog with jump work. I did eventually adapt by doing the things Linda describes: I starting handling from the rear. I didn't lead out as far. I didn't use landing side front crosses. I never raced her down a line of jumps. I over-used rear crosses to stay out of her way. I even set her up 3 feet from the first obstacle! (these were the things that earned me the wrongful reputation of "not doing front crosses" for a while!) This is not a list of things you do with a dog who simply has a minor jumping problem or hits bars. I've had plenty of dogs in agility now, and only one with this issue. Maybe you don't want to call it a "syndrome", but it really can't be called anything else? It's a collection of descriptors that fit a group of dogs with a so-far uncureable problem.

I know a dog who had it as a mild case as a younger dog, and it got worse. She was bred to a dog with no issues. 2 of those offspring also stutter and leap. One rather spectacularly. One of the non-stuttering ones has been bred several times now, so it will be interesting to see if his offspring stutter. The original dog, the female, was bred from pure working border collie lines, by a working border collie person who does zero agility.

My ETS dog has a half-sister who was bred, and she also had mild ETS. Some of her offspring have varying degrees of it as well. One crashes spread jumps with some regularity. The other doesn't hit many bars but arcs early most of the time.

I don't think "ETS" is genetic, but the combination of factors that combine to produce the problem ARE, so it's pretty much the same thing, isn't it? Now if you aren't breeding dogs specifically for agility, then it does not matter one bit. But if you are, or are buying a pup for agility, then it should matter. I've dealt with a mild form (and I spent 4 months getting my dog to go through an EIGHT INCH HIGH TIRE happily because she'd crashed so many she was terrified of it!), and I would not want it again.

20 April 2010

Even when I get a day off I'm still busy. Worked today at my "real" job, stopped at Staples and got my C5 customs form scanned, then came home, did brief bounce jump grids with the dogs + soft sided weave entries with Seri (only a few reps). Then packed Drifter and Seri in the car and went to the park for 20-minute bike jogs with each. Drifter seems to enjoy the bike jogger attachment, he figured it out right away when I introduced it last week. He trots along with a relaxed expression. Perfect, like a treadmill with better scenery. Seri, on the other hand, will take a few tries to get on the attachment. Her reaction was "Why in hell did you tie my head to this metal contraption!??" so I ponied her along on a loose leash and as she got used to the bike I slowly shortened the leash up a bit - holding it loosely in my hand the whole time. She did OK. I expect she'll take one more session of leash biking before being attached to the jogger again. I do use a plastic (not too harsh) pinch collar - 2 reasons being me not wanting to get pulled over if they do get distracted, although they're pretty good, and also because I don't want them pulling and leaning to one side the whole time. Defeats the purpose of trotting as exercise, you know, even muscle tone. . .

After that I ordered some shorts (yes, shorts) hopefully that will match our uniforms OK. And filled in traveler info for our tickets on Continental, and sent the C5 form to confirm Drifter's reception in Heathrow with the freight company...

Most of my paperwork is in line, as I mentioned yesterday. I did finally get an appointment set up at the USDA Office in Harrisburg. So hopefully I only have one more vet visit after that and I should be set. I also need to get a health certificate, I guess, unless the 7001 form counts? I will ask at the USDA next Monday.

Tomorrow I have class and lessons, Thursday I leave for the trial, returning Sunday. Monday I go to USDA office, Tuesday I see Ria, Wed I have class, etc etc. Busy busy. And oh, by the way, the VOLCANO IS SPEWING ASH ALL OVER THE UK! Suck! We haven't heard what IFCS says about this, but we can only hope it stops soon. Pray if you like, even. I will NOT be pleased if I can't even GET to the event. . . as of today they are resuming some air traffic in London but who knows. They are worried it will explode again and/or trigger a nearby volcano to also erupt. Way to go ay-ya-FYAH-lah-yer-kull....

18 April 2010

Sorry for the scarcity of updates. I've had time-consuming things to do almost every day after work. This afternoon is the first real full afternoon of relaxing I've had, and that's only because it's Sunday and I can't make the phone calls I need to make today. . .

last weekend I went to a local AKC trial. I had Drifter and Seri entered, both at 26". It was our first time at this particular indoor soccer turf site. it is a very nice site, but the turf was a bit slick. The site has promised to use their zamboni-type machine to fluff it more for the next trials, so I will try it again I suppose. They seemed to adapt to it without too much trouble. Drifter hit 2 bars on Saturday, but also was just not really paying attention. Trig, my mom's youngster, was in heat and he's definitely got that male frame of mind, but that usually doesn't bleed over into our trialing mentality. He's not a dog who loses his mind over girls when he's working. If he was, he would be neutered. Anyhow, whether hormones or brain farts, he didn't Q in Excellent all weekend. Sunday he hit no bars but just wasn't sticking with me particularly well; he had several moments of "Oh you're going THAT way?!" which is very abnormal for him. He did, however, Q in Novice FAST both days and finished his NAF title! Yay for that, at least. Seri wasn't too bad, she is still the one-bar wonder but she's showing me some nice stuff, beginning to read lines, sticking with me around corners (Drifter are you paying attention?!) etc. In fact I think aside from me stopping her and gently correcting/settling her down after the knocked bars, I don't think she made any other mistakes. She'll get there.

Still not quite finished all my paperwork and odds and ends for the UK trip. Paperwork is almost finished, but I need to get it stamped by the USDA APHIS office in Harrisburg, which apparently I have to physically go to and make an appointment, not just FedEx my papers to them. i need to get my import form going into the UK scanned into my computer so i can email it to the receiving freight company. And I also need to figure out how I'm getting my 2 girls down to Raleigh to be dog-sat while I'm away. I'm very happy a friend is kind enough to watch them, but figuring out how to get the 7-hour trip each direction worked into my schedule is getting difficult. I may have to move an appointment with someone... The last thing to be donw will be the tick/tapeworm treatment, which will be Friday before we leave.

So much stuff to be done! It's an exciting but ironically daunting task. I am so busy trying to make sure all my t's are crossed and i's dotted, that I don't really have time to be excited in a happy way yet. I won't relax and enjoy it until Drifter's cleared customs. Then I'll be fine.

Next weekend I'm down at a USDAA trial in NC, my last big practice before we leave. I entered only Drifter on team so I can really focus on pushing him for the best we can get, on dirt in an arena, at 26". Saturday and Sunday I've got Seri entered in a few classes, including another shot at Grand Prix.

09 April 2010


Pretty busy lately. Which is good. But also just sort of bad because I enjoy a slow day. I'm getting more and more inquiries about private lessons and seminars, which is awesome because I am really hoping to leave my job sometime in the next year or so and move into full time agility instruction. Being able to set my own schedule is becoming SO attractive! Anyways, between the slowly adding up lessons, classes on Wednesdays, catching up mentally from Nationals, exercising/training the dogs, you can see how my week gets filled. I also need to get back to the vet for the 2nd to last time before we leave for England. Most of my flight/cargo stuff is in order, just waiting to hear back on the return booking details/confirmation, and I need to scan in a paper for the receiving end as well. The vet visit is just to have the vet fill out a form saying i've got everything in order, then within 24-48 hours of leaving I have to go back and have the vet apply a tick preventative and tapeworm meds and sign the form that he did so. We leave in a month, on May 8th!

This past week I worked the dogs more than usual, honing skills with both Drifter and Seri especially. We have a local AKC trial on soccer turf this weekend. It is Drifter's first chance to collect Q's for 2011 Tryouts, and another shot for Seri to get some Q's and get out of Exc A. She's been running great all week and I'm hopeful. I also decided I'm done fighting for the stop on her dogwalk, and went back to letting her run. Did that in sequence 2 days in a row and she was 100% perfect so we'll see what we get this weekend. I will still use my "stop" cue to get tight corners, as she doesn't understand the "run like mad and pivot" cue that Drifter does.

03 April 2010

New classes in Quakertown starting in June! Sign up now!!!

Beginning Tuesday June 1st
Taught by Rosanne DeMascio
Outdoors at Kerales Farm in Quakertown PA
Contact Rosanne for information rdrift@gmail.com

5:30pm Novice/Open
This class is for the inexperienced competition dog, or advanced handlers with young dogs learning to run courses. Dogs should be familiar with all obstacles, but need not be perfect. Class will be focused on handling, teamwork, and the dog's responses to the handler on skill-focused intermediate level sequences, and on introducing different angles and discriminations of contacts and weaves.

7pm Masters/Excellent
This class is for the experienced dog and handler, currently competing in Excellent or Masters. Courses will contain various difficult handling sequences and obstacle approaches, including weave entries and discriminations.

Classes will be every Tuesday beginning June 1st in the Quakertown area. 6-Week Session for $140, limit 8 dogs per class. Drop-ins will be available at $25/night if spots remain unfilled; email Rosanne at rdrift@gmail.com for details.

About the instructor: Rosanne has been involved in dog agility since 1992, and has found success in both USDAA and AKC. In USDAA she has put ADCH's on 4 dogs, made the Grand Prix Finals 5 times, Steeplechase Finals 2 times, and been a Team Finalist many times, finishing in the top 3 overall in both 2008 and 2009. She is a member of the 2010 IFCS USA World Team traveling to compete in England in May. In AKC, she attended World Team Tryouts in 2009, finishing 6th on Day 1 and handling the entire weekend without a single off course. At AKC Nationals 2009 she made the Challenger Round with one dog and Finals with the other, and in 2010 made Challenger Round with both dogs, winning into and subsequently winning the Final Round and Championship with Drifter in the 20" class. Rosanne puts a strong focus on clear body language, and teaching the dog to respond quickly and accurately to her cues. She is known for quiet, efficient handling. She has also found great success teaching running contacts to her dogs. She stresses helping the dog think for himself, and also that confidence both in handling and on obstacles leads to speed.


Seriously, sign up so I can quit my job ;)

02 April 2010

Photos from Nationals

Timing is everything. (Drifter in Finals)

More dogwalk galloping. (Drifter, I think in Finals)

Hybrid round started with a send to a U-shaped tunnel. Cool shot! (Kiba)

Adorable! She makes 16 look like a sizable jump too. Also adorable!

Kiba on a frame where she did get the contact. Nice relaxed apex!

Tra-la-la! Beginning of JWW, Drifter's bad stay released early, starting to run and give a serp cue. Weird!

Is Kiba ever not adorable? I think not. (Challengers)
Admit it, even this is cute, weird as it is! (same run)

Drifter in Challengers - Slightly awesome!

Mr. Intensity (Finals)
I still haven't uploaded my other runs but here's Agilityvision's promo with all the winning Final runs on it.