20 December 2012

Boy Dog

rendezvous planned for the Boy Dog this winter...

Also, I made him play pretty today for a nice stacked shot. Sometimes I think he is too pretty.... then I decide that's probably not possible.

edited off most of the leash as it was distracting, but you can see the nub still 
now those are pretty angles. He has a really nice shoulder which is, in my opinion, rare in border collies. they usually have nicer shoulders than some breeds, but a really well balanced BC is hard to find.

no trials

So apparently when I'm not trialing I just totally forget to post on here. I haven't trialed since the USDAA trial Dec 2nd, and I'm not entered till AKC on New Year's Eve. I have a lot of 3 to 6 week breaks between trials planned this year, as I try to make money without spending too much so that I can afford my planned trips this year (including the EO in Belgium!!!)

It is an interesting experience for me, as owner of a "stud dog" now... having to consider each bitch, her pedigree, her health, temperament, and then being trusting enough of the breeder to allow them to choose homes for the pups! Little Strafe babies? Seems crazy! But there are 2 fairly serious inquires for 2013 already.... I may limit it to that for the year. I do not want to be involved in having a super popular stud dog, and I like the idea of having 1 or 2 litters and then allowing them grow up a bit before deciding when/whether to breed him again. No guarantees on either litter for 2013 actually happening - depends on timing, etc. If a bitch comes in heat while I'm at AKC Nationals, then it won't happen, for example.

Speaking of which.. Strafe! At AKC Nationals! It's only 4 months away, which to me is quite near already since I am planning his conditioning and training in order to make sure he is peaking physically and mentally in mid-March. My goal is lofty, for a baby dog, and that is to make 26" Finals and run clean! Winning would be lovely, but honestly it is hard to even make Finals in the 26" class, and if we make it in put on a good show I will be thrilled. If we do well and don't make it, then that's OK too - he's a baby - but I know he CAN do it, we just have to be ready and confident.

Kiba's goal, of course, will be to add that elusive "NAC" to her name! A title I gave away last year by making a handling mistake. I don't begrudge the winner, he is a great handler and deserved it, but this year I won't be giving anything away by making a stupid mistake with Kiba. She's 8 years old now and quite likely only has 2 more AKC National events in her, so we are coming in super serious this year and giving away nothing.

I had increased our hiking up to 90min at a time, including hills, 4 to 6 times a week, but with traveling to teach privates and me feeling lazy, this past week we haven't been hiking at all. I am trying to increase the "field walking" time we do at home to 2 separate 20ish minute walks, with all 4 dogs off leash. And I'm concentrating on beefing up Kiba and Strafe's core work, especially rear end power, which is neither dog's strong suit. So we are spending time doing sit-up's, working on the disc, the egg, the Bosu, etc. Kiba loves it, because it involves cookies. Strafe thinks it's just OK. He only likes meat-flavored cookies ;)

Strafe, the amazing dog who can jump with his eyes closed!

13 December 2012

Now that Strafe is 2 and has his OFA clearances, he is already getting some interest from owners of "lucky ladies" that want to use him as stud... this is a new world for me. I am willing to breed him some, but not a lot. And I am very picky so I will be pretty careful who I breed him to - must have hips, no epilepsy too close in the family, good temperament, etc etc. But I feel that Strafe is such a nice dog - and here's the really important bit - from a family of nice dogs - that I'd be selfish not to breed him at least a few times.

So it is something else I have to make a judgement on.... and also try to dance around and not offend anyone if I don't want to use him on their bitch! I'm picky! I am not breeding him to make money....

In other news, AKC changed their qualifying requirements for Nationals for this next year. Instead of 6 QQ's and 400 speed points, you  now need only 4 QQ's, but 20 total Q's from standard/JWW and 500 total points. I am pretty sure my dogs each had 20 Q's without a problem, I know Strafe had around 25 this year and Kiba had more than him, but the points may be harder... I think using this criteria Kiba would have qualified this year but Strafe would have been about 30 or 40 points short.... Although I have to say if he had not thrown his pelvis out at the last AKC trial we were at, resulting in only 1 Q out of 5 runs due to knocking bars... he probably would have had it. He usually Q's over 70% of the time, so even if I say he would have gotten 3 or 4Q's that weekend out of 6, he would have qualified. And we didn't show a crazy amount this past year. So I expect I won't have too much trouble qualifying, although having to count points all year is kind of a pain!

I only have 1 AKC trial each month for Jan to March - I didn't want to over do it for a couple reasons - I need to save money towards attending the EO and Nationals and Tryouts. Also, I don't want to do too much AKC before I can earn qualifications towards next year's Tryouts, which doesn't begin until April.

Yes he fell asleep like this.

09 December 2012

My dog is a dork sometimes

yeah, she hung onto this, somehow....

Going to rain again tomorrow just like today only warmer... today we went to see Skyfall, I enjoyed it, lots of cool action, some humor, and Daniel Craig is a good time to be had on a rainy day.

When I took the dogs out to run in the field during a break in the rain, Strafe tried to dig in for a turn and slipped, rolling himself. One car crash! Anyway, Ria will be here on Tues/Wed and can make sure he didn't throw himself out, and we aren't trialing for a few more weeks anyway.

I am on a mission this winter to keep the dogs super fit... I have made a spreadsheet and everything. Of course I don't end up following it to the letter every day but I do go in and change it according to what I did do so I can keep track of how to escalate all the work. I'm working on endurance, core work (especially rear end for both Strafe and Kiba), and "explosive power" which involves more plyometric type exercises, sometimes involving a jump, sometimes not. I'm also working on both speeding up and proofing Strafe's dogwalk behavior. He stops too early if I say touch or stay, but he comes off the end if I don't and there's a trap nearby, so some more understanding is necessary there. My goal - to be running a super buff, educated, confident dog for AKC Nationals, then spend the next 6 weeks working our international skills and blow the competition away at Tryouts so I don't have to pay for my own EO trip! ;)

That's the plan, anyway.

But tomorrow it's going to rain again, so we still won't get a chance to go find a loop hiking trail that takes more than 90minutes... we will be stuck with working on the disc, egg, and walking up/down the stairs on leash a bunch of times!

Also sometimes a dork! ;)

08 December 2012

part of May just opened up...

Well, Strafe and I did not get selected for the WAO Team. As I said before, I am not surprised, his resume is quite short. However, I do think the selection process is really skewed towards rewarding UKI competition. I guess that is where the WAO is headed - it is turning into the UKI World Team. Which I suppose is OK, except I really don't have any interest in competing in UKI. I have enough to do with AKC and USDAA, and wasn't that excited by the course maps I have seen for the US Open the past 2 years. Not to mention there are hardly any qualifiers out here on the East Coast.
So I think perhaps that even though I really enjoyed the WAO event in 2010 and 2011, I may not try out again. I thought the entire point of the WAO was that it was not associated with ANY competition venue/organization, but it seems that is not really the case, at least here in the USA. So now that I have a 26" dog I will stick with AKC Tryouts, EO, and FCI World Teams (well, hoping for that last one in 2014 anyway, no guarantees!)

How cute is Strafe's mother??
ETA: Strangely, after I posted this, the team announcement mystically disappeared off the UKI Facebook page and doesn't seem to be anywhere anymore! But I am going to leave this up assuming that even though the full team isn't announced publicly, it is probably OK for me to say that I'm not on it ;)

07 December 2012

Amazing to me that it's been more than 2 years since my 4-day trip to Copenhagen to get Strafe... and this weekend marks 1 year since his agility trial debut. He's come a long way in just one year, from Novice to MX/MXJ and 8 QQ's, qualified for AKC Nationals and World Team Tryouts, ran at USDAA Nationals and did really well... and it seems like every time I run him he's faster, tighter, more efficient, more reliable... It's so amazing to have a dog who just does what I trained him to do, every time - he doesn't lose his head at trials!

Here is Strafe's first trial video, for nostalgia's sake. Note the lovely running dogwalk, and I apologize if hearing Judy S on the tape makes anyone cry :(

06 December 2012

No more trials in 2012

We are taking December off for a couple of reasons - finances being a big one, but also I think after such a busy fall season of competitions and seminars, it is good to take some decompression time. We are just hiking and doing core work and I am working to both speed up and proof Strafe's dogwalk behavior a bit.

It's gotten colder, and it's hunting season, so even though hunting is only allowed in a few small areas of the park, we are now hiking in our nifty brightly colored Hurtta vests. I like them a lot, the dogs can move freely but boy are they visible. And they are a little bit warm, without making the dogs too hot.

We've been regularly going for approximately 90min hikes for the past month, I am trying to build up to 2 hours at a time, but it is hard to find loop trails that last that long without getting lost or ending up in a strange part of the park. We are having fun exploring all the areas we've never been to before, and finding new trails.

I thought I'd also share my WAO Tryout videos. We filmed these about 3 or 4 weeks ago, back before the seminars with Jaakko and Janita. I am still doubtful that we will be selected for WAO Team, given the strength and experience of the 26" field that is applying, however, I think that Strafe and I are such a good, strong, already-meshing team that I am confident in our skills should we be chosen. He already runs like an "old hat" dog....

04 December 2012

Kiba D

Kiba turns 8 years old today. In review, she's accomplished a lot. I wanted to repost my  blog from 4 years ago (half her lifetime now!), celebrating her 4th birthday. She's done so much more since then....officially she is MACH ADCH Lock-eye Kiba MXS MJS TM-Gold and some Performance Tournament title I didn't keep track of. Considering exactly how soft she was back when we started training, and that she was only what I'd describe as "medium fast", she sure has come a long way! She still has a low frustration threshhold, but instead of shutting down and running away, she sort of gives up by staring/screaming at me or flinging herself at random choices instead....What I do know is that she freaking LOVES to run agility with me now, and is ridiculously fast. She achieved some accomplishments at 20" and 22", but truly excels at 16" due to her boxy structure, tight back, and mild near-sightedness/ETS.

A quick summary of her accomplishments in the past 8 years:
MACH (and halfway to MACH2)
ADCH (at 22")
at 20"/22":
AKC Finalist at just over 4 years old, in the 20" class!
USDAA DAM Team Overall - on the 2nd and 3rd overall Teams in 2008 and 2009
USDAA Steeplechase Finalist, running clean and placing 8th (at 22") in 2009
in 2010 I dropped her to Perf 16" (she already measures into 16" for AKC)
USDAA Perf Grand Prix Finalist, placing 3rd 2010
USDAA Perf Speed Jumping Finalist 2010 and 2011, winning the Championship in 2011
USDAA PVP Finalist 2010 (placing 10th overall) and 2011 when she won the Overall with Kate/Driven
AKC Finalist at 7yrs old, in the 16" class (she won 3 individual classes this past year as well)

As well, she has many placements at Nationals and Regionals, including back to back Northeast Regional PGP Championship wins in 2010 and 2011.

In 2012 we made the World Agility Open Team, which was her first, last, and only time running in an International Event. She had to jump just over 20", and because I trained and conditioned very determinedly, she did quite well, but now as she turns 8 her old back tightness has returned along with some very mild shoulder issues, and her vision and early takeoffs seem to have gotten slightly worse as well, so she is permanently at 16" now till she retires (which I tentatively plan for 2014ish).

So Happy Birthday to my crazy, obsessive, boxy, adorable but crazy little dog! My only BC with obsessive compulsive issues, and my only BC who people still think might be "my new puppy" when I walk her around;)

03 December 2012

Pictures! Videos! Tournament Q's!

Pictures from USDAA Nationals from Great Dane Photos! Yay! More can be found on Strafe's Facebook page ;)

We went to a Tournament trial this last weekend. Strafe was a total rockstar, 9 of 11 runs totally clean, only faults were a knocked piece off the top of a wall jump and one knocked bar in the opening of Gamblers. He was top Individual Team dog in 26", winning Team Jumpers and Standard, and placing top 3 in Snooker and Gamblers, and running his section of Relay clean as well. And he got his 2013 Team Q! Yay! Glad that's done:)  He also won both rounds of Steeplechase, all 3 rounds of Open/Master Challenge (a special class like Master Challenge but anybody could enter!) with gorgeous clean runs, and also won Grand Prix for his 2nd Q and bye voucher for 2013. All he needs for USDAA Nationals is one more local Steeplechase Q.

Kiba also Q'ed in everything, although due to her back being really tight I did not run her in all the Challenge classes. We had a bit of miscommunication here and there, but overall she was good - won both rounds of PSJ, Q'd in PVP and our team won the Relay, and won PGP so she also got her 2nd bye voucher for 2013.

Now we are off for a month, I will spend it building up both dogs' backs and rear ends - Strafe's pelvis