Chaos Crew

Chaos Crew

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Just because...

I had the camera out today and got some great pictures of Skye and Rip. Here are a couple that I really like.

Yard gone wild!

Well, wildflowers anyway. Before I got out the tractor and cut the front yard where we practice some agility, I decided to take pictures of the various wildflowers we have growing this year. Due to consistent rains in May, the yard has exploded in wildflowers. Though I hate to cut them all down, they have yet to invent a mower that will cut the grass and weeds while leaving the flowers.
Here are some pictures of the flora and a few of my "boys" who were helping me...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rip training update.

Rip and I have been in our "Young Guns" training class - this is the class for up-and-coming fast, young dogs and handlers who care about the details.
This week we did some jump grids and Rip did a great job adjusting to the spacing of the jumps, as well as his timing to bounce through them.
Rip seems much faster than Skye to me, which, of course, I am happy about. As he gets more confident, he is getting faster. It's going to be great to run this boy in an actual trial.

Since I was so busy last week with my parent's visit and our trial preparations and such, I hadn't had much time to train Rip. I need to keep doing more repetitions with his weaves, as in class he skipped a pole one time and he also came out early. I have to watch the pop-outs, and recently I have made sure to not reward immediately after the weaves, but make him do another obstacle after weaving before rewarding.

Other than working on tightening up Rip's wide turns, my other main concern is to focus on contact performance. I've been using the "box" for training a running contact with his DW and AF, and about 75% of the time his performance is spot-on, however... as Mr Rip is getting quite full of himself and confident, I have been getting some leaping of the contacts. His teeter is great and I haven't had any issue there.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wow, 5 in a row!

This past weekend Skye and I attended our club's DOCNA trial. This was our 5th weekend in a row of trialing, and I am looking forward to the next couple of weekends off! My parents were also in town from Massachusetts last week, so it's been rather hectic.

DOCNA is growing in popularity here in Colorado, though we haven't done too much of it other than what our own club offers. I don't find the courses as challenging as in AKC or USDAA, but I do like the different games.
We Q'd all 3 of our Standard runs, 2 out of our 3 Jumpers, our one North American Challenge and some of the games as well.
Our NQ's were due to being over time in the Strategic Gamble and the Traditional Gamble, though we did get the distance challenge. We were also over time in one of the Snakes&Ladders runs due to weave popouts.
Our contacts were great all weekend!

My parents, who are not fluent in agility at all, enjoyed watching me run and the trial environment. They enjoyed the craziness you get to see from the beginner dogs.

All in all, it was a really fun weekend, as the people are great, the judge was very friendly and since the trial was small, the days did not run long.

Monday, May 18, 2009

USDAA in Pueblo, CO

We had a nice trial in Pueblo last weekend. On Saturday, it was perfect weather for the dogs with clouds and temps in the 40's and 50's (but the people were cold). When its cool out, I tend to get "fast Skye" and he was living up to that this weekend. On Sunday, we started the day with sunshine and a forecasted high of 85, which I know spells trouble for Skye as then we get "its too hot to do agility Skye".

This trial doubles up on the games - 2 Jumpers, 2 Gamblers, 2 Snooker. This makes for a good opportunity to get some of those needed games Q's.

Saturday started off with Jumpers, and my fast Skyeboy got a Q and 1st place. We then ran Snooker and had a nice opening but I was not where I wanted when it came to start the closing and Skye took an offcourse jump behind me.
Next up was Standard and we had another nice run (no contact trouble again!) and we managed a Q with 2nd place. Finally a Standard Q that I have been looking for the last couple trials! This gave us our PD3 title.
We were doing Grand Prix next and Skye was still running nice for me. We Q'd performance Grand Prix and got 1st place! So cool to get that last GP qualifier that we needed for Nationals and have it be a 1st - giving us a bye into round 2 at Regionals.

At this point I had to scramble and leave the trial as my wife and daughter were having their dance recital at 6pm, and with so many dogs at the trial, it was alredy 4pm and we only ran 4 classes. I had to scratch from performance Steelplechase and from Gamblers. Bummer!

Sunday started with Gamblers, and I usually LOVE to start the day with Gamblers, as it lets you run amok and still Q if your dog is having some of the crazies that they can get the first run of the day. When I saw the gamble, I knew we were in trouble - Skye just doesnt have the distance skill to get this particular distance challenge, so I figured we would just run around, do some obstacles and have fun, then I'd send him at the gamble with no expectations.
We ran around, and around, and around - the buzzer never went off signalling the start of the gamble. Ok, so the judge gives me the choice to rerun at the end of the 22" dogs, or just setup and try the gamble - I went for the gamble, and got what I expected (not even close!) and then we left.

We did Standard after Gamblers and it was a nice looking course. We AGAIN got a Standard Q with a nice run - 2nd place too.

Next was Pairs, and I was paired with a guy named Charles with his border collie Ojos. We did a nice job together and got 3rd place with a Q.

At this point, there were no clouds and the sun was baking us. It was definitely mid 80's and hot.

We had Snooker coming up next and there were just 3 reds this time. I had a plan for 3 7's and thought we'd get through it without too much trouble, but in case Skye seemed slow due to the heat, I had a backup plan of 7,7,3. He was running pretty good, the 7pt was a combo of jump/tunnel/jump and we had it. I got the 3 7's, then started the closing. The 5pt obstacles was a set of 6 weaves. Skye hit the entry, weaved 4 poles slowly then came out looking at me like "its way too hot for this dad" so we were done. We would have had it no problem if he just finished those poles! Ugh.

At the end of the day, we had Jumpers again, and even though Skye was running slow and was feeling hot, I figured we'd be fine with just jumps (and a tunnel). I wet him down with the hose they had available, and we ran a decent course, though it was definitely 3 or 4 seconds slower than he is capable of. Still, we Q'd it with 2nd place!

Overall, we got 6/9 Q's.

I am now closing in on my APD (performance ADCH) title. I need 1 more each of Standard, Jumpers, Pairs, Snooker SQ, and I need 3 more Gamblers. In the last 2 trials, I had to scratch from gamblers twice, so that doesnt help!

I dont plan on doing the 3 day USDAA trial on July 4th weekend, as I think I would be dissapointed with Skyes performance in the heat.
Will post video later.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes, Its ALWAYS something! Skye USDAA.

Skye and I had a much better USDAA weekend in Brighton. This was another outdoor trial on grass. We ended up 4 of 8 Q's and I was pretty happy with almost all of our runs.

Of course, lately it seems I cant buy a Standard Q.

On Saturday, we Q'd Performance Grand Prix with a 3rd place (finally a GP Q!!), and we Q'd Pairs with Lorrie & Maxx. Our pairs run may have been fast enough for 1st place but Maxx had 2 refusals so there was some time wasting plus 10 fault seconds added to our time.

On Sunday, we Q'd a tough Snooker course with a 3rd, just missing out on the 2 SQ's they gave out. To end the day, we had a nice Jumpers run and Q'd with 1st place!

Saturday's Standard course had a number of tough elements to it. There were some sharp angles that caused dropped bars, the really tough weave entry (that got Skye and I) , the AF/Tunnel discrimination (that got Skye and I) and quite a few side changes. Only 3 dogs out of 60 Q'd this course!

Sunday's Standard was much more doable, and we had it except that Skye again popped out of the weaves at pole 10. This time I took him back and made him do them again as it seems to be developing into a habit of his.

The good news- Skye again hit all his dogwalk contacts. The bad news- we got called for another AFrame contact.

So, what I am taking away from this trial is:
  • I realllly need to go back and retrain Skye's weave entries and having him stay in the poles.
  • Though he loves contacts, I still need to work these contact/tunnel discriminations when he is supposed to do the contact. No assumptions!
  • I must get back to some distance training. Our Gamblers skills have been lacking.
Always Something!

Friday, May 8, 2009

OTOTD - Odd Thoughts of the Day

Some odd thoughts of the day...
  1. At least once a day, all the dogs will howl. Usually one of them outside will start it, and the rest of them in the house will join in. I will often join in. Rip has a WoooWoooooWoooo kind of howl, while Skye will bark-howl.
  2. Dogs train themselves to notice certain cues all day. For example, when I end a conference call (I work from home), it seems I will say Ok, Bye a certain way, and then any dogs in my office will get up and be ready to do something, even though I havent yet moved...they just know that I probably will.
  3. Why do some handlers yell "Stay" at the bottom of a contact when they obviously don't mean it?
  4. Our deaf dog Joey hates when I hammer nails while doing home improvement projects. I was replacing a window today, and when I would hammer, he whined and carried on in his crate. He could not see me.
  5. At approximately 3:20 every day, Rip will come and poke me with his nose to tell me its time to play ball.
  6. Bless you folks who have the stick_to_it_ivness to run a dog in agility who gives the impression that sniffing the ground is more fun than agility, or whose attention span is 4 obstacles. I could never do it, and am amazed at the patience of those who can.
  7. Why do we all feel the need to make some hissing sound, or clap, or say "get it" over and over again while our dogs are weaving? Guilty as charged...
  8. I would be fine if I never heard the word "twitter" ever again.
  9. I never before kept a diary or journal or wrote very much until this whole Blogging phase came about. Why is it so interesting, and why do I need to read a bunch of them every day?
  10. What is so satisfying about peeling the green cover off a tennis ball, or dissecting a squeaky toy to take out the squeaker, or tearing newspaper into strips? Dogs do strange things.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rip 2x2 weaves video update

Here's our latest Rip Weaves update. I love how Rip can independently find his entries!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Skye's AKC weekend at Latigo, May 2&3

This weekends AKC trial with Skye was not all I had hoped it would be, but there were many positives. The trial was hosted by the German Shorthair Pointer club - it was their specialty event.
Skye did manage to hit the dogwalk contacts in both standard runs, and I will continue to train his 2o2o criteria this week for our upcoming USDAA trials the next two weekends.

On Saturday's Standard, there was a tunnel under the AFrame and the dogs were to take the tunnel and then a panel jump into another tunnel. I did not support the tunnel under the AF and moved laterally away too quickly pulling Skye up the AF. Completely my fault. The rest of the run was good but with a missed weave entry. It was one of those entries that Skye will often miss, so I wanted to see if he might hit it without my shaping his line, since our run was NQ'd anyway, and he went in a pole 2 which I was not surprised about. I am SOOO glad I have trained Rip to find these entries with the 2x2 method.

In Saturday's JWW, it was just one of those runs where we were not running connected. I started off as a run-with, and at the second jump Skye was looking to go right as I rotated left to a pinwheel. No offcourse there, but we went around the pinwheel, did the weaves, and then on the straight with the triple followed by the double, he wasnt paying any attention and went left as I went right. Not too much good to say about the run.

In Sunday's Standard, we had a great run - I had fast Skye-boy and we were moving nicely through the course. He was connected and driving. We got called for the AFrame contact though (I thought he had it, but the judge was right there so probably not). We finished up with a fast time, just .8 seconds behind Skye's "sister" Sage who took 2nd. I felt really good about that run.

Finally, we finished with JWW and it was quite the interesting course. I have to say, I dont ever recall a course where there were so many options on how to get through it. It was so interesting that a big crowd gathered at ringside as the 16" class started running it just to see how people chose to handle it.
I did a "around the back of the tunnel" path at the 3rd obstacle to keep Skye's line as good as I could get it and we ultimately Q'd it with a 5th place finish.

So, at least the NQ streak is over. We were jumping 20" in this trial.
I'll post video when I have it, and maybe the course maps.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lets see if it holds up...

Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement and nice comments on Skye's failed NQ weekend. It's appreciated!

Because of the contact issues I have mentioned in my previous posts, I have gone back to a 2on 2off for Skye's dogwalk (at least for now!). We have been practicing it this week, and I have an AKC trial this weekend, so I'll see if it holds up.
In practice, when I tell him Touch, he does a nice job of sticking it.

Up until probably 5 or 6 months ago, we would train a 2o2o in practice, but I would let him early release at a trial, since I could never get the correct 2o2o behavior in a trial. I know that its my fault, for not enforcing it during a run, probably because of the adrenaline of the run, wanting to finish it, the money it costs (especially for AKC), etc. I've decided that if he launches the dogwalk, I will down him and we will end the run. But... will I do it...
If he hits the yellow, who am I kidding, I will just continue, even if it looked a bit "launchy".

Though I really dont do much NADAC or DOCNA, those venues are really great for letting you go back and train an obstacle like the Dogwalk, but since I prefer the tighter, more handling intensive courses from AKC and USDAA, I don't want to get Skye used to the wide open running found in the NADAC and DOCNA courses.

Our club is hosting a DOCNA trial on Memorial day weekend, so I intend to take that opportunity to do some contact training in a trial environment if he doesn't meet criteria. There is a NADAC trial locally in June in a nice park that may be worth entering for some ring training as well.