Monday, November 30, 2009

New look for our youtube page

Played with some layouts on youtube today - I like this much better than the bright pink happy-happy version.

I've got some other graphics and web design stuff in the works - but I can't reveal them interesting change from the usual geek stuff :-)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Running contact progression...

About a month ago I bought Rachael Sander's "Reliable Running A-Frames", I made a box - though a slightly modified version from Rachel's so that mine sits on top of the slats and doesn't need to be fastened to the A-Frame. The thought here is that what isn't fastened can be safely displaced and what doesn't have to be fastened is a lot easier to take on and off for things like run-throughs when we might only take one or two reps on the a-frame.

So we've done a lot of groundwork - a lot of just sending to the box on it's own, some sequences and then the running grid that Rachel talks about in her DVD - essentially getting the striding right on the flat will save a lot of wear and tear for the dog on the a-frame. We've been lucky to work this once or twice a week as we're either involved in something other than working on our own or if we're at home it's been too dark after work to get any reps in.

So yesterday was the day to put the box on the frame. I skipped the back chaining part of the a-frame work. Teller is not keen on being physically manipulated and would not have liked being picked up awkwardly and placed on equipment. So I started with the 4'4" a-frame as in the video. Teller immediately got the striding and hit nicely within the box. Sweet. Let's push it a little - running ahead of him - he's getting it. Behind him, he's getting it. A wait and going the entire length of the room - releasing him (like a cannon) and he got it! Holy crap!

Today I moved the a-frame up to full height and found that I could reproduce what I saw at the lower frame. He NAILED all of his contacts and had his striding correctly most of the time (two hits on the way down). He does seem to vibrate the a-frame a bit and displaced the box once by vibration alone. He hit the box with a hind foot too - also displacing the box.

In general he's such an honest dog that I knew (know) that our contacts in trials are a result of something I've left out. He doesn't understand what his job is on an a-frame in competition. Hopefully the box-work will clear up his criteria on the a-frame...

So here's his work on day two - my word for the contact zone is "yellow" {smile} - it seemed fitting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Four Years ago today....

It seems so strange to think that Kasei has been gone four years already. The suddenness of his passing, the catastrophe of his cancer - so rapid, so quickly bringing him down at the way too young age of eight and a half.

Kasei was the start of all things golden. He taught me so much and asked so little in return. Kasei approached each and every day with a tail wag and gusto. Kasei lived every moment of his life, stoic to the end as usual. As a rescue with a pretty crummy start he had his share of baggage - he was an outstanding therapy dog, specializing in his work with kids. Kasei was loyal to a fault and seemed to appreciate "the good life" once he had it. For his last couple of years, he was a tough but fair "older brother" to Murphy. He didn't want to play the dog show game - he didn't want to travel to dog shows, stay in hotels but he was obedient and trainable - he just came that way. I often wondered what he would have been like if he had the advantage of positive training from the beginning.

We love you Kasei and we miss you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Cluster in Springfield

We've had some time off since our last trial (mid-October in Virginia) so we were excited to be out for the weekend.

The weekend started off badly - I worked on Thursday instead of taking the day off as a travel day. In general this isn't my habit as I like the time to pack properly and then leave in a somewhat leisurely fashion. I got the car packed by about 4pm, planned to hit the bank for some cash and then head out of town. I loaded the dogs in the car and put the key in the ignition...NOTHING! Onstar sent someone out to give the battery a jump - which didn't get the car started so the car was unpacked, dogs unloaded and the car towed to the dealership. I got a rental but the little Buick was not suitable for transporting two golden retrievers and their gear to a dog show.

And then I was saved! Lori was heading down to the trial already and had room for the three of us. We left at 5am on Friday morning, but we got there - and what a weekend it was!

We've been struggling with our contacts since September - like so many problems he's missing the contacts in trial, but not in training - complicated by his performances in Virginia where he nailed his A-Frame AND his dogwalk in all of his runs. We're trying the Rachael Sanders box method but we're still working the box on the ground - only now at the point of putting it on the a-frame and I didn't want to put the box on the a-frame the week before a trial. The holes in our contacts were evident at the cluster this weekend. The A-Frame cost us two Q's this weekend on otherwise solid runs (the third standard run he got the contacts by a toe-nail but had both a pop-out in the weaves and a refusal when I got in his way).

The thrill of our weekend were in the JWW ring. Teller earned his first Ex A JWW leg in Granby at the end of September and his second at the Mattiponi Kennel Club show in Virginia. Friday he came together in the afternoon and nailed his EX JWW run with a 1st and Q to finish his AXJ title. Teller is now a Can CH SunKissed Light and Magic CD RN NA NAP AXJ NJP CCA CGC CGN.

It just so happens that Teller's AXJ earned another title - this time for Daddy Robin - as AXJ is a seven point GRCA title and finished Robin's outstanding sire "OS". What a thrill for us to be part of the qualifying progeny.

Teller was not finished though - Saturday we walked out of the JWW ring with another Q, this time in Excellent B and with FIVE MACH points!! Teller's first MACH points!!! Holy cow! Sunday he spoiled me again with another JWW Q for Four more points! Teller now has NINE MACH POINTS!!!

This is Teller's first season out playing agility - my goal for him this season was for him to have fun, build some confidence in the ring (though confidence isn't really his issue) and to hopefully finish his novice preferred titles. He's done that and more. In May I moved him up to 24" to see what we had. He finished his Novice titles in two weekends and his Open JWW title in another two weekends. We had a weekend in July with some runs that were really close to an excellent JWW leg - but one of us made a mistake each run. We took August off and enjoyed the pool and summer. So in six months and eight weekends my Woo has gone from Novice to MACH points. I'm still walking on air.

Oh and I got my car back we've got wheels again :-)