Friday, July 31, 2009

Oh deer!

Look what we came across today! (Click on the photos to see more detail.)

After I had a chance to zoom in:

Of course, I reeled Lucy in and put Walter on leash and halti as soon as I saw them. The wind must have been wrong since the dogs didn't notice until I pointed them out. Lucy got excited and started barking and rearing but Walter kind of wondered what all the fuss was about. Actually I think he was probably scared but trying to come across as indifferent, secretly praying he wouldn't have to get any closer to the beasts.

This photo is my favourite from this morning's adventure - if you look closely at the detailed version you can see the deer at the right edge of the photo. This is the closest Lucy's ever been to a real live deer - she was a very happy hound.

This could have been a neat photo if I had the right camera and knew how to use it. Oh and I think it's time to re-adjust Lucy's halti.

One of the deer was quite interested and didn't stop staring at us, but the other seemed to want us to just move along. So we did.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Qualified for Nationals!

I haven't been posting much lately as I've spent the last month consumed with my "job" as Volunteer Scheduler for the 2009 AAC Nationals. 300+ volunteers and 1000+ shifts = oh. my. GOD! What a huge job. I think I sent and received more emails in the last two weeks than I have in my entire life. Thank goodness for the support and guidance of our Volunteer Coordinator Extraordinaire and for the amazing software program that made it possible. I can NOT imagine doing that by hand. [shudder] It was fun, and I was soooo impressed by how eager people are to help out, but I'm so happy to have my life back now!

So today was the one-day pre-qualifier for dogs who missed Regionals due to injury or other valid reasons. Like Regionals, there are six rounds (two Standards, two Jumpers, two Gamblers), judged on a points basis. Standards start with 100 points, Jumpers with 75 points, faults deducted. In Gamblers you keep all your opening points, then if you get the main gamble you get 35 points added to your opening score. Bonus points for being clean under time. There's the option to drop out after accruing the minimum 350 points required to qualify for Nationals.

I guess I ruined the suspense with the blog post title, but here's the play by play:

Standard #1: A really nice, flowing, straightforward course. Walter ran really well, no weave issues, stuck his teeter and dogwalk. We got 5 faults which I think must have been a missed frame contact (!). Score: 95 points.

Jumpers #1: Hmmm. Okay now I'm starting to stress a bit: Walter, Mr. Reliable Poopy Pants, has not yet had his second poop of the day. Please oh please don't poop in the ring... this would be a terrible first time for that! So anyway. I led out and Walter was a star, holding his sit-stay (well, with the usual creeping of course). However, in his haste to catch up he knocked a bar. Somewhere else he got a refusal. This was a challenging course, definitely making up for the easiness of the Standard. Score: 65 points. Aggregate: 160.

Gamblers #1: Still no action in the poop department! Gah! Well, as someone commented the other day, dogs aren't machines, so even Mr. Predictable Poops has the right to be unpredictable now and then. Well, this Gamblers course was super for Walter. He got both minis, one of which tested a distance dogwalk, the other a distance teeter. For a not-a-tunnel-suck, he sent out to his tunnels quite well. We were in a good place when the buzzer went and he did his thing great! The test was a distance frame and an out-tire. So he got the gamble! 76.78 points. Aggregate: 236.78.

Standard #2: Finally! He had a good BM before this run. Phew. Another pretty easy, non-trappy Standard and he went clean. Given all his weave-popping in practice lately, I was amazed that he didn't pop despite it being so hot. What a good boy: 108.75 points. Aggregate: 345.53.

Jumpers #2: Man, another brutal Jumpers course. It was not pretty. Walter was clearly tired and hot and I was not exactly on my game so we ended up with 3, count'em, 3 refusals. But, at least we managed to avoid costly offcourses. 56.47 points. Aggregate: 402.

Gamblers #2: Woot! We'd already scored the minimum 350 points, so we didn't run this. No point, much rather save his enthusiasm for the weekend.

But, we did go and do the warmup run after the Jumpers. 90 seconds to do whatever you want. Toys/food weren't allowed, so I petted him up for sticking his contacts. He seemed to enjoy the relaxed, easygoing time in the ring.

I scratched him from the Steeplechase tomorrow since that was to be my consolation prize if we didn't qualify. So, we'll enjoy a nice day off tomorrow and be ready for an EARLY start to the day on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Last qualifier prep fun match

A bit of a shock to find that the Standard course tonight was the Challenge course from Sunday! Well, we gave it a try. It really wasn't a good run - I went into it in defeatist mode, and Walter wasn't enjoying it. Our second try I ran him at 16" instead of 22" and went into it with a better attitude; he looked MUCH happier this time. It was fun trying the tricky handling bits and I just kept going when we went off course. Oh I should mention we tried the weaves in our first run but once again he kept popping at pole 10. Not wanting to demotivate him, we skipped the weaves on the second run.

We did just one try on the Gamblers course since it was getting late. Unlike other fun matches, this one I treated like a real run instead of just practicing the gambles. We ran at 22" this time since it was a nice wide open course. Walter ran great, getting a mini twice (tunnel to jump) and the main gamble in time. The challenges in the main gamble were a distance frame (heading away from the line) and an out tunnel with an offcourse jump possibility. I wasn't sure if he'd do the frame but he was pretty confident, and the out tunnel wasn't a problem.

This was probably our last practice before the one-day qualifier next week. My goal is to avoid costly off-courses but at the same time not overmanage him and keep him happy. If we don't qualify for Nationals then we'll do one of the Steeplechases on Friday just for the fun of it and then get ready to watch lots of great teams!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dogz trial

Three classes for Walter at today's trial, held at the beautiful Dogz facility. Those folks sure know how to put on a fun, friendly, relaxed trial.

Gamblers: One of our best Gamblers runs: I didn't flake out and get all panicky in the opening; Walter did both mini gambles (one tested a distance dogwalk and the other was a straight forward jump-tunnel-jump line); when the buzzer went we were pretty close to the main gamble; in the main gamble, Walter sent out really well to the tunnel on the far side of the frame/tunnel discrimination. Too bad I mishandled the part after that so he ran past a jump, but we would have been a bit over time anyway. Still, I was really happy with this run.

Snooker: Yay, a no-weaves Snooker course! Walter ran super well and attentively; dopey me caused him to backjump in the closing after yet another fumbled rear cross.

Jumpers: Surprisingly, Walter had a really nice energy level despite the increasing heat. He ran great and lucky me, all of the crosses were at tunnels! Though I came close to messing us up with a near fall after the first tunnel. But I stayed on my feet and Walter stayed on his and we came home with a Q. Not sure how he managed to keep the bar up on that yellow in the far end of the ring - I think he was on the wrong lead. Thanks to Nat for catching this run on video:

Ever since Walter's down time from his lump removal, we haven't quite been in the agility groove, but at this trial we were back on track. He's such a good boy. I wasn't sure how it would go since I had the impending farewell to our old cat friend on my mind, but Walter didn't seem to distressed by any sad vibes. He was probably just glad to be out of the house.

Oh and today I got to see the new Challenge class for the first time. It confirmed my desire to NOT enter this for a long time. It was basically a huge Snooker course. Almost every obvious obstacle was an offcourse. Ugh. I used to run Snooker courses asking Walter to jog at my side the whole time and though he was very good at that it really wasn't much fun for either of us. So nope, we won't be doing Challenge any time soon. As one competitor with a long striding big dog put it, it was a 23 obstacle course that required 22 "HERE!!"s! Lol.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No flank steak for supper

A problem Walter and I have been having lately is he seems to have forgotten that in this game of agility that we play, I'm the one who's allowed to do the rear crosses, not him. Well, I've started noticing that when we're out for an offleash walk, he crosses behind me *constantly* and now that I think about it, he's always done this. I've heard of some trainers who never, even when not doing agility, allow their dog to cross behind them; I guess I can see why!

So this week we've started working a simple exercise twice a day as a reminder. For his breakfast and supper, I place the bowl ahead and out to one side, with a lid on it so he can't reward himself for flanking me. I lead out such that he has to go around me on the opposite side of the bowl and we post turn to his reward.

The first few meals he needed a couple of tries before he understood, but this morning he was bang on and confident.

Gotta love simple exercises that can be done in the comfort of home!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fun match

In the first Standard course, Walter could not for the life of him complete the weaves without popping. Revved him up before each resend but still he'd pop at the tenth pole. Afterwards someone suggested it may be because he was looking at me anticipating a toy, which makes sense. Oh well. He had fun on that run, was nice and peppy.

In Snooker, I asked the judge to really follow him closely along the dogwalk since he got spooked by that at a trial recently; well, maybe it's because he knows this judge too well, but he wasn't worried at all about it this time.

The Big Oh-Five!

Happy birthday Walter! Five years ago today, a sweet stray dog gave birth to ten puppies only a short time after being rescued from homelessness and arriving at her foster home.

They all found great homes, including his mom. Just a slight bit of family resemblance eh?

Walter on the day we met, about five weeks old.

Walter at two and a half months, in the middle of one of his awkward ear stages.

All grown up. This photo is from a few years ago but is one of my favourites. So happy and relaxed.

Here he is, officially five years old, keeping our elderly, ailing cat Gizmo company.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Qualifier prep fun match #3

Standard and Gamblers today. Once again, the Standard had two sets of 6-weaves instead of 1 set of 12-weaves. What the! Surprisingly, he didn't have trouble with the slightly soft sided entry but did with the wrap entry - took a few tries before he entered the right side.

Gamblers: The mini was a threadle at a distance - brutal. We tried, but no cigar. The main gamble was a straightforward tunnel/jumps sequence which wasn't a problem.