Sunday, August 31, 2008

Guides Canins trial

Our first time at the gorgeous Guides Canins facility in Saint Lazare. Lucy was entered in only two runs, one Saturday morning and one Sunday morning. No expectations, just wanted to give her some ring time and see how she'd do at a different venue.

Saturday morning: Advanced Jumpers

The opening straight line went well but after that we fell to pieces, both of us completely discombobulated. I got lost on course for the first time ever but didn't realize it until we were on the closing line when I thought hey, how come we never got to the chute? and the bunch of jumps before and after the chute? woops :-) From watching the video it looks like Lucy had a combination of excitement and stress, but at least she wasn't stressed to the point where the exit gate became an irresistable magnet. Oh and she had a strange stumble on the turn after one of the jumps towards the end. Here's the video:

Sunday morning: Advanced Gamblers

Wanted to enter her in just one run early in the morning. Since Jumpers wasn't until late in the day, our choice was between Snooker and Gamblers. While we would have stood a better chance at Qing in Snooker (since we never practice distance), I figured Gamblers would be the better choice for us as the Mean Yelling Snooker Handler in me would not get the chance to take over. Some good news is she did the 12-weaves, yay! However, I made the mistake of putting her over the frame since it provided a way of continuing a nice line. The frame faced the exit gate so then off she went to the exit... then she came back in the ring, and soon after the buzzer went, at which point she ran right back to the exit and visited the scribe and timer, BUT the good news is she eventually did come back so we tried the gamble. She took the wrong end of the tunnel (no surprise there) and then made no attempt whatsoever at 2o2o on the dogwalk (actually she jumped clear over the yellow) and left the ring. We would have had nowhere near enough opening points to Q even if she had done the gamble. This run didn't get caught on video so we are all spared from having to watch it again.

Later on when I was discussing Lucy's issues with someone, she suggested that Gamblers is not necessarily a good event for a dog with stress issues because often the obstacles are not laid out in a way that you can design a nice, flowing course. I hadn't thought about it that way but totally see her point.

Lucy had a nice massage by the on-site dog masseuse afterwards which she quite enjoyed.

I have to say, while I'm not sure what the future holds for Lucy's agility "career", she is such a wonderful dog to just hang around the show site with. Easygoing, quiet, and knows how to kick back and relax in the sun. The only thing I need to keep an eye on her about is to make sure she hasn't, isn't, or isn't about to stick her snout in someone's unmonitored treat pouch or lunch bag :-D

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August K9 Kup

Mixed results on this one. Standard wasn't too bad; I think her lapses were more excited in nature rather than stress because she was quick to come back to me; however, her fabulous go line (which I didn't ask for) at the end seemed stressy and she ran out of the ring by herself. Snooker was going well until she took back to back reds, but she seemed happy enough so I don't mind. Gamblers was ok, except I accidentally put her through Walter's opening instead of hers which called for the teeter instead of the frame. She didn't seem happy on the frame and paused at the top. Again, a stressy line at the end where she ran out of the ring by herself, missing the last jump of the gamble, too bad!

In retrospect, it actually looks better (i.e. Lucy looks happier) on the video than it felt while we were running.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A-frame box practice

Re-read the first steps of the Clean Run article and realized I've been missing the step of throwing the treat into the box before throwing a treat outside of the box. So we gave that a try at the field today (box on ground, now with additional sponge at corners for slightly better visibility in grass). She was having fun, but when I back up from the box she tends to come to me, then upon getting no reinforcement she turns around and goes into the box but it's from the side rather than the "top". Hmmm. Might just be worthwhile to buy the DVD they're putting together on this training method.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A-frame box update

We gave it another go with the pvc box on the ground at the agility field today. The problem last time we tried this was that the box disappeared in the grass. So, I attached a little sponge at each corner thinking that would help raise it and make it more visible. Well, while the piddly little sponges make it perfectly visible on the living room carpet, they do next to nothing in the grass. So, back to the drawing board; I'll have to put a few sponges on each corner I guess. Oh and the other problem that we don't have at home on the living room carpet is I can't throw our usual treats in the grass because they disappear and it takes Lucy forever to find them. Ok, so our action plan is to (1) find a way to raise the frame a bit higher off the ground so it doesn't get swallowed up in the grass, and (2) find some large, light-coloured treats for throwing.

As the days get shorter and the end of green fee season starts to approach, I concede that Lucy's frame retraining will not be finished this year. Heck we've barely started it! So, my plan is to really get the groundwork part of it down pat over the fall and winter and next spring be ready to put it to the equipment. Trialing-wise, I'm encouraged by following the current thread on the Clean Run mailing list about Rachel Sanders' pvc box method: it's ok to keep trialing as long as you're still on the groundwork part of it. It's once you start putting the box on the frame that it's a good idea to take some time out from doing frames in trials.

Check out Emily Snider's You Tube videos for some neat footage of her border collie's progress with the pvc box method. Here's her most recent frame training video:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dogz Advanced trial... in which Lucy has a 100% Q rate!

Ok, so she was entered in only one class. ;-P She ran the Advanced Jumpers course. Didn't put her in the other games because of the frame retraining and not wanting to overdo it with her at trials.

She ran very attentively and stayed with me the whole time, yay! But, her happiness level wasn't at full-on 100% Happy Girl. I'd give her a 3.5 or 4 out of 5 on the Happy scale.

Couple of things I noticed from the video... I rely way too much on the off arm, such as to bring her in after a turn to avoid her running past the next jump... and, holy moly I can't cue a tight turn to save my life. Actually that kind of thing (efficient turns) is the last thing on my mind both when walking a course and running it. But jeez maybe it's time to start eh!

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Quick practice to work on rear crosses in anticipation of possibly wanting to use one or two at tomorrow's Jumpers run. She doesn't really "get" rear crosses because, well, I haven't worked on them much with her. Poor Lucy, always the neglected one. She spun at first but after a bit of work she was picking it up better.

Also, put her through the 12-weaves at the field with the good weaves and she was looking great: excited and happy!