30 October 2013

busy October, finished

So yes, haven't been on the blog much. After Kiba finished her AKC Nationals qualifications the first weekend in October (when it was SUPER HOT, by the way), I started my busy time. First I flew to Ottawa to teach for the weekend.

I had fun and we had fabulously nice weather for a seminar outside, but the travel on either side was not great - Friday on the way up there were delays and more delays, and my short commuter flight from Baltimore to Newark included a stop at Wilkes-Barre Scranton to get fuel because we'd been put in a holding pattern before being allowed to land in Newark. All of the delays were apparently caused by the rainstorm that had moved through that morning. Kind of a lame excuse, FAA!

I returned on Monday evening (this was the 14th), had Tuesday to do laundry and pack the car, and then off we went for our long trip. Wednesday I drove from here to Raleigh, NC, where I taught some private lessons Wed and Thurs morning, then left mid-day for Cumming, GA, arriving around evening at the gorgeous site of my seminar for the next 3 days. We had fun here too - it was good to be able to bring 3 of my dogs with me, and we did some walks and playing around and they seemed to like being a "pack" even while on the road.

Monday (the 21st) I had the day off, and was kindly allowed to stay at the same place so we could relax. So we went shopping for the few odd items I needed before Cynosport and then I took a nice walk with the dogs. Tuesday I packed up the rest of my stuff and made the 3.5 hour trek up to Murfreesboro, TN for Cynosport. Set up my stall, got Kiba and Strafe worked on, checked in, and then went back to the hotel.

My hotel was very dog friendly, and I got a bonus microwave/fridge I didn't know I would have, which made me happy. Kiba rather enjoyed the mirror.

Cynosport went very well. I am waiting on videos and pictures and will post when they come up, but in short summary:

Kiba ran clean in PSJ Quarterfinals to make it to Semi's. Unfortunate missed aframe contact in PSJ Semi's kept her from Finals but she would have been seeded 2nd going in if she had hit that stupid contact. Her only miss all weekend, of course! Clean in PGP Semi to make it into PGP Final, where she also ran clean, and although her slow dogwalk contact cost us some time she still finished 2nd. I'm very happy with this result even if I was sort of hoping to win - she has previously won PSJ and PVP Overall, so if she'd won this it would have been a Performance Triple Crown, but oh well, her decision to suddenly stop early on her dogwalks was nothing I could control (she does not do that at local trials anymore, so the excitement must have gotten the better of her). She had some good team runs but nothing clean and fast enough to get a placement. I didn't run her in the Challenge classes. So her only real ribbon was 2nd in PGP Final, but she came home with a big red ribbon and a huge trophy, and I was super pleased with how well she was running.

Strafe had no runs on Wed, and placed 3rd in his first run on Thurs which was Team Snooker. Once again I was the first group to run Snooker (happened last year too), so did not get the chance to watch anyone run to see how the time was playing out. No complaints - we ran great! Team Jumpers we had one little refusal but otherwise fabulous. Gamblers and Standard also went nice and clean and solid - so Strafe finished 2nd overall individual dog in the 26" class, behind only Tori and Rev. In Steeplechase Semifinals Strafe ALSO made a weird mistake, flying past a jump to go off course into a tunnel, an interesting thing to do in what I viewed as one of the absolute easiest courses of the weekend, and certainly the easiest one that I ran personally. Oh well. Strafe is only 3 years old + 1 month, after all, he does have "moments" every once in a while! Grand Prix Semi-finals ran much nicer and we got into the Finals there - my 8th GP Final, but Strafe's first red shirt run! Unfortunately that damn see-saw illusion got the better of us - I added a front cross but forgot to "yell" for him to slow down, and his sliding landing was just a bit too pushy for the judge. We had the 3rd fastest time, very close to the 2 running dogwalk runs that placed 1st and 2nd, and placed 7th with our 5 faults, so I'm pleased anyway. Strafe has only flown off 2 see-saws now, ever, in his trialing career. He really doesn't mean to do it :) 
And then of course we won Masters Challenge Jumpers with a fabulous run, I can't wait to get that on video. We were clean in Standard and I think 4th place? (or 5th? sorry I can't remember), but our combined time placed us 2nd overall for a podium appearance and a pretty (but small! for how hard it was to earn!) red ribbon.

After the event I stayed overnight Sun to rest, drove all the way home Mon. Then yesterday, Tues the 29th, I drove up to NJ because Sun night Strafe was a bit lame and I wanted that checked out. Today I have to teach class at 10 but then we are unpacking, doing laundry, resting, etc.

06 October 2013

6th and Final

It's official, Kiba is qualified for AKC Nationals 2014! It was more of a struggle this year than any year prior due to her slowly worsening early takeoff issue, and there were several times this year I thought for sure she wasn't going to make it. We learned she has arthritis in her front feet. I have had to learn new "rules" for running her, taught her some new verbals, and we run a bit more "on edge" than we ever used to do. But she ran fabulously this weekend, going 3 for 4 and getting that last QQ for Nationals! I'm so happy she got it, she deserves to play this last time. It is her 6th time qualifying for and attending AKC Nationals, she came from Open to qualify faster than Drifter back in 2008 when I decided to go to Charlotte in 2009, and she's Q'ed every year since, making the Finals twice and Challenger Round once, winning quite a few individual classes along the way. This year at local trials she's got 21 Q's, ALL are 1st place runs, in 16" classes that are almost always large enough to warrant their own walk-through (and once in a while a split walk!)

Strafe of course was also awesome this weekend. I worked all my contacts a bit to prep for Cynosports (this is our last trial beforehand), and he hit one bar Saturday and so I skipped JWW that day due to the crazy unseasonal heat, but today he got his 15th QQ, I'd brag that he won both classes but truthfully he was the only dog in 26" at this particular trial ;)

Now I have a few more days before my crazy October really gets going. Friday to Monday trip to Canada to teach and back, then next Wed I leave for Cynosports - I'm teaching in Raleigh and Atlanta beforehand, so I'm gone almost 2 weeks. Coming up so quickly!

03 October 2013

One of the interesting effects of having the employment that I do, is that generally weekends are quite busy for me, and weekdays are much more laid back. Currently, I only have 3 weekly classes, and none of them are huge. Whereas, last weekend I spent 4 days in a row teaching 9 to 5, which I enjoy, but I freely admit after 4 days I was pretty exhausted, and so was Strafe! He is a great little helper dog while I talk and stays in his corner while everyone runs, at attention in case I need him to demonstrate something. So he is tired afterwards too. I'm glad I am able to come home and rest afterwards.

We had a great time teaching in Minnesota for MAC and hope to go back around Tryouts time, linking the trips together!

On that note: Tryouts information was released; they kept the easy, simple qualifications for EO Team (simply being in the highest level of competition, basically), and cut the qualifications for AWC Team in half! This means that while I thought we needed 2 more legs in  Jumpers, we actually already have everything we need! So i can relax over the winter and not worry about it. We are going to do a little bit of USDAA to get some Q's for 2014, although I'm not 100% sure I'm going. Right now I'm leaning towards yes but that could still change. USDAA as an organization (well, it's really run by one person, as we all know!), has just been a bit annoying lately, with the utter failure to listen to the competitors. Changing things arbitrarily and then realizing after the fact that they've changed something nobody wanted, while still ignoring the changes many people do want. AKC has its own flaws, sure, but they do seem to respond to the wishes of the majority a bit more quickly, and even has a somewhat democratic process going with the ability submit recommendations for changes, and accepting feedback on them as well.

Off track. Anyway. This weekend have local AKC. This weekend will be just a bit of training for Strafe since he's all done for Nationals and Tryouts. Kiba needs one more QQ so I'll be focusing more on her, to see if we can get that done. This is her first outdoor trial in several years, so I'm not really sure how her vision will hold up, as far as her jumping goes. We train outside here at home all the time, but I do catch her squinting in the sun an awful lot so I suspect super bright sunlight is a bit uncomfortable for her. If she struggles too much I will scratch her, but I'm crossing my fingers that the conditions being similar to training will actually help and maybe we'll get that last QQ out of the way!

After that, the following weekend I'm in Canada to teach, then I come home and just a day after that I start my 2 week road trip - Raleigh to Atlanta to TN for USDAA then home again! I am taking everyone except Drifter who will stay home with my mother. Seri gets to come along just to hang out and play around. Who knows, maybe if they have dock diving she'll give it a try, or something! (I don't think I would try that agility hybrid lure coursing with her... just looks a little too dangerous!)

I am also beginning to have some solid plans for a puppy to come home this summer. It was a really tough choice for me to turn down a puppy from Strafe's mother, but after a lot of thinking I would like to have an unrelated dog this time. First reason being, if I can get a fabulous girl who has strengths where Strafe has weaknesses and vice versa, I could breed them for the next generation of nice dogs around here. And the other reason is that perhaps it is better to have an unrelated dog and not risk comparing it to Strafe, at least this early in Strafe's awesome career anyway! I'm not really excited to have 5 dogs in the house again, but honestly 4 is not so bad; 5 will be doable. If the litter I'm considering does not work out, I will take my time finding something else - having Strafe means I am not in a hurry. 4 years between dogs would be a nice amount of time, and Strafe doesn't turn 4 for another year yet.

Drifter turned 11 years old last week. This is mostly what he does now - try to beg for food. He accompanies us on walks around our fields every day and once in a while he plays on agility equipment in the ring. He is quite sound and happy in retirement.

For fun, here's Drifter winning the first WAO Biathlon championship in the 550mm height. Hard to believe this was a mere 2.5 years ago! Already people are forgetting Drifter - now I am "the one who runs Strafe"!