Sunday, December 23, 2007

The year in summary

Here's a compilation video of Lucy playing agility and flyball as well as doing some skijoring, in 2007. She's been so much fun to play and learn with and I look forward to further developing our skills together in 2008.

Monday, December 17, 2007

More weave entry practice

Eeeps! I'm pretty excited -- she's now doing 90 degree entries to the left. She's 100% if I'm standing at the end of the 3-weaves but needs more practice with me at other stations.

Here's an ultra-short video to celebrate this success. Of course there are a million things we need to do to proof this, but that will come... there's only so much space in the living room. :-)

Note the feline at the top of the cat tree in the second clip. I can't tell if he's preparing an ambush or simply being thoughtful enough to provide some distraction training.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Home practice: weave entries

Have been working her off side entries, or wrap side entries, whatever it's called, when they approach from the left and have to wrap around the first pole, at home every once in a while but not very religiously. Being all snowed in at home today I felt like bringing the weaves out again (only using 3 poles). Well, she is really getting it now. She's getting the correct entry with her at about 8 o'clock (assuming the poles are at noon) while I stand at various places. It's exciting to see her progress and she has fun too. With her terrific enthusiasm for treats she would make a great trick dog if only I was more inspired. Speaking of inspiration, check out for some very neat stuff.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Guides Canins trial (Montreal Olympic Stadium)

Lucy sporting red in the blue province


(Sorry, just couldn't resist that one :-)

Guides Canins hosted a trial in conjunction with the Salon National des Animaux de Compagnie, a huge companion animal exhibition held annually at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal (host city for the 1976 Olympics). Along with the agility trial was a flyball tournament, disc competition, obedience competition, show dog competition, and tons of exhibitors including many who gave away free samples of stuff, woo hoo. It was pretty funny, you could easily tell who was there to compete in flyball/agility vs. those competing in the show dog thing. Some pretty fancy pants in that ring!

We stopped in Friday evening to do a couple of runs in the show'n'go, and she handled the dogwalk and teeter well. Then on Sunday, the real fun began.

Starters Standard

Given Lucy's teeter and dogwalk history, I was going to scratch her from this class because the dogwalk was right up against the edge of the ring along which most of the audience gathered. But, luckily the class ran before the arena opened to the public, so there was no audience to speak of. So, we gave it a go. She didn't look happy descending the frame so I decided once and for all to stop insisting on 2o2o for the frame. Come to think of it, she was quite comfortable with 2o2o on a Specials height frame, but has never liked it at the regular height. So.... really need to take some time out at some point and train a proper running frame... Anyway. She was slow and hesitant on the teeter but I let her figure it out on her own and she did it, yay! Then, only a tunnel separated it from the dogwalk, which she was very hesitant about. Took her around again to get a fresh approach and she did it, yay! She held 2o2o on both obstacles. She had a nice run but all of the hesitation ate up time and we ended up .3 of a second over.

Starters Jumpers

She was looking not very energized as we went into the ring and didn't seem to be running at her fastest, but turns out her YPS was 4.4 which isn't bad. Despite feeling slow, she had good focus and ran well, taking the only Q and therefore first place out of the 8 dogs in total who ran the course. On her post-run walk she was quick to do a #2, so that could explain some of her slowness in the ring, poor girl!

The crowd for Steeplechase.

Wow, by this point the crowd was at a max and the atmosphere was really fun. Luckily for whatever reason in agility I generally don't get nervous about being watched, because there were hundreds in the audience. So, off we went. The weaves were the third obstacle, and she *walked* through them. I had no idea she was capable of weaving so slowly. Walter can't weave at all unless he has some speed. So it was no surprise that she popped at pole 10. Fiddled around to get her to pass through the last two poles. For the rest of the run her speed was very decent. A couple of goofups including one in perfect time to the music (spin in front of a tunnel) and taking the scenic route around another tunnel, purely to entertain the crowd, I'm sure. It was a really fun run.

Lucy's Steeplechase run

A few more photos:

Competitor's eye view

Checking out the crowd in the overhanging seating area

Ready to play!

Apologies for the wonky image/caption formatting but it's the best I can figure out right now.

In summary, it was a fun venue and Lucy handled herself really well. I like to think her flyball experience at a variety of tournaments and facilities where the sounds of dozens of madly barking dogs echoes round and round helped prepare her for playing agility in a wildly distracting environment like this one.

Temperature: about 5 outside, but pretty warm inside (~20)
Classes entered: 3 (Starters Standard, Starters Jumpers, Steeplechase)
Qs: 1 (Starters Jumpers)
Time/SCT: 74.3/74 (Starters Standard), 25.23/34 (Starters Jumpers), 59.95/43 (Steeplechase)
YPS: 4.4 (Starters Jumpers)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Morning Star trial (Quarry Sportsplex, Kingston)

Lucy, Walter, and I piled into the car dark and early at 4:30 this morning for a road trip to Kingston. Lucy had only two classes today, both Starters Standard.


The venue was one we've never been to, one of those gigantic bubble buildings used for soccer and other sports. To maintain the air pressure in the building (or something like that), the only door available for use is a revolving door and the change in air pressures causes the ears to pop. Both dogs handled the door situation and articificial turf just fine. It was quite a nice venue and the atmosphere in the Masters ring was pretty cool with the lighting and all. The Starters/Advanced ring wasn't so fancy but still did the job.

Starters Standard #1

Her run was going pretty well (aside from an unheld frame contact) until I called her to me to try to collect her before the teeter. The intention was to prevent another scary teeter incident. Well, this was the wrong strategy to employ because immediately after responding to my call, she shut down and went into about 20 seconds of stress paw-licking/biting (not related to her now-healed paw cut which was on a different foot). That's her default stress behaviour in general, but I had never ever seen her do it in agility. Eventually she came out of it and we continued. Did the teeter just fine and had a great tail-wagging table. She skipped a pole late in the weaves but got them on the retry. She ran past one of the jumps in the closing line but we just kept going anyway. Oh, and she held 2o2o on the dogwalk which was the second obstacle of the course.

Starters Standard #2

Well this was a very different Lucy from a few hours ago! She seemed a lot more confident and was having more fun. I made no issue of the teeter and what do you know, she handled it just fine. Nice confidence on the dogwalk too, far improved over the first run today. On the down side, no sight of 2o2o on the frame or dogwalk. Understandable for the frame because earlier this fall I briefly experimented with not requiring a 2o2o but later decided to stick to 2o2o until I can properly retrain to a running contact, so no wonder she's confused about it, poor dog. But the dogwalk contact expectation has always been 2o2o. Will have to take advantage of the training allowed rule next time... but this time the Q was just too darn tempting since the dogwalk was the second last obstacle. So she got her first Starters Standard Q, taking second to a sharp young border collie.

Starters Standard #2

Some stats...
Temp: mainly sunny, 5 degrees outside but a toasty ~18 degrees inside
Pre-trial exercise: none
Classes entered: 2 (Starters Standard #1 and #2)
Qs: 1 (Starters Standard #2)
Time/SCT: 101.06/68 (Starters Standard #1), 49.87/67 (Starters Standard #2)
YPS: 3.01 (St St #2)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

No trial for Lucy this weekend

Had to scratch Lucy from this weekend's trial due to a little cut on one of her foot pads that didn't quite heal in time. She would have run in Advanced Gamblers, Starters Snooker, and Steeplechase. Oh well. At least it's an "easy" injury that should heal quickly.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Practice (home) - weave entries

Determined to do some good work towards "challenging" (ie anything other than pretty much straight on!) weave entries this winter, brought out the living room weaves for the first time in a long time. Set up four poles and worked the soft side entry. Did two short sessions today and by the end of it she looked to be getting more confident at it, with her at about 4 and a half o'clock. (Earlier in the day that was too much for her as she'd enter at the second pole.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fun match (Dream Fields) - Teeter success!

Dream Fields held a fun match in conjunction with an AAC judge's clinic, which was a fabulous opportunity to test Lucy's teeter confidence. It was at Dream Fields earlier this month that Lucy had a big scare on the teeter, and since I don't train there and they rarely have fun matches as far as I know, this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. My single goal for the match was for her to do the teeter (and dogwalk, of which she was also afraid after her teeter scare) and hopefully to do it with confidence.

The dogwalk (which is the springiest of the dogwalks she's ever been on) was the third obstacle of the Standard course, and as she began to climb the upramp she slowed and looked very unsure, but she continued up with no encouragment needed. Later in the run, I collected her after the tunnel which preceeded the teeter, and then - the moment of truth. She did the teeter with only a slight hint of hesitation, again no encouragement from me was needed. A nice tasty treat for Lucy got us whistled off the course, but since they were encouraging participants to break the rules for the sake of the judges-in-training, they allowed those of us whose rule-breaking resulted in elimination to have a rerun. For the rerun, she had no hesitancy at all on the dogwalk, and again did the teeter with full confidence. No treat this time since we had used up our treat-giving quota.

For Gamblers, I was planning to not even attempt the dogwalk or teeter since she had already had four successes. But then, while I was trying to position her for the gamble after the whistle blew, she decided she'd rather do the nearby teeter instead. Well, that was just fine with me and we ended the run with that. :-)

Non-teeter/dogwalk related notes:
- While on the table she noticed the judge doing the count down and became nervous about him. She stared at him and had an uncomfortable air about her, as if wondering what the heck he was staring at her for, and why he was apparently talking to himself. This was extremely strange behaviour for Lucy, who's a total social butterfly with people, men included.
- On one of her Starters courses, she kept entering the 6-weaves at the second pole. We retried them two times but she kept doing it so I just kept going.
- Both Standard courses were good overall, as was her first try at the Gamblers, but on her Gamblers rerun (due to timer malfunction) she became a bit scatterbrained, running past obstacles left right and center.

Anyway, I'm just extremely glad (and relieved!) that she did so well on the teeter and dogwalk.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Practice (K9S)

A short practice throwing the teeter into some sequences. What a difference over last Sunday -- no teeter hesitation at all today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Practice (KK9)

Today was Lucy's first time on the KK9 teeter, which is quite different from other ones she's been on in that it's made of lightweight aluminum. Anyway, after warming up I took her to it as the last of a little sequence and she was on the hesitant side, but completed it with no urging from me. Ran to the setup area for some super duper treats. Did it several more times and she showed increased confidence, no hesitation. Later on, I moved it to another area of the field and it happened that now she was near the fence when taking it, looking out onto a busy scene with construction machinery and kids playing (how's that for an odd combination of distractions). The first time, she hopped off before it started to tilt. I said nothing, let her wander around for a second and then encouraged her to try it again. This time she succeeded; party time as before, and she was fine on it for the rest of the session.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Practice (BF)

Today we played a game with the teeter. She was rewarded with the super duper treats, but this time I left the treats at our setup area. So she had to do the teeter, get a regular treat at 2o2o, then we ran to get the super duper treats. Also I've started using the teeter cue again. She's fine with this teeter again, and the hope is that when she hears "teeter" at a new place, she'll eagerly do it and know that she'll be well rewarded for it even if I don't have the goods right there with me.