Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dream Fields trial

Poor Lucy. She's such a good girl, running for me (or trying to, at least) when she wasn't feeling well...

Advanced Snooker
I picked a relatively flowing course for her and despite my handling goofs we made it through to part of the closing, but I lost her after she came out of the #4 tunnel when she went off on a zoomy tangent to check out the nearby in/out gates and incurred a refusal. However, the great part is that she did two teeters in the opening with no problem, yay!

Advanced Jumpers
I bungled a front cross in front of the double so she knocked it, one of the few bars she's ever knocked in competition. Later on, she ran past a jump but I didn't bother going back to fix it. Then, when she did a nice rear cross into a tunnel I said "yes" or "good girl" or something and the classic tunnel bungle happened: she popped back out the entry end, d'oh! Overall it wasn't a terrible run but certainly not our best.

Starters Standard - Did not run
Lucy had been shaking her head a lot and scratching her left ear and a friend observed she was even holding her head at an off angle while running. Sure enough, she has an ear infection, poor girl. So I scratched her from Standard because she was obviously quite bothered by it and the last thing she needs is a bad experience on the dogwalk due to feeling off balance.

I have a feeling this ear problem may have played a part in Lucy's "scatterbrain" runs last weekend. I can't wait to get her all cleared up and get this girl back on track! She's so much better than her performances this weekend and last. Didn't get a chance today to see how her frame is doing since there was no frame in the Snooker course and she didn't do the Standard.

So no Qs for either of my dogs today, but we Q'd vicariously when one of our flyball teammates, a rescue who is working hard to overcome her issues, got a Q with a great Gamblers run. Woo hoo!

In completely unrelated news, Woo hoo! to Canada's own Jeffrey Buttle for delivering the goods at the World Figure Skating Championships, taking home the gold medal after today's fantastic free skate. I remember seeing him for the first time when I had tickets to the Canadian National Championships here in Ottawa in 1999. He was just a baby-faced teen at the time and even though he finished well out of the medals, everyone could see his promise even then. Talent, charisma, and great sportsmanship all the way to becoming World Champion! Wonderful to see someone who seems like a nice guy (of course, he could be a nasty, snobby creep in real life, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt...) come out on top. You can watch his gold medal winning free skate here.

Ahem... we now take you back to our regularly scheduled dogs-only programming.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Short and sweet practice

Well, as sweet as canned dog food is or isn't. After our flyball team's supplementary practice at K9 Sense this evening, I secretly placed a closed margarine tub full of canned food at the bottom of the specials-height frame where Lucy couldn't see it. Then, ran her through a tunnel and a few jumps before sending her over the frame. She took the frame with no refusal or hesitation, and after she discovered the delicious reward awaiting her she was even happier to do the frame again. Used the canned food to reward the 12-weaves a few times too, which she did with great enthusiasm knowing the sweet reward that was on the line. Next time I'll raise the frame to full height.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Trial; a-frame shame

Lucy ran in five classes at Morning Star today. Walter stayed home because I find it much more relaxing and enjoyable having only one dog to worry about when running in two different rings.

The first event was Advanced Jumpers, held in ring 1 which is very wide open. She ran in this ring once before, back in January and was a total scatterbrain. Well, history repeated itself and we were both total scatterbrains, with no connection whatsoever. I had to keep calling her name to try to keep her with me, and having to worry about trying to keep her with me didn't help me remember where we were going on course. It wasn't much fun for either of us and we sure gave that judge's arm a workout.

The rest of her runs were in ring 2 which has solid walls on three sides unlike the wide-open ring 1, and normally she's done fairly well there.

First up in ring 2 was Starters Standard #1. She did well except she ran past the frame and took a snaked-under tunnel to come back to me, incurring an off-course.

Next up was Standard #2. Again, she ran past the frame but I called her back and she took it without getting an off-course, and since refusals on contacts don't count in Starters she picked up a Q.

Then it was Starters Snooker. I went for a fairly flowing course rather than points, doing the #4 tunnel twice followed by the #7 12-weaves which she really slowed down in, popping at the last pole. (I just popped her back in to finish them off.) In the closing, she ran past the frame but came back and did it, but pausing at the top. We would have made it through to the end of the closing except she kept entering the weaves at the second pole. Anyway we had just enough points for a Q which finishes off her Starters games title.

Finally it was Steeplechase. What a disaster. It started off on the wrong note when two teeny bopper girls volunteering as ring crew right next to the start line were giggling and looking at Lucy just as I was finishing setting her up. So of course when I released her, what did she do, run right over to them with wagging tail to see what all the fun was about. Sigh. Ok, pick her back up and off we go. All was going well until we got to the frame. The frame was in the course twice, and both times she refused it. The first time I had to resort to the "look what I have" method to get her to take it. The second time, as soon as she saw it was the frame she went running off down a line of jumps. Would have been an amazing "go" line for a gamble, wow. When she came back she clearly wasn't interested in the frame so we didn't do it and finished the last two obstacles of the course. Oh yeah, and she wasn't into the weaves in the Steeplechase either.

I've known for a while that Lucy needs to take some time off from trialing soon to retrain her frame since I've abandoned 2o2o but haven't trained anything proper in its place. (That's what I meant by a-frame shame -- bad trainer, bad, bad trainer.) I've been hoping to just sort of wing it until then.

At this point I'm not suspecting her a-frame stress/avoidance is due to injury. In class a week or two ago she was doing just fine on the frame (although it may have been at specials height). She was also doing fine on the 12-weaves in class.

I think what's happening is (a) she's not fond of the regular height frame, especially doing 2o2o on it; and (b) she's not fond of the lack of any kind of performance criteria so the frame is a big cloudy uncomfortable mess in her mind. Throw in the general stress of a trial situation and she's not a happy a-frame camper. Also throw in that five classes in a day is too much for her at this point. (She was sleeping in the car between runs which is great but she didn't seem to fully wake up towards her last runs.)

It's too late to withdraw from her next two trials so we'll give them a go. Before her next trial I'm going to try using her Most Favourite Reward Ever (canned dog food) in conjunction with the frame and see what happens. Canned dog food worked wonders in getting her happy on the teeter and dogwalk (with which she had absolutely no issues today, yay) so we'll see what it does for the frame. Of course, the canned dog food is just a bandaid until the end of this round of trials at which point I promise her she gets a time out to retrain a happy frame (there are some great training ideas here and here).

Classes entered: 5 (Advanced Jumpers, Starters Standard 1 and 2, Starters Snooker, Steeplechase)
Qs: 2 (Starters Standard 2 and Snooker)
Bars knocked: 0
YPS: didn't track it
Title earned: Starters Games Dog of Canada (SGDC)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The trial that wasn't (well, for me and Lucy anyway)

While bloggers in gentler parts of the world herald the welcome arrival of spring, Mother Nature dropped over 50 cms of snow on us from Friday afternoon to this morning. On top of that, today there are also strong winds, gusting up to 50 km/h, doing just a dandy job of blowing all the fresh snow all over the highways.

Here's what the highway looks like in town where there's enough traffic to sort of have one decent lane in each direction; I don't want to think about what it looks like in the rural section I would have been driving today. Is that an ambulance driving toward the west side of the photo? The trial Lucy was signed up for is an hour and a half's drive on a good day, probably double that with today's road conditions. Normally I wouldn't be opposed to a drive that long except for the defensive driving stuff drilled into my brain from years back stating that everyone else on the road is an idiot, so drive accordingly. Today, that means don't drive at all. There goes $70 out the window as she would have run in two Starters Standards, her first try at Starters Snooker, and Advanced Jumpers. Sigh.

So instead of posting videos of the amazingly spectacular agility runs it's doubtless she would have put in today, here's a little video of the dogs going out for their morning pee (and since snow is so exciting, zooming back in to play living room zoomies). Somehow it doesn't look like 50 cms of snow -- I thought they would be swimming in it more. Geez, for all the trouble the snow brings, the least it could do is look a little more dramatic.

I supposed the good news is, skijoring season will be extended that much longer; too bad most of my upcoming weekends are already booked with other stuff. Ok I'll stop whining now!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lucy's last lesson for a while

Lucy was bright-eyed and chipper for her last lesson. Like Walter, she needs a lot of work on collection and turning tightly. I don't know but at this point I just like to get out there and have fun with her and I'm not particularly fussy about the details. Is that typical of people's attitudes with their first agility dogs? Just want to get out there and play and hopefully pick up a few titles along the way?

So yeah, unfortunately no more lessons for us for a long time as there are other spending priorities that need to be addressed.