Sunday, January 23, 2011

Agility Boy

Well, Beckett is now an agility boy with his first trial under his belt. He did wonderfully although there definitely is room for much improvement for both of us.

Our first run was a Starters Jumpers.  The first obstacle was a chute. I've only just started practicing lead-outs with a tunnel and so far we haven't had much success so I didn't want to try leading out at the trial. Otherwise I would have led out to jump 2 and run with Beckett on my left, instead I had him on my right and had to try a rear cross at the first tunnel.  Beckett doesn't like rear crosses to tunnels and so got a little spinny before the tunnel. That incurred us 5 faults; something that's changed since I began with Ceilidh and Tucker is that now there are refusals in Starters on jumps and tunnels. The rest of the run was beautiful and we finished in 35.5 seconds on a course that had a standard course time of 54 seconds. 
Starter Jumpers
Our next run was a Gamblers class.  I wanted to put Beckett through the weaves as they were going to be in the same place for the Standard and they were also the four point obstacle.  We messed around far too long on the weaves and I didn't get him to do them off-side, but we did get them done twice.  The main Gamble was two jumps and a chute. There looked like there was a nice line from the tunnel into the Gamble and that's the way I walked the course too. But after having seen a few dogs curl back into their handler after the tunnel I decided to try and just send Beckett out to the jump. He did that part just fine but didn't stay out between jump 2 and the chute. He did finally get out to the chute. I'll have to remember to take a bit of time to get into the right position before sending him back. Without electronic timing, we didn't know if we got the Gamble in time. 

Starter Gamblers

Our next and last run was a Starter Standard. Beckett had nice contacts but he was slow on the frame and he was slow going down on the table. He also didn't collect enough to get the weave entry but once in them he did them beautifully.  The scary part was a spin he did between the tire and the next jump. I was sure it would be called as a refusal but friends who were watching said the judge didn't call it. After watching the video, she may have given him the benefit of the doubt as the spin was early and he seemed to be moving forward in the last third of the distance between the obstacles. 
Starter Standard

Turns out we did get the Gamble with the minimum number of opening points and only 2 seconds to spare on the Main Gamble so we finished the trial with two Q's (qualifying scores); a great start to Beckett's agility career.  I was very glad to be back in the ring competing. Beckett's runs had flashes of Ceilidh so I'm sure she was with us in spirit. Tucker was there too as Beckett's big brother, cheerleader and coach. The weather, while very cold, was sunny so the drive to the trial arena and the drive home were nice. Next up is another fun trial in February then two official trials in March. You never know I might have a Advanced Agility boy by the spring.

Go Beckett Go!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Tomorrow, 21 January 2011 marks Ceilidh's 8th birthday. There are some days when I still find not having her in my life extremely difficult. This has been especially true when I've had a particularly good day with Beckett. At the end of the day I usually find, as the song "Just a Dream" says; "I was thinkin about her, thinkin about me. Thinkin about us, what we gonna be? Open my eyes, yeah; it was only just a dream." And it's hard waking from the dream as I had expected Ceilidh to be with me for many more years.

As hard as it may be sometimes, I do find it helps to look at old photos and video so I decided to do a video collage of photos of my three Angels at the Bridge: Duffy, Gryffon and Ceilidh. The rainbow clip in the video is due to the thoughtfulness of Lyne L and was taken at the first fun trial that Beckett was entered in after the loss of my dear little Ceilidh.

I hear people say that they have a "heart dog" and I find it difficult to understand how one dog could be a "heart dog" while another is not. My Angels were such wonderful souls, each different but each held a special place in my heart. Maybe I've been lucky and they were all my "heart dogs". 

I don't want this post to be maudlin but rather a celebration of the time I had with them, just wish that time could have been longer. So I'll end this post with some lyrics from Just a Dream and Halo:

"And now they're gone and you wish you could give them everything."

But at least "Standing in the light of your halos, I got my angels now".

Never far from my thoughts and forever in my heart!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This weekend, Beckett and I had a fun trial at Red Gate Arena. Tucker came along as a spectator; I think he enjoyed being with us but was a little miffed at not getting to play, a few hot dogs helped him get over it. It was really cold in the arena and it was snowing outside all day but we had a good time.

The runs at this fun trial were a Standard course and a Jumpers. I had decided before going, we would do the Starters level and the Masters level for my two runs on each course.  We ended up doing the Masters Jumpers twice.  Unfortunately, only part of the Starter Standard run was videoed, Beckett did great except for taking the wrong end of one tunnel and not wanting to do off side weaves.  
Masters Standard

Masters Jumpers
In the Masters Standard run, he wouldn't stay in the weaves. We've been having some difficulty with off-side weaves but I was happy that he got his entry from a tunnel.  He also didn't get out to the number 8 jump but did really well getting out to the tire and wrapping the number 16 jump.  The tunnel-jump-tunnel combination, I had seen in our Starters run and both times Beckett took the wrong entry but do you think I changed the way I handled it.  No, why would I do that, so he still took the wrong entry. Bad Momma! We are working on get-outs in class and I can see that is still an area where we both need work.

The first time I ran the Masters Jumpers I led out to the wing of jump 2 which made Beckett go straight for the tunnel. Good dog, Beckett! I realized after watching a few other people run the course, that a lateral lead-out was needed. I knew I couldn't go as far as some people did, but tried leading out between jumps 1 and 2 with lateral distance towards obstacle 3. It worked and Beckett barely glanced at the tunnel. I again saw that we need work on get-outs when Beckett had difficulty from the tunnel to jump number 5. I saw a lot of dogs having the same difficulty though, probably because the dogs turn back to where they knew their handler was when coming out of the tunnel. In the video, we run the course twice. The handling, serpentines and rear crosses, at jumps 5, 6 and 7 and again at 11,12, and 13 gave Beckett a little difficulty but he was much improved on the second go around. I'm amazed at how he read the rear cross from jump 7 to the tire and that there was no hesitation the second time we took that same jump as number 14 and he was straight on to jump 15 and the tunnel. 

Next weekend, we are anticipating good things at our first official agility trial.  I hope the weather will be better than it was for the fun trial as it makes for a long slow drive when we get a lot of snow. Beckett will be in a Starter Jumpers, Starter Gamblers and we just this week added Starters Standard since he now can weave.

I've told Beckett that next weekend, he's no longer an agility puppy in training but a Starter Agility Dog!!! It will be exciting to begin the next stage of our agility journey.