I got up early to beat the heat and headed to my field trainer's place to work the girls. Noodle's turn was first - it is so weird how she is over there. Anywhere else we train, she is off running and ranging out hunting, but at my trainer's place she stays super close to me...almost as if she is afraid to make a mistake.
She did really well for me this morning, and we ended with 4 CLEAN retrieves to my hand! That area is slowly improving. I am excited, we should be ready to test for senior hunter this fall...YESSSSS!
Even Pizza did well today. She blew it and chased the first bird, but we corrected her and got her back under control and it appears she actually learned something, and did a really nice job of holding (for her!) the next few birds. It was definitely a step in the right direction.
I feel like I haven't taken photos of Dolphin in a while, so I grabbed my good camera and did some random photos of him when he was out playing with Pizza today. He is just so stinking cute...and I see more of Pretzel in him every day. It makes my heart sing!
Never let your memories be bigger than your dreams.
It is so easy to get caught up in the past - woulda coulda shoulda! Regrets can wear a person down. This year - NO REGRETS. I am going to try to spend less time worrying about what happened, and more time making plans and then executing them. It is time to GET IT DONE. Keep dreaming, but put some action behind those dreams and drive them forward!
Today was a busy day. Yesterday I had done some training with Pizza at home and she was so uncooperative, it was frustrating and I felt like the world's worst dog trainer. Today in class, she did really well for me and I was pretty happy with how she was progressing. Go figure! Noodle also had class today and she was stellar! Very accurate, driven, and focused. Keep it going, girlie...don't break my heart this weekend, please!
Even though the stupid pandemic is not only continuing, but also getting worse, I still need to get Dolphin out and about to socialize him. Tonight we took him to Lowe's to do some shopping with us. He was a bit intimidated at first, but soon gained confidence and trotted all over the place. He really walks so nicely on a leash, not a bit of pulling. I wonder how long that will last? I seem to have one major failing as a dog trainer, and that is teaching my dogs not to pull on leash. I expect this pup will be no different eventually. I am going to try and get him to a few more places over the next week, especially big, loud indoor places like Lowe's.
Today I was very lethargic and unmotivated. Not sure why, but I had a hard time getting myself energized to do anything. By evening I managed to get my head together and do a short bit of training with the pups. I first took Pizza out and worked a little 2x2 weaves, and also the lowered teeter. It was pretty hot, she had about as much energy as I did, but did OK.
I brought Dolphin out and decided to work on our hind end targeting (2 on 2 off) on the plank. I have done two other short sessions with him, but I don't think he was grasping the idea of what I wanted. Today, the lightbulb went on! It was really cool to see him using his brain and figuring things out...and the best part was that I got the whole thing on video. It will be fun to look back on these videos when he is older. I wish I had done more training videos with Pretzel and Noodle.
Well, today was a day I was looking forward to and dreading all at the same time. Noodle was entered at an AKC trial here, only entered Open Jumpers (she is at the Excellent level in everything except Jumpers, go figure!). This was our first trial in 10 months.
I decided to stick to what was working at home - she stayed in her crate in the van until it was just a few dogs ahead of her. I got her out, and went inside and did a few obedience drills like fronts and heel position to get her focused. She seemed really in tune with me today.Thankfully we were the last team to go. Because of the pandemic, no one was allowed in the building other than the workers and the next 4 dogs on line (which was no one since we were last). Perfect trial setting for Noodle.
At the start line, I could tell she was totally focused on me. I released her and ran like hell! She was right with me, and it was exciting...so exciting that I screwed up in the middle and she bypassed a jump. I brought her back around to take the jump, and we went on to finish. The refusal was only 5 points off, and in Open we are allowed that...so this was a Qualifying Run!!!!
You have no idea how happy I am. This has been a long time coming...I cannot remember when I last had a run at a trial where Noodle was 100% focused on me the entire run. I credit several factors - all of the field training we have done all winter (she learned how to control her impulses during the most exciting moments - birds!), and also all of the at-home UKI trials I have done the past 3 months (doing lots of full courses where I ran without practicing, just like a real trial). Plus I have learned that it helps to not let her have free time/running the property right before it is time to work. She is in a much better work frame of mind if she is left alone for a bit beforehand, and not left to her own devices, if that makes sense.
We have another jumpers run tomorrow, so we shall see if this is consistent or not.
Oops, forgot to post this ridiculously adorable video of Dolphin from this morning - we needed to get a 2x4 at Lowe's, so he came along and socialized. He walked in that store like he owned it today! So stinking cute!
Can we make it two in a row? YES! I followed the same routine as I did yesterday. I got to the agility trial in the afternoon, Noodle hung out in the air-conditioned van until it was her time to run. She was focused and fast, and we qualified and won our class! It wasn't a perfect run, but that was completely my fault as I executed a terribly-timed rear cross to pull her off a jump, and had to re-do the jump.
I cannot describe how happy and thrilled I am. Happy to be running agility again, and thrilled that Noodle seems to have made a turn for the better in her focus and behavior. I try to analyze why she has suddenly come around. I guess it really isn't sudden. There have been months and months of training, working on 100% focus, and figuring out what works for her. While part of me wants to get all excited and optimistic about our future, I am forcing myself to be a realist. She was successful, yes, but on her "home turf", with no other dogs in the building, and minimal people and activity. It's a positive step, but we still, have miles to go. The difference is that now I feel like I have a good GPS for those miles we need to travel. Hope can be a very dangerous thing!
We spent the weekend in Pennsylvania, visiting Mark's dad at his golf course. It was an ugly rainy Friday and most of Saturday, so the dogs only got a little bit of running time Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I was pretty happy with Pizza's recall, though I left a check cord on her since I wasn't sure how crazy she would be running loose. Dolphin, of course, stayed right with me the whole time. Pretzel remembered the golf course and went off investigating his favorite spots. It was a good weekend overall, and it was a great introduction to traveling in the motorhome for Dolphin.
It's time to get serious about training (not that I am ever NOT serious about training!). Big big show coming up in a week and a half - big Weimaraner majors every day. Dolphin is too young to show, but Pizza will hopefully be ready and remember what her job is. I spent some time training both dogs on gaiting this evening. I need to be able to go to this show knowing I did everything I possibly could to prepare her and be ready to do our best.
The past few days I've had some serious up and down mood swings. Yesterday I received word that our Weimaraner National Specialty (scheduled for late September) has been cancelled. I am crushed. I have worked SO hard for this show. I finally have a puppy eligible for the 4-6 months puppy at Nationals (and the timing was perfect!), I was excited to show Pizza and also do her novice shooting ratings, I was going to show Chevy in his Maturity, and I was hoping to show Noodle in agility, rally, and versatile. "Poof!" Next year's show is to be held in California. That's a 3 or 4 day drive for me. Not sure that is doable. This damn virus is killing me - not from illness, but my mental state from being trapped with everything shut down is slowly killing me. I hope and pray the shows over the next few weeks actually happen, but who knows? They could all cancel on a moment's notice.
However, I got this e-mail from AKC announcing the new levels for lifetime NOHS points. This makes Pretzel the first and ONLY Platinum NOHS Weimaraner in the country! He finished his show career with 2,925 NOHS points, more than a thousand points over the #2 lifetime dog. How fitting, because he is truly a once in a lifetime dog for me!
To continue with my mood upswing, I had my agility classes today. Noodle was awesome, I am thrilled with her focus, behavior, and drive. Pizza did really well in her puppy agility class, though there are several things we need to work on, and her drive really comes and goes.
I should also mention that yesterday I went and watched Cadence being worked. She is going to her first horse show next week, just to ride around. That will be our biggest hurdle - riding in traffic. After next week, she is heading to Oklahoma with my trainer for a month to continue training while they show at the NSBA world show. I will miss seeing her, but it's for the best so she can continue with her training and not lose a whole month.
Oh - and Dolphin had his last set of vaccinations on Tuesday, and he weighed in at 33 pounds, which is 10 pounds more than he weighed at his last visit a few weeks ago. He is growing!
Today Dolphin and I attended a puppy agility seminar at our training facility. It was a blast! Dolphin was awesome. He walked into that building and was so confident around all the other puppies. I am loving his attitude. So much like Pretzel it's scary! We learned a ton of stuff at the seminar, and we now have a good plan going forward as to what to work on, and how to do it. I like having a plan. I write it all down and make a physical reminder of what I should be doing.
Only a truly dog-crazy person, or a person going stir-crazy from months of lockdown would get up at 4am to drive 2 1/2 hours to a UKC show. Yep, that's me! It was a great chance to practice with Pizza before our big AKC shows coming up in the next few weeks.
Pizza did pretty well, but this day showed me that we still have a ways to go in practicing. She has picked up a terrible habit of pacing, especially if I don't take off fast enough. This was a big issue for us today. We did manage to grab a Group 4 in a very large gun dog group. I have my work cut out for me in the next few days, that's for sure.
Dolphin was the real star. This was his very first show, first time even attending a show. At first it was a little overwhelming with all of the dogs around, but he got comfortable pretty fast. He is only 3 1/2 months, so he just did the puppy match. This class had 18 puppies all different ages. I think Dolphin was one of the youngest in the class. He showed like a rock star! He held his stack for the inspection at both shows, gaited beautifully (and pretty darn straight for a bran new puppy). In the first show he got 2nd place, and in the second show he won Best Puppy In Show!
There is something extra wonderful and thrilling to be showing a puppy that is a son of your incredibly successful, legendary heart dog.
It was steamy hot all day, the dogs were pretty lethargic. Ok, let's admit it, I was pretty lethargic! By evening, a light rain came and cooled things down, and I actually took Pizza out front in the misty rain to do some 2x2 weave training.
We really haven't done much weave training. Back in the winter I got her started going between two poles, and then added the second set of poles offset. Last week I revisited the poles, and in no time had the second set in line with the first and she was weaving 4 poles. Today I decided to add a third set of poles, offset. It didn't take her long to nail that, and by the end of our short training session she weaved all 6 in line! No need to drill drill drill, it was easy-[easy for her first time. I videoed my entire session so you can see the progression, and even the mistakes. I shoot these videos mainly for myself, because it is super helpful to go back and look at your training procedures when you start the next puppy. I like to keep track of how they are progressing compared to past puppies, and what I am or need to be doing differently to make it work for this particular puppy.
Finally a tiny bit of normalcy...we are at a dog show this week! Being one of the few left in the country that isn't cancelled, the Weim entry is pretty large. It is a major in bitches! I am thrilled to report that all of my hard work and training has paid off, Pizza won winners bitch for a 3 point major!!!
I think she showed pretty darn well considering she only had a handful of shows at 6 months of age before the pandemic hit. I have been working hard on her gaiting the past month and she managed to gait correctly for me...yay! It was SO fun being back in the show ring. I have missed it so much. I will say, it was weird having to show in a mask. The temps neared 90 degrees today, so it was HOT. We had to keep masks on the entire time we were anywhere on the show grounds other than at our motorhome. I am OK with that. There is so much debate about masks and whether they are effective or not...but why take a chance? I'd rather be safe and healthy and a little uncomfortable. Just so happy to have the opportunity to get to show my dogs again, I'd wear whatever it takes!
This puts Pizza at 10 points with one major. She needs another major and a total of 5 more points. That is going to be a tough road ahead of us since the show this week and next week just get bigger and bigger with each day. We have our work cut out for us, but I am excited and looking forward to it!
What are the odds that the first 2 shows since the pandemic started in March are majors, and that Pizza would pick up both of them? BOOM! She turned it on, and picked up major #2 today! This means that she only needs 2 single points to finish her championship! I am so excited, surprised, and needless to say thrilled! She could finish this weekend - by winning either Saturday or Sunday. That would give her more than enough points. I never in a million years expected this, but then I tend to be a slight pessimist, that way I can be pleasantly surprised occasionally rather than often disappointed. Hey, it works for me, don't judge!
It is so blasted hot here this week - in the 90's with high humidity. Makes it tough to do anything with the dogs outside. I took Dolphin for a few walks, but the heat is tough on both of us. He is enjoying the sights, and doesn't seem to be bothered by much of anything at the dog show. I just hope that shows will stop cancelling so he will be able to compete in some 4-6 month puppy competitions. Those are my favorite thing on earth to do...I have such a limited amount of time to get to do those. I am hopeful, but not overly so.
Welp, we live to show another day. It wasn't in the cards for us today, and that was 50% Pizza's fault, and 50% my fault. We will share the blame equally. Pizza would NOT stand still, would not hold her stack, kept stepping forward to reach the bait or leaning backwards. She was all over the place. My fault was that I was stacking her terribly...consistently putting her front legs too far forward. I watched the video from today and cringed. So we will share the blame equally and practice tonight, and try again tomorrow.
Today was extra extra hot. The evening did not bring much relief. Dogs were stir crazy, so we all spent time outside under the motorhome awning, and Mark and I played cards (Dolphin tried to help, as did Pizza). It was actually really nice just spending time doing fun stuff with Mark. These are the times I cherish...
We practiced a bunch last night, so I went into today feeling a little more confident. While I won't say Pizza (or I) was perfect, we were much improved, and ended up reserve to the major. Hey, I'll take it! This means that if I want to finish her this year, the only show I know for sure that will be happening is Canfield next week, and that is the biggest show in the country this year, and 5 point majors every day. What a tough way to try and finish her! If it happens, it will be against some of the best around. We have our work cut out for us. Who am I kidding? I know it is probably not going to happen for us there, so I will prepare myself to take my lumps and go on, and look to the future. It will be a great chance to practice and hopefully get my act (and Pizza's act) together.
Because 2020 cannot stop disappointing me, I received the notice today that this year's Quarter Horse Congress has been cancelled. I haven't mentioned it (mainly to not jinx myself...which obviously didn't work) but my trainer and I have decided to point Cadence at the 2yo HUS at Congress this year. She has been training up so easily without having to be pushed, she seemed a natural fit for the 2 year old classes. We were going to play it by ear, not push her hard, and see if she would be on track by the time entries were due at the end of August. That is the main reason she was heading to Oklahoma with my trainer for the month...to ride in traffic and prepare for Congress. They left this morning, and this afternoon we all received notice that Congress has been cancelled this year because of the damn pandemic. I get it, truly I do, but it doesn't help my crushing disappointment. It is becoming so hard to actually anticipate and look forward to things, because so much is being cancelled (and many of them at the last minute). Another show in Ohio in August was just cancelled this week also, and a second one postponed for the second time now into October. All this happened in the span of 1-2 days. Seriously...how much more can we take?
We spent just a couple days home before we had to hit the road again for one more show. And what a show it was...the largest show in the country with nearly 4,000 entries each day. Pizza only needs 2 points to finish, so this is going to be a super tough place to pick up those last points.
On Monday and Tuesday, along with my usual agility training, I worked her hard on standing and holding her stack for me since that was becoming a problem last weekend in Bloomsburg. She was definitely improving for me as we practiced, which made me feel a little better. I don't expect to win, but just want to look respectable!
We headed to the show on Wednesday afternoon and got set up. Today came and it was a nice, sunny day and very warm. We went into our 9-12 moth bitch class with a little sadness because this will be the last puppy class Pizza will ever get to show in - tomorrow is her birthday and she turns 1 and has to move up into the older classes. We lost so much time with the pandemic.
She showed really well (not perfect, but better than last weekend) and won her class. Then it was on to Winners Bitch. Today is a 4 point major, just 1 dog shy of a 5 point. Competition was tough! She showed like a rock star in Winners, and we got pulled out along with another dog and asked to free stack/stand naturally in the center. THIS is what I have been working towards and working on, and she stacked herself beautifully and stood up on her toes and looked like a champion. Apparently the judge thought so too, because he pointed at us for winners bitch! We picked up a 4 point major (her third) and finished her championship at the toughest show in the country this year! What an amazing feat, I cannot describe how I felt!
She continued to show like a star, and in Best of Breed the judge pulled us and winners dog out to free stack in the middle for Best of Winners. She did her job again, and we won Best of Winners! It gets even better...they called in all of the owner-handlers back into the ring to be judged for Owner-handled Best of Breed, and she was also awarded that ribbon! It was an amazing and unbelievable day.
We showed in the owner-handled sporting group later that day. The group was so large, it had to be split. She showed pretty good even though she was really tired, and we made the cut in the group but no placement. What a day. New champion PIZZA!
Today Pizza turns one! She officially loses her puppy card, though someone forgot to tell her today. I always say that after every big win and subsequent high, there is always a re-humbler that brings you back down to earth. Today was that day for us. Pizza got to show for the first time as a "special" with the other champions, and I didn't expect month given the depth of the competition and her young age. We also had sweepstakes, which is always fun to show in. She was thoroughly bad in sweeps, all over the place in her gaiting, and the judge hated us. Breed went a little better, but she was lost in the 12 bitch entry, and didn't get pulled for the cut. This is the fun of dog shows - you never really know what to expect. Everyone has a fighting chance! So after yesterday's extreme high, today was kind of a letdown. It was still a really fun day. Dolphin got to do some focus training in the crowds, and it was just a pleasant day spent hanging out with the dogs and Mark. Can't go wrong with that!