"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!
Let me just start off today's post by saying what a joy Dolphin is to travel and hang out with. He is such an easy-going dog, he hangs out all day either with me or in the van and is so patient and quiet. When it is time to work, or time to run around he is READY. He was fantastic in the hotel room for 3 nights. I am so blessed with him.
Today was a tough day - conditions were a bit tough. Off and on sprinkles of rain in the morning and super high winds all day long. This made anything done outside a real challenge. Dolphin had exterior first, and in our first run he indicated a bit of a distance from the actual source, so we didn't Q. The wind was blowing right at him and he was picking up the scent early. It's funny (not) - in field work I am working on him picking up the scent early and stopping right away, and in scent work I want him to follow the scent right to the source. I hope doing this is not going to interfere with our bird work. Our second exterior search was also a fail, as the wind was blowing too hard to be accurate.
However, he nailed both of his interior searches in under 7 seconds to not only qualify, but win both classes! This also gives him his SIN title (Scent Work Interior Novice). Containers were held outside where exterior had been, and once again he indicated too early in both of his searches to incur an NQ.
Our last class was Buried, and this was done inside of a tent that blocked the wind. It was funny, on his first search as he stood at the start line, he saw some birds and went on point, but then went on to search and found it in just 7 seconds. His second search was also successful, so he earned 2 more Q's and 2 more blue ribbons, plus his Buried Novice (SBN) title. All in all I would say this was a pretty darn successful weekend for his first scent work trial! We will go home and train for a few more months and then maybe do another one this summer or fall.
Training, training, training. Getting down to crunch time now!
On Wednesday, I started off the morning with Dolphin's puppy agility class (I still call it puppy class even though all of our dogs are now 2!). He did really well, we worked on sending to a tunnel, layering, and distance. We did the same in Pizza's class, and of course she was awesome...she is my only dog who loves tunnels, so laying on a distance tunnel challenge is easy for her.
I did some field training with Dolphin at our local place. Back to being frustrated, as he was very inconsistent in holding his point and not diving in. I brought Pizza out to work on her backing and holding her honor through a long retrieve, when her bracemate took forever to retrieve she did try to bail out and I was able to correct her. Hopefully she remembers this lesson!
Thursday started off with Noodle's agility class. She started off great but pooped out about halfway through the class. I think I need to work on her fitness and stamina...have to remind myself she isn't a young pup anymore. Dolphin's agility class went well. He is really making progress there.
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Saturday, May 7, 2022
Today Dolphin and I headed to a UKC show to practice for our national specialty next week. In the first show, we had a judge that was pretty invasive about going over his head and mouth, and he definitely didn't like it and backed away. However, he showed pretty good afterwards, and did great in the group (which was the biggest group at the show) and got a group 4.
In the second show we got a judge that was perfect for us - she stood and looked at the profile as I stacked him, had me show the bite, and didn't hover over him...he stood great! He was even better in group (as the day went on he got a little less wild and stood better), and ended up getting a group 1! I was pretty proud of him, he definitely improved all day long. I have done all I can, he just needs to survive his maturity next week and we will see what happens!
Well, here we go, off to Missouri for the Weimaraner Club of America National Specialty. Today begins my week of insanity (that is 100% my own doing LOL!). In the next 5 days I have 6 conformation classes, 5 Rally goes, 2 Obedience goes, 15 Agility runs, 4 Retrieving tests, plus I am co-chair of the Top 20 Competition, co-chair of the Versatile program, and on the ratings test committee. Stressed? Yep, a little. I have to remind myself that I have to take it as it comes and accept it. I have trained as HARD as I could possibly train for everything, I could do no more than what I have done, so whatever happens is in the hands of fate and what God has planned.
WCA National Specialty Day #1 - Retrieving Ratings Test
Here we go, day #1 of the National Specialty! We were up bright and early for the Retrieving Ratings test. Up first was the land portion. Noodle was doing Retrieving Dog (the middle level) so she had to do a double retrieve. Two quail were launched and shot, and she did an awesome retrieve on both of them.
Pizza and Dolphin were next, they were doing Novice Retrieving Dog so they only had to retrieve one bird. Both dogs were a little iffy on the retrieve, and Dolphin surprised me because he LOVES to retrieve. He has almost no experience with live/dead bird retrieving, so I think this was a little weird for him. Pizza was very reluctant to bring the bird back all the way. After much cajoling, they both succeeded. On to the water portion!
Noodle had to do a double retrieve in the water. Man, she was awesome! She went out and retrieved the farthest duck first (yes, they were using ducks!), bright it right to my hand, and then I sent her out for the second retrieve and she did it beautifully. With this retrieve, Noodle earned her RD title, and also gave her enough points for her VX3 (Versatile Excellent 3) title! WOW!
I was more worried about the young dogs because they have zero experience retrieving ducks. Amazingly, both Pizza and Dolphin went right into the water and retrieved the duck. Bringing it all the way back to me was a bit harder to convince, but they both did it! So far, day #1 was a complete success!
Today was the regional specialty show, and it was all about Noodle! First thing in the morning, we attempted to do Beginner Novice Obedience. Never mind the fact that we have not taken any classes nor trained for this! She actually did pretty well, but stood up before I returned to her side after the sit for exam, so that NQ-ed us. She went on to do Rally Intermediate and earned a nice Q and 2nd place to finish her RI title!
Next was Rally Advanced, and this was our first time doing Rally off leash. I had NO idea what to expect, but she was awesome! A Q and a blue for the win!
Later that afternoon, Noodle showed in the Field Titled Bitch class at the specialty. She was the only entry, so she obviously won it, but she did show pretty darn good. She is such a fun dog to show, she just loves the attention!
WCA National Specialty Day#3 - National Obedience and Rally
Today was the National Specialty Obedience and Rally trial. We made a second attempt at Beginner Novice Obedience, and we actually managed to do OK this time for a Q and 4th place! She was much better this time around at her heeling, and stayed put when I told her to...big improvement.
Rally went really really well! We did Rally Intermediate and nailed down a nice Q and 2nd place. Back in the ring for Rally Advanced, and she picked up her second RA leg and won the class with a perfect score of 100! I was thrilled...she was so focused and ready to work today, it made it all the more fun for me. I love it when she has her work ethic in high gear.
Now we just have to survive tomorrow...15 agility runs and Dolphin and Pizza's show maturity. These events are things I have been working towards all year, and they all happen at the same time. I have literally been awake all night worrying about how to get it all done. I haven't been able to sleep at all. I know once the day is over, I will crash hard, and hopefully with a smile on my face.
I did not get more than a few hours of sleep last night. I woke up around 3am and started stressing. WHY do I do this to myself? Today was so important to me - I have 15 agility runs with the 3 dogs, plus Dolphin and Pizza's Maturity. Both things are equally important to me, and both are in conflict. I stressed about how I would get it all done, and what I might have to sacrifice (how would I choose???).
The morning started off early with all 3 dogs running Time 2 Beat. Noodle ran clean, Dolphin went WILD and ran all over the place, and Pizza did the same. Then we started the two rounds of standard. Noodle and Pizza went first. On round 1, Noodle ran a nice clean round. Pizza was so wild I ended up walking her off about halfway through the course. Dolphin knocked a few bars in his run, so NQ.
Round 2 standard was a big fat zero for everyone. Noodle had a refusal, Pizza had a couple refusals and a couple wrong courses. Then it was maturity time!
I raced over to the conformation ring (thankfully I remembered to change my shoes!). Dolphin was amped up from agility, and that was a good thing! He showed fantastic - stood perfectly for the judge, gaited big, bold, and confident out in front of me. The judge pulled out me and another exhibitor to gait together at the end. Then he put me in front and had us gait again, and when we came around the last time he pointed to me as the winner! Did I cry? Hell yes I did! I cannot believe my boy not only won his futurity, but came back and won his maturity at the National Specialty! Words cannot describe how I felt, I don't think anyone could understand what this meant to me.
Unfortunately, they were waiting for me at the agility ring, I had to make a decision so I opted to skip showing Pizza in her maturity in order to get in my agility runs. I ran back to agility and got Dolphin's open standard #2 done. Unfortunately he knocked a bar and missed his weave entrance twice...not surprising since we were both amped up out of our minds!
After that agility run, I had to zip back over to the conformation ring to do my victory lap. I for sure wasn't going to miss that!!! It was an amazing feeling, running around that ring with the big ribbon again, with my boy at my side. He shone like a star today, and I am so proud I can't even find the words to explain how I feel.
Back to agility where Noodle finished up with two Masters Jumpers Qs, Pizza GREATLY improved and had two really nice Excellent Jumpers runs with only a small mistake or two in each, and Dolphin squeaked out his last Open Jumpers Q for his OAJ title, and he was awarded the high scoring Open Jumpers ribbon! This made him eligible for the Tri-Athlete award (Noodle had sewn hers up yesterday). Pizza will have to try again next time, she was so close!
The moral of the story is that you can stress all night, but what will be will be...and just be as prepared as you can be and know you have done all you can do. I could be a little disappointed in my agility results (although Noodle did earn one of those elusive double Q's so I am really happy about that!), and a little disappointed that I didn't get to show Pizza in her Maturity, it's all overshadowed by Dolphin's big moment. What a day!!!
Last day of the National Specialty, and I am ready!
Today was the breed classes. Let me give you a quick re-cap - Noodle won her Field Titled Bitch class (she was the only entry), Dolphin got 2nd in Versatile Dog, and Pizza got 2nd in Versatile Bitches. It was a short day, and we loaded up to head....not home! Yup, I am crazy enough to enter a double double hunt test that is about halfway home. What was I thinking???? Noodle and Pizza are going to be wild after being cooped up all week. I am seriously regretting this decision...
Retrieving Dog Ratings Test Qualified
Specialty Rally Intermediate: Qualified and 2nd place
Specialty Rally Advanced: Qualified and 1st place
Specialty Field Titled Bitches - 1st place
National Beginner Novice Obedience: Qualified and 4th place
National Rally Intermediate: Qualified and 2nd place
National Rally Advanced: Qualified and 1st place
National Field Titled Bitches - 1st place
National Agility Trial - Qualified in 4 out of 5 runs TRI-ATHLETE WINNER MOST VERSATILE WEIMARANER - 2ND PLACE (by only 3 points!)
Retrieving Dog Ratings Test Qualified
National Agility Trial - Qualified and High-scoring Open Jumpers
BEST DOG IN MATURITY
National Versatile Dogs - 2nd place TRI-ATHLETE WINNER
Because I am just that crazy, I entered a double double hunt test halfway home from St. Louis. It seemed like a great idea a month ago, but I woke up today feeling like I had made a huge mistake.
Actually, it turned out to be a pretty good idea, and I had some success and some weird crap happen (again) that I am learning from.
Master test #1 - Pizza went out in the first brace and BAM, worked a perfect bird in the backfield (even though the bird was so tiny it's wings weren't even fully developed so it wouldn't fly). Then she had a beautiful point soon in the bird field, her brace mate honored, I flushed, gunners shot, and her bracemate broke past her and stole her retrieve. She stayed rock solid during all of this! Then she worked her own bird, was solid and steady, and had a GREAT retrieve! The honoring was easy-peasy for her, and boom...some really nice scores for her Master Hunter pass #3.
Noodle went out and in her usual fashion she hunted herself almost to exhaustion in the heat. She worked 2 birds with a beautiful point, solid and direct retrieve, so all was left was the honor. My bracemate had already been picked up, so they went to plant a bird to set up a point for her to honor...as I brought her around, she bent in a U-shape and went on point, the bird was in the path right behind her. I flushed the bird and she had to turn 270 degrees to mark the fall after the shot, but apparently this was a bit too much movement for the judges and they failed her 🙁 Not sure what to do in that situation as she had to move in order to watch the bird fall, she had no forward motion, and held until I tapped her for the retrieve. Oh well...chalk that one up as another page in the book I am writing titled *1,001 Ways To Fail A Master Hunt Test*
Master test #2 - it was in the heat of the day and I mean it was HOTTT. Pizza went out and hunted beautifully, had the most gorgeous long distance honor. The birds were very small today and they were not flying at all, which added another level of difficulty. She went on point on her first bird, and for some reason before I even got to her, she reached down and gently picked it up and then turned and brought it to me. The bird was only half alive and had no feathers on the one side, looked like someone had plucked it to put in the stew pot. Of course when I handed it to the judge, the damn bird mustered enough energy to flutter one wing slightly, which meant technically it was still alive, so it was a fail. If the bird had stayed still...we could have moved on. I think Pizza honestly thought it was dead. UGH. Still a mistake she shouldn't make since technically I did not send her on a retrieve, so this was all on her.
Noodle went out in the heat and I had to really keep an eye on her because she has and will hunt herself into heat exhaustion. She was on fire, worked two perfect birds with direct retrieves, it was flipping awesome! I brought her in for the honor, it was an "ok" honor, nothing as dramatic as Pizza but it was correct. She did pass, but with scores just barely low enough to not qualify for Master Advanced (she has to average 8 or higher and she averaged 7.83). So disappointing! I approached the judges and asked what we could have done better to earn higher scores, and they told me the brace just wasn't "exciting" enough to earn higher scores. That was the weirdest comment I have ever heard. Maybe I am in the minority, but when my dog goes out and actually nails a master hunter test, it's pretty damn exciting to me LOL! In this heat (it was in the high 80's) I think this was about as exciting as it gets. Weird comment, but I will just add it to my failure book and chalk it up as a learning experience (as in learning that some judges just WANT to find the negative even in a good run).
Moral of the story - the day was GOOD, I had a blast running my dogs, and yes, it was a good decision to stop here even though I am exhausted and dying to get home! I know the girls think stopping here was a WONDERFUL idea! 2 more tests tomorrow and then we head home and I am not going anywhere for at least a month, I swear!
My daily hunt test recap...instead of "1,001 Ways To Fail A Master test", this might be a small chapter entitled "Those Rare Moments When Things Just Fall In Place".
We had a completely different set of judges today, and it was like night and day from yesterday. Pizza started off the morning, she was a little out of control in the backfield, but once I got after her she settled down and started hunting. In the birdfield, her bracemate went on point first way across the field, my judge told me I could go for the honor or keep hunting, and since it was Pizza I definitely went for the honor - let her run ahead of me and watched her slam on her brakes and do the prettiest dramatic honor (judges were impressed) like I knew she would. After that, she went on point and worked her bird perfectly, and had a really good retrieve (say WHAT???). The birds that were planted were not flying, so I had to pick it up and throw it (and you all know how terrible I am at throwing things LOL!). The best thing was that there were a ton of birds left in the field from yesterday's Junior hunt test, and they were popping up like popcorn as she ran. We had THREE wild flushes that she stopped perfectly on, can't ask for better than that. Big pass with high scores for Pizza Pie.
Next was Noodle, and she played a little field trial dog today with a huge breakaway at the start and ran out of eyesight. I was able to call her beck and keep her (somewhat) under control. We worked two birds in the bird field with beautiful retrieves right to hand, and had a less-than-enthusiastic honor. She stopped and honored as soon as she saw her bracemate on point, and then tried to turn and move in the opposite direction, but luckily I was right there and was able to quietly correct that. Bad girl, going to have to work on that. She had some high scores, good enough for a Master Advanced pass. The best part was the two judges holding me back after the brace to tell me what a good job I was doing handling my dogs, and that I was quiet and good to my dogs and they could tell my dogs loved working for me. THAT MEANS EVERYTHING!!!!
The second test was in the heat. Pizza was first, and I tried not to let the thought that she could finish her Master title get in my head and mess up my run. Once again she was a bit out of control at the start, but I was able to reel her back in quicker this time and get her focused. Right off the bat she did her usual dramatic long-distance honor in the bird field and it was such a pretty sight. She went on point quickly, but that bird flushed on it's own so i blanked it. She found another bird about 10 feet from the first one, and I was able to pick it up and throw it for the gunners. Pizza was panting so hard she had a little trouble with the retrieve, had to stop and catch her breath a few times, but it was a decent enough retrieve for a pass! WOOT NEW MASTER HUNTER AT AGE 2 1/2!!!
Last but not least was Noodle. She played field trial again and took off at the start line. 10 minutes later we hit the bird field and she was standing on point as pretty as could be. We worked the bird, had a perfect retrieve, and all that was left was the honor. She was a little stinky at the honor, took her a while to acknowledge her bracemate. By then I was getting dizzy from the heat. The judge came up to me and said we could set up another opportunity to honor, or I could just take the minimum score for her honor (he knew I was going for advanced scores). I don't think I could handle another minute in the heat, nor could Noodle, so I gambled that her other scores were high enough and I opted to stop there. I lucked out, she did have pretty high scores in the other categories, high enough to average the 8 needed for her advanced pass. We only need one more for her Master Advanced title! It will have to wait until fall, as the weather is just too warm now to do much hard hunting. Plus it will give me the chance to really work on her honoring.
Interestingly, my dogs were the only ones that passed Master yesterday afternoon. Also interestingly enough, every single bracemate I had in 8 braces got picked up for mistakes. The conditions were tough! I am so glad I decided to be crazy and hit this hunt test on the way home from our national specialty. It was so worth it...can't believe I now have TWO Master Hunters in my house that I trained and handled myself! Unbelievable...we have come so far! Never thought it was possible for me.
This week is all about recovery. The dogs and I are going to play all week, no training! I think we need this down time to recover from the crazy week we had. I did get Pretzel to pose with his 3 pewter dog futurity/maturity statues that he won. He was the sire of the 2020 Best Dog in Maturity, 2021 Best Dog in Futurity, and 2022 Best Dog in Maturity. All this, and he only sired 3 litters. He is so special to me, and the best part about him is that he loves me 100% unconditionally. Oh the things we have been through together...there will never be another dog like him. He may be older and a lot slower, but he is still my crazy couch-jumping puppy in my heart.
When it rains it pours. A better title for today would be "Never Get Financially Secure".
I sold my old green truck today. 1995 Ford F-250 (yes, he is 27 years old!), no a/c, no power anything, some body and paint damage, 101,000 miles. I actually got decent money for it since the country is in a major used car shortage right now. Of course, I should have known that this is the kiss of death for me...whenvener I get financially ahead, a disaster is looming.
I've racked up $3,000 in vet bills on Cadence, and it isn't nearly finished. In selling my truck I am able to pay those off and have a little cushion...NOT! Noodle came in from outside today 3-legged lame. I have never seen her like this, she wouldn't put ANY weight on her left front leg. This is so unlike her because she is gritty and stoic and never shows pain. I immediately worried that her leg might be broken, so off to the vet ER we went. 4 1/2 hours and many hundreds of dollars later, they determined nothing was broken, just a soft tissue injury - rest and anti-inflammatories and all would be well...EXCEPT my bank account. Bye bye truck money, but oh so thankful it is nothing serious. I don't think I could take that. She is my ride-or-die girl!
Noodle is MUCH better, in fact she greatly improved by the next morning after her injury. I am still resting her, so i pulled her from this weekend's agility trial...sadness.
This week we were back to agility training classes. Noodle has the week off, so Pizza got a bonus class this week. She was really good for me in both classes - pretty focused and motivated, and I felt like we got a lot of good things accomplished. Dolphin, however, was a turd. I don't think he really likes classes as much as he loves trialing, or training with friends. The problem is he is so relaxed and easy-going in clas, I never get a chance to train him through his high-energy adrenaline rush running that we got at trials, thus the mistakes and knocked bars. I am interested to see how he will do this weekend, as it is his Excellent Jumpers debut.
The digital edition of the WCA Blue Ribbon magazine came out, so I thought I would share my ads. Since they were turned in at the beginning of May, they are missing two of my biggest accomplishments this year - Dolphin's Maturity win and Pizza's Master Hunter title. Oh well, more to put in the ad next year, I guess!.
Only Pizza got to play today at the agility trial, since Noodle is on injured reserve and Dolphin isn't entered until tomorrow. Pizza surprised me with how good she was. We didn't have any Q's in our two runs (Excellent Jumpers and Excellent Standard) but she was so improved over our last trial...probably the best she has run with me in 6 months!
The first run was Excellent Jumpers, and it was a wonderful, flowing course. She started off wonderfully, but did her usual thing of running behind the tunnel to visit the barsetter seated in the corner. I was able to get her away and back on course quickly, and she went on and ran wonderfully (with just a pop out at he weaves when she had to investigate something on the floor). She ran happy and fast! Excellent Standard was a bummer at the start when she knocked the triple jump (jump #2), and then went to go visit the judge standing there as a stress reaction...but she came back and went on strongly. We did have an off course tunnel, and I have no idea why she grabbed that tunnel but tons of dogs were doing it all day so there must have been something about the angle of the setup that caused everyone the off course, so I will give her a bit of a pass. She had a beautiful weave entry where she actually skidded on the turf to collect to get the entry correct...love that! I have hope again, she is starting to come around! Overall her entire attitude and focus are improving every time we work. I have to remember she is only 2 1/2...still a youngster!
Well, it was an interesting couple of days at the agility trial. Saturday was all Dolphin, and he was a little uninspired. Had a refusal and wrong course in standard, and just wandered out of the weaves in jumpers. Sunday was worse, he put very little effort into running and we had a lot of mistakes. That was a bummer.
Pizza was not entered on Saturday, only Sunday. She actually did pretty good! She did a visit to the judge after she knocked a bar, and another visit to a bar setter, both incurring refusals, but came back and finished strong. She actually Q'ed in Open FAST with NO visits! It was a perfect plan, she executed it perfectly, got the easy send bonus, and success! This is only her second Open FAST Q, she needs one more for her title, and then ALL three dogs will be completely out of Open...crazy to even think about that!
Overall, I was pretty disappointed in Dolphin, and really excited about Pizza. I feel like Pizza and I have been turning a corner, and I attribute a lot of that to her confidence and success in her field work. Dolphin will get there, he's still a baby dog and is figuring things out.