28 April 2011
Aside from that i am mostly planned for the trip. We leave Monday night, May 9th, and don't return till Friday May 20th. I am still waiting to hear from a good friend whether she will be in the UK at the time and wanting to sight-see with us; that sounds like a lot of fun, but we'll fill our days either way. I just love driving through the countryside over there, it's just gorgeous.
27 April 2011
I shall describe a brain fart for you, since you probably haven't seen it. It entails Seri, after a random obstacle such as a see-saw or tunnel, hooking a turn away from me (or simply running straight when I've turned), running forward, screaming at the top of her lungs while I yell back "lie down!" or "come!!!", and after about 30-50 feet of running/screaming, she stops and comes running back (still screaming). She often doesn't take any obstacles when she does this, just runs off yelling. I'm not sure exactly what she's thinking when this happens, but I suspect it's something like "WHEEEEEEEE!!!!!", and not much of "gee, I think this is where I'm supposed to go next". She's done this at quite a few trials - not all of them, and she often stays on course, so it's not an E, but I'd feel awfully silly if I went to Tryouts and she did that, and even sillier if we went to Europe and she did that.
So I will continue to work with her. She doesn't do that in training, although she still is not quite up to the level of coursework that Drifter can do - her "engine" is too large and she drives forward a little to easily sometimes, not to mention the restrictions on my handling due to her needing help with deceleration *before* the bar - but working her on difficult courses seems to keep her brain better engaged. This is partially why I'm thinking lower jumps may help - she really sails through the air at 26", so perhaps less airtime means less time to lose her marbles? I'm not sure. We shall see. By the time winter rolls around, after a complete year of trialing in Tournaments and Excellent B, I will have a better idea whether Seri's head is in the game or not. But she's a frustrating dog, and just goes to show no matter how talented the trainer or handler, a lot of success in agility depends on the right dog, not just physically, but also mentally.
For now we continue to rehab her shoulder jam. Yesterday Ria said it is looking better, but considering she put that same shoulder out over the winter on the ice, and now has tweaked/jammed it, we will be concocting a regimen to strengthen the rotator cuff just in case.
25 April 2011
It is being held outdoors at a great fairgrounds site in Chelsea MI. You can choose to attend one, two or all 3 days of fun with myself and Bridget McKnight teaching. Both of us are very easygoing instructors who've had a lot of success with multiple dogs at big events. One day is fully focused on contacts (specifically running though I'll address any questions that are thrown at me!), and the next 2 days are Masters/Exc handling skills. Please email Val Henry with any questions or to sign up!
PS I hear the camping there is great and has *showers*
23 April 2011
I leave in just over 2 weeks for England. Wow. This week I need to get my vet work put together and call the Reception Centre at Heathrow and ask a couple questions regarding whether I need USDA approval on a certain form. I also need to book a rental car for the 5 days after the trial that we are spending seeing some castles in Wales and then taking some time in London to do more thorough sight-seeing then we had last year due to the volcano and paperwork mix-ups that lost us more than a day. I am not sure yet what to do with Drifter while we're in London though. Leave him at the hotel while we go in/out of the city? Bring him along - then I couldn't go into the museums/cathedrals/shops. Leave him in the car at the train station (doesn't seem secure!)?
I am glad I left 2 weekends clear before the trip though, as I've been so busy till now that I haven't really been able to focus on it, as just keeping my schedule straight and going where I am supposed to is a job in and of itself.
Seri now allows me to gently stretch her shoulder, but there is still more resistance than her uninjured one has. She is normally VERY flexible, so the difference is quite obvious to me. Sigh. In other news, in a matter of a few minutes I taught Strafe a stop command for his dogwalk ramp. I have a single plank on a 16" table in our barn aisle (it's been rainy again) and he's been running it a bit here and there, which he's doing very nicely. I can send him to a toy, or lead out and run with him, and both get the same results. Perfect. So today I thought he is so smart and so tuned into sounds and verbal commands, that I could probably easily teach him a stop on the DW (or at least a pause) for those courses with really hard turns. So today I taught him a stop command. In about 3 minutes. Have I mentioned this is one SMART puppy??
20 April 2011
19 April 2011
ETA - on a somewhat unrelated note, I am considering adding a sheltie to the pack in a few years' time. (after Strafe is trained up and showing, and Kiba is getting ready to retire)
12 April 2011
11 April 2011
This past weekend we attended the Mid-Atlantic Agility Showcase. This is a Team event where the top dogs from Team Standard and Team Jumpers get to go on to the 3rd round of the "Triathlon" event and compete for cash prizes (more than Steeplechase!!). It was a lot of fun on a good surface (indoor soccer turf with rubber infill). I normally wouldn't enter something right after AKC Nationals but I wanted to get the practice in and hopefully win some cash. And we did. All 3 dogs' Teams qualified, Drifter got a GP Q (he's done for Nationals now), and Drifter won the 22" Triathlon Final for $250, Kiba got 2nd due to a missed aframe contact ($150!), and Seri actually ran the tough course really well with just a missed weave entry. She looked a bit stiff to me all weekend and I wonder if the weave entry issue (she did it more than once) is due to a shoulder being slightly out of whack, which she did over the winter once. We see Ria tomorrow; Drifter is seeing her once every week or two leading in to the WAO to keep him in top shape, so I will have Seri checked then. She has another 3-day trial this coming weekend, and then 3 days of AKC the following weekend. As a handler, I have FOUR 3-day trials in a row. Luckily for the dogs, none of them is entered in all of them, as that's just not fair to them. Kiba, in fact, is now done trialing till June.
Anyway, some random Showcase videos are on YouTube, as I mentioned previously; I'm not going to embed them all because this post is long enough!
Today is a rest day for my dogs, though we did take a 15 minute walk around in the warm sunshine. I also tried some ground work for blind crosses on the flat with Drifter in the house with treats, and he did surprisingly well. I was convinced I had trained the concept out of him, but when I called him towards me from behind, and switched arm/shoulder cues, he moved right over to the new side like he'd been doing it all his life. Interesting! I am going to try to use it on some "easy" situations on course in training and at the AKC trial in 2 weeks, as I may need it in England. No blind "behind me" wraps though; I would need several months training to overcome that ingrained tendency. Just goes to show that any trained cue can become instinctive to your dog with consistent training, I guess. If I stand in front of a jump and don't move my "wall", he will stop, look at me confusedly, and then backjump and look confused some more. If I'm moving forward and he's catching up to me, that particular "wall" doesn't apply, and he's willing to switch sides while coming up next to me. Food for thought!
10 April 2011
07 April 2011
Drifter, responding IMMEDIATELY and hitting the jump wing. Kept us from a silver medal. Sigh.Anyway, I am totally jealous of dogs that are super careful of bars no matter WHAT. I am truly hoping Strafe is my Mr. Perfect who will allow me to run like the aggressive maniac I am from the get-go without plowing through things.... we shall see!
06 April 2011
04 April 2011
This was the first year I did not have a dog in Challenger Round (only my 3rd year attending), and I found it fun and relaxing to sit in the stands for a change (and not because I didn't make Finals, which is not so fun!). i got to hang with my friends and put my feet up, and Drifter got a nice comfortable nap after Ria worked out the kinks from his tunnel acrobatics. The Final course was not one I was particularly comfortable with. It did not really play to our strengths. It gave an advantage to dogs with a good start line stay and an independent see-saw. I do not have those things with Drifter. In fact I had barely gotten past the first jump wing when he got up and left. Still, he took my wrap cue for #2 very nicely, hung onto the see-saw JUST long enough, and did the next sequence pretty nicely with double rear crosses instead of the fronts I might have used if his see-saw had been independent. After that I handled a bit differently than most, as my goal is to drive him forward and show him the next obstacle as quickly as possible, and it worked great. I should have video sometime soon, as I paid BowWowVideo to video my runs all weekend.
Kiba did OK over the weekend, but unfortunately had some bar troubles that prevented her from making Challengers or Finals. Friday she won 16" ISTT JWW with a fabulous run:
Saturday she actually ran into the wing of a jump in the first round, and just had an unfortunate bar on the panel jump in the 2nd round, and so sadly her weekend was really over then and there, since you have to run clean in 2 out of 3 rounds to make it into Challengers. Sunday morning she did fine in Hybrid/Round 3, and placed 2nd and that was the end of her weekend. I don't believe she'll be able to go next year, since she's a poor traveller and rumors all say "west", so she may not be doing much AKC. I will have to decide next year whether the 18 hour drive to Tulsa in 2013 is something she can do or not. I think if I take my time and split the drive into two 9-hour days she may be OK. Last year it was hell for her, but I had to be back by Monday night to be at work on Tuesday, and so it was a bit of a marathon drive.