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Archive for March, 2014

This weekend the Labrador (who turned 3 this month) earned her Rally Excellent title!

This weekend we traveled to a huge 6 day Cluster show! We only competed for two of those days, but the main point was to expose both the Labrador and me to something close to what we’ll be facing at the RNC. Normally we compete only locally at two ring trials of just obedience and rally. This Cluster had 15 rings all going at once! Confirmation, Obedience and Rally were going on all around us. Grooming was happening inside the same building near the rings and I had no idea how loud those dryers got! It was more commotion and noise, dogs and people than we’d ever had to deal with before.

Our main goals for this were:

  1. Expose ourselves to the crazy atmosphere
  2. Try a new feeding schedule for competing
  3. See how we handled competing twice in one day

I have to say I think I was more affected by the noise, commotion and stress than she was. I was more nervous than I’d been before. Though I’m always nervous I’ve never gotten quite so dry mouthed before. We arrived the day before and set up our crate, and since some confirmation judging was still going on as well as grooming and such we went into the building and played a little, letting us both adjust to the noise while we heeled and practiced a few Rally maneuvers.

The Labrador got her breakfast on Friday as normal, but then Friday night only got half rations. We’ve had issues with her eliminating in the ring and wanted to prevent this while making sure she still had the energy to get through the day. Saturday morning we arrived at the show grounds early and went for a walk, making sure she got all her morning business done well before we had to be in the ring! We showed Saturday morning, qualifying with a 97! It should have been a 100, but I had this minor moment of forgetting left and right and had to redo a sign!

After everyone was done (friends were also competing), I got a light lunch and we went back to our room to rest. We headed back to the show grounds around 4:00 expecting the next trial to begin around 4:00 or 5:00. It was scheduled to begin a half hour after the end of the previous show, but other issues caused it to be delayed even longer and we didn’t finish with our class until 11:30 pm! We qualified with a 77, which while not great, I’m satisfied with based on how long the day was, the strange environment and being so late! While the trial still had two more classes to go, we left and went back to our room where the Labrador again got half rations (and then fell asleep even before I was in bed!). I’m also pleased because the last time we tried to show twice in one day it didn’t go well. The second time in the ring the Labrador left me, said hi to the judges, and ring stewards and nothing I did could reclaim her attention. We were excused, and I wondered if perhaps showing twice in one day was going to be too much for her. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps it was maturity, or training or just that day she wanted to make new friends. But now I know we can como

The next morning we didn’t go over quite as early, but still gave ourselves plenty of time before our earliest possible start time. A nice walk made sure the call of nature was answered, and a wonderfully organized club not only had the Rally course set up early, but the efficient and friendly judge got us done earlier than Saturday. Again we qualified, this time with a 85! It should have been a 95, but I screwed up a sign and decided not to retry it. I think we were both a bit worn out and frazzled and I wasn’t sure I’d get her attention back enough to complete it properly (it was the last sign!).

Our biggest concerns were eliminating in the ring (we have a plan!), handing the leash to the stewart (no problems!) and though we’d trained I still dreaded getting an offset figure eight. We didn’t have a single one! I still am expecting one for the RNC. And our Sit/Stay was excellent.

We had a few attention issues that we need to work on, though I suspect there are due more to my nerves than anything. While warming up I tried a combination of having treats on me (security blanket) and not having treats on me. It made very little difference outside the ring. She was awesome! But the moment we’d approach the ring, I would tense. My throat got dry. I’m certain the way I said sit outside the ring verse how I said it inside was different. I need to work on this.

All in all it was a great weekend!

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This week was Spring Break! That means things like Monday was 66 degrees and Wednesday didn’t get above 28. Today was 65, and by Monday they are calling for snow. Spring also means mud.wpid-isight-2014-03-15-21-161.png

Would you believe that’s the Golden? He really, really enjoyed his mud bath….. His water bath after….not so much:

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See? He’s NOT amused!

With the RNC coming up I took this week off to train. And we trained just about every day. Mostly outside. Looking back on the week I have a few ideas for next time. First, I think I need to spend as much time thinking about my training as actual training. I need a better plan. I need to consider how we’re doing and what we need to work on. A list would be helpful. In relationship to that, I need to be keeping better notes. In the beginning I was posting here every week, and I was keeping notes at the end of every day. I’ve started to slack off. I’ve waited several days and then tried to make notes on how training went, or events that happened and find that my memory just isn’t that good any more!

All that said, it’s been a fun week. We trained with friends. The Labrador and I worked on heeling around distractions, including toys and food bowls with the expectation that there will be a food bowl at the National. We’ve worked on the broad jump. We’ve worked our ring entrance, and handing off the leash to the stewart without the Labrador going over to say hi. We’ve worked on retrieving bumpers for fun. We’ve even played some agility.

The Golden is working on sit to greet, stand for exam, and heeling. He finished his Foundation Skills for Agility by winning the “Get Out” competition! (Upholding the family honor as the Labrador did the same thing when she took the class.) He’s started jumping, and rocks his tunnels! We’re working crosses, and I’m getting better with my footwork on front crosses, hoping that will translate over to running the Labrador as well, though she didn’t often give me chances to do front crosses! She’s a rear cross type of runner (in other words, mom’s just too damn slow to keep up!). We’ve started working on 2 on 2 off contacts, and these are things I need to put on that list I mentioned above. A list to keep with me to remind me when I’m out at the park that these are the things to work on!

The RNC is coming fast. And I have trail this coming weekend — a good chance to try out some of the things I plan to do at the RNC. So goals this week are to keep training. To work on focus, and attention. I need to read the rules at least one more time and study the signs. We need to practice our downs while heeling, and stands while heeling. We will keep working on our fronts, and of course, keep working on our heeling!

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