Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 2007

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

Sunday September 30th 2007 - Dream Fields trial - Day 2

Only one class today, which was our first try at a Masters course.

Masters Jumpers

My goal was again to run him smoothly and maintain his confidence, and I was prepared to sacrifice a potential Q by not calling him hard off an obstacle if that's the way he was headed. Except for a close offcourse at the tire due to a very late turning cue and from which he called off easily, it was a smooth run but I don't like how I was all hunched over in places. He was quite responsive and saved my butt in a few places. The down side is he was slow as molasses, which may be because his run was at about 5:00pm after a day of regular at-home activity and a 30-minute off-leash walk, and it was a humid 18 degrees, plus I was lollygagging along myself, trying to keep track of where we were going. His time was 40.18, and I thought the SCT was either 35 or 40 seconds so I figured we hadn't Qd but might place. I arrived back from putting him away halfway through the ribbon presentations and we weren't called; oh well. Then they called for Jumpers ribbons, so it turns out the previous ribbons were for the previous event. Anyway, it turns out the SCT was actually 42, so took a Q and 2nd place out of 5 Specials 22" dogs. That was a real surprise bonus for me since I was just happy that I didn't forget the course and Walter ran nicely responsive. Aside from trying to remember the course which had a gazillion jumps that all looked the same, the course didn't seem too challenging although I can see that it would be if you have a really fast dog.

Walter's blazingly slow Masters Jumpers run

Saturday September 29th 2007 - Dream Fields trial - Day 1

Only two classes today:

Advanced Standard

Our first go at this course wasn't exactly very good. Incurred a refusal at the third obstacle which was the tunnel of a tunnel/dogwalk discrimination. Then, he somehow missed a weave pole somewhere midway but since he kept on weaving, we weren't gonna Q anyway, and I'm trying to improve overall speed/flow on course, didn't bother restarting them. Then, I think we got yet another refusal at the same tunnel/dogwalk, this time from the dogwalk going to the tunnel. Then, at the chute which was the second last obstacle, the chute fabric came right off the barrel and he got completely tangled up in it. Somehow he remained calm and we extricated him quickly. After they put it back together they encouraged me to put him through the chute by himself a couple of times and I was happy to, and -- what a brave guy -- he was just fine. The judge offered a rerun given the chute fiasco even though our Q had been long since blown :-). I accepted, and our second go was great, no mistakes BUT we were 1.6 seconds over time. This is because it probably took me 5 seconds to go from the dogwalk to the tunnel: because our skill set is very lacking in that department, I made him go forward a few steps and then turn around to the tunnel. So that makes it 0 for 5 Advanced Standards. :-) But, I was very proud of my boy! Word of caution: The obstacle preceding the chute (it was a tunnel) required a 180 turn into the chute. One of the trial officials said afterwards that he believes the reason the fabric came off is because of the 180, many of the dogs were entering the chute at a weird angle, pulling the chute fabric to the side a bit. Walter was the last of 26 dogs on the course and his pass through was the straw that broke the camel's back, so off came the fabric. Just thought I'd share that as an FYI in case it's of any use to anyone. Didn't take video of either of these runs unfortunately. Oh, and he took first place and best Specials run despite the NQ.

Advanced Snooker

A great run, too bad I didn't get it on camera. I think I'm getting more and more nervous with each Snooker run though, which sucks. Despite the nerves, he ran clean for 46 points, a Q, first place and best Specials run. Only one other dog out of all the other dogs who ran the course (20 dogs in total) scored more points, which was 48. It was a very fun course and is shown below. We did red #2, tunnel combination #6, red #4, frame, red #3, frame, and the closing which he completed in time. I was very pleased with this run because for once in Snooker I didn't overmanage my dog, and guess what, he had really nice flow. I bet he enjoyed not having me shout his name in panic every three seconds and being all crouched down over him the whole time. With this Q, he's now at the Masters level in Snooker, Gamblers, and Jumpers, and still at the Advanced level in Team (which we haven't tried yet) and Standard (0 for 5...).

the Snooker course map

He was also signed up for Advanced Gamblers, but since he would have had to move up to Masters Gamblers, which we are SO not ready for, I had pulled him out of it and put Lucy in it in his place. One more run tomorrow, which will be our first try at a Masters course!

The stats:

Facility: Dream Fields (inside on sand/dirt)
Weather: sunny, 11 degrees during Standard, 13 degrees during Snooker
Crating: Since he was fairly happy in his new soft crate at our last trial, I put him in it today. He was NOT liking it at all today, scratching and chewing at it, so put him in the car instead where he is much happier.
Classes entered: 2 (Advanced Standard, Advanced Snooker)
Qs: 1 (Snooker)
Time/SCT: 71.61/70.00 Standard; 57.39/60.00 Snooker
YPS: 2.46 Standard

Sunday September 23rd 2007 - Last K9 Kup of the year

After seeing how sniffy both dogs got towards the end of last weekend's trial, this morning I didn't reduce their breakfast portion at all to see what would happen. Could be a coincidence, but neither dog was sniffy at all today. Today's goals were fewer vocals (only obstacle names for the most part), flow, and speed, but also sticking the teeter and dogwalk contacts.


Started with a few high pitched excited barks while at the start line, but wow, this was one of Walter's best runs in a while. No goofs by either of us, just flow flow flow. Could have been faster though, including the first frame descent. Great job with the 12-weaves.

Walter's steeplechase run


Botched the first attempt at the mini gamble but got it the second try. He did NOT hold 2o2o on the dogwalk so I stopped and said "excuse me" or something lame like that and kept going. At the end gamble, he sent nicely to the tire and tunnel, but came in to me instead of going out to the jump. Little Miss Lucy showed him up on this one!


Another couple of high-pitched barks at the start line. Determined that he would hold 2o2o on the teeter, I issued an exagerated "wait" command right as he was tilting it. From watching the video, this poorly timed cue clearly startled him and messed up his usual teeter flow because he tried to put the brakes on at the wrong time and finished it off very awkwardly, not holding 2o2o at all because of the way the teeter suddenly banged down. At the time I thought he had simply decided not to hold 2o2o, so I made him sit for a second before we continued. Man, this whole videoing one's runs thing is great to get us goofy handlers to see our mistakes. Anyway, by this time of the day it was getting warm and I suspected dangerously close to the Walter-The-Non-Weaving-Dog zone. Sure enough he ran right past the 6-weaves and failed to complete them properly despite a couple of re-attempts. Seeing as he did weave at least some of the poles (kept entering halfway through) I left it at that. This after a beeyootiful go at the 12-weaves earlier in the Steeplechase, which like this course was a straight on entry with me on the right side. Environment Canada says that it was 14 degrees during our successful Steeplechase weaves and 20 degrees during our nonsuccessful Standard weaves. Given how great his weaves were last weekend when it was cool, I'm more and more convinced that it's a temperature thing. Remind me to only sign up for Jumpers and possibly Gamblers at next summer's trials... Anyway, enough digressions, he held 2o2o on the dogwalk very nicely while I led out from it. And, good table from which I led out a bit. No trouble at the chute under the a-frame unlike Lucy who struggled with it.

Our team had some "challenges" today and didn't place in today's events nor in the overall placements, but they also awarded ribbons for the best team in each individual event over the course of the four K9 Kups, and our team took home the ribbon for overall Snooker Champions! :-)

Thursday September 20th 2007 - practice

Tonight's practice was short, fast, and fun. Just a few passes over an easy flowing course focusing on speed and confidence building. Finished with a couple of passes on the teeter where I lag back and he goes ahead.

Sunday September 16th 2007 - Trial - Day 2

Only one class today: Starters Team Relay with his mom's canine housemate, a rescue border collie mix. Walter took the first half of the course because the first obstacle was the 6-weaves and having him start from his box would probably not have gone well because of the wacky angle and the proximity of the other dog's box to the weaves and how crazy wound up he gets at the start... I can't see him heeling with me leashless to a good position; could have ended up in one of his "I have no idea how to weave" days. Anyway, he was feeling good, did the weaves on the first try and did a clean run although he wasn't feeling sharp and we weren't "in the zone". Got a hold of him in the box and watched his partner run, and she did a great job too so Walter and his mom's best buddy went clean for a Q and best run overall (regular and special combined since it was a small field)! That finished off his Games title, so now he's all done with Starters!

Weather: low of 8, high of 13, mostly sunny
Classes entered: 1 (Starter's Team Relay)
Qs: 1 (Starter's Team Relay)
Time/SCT: 57.03/84.00 Team Relay
Title earned: SSGDC

Sunday September 16th 2007 - Trial - Day 1

The first of several trials thoughout this fall. The cool weather is great for the dogs, but not so great for us shivering humans! Happy news today is that Walter was flawless in all of today's weaves which amounted to three sets of 12-weaves.

Advanced Standard #1

I was leery of the 12-weaves being the #1 obstacle, but the weather was brisk so Walter was in weaving mode. He did well throughout the course but incurred a refusal at the table by running past its plane. Got a 2nd place finish. He was quite relaxed before the run and didn't bark at the startline.

Advanced Snooker

Poor Walter. After the first red I sent him to a tunnel, but he got confused and didn't know which obstacle/entry to take. I should have chilled out because he was surrounded by obstacles of choice, but oh no, I just had to go and insist that he do THAT tunnel. Anyway, he recovered from my silliness and had enough time to complete the closing for a total of 45 points, a Q, and 1st place. He did a couple of highpitched barks at the startline.

Advanced Standard #2

Thank goodness Walter is not a superspeedy dog because the opening line was a straight line of four jumps to a tunnel and with no lead out, well, that would be "challenging" with a fast dog. Walter discovered a very interesting smell on the entrance of the second tunnel and paused for what felt like an eternity to investigate it, then got a refusal by having to circle around before entering it. Another refusal later on at the other end of the same tunnel by running past it; I must have given bad directions. On the bright side he got the offside weave entry which I wasn't expecting. 3rd place finish.

Advanced Gamblers

Oh man, thank goodness this was a choose-your-own-adventure class because Walter was so not into this run. He kept going off on tangents, I had to struggle to keep his attention, and my plan went out the window. Didn't even attempt the mini gambles seeing as he was in this kind of mood. But, he got the end gamble! It was two c-shaped tunnels with the gamble line at the bottom, sort of like this: (__) First the bottom of the right tunnel, second the bottom of the left tunnel, then third the top of the right tunnel and you're done. He hesitated at the third tunnel but after a "go tunnel... tunnel go" he decided to give it a try and see if he was right. Good boy and enough points for a Q and 1st place. The bad news is, this being his second Advanced Gamblers Q means he moves up to Masters Gamblers now!!

Advanced Jumpers

He was a little bit nose to the ground in a few places but not to the point of pulling himself off his line. Also he wasn't terrifically fast, but enough for a Q and 3rd place. So now Walter moves up to Masters Jumpers too!!

Note: Getting all those placements sounds good, but the special class was quite small as was our height division, so it's not really that impressive. ;-) My goals for this trial were to be more relaxed and to hopefully get his first Advanced Standard Q. Ok, hard to be relaxed with a goal like that but there you go. I did feel a bit more relaxed, but still lots of room for improvement. We're 0 for 4 in the Advanced Standards, but on the bright side that means there will be more time to get used to these harder courses. Not so for Gamblers and Jumpers which will be interesting as he'll have to move up in all the trials I've already entered him in later this fall. Oh well, it will be fun anyway. :-)

The stats:

Facility: All Dog Sports Club (outdoors on grass)
Weather: windy, low of 10, high of 12, rain in the morning
Classes entered: 5 (Advanced Standard #1, Snooker, Gamblers, Standard #2, Jumpers)
Qs: 3 (Snooker, Gamblers, and Jumpers)
Time/SCT: 58.06/67.00 Standard #1; 49.49/60.00 Snooker; 76.49/72.00 Standard #2; 56.24/60.00 Gamblers; 36.74/41.00 Jumpers
YPS: 2.9 Standard #1; 1.1 Standard #2 (OUCH!); 4.1 Jumpers

Wednesday September 12th 2007 - practice

God his frame to snaked-under-tunnel-on-far-side is still SO not happening! Long ago he did this well but lack of practice I guess so I'll have to go back to basics on that.

Monday September 10th 2007 - practice

Lateral and send distance on the teeter was much improved today! Can now send him ahead from a couple of metres behind to complete the teeter and he's looking confident. Lateral distance up to a few metres. Using a thrown ball to reward after he gets into 2o2o. Tried "get out over" with a jump next to a tunnel using a jump wing to block the tunnel... That one is definitely a work in progress!

Wednesday September 5th 2007 - practice

He's getting a bit more comfortable with me lagging back at the teeter. Outside turn .... well we worked on it, but no real progress made today.

Tuesday September 4th 2007 - private lesson

Seeing how sloppy my handling has been getting, I signed up for a lesson. Really must get back into those! At my request we worked on front and rear crosses, primarily over jumps, and I got some tips on training outside turns. The instructor runs her dog mostly silently, saving vocals for certain situations like call-offs and praise. I would definitely like to run more quietly, but I think I'll probably keep saying obstacle names. For the outside turn thing if it's a 180 type of turn, the instructor confirmed the way I was headed, which is that it's a rear cross, just with more distance between you and the dog, so you just use the same rear cross cue. If it's a temporary turn away and then continuing on in the same direction, it's not a rear cross, so use the inside hand.

Monday September 3rd 2007 - practice

Worked more on "go" with a straight line of jumps/tire. Worked more on distance (lateral and the other kind, whateve it's called?) at the teeter. It's writ clear as day on his face that he lacks confidence if I lag behind too far so this will need to be done gradually. Today we worked up to me being about 3 meters to the side and no further than the pivot. Worked on shoulder pull a bit.