Well, I started off the morning with field training, and as bad as Noodle and Pretzel were last week, they were good this week! Steps back, steps forward, just keep plugging away. I do see improvement, and I need to remind myself not to get so discouraged!
My big news...I flew to Rhode Island last Friday, looked at a litter of puppies, and today I flew back to Rhode Island to bring home MY NEW PUPPY!!! This puppy comes from the same breeder as Noodle, and it is a pairing that I have loved for a while now. The breeder gave me the amazing opportunity to own the pick, and so I got my pick of the litter. Although I really really wanted a boy, when I was there Friday this girl just spoke to me. She demanded that I make her mine. I tried to lean towards one of the boys, but this yellow/orange collar girl was destined to be mine. So, let me introduce "Pizza"! (registered name pending!).
We left Rhode Island around 9pm and drove 13 hours home all night, and Pizza laid curled up and snuggly in my lap. Talk about bonding! I am beside myself with excitement!
We arrived home around 10:00am after driving all night. First came the big introductions for Pizza: Pretzel and Noodle! Pretzel was interested, but his ear is still causing him a lot of pain so he really has a hard time thinking about anything else. Noodle was so over the top excited I had to get a hold of her and calm her down. After her brain was unscrambled, she really liked Pizza, and Pizza just adored her! It was fun to watch Noodle be so patient and motherly around her. Whuda thunk it???
Accepting my limitations is sometimes the hardest task I face. I don't like to believe something is impossible. This has driven me for years, but sometimes you have to step back and be realistic. Realism sucks! But in being real, one can re-focus on a new goal with a new purpose. So 2019 will be a year of re-focusing. Setting my sights on new things, accepting my changes in direction, and being happy for the joy of the moment. Sounds good, doesn't it? well...we shall see!
Lots of new experiences for Pizza today! She got to get her paws wet in the baby pool, more play time with Noodle, and she learned how to be a couch potato (for a very brief couple of minutes!).
Pizza's AKC registration was finished today, I must say I am pretty in love with the name I picked out. AKC allows up to 50 letters and spaces with an extra fee, and I used 49 of them. Got my money's worth haha!
I worked Cadence today and she was just about perfect. She looked bigger to me, so I got the measuring stick out. She grew! She is 15'3"+ at the withers, and 16' 1/2" at the hip. Yay!
Pretzel's ear is not doing well. I think it is infected. We are getting a new antibiotic from my vet tomorrow. Poor guy is in a lot of pain and is seriously unhappy living in a cone or wrap 24/7. Why do these things always happen to him?
Pizza got to take an outing to PetsMart tonight. She loved everyone she met! Her tail just goes crazy when she sees people. I must confess that I did buy her several new toys. Hey, a girl should have some toys that are all hers, right?
Noodle was entered in two runs at a CPE trial this morning - just Jackpot and Standard. I was kind of disappointed in how things went today. OK, I was really disappointed in today. Dangit...we have worked and trained SO freaking hard, and I felt like Noodle slid backwards in her behavior.
The first class was Jackpot, and it was traditional (meaning there was a distance "send" bonus). On a good note - she did get her send bonus, but it was ridiculously easy. However, we did not Q because she got distracted and went trotting up and down the ring fence looking at everyone over the fence...took FOREVER to get her back to me.
Second class was standard. She left me at one point to go to the judge but I called her back after about 10 feet and we went on. She blew my bypass command and went in the wrong end of the tunnel, and then came out and went to the ring crew sitting in the corner and started sniffing her. I called her back and I could see her eyes were really wide and she was pretty hyped up. I made her stop and stand still, told her to calm down, and amazingly she did...and we finished the rest of the course nicely. I should mention that the first dogwalk she was really wound up and she did not stop for her 2 on 2 off, but her second dogwalk after I calmed her down was a nice stopped contact. So it wasn't all bad, but it was disappointing to have backslid so much today.
Talk about killing my optimism right before Weimaraner Nationals in 2 weeks... Oh well, here are a couple puppy pictures to brighten my mood. Pizza had her first shower today and she kind of liked it! She makes me smile, even when I am stressed. I can't wait until November when life settles down to normal and I can take time to enjoy her more.
I took Pretzel and Pizza to Lorain to visit my mom for the day. Pretzel just LOVES my mom, and she loves spoiling him with cheese. It's a win-win for everyone!
Pizza saw herself in the hallway mirror and was mesmerized...she sat there with her tail wagging and couldn't stop staring at that pretty puppy at the end of the hallway. Boy was she disappointed when she walked down there only to find a shiny piece of glass.
Pizza had her first professional photo shoot today! It was a girls' only photo shoot (sadly, Pretzel's ear looks too icky right now for photos). Noodle taught Pizza the fine art of posing pretty for treats. All photos shot by the very talented Cherry Williams!
I am running myself ragged right now. I am still training my dogs heavily to prepare for Weim Nationals - did some great field training this week with baby steps of improvement, had a pretty good agility class, but now my focus is going to shift for the next 5 days to Cadence. It's Congress time! Tomorrow we load up the trailer and head to Congress to complete what has been a dream of mine for the past 8 years - to once again compete in yearling hunter longe line. This will be my third longe line trip to Congress, and with what I feel is my best yearling yet. But, she is a yearling, which means I am nothing more than the dope on the rope and anything can happen! Let's just hope that "anything" is something GOOD!
Today went a lot smoother than expected. I hauled Cadence to Congress, with no issue getting in, getting unloaded, and getting parked. I got to the show grounds between 10-10:30am, perfect timing. Cadence settled in to her stall, I unloaded, and got organized.
I came back later that night around 11pm to longe her in one of the covered arenas. She did pretty well, considering it was late night and rather chilly. I ran home to get some sleep, in preparation for this 5-day marathon.
I was able to get Cadence out in the afternoon and longe her in Cooper area. She did fantastic! I came back later that night and longed in the covered pen around 11pm, she was a little wild due to being spooked by someone trying to train their own wild horse with a driving cart. Later that night around 1:30 am was our official longe line practice time in the Coliseum. Cadence was spot on, nothing really bothered her. Dare I actually have hope?
I got about 3-4 hours sleep, then was up before 7am to hold Cadence for the braider. Cadence was....awful. She was seriously bad for the braider - I was embarrassed. She as angry and impatient, and it made the job a lot harder than it needed to be. When it was all done, she looked fantastic. My braider friend is awesome, but after doing Cadence, I hope she is still my friend LOL!
Cadence was really dirty, and has a slight winter coat growing in, so grooming was a monumental task. Thankfully Darla and Bob helped me out and we got her looking absolutely gorgeous.
It was show time! Off we went to the show ring for our warm-up. Sometimes the walk over to the show is scarier than the show ring itself, but Cadence took it all in stride. This moment has been 8 years and 4 horse tragedies in the making...I have gone through hell several times over just to get to this point. I don't think anyone truly understands what it took to get me here...but I know and I am cherishing every moment.
Our warm-up in the Coliseum was pretty awful. I picked the worst spot to warm her up - right in front of the center doors here people were coming in and out, and they were stacking metal chairs. It didn't take much for Cadence to lose her cool and do some impressive bucking and kicking...all on the live feed camera (note to self: next time warm up in a spot way away from the camera!). Oh well, nothing much e can do about that. We exited and waited our turn for the halter portion. Luckily we were 4th to go in the 1st split, so we don't have to wait around a long time before our turn.
Our halter portion went OK. She didn't set up really great in the back, but I knew better not to fuss with her. Our trot off was beautiful, and she did stand still for the judges...always a dicey thing to expect from a yearling!
Next came the longeing portion. When I put her on the warm-up walk, I knew things were going to be OK. She walked calmly and quietly, and although she looked a couple times at the judges sitting in chairs, she didn't appear to be overly concerned with them. Then...it was show time!
Our go was beautiful. One small mistake here she took the wrong lead the first direction, but we corrected it quickly and quietly...second direction was about perfect! Our use of circle was not great, but I didn't want to push it with her as I knew she was still a little worried. I was thrilled with our go. Unfortunately, we didn't make the call backs, but later I saw that two of the judges placed us in the top 10, so it wasn't all bad!
This is one of those moments that I can't even talk about. I worked my butt off yet again to prepare for the open hunter longe line on Tuesday. I worked in the middle of the night, had her going perfectly, and because people blocked me (thank you, nice "professionals") from warming up, I was unable to make it to the ring the split second my number was called (I was about 10 feet from the ring entrance) and they refused to let me in. Thousands of dollars and a year's worth of hard work and training down the drain. My heart is broken, and I am just about done with this whole rat race. That is all I have to say about it, because right now I need to focus on Weimaraner Nationals next week and I cannot let this get in my head and mess me up.
It's crunch time, e leave for Weimaraner Nationals on Sunday! Noodle and Pretzel are entered in the field ratings (shooting dog), and Noodle is entered in agility, rally, conformation, and her maturity. On top of that, I also have Chevy to show in his futurity, sweepstakes, and best of breed. Going to be craaaaaazy!
This afternoon I hit some rally run-thrus at a local training facility. Noodle did better and better with each run. They weren't perfect, but acceptable. At this point, I'll take that!
In the evening, I hit some agility run-thrus at a different local training facility. There is where Noodle decided to shatter my confidence. She went backwards in her training...back to the way she was a full year ago! Running and barking at the "judges" in the ring (who happen to be friends of mine that she actually knows!). Both runs were disasters. I could tell that she was so overly aroused and excited right at the start line. Why? I warmed her up inside, did some rally and focus work, and I felt like she was really with me. When we got to the start line I could not get her to maintain eye contact. I knew we were sunk, and we were. I have a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It looks like October is shaping up to be my nightmare month instead of the dream month I had hoped for. Everything is crashing down, and I feel helpless.
Here we go! The week I have been working towards ALL year - the 2019 Weimaraner National Specialty. Today was the field ratings test. Both Pretzel and Noodle were entered in Shooting Dog, which is the middle level (they already have their Novice Shooting Dog Title). I have worked a LOT on this, every week since August. Even little Pizza got in on the action - she got to socialize and watch, and even play with a dead quail (which she LOVED!).
Pretzel was first to go in brace #2. The cover was harvested corn stalks and VERY difficult to get through. I think he was worn out by the time we got to the end of the back field! He hunted in his usual intenze, dramatic style, and slammed on point beautifully and held through the flush, broke on the shot. The retrieve...well...this is where things got a little dicey. It took him forever to retrieve to my hand! He stopped multiple times and thought about it,
I begged and pleaded with no shame, and he finally brought it to me for a pass and a qualifying go! This makes Pretzel's 24th title. He was pretty much exhausted by the end of this, it was tough going for him, being so out of shape and still recovering from surgery last spring.
Next it was Noodle's turn. She hunted beautifully with lots of energy, and came back towards me whenever I asked her to (which is huge for us!). When we got into the bird field, she went on point, but it wasn't a very staunch point, and we didn't produce a bird. About 20 feet farther, she snapped on point and it was solid! Our bracemate honored, and then broke his honor and jumped in front of her to find the bird, and got in her face a bit. I am so incredibly proud of Noodle - she held her point through all of that, even when the dog got right up in her grill! Since we weren't able to work that bird, the judges decided to to a retrieve farther in the field. I whoa-ed her, and the judge threw the dead bird as the gunner shot in the air, but unfortunately the judge threw the bird downwind...and little did we know that there was a huge pheasant about 10 feet away upwind. When Noodle went for the retrieve, she went towards the pheasant and flushed it, and then followed it into a field full of shoulder-high weeds.
This felt like Kentucky all over again - I called and called and she was nowhere to be found. I felt sick to my stomach. It felt like hours, but in reality it was only a few minutes until she came back. the judge had me reset her, and this time he threw the bird upwind, she went and retrieved it right to hand...PASS!. This makes Noodle's 14th title! I am thrilled and proud, and cannot wait to continue training to get ready for our senior hunter titles.
Taleatha entered Marshall (Pretzel x Mouse puppy) in the novice shooting dog and they also passed! I was very proud of them, and it is such a thrill to see a Pretzel son training and performing well!
WCA National Specialty Day #2 - Agility and Sweepstakes
Day #2 starts the marathon of conflicts, and the day i have worried and stressed about for the past year. Noodle was entered in agility (Excellent FAST, 2 Open Standards, and 2 Open Jumpers), and Chevy was entered in Sweepstakes.
We started off the morning with Excellent FAST. Noodle did surprisingly well. She spent a lot of time in front of the A-Frame sniffing the turf, so we ran out of time, but we did get our SEND bonus, and she stayed with me!
I zipped over to the conformation side to show Chevy in sweepstakes. the judge pulled out Chevy, and also Taleatha and Marshall and had us go around together, once with me leading and once with her leading. She ended up placing Marshall 1st and Chevy 2nd - I was SO proud to have my Pretzel boys going 1-2 in the 18-24 month sweeps!
I had to literally RUN to the agility ring and do my first Open Standard run. No time to warm-up or get focused, just grabbed Noodle and went into the ring. That just might be the key! We had one mistake where she went into the wrong end of the tunnel (I am pretty sure it was my fault for not pushing her hard enough into the correct end, so she pulled instead), but other than that we were clean and she stayed with me beautifully...so we qualified with a score of 95!!! My #1 goal for this year was to qualify in at least ONE agility run at nationals, and we did it!
Our second standard run was really really good - no off courses and no refusals...she did run over towards the judge once but I called her right back and since it wasn't in the approach to an obstacle, it was not faulted. we qualified with a score of 100!!! Holy cow!!!!
Our jumpers runs weren't quite as successful. The first run was the worst - she because distracted by dogs walking along the fence, and the smells of the turf were too much for her and I ended up having to pick her up right near the end of our run because she would not stop obsessing over the smell of the turf in one particular spot. Our second run was much better, but we had 2 refusals and she back-jumped one jump, so we did not qualify. Even with those mistakes, I still feel extremely good about these runs...she really pulled through when I needed her to! that's my clutch girl!!!
WCA National Specialty Day #3 - Conformation and Rally, and the Top 20 event!
Today was my busiest day, and a day full of conflicts. Today I showed Noodle in Rally, but I also had Chevy entered in Best of Breed at the specialty going on at the exact same time.
I will give Noodle credit, she was a wonderful, patient girl being stuck in her crate all day other than the two rally runs. Our goes in Rally were...um...ok at best. She literally hoovered the turf the entire time, sniffing the floor non-stop. I wish I could break her of this habit, but it seems whenever we are at a trial and I don't have food on me, this is what she does. However, we managed to complete everything, and ended up with two qualifying scores of 84 and 90. This completes her Rally Novice title - our third title earned this week!
Since I had a conflict, I coerced my friend Cindy into taking Chevy into best of breed. There were 70+ entries, so I didn't expect much. How shocked was I when i peeked through the curtain from the Rally side to see Chevy getting pulled in to make the cut! Then, I was doubly shocked to see taleatha and Marshall also get pulled! Both Pretzel pups made the cut!
But wait...it gets even better! The judge brought in all of the dogs that made the cuts from their groups (there were so many dogs, they split them up into 5 groups for judging). Both Chevy and Marshall made the FINAL cut of 8 dogs! I swear I was so excited and proud I could have blown UP. Pretzel's pups, not even 2 years old yet, making the final group of 8 out of 70+ entries. That was HUGE! Unfortunately, no placement, but just making it that far is a huge accomplishment. I am thrilled!
In comparison with the past 3 days, today was an easy one - we only had the Futurity and Maturity today. Chevy started off first in a nice big Intermediate Dog Futurity class...and WON it again! Even better - his littermate Marshall came in SECOND! What an amazing accomplishment for the "boys" to go 1-2 over some tough competition!
Noodle showed her heart out in a huge bitch maturity class and got no love, but I am super happy with how she showed...she got many compliments and that means more to me than one judge's opinion. I can't help but love this crazy drivey girl.
WCA National Specialty Day #5 - Nationals Best of Breed
Last day! I am thoroughly exhausted, but still in good spirits (and how could I not, with the great success I have been having - I am so blessed!)
Noodle started off the day by showing in the Versatile Bitch class - a class for bitches that have their Versatile rating from the WCA. I should mention that after she finished her Open Agility title on Tuesday, she is now a Versatile excellent bitch...woo-hoo! I was so proud when the judge pulled us out first!
Next was Chevy's turn and he once again made the cut out of 5 groups of dogs (over 90 entries today!). He is showing fantastic, and he is SO happy in the ring, it makes it extra fun.
Marshall also made his cut, and then he went on to make the final cut in dogs...making the final cut at the National Specialty is HUGE! I admit I teared up watching a Pretzel son do so well. My heart breaks a little to know that unfortunately, I don't have a Pretzel pup of my own. It's wonderful that his pups are in such good homes, though.
I almost forgot to mention the biggest news - last night at the awards banquet Noodle was awarded the Tri-Athlete award for qualifying in 3 or more events. She qualified in Shooting Dog, Agility, Rally, and Conformation. I am so flipping proud of her...for all her quirks she still managed to come through for me when it really counted. No, we can go home and rest for a while and I can spend some time concentrating on Pizza. I don't know if I will ever do a "marathon" of events at the national specialty again...it was so exhausting and I had very little time to socialize. Of course, ask me again in a few months and we shall see!
Noodle got mail! Kind of weird that it went to mark and not me, but we will take it...she ended up 5th for the year in the National Owner-Handled Series, with very limited showing! I believe I have had a dog in the top 10 of NOHS every year for the past 5 years. That's pretty exciting!
This month is all about Pizza! My #1 training goal - to get her to pee and poop OUTSIDE. So far, we haven't been very successful. It rained this past Saturday and she refused to go out in the rain, ended up pooping twice in my office...ugh. Potty training is always such a challenge, I equate this to trailer loading yearling horses.
Anyways, we managed to get a little gaiting practice in today, and Pizza (probably purely by accident) cracked her very first free stack today. It was adorable, and oh so pretty...
Today was cloudy, but dry, and I couldn't resist grabbing my good camera and shooting photos (like several hundred of them!). Here is a sampling:
Yesterday I had my first puppy class with Pizza. We are woefully behind in our training. I guess in the past few weeks my attention and focus has all been on Cadence and Noodle. I see where my training issues are - Pizza has bonded a little too strongly with Noodle and not enough with me.
I have to remind myself every 5 seconds that Pizza is not Noodle. She doesn't have Noodle's crazy strong drive, and that means it is going to take me a bit longer to train, and it will be a little harder work to get it all done. No two dogs are the same, and honestly I had it pretty easy when Noodle was a puppy. Her crazy strong drive made her really easy to shape and teach new things. I am dedicating time multiple times each day to take Pizza away from the distractions of Pretzel and Noodle, and to work on one-on-one with her.
My goals for this week - teaching her to step on the training board with her back feet and hold, circle a cone, and to stand still (i.e. stack) for longer than a second at a time. Today I felt like she was finally getting the hang of the training board. By the 3rd session, she will willingly interacting with the board and looking for a treat. Success! the cone circling is much farther behind. I think I got two seconds of standing still at a stack. I am also working on checking her bite, and rewarding her when she lets me. It's fun to have a plan!