My training pal and I headed south this week - to Huntsville, Alabama for an agility trial! We arrived a day early so we could do some hiking and exploring. We found some beautiful trails in
My training pal and I headed south this week - to Huntsville, Alabama for an agility trial! We arrived a day early so we could do some hiking and exploring. We found some beautiful trails in
Day #1 of the agility trial! After hiking nearly 11 miles yesterday, I was a little sore. Dolphin, however, was raring to go!
We started the morning with FAST, and the send bonus was jump - tunnel, back to jump. What made it extra difficult was that you were not sending parallel to you but completely away from you. Yeah, Dolphin didn't get it...not even close. I didn't expect he would. Time 2 Beat was next, and he had a fantastic run that would have been a Q but he slipped on the teeter and hopped off. This was definitely my best run of the day, it went downhill from there.
Standard was a mess - he entered the weaves at the second pole, then totally ignored my blind cross and ran straight into me (I stayed upright, thank goodness!). He walked himself off the dogwalk instead of stopping, so I did a fix and go and made him do the dogwalk again, which he promptly walked off
We took a nice 2 1/2 mile hike in the afternoon, and then hunkered down in the hotel room to rest for tomorrow.
Day #2 of the agility trial was a chilly wet one. We started the morning with a class we have never done before - Premier Standard. It included several tough handling elements and tight turns. Dolphin got the hard stuff, but knocked the second jump and entered the weaves at the second pole. He did something very uncharacteristic of him and he grabbed an off-course tunnel. Normally he really doesn't like tunnels (can't blame him, the way he has to squish down to fit in them!), but he was so charged up he blasted ahead of me and went in one. On the plus side, he had really good, solid contacts.
Regular standard had a fault at the beginning that was 100%
Last today was Jumpers. He was better in this class than the previous two, but he knocked a bar in the pinwheel, and missed a jump. He had fantastic weaves, and is doing a really nice job of sending to the jumps (we had a nice "go go go" command on the final three jumps!). Try, try again tomorrow... right now Dolphin is 0 for 15 in his past 3 weekends of agility. This is getting a little discouraging.
Day #3... I am having a blast here and keeping up good spirits even though it has been a disappointing couple of days. Dolphin is getting SO excited to run, he started whining at the start line (and his start line stays have been...not great). By the second run today he started something new - he started howling while I waited outside the ring gate! I love that he is so excited to go out there and do this...even with all the mistakes I can't ever find fault with his enthusiasm. Love it!
We started off with FAST, the send was a straight tunnel to a jump and wrap back to the straight tunnel, all from 20+ feet. Can you believe he nailed it? I was so shocked I wasn't ready to go on with the rest of my plan! I scrambled, and we got the rest done (albeit one knocked bar worth one point - he kept the 9-pointer up!). Finally a
Time 2 Beat was our worst run of the weekend. The dog before us - a pretty wild Afghan Hound - ran around the ring with zoomies, and unfortunately Dolphin saw the whole thing and got really excited. When he came in the ring, he blew right past the weaves, ran past the judge, ran all the way to the ring gate (looking at the Afghan Hound outside of it), then came back. Amazingly, we got back on track and were running clean (Time 2 Beat has no refusals, so we were still OK), and we ran out of time.
The weaves were the second obstacle in standard and he ran right past them, then pulled out during his second attempt. He got them on the 3rd attempt, missed a jump after a tunnel, but finished nice and strong. We are still sitting on
We had a lot of plusses to go with our minuses, so here is a recap:
It's a work in progress...I sound like a broken record when I say that but it's true. Honestly, all of my dogs are works in progress, I can take none of them for granted. This journey has been a blast, even though our Q rate has become abysmal. Every time I step to the line I am thankful I get to do this fun activity with my dogs. But dangit, a few more green ribbons would sure be nice!
Some video clips of the good parts!
Dolphin had his training group this morning for agility. Interestingly, he was excited as if we were still at the trial, and he ran with awesome enthusiasm (and only knocked ONE bar all morning...yay!). It as a good morning of training for both of us.
I took Noodle and Dolphin to field train this afternoon. Noodle was her usual
We put out two birds in tip-ups for Dolphin. I did leave a check cord on him since it's been about a month since we have last trained. Pizza is deep in season right now, so he's been howling a lot and is frantic while at home, and that doesn't help his trainability. However, he was wonderful on both birds - very intense point, held steady for the flush and blank shot. Little boy is starting to grow up, and I now see Senior Hunter as a distinct possibility next year!
Today I had an agility trial at the place a couple miles from my house. It was a day of more frustration, and a little bit of glee. Dolphin was completely out of sorts today. He was up half the night howling and crying because Pizza is deep in season, and he has been a basket case ever since we got home from Alabama. His head definitely wasn't in the game today, and he knocked two bars right off the bat in jumpers, and then completely lost focus. It was bad enough that I ended up walking him off. Noodle was amazing in her jumpers run, but weirdly she actually missed a jump because she drifted over to the bar setter in the corner. That is so unlike her!
FAST was a lot more successful for both dogs. Dolphin actually got the Send bonus! It was the typical jump - jump - wrap back to jump. He usually never gets that one, but he got it easily. Of course, on our way out, he knocked the 8 point jump. I had to think fast, and managed to grab the 10 point teeter, so he ended up with two more points than he would have...go figure. He ran behind the tunnel at the finish, which he does occasionally and I find that so weird. We finished with a second and a half to spare. Noodle went out like clockwork and nailed the send and did all her points perfectly on the way out, but since Dolphin had to get the teeter to qualify, he ended up with 2 more points than Noodle so he beat her. I still like Noodle's run better ;-)
Last was Standard. I
Overall, it was a
Well today continued what I call my
You live and learn...I am always learning. Tomorrow I will try to find a bird first before honoring, and see what happens. I sure hope I have a little success. The past 3 agility weekends have really humbled me. BUT....I am out there trying and working at my goals, and this little setback definitely won't make a dent in my efforts!
Well, I had a plan, executed it, and still failed. Noodle and I were in the first brace of master hunter in the morning. The backfield was lousy with birds left over from 11 braces of junior hunter the day before. I kept Noodle out of trouble, which was good. Her bracemate went on point and I was able to get a really nice honor in...too bad it wasn't in the birdfield. We got to the birdfield and she went on point immediately. I flushed and they shot the bird, she hopped again on the shot but it wasn't as dramatic as yesterday. I sent her for the retrieve and we had a successful retrieve. By this point my bracemate had already been picked up, so they went to plant a bird for him so I could come in for my honor in the birdfield. Wouldn't you know it, Noodle went on point again on her way to the honor. Gunners came over, the bird was up and walking. I got in front of her and flushed the bird, and she jumped a good
I am more than frustrated, I have no idea what is going on with my steady girl who rarely does anything wrong. It's so weird. I am seriously mired in this failure loop for some reason, and I need to break out. Damn.
My priority this winter is to get Dolphin ready to test for Senior Hunter. Today we went to my field trainer's place, and worked him on a check cord with another dog on a check cord. He pointed 4 birds in launchers, and was
When we were done, my trainer got out one of her young dogs and we turned them loose to blow off some steam, have fun, and maybe find a few birds leftover from the hunt test this weekend. Dolphin was wonderful working with the other dog - very respectful and they both got down to business. It was so fun to watch. Both dogs found birds, and Dolphin was able to get in some nice honoring practice off leash. After my 3 weeks of failure, it was nice to have a
I should mention that I did some agility training with Dolphin and a friend of mine last night. He was good, and not good. I got some runs out of him that were good and enthusiastic, but his drive dipped considerably. I am not sure if this is because he is just so tired from Pizza being in season, or if he has reverted back to how he was late in the summer. I would hate the latter...I need that drive to stay up! Even though the Tennessee and Zanesville trials were a complete fail for us, his drive and speed were awesome and FUN. I want that back!
I think I need a mental break from agility. Today was one of those days...
The morning started off promising with both Noodle and Dolphin qualifying in FAST, Noodle took 2nd place and Dolphin took 3rd! Standard was next, and I am still chasing that elusive last Q to finish Dolphin's MX title. Today is not the day. He had several missed jumps/refusals, mainly from him just not paying attention. Noodle was running clean, but decided to miss the A-Frame and di a drive-by past the judge. This earned her the Crime Scene collar for the rest of the trial!
I had only Dolphin entered in Time 2 Beat. He actually Q-ed! He did miss a jump, but there are no refusals in Time 2 Beat so we were able to circle back and get it. I had the privilege of running my friend's border collie, and he and I WON the 20" class. It was a total blast!
Before Time 2 Beat, Dolphin had thrown up his treats in his crate. He seemed fine afterwards, but he threw up his treats again after the run, so I pulled him from Jumpers. He started acting a little "off". Noodle went out and nailed a beautiful run (wearing her crime scene collar, of course!) for 2nd place.
When we got home, I fed Dolphin some chicken and rice, which he hated. He had no appetite, but did eat it later that evening. He sparked up and seemed somewhat normal, although maybe a little subdued. Thankfully he didn't throw up again after that, but I kept a good eye on him all night just to make sure. I hate it when my pups get sick...I stress and worry and imagine all of the worst-case scenarios in my head until my brain explodes. It ain't pretty being me.
It was in the high 20's, but that didn't stop me from driving 2 hours west to do some field training with a couple friends! It was a great day, and I was having so much fun I didn't even notice the cold (and that's a Christmas miracle in itself!).
Noodle was really charged up and ran huge. She was a little hoppy with the shot, which I corrected, and tried to blow off an honor, which I also corrected. She got her brain together and finished strong. I noticed she is starting to develop little bad habits, like creeping a tiny bit on her point, hopping on the shot, and hopping when honoring during the shot. It's hard to correct unless you have someone with you available to shoot every time. Things like this make field training very hard to do for the average person. I wish there was a way to make this more accessible to everyone (including me!).
I brought Pizza out, she is finally out of season. She hasn't one any field work for well over a month. I wanted to see how she would be before entering her in a field trial at the end of the month. I have already entered Noodle, and it would be nice to drive the 7 hours with two dogs instead of just one. Pizza came out like she has been training every day. Steady as a rock on the two birds I put down for her. the only thing not the greatest was her recall - she did NOT want to come in, she wanted to keep hunting. I kind of like that!
Of course, when I came home to enter Pizza, I was told the trial was full. Now I am debating about pulling Noodle. I am kicking myself for not entering the agility trial that all of my friends are going to (yeah, didn't I just say yesterday I needed a break from agility???). Not sure if I should keep Noodle in and drive 7 hours to get my butt handed to me, or just pull her and save the money and time. Decisions...
MONDAY's update - I did a whole lotta nothing all day, got the dogs out to run several times. Dolphin is back to normal...yay! My friend and I rented the training building in the evening, and I did some training with Dolphin. We worked a lot on serpentines 9since that was a problem for us on Saturday). He did
I got home and did some soul-searching. Was I excited to drive 7+ hours to this field trial in freezing cold and potentially bad weather? No. OK, if not, then why was I doing it? Good question. So I pulled Noodle and Pizza from the field trial. Unfortunately that means I have the entire weekend off, but maybe that's a good thing. We will aim for the field trial at the end of January in Kentucky, and we will be READY.
TUESDAY's update: Dolphin and I did some field training with my trainer today. She planted two birds, and there were a bunch of loose birds in the woods left over from earlier training. Dolphin worked with a really high-energy IRW Setter. The first bird Dolphin pointed was RIGHT under his nose. He held it for a good amount of time, but when it started fluttering around he couldn't resist, and he grabbed it. I made him drop it, and it flew off...so he didn't hurt it. That's a good thing. After that he was much more obedient, and was finding bird after bird after bird. The more birds he found, the more dramatic and paranoid he got while hunting. It was fun to see...and he started pointing from a lot farther away. Every bird after that he held perfectly steady through the flush and blank shot. I am
Well today was an up and down day. I got up in the morning and found that Dolphin had thrown up a little bit in his kennel - all digested food, and a chewed up black zip tie. That ziptie was missing since Friday, seems weird that it sat in his stomach the whole time without passing? It was chewed up into really small pieces - all 1 inch or smaller. Then a little bit later he threw up a LOT outside of his kennel, mostly food and bile. We got him to my vet this morning, they x-rayed and found no blockage, just a lot of gas in his colon (and yes, we could SMELL it because he's been passing foul-smelling gas the past few days). He got a shot of something to help calm his stomach, and some meds and he came home.
Pizza had agility class this morning, and this was one of the most frustrating classes I have had in a while. She was VERY unfocused, distracted by stuff on the ground, it was really unlike her. I am chalking it up to just having come out of heat last week...I hope.
This afternoon, Noodle Pizza, and Dolphin went field training with me and my friend out near Dayton. It was a cold day, but the sun was shining and we had a blast! Interestingly, all three dogs made oodles of mistakes. Noodle was probably the least mistake-y, she hopped a little bit on the flushes, and tried to avoid honoring, but otherwise she was steady on the birds.
Pizza was in pure field trial mode. What a beautiful run she has! However, her obedience went a little bit out the window. She actually turned and went after the bird after I flushed, and when it landed on the ground she attempted to dive in on it. SO unlike her! I used this as a
After being so amazingly steady yesterday, Dolphin was not today. He had some amazing
Today I rented the training building and took just Pizza. My goal was just to play with her, have fun, and get her enthusiasm for agility going again. It was a
Being snowed/iced in is for the birds! The weather has been so foul. Today we reached a balmy 20 degrees, so the dogs were finally able to go outside and play a little bit while I shoveled snow.
I rented the training building tonight, started off with a half hour session with Pizza. She was on
Dolphin got the second half hour, and he also was on
I felt a little guilty for not taking Noodle, but we worked some Rally (excellent) in my office. I have her entered (hopefully, if I got in) in a rally trial in February, hoping to start working on our Rally Excellent (RE) title. I am trying to learn the signs on my own, and figure out how to train them. Noodle, as always, is a
The world is thawing today! That means
Dolphin was, well, let's just say he was a bit less stellar. He basically broke on every bird other than the one he was wearing the check cord on. He was a bit too over-enthusiastic and birdy and could NOT control his impulses today. I really need to get him back on launchers to make the bird fly as soon as he hops forward after going on point. On the plus side, no birds were harmed, so he didn't catch any (we had them in tip-up cages). I feel like we took a little step back after having him so steady the past month or so. This is where I remind myself to
Another plus: Both dogs ran with
My head is in a bad place today. I am not sure why. I am feeling a little defeated, a little worn out, and that's weird since I have had over a week of empty time on my hands.
Today I had a 3 1/2 hour agility seminar with Pizza. She was pretty tired today, which isn't a surprise since she trained and ran so hard all day yesterday in the field. She did pretty good in her seminar, in looking back I see lots of really good things, but of course in the moment I felt defeated. She went to visit people in the ring three times, but 2 out of the three she came right back to me and got back in focus. What has helped is having the people in the ring say a firm "No!" to her when she comes up to them. She only seems to go up to the people that are sitting down in chairs in the ring. I had people standing all over the place and she ran right past them and didn't give them a look. But people sitting in the corner...she can't resist.
Even with some good moments, I felt pretty down after today's seminar. I got home and took all the dogs out for a run on the property, but since everything thawed the whole place is a mud hole. Time to go to bed, regroup my mind, and start fresh tomorrow with a new perspective.
Now it is time for the 2022 recap.
Anyways, here is my 2022 goal recap:
2022 GoalsSHORT TERM GOALS:
1. Finish Noodle's Rally Intermediate title
YES, and her Advanced title also!
2. Put HUS points on Cadence
NO, I lost the entire year with her injury. It's hard for me to even think about this.
3. Earn Pizza's Master Hunter title
YES!!! And so fast, I almost sometimes forget it happened!
4. Earn Noodle's Master Hunter Advanced title
YES! Got 'er done!
5. Get at least one Senior Hunter pass on Dolphin
No, we haven't even gotten to test yet. Not quite ready.
6. Earn Noodle's Retrieving Dog title
YES! Got it done at Nationals
7. Earn Dolphin's Retrieving Dog title
No, we didn't even attempt it this year
8. Earn an Open Agility title on Dolphin
YES...and All of his Excellent titles also!
9. Compete with Noodle in Obedience
YES! We finished her BN title in July!
10. Earn a Top 10 with Cadence at the Level 1 Championships
NO, she was injured before we could show her. I paid the whopping entry fee that I lost, does that count for anything?
11. Earn at least 5 more double Q's with Noodle in agility
YES! We earned 9 this year!
12 Compete with Dolphin in Scent Work
Yes, and completed a bunch of titles!
LONG TERM GOALS
1. Earn another Top 10 at Congress
NO, not even close
2. Earn a MACH
Still a work in progress
3. Earn Pizza's GCHB
4. Earn Noodle's GCHB
5. Earn a Top 5 at Congress
6. Put showmanship points on Cadence
HAH again. Nope.
7. Earn Noodle's Rally Advanced title
YES! Got it done in June!
8. Earn Dolphin's Senior Hunter title
A work in progress!
9. Earn Dolphin's Master Hunter title
IN the far and distant future, but there is hope.