Monday, November 25, 2013

First and Last

Well, we went to a trial on Sunday, the last for 2013 and for the first time in many years, I ran two dogs. Hard to believe that the last time I ran two dogs was in 2009, some days it doesn't seem so long ago but at other times it seems like an eternity.

Keltic ran in the first three events and Beckett ran in four.   At Absolute Agility, one day is Advanced and Masters runs and the next day is Starter and Masters runs.  For the next little while Beckett's runs will be determined by what is offered on the day the Starter events are offered since it's a little more than an hours drive from my place and I don't want drive down on both days in the winter.

Keltic's first event was a Jumpers, he ran really nice but had an off-course when he took the wrong tunnel mouth but I was happy as he did the tire without hesitation.  Our second event was a Snooker, I planned an opening using the teeter and the tire just to see what he would do. For the tire, since there are no refusals in Starter Snooker, if he ran under it, I could put him back through it, so basically we could practice it without getting whistled off.  For the teeter, I thought it would be good practice too as it was his first time at this venue.  Didn't really need the tire practice, as you can see; but the teeter was another story. He was spooked by the banging and didn't want to do it the next time around. I thought we needed the dog walk to Q but I had counted my opening points wrong so was very pleasantly surprised to find that he had Q'd; I probably forgot to add the 3 points for the red jumps.

Keltic's last run was a Standard, I hoped that he had gotten over the teeter by doing it the second time in the Snooker but no; he was worse. He got on the teeter and wouldn't move, I tried everything to coax him forward. Finally I grabbed him just so he wouldn't bail and continued to coax him, then the judge said "push him by his bum" which I did. I gave him a few cuddles for doing the teeter and we carried on with the run.  The rest of his run was very nice.  We were well over time and, of course, I was faulted for touching my dog but when you're not going to Q anyway it's a good thing to help them through the difficult parts.

Next it was Beckett's turn. I had entered Beckett in a Master Snooker, Masters Gamblers and two Masters Standards. They were the first four Masters events, I did that so I could get home at a reasonable time even though I did take Monday off work.

First up was a Standard.  The Standard had one line of jumps that was quite a zig zag, I thought Beckett would do it but he started spinning a bit and by the time we got to the fourth jump in the line he was really spinning.  I thought for sure we had faulted at least three of them but we had only faulted the last jump of the line. I guess we were far enough away from the jumps or Beckett was spinning less than I thought. Next up was a Gamble, that I wasn't even sure Beckett would do the first three as he had to stay out to do the weaves after a jump, he did that beautifully but then you had to send back between the weaves and the jump out to another jump. Beckett would not go out to the jump, he kept trying to take the jump near us, I don't even think he saw the other jump. Next was Masters Snooker, I planned what I hoped would be smooth course for Beckett.

Masters Snooker

We did red jump, the obstacle 6 combination, red jump, teeter, red jump, teeter then red jump followed by the weaves. I front crossed that last red jump so Beckett would be weaving toward the start finish line so then I just had to do an "again weave" to begin to run the close. We were able to finish the whole course in 53.53 seconds, we only needed to get through obstacle 6 in the close to Q. I wasn't sure we were going to have time as to get from 5 to 6a, I went between jumps and the tunnel mouth to send him around to the backside of the 6a jump; usually as Beckett tends to spin right in front of me so it can take some time to get across the ring like that but this time he was quite good. Our last run was another Standard, I had promised Beckett a cheeseburger for a Standard Q; it's been awhile since his last Standard Q (March 2013) and I was hoping a bribe would work. Not sure if he understood but Beckett did get another Standard Q so he and Keltic enjoyed a cheeseburger for dinner when we got home.

Cheeseburgers for me and the boys

So for our last trial of 2013, Beckett did very well qualifying in two out of four runs and Keltic got his first AAC qualifying score.

Keltic and his first Q ribbon!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Parcel from Across the Pond

Oh my dog, Beckett and me gots a parcel today from our friend Pippa and her peoples!  Mums says they live a long way away in Scot land, a place that Mums has visited afore she gots me and Beckett. We tried to open da parcel urselves but in de end Mums had to helps us.

Mums took out all the gifts from the box and then read the letter that Pippa wrote to us.  I was very cited to hear from Pippa but eben more cited to get to da stuffies. I chose da red robin stuffie as Mum's always buys black and white stuffies for Beckett so he gets da penguin stuffie. How did you know that Pippa?

Me, Keltic trying to get my stuffie and I just had to start chewing on it already. Beckett, da Mama's boy waited til Mums said he could get his stuffie but he was more interested in da cookies

Yes, der was shortbread cookies in the present but Mums says we cants have any.  Mums is not a great cook, although we likes eberything she makes. Shortbread, however, is one of her favourite cookies, she makes a big batch ebery Christmas.

The gifts that Pippa sent to Mums
Mums put all da pins on her banner in special places. The SSPCA pin went up beside her other SPCA pin. Da thistle pin went beside da maple leaf pin which was made from da old copper dat was on da roof of our Parleyment buildings and da Aberdeen flag pin went up besides her other Scottish place pins.

SPCA pins

Scottish place pins, Brodie, Balmoral, Glenfinnan, Culloden and now Aberdeen

Thistle pin with maple leaf pin

Pin banner
 Getting da parcel made it an extra special evenin.  We luves our pressies, thank you Pippa and please thanks your peoples too.

Lots of licks from me, Keltic, and from Beckett and Mums too

Mish Mash Monday

It's been one of those days!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Expert Bronze Jumper

At the trial this past weekend, Beckett got his Expert Bronze Jumpers title and he certainly didn't do it the easy way. I put him on the start line and started to lead out to a position past obstacle 2 to block a decoy jump.  Little did I know that Mr Sneaky Pants decided to surprise me and come out meet me at the same position. I was kind of startled to say the least to see him come up by my side.  The thought crossed my mind that maybe he had not even done the first two jumps but then I thought oh well, if he didn't we've already faulted, lets just have fun with the rest of the course.  I wasn't even sure that we hadn't faulted obstacle three; but I see now in the video that he never really approached three so no faults there. The course didn't run as smooth as I would have liked but it was much smoother than it looked on the course map. I was sure again when he was spinning before the tunnel in the back corner that we had faulted but you can see the judge in the video and she didn't call any faults.  I was so sure we had faulted that course that as you can see I gave Beckett a finger wagging at the end of the run and he only got a few hot dogs for his efforts. When they handed out the ribbons, I was waiting to just go get a cookie and they didn't call his name until "and first with a Q, Beckett and Helen"; I had to say "did you say Beckett". He even got the best run of mini Regular dogs and won a stuffed dinosaur.

Beckett with his ribbons and prizes

Master Jumpers Course
Beckett's last run of the day was a very nice Steeplechase. Not sure why he spun a bit on the back tunnel. I think we have to work on "go" as well as rear crosses this winter as there was no reason for the spinning on the tire. Oh right, he has obstacle commitment issues. Beckett now only needs 5 more Q's for his Bronze Expert Steeplechase. The steeplechase run was also the best run for the mini Regular dogs and he won the little pink bunny; isn't it cute. Beckett got jack-potted with hot dogs big time to make up for the scarce reward he got after Jumpers.

We also ran two Standards. The first one was very nice. Beckett's speed in the weaves surprised me a bit and I didn't get my front cross in so we got faulted for a refusal on the jump after the weaves. The second Standard, we had an off-course and were eliminated.  He had to go past the dog walk to a tunnel  and chose to get on the dog walk instead but I didn't run in as far as I had planned so really didn't give him all the information he needed to make the correct choice.   So we are still five Q's from his Bronze Award of Merit but I'm sure those Q's will come.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Keltic's First Trial

Well Keltic and I had fun at his first agility trial.  He didn't get any Q's but he did do 12 weaves for the first time in a trial scenario, ran quite well only going off to visit once and actually did the gamble even though he went underneath the tire.

We entered in four events, a Jumpers, two Standards and one Gamblers.  First up was the Jumpers, the tire was the second obstacle so without having much speed I knew he would have difficulty with it. We had the same issue early in the summer but I thought we had worked our way through it. I guess we have some more work to do; I'll have to get the tire out of the shed before we have too much snow.

Next up was a Standard. He was a bit put off by the teeter noise, all of the teeters that he has been on have been outdoors where there's not as much noise.  You can see his hesitation on the dog walk but good man he didn't bail. Also impressed that he did 12 weaves as he's really only been consistent with 6 weaves. 

Next run was another Standard. This time I made him do the tire and hoped that he would then do it in the Gamble.  I was happy that he got right back on the teeter and that he was much more confident on the dog walk.  

Our last run was a Gamblers. I didn't think he would do the mini as we haven't done much training on sending away. The main Gamblers, I also thought he would come back into me before doing obstacle 3. He surprised me by heading straight for the third obstacle. I didn't even have time to think about bringing him around to do the tire; so much for making him do the tire in Standard 2 . But better that he gets rewarded for working away.  I was very happy about his opening, 37 points is very good.

I think he was a happy boy in the ring and that's the best attribute to work with to improve his agility skills.

Keltic with his first ribbon
We only took the one ribbon from his first ever event, the Starter Jumpers. There will be more special ribbons in the future I'm sure.


Yesterday, we had a tragedy happen at the trial. One of our fellow competitors collapsed, other medically trained competitors  performed CPR until emergency services arrived. The firefighters and paramedics continued with CPR and were still doing CPR when they took Tina to hospital.  Later we got the sad news that Tina didn't make it.

Tina - first place finish at the 2011 Ontario Regional Championship

I didn't know Tina very well but she was a great presence around agility trials. She ran four Australian Shepherds; along with her husband those dogs were her life. Tina was always cheerful and great fun. She was looking forward to a vacation down east following Nationals.

I always loved watching Tina run, she communicated so well with her dogs. She loved the agility game, she will be sadly missed. You go, girl!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Daisy Peel Seminar

Keltic and I went to a Daisy Peel Novice/Advanced Seminar on Thursday. It was a day long seminar and boy were we tired when we got home, well at least I was Keltic was still ready to play with Beckett.

We learned four exercises to do on the flat for a pull, a push, a front cross and rear cross. They will be good to work with over the winter.  If I can figure away to make my notes into decent exercise diagrams, I'll write a separate blog post about them.

The rest of the day was spent on sequences, one for the front on the flat and the front cross with a lateral send and one for a front cross with forward motion. The last sequence of the day was for rear crosses. I think Daisy had intended to also do a sequence for the blind crosses but with 10 working dogs, three sequences was all we had time to get through. Daisy provided a lot of advice for the handlers and dogs on issues that they were having that were related to the exercises, start line stays and obstacle commitment were two issues that many of us struggled with. Keltic didn't have much problem with start line stays but obstacle commitment is still something we need to work on.

A few things Daisy said stuck with me. The first was: "Do what works"; so many people stick with a system so they won't try something different until one of the agility gurus says this is the way to do it. I go to seminars to take away things I think will help me work through problems I am having but I don't necessarily go back and retrain things that are working just because of a "system".  The second thing was that we need to reward jumps as much as we reward weaves and contacts. Our dogs will do far more jumps in agility than any other obstacle and we ask them to do so many behaviours associated with a jump that in her view they are one of the hardest obstacles for the dog. She also said we should reward commitment to go on without us to take an obstacle even if we didn't get the behaviour or even the obstacle we wanted as we are trying to teach our young dogs that they can be independent that once we've told them to take an obstacle they should go do that obstacle regardless of what we are then doing.

The video shows a few minutes of our seminar time where my handling actually communicated to Keltic correctly what I wanted him to do. What a good boy, he tries so hard.

One thing I'm not sure of though is that she said we should build obstacle commitment by initially rewarding a dog for offering a jump (or any other obstacle I guess) when we are not giving any cues, no verbal, no arm, no motion. For me, the teamwork I want to build with my dog is based on cues, be those cues motion, arm, hand or verbals, whatever works the best. But when I haven't given a cue and am standing still I don't want my dog to take any obstacle just because it's close to me. I'll have to think about that a little more. Maybe what turned me off that idea was that without having ever seen him, she said Beckett's spinning was a lack of obstacle commitment. I don't think that's true, it's a lack of clarity on my part and a gap in our skill set but I don't think it's a lack of commitment. Anyway I'll try to build Keltic's commitment to take a jump when I move away either laterally or behind him by working on some of the sequences and exercises we did during the seminar.

We had a good time and have a lot of homework. It was fun to see all the young dogs coming up and just starting their agility careers. Tomorrow, it is Keltic's first agility trial; we are going to have fun.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dream Fields Trial

Well, two weeks ago Keltic went to his last agility trial as a spectator. Next weekend, he will make his debut at Dream Fields. I entered him in 4 events, two Standards, a Jumpers and a Gamblers. Today we did a little weave practice in the backyard. He still really needs work on his weaves but after today we'll have to work on them in the basement as I'll be bringing the weaves inside today. The time change was last night so now by the time I get home it will be nearly dark.

But back to the Dream Fields trial, we went for only five events, a Gamblers, a Standard, a Team, Steeplechase and a Jumpers. Beckett was wild in Gamblers, I didn't even think he had enough opening points to Q, he did have the minimum number to Q but no matter as we didn't get the main gamble. Beckett came out of the tunnel and was supposed to get on the dog walk but he came too far back to me and I couldn't get him back out to the dog walk. Next up was our Standard, well you can see how that went.

For Team, my partner had to pull her dog as he had injured a toe. I found another partner but both dogs failed to go clean so no Q there either.

I was getting a little worried that we would end the day without a Q and the ending sequence from jump 14 to 19 of the Steeplechase looked tough.

But it ran, for me anyway, really smooth; so smooth I thought I had forgotten another jump. The Standard course time was 51 seconds. Beckett's time was 36.78 seconds, running 4.95 yards per second. The run was good enough for first place and a Q as well as best run for mini Regular dogs.

Next up was Jumpers, we had a couple spins. The first time Beckett stopped himself, the second time, I stopped and got him settled before sending him on to finish the course. We must have been blazing as the Standard Course time was 45 seconds, Beckett's time was 29.38 seconds even with the spinning. He was running 5.48 yards per second, very fast for him. We've been over 5 yps before but usually just over 5.  Again, he Q'd and had the best run of the mini Regular dogs. So our day ended very well!

He now needs only one Jumpers for Expert Bronze Jumpers and 6 more Steeplechase for Expert Bronze Steeplechase.

Looking forward to next weekend and Keltic's debut but before that, on Thursday, he will be going to his second agility seminar. He did a puppy seminar over a year ago, this is a Novice/Starter dogs seminar with Daisy Peel.  I'm looking forward to it. Going to be a good week ahead, always fun to see the training come together in the ring.