Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow Days

Vermont's snow drought has officially ended! In the last 72 hours we've cleaned up over two feet of the white stuff. Work for humans - fun for the doggies!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

ACNH - December 15-16th, 2012

OK, so I'm at least one trial behind  - I'll get videos from the Eastern English Springer Field Trial Association (December 1-2) posted here soon. Those videos are already on YouTube if you want immediate gratification.

Team Magica has officially closed out our 2012 trial season - I'll come up with my usual where we've been and where we want to go closer to the actual end of the year, but - there's a bit of news that needs to be shared now.

For those that have been keeping track, Teller earned MACH2 on June 7th, 2012 and I'm thrilled to announce that he buttoned up his AKC MACH3 yesterday a bit over 6 months later. You may have noticed that Teller measured down to the 20" division in June (shortly after MACH2) so we've been working with a few less points on the table than we had at 24". With not so many single Q's this time around we had to hunt down a few more points (after we finished QQ's 41-60) to complete his MACH3. He finished this MACH with 24 QQ's and did (ultimately) finish on the second run of QQ #24. It was an interesting thing to finish this MACH on points - certainly less stress - much less pressure on both of us, we knew we'd get there eventually - but it also removed the pressure of the double Q. Every run counted again. I think in AKC land we (collective WE) get really hung up on that double-Q. It counts for a lot, sure the 20 doubles for the MACH, but also 10 extra points for breed standings (towards the invitationals) - and because it's the holy grail of a good trial day I think we depreciate the value of those singles. Not the place for it here, but one of my New Years Resolutions is to be much more determined to make the singles count for something and to try not to run cautiously just for the doubles.

With MACh3 under Teller's belt there was still the small (or not so) matter of running the baby dog :-)

Kipling was a phenomenal worker this weekend. Someone mentioned to me how obviously hard he's trying - they're right - he really is trying so hard to be right. We're making mistakes, he's turning wide much of the time, there are times when he surprises me and pulls out his 'big-boy' pants and then others when he really shows me how young and inexperienced he still is. BUT...he's consistently trying, he's sticking with it and he continues to come together in ways that just amaze me. There were a couple of times this weekend where I just watched him really see a line and take ownership of getting himself there. He'll get tighter, he's going to get more consistent - but he's showing me that his foundation is there and it's good.

You'll see that I held every single contact this weekend, long enough to praise him and tell him he was right. Need to keep doing that for a while before I ever think about a quick release :-) I think I fall back to running him like Teller, I've often been too quick to release on the startline and I'm too quick to release on contacts.

Kipling on Saturday:

On Sunday Mr. Kippie added a third Ex A JWW to his resume earning his AXJ. He'll now move up to MASTERS to play with the big boys in January :-)

Kipling on Sunday:

Teller had some really nice runs on Sunday - but with PMS (post-MACH Syndrome) firmly entrenched in our cosmic Qi we had a lovely double NQ today with funny (and unusual) mistakes. Really Teller, crossing IN FRONT of me to grab the wrong end of the tunnel?? We had fun and it's MUCH easier to laugh at silly Woo the day after finishing a big title!

This weekend there was a professional videographer setup taping every single run of the weekend. I ended up buying all eight runs and will upload those to YouTube when they arrive in my inbox - for now of course we have the old stand-by from my trusty-rusty camera :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Cluster - November 23-26th, 2012

Four days of the biggest show on dirt! Four rings of agility - twelve rings of conformation, three rings of obedience and two rings of rally. Lots and lots of great shopping, seeing friends we only see a couple of times a year - and (as far as Teller is concerned) - four days of running on the best footing we'll see all year.

Kippie wasn't entered this weekend, with so many rings I didn't want to deal with conflicts, multiple walks being in two rings at the same time. I also wasn't sure what he'd think of the environment, it's TOO MUCH for a lot of dogs. Murphy's one trip to the cluster was an unmitigated disaster - he was so stressed from all of the activity, other dogs, so many people watching him. He (and I) were miserable.

Teller thrives on the chaos, loves having people watch him and well, loves playing agility :-) He also loves tunnels (gah!) - a little too much this weekend actually!





Monday, November 19, 2012

Middlesex County Kennel Club - November 17-18, 2012

Home from another weekend in Amherst, NH - it just so happens to have been the one year anniversary of Teller's first MACH - It was weird to go back to this club once again with 19QQs in our pocket for MACH3 (but needing a few more points above and beyond what we'd get on a typical double-Q - or QQ+QQ weekend).

My perfectTeller had a 'perfect' weekend - going four for four with decent points in all of his runs. We're still short some points for that MACH3, but it's nice to have all of those QQ's buttoned up in our pocket!

Kipling had a decent weekend. I took out a panel jump in his Saturday Standard run, I went in deeper than I'd wanted to on a front cross (to keep him out of the WC weaves) and well, when I finished rotating there was the wing to the panel. It was a spectacular crash! We salvaged the day with a JWW Q for Kippie :-)

In Sunday's standard Kipling came off the dogwalk to ummm, visit a ring crew. OK Kippie, that's a little weird, but the rest of the run was more or less OK. In today's JWW, Kippie just lost focus - came off a line I thought he'd see, but came back, settled a bit and finished with me. It's all good!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

American Bullmastiff Association - November 10-11, 2012

Back to NH this weekend for the November edition of the American Bullmastiff Club's agility offerings. What a weekend! Teller's only mistake was a table fault on Saturday's Standard run. It's a weird mistake for him to have (table fault) and even watching the tape I'm not sure why he came off the table. Satuday's JWW run was fun - a bit of chaos getting into the ring when the woman in front of us decided she needed a tissue and couldn't run, then decided she wanted to run (Drama much l;ady??).  Teller doesn't care when he runs (he's good like that) so we went to the line (despite protests of needing a tissue AND that it was her turn). Since we had nothing (no QQ) on the line I decided to push the JWW run with Teller. I did and felt really good about the run - until we were told of a timer malfunction! So for the second time in a couple of weeks, we got a re-run for time. I pushed a bit more - Teller felt a bit slower, but based on manual timing of the videos he was about 1/2 second faster the second run. I'll take it Woo Thank you!

Kipling had a phenomenal day on Saturday - one bobble in standard - some moments where he was wider than I'd like - but great weaves and good connection. Was good enough to finish his OA and OAJ titles (point of note - Kippie also finished his NA/NAJ on the same day back in September).

Sunday a new day for Teller - with two clean runs for a nice sweet QQ.

Kipling Moved up to play with the big dogs in excellent - putting me in a position to walk the course for both dogs at the same time. Just not something I've ever had to do before! He handled it better than I did (I'm still focusing on Teller's runs through his MACH3 - if we are lucky enough to finish his MACH3 this year!) - with his first AX leg (excellent standard) with a first place - and a close but no cheesecake JWW run when I under-rotated a front cross and (gasp) sent him over the wrong jump on the last line. Yes, I'm STILL kicking myself for THAT one (and probably will be for a while). My BIG boy BABY dog!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Practice - November 7th, 2012

A little different arrangement this winter. We're renting a larger indoor arena on a timeshare basis. We've got a two hour block to work the dogs with a couple of friends. We've got to be a bit more organized (and less spontaneous) than last year, but in the end we have more space to work (and stretch out a bit). The goal is to have two dogs working at a time.

The plan is to come up with a design that has two working sections - providing that list to everyone the night before and let folks come up with their own sequences on the setup. Kippie and Teller are now at the point (yay) where I am working them on the same sequences. We're reinforcing contacts a lot in training, weaves too - emphasis for speed from both of them and to be honest, they both just LOVE running on dirt! Here's what we ran:

Monday, November 05, 2012

Schenectady Dog Training Club - November 3-4, 2012

Another 4am departure and another DARK drive down to Greenwich, NY this past Saturday this time for Schenectady Dog Training Club's November trial. I'm still recovering from the early darkness and the sudden chill in the air (I only closed our pool this morning when I saw snow sticking to the ground outside) so this entry will be brief...No QQ's for Team Magica this weekend. Teller picked up two JWW legs after buying wrong course tunnel entries in both of his standard runs. His contacts were great this weekend - love Saturday's dogwalk contact as I peeled off the dogwalk and got in place to layer a front-cross. Teller ran fast all weekend with respectable YPS.



Kipling continues to grow and gain confidence and maturity in his work - with four solid runs. He added one OAJ leg to his belt on Saturday for a first and Q. Kippie's mistakes were honest ones - Saturday Standard I drove him past a tunnel entry with an over compensate, Sunday JWW he had an unfortunate bar and Sunday afternoon (standard) Mr. Kippie Contact (ahh-hem) came off his A-Frame contact on my lateral movement. OK, back to work for both of us on those contacts - and I'm going to ask him to hold contacts for the next couple of weekends. Just stay there and remember Kippie :-)



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath...

We all made it through Sandy with little more than a bunch of pine needles dumped in our pool - we didn't even get all that much rain. We are feeling incredibly fortunate and our thoughts are with so many of our friends who are displaced or in the dark tonight.

The real aftermath here were three dogs who got little more than a few quick potty breaks yesterday - all three of my yellows were stir-crazy! We didn't have enough daylight for a proper hike or romp this afternoon - but forty-five minutes of (nearly continuous) galloping around the school yard seems to have unwound the effects of two days at a trial and one day sequestered by Hurricane Sandy...And now there is a bit of peace in the valley.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Albany Obedience Club - October 27-28, 2012

QQ Cheezeburger for two (technically for three).
What an incredibly fun weekend for team Magica down in Greenwich, NY for Albany Obedience Club's fall agility trial. Teller went three-for-four with a missed weave entry today in Standard (in his defense, I may have squeaked when I drove too deeply into the tunnel after the a-frame).

Me and my boys: Teller, Kipling and Murphy.
Kipling was a super-star in his own right - he's coming together and running like a big boy, even with big distractions. Yesterday he pulled off his second OA leg and his first OAJ leg with first and second placements. His JWW run on Saturday was so smooth - he was so responsive and right where I asked him to be at every obstacle. Today's runs were equally grown-up, honest errors and responsive handling..I am so proud of how he is maturing both physically and in his work - he seems to genuinely love trialing and he's just so bloody fun to run!






Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mayflower Corgi Club - October 20-21, 2012

Teller was very happy to end his two weekend
cheezeburger drought...even if he did have to share it.
Now that I'm running two dogs some weekends I'm struggling with a format that makes sense here, bear with me as I feel things out and tweak a bit here and there. This weekend we were back down in NH for the Mayflower Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club trial. A lot of words for a nice club - I love it when clubs truly appreciate their workers and their exhibitors. Yeah, I worked about 4 classes every day - but I can't count the number of times that club members said 'thank you'.  I go to a trial expecting to work - but I appreciate when clubs take a bit of time and say thank you. Lunch tickets are nice (though now that I'm gluten-free lunch is often tricky from food vendors anyhow), raffle tickets are good - but really a thank-you means so much more.

Anyhow! A great weekend for Mr. Dependable Teller-Woo with a 3 for 4 weekend (Standard Q on Saturday and QQ on Sunday). With full disclosure, his NQ on Saturday was 100% me - I beat him down the first line to the tunnel and then front-crossed BEFORE the jump (instead of after), ended up beind a wing and when I told Woo to "Go" he looked at me as if to say "Ummmmm, Go where crazy lady?" Yeah, totally my bad, sorry for blowing your cheezeburger Teller.

Sunday was a new day - Teller had a HARD (you can hear it on the video) rub on the triple in JWW, but (thank you agility gods) the bar stayed up for a JWW Q. In standard I asked Teller to wait on the dogwalk and he very obediently waited for me 2" from the yellow. He walked down into the yellow - which cost us time, but I'm so so pleased that he's thinking (and stopping) on the dogwalk.

Kipling had his own super-star weekend though his Q rate was 25% in Open. I'm seeing him figure out the 'trialing' part of the game more and more. He's been in and out of agility trials his entire life, but he's always been the passenger. He's now coming into the buildings ready to play and very excited to play. He's got a glint in his eye and a bounce in his step - he's having fun! He's also worrying a bit when he's wrong - even when we (as a team) have a save, the near-miss just gets us out of sync enough that we have to take a moment and come back together. He's coming back beautifully - our goal is to start together and leave together - if we've got some wrong courses and refusals in the middle there, that's fine :-) Each run is coming more and more together!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mid-Hudson Kennel Club - October 13-14, 2012

Statistically this was not a good weekend for us. My reliable and dependable retrievers went 0 for 8 runs this weekend - BUT - Teller had four solid runs thwarted by (in roughly this order) a jammed shoulder in the weaves, a wrong course tunnel and a silly refusal..Kipling went to a new trial venue and while he was a bit out-classed by the course and the environment (OMG! The judge just put up his hand, should I check him out?) he got better and better with each run.

Let's be realistic and honest here - My goal for Teller is to finish MACH3 this fall; my goal for Kipling is to get him exposure, start and finish the course together and get him some super-positive mileage in-between. This is true for both dogs, but especially for the baby dog: its much more important for him to run the course happily than it is for him to run cleanly.

Great contacts from Teller all weekend - pausing on his yellows and even getting a nice turn tunnel off a dogwalk (even though there was a chute straight ahead of him)!

Kippie also did a great job with his contacts - but also his weaves - nailing all four of his entries with nice snappy weaves.

We live to play another day - all around. I felt like I had a lot of dog from Teller this weekend - he was moving along and was quite responsive. Sunday's JWW (if not for the WC tunnel) would have been a 14 point JWW run for us - more than we're usually picking up in 20" JWW.

Teller - Saturday Ex JWW

Kipling - Saturday Open JWW

Kipling - Saturday Open Standard

Teller - Sunday Ex Standard

Kipling - Sunday Open Standard

Teller - Sunday Ex JWW

Kipling - Sunday Open JWW

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Talcott Mountain Agility Club (TMAC) - September 29-30, 2012

Whirlwind weekend for team Magica: dockdiving for Kippie on Friday just outside of Boston (more on that later) and then over (and down) to Connecticut for agility for Teller.

Teller ran beautifully all weekend, he's working so well for me - coming out of his crate just primed and ready to work. Our weekend  (Saturday) started with a double NQ - two wrong courses in standard and another wrong course in the afternoon JWW class as well. Both were super fun runs and I would have loved a second crack at that standard course!

Sunday we turned a new leaf with a nice double-Q - Including a STOP on his dogwalk!!! Sunday afternoon, I neglected to pay attention to the big-dog JWW ring while I was waiting to video a friend in standard. The net result was that I turned around after finishing my videographer duties to see that the 20" class was walking (yikes) and had a whopping 12 seconds left on the 8 minute walk-through. DAMMIT!!  So I missed my walk. I did get around the course once (though it took me more than 12 seconds to do so), but ended up running the course 'safely'. I just wasn't sure if I could put a front cross THERE - or THERE, so I ended up rearing the triple and taking a longer handling path on another line because I knew I could get where I needed to be and send him ahead of me into the weaves. It totally worked out for me this time with a QQ to finish off the weekend!

Sunday QQ:


And from the bad parenting department....Kippie was SURE that the huge empty wire spools in the back of the building were going to jump out and get him (to be fair he heard a deer go crashing through the woods and when he looked he just saw a giant wooden spool that in his mind must have just appeared there out of the blue). So what do you do if your puppy is afraid of something? Make him jump on it, hold a sit and then walk 6' away and take a picture. Works for us!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wachusett Kennel Club - September 21-23, 2012

On Friday AM (at about 4:30 in the morning) I asked Teller for two double-Q's this weekend. Yeah, I know - asking a lot isn't it - but please, Woo? Teller came through for me with a five for six weekend with two double-Q's for Woo-Woo.

 Saturday's Standard run finished with a dogwalk to jump to tunnel. I swear that Teller looked at me on the dogwalk up-ramp and gave me this look like "I totally got this Erica" and I'm thinking "ummm, you actually don't 'got this' it's not the tunnel dude". He was so committed to that tunnel I did not have a shot - there was not enough wait or TELLER to dissuade him from that tunnel. That's our achilles heel and I just can't get him to do it at home, club practice, etc - only when he's trial high. I'd say 80% of the time I can manage it with something like a blind cross at the bottom of the dogwalk - and then well...sometimes the bear gets you :-)
 Friday QQ 

Saturday JWW Q 

Sunday QQ 

Kippie was a mixed bag this weekend. Friday he was entered in T2B - his first 'grown-up' course. We had a little bobble at the end, but otherwise it was a nice solid Q for him - extending his career agility stats to seven for seven :-)
Friday T2B

Saturday Kippie packed his baby brain (of course now that he is running in Open!). He really is a baby still and while he spoiled me with his novice success, he has a long way to go before he is the steady and reliable agility partner that Teller has become. In his standard he fixated on his leash, bringing it with him over the first jump. Silly yes, but once the panel came down in a crash he lost his focus - not unlike his father he does not like to make mistakes. He came back to work, but lost focus again. That's a big fat NQ for the Kipster. He went back to his crate and came out for JWW a much more focused puppy (and he is truly STILL a puppy).

In Open JWW I made a mistake - throwing in a front-cross after a BEAUTIFUL set of weaves, startline, etc - That cost us a refusal and a disconnect. After the refusal there as a bar down and a miscue on a serp line. Interestingly enough after the serp-line failure he took the off-course weaves about 30' away and NAILED his weave entry. He came back to me down the line (after the weaves) and we finished together.

I need to remind myself that he is still very young and very green - he needs a bit of support in those big (harder) courses. We live to play another day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Old Colony Agility Club - September 8-9th, 2012

I just posted (here) about Kipling's  weekend at OCAC. Teller too had a great weekend going three for four (QQ on Saturday).

We 'flunked' standard this morning on our dogwalk contact, which meant that I got to push JWW a bit to see what I would get if I really put pedal to the metal. I got a nice solid run - perhaps a bit better on the YPS than Saturday's JWW run, but respectable nevertheless. I've watered him, cooled him out and he's eaten the remainder of the cookies in the cooler when I discover that there's been a scribe sheet mix-up and now we have a couple of options - we can run again for time, the judge can watch (and manually time) the video or we can take SCT. According to the sheet I picked up, it was a 7 point JWW run. About average for us in the 20" class where we get a little less time than the 24" class. But you know what? Here's our chance to run it again and leave with MORE points - or less. There's no Q on the line - let's drive it like we stole it.

The result was a full second and a half improvement over the first run (if our original scribe sheet was correct) for 8 MACH points and a run that was just so heckin' fun to run!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Old Colony Agility Club - September 8th, 2012

Back to Amherst, NH for the Old Colony Agility Club Trial with Kipling and Teller. This was Kippie's third time in the ring having earned his first two NA and NAJ legs on his first two tries. Not to disappoint, Kippie came through with a baby-dog (novice) QQ earning his NA and NAJ titles on the same day - both with first placements.

For the statisticians out there, Kippie's agility career to date:
* Three days of trailing
* Six runs
* Six Qs
* Six perfect weaves/weave entries
* Five clean runs
* One refusal (when he decided a tape measure was VERY interesting).
* Four first placements
* Two second placements
* Nine held contacts
* Six startline stays
* Zero judges and ring-crew visited :-)

Wee-Man is off to open in a few weeks where hopefully he'll continue to improve on those statistics!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The value of a coach...

Due to some real-life work commitments, I'm a day late on the Blog-Action day topic about coaches and trainers. Better late than never goes the adage!

I started my competitive life on horseback. I had various trainers over my horse-show life, some were significantly better than others but they all taught me something valuable - if only that I didn't want to put my horse or my students in a position I'd been in or ask something of a student I wasn't willing to do myself. Believe it or not my very first riding instructor owned a string of lesson horses and was afraid to ride herself!
Erica and Barry (Beredsam)
1998 - Second Level Dressage

The parallel in dog sport is frankly upsetting - I see lots of people (particularly locally) who are training and taking lessons/classes from people who do not participate in the sport that they are teaching. We have limited options here in Northern Vermont - but really if you want to put a CDX or UD (hell even a rally novice title) on your dog, do you think that training with someone who has never earned a single Q in the sport is going to help you be successful? Choose your trainers and coaches wisely. It's not enough to like someone personally, liking your trainer is really nice - but you can like a lot of people in the dog community, value their insight on topics of the day, but if they aren't subject matter experts (in IT we call them "SME's {pronounced Smeeeeeeeeez} you are going to have an even harder time learning all that you need to be successful and competitive.

Erica and Mouse (Bastille)
1992 - Training Level
Coaching and training in the horse world is very different than coaching and training in the dog world. There is very little sugar coating. Many riding instructors do a lot of yelling! In part because the spaces in which you train is larger (indoor arenas) but also because there is less room for error. If you break your dog's heelwork you aren't going to the hospital with a broken pelvis. There is also a great deal of practicality in reinforcement - which is different than force. Riders by necessity communicate in a very physical manner with their horses while the trend with dogs is completely hands off - which I think is a mistake on the part of dog trainers. One doesn't have to be abusive to train a dog, but ignoring all of the stuff we don't like in order to reinforce the stuff we do like only gives the dog half the picture. I want my dogs to know when they are wrong and there are many ways we can communicate that without breaking spirit or inflicting pain. And when they're thinking and making really good choices I heavily reinforce that effort, both with food, toys and yes - my hands on the dog.

There are fewer horse show weekends on (in the Northeast) a limited season of shows. The season runs May through October and a heavily campaigned dressage horse might be out one weekend a month, the jumpers circuit is a bit more demanding but a heavily campaigned Jumper might be out 2 weekends a month with a 3 or 4 day show as one of the weekends. Competition is rigorous and it's pretty common for horses to have several days off in the pasture after a show weekend. Coaches and trainers go to shows with their students, watch their students warm-up, coach from the ground, watch performances and provide real-time feedback. Sometimes it's a drag to come out of the ring and get that feedback - but there is a HUGE  investment in student's success and improvement. Coaches and trainers are compensated for warming up their students and acting as eyes on the ground. This is all very common and normal.
Our Young-Rider teams (1996 I think) with our Coach and Trainer.

In the agility world, I've been disappointed with some trainers who don't support their students but especially their novice handlers.  I see way too many novice (and open) handlers who are at trials by themselves. There's no introduction to dog shows or introductions to friendly people in the community. There's no feedback (positive or negative) and there's no support to the newest fledglings of the sport. When I was teaching regular classes I was so careful to launch newbies successfully. They entered trials I was going to with my own dog (or dogs)  and I stayed to the end of the day to watch every single one of them run. It gave me an idea of what they needed to work on to improve and it gave me the chance to cheer them on, pick them up and in more than a few cases step back and see what a lovely team they had become. At a recent trial I watched a novice dog gallop out of the ring in three of it's four runs. Bystanders caught the dog, the handler was embarrassed (naturally). I know who their instructor was, they'd left hours before after NQ'ing in their morning run. There wasn't positive feedback, there wasn't any feedback at all and when the student says to the instructor later "He left the ring after jump five" that isn't going to provide any information to the coach about why that performance may have happened.

As a community I think we need to step up on what it means to be a coach and the responsibilities that go along with teaching newbies and novice handler. There's a level of responsibility we should take more seriously and yes, take a page from those horsey folks.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

NOMAD Novice Night - September 5th, 2012

My turn to facilitate NOMAD's novice night. Here's what I put together.

Three sets of practice sequences (stations).
Red denotes nested items that change for the run-through portion.

Red was the excellent level course; Blue was for the novice dogs.
Sub'ed in a tire for the #1 wingless jump.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Kipling at DockDogs - Hopkinton Fair 9/3/2012

As of Sunday Evening (day four of the DockDogs event at the Hopkinton Fair) Kipling was standing in 4th place in the amateur division after 16 'Big Air' waves (Amateur 0' to 17'11"; Semi-Pro 18'-21'11"; Pro greater than 22') with his best jump on Thursday (16'11").

So I decided to drive down for finals today, hedging our bets that we'd keep that position after the two waves this morning. So 5:15 alarm, 6:15 departure and a 8:30 arrival for 9am practice.

Once I got there we had to come up with a strategy. I put him in practice and he's consistently jumping 20'+ over the 6 jumps he got in practice. So I watched the first wave - there were quite a few jumps in the 17' range, but I had no way of knowing which of those dogs had already jumped out of amateur over the weekend. Was 16'11" good enough to get into the amateur finals? If I could get a 17'6" jump we'd be solidly in the finals, but if we went over 18' we'd be out of the amateur division and into semi-pro where a 20' jump wouldn't be good enough to get him into finals. What to do, what to do?

I gambled and entered that second (and final) wave. Kipling blew me out of the water with a TWO FOOT improvement for an 18'11" jump. There goes finals baby! For our second jump I threw (and sent him) too early and while I think it was our best 'official' jump of the weekend it wasn't scored - manual scoring of that jump put it in the 20' range. Our second official jump was a solid 18'9".

In the end, that 16'11" score would have put us in second place in the amateur finals and that 18'11" would have won the amateur finals. That was my miscalculation and a credit to Kipling's willingness to do whatever I ask of him and do it BIGGER and BETTER than the last time! I'm happy with the drastic improvement and I'm psyched that he loves playing this game too. From a training standpoint, I love that he held his stays (waits) on the dock. He was barking and bouncing back there AMPED and ready to go, but he did not go until he was released. The barking was a surprise to me, I'm used to whining in waits poolside at home - but the barking bounce was a new trick!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Kippie the Dock-Dog!

We went down to the Hopkinton Fair yesterday to play dock dog with Kippie. We had an absolute blast and as much as I kept telling myself that I did not need another sport I think I'm hooked. I KNOW Kippie is hooked! There are some absolutely amazing pics that my friend Lesley took of Kipling that I need to work out permission to use - for now here's the video:

His best jump was a manually scored 19.5'; his best jump in competition was 16'11". It was good enough to be in the top six amateur dogs for yesterday's jumps, but I don't think it'll hold up throughout the five days of jumpin' dogs :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yankee Golden Retriever Club - August 25-26th, 2012

A fun weekend at the August Edition of Yankee Golden Retriever Club's agility program. The plan was to run Kipling on Saturday and Teller Saturday and Sunday. I completely screwed up the dates though and entered Kippie on Sunday (making for a later day all around).

Gee, who to start with? Well, Teller because he's got his head on my lap at the moment :-) Statistically not Teller's best weekend, though we're a bit spoiled these days with so many really great agility weekends in a row . We left with only a JWW Q on Saturday and a Standard Q on Sunday.

Teller's Saturday JWW run was pretty lack-luster. The dog ahead of us had a massive accident IN the weaves, ring crew cleaned the heck out of it, but when we got to the weaves it was still ummm...odoriferous. Teller tip-toed through the weaves and with a record SIX crosses (blind and fronts) I felt like we just never got into a rhythm after that. It was a Q with FOUR points. I have to admit that watching the video once we're past the weaves it doesn't look as awkward as that run felt! In Saturday's standard run we were clean up until the #16 table. I moved from one side to the other at the table and he came off the table (at 1 and...) with me - partially (in a nice little 2o2o actually). I thought maybe he could fix it (pull his front legs back up) - but he just didn't understand what I wanted him to do and came off. Too bad, it was otherwise a really nice run.

Sunday Standard was of those runs where everything clicked into place ;-) Sunday JWW was probably our best run of the weekend (and there was an R and a W on that scribe sheet). Teller was booking along and missed a push (that was just not strong enough). His course time was really good despite the R and W - so I think it would have been a nice pile of points I think!

Kipling had his second trial entry today. He's still so young (and green) that I don't know what to expect from him. I'm running him a bit like a grown-up dog but today's standard run (oh look a measuring tape) reminded me that he's still a baby dog and I need to handle every obstacle with him. It was an R (thankfully you can have those in Novice) and we finished with a second placement for his second NA leg. In the afternoon, Kipling came back for a clean JWW run running like a big dog with a first placement and his second NAJ leg. There is so much space out on those novice courses (even when they're squished in a third of the ring) that I think it feels a little strange for both of us!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Product Review: GoughNuts Stick.

A while back I was on the clean run ( site replenishing Teller's PowerBoost supply and happened to flip through the toy section and sub-category 'floating'. I ended up buying a few sets of the smaller puller rings (which are a pool staple now) and the goughnuts stick.

GoughNuts Stick:

For pool toys I do like the puller rings - they float pretty high in the water, they're light and they're highly visible in the pool (and lake too). The dogs do like them but for swimming I caution against using the larger puller rings. Several times my dogs have gotten legs - or heads - through the larger rings and I'd be very concerned if this happened in a large body of water.

Puller Rings:

I didn't like the goughnuts stick at first - heavy for its size it goes a bit further than I expect it to go (which means I can inadvertently throw it out of the pool. Marketed as a floating (and indestructable) toy I wasn't impressed with the floatability of the Goughnut. It's more of a bobbing toy than a floating toy. Once thrown, it will eventually float to the surface but not immediately so. The dogs however seem to like this feature, Kipling in particular likes to dive for it on his jumps. I'm actually debating using the GoughNuts for Kippie's dock diving competition in a few weeks... And well....Kippie, what do you think?

Also, the darn thing is guaranteed forever if your dog manages to kill it. That's always a plus!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Kippie weaves - 8/19/2012

After a week 'off' from training, I decided to put Kippie through the weaves a few times before letting the boys into the pool:

American Eskimo Club of America - August 18-19th, 2012

Teller had a nice three for four weekend at the Eskie trial this weekend:

Thankfully no weird car adventures this weekend! We like those kinds of weekends!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Swimming under Surveillance - August 16th, 2012

As I was busy running around this evening (baking a cake, vacuuming the entire house, cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, laundry, etc) I decided to let the dogs have free access to the pool. How long would they swim without any encouragement? As it turns out Kippie in particular will play in the pool until you drag his skinny hiney out of the pool and tie the gate shut. Teller will go in and out of the pool, retrieving a couple of toys, then shaking off, watching and repeating and Murphy will pace back and forth and up and down worrying about why his supper is late (and wondering why the other two aren't equally disturbed by delay of meal). Of course I was checking in on them every few minutes to make sure that they were swimming well and taking mini-breaks out of the water.

Here's a couple minutes of 'surveillance' video of the boys in the pool. I'm happy to report that all three boys are EXHAUSTED and will sleep very well tonight :-)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another round of Leapin' Kizzards!

Boring night around here...I'm carless while the dealership figures out what's wrong with my van (I'll post that saga when I have something that resembles an answer) so my day was spent working from home with the boys, a run (literally) to the shoe store to swap the pair that I bought last week - a grand total of 4.5 miles (and a lot of sitting around trying on shoes, swapping insoles, etc)...

I had not intended to swim the dogs, but Kipling helped himself (again) to the pool so I let Teller and Murphy swim as well...Then we all attempted to walk a couple of miles to dry off (them not me) only to discover that while I was able to put my hands on three collars I have exactly two walking (not kennel or slip leads) leashes in the house - everything else is in the van. Teller got walked on a bit of cotton rope leftover from the assembly of udder tugs.

Also, like Open Obedience - in dock diving (jumping) throw matters. Case in point:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tartan Gordon Setter Club - August 11-12th, 2012

What a weekend at the Tartan Trial - Teller went an amazing 4 for 4 this weekend on Victoria MacVicar's super fun (and challenging) courses. A perfect weekend is TWO cheeseburgers!!!



Sunday, August 05, 2012

ACNH - August 5th, 2012

QQ Cheezeburgers times two.
Teller's weekend was two Q's in four runs - thankfully those two were on the same day! It seems that we're feast or famine - double Q or double NQ. Saturday JWW he had a bar on a pinwheel and Saturday Standard he had a wrong course following the chute. The bar looks like it was a mis-step (happens), but the wrong course was mine - I pushed a line to do a landing side front cross (chute, double) when I really should have driven to the end of the chute and front-crossed before the double. My description probably doesn't help much, other than being behind the double with acceleration out of the chute meant that Teller failed to negotiate the turn after the chute and took a very attractive off-course option ;-)

Today was MUCH MUCH better - Teller had two smooth runs today for his 49th Excellent B QQ :-)

For the weekend, I have to say it was a complete rush to run the baby dog - I didn't know what to expect from Kippie at all. I know that he knows the pieces, I know that I can get through a course with minimal self injury, but we all know that novice runs can go wrong any number of ways (we shall not count the ways) and to walk out there with a 15 month old 'green' dog and nail two courses on his very first trial experience was just so much fun. Sure, our runs will fall apart from time to time. He'll make mistakes, I'll make mistakes. He'll get faster (which means we'll have to figure each other out all over again) and he'll get ring-wise (which is neither good or bad) - but he started his career on such a positive note I could not be prouder. Way to represent for your daddy Kippie.

I only entered Kipling for yesterday, his next trial is some time down the road - by design actually the 'next trial' was originally going to be his debut (but then circumstances changed a little). Someone at the trial today asked me today if I regretted not entering him today (or next weekend, or the weekend after, or...). And the answer is no, I don't. He's a baby dog. I have no desire to rush him along. He'll come along nice and slow and every once in a while he'll get to go play in the ring to see what I have and what I need to work on. This year is Teller's year - Teller's time. Kippie's time will come - but only when he's ready to go out and really make it happen.

I also found a bit more appreciation for Teller too - who is just so honest, consistent and dependable. I know that he's not going to blow me off, he's not likely to get silly and he'll save my butt if I need him to :-) These two boys make all of the sacrifice, training and travel worth it every single moment we're playing together. I'm honored and grateful that they play this game with me.

And Murphy? Yes, he got some cheeseburgers too - when there's a good weekend they all share the love :-)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Kipling's Trial Debut!!! August 4th, 2012

Baby-dog QQ in his first ever trial!
Kipling is 15 months now, 'legal' for AKC agility events..I'm not in a hurry to trial him, he's got more growing up to do (mostly mentally!) but he's at a point where I needed to see where he was training-wise. I was 90% sure that he would not leave me in the ring (and those who know me know that leaving the ring, leaving the momma is the only offense that would get one of my yellows marched out of the ring), but what else? Can we get through a course - a strange teeter? A chute someplace other than our backyard? How about a dogwalk? A Triple? Can we pull together an entire course of 15-20 obstacles?

The video is below, the spoiler is the image to the right and the video below :-) I could not have asked Kipling to do anything better than he gave me. He was pretty speedy, he listened to everything I asked of him, we entered the ring together and we left the ring together. He waited to be released from the startline, from the contacts and from the table. He was conscious of the bars - all of them AND he nailed his weave entries - one at speed (the other off the table). Not only did he have two clean runs today - his runs were really pretty! It was good enough for a first placement in standard and a second placement in JWW (by a fraction of a second).

That'll do Kippie, that'll do!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Green Mountain Golden Retriever Club - July 27-29, 2012

LOCAL trial weekend! Yay! Great friends, great houseguests, good times, yummy food and Teller's first PERFECT three-day weekend. Yes boys and girls 6 for 6 this weekend for Teller! That's three CHEEZEBURGERS!

QQ plus QQ plus QQ equals a cheezeburger from FIVE GUYS!




Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mopping the floor with him

We have house guests this weekend - five dogs at the house is a little chaotic! Kippie's favorite house guest is border collie Ali - who pretty much mops the floor with him at times. Ali = 32lbs; Kippie = 64lbs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Everything Canine Match - July 22nd, 2012

Mr. Kippie's first match today at Everything Canine. My criteria was pretty low for this event - stay with me, we enter the ring together, we leave the ring together, get some work in between. I got quite a bit more than that - I got solid contacts and a couple of nice trips around an open course and a novice course. We had some sniffing in the weaves (and had to re-attempt them a couple of times) - probably because of a previous pee-pee in the ring. No biggie though, he didn't mark the spot (THANK DOG) and he eventually worked through it. I see that as a mileage thing - he's still figuring out his job and like reading a job description he hasn't gotten to the part about "playing the game is more fun than random smells, stray treats or ring crew". He'll get there - and I'd imagine he's going to get there quickly!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

OK, so I'm about 12 books behind on my reviews here. I'm desperately hoping to catch-up this week. I couldn't wait to talk about The Second book in the All-Souls Trilogy though - Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. The first novel in the trilogy is "Discovery of Witches" - if you haven't read that novel yet, stop here, do not collect $200 and go get that novel first. You cannot read this series out of order.

I actually spent last week (pre SoN release) re-listening to Discovery of Witches. I wanted to catchup with Matthew and Diana and get back into the magic of the storytelling.

The Audible Publisher's Summary:

"Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown." (From the thrilling sequel to the New York Times best seller A Discovery of Witches)
Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.
Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches' cliff-hanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew's old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.
Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

I found Shadow of Night quite a bit darker than Discovery of Witches in theme and subject matter. Naturally historical figures such as William Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth I and Christopher Marlowe are involved - as are witch hunts, espionage and more vampire games. Part of the 'darkness' is a result of the time period (1590 AD) the other part is the character of Matthew who was charming and princely in Discovery of Witches and controlling, jealous and somewhat abusive in Shadow of Night. There were times where I was uncomfortable in the "I'll always love you Matthew" responses to violence and verbal abuse. It's not an author's place to make me feel comfortable for an entire 24+ hour novel - and while Diana's response for the time was certainly accurate, the 21st century woman should not have been so spineless and dependent on the whims of her husband (and that statement is common sense vs feminism). Let's not send yet another mixed message to women about abuse.

Despite the above objections, I did enjoy Shadow of Night and I have plans to re-listen (or perhaps actually READ) the novel. No spoilers here (of course) but the Shadow of Night ends a bit like the Discovery of Witches. There are a few closed loops - but the large plot strings remain tangled and several new ones are left dangling. I suppose we'll have to wait another year and a half for the final trilogy installment!

Shadow of Night was written by Deborah Harkness; narrated by Jennifer Ikeda; published by Penguin Audio. Shadow of Night (unabridged) has a running time of 24 hours 30 minutes and an Audible release date of July 10th, 2012.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Baby-Dawg's fieldtrip - July 13th, 2012

The Kipster made another fieldtrip to NH while we were on our way to Rhode Island last week. He's coming along, showing some good focus and confidence in new places. Little-man will be fifteen months old tomorrow. How quickly they grow up!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Yankee Golden Retriever Club - July 14-15, 2012

Teller had another good weekend at the dog show, back in Rhode Island for the second weekend in a row - kinda feels like we never actually left!!! Another fun weekend with agility friends - Teller went 4 for 6 - a wrong course in today's T2B and a popped a-frame contact today in standard. BUT - a nice QQQ yesterday and I think he's settling into his new jump height (20").

Monday, July 09, 2012

Kippie's agility fieldtrip - July 6th, 2012

On our way to Rhode Island on Friday, we stopped at AK9C for a ring rental. Kippie's first time working on rubber matting! He was a little pokier than normal - but pretty focused and we had a lot of little successes!

Leapin' Kizzards!

Some shots off the dock in Rhode Island this weekend:
Yes, Kippie will jump off strange docks into water he can't see through.

Teller bringing in the bumpers.

Murphy having a tantrum.

Teller, Kippie and friends :-)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

CSSC/MCKC - July 7-8, 2012

Teller had a decent weekend at the CSSC/MCKC trial in Rhode Island going 5 for 6 for the weekend: Two JWW Qs and one standard, one FAST and one T2B Q. Saturday standard's weave bobble was all me - I didn't handle a rear weave cross weave. So that's one more QQ under our belts to MACH3!

A bit of latency from Teller this weekend - he measured down to the 20" class, this was his first weekend at the new height and he really seemed to be thinking about the striding a bit. Teller can be so analytic sometimes and here's a clear-cut case of "thinking woo".

His striding improved over the weekend though - he'll come back together. Points were so-so this weekend. First there didn't seem to be a lot to be had and his times were pretty close to his typical 24" YPS.

There's more to come tomorrow with some photos and some video of Kippie's first agility fieldtrip (on our way to Rhode Island).

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Independence Day Photos.

7/4 - The boys pre-trim, pre-groom and pre-bath.

Murphy does not believe in props for photo-ops.

Trimmed, bathed and groomed.

~The Boys~


One more with props.