Saturday, June 30, 2007

June 2007

(Backfilled in October 2009 due to impending closure of Geocities)

Friday June 29th 2007 - practice

After a week's break from agility we snuck in a quick practice before the skies opened up. Experimented with distance today. Lateral distance at the contacts he handled well except for sometimes not holding 2o2o. Going from snaked-under L-shaped tunnel to the frame by turning towards me went fairly well. Definitely need to work on turning away from me to go into the tunnel; even with reduced distance was rough. A little bit of weave entry work with a 2x2 using thrown ball as reward.

Thursday June 21st 2007 - Evening Starters mini-trial

Walter hung out in his xpen while I had a front row seat volunteering as ring crew for the two standards which was fun. Then, it was time to play!

First, Team Relay which was our first ever try at it. Our partner was having tire issues that night so I was happy to take the second half which had the tire. We had both agreed that this was to be a no-stress affair (well in theory anyway - easier said than done!!) since neither of us wanted to stress ourselves out. Walter waited patiently while our partner ran, and I saw that they had gotten a fault, so the supposed-to-be-nonexistant-but-definitely-existant-self-imposed-pressure was off! Then off we went. From looking at the course map and later walking the course I had a feeling Walter would be sucked over to the frame, just wasn't sure if it would be before or after the tire. Well, lo and behold that's exactly what happened, straight to the frame after doing the tire even though I was on his left. After backjumping 4, we then got back on track until the 6-weaves. I had front crossed after the tunnel because he gets the entries better when I'm on the left, and he got the easy head-on entry, BUT popped halfway through!! and there were only SIX weaves! and the weather was nice and cool! What the!! I really should have taken him back to do them again, but I thought I'd give the hand-leading thing a try since we practiced it a little bit yesterday, and although it worked, there was no satisfaction in it and I felt like we had cheated! :-( Anyway, a couple of rear crosses to finish it off. So, we were a perfect match to our partner, each of us getting faults which is very nice since this way neither of us feels we let the other down. :-)

Then it was Snooker. Although he got his Snooker Q last weekend, I had already registered for this trial and since it was a Starters-only trial there was no moving up so we ran it anyway. Although we didn't technically need it, I was really hoping to get this Q too because of the two-judge rule since all our other games Qs were under one judge so this way it doesn't matter who the judge is for future team relays (if I understand the rules correctly). Anyway, it was a pretty nice easy course with three of the reds huddled close to the #7 teeter. We took the leftmost red first since the nice open space after it gave me time to collect Walter and inform him that this was not going to be a go-go-go-at-whatever-obstacle-is-in-your-face sort of run. So, leftmost red, teeter, middle red, teeter, angled red, teeter, then around to the closing sequence which we managed to complete before the whistle. I can't believe I'm saying this, but ok maybe Snooker *is* fun, if only I could learn to relax a bit and not overmanage every move he makes in this crazy game! I heard the judge chuckle at me while we were running; must be pretty entertaining watching all the handlers running around panicking at every step their dog takes. Heh! A Q and best specials run (out of about 5 dogs) (lovely treat pouch prize).

Walter will have a break from agility for the next little while to keep him from turning sour given the rash of agility events lately!


Facility: All Dog Sports Club (outdoors on grass)
Weather: Rain and distant thunderstorm but cleared in time for our runs; 16 degrees
Pre-event exercise: 30 minutes long-leash at BP
Classes entered: 2 (Starter's Team Relay/Snooker)
Qs: 1 (Starter's Snooker)
YPS: not applicable
Time/SCT: 62.27/60.00 in Snooker
Difficulties: Sucked in by frame; popped the 6-weaves

Sunday June 17th 2007 - K9 Kup #1

Many thanks to one of our teammates for these great action photos!

Here's the downed bar in Standard, fractions of a second before it came down.

Normally he gets lots of air...

... too much air!

Our team took 2nd place in Steeplechase!

Walter's first K9 Kup event! K9 Kup is a team-based event with three classes per day (Standard + two games) geared to dogs who are not yet trialing, run just like an official trial except it's not sanctioned and refusals are never faulted. All dogs run the same Starters-level courses, but titled dogs receive a handicap. Walter seemed to have no recollection of last Sunday's blood episode thank goodness!

Jumpers was first. He rear crossed smoothly between 4/5 and 13/14 since I wasn't sure I could get in position for the front cross. It was a clean run.

Next was Standard. Starting together off the startline as usual, I then sent him to the tunnel then booted it to change sides between 3 and 4, which worked. Not to be outdone be Lucy, he got the 6-weaves on the first try, and held his contacts while I led out from them. The surprise was that he jumped off the table before lying down, and then when he hopped back on took his sweet time to down. How generous of him to keep me on my toes! ;-) And for the first time in a LONG time he dropped a bar, at the second last jump (see photo).

Steeplechase: Although I wasn't sure how it would go, a rear cross between jump 2 and tunnel 3 worked fairly well. Refusal at jump 7 for whatever reason, might have gotten distracted by activity outside the ring; took him around to do it again, then the 12-weaves. He popped at the second last pole (argh!) and in the span of half a second I debated if I should just not push the matter and move on, or take him back to the start of the weaves to try again. Did the latter and luckily for me, a clean pass that time since I wouldn't have wanted to push again and risk demotivating him since he's not one of those weave-crazy dogs. Having taught him to weave with the hands-off weave-a-matics method, a skill I've been thinking I maybe should teach is to be able to target my hand through the last 2 or 3 weaves so that when he does pop near the end of the poles, we don't have to go all the way back to the start again. I'm just not sure if this is a good thing to teach or not, teaching him to enter at something other than the first pole AND on the wrong side if I'm on the left... hopefully it's not something we'd have to do often, but it would be nice to have that in the backpocket. Here's the video, starting a couple of seconds in. The good thing about being the last dog of the day is that everyone gives a really enthusiastic "yay" at the end since it means we all get to go home soon. :-D

Steeplechase (Starter's version!)

The bonus of the day was that our K9 Kup team won 2nd place ribbons for Steeplechase!

Sunday June 10th 2007 - Trial at ADSC - Day 2

Another gorgeous day weather-wise, and just two more classes for us.

The first class was Standard #3 which started off as a complete and utter disaster but I learned that Walter is part bloodhound or a wannabe search-and-rescue-dog! ;-) The poor dog running a couple of spots before us ripped a toenail but no one realized it until afterward when the next person saw blood on the table. So Walter and I were delayed while they cleaned the table, no big deal. So we started our run, first the tire, then the dogwalk, all was fine... until while in 2o2o at the dogwalk he picked up on the smell of the blood and that was that. Managed to get him to do a few more obstacles (including many offcourses) but he could focus on nothing but the blood (some of which I noticed on the teeter and frame) so I pulled him, no sense rehearsing him ignoring me. Turns out the dog had ripped his toenail on the second obstacle (dogwalk) so the blood was all over the course. The judge kindly offered to let us rerun after they cleaned the blood off the teeter, frame, and tunnels (thanks to a couple of young kids who were flexible enough to get in there!). With the blood being all over the field on the grass I wasn't expecting much but gave it a go. This time I booted it to keep Walter moving and somehow, after resorting to clapping to get his attention a few times, we sqeaked through clean for a Q! This being his third Standard Q under two different judges, what started as an awful run ended up earning him his first ever title: Special Agility Dog of Canada! (SADC, pity about the acronym!) There were 12 weaves on this course and on his good run he got the entry and didn't pop although he looked a little bit hesitant while weaving... but I was so glad/relieved he did them clean the first try since he probably would have stressed out and gone back to the blood if I had had to ask him to retry and retry and retry the weaves. Another first place and best of the specials (out of 6 dogs) so another tug toy prize, yay! Anyway, a lesson learned and although I wasn't in the least upset with Walter for his blood-sniffing, I should do some proofing against distractions on course but I don't know that anything could be quite as distracting as the smell of fresh blood!!

Last but not least was Gamblers. It was held in the other, non-bloody ring, but Walter seemed to be wondering if something had been wounded in this ring as well as he was a little bit nose to the ground but only for the first few obstacles. He changed our plan on the fly at a few places, but being Gambler's and the end of a long weekend I really didn't care. Didn't attempt the 12-weaves but did the mini gamble twice and the end gamble for a total of 26*2=52 points, a Q (squeaked in at 57.09!), first place and best of specials (out of only 3 dogs!! heh) for which the prize was a nifty t-shirt.

So, as fun as all these Qs have been, it means we now have to -- I mean, get to -- move up to Advanced in everything but team relay. I won't enter him in any classes involving weaves (especially now that it will be mostly all 12-weaves) until the fall when the weather is cooler which means the only ones we might try at evening summer trials are Jumpers and possibly Gamblers after we brush up (well, ok we need a lot more than just "brushing up"!) on distance skills.

Here are the stats of the day:

Facility: All Dog Sports Club (outdoors on grass)
Weather: 22 degrees and sunny
Pre-event exercise: none except for a bit of long-leash on-site
Classes entered: 2 (Starter's Standard #3/Gamblers)
Qs: 2 (Starter's Standard #3/Gamblers)
YPS: 2.73 Standard #3
Time/SCT: 55.66/68.00 Standard #3; 57.09/60.00 Gamblers
Difficulties: Distracted big-time by blood!
Title earned: SADC

Moving up to the much more challenging Advanced, Qs and placements will be fewer and farther between but I'm quite sure Walter won't miss these silly brag photo shoots!

Saturday June 9th 2007 - Trial at ADSC - Day 1 (Walter's (and my) second trial)

A fun and successful first day of our first ever two-day trial. All events were at the Starter's level.

First up was Standard #1, which was where we had our only problem of the day: He kept running past the 6-weaves and would only weave the last 2 or 3 poles. Just like our last trial (where he didn't have any problems), the weaves followed the table with a nice head-on approach, but he just was not feeling that set of weaves today! Possible explanations for this are that the base was an H shape which he's not used to or that being his first run of the day in a brand new place he hadn't quite found his comfort level. Also, in general his concentration for that run was not at 100%... e.g. he was looking around rather than at me while holding 2o2o. But, no flow problems other than the weaves.

Next was Snooker and there were no weaves in this course. I planned the course for flow rather than points and the opening wasn't pretty (I can still hear my frantic voice making sure he didn't take a red instead of an obstacle of choice or vice versa), but 37 points got him his Q! and a third place finish in our division (out of 5 dogs) although they mistakenly gave us the 2nd place ribbon. When I noticed this and went back to return it for a 3rd place ribbon they said not to worry about it. I would rather have our actual third place ribbon, but oh well!

Jumpers was next and it felt nice and smooth with one exception at the chute where he came darn close to a refusal by nearly running past it but realized at the last minute that yes I really did mean *that* chute. A Q and a first place ribbon followed, as well as a brand new tug toy as a prize for the best Specials run! (out of 7 dogs) My pathetic ancient digital camera doesn't have zoom so you can't see too much, but here's our Jumpers run anyway, highlighting if nothing else my clumsy front cross after the tunnel (not sure how he kept that bar up):

Starters Jumpers - best Specials run

Finally was Standard #2. At this point it was quite warm and getting on in the day so I anticipated he might have issues at the 6-weaves again, but no! The weaves were led into from a jump at a slight angle that required a slight wrap and he nailed the entry and didn't pop, yay! The base of these weaves were the usual shape that we train on in case that made any difference. Anyway, another Q and first place ribbon and another brand new tug toy for the best Specials run! (out of 10 dogs). Here's the video, highlighting my crouched over starting position and late dogwalk and teeter cues. I really should stop babysitting his contacts and table and lead out before releasing him from them.

Starters Standard #2 - best Specials run

Walter received a number of compliments from people including strangers and the judge! They said he ran smoothly with focus and was fast (ok, not FAST fast, but fast enough!). I must admit, he is a wonderful dog to run which makes learning the sport of agility that much more fun and easy for me. Some of his German Shepherd traits I'm not crazy about, but his good work ethic sure is a nice one.

In summary, no sniffies/zoomies, and no problems with starting off the line together. I'm sure when we move up to advanced, competing against other fast and experienced dogs our lack of a lead out will be a more significant disadvantage placement-wise, but for now it hasn't kept us out of the ribbons so I'll enjoy it while it lasts! Tomorrow, just two more runs: Standard #3 and Gamblers.

Here are the stats of the day:

Facility: All Dog Sports Club (outdoors on grass)
Weather: from 19 up to 22 degrees and sunny
Pre-event exercise: 15 minutes long-leash in neighbourhood then 30 minutes long-leash at BP
Crating: x-pen between rings, he was quiet most of the time
Warm-up jumps: Didn't do the jumps, did other exercises instead
Classes entered: 4 (Starter's Standard #1/Snooker/Jumpers/Standard #2)
Qs: 3 (Starter's Snooker/Jumpers/Standard #2)
YPS: 1.9 in Standard #1 (darn weave refusals); 4.98 in Jumpers; 3.03 in Standard #2
Time/SCT: 72.57/66.00 Standard #1; 51.23/60.00 Snooker; 29.49/47.00 Jumpers; 51.80/73.00 Standard #2
Difficulties: 6-weaves in Standard #1, but fine in Standard #2

And the brags just wouldn't be complete without a photo:

(digitally fudged the 2nd place Snooker ribbon for a 3rd place ribbon which is what we should have gotten!)

Wednesday June 6th 2007 - practice

12-weaves - great! all but one of the 5 or so tries were clean. The goofed up one was where he didn't check his speed in time so couldn't wrap the second pole. Timing from the video shows first to last pole takes between 3.5-4.0 seconds. Hmm, I don't think he'll be turning in times like that at flyball! ;-)

"mark" starts - the problem is although it looks from my vantage that he's looking at the object I'm pointing him to, he isn't necessarily. Like today when I was pointing him to a jump in front of us, he went around it to go to the weaves which we had just been practicing.

threadles and serpentines - have gotten quite rusty, need to practice more often.

Looking forward to the trial coming up this weekend but a bit nervous about the starts since if we're not on the same page then it will not be too good!

Saturday June 2nd 2007 - practice

12-weaves - missed entries often tonight but no popping

dogwalk to tunnel - improving

"mark" starts - if I was pointing to the jump ahead of us with Walter on my left and there was a jump 90d to Walter's left he sometimes wanted to take the wrong jump.