Monday, January 24, 2011

SKC trial baby D style:)

Okay so Deuce has a new nickname thanks to Ami. Everyone was calling him D-baby or baby-D. I think it is cute and I think it stuck! I really didn't even think we would make it to this show. The weatherman was predicting snow and ice and all kinds of crap and I think as usual, I was more worried about weather than running my dogs. I had Deuce signed up for three runs a day for both days and I really didn't want to loose my money. I also had to run harley this weekend because tony was sick and i didn't think it was a good idea for him to be running while he was coughing so bad. So I had two dogs in excellent and baby-D in novice and of course all day saturday, I had tons of conflicts. I think I do better under stress at local shows because I just suck it up and run and I don't obssess or over think. Saturday's JWW course had a huge tunnel trap right at the beginning. Three jumps in a straight line and a straight tunnel just staring those baby dogs right in their faces. I watched team after team get stumped by this beginning. The dogs were suppose to do a 180 and go back the way they came basically but the dogs thought that the tunnel was way more fun. Well, I knew I had to just call and move laterally and he should come with by reading my deaccleration and my lateral movement. Well, I got the calling part down, did not get the lateral movement down and over compensated causing him to run around the second jump of the 180. No prob, got him back and started again. Of course the course was set up like a giant Z so line down, line back:) Got his weaves coming out of a tunnel, no problem. The last line was a bit of a trick and I had planned on getting front cross in but he took two jumps super extended and I knew the front cross would just send him further out so I opted to pull him and rear but he didn't read it and again went around a jump. He eyed the finish jump before I got him back and finished with two Rs but a Q. I was happy for him that he did listen and didn't take the tunnel trap but mad at myself for not just moving laterally while calling so that he just came with smoothly. I saw several other baby dogs do the same thing he had on the ending so I am sure it is a matter of collection and I do think I went too far into the line to really do the pull justice. Still adjusting to his style of running and still figuring each other out.

We had standard next and a very nice course with the dog walk being the second obstacle with a tunnel opening discrimination. I opted to run the dog walk on the opposite side, do a front cross and send him to the correct end, that way I was moving and I had a better line to the correct end. Then we had tire and front cross to the teeter. Again I watched baby dog after baby dog misread the teeter and fly off. Not sure why but I think that was probably our best part of the whole course. Contacts were 100% better this time but I was driving to the end and not creeping or walking. He had a great hold onto the table (the crowd's reaction in the video was funny) and then over the panel back to a chute. He had a wide turn but that was my fault for not cueing it well enough. Through the chute and over the double and a-frame with again a much improved a-frame. Again, I was driving into a front cross which helped. We had a straight line, broad jump to a jump and a turn back to the weaves. I was behind on the line because he had acclerated and when he saw I was behind, he started to curve a little in and I was afraid he was going to miss the weaves. I said "go" and boy did he! He jumped super extended and almost made it across the ring back to the dog walk! I got him back and he missed the entry to the weaves but that was my fault. Got the weaves, two jumps and out! This was his second Q in Novice standard and I was super happy with the way he handled the course. Great contacts, great start line, great attention, and of course he sure knows to GO when i say GO! As I have said, distance will not be an issue for this baby at all. Our third run of the day was Open FAST and the send was jump a-frame, tunnel. The judge was nice and had the easier opening for the tunnel as the correct end. I was excited to have 12 weave poles as I felt like alot of his issues with entries so far was the 6 poles as I don't train on 6 and can't becasue mine are in sets of four. Well, he didn't get the entry again and I am not sure why, I know I told him to easy weave to collect him. I am not too worried about this yet but I do not like that he is rehearsing this behavior in the ring. I am chalking this up to the fact that we haven't gotten to practice in a few weeks but he knows weave and he shouldn't be missing them this much. I think of 5 runs (one run didn't have weaves) he only got an entry once. I hope experience in the ring and some USDAA 12 pole work will help. At least we are in open JWW so we won't have 6 except in novice standard. The rest of the course was nice, got to use my GO command and it worked beautifully. I was a little worried as I couldn't remember if I had worked the a-frame that far away but he didn't care. He still isn't driving to the bottom as fast as I would like but I am happy that the star-gazing has stopped for now. I will contiue to use high value rewards in practice for a while to keep up this behavior. The dang buzzer sounded before we were able to really finish the course so we had to get out before we got maximum points.

We decided to stay saturday night as they were again saying it was going to snow. We were hearing as much as 6 inches of snow and ice and i knew if I went home and got up to that, I wouldn't come back. Both barb and I had had good runs with our pups and we didn't want to give up sunday to the snow gods. It was so nice to eat, put on our pjs, watch some movies and cuddle with the pups and sleep in the next day. Of course we didn't get any weather other than some flurries but I would like to believe it was because we stayed that night (your welcome other competitors, donations for our hotel stay will be appreciated:) I got a double Q with miller and had a great NQ standard run with Harley. Good boy harley had shown up the day before with a Q in JWW but bad boy harley showed up in JWW on sunday so it was a train wreck. He has no in between, it is either breathtaking or a complete disaster and I am glad that tony is runnig him now and not me because i would be super frustrated. Of course his a-frame has gotten better because I have been working it but his dog walk is a no contest, fly off fest and will continue to be until we either buy one or tony deicides to make us one. I digress, this is baby-D's blog. We had Novice JWW first and a tough beginning line. It was the same line the open dogs had, minus a tunnel trap. I handled it with a two jump lead out and as Lori puts it "hard eyes" so he collecting and took the slice jump on the correct lead. Into the tunnel and two jumps to the weaves so super speed into the weaves. I really thought he was going to make it and the judge even groaned when he couldn't . Got him back, sent him across the ring, moved laterally and blind crossed him out of the tunnel to a line of jumps behind it. I had to haul ASS to beat him out but my lateral movement and trust that he would get the tunnel helped. We got a first place and that was a fun, fast run. Standard was next and we didn't do as well as I had hoped. Dog walk was good, a-frame was good but he put a foot down on the broad jump so NQ:( It was right after the chute and I am not sure he got good striding before he was at it and just couldn't jump it correctly. Don't have the video to see what really happened. The part of the run that I was mad at myself about was the line from the double to the teeter. I had planned a nice big front cross to give him a good gentle line to the teeter and instead I turned too tight and lined him up wrong and he came off the side of the teeter. I was a bad, bad handler and i saw it coming and should have called him off and realigned him and taken the refusal. I am not happy with myself becuase I knew it was an NQ and I was not thinking about the safety of my baby. Open FAST was last and I think he and I were both tired and ready to go. He was wild, out of control, got the send but didn't listen very well at all and was taking anything and everything. He crossed the finish jump before I was ready to but qualified with the minimum score. He certainly had fun but I shudder to think about how he is going to be in snooker next weekend.

I am excited that we are starting to be a better team. I am overall very happy with the weekend and look forward to doing open JWW and 12 poles. I see moments of brilliance and it thrills me. He is still finding gears I didn't know he had and is getting really good at the command "go":) I am so excited to do USDAA and see how he handles tougher courses. I did enter him in grand prix and steeplechase for fun as I have absolutely no expectations of any Qs but just want the ring time. Note: I had really cool audio but youtube has disabled it. Damn copyright law!

Friday, January 7, 2011

the first blog of the new year!

I made my goals and such for Deuce on my agility blog but I might as well talk about them here as well:) What can I say about the upcoming year? Well, I know I want to strengthen our team bond in the ring. I feel like we are clicking training wise (can always use improvement), but we need that same click in the ring. I am going to start entering him in more trials and putting him in more challenging situations in the ring. No more safe, no more creeping, all out running in the name of the game. Criteria must be upheld and I need to bring that sense of confidence that I know he can do it, into the show ring. You know, every time you get your next agility partner, you set out to change things. I want my dog to do this and that better than my other dog or whatever but you are still you and you have to change YOU too! That is the part I am working on, changing ME and that is the hard part. We talk about trusting our dogs and we pound this into our head and then we go out in the ring and turn into careful, cautious dog handlers. I am sure Deuce is wondering what in the hell is wrong with me when I am out there walking on the course or slowing down to make sure he gets his contacts. He is probably thinking, "I got this mom, wait, why are you handling so different?". Anyway, am planning on attending summer camp with him and trying to get him in as many different situations as I can so he can mature and have fun and have successes along the way. I have no big goals for him, no national's dreams this year, just go have fun, and what happens, happens. I would like to have him in Excellent A by the end of the year and I do think this is attainable.

I have been trying to really work on how I train. I like the sentence perfect practice makes perfect. Don't get my wrong, my practices aren't perfect but I am trying really hard to only let him rehearse behaviors that I like and completely ignoring behaviors I don't like so that they will go away quickly. We are still working through collection issues, but he is a baby and this is part of him growing up, learning his body and what he can do and what he can't do with it. I need to drag some jumps home from the agility field we have and do more one jump work. I have joined a netflix for dog vidoes and on the top of my list is Susan Garrett's stuff you can do with one jump or whatever the title is. I figure this is something we can work on no matter what the weather is and inside the house as long as the repititions are low and light. As I said, he is still trying to figure out his body and the more I can help him know what he is capable of, the better.

I am also still trying to work through this a-frame issue we are having. I am trying to build immense value in the bottom of the a-frame and driving to the bottom. It is so weird, he drives to "toes" on the dog walk and teeter perfectly with speed and determination but now all the sudden, the a-frame is for star gazing. At first the behavior was only in shows but now he is doing it in practice. I thought I had put enough value in toes as a position since I was getting the behavior on the other contacts but maybe not? I have gone back to asking for toes on everything and lavishly rewarding for giving it to me. I have also gone to a target at the end of the a-frame with the best goodies in the world. I am not asking for a nose touch per se am still asking for toes which I am getting with more drive. I will continue for a while to do so until I feel like he is understanding the value of driving to the bottom into position and then I will remove the target and start rewarding from the hand again. We have been really lucky that the weather has held out thus far. We have been able to train on mondays at all star and have class pretty much all winter so I am crossing my fingers that this continues!!!!