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Archive for the ‘trial/show’ Category

What a difference! In March while the Friday started out with 2 Q’s, the rest of the weekend we couldn’t buy a Q to save our souls. The Labrador was distracted. We were not connected and she wanted to visit everyone instead of stay on the course. I left the ring and said, “Did you see my untrained dog in there?”

So, we knew we had a few issues to work on. In lessons our instructor kept a crate next to her. If the Labrador left me to visit, she got put in the crate. Cheese lady was no longer fun! During practices, we asked friends to ring crew and do the same thing. If she visited, just take her and put her in her crate.

During the April trial I had two goals. The first was if she left me to visit, she got one “here.” If she did not respond, she got taken off the course and put in her crate. The other was contacts. If she blew a contact, I was going to pull her back and train it. In April we only had 2 Q’s all weekend, BUT I pulled her off the course when she went to visit, and I trained the contact when she broke it.

Which leads us to this weekend. 8/12 Qs! Four new titles! Only one almost visit, where she came back on the first “here!” NO missed contacts, and only one early release on her start line stay!

This was a Games Trial and we started off Saturday with Touch N Go. It was not pretty. We weren’t connected at all. Definitely an NQ, but the next run I left thinking we’d rocked it! She nailed the discrimination, hit all her contacts and I was so proud of her, but I spent too much time praising her perfect contacts and we missed the Q by 5.84 seconds. But I was happy with that, and I think in the long run it’s going to pay off on contacts. Then we did Weavers. The first run was fantastic! The second run….well I should have taken her for a longer walk before hand. She did the first three obstacles like a rockstar, then popped out of her weaves and gave me that “I’m so sorry mom, but I have to poop” look. Shit happens 😉

Then we ran two Open Tunnelers! I forgot I was in Open and almost missed the walk through! Luckily each day a friend reminded me we’d moved up and I ran in! She rocked the tunnels!

Sunday as if to redeem those 5.84 seconds from yesterday we nailed the first Touch N Go course by 4.73 seconds! Close, but we made it with a fantastic discrimination (awesome “here walk it” for a dog who LOVES tunnels!), and beautiful contacts! Second one we were even faster making course time by 10.96 seconds! The first weavers didn’t go so well. I didn’t realize how awkward an entrance it was from the tunnel to the weaves, and we didn’t Q that time, but the second Weavers she was beautiful. And then of course we had our two tunnelers. When I started this journey I swore I’d never be able to get a front cross in on the Labrador because she is so fast, but this weekend on several occasions because of the distance work we’ve been practicing I managed to several times! It was most obvious on the tunnelers where I was able to send her out and around loops without me having to run along side her for each tunnel and then at the end – the final stretch of tunnels where I was over a tunnel length ahead of her, looking back teasing her that, “I”m gonna beat you! Come on! Faster!!”

At the end of the day, I realized we’d earned our Novice Weavers, Novice Touch N Go, and first Open level title — Open Tunnelers! What I only realized moments before writing this is she also earned her OUTSTANDING Open Tunnelers!

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I learned a hard lesson this past weekend at a NADAC trial. I thought the Labrador was done with visiting folks. I thought we’d over come that, but it was cropping up more and more in practice. She would bounce over to visit the instructor and I’d call her, usually more than once. She always came back to me, but not always on the first call. And I let this continue. I’m sure you see where this is going.

In practice if she blew a contact I made her go back. We train two on two off. In the trial setting as long as she got one paw in the contact zone I didn’t care. We kept going. We were qualifying! It was new and exciting! We earned titles! And then there was this last trial.

Friday we entered two classes — Touch N Go and Open Tunnelers. We rocked. We were together and a team and she ran a fantastic 5.85 yards per second! Nothing could stop us! Two first place Q’s!

And then Saturday things started to fall apart. We started the day with a beautiful Chances run. She got the distance. We were flowing and graceful and then she leapt off the dog walk. The photographer even got a wonderful sequences of photos of this. Isn’t that the memory you just want to keep? Actually…just maybe it is.

Our next few courses were all over the place. Some almost good, but not good enough. Our teamwork was off. Something wasn’t clicking.

Then Sunday it all fell apart. Or at least that’s how it felt. Our Regular run I felt like I had an untrained dog. She was all over the place. She went to say hi to the photographer. She ignored my recall. She acted like she had no idea what contacts were. And lucky for me I have wonderful friends. It was all my fault. As the judge said in the briefing, “Everything out there that happens right is your dog. Everything that goes wrong, is your fault.”

But instead of blame, they reminded me things that I’d been told before, but let slide. Things I’d ignored to my out detriment. The next course she left me. I called her. Once. She didn’t come so I walked over to and without a word took her by the scruff, signaling for my leash. I leashed her up, walked her to her crate and put her up without a word. Then I walked away.

The next course she stayed with me, but blew a contact. I called her back and put her back on the contact and then praised profusely. Then we finished the course. Not a Q, but second place and only a 10 point fault.

What I had trained — what I had allowed was exactly what I was getting. It was time to remember my criteria, hold the line and take my ego out of it. When I called her to come, she must come or the game ends. This isn’t just a because I say so, but it in the end is a safety issue. If there is someone across the street she wants to see, but a car is coming, she must return to me if I tell her to. A contact must be a two on two off. This is the criteria I have trained. This is the standard I must hold her to even if it means we NQ a few courses as I insist upon this. That is one thing I love about NADAC is the ability to train in the ring. So, take my ego which wants us to win NOW out of it, strengthen the criteria so that in the future she knows this is the way to play the game she loves, and how to keep playing.

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Up until recently we ran Tunnelers and Jumpers only at trials, but now the Labrador has her weaves down and her contacts are getting better.  So at the last trial we entered a few more classes, but we were limited on Saturday due to the fact we had another obligation in the morning that meant we didn’t arrive at the trial until late morning.  We now have two Regular Q’s, a Weaver’s Q, and five Tunnelers Q’s!

So now we are looking toward our next trial and trying to figure out what to enter since technically we are now eligible for everything!  First I need to consider the Labrador’s endurance – physically and mentally.  Is she up for six or seven runs in one day?  Laying around, to come out and run, to lay back down, to come out and run?  And honestly, I’m not sure.  At this last trial we ran three classes on Saturday, with only one Q (but two first places!).  The first class her mental focus wasn’t there, but the last two she was fantastic.  The jumpers run was gorgeous (only a no-Q due to a knocked bar), and her Tunnelers run we were 11 seconds under course time, which means at the end of the day she was not only focused, but still raring to go!

The next day we did five classes.  Our two Q’s that day were the second and fourth classes, with a 4th place in the middle.  No Q there due to faults.  Our Tunnelers time was still 8.18 seconds under time!  This leads me to believe she has the physical endurance.  Her mental focus was good, though I think she was little more distracted.  Now was that due to the longer day?  The weather?  Me?  I suppose one trial isn’t enough to judge.

My endurance on the other hand — let’s just say I think I’m going to take up jogging!  Mentally too it was a much longer day, but I enjoyed it.  I remembered the courses, stayed on track, and was still smiling by the end of the day.  Saturday I wasn’t feeling well, and didn’t eat during the trial.  Sunday I felt better, but didn’t eat.  I think if we up the number of classes, I definitely need to eat. The end of the trial crash due to not eating isn’t good.  So I will definitely try this next trial to calm the nerves and figure out something I can eat.

This next trial we are considering doing 6 classes each day.  That’s a big jump.  So the questions I’m asking myself are:

Is there a class I could skip?
Can running in all these hinder our training?  (For example what will it do if I run her in all six and she blows her contacts every time?)

I’m sure there are other questions to ask that I’m no thinking of at this time, but I have a little time to consider this, and so I will before I send in the entry.

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Not only have I been slacking keeping my handwritten journal updated, I’ve been slacking here! On April 27 the Labrador gave me a fantastic wedding day present. She earned her first NADAC title — TN-N!

I have a wonderful husband who didn’t complain at all about spending our 12 year wedding anniversary at an agility trial! He’s even now talking about getting his own agility dog sometime in the future when we are ready for another one.

How’s that for a great weekend?

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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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I just realized I didn’t do a puppy update on Sunday. I’ll try to make up for it this Sunday, but I had a good reason! This past weekend I was competing with the Labrador. We entered our first Novice Obedience class, and got a second on Saturday, and first on Sunday earning two legs of our CD!

We also NQ’d in Rally Advanced, so we still only have two legs for that. And it’s never what you think is going to get you! Friday night we arrived early for the Rally Trial. The rain on the way down was horrible, and I was very thankful my husband was driving! Rally Excellent ran first, but I got our map and started looking over it. It looked very straight forward, but I was concerned about the fact the jump looked like it was going to be the broad jump, and that there was an offset figure 8. We’ve had the offset figure eight for both legs we’ve Q’d for, but they make me nervous! The broad jump was being used in the Excellent class, and was sitting in the exact same place where it would sit for the Advanced, so I figured the judge had built nested courses, and it would stay where it was. I have not trained the broad jump as much as I should have. The Labrador will still step on boards. I was fairly certain we were going to loose 10 points right off the bat due to that.

I watched the Excellent runs, surprised by how many people NQ’d, and not really understanding why. Turned out it was a judge’s error, which wasn’t pointed out or realized until after placements were given, and some people left. She was NQing for jump refusal, but the rules now state it’s just an IP. Meanwhile someone else commented that the broad jump hadn’t been set correctly either! They removed the broad jump when it came time for Advance, and put the Bar jump in! I was ecstatic, commenting that I’d just gotten 10 points back, since I knew the Labrador would do the bar!

I also watched the first three Advanced runs. This is not something I normally do, but there were enough dogs going that I felt I could watch a few before warming up the Labrador. The first three people NQ’d. They each blew by the same sign. They just missed it. You had a right turn and then straight ahead was an about U turn, but between the turn and the U turn there was another sign. It was easy to miss. Watching them to do helped me make sure I didn’t!

Our turn came and in we went. She was doing well, forging a bit, but siting when asked, downing and heeling in the general area. We were at the last two signs and I knew something was wrong. We finished our 360 to the left, and she stepped away and squatted! Oh no! I grabbed her collar and we raced from the ring! One sign to go, and she had to go! Up until that point we had a 95, and first place. Next show we’ll get it and we’ll make sure to have a nice potty break before going in the ring! Bad handler!!

Two interesting things about this Rally Trial — the signs weren’t on the ground as I was used to. They were on PVC posts about chest high. Didn’t phase the Labrador. The other interesting thing was the judge was in a wheel chair. This explained why their Show N Go two weeks earlier had judges in wheelchairs.

Disappointed that we didn’t earn our title, and annoyed with myself we went home so I could sleep and drive back early the next morning.

The judge for the Obedience Trial was extremely nice to us Novice A people. He had a good briefing, trying to put us at ease, and was more than willing to work with us. He had us recalling away from the crowd, and told us we could set our dogs up facing any direction for the stand for exam. I was last to go, and our heeling wasn’t anything like I would have liked. Honestly I thought we were already NQ’d after I finished because I thought it was so bad. I think the Labrador sat at maybe one halt, and there was a moment during the off leash where I really have no idea where she was . Everything else was fantastic, though we lost half a point for her crooked sit on the recall. As I finished, the judge came up to tell me he’d call us back in shortly for the sits and downs. I asked him something like, “I get to do those?” He laughed, and told me that you always do the sits and downs unless you ask to be excused. For some reason I thought if you hadn’t qualified at that point you didn’t come in for the sits and downs. Then he answered what I was really asking, and told me that yes we did have a qualifying score! I was shocked and grateful and we left the ring with a happy bounce. And then the Labrador did an awesome sit stay and down stay!

The 3 minute down stay I think is the longest three minutes of your life. You stand there across the ring, looking at your dog just waiting for the judge to tell you to return to your dog. Every sound from the crating room, which she was closet to, attracted her attention. And then there was a fly. I watched it buzz around, coming closer and closer to her, expecting her to snap at it any any moment and break, but she didn’t! I was so proud of her! Second place and our first Q for Novice A!

Sunday I was a little less nervous — but only a little. I keep telling myself that one day I won’t be nervous doing this. No, I don’t believe myself. Sunday we were on. Her heeling was much better. She didn’t miss a sit! The leash didn’t tighten on the figure eight. Her sit on the recall was so good everyone commented on how beautiful it was when I left the ring. Our score was 10 points higher, enough for us to earn first place!

It was a fantastic trial. Not only because of the Q’s, but the people. I really like this club and plan to keep going there and doing their Show N Gos. An hour and a half is not a bad drive. The President and VP of the club took time out of their day to talk with me, sit with me, and offer advice and make me laugh. I need to send a thank you card.

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21 weeks

We just got back home from the Show N Go. There were two this weekend and we did them both. The main reason to attend is they were held where the Labrador is competing next weekend, but it was also good for the puppy.

Yesterday the puppy did Beginner Novice. We did ok. Today we did much better. Today I remembered that we hadn’t trained most of this yet. Today I remembered that we were there to have fun. So we had fun. And we did better having fun, then when we tried to be all serious. Hopefully I can remember this next weekend! It’s supposed to be fun!

Two people I know lost dogs this week. One managed to get out from their fence and was hit by a car. The other was only a 12 week old puppy, who ate a mushroom that turned out to be poisonous. Between that and the new illness that is killing dogs that they are trying to identify in Ohio, sometimes I want to wrap mine up in bubble wrap and just keep them safe. But what kind of life would that be for them, or me? So we continued to train this week, visiting no new locations, but coming at them from different perspectives. This week we were back at the grocery store, only at a different entrance, working on sit to greet, and attention. We were on campus working on walking past a lot of distractions, including the marching band! We did a lot of loose leashing practice, and will continue to do a lot more. We played retrieve on campus, and went to Agility practice meeting more dogs and more people!

We’re working a lot of the basics. Sit, down, stand, stay, wait, crate and loose leash. We are still doing shaping exercises, which I really enjoy. It’s always fun to see what he’ll come up with next!

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