Sunday, July 29, 2007

Who are you and what have you done with my Murphy?

We just (as in moments ago) wrapped up the three day Green Mountain Golden Retriever Club agility trial. I was trial chair for this trial - so there were a lot of balls in the air - lots of trial work and then having my two boys at the trial - double the potty breaks and such. Plus the weather was horrid - beautiful pool days - hazy, hot and humid. We were inside - no AC but we had fans which helped a little but we had to watch the dogs closely. I resorted to some of that nasty Iams gravy (meant as a food topper) mixed with water. Murph's hydration was OK - gums were good, but I didn't think he was drinking enough - little bit of gravy slurry and the water went down quickly ;-)

Anyhow, I'm pleased to report that Murphy is now: SunKissed Karat Cake CD RA NA NAJ CGC TDV. Murphy had three fantastic standard runs - he was cheated out of his bumper leg when the judge called the dog walk contact - I know he got it - but, to be fair I was physically between him and the judge and it was close - plus I was trying some things out with distance and speed and he took FOREVER on the table. Regardless, I'm thrilled.

Open jumpers is a whole different ball of wax, but - and this is a biggie, we got around the courses nicely all three days - though we didn't Q. First let me say that I had some really cool speed fom him this weekend - he made or was under time all three days. Friday we had two refusals on the weaves, Saturday a knocked bar and today I caused a refusal when I got in his way and he had another at the weaves when he hit his entry with too much speed to hold it.

The big thing I saw this weekend was a confident, secure dog. I didn't see any stress from him at all - no tail chasing, no scratching, he didn't for even a moment think about leaving the task at hand, didn't roll, didn't sniff, didn't bite my shoes, happily came back to restart the weaves each time he was asked - I am SO pleased with him I just can't stand it...He's a different dog than the one I had at Westfield - or even two weeks ago at the Essex cluster. This is a dog that is trying for me, working with me and is a joy to play with - THIS is the dog that I train with - it was such a rush to bring THAT dog to a trial with me.

Next weekend Teller is entered in breed and Murphy in open obedience...I'm hoping for the best - from both boys...Then they both have some time off - Murphy's next agility trial is in October and who knows what we'll do next in obedience...a lot depends on next weekend.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

News from the breed ring...

Sort of our "official" debut in the ring - home turf, people we knew and just a big deal I think. Teller won his puppy class 6-9 months for the three days - and showed BEAUTIFULLY in winners all three days. The judges went with the professional handlers in all the classes - it happens and it's not entirely unexpected. Was it disappointing? Yes - was it unexpected? No. The sweeps judge really really thought about him in the sweepstakes class, but went with the older dog - I got to talk to her about it and she said some really nice things about Wooie - but in the end she went with the more mature dog. I don't love that answer - but I can accept it.

Here's Teller with the sweeps judge - doesn't he look like a big boy? He's six months and 1 week.
Murphy's sister Molly (whom we adore) won her class on Friday and Saturday and also went into winners and showed her heart out. She's looking better than I've ever seen her - great coat and head and that hallmark golden expression and soft eyes. One of the times I really wished that the judges looked more at the dog than the handler - Molly should have done better and it's a darn shame that she didn't.

Diva took her class over Truly and Lyric on Friday and Saturday - today Truly rocked taking best of opposite in sweeps and the puppy bitch class in regular classes. Truly also held her own today in the winners ring but again the points and reserve went to the handlers. She's going to be another one to watch in the future - she's going to knock 'em dead when she grows up a little.

The light litter trio: Teller, Diva and Truly. Watch out for these three - they're going to make ripples out there pretty soon.

Dr Jekyll and Mr. Murph

Updates from the Scenic Cluster this weekend...

So much fun hanging out with Linda, Kara and Donna. We went out to my favorite Italian restaurant a couple of nights - yeah, it's that good. Best pizza in the world - seriously yummy stuff. Friday night I grilled a pork tenderloin on the grill and invited everyone over for dinner. Last night Kara, Linda and I were up until 1am laughing and swapping stories - I love these guys - this is why I got into showing dogs - it's all about people like them. Win, lose, place, NQ, or knock one out of the park - they are there for me and I could never do it without them.

As for results - it's a mixed bag in the obedience world. Murphy continues to flummox me. He is either a nutcase or he's phenomenal and there's just no in between with him. I've threatened to retire him, I've threatened to leave him home and focus on Teller and I've always decided to give it one more try.

Friday he was naughty - just so naughty. He got into the ring and immediately disconnected from me. Poof! He was gone and when he was gone he melted down on me big-time. We were excused moments after we went into the ring - he just wasn't into playing the game.

Saturday we walked into the ring and OWNED the place. His heeling was tight, he was with me, played the game and was accurate. We had one bobble when he stood up on the DOR exercise - which is substantial points off - but didn't kill us. He completed everything else with flair - some friends watching said they got goosebumps he was so good. He held his out of sight stays and we qualified with a 189.5 and 4th place over some really really good teams.

Today we had a conflict with Teller's sweeps entry, so I asked the judge to move us and she gave us the option of going first (or not at all). That was 10 minutes before the start of class (e-gaads) so I had to rush more than I wanted to, Murphy got less warm-up that I would have liked and we were just rushed. He wanted no point of heeling with me, but completed the other exercises flawlessly. He was also the only dog in his group that held the sit-stays, I came back and everyone was laying down, Murphy was looking around second guessing himself I think. So something to be proud of - but not that last leg that we were eagerly hoping for...

I've got to figure out what will make Dr Jekyll stay home and walk into the ring with Mr. Murphy more often. That is the key and will determine whether Murph ever goes for a UD or UDX.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Whew! What a weekend - Wooie's first dog show. He was entered in the 6-9 month puppy class, having turned 6 months on Friday the 6th. That made him the smallest by far in the ring - and lacking in maturity as well. The difference between a 6 month old dog and a 9 month old dog is like comparing a 12 year old boy with a 16 year old boy - a few weeks makes a huge difference. The judges went with the older dogs - but I'm very pleased with him, he trotted out beautifully, he stacked beautifully he was fantastic about letting the judges touch him and look at his toothies. Just fantastic.

I bought him a new show lead at the show - I'd been using a parachute nylon choke or a resco martingale lead and neither made me particularly happy. I bought him a gold snake chain (won't snag hair) and laughed as I tried it on - we'll have to call him Mr. T from now on with his snazzy gold chain. Maybe doggie mohawks will come into fashion and we can really mix things up :-)

Yes, I know if Mr. T (the actor) were a dog he probably wouldn't be a golden retriever - but hey, a pup can dream huh?

On a side note, Murphy wasn't entered this weekend. Which is just as well - I did take time both days to work him on grounds - just outside the obedience rings - heel work, some drops on recall, some stays...I got some really nice work out of him and I'm pleased. We'll see what happens on Friday...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Getting there...

Happy Independance day to anyone who might actually be reading this - I've never been a diary sort of person, but I must say that it's been helpful for me to put notes of our progress in writing (or pixels). There's sanity in the process and that's a really good thing these days.

I was up late last night first working on a client issue and then publishing the Golden Club website. Well, the good news is that the golden club site launched last night - http://www.gmgrc.org
It's a pretty simple site at this point - but it's a long time coming for this club and I'm glad that we finally have made some steps towards revamping the club and its image...

On a really SUPER note I took Murph out to a park to work him and I'm pleased to report that he was fantastic - he did everthing I aske if him - including a runthrough of the open individual exercises. I'm actually looking forward to taking him into the open ring next weekend. He'll train Thursday and Friday of this week, play agility on Saturday - maybe Sunday too (things are up in the air regarding the Springfield shows), then he'll work Monday and Tuesday and have Wednesday/Thursday off...really high rates of reinforcement at what I hope are truly random rates - some rewards during a heel pattern, sometimes just a jackpot at the end - keep him guessing.

Teller seems to be pacing again and I'm trying to figure out if it's something I did - or if it's him - he'll move along so nicely with me now - but pacing. Did I click that and thus he's doing it on purpose? Is he growing a little bit this week and is a little off? Is he just being lazy? I don't know. I did discover that if he gallops and then slows that he trots out of the gallop - so I need to experiment with that. I've got a stick with a clip on the end that Celeste Meade uses for drop work - I'm going to try it as a lunge line and get Teller moving out a bit and click the trot steps...I'll update with progress on that front.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Progress and some super sessions

Coming off two straight weeks of oncall and MS updates to my critical customer servers, a major datacenter move of one of my customers which was an all-nighter, my primary work laptop napping with the fishes and scrambling to get myself connected again - just makes life really crazy all around. It was a relief to get Friday over with, sleep in on Saturday morning and just spend a peaceful weekend with my boys - interruptions - for sure - but they were my decision, not the pager's. There's a big difference!

Murphy had two days of agility this weekend - I backed off the obedience a little and he was just AWESOME both days - great contact equipment, table, weave entries - and he was fast and totally tuned in - I love it. It's such a joy to run with him when he's on like that. There was no hunting, no sniffing, no rolling - just a "lets bust this out". He put down 5 runs at waggles yesterday and 4 at Ruthies today. I'm thrilled - and I don't feel quite so bad putting him back to work in obedience tomorrow and upping the ante to see what I have.

It's humbling to have to go backwards and work basics. I mean c'mon we've been doing this for how many years? He should know how to reliably do X Y and Z. I used to believe that - not that he was failing to spite me - there are a lot of people who DO seem to believe their dogs are naughty or stressed to get back at them - I just don't believe that dogs think that way. Manipulative - yes, vindictive? No.

Anyway, I'm seeing the basics really paying off - but the proof is in the pudding and the pudding needs to cook a couple more weeks before we know how the recipe is going to turn out.

Now for the Teller-man. He's still hot and cold - and such a baby still. It's hard to see the consistancy go back and forth. I don't want to compare him to Murphy - but when Murph was his age he was getting ready for the rally ring - I know it's not the same - but it's really sort of shocking to me to think about it. Teller is getting a puppy-hood. I'm probably not working him as much as I should - but I'm not feeling guilty about that. He's got lots and lots of time. What he has gotten boat-loads of is mileage at trials - he just doesn't see a show as anything other than where we go on weekends. Indoors, outdoors - he's seen it before.

Going into the ring will be interesting - I'm not entirely sure what to expect there. He goes from being somewhat composed to being a wiggly puppy who is SO EXCITED that someone is going to come pat him! It's a matter of exposure - and I just hope that judges will be able to see past the silly puppy antics and see him for what he really is. In talking to someone with Aussies today I was reminded that it's a whole lot easier to bring a social butterfly down a bit in terms of zealousness than it is to bring a fearful dog out of his shell and let strange people touch him. That is wise advice, and the wiggles are something I likely created - all those people he met those first few weeks - he just loves everyone,I need to come to grips with the fact that he's Ok that way. I guess I just need a dose of Auntie Linda - leave him alone he's the perfect Woo.

The numbers are in for the Essex cluster - and they're way down. The Canadian national specialty for goldens is right over the border (that doesn't help) and with gas prices jumping all over the place I can understand why people wouldn't want to travel so much. We're in the single points for dogs and two pointers for bitches. That's OK - it'd be nice if we were majors up here and I don't think Woo is going to take points, but we don't need our butts handed to us either. It's interesting, the sponsored sweeps class appears to be mainly Kara's dogs - we'll keep it in the family for sure.

Obedience entries seem to be pretty level - that I don't understand - perhaps its the indoor shows? There aren't that many indoor shows around here this time of year and I can understand not wanting to go for OTCH points in 90 degree July weather...

Anyhow, onward and upward. We've got a short week this week - Monday in the office, Tuesday at a customer site, Wednesday off, Thursday in the office and Friday traveling for Teller's first show - Murph has the weekend off still - the first time he's traveled to a show and not gone in the ring - I wonder if he'll notice the change in routine...I might try to take Thursday off too - wouldn't that be just sinful!!