Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our goals for saturday's debut

a brief summary:

-remember our Webb lessons
-during the walkthroughs, break the course into achievable segments, memorising and visualising each segment and the course as a whole.
-take the time to connect and play with soph before running.. remember our warmup rituals.
-run with intent and focus, providing a constant flow of enthusiastic, consistent information on what and where I want soph to be doing.

and of course, have fun!

the rest will be gravy. :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tis the season for reflecting and planning

for the year ahead. In 5 days, we'll be making our Ontario AAC debut at Acton Agility on January 1st. We've entered three classes - jumpers, standard and steeplechase. Our goals for the day are:
-to have fun (that's a given!)
-to break down the courses into manageable sequences of 4-6 obstacles, and memorise and visualise these sequences
-to maintain focuss and drive during those sequences
-and to bring chocolates and cookies to placate the judges and ring crew if Sophie decides that mugging is more fun than running.

Longterm goals for the year:

I'd like to get some more level 1 q's in CPE - I do still love that venue and the games.

Aiming for the regionals and nationals in Barrie - if nothing more than the steeplechase, the nationals are an experience and with some more trial miles under our belt, we'll enjoy it a lot more.

Working with Cassie - my goal with her is a little less ambitious but no less important. I would love to get her into a group class of some kind by the end of year.. probably rally o, at least to start with. Right now we're setting up some folks to do some parallel walks with, and working hard on our CU skills.

Professionally, I need to do a ton more self promotion - never my strongest point.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

House League

was a hoot! Started out with a speed game, snakes and ladders, which involved a down and back course of jumps, frame, walk and weaves - four columns - and 60 seconds to get as far as you could. If you reached the end and still had time, you would start back tracking. Points were given - 1 jump, 2 tunnel, 3 tire, 4 aframe, 5 dogwalk, 7 weaves - and no faults for refusals or retakes, just loss of time. Sophie was HOT, finishing the first go-round and getting about 3/4 of the way through the loop back. We ended up with 57 points and 3rd place for this game. Most importantly, she was driven and focused on the course and my direction and didn't blink at the ring crew or the judge.

Next up was steeplechase, and we back slid a bit - tired? a bit lost? maybe. She drifted off a few times and I ended up calling it a training run and rewarding her three times, and finished the course.

Standard was the third run - a twisty complicated course which actually worked very well for us. Took a long time breaking the course down during the walk through, doing the visualisation, the two walkthroughs (one for soph, one for me) and then breaking the course into manageable chunks. And that really seemed to work - I kept communicating with soph throughout, calling her well in advance, keeping on top of her turns and giving enough time for her to find the path successfully. We finished with 5 faults and a time of 1:24:03, ending up in 10th place.

So at the end of the day what was learned:

- the revving up and tugging at the start is really helping - we will need to work on her out and leave it.

-communicate throughout - she has amazing obstacle discrimination and we need to use that more. Call out the turns well in advance.

- really, really take lots of time to memorize the course and my strategy. Walk it for soph and then for me, twice if time permits, and then visualize each section. Don't rush this! Webb's suggestion of chanting the course (jump jump frame front cross to tunnel) as you visualise really helped me during the standard run.

and have fun!

At the end of the day, Soph and I were proud to be awarded the "Most Improved" prize and we will certainly enjoy our festive red/green tennis ball!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Super practice evening!

Some lessons learned tonight:

Be careful about over-drilling and wearing Soph out. She can't keep herself high working straight through 60 minutes - frequent breaks and short practices during station work, mean we can get two full courses and maintain drive at the end of the night.

Forget about start line stays for now.. rev her up before we get to the start line. Pushing games, spins, bounce-touches and slap-da-dawg are all good at getting her ready to work.

Direction changes or when 'dangerous' judge/ring crew is in sight - call before she reaches it. Worked BEAUTIFULLY on a straight ahead run past two of her fav. folks, was still able to get her to turn away to the next two obstacles.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Summer and Fall update

Well lots to report on - sadly, I lost my grand old girl on August 26, probably to a stroke. Kaylie was likely 16 years old - in the last year she had been growing increasing frail and cautious. On August 25th I came home to a confused, distressed dog keening her discomfort - she was unable to walk without being held up and assisted at each step. By morning she was unable to stand at all, and it was clear that it was time to say farewell. She went gently on ahead - many thanks to my compassionate vet and her staff for getting us through such a difficult time.

Spruce Meadows was a lot of fun for Sophie and I - unfortunately, she had stomach issues (water? food? mountain air?) beginning the first night we arrived. She was fine once we got home, so it was something location specific. Sadly, that did mean that she wasn't running her best - but we did manage to put on a decent showing in the steeplechase class. We also had an enjoyable day hiking in the Rockies - found a great new picnic spot. (We won't talk about the fact that the trail was closed the next week because of a grizzly bear family - Sophie swears she didn't call them!)

Our fall training regimen is progressing nicely - we have class once a week and i drop in on Saturday afternoons for a casual practice session. We joined a House League which offers a trial-like atmosphere and a taste of competitive team-spirit, all in fun of course. Our first session clearly demonstrated that we are far from ready to enter a trial - Sophie was completely disconnected and I just couldn't get her on my team. We'll have another league day coming up this Sunday, and we've been working hard on distraction proofing, so hopefully we will see an improvement in her focus.

Really would like to get her in a trial before she turns 10. :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Three weeks to the big show!

Another great class session on Tuesday - Sophie is coping very well with the 'judge' on course. I only lost her once when I muffed a send to the tunnel (consistent handling is vital!) - otherwise, she's driving round the course without even a glance at the trainer. I'll need to start getting 'ring crew' sitting on the side as well. We als did a few lateral lead outs, sending Soph to a tunnel when I was about 5 feet away, angled slightly off so that Soph had to find the entrance - not an issue at all.

This week is a busy one - tomorrow is Open House at the training centre, and we'll be doing agility demos and a fun match. Monday we're off to an outside practice of full runs under trial conditions, and of course Tuesday night is class time... the rest of the week we'll be resting!

Quote of the week: "Ask not what your dog can do for you, ask what you can do for your dog"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CHIN picnic is over for another year - what a weekend! Sophie did me proud, staying focussed and setting new personal records in the high jump - she only drifted off twice in 9 shows, both times to a young girl sitting on the sidelines. (although getting her away from the tiger scent on the start line was a bit tough, she did behave once we started running. )

She also showed proficiency in frisbee catching - too bad my frisbee throwing is abysmal

Tuesday night class was a hard one - we're in the middle of a humid heat wave so I wasn't expecting her to be at her best, but she did me proud. Our last full run had a frame then turn away from me to the tunnel - trainer/judge was on far side watching us - sophie held the contact on the frame, looked directly at the judge and then took my instruction into the tunnel and to finish the course cleanly. WOOHOO!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

CHIN Picnic!

This is the 2nd year that we've taken part in Team K9's performing dog demonstrations and how far we've come! Last year it was HARD work to keep her working with me- this year, she was sailing around the steeplechase course with beautiful focus. Even the weave pole challenge (not her best obstacle) posed little trouble for her - she was able to run them cleanly for four runs, meaning that she ran 8 sets of 12 weave poles perfectly.. GOOD girl! Our second show involved a 24 pole timed run, and even though we usually do 6 in practice, and only occasionally does she see 12 - I was able to keep her hopping through until the 20 or 22 pole, when she missed her footing - not too shabby at all! The crowds are huge and enthusiastic at this event, and Soph handled herself beautifully.. what a good good girly!

We've got two more days of shows - I am so pleased with today, the rest of the weekend will be icing!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This week's class was a graduation party of sorts, with fun games and a jumpers course. Chaos abounded! The games were

"snakes and ladders" - 60 seconds to run as fast and far as you can - the course wove up and down the training hall , making 4 loops - reach the end and turn back if you have time. Sophie was a dream to run, stuck to me like glue - her aframe contact is still weak and the weaves need work but her focus was beautiful .

"Tunnel Snooker" - instead of red jump - obstacle, it was tunnel - obstacle (up to 4 times) then a short numbered course. Our first attempt at playing the snooker game, and we didn't get flustered and ran cleanly, getting to the 4th obstacle in the closing and ending up with 40 points.

Straightforward jumpers course - soph was getting tired and drifted off to mug the trainer, but I was able to recall her and get her back on course. I got lost and missed a jump but I was able to regroup and keep soph with me and get back on course - another lovely run!

"Mat gambles" - now this was a hoot and a half. You carried the mat with you, and if you felt you could send your dog to an obstacle or series of obstacles, you'd toss the mat down to stand on and send the dog forward. MUCH laughter and dramatics for this one.. Soph kept trying to lay down on the mat at first (gotta love pattern training!) but once we got going I was able to send her to a jump-tunnel sequence and a couple of other jumps. Again, she stayed with me for most of the run. GOOD girlie and THANKS renee for a stellar evening!

Our entry for the Nationals Steeplechase Challenge has been registered and posted, so Spruce Meadows here we come!

(This weekend we are doing a dog sports show at a large community picnic - wonderful opportunity to perform under stressful and distraction-filled environment

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last night's class had some lovely courses for us. The drop and run is really helping with her motivation.. I was revving her up verbally and really got her motoring. Also had the 'judge" (our trainer, one of sophie's favourite people) in the ring for the last run. She drifted off at the start and then crated herself (self-punishment?) but I was able to get her back on the start line, rev her up again, then she ran a beautiful flawless course.

Sent in my entry for the steeplechase - now we wait for confirmation (hope we get in!) and then start with the flight and vacation plans...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

today was open house for our training hall, so we had the opportunity to run some full courses with a small audience. Sophie did VERY well in the first two runs, staying with me through some tricky points (running straight towards the crowd, I got in a front cross which put me between the crowd and my girl, and she nicely stayed with me over the jump directly in front of the peanut gallery, to curve to the teeter and back down to the centre. She also did some BRILLIANT "get outs" to find the middle jump off set in a group of three, AND I was able to pull her past the "trap" end of the tunnel down to the correct end, at two different places... what a girl! Very proud of her tonight

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Apologies for being lax for the past week.. bad blogger! go to your crate! I've been busy with non-agility chores.

Our Saturday practice went very well.. dug out an old Clean Run and set up one of the Alphabet Drills ("R" ) and had a blast. Did some tough discriminations , front and rear crossing, and played with some lead outs as well as drop and runs. I've pretty much decided to knock Soph down into specials and let her jump what she prefers, which is 16. She *can* jump 22 but there is a marked difference in her enthusiasm and performance, so why fight that battle? Our home practice has been limited to occasional weave poles , we're starting to work the clock from offside, with some success. No rush for that, she'll get there. I've been using a jump after the poles to steady her speed as well, again, with limited success.

Class this week was interesting - she's decided to be a bit of a clown and play keep away with the number cones at the bottom of the dogwalk.. not sure where that comes from, they don't look veyr much like the 2o/2o target.. goofychick she is sometimes!

Will try to be a bit more diligent with training and blogging this week...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Did some more work from the agility nerd page - working on "around the clock" sending to a jump... went very well, worked up to about 6 feet away, all the way round the dial... good girlie!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today was a rest day - class was a bit stressful last night so I need to regroup a bit. Sophie has fixated on the treat pouch and shut down completely in class, so we need to work through fazing this out. Interestingly, she works HARD for her leather tug or treats hidden in hand/pocket or home, so this is definitely a site-specific issue. But we'll work through it..

Did a few reps of offside weaves and that was all.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tonight is class, so we'll be taking it easy today - will be trying out Webb Anderson's exercise with two target plates, as well as a short bike ride for some fitness-building

Monday, June 7, 2010

This week's home practice is based on this site: - working both on solidifying her startline stays and fast releases, as well as... well, pretty much everything on an agility course! Should be some fun work...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Did a bit of front cross work (figure 8's around 2 jumps) soph is loving this exercise and her leather tug toy. Can't believe how driven she is for this toy... we'll see how it works for class on tuesday as well.

Stays - at doors and in front of a jump - getting good focus forward rather than on me.... this week will be putting "mark" on cue as well.

Resurrecting this blog to chronicle and monitor our next training voyage

We're going to the Olympics! Well, not really.. but (gulp!) I've set a huge goal for myself - running Sophie in the steeplechase at this years' Nationals, at one of my all-time-favourite places in the world - Spruce Meadows.

So we have a few things to work on.. today is an indoor day, and we'll be doing a bit of work on stays and fast releases, as well as focus exercises. If it clears up and the yard dries a bit, we'll move outside for some one and two jump work, or maybe a bike ride for conditioning.