"Your life is made up of two dates and a dash. Make the most of the dash."

If I've learned anything from last year, it is that life is unpredictable. More than ever I recognize the brevity of life, and I am determined to make the most of every healthy, living moment I have! No moment is wasted, because you learn something with every breath you inhale. Breathe deeply!
Friday, April 1, 2022
   Specialty Show with the Feral Dogs  

Today I took Dolphin and Pizza to a Weim specialty show in Wilmington. Pizza hasn't been shown since October, and Dolphin (other than UKC) hasn't either. This was Dolphin's last sweepstakes class as he turns two on Monday and will age out of sweeps. He won his 18-24 month class, but nothing beyond that. He showed pretty well (for him!). I showed Pizza in best of breed. That girl was feral! Now I know she hasn't been shown in 5+ months, but geeze! She would NOT stand still, wouldn't stay stacked, pulled on the lead during her gaiting, you name it. It was rather frustrating, to say the least. I guess I shouldn't expect anything different, it's not like this has been a priority for us in training all winter.

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Saturday, April 2, 2022
   Hunt test with the girls   

Today we were back to something we love - hunt test! Pizza and Noodle were entered in Master Hunter - Noodle needs 3 more Master Hunter Advanced legs and Pizza needs 4 more Master legs.

Pizza got to start off the morning in the first brace. She was AWESOME! I swear this little girl never put a paw wrong. She went on point right at the beginning of the backfield, held beautifully through my flush and blank shot. She went on to range out and hunt well in the back field.

In the bird field, her bracemate went on point first. She was zooming on by, put on her brakes, stopped, and did a lovely honor from a nice distance, held steady through her bracemate's retrieve.

She went on point soon after that, held perfectly, and the bird flushed over the judges' heads, so no shot.

On we went and eventually went on point again. I flushed the bird and it flew into the trees, got shot and hung up in the tree branches for a moment before falling into the woods. At this point I was pretty worried...this is a tough retrieve on a good day, and although Pizza and I have been working hard on our retrieve, I wasn't 100% confident in it (OK, let's just say I had ZERO confidence!). Dang if she didn't go out there and bust into the woods to find the bird (a lovely chukker about as big as her head!), and brought it back to hand! Of course I was standing in some of the nastiest thorns around, so it took her a bit to figure out a path around the thorns and brought the bird to my side. Ever since she caught her eyelid on a thorn at the Eastern Futurity last spring (very scary moment!), she has been extra cautious about thorns...can't blame her. Pizza Pie finished with all 9's on her score card for master Hunter leg #2! I am so so proud, I really wasn't feeling much hope for her this morning, but like I posted in my agility update last weekend, I feel like we have truly turned a corner in our training relationship. Onward and upward!

Poor Noodle was a victim of circumstance. She broke away beautifully, hunted with lots of speed and distance in the back field, and then *poof* she was gone. I round the corner to the bird field and the gunners are waving at me, and there she is across the field standing on point, and had been standing there for quite a while!

The bird flushed, gunners shot, and it went down. I sent her for the retrieve, and she went out in search of the downed bird in the trees (why oh why do my birds always land in trees?). She stopped, went on point on the downed bird, and I had to command her several times to "get it". She actually turned her head to look at me as if asking me if I was sure. I commanded her again, and she moved forward and wouldn't you know it, the dang bird flew off...it had not been killed. Noodle, being the good girl she is, stopped immediately, I called her to me and she came right back and waited for the next command.

At this point she was completely confused, because here I was commanding her to pick up a live bird and she KNOWS that is a big no-no...UGH. I tapped her off and she went on hunting, and immediately came across a wild flush. She paused at the flush, then looked at me and came running to me. DANG, she was done, I had to pick her up. I honestly think she was just so confused by the whole situation, that when the bird flushed wild, her default action was to come back to my side. Honestly, I can't fault her with anything else, she was SUCH a good girl and hunted so well. We will try again tomorrow.

It was an upside down day...the dog I wasn't confident on passing actually passed with advanced scores, and my advanced dog who has been 100% steady for the past 3 months of tests ended up failing. Whuda thunk it? I learn something new every time I step foot in the field. I might actually know something by the time I am 90...maybe!

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Sunday, April 3, 2022
  Hunt Test day #2   

Today was just one of those days. Noodle was in the first brace of Master this morning, she was spectacular! She had a great honor in the backfield, and held even when her bracemate busted the bird and took off on a chase. She had great birdwork herself, with one solid point and missed shot, and one point, shot, and the most perfectest retrieve ever - STRAIGHT out, picked up the bird, STRAIGHT BACK, and placed it in my hand, all without a single verbal command. WOOT. Her bracemate got picked up in the backfield after chasing that bird, and for some reason he just leashed up and left the field, so I had no dog to do an honor in the birdfield on. The judges told me to bring her back at the end of the last brace and we would set it up. Yuck.

So, I dragged her back out after the last master brace, they had a dog on point, and the gunners, handler, and judges were standing between us and the dog so I had to call to them that they were blocking the view for my dog...they moved and Noodle saw the dog on point and stopped, held though a wild chase and catch where her bracemate ran circles around everyone with the bird in his mouth. For some reason, they made me go on and hunt another bird and do a retrieve so he could have his honoring done, even though the dog had already been picked up. The other dog blew the honor, tried to steal the point, they leashed him up, and Noodle completed yet another perfect in-hand retrieve. Whew!

All that, and although my scores were passing, they were ever so slightly below the "8" average needed for a Master Advanced pass. Then the judge says to me (after he turned the score sheet in) "Well you should have told me she was going for advanced!". Um...no, I am not supposed to do that! I really wish all judges would actually score the 6 scores based on the dog's performance, and not just slap down all 7's and 8's without any regard to each individual point. Some judges do, but a lot of them can't be bothered, and I need to start making a note of these judges before entering an advanced dog to them.

Either way, Noodle did get another Master pass, and I am so so so happy with how awesome she handled today, and how steady she was, even after having to come back and run another brace at the end.

Poor Pizza, she was on fire...until the wheels slightly fell off. She had a nice nice nice stop to flush on a wild flush in the back field, did a gorgeous long-distance honor on her bracemate, but she had the misfortune of pointing a bird that decided to do the 100 yard dash. Bad bad handler (me) tried chasing that bird down a LONG distance from my dog, and when I turned around I found that Pizza had relocated herself and had gone on point again. Since she moved, she was out, and I had to pick her up.

In hindsight, I am going to have to learn what to do when the bird RUNS on the ground and won't fly...do I keep chasing it? Am I allowed to call my dog off and go elsewhere? I don't know, it's another one of those super crazy situations that I run across while doing master hunter.

Ah, but it was a FUNNNNNN morning! Freezing cold, even sleeted during Noodle's run, but I still had the BEST time out there with the girls today. Watching them hunt just makes me smile.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Well, remember how I didn't want to get too optimistic or excited about Cadence's upcoming show in Georgia? Yeah, boy was I right! No show for us, something is wrong with her and she can't be shown. At least I was able to cancel my car reservation with only a $50 penalty, but my airfare was non-refundable. We won't even discuss the other costs. I hate that I keep getting my hopes up and then it crashes. No more. I can't mentally handle this anymore.

Instead of unpacking my suitcase today, I left it laying in the middle of my bedroom and went field training before the rains came. I suddenly have a weekend free, so what do I decide to do? Enter a field trial! Yeah, there is no end to my foolishness, but I'd rather not sit home all weekend stewing about my horse and my failed plans. So today, I trained. Noodle was A+. She did a nice honor on her bracemate and then tried to turn back to me...big no-no. Gotta work on that. I reached in to flush a bird and sliced my hand to ribbons...didn't even notice I had done that until my pocket felt wet...ick!

Pizza was great, had some nice run to her today. We did some stop to flush with her, she did pretty good. We ran Dolphin with a good, steady dog (hoping he would be a good influence on Dolphie). Dolphin was awesome on his first bird, pointing and holding so beautifully. However, the second bird was different - he went on point (and I was not up next to him), and then he turned and walked away from the bird. I put him back on the bird, and he pointed nicely. I asked Jean why he would do that, and she said it was because he now knows what he is supposed to do, and he was so tempted to bust in and grab the bird, and his conscience made him walk away. He is still trying to figure things out, and he knew he wouldn't be able to control himself, so rather than be bad, and opted out. interesting! That is SO Dolphin. Nice to know he does have a conscience!

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Thursday, April 7, 2022
   Frustration is thy name   

This is turning out to be a very rough week for me. After starting off on Monday with the huge disappointment of canceling my horse show with Cadence, things have kind of gown downhill from there. OK, maybe not quite downhill, but it's plateau-ed in a bad place.

Yesterday Dolphin was a fluff-head in agility, then Pizza did all sorts of weird things like stopping right in the middle of the weaves, and refusing the teeter, and then I did some field training with Dolphin and he was bad bad bad. If I was right up next to him, I could somewhat control him on point, but when he was on point a distance from me, he lost all self-control. At one point, he knew exactly where the bird had been planted and he took off across the field...ZERO recall (did not even acknowledge me!). I feel like we have not made any progress in months. It's kind of interesting how he was different from the day before. Of course, the day before he was much more controlled. This was in a different place, and he had a bit more freedom.

Yesterday evening it was raining, so Noodle decided he would sit right at my feet upstairs and pee on the carpet instead of going out in the rain. She never does this, but she does hate going out in the rain (unless she is hunting). This morning in agility class, she was a real poopstain - I think she was pouting for getting in trouble yesterday. Dolphin was a bubblehead in class. I came home today feeling like this week is a complete wash.

Life goes on...and so do my goals and efforts. Man, I hope the next week improves!

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Sunday, April 10, 2022
   Walking the field trial   

Today I did something a little different. Since I had to cancel out of my horse show in Georgia this weekend, I decided at the last minute to enter Noodle and Pizza in a walking field trial - in Amateur Gun Dog. The grounds were at a gorgeous place a little over an hour from me. I had no idea such a beautiful place existed this close to me!

It was a sunny, but cold day...perfect hunting conditions. Noodle was first and was stellar! She had an amazingly huge run (which I suspected as she gets pretty charged up at new places). Her bracemate was picked up fairly quickly, and she went on to work two perfect birds, and unfortunately had two non-productives (meaning she went on point and held, but I was unable to produce a bird). I was so incredibly proud of how she hunted, she looked fantastic and had her usual beautiful points with intensity.

Pizza surprised me with her big run...I have been keeping her under fairly tight control while doing Master Hunter, but today I let her go all out and she did! Once again her bracemate got picked up early (I can't seem to finish ANY event with a bracemate lately!). She hunted beautiful and hard, and about halfway through the course she had a wild flush that she stopped on. I blanked it, and then made the mistake of calling her to me (since she was so far away from me and in the opposite direction of where I was headed). The judge told me this wasn't allowed (oops!) and made me pick her up. Dang...hate it when I am the one that fails my own dogs. So, no placements for either girls, but they looked awesome and I accomplished my goal of D.L.F. (Don't Look Foolish).

It was a gorgeous day and the parking area was on a hilltop...perfect place to take some head shots of the kids. I brought Dolphin along just to get him out of the house...stood him at the top of the hill for a photo and wouldn't you know a random quail went waltzing across the parking lot. Dolphin sank down into this beautiful, dramatic point. I was able to get some absolutely incredible photos of him...finally! So random, and so lucky that I had my good camera with me!

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   Agility Trial - Perry, Georgia   

Hello Georgia! 80 degrees, oh how I have missed that warmth (especially when it was snowing and sleeting on Monday when I left Ohio). We came to Perry, Georgia for Dolphin and Pizza's show maturity on Sunday, but came early to do three days of agility. How did it go? Well...

Dolphin was incredibly fast all 3 days. The energy of this big coliseum and two rings really fired him up. He stayed with me, but made a ton of baby dog mistakes. We managed to squeak out one Open Standard Q, and I was pretty excited thinking he finished his Open STD title until I checked my records...nope! Still need one more. That was pretty much the highlight of agility.

Poor Pizza, she was incredibly fast, but the big venue blew her mind to smithereens. She just mentally couldn't handle it, and with how she had been stressing the past 6 months, it went to her head and she ran around a lot...full speed. There were moments of brilliance where she ran with me and did a sequence of obstacles that were amazing, but st some point she would always lose her brain and take off running, either to the bar setter or just racing around the ring. Back to the drawing board, apparently our issues really haven't improved. I have to do some serious thinking and analysis to try and come up with a solution...but I will. She is my most talented dog and I will figure her out!

Photos from agility in Perry, GA



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Sunday, April 17, 2022
   Eastern Futurity/Maturity   

It's show day! The maturity was the sole reason I came to Georgia. Dolphin competed in Maturity Dogs, and Pizza competed in Maturity Bitches.

Dolphin showed pretty well. He gaited beautifully, held his stack decently, and pulled off a second place in Maturity Dogs! Pizza, well, she was kind of feral She acted like I had never stacked her before, and would NOT stand still. This hurt us, as it seemed every time the judge looked over at us she had moved and I was fixing her. No placement for her, so we will train harder these next few weeks and be better prepared for the Central Maturity at the national specialty in a few weeks.

It's funny, showing conformation used to be so uber important to me. Now it's kind of meh. I guess I have evolved, and now other things are more important to me. It's funny how I am ever-changing. My goals are nothing like the goals I had 5 years ago, 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. In fact, they are drastically different. I guess that is a good thing - it keeps me reaching and growing.

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Tues-Wed, April 19-20, 2022
   Two day recap (because I was lax in posting)   

TUESDAY: The three crazies and I went field training. Today was a day for some new mistakes, and revisiting some old ones. Pizza was great, but TWICE she did something new - when on an honor on her bracemate, after a while she just up and left me and turned around and resumed hunting behind me. I don't know if she was tired of waiting on the other dog's bird work or what? This was completely new because normally she is steady as a rock on her honor, and it is one thing I am supremely confident on. There's my first mistake LOL!

Noodle did her thing where she clearly saw her bracemate on point, and she turned her head as if she didn't see him and went on hunting in another direction. I had to fix that a few times.

Dolphin was typical - followed the scent in too closely and when really close, he had trouble holding his point. Today instead of jumping on the bird, he actually turned away from the bird after settling on point, as if he knew he was going to break and he didn't want to make a mistake. Oh these sensitive boys...

WEDNESDAY: Dolphin had a great agility training session with our puppy group, and Pizza was awesome in her agility class (where the heck was this dog last week in Perry???). In the afternoon I took Dolphin field training at the local place. Instead of blinking on the birds when he got too close, he reverted back to trying to jump on them. The first bird was worked really well, but the second and third were not. UGH. In the evening we headed to scent work class, where he did OK, but I really cannot read him as he gets intense about pretty much everything he sniffs. I have our first scent work trial next weekend, so we will see what happens.

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Thursday, April 21, 2022
   Another dream and goal down the drain   

I went to the barn this afternoon to ride. Cadence had been doing better since she got back from Georgia and had her stifles and right ankle and coffin bone injected. Well, when I got her out on the longe line she was dead lame again. This is really worrying, now it looks like it might be a soft tissue injury (suspensory???). Whatever it is, this definitely means that my L1 Championship show next week is OUT. Yet another show that I have entered but can't show. More money down the drain, more dreams and goals burned up. I don't think there is any way I can shake this horse curse, and I don't know why. I have the best trainer, have spent top dollar in getting the best care for her, and things just seem to constantly fall apart for me. In all honesty, I just felt such doom about this show, I hadn't even gotten excited about it. I guess somewhere in my subconscious mind I knew things were going to fall apart again.

I am taking comfort in my dogs, and hoping that the plans I have made for them will boost my spirits up over the next month. This is the most talented horse I have ever bred and raised, and yet I have had the worst luck in trying to show her. Dark cloud, go AWAY please!

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Friday, April 22, 2022
   Agility Trial at Zanesville - Day #1   

Today was a "test" day. I have never run Noodle at Zanesville - it is a big, noisy 2 ring trial in a soccer fieldhouse. Actually, other than Weim Nationals, I have not run her away from our training home in years. I just never trusted her. She has been doing so well, I got ambitious last month and entered her in a trial at Zanesville this weekend. Last night I was completely and thoroughly stressed over Cadence and everything else, so of course I had nightmares about Noodle being rotten. I couldn't have been more wrong!

Our first class was Master FAST, and she nailed the send bonus, got her required points, and Q'ed and actually won the 24" class! WOOT! Immediately after that we did Masters Standard in the bigger ring. Noodle did well, but stopped to check out something on the ground and ended up with a refusal and a knocked bar.

The shining moment of the day was Masters Jumpers. It was a very difficult, twisty course. We started off great, were at jump #4 when a dog just outside of the ring started barking loudly and aggressively. Noodle slammed on her brakes right at a jump, turned her head, I said "Jump", and she did, and went on! Now a few years ago she would have left me to run over to the ring fence to see what was going on, or to engage with the dog. Today she went on and had a perfect clean run for a Q! This was the best moment I have had in weeks, especially after so many agility disasters with the youngsters at Perry. All that hard work and years of training has paid off, and I couldn't be prouder. Seriously, could NOT be prouder even if we had won. Noodle was super focused and well-behaved all day. Happiness!

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Saturday, April 23, 2022
   Zanesville Agility Trial day #2   

Today was the second day of the agility trial. I only entered her 2 days. Today was a carbon copy of yesterday, and that is a good thing! We started off in Master FAST. She almost missed the send bonus by missing the first jump but I circled her around and she nailed it, and we finished string for another Master FAST q. Standard was oh so pretty, but she saw someone she knew sitting as a bar setter and it distracted her enough that she missed a jump. That was our only mistake. Jumpers was like groundhog day - yesterday almost exactly repeated. She was at the start line and I was doing a 2 jump leadout (yay, go me!) and that same damn dog started barking aggressively as the owner was doing the warm-up jump. It was LOUD. Noodle sat at the startline as I lead out, but her head was turned looking behind her the whole time. I was really worried that she would run to the fence when I released her, but on the release she turned forward and sailed over the first two jumps, and we had a super pretty Masters Jumpers run for a solid Q!

So, no double Q's this weekend, but two more Masters FAST and Jumpers qualifying runs and a whole lotta CONFIDENCE in my girl! After my horrible news Thursday, this was exactly what I needed. It's a great reminder that when hardships happen (and Noodle 3 years ago was definitely a hardship), I CAN and WILL work through them...one step at a time.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022
   Gettin' Obedient   

The Weimaraner National Specialty is just 2 weeks away! In preparation, I took a one hour rally lesson with Noodle. We are moving up to Rally Advanced, which is off-leash *gulp!* I think we are ready. She was awesome in our lesson, but there were zero distractions. I feel fairly comfident (always a scary feeling) because she has been so good lately. Hopefully this doesn't come back to bite me in the butt.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022
   Gettin' even more obedient   

I took Dolphin field training at our local place. I feel like today we made a few more inches of progress. After one jump towards the bird, he managed to control himself and hold steady for the next few birds. We had them in launchers so that as soon as he moved, we could launch the bird. I am not naive enough to think this one training session made that much of a difference, but I do think it helps, and it sure helps my outlook!

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Friday, April 29, 2022
  Scent Work Trial - Loveland, OH Day #1   

Dolphin and I had a 3 day weekend planned in Loveland, Ohio at his very first AKC Scent Work trial. My club was putting on the trial, so I had to be there to work anyways, so I went ahead and entered him even though he has only been training for a little over 3 months.

Today we only had Handler Discrimination. This is where I provide a sock that I have worn, and it is hidden in a box amongst 2 rows of boxes, one of which contains the judge's scent. I have only practiced this maybe twice at home, but Dolphin nailed it both times, and in a fast enough time to win both rounds of Novice Handler Discrimination! I was pretty excited, I love how clear he was when he indicated the correct box, by pushing the box sideways with his nose. That made it a lot easier for me to call it. Hopefully the rest of the weekend will go just as well.

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Saturday, April 30, 2022
   Scent Work Trial - Loveland, OH Day #2   

Today at the scent work trial we had 2 runs of each Novice hide - Interior (inside of a building), exterior (outside), container (scent hidden in a box mixed in with other boxes), and buried (scent is buried in a container of sand, amongst other containers of just sand).

We started off the day with Interior, and Dolphin worked methodically, checking out every corner before coming back and indicating the scent, again with a push from his nose. Woot! 2 qualifying runs right off the bat. We went to exterior after that, and this was a lot tougher. Our first run was hard - he was distracted by the birds in the grass next to the search site, and then by the river flowing just beyond the railing. Unfortunately we ran out of time before I could get him to really search, so no Q. Our second exterior search was a little better as it was away from the birds and the river, and he did manage to indicate clearly and we qualified...whew!

Next was container, and then buried 9which we had never done in practice before). He nailed both container runs and both buried runs for 4 more Q's! Today he finished with 7 Q's out of 8 runs, not bad for his first trial! One more day tomorrow, hoping for even more success.

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