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Saturday August 1, 2020

Wake me up, because I think I've fainted

Yesterday was my "humbler day". Today, I went in to the show not expecting a lot. I worked with Pizza on standing still, and being patient...a total work in progress! We went into the Best of Breed ring, one of 13 special bitches entered. Pizza turned it ON! As bad as she was yesterday, she was awesome today. The judge pulled out best of breed, then the class dog for best of winners, and then he pointed at us for Best of Opposite...and I about passed OUT! Best of Opposite at a BIG specialty, and she just turned a year old yesterday!

He re-judged all of the owner-handlers, and Pizza was also awarded an Owner-Handled best of breed. Our specialty lasted all afternoon, and we walked over to take photos and then had to go in and wait for the owner-handled sporting group. By this time, Pizza was pretty exhausted. She still showed pretty well for me in group, but we didn't get a look. I did not care, for sure....I was flying high from this win. How amazing...what an amazing day! It had rained all night and all morning, and the rain barely stopped in time for us to show the specialty, then started up again during groups. I was dressed and prepared. Probably didn't make for the nicest win photo, but any win like this is so incredible, who cares what I look like?

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Never let your memories be bigger than your dreams.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Fainting again!

Today is the last day of the show and my 2-week show marathon. We showed at *gulp* 7:30am. It was ugly and misty-rainy. I really didn't expect anything. My life cycle seems to always be a great day followed by a humbler day. So, I expected to be humbled...i was ready for it. Pizza got pulled out for Best of Opposite again today, along with Owner-Handled best of breed! Two days in a row!

This win today really means a lot, maybe even more than yesterday. Why? Because it proves that yesterday was not a fluke. It's funny how with every bit of success, I start to doubt myself again. A second big win shows that it wasn't just one oddball judge giving me a strange placement, maybe we really did deserve it! Am I over the moon? You bet I am! I am so incredibly proud of Pizza, and thrilled that I was the one who picked this puppy out of the litter, raised her, trained her, and made her a champion. Gives me goosebumps...and this feeling never gets old!

Best of breed ~ Best of Winners ~ Best of Opposite ~ Select Dog ~ Select Bitch

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Monday, August 3, 2020

Back to training

Back to reality today, and to our regular training classes and lessons. Pizza had an agility semi-private lesson today. We have started jumping, and I am thrilled with her athletic ability. She reminds me a lot of Pretzel - she powers over everything. Quite the opposite of Noodle, who is very light on her feet and precise. Pizza earns her nickname "Bulldozer" honestly! I am really happy with how she has been training. It is slowly starting to come together, and her focus is definitely improving. That is my #1 priority, because without focus you ain't got nothin'!

Tomorrow is Dolphin's 4 month birthday! I stacked him up today for photos. He is all legs. They are long and all over the place. He is in that cute, gawky stage. He is growing so differently than Pretzel did at this age. OK, I take that back. I just went and looked at Pretzel's 4 month old photos, and they are very similar, although Dolphin is taller because he has more leg than Pretzel did at this age.

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

When it's good, it's great!

Every now and then you have one of those days where everything seems to feel right. Today was that day. Yesterday, not at all. But today I woke up and the training pieces fitted together.

First up was Noodle in her agility class at 8am. She was awesome. I seriously left class with the BIGGEST smile on my face. She is focused and enthusiastic, and there is nothing more fun on earth than running her when she is like this. This crazy girl is giving me hope again!

Pizza had her class at 10:30am. Thanks to the private lessons I have been doing since November, she is far ahead of her class. It is beneficial to us because she needs to learn to keep her focus when other dogs are working around her. It's a work in progress, but for the most part she stays with me and works. he thing with Pizza is you just can't drill her endlessly. After 4-5 repetitions of something, she feels like she is done, and her mind wanders. Luckily she is smart enough that drilling isn't really needed with her. She picks up on things pretty fast. The best ting today is that Pizza nailed 6 weaves at home! That is the hardest agility move to teach, and we have been training the building blocks for months.

All in all it was a good day. It helped having a good day, because yesterday I felt like a complete failure. Welcome to my bipolar life...it's up, it's down, it's back up, you just never know what each day is going to bring.

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Monday, August 10, 2020

Been slacking on the photos!

I had a great lesson with Pizza today. Holy moley, I just might have me an agility dog! Thinking back last winter when I was so frustrated in her lack of focus, it is not perfect but it is SO much better now.

I have been slacking on the photos lately...so that is as good excuse as any to pull out my good camera and take a couple hundred photos (no exaggeration there!).

Dolphin and bestie Pizza

Dolphin and daddy Pretzel

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Tuesday, August 12, 2020

Welcome to Birdland!

I skipped my dentist appointment today to do some field training. Hey, I have my priorities! It's much harder to get field training time than it is to get an appointment with the dentist.

I haven' been able to train since early June, so needless to say both Noodle and Pizza were a bit rusty. Noodle did pretty good, but she was hunting really close again. She just refuses to range out when we are at my field trainer's place. Everywhere else, she is off running into the distance. She hunted with another dog and did a good job of holding her point through the shot and flush. We only worked a couple birds, but it was pretty successful.

Pizza was a little more untrained. She pointed and held, but broke immediately on the flush. We have some work to do here.

Today was Dolphin's very first experience in the field. He was very interested in the birds, and once he gained some confidence he was all about it! He managed to chase down and catch a quail, and brought it back to me. The bird was alive and completely unharmed! I love a soft mouth! I am excited to get started with him, I am hoping he follows in his daddy's footsteps and becomes a dramatic pointer. We will hopefully do more training next week, as I hope to get some regular weekly training done from this point forward.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

My little show dawg

I practiced today with Pizza and Dolphin, preparing for our show in a couple weeks. This will be Dolphin's debut in the 4-6 month puppy class! I am really happy with how he is doing. I especially love his gait - he just floats...

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Growing up...too fast!

Well, I knew this day was coming. I actually kind of expected it any time now since she passed her first birthday. I took Pizza to agility class and pottied her outside before going in and noticed some blood. Pizza has officially lost her puppy card today - her first season. She was a little bothered by the pants at first, but actually buckled down and did pretty well in class. I was surprised, because Noodle is worthless when she is in season - she has serious nesting urges. Pizza seemed like her normal self, maybe just a little less focused.

Noodle's class this morning was awesome. She was on fire, super focused and full of drive. I know this is beginning to sound like a broken record, but I had SO much fun running her again today! For once my "broken record" is of something GOOD! Heaven help me, I am becoming optimistic about what we can accomplish in the future!

Tonight I took Dolphin for a walk around Lowes. He is a bit more cautious of new places and new people than my other puppies have been, so my goal is to get him out amongst strangers a bunch in the next few weeks before our show. He walked into Lowes super confident, but was very cautious when people approached him to pet. We will work on that.

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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Softer than you think

I spent the morning with Noodle at a 3 hour agility seminar. I think I learned something interesting about her today. She started off really great, running like she does in class. To add a little more difficulty to her runs, I asked a guy that was attending the seminar to come out into the ring during my second run and act like a judge. He was very close to the A-Frame, and when I released her from her 2 on 2 off, she ran over to sniff him. I immediately yelled at her and made her lay down for a moment, then took her back to the start and started again. She immediately shut down. She put only the slightest effort in her jumping, trotted out of the tunnel, never looked at the guy but was clearly unhappy. It was a serious bitch pout from her!

In thinking back, I have not had to yell at her or correct her for misbehaving since before the pandemic...which would have been maybe February if that? She pouted through the rest of her runs, putting minimal effort in. By the last run, I made up to her, because a total cheerleader, and she brightened up and did better.

I find this very very interesting. In the past she never cared one whit if she got into trouble. Today she cared. She was a little offended by it, but I could tell she was upset about being disciplined. In looking back, she really did nothing more than leave me to go check out the "judge", but I cannot give her an inch when it comes to this behavior. Excusing this might mean the next time she could jump up on the judge or be rude. Making her lay down around all those people is the ultimate punishment for her. I would have never pegged her for being so sensitive. This is new. I am wondering why? Maybe because she has been so good for 6 months, she got used to the praise and success? Hard to tell what goes on in her mind, but it will be something to look out for in the next few weeks.

Next weekend we are entered in an agility trial - just doing open jumpers each day. She needs one jumpers Q to complete her open jumpers title, and then she will be at the Excellent level in everything. It may happen next weekend, or it may not. Either way, I just hope for a good experience, as always. My ambitions with her are much simpler nowadays - I just want to enter and exit with a good experience, regardless of the mistakes. 100% focus is my goal, come what may.

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

Education at it's finest

I have been taking this online training class with Dolphin, and each week we are given assignments to video for feedback. It's been really interesting, and also sometimes a challenge to get things videoed.

Today I headed over to a friend's house and 4 of us that have young puppies trained together. It was great to train around other puppies instead of alone in my front yard. I was extremely pleased with how well Dolphin kept his focus even with the other puppies nearby. This is something that is a high priority with me, obviously, since it was my downfall with Noodle as a puppy. Pizza tends to have decent focus, but once I repeat something 3-4 times she considers herself "done" and will sprint off to go visit another dog. Dolphin stayed with me the whole time, and his focus was pretty good. Even afterwards when we were finished and turned all the puppies loose for an off-leash walk in the woods, Dolphin kept coming back and checking in with me. I like this!

Here are some of the things I have been working on in my online class, in no particular order:
~~~Chasing and tugging~~~ working up to chasing in a circle without crossing behind
~~~Collar grab~~~ reward with a grab of the collar (teaches puppy that grabbing the collar is a good thing)
~~~Verbals~~~ sit, down, stand
~~~Right and Left Spins~~~ gradually working to a verbal command only
~~~Perch work~~~ shaping the puppy to put front feet on a bowl. Gradually you teach them to move with you as you rotate, so their hind legs are moving. Eventually you want them to pivot around so they are in heel position on either side of you.
~~~Back up~~~ backing up on command, fading the lure. Eventually backing up onto a plank
~~~Developing a verbal release word~~~ "Okay" to release from position or activity
~~~Shaping 2 on 2 off~~~ position on a plank
~~~"Go See" command~~~ giving permission to go see a stranger, then recalling them back to you.

There are other things included in these lessons (we are on week 4 right now), but I just listed the basics that I have been focusing on.

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Friday, August 21, 2020

More baby steps

Today I got to do some field training in the morning. Pizza had to opt out since she is in season. Noodle started off really well, with better range than normal. She pointed a bird, and I deliberately flushed it right at her face to test her. She held her point even when the bird almost brushed her face, and held through the shot. But then I made a mistake - when I heeled her away I only walked about 5 feet before releasing her. She immediately turned and ran a few feet into the woods to grab the bird where it landed. I had to get after her, and then she seriously pouted for the rest of the hour. It was very similar to what happened at our agility seminar last weekend - she lost her enthusiasm after I corrected her. This is very interesting to me because in the past, the "old" Noodle didn't give a crap whether she was in trouble, her adrenaline would kick in and she just gave in to her impulses. This is the new "thinking" Noodle who actually wants to be right. I'm liking it!

Dolphin had loads of new experiences today! he got to meet a horse up close for the first time. When I got him out of the van and he saw the horse grazing nearby in the pasture, he freaked out a bit. We turned the horse loose near the barn, and worked with him there and he realized it was no big deal and ignored the horse after that.

We dropped a few birds around for him to discover, and he had a nice point out in the field. These baby steps of training are so much fun! Dolphin is definitely a thinker - he thinks about things before acting. This means his impulse control is actually pretty good for a puppy! Of course, the downside to thinking is the danger of over-thinking. Sometimes he worries when he can't figure something out - i.e. seeing the horse for the first time. My goal over the next week is to get him out to experience as many people and places as possible, before our first AKC 4-6mo puppy show next week.

Here is a fun little tour of the perimeter of my back field, using this cool app called "Relive".

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Almost, but not quite

This weekend was all about Noodle and agility. I entered her in Open Jumpers today and tomorrow. She is siting on 2 Q's, only needs one more Q and she will get her Open Jumpers title. This is her last open title, as she got her others a while ago. We've been sitting in Open Jumpers for over 2 years, but to our defense we haven't trialed a lot.

Noodle was amped up today. I thought after hunting yesterday she would have the edge taken off, but apparently that wasn't enough. She took off at the beginning like a rocket, but a focused rocket. Her first mistake - she caught sight of the judge and veered in that direction. I called her, and she came right back to me but took an off course jump. Second mistake was just a silly one - a missed jump that we had to circle around to get. The last mistake was totally my fault. The course ended with a triple that went into the corner. I stopped way too soon, and she pulled up slightly in mid-air and knocked the top bar.

Although this run may seem like a failure, in my world it is actually a big success. Noodle was fired up, but stayed with me. She got distracted, but came RIGHT back to me. e made mistakes, but pushed on through them and ended up with a fairly successful run, even though it was a non-qualifying run. I'll take that kind of run any day! If I can keep Noodle's focus even when she is super-amped, then I really have something here!

We will try again tomorrow for that elusive last Q. More importantly, we will try for another day of good focus.

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Try, try again!

Day #2, and here we are with a second attempt at finishing our open jumpers title. Last night I took Noodle for a long run all over the property so she could burn off some steam, and it made a difference. She was much lower-keyed than yesterday.

I was happy with our preparation - we came in the building and did some focus work (which for us is usually some Rally exercises). Another dog was being very blatant about giving Noodle the stare down, and she glanced a few times at him and then back at me, so I know it was making her uncomfortable. I took her back outside and let her relax on a long leash, then went back inside and went to another area of the building and worked focus again. She was super-focused! We went in the ring, and freaking NAILED IT! We ended up having a perfect clean run, without one moment of distraction and not even a hint of a mistake. Talk about a high...walking out of the ring with that run behind me made me about float on air. Everything clicked, everything came together, and we nailed it...a Q and a score of 100 for our Open Jumpers title! Noodle now can officially be known as: "GCH CH Luxe All You Can Eat Spaghetti RN JH OA OAJ OF CGC TKP SD NRD VX"

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

They're closed!

I took Pizza to my vet for x-rays this morning to see if her growth plates were closed yet. Good news - they are! Now we can get serious about jumping our full 24" height. I like to have my dogs' growth plates checked before doing a lot of jumping...I want them to last a LONG time and stay healthy and sound! Now we push on ahead, and work harder on our jumping skills. Can't wait!

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Friday, August 28, 2020

It's a double show, double the fun (and exhaustion)

Today was day #1 at the Smithfield, Ohio show. Today is a double show - two shows in one day. The first show offered NOHS, second show offered Beginner Puppy, so both Pizza and Dolphin got to play.

Pizza showed decently in breed, taking BOS and OHBOB. By the time the Owner-Handled Sporting Group came around, the air was oppressive and HOT as a major thunderstorm was starting to move in. Pizza showed terrible...not sure if it was the storms, her coming out of season, or the horrible heat, but she was not very cooperative. I'll give her a pass as it was pretty miserable outside.

In the second show, Pizza showed a little better, though not her usual flamboyant self. She earned another BOS (there was no owner-handled offered). That gives us two more grand champion points, chipping away at our next title!

The big star was Dolphin in his very first AKC 4-6 month puppy show. It was storming crazy hard, thunder all around us, and they moved our show under the tent (where the rain made a LOT of noise!). Dolphin showed like a rock star - he wasn't bothered by the thunder or the rain. He ended up getting top honors as Best Puppy in Show! It seriously brings me to tears. This has been such a dream of mine to step into the ring with a Pretzel son that belongs to ME, and we did it today. He was happy and energetic, and stacked like a dream. I am ever so thankful for him and what he has added to my life!

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Groundhog Day!

I didn't think I could top yesterday. Today's show was triple the size of yesterday's show. Tons of puppies entered in the 4-6 month puppy show. Dolphin went in there and was a rock star during his breed, then went in and killed it in group! Another Sporting Group One for us!

Luckily Dolphin and Pizza's rings were right next to each other. I then had to switch dogs and take Pizza in for the Weimaraner breed. She did show better than yesterday, but still was missing her spark a bit (I am really thinking it is because she is at the end of her season and is feeling a little off). I didn't get a placement, and when I went back later to watch the video, I can see why. I did a terrible job of stacking her! Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve such a nice dog. I am not doing her justice! Time to schedule more practicing in front of my mirror at home.

Next was Dolphin's turn again, to go in to the Best Puppy in Show ring. The grounds were muddy from storms all night, in fact they delated the show 90 minutes because the storms took down one of the tents. I wore my trusty rain boots and we went in to BIS and rocked it...Dolphin was incredible. The judge really took her time in looking at the lineup, he stood perfectly the whole time! The judge then had each person gait around the ring, stop and free stack. BOOM, we have been working on that a LOT at home! While it wasn't perfect, it was pretty darn good for a 4 month old puppy! I seriously could have cried when she awarded me best puppy in show. My Pretzel boy, winning again! One of the best parts was the judge talking to me later telling me how much she liked him, asking about his breeding, etc. I am a bit puffy proud, yes I am!

I will enjoy this moment, because like Mark says - the one thing about winning streaks is that they END. Pizza's sure did, and I expect Dolphin's will also. That's OK, because the wins after the failures are a thousand times more amazing!

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Don't Wake Me Up!

Life has so many highs and lows, it seems my life is always bent in one extreme or the other. This weekend, the extreme was at the top of a mountain.

Right off the bat in the morning I had to make a hard decision. Pizza's Best of Breed and Dolphin's 4-6 month puppy classes were going to happen at exactly the same time, in two different rings far apart. I had to choose one to show. I hate having to make that decision! In looking at the situation, I told myself that Pizza has her entire life to show as a special, while Dolphin only has a limited time of two months to show in the beginner puppy. That being said, I decided to not show Pizza, and instead stay on Dolphin. It was sad, because I REALLY wanted to show Pizza and work on a few things.

The show was even bigger and tougher today. Dolphin proved what a rock star he really is, and showed like a seasoned special. He stacked and held still for the inspections, and gaited with an amazingly big, flowing stride. I was thrilled when he won the sporting group, but I cannot even describe the feeling when the judge pointed to me in Best in Show! Three different judges, three different days, and all three consistently picked DOLPHIN as the best puppy! My little boy, sired by my heart dog, made possible by one of my closest friends...I have no words.

Hat trick! I am really happy with how Dolphin handled everything. Between waiting for breed (which ran about 45 minutes late), to waiting for the group, to waiting for best in show, he had to stand there on a leash with me for about 4+ hours. He stayed happy, calm, and when it was time to work he performed almost perfectly. What more could I ask for?

Now I know the lows will come...after every high, there always seems to be a low. I fully expect something bad to happen soon to balance out all of this good fortune. But until then, I will bask in the sunshine.

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