"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!
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
   Field Tune-Up   

I took Dolphin and Noodle field training today (Pizza got the day off). Noodle's task was to honor honor honor... and she did! One was a little iffy, but the other two were really nice and independent. We have a hunt test this weekend on the same field we trained on, so I am hoping some of this spills over into her memory in a few days.

We put birds in launchers for Dolphin and continued his training. H ran past the first couple and we launched the birds mainly to get him to slow down and start using his nose. Third bird was pointed nicely, but he inched forward so we launched it immediately. Fourth bird was pointed beautifully and held! More progress.

Back to Top

Wednesday, November 2, 2022
   A meh kind of day   

The morning started off really really well - Dolphin ran the BEST he's ever run in his agility training group this morning. Then Pizza came to class and ran fantastic! Talk about a high!

Then came the meh part of the day - field training. I brought Noodle out to train with my friend, and right off the bat she saw the other dog on point and turned her head and tried to run past. I had to really get after her, so of course she pouted dramatically. She got the next bird, and did a decent distance point but it wasn't the prettiest (bird was shot at and missed, so no retrieve). The next two honors were icky - she knew what the game was so refused to get out in front of me and instead stayed right next to me and halted when I stopped...not exactly an independent honor. So frustrating! I KNOW she knows what to do, she just flat-out doesn't want to do it when she would rather be hunting and finding her own bird. Ugh. These three dogs are very frustrating in the field this past month... I keep reminding myself be patient! We will get through this and progress, it's just hard to see when you are mired in the training.

Back to Top
Friday, November 4, 2022
  Agility TRY-al   

Yesterday in class, Noodle looked a slight bit off after the first jumping sequence. I had my friend take her outside and gait her, she looked fine. I gaited her, she looked fine. I went ahead and ran her in class and she looked fine. However, just to be cautious, I pulled her from the agility trial today. We have a hunt test all weekend and right now that is priority, as hunt test season in Ohio is SO short!

Today it was all Dolphin, all day. Jumpers started off with a bang, as in a major implosion kind of bang. He knocked 3 bars, missed his weave entrance TWICE, and missed a jump. He ran well and was motivated, just sloppy.

FAST was a wreck, I knew he wouldn't get the send bonus (jump at an angle from 15 feet away, jump second jum, and wrap back to first jump). Since he missed it, I went ahead and did the weaves for practice and he did great. On to standard...it was going so well until he knocked a bar...UGH!!!!! After that he walked a bit off the teeter, so I went ahead and did a fix n go and had him stick and hold the 2 on 2 off on the teeter. The rest of the run went great, and since I had nothing on the line I really pushed the weaves and they were blazing fast and awesome! So...zero for 3 today. A little disappointing, but we had greta moments in the midst of all the knocked bars. I will hang on to those.

Back to Top
Saturday, November 5, 2022
   Hunt Test - Circleville, OH Day #1   

It was the most gorgeous day to have a hunt test...70 degrees in November in Ohio...wowweeee!

Noodle was in brace #1 of Master Hunter. She was outstanding, I just can't say enough good things about her. Broke away nicely, hunted hard in the backfield, and even honored her bracemate when he stopped to sniff something (huge step forward in our training!). It was game on in the birdfield. She had one point that the gunners missed, heeled off beautifully, next bird was shot and retrieved right to hand. Best thing of all - her honor was one of her best ones (other than the one she got a "10" in when I fell in the hole last year LOL!). She heeled off the honor, and hunted her heart out until time was up. We ended up with a bunch of 9's on the score card, which is wonderful (we had judges that actually SCORED the objectives...yay!).

Pizza had a beautiful breakaway and was on super-hunt mode. In the bird field she went on point really fast, but the darn bird gave me the finger and did a U-turn to fly right over the judges' head...no shot, so I blanked it and we moved on. Her bracemate went on point, and she did her usual pretty pretty intense honor, and stood through the shot and the chase (oops!). We had another bird that was a wild flush, she stopped a good distance from me and waited for me to come up and release her (another big step forward in training). Time was up, so the judges had them plant one more bird for us to do the retrieve. This was the do-or-die time, she was about perfect up until then. She did a super nice dramatic point, I flushed the bird and the gunners shot at it...and she BROKE! Say what??? My perfect little rock-solid Pizza that hasn't broke on the shot since junior hunter (actually she was holding through the shot even in junior!), actually BROKE. On a side note, she went waaaaay out there to get the bird and actually did a great retrieve to me...go figure since we were already failed at that point. Just goes to show, you can never be 100% confident or sure about your dog's performance, because they are, after all, DOGS with minds of their own. I never in a hundred years would have predicted Pizza would break on the shot, but hey, it happens! I have to laugh about it, because even though that was a little disappointing, I was super duper happy with everything else she did out there. Her scores were awesome, other than...um...trainability.

We laughed on the walk back, and I told everyone I was switching to show cats. In reality, this whole morning was a great experience - some really top notch success, and a complete humbling moment. Anyways, I can celebrate Noodle - GCH CH Luxe All You Can Eat Spaghetti BN RA MHA MH14 MX MXJ XF CGC TKP SDX RD VX3 - my ride-or-die girl ❤

Because my life is crammed full, I came home for a hot minute and then I was off to Dayton for a jazz gig. Back at it again tomorrow morning (and thankful for that extra hour of sleep I will get tonight...the only time I like the time change!).

Back to Top
Sunnday, November 6, 2022
   Hunt Test - Circleville, OH Day #2   

Noodlehead gets her 15th Master Hunter pass with more outstanding scores (a 9 in Honoring, no way! Yes way!). There were tons and tons of birds in the backfield left over from yesterday's junior hunter test, Noodle and her bracemate found a lot of them! Pretty cool to come around the corner of trees and see Noodle honoring her bracemate on point. That made my day! Noodle had a stellar run in the bird field, finding and retrieving THREE birds in a row. It was nice to see that she stayed pretty steady with each bird, even though her excitement kept ramping up. Her retrieves were awesome, and I needed that after Pizza's run earlier. Noodle is getting a little jumpy when I am sending her for the retrieve, as in she wants to anticipate me sending her before I actually do. I am going to work on this the next few weeks to get her to be more patient (Patience - Noodle? Yeah, right!)

Pizza, oh Pizza. She went on point IMMEDIATELY in the bird field, the gunners shot at the bird and it landed in the tree line. I sent her for the retrieve (yes, she held beautifully!) and when she got to the bird it flew up into the trees. I called her off the bird (it took a while!) and we went on hunting...and literally 30 seconds later she locked on point on another bird. Again she held her point perfectly, but came up short on the retrieve. The bird was a little messy (i.e. guts hanging out a bit) but that's no excuse. She got it to about 5-6 feet from me, dropped it and spit out a huge mouthful of feathers, and just would not pick it back up again to bring it the last 5 feet. So frustrating! I would have liked to have that awesome retrieve I had yesterday when she broke on the shot and failed LOL! She scored super high - 9's in hunting, bird finding, pointing...but the retrieve was a big ol' goose egg.

Pizza is due to come in season in a week, so this will probably wipe out the rest of the hunt tests this fall. Back to the drawing board, I will try to figure out a training fix for this retrieve problem that has cropped up this fall. Good old dog-training whac-a-mole...fix one problem and another pops up! Keeps me on my toes LOL, but man this is so much fun!

Back to Top
Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Busy busy day today -started off with some agility training for Dolphin first thing in the morning, then agility class with Pizza (she was AWESOME!). After that, I took Dolphin and Noodle to do some field training. Noodle got to honor honor honor...we had some really bad blow-offs, a couple really nice honors, and a couple so-so. Dolphin got to work with more birds in launchers. The first bird he pointed was actually loose, and he was rock solid! I love the fact that when I flush the bird and fire my blank gun, he never chases. She was pretty darn steady on every bird we worked. He was getting to the point that when the bird would flush, he would lose intensity and try to turn away, so we started having two birds in each spot...one would flush, and then I would immediately launch the second bird so that he would stay intense. Seemed to start working by the end! Little boy is coming along nicely.

We had scent work class tonight, and we worked on three odors. He was fantastic, worked super hard and found all three odors each time. He is really getting pretty good at this game.

Back to Top
Thursday, November 10, 2022
   Beyond busy day   

Today was even more jam-packed than yesterday! The morning started off with Noodle's agility class (she was awesome, and no sign of soreness after jumping!), then Dolphin's agility class (again - awesome!), and then Pizza and Dolphin went field training. Pizza was beautiful in the field, with some very dramatic long-distance honors, and steady as a rock on point. However, the bird we did shoot for her was a terrible retrieve. She left the bird completely after running out to it, sniffed where the bird was, and then ran back out to get the bird but only brought it about halfway. Of course, when I went to pick it up, she snatched at it and didn't want to give it up. I think this retrieving issue is a possession problem - she doesn't want me to have the bird. I am going to make that a goal to work on this winter. She is due to come in season next week, so our fall hunting season is basically over anyways.

We put one bird in a launcher for Dolphin. He nailed a beautiful intense point, and HELD the entire time! I was able to walk up from behind, get in front and kick around, even kick some weeds into his face and he stayed solid. We launched the bird and he watched it fly off and I praised him a ton...what a good boy! Cautiously optimistic is my feelings for this week. He is getting there...slowly but surely.

Back to Top
Frinday, November 11, 2022
   Agility Trial - Queen City (Cincinnati)   

Only a crazy person would get up before 4am to head to an agility trial 2 hours away. Hello, I am crazy!

Today my partners in crime were Noodle and Dolphin. We started off the morning with FAST. Kind of ironic...last week I was griping about the FAST send (it was jump, jump, wrap back to a jump from 15' away) and saying I wish they would do something easy, like an A-Frame to a tunnel. Well, guess what the send bonus was today? Yup! And guess who BLEW it? Yup, Dolphin. He actually ran BEHIND the tunnel! He was so fired up and wild, he was all over the place, and couldn't focus. It was a crazy run, and a big fat NQ. Noodle redeemed my morning by laying down a picture perfect FADT run and a Q to finish her MXF (Master Excellent Fast) title!

Next on the agenda was Standard. I was hopeful, because Dolphin needs one more standard Q for his MX title (Master Standard). He had a very uncharacteristic miss on the weave poles - it was directly after a tunnel and he entered the weaves at pole 2. We re-did the weaves correctly, but then he walked off the teeter so I did a Fix N Go had had him re-do it, which he did correctly. After the teeter, he obliterated a wing jump, and we got a few more obstacles in before time ran out. Ugh. No title today!

Noodle went out and nailed Standard with a really pretty, fast run. All that was left was Jumpers. Amazingly, both Dolphin and Noodle ran clean in Jumpers! This is Dolphin's very first Master Jumpers Q...finally! This gives Noodle a Triple Q! Double Q #11, and Triple Q #4 for the Noodlehead. It was a great day! We will take tomorrow off and then be back at it (waking up again at 4 am!) on Sunday. It would be wonderful if Dolphin could pick up one more Standard Q (even better if he could DOUBLE Q), and I found out that Noodle only needs one more Master Standard Q for her Master Agility Bronze title! Say what???

Back to Top
Sunday, November 13, 2022
   Agility Trial - Queen City (Cincinnati) second day   

We took a day off yesterday, and headed back to Cincinnati (another 4:00am wake up!) for another day at the agility trial. The morning didn't start off the greatest. First up was Jumpers, and I always seem to struggle with this class. Actually, it's more like my I,>dogs seem to struggle with this class. Today's fails was ALL on them! Dolphin was first, and was running a be-yoo-tiful run, and towards the end he decided to jump up and try to grab my arm when I said jump, and he missed the jump. ARGH! This is becoming a bit of a habit with him, it's happened more than once...he gets all excited and especially when I get ahead of him, he "chases" me and tries to play-grab me. I get it, he is still young, and boys keep their puppy brain a lot longer than girls...but sheesh!

Noodle was also having a really nice run, when she decided to stop in the middle of her weaves and went after something on the ground. A speck of dust? A dog hair? Who knows. Ugh, another NQ.

Standard was a bit of a wreck for Dolphin. He knocked the 3rd jump, so right away I knew we were in training mode. He walked off his teeter contact, so I did a Fix N Go and made sure he stayed on his 2 on 2 off contact. Towards the end in a pinwheel, he jumped up at my arm again so I corrected him and we finished strong. It would have been a pretty darn disappointing day, but Noodle went out in standard and laid down a really nice clean run for a Q and to finish her MXB (Master Agility Bronze) title! Noodle managed to earn two titles this weekend, so that was a definite mood-lifter.

In all honesty, I wasn't all that down about our fails today. Both of these dogs are so much fun to run, even when we have boo-boos, it's still fun!

Here are some great photos from the trial, taken by photographer Mike Lifer (click on each to enlarge and read caption):

Back to Top
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
  Up and down and up and down and sideways...   

Welcome to another crazy Wednesday. Dolphin started off the morning in his agility training group, he was super fast and motivated, and a total blast. Then came Pizza's class. She had been doing SO good the past several months. I was contemplating entering her in an agility trial in January - I have stopped trialing her for a while to work on training and focus and she has been a rock star. That is, until today. Today she decided to leave me in nearly every run to go visit people in the ring. She hasn't done that in weeks! Today was over the top bad. My only hope is that she is coming in season so her behavior is hormonally-wacky. No pressure, but if she doesn't come in season by this weekend, our Florida trip in a few weeks will have to be cancelled. She needs to come in season NOW in order to be completely out when we travel. Ugh...

I did some field training this afternoon, and Noodle was amazing, doing some of her best honoring she has ever done. I hope I didn't use up all of her goodness before the weekend. Dolphin was jumpy on one bird (which we launched), so we put out a second bird and he was better. Baby steps (I find myself repeating this phrase over and over when I am training him!).

Back to Top
Saturday, November 19, 2022
   Here come de judge   

I spent the entire day, in 23-degree weather, apprenticing at a hunt test. This was my second apprenticeship, along with passing my online judges' test and flying to North Carolina last month to attend an all-day judges' seminar. I have been officially assigned a judge's number by AKC, and as of today I am officially a Pointing Breed Hunt Test judge, licensed to judge all levels through Master Hunter! It was a quiet personal goal of mine this year, and this fall I made it happen! I hope to be a positive judge, and FAIR. Oh, and I can't wait to be able to stand and watch awesome bird dogs work all day long...YESSSSS!

Back to Top
Sunday, November 20, 2022
   Hunt Test - Fairfield County Bird Dog Club   

This could be the coldest hunt test I have ever been in - it was 16 degrees at the start and stayed there pretty much all morning. I managed to pile on five layers of clothes, and looked especially sexy in my Carhartt coveralls, but I was comfortable! Hard to believe I was not miserable, being I HATE the cold so much.

Noodle was in the first master brace. She was wonderful, and went on point literally seconds into the bird field. We worked that bird successfully, and then ended up doing a halfway decent honor on our brace mate to score straight 8's. Boom! Master pass #16!

Noodle got to have an extra fun day, as she ran with the bye in another Master brace, and then ran again with a bye in a senior brace. Kind of funny...weird things do happen even when you are running as a bye dog. Noodle went on point so the brace mate could honor, I flushed the bird and they shot it, and on her way to the retrieve we had a wild flush, which she stopped on. I had to release her and then try and send her on to the retrieve. I walked up a little bit to help direct her, and she was able to find the bird and retrieve it to hand. It was a nice rehearsal for if that should happen again when I am actually under judgment.

Overall it was such a fun day. I watch Noodle work in the field and think to myself how incredible blessed I am to have her. She has taught me so much. The sheer joy she has while hunting fills me with happiness.

Back to Top
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Dogs. Ugh. The deadline for Pizza to come in season was Monday, she is not in season yet, so our Florida trip in a few weeks is cancelled. Can't travel with her in season. She was due over a week and a half ago. Figures she would be late now, when the timeline is critical.

Today I am going to guess that she is coming into season soon. She was a mess in agility class. So unfocused and distracted - not only by people in the ring, but by little specks of fuzz on the ground and other random things. It was really hard to get her to run the sequences successfully. She had been doing really good up until the last few weeks, and I was just telling people in class how I was about ready to enter her in a trial in another month. I am going to assume it is pre-hormone stuff. We will see how she does in a month, when hopefully she is out of season. Heck, hopefully she will come in season SOON or our rescheduled trip in January may get cancelled also! Ugh. Girls...

Back to Top
Friday, November 25, 2022
   Black Friday agility in Zanesville   

Dolphin and I headed to Zanesville for an agility trial today. I figured he would be a bit wild since I was gone all day doing a family thanksgiving, and I wasn't wrong!

We started off with Master FAST, and Dolphin actually got the send bonus! It was the typical jump - jump, wrap back to first jump...can't believe he got it. Unfortunately he knocked a 9 point jump, which made us end up 4 points short of a Q.

Master Standard was next, and it was a really nice course. Well, it would have been nice if he wouldn't have tried to superman-jump the second jump and knocked the bar. He was pretty awesome for the rest of the run, including some spectacular weaves. However, he was halfway down the teeter when he noticed the judge standing nearby, and for some reason that made him turn his head while on the descent, and he accidentally stepped off the teeter. We re-did it, and finished with a set of three blazing jumps. I love it when we end string like that.

Master Jumpers was hard...definitely not big-dog friendly, and the ending was a snakelike series of jumps that was catching EVERYONE off guard, and very few dogs were Q-ing. Of course, leave it to Dolphin to screw up the easy parts and nail the hard parts that everyone was missing! The start was a very easy jump-jump-tunnel, and he ran right past the tunnel entrance. Why? I have no idea. That incurred a refusal. Then for some reason he got into the weaves and popped out. I think maybe I was too far ahead of him? Hard to tell. After we re-did the weaves he finished super strong, and nailed the snake ending (even though I tripped over the leg of a wing jump and wasn't able to get my front cross done, so I threw in a rear cross at the last second).

Oh well, we will try again Sunday. Noodle gets a turn tomorrow.

The second (good) half of Dolphin's Master Jumpers run
Back to Top
Saturday, November 26, 2022
   Agility trial day #2   

Today was Noodle's day at the agility trial. I can't say enough good things about this girl - she was on fire! She nailed a perfect Master FAST run, laid down another perfect Master Standard, and was one stupid triple jump bar away from a Master Jumpers and tripe Q. This girl didn't put a foot wrong. In watching the video of jumpers, it just looks to me like she misjudged the triple and thought it was a single bar. The triple kind of blended in with the wall color. I need to work more on my "big jump" command to let my dogs know that a bigger jumping effort is required, just in case they don't see the full 3 bars of the triple. A little disappointing, but man, Noodle ran so good all day, I am still pumped about it.

Back to Top
Sunday, November 27, 2022
   Agility trial day #3 - Dolphin   

Today it was Dolphin's turn again at the agility trial. Once again we were zero for three, but there were SO many good parts to all of his runs, I can't even be too disappointed!

FAST was a mess in the morning, the send was a jump to a tunnel, then out to a jump off to the side - super hard. Yeah, we didn't get it, so we took the opportunity to practice our A-Frame contact. Standard was a pretty nice course with a few tricky traps. The traps did NOT get us, but jump #4 did - he hit the bar from sheer sloppiness. Then after the table he did his puppy-brain thing of jumping on me instead of taking the next jump. His weaves were absolutely phenomenal, he got both correct tunnel entrances, and even though he sprinted across the dog walk, he nailed his 2 on-2 off contact! All very good things>

Jumpers was one of the hardest courses I have ever done - FIVE side changes, and the entire course looped around in several tight S-curves. There wasn't a straight line on the entire course. Amazingly, Dolphin went out and nailed the course, but his puppy brain rose to the top and he popped out of the weaves on weave #2...ugh! Other than that, he was amazing (video below). This boy has some serious potential, and I am excited! Slow and steady, we are improving bit by bit.

Back to Top