"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!
Saturday, June 4, 2022

It's been an exhausting couple of days. Pretzel had liquid diarrhea on Thursday, and by Friday morning he had collapsed and could not get back up. Off to the ER vet we go...again! He was dehydrated, needed some IV fluids and some meds for the diarrhea, and by afternoon he was MUCH better. By today, he is pretty much back to normal, thank God. He is so precious to me. I hate that I have been taking him for granted, he is my ever-faithful always here guy. He is the reason I am what I am, and I have accomplished what I have accomplished today.

As for today, very little was accomplished at the agility trial (in Dayton). OK, maybe I shouldn't say that. Many good things happened - Dolphin ran energized like his normal self, thus proving the idea that he treats our local agility place as training, even at trials, so he loses a bit of motivation. Today he was pretty motivated. We had a refusal, knocked bar, and a pop out of the weaves in Jumpers/ The Excellent FAST send was WAAAAY over his head so we didn't get it. We came within inches of qualifying in Excellent Standard, but I didn't support one of the jumps on a tight pinwheel and he missed it. The goo things: he nailed his weaves, all 3 contacts were solid and he held his position, and he didn't knock any bars. We will get there!

Noodle was a mess. Right away in Jumpers, she left me to run to the back corner of the building where she ran back and forth by the wall (where there were no people or dogs) with her head in the air, air-sniffing hard. I got her back, and she left me again to go sniffing the air there, so I had to collar her and walk her off. Same thing happened in FAST, another walk of shame off the course. Standard was slightly better, but she got a refusal because she left me to air sniff the corner, but did come right back. Then when we did the weaves, they were along that wall and she came out at pole #1 sniffing the air. Apparently several other dogs were doing the same thing, so there must have been something over there that was strong-smelling to her. She definitely has the best nose of any dog I have. It was pretty darn frustrating, I feel like that MACH is so far out of reach for us now, it is discouraging. I have to keep telling myself that it is one step at a time, we will just keep at it day by day and not stress over the future. Nothing else to do but put one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on.

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Sunday, June 5, 2022
  Agility Trial day #2   

This weekend I am the bug, not the windshield. Today was a repeat of yesterday. Noodle was a mess - distractedly sniffing the air along the wall every time she went to that area. Dolphin was a little better. He was kind of messy in Jumpers with knocked bar, missed weaves, and a refusal. He was much better in Standard, he would have had a clean run if he would have gotten his weave entrance on the first try. He was kind of in la-la land when he approached the weaves and totally missed the entry. We gave it a second try, he got it, and nailed the rest of the run. There is hope...just going to take a lot of time and patience. I have both, so we are OK.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Nothing much to report other than Pizza is is season today, right on time (I had predicted June 11, only 4 days away). That's pretty convenient as I have nothing scheduled for her until the first of July. Yay!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2022
   Double dose of field   

Dolphin had a very busy day today. We started off the morning field training. Noodle came along, but Pizza had to stay home since she is in season. We worked Dolphin by himself, set out 4 birds and amazingly he handled the first 3 beautifully, held his point, did not break for the flush or the blank shot. The 4th bird was a bit too much for him and he did break, but I scolded him and he stopped before actually getting the bird, and we were able to work through it successfully.

Noodle's training today was all about honoring. We ran her with a bracemate that went on point 4 times, and she actually did pretty good at stopping on her own for each honor. Of course she knew it was training, and I also feel like she was stopping on the situation and not the dog actually on point. We still need to work on that.

In the afternoon, Dolphin and I did some more training with a friend, working on both pointing and honoring. His first honor was actually pretty promising - he saw the dog on point and stopped, and then decided to move on. I "whoa-ed" him, and he stopped, and we stood and watched the flush, shot, and retrieve. His second honor wasn't quite as nice, but I don't think he could see the situation very well, and is not experienced enough to understand what this means.

We put out 3 birds for him, and he had much less control than he did this morning, but with each bird he got a little better. I tried being a lot firmer in my command to "whoa" as I approached the bird and that definitely helped.

I was home just long enough to take a shower, and then Dolphin and I were off to scent work class, driving in the most hellacious thunderstorm that flooded the highways and spawned tornadoes. By the time I realized how dangerous it was, I was already halfway there, so I pushed on and made it to class. No one else was there, so I had a nice 30 minute private lesson, and Dolphin did great! I am really looking forward to our next scent work trial, whenever that may be.

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Friday, June 10, 2022
   Wearing out the Dolphinator   

Busy busy day for Dolphin! We started off the morning with a 3 hour agility seminar. Dolphin did pretty good, but after a few hours he really lost his mojo. I had Noodle with me, so Noodle got to do the last run. I think these 3 hour seminars are a bit much for Dolphin to take.

After the seminar, I took Dolphin and Noodle to the local place to do some field training. Dolphin worked 3 birds, and was great on the first two, but did try to jump on bird #3. We aso worked on honoring, I feel like he is stopping when he sees his bracemate on point, but then doesn't stay stopped. I am able to whoa him into stopping, so that is good. One good thing - Dolphin was stopping on point much farther aeway than he had in the past - a good 3-4 feet, which is huge for him. He always tended to follow the scent and stop when he was right on top of the bird, which is terrible for his self-control.

I brought Noodle out to work on honoring, and she did it halfheartedly. I had to get after her right at the beginning when she took off from the start and wouldn't come back, so of course she seriously pouted for most of the training. At the end I took her over to where I knew a stray bird had landed, and let her go on point and work her own bird. I kicked around, and the bird ended up being right under her nose (it was 80 degrees with ZERO wind...tough scenting conditions) and she jumped. SO unlike her! The bird flew off, and I picked Noodle up and re-set her and made her stand. Looks like she will need some polishing up on her self control.

In the evening, I took Dolphin to do some scentwork buried hide practice. He did great! He seems to have a little trouble scenting Anise, so I will need to get some so I can trail with it at home.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022
   Growth - just keep on growing  

So flipping proud, Pizza's Master Hunter certificate came in the mail today. I still am in a little bit of shock as to how fast this all happened. When Pizza Pie puts her mind and heart behind something, it happens fast! Junior Hunter in 4 passes in a row, Senior Hunter in just 2 months, Master Hunter in just 3 weekends only a handful of months after finishing her senior hunter. She is amazing.

Unfortunately, it's too hot to do ANY sort of training outside this week. No one is doing much of anything outside other than running about 100 feet and then finding shade to lay under. 97 degrees, probably setting a new record for today...and the humidity is so thick, everything outside is wet. I kinda love it though, I do love the heat. I miss outdoor training, hopefully next week it will calm down and I can get some field work in.

Dolphin was really good in his puppy agility group today - nice and fast and motivated. It's hard to figure out why he is so motivated some days in class, and others not so much. Since Pizza is in season, I let Noodle take her class this morning, and Noodle was her normal awesome self. I am hoping everyone gets their brains together, because we have three agility weekends coming up in July. This weekend, Dolphin and I are headed with a pal down to Virginia, near Shenandoah National Park to attend an agility trial and do some hiking. I am really looking forward to getting away, no pressure, just fun.

Here is a fun video I put together - I took monthly stack photos of Dolphin throughout his first year, and then randomly throughout his second year. This shows his growth, kind of cool to see how his body matured.

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Friday, June 17, 2022
  Harrisonburg, VA and Shenandoah   

Dolphin and I left Ohio yesterday for our "girls with puppy boys" weekend - traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia with a friend of mine and her young dog that has been training with Dolphin and I since they were baby puppies.

Harrisonburg is very close to the central entrance to Shenandoah National park, so it was a no brainer that we were going to visit the park after the agility trial! Today's agility trial started off with a bang with both of us Q-ing in Excellent FAST. The send was three jumps, and I did a direct line of obstacles so Dolphin hd a lot of speed, and he took the 3 jumps at a distance rather easily! He knocked the 7 point jump on the way out, so I had to think fast to grab the 8-point A-frame to get enough points. We did, and crossed the finish jump with seconds to spare...Dolphin's first Excellent Q!

Our second run was Excellent Standard. He did not really hold his dogwalk contact, he went to the bottom and kind of walked off the edge, but we went on (I am ALL about keeping him motivated these days!). He was running FAST! He stuck his other two contacts, and was super focused and got another qualifying run!

Last class of the day was Excellent Jumpers. He was on fire, but a lot faster than I was used to, and my front cross was late and in his path, causing him to knock a bar. Other than that, he was perfect! No Q, but a run to be proud of.

We headed to Shenandoah National Park after the trial, and there were a LOT of photo opportunities, and believe me I took advantage of all of them! Here is a sampling:

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Saturday, June 18, 2022
   Agility in Virginia Day#2   

Well, all I can say is what an amazing day! The agility trial started with FAST again today, the send was pretty easy - two jumps and a tunnel. The distance was pretty far for the first jump, so I did my same plan from yesterday, choosing obstacles that gave Dolphin a lot of forward motion to the first jump, and he nailed it! Another Excellent FAST Q!

Next was Excellent Standard. Dolphin pushed the envelope a little bit and walked off the bottom of the teeter, but we went on and I made sure to reinforce his other contacts, which he did. It was a beautiful, fast, CLEAN run for another Excellent Standard Q!!!

Last was Excellent Jumpers. Dolphin turned in a wonderful, fast, clean run for another Q - making today a TRIPLE Q day! I don't recall ever getting a Triple Q with any of my dogs before! Dolphin just keeps surprising me with these big moments...just when I least expect it! He was fast, motivated, and ultra-focused today, and looked every bit the experienced agility dog...which he really isn't since we only started trialing this past October.

We didn't get out of the trial until pretty late, too late to head back to the national park (boo!). We found a local park to take the dogs to and let them run on a check cord, playing with their favorite fetch toy. Dolphin had a great time, though he always seems to be happy no matter what we do.

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Sunday, June 19, 2022
   Virginia Agility day #3   

Last day of the agility trial! I will be sad to leave this area, the hills are so pretty and the weather has been perfect.

This morning started off with Time 2 Beat. It was a fairly easy course, but the puppy brain rose to the top of Dolphin today. He knocked the first bar, knocked another bar in the pinwheel (man this judge loved her pinwheels!), and did a very weird thing where I send him to the teeter and he veered far right and went up the A-frame instead. He walked off his A-frame, so I took this opportunity to do a Fix N Go and make him do it again, correctly.

Next was Excellent Standard. Dolphin walked off the bottom of the dog walk (2nd obstacle) and because I wasn't in position yet, he had a refusal at the tunnel. I had a really really late front cross which caused him to grab an off-course jump by mistake. In watching the video later, I would see it was clearly MY fault. He walked off the bottom of the teeter, so I did another Fix N Go and made him hold it.

Last was Excellent Jumpers...my last chance to salvage the day. He went out there and laid down a beautiful run (had a semi-truck wide turn at the 180 wrap, but I managed it well) for a really nice clean run and a Q. It was gorgeous! The video is posted below.

Overall, 6 Q's out of 9 runs in Excellent, and being his very first trial he is in excellent in everything, and only having trialed since October, this was wildly more successful than I had ever imagined. Amazing that his 9th run of the weekend was every bit as fast and focused as his first. This is the most exciting thing to me, he runs with a smile on his face...he is loving it!

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Monday, June 20, 2022
  Back to reality, unfortunately   

Dolphin and I got home late last night. I had the opportunity to do a little field training with my friend this morning, so I grabbed it. Probably should have stayed home...Dolphin was bad. I guess he used up all his good focus this weekend, because he broke on all 3 birds we planted. Kind of disappointing since I felt we made some real progress last week, but once again I am reminding myself that the training path is hilly and not flat...we will have these days!

It sure doesn't help that we came home to Pizza PEAKING in season. Today Dolphin was out of his gourd at home, crying and whining and even throwing in some howls. I will have to suffer through this for a few more days until Pizza's hormones start to wane, and Dolphin gets his brain back. So much for getting any training done this week!

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Friday, June 24, 2022
   Making it fun   

I did a little field training this morning, and Dolphin worked 2 birds and didn't break!. One small step forward. It was super hot, so afterwards we went into the woods and found a little creek that Dolphin and his training partner could play in.

Later that day I did some agility training with a friend. Our assignment was to proof our dogs' 2 on-2 off contacts with 5 different actions, so we had a little fun with it!

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Saturday, June 25, 2022
  New RA Noodle!   

I did something a littel different today - Noodle and I headed to a Rally trial in Cleveland. I figured I would try to get the last Q needed to finish her Rally Advanced title, and also try to get a high enough score (above 93) to finish our qualifications for AKC Rally National Championships next year. I don't know if I will go if I qualify, but qualifying is a fun goal to work towards.

Noodle was wonderful! She was focused, and accurate, and did a great job. The judging was a little tougher than our last trial, but she managed to get a score of 96 to win Advanced A, plus finish her title, PLUS finish qualifying for nationals! I love my ride-or-die girl, she always rises to the occasion when I need her to.

I have her entered in another obedience/rally trial next month, and am hoping to get two beginner novice obedience qualifying scores to finish that title...then the sky's the limit!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022
   It's a slug kinda day   

I should mention that Dolphin and I did some field training yesterday morning, and it was hotttttt. He did OK - we had two birds, he tried to blink the first one (typical behavior with all the pressure we are putting on him), but was pretty solid on the second one. Progress!

This morning in our agility puppy group, Dolphin was pretty useless. It was frustrating as he had zero mojo, and was sound asleep in his crate in between sequences. It was a little frustrating, but I will chalk this one up to the exhausting day he had yesterday, and we will see how it goes tomorrow.

Pizza finally got to go back to agility class since she is now out of season, and she did well, but made a LOT of mistakes on her tunnel bypass command. We will have to work on that.

After the agility classes, it was Noodle's turn to go field training. I was so proud of her - the other dog nipped at her twice and she never reacted in the least bit - she has come SO far! Her first two honors on her bracemate were terrible, but her third one she came from around some brush all by herself and stopped when she saw him on point...that is huge for her!

We did some shooting over her to give her a chance to retrieve. The first bird was shot really far, and landed in a section of the field where the weeds were about 4-65 feet tall. She searched and searched until near exhaustion but couldn't find the bird. The second bird was a leftover that was up and walking. I had to flush it about 20 feet away from her, she held beautifully. The bird landed really far, and she had to do quite a bit of searching, but she found it and retrieved to hand. Still gives me a thrill every time this happens, when she is on the money and everything goes right. LOVE it!

This evening was Dolphin's scent work class. Today they set up a Novice, Advanced, Excellent, and Masters container search, and we weren't told where the hides were. Kind of like a practice or run-through of a trial. Dolphin nailed all four searches. He was fantastic. This is such a fun sport!

Shew, after having to type all of this I realized what a crazy busy day I had today with the dogs. No wonder nothing else in my life got done today! Might have to pull an all-nighter to do the household chores, but it was worth it!

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