Friday, October 24, 2008

Dream Fields mini trial

What better way to spend one's Friday night than running in circles making strange gestures and sounds to one's dog? :-)

First up was Gamblers #1. Walter had a reasonable chance at doing the main gamble. He did the mini twice (teeter at 18' lateral distance) and racked up a good number of points in the opening. On to the closing: jump heading away from you, to lateral frame 18' away, 180 turn away to tunnel under frame, then back over jump #1 and back out to one more jump. We didn't have quite enough umph for him to go all the way out to the frame (that was the part I had been worried about, especially with the tunnel being a possible offcourse), so he came in. But wonder of wonders, he let me send him out again, looking unsure but he did go out and do the frame, yay! He easily nailed the turn away to the tunnel which was 21' away from the line -- all that "pip" work has been sinking in, woo hoo! Then he took jump #4, and just before he was over the final jump the buzzer went. This is the second MG main gamble that he has successfully completed but over time due to a handling bobble early in the gamble. This time only .58 of a second kept him from the Q. Next time!

Gamblers #2: Hmmm, gonna have to save that "next time" for another time! This main gamble was brutal, involving a frame/tunnel discrimination where the dog has to take the "out tunnel" not once, but twice. No surprise, couldn't even get Walter to take the tunnel the first time. Next year to work on: send-aheads to tunnel!

Snooker: The $%^& weaves were #5 instead of the usual #7. Since Walter's weaves are unreliable, I always try to plan the opening so that we don't need them. Usually that means doing three #6. So I did the math and hooray! We could still Q without the weaves by doing four #7s (frame/jump combo) (or three #7s plus 1 #6, but I liked #7 better, and besides, why not go for gold!), so that's what we did. Walter did just great, a really nice opening. For Walter's frames I try not to watch the yellow to see if he hits it (que sera sera, though he's never missed a contact in competition), so I was listening to hear if the judge called out the points or not; sure enough he got all four 7s. Our transition to the closing wasted some time because his last #7 took him right to the exit gate, but after a few seconds he consented to come and do the rest of the course. The buzzer went as he was half-way through the weaves, which he did perfectly, yay! I was so out of breath by the time we got to the weaves, it was all I could do to squeak out the usual "gogogo" for him. He took a Q, 1st place out of 9 22" specials dogs, and best run (which Walter hasn't seen many of since we made it to Masters) although the 1st place and best run are kind of silly since he only had one point more than was necessary for a Q; for some reason he was the only 22" specials dog who Qd.

Standard: By this time it was about 10pm. That probably sets a record for Walter's latest agility run! It was a nice straightforward course, the only tricky area being a tunnel/jump set close together where the first time they take the jump, the second the tunnel. Walter ran fine except for problems at the weaves. First, he entered at the second pole (I should have hung back which helps him get the entry); let him finish them and he skipped a pole somewhere I think. Took him back to try again; this time he got the entry but again skipped a pole or two and/or popped, can't remember. Sigh. Why couldn't he have goofed up the weaves in Snooker and saved his good ones for Standard? Oh well, isn't that always the way. :^)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's the end

of green fee season 2008. As of this weekend both of our green fee fields will have been put to bed. Won't have a chance to get out this week, so that's that. Glad to have had the use of two nearby fields again this year; who knows what next year will bring.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Last KK9 practice of the year

Have been working on discriminations lately but still really struggling with getting him to take the far obstacle. A past instructor suggested that Walter's space bubble might be smaller than a lot of dogs' due to his GSD blood (thinking of protection work stuff), so maybe that has something to do with it? Oh well. On the bright side, 180 turn from contact to tunnel "pip" is going great. A recent Clean Run article on this confirmed that I was kinda sorta going in an okay direction with that, e.g. using the verbal only, no arm cue. Decided that pip has a built-in release component, and Walter finally seems to be buying that, at least on the dogwalk. However, when I tried pip from teeter to jump, he really really wanted an "ok" first. Also, using a jump to pip to after the teeter was too confusing so instead we used a toy.

The other practice field is open for another week or so and then green fee season comes to an official close.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Startline fun

Came upon this entertaining video while surfing today. Too bad it's only border collies, but fun to watch nonetheless. Ever seen a dog back up on the start line? Me neither until now!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Out practice

With the limited time left before the agility fields close for the winter, "out" is the focus again. We worked on it earlier in the summer and made some progress -- it even got Walter his first MG Q -- but we haven't maintained it and being a new skill it's kind of gone by the wayside.

Anyway, worked on outs today using side by side jump/teeter and jump/jump. Tested him with some heres too and he does seem to be picking it back up but lots more work is needed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

2-day AARF trial (Kingston)

This was Walter's second time at AARF. While driving home from his first AARF trial on October 7th 2007, I swore I'd never ever EVER trial Walter there again. (Not because there was anything wrong with the facility or trial itself, which are great!) A few hours after coming home from that trial, the sting started to wear off; I tried to keep an open mind and opened up the possibility of going back. Then a year passes and the memories of that trial now get a "them's the blows" chuckle from me, so... After vowing never to return, what did I do but sign him up for not one, but TWO days at the very same trial one year later. If he would have the same sniffiness this time around, this had the potential to be a very long and depressing trial! But, I was curious to see how he'd be, and with the need to make the most of the cool-season trials, well there ya go.

Well, he was a different dog this year! None of the constant sniffing that he did inside and outside the rings last year, which he had never done anywhere else except for one run last summer when the dog before him had ripped a toenail on the second obstacle unbeknownst to all and bled allll over the course. Is his 180 turn-around because the weather was cooler than last year's trial? Is it because the rings have been moved down further towards the woods and for some counter-intuitive reason the track-laying critters don't come around anymore? Is it because Walter has matured and is more into the game now? Who knows but I sure did like what I saw this weekend.

FRIDAY (weather: nicely c-c-c-ool for much of the day, requiring warm coats and even mitts from time to time. Perfect agility weather for Walter and for many of the other dogs who were looking so peppy out there. 3 degrees in the morning, slowly warmup up to a partly cloudy 12 degrees)

Started with Jumpers #1. Whaddaya know, he was terrific and clean and got a Q! Last year's sniffyholic was nowhere to be seen.

Then it was Standard #1. Clean except for a wrong weave entry plus he popped out afterwards.

Standard #2: Woo hoo! A nice run with several crazy "TRUST YOUR DOG" moments and he got a Q! Weaves were on-side, "yesgogogo".

Gamblers #1: There are good things about having a dog who's not a tunnel suck, and there are bad things about having a dog who's not a tunnel suck. Walter, the Not Tunnel Suck, had a hard time being sent out quite a distance to the tunnel of the main gamble. He finally got it, but then instead of taking the out-teeter he took the here-6-weaves so it was an NQ. Brilliant job on the weaves though. We tried one of the mini gambles which was tunnel under dogwalk to layered jump on far side of dogwalk. I thought it would be no problem for him as he's done these before, but he came in instead of taking the jump.

After the trial we headed to our motel. I had brought along a kettle and some insta-noodles to supplement the cold but delicious fried tofu I had brought, but thought what the heck, I'll just have a quick peek at the yellow pages to see if maybe, just maybe Kingston has a vegetarian restaurant? Well what to my hungry eyes should appear on the last page of the restaurant listings but an ad for a veggie restaurant, yeah!! So off we went.

First though we stopped at the first place we could find for the dogs to get out and stretch their legs a bit.

Beautiful big tree on the banks of the Rideau Canal.

Another photo op on the banks of the Rideau Canal.

Memorial cross for the workers who died building the Rideau Canal.

Apparently even chimney thingies are in on the ribbon trend. No idea what this ribbon is for.

Lotus Heart Blossoms Vegetarian Restaurant. Associated with Ottawa's Perfection Satisfaction Promise Vegetarian Restaurant, but a completely different menu.

Not to play into the stereotypes, but there were a ton of Green Party signs in the neighbourhood of the restaurant. Of note, this election campaign was the first time that a Green Party leader was invited to participate in the televised leaders' debates.

Back at the hotel. It might not look like much, but the pasta was actually quite tasty. Garlic, salt, and pasta, what's not to love?

Lucy was not entered in this trial but happily came along to hang out with us and enjoy a feast on the cow patties in the pastures surrounding the agility fields.

SATURDAY (weather: coolish in the morning but quickly warmed up to sweater-only for much of the day. Too warm to be ideal agility temps for Walter but still not too bad. 5 degrees in the mornin, quickly warming up to a partly cloudy 14 degrees.)

Standard #3: I was maybe feeling a bit cranky from getting hardly any sleep due to the @#$%^&* motel doors that kept opening and slamming shut and opening and slamming shut and people making no effort to speak quietly in the hallways even past midnight. So I wasn't going into the run on the best of notes. Then, I came this close to forgetting to remove Walter's collar for the run. Scratch that -- actually I *did* forget to remove his collar but someone kindly alerted me about it just as I was starting to lead out. He ran past a jump and probably got a refusal at another messy point, but his weaves were perfect. (offside, "yesgogogo")

Standard #4: Walter had a loopy moment at one point, then at the weaves he got the entry but then immediately popped, doing his best imitation of a dog who's never seen weaves before. Took him back to restart and he entered on the wrong side but what the heck he kept weaving so I let him and we just kept going. On the bright side however, he had a brilliant startline stay while I led out to the far side of the second jump to be able to overhandle the #3 tunnel/frame discrimination to make up for our lack of skills in the discrimination department.

Gamblers #2: Bummer, this gamble was very much like yesterday's, with the exact same sendout to the tunnel, same direction and end of the tunnel and everything. So we never got to the rest of the gamble which included an out-over with two side by side jumps which he likely wouldn't have gotten anyway. One of the mini-gambles was identical to yesterday's: tunnel to layered jump behind dogwalk and he got it fine this time.

Snooker: Ok, would be really nice to get a Q today and running out of chances... No weaves in this course, just jumps, tunnels, frame, and a ton of combinations. We played it safe and did the #5 tunnel three times; not our prettiest run ever but not terrible either and he picked up his 6th MS Q.

Jumpers: Last run of the day. Walter was surprisingly perky and animated despite it being close to the end of a long couple of days. He ran beautifully and picked up his 5th MJ Q.

So yeah, the two-hour drive home was quite a bit more enjoyable this time than it was last year. Yay Walter for being so much fun to run!