Saturday, March 28, 2009

Syracuse Day Three

Greetings from Syracuse! Another long and successful day - another double Q with two first placements. I spent an obsessively long time last night watching Teller's jumper run - and came to the realization that there was nothing I'd have changed with that run - I've never had that kind of run before - I'm still in awe. It was smooth and fast, my crosses were in the right places, my timing was good - Teller was amazingly in-tune with my cues. It was such a rush.

I didn't move him up because I wanted to play in my jumpers run today - push some buttons and see what happened. My lesson of the day in both runs was to trust my dog more. In jumpers he made his weave entry and then I called him out thinking he was heading in at the second pole. I didn't trust him and I should have. In standard I went on the left because of the MASSIVE crowd of spectators assembled outside the ring next to the weaves, then rear-crossed the double. I did a lead-out that really killed me - he never saw the poles and went towards (but didn't touch) the table (he's gotten a lot of reinforcement for the table lately because I went back to work the 16" table). If I hadn't been lead-out crazy I would have been able to send him to the poles and I'm almost certain he'd have made the entry. Again - I need to trust him more. Further through the course I was so concerned about the frame contact that I bobbled what should have been a rear cross on the tire - which cost us time. My fault - thankfully he's forgiving and doesn't get bent out of shape over stuff like that.

When I started Teller in agility he was a committed bar-knocker - a problem I never had with Murphy. Over time I've worked to be very consistent that when bars came down we stopped, reset the exercise and rewarded the bars staying up. This has really paid off for us - and now that the trial is over I'm pleased to report that I didn't even hear a tick all weekend. Not to say that I can stop being consistent when the bars do come down - but I have to listen to Lori and trust my dog more. Do you sense a recurrent theme in these posts?

I did think that I did a good job of running Teller like he's Teller - not running him like Murphy - it's been hard to run the two dogs and handle them both like they need to be run. I think this is on-going and will continue to be a challenge. I certainly need to get faster - but I am already faster than I was a few months ago and I have some nice lateral distance when I (again) TRUST him to do what I've trained him to do. I've said it before - he's such a bloody honest dog - he does what I've trained him to do - he is as good as the consistency and effort that I've put in. His holes are bits that I either haven't put time into or I haven't rewarded consistently enough. I need to be clear on my criteria because if I'm not he's not going to magically pull the right answer from the hat.

Tomorrow is an obedience day - just Open A and we'll hit the road. Novice Standard didn't finish until almost 5pm - not fun when I've got a 5 hour drive ahead of me tomorrow afternoon.

So the agility stats for the Onondaga cluster:
6 runs
5 Q's
2 Double Q's
1 2nd place
4 1st places
1 new title (NJP)

What would have made this weekend even sweeter is if my agility buddies were out here with me...trialing solo is not as much fun as trialing with friends - though the agility world is a friendly place and I got to catch up with a lot of folks I haven't seen since the GMGRC trial in July.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quick update: Syracuse day two

I don't have a lot of time to post an update so the video will have to do!

We're all exhausted!!! Teller was so baby overtired that he wasn't settling - so he's sound asleep in his crate in the hotel room - he may look grown-up but he needs help relaxing sometimes. I just went over to take him out for a potty and he's snoring peacefully - we're up early tomorrow again anyway. Even Murph who is not running and only spending a few hours in the building is sawing logs tonight and did not want his evening potty either :-) So we're going to tuck in early - well - not SO early - I spent too much time putting together the video and then watching that jumpers run over and over again...holy woo batman!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Syracuse Day One - Agility

Today's video from Syracuse:

Over all, I am very pleased. We found some holes - mainly off-side weave entries at speed, me needing to be FASTER and I need to better communicate as a handler...Woo picked up his first double Q (2nd and 1st places) and I'm almost giddy! No, I AM giddy! Onward and upward - more fun tomorrow!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Collie Club Obedience

Teller, Murph and I went down to the Collie Club All-Breed rally and obedience trial yesterday. Teller's first time in Open A and we also entered Rally Novice. It's a small show so I moved up to Open - with the expectation of going out, having fun and seeing where we were. We had some great moments and some puppy moments...Teller stayed engaged the whole time and I know where our holes are and what we'll keep working on.

Teller's rally run was very nice - and I felt like we got to regroup. It was a really long day though - We were on-site at 7:30 on Friday morning, ran Open at 10:30 and our rally run was 4:45 - which meant that I hit Manchester at rush hour! Oh well - the DST actually helped as most of my drive was in daylight - a beautiful thing!

I experimented with the GlycoCharge - Murphy does well with it at agility trials and I thought I'd see what it did for Teller - well - lets just say that he does not need any more incentive to be a wild-child...I think we'll save that for Murphy.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Whew! Busy weekend!

What a crazy weekend - I felt like I was flat-out all weekend! I had server work on Friday night (technically Saturday AM) which went through 3am. As a general rule I don't go to bed before my midnight work - it's harder for me to get a couple of hours of sleep and then wake up and focus than it is for me to stay up straight through and crash later. For me less sleep is easier for me than more sleep with interrupts. Which is probably why my oncall shifts totally wipe me out - lots of interrupted sleep and when it's not interrupted I'm doing the paranoid waking up every so often to check the pager that's not beeping. Anyhow, my paranoia is not really part of this post {{grin}}.

I was up at the crack of dawn on Saturday for week six of my CGC class - then I had to drive an hour south for a GMGRC meeting south of Middlebury - then we trained down at Peg's for a couple of hours. Another hour plus to get back home again. The whole way down I was fascinated with barns - old barns. It's a rural part of Vermont and while I've always admired old barns and have always been annoyed at property owners who let these great old barns just fall apart under the weight of snow and age, I'm more sensitive to it. I think the burning of the old Hardscrabble barn really hit me...not just from a sentimental standpoint - just a twinge of how easy it is to lose things that can never be rebuilt. Corny? Yes a little.

When I got home I finished prepping for my judge's assignment at the match - couldn't find my timer so I had to run to radio shack for a new one...I just love the radio shack stop watches BTW - they're easy to use and have nice features...

The spring ahead into DST really threw me for a loop this morning when I had to get up at 5:30 (which was really 4:30) and drive up to Hyde Park - in fog so thick it took me well over an hour to get there - though it did get considerably lighter as we went onward. I hit a dead skunk on a blind corner on my way up this morning. My truck STILL smells like skunk. I was too tired to get it washed on the way home from the match so I'll have to do it tomorrow - when we're supposed to get more snow. I was really enjoying the 50 degree days this weekend - most of the snow is gone now and I was able to break out some jumps and do a little bit in the front yard this evening. Imagine that! Maybe spring is here after all!

My first sanctioned match judging assignment went well. I had awesome stewards which helped - and there weren't a lot of entries - I think there was a total of 3 hours of judging with lots of time for people to walk. I also setup courses that were pretty challenging and for the most part took over 2 minutes to run through. I was surprised at how many handlers cost themselves 10 points in one exercise or another. Lots and lots of footwork mistakes - particularly on the forward 1-2-3 and the call front back 1-2-3. I drill people in my rally classes about their footwork - there's just no good reason to lose 10 points like that. I also saw a lot of tight leashes in novice - way more than in the past - or I was more sensitive to it - either is possible.

Teller's open run was after I finished in the rally ring. I wasn't sure that was going to be possible, but low and behold my rally ring finished in plenty of time for me to get Teller out to potty and have a drink and then watch the heeling pattern. The building was really hot and stuffy - which makes it hard for dogs to really focus. You've got to love commercial/industrial buildings in Vermont...they're on programmable thermostats that can't be modified by room occupants. Then they don't change their settings based on outside temperature - so 50sunny degrees outside meant 80 degrees in the building...all the folks with big hairy working breeds (newfs and leos) were clustered outside keeping their dogs cool.

Woo's heeling was fine - actually not forging - which is nice. His figure eight was a little sloppy the first time through and improved considerably the second time through. His drop was fine, his retrieve on the flat was fine, he goofed on his retrieve over high - partly because of my throw - so we've got to work on that this week a little. He's not one to go around the high jump - so I've got to figure out what I did - I think I may have set him up too close? I don't know. Some experimentation is in order between now and next week. Teller's broad jump was fine - even though the dog in the next ring was having massive diarrhea just on the other side of the gate. Teller jumped then as he was coming around to front sort of spun and looked at his bum like "is that me?". Dogs are weird.

Murphy got to come in and have my hot dog. The he spent some time sitting in the bleachers with me (yes, Murph and I were sitting on the top row of bleachers) and had a little girl come over and cuddle with him. Murphy thought this was way more fun than showing ever was. Murph too was really hot in there.

So all in all it was a really good weekend - and I am thoroughly tuckered out. Even the boys are sacked out - Teller is resisting Q's attempts to get him into trouble. That's always a sign of exhaustion. An early night for me - though it's still going to feel an hour early when the alarm goes off tomorrow.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Itchy for trial season...

When I entered the collie club trial and Syracuse it seemed so far away - now we're right upon it and {gasp} how did that happen!

Teller continues to work well - I'm loving his obedience work right now - even with the forging that continues to plague us (totally my fault of course) - he's just really coming together. He's also so honest - he is what I've taught him - nothing more and nothing less. If I've reinforced him for something that's what he does - I've spent some time on fronts and MAN! Those fronts are gorgeous! Teller still thinks all of this is a game created for him - and I'm working hard to keep it that way.

Murphy has been dynamite too - It's probably because I sent in a bunch of entries that weren't for him - he's tempting me to put an entry in the mail for TMAC, I entered Teller - I didn't enter Murphy. It's an outdoor trial. Historically he's liked that venue for their May show - but...well, I think I'll let it go. It's my issue not his and I have to keep reminding myself that. He'll be just as happy going for some long walks and eating french fries ring-side while Teller does the work. So if that leaves him just BOTC and GMGRC - I think that's fine for him...