"If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success."
Sometimes the easiest path delivers you to the smallest successes. The big successes, the big goals, those are usually at the end of a long, twisty, bumpy, hilly, badly-paved road. You have to be willing to drive the long, uncomfortable drive. I have to remind myself often that the journey is long and hard, but the rewards can be AWESOME! Welcome the bumps, because those are what make you smarter and stronger. Bring 'em on, I've got great shocks!
Welcome to 2023, smack this year down and take control! And welcome to the 19th year of my Training Diary!. 19 years, holy cow! 19 years of writing down my training ups and downs, long before blogging was even thought of.
Today I started off by sleeping in with Noodle ( she stayed in bed even after I finally did get up, lazy slug!). It was a gloomy, cloudy, all-around-ugly day, but the rain had stopped so I decided to start a new trend/tradition. I loaded Dolphin up in the Jeep and headed to the bike path for a walk. It was so nice! He was so happy, wandering back and forth on the path just sniffing and checking out the sights. You know, I think this is really what my life is lacking - just casual, relaxed one-0on-one time with my dogs without any training agenda. Dolphin and I walked 2.49 miles. I think I will set a new goal for this year - walk a total of 250 miles with my dogs, one on one, just casual fun walks. I am going to try to do a couple walks every week (weather permitting) and take turns with each dog.
That being said, I think it is time to sit down and outline my 2023 short term and long term goals. I confess, I pulled all of my horse goals out of the list. The past year has been the most depressing, de-motivating year for my horse goals. I guess if I manage to accomplish anything at all, that would be huge. My horse goals for 2022 were all a big failure. Instead, I will wait and see what 2023 holds for me. I have so much working against me with my horse show life right now. Cadence is now 5, but still with very little show experience under her belt. I feel like everyone else on earth has kind of given up on me and written us off as a team. I want to rail against that thought... but I also want to protect myself. OK disclaimer over, here go the 2023 goals:
SHORT TERM GOALS
1. Compete at Rally National Championships with Noodle successfully
2. Earn Noodle's Rally Excellent title
3. Earn Pizza's Master Hunter Advanced title
4. Earn Dolphin's Senior Hunter title
5. Earn Dolphin's MX and MXJ (agility) titles
6. Earn 6 more double Q's with Noodle to finish out her 20 double Q requirement
7. Earn Pizza's AX and AXJ (agility) titles
8. Finish Dolphin's complete Advanced Scent Work titles
9. Get a field trial (gun dog) placement with Noodle or Pizza
10. Earn Noodle's MJB (Master Jumpers Bronze) title
11. Earn at least one double Q with Dolphin
12. Earn Noodle's MH20 (Master Hunter 20th pass)
13. Walk 250 dedicated dog walk miles this year with my dogs
LONG TERM GOALS
1. Earn a MACH
2. Earn Pizza's Grand Champion Bronze
3. Earn Dolphin's Master Hunter
4. Earn Noodle's MXS or MJS titles (agility)
5. Breed Pizza and raise a healthy, awesome litter
6. Earn an MVW (Most Versatile Weimaraner) award at a national specialty
7. Earn a high score/high in trial at the national specialty
8. Qualify a dog for either AKC National Agility Championships or the AKC Agility Invitational
Now a tradition has it, I have written these here and nowhere else, and I never look at these goals again until December 31st. It's one of my favorite parts of New Year's Eve - revisiting that goal list I made a year ago and seeing what happened. So bring it on, 2023, I am ready (I think!).
The rain stopped again, so I was able to take Noodle and Dolphin out to my friend's place for some field training. Noodle got to point two birds, stand steady during the flush and shot, and send to the retrieve, and the second bird she also stood steady through the missed shot. She was a bit wired, but definitely more in control than she had been the last few times I have worked her.
We put birds in launchers for Dolphin. He worked 4 birds in launchers and one bird that was loose (from a previous launch). It was a very good training session - he was super intense on his point, and when he couldn't stand it anymore and broke forward, I launched the bird. I would like to note that each time he did hop forward, he was able to be stopped by my verbal "whoa" as I launched the bird. The last bird was perfect - steady as a rock! The last bird he also pointed from a good 5 feet away. This was much better than the other birds, which a few he pointed really close. I feel like there is progress. I know it's not a lot of progress, but we are taking steps forward. I can't keep looking backwards at how much time I have spent training and making only baby steps of progress - it will take what it will take to get him trained. I know that when he is trained, he is going to be outstanding! So we will keep trudging forward...
Let me start by saying Dolphin was amazing in agility class today! We have a new instructor starting today, and she had some great insight into helping Dolphin be more accurate in regards to knocking bars and uprights. I know that getting after him for knocking will only de-motivate him and that's the last thing I want. She suggested that I stop immediately when he knocks a bar and say nothing, just walk over and put it back up, stopping the "fun" and then restarting. Another thing she said was that every "tick" (when you hear him tick the bar but it doesn't fall) was just a knocked bar that I got lucky. So I need to stop him on his ticks also. It's hard to tell sometimes, so an idea is to set up a practice jump in my office with some bells attached, so that when he does touch the bar or the upright I can hear it and he doesn't get rewarded for that. Brilliant! Going to have to shop for some bells now, hopefully the after Christmas sales of decorations are still going on.
After class, I took Noodle and Dolphin to go do some field training with my friend. Noodle had a good educational day. Her first bird she hopped on the flush and I was able to correct her quickly. After that, she found 3 or 4 more birds and was rock solid on them like the normal Noodle. We had one OK honor, and one really good honor.
Dolphin, oh Dolphin. Every single flipping bird he pointed, and after a little bit he could not control himself and jumped in on it. Luckily he wasn't able to actually catch any of them. We did the first set of birds in the tip up cages, and the last set we planted loose and didn't dizzy them very much. I worked him on a check cord, and when he jumped in on the birds they did fly away, which was good. I was a little bummed (OK, a LOT bummed) that even with all of these birds worked I wasn't able to get one clean one with him. So frustrating, he is so up and down in his training. I am sure this is normal, but man, I don't remember this happening with the girls. OK, Noodle, maybe. I was so spoiled with Pizza and how quickly she became solid. I drove home wondering if I will ever get him broke. Maybe it will never happen? I mean, it's been over a year now we have been working on steadying...longer if you count the work I did to get him ready for junior (we still tried to steady him even then). Am I just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere, or has progress actually been made? We will train again next week and see, I guess.
Today was a pretty good day, and a "meh" kind of day, but overall it was a fun day at the agility trial!
The morning started off with FAST. Dolphin was first. The send bonus was tunnel, wrap back in to tunnel, then straight out to the jump. Dolphin was perfe3ct in everything...EXCEPT he knocked the bar in the Send. Ugh, the only bar that could NQ us and he managed to hit it. Noodle was nice and clean (though I saw a brief moment where the devil on her shoulder tried to speak loudly, but she resisted!) and had a really nice Master FAST Q.
Next was jumpers, and it was a really twisty course with lots and lots of odd angles to the jumps...exactly what Dolphin has trouble with. Wouldn't you know it - that boy went out and nailed that course for a nice Q and 3rd place! Jumpers Q's are so rare for us, this was a special treat. Not to be outdone, Noodle went out and nailed a nice, careful, clean run for a Q, that finished her Master Bronze Jumpers (MJB) title! Nice way to start off 2023!
Both dogs had a double Q on the line going in to standard, and both blew it. Dolphin knocked two bars and walked off his A-Frame, so I did a fix N go, reset one of the bars, and redid that jump and A-frame and finished strong. Noodle started off clean, but coming out of the tunnel she caught sight of one of the bar setters that just so happens to be someone that she sees at hunt tests and training a lot, and drifted past the jump to earn a refusal. UGH. She was really distracted at the start and I was afraid the devil Noodle was going to speak loudly on this run, but she got her head together and finished strong.
Dolphin needs one more Standard Q for his MX (Master Standard) title. We have been trying to get that for several months. Maybe it will happen tomorrow? Maybe next month? Who knows!
It was a very good day at the agility trial today! We started the morning off with Jumpers (ugh...hate starting with Jumpers!!!). Dolphin went first and laid down a REALLY nice run...say what??? Another Jumpers Q! Noodle had an uncharacteristic mistake and she went into an off-course tunnel. So odd for the girl who HATES tunnels. She took the pressure off herself with no double Q on the line anymore.
Next was Time 2 Beat. Dolphin went in the wrong end of the tunnel, but was otherwise clean. Sadly, that was an NQ. I got to run my friend's border collie Tigger and we had a beautiful smokin' Q! At the last minute I realized that I had entered Noodle in Time 2 Beat...I did it by accident...oops! I didn't mean to enter her, but went ahead and ran it and had a really nice Q. I may have to start running her in this class more often.
Last was Standard, and Dolphin not only had a double Q on the line, but he also had his Master Excellent Agility title on the line. My awesome puppy nailed the course and sashed both goals! Our first DOUBLE QQ! We are officially on the road towards a MACH!
Not to be outdone, Noodle went out and nailed the standard course for a nice Q. Both dogs had a good amount of MACH points added to their record. What a great day, and SO needed. It has been quite a long time (like 3-4 months) since I have had a really successful agility trial with Dolphin. Keep on working, we are making big progress!
What a great day of field training! Today was Dolphin and Pizza's turn. We had launchers, and put two birds in launchers to start for Dolphin. The first bird he went on point, and then started to creep up on it and we launched the bird, and he stood through the flush. Second bird was really good! He was pretty steady on it. After that, I put him up for a bit while we worked other dogs, and then got him out again later. We put two more birds down in launchers. He was pretty good on the first bird. After that one, he was out hunting and found a loose bird, which he pointed...but it was half dead and he ended up going on point with it literally right underneath his nose. He did stand there pretty good for a few moments, but as I approached, the excitement and temptation was too much and he picked it up. I wasn't too upset with him as it was a really hard situation and he did try to be good...TRIED! The last bird was a GREAT training bird. He went on point and was solid as a rock. I waited a bit, and then launched the bird and it only went about 10-15 feet and dropped right in the path and started walking. He saw it, but held steady, and I was able to collar him off the bird and go on. BIG improvement on his self-control! ON that bird we decided to quit on a high note.
I first worked Pizza by herself, on two loose birds. She was about as perfect as I could ever want - he had beautiful big range, hunted hard, and had some really nice solid points. Steady as a rock, she didn't move an inch when I flushed them and blanked them. Can't ask for anything more, for sure!
Next we worked Pizza with Josh. This was SO awesome, because Josh is her sire! I have loved this dog since I met him as a puppy, and Pizza was the result of two dogs I have loved (Josh and Ella). It was so cool to see them hunt together. Pizza came on the first bird, and had a nice point right in the pathway. Josh stopped and honored from a really nice distance. Once again, Pizza was solid as a rock. After I worked that bird, we went on hunting, and eventually Josh went on point on the next bird. Pizza saw him through one of the paths cut in the cover, and did a really nice honor. Honor thy father! Love it...it was a great moment for me.
Pizza got another chance to work with my friend's young dog, and they both hunted really well together. I couldn't believe it was almost 5pm and the sun was starting to set, where did the day go? Pizza was exhausted by this point, so we called it a day...a very good day!
Agility classes for the girls this morning was a success, both Noodle and Pizza did great! Pizza did a great job of ignoring the bar setter in the corner. I have a smidge of hope. She hasn't trialed for about 4+ months, and our first trial back will be in Florida the weekend after next. I am anxious to see if there is any change, but I just have this sinking feeling that at the trial she will be running to bar setters again. I guess we shall see
This afternoon I took Noodle to field train with my friend nearby. I did have to correct her when she hopped forward after I flushed the bird (to her defense - the bird was shot and landed in the path and started walking...what a temptation!). It was a good correction, she needs to be reminded that she has to stay put until I send her for the retrieve. On the plus side, we had two really nice honors, and that is something I am always working on with her so it was nice to see. We (Noodle, Pizza, and I) are headed to a field trial at the end of the month...*gulp!* I am excited...nervous...but excited. But FIRST...I head to Florida tomorrow!
This wasn't our usual Florida trip. It was more like a working vacation, as we had to deal with the house that was flooded and wrecked by Hurricane Ian last September. The amount of work was overwhelming, I feel like we barely made a dent in it. To top it off, Florida was COLD when we arrived - in the 50's during the day and down into the high 30's at night!
After working several days, we finally braved the cold to take the boat out on Monday. It was a little weird to be walking the beach in leggings and a long-sleeved shirt, but either way it was still heaven! The temperatures finally started warming up, of course it reached a nice 80 degrees on the day we left. It was still a good week - lots of walks around the island, the dogs had a blast running on the beach, and we found a new area (called Olivia Pass) with lots and lots of sand, shallow water, and no people. Bonus!
Here is a smattering of photos from the week: Click on any photo to enlarge
On our way home, we stopped at an agility trial in Punta Gorda, Florida. This was Pizza's first trial back since early September. I had somewhat high hopes. Well, the weekend went completely Q-less for both dogs, and it was disappointing to say the least. Of course Pizza waited until the very last run to really pull it together and almost Q, to give me hope for the future! Here is the breakdown of my runs:
PIZZA - Saturday Jumpers - she got the first 6 jumps beautifully then ran to visit a barsetter. Blew last the weaves several times (I finally gave up), and then went on to visit 2 more times. Saturday FAST - visited, ran behind the tunnel in the send and visited the judge. Saturday Standard - Started off jump-dogwalk, then ran to visit. Went on, the visited judge, and then ran to the gate when she saw Mark videoing. I walked her out. Sunday T2B - I did a 2 jump leadout and it was pretty! After she missed a jump, she took off to visit. Got the weaves on the 2nd try and was doing OK and we ran out of time. Sunday Standard - Another pretty 2 jump lead out, started off great, but ran past the weaves. Got them done on the 3rd try, and was doing great until she saw Mark again and ran to him. Came back and finished OK. Sunday Jumpers - I did a 2-3 jump lead out, and this was by far our best run - NO visiting! However it took 3 tries to finish the weaves, but she got it done. This run gave me a shred of hope again. See video below.
DOLPHIN - Saturday Jumpers - Perfect accurate run but knocked THREE bars. Ugh. Saturday FAST - For some weird reason he leaped off the teeter in the SEND. I re-dit it to correct him. Saturday Standard - He didn't knock any bars! However he entered the weaves at the 2nd pole, and did get a refusal on the tunnel because he stopped at the entrance to check out the little number markers. Sunday T2B - He knocked 2 bars, went into the weaves at the 2nd pole, I did a fix n go to work the approach to the weaves and he got it. After the 2nd knocked bar he was so wild I just walked him out. Sunday Standard - He once again went into the weaves at the second pole, and missed a jump, but kept the bars up! Sunday Jumpers - He missed his weaves twice, knocked 3 bars, it was a total mess.
It was a frustrating weekend. Both dogs had great enthusiasm and plenty of speed, but Pizza's visiting and Dolphin's knocked bars, and both dogs' weaves were the issues all weekend. Not a great way to end an already stressful trip, but we will keep plugging on and see if we can work through these problems and get better.