Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Qualifier prep fun match #2

Today was Jumpers followed by Standard. The handling of the Jumpers course involved a lot of standing and pointing while the dog circled around, which neither Walter nor I get particularly excited by, so our enthusiasm level wasn't great. In fact, at one point Walter trotted between two jumps - oy! Oh and this was the type of course that not only had a lot of offcourse options, but also was really hard to remember - a lot of going over the same jumps and through the same tunnels again and again, so any momentary "where am I going again?" was rewarded by a guaranteed offcourse. If I'm not mistaken, all of us forgot where we were going, at least once. And, um, some of us a lot more than once. :-)

Standard: Warmed up first by putting him through the weaves once rewarding with his soccer ball. Then, secretly gave the soccer ball to the judge to throw for him if he did good weaves during the course. I thought it was a pretty straight forward course but he surprised me with an offcourse at the teeter. Looking at it after though it was no wonder since I had set him up at the startline looking staight at it. Anyway, he weaved great twice and got the surprise soccer ball reward both times. Good dog!

There was light rain during our first Standard and it started coming down more heavily during our second so it was a good opportunity to give lots of reward in the rain since going out and deliberately practicing in the rain isn't exactly the highest on my to-do list...

He stuck all his dogwalks and teeters today, what a good boy.

Oh but once again he (almost) flanked me, ignoring my front cross and heading for the wrong tunnel entrance. Interesting trend in him since we started practicing again after his foot episode.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Qualifier prep fun match

Walter's not going to be doing a lot of agility practice this summer since he gets flat quickly in the heat, so we'll be taking advantage of a series of fun matches that use previous Regionals or Nationals courses as our main form of practice for the next while. Plus they're in the evening, so it's not tooooo hot.

We went to our first one tonight and had a great time. First it was Standard. A pretty straightforward course with 2 sets of 6-weaves instead of the usual 12-weaves. I would sure love to see that more often! The first set he got the entry and popped immediately, possibly because I rear crossed, but the rest he did well including another rear cross.

Then it was Gamblers, and it was the same course we had set up a few months ago. He got the jump/frame/tunnel gamble great on his second and third try (on the first I had fumbled my timing for frame to tunnel), and the final gamble posed no problem at all on both tries.

Both courses involved a flip away from frame to tunnel -- the judge suggested I should be careful with the timing of the flip cue because he responds quickly, so if it's too early he's prone to leaving the frame before hitting the yellow.

Oh and another thing I'll need to remember for summer trials: he slows right down in the heat so his commitment point is pretty different than normal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fun match - Dogwalk!?!?

Lucy and Walter shared a spot, Lucy taking the two Standard runs and Walter the two Gamblers.

On his first run I tried having the judge feed him at the start line while I led out, but he was quite sure this was an evil plot to distract him so that I could run away and abandon him forever and ever, so he had none of that. Oh well.

Lots of troubles - I mean, challenges and things to work on. Let's see...

- dogwalk/tunnel discrimination a few jumps into the course with no lead out

- dogwalk: He strided over the contact AGAIN!! Egads!! I mean, what the!? This is a dog whose dogwalk I have never ever ever had to worry about. But then the Gamblers run last weekend, and now this one -- Well, but the rest of his dogwalks today were fine.

- distance teeter: He used to have this but it's been a while so better dust it off before trying it in competition again.

- flip away contact to tunnel: the mini gamble of frame to tunnel went great, but the main dogwalk to tunnel wasn't happening as there was a nearby tunnel in front of him that he kept taking instead of the one under the dogwalk.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gadzooks! I mean, All Dogs trial, Day 2

Three runs today:

Gamblers: This was just after Lucy had done a fabulous job on her return-to-trialing run, so I was not entirely present for Walter's first run of the day. It started out decently enough, then all of a sudden he jumped over his second dogwalk contact!!!!!! To understand the gravity of the situation you must know that Walter has NEVER, EVER, not in practice or trials, missed a dogwalk contact! Once in a while he won't stick 2o2o, but at least he's always trotted through the yellow. After that our run went to pot as I tried to recover from the sheer shock of it all. It wasn't pretty. Got a 16-point mini gamble (that was before The Incident) and could potentially have gotten the main gamble but I was late on a "pip" cue for turning away from frame to tunnel and we ran out of time anyway.

Jumpers: An ok run, but definitely on the slow side. What a good dog to run in the heat for me. Picked up a Q.

Snooker: Wow, Walter really sprang back with great energy! Not sure if it's because clouds had rolled in or what, but it was great to see. It was such a neat course offering lots of flow, tunnels and jumps only (woo hoo! like yesterday's Snooker, no weaves! this judge is great :D), with everything multi-directional in the opening AND the closing. Never have I seen anything like that. A ton of people went for four reds with a really nice flowing course but I hadn't thought to do it so hadn't walked it, so I stuck with the original plan. Could definitely have thrown in a fourth red as he finished in 38 seconds with a Q.

TO WORK ON: At least three times this weekend I took my eyes off my dog and lost track of him, resulting in not so great stuff. Need to remember to keep an eye on him. Also need to do some work to remind him that blind crosses are a no-no. But considering other than one short practice on Thursday he hasn't done agility in six weeks, I think he did a great job.

Oh and Walter received a ton of compliments on his new cool coat. Doesn't it look spiffy? The sponge-like fabric stays wet and cool for a long time and did an amazing job. Walter doesn't take heat very well, but provided he was in the shade and wearing his coat, he wasn't even panting despite highs of 24 (26 with humidex) (75-79 Fahrenheit).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

All Dogs trial - Day 1

Glad to be back in the trial ring! In keeping with my promise to Walter to limit his summer trial load, today he was entered in only two classes, Snooker and Jumpers, which were the first of the day.

Snooker: This run felt mushy, not surprising I guess considering his long layoff. First, he was a bit nervous of the judge on the first dogwalk contact so didn't do 2o2o. Then, he paused for a few seconds on the teeter after tipping it, looking worriedly at the nearby sideline. But it was a fun course, with (WOOT!) no weaves, and the #7 was a single tunnel. Gave him a nice smooth opening and made it through to #6 of the closing before running out of time. So a Q, but not a particularly nice one.

Jumpers: Definitely a better and happier run than the Snooker, but with an off course and a run-by on the last jump. Here are some shots from Jumpers:

Trying to push myself to race Walter instead of jogging along at his side. This resulted in taking my eyes off my dog quite a bit...

... And here's where we went off course ("don't take your eyes off your dog!"):

I've gotten ahead of him again, driving a straight line of jumps, so he opens up to leave out a stride.

Back for a few more runs tomorrow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back at it!

Today was Walter's first agility practice in six weeks. His foot's all healed up now so he's good to go.

Was our first session using green fee time at a great facility that also hosts fun matches and trials.

It was hot and muggy so we didn't do too much but despite the heat I did ask for one set of 12-weaves which he did great! Happy soccer ball party for that.