Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Probably May, the weekend after WT tryouts.
Next weekend I'll be in Dixon for an AKC trial and the weekend after I'll be back in Dixon for a 4 day USDAA trial. That trial has historically had crappy crappy weather, so we'll see what the weather man brings this year!
"So what did I do this weekend?," you ask? On Saturday I spent most of the day cleaning. I cleaned a bit of my guest room, a bit of the livingroom and a bit of the garage. The livingroom looks ok, but the rest of the house is still a mess. Oh well, it's a neverending battle.
Today I went to Shamrock and set up a savioja course. It took me about an hour to set the course. The first time I ran it, it went pretty well. My turns were a bit wide from 2-3 and 4-5, but I was able to rear cross the weaves and he got his entry. His teeter was OK, but his a-frame was awesome and dogwalk was good too.
After I ran it once Sandy came and she ran it with quill. Then we ran a modified course that had a threadle from 5-6 that we handled pretty well and then a 270 from 2-3 to the weaves (opposite end from the other course).
Next we ran the course backwards. The first time Icon popped out of the weaves as I tried to fc after. Then, when he was supposed to go 8-7-6 he actually went 8-7-5 because I was so far behind (because I was waiting for him to finish the weaves before I left him for the line 7-6). After that we were able to get it but turns were wide. I went over it a few more times and was able to tighten them, but I'm living in a land where I'll either indicate a turn too early and Icon will come off the jump or too late and he'll be too wide.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Apparently Polly had lots of fun on this run!
Polly's other memorable run of the weekend was Sunday JWW. The course was described by one competitor as being set up by a drunken sailor wandering around the course and randomly dropping bars. With Polly I did NINE front crosses on the course! That has to be a record for us! He ended up 2nd for this run behind Nancy and Ace, which is pretty awesome IMHO. He only got 12 points for the run, but I'm pretty happy with that considering how twisty it was!
Polly's Sunday Std run was nice. I like how he drove down on his dogwalk contact. His contacts looked really nice in this run. I probably could have held them a smidgen longer though.
Polly's Sat JWW course was nice but uneventful.
Icon's Sat Std run had a really wide turn out of the tunnel to the teeter, and then he didn't drive very well on the teeter (since I wasn't able to get ahead of him with the 90 turn to the weaves). I didn't like either of the parts of that run. His turn out of the tunnel to the table was nice though, and the rest of the run went well. Icon was first or second dog for every run this weekend except for Sat Std, which was a bit of a disadvantage for us since we weren't able to see the hidden traps, but I guess I shouldn't complain.
Icon's Sat JWW course was nice, it was a nice course. He was the first run of the day and ran clean but the timers didn't go off so we ran again. He dropped a bar the 2nd time around. We placed first on that run.
(video to be added)
I was happy with the turns in Icon's Sun JWW run (except for the turn where he went off course). I really wish we had run clean on this one because I would have loved to see his time. Anyway, he went off-course when I looked away from him, but I think he was a bit naughty to go to the tunnel cause I sure wasn't heading towards it. But I think this is when the tunnel send can bite you in the butt. Quite often with our dogs we will verbally indicate the tunnel yet our motion will go another way so we can get into place. I wouldn't be surprised if that is what he thought I was doing. Ah well. He also missed the weave entry, but I was pushing him to see if he could get it without me hanging back. Apparently he can't!
Icon's Sat Std run was pretty nice. He came 2nd to Aiko but a very small amount. I didn't see Aiko's run, but I'm curious to know if she stopped him on contacts. I stopped Icon, but it was pretty brief (ok, the a-frame was very brief). I was pretty happy with his turns on this run, although the wrap around to the aframe could have been a bit nicer. I think I should have started running sooner.
Friday, March 21, 2008
It was a beautiful March day this afternoon. The temperature was in the high 60's, there was a slight breeze and the sun was shining. I was all set to mow my lawn with nothing to do besides mow it or procrastinate by playing with the dogs.
When the dogs asked, I just couldn't resist! So I spent a goodly portion of the afternoon playing with them.
Foster showed his dorky side. Generally, Foster is suave and sophisticated but his dorky side comes out occasionally! He is, without a doubt, the George Clooney of dogs.
Icon decided he wanted to play with his toy that I won at the ACE Dogsports christmas party.
"How did I win it", you ask?
Because Sandy asked the group, "Who has the most dogs in the car, RIGHT NOW???" I won 'cause I had all three of my boys.
It was a group effort!
So Icon got to play with his ball for a while. But then, something unbelievable happened! The ball got stuck in the tree!
Now, let me pause for a minute and tell you that I am not the most coordinated thrower on the planet. In fact, I might be in the lower 20th percentile when it comes to throwing skill. However I somehow managed, with all of my lack of skill, to loop the handle of the toy around a branch so that it is sitting about 1/3 of the way down! Now that's some mad throwing skills! That toss alone must have brought me up into the 30th percentile!
But at least it gave me an opportunity to take a photo of him standing still! What a pretty boy
So I found him another toy. Oops, here I'm showing what a bad dog owner I am. Playing FRISBEE?? Oy Ve! I wouldn't have showed you this, but wait! What's that on the lawnmower in that frisbee photo? Is that the invisible man wearing gloves???
Yes! Procrastination DOES pay off! As I was playing with the dogs, the invisible man decided to do my yardwork for me! Who needs a husband when you have the invisible man?? Now I just need him to start paying the bills...
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
It's been 2 days now that I've been exercising and stretching using 'recommended strengthening exercises'. This morning I started Yoga at Yoga Today. It's a free online Yoga website that has daily programs. The one I did this morning was a beginners program, but it lasted an hour. I only did 30 minutes because I didn't have time for the whole thing, but it was pretty good. I did breathing (I guess I'm an inverted breather because I had problems with this exercise). Then we moved on to loud breathing, which had Icon attacking me with his tongue every time I breathed loudly. After that I did forceful loud breathing, which totally drove Icon out of the room but got Apollo interested in me. Once I started the poses Polly tried to interfere. But it was really cute, the first time I did "downward dog" he did a big stretch right beside me. After that he laid down and just watched the rest of my Yoga. Foster was a good boy and laid down through the whole 30 minutes.
I'm hoping that I can keep this up, but one hour a day (or even 3-5x a week) is a big commitment for me. If I do manage to keep this up for a few weeks I will see about finding a class to join. It actually looks like I can go to free ones at the work gym. That would probably be good for me, but I'm so painfully unmotivated at times!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
My cat, Litter, was standing at the tunnel exit when Icon came out. That's him running towards the house!
Oh, and I'm wearing my PJs so excuse my outfit
Saturday, March 15, 2008
On Sunday it was really windy out and the courses were really nasty. Both dogs dropped the triple (2nd jump) in JWW. I'm not sure Icon actually hit the bar, a wind gust came up (it was very windy) and blew down about 3 or 4 bars at the same time the triple came down. I asked the judge to remove the call, but she said no. You gotta try, I guess... They rubber banded the jumps after Icon's run. And later I saw a dog drop a bar that was rubber banded (so it fell out of the cup, but not do the ground) and the judge didn't call it, but she RESET it. That kinda pissed me off. Polly dropped the triple as well, but he really hit it. I'm not surprised because he was totally full of himself for that run and running extended. I had a hard time getting him to stay at the start line! He was raring to go, I think the wind had him feeling good. After the run about 5 people came up and told me how great he is. "He's as fast as a border collie!" Well, he's not but that's fun to hear ;) It made the NQ a bit less sad.
In Std there were really nasty approaches to tee teeter and dogwalk. I misjudged my distance crossing to the teeter for Apollo and he had a bad approach and came off the side and the judge called a flyoff. I don't think it WAS a flyoff because the teeter was on the ground and he was in the yellow before he came off, but he came off the side and she called it. The rest of the run was really nice though and he had really nice contacts so that was good, I guess.
Friday, March 14, 2008
With WT Tryouts coming up I'm really starting to obsess over it. I really have no expectations going there aside from doing our best, however I think I have a lot of practicing to do in order to do our best! My main goals at WT tryouts are to get through all 5 rounds without an off-course (clean would be ideal, obviously) and to keep within the top 10 of the large dogs. Last year there were 42 dogs entered. In general, 10 out of 42 dogs doesn't sound like it should be that hard to do but of course these are some of the best 42 dogs in the country who are not only fast but consistent and probably waaaay more experienced than Icon and me.
There are a lot of elements seen on european courses that are either seen here infrequently or never seen on our courses. For example the combination jumps. There are also a lot of serpentines and 270's (seen here as well, but not quite as much), threadles (not allowed in courses here) and more pulls. Way more pulls. Tight turns out of tunnels are frequent. Also some really ugly weave entries. These are all things I need to perfect by May. Or at least be able to look at a course with these elements and not freak out over how I will handle it.
One other thing I've noticed about looking at the courses from one of the 2008 WT judges is that she seems to like funky tunnel shapes. I'm not sure what Icon would do in a funky shaped tunnel, but I think I've got to try that out to see. I expect it will slow him down a bit and allow me to get into position, but it won't hurt to try it out.
As part of my obsessing I've been watching (ok, re-watching) a lot of videos from the 2007 Worlds. I've tried a couple of the courses when Sandy or I set them up, but I've never tried the Large Team Std course and there are some interesting elements in there that I would like to try. One is the weave entry that I think can be added to pretty much any course. When watching the videos I was surprised at how much people shaped that entry. I would definitely agree that it's nasty enough to warrant some shaping, but some people actually brought them around in an arc wide enough to give them about a body lengths worth of a head on approach.
The above portion of the Lrg Team Std course looks like a sequence where the men were separated from the boys, and I from the videos I watched, not many were even passed puberty! Not that I could have done it any better, to be honest. But I want to try! A lot of dogs managed to make it through this section, but not many made it through PRETTY. The hardest part seems to be the turn from the
tunnel and from what I see the main reason that the dogs are going wide is that after depositing the dog in the tunnel after the serpentine, the handlers rush in to pick up their dog at the tunnel exit to try to get a tight turn. However, that running towards them (even when the dogs are in the tunnel and they can only hear, not see) appears to make the dogs think that the will be going forward out of the tunnel, not turning. I haven't been able to find a run where the handler doesn't do the 'rush in' move and i haven't been able to find a run where the dog turns nicely out of that tunnel. Coincidence???? Perhaps... but perhaps NOT!
The full course is below:
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The second run on Sunday started out with a really nasty straight line jump/jump/triple then a 90 degree turn to the dogwalk. Everyone was moaning and groaning about how their dogs would fall off and die (including me). Jen had us handle this with a lateral motion cue before they took off for the triple. There was a bit of maneuvering to get between a jump and tunnel for the lateral motion, but it was doable. All of the dogs read it beautifully. I think Shadow went a bit wide on her first try but it wasn't unsafe-wide.
This was another sequence where she said he took the first jump in a weird way. You can kind of see it on the video. Again, my personal opinion is that we have too much handler focus going on and not enough obstacle focus. This sequence went pretty well for us aside from the rear cross to the teeter, which the first time around was waaaaay wide. He turned when I called his name and he landed, he didn't read my rear cross at all. This was because I didn't decelerate at all to indicate that there would be a hard turn coming up.
Last sequence of the seminar. I tried it first with 2 fronts and then 2 rears. The first time through with 2 rear crosses he didn't read well and back-jumped. I didn't move across his line fast enough. When I got the 2 rears correct they looked smoother than the 2 fronts, but when I compare the 2 runs side by side they are pretty much even. With the FCs I think he lost a bit of time on the 2nd front cross into the 270 but had a nicer turn out of the 270. With the RCs he had a nicer turn into the 270 but went wide after.
Monday, March 10, 2008
I have videos from the seminar that I will post later and Kathie is supposed to send out the course maps, which I will post.But the main points I got from the seminar were:
The difference between collection and relative collection.
1. Collection is a tight turn where the dog needs to significantly reduce his speed and add strides in order to make the turn. A wrap is an example of a collected turn.
2. Relative collection is a turn where you want the dog to maintain speed during the turn, however he knows that he is turning before he leaves the ground.
Jen uses lateral motion to get relative collection and generally she uses deceleration to get collection.
Some things Icon and I need to work on...
Lateral Motion Response: The first day Jen said that Icon doesn't respond well to lateral motion and I need to go back and retrain that. But he seemed to be ok after that one time. I still would like to do a bit of training on this. Nancy G also suggested training lateral motion in our first private, but I had forgotten until this seminar.
Turns out of tunnels: Again this is something that I was working on with Nancy, but I think I like the way that Jen broke it down a bit more. With Nancy I was just throwing the toy on the ground beside the tunnel to have Icon turn tight when I call him. Instead of him depending on me to call his name, he should automatically look for me when he comes out of the tunnel and use my motion to decide where we're going next. For example, if I'm moving towards the next obstacle he can continue and take it. If I'm not moving at all he should come to my side. She trains this with a c-shape tunnel and starts with no motion and having the dog come in to heel position on the same side that you sent him on. This can start to add movement once he understands the initial motion.
Triple Performance: Apparently we're not strong on our triple performance. I should train this obstacle on it's own more. I do have a triple at home that I can set up, but it's PVC.
Friday, March 7, 2008
And to make me even HAPPIER, this weekend is daylight savings so it will be lighter later. Currently it's dark by about 6:30, which is when I roll in the driveway. By this time next week I'll have light until at least 7:30! Now I can sit outside and work on my yard during the week. Ah. Life is good.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Just two days before I made the 12 hour trip down to the Fiesta Cluster my car decided to die on me. Thanks to AAA plus I had it towed 30 miles from my work to my home. Thanks to Ford, I spent 1.5k fixing it. I wanted to leave by 6am on Thursday morning, but the car wasn't ready until 10:30. I didn't get it back and packed and on the road until noon. It was a looooong drive to arizona, but I made it and I am sooooo soso so thankful that my car died BEFORE my trip and not during!
We didn't have our best trial ever, but both Apollo and Icon did well going 6/8 and getting 2 QQ's. Apollo even came first in Standard one day for 36 points! Woot!! He managed to get 124 invitationals points over the course of the trial. I think he ended up with one 1st and 3 2nd places. Icon was a good boy during the ISC classes. He went 3/4 and missed the Sunday Std one thanks to a bad bad bad handler. Oh well.
I'm really liking my new video camera. I think the quality is really nice, it's even acceptable when uploaded on photobucket!
The weather was generally very good, except on Monday it was very very windy (and cold!). During Polly's JWW run two ez-ups blew over (thank god he didn't freak out!) and the wind blew down the double and another bar. That's ok, 2 less for him to knock down! ;) Here's the video:
And here is Icon's Sun ISC Std run. You can see that after the tunnel he goes towards the dogwalk and I get discombobluated and cause him to miss the threadle. Doh!
More videos of my wonderful boys can be viewed here!