Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kip's A-Frame - 04/28/13

Whew what a weekend!  Lots of chores to get done this weekend, a pager on my hip - with several hours a day of work as a result of said pager and a bit of fun for the canines as well. Van-Essa got new sneakers this afternoon - a super chic set of Bridgestone Duelers which are supposed to be good for MPG and also quiet. I was SOOOOOO ready to get those winter tires off. On a not so super note, when they took my snow tires off today it was pretty apparent that they too need to be replaced. So I left eight tires at costco this tires to store for the summer, but that also means that come November cutting over to winter tires will be (ahem) expensive.
Turf wars. Dug up a the 'race track', replaced the stones at 
the bottom of the stairs, leveled, pulled out all the damaged
turf, seeded, fertilized and roped off. Hopefully we'll have 
rapid growth of something green!!!

The remainder of the afternoon was spent fixing some turf in the backyard - digging up the boys' racetrack around the pool, pulling up damaged sod, leveling, fixing the stones at the bottom of the stairs and then putting down a grass seed composite. I also had to back-fill around the garage with stone, the previous owners built the garage on level - which does nothing for a wood-frame structure. When we resided the garage last fall we dug a trench around the outside getting the earth away from the structure. Since I fell in the trench yesterday while running a-frames with Kip, I decided it was time to get stone! It doesn't look like much, but the grass there will prevent the boys from tracking sand into the pool off their wet feet.

That left just a little bit of time to work a-frame with Kip tonight, a-frame has been at 4' and I added pool noodles yesterday morning. I'm not really looking to change his striding, he's a big boy, I don't want to require him to pound his shoulders into the ground. But, I need him to stop the pause at the top in trial. If I can build in muscle memory to leap the apex, we'll get rid of the pause. I moved the a-frame up to 5' tonight - here are a few of them:

And here we are yesterday on a 4' a-frame. Tomorrow night we'll go up to 5'4" and we'll start fading targets/noodles.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Stepping up conditioning (for all of us)

The boys have gotten a little soft lately - OK we all have. Prior to heading out west the dogs were very used to getting an hours worth of romping 3-4 nights a week as the days got incrementally longer. Since we came back though I haven't gotten them out nearly as much. 

Work has kept me busier than usual, the epic effort to undo the ravages of winter (and the dogs' output) on our landscaping, unpacking our agility equipment from the bowels of our garage...and then we've had a few trial weekends, taxes, company at the house and the inevitability of mud season has kept us home more than it should. I know - mud is fine, and golden coats will drop the mud as soon as they dry - but the thought of taking the boys out for an hour to come home to an hours worth of bathing (because it's otherwise nearly impossible to control where the dirt drops off them) and then another 20 minutes of cleaning the bathroom, washing 10 towels was just too much for my sleep-deprived body and brain to handle. 

 Now that we're (hopefully) on the other side of mud (hopefully) and the grass is getting a bit of a foothold in the dryer earth it's possible again to 'just' take the boys out for a quick romp for an hour or so, throw the frisbee, ball or bumper for a while, get everyone nice and tired out and head back home again. So last night - after a long (12 hour) work day I managed to coordinate a meet-up with a friend and two thirds of the golden pack out for a run. 

Murph stayed home yesterday - tis the season of sharing the fields with soccer kids and it's easier for me to wrangle two dogs onto the middle field with soccer balls on either side of us, than it is for me to have three - Kip and Teller need the conditioning more than Murphy does at the moment too so there you have it. Mr Murphy stayed home with a container of frozen yogurt, super unhappy that it was going to be a late dinner night again.   

I'm REALLY hoping to have the pool opened this weekend, with the first couple of swims happening around the first of May when chemicals get balanced and the water is suitable for occupation. This will make conditioning go easier for everyone and it's (honestly) the only activity I don't have to really work to get Murphy to engage ("you want me to go pick that up again? I just brought it to you, if you want it so badly, stop throwing it!"). 

 Some shots of the boys and their friend Gusto: 

Reunited and it feels so good.

Kip at two years old, not looking so teenager-like this week.

'Paw' de Deux?

Dude, please don't kill yourself. (or your crutiate)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Speed up those contacts Kipper!

Sometime in early winter Kip came off the side of his A-Frame in trial. I marked it with an 'ut-oh' and moved on. Kip being the sensitive lad that he is internalized this to mean "go really slow on the a-frame to make sure you get that yellow thing or it makes mom unhappy". This proved to be a super-hard thing to fix over the winter with limited access to equipment and other things that also needed work during the same sessions. So I lived with it a bit - releasing him early in trials and supporting the a-frame, praising when he got out of the pause and into his contact behavior, then releasing and running like heck.

Kip has been rather consistently placing in JWW - which thrills the snot out of me given the dogs we're running against at 24". But he's still 3-4 seconds out of the placements in standard - I'm figuring he's wasting at least that on his a-frame, so if we can fix the a-frame he's got a better shot at getting those three Double-Q/Double Placements he needs for his GRCA agility hall of fame.

So to fix I dropped the a-frame as low as I believe it's safe to do so without a center support, and I've been working sends and early releases to an easy-button on the ground. Note that I've picked an easy button for two reasons. The first is that it's heavy enough not to blow away and not super easy to pick up after he's been released(ahem, looking at you Kip). It was a real drag to release for a great nose touch and have the happy dog grab the target and view me taking away his target as an adversive. Leave-it, is all well and good, but he's a super happy retriever, I need to save the leave-its for things that matter.

Secondly, if I ask him to hold a touch he and I both get audible feedback for touching the object - that was easy. Good touch, good boy.

I didn't originally teach the 2o2o with a target, but switched to one to help break the hang-time at the top. I'll likely keep the a-frame low for a while even though he'll see full-height in competition, the trick for me is to keep the number of reps in the range of sane (without killing my dog) and extinguish the stop at the top behavior. There's a balance there and I think the lower a-frame will accomplish that.

Here's Kip on day 4 of a-frame work:

BTW, yes my lawn needs to be seeded. If I'm not careful all of that bare earth will end up IN the pool.

Monday, April 22, 2013

BOTC - April 19-21st, 2013 - Part Two

Father and Son Double-Q Cheezeburgers!
Don't worry, they shared with Murphy!
And here we're into the final stretch of the trial weekend. Day three - highs in the mid-40's, but the most brilliant sunshine we've had all springtime - just a gorgeous looking day - but COLD!

Also, today was apparently white stripe day!!!
So three quarters of these white-stripe girls are way too excited about wearing matchy-matchy.
One quarter of these girls wishes she'd picked a different color pant this morning.

Kip in the top of the running order again today. Which was probably very lucky for me. I had walked the tunnel handling the same for both dogs, using a very strong pull to the left tunnel opening. When I ran Kip, it was messy to get there with a pull - especially off the a-frame. I changed my plan for Teller, which probably saved Teller's run. Oh, and standard Q for Kip - ALSO MX and 3rd place!!!

So here's where I ran things a little differently - adding the front cross at the bottom (downside) of the a-frame and then PUSHING to the left tunnel.

Kip came out of his crate ready to rock - and he did. He read a wrap as a rear which cost us quite a bit of time (and for sure a placement - he was out of 4th place by exactly 0.20 seconds) but it was 'good enough' for his 4th Masters QQ and some points.

Teller also brought his A game to his JWW run this afternoon. I got in his way at the weaves, but my seasoned competitor found his entry anyway (in spite of me perhaps). Note the strong 'telling off' I got from Teller at the #14 wrap (0:31) when he objected to my decel cue. Yes, I know Woo, sorry for smashing you into your front end, thank you for coming when called and not holding s grudge.

Also, we had our usual houseguests this weekend. Kip and Ali had a phenomenal time playing in the evenings while the humans decided to partake of adult beverages. I found this at the liquor store, it might be my new favorite drink - sub for Baileys over anything...I used 3 parts maple liquor to 1 part milk on the rocks. SUPER awesome!!! It's called Metcalfe's Vermont Maple Cream Liqueur and it's absolutely spectacular! I sent a few of the Canadian exhibitors home with directions to the liquor store that sold me this awesome bottle. Word on the street is that the weekend's awesome judge will also be receiving a sample in her thank you gift box from Vermont ;-)

Here's the distiller - perhaps we'll try the raspberry version this summer over ice cream!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

BOTC - April 19-21st, 2013 - Part One

As I posted on Facebook a couple of hours ago....
I LOVE local trials! So many great laughs with friends, fun dinners out on the town, working hard all weekend with trial jobs, running two masters dogs, discovering maple liqueur, sleeping peacefully in my own bed..oh and how about that five for six weekend for Teller (two QQ's) and a four for six weekend for Kip (one QQ)? Kip finished his MX today and Teller is officially qualified for 2014 AKC Nationals (wherever they may be). Thanks Peeps, lets do it all again in about three months!

Yes, local trials are that good. It's a function of the few (and I do mean 'few' - think 5-6) dedicated local agility diehards who work their ASSES off to make the two local agility weekends special for both the other locals who trial 2-3 weekends a year and the masters folks who hoof-it around New England (and the rest of the northeast) every weekend but choose to drive all the way up here when there might very well be a trial close to home where they could sleep in their own bed. We're grateful to the Canadian exhibitors who come down to play in our sandbox too - they come with the same kind of camaraderie as the "Vermonters" I think - they too have to travel for every single agility run with their dogs. They work out their calendars every year to include this itty-bitty AKC trial and they're all making it a point to enjoy their time here.

As for the results (well other than what's in the status above), I'll cover Friday and Saturday in this post and Sunday in the next. It's the agility installment plan folks.

Kip kicked off the weekend as the second dog to run in the trial - the first 24" dog. Doncha know he goes out there Q's and takes a third place. Attaboy Kipster.

Teller had his own great start to the weekend with his own JWW Q.

Kip had a few AHHHH! moments - where he just didn't read my cues well. He more or less held it together, but coming out of the tire the young lad did not appear to even see the weaves - that's a fly-by!!!

Teller didn't want to make Kip feel badly by getting through his own standard run cleanly...As I take off down the line to the table, Teller goes and 'grabs' the panel jump. Good try buddy.

Teller's turn to run first on Saturday - he started off the morning with a solid standard Q and a pocket full of points. Super funny moment on the video thumbnail - YouTube is random.

 Kip started off Saturday with a strong run as well. Here he is bringing home MX leg #9.

Teller brings home career QQ #75 on Saturday with a Q in JWW.

Funny how some of the best runs are the ones where you flunk? This was Kip's JWW run on Saturday - he was fast, he was listening and he was everywhere I asked him to be. Smokin' run with a knocked bar. You be the judge, but I think he got it with his tail. It was a late bar.

Stay tuned for the results from BOTC day three!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Happy birthday Kipling!

My puppy turns two years old today. Puppy. Baby-Dawg. Not so much of either at this point - physically or mentally. I still look at him sometimes and think "wow, he's so immature looking", then a few moments later "he's looking a bit like a grown-up". He's much lighter boned than his father - not feminine, but lighter. He has these dainty feet which contrasts with Teller's moose feet. He has moments of surprising maturity, and then moments where I look at him and have to ask "seriously?" You're going to chase the cat again? I thought we were done with that.

Kip is my one dog that wants to sleep in the bed at night - usually on the pillows, curled into the tiniest ball one would not think possible for a dog his size - touching his human. It might be a tail, it might be a toe, but he seems to like reaching out to know where he is (and probably a bit of where he belongs) - though he doesn't always choose the same human to touch, so he's an any port in the storm kinda boy.
April 17th, 2013
Teller, Kip and Murphy wearing party-hats from sister Jordan.
Note how completely thrilled Teller and Murphy are to have 
new hats to wear for the occasion. They liked the enclosed 
cookies MUCH better.

Kip has blossomed in his agility work too - running like a big dog and finishing his MXJ the last run of his career as a one year old. When he started trialing one day a month back in August (September and October) to get through Novice, I had no idea he'd be in masters, already with three double-Qs and a pile of MACH points just six months later.

So today he celebrated his second birthday with some a-frame reps in the backyard this morning (trying to break the trial-only behavior of stopping at the top of the a-frame) and then a practice session in the barn this evening. In between he got a four mile walk (two miles with Teller and two miles with Murphy), a care package from his California sister Jordan and some green tripe with ground trachea. For second-birthday supper the boys each got a whole mackerel now that it's warm enough to restore the summer tradition of of outdoor meals.

Kip is Karnerblue Magica Storyteller AX MXJ CGC BA-Senior

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bearded Collie Club of America - April 12-14th, 2013

A three day trial the second weekend of April in New England - there's a late start on the Friday - should be a piece of cake right? Yeah, don't bet on it. Serious ice storm moving east from Michigan, NY, Pennsylvania and coming at us with a delivery of mixed bag - ice, sleet, freezing rain, rain...blech. So we decide to leave very early, take it very slow as required and turn around/park as necessary.  It turned out to be not so bad - icy in places and my van arrived in NH completely covered in a layer of ice, but the road crews took good care of us. It sounds like the roads got WAY worse once we had already arrived - thankfully we missed the truly ugly traveling weather.

Two judges this weekend - and it seems like we got our Q's in pairs. If Teller Q'd, Kip did too. If Teller flunked, so did Kip - but for different reasons. The universe and karma? I'm happy - the boys are just getting better and better.

Friday JWW:
Teller - Q!

Kip - Q!

Friday Standard:
Teller - NQ

Kip - NQ

Saturday Standard:
Kip - Q!

Teller - Q!

Saturday JWW:
Kip - NQ
Pesky little bar on a phenomenal run. Wee man had the second fastest time in the class though!

Teller - Q!
A tidy little double-Q for Teller-Woo.

Sunday Standard:
Teller - NQ
A bar on the double and a table-fault. The table was likely a result of the bar, as Woo tries to 'fix' the run.

Kip - NQ
A front-crossed before the weaves, I thought I had his head, but he was looking so hard at the a-frame that when he finally turned he wasn't able to see his entry.

Sunday JWW:
Teller - Q!
With a scary moment when I almost took myself out. Glad we could save the run and entertain the crowd. Teller gets the good dog award for saving the day :-) Also, after I recovered from the near-falling I had to put in a front-cross. You'll hear "totally got-it!!" - also a crowd pleaser!

Kip - Q!
Kip beats his dad's time by a bit more than 2/10ths of a second. OK, not a lot and Teller was undoubtedly hampered by his handler wasting all that time not falling - but it was good enough for 4th place in the 24" masters class AND Kip's MXJ title.

Monday, April 08, 2013

American Lhasa Apso Club - April 6-7, 2013

I'm toying with format for these post-weekend posts, trying to decide if it makes sense to organize the content by dog, by course, by day?  Kip and Teller run quite differently - even if I end up running them similarly. Points of commitment, send-power - all of those things change how the course is run.

We haven't been back to NH in over a month with a NY trial, a couple of weeks off, Oklahoma and our annual dog show pilgrimage to Syracuse...It was nice to be back and catch up with some friends we haven't seen in a while.

For this post I'll clump videos by course and in the order with which they ran..starting with
Saturday Standard
Teller: Q
Kip: Q

Saturday JWW
Teller: Q
Kip: Q
Yes sports-fans that's a double-Q for Teller AND a double-Q for Kip on the same day. I announced to the judge (who is a friend of mine) that this was my first QQ + QQ for the boys - another friend piped up and actually reminded me that there were two other Excellent/Excellent and Masters/Masters QQ's that I was overlooking - wow, a little weird (and cool) that someone else knows our stats as well as I do - but officially this was our first all-masters QQQQ.

Sunday JWW
Teller: Q

Kip: Oh Mister Kip. You run like such a big boy on Saturday and a mere 16 hours later you blast around a jump on the last line because it's FASTER! (NQ)

Sunday Standard
Teller: Woo missed his weave entry ahead of the dogwalk, but the real bobbles happened at the dogwalk. It was dogwalk to a front-cross, the panel and then a 180 back towards the dogwalk. In fantastic Woo style, Mr. Man got his dog walk contact (running, no pause) and took the off-course jump ahead of him. BARKED, told me I was incredibly wrong, came back and finished in sassy-back talking Woo form. This dog gets better and better even when he's being completely ridiculous! (NQ)

Kip: Well this SHOULD have been a Q, but alas it was a big old E for Eliminated when I broke the plane on the finish eyes - I didn't even realize I'd done it until later. It was the same setup as above, Kip went wider than I thought he would after the panel and when I called him back over I stopped the clock. Game over - elimination, no time, thank you for playing. Super bummed for Kip, I hate making the mistakes - especially ones that just aren't fair to the dog. Of course Kip doesn't really care of we Q or NQ, he likes the game and the copious amounts of chicken that come with playing with da momma.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Photos from Tulsa

We finally got our photos back from Great Dane Photography (photographers at the 2013 AKC National Agility Championships - NAC). I purchased the package that allows me to share them online, so here are Teller's shots from the working side of our trip:

This one is my favorite...and I don't often like to be in agility shots!

Get the yellow Mr. Woo!

Note the State of Vermont flag in the background!

Teller modeling the new break-away tire.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Murphy turns nine!

Happy 9th Birthday Murphy!!
Aww Murphy. My problem child, my bad dog - if I had known then what I know now I never would have come home with Murphy (or Teller for that matter) - but he's changed my life in so many ways and set into motion the wonderful things that have followed Where does the time go? Seems like only yesterday he was a naughty little puppy! Now he's blossomed into a naught big nine year old senior dog.

Murphy has been 'retired' from dog sports for a few years now, but he still takes great pleasure in finding new and exciting ways to push my buttons on a daily basis...You want me to eat that stuffed toy? No problem! How about I dig on the sofa again tonight? Perfect! Counter-surfing? Yeah, he's got that too. He drives me crazy sometimes and I hope he's around to push those buttons for many more years.

Inquiring minds would like to know how Murph celebrated his big day? He started the day with a bully stick and some extracurricular chewing on a knuckle bone while I unloaded, sorted and organized my raw food order. He got a couple of extra duck necks for supper and we all went for a 4 mile walk. All in all, not a bad day for a golden retriever.

The boys wait for their annual CERF/OFA eye exams!
Three passes!!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Onondaga Kennel Assoc - March 28-31, 2013 (Part 2 of 2)

When we last left off (part one of Syracuse 2013) we had a pretty mixed bag. Some distracted baby-dawg stuff, some random mistakes (Teller? Falling off the table??). Here we pick up the program on Saturday morning - and we'll start with a tad-bit of humor. Actually there were so many funny moments of the weekend it's hard to begin to articulate how much fun we have at this show every year - and I think even more fun with Nationals on a separate weekend (this is usually NAC weekend).

The results of Saturday and Sunday were drastically better than Thursday and Friday. Teller was 3 for 4 for the 'weekend' and Kip picked up a QQ on Sunday.
For Teller: a QQ on Saturday and a Standard Q on Sunday - missing his weave entry in Sunday JWW.
For Kip: a disconnect on the dogwalk approach in standard and a RWF in JWW on Saturday and a QQ on Sunday (that's #2 sports fans).

The run by run:
Saturday Standard:
Kip - NQ (R - dogwalk)

Teller - Q

Saturday JWW:
Kipling - NQ (RWF)

Teller - Q

Sunday Standard:
Kip - Q

Teller - Q

Sunday JWW:
Kip - Q

Teller - NQ (RWF - weave entry)