Chaos Crew

Chaos Crew

Friday, December 30, 2011

A few pics for the end of the year.

Here's a few pics that I recently purchased from Ken Gee

A couple tunnel pics from an outdoor USDAA trial. The yellow one of Rip is cool as he took on a yellowish color. 

And a couple chute pictures - the one of Skye is great with the bug-eye look.  Rip is coming out of the chute looking very serious and not his usual goofy self!

Friday, December 2, 2011

An "AX"cellent AKC show

Last weekend I attended the local 3-day post-Thanksgiving AKC show that's 10 minutes from home. It was a nice feeling to not 'need' any Q's to qualify for Nationals this time. This is the last show of the year for those still needing double Q's or points to qualify for AKC Nationals in Reno next year.

My goal for the show was to run for speed and try and not do any lead-out's at all, to see how it might motivate my dogs to go fast right from the start. This is something I had been working on in practice and Rip especially seemed to respond really well to it. Skye also seemed to enjoy me taking off with him.

I was also hoping to maybe get a Standard Q for Rip so that he could start next year in Excellent B for both STD and JWW.

I did put together a video of Rip's 6 runs this weekend. In all, we only got 2 Q's, but Rip really ran awesome the whole time and put up some very fast times. On Saturday, we got that Exc. STD-A Q to move us into "B" finally!! On the same day, he also Q'd JWW and as it turned out, Rip and Skye ended up taking 2nd and 3rd place in JWW respectively. A very cool day for us!

On Friday, I ended up slipping a little in JWW for Rip and turned a front cross into a blind - that cost me the run as he come out of the tunnel and right over an offcourse jump.
He followed that with a great NQ Standard run where I think his tail ended up hitting the top bar of the triple.

Saturday, Skye ran Standard first, and he had a great run but missed the dogwalk contact, 2nd obstacle to the end. He will do this, when the dogwalk is right near the finish line.
So, when it was Rip's turn, I had to remember to really ask for the stop on the dogwalk contact. We were clean up to that point and I made sure to stop him - he did, and we got that Q!

Saturday's jumpers course was interesting and had some people worried about the fast line into a serpentine, and then out of the weaves there was a tunnel where most handlers decided to run around the back of it.
I worked the serpentine by hustling and doing a front cross between the first two jumps to get a good turn, and then front again after the 3rd jump in the serp. For the weaves/tunnel situation, I figured if I could just be 8 feet off the weaves or so, then I would have plenty of time to not run behind, and put them in the tunnel and fly by for a blind at the exit, grabbing them for a good turn to the finish line of jumps. It worked awesome for both dogs and as mentioned Rip got 2nd and Skye 3rd. This was Rip's 9th Q toward his MXJ!

On Sunday, we ran Standard first again. Goofy freaky boy got himself spooked by the leash runner behind him. He hates having anyone behind him when he starts a run - I had to physically move him to look at the first obstacle, but when it was time to run, he took off like a shot! Unfortunately he dropped a bar on a sharp turn after the dogwalk, and then followed that by leaving the teeter early, but he ran great in this challenging course.

In Jumpers, we had the broad jump in Exc B, which we hardly ever see. I took it for granted and didn't support it very well, and Rip came off the line and moved with me, skipping the broadjump altogether. The rest of the run was good though and all the bars stayed up.

Skye had a decent weekend. He started by running clean on Friday for another Double Q - I think this is #15 toward Mach 2.

As I had mentioned, Skye jumped the dogwalk contact in Standard on an otherwise clean run. He was only about a second behind Rip in this run. In his JWW on Saturday, Skye was really moving out and he ran it only about 1/2 second slower than Rip did. I love running my dogs in the cold weather - they run FAST!

Finally on Sunday, I was pushing Skye for speed and I left him in the weaves, apparently too much so in his opinion as he exited the weaves at pole 10 to come see me. The rest of the run was good and fast.
In JWW, he hit a bar of the double, which was the 2nd obstacle. The bar seemed to drop late, so he must have barely hit it. He finished the rest of the run nicely, though he didnt seem to be running as fast as he had the rest of the weekend.

Here's a cool picture of Rip that I bought at the show - the sun was shining right at the exit of the weaves! Notice how he keeps the eye closest to the pole shut.

Monday, November 21, 2011

USDAA in Albq New Mexico

A week ago, I traveled down to Albuquerque for the November SWAT USDAA trial with Katrina. I went to this one last year and had a good time so I thought I'd go again.

I stayed at the same La Quinta, which is only a couple miles from the fairgrounds trial site. I was happy to see that the homeless man who was living in the little dog park next to the hotel was not there this time. All was quiet at the dog park. I did find that one part of the park was full of those damn little sticker plants - as best as I can tell they are called goatheads or Puncturevines and the first night when we arrived and I took the dogs to potty there, those little fuckers were all attached to the leashes and the dog's feet. I had to stab myself a dozen times picking them out of Skye and Rip and off their leashes.

The Master's judge was Tom Kula, who often creates some interesting courses. He did not disappoint.

Rip started with Gamblers and he really did well, though he bailed off the teeter in the distance portion. He did a great job in the opening and had he stuck the teeter, we would have had 2nd place.

Skye then got to run Gamblers, and though he was a little slower than Rip, and also jumped his dogwalk contact, he DID manage to get the distance portion and stick his teeter for a nice Q!

Next up for Rip was Master Standard. We were looking for our 1st Master Standard Q since moving up a couple trials ago. This course had a 90 degree onside approach to the weaves, and I thought I would just send Rip and let him test his entries. He hit the entry (yeah) but then didnt collect and skipped the 2nd pole. I didn't bother to fix it (why EVER bother to fix weaves in Masters, unless you are playing Time + faults?). After that, we then had a bit more fun by missing the AFrame/tunnel discrimination, dropping a bar and jumping the dogwalk contact. Yeeee-hawwww!

Skye keept the Yee-haw going in his Standard run too! He dropped the 2nd bar and then he missed the AFrame/tunnel discrimination the other way, by taking the frame when it should have been tunnel, compared to Rip taking the tunnel instead of the frame. Skye otherwise did pretty good in this run though.

Grand Prix was up next and I figured that maybe Rip had the crazies out of his system and we could get a good GP run. He did really well on this tricky course, but I made him drop a bar before the AFrame/tunnel discrimination - I overhandled it based on the previous run's outcome as again the course called for the frame, and I really wanted to take the tunnel out of the picture. There were only 8 Q's of the 50 dogs between Perf and Championship.

For Skye, Perf. Grand Prix was a disappointment. We were doing fine and arrived at said AFrame/tunnel discrimination again. I clearly and obviously got ahead and indicated the frame. Skye committed to it, and then at the last moment, cut me off and went in the tunnel. I then ended the run and Skye and I did the slow walk of shame off the course. Between Gamblers, Standard and Grandprix, this was the 3rd straight run that Skye had not done what I indicated at the discrimination!

Next we had Snooker.
In an odd twist of fate, Rip's eh, so-so, not great run earned him his first Super Q! I wish I still had the course map, but essentially, the 7pt was a combination of a tunnel and 6 weaves and another 6 weaves. The 6 point was a jump and 6 weaves. We could do 4 reds.
I elected to do two 6's, a 4 and a 7. We ran somewhere in the middle of the pack, so I didnt get a lot of benefit in watching other handlers, but I did see Steve Moon & Slick end early with an offcourse, and also Kim Terrill & Steeple offcourse'd. We got all the way through the opening, but Rip was going slow and cautious, and wasnt reading my signals really well. He even missed the entry on the 2nd set of 6 poles and I had to put him back into them to get the 7 points. We were working on the #6 in the closing when time ran out, so we ended up with 41 points. Oddly enough, as this was a tough course, the 41 was good for 3rd place and a Super Q. Go figure - we have had some really awesome Snooker runs that did not earn one!

For Skye, as I dont need Super Q's, I was going more conservative, trying for 6,6,7 in the opening. We did well and got through the opening, though not very fast. We were working on the #7 in the closing when the buzzer went in the first set of 6 poles, so we ended up with just 42 points, but that was the highest score in all of Performance! Skye earned another Super Q - so both my guys got them on not really spectacular runs!

We ended the day with Jumpers.
Rip ran this nicely for a Q. I am really glad he is getting through jumpers courses while keeping up all the bars now - such a good boy! I ran this a little differently with Rip than I did for Skye - I put in two rear crosses for Rip where I used fronts for Skye. One reason was to give a better signal taking an offcourse tunnel out of the picture. There were not a lot of Q's on this course and Rip ended up in 3rd place.

Skye also ran this well and got a Q. As it turned out, both dogs were within a 4/100ths of each other!

Sunday started with Pairs, and we were running Performance dogs first.

Skye was paired with Rankine the Golden, and we did a good job. Skye had 1 bar on a tight sequence and Rankine came out of the weaves but went back in at the right spot, so we Q'd it.
Readers may recall that I am trying to get Skye's P-ADCH Bronze title, and just need Gambles and Pairs to finish it - and how cool is it that we Q'd both of those runs this weekend! We now need 2 more Pairs runs, and 3 more Gambles.

Rip ran his half of Pairs clean, but his partner forgot the course and directed her dog to an offcourse jump, so we did not Q this time.

In Sunday's Standard, I thought that Skye had run this clean. There were no discriminations this time :). As it turned out, he missed the AFrame contact, so no Q, but a better run than Saturday's.

Rip had a slow start in Standard - the 3rd obstacles was a tight turn into the weaves so he just felt slow. He got going though by the time we hit the Aframe. He jumped that contact and then knocked the bar two jumps afterward. He ran a really good dogwalk and finished the run by leaving the teeter early and getting called for that!

Snooker this time was a thinking man's game. The 7 point was different each time you attempted it. It was either a jump/weave combo, a jump/AFrame combo, or a jump/jump/tunnel combo. Whichever 7 successfully completed last in the opening was the one you had to take in the closing (if you did one).
There were only 3 reds, and I decided going for all 7s wouldnt work due to the time needed to complete them, so my plan was for 7+3+7.  For Skye, we got through the opening OK, but then he hit the #2 bar in the closing, so it was a pretty short run.

Rip's plan was the same 7+3+7 and when we tried the second 7 in the opening (the jump/AFrame), Rip knocked the bar and then went partway up the frame and turned and came off it. I put him back on it for no points, but we got to do the closing. We got all the way through the 6 in the closing, and then I was approaching the AFrame for our 7pt obstacle when it briefly occurred to me that we didnt complete that successfully, so we were not supposed to take it in the close - that resulted in a whistle, so we got just 32 points and no Q. Funny thing though, had we completed the plan, those 47 points would have been another Super Q!

Finally, we ended the day with this crazy jumpers course. This was a memory test for sure, as I dont think I have ever had to walk a course so many times to remember it. I was fortunate to have a dog in both Performance and in Championship, as that meant I got 2 walkthroughs back to back!
Here is the course map - it looks like an army of jumps marching toward the corner!:

Skye ran it first and was almost clean except for knocking the #5 jump. I did a run-with and that caused my cross before #3 to be pretty late and Skye went wide. At least I remembered the course, which is not the case for a lot of competitors.

Rip liked this course and was running pretty fast. Except for a couple wide turns, he did this efficiently and was only 2 seconds off the top dogs. He Q'd this running 4 seconds faster than Skye did. 
This means that Rip has gone 6/6 in his last 6 Master Jumpers runs! Of course, we still can't BUY a standard Q!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

USDAA Cynosport Nationals experience

Last week Katrina and I drove the travel trailer to Louisville Kentucky for the USDAA Nationals. We have qualified many times before, but never have attended. I actually liked the idea of an indoor nationals, compared to the outdoor Scottsdale location, since both Skye and Rip do not run well in the heat, and with Scottsdale, it could easily have been in the 90's. As it turned out, the weather was perfect in Kentucky - probably no warmer than about 75, and it only rained a brief time on one day.

We elected to stay at a KOA campground instead of camping onsite for two reasons - the KOA was about $12 a day less, and the Louisville expo center could not guarantee that we would have full hookups - it was first come, first serve, and since we weren't planning on arriving until Tuesday afternoon, I didn't want to chance it. The campground turned out to be very nice with lots of trees and nature trails for walks with the dogs. Well, it was nice until the masses and their kids showed up anyway - more on that later.

So we arrived barely before check-in closed on Tuesday since one of the 2 main bridges over the Ohio? river in Louisville is closed for repairs, which put us in a 1hr+ traffic jam. Checkin was uneventful and we had a chance to setup our crates. We had 4 crates since Ice-man came along for the ride even though he wasn't competing. The crating area was a jam packed building and everyone was nearly on top of each other. This is a lot different than when we went to Tulsa for the AKC Nationals two years ago and had a 10x10 stall. Fortunately, my teammates donated some of their 4'x6' crating space to us and we had enough room for all 4 crates.

Rip was entered in the DAM Team events, as well as the Grand Prix Quarterfinals. Skye was entered in PVP Team events, and the Performance Steeplechase Semi-Finals as well as Performance Grand Prix Semi-Finals. Skye's teammate was Baby, and Rip's teammates were Sharon Murphy & Reo and Art Malott & Mischief (Missy).

Wednesday started the events for us, and we only had Gamblers on the schedule. So, I had 2 runs, and Katrina only got 1 run with Baby. Here is the course map:

This was an interesting course. It presented 2 distance challenges, but only 28 seconds to run the course. For every second (or fraction) over time, you lost 3 points. For every second under time, you got 1 extra point, up to 10.  The a-b-c/A-B-C challenge could be done for 10 points as a run-with (no distance) or do it as a distance challenge from the back side of the tunnel. So, handlers had to decide what to do - you could even skip the distance challenges altogether. This was a 1-2-3-5 scoring course, with the teeter worth 5.

For me, I got a little greedy, which is always the downfall of Gamblers. I tried the A-B-C-H distance challenge with Rip and he came out of the first set of 6 poles when I went behind the tunnel. I also tried the 1-2-3-4 distance with him and he turned back and backjumped #2. We did not end up with many points, as we were also 1.07 seconds over time which subtracted 6 points giving us only 13. My teammate Reo had an OK Gambler run for 24 points, but Art & Missy had a worse run than Rip and ended up with only 7 points, so we were near the bottom of the 175 total teams running - I think we were in 150th place or so.

For Skye, I had the same plan, but I intended on running with him at the a-b-c challenge. He did the first 6 poles, the jump, and missed the entry on the second set of 6 poles. I didn't remember, but I could have fixed it and earned the 10 points, but we just went on instead. I also incorporated the 1-2-3-4 challenge and Skye got it very nicely, but my timing was off and the buzzer went off when Skye was on the AFrame on the way out, so we lost 18 points by being way over time! Don't get greedy!!! Skye also ended up with just 13 points, but Baby had a good Gamblers run with 38 points to offset Skye's mess.

We had Team Standard on Thursday as well as Perf GP Semi's for Skye. The Standard course wasn't too bad. Here is the map:

No real leadout was needed. Skye ran this first. Skye did look at the finish jump #19 after the AFrame, which I didn't expect, but I got him into the tunnel fine. We were going great but coming out of the tunnel before the #12 teeter, I didn't give him a very good line, and he fell off the side of the teeter. I put him back on it, but he missed the up contact in the process. We finished the rest of the course OK and ended up with just the 7 points worth of faults.

For Rip, he started out a little worried since the leash-runner came right up to me to get his leash. Rip hates having people behind him at the start and got concerned with ears pinned back and all. I got him going fine and he was slow over the AFrame (again worried because the judge was right next to the frame) but once in the tunnel, he shot out like a cannon! We got through the rest fine up until that darn tunnel to teeter section! I stood closer to the tunnel exit than I should have, to make sure he didn't offcourse the #16 jump but my position sent him right to the weaves. I screamed his name and he stopped just short of entering the poles and came over to the teeter and we continued on fine. He had a really fast dogwalk and we finished with just the 2 point refusal fault.

For our teams, Baby had a great run in Standard and was clean with no faults. This moved us up quite a bit in the standings - maybe 40th place out of 120?
Rip's teammates also got through without any 'E's though everyone had some faults. Still, we moved up to around 100th place, up from 150th.

Skye ran the PGP semi-finals but we ended up with an offcourse. I tried to do a rear-cross at a 180 turn and Skye looked at me like 'Huh?' and went right around the jump. In Grand Prix, you need to be clean, so I didn't bother to bring him back and fix it and just continued with the 'E'. They were not calling fault limits, so anyone that 'E'd a course still got to run it all the way through.
Here is the map from PGP. The problem jump was #13 and he went around the right side of it and then onto #14.

We had team Snooker on Friday, along with Grand Prix quarterfinals for Rip, and Perf Steeplechase semi-finals for Skye.

Here is the snooker map:

I was happy to see that we could only do 3 of the reds. It gives too much advantage to the really fast dogs if they can do all 4 reds, so this leveled the playing field a bit. The time allowed of 46 seconds isn't enough to get really aggressive with Skye - I was concerned that if I tried to go for too many points that we would end up with the buzzer while doing #7 in the close.
Also, since the #7 was jump/AF/jump, with that enticing tunnel under the frame, I elected to stay away from it. Both of my dogs would have a really good chance of grabbing an offcourse tunnel and ending our run early if I tried it.

For Skye, the conservative plan was 5+5+6 in the opening. Other than slipping and almost landing on the ground between the first 5 and the second 5, everything went great and we got all the way through the closing.

For Rip, the plan was for 6+6+6 in the opening. It went really smooth and we got all the way through #6 in the closing! When doing the 7 in the close, Rip took the jump but then shot into the tunnel under the frame (I knew that was a chance!)

For my teams, as it turned out, everyone but me had trouble with this course. Katrina and Baby got 1 point as Baby went behind her and took a jump she wasnt expecting. Rip's teammate Reo also got 1 point - they were going for 7's and after the first jump in the 7, Reo took the tunnel (see! Danger!). I didn't see Mischief run, but she at least got through #4 in the closing. Our team placements suffered after Snooker. I didn't tell Katrina that had she completed her plan, we would have been in 20th place, but instead were about 65th place.

Rip got to run the Grand Prix quarters next. This is the course:

The course was a little tricky. He went wide after #5 as though he didn't see the tunnel, but went in OK. The obvious tricky area was around 9 through 14. There were a lot of obstacles in close proximity with multiple direction changes. This one caught us, and after jump #10, I thought I had Rip's attention for the tunnel but he started up the dogwalk behind me. Whistle! I did get him and put him in the tunnel, and then we finished it up clean. He really ran nice, but you cant be getting offcourses! Unfortunately, Katrina was busy staring at the snooker ring next to this one and didn't watch us or film us.

At the end of the day, around 5:30pm, Skye got to run the Perf speed jumping semi's. The course was made for fast dogs and I knew this would be trouble for us as we can accel more at handling type courses. Here is the course:

We ran this clean without any bobbles and I was trying to push Skye to go fast. We ended up with a time about 36.1, but the real fast performance dogs were turning in times in the 30.x's. Once you factor the 15% average, the qualifier cutoff was around 35.1 so we didn't make it. I was still happy with his run - he did a great job.

For us, Saturday was the last day of competition. Sunday is for team and GP finals which we were not in.
Saturday's team jumpers course was really challenging, and though I don't have the exact numbers, this course proved really tough for the bigger dogs with about 1/3 of the competitors getting an "E".
Here is the map:

The line from jump #3 to #4 caused many of the issues. Dog after dog took the #9 offcourse. The other biggest problem area was jump #16, as it was a slice and the dog's momentum tended to put them past the plane. Lots of dogs missed taking #16 altogether and shot into the tunnel.

I am proud to say that both Skye and Rip ran this well with just 1 bar down. I ran it conservatively for Rip, though I wish I had pushed a little more as it was a good course for him. I did a blind cross after the tunnel and he knocked #18.

For Skye, I got momentarily lost around 5-6-7, and this caused the #7 jump to get knocked. I did regain my senses and we continued on and ran the rest clean.

For my teams, Baby also ran this with just 1 bar knocked. This helped move us back up a bit in the standings and we finished in 43'rd place out of 120 teams.  In the woulda-coulda-shoulda category, had Katrina finished her Snooker plan, we would have been in 16th place. They took just 12 Performance teams into the finals, so we still would not have made it, but we were really close and a better Gambler performance from me & Skye could have pushed us up even further. Ahhh if only!

On the other hand Rip's teammates did not fare well in this course. I saw Reo take the #14 triple after the #6 jump, so E for them. I didnt see Mischief's run, but she also earned up the 'E'. Surprisingly the two Es only moved our team placement marginally, and we ended up in 122nd place of 170. Not great, but not really near the bottom. Rip had the strongest performance on his team with no E's!
In the woulda-coulda-shoulda scenario for Rip's team - if the other 2 dogs performed exactly the same as Rip did, we would have ended up in 57th place.

Here's Rip's runs:

And Skye's:


In summary I would say our first USDAA Nationals was a successful event. I was not too nervous and I think my dogs ran really well.
Rip and Skye both hit every single contact! Other than Gamblers, they had perfect weave performances, and both dogs only knocked 1 bar (Rip knocked the start bar for snooker but it didnt count for anything :)

Next year, USDAA Nationals is right near home in Denver, outdoors in October. This can be risky - it could easily be cold with some snow, but I am planning on attending and deal with what nature brings us!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Three dogs, three rings, three days!

Last weekend I went to the FRAAD AKC show at the Castle Rock fairgrounds. It's a 3 day show and on Saturday and Sunday, there are 3 rings with 3 judges. Lots of people and lots of conflicts with all the rings. The fact that two rings are indoors and one is outdoors, out of view from the indoor rings, really doesn't help.

I got to run Baby for my wife as well this weekend since she had to attend a Nosework instructor event in Denver. Baby moved to Preferred this year when she turned 10, and she hasn't done a lot of AKC, so going into this show, she still needed 3 Double Qs (after Katrina just got her 3 Double Qs a week ago) to qualify for the AKC Nationals for next year. With only 2 months left in the qualifying period, the pressure was on to help out with those Double Qs. As it turned out, Baby was rockin the house and ran 6 awesome runs, getting ALL THREE of those last Double Qs!

As for my dogs, I am really pleased with how they did.

Skye had a smoking weekend too, and ended up going 7 for 10, also getting 2 Double Qs himself!
We ran FAST all three days as well as our first official T2B class on Saturday. Skye managed to get one of the FAST send's - distance work isn't our strong suit!
His only other NQ run was a Standard course where he missed the dogwalk contact. The dogwalk was the 2nd to last obstacle and he just jumped it and went over the finish jump. That was his only missed contact of the weekend.
I am working to qualify Skye for AKC Nationals too - he now has plenty of Double Qs (you need 6 in the qualifying period) and of the 400 points required, we now have 393! I looked at my records and we didn't do as many AKC shows this year as in years past. With this show, we have now attended just 8 AKC shows for the year, but Skye's consistency has gone up so we almost have those points already. I looked at his averages and he's getting an avg of 10.7 points per JWW run, and 17.5 points per STD. So, I need just one more JWW Q to be all wrapped up.

As for Rip, he had a lot of really great runs this weekend. He only ended up with 3 of 10 Qs, but he was really close on a few of those.
He got two Qs in Exc. B JWW, and that now gives us 7 JWW Qs. This is a huge accomplishment considering how he used to knock a bar in almost every jumpers run. He has also been running really fast and has greatly improved his speed in the weaves. On Sunday, he ran an Exc. JWW course in 23.5 seconds.
Also on Sunday, Rip ran a fabulous STD run but knocked the very last bar. He had slipped in the loose dirt and try as he may, he just didn't have enough to clear it. That run was done in just 38 seconds.
One of his STD runs had a bad approach to the dogwalk that I didn't manage enough, and he hit one stride on the up ramp and continued off the side of it. In his other NQ'd Standard run, I made a handling error by calling Rip off a jump before he took it - I was worried about the offcourse tunnel after the jump so I gave him a turn cue too soon - but kudos to Rip for coming off that jump! Then he took an offcourse jump out of a tunnel because I assumed he would turn towards me when exiting the tunnel - never assume!
Rip also got to run 3 FAST courses and he also Q'd the very same course that Skye Q'd. The other two were close but no-go, and in Friday's, he actually got the send bonus but the buzzer went while we were trying it. In his first T2B course, he ran great with just 1 bar down
So Rip hit every single contact that he was given an opportunity to hit. Yes!!

I've put a video of some of Rip's runs together here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ADCH or MACH, what's tougher to get?

So Nicki at Borderblog asked a question on one of my posts, since I do both USDAA and AKC agility, what is tougher to earn - USDAA's ADCH championship, or AKC's MACH championship.

From the engineer in me, the answer is the MACH, since it requires more Q's:
ADCH = 5 Standard + 5 Jumpers + 5 Gamblers + 5 Snooker (3 superQs) + 5 Pairs + 5 Tournament (2 GP + 2 Steeplechase + 1 Team)
MACH = 20 Double Q's (20 Standard + 20 JWW on the same day) + 750 points.

However, I really don't think it's that simple.

First, an interesting tidbit about my dog Skye - he earned his MACH in July '10, and less than 2 months later, he earned his ADCH (in Performance, which is actually called PDCH). In Colorado, we have about twice as many AKC shows as we have USDAA shows, so then in theory, the MACH was tougher to get because we had many more tries at it.

Skye is a medium fast dog, which helps him be more consistent. In AKC, the Double Q requires consistency, but you can't be real slow and consistent or you will earn your Double Q's far faster than the 750 speed points. When Skye got his MACH, he had about 800 speed points, so the requirements tracked along pretty equally for us. I don't have any stats on how many agility days of competition it took us to put 20 Double Qs together, but I do know that we had about 28 total Standard Q's, so only 8 times we got a Standard Q and did not get a JWW Q to go along with it. We Q JWW more often than Standard, and as of right now, Skye has 43 total Standard Qs and 55 total JWW Qs (and 11 Double Qs toward the next MACH)
Now, a super fast dog may earn lots of speed points when they are clean, but at lightning speed, they are far more likely to end up offcourse. It can be a real challenge for a super fast dog to get a double Q!

So, where consistency pays dividends in AKC, it's not so much a requirement in USDAA. 
There is no requirement that you need to get multiple Qs in a day for USDAA. Also, in some of the events you MUST beat the competition in order to Q, especially in Snooker, so you tend to push a bit harder. 

The 5 Standard and 5 Jumper Qs that you need are stand-alone - ie earn them when you can, and on your own as long as you are under standard course time.

In Gamblers, you need a dog that is trained to work away from the handler. This can be a big challenge for small dogs, who tend not to excel at distance challenges, and for some big dogs too. Skye is a 'clingy' dog who doesnt like to work away from me, so getting 5 Gamble Qs was tough for us, and in fact, to complete our PDCH, we were waiting on that last Gamble.

In Pairs, it's required that both you and your partner get through your half of the course without going offcourse. You are allowed to be 'sloppy' and drop bars, miss contacts, re-do weaves, etc. as long as you are fast enough to overcome the penalty points that are added to your time when you are not clean. You also must have 5 different pairs partners, so its the luck of the draw!

Now Snooker is a strategy game that gives a lot of people fits. You have to make a plan that will give you at least 37 points, and for 3 of the 5 Qs you need, you must place in the top 15% of the class. This means that you will often be trying for many more than 37 points, and you are increasing your chances of failure to get those points! If you compete in an area with very skilled, fast competitors, you will definitely have your work cut out to beat them and be in the top 15%. Snooker requires you to be able to run past obstacles without taking them, and generally run around with a course that doesnt make a lot of sense to the dog. 
For Skye, since he is a 'clingy' boy, Snooker is easier for us - he is not looking to take other obstacles other than what I am indicating. We have more USDAA Q's in Snooker than in anything else, and about half of our Qs are Super Qs (the Performance classes are smaller, so its easier than the Championship classes)

Finally, you need what USDAA calls Tournament Qs. 
You need to get 2 Grand Prix Q's, which are essentially Standard without a table. You have to run clean in these and you dont need to worry about your competition.
You also need to get 2 Steeplechase Q's, which is a speed course with an AFrame and Weaves, one of which you will do twice, along with jumps, tunnels and the broad jump. In Steeplechase, you are allowed to be 'sloppy' again, and drop bars and miss contacts as long as you are fast enough with the penalty points. You must again beat your competition to Q - the top 3 dogs' times are averaged together, and then 25% more time is added to that total to come up with the cutoff time for a Q. A moderately fast dog can get a Q as long as they run clean. 
You also need 1 DAM Team Q, which is a team of 3 dogs (2 dogs for Performance) who compete individually for points. Those points are added together using some multiplier formulas. The last event of Team is the Relay race. As long as your teammates do not go offcourse, everything is scored with time+faults. An offcourse is an E, and gets you zero points for that event. Consistency does pay off in the Team events.

Ahhhh, so what is the final answer to the question? 
I think an ADCH is Tougher to get for the average dog, as it requires many more skills than just the consistency of AKC. In USDAA, you have to run faster, be able to work at a distance, be able to run past obstacles, be able to pair with other people, and be able to come up with your own strategic course in Gamblers and Snooker.

The courses in USDAA also are often more challenging than AKC, with sharper jump angles and such.

Owners of super fast dogs will probably say that a MACH is tougher, because that consistency doesn't come easy, and they can get the USDAA Q's here and there, as well as not having to be clean for many of them.

So, opinions anyone? That's my take on it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Laramie USDAA for Skye and Rip

We took the travel trailer up to Laramie WY again this year for their annual USDAA trial. This show always runs a couple Masters classes on Friday afternoon, which works out fine since we have a 3.5 hour drive up, so we wouldn't be able to drive up on Saturday morning anyway. The trip up was pretty uneventful, unlike Jackie's trip! We haul in what seems like half the household, with our 4 dogs and 4 wire crates and 4 fans, chairs, coolers, bedding, etc. This is a nice relaxing trial as it's only 1 ring, so no conflicts, and the arena is out in the country surrounded only by University of Wyoming agriculture buildings and hundreds of sheep (Hellllooooo Border Collies!). The only real downside here is the flies. Lots of flies. Flies crawling on you all the time. 

Here are some of Rip's videos. (I am having some computer trouble so havent been able to compile Skye's videos yet)

So we started the day with Gamblers, and I didn't do it right for either dog. I dont have the map, but it was seemingly straightforward - take a jump and send to a U shaped tunnel, and upon tunnel exit, pass back between the jump and the tunnel and take a distance teeter, and finish with a jump. It really didnt look very difficult. I started the gamble with both dogs on my left - worked great for Rip, but Skye took the wrong end of the tunnel. Skye then got the rest of the gamble just fine. Rip came out of the tunnel and flew back over the starting jump.  

Next we did Steeplechase. Rip had a pretty nice run but he did miss his contact on the first pass of the AFrame and then ended up knocking a bar, so we did not make it into round 2. His time was pretty good at 33 seconds. Skye had a decent, clean run, though he was a bit slow due to the heat. I think he ran it in 39 seconds - so Rip was 6 seconds ahead of him!

The last of Friday's runs was Snooker. Rip did well - we were going for 5-6-7-6 in the opening but he hit the third Red jump, so we went to the other and ended up with 5-6-7 opening, and in the closing it was going great, but Rip knocked a bar in the #6 combo so our 35 points wasnt enough points to Q. Skye ran the course great doing the 5-6-7-6 opening and went all the way through the closing, so he ended up with another Super Q! I've pretty much found that I need to run the same plan with both dogs or I will get mixed up. 

Saturday started with Standard - Skye had a great run and got 1st place in his small group of P3 dogs! 
I've really been wanting to get Rip out of Advanced Standard - it seems like we have had wayyyyy to many tries at getting Q's in Adv. Std without success - we only had 1 Q going into the show. So, maybe trying too hard, or caring too much factors into the NQ's as well - there is definitely something to be said about that as when you try to run more cautious, you DO end up making mistakes.
So here we go - the run is going great and Rip sticks his dogwalk contact nicely. We near the end and I am impatient and pull him off a jump before the AFrame - no problem though as no refusals are called on jumps, so I put him back over it, and then he launches his AFrame contact. Ugh. Followed by hitting the bar on the jump after the frame. There goes try #1.

Next came Grand Prix - this felt like a long course and the wheeling showed it as 194 yards. Yikes! It had a couple tricky spots for a dog like Rip who loves to suck to tunnels. 
Rip ran that course like a champ and ignored those offcourses and got a Q! He took about 5th place. There were not a lot of dogs that qualified on that longass course. 
Skye then ran the course and he also did great - he ran it in about the same amount of time Rip did and got a Q & 2nd place! Both dogs got their first Grand Prix/Perf Grand Prix Q's for next year's qualification period!

Last for Saturday was Jumpers. This was a pretty tricky course with some weird angles and a box with a 270 and offcourse potential. Rip ended up getting caught by the offcourse after jump #5, and Skye was pretty slow but dropped a bar, so neither dog got a Jumpers Q this time around.

Sunday had Standard, Pairs, Round2 of Steeplechase and a bonus round of Snooker.

As it turned out, Sunday was Rip's day! I tried not to overthink his Standard run and just run it. Everything went great and we got a freakin Standard Q baby! The dogwalk was the 2nd to last obstacle and the course put you a little behind on it, and I must have told him to "Touch!" while he was on the up-ramp! Good boy stuck that contact!

Skye ran really well and I thought we had Q'd the P3 Standard, but then I found out after that he actually missed his dogwalk contact. It was a popular fault because of the way the course was designed.

We ran Pairs - Rip was paired with Julie & Rift and we did great. Rift is Ice's brother. This was our second try together and this time our only fault was a bar that Rip knocked, but our time was plenty fast to get the Q. This was also Rip's Master Pairs title!

Skye ran pairs with my wife & Baby. Unfortunately Katrina didnt notice that Baby missed the weave entry so when she continued to the next obstacle, she was whistled. Last time we paired, it was me who messed it up, and this was her turn. 
The bummer is, I am trying to get Skye's PDCH-Bronze title, and all we need are Gambler and Pairs legs, and we got neither at this show.

Skye got to play in Round 2 of P-Steeplechase. He was running pretty slow, so I didn't expect too much, but he did run clean. Shar & Tar'n ran after us and they had a bobble at the weave entry, but even with that, they still ended up 1.5 secs ahead, so Skye got 2nd place. Still good for $8 :)

Finally we got to play the bonus Snooker. As Rip still needs all his Super Qs, I tend to try and come up with a high point plan that will give us a chance. He's not the fastest dog, so I usually can't go for all 7's and make it through the closing, but again we had the option of 4 reds and I was going for 7-7-6-3 I believe. Rip was actually going for something different though! I did a long leadout and planned to call him over a red and through the tunnels so we could take the teeter in the back. Rip was coming to me and I flinched and he veered into the #3 tunnel. So, plan change, we did #3, then did the 7, then 6, and instead of #3 as planned, Rip did the #2 tunnel, but that was OK, we continued through the close. The buzzer went while the #7 teeter was tipping down, so we didnt get those points. No Super Q, but we did get the regular Q anyway.

For Skye, I ran a 7-7-6 opening and we got through the closing. The 16" & 22" groups got combined in performance and 1 super Q was given out - it went to my wife & Baby who did 4 reds. 

All in all a very successful trial. So glad to get an Advanced Standard leg for Rip, and also really glad to get each dog a Grand Prix Q!

I am not happy about how many bars Rip knocked this weekend. Some were probably my fault, and some were his fault. I may have to go back to staggering his jump heights in practice again - I will see after this weekend's 3-day USDAA show that is going to be at the same nice indoor soccer facility where the RM Regional was held. I also have to continue my work on contacts for both dogs. Skye did really well only missing 1 dogwalk contact all weekend. Rip did well on his dogwalks, hitting them all, but did miss a couple AFrames. We are not quite there yet!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Skye and Rip do AKC at Latigo, July 2011

This past weekend was a 2 day local trial at the Latigo Trails facility, which is the one only 10 minutes from home.

The judge, Terry Culley, had some really fun and challenging courses. Sometimes AKC courses seem considerably easier than USDAA, but that was not the case this weekend, especially on Saturday where only 5 dogs out of about 30 in the Exc. 20B group Q'd the standard course. That was followed up by only 9 dogs Q'ing the the Exc 20B JWW course!

Skye actually managed to get a Double Q on Saturday with a 3rd in Std and a 6th in JWW!

Rip had a really nice fast Std run in Exc-A, but he "bunny hopped" his teeter and got called (rightfully so!) - I think he may have thought it was the dogwalk. His time was faster than the 1st place dog in 20B which is cool.

I then had a first-ever with Rip in JWW - and not a good first either. He got spooked by the judge and wouldn't run the course. He took the 2nd jump and was looking at the judge who was standing near jump #3 and veered off, refusing to go anywhere near #3 and going away from me, just really freaked for some reason. I suppose the reason is he is a border collie, and sometimes they freak out! So I left after 2 jumps with Rip, pretty disappointed that we didnt get to try the course.

On Sunday, neither dog had a really good Standard run. I decided to push Skye a little, and he knocked the top bar of the triple and then came out of the weaves at about pole 4 after the triple, in order to catch up to me! He then missed both his AF and DW contacts. Jeeze.
For Rip, because of the bad experience in JWW on Saturday, I decided to "run with" from the start to keep it a positive experience - I didnt want any repeat of him being scared. Normally I would have taken a small leadout and front crossed between #3 & 4, but instead I did a rear cross, and Rip didnt cross tight and took an offcourse, skipping the triple and heading into the weaves. We continued and he then missed his AF contact as well. I made him hold his DW. I MUST remember to hold criteria on both dogs - gotta quit letting them get away with missing these contacts as they have really solid 2O2O in practice.

In JWW, both dogs ran really well. Skye got a Q & 8th place - about 50% of dogs Q'd the JWW course in the 20B group. Rip had a great run but did drop 1 bar as I decelerated too soon. He ran it 1.5 seconds faster than Skye did.

Here are some of Skye and Rip's runs:

Finally, I got to run Xena, a neat fast Aussie owned by Lana, as Lana had pulled a leg muscle on Saturday and couldnt run. This was my first time running Xena, though she is in class with Skye so she knows me.

Xena ran great for me. We took 1st in Open Standard and earned her Open Std Title!  I then ran her in Open JWW and she also got 1st & Q'd, though we did have a little refusal bobble in that one.

Here is Xena's Standard run:

Monday, July 11, 2011

RM Regional - one more video

I was able to get Rip's Team Relay from Alan Tay (Powerpups) which is great since we had video recording issues.

Mary Ellen & Maizy had 1 bar, Rufus popped his weaves - and Susan says he NEVER does that, and then Rip had 1 bar, but no offcourse!
Wow look at that Maizy go!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our USDAA Rocky Mountain Regional Report

Last weekend I attended the RM Regional, held at an awesome indoor soccer facility in Lakewood, Colorado - it's just west of Denver. The turf surface is really nice and the building is huge with plenty of crating space. On the downside, the building is not climate controlled except for some ventilation fans, and the weekend was up near 100 degrees, so it was quite steamy in there.

I had entered DAM/PVP team events with Rip and Skye, as well as the Regional Steeplechase & Grand Prix events. I passed on the IHC classes and the local Grand Prix to save some money.

Overall, we did really well. In DAM team, Rip's teammates were Mary Ellen Barry & her BC Maizy and Susan Scariot & her Papillon Rufus. They were really great and we ended up having a very successful team, considering nobody knew each other before we got there! Maizy was the top 22" dog in Team for the weekend, and Rufus scored really high. Rip did well too - no offcourses for us and our team ended up in 5th place overall, out of 30 very competitive teams.
My only regret is in Rip's snooker course. I had run the course with Skye and accumulated 53 points with a pretty flowing plan. I wanted to run the same plan with Rip, but didn't anticipate that he would head for an offcourse tunnel, so we only ended up with 9 points. Had I been able to execute the same plan with Rip, our team would have finished in 2nd - woulda, coulda, shoulda!

In this Gamblers run, there was a 3 jump sequence that had to be done as a threadle for 5 points in a 1235 scoring system. This was the only 5 point obstacle. Rip did it successfully in both the opening and in the closing (double points). There were only 3 other 22" dogs that did it in the opening - not sure how many did in the close. We had 42 points - 1st place was 45 points.

Skye & I were teamed with my wife & Baby. I turned out to be the weak link on our team unfortunately. Skye had an offcourse in Standard, at the tunnel / dogwalk discrimination. Looking back at the video, I can see that I greatly contributed to that offcourse. Bummer. Our Gamblers was good, with Skye getting 1st in 22" performance, and our Jumpers and Snooker were good too - Skye also had 1st in Snooker. We were in 6th place, 'above the line', going into the relay. Alas... Skye found another tunnel to take that wasn't part of the course and we NQ'd our side of the relay. Baby-dog was perfect all weekend, putting up really nice scores all around, but with Skye getting 2 offcourses, we ended up in 7th, just below the Q line. It didnt really matter as we had already Q'd for Nationals, but still!!

Steeplechase round 1 had 2 sets of weaves - this turned out to be Rip's downfall. His weaves this weekend were pretty slow with the heat, and having to do 2 sets just cost too much time. Rip ran clean, but was just too slow to make it into round 2.
Skye's Perf-Steeplechase was good, though he knocked the last bar. We just made it into round 2 as the last seed.

In Grand Prix, Skye already had a bye into round 2, so it was more or less practice. I didn't monitor contacts and Skye missed both his DW and his AF, but otherwise had a good run.
Rip ran pretty well except in one spot where I was doing a wrap/rear cross on a jump and he didn't read my motion and turned the wrong way and knocked the bar. I am bummed that we didn't get that run on tape so I could see what I did.

So, Rip did not get to play in Round 2 of either Steeplechase or Grand Prix - no bye's for him!
Skye did play in both Round 2's. He took I think 3rd in Perf Steeplechase. I thought his time was not fast enough for a bye, as I believe we got combined with the 16" group, but then on Sunday the trial sec told me I DID get a bye for Steeplechase, so if that is the case, then cool beans!
The last run for us was Perf Grand Prix, and though Skye was not all that fast due to the 99 degree heat, he did run it clean for 2nd place and a semi-final bye!

I would really like to do a Regional where I don't have to run in 100 degree heat. The only regionals I have done have been local and really hot, which makes my dogs really slow. Maybe next year I will investigate doing one somewhere else, either in a climate controlled place, or at a cooler time of year. We shall see.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

USDAA in the forest!

This was a really weird trial for us, with as many good moments as bad. It's set at a nice park among tall pines with no view of any street. It's also only 25 minutes from home.

I was running Skye and Rip, and also ended up running Baby for Katrina as she had a leg muscle that didn't feel right and didn't want to chance it after last year's hamstring pull. That amounted to about 15 runs for the weekend.

Lets review Rip's runs first. He had a decent weekend, even though we still manage to find a way to NQ every Advanced Standard run we do. We have 1 Q in the last 11 attempts at Advanced Standard!
We started the weekend off on a good note, with a Q in Master Gamblers. He did a nice job on the send over two jumps to a tunnel, then back over two jumps to finish. That's his 4th Master Gamblers Q - I dont think gamblers will be our issue like it was for Skye!

His Saturday Standard run was really slow - like I didn't know what was wrong with him slow - and later I found out that he really needed to potty, so bad dad on me. He ended up running around the chute, so I put him back in, and then I didn't cross and caused a wrong end of the tunnel.
He ran nicely in Steeplechase round 1, but he did knock 2 bars, so that kept us out of round 2.

He ran pairs with Amy & Nes, and we squeaked in with a Q. Nes is consistent but slow, so we barely made time. This was also our 4th Master Pairs Q.

To save some money, we did not run Grand Prix, as we already have our 2 Qs for nationals.
On Sunday, we started with Standard and had a good run going - then he popped out of the weaves at pole 10. Damn! That was our fault for this try.
Next up we ran his first ever Master Jumpers course. Rip did a very nice job and kept all the bars up for a Q. Good boy!

We then had Snooker, which was an interesting setup. The 7pt combo was three tunnels set far apart, and you had to run by jumps to get there.
Because Rip loves tunnels, I thought this would be a good course for us to try for all 7s. I figured I could tell him to 'go tunnel' and he wouldn't care about the offcourse jump options. I was right - he did a great job and never looked at the jumps, but with the 90 degree+ heat, he wasn't running all that fast, and we got through 6 in the closing, and then the #7 in the closing wasn't the tunnels, but a 3 jump combo instead.

Rip got up to the 2nd jump of #7 in the close when the buzzer went. Only 1 dog completed all 7s and got through the close, so this *woulda* been a super Q for us. Instead it was a regular Q.

Rip finished the day by trying the IHC jumpers course. Again he was running pretty slow, and he did a good job with only 1 refusal on the course. No offcourses.

Now Skye's turn...
On Saturday, for whatever reason, Skye popped out of the weaves at pole 10 five different times. I cant even remember the last time he popped out prior to this trial. He did this 3 times in a row in Gamblers to start off the weekend. He also popped in Perf. Steeplechase and Pairs. I was
pretty frustrated with him and those thoughts of 'retirement' crept back in. I figured I would just have to wait and see what the rest of the weekend brought and decide what to do later. Fortunately, he did not pop out in any run on Sunday.

So, Skye managed to only get 3 Qs this weekend, two in Standard - both 1st place in pretty small classes, and he also Q'd the IHC Jumpers course.

The days were pretty hot, which tends to affect Skye's performance - he is definitely a lot slower in the heat.
In Gamblers, we had an alltime low number of points - since he kept missing those weaves. We got 2 whole points, and no distance challenge - but my heart was not in that part anyway after the bad weaves.
In P-Steeplechase round 1, he knocked the broad jump and the weave popout that we did fix. No Q, but we made it to round 2 anyway.

In pairs, I had to re-do the weaves again, and then I forgot the course so directed him over an offcourse jump.
The Snooker run wasn't bad, though he didn't listen and took an offcourse jump after #5 in the closing, so we had 36 points and no Q!
His Jumpers run was nice except that he uncharacteristicly knocked 2 bars.
His round 2 of P-Steeplechase was pretty nice, right up to the point where he skipped the broad jump. I didn't go back and fix it.

Skye ran pretty slow in his IHC Jumpers course, which I am sure contributed to us being able to Q it. The course had a threadle and push around challenge as well as some interesting angles.

On a good note, according to the USDAA website, those 2 Standard Qs for Skye this weekend give him 100 Qs for Lifetime Achievement standings.
That also leaves us with needing 5 pairs and 5 gambles for our PADCH-Bronze.

And finally, I ran Baby this weekend...
Baby ran really well for me with just 2 exceptions.
I ran her in Perf Grand Prix and got 1st place and another bye certificate for Katrina. We ran P-Steeplechase and she had a good run for 2nd place in round 1, and then she followed that up by getting 1st in round 2 on Sunday!
She was sassy in Gamblers, so she did not get the gamble as she was barking at me instead. Her only other issue was in Saturday's Standard course when she was looking around for mom, and skipped the 2nd jump, then as the course turned back to where Katrina was filming, Baby went over for a quick visit - she also didnt want to lay down on the table, the little stinker!
Katrina did run her in Pairs for the 10 obstacles, while I ran Skye (see above).
She Q'd Jumpers, Snooker, Standard and IHC Jumpers. Sunday's Standard run was great, good for 1st, especially considering her foolishness on Saturday. All in all, a good time running Baby-dog!

Grand Prix

Steeplechase Rd2

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Double Q's and the Meeks!

This past weekend we competed at the 3 day FRAAD AKC trial. This is a fun trial because it's one of our few shows that includes the FAST class. It was 3 rings, with 2 indoors and 1 outdoor, which can make for some conflicts, but it wasn't really an issue for us.

We had a really successful show, except for that darn FAST class! I also got to run Meeker - which I will talk about later.

Rip put together three really nice runs. He is in Exc. A for STD and Exc. B for JWW. His standard run was great - he ran fast, motivated and listened really well. Unfortunately we knocked the panel jump so no Q, but still a great run with a time that would have been 3rd place in the Exc B class of 50+ dogs.
He also ran a really fast JWW run - it was his kind of course with a lot of areas to use his stride. I called too early for a wrap jump and made him knock the jump before it though, so no Q's, but very happy with the runs. Rip ran both STD and JWW more than 3 seconds faster than Skye did. I am starting to see some of his speed actually come out on course.
We ran Open FAST at the end of the day and he got the Q to earn our Open FAST title! That puts us in Excellent for all classes, yeah!

Skye continued his good consistent running on Friday and earned us another Double Q - this is the 5th one needed to qualify for Nationals.



Rip put it together and got Q's in both Exc A STD and in Exc JWW! His first 'virtual' double Q! We still need 1 more Exc A qualifier to get into B for Standard. He was just a touch behind Skye in JWW, and about 1.5 seconds ahead of Skye in STD.

Skye ran Saturday's courses great too and earned yet another Double Q - the last one we needed for Nationals. We still need a little over 100 points more, but that should not be an issue.
In the JWW course on Saturday, I believe I put 7 front crosses in for Skye to keep him running motivated and it worked, putting him just ahead of Rip.
The Standard course had a tunnel under the AFrame that caused a lot of dogs to turn the wrong way upon exiting (including Rip) so I ran and FrontCrossed for Skye which turned him correctly. This course also had a weird intentional back-jump combination, where obstacle 15 & 16 were the same jump - take it one way for 15, turn around and take it the other way for 16. We did it without issue.

Skye JWW


Skye STD

Finally, Skye was going for the perfect double Q weekend after getting the Q in JWW. So close! After the dogwalk, we were to wrap a jump and go back to a tunnel under the dogwalk - but Skye had spotted a different jump and headed in a direction to cut me off before the jump - I pushed back to the correct jump and told him to wrap but his approach was off and he knocked the bar. The rest of the run was great.

Rip ran two really nice runs again, with 1 mistake in each. In JWW, I got momentarily lost and he saved my butt when I realized I was about to pull him off the correct jump, but then I rushed a front cross and cut into his path, causing him to knock the 2nd to last bar.
In Standard, I got out of position after bailing on a cross before the AFrame. This put me behind, causing me to rear a jump after the frame, and then rear into the weaves. He hit the weave entry but skipped a pole, so NQ.

The Excellent FAST courses this weekend all had the same theme - some kind of approach to a tunnel where you had to get the dog into the difficult end. Skye and I failed the challenge all 3 times - ugh!!
Rip had his first 2 tries at Excellent FAST but did not get the Q's. Sunday's was as close as you can get without actually Qing it - he got the distance piece, but turned around on the AFrame after a bad approach. I stood for a moment trying to remember if I could put him back on it, then the buzzer went and it took us 5 seconds to get over the finish jump, which put our points total at 59 - just 1 shy of qualifying!

"The Meeks"
On Saturday and Sunday I ran Meeker for one of our students, Liz, who was injured. Meeker is a big fun Aussie who jumps 24". I have run him in class before, and he stayed with us one time when Liz was on vacation, so we do have a little bond.
Meeker ran great for me, and we actually went 3/4, earning her a Double Q on Sunday. Our only NQ run was caused by Meeks hitting the triple (and knocking it flat!). He is such a good dog and runs well for others. He does already have his MACH 2, so he is definitely well trained.

Meeker STD

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

USDAA fun in Pueblo.

Ah, the joy of May, the only month when we have back-to-back local USDAA trials.

This weekend, it was Pueblo's turn, and we had a great time in spite of the weather. Pueblo was unusually cool both days, more-so on Sunday, with a little rain and drizzle and just a bit of sunshine too. If you asked the dogs, they would tell you it was perfect!

Skye was again a superstar, getting a Q in everything he ran, except for one Gamblers course where the Q rate was about 10%.

He finished qualifying for the Nationals with another Grand Prix Q. Along the way, he also Q'd both of his Standard runs, Jumpers, Snooker, Gamblers, and Pairs. We scratched from a bonus Snooker run because it was very late in the day and it had started to rain.

The Snooker we did Q had a knocked bar in the opening, which kept us from getting another Super Q, but the run was still nice, and Skye hit 4 good AFrames in that run!

He also Q'd Perf. Steeplechase, getting 1st place in round 1 and 2nd place in round 2.

So now with Skye qualified in all 3 events for Nationals, I need to start planning on going. It seems Katrina will likely not go, in which case I need to come up with team(s) on my own.

Rip also had a very good weekend, even though Standard Q's still elude us.
Like Skye, he also managed to get his 2nd Grand Prix Q, so he is qualified in GP and Team for Nationals.
Rip finally managed to get another Steeplechase Q this weekend (our last was August last year). We seem to be consistently about 6 seconds slower than the fastest of fast dogs, which this weekend included Kim Terrill and Steeple, though his speed is improving.

Somehow I need to get Rip to be more confident on course and run like I have seen him run. His weaves were Really slow this weekend, probably 3-4 seconds a set. When you are up against dogs doing weaves in 2 seconds, and have to do this twice on course, you are pretty far behind!

Rip managed to get a Snooker Q, despite taking a jump I didnt plan on - our recovery skills were great in that run!

We also ran Pairs with Rio and we had a nice fast run for a Q.

Finally, at the end of the day Sunday, we ran Jumpers and Rip Q'd that one too, earning our Advanced Jumpers title - now we are in Masters for everything except Standard.
Darn Standard - our run on Saturday was great, with an AFrame contact fault. On Sunday, I made some handling choices that I would change if I could do it over. Sunday's standard run was pretty messy with numerous faults.

All in all, I was really happy with Rip's contacts. His AFrame is getting faster again, and he only missed 1 that I recall. He also never missed a weave entry and only popped out once!

Rip didnt feel well on Sunday, having stomach issues, so I am sure he didnt give 100%, but I really am going to try and work his confidence so that I can get him running faster on course. He worries too much, and gets concerned about the people around him, and the judge standing nearby. This contributes to him running with some fear, instead of being his happy goofy self.

Rip Standard

Rip Steeplechase

Rip Pairs

Skye Standard

Skye Snooker

Skye Perf Grand Prix

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What happened to Spring? or USDAA in Brighton.

We attended the 2 day USDAA trial in Brighton this past weekend. We didn't go to this one last year, though I usually try to make it since we have so few USDAA's available. This time, we ended up with mid 80's to 90 degree temps in early May. You really never know this time of year - we have had ice on the grass at this trial too in years past, as well as microburst winds that like to come midday and destroy canopies.

So, with the high temps, I lowered my expectations for Skye and Rip, as neither of them do real well in the heat. Skye seems to run at about 1/2 speed - I know that is an exaggeration, but that's how it feels while we are out there.

It turned out to be a successful weekend overall, though neither of my boys managed to get a Standard Q this weekend.

We did pretty well in the tournament classes - Skye was one of the few Perf 22" dogs to run clean in Grand Prix so he got 1st & a bye certificate. Rip ran well in Grand Prix though I pulled him off a jump - we kept going and got whistled. I continued and got whistled again - apparently during the briefing that I missed, the judge decided to implement the rule that you leave after an offcourse. I at least did 5 or 6 more obstacles before leaving. How much time are we really saving at a local trial doing this for $22 runs? Maybe a couple minutes? Aggravating.

In Steeplechase, Skye ran clean except for 1 bar, but we still managed to get into round 2.  Rip had a nice clean Steeplechase run, though a little slow due to the heat. We missed the cutoff for round 2 even though we were clean, thanks to 3 really fast dogs who set the cutoff time. In round 2, Skye had 1 fault - hitting the broad jump pretty hard, but finished for 3rd place.

Skye had issues with contacts this weekend - he missed a couple dogwalks in standard, missed quite a few AFrames as well throughout - costing us a Super Q in Snooker (though we dont need them), and costing us Standard runs.
Rip was 100% on contacts this weekend - awesome!

Each of them had a couple bars down, though the grass was thick in spots, and very slick in other spots, so it was hard for them to judge the footing. There were a number of handlers who took nasty falls, and a number of dogs sliding, hitting bars and uprights and getting a little hurt.

My finally tally was
2 Qs for Rip, a Master Gambler, and Advanced Jumper, out of 8 runs.
6 Qs for Skye, in Gamblers, Grand Prix, Pairs, Perf Steeplechase, Snooker, and Jumpers of 8 runs.

Skye is now qualified for nationals in Perf Steeplechase and Team and needs 1 more Grand Prix.
Rip is qualified in Team, but needs 1 more Grand Prix, and still needs 2 Steeplechase.

I did load a couple videos onto Youtube. I got a new HD video camera, so click the fullscreen link to check them out in 1080p High Definition!

Rip Jumpers:

Rip Snooker:
I mixed up Skye's plan with Rip's plan - we had a great run going, trying for 4 7's.

Skye Grand Prix:

Skye Jumpers:

We have another USDAA next weekend in Pueblo - I am hoping that its not going to be hot again!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Snow on April 26th!

My anniversary is April 26th, and to celebrate, mother nature gave us snow! Of course, it was gone the next day, but the dogs had a great time in it. Here are a few pictures...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Video from MHGRC AKC show

I posted these to my youtube account, but keep forgetting to put them here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Skye and Rip's MHGRC AKC results

We only played on Saturday and Sunday, and it was a very good show for us.

I did start the weekend off with a 'Doh!' experience in Rip's standard run. We are in Exc. A standard and ran with the tall dogs. The start was a U shaped tunnel to the dogwalk, but Rip managed to find the conveniently placed jump coming out of the tunnel instead. He stepped on the dogwalk and got in his 2-on-2-off position. I took him off the DW and then we went back on it to continue the course. Tweeet! went the judge's whistle, so oh well, no Q for us, just finish up the run. Tweeeeet!!! as we pass the next jump and chute and then I remember, 'Tweet' in AKC means you have violated the 4-paw rule and must leave immediately! Oops. I did apologize to the judge after, mentioning that I ran USDAA the prior weekend which doesnt make you leave when you hear the whistle.

Skye then ran Standard and had a really nice run which was good for 4th place out of the 66 20" B dogs!

Rip is now in Exc. B JWW, so we were looking to get our first ever MACH points, and he did not disappoint! Rip ran the course before Skye on both days and showed big-brother how it's done! He was clean with 14 MACH points on Saturday!

Skye then got to run and though he was about 1/10th of a second behind Rip's time, Skye also was clean for 14 MACH points and a Double Q - yeah!

On Sunday, we started with JWW, and Rip was the 3rd dog on the line for the day. He did really well and ran clean again for 10 more MACH points and his 2nd clean Exc. B JWW! Good boy keeping all those bars up!

Skye ran it after, and I pushed him trying to beat Rip's time, but when all was done, Skye finished clean but Rip still had him beat by 2/10ths of a second.

In Standard, Skye went first. There was one part of the course where the dog had to take the non-obvious side of the tunnel. This skill has haunted me and Skye for ages. I decided to handle it with a call over the jump to bring him to me, and release him into the correct end of the tunnel. The call worked - he looked at me, and then as I indicated, he shot over to the wrong end. I knew better, but worth a try right?!

Rip then ran Standard and had a great run. He flew over the aframe and through the weaves. He did miss his dogwalk contact because I was behind him, but he ran really fast and his time would have been good for 4th place in the Exc. B 20" group.
All in all, a really good weekend.

I will post some video when I get the runs in the next day or so.

Greg & Skyeboy & Rippers

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fire Alarm Practice aka USDAA Loveland

We went to the annual USDAA trial in Loveland again this year and were greeted by a warm (81 degrees) windy Saturday followed by a coldfront with snow on Sunday.
Maybe 15 minutes into the trial, Ice was running Gamblers when the fire alarms went off in the arena. Katrina ended up finishing the run as the buzzer had gone off signaling time to do the gamble, and Ice got it, and we grabbed the dogs and went outside with everyone. Seems a burned batch of popcorn at the concession stand was the culprit.
If that wasn't "fun" enough, on Sunday morning at the hotel, at about 6:50am, I had taken Skye and Rip out to the truck so that we could pack up the room. While I was out there, the fire alarms went off at the hotel! I was really glad that my timing was such that my dogs didnt have to hear that (Rip would have absolutely FREAKED I am sure). However, my cardkey would not let me back into the room, so Katrina came out on her own with Baby and Ice shortly after - they were not too happy, but we were at least the closest hotel room to the exit.

So, aside from that, we had a really successful showing at the trial.

Rip managed to get his first Advanced Standard Q, along with a coveted Grand Prix Q, a Master Gamblers Q and a Master Snooker Q! He would have had a Steeplechase Q as well if I didnt push him and cause a jumped AF contact.

Skye got two Q's in P3 Standard, a Q in P3 Pairs, a Q in P3 Jumpers and another Super Q in Snooker.

Rip knocked only 2 bars this weekend - one in our first run, an Adv. Standard where you had to call for the AF/Tunnel discrimination and I must have called over the bar. The other bar came in his last run, Adv. Jumpers when he hit the top of the triple.  He hit all contacts except when I pushed too much in Steeplechase.
Rip's weave speed is really hit or miss. I will be doing much more weave practice for speed. I am waiting for him to 'click' with his footwork - that is what is keeping his speed down, as he is not consistent with footwork and sometimes appears to be stumbling over himself through the weaves. He *can* single-step them - I've seen it in practice and on rare occasion in competition.

Skye ran very well for the most part, and though our Q's were almost always 1st places, I know he was not giving me all the speed he can. He had a 'duh' moment in Gamblers when I attempted to send him to a jump/tunnel and he veered off to the right. Whaa? Not sure what he thought I was saying. In his Standard run on Saturday, he bashed his chin when jumping up on the table. It makes me cringe a bit watching the video, though he finished the run with a Q & 2nd?!?. The following run was Grand Prix and he fell off the dogwalk at the start of the downplank, so that wasnt so good. We still need 2 Grand Prix legs for Nationals.

Here are some of the videos - the camera was acting up this weekend, so I dont have video of some runs, and some I just dont feel like posting :)

Rip did great in his first ever Master Snooker run - only 1 point away from a Super Q. I had 7 seconds left and could have gone for the 4th red (easy to say in hindsight!)

Advanced Jumpers - pretty good run with 1 bar. I thought it ran well up till the last couple jumps that went wide.

Master Gamblers - a Q, though slow in the weaves and he popped his first set of poles.

Adv. Standard - this is the Q run - I made him stick his contacts. Pretty good run on a very long course.

Adv. Standard - the NQ due to the bar before discrimination. I was happy with this run.


Standard - Q and 1st place

Snooker - Super Q and 1st place. Same plan I ran for Rip, though Rip did it 3 seconds faster.

Jumpers - Q and 1st place

Standard - Q and 2nd place. This is the run where he smashed his face on the table. You've been warned ;)

Pairs - Q and 2nd I think. Skye knocked a bar in this one.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rip gets his AXJ!

I am finally getting around to writing about our 3 day AKC show from last weekend. It was at Latigo, which is not my favorite facility but is certainly the closest to home at just 10 minutes away, so I always sign up for trials when they are available. It was really cold in the building on Friday and Saturday, since the arena is not heated. This isn't great for me, but the dogs definitely love it!

This was a random draw trial, which I typically dont enter as I dont like the whole concept of maybe or maybe not getting in, but it was also the same judge (Lisa Selthofer) I had when Skye got his MACH, and she has some neat courses, so this was added incentive to get into the trial.

On Friday, they were running FAST class for all levels, along with Excellent Standard and JWW. Rip was only entered in Open FAST and Exc. A JWW. Skye got to play in all classes.

Skye ran FAST first and it was a neat tunnel/tunnel/tunnel distance challenge - he got the Q. I usually try to come up with a plan to get all 80 points if I can. For Skye, my plan was to get 77 points, which we did, but we were a couple seconds over time so ended up with 74 points I believe.
Rip ran basically the same course, though his distance in Open is 10ft instead of 15ft. Rip also got the distance challenge, and my plan for him was to get 79 points. We did that, but again were a couple seconds over the buzzer so ended up with 76 points I think.
Here is the course map:

Here are their videos:


We then ran Standard. Only Skye was running since when we entered this trial, Rip was still in Open STD.
Skye was running fast, but we had a bobble after the AFrame and he went directly to the dogwalk instead of over the jump first.

Skye Exc. STD Friday:

For JWW, Skye ran first since he is in EXC B and Rip is in EXC A.
Both dogs Q'd the JWW course - it was a fun course to run and Rip was about 2/10ths faster than Skye. Skye had a better read on the jump before the tunnel. I only have video of Rip for this one:
Rip Exc JWW Friday:

Saturday was a great day for both dogs as they each got a Double Q, though Rip's was a Double Q in Exc. A.
Rip earned his AXJ title with his really great jumpers run. Rip ran this course about 1.2 seconds faster than Skye did, and I thought that Skye ran it really well. We were about 2 seconds off the fastest time. They were very close on time in the Standard course, though I felt they both ran the first half of the course very conservatively.

Rip Exc. A JWW Saturday

Skye Exc. B JWW Saturday

Rip Exc. A STD Saturday

Skye Exc. B STD Saturday

I dont yet have the video from Sunday's runs, but they were not quite as good as Saturday. I ended up with a Q for Skye in JWW and no Q's for Rip. I made the same handling mistake for both dogs in Standard. It was a Tire / Jump / Chute sequence after the table, and I drove both dogs too much before the sharp turn to the chute and they both ran around the back of it! I should have noticed that this required deceleration for the turn.

In Rip's JWW, I took my eyes off him briefly which then caused him to go behind me into the wrong end of a tunnel. It was an otherwise nice run.

Here are the Sunday courses:

Overall this was a really good trial for us. Rip did not miss any contacts and I believe he only dropped 1 bar the whole weekend. Skye was running fast and motivated and listened for his contacts with the exception of Sunday's STD.