Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dream Fields trial, EXJBronze

Been a while since we've been at Dream Fields on a Saturday, but the days were switched up from normal and I have to say it's nice to have the Sunday off to relax. Walter, however, was feeling pretty relaxed today, not his usual sharp self. His nose touches during warmups were wimpy, and overall he seemed a bit flat. Half way through the day I learned that one of Walter's fellow 22" Specials competitors was lost to cancer recently and well, that just about did it for me. Being emotional is exhausting, never mind trying to run around a course in that state.

But, life and agility go on, and Walter ran pretty well, all things considered. Watching the video back I'm asking for trouble releasing the dogwalk contact so quickly so often, so I'll try to be more careful about that. Also, what is up with my rear cross arm signal? Yikes, I'll have to get a handle on that (so to speak).

Gamblers: Ran out of time halfway through the closing and then he ran past the last jump. But, Walter the non-tunnel-suck did a nice send to the tunnel, good dog!

Snooker: A lot of dogs had trouble getting enough points before running out of time. Fortunately, Walter and I didn't have that problem: We got blown off in the opening for back to back obstacles of choice. :-D Oh well, I'm trying to not overhandle too much and if that's the price then so be it.

Standard #1: A Q, but not a particularly nice one, with two bungled rear crosses and several really wide turns.

Standard #2: Aye aye aye, this run was doomed from the start when I had to go back and reposition Walter at the startline after he moved too far to the side of the first jump. I hate feeling like I'm wasting people's time so then I rushed myself and gave up on the idea of leading out. The rest of the run didn't get much better! It's fun to have a run that's so full of goofs every now and then.

Team: Our partners Helen and Tucker went clean, but Walter missed a tough weave entry and we weren't enough under time to make up for it. Video of this run will follow later.

Jumpers: My handling of the threadle was pretty bad - poor Walter had no idea the turn was coming. And my rear cross at the end - augh! But Walter ran great especially considering it was about 12 hours into his day. He got a Q and his Expert Jumpers Bronze title (10 Masters Standards Jumpers Qs). Yay Walter! The Expert Jumper! Ha. Now if only he could get an expert handler!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yes, yet another practice at Red Gate

At tonight's group practice we ran a couple of standard courses that we made up based on the obstacle layout that was already set up, then we practiced the mini and main gambles from the 2008 Alberta Regionals (Gamblers #3).

In the standard courses, Walter's first set of 12 weaves was good, then on his second and third runs he kept popping near the end. Sigh. Finally he managed to pull off a nice, fast, complete set of poles which are in the video below.

The tunnel/teeter mini wasn't an issue; the jump/tunnel/tire one needed some support to keep him out to the tire. The main gamble I broke down into jump/jump/tunnel then the tunnel/jump/jump then put it all together and he did great. I expected he might be reluctant to go ahead to the jumps, but I guess he had enough momentum going that it wasn't a problem.

Here's a short video:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One step forward, two steps backward...

Started working on some rear end awareness games in recent weeks (and we've only been doing agility for... how many years now? oh well, better late than never), with the secret hope that it may help Walter's weaves become more consistent. Plus, it's just plain fun. So far we've done walking backward, walking backward up stairs, and rotating around perch with hands on the perch, feet on the floor. Would like to have him walk through a ladder, only problem is I don't have one. Perhaps a visit to the hardware store is called for... I tried shaping him to put a rear foot onto an object on the floor, but it just wasn't happening. It was a LOT easier to shape walking backward up the stairs.

If you have a back feet awareness game you'd like to share, I'd love hear about it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Practice at Red Gate

A number of specific exercises were on today's to-do list, but who can say no to a fun Regionals course already set up and numbered? So we started with that, with the video camera rolling. Didn't film anything else so that the battery would last until the end for Lucy and Walter's playtime.

Ok, so I was listening to a "best of" Platinum Blonde CD in the car on the way to practice and heard this song and thought it begged to be used for a dog agility video. So I couldn't resist. There you have it.

These are the specific exercises we worked on:
- Zig zag rear crosses as demonstrated by Steve and Meeker of Agility Nerd. I don't know if I had the jumps too squished together, but our first few tries he ran way too far out ahead, running ahead clear past the next jump. So I had to really hang back and steer from behind.
- Across the feet, once again demonstrated by Steve and Meeker. Several local handlers make great use of this move, inspiring me to add it to our skill set. We got a start on it today.
- Back tunnel i.e. send them into one end of a c-tunnel, then back into the end they just came out of. Would come in very handy for some gambles. Didn't make much if any progress on this. If I was right there at the tunnel exit it was ok, but as soon as there was more distance he either wasn't picking up on the cue and came toward me or else turned around looking for some other obstacle.
- "Get out" to take the out-tunnel at a frame/tunnel discrimination. Oooh, we're rusty on this. Took the frame the first few times.

Lucy got some practice time too today which went really well.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Apples and oranges

A year ago, an agility instructor asked what had drawn me to having dogs of two very different breed types, Lucy being mostly scenthound and Walter mostly German shepherd. I had never thought about it that way before, but the more I thought about it the more I realized they really are very different from each other in so many ways, whether due to their breed or just normal dog to dog uniqueness. So, I thought I'd make a list of some of their differences.

To Lucy, strangers are friends she hasn't met yet who just might have something edible to give her. To Walter, strangers are to be approached with reservation and caution. (Though he has come a LONG way in this department thanks to a lot of helpful "strangers".)

Lucy is calm and sits quiety while waiting for her collar and leash to be put on for a walk. At the mention of "do ya wanna go fer...", Walter barks, spins, barks, jumps, barks, then finally leaps onto the stairs where he gets his collar and leash put on.

Riding in the car, Lucy is calm and quiet all the way between home and destination. Walter is fairly calm and quiet until we exit the highway. He has decided that the sound of the turn signal combined with my hand reaching for the stick shift as we exit the highway can only mean we're almost there. Cue hyperactive bark-barking for the next five minutes!

To Lucy, tugging and toys are ok for a few minutes, but nothing is more exciting than the prospect of something (anything) edible. For Walter, treats are ok, but nothing is more exciting than the prospect of a thrown toy or game of tug.

Lucy finds onleash walks and skijoring to be relaxing and enjoys every minute from start to end. So many smells to be smelled! Walter considers onleash walks and skijoring to be only a means of getting from point A to point B. "Are we there yet?"

Lucy can be offleash only where small furry animals or large furry deer are scarce. She has a good recall unless she's entered Hound Mode. Walter can be offleash anywhere and has a great recall.

Lucy is a resource guarder with other dogs (except Walter). She thinks all treats belong to her and Walter. Walter has no problem sharing his treats with other dogs and will sit politely beside them while everyone is given a treat.

Lucy is the submissive dog at home but seems to put on airs of dominance with strange dogs. Walter is the top dog at home but is not so sure of himself with strange dogs.

Lucy thinks big, tall, macho male dogs are the hottest thing ever. (Walter being the exception because he's just a big goof.) Walter thinks big, tall, macho dogs are kind of scary until he gets to know them.

Lucy snores to beat the band. Walter wakes himself up with a start everytime he farts.

At home, Lucy hangs out mostly in the living room regardless of where I am in the house unless it's the kitchen, in which case she is totally there. Walter will rouse himself from all but his deepest, coziest naptime slumber to follow me from room to room.

At home, when she's not hanging out in the living room, Lucy is always getting in my way and tripping me up (or vice versa, of course). Walter seems to know where I'm going before I do so we rarely trip over each other. (See Roxanne's post about this same difference between her two dogs.)

For all their differences, of course they have some things in common. For instance, both are terrific at walking on leash. If by walking on leash you mean pulling my arms out of their sockets!

Back to the instructor's question about why a hound and a german shepherd... The answer is that at the time I got Lucy and Walter I really didn't know anything about the different breeds (woops, bad dog adopter I was! no research at all! tsk tsk!) and wasn't involved in any dog sports at the time so my only criteria for a dog was that it be youngish. Through involvement in the dog sports community I've learned a lot about different breeds, so my next dog acquisition will be a bit more researched, though s/he will most likely be just another mutt looking for a home. :-)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tucker and Walter Team Relay

Here's the video of Tucker and Walter getting a Q in Team from our last trial, March 22nd. It was a miracle that Walter completed the weaves -- normally when he's going that slow it's a sure sign of an impending pop.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Red Gate practice

This week's courses were Jumpers 2 and Gamblers 1 from the 2008 Nationals. For the Jumpers, needed a few retries to get the opening line. For the Gamblers, well, we were not in the gambling zone tonight! We had trouble turning away from the tunnel to the teeter in the mini, and also with pushing out to jump #3 in the main. Lots to work on when the practice field opens...!