"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, September 2, 2022
  Frustration and disappointment by the bucketloads   

Today was probably one of the roughest days at an agility trial I have had in a long time. Here is the recap:

   ★ Noodle: In Jumpers, she was incredibly lazy, knocked two bars in a row from lack of trying. After the 2nd bar, I walked her off. In FAST, she didn't go in the second tunnel in the send, so NQ. In Standard, she was running better, but got lazy on her turn about halfway through the course and hit the upright of the jump, knocking the bar.

   ★ Dolphin: In Jumpers, he was super lazy, almost missed a jump because he decided to try and go around it, but when I made him jump it he knocked it. Then he went and knocked the triple. I did a fix N go, reset the triple, and he knocked it again, so I walked him off. in FAST he actually got the send, but it took forever to get him into the second tunnel so we ran out of time and didn't get enough points. Standard was very very slow, he actually walked through the weaves (which is SO unlike him!). However, we did actually Q and with 9 MACH points. His lack of speed was a bit of a downer, so it made it hard to be happy about the Q.

   ★ Pizza: Oh Pizza, Pizza, Pizza. In Jumpers, she ran to the judge, then ran to a barsetter. I got her back and we did a BEAUTIFUL series of about 6-7 jumps which were blazing fast and accurate, and then she ran to another barsetter, so I had to walk her off. She didn't get the send in FAST, and in standard she left me after jump #2 to run to the barsetter, then ran to the judge, so I walked her off.

Such a frustrating day. Noodle and Dolphin just weren't feeling it today, and this was one of the worst trials I have had with Pizza for a long time. I am wondering if maybe I just need to stop trialing her? I took a long break last year and it didn't seem to matter. I am at a total loss as to what to do and it's a really hard place to be. I normally can always figure out some sort of plan, even if it's a bad plan, having a plan helps my mindset. I am fresh out of plans. Well, we trial again on Sunday, and then Pizza is off until October. Dolphin and Noodle have a couple little one-day trials away from home in September, but we have several scent work trials (Dolphin) and then it starts hunt test season...yay! Maybe we all need an agility break?

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Sunday, September 4, 2022
   Slightly less frustration and disappointment   

Well, after a day of complete rest and doing nothing yesterday, we were back at the agility trial today. It was a bit of up-and-down today, with good moments and ugly/disappointing moments. Here is the recap:

   ★ Noodle: In jumpers she had a good start, but for some reason she skipped a weave and then hit the next one because her timing was off, so we had to restart. Other than that, she ran well, but NQ. Standard was a good run! Nice solid Master Q with a decent number of MACH points. FAST was a topugh one, the send was jump-teeter-jump and the first jump and teeter were a BIG distance from the line. She got the first jump and actually put a paw on the teeter, but when she saw me so far away she assumed she was wrong and came off. NQ, but otherwise decent.

   ★ Pizza: Well, Jumpers started off OK, then she left me in the weaves to go visit a barsetter. I got her back and just picked up after the weaves, and she ran wonderfully after that...so damn fast! Breaks my heart that she is so drive-y and fast yet can't keep from leaving me to visit. Standard started off shaky - she took the first 2 jumps and instead of turning a 90 degree turn to the right to the weaves, she kept going straight, took the triple jump and went to the barsetter in the corner. I was able to get her back and we got the weaves done successfully, and the rest of the run was fantastic up until the teeter...she got halfway on the teeter and then jumped off, turned around, and went back to visit the barsetter (same one she visited earlier in the run). She came back immediately and finished STRONG, and that ending was a toughie! Just when I feel like giving up, Pizza came out in Excellent FAST and NAILED her run - did exactly what I wanted, nailed the send, and ended with 64 points in a whopping 18 1/2 seconds! I credit her Q to the fact that she was really running off from me, but it worked out she went in the direction of the send and basically took the first two obstacles herself. Oh well, don't look a gift horse in the mouth!

   ★ Dolphin: Poor Dolphin had a zero day. In Jumpers, he had a great (albeit slow) run going, and 2/3's of the way in the course he suddenly stopped and started staring off to the crowd. It looked like he was staring at the judge, but I kind of think he either saw or caught a whiff of Mark, who was standing on the sidelines videoing. I finally got him to go on and he finished the run clean, but his stop made him over time, so NQ. Standard was a bummer - I got ahead of him while going to the weaves and he popped out. I always have to be behind him when approaching the weaves for some reason...ugh. The rest of the run was really good, and clean, but NQ. FAST went as expected - he didn't get the send because he just doesn't have great distance skills yet, and that line was so darn far from the first jump. Oh well...

In watching my videos at home, I see so much brilliance in Pizza. She is by far my most talented dog, but I can't get her past this visiting of the barsetters, which I KNOW is caused by stress. I think I will take some time off with her, and work at home and in classes and see if I can get her more confident in herself and in me. She is entered with Dolphin in a trial in Florida next month while we are on vacation, but other than that I think I will take a break with her. Time to regroup.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022
   Pizza's Redemption   

It was a typical crazy busy Wednesday, but a darn successful one! Dolphin was awesome in his agility training group. Pizza did great in her class. At one point I had someone sit in the corner, and she did blast out of the tunnel straight to the person...I had the person scold her "No!", and interestingly she came back and finished without another visit. I wonder if this is the key - having the people in the ring tell her NO rather than just trying to ignore her. It's a thought...

After class I took Pizza field training with a friend of mine. She was on fire! She had a beautiful point (and for once it wasn't right on top of the bird), and actually had a near-perfect retrieve...BIG score for us! Her honoring was spectacular as usual, but I did notice after she laready had an honor in, and had worked her bird, the second honor she didn't want to stay put. Can't blame her, but I do need to work on that in case we have the unthinkable - more than one honor in a test. It was SO much fun running her in the field. Man she is beautiful...

Dolphin's scent work class in the evening went well. I am looking forward to running him in his second ever scent work trial in a week and a half. He is half in novice, and half in advanced.

Pizza Honoring in the Field

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Friday, September 9, 2022
   Cincinnati Weim Specialty - Xenia, OH   

Dolphin and I went to the Cincinnati Weimaraner Specialty show in Xenia, OH today. He was the only male special entered, so his Best of Opposite award was pretty much a given. He showed decently, although he was a little low-energy (it was hot, crowded, and he sensed my lack of enthusiasm!). He is such a good boy, even when he would rather be somewhere else, he still behaves and keeps up a good attitude. I love that about him.

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Saturday, September 10, 2022
   Evening Field Training   

I got a chance to do some field training in the evening with my regular field trainer. It was a great session!

I worked on a blind retrieve with Noodle. I have a lot of work to do getting her to follow my directions (i.e. right and left and forward) when sending her to a retrieve she did not see. I guess I just assumed she would follow my hand signals and "go go go" like she does in agility, but for some reason the information wasn't computing. We did a little honoring and she did find a nice walking bird to point. All in all a good training session.

Pizza and I worked on having her honor through a long retrieve, which she did well. There was a rainstorm rolling in, and the scenting conditions were weird, so she struggled pinpointing the location of the bird she pointed (at one point she was actually pointing and facing the wrong direction!).

We had two birds out for Dolphin. The first one he pointed, then hopped a few inches, which I corrected and he then held beautifully. The second bird was solid, he had the most gorgeous point I have seen and as I was handing my phone off to have someone take a photo, he broke...I corrected and put him back on point, and then he held well...and handled the correction like a big boy. He is growing up! Great session for him, as I feel he is slowly becoming more and more solid. OK, maybe solid is too generous of a word just yet, but I see glimpses of him thinking and holding off his impulse to jump. We will get there!

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Sunday, September 11, 2022
  Xenia all-breed show   

Today was Pizza's turn to show. She showed "ok", but got nothing other than owner handled best of breed. Standing still and focusing is still an issue for her...sounds familiar doesn't it? Focus is a big problem in agility also. Strange that she can be so focused in the field, and nowhere else. I think this will be a priority for me to work on with her for the next 3 months.

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Monday, September 12, 2022
  HD Training   

Dolphin and I did some HD (Handler Discrimination) Scent Work training tonight at a friend's place. He struggled a bit in Novice with the distraction odor (someone else's sock). We practiced some Advanced in hopes that we get our last novice HD Q this weekend...Advanced uses a cotton ball of my scent and it is hidden in an interior room. That one was tough! Especially tough since Dolphin constantly tries to eat the cotton ball (he ate TWO tonight!). We have a scent work trial this weekend, so I am hoping to finish up his last remaining novice titles...but it might be more difficult than I had thought.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022
  Perfect day for field training!   

It was an abnormally cool morning - it was in the 50's when I left the house around 9am to go field training. Nice wind, perfect conditions for the field! All the dogs struggled with something and it was a great opportunity to train through the issues, which is what I was hoping for.

Noodle was pretty good, but her honoring kind of stunk the first few times - she definitely tried to avoid it the second time and I had to get after her. Third time was better...I swear it is two steps forward, one step back each day. We are making progress, but veeeery slowly. Pizza was braced with a super high-energy field trial dog, and it was a perfect chance to train her to control her excitement with an overly-excited bracemate. I did have to get after her once, and after that she was great. The cover was super tall, over the dogs' heads in most places, and I noticed she was honoring the people standing still rather than the dog. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt since I don't think she could clearly see the dog from her vantage. Dolphin did great on his first two birds, but the third bird was difficult for me to find since it had buried itself in the cover, and he did jump...didn't get a hold of it but I had to set him back down and make him stand, After that, I walked him off and back to the van...our plan is that when he jumps he gets put away and the fun ends. Slow but steady is going to make him an awesome and enthusiastic bird dog, and I am staying the course! He had a lot of "drama" today in his pointing, I think the wind made the scent stringer and he got more excited. Love it!

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Friday, September 16, 2022
   Agility trial...again   

Today I took just Noodle and Dolphin to an agility trial in a new place, one about a half hour from my house. We only had Jumpers and Standard today. Jumpers was awesome, but we had a few mistakes. Dolphin was super fast and running realy great until towards the end he got overly excited and jumped up at my arm instead of the jump, so we had a refusal, and then a bar down. This is something he tends to do a lot when he is excited, but I love the enthusiasm so I will take it!

Noodle had a WONDERFUL jumpers run going, possibly the fastest I have seen her run in years, and I had to throw in a last-minute rear cross because she was ahead of me...and I timed it wrong and pulled her off the jump for a refusal. SO mad at myself!

Master Standard went a lot better. Dolphin laid down a nice, clean, controlled run for a Q (although his weaves were pretty slow for some reason). Noodle also laid down a nice controlled Q, and Dolphin beat her time by about a half a second. This makes Dolphin's 6th Master Standard Q and Noodle's 22nd. Overall a good day!

I was suspicious all day, and when I got home later that evening I confirmed it - Noodle is coming in season. Normally I would be annoyed, but I am so happy because this means she will be all done for the hunt tests in October...YAY!

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Saturday, September 17, 2022
   Scent Work trial in Lancaster, OH   

Dolphin and I have something different sceduled this weekend - a scent work trial! I haven't done one of these since last April, but we have been consistently training every Wednesday night. Dolphin was wonderful! Here are his results for today:
   • Novice Handler Discrimination: One Q out of 2, to finish his SDHN title!
   • Novice Containers: Two for two Q's, to finish his SCN title!
   • Novice Exterior: One Q out of 2...stull struggling with the distractions outside. We need one more Q to finish up the rest of his Novice titles
   • Advanced Buried: 2 for 2 Q's! Our first Advanced Q!
   • Advanced Interior: One Q out of 2...it was a tough one!

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Sunday, September 18, 2022
   Scent Work trial in Lancaster, OH - Day #2   

Today was the second day of the scent work trial. Dolphin went 9 out of 10 in his searches today, and earned 4 new titles!
   • Handler Discrimination Advanced: 2 for 2 (and he didn't eat the cotton ball...yay!)
   • Containers Advanced: 2 for 2 again!
   • Buried Advanced: 1 for 2 (it was our only mistake of the day) and this finished his title (SBA)
   • Interior Advanced: 2 for 2 to finish our SIA title!
   • Exteriors Novice: We only needed one more Q to finish out our Novice titles, and he got 2 for 2, finishing his SEN title and his overall novice SWN title

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022
   Training at sunset   

Pizza and I did some field training in the morning, she was a little scattered, and although she honored really well she got a bit lazy about staying put. Just goes to show - never take things for granted! Her retrieve went to pot again, and this is frustrating because I thought I had the issue licked this summer. Once again...never assume. My mantra should be "never think positively".

In the evening, Dolphin and I went to train scent work with some friends outside of the local school nearby. He did really well, he searched with intensity and was pretty accurate in his finds. That was nice to see, and a confidence-booster before our next scent work trial in a week and a half. oops, there I go thinking positive again! Stop it!.

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Friday, September 23, 2022
   A little smidge of progress all around   

I took Dolphin and Pizza to do some field training with a friend at her trainer's place. Pizza did a great job - nice solid point and good honor (after her first honor where she wanted to duck out and leave after a bit...ugh!). Even Dolphin got to train - we had birds in launchers and he went on point and actually held fairly nicely with just a little hop forward. The best thing was that he actually did an honor all on his own, and that was huge! Dare I say we are actually making inches of progress? Yes, I will say it...looking back to last spring I thing we have made improvements. It's so easy to forget where we were at one time.

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Saturday, September 24, 2022
   Agility trial in Dayton, Ohio   

My training partner and I took our dogs to Dayton for an agility trial. It was such a fun day! Dolphin ran wonderfully. Master Jumpers was a bit messy - he missed a jump and then back jumped it, and then knocked down a jump and a wing on a sharp turn after the weaves. BUTTTT....he ran GREAT! Nice fast weaves, great speed over the jumps, it was a blast!

Master Standard went great - although he did walk off his stopped contact on the A-frame, I was able to save my botched front cross and we finished with a nice Q and a good amount of MACH points. I was really happy with his run, he stayed focused and fast...perfect combination. I can't seem to get a jumpers Q to save my life, but we now have 7 Master Standard Q's. A work in progress...

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Sunday, September 25, 2022
   GCWC Field Fun Day   

I took the whole crew to Dayton today for our Weimaraner club's field fun/training day. It was a great opportunity for the girls as we had a club member gun for us, and although Noodle was in season she was still able to come train.

Noodle did great, but we had a few weird things happen that we had to train through (and that is PERFECT for a training day!). Lots of wild flushes (she stopped on every one), several missed birds she had to heel away from, and a wild flush on the way to a retrieve - she stopped, and I had to walk up to heel her off and go away from the flushed bird and the retrieve...great training moment. The bestest thing was she did a perfect honor all on her own on her bracemate...I hesitate to get too excited but just maybe we have made progress this summer?

Pizza did well - had a nice honor and stayed put, had an OK retrieve...not great, but much better than earlier this week (probably because the temperatures were about 20 degrees cooler). I opted to not let Dolphin run, because by the time it was his turn there were tons of loose birds out in the field, and the last thing I want him to do is grab one and undo all the training I have been working so hard at all year. I need a very controlled environment for him still, we are taking it slow and steady. But man...what a fun day!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2022
  Hurricane Ian   

Today changes everything. Today, we sat in Ohio and helplessly watched the Weather Channel as category 4 Hurricane Ian hit Florida, and hit Goodland pretty hard. In the blink of an eye (get it? Eye of the hurricane...) our Florida trip was cancelled. We were supposed to leave this Sunday. Now the future of our house and property is uncertain.

Photos taken after the water started receding

Aside from watching the hurricane on the news, I did have a pretty good agility training session with Dolphin in the morning. In the afternoon I took Pizza and Dolphin to do some field work. Pizza was outstanding, had a great retrieve, and some beautiful honors. I put one bird in a launcher for Dolphin, he went on point, and after a few seconds as I was approaching he broke. We launched the bird, and he was put away. One and done, sir! He will learn from this as we repeat this lesson over and over.

In Scent Work class this evening, a tennis ball was set in the search area as a distraction. Dolphin lost his MIND! He loves those darn things. He would not search, just kept going back to the tennis ball. We put the tennis ball away in another room and he still obsessed over it. This boy has some serious obsessive-compulsive tendencies!

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Friday, September 30, 2022
   GCWC Scent Work Trial day #1  

Today was the first day of my Weimaraner club's scent work trial. Dolphin was on fire! He qualified in 6 out of 8 Advanced searches, finishing his Advanced Container title. I was so proud of how hard he worked! Plus he is just such a joy to travel with. I call him "uncomplicated" and for the most part, that is what he is. The only complicated part about him is learning how he learns and what motivates him so I can train him.

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