Chaos Crew

Chaos Crew

Saturday, November 24, 2012

All qualified up.

My quest to qualify both Rip and Skye for AKC Nationals ended last weekend - that was our last trial before the end of the qualifying period, and our last trial of 2012.

Both dogs did great and we ended up with about 50 points each to spare. Three weeks ago, Skye had a perfect weekend going 4/4 and earning all the points that he needed, and Rip did pretty well going 2/4 and getting the remaining few points he needed, so this past weekend turned out to be just a bonus for us.

This was a 1 ring AKC trial and oddly enough, there was also a 1 ring USDAA trial about a half hour away on the same weekend - something that doesn't occur very often. Most of the really fast dogs must have attended the USDAA trial because Rip and Skye ended up being two of the fastest dogs at the AKC show.

Skye ended up going 3/4 with a 1st place in Standard and 3rd and 5th places in Jumpers. Rip went 2/4, getting two 2nd place finishes in the Jumpers classes.
Sunday's Standard course was pretty tough, and only 4 of the dogs in the 20B class managed to Q. Skye ended up leaving the weaves early, and Rip went behind me to the offcourse dogwalk when I took my eyes off him coming out of a tunnel. Rip's fault in Saturday's standard run was a jumped AFrame contact, and for good measure he hit the top bar of the triple, which was the last obstacle.

So here are the runs from last weekend. Looks like we will be in Tulsa in March next year for the Nationals!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Countdown to Qualifying

The title of this post could also be called "I HATE Random Draw Trials"

We did 1 day of an AKC trial two weeks ago. I really don't like this facility and have avoided it the last couple years. It's really too small to hold a 2 ring trial as there is very little crating space, and it also gets very dusty in there. To top it off, it Really smells like a horse arena here. The club that host this is not an agility club - their focus is conformation and obedience and therefore they don't have the best equipment. They are one of the few clubs that have not made the move to rubberized equipment.

Anyway, enough complaining, I did the 1 day in my quest to earn enough points to be able to attend AKC Nationals in Tulsa this coming March. Going into this show, both dogs needed fifty-some points.

As it turned out, it was a very good decision to attend this 1 day! Rip was running great and pulled off his most points ever in a JWW run, getting 17 points and 4th place of the 60+ dogs. Skye also had a nice run and Q'd this too getting 14 points.

Then we had Standard. Skye ran it first and he did run very nice, but jumped his dogwalk contact. Rip ran almost last in the class. He did great - a little slow on his contacts, but generally very nice and Q'd it for 20 points and 6th place. Another Double Q for Mr. Rip!

Thus at the end of the day, Rip now needs just 14 more points for nationals, and Skye needs 43!

In November, there are 2 one-ring random draw trials. One of them is 10 minutes from home - I did not get into this one (well, I am 27 dogs down in the waitlist for two days, and 60+ days down for the third day). I did get into the other random draw that is an hour and a half from home.

I am already scheduled for a 2 day trial the first weekend in November, and then two weeks after that we the other 2 day show. I certainly think that 8 runs will be plenty to get those last few points we need.

Here are Rip's runs

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cynosport Photo Festivus

I purchased the set of photos that were shot by Great Dane photos. They got quite a few of Rip and only a couple of Skye for some reason. I love outdoor agility pictures - the color and crispness are great and beat any indoor photos hands down.
Here are a few of my favorites.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

USDAA Cynosport "Nationals" 2012

I'm a bit late in writing about my experience at this year's USDAA Cynosport event that took place a week ago. I am fortunate that the event was held just outside of Denver this year, which means I could commute in each day and got to sleep in my own bed. Last year we drove 3 days each way to Kentucky and back to attend our first Cynosport event.

Turns out, the downside to this plan was delivered in the form of nasty traffic and a trip that approached almost 2 hours each way - not something I would repeat! There were a couple days when we did not get home until after 8PM, but it could have been worse, as we had friends who were still running agility then!

The facility in Commerce City was really nice and the rings with the artificial turf surfaces were great. We did have some overnight rains that made the grass rings wet - so wet that ring 5 was never used at all, and the other two grass rings were not used the first day.

For the team events, Rip was teamed with my friend Julie with Rift, and my friend Dale with Chili Pepper. Skye was originally teamed with Sarah and Ayr, but a week before the event, Ayr had an equilibrium issue and ended up having to pull from the event. My wife was in the same situation with Ice, as her teammate's dog had a muscle pull and ended up not running either, so as fate would have it, Skye and Ice ended up on a team with each other again as we did a time or two this year.

When the team events were done, we unfortunately ended up in the middle of the pack with both teams. Rip's team had 3 "E"s, though none by Mr Rip. We had a decent Snooker run with 42 points, a so-so Gamblers run as we were less than a second over time in the close, and then we managed to get through very tough Jumpers and Standard courses, though not without some faults in each.

Rip's best run of the weekend came in the Grand Prix Quarterfinals, where he had a very nice clean run for 21st place, moving us into the Semifinals. In the Semi's, he did not read my signal for the threadle and we ended up with an offcourse, but other than that he really ran great. In the Steeplechase Quarterfinals, we had knocked a bar and then he sliced the broad jump so we did not make it to the next round.

On Skye's team, we ended up with an "E" in jumpers from Skye, and an "E" in Standard from Ice, which put us way out of the running. We did have great runs otherwise and had we not had the "E"s, our times would have put our team in 10th which would have made the finals, but alas that was not meant to be.

In Performance Grand Prix, Skye knocked the first bar. That really sucks to have your chances over on the first obstacle of Grand Prix. He followed that up with a "Skye special" maneuver, where he cuts me off to take the tunnel at the AFrame/Tunnel discrimination. We left the course after that.

Skye had a bye into the semifinal round of Perf. Steeplechase. I couldn't believe it - Skye again knocked the first bar for this run! Un-freakin-believeable. So since he is not blazing fast, that extra 5 penalty points put us out of the running to make finals. In reality, there are a number of dogs running in the P22" group that are very fast and even with our best effort, I don't think we could ever make the Perf. Steeplechase finals.

Skye is a great first agility dog and has accomplished a lot, but I am considering this being his last Cynosport event unless I elect to enter him in the Veterans Overall class next year as he will be 9yrs old then. I will have to evaluate this over the coming year, but I do expect to run him a lot less than Rip.

I have started putting together a "highlights" type video, but don't know when I will get to finish it, so for now, here are a few of our runs from the show:

Monday, August 27, 2012

MACH 2 Skye!

I've mostly ignored my blog for the summer as except for one two day trial in July, I basically took all of July and August off from competition. My dogs really do not enjoy running in the heat, and it's been such a hot and dry summer that it was just a good decision for me and them. We continued training, although for Skye, even that had to take a long hiatus, since at the end of July he broke his dewclaw off and that left him sore and limping for a week, followed by another two weeks of minimal activity. Just as we were about to return to our regular class, he tweaked his front right wrist chasing a rabbit. I am sure if you asked Skye though, he'd say it was worth it, as rabbit chasing is his favoritest game in the world.

So, Skye had one short practice session last week to make sure he'd be OK for the weekend trial and he did seem OK, and didn't limp, though he may not have been quite 100%.

This trial was held at the Lakewood indoor soccer facility that has the really awesome turf, and the really God-awful ventilation and heat retention problem. Some friends elected to not enter this trial because it gets so blasted hot in there, and with this summer being the hottest ever, they passed. As it turned out, we were back in the 90's again. They did decide to move the start time for this show up to 7:30am, which is fine if you don't live an hour and a half from the facility and have to drive back and forth each day, but we worked it out.

So, Skye was sitting at 19 Double Qs for his MACH 2, and I had really hoped we could finish that this weekend. If you recall, our last attempt at the MACH here resulted in the fluff incident, so this time as I walked the course, I picked up tufts of dog hair as I found them!
We started with JWW, with Skye running it before Rip. Both dogs had really awesome runs and both got a Q! I tried not to get too nervous for the Standard run that was a couple hours later. I felt pretty confident about the course, and though I did run Skye a little conservatively, and insisted that he hit his dogwalk contact, we ended up with a 15 point Q, earning that MACH 2!!

It was sweet to get that done on Saturday and then allow Sunday to be worry-free.

Rip had a few issues with that Standard course. First I pulled him off the Aframe, so we skipped it, and then he ended up knocking the panel jump and missing his dogwalk contact.

On Sunday, we started with Standard. Skye ran first again and had a very nice run for a 19 point Q. Rip then ran it and he bunny-hopped his teeter, which he was called for, and then he took a nasty looking spill coming out of the chute. He exited it on his shoulder sliding a couple feet. I purchased a couple pictures of this incident from the photographer that happened to choose the chute to photo that day. I should have those pics by Wednesday. Fortunately, Rip seemed fine and I didnt even realize how bad it looked until I watched the video. He never limped or showed any soreness fortunately.

We ended the day with JWW, and Skye ran very nicely for another Q - and a Double Q to start off his MACH 3! This was the last double Q we needed to qualify for next year's Nationals in Tulsa. We do still need some points, but we should be able to get those.

Rip then ran JWW and had an awesome run, two seconds faster than Skye and ended up in 4th place. So no double Q's this weekend for Rip, but he did have two great jumpers runs. I'm still looking for two more double Qs to get Rip qualified for Nationals, along with about the same number of points as Skye needs.

Here are a few of the videos:

First half of Skye's MACH2

Second half of Skye's MACH2

Rip's Saturday JWW

Rip's 'ouch' Standard from Sunday

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Rip got that last Super Q he needed for his USDAA ADCH title this weekend at the DAPPR trial at Black Forest park. He did it in fine style too, by earning 1st place in the 22" Championship division.

We have had a few shots at this last Super Q - starting back in March of this year. I really didn't have high hopes since again we were dealing with really hot temperatures. It was well into the 90's this weekend, and Colorado Springs tied their alltime high temperature of 100 degrees today (as a side note, I am surprised it's never been over 100 in the Springs!) I had ordered a 'cool coat' for Rip from Clean Run last week, but it still hasn't arrived yet, and I also ordered a couple crate pads, one for Rip and one for Skye, that are supposed to help draw heat away from their bodies, but again those hadn't arrived yet either. So, I had to resort to wetting rip with the hose, something he is really not crazy about - ok he hates it and wants to know what he's done wrong... but I wanted him to have at least some motivation, and it worked! I did not get normal speed, but enough to get us through the course.

As the map shows below, the course was 3 or 4 reds, so of course we had to try for 4 reds. I couldn't come up with a good plan that would include multiple 7's and still let us finish the closing, so I decided on a plan of 5 5 6 7. I wanted to stay away from the 6 point weaves as much as I could, since weave speed is Rip's weakness, ESPECIALLY in the heat.

We ran the course pretty efficiently and finished just under time, with about a second to spare. When it was all said and done, we scored 54 points, and a few other dogs scored 53 points, putting us in 1st place!

The DAPPR club provides an ADCH bar and a really nice ribbon. They provide a personalized version of the ribbon, with date, dog names and title if you are willing to wait a couple weeks, so we used the one they gave for photo opportunities, and gave it back to await the custom version.

Happy Rip and Greg, with the judge Carol Kramer Smorch.

Now without looking further below, study this course and see what plan you would be willing to try... then look to see what I came up with.

Here's how I decided to do it, starting with the Red color, to Yellow, to Blue, to Aqua, to the closing in Purple.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Foiled by Fluff

I am a little late on writing this post as I had two trials in a row and somehow lost the time to write about either.

Two weeks ago, we were at an AKC show - it was a three day show but I only did Saturday and Sunday. It's one of the few that offers both FAST and T2B as well as the regular JWW and STD, so with both dogs entered, I had 8 runs a day which is much better than sitting around for two runs per dog!

This turned out to be a really great show for us. If you've followed previous posts, distance challenges found in FAST or Gamblers have never been Skye's cup-o-tea, but he really shined this weekend by getting both of the FAST challenges for Q's! Rip also got one of them.

For T2B, Skye ran clean both days, though not terribly fast, and managed 5 points and 6 points. Rip ran almost clean both days (he missed the AFrame contact on Saturday) and managed 7 points with his Q.

Then, it was time for the regular classes. Saturday was really hot, and though the indoor soccer field turf is a fabulous running surface, the building's ventilation is really bad and not air conditioned, so it was steamy indoors - probably in the neighborhood of 95 degrees inside. That means I have slow dogs. On the bright side, slow dogs tend to be more accurate :)

So, Skye ran clean in both runs for Double Q #19 towards his MACH 2. He had the slowest time in JWW that he's ever had, earning only 3 points - he really does not run in the heat. That meant that Sunday would be our first shot at that MACH 2.

Rip also ran clean in both runs, and though he was not near as slow as Skye, he was still not himself.

On Sunday's regular runs, both dogs Q'd the JWW course in the morning. The temperature had dropped back to a normal 70's area and the dogs were running pretty nice. That meant that Skye would have his shot at MACH 2 at the end of the day when we ran Standard.

Rip was again first dog on the line all weekend (I hate that!), so I got to run the Standard course with him first, and we ran it clean!! That meant we had our first perfect QQ weekend together!

My plan for Skye was the same as with Rip. The run started just fine, but after landing the 5th jump, Skye veered off his line to check a piece of white fluff on the turf - it might have been rabbit fur or something interesting right? So when he looked back at me, he was off his line enough that he missed the next jump. Ugh! Foiled by Fluff! He has never done that in all the years I've been running him.

We don't have another AKC show until the July 21st weekend - it's a local one only 10 minutes from home, so hopefully we can get that MACH 2 there!

On another interesting point, I noticed that while keeping track of points/double Qs for Nationals, that both dogs now have 4 double Qs, but Rip actually has about 20 more points than Skye! We still are only about halfway on points accumulation, so we need to stay consistent if we want to qualify for Nationals in Tulsa next year.

Here's Skye's "Fluff" run:

And here is Rip showing how it's supposed to be done!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Today was a milestone day for me and Skye in a couple ways.

First, I entered a USDAA trial later this month and for the first time ever, I entered only Rip. Skye is already qualified for Nationals this year, and at our last trial, he earned his Lifetime Achievement and P-ADCH Bronze titles - those are both items that factored into my decision, but also Skye really does not run well when it's hot out, and since this trial is outside in a park, at the end of June, it can very easily be 85 or 90 degrees, and I thought that rather than enter him and then be disappointed with 'slow Skye', that I will just not enter him.

Second, Skye Played! We got Skye as a rescue dog when he was probably 1.5 years old. In the 6.5 years that I have had him, he has had only 1 dog friend - an Aussie named Sydney who had as much attitude as he did. Funny how the two cranky dogs really liked each other, and loved to chase and hang out.
Today, he actually played and wrestled with a dog - my daughter's new border collie puppy Carbon. They played like old friends, and he was so appropriate and never hurt her. Carbon is only 11 weeks old but is quite spunky, and she really enjoys wrestling.
I was glad to have the video camera sitting on my desk so I could record this monumental event! They actually played for about 10 minutes before other distractions in the house took precedence.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who needs cats!?

The funniest thing happened when I came out of the shower today. Ok get your mind out of the gutter - Skye was standing by the end of the bed staring at the floor. Without my glasses on, anything beyond about 3 feet away is a little fuzzy, so I thought he was staring at a sock or something.

Apparently while I was showering, a mouse must have wandered by. I didn't even know we had any mice? The mouse was visibly stunned, apparently from the quick smackdown Skye gave him. The weird thing was how Skye was just giving him the stink-eye instead of having the mouse in his mouth!

I transplanted the critter outdoors. Not sure if he will survive the trauma, but he's probably got a better chance than if he hangs out in the bedroom!

Who needs cats!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Skye Wins! USDAA RM Regional Wrapup

I went down to Albuquerque this past weekend for the Rocky Mountain USDAA Regional event with Skye and Rip, along with my wife and her two dogs Ice and Baby.

We were entered in the DAM/PVP team events, even though we are already qualified for 2012, just because it's fun! Rip's teammates still needed their team Q's, so we were doing our best to help them out. Skye was teamed with Ice.

The event was held at a really huge, nice park - the Balloon Fiesta Park. It's the park Albuquerque uses to host their annual hot air balloon festival, and on a couple mornings, there were actually balloons being launched before we started running. They also had kids playing soccer in some far away fields, and a few guys flying model scale airplanes and helicopters off in the distance!

When we arrived on Thursday to setup, the winds were gusting up to 70mph, so the only thing we could do was pick a spot for the easy-up and lay down our metal crates. Fortunately, by Friday the winds were much much lighter. The rings were all in a row, and we were setup at the end of ring 3 with nobody in front of us blocking the view, which was cool.

On Friday morning we all discovered that the sprinklers had been run until 4am, and the ground was a soppy, puddle filled mess. The fields were going to be very tricky to run on without slipping, and just walking around had my shoes soaked and socks already wet. Each ring did a walkthrough in group rotation, so we walked all our courses before anything started running. Fortunately we were not entered in the 'local' Grand Prix, so I only had to remember 2 courses instead of 3.

We started the day with this really challenging Team Standard course. This course had many traps and I knew it had the potential to give a lot of competitors an "E" to start the day. The map is shown below.
I am super happy to say that both Skye and Rip got through this course without an "E", but as expected, about 60% of the 22" Championship dogs did "E" it!
Rip was the 2nd dog of the day to run this course and coming off the #3 jump, he didnt get traction to get to the frame and started up it from a bad angle and had to practically claw his way up. He also turned right off jump #6 instead of left, not reading my rear cross, and though I thought we had run this clean, it turned out we got called for the dogwalk UP contact.
Skye had a number of faults on this one - a refusal, two contact calls, and a bar! Still, better than an "E"!

Next up for us was the Team Gamblers course. This was a 'timed gamble' type course, where we were given 40 seconds to gather as many points as we could, and you had to cross the finish jump before the buzzer or you would lose any 'bonus' points that you accumulated while running about.
Here is the course for this one:

By doing a Jump/Tunnel/Jump combination, you earned an extra 6 points above the normal 4 points you would receive for the obstacles. Most handlers decided that it was worth trying for the maximum of 6 of these combinations (you could take each tunnel twice for points), and also most handlers decided to start with the jump to the AFrame and then start their jump/tunnel/jump combos. I also planned to do this.

As it turned out, I was successful with both Skye and Rip, and each earned 66 points! For Skye, it netted him a 1st place, and for Rip, we got 10th place, but only 1 22" dog had more points (68). I had a brief heart-attack moment for Rip's run. We did our last combo with the tunnel to the right, and were heading to the finish when Rip landed wide and went right past the finish jump! Now, our plan didn't allow for any extra "fooling around" time, so I thought "oh shit" and immediately called him back to jump over the finish before the buzzer.  We made it. By 0.01 of a second!  Rip's time ended up 39.99!!

The last run for Friday was a Masters Snooker course. Though I need just 1 more Super Q for Rip for his ADCH, I wasn't going to be trying for it here since the weaves were the 7point obstacle and his weaves just aren't fast enough. I went for a plan for 4 reds that would give us 55 points, but when we started, Rip veered and took a 3 point jump instead of the 6 point teeter I was headed toward. We did get all the way through the course though, and got a Q with 52 points. They gave 4 Super Qs out, and the last one went to a dog with 56 points, so we would not have had enough points anyway.
Skye ran our plan correctly, and got the 55 points, and he DID get another Super Q with 1st place. Two other dogs in his class got 55 points but we did it in less time.

Saturday was going to be busy, with two team events, Regional Grand Prix and Steeplechase and a Master Gamblers

Team Snooker went OK for both dogs - not great but still not bad. Skye went first and I planned on a 4+5+5+7 opening. Skye instead headed for a teeter instead of the #4 tunnel to start, which was only worth 2, so the extra time for that and figuring out where to go after caused me to only get through 5 in the close before the buzzer.
I slightly modified that plan for Rip, thinking it was too much for us to get all the way through the closing, so we were going for 4+5+5+4. Rip did the opening nicely though he knocked a bar in the 5-combo so we didnt get credit for that. Rip was pretty wide on his turns and because of that, the buzzer sounded when he was about halfway through the #7 weaves in the closing.

The next team event was Jumpers. It was a good course with a number of crosses. Skye ran first and went clean for 3rd place. Rip was running it nicely, but when I got behind at the broad jump, I turned a front cross into a rear cross that he didnt read well, and he ended up backjumping, so we got our first "E" of the weekend.

Fortunately, since Rip's team was doing well previously, we were still in 8th place out of 25 teams after 4 rounds. My teammate Grete with her young dog Sydney had also E'd in Standard, so you can see that the team courses were tough this weekend with us being placed so high with 2 E's.

For Grand Prix round 1, both Skye and Rip were entered. You have to be clean to get to round 2, so I wasn't pushing too much. Skye ran clean though not very fast, but still it was good for 1st in our small group of round 1 competitors. Rip ran it nicely but he was called for his AFrame contact. Both dogs did a weird right-turn off a jump that I wanted them to wrap left on. They were reading the turn as a rear cross apparently, so I want to set that up in practice and see about getting it right.

For Steeplechase, I had not entered Rip, just Skye. I was a little discouraged the last time Rip ran Steeplechase at last year's regional and ran clean, but did not make it to round 2, so I didn't bother.
Skye ran it well and placed 4th with a Q so we could play in round 2.

Finally we did Masters Gamblers. It's funny - it was the same course we ran in Kansas a few months back (same judge Martin Gadsby). It was pretty hot out, and I did not have fast Skye but he ran OK. Skye actually got the gamble! Most dogs had trouble with this one, but maybe since we had tried it before, I had a better feel for what to do.
Rip ran the opening nicely, but I totally gave him a bad line for the gamble and he went from the starting jump to the finish jump, so boo on that.

Rip only had Team Relay to run on Sunday, while Skye had made it into round 2 of the performance Steeplechase and Grand Prix as well.

Recall I said this event is at the "Balloon Fiesta" park - well Rip's team was 3rd on the line to run relay, and the two hot air balloons that were filling up were supposed to be up and gone by the time the dogs started running. They weren't!
I thought we were going to be fine as the balloons drifted a couple hundred feet over the Relay ring, but when Rip spotted them, he wanted out of there! Tail tucked, he was looking to head for cover. At the same time, Grete's dog Sydney was freaked out as well. Not a great sign as we are supposed to be ready to get to the line. We tried to distract them with treats and such and just headed on in for the run. Somehow, the dogs managed to focus through it though.  Sydney ran first and did great - Grete handed the baton off to me and though Rip knocked that first bar, he also did great and I handed to Susan who finished her part clean with Rufus! Our team relay run ended up 5th place with Rip's 1 bar fault, and our team "Fool's Gold" came in 4th overall out of the 25 teams!  Unfortunately neither Katrina nor the videographer filmed our run.

Skye ran relay with Ice and we ran clean. Ice should have been called for a refusal but wasnt and Katrina was able to get him back to the jump and finish her half. Skye got a little jammed up by the chute, but the rest was fine. Our relay was also good for 5th in performance, and by some miracle, the Skye and Ice team "Hail Yeah!" finished 16th out of 24 teams I think, just above the "Q" line for a team Q!

Skye then got to run his Round 2 of Grand Prix. This was a pretty challenging course but I had a good plan for it. Skye ran great and except for knocking 1 bar on a push-around jump (the #6 below), we were clean. He was 8 seconds faster than the next P22" dog that actually had a time, but you must be clean in GP, so no Bye for us this time.

Finally, in the afternoon, we had the Round 2 of Steeplechase. There were 6 dogs entered in P22" so we were going to be combined with the 16" group for semifinalist Bye calculations. This meant go fast or go home! I really worked Skye through this course, which had 2 weaves and 1 AFrame. One of the weave entries was about a 90 degree onside entry - a definite weakness for Skye, so I would really have to manage it, but there was an offcourse jump right nearby, so any overmanagement could send him right over it.
I had wet Skye down before the run (which he hates!) so he could be cool and I did get a fast running Skyeboy.

We ran that sucker clean and took 1st in the P22" group!!!

Skye was the only P22" dog to get a bye due to combining with the P16" group.

We won a cool "gold medal" that says 2012 Regional Championships, a very cool clear acrylic trophy that has Performance Speed Jumping Regional Champion USDAA 2012 carved in it, with some shooting stars inside, and $50!  I need to take a picture of those to post.

Here are the videos from Grand Prix round 2 and the Steeplechase round 2:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Video from last weekend

Finally my internet service has been restored to normal speed, so I could upload my videos.
We've become so accustomed to high speed internet, when we drop down to just about dial-up speed, it makes everyone crazy. Maybe it would be like if highway speed limits were dropped back down to 55 again - they are 75 out here!



Monday, April 9, 2012

Looking forward

This weekend we attended 2 days of the AKC show in Castle Rock. I skipped Friday since I figured I may need some rest after last week's AKC Nationals.

It seems that AKC agility has taken a back seat to USDAA this year for us, and including this weekend, we have only attended 6 total days of AKC since the 2013 qualifying period started on December 1st last year. Admittedly, I do enjoy USDAA more than AKC for a number of reasons, but I still enjoy it enough to try and qualify and attend Nationals if I can. Next year is in Tulsa, OK. again, and as far as drives go - Tulsa is pretty easy, so that brings me to my post title. Looking at where we are now, and looking forward to what we need to do to qualify, I'm going to have to put in a conscious effort to attend enough AKC shows to get the double Qs and points we need.

It takes 6 double Qs and 400 points to qualify. Looking at Skye's performance the last 2 years, he got 12 double Qs w/491 points in 39 days of AKC trialing last year, and 11 double Qs w/456 points in 54 days of AKC trialing the previous year.
So... with only 6 days so far this year, we have a long way to go. Skye has 2 double Qs and 100 points, and Rip has 1 double Q and 91 points. We have 1 3-day show in May for AKC scheduled, and I need to make sure to do at least 1 show a month from here out.

Anyway, that was probably a little boring to read - sorry.
For this weekend, Skye was still being my awesome boy, continuing his streak from Nationals, and went 4/4, getting 2 double Qs. He even took 2nd place in Standard on Sunday on a tough course, against about 55 other 20" dogs.
Skye is now really closing in on his MACH 2 - we have 17 double Qs and enough points already.

As for Rip, he only got 1 Q this weekend, but he ran really really well. He Q'd the same tough Standard that Skye placed 2nd in - and Rip placed 4th!
His Standard on Saturday was awesome except he decided to miss both the AFrame and Dogwalk contacts. In jumpers, he was flying and I got in this blind cross right before the last 2 jumps, but he got trapped by the offcourse jump next to the finish jump as did many other dogs.
Sunday's jumpers was beautiful but I caused him to knock 1 bar before a tunnel discrimination - I should have just let him run because he was on the correct line anyway.

My internet connection has been really crappy the last few days, so I cant load any video until they fix it, but I plan to load a few of them when I can.

So no trials next week, and then we head to Albuquerque NM for the USDAA Regional event.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Awesome AKC Nationals Wrapup

We are back from our trip to Reno for the AKC Agility Nationals, and what a great trip it was!

Skye ran clean in 4 out of 5 runs, with just a missed AFrame contact in our warm-up Standard run on Friday. Overall, out of the 235 20" dogs entered, we finished in 29th place! My goal for nationals was to run clean and try and finish in the top 20%, and we sure accomplished that.

Our run order for Friday was 198th, as well as our first run on Saturday, so we had a long time to wait and watch.

Here are the videos in the order that we ran:

Warmup Standard - just getting out on the equipment. Nice run though my peel-off from the AFrame caused a jumped contact.

Later in the day we ran Time 2 Beat. The winner of Time 2 Beat got a bye into the Challengers round, so we saw a lot of competitors really going for it. There was a weave entry that surprisingly caught a lot of dogs. The judges were being real particular about calling the teeter, not giving anyone any leeway, so we saw quite a few called for their teeter as well. A wrap jump at obstacle 11 allowed for those with efficient turns to make up a faster time - lots of dogs went very wide on the wrap. Skye ended up about 5.5 seconds behind the fastest dog, but it was a very good run, probably around 70th place out of the 235 dogs.

The first day of 'real' nationals competition started with a JWW run. I felt like this was a pretty straightforward course. There were a few ways people decided to handle the opening, but generally it ran well and there weren't any consistent trouble spots for those I watched. I believe about 150 dogs qualified on this course. Skye was around 107th - I definitely felt like Skye could have run this course about 2 seconds faster.

The second run on Saturday was Standard. This course had a few interesting traps. The start again had handlers pretty split as to how to handle it. It was 2 jumps in a 180 - seems like half the people stayed on the side I did, and the other half lead out to the #2 and then pushed to #3. After the turn at 4, I saw a lot of dogs drive straight to the offcourse triple jump. Then, off the aframe, we took an arc that brought you over the triple into the tunnel, and I saw quite a few dogs drive to the panel jump instead, and some were able to save that offcourse, only to end up with the wrong end of the tunnel due to the dogs' line. The dogwalk contact was called a lot, due to handlers pealing off for the weaves. Finally, the sequence after the weaves got a lot of people as the jumps were not in line and caused a lot of problems. I think Skye should have run this probably 2 - 3 seconds faster than he did. I felt like he was not giving it his all in this one.
After 2 rounds, we were in 49th place.

Finally we had the Hybrid class - like a Standard but no dogwalk or chute. The beginning of this course was very controlled and gave a lot of people problems. The way the jumps were setup, a lot of handlers got lost and sent their dogs over the wrong jump. We had to run this in 'ring 4' which was a crappy, crowded, dark room that also housed the indoor stall crating area. Nobody liked this building and I hope if they run a nationals here again, they figure out the lighting and how to set this ring up so it isn't so tight. This was a pretty good run for us - I don't think Skye really could have done this too much faster for me.
Our cumulative placement was 29th - though I watched the board and we were listed as Finalists for quite a long time. They took 17 dogs to finals. Our cumulative time was 98.814 seconds. The cutoff to make finals ended up being 87.64 seconds, so we were 12 seconds off the finals pace. Not sure we can train for that much more speed, so we will leave the finals for all those crazy fast dogs :)

My final thoughts are that the Reno facility was very nice. The food and drinks were way overpriced. The city of Reno is pretty dumpy with homeless looking people hanging out all over the place. Their gas prices are too high. The entire state of Wyoming should just be covered in windmills - I am sure they could produce enough electricity for the entire country.

It was a lot of fun, and I hope I can qualify both Rip and Skye for next year's Nationals to be held in Tulsa, OK!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


This past weekend, I went down to Rio Rancho, New Mexico, just north of Albuquerque, for a 2 day outdoor USDAA trial. The forecast was for record high temperatures and those came true. Apparently, the normal high temp this time of year should be about 60. We were 79 on Saturday and 81 on Sunday, breaking records that have stood for 130+ years!

Picture of Rip from the trial by Bam Photo

Katrina was not going because she had 2 days of K9 Nosework events to deal with, so it was going to be a casual trip with just me, Skye and Rip. I was treating this as a warm-up of sorts for Skye's AKC Nationals competition in Reno next week.

On Saturday, Skye ran Gamblers, Standard, Snooker and Jumpers. First was Gamblers, and I thought he might get this one if I sent him from the right spot, but I sent him from the wrong spot, and instead of turning right off a jump, he continued straight and over the finish jump.
His Standard run was what I would call 'squirrelly' - he was not really listening, got a refusal and came off the teeter before the bang, just not a nice connected run.
Snooker was much better - I had planned the same 4+5+7+7 opening for Skye and Rip. Skye got all the way through the 6 in the closing. The 7 sequence was a combination of 3 jumps, and the start of the 7 in the close was a push-around but Skye went behind me and took it straight on. Still, since there were not a lot of other P22" dogs, Skye got another Super Q.
We ended the day with Jumpers and he ran it really well and got a Q and 1st place in the P22" group.

Rip was entered in the same classes as Skye, plus Steeplechase.  In the Gamble, since I had done it wrong with Skye first, I adjusted my send and Rip turned right after the jump as he should have, and then did the tunnel, back to the jump and out to the finish jump for a Q and 2nd place!
Rip had an awesome first half of the Standard course, but I handled something a different way than I walked and it didn't work out, causing him to go wide and ultimately skip the AFrame.
Rip ran the Snooker course perfectly according to my plan, and even finished the #7 in the close that Skye missed. When the class was done, we took 1st place and earned his second Super Q!
In Jumpers, we were about 4 jumps from the end when I made a handling mistake on a rear cross and didnt wait for him to commit to the jump - I pushed him off it and to an offcourse.
When we ran Steeplechase, the day was very warm, even hot, and my dogs dont enjoy the heat - they definitely slow down. Rip ran Steeplechase pretty well, but just not quite fast enough. He was clean, but ended up 0.2 seconds too slow to make round 2 and get the Q.

On Sunday, we had Gamblers, Standard, Jumpers and Snooker. I did not enter Pairs at all this trial.
I thought the gamble looked 'easy' which is always the kiss of death! We had a choice - jump out to the weaves, do some lateral distance weaves, and come back over a jump, OR jump out to a lateral AFrame and come back over a jump. I elected to do the same plan with both dogs and do the weaves. Skye totally didn't even see the weaves - not sure what the heck was going through his head as I'm standing indicating weaves, saying WEAVE, and he is looking everywhere but where I am pointing! Ugh. Rip actually jumped and went right into the weaves no problem. But then problem - he popped out at pole 10 and came over the finish jump. So, no gamble Qs for us. In hindsight, I wished I had tried the AFrame!

We then ran Standard. Rip went first and though he did get stuck in the chute for a brief moment, and took about 4 seconds extra to DOWN on the table, we ran clean and got a Q. This is HUGE, because that makes 5 Master Standard Qs, and now we need only 1 more Snooker SuperQ for ADCH - and we will get a shot at it later.
Skye ran the same course but popped his weaves at 10. There were a lot of dogs doing that for some reason - I think we were all rushing at the end to get a front after the next jump. Other than that, he did a nice job.

Jumpers was next up. There was a handlers' choice at the #3 jump - you could take the front side or back side. I planned a Ketchker move for both dogs to get a tight turn. For Rip, I bailed on the Ketchker because his approach wasnt right and it might have caused a backjump, so I just pivoted. Rip was wide in a few spots, and I did slip and almost fall on the slick grass, but we pulled it out for another Q! Skye ran this course really well and I got the Ketchker turn in with a very efficient line. Skye did drop 1 bar, but he was within 2 seconds of the fastest Championship dogs, so I was very happy with that run, especially considering it was getting pretty warm out.

Finally, I had Snooker and a chance at Rip's ADCH!
The #7 was a combination of AFrame and a tunnel under it. There were 4 reds on course, and I thought I could do all 7s and still get through the closing. What I didnt consider was that Rip was much slower at the end of the day because of the high temperatures. We DID actually do all 4 7's, and then started the closing, but we had taken too much time and the buzzer went off in the #5 combo in the closing, so we got credit through 4. There were a few other handlers going for all 7s as well, since they also need Super Qs, and though nobody did all 4 and got all the way through the closing, there were enough who got further than I did that we didn't get a super Q - just a regular Q.
For Skye, I went with a modified plan of a 6 and 2 7's, as due to the heat, there was no way he would finish otherwise. We got through the opening fine and in the close, Skye knocked the #6 jump, so he ended up with a regular Q.

My friend Mary did some filming for me, mostly on her Flip video, so the quality sucks compared by my camera.. Here is Rip's Super Q Snooker run:

Here are 2 course maps that were interesting - Saturday's Gamblers where very few dogs actually got the gamble (Rip got it)
and then the Jumpers course from Sunday where the #3 jump could be taken from either direction:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wow has it been almost 2 months??

I just realized it's been almost 2 months since I posted to my blog. A lot of good Agility action has happened in that time!

In February we decided to travel to Lawrence Kansas for their USDAA trial and play team with our friend Mary. Rip teamed with Mary's young border collie Tangle and a nice lady named Lee and her border collie Kate. My wife did a PVP team with her dog Ice and Mary's performance dog Tip.

Rip did a great job with no "E"s anywhere, and took a high placement in Gamblers, and had a decent score in Snooker. We did get the Team Q for Mary & Tangle - Rip already had his Q so we were playing for fun. I believe we placed 5th as a team.

Rip also is really starting to come together running Standard courses. After getting two Master Standard Q's in the January USDAA trial, Rip then proceeded to run clean in Team Standard, and on Saturday, he ran clean again in Master Standard to earn his MAD title! This has been a long time coming - we earned our Advanced Standard title in April 2011. Contacts have typically been our issue, as well as a bar down here and there.

Skye did not play Team in Kansas, but in his titling classes he did pretty well. I've been trying to get Skye's P-ADCH Bronze, needing 15 Qs in all the titling classes and Tournament Bronze. All we have left to get now are 2 Gamblers Q's, which have always been our challenge. We were so close in Kansas, getting the distance challenge but Skye knocked the bar at the finish jump. I did not enter him in Standard, but he did get 2 Jumpers Q's, as well as 2 Snooker Q's, with one of them being a Super Q.

After our runs in Kansas, I also noticed that Skye is now just 10 Q's away from the 150 needed for his Lifetime Achievement Award - a pretty cool accomplishment once we get there!

A local club then held it's annual March USDAA event at the Castle Rock fairgrounds, and this is one of the few events in Colorado that offer DAM Team. I wasn't going to enter Team since we were already Q'd up, but decided last minute to put Rip in since Katrina was going to be playing anyway. Rip's teammates were a Sheltie named Ace and a young/green Golden Retriever named Rev'n. Since Nationals are being held in Colorado, everybody and their brother was at the trial trying to get qualified. We actually had 20 DAM teams and 19 PVP teams running at the show.
Rip's team did really well, and once again Rip did not have any "E"s, though my teammates BOTH got an "E" in the Jumpers run. Even with that, since we had done so well in the other events, our team finished 4th! My teammates were very happy to get their DAM team Qs.

I didn't enter Grand Prix with either dog, trying to save a little money, since we already have the 2 Q's for nationals, but I did enter Steeplechase (PSJ) with both dogs. Rip still needed his 2 Steeplechase Q's since we always seem to hit a bar or the broad jump and we're not quite fast enough to absorb the 5second penalty and make it into round 2. This time Rip had a really nice, clean run and got the Steeplechase Q, getting to play in round 2 on Sunday! Skye also ran really well and took 1st place in the 22" performance group - we had about 11 dogs in our group this time, which is more than the typical 5 or 6. I think Rip's 22" Steeplechase class had about 45 dogs - that's way more than we are used to seeing.

In the titling classes, Skye unfortunately did not get a Gamble Q. It was a jump and a distance discrimination - he was to take the tunnel that was next to the dogwalk. I thought for sure he'd take the tunnel but no such luck. He did get a Q and 2nd place in Standard, and also had a nice Jumpers run for a Q and 2nd. Snooker was not our game this time - we got called for the contact on the #3 AFrame in the closing on Saturday, and then he dropped the #2 bar in the closing on Sunday.
So, Skye ended up with 3 Qs this weekend, getting us a little closer to Lifetime Achievement.

Rip had a pretty successful time in the titling classes. He got a Q and 4th place in a very difficult Master Standard course on Saturday. Rip also got the Gamblers Q that Skye did not get - earning us our Masters Gamblers title! I am glad to get that since I struggled getting that last Gamble when Skye was going for his P-ADCH. Rip is definitely a better Gamblers dog than Skye is.

On Sunday, Rip's pairs team ran almost clean (we were called for an Up contact on the DW) and we got the Q and 5th place. Rip also ran great in Jumpers getting another Q!

In the Steeplechase finals, he really ran nicely, but did hit the top bar of the triple. I thought we had 3rd place in the money until I found that out - it put us to 8th place and no cash!

So, Rip ended up with 7 Qs at this trial, counting the Team Q and his Q in Team Gamblers.

Here is a video of Rip's Team runs from Kansas

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

USDAA and Patriots

Last weekend we were at a USDAA trial at the Boulder County fairgrounds. Since I grew up in Massachusetts, I've remained a Patriots fan, even though I live in Broncos country. The Patriots - Broncos game was on Saturday, so I wore my Pats logo t-shirt to the trial. I did catch a lot of grief being nearly the only Patriots fan among a sea of blue and orange, but it was all in good fun. I was one of the few happy football fans the next day after the Patriots blew out the Broncos.

Anyway, onto the agility!
Rip and Skye were entered in everything - the trial was extra crowded and was originally supposed to be a 1 ring trial that turned into a 2 judge, 2 ring trial due to high turnout - seems everyone in Colorado is trying to qualify for USDAA Nationals now that it's going to be local this year.

On Thursday before the trial, Rip came up limping on a back leg. He probably slipped on the ice - not sure. I figured I would end up having to pull him from the trial, but come Saturday morning he seemed fine. I did run him the whole weekend, but Sunday night he was back to holding the leg up again. Looking at his runs, he is maybe a little slower than he should be - he knocked 3 bars all weekend, which isnt great, but not excessive. He's been on rest mode since then and isn't happy about it! He seems fine now, but I will keep him from running at all until at least this weekend.

As for how we did, Rip only got 1 Q this weekend, but it was a Grand Prix Q, so that's a good one to get! That was the 2nd one we needed to qualify for Nationals.
Rip ran a nice Standard course on Saturday, but he had 1 bar down on a wrap jump. He also did really well in Gamblers, and if he had succeeded in getting the gamble, he would have had 2nd place in the 22" group. He did give me a really nice distance teeter, but wouldnt push out to the next jump and took the trap jump instead.

In Steeplechase, the run was going well, but I somehow pulled him off his line to the AFrame. By the time I put him back on it and we finished, we had taken too much time to make it to round 2. Then in Pairs, I thought we ran a good course - turns out I didn't walk the course correctly and took a jump from the 'normal' side when it was supposed to be a threadle, but we were clean on MY course!

In Sunday's Standard run, I did a run-with and he knocked the 2nd jump and then went in the wrong end of the tunnel, though the rest of the run was good. We had an OK snooker run, though not a planned! The 7pt was an AFrame, but there was the #4 tunnel under the frame. We could do 4 reds, so I planned for the #2 tunnel, and 3 AFrames. On two of the frame attempts, Rip actually ran into the tunnel instead! That wasn't going to be good for a superQ! He ended up hitting the bar in the part B jump of the #5 sequence as it was a slice, so not enough points to Q.
Finally, we were having a nice jumpers and I did a Rip taboo move. I rotated too soon on a front cross, giving too much of a collection cue and brought Rip to a stop before the jump he was supposed to take, so we incurred a refusal. Except for that, he ran it nicely.
Here are some of Rip's runs

Skye had a pretty good weekend. On my quest for PDCH-Bronze, we just need Gamblers and Pairs Qs. As it turns out, we Q'd each of them this weekend! That leaves just 2 more Gamblers and 1 more Pairs needed.
Skye Q'd both of his Standard runs this weekend. He had been missing all of this AF and DW contacts at our last AKC trial, so I had been reinforcing contact behavior over the past week. This really paid off, as Skye did not miss any contacts all weekend, though he gave me a couple of the slowest AFrames he has ever done!
We also Q'd Perf. Grand Prix, giving Skye the 2 Q's he needs to qualify for Nationals. That makes him fully qualified for Perf team, grand prix and steeplechase.
As mentioned, we Q'd pairs - we ran with Katrina and Baby again and we were the 1st place performance team.
He did a real nice job getting the Gamblers Q. Skye has a good distance teeter, and I was able to get him to push out to the correct jumps to finish the gamble.

Though Snooker is usually our game, I underestimated a pull through and Skye ended up taking a #1 followed by another #1 very early in the run for a total of 4 points!
In jumpers, he knocked 1 bar, so we didn't get that Q either, but overall he ran really well for me!

We are playing more USDAA in a little over a week - this time with DAM team. I still need to get Rip qualified in team, so hopefully we will get it.

Skye's runs

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Goals Recap

Earlier this year, I posted my annual goals for Skye and Rip. Now is a good time to recap and see what kind of progress was made against the goals.

For Skye:

Short-term goals:
  1. Continue practicing with toys and not food, keeping Skye very motivated during practice sessions.. Met - except for rewarding on contacts, I always use a toy instead of treats as rewards.
  2. Work on various distance skills, like turns from a tunnel and better push outs. Partial - we have worked on these, but Skye is still not a great gambler dog. We only got 4 out of 11 USDAA gamblers Q's in 2011.
  3. Keep working on the startline in practice – this has been paying off as he’s been much better during competition.. Partial - I have found that it's more motivating to Skye (and Rip) if I just run with them off the line, so I have been using startlines less anyway.
  4. Need to proof frontcrossing the AFrame – these tend to push him off the side. Get him to keep driving down even if I am in front of the frame. Met - I have not found this to be an issue lately.
  5. Work on being able to really peel off the weaves without causing popouts. Partial - I think this is better, but I recall a trial in November when he popped early.
Long-term goals:
  1. In 2011, I would like to earn Skye’s USDAA PDCH-Bronze. This will take getting 9 more Pairs Qs, 7 Gamble Qs, 3 Jumpers Qs, and 6 Standard Qs. This will not be an easy task.  Almost - At the end of 2011, Skye needs just 2 more Pairs Qs and 3 more Gamble Qs for PDCH-Bronze.
  2. Qualify for USDAA Nationals and attend the event in October in Kentucky. Met - had a good time at Nationals!
  3. Qualify for AKC Nationals for 2012, as we have done the last 2 years. Met - We qualified and have entered the nationals.
  4. Earn at least two more placements in AKC. We managed to get a 2nd and 3rd in 2010, so I would like to meet and improve on that. This can be challenging as we never compete against less than 25 dogs. More typically, its 50 - 75 dogs in the 20" class. Met - I didnt keep good track of this, but we definitely had a few 3rd places and a 2nd place.

For Rip:

Short-term goals:

  1. More practicing on the contact retraining. Continue to use the target to get him driving into position – don’t try to fade it so fast in practice. Met - Rip's contacts are holding up really well in competition now.
  2. Keep working his bar issues by varying jumpheights, including lots of crossing on jumpers type courses, doing figure-8 jumps, and other jumping exercises. Met - Rip is really doing well keeping bars up. He recently Q'd his last 6 straight Master Jumpers courses in USDAA and is just 1 Q away from MXJ in AKC!
  3. Continue to push for more speed in the weaves. Periodically open the channels to get him moving faster and faster. Once a month, film the weave performance and time it to measure any improvements. Met - I've continued to practice with channels opened a little, and in competition, he is really doing much better with some fabulous weave performances.
  4. Be more consistent with practice outside of classtime. I’d like to practice at least 2 times a week outside of class, and would prefer 3 or 4 times a week. Partial - Not sure I met the 3 or 4 times a week, but we are practicing usually 2 times a week outside of class.
  5. Enforce contact performance in competition – at the very least, mark an intentionally jumped contact with a down. Partial - I still have a hard time not getting caught up in the moment and quick releasing. We have had plenty of wait-to-release performances, but nowhere near 100%.

Long-term goals:

  1. For AKC, I would like to earn Rip’s first Double Q, which will require us to get out of Open Standard, and Exc. A Jumpers. Almost - Rip earned his AX title and moved into Exc. B Std for 1 run at his last trial in November, so we didnt get but 1 chance. We did however get a 'virtual' double Q by Qing Exc. A Std and Exc. B JWW.
  2. Qualify for USDAA Nationals and attend the event in October in Kentucky. We are already qualified in Team, and have 1 Q in Steeplechase. Met - we had a good time at Nationals!
  3. Improve our speed enough to be within 2 or 3 seconds of 1st place in a big AKC or USDAA competition. Met - Rip has been picking up speed. He got a 2nd place in JWW in November and has been within 2 seconds of the 1st place dog frequently.
  4. Advance to the Masters level in USDAA and earn Rip’s MAD. We need 3 Adv. Standard Qs to get to Masters in everything, and then will need 3 Master Standard Qs and 1 Q in each of the games (we already have Pairs and Gamblers) Almost - We got into Masters, though the Standard legs have been tough for us. We have masters titles in Pairs and Jumpers, are just 1 Q away from Gamblers title, and need 2 more super Qs for our Snooker title. NO Master Standard legs yet!