Wyre 2013

Dull motorway rain

I’m worried about the tyres

Car pulls to the right

 

Small arena

Combined 5-7 Jumping

I suppose it’s ok

 

A pull-through start

Nine weaves into nowhere

I got lost

 

Looking forward

Graded 6-7 Agility

Dogwalk approach sucks

 

I like your courses

But not this one. I have

made my own

 

Endless waiting

Combined 5-6 Agility

I like this a lot

 

Clear round

We find 39.65

No placing

 

One more to go

Graded 6-7 Jumping

I love this course

 

I remember when

We would have eaten these spaces

Now we are slow

 

Weave entry popped

Five faults but you tried

This was still good

 

You are happy here

This is so easy for us

One more show

Wilmslow Nov 2013: Unexpected Results

I always forget how much Dylan really loves running at Myerscough. It certainly helped that we were running on Adams equipment, so no aluminium contacts for him to worry about (just heavy seesaws, but the tipping point is standardised in the new year so I’m not worried about that).

C6-7 Agility was pretty straightforward, but we missed the dogwalk contact. 5f and a respectable time, even though my handling was pretty shocking.

Wilmslow Large G6-7 Agility (Nov 2013 Judge: Carrie Ellwood)G6-7 Agility was a course I liked, bit more of a challenge and something to think about! Stupid course time of 38s, which I knew we wouldn’t get. It was a fun course to run though, Dylan ran a lovely clean round with beautiful weave entries, just stuttered into the double and then the final jump. We finished in 38.500s – 0.500 faults then – but 4th place because apparently everyone else found this course really hard? We could maybe have shaved off 0.500 somewhere, but I doubt it.

I’m trying not to moan about course times too much, but the winner of the G6 was 34s (3rd was 37s). Dylan was the slowest “clean” run, but outside course time, everyone else had 5faults (but there were a LOT of dogs over course time in addition to their 5f). Winner of the G7 was 29s, but it was Petnat By Jingo, the rest of the G7’s were around 34s.

Final run was G6-7 Jumping, same judge as the G6-7 Agility. I was really disappointed in this course, didn’t think it was anywhere near as nice as the Agility. There was a horrible long jump followed by a tight pull through, which I heard a few people muttering about. I hate this trend as it doesn’t test anything except the physical ability of the dog – there’s no training or handling involved. You can’t pre-cue a turn on the long jump, the dog has to jump extended. It’s also one of the most painful obstacles for a dog to hit.

Oddly enough, that wasn’t my biggest concern in the end. This class was in the little arena, and with it being at the end of the day, when I walked in with Dylan, it was dark. Only the central strip of lights were on, and the edges of the arena were in heavy shadows. Dylan ran clear, but set off very strongly and then started getting more and more cautious. I mentioned that I think his eyesight is deteriorating, and with hindsight, I shouldn’t have run him in that low-light situation. Kicking myself because he ran so well earlier in the day.

We’re at Wyre again in December, and I have my fingers crossed that all his classes are in the main arena. I did say Wyre would be his last show but Wilmslow are back at Myerscough again in January, with Adams equipment, and since he enjoyed himself so much this weekend I am considering entering him. We’ll see.

Time Well Spent

Dylan came to training and did some training, for once. It was nice. He’s so easy to run, even if he can’t turn or jump nicely. Comfy pair of socks, well washed and groomed this week, with his paws trimmed and nails cut. Does exactly what I expect when I expect it.

His dogwalk(s) were lovely this week, as they always are at training. I live in hope that he will run the same way at Wilmslow, but don’t expect it to be so. His jumping is hit and miss, and I expect that will be worse at the weekend. It usually is. We’ll see.

Not agility related, but I think his eyesight may be deteriorating. Just little tiny things that he misses, and that he wouldn’t have missed a year ago. He worries me. He also makes me happy. Especially right now, he is very soft and plush with freshly bathed coat.

Rio also came to training, and did a little bit of training, but not very much. She didn’t want to take any breaks this week. She insisted on continuing to work. I ask her to take a break, she offers a down, which is her default “I wanna do stuff” position. Ok, Ri makes the rules.

I wanted to get her onto the dogwalk again; we haven’t done it in a while and she was still very hesitant then. This time, I took inspiration from her seesaw training, and applied liberal quantities of food. Magic! She did her first dogwalks in sequence. She powers up the upplank and jumps the apex, and then slows down. Not ideal. It’s not slow overall, but I would like to keep her running through. As her her confidence grows hopefully her speed will as well. It has everywhere else.

It is so nice to run a dog who can jump. She is always fluid, always extended, always bouncing on smaller distances. It’ll take some getting used to, the bouncing, and I need to adjust my handling to accomodate. Not something I had to worry about with Dylan. I don’t know that she’s faster than Dyl but she is smoother.

I need to work on her waits. She’s developing the vulture sit.

A Long Wait

I don’t think I’ve ever gone a whole month without blogging before. Technically, I still haven’t, since I blog for The Phantoms and for North K9 as well, but I haven’t blogged here. My thoughts, my dogs, my blog.

I spent 12 days dog- and house-sitting in Cambridge for some flyballing friends whilst they were away in Canada. It was fun, I learned a lot, and I missed my dogs.

Dylan has Wilmslow this weekend and is appallingly unfit, I’m not sure I should even run him. He hasn’t trained anything beyond some single jump work, and 6 weaves, for 6 weeks. We’ll see. He has been tracking a few more times and he loves it. I do not love it, tracking is boring and it involves a lot of preparation work from me before Dylan can actually do anything. He is very good at tracking, he is methodical and accurate, and he can do corners and indicate articles. I never thought I’d get to the point of giving up whole days to stand in a field and shuffle around laying tracks just to make my dog happy, but apparently that’s where I am in my life now.

Rio continues to be wonderful in every way. Almost every way; she’s naughty about chasing squirrels, and she really HATES people visiting the house. We open the door to greet people and Rio goes INTRUDER ALERT ALARM BARK THESE ARE MY HACKLES INTRUDER BACK AWAY INTRUDER EVERYONE BACK AWAY IMMEDIATELY INTRUDER RARRRRRRR. I despair, and then she does something like her happy a-roooo and I forgive her. I could write essays about this dog and how much I love her. Every week she improves at agility, not just in focus but in skill. We need to work a little more on working at Large height, her take off points are a bit close. I remember Jet doing the same thing when she was younger, and Rio does the same things with her weaves that Jet did too (ie. hitting too hard, uncontrolled weave enthusiasm LOVE). If Rio ends up anywhere as good as Jet, I’ll be thrilled.

Daisy is being “managed” around the other dogs at the moment. She needs more consistent management and training from all family members to overcome her issues, but unfortunately that isn’t happening. I’m frustrated about that, because her issues are “fixable”, especially at her age and at this stage. She gets overexcited (over threshold, reactive, whatever word works to describe best) when the other dogs get overexcited, and she tries to shut them down/control the situation. Dylan and Rio ignore her, or get worried and offer lots of calming signals. Their reactions are appropriate (ie. socially acceptable) but I don’t like them to be put in a situation where they feel that way. Kim overreacts, but because of her age I think it’s easier to try and change Daisy than Kim. To be honest, part of this problem is due to the approach taken in her first 8months, which was just to stick a tennis ball in her mouth. It’s why her tennis ball obsession is so strong, as the tennis ball was a calming mechanism when she got over threshold, and has become (what I assume to be a) a rewarding behaviour on a chemical/hormone release level. A chew has the same kind of effect on her – give Angry Daisy a chew and it’s like flipping a switch to instantaneous nom-nom-nom relaxed Daisy.

She’s a case study. Maybe I should write her up for my KCAI. Worth mentioning that she is also cute and funny and fast, she has discovered the TV and takes it very seriously, and she loves playing with Dylan. He told her off for biting his ruff so now she asks him to play by hurling her whole body at his head and then bouncing off, accompanied by vocal persuasion. He always gives in.

A Mini Break

A mini break for Dylan, anyway.

Since he’s retiring in a few months — just two shows left! — Dylan isn’t really training any more. He has all the skills he needs, and none of his behaviours are going to dramatically change over the next six weeks in time for Wilmslow. Trijem Poppin Candy

It does give me chance to focus on Rio, although I am kind of throwing her in at the deep end. She’s gone from the Beginners group straight into the Competition group, and has missed our Pre-Comp class completely. The drawbacks of actually teaching agility, no time for your own dogs. She has done really well, her focus is improving dramatically and she is handling most of the challenges without much of an issue. The biggest problem is me, I have some lazy-ass habits from running easy boy Dylan. Baby dogs are hard work, with the supporting obstacles and the having to time your cues appropriately and stuff.

I could watch her move all day though, she is incredibly athletic. Being awed by your own dog is not conducive to the aforementioned handling skills. We are still a bit hit and miss on weaves, getting better but not quite there. Her dogwalk is bugging me, she’s still convinced she’s going to fall and die if she goes fast (melodrama!). Her confidence builds every time and therefore so does her speed. Still need to do some running on the board on the flat, I think. She also did her first seesaw tips last week, and as predicted, she’s not thrilled with it, but not nearly so WTF IS THAT THING when she’s on it rather than watching it. Melodrama, again. Pretty sure she’ll get over it soon enough.

I’ve entered her first solo show, in December (or will have when I find my chequebook). We’re going to crash down to Dig It’s unaffiliated show and she’s got 5 runs, 2x agility, 2x jumping, and a steeplechase. Probably train all the runs but she’s in Beginners so no weaves and no seesaw, it’s all about the confidence.

I don’t feel bad for Dylan. I think he misses agility – he really loves training – but he’s still going to do bits and peices. We run three times a week together, he loves his runs too.

I Only Blog When It's Going Badly

I have a tendency to be naturally suspicious of anyone who writes glowing, exciting blog posts when their training, handling, or competing is going perfectly, and skips over anything that isn’t fitting in to that. Especially those who then say things like “It didn’t go well, I’ve learnt a lot” and then utterly fail to explain exactly what went wrong and what they learnt.

Having said that, this isn’t a “thing are terrible” blog post.

Daisy

Daisy did her first sends over an agility jump this week. I need to work on her wait (she doesn’t have one) but she drives to her toy with great enthusiasm. She is 100% ON when training, and she’s all terrier feist and killing things. She’s also going to start learning her contact position this week. Tempting as it is to try running contacts, the same applies to Daisy as applied to Rio. I have no room and no access to equipment, so she’s going to do 2o2o and she’s going to do it well.

Rio has done a lot of single jump work this week. I wanted to play around with motion-based motivation, and I also wanted to build her drive off the line. She was super, of course. She is very good at getting out of the car and working immediately, it’s when we have to wait that I tend to lose her.

She did some ball retrieves on the flat at flyball, and then did her first hits with the ball in the box. This went about as well as expected! Some nice hits, but without the ball. Some attempts at grabbing the ball, but no hits. Some hits with sort of touching the ball, but not actually fetching it. This is the hardest part of box training this way, when two things get combined, and all in all she did well. She made an effort to turn and made an effort to grab the ball as well, it’ll come together soon. Pleased with her!

Lost in Lens Flare

Dylan’s flyball training is continuing to look good. His agility training looks great, as always. The Agility Nuts results went online and really, his times are so slow. I knew they were, but it’s worth seeing it in results order. He’s generally the slowest clear in the class (although interestingly, usually not the slowest to get around the course) and we have no where to go now in a competitive environment. He can’t reach his AW(G) collecting clear round points – we’re about 150pts short – and we’re well out of the placings.

If the courses were continually challenging, it might be worth entering for the variety, but they’re not. In terms of training skill, Grade 6 is easy for us. Partially, I’ll admit, because Dylan is slow, but also because Dylan has a high skill level when it comes to the things which are currently popular, like push-outs, independent contacts, tunnels-under-contacts, weave entries/exits. There are also two popular things which don’t suit Dylan at all, and make me worry; A) Aluminium contacts, and B) the long-jump-to-nowhere, which seems to be cropping up a lot in course designs and which Dylan struggles with physically.

So, Dyl will do Wilmslow in November, and Wyre in December, and then he retires from KC competitions. And my show diary for the winter now includes lots of unaffiliated shows for Rio.

Killer Terrier

Agility Nuts Sept

I’ve been meaning to do this show since it started a couple of years ago, but there’s always something else on this weekend. I could have been judging in Cheshire for UKA, instead I trekked 2hrs to Nottingham and spent the weekend reading and playing with the dogs and occasionally running some agility.

C6-7 Agility first thing was a nice course, we promptly got E’d, but Dylan ran it really well. No freak outs on the dogwalk, no uncomfortable jumping, just a happy run. Shame about my handling!

Large Dog Vegas G6 Agility Qualifier (Agility Nuts)

Very messy clear in the Dog Vegas G6 Qualifier, but it was very very messy. We had a detour where he just headed straight for the pipe tunnel instead of the weaves, detoured back to get a rather tough weave entry, but good boy! Clear run, but we got 4+ time faults. 7th place, reserve for next years Final. Only 3 dogs got under the course time without other faults.

Both jumping courses were ok. We got 10F in the G6-7 Jumping, did all the difficult bits and then Dyl popped the last 2 weaves, then took down the last element in the long jump. I hate the long jump, it came up all weekend as a jump into nowhere, or with a long run in, just perfect for panicking Dylan. I did enjoy running the C6-7 in Ring 5 and we went clear, just squeaking under course time. The judge wheeled the course, I think her course time was fair. I was very happy with how Dyl ran the second half of that course, he took it up a gear and it felt a bit like how we used to run.

G6-7 Agility was a fair course, we went clear and made it under course time (omg!). The “difficult” bits really weren’t, for Dyl, he nailed the hard side weave entry and did a lovely distance push-out, whilst avoiding all the traps. Really, it was a nice run, just not very fast.

Agility Nuts Large C6-7 AgilityIan Dobison’s course was super, brilliant difficult opening which had multiple handling options. The rest of the course was very fast and open, with a few subtle handling bits that meant you couldn’t just take it easy. Unfortunately, the course time was set at 40s, which meant whatever option I picked, we weren’t going to make the course time. As it happened, I messed up the handling and managed to pull Dyl through the gap and then send him out round the back of #2. Absolutely needed a wait for this one and I demanded one, Dylan shuffled but then realised I was serious and held it.

Clear in both jumping classes to finish the weekend. C6-7 Jumping was a nice easy run, but Dylan stuttered on the very long run to the final spread. We just squeaked into course time 38s with 37.788s. Not sure how we did in the very very easy G6-7 Jumping, course time was 35s and the course was so straightforward, nearly everyone went clear. Got some beautiful waits on the startline however, I guess we didn’t really ever loose that skill, just got lazy with maintaining it.

Rio did well too, had a lot more focus from her around the rings, much more concentrated tugging/play when asked. I think we’ll crash UKA Field of Dreams at Bakewell on Sunday and see how she does in Steeplechase. I’m worried I’m pushing her because I’m worried I won’t have a dog to compete with, but then I also think she needs the ring experience and we need to get on with it. I am worried I won’t have a dog to compete with, but I also think I’ve been a bit lazy with Rio and need to get my ass in gear. I spoil her.

Flyball Training

Flyball is a lot of fun at the moment. We’re focusing on individual skills work rather than teams; this is mainly because our dogs all need skills work, but also partly because not all our dogs are team-ready yet, and we haven’t made any decisions regarding lineups for next season. That will happen soon (I have my coloured post it notes at the ready).

Dylan is really improving, I’m so happy with him. He got to do his first full singles runs this week and he was awesome, great turns (great for Dylan, anyway) and really driving back to his toy. He’s going to be 8 by the time he competes again but I’m already psyched to be back at flyball tournaments with him, in a consistent team he’s really going to make a contribution and fulful the potential he has left. His fastest years are behind him now, unfortunately, but I hope he can still creep under 5s and maybe run in a sub-20s team again. Of course, all the pressure is now on for us to find a few decent height dogs!

Speaking of midget dogs, Daisyface did her first two jumps this week! A jump and a stride regulator, actually, but it was more about testing her striding then anything else. She started off on a 7ft gap and it gradually increased to 10ft, which she bounced comfortably. For a little dog she has a big stride! We’ll probably leave it at 8ft gaps until she gets to four jumps, just to really drill in the bounce strides, and then start extending it slightly. She’s still over 3″ puppy jumps anyway. She’s also started learning her paw targets this week, it’s adorable and she’s great at it.

Rio didn’t get to play this week as I want to make sure her pad is fully healed and unbreakable before she starts hitting the box again. She did get to play some CU games around the equipment, and because she did well with that, she also got to play some ball retrieves. We’ve been working on this as she was reluctant to spit last time we did it at training, and apparently we’ve now gone the other way; she won’t hold the ball, she just jaw-touches and then grabs her tug. This also makes me happy. It’s a lot easier to work with tug obsession over ball obsession!

UKA Sutton Weavers

This show was really for Rio, who obviously sliced her pad and therefore couldn’t go. Next year, she’s wrapped in cotton wool pre-Champs.

Very very nice show, great setup at one of my favourite flyball venues, Sutton Fields. The ring plans didn’t quite work out (one ring was finished at lunchtime, another didn’t finish until 4pm) but it was great. I will go again! Classes were tiny but there were a lot of entries on the day, so Dylan’s classes had around 8 dogs, and Rio’s would have been 20+. Still tiny, but bigger than the 1 pre-entered dog, ie. Dylan.

Dyl’s first run was the Senior Agility, and he set off very well, until he got to the seesaw (#7). The number was still sitting on the seesaw, from course walking. Dylan was already on the seesaw when we both realised and panicked. The judge immediately stopped us and told us to re-start, but the damage was done … Dylan refused the seesaw and then had a minor wobble on the dogwalk as well. Cue internal screaming and wailing and some very good and supportive students (hey, aren’t I supposed to be supporting you?!)

Senior Gamblers was the class we really needed to do well in (Dyl really need the Games points!). I had an awesome plan, no seesaw, lots of dogwalks. Dyl’s dogwalks were great, we clocked about 24 points in the opening. However, the gamble started with the dogwalk and in my over-paranoid anxiety about ensuring he was supported on the dogwalk, I was then miles away from where I needed to be to handle B to C. Oops, big E. More internal screaming.

Senior Jumping, where we very much do not need points, we aced and came 2nd. Big big open course, lots of running and lots of space. Course time was 50s, which should give a clue as to how big!

Only one Steeplechase class this time. I drastically forgot where I was going and we scraped through by the skin of our teeth, it wasn’t pretty. Big 1st anyway, so Dyl has 16pts toward his CSC. I’m not holding my breath, we’re never going to reach 60 points, that would require 8 more wins. Which would require 8 more classes, to start with, and even if I crash Field of Dreams at Bakewell for a day, that’s only 3 opportunities before the end of the year. And Dylan is getting slower and slower, it’s never going to happen!

Not really sure what to do with Dylan now. He hates aluminium contacts and I don’t have the resources to build his confidence. He has dramatically slowed down in the past 12months and we aren’t competitive at Grade 6 by any stretch. We scrape by at UKA because the classes are so small in this area. I love running Dylan when he’s happy and confident, but he’s not 100% happy and confident 100% of the time. I think this winter is his last season.

Positive

I should probably stop late-night-blogging, I’m not sure it’s that coherent.

Since I finally realised that Rio’s issues are threshold related, so I went back and re-read Control Unleashed, and immediately felt better. I formulated a plan, and it’s already in action. We’re worked through the Take a Break exercises and she’s already improving in terms of focus and control, but she’s also relaxing faster on the breaks.

We’ll continue working on it during high-intensity training like agility and flyball, but during clicker sessions and general training during the day. Daisy is doing some CU as well, since it fits in nicely with her clicker training. She’s finally sort of getting the hang of things; she offered her first behaviour this week, nudging a box with her nose. She is not a paw-kind of dog, which means it’s going to be interesting teaching her to hit a flyball target. I guess that’s because she uses the paw-lift a lot as a calming signal though, and she’s not comfortable with being physically handled.

I’m at an event this weekend with North K9, which also includes a few demos. Somehow Dylan has turned into my go-to dog (when did that happen?!) but it’ll be a really good opportunity for Rio and Daisy as well.