16 October 2012

first west, and now south, or at least, in a southerly direction

Well I spent Thursday to Saturday hanging out in beautiful, sunny California. I landed in Santa Barbara, got to see the Channel Islands from the air, had lunch along the beach with perfect weather. Then spent Friday/Saturday teaching. It was very interesting teaching out in CA, since the west coast is still very much a "GD" system area, while here in the east hardly anyone uses that system anymore. I was impressed though, everyone was very brave about trying previously "forbidden" handling maneuvers, and all seemed to have fun!

I stayed in a little town called Solvang, up by Santa Ynez area. Solvang was founded by Danish immigrants in 1911, and modeled to be like a cute little Scandinavian town. Having been in Copenhagen myself, and owning a dog from Denmark, I found this to be a particularly amusing coincidence. The town was adorable, though it didn't really remind me all that much of Copenhagen, it did have a cutesy little European town feel to it. Here are some pictures I took while out wandering around (and eating a really tasty Danish!)

Great little streets for walking with cutesy shops

Covered walkway between buildings

The front of my hotel had both the USA and Danish flags flying

I thought windmills were more of a Dutch thing?

I flew home from CA on the red-eye flight Saturday night, spent Sunday doing laundry and packing, and then yesterday I drove down here to Raleigh NC with Kiba, Seri, and Strafe. I am house and dog-sitting for a friend of mine while she's in Europe, so her house will be my base camp for the next 8 days or so. Her dogs know me and my dogs know her house, so everyone is pretty comfortable although 6 dogs is more than I'm used to watching.

09 October 2012

Another Video

Top 3 dogs in Steeplechase 26", of course we tied for FIRST but ended up 2nd:)

I am busy for the end of this week - flying out super early Thursday to California to teach Friday/Saturday, taking the red-eye flight home Saturday night, resting, doing laundry and packing on Sunday, then Monday I'm off to NC to house/dog-sit for a week, then flying from NC to OH for one day and back again, then driving home and stopping in VA to teach a few privates on the way! Crazy! Although the week in NC will actually be restful - I've got a few hours of privates while I'm there but mostly it'll just be taking care of the house, hiking, training, etc - hanging out!

Lots of talk about FCI being in South Africa next year. Much as I'd like to visit South Africa at some point in my life, I don't think I'm willing to deal with the enormous amount of paperwork and blood tests and super long cargo travel times and expense. Rumor has it that many countries won't go, USA probably included, but even if they do go, I don't think I'll try out. I can go to EO instead, and try out for FCI when it is an easier year for travel. There are also rumors "on the street" that if the USA does not go, they will use Tryouts to pick a team to sponsor for the EO, which sounds awesome to me, I would definitely sign up for that!

USDAA trial end of October. Seri's first trial since March, Kiba's first trial since mid-September, should be fun!

I am a little torn about putting Strafe's name in for WAO next year. I know I can't because I really can't afford both EO and WAO, but I did really enjoy the WAO both years and Strafe is actually going to be a really good dog for it. Unfortunately they just don't give enough money back for me to afford both! If only I had a major sponsor that would pay my way :(

Kiba exits the weaves during a clean run in Team Agility 2 at WAO 2012

03 October 2012

2012 USDAA Cynosport Games

When I decided to bring only Strafe to this event, I knew he would probably do "well", but I mainly wanted to use it as a chance to get him some experience at a large event that went for multiple days. He would get to run when tired, around crowds, on footing that differed from ring to ring (grass vs turf), and generally get the whole "big event" experience under his belt early.

I did not expect to win 2 classes and make 2 Finals. . .

We flew out on Tuesday, met our roommate and rental car buddy at the airport, checked into the hotel, and went to the site to set up. I was crating out of the Advanced Canine Rehab tent because I handled the scheduling and wanted to be there to deal with schedule changes all week.

poto by Brandon White
Strafe was in the red crate nearest to me (I'm the one in the hat). I stuffed a 3" memory foam bed into a carry on suitcase, and placed the crate on top of that so he had good, comfortable padding. Strafe disagreed with my strategy and spent the week finding new and creative ways to move the crate so he could try to lay on the ground instead ;)

Wednesday was the first competition day, and did not start out well. It rained a lot Tuesday night and so USDAA did not want to use the 3 competition rings on grass, which  meant the "warm up class" took twice as long to run as it should have, being in 3 rings instead of 6. Regardless, I just wanted to get him running, reinforce his contacts, and get a mild correction in if he hit a bar. Instead, he slid sideways off the see-saw, something he's never done before. I put him back on it, but the entire week after that he was really hesitant to go all the way out the see-saw board and I had to drive him hard to get him into the contact. Later Wed evening (running late), we ran Steeplechase and Grand Prix Quarterfinals. Unfortunately, the fall had made him stiff, and he hit a bar in Grand Prix, knocking us out for the rest of the competition. He also hit a bar in Steeplechase but we got through to Semifinals anyway...

After that I made sure he got all the kinks worked out by Ria:)

Neither of these is Strafe, but you get the idea!

He felt better on Thursday. We were the first group to run Team Snooker, and I ran a very ambitious plan, just made it through when we ran out of time, and somehow nobody else throughout the entire day could quite make the same plan work, and we WON the class! Ironic, because he has no Q's in Starters Snooker.

Strafe's first trophy!
later on Thursday was Steeplechase Semifinals. Strafe was feeling much better, and ran fabulously, placing 3rd place in 26" and making it into Finals! So exciting!

Friday we had Team Jumpers and Gamblers, and I caused a bar in Jumpers and was not running fast enough for some reason, but I was pleased with his time regardless - if not for the bar, would have been 2nd place. Gamblers he ran my plan perfectly, we did not place but got a solid amount of points.

Saturday started with Team Standard, a fun, twisty course. I pushed a little bit, and again we WON THE CLASS, beating a former World Team dog by more than a full second. Couldn't be more pleased with the baby! Not bad for having a stopped dogwalk contact either ;)

Saturday night was Steeplechase Finals. This was our very first run in the main ring - it has flapping banners and flags all around, running at night under lights, with a big cheering crowd. I assumed Strafe would be OK with all those things, but I couldn't really know for sure! Well he was more than OK! He ran a lovely clear run and TIED FOR FIRST with Svetlana Tumanova and Skippy, an experienced dog/handler team who has done a lot! She ran first in the run-off and knocked a bar, and since Strafe had no time to cool off from his first run and I had no time to really consider what to do or focus, we tried to run "conservatively" and be clean, but Strafe hit the last bar, and was a little slower than Skippy, so we lost the run-off. Still, the fact that my 2 years and 2 weeks old baby dog TIED with Skippy for FIRST PLACE! makes me very happy, and I think we both gave it our all in the first run. So Strafe ended up 2nd place in his very first Final Round at a National Event! Super happy:)

Sunday morning we got to run in Team Relay Final, Strafe ran his part clean, our team placed 4th in Relay, and 14th overall out of 167 Teams.

I did not get good video of much, but here is bad video off the livestream.

So Strafe came home with 4 big ribbons - 1st in Team Snooker, 1st in Team Standard, 2nd in Steeplechase Finals, and 4th in Team Relay.

He was also the top Individual dog in 26" over all of the Team runs!

He was very tired when we finally got home Monday afternoon.

He is not entered in any more trials until we run some USDAA at the end of October, and he gets the next couple weeks off from agility altogether. We will be hiking more and doing some core strengthening activity.

Starting late next week, I am going to be away almost every day till the end of October. Crazy busy!