Sunday, June 29, 2008

Practice: weaves and "pip"

Used canned food to reward the weaves today. Started with 12-wams a few times. Then did a couple of passes on the 6-fixed, then 8, then one pass on 10. No popping, but he's not single striding the whole way so probably I should keep him on the wams only for a while? It's just so annoying having to raise the poles after every pass on the wams since he practically flattens them every time. Bad lazy handler! Would channel weaves also help in the footwork department? maybe we'll try that too.

A few weeks ago I introduced a new verbal to Walter. It means turn 180 away from me (and take the obstacle if one is there). Called it "pip" just cause I think I heard some people using that word as a command for something at a recent trial and it sounds different from all our other commands and I'm just not very creative. The sort of thing we'll use for contacts to snaked-under tunnels on the far side and for flip-aways on gambles, etc. Well in theory anyway. So after working it on the flat for a few weeks, today we tried it out with equipment for the first time. Started with just a straight tunnel, walking alongside it then when we reach the entrance, "pip". Seemed to work! Later on we tried it with the snaked-under tunnel and dogwalk. There was also a jump in front of the dogwalk as a decoy. He was a bit confused, sometimes taking the jump, but at the end I think it was starting to click.

Didn't get a chance to practice "out" since it was hot and Walter's heat tolerance isn't great (his brain melts) which forces me to keep his practices nice and short!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Whining about the weather; not whining about Walter's frame

< whine mode >
Now I remember why we don't get nearly as much agility practice in during green fee season as I dream about during deepest, darkest winter. Is it because I'm so darn lazy? Well, maybe, but in this post I'll blame it on the often-awful Ottawa summer weather. While I'm thankful that we don't typically get some of the extreme types of weather and the related effects described by some agility bloggers, I have nothing nice to say about the ridiculous humidity that accompanies our summer heat. Daytime highs of 35 degrees (86 Fahrenheit) which, when the humidity is factored in, feel like 40+ degrees (104 F), lessening only by a degree or two at night, are way too common an occurrence. We haven't quite reached that "degree" of heat yet this summer but it has been hot and muggy and all of June has been RAIN, RAIN, RAIN and THUNDERSTORMS, THUNDERSTORMS, THUNDERSTORMS.
< /whine mode >

Here's something I'm not whining about: a shot of Walter doing the frame at last weekend's K9 Kup Steeplechase run. We abandoned 2o2o on the frame last fall after I saw video of him doing it (shoulder impact - ugh). Never officially retrained anything to replace 2o2o, but unlike Lucy he just seems to have a natural stride that takes him into the yellow. Granted it could be because he's in specials and has a lower frame height, but he just doesn't seem prone to leaping the way Lucy and many other dogs are. Walter has yet to be faulted for a missed contact. (Hmm, did I just jinx myself by putting that in writing?) But don't worry, we get our fair share of grief in the agility ring, more often than not (lately, anyway) thanks to the weaves. :-D

Sunday, June 22, 2008

K9 Kup match #1

K9 Kup is a for-fun team trial, four matches over the course of the summer, three events per match. All the same rules as a trial but it's not a sanctioned event and costs a fraction of the real thing. It's geared towards people and dogs just getting ready to start trialing, but titled dogs are also allowed to participate although a handicap is levied against their scores since all courses are run at the Starters level of difficulty. I entered Walter and Lucy because it's a good chance to try things that aren't quite so tempting in a trial where a Q is at stake (I know, I know, agility's not supposed to be about the Qs...) and heck, it's just plain FUN running easier starters level courses once in a while! Not to mention the whole team aspect of it, which is a really nice change from the usual trials.

Walter had no problem with the 6-weaves in the first run of the day, Standard. HOWEVER, come the 12-weaves in Steeplechase, he popped around pole 5; didn't bother retrying since that just doesn't work. Shoulda stuck to my game plan of taking him around the weaves in the first place since I knew this would happen, instead of teaching him that it's ok to keep going without finishing the poles, but oh well!

Here's a video of Walter's only clean run of the day: Jumpers. Make sure your speaker volume isn't turned up too loud.

If I may, I would also like to post a video of Jasmine doing her Standard run. This was Jasmine's and her human's very first run in a trial situation. Jasmine is a little dog with a lot of zest for life and one of her favourite ways of displaying it is, you guessed it, zooming! Jasmine was feeling especially zestful in this run, but I love how seamlessly she transitions from zoomies back into doing the course. I look forward to watching this wonderful team develop!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Weaves: Went to the field that has the wams. Ran him through the 12-wams and still he was popping at the end unless they were widened a fair bit. Time to take the time to go back to some wamming basics I think.

Then we ran a nice flowing course. It was fun but I'm noticing that I am running him so totally pokily lately (as evidenced in that fun match video from last weekend). Gonna try to bring our speed back up at K9 Kup.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

ADSC mini-trial

Two tries at Standard today.

Standard #1: Once again, popped at pole 10. On the bright side, that alone isn't what kept us from Qing since he ran past a jump that I thought was obvious but he apparently didn't. :-)

Standard #2: Surprise surprise, popped out of the poles somewhere (can't remember where). This time I took him back to retry them but again, no success. Earlier in the course I had fumbled a front cross so he missed a jump, so at least the weaving problem isn't the only thing to blame for the NQ.

M-u-s-t g-e-t b-a-c-k t-o t-h-e w-e-a-v-a-m-a-t-i-c-s ! ! !

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


"Out": set up a tunnel/dogwalk discrimination. Blocked the offcourse dogwalk with a lattice wing so he would do the "out tunnel". After a few tries removed the lattice wing. Success! Well, not really. Later on, after a break, he was back to taking the dogwalk. Some day, some wonderful day hopefully in the not too distant future we will start to acquire this elusive "out" skill!

Weaves: This field doesn't have weave-a-matics so we warmed up on some 6-weaves. He did very well with them so we moved on to the 12-weaves. Not good. Not good at all. I think his new nickname should be pop-corn. And a trial coming up tomorrow... yikes!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dogz fun match

Walter ran one course at today's fun match: starters standard. He did lovely moving contacts on the dogwalk and teeter; too bad that's not what we train for. Went back and redid them each time. This summer he has developed a dislike of flies and they seemed to be hanging around at the table, so twice when he was almost at "go" he sat up, chomping at the air hoping to catch a little extra protein. The weaves were a disaster: he'd enter at the second pole and/or pop. Hanging back and letting him enter ahead of me got him entering properly, but his footwork was way off so he inevitably popped. Then we ran out of time. From looking at the video (I will spare you all and not post it here... but if you really want, here it is), his footwork is definitely getting messy. Time for some weave-a-matic fun I think.

Then, the skies opened up for a thunderstorm moments before he was to go on for his try at Gamblers. Of course, he would have laid down a perfect course, nailing every gamble on his first try. Or at least, that's the story I tell myself to make up for our lousy first run. :-D

Oh wait! Walter did something stupendous today: he held a fantastic sit-stay while I walked out to replace a fallen bar! Yay!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Earlier this week we packed up and went camping. It was Walter's second time there and Lucy's first. I wasn't sure how it would go with having both dogs there together as they are a handful, but they were awesome so I'd definitely bring them both again next time.

The place is situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

On the way there, we took the Loyalist Highway and the free ferry. Way too hot to wait for it in the car so we hopped out for some fresh air (dogs wearing their seatbelt harnesses -- my car is way too small for crating the dogs).

Our site, #77, was terrific. It's the last site on a dead end roadway and is set back a fair bit from the road, a feature that is very much appreciated when one's dogs like to sound the alarm if anyone dares pass by.
One of the great things about this place is that they actually allow the dogs on the beach and in the water. Well, at a couple of designated sites, anyway. The down side is that dogs are supposed to be kept on a 6-foot leash the whole time.

Hanging out on the beach. Hot sun, warm sand, cool water, two well-behaved, calm dogs: This is the life.

Well, so much for the two well-behaved dogs.

Back to business: Surveying his domain.

Walter did not appreciate being forced to pose in front of this terrifying monster carcass that had washed up on shore.

Taking a break at a lookout point on the Cedar Sands trail near the camping area.

Beggers at home; beggers away from home. Some things never change. :-) Supper was a couple of those packaged add-water camping meals: vegan pesto garlic fry bread (YUM) and black bean soup (not so yum) which had to be eaten with a fork due to forgetting to bring a spoon.

Climbing the gorgeous sand dunes that rise as high as 25 meters. It's hard to beat the awesome feeling of hot sand between your toes while the sun warms your back.

At the bottom of one of the sand dunes. A trio of swans (I had no idea there were swans in Ontario) entertained us as we watched from shore.

Photo op at the top of one of the dunes.

Hanging out at the campsite at night.

After three days and two nights, the dogs are exhausted, buckled in the car and ready for the three hour drive back home.

En route back home, an exhausted puppy dreams of her holiday adventures.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

All Dogs trial - Day 2 - New title

The weather today was just about identical to yesterday's, if not a smidge hotter and more humid. Thank goodness he was only entered in two events and they were the first two events of the day.

I was excited when I saw the course being built and the main gamble seemed to include the dogwalk since distance dogwalks is something we've been working on. Alas, the dogwalk was a trap; the dog was supposed to take the snaked under tunnel on the far side. Needless to say, we didn't get the gamble. But actually he didn't even make it to the dogwalk/tunnel as after a different tunnel he came back to me over an offcourse jump. But, he did a mini gamble twice (jump to layered tunnel) so that's a step in the right direction and he got about 36 points in the opening.

It was a twisty but fun course on which the dogs had "lots of options" as one fellow competitor put it! Walter was listening super well and I managed to not completely bungle the handling so we squeaked in under time for a Q and Walter's Masters Jumpers title! Future jumpers courses will be more relaxing now that he has all the Jumpers Qs needed for The Big Title. (Now we "only" need 3 Team, 3 Standard, and 3 Gamblers Qs... in other words, all the hard ones! (Well, hard for us anyway.) I'm not holding my breath! lol)

To summarize the weekend, it was HOT but Walter ran super well and seemed happy.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

All Dogs trial - Day 1

What was originally supposed to be a very hot, wet, and thunderstormy day actually turned out to be a very hot (31 degrees; 37 with humidex!) but sunny day. The strong breeze was the saving grace.

Hoo boy. Poor Walter. He was sooo good, but I was sooo bad. I totally messed us up in several places and even came close to getting lost on course for the first time! :-P One of the jumps was used FOUR times throughout the course! But, on the bright side, we did a ton of rear crosses and he seemed to be reading them well. For some reason I've been avoiding rear crosses lately. So it's good to know he can still do them.

Our first try at a Gamblers course since last September, and our first try at Masters Gamblers! My goal was simply to get enough points in the opening and be in a decent place when the whistle went. Walter in his infinite wisdom decided to offer his own contribution to the opening but it didn't mess us up too badly. We didn't try the mini gamble because it involved the weaves; Walter's not crazy about weaving so I never choose them in Gamblers or Snooker. The main gamble was generally considered pretty easy and was doable with our current skill set, involving a series of 5 jumps with no turning away. Unfortunately I fumbled the approach so he had no momentum and in the heat of the day didn't have a lot of get up and go, so the gamble was a no go. Oh well; it's so nice in Gamblers compared to Snooker knowing that you get your full at-least-40-seconds on course. :-)

Walter was such a good boy and came within a few weave poles of getting his first Masters Standard Q. He popped out around pole 10, no surprise as his weaving footwork gets all messed up when it's warm due to running slower. But, he was listening really well and held his teeter/dogwalk contacts (which he didn't hold in Gamblers...). It was a good run to end the day on, and I was very impressed with how well Walter kept it together given the crazy heat!

Two more events tomorrow: Jumpers and Gamblers.