Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The end of an long, painful era (or why invitationals sucks)

Last weekend was the end of the AKC invitational qualification period for me and Apollo. The 'official' end is June 30th, so there is technically one weekend left, but I opted to go to the Canby regional instead of another weekend of AKC. The only reason I took that option is because Apollo is pretty solidly in 1st place for invitationals (and they take 5). Last year I also opted to go to the Canby regional instead of an AKC trial and Apollo ended up #6 on the invitatioanl list. #6 by TWELVE POINTS. That's one run! ONE RUN and we would have been there! It was a sad and painful experience that took me a long time to get over. Well this year I was sure that I didn't want to end up in the same position so I really pushed Apollo. We had some awesome trials, which is the reason we made it to #1, but we also had some really unlucky/crappy trials. For example, at the December Rancho trial he was hurt and I had to pull him. At the new years trial he got pneumonia and I had to pull him. At the Del Monte trial we had an 0/4 weekend with explosive diarrhea in the ring for one run (oops!) and then last weekend, at our last trial to get invitationals points, which I entered JUST for Apollo since I don't really like the site (although they have really improved it since I last trialed there) and with temperatures in the 100's, he got hurt again and only got to do his first run (where he totally crashed through a bar). I had Wendy adjust him after the run and do accupuncture and apparently he was 'pretty messed up'. Poor guy! I've been resting and massaging him this week for Canby regionals, but if he doesn't seem ok I just won't run him. It's not like we're going to be winning the pGP anyway! On the bright side, I didn't bother entering him in team so at least he has fewer runs.

But there were some highlights during our AKC invitational qualification as well, like the Pahrump trial we went to last November, which catapulted us from solidly within the pack of 5 boxers to the top. Then in January we travelled to Portland for the Rose City Cluster and Polly had perfect weekend going 8/8! In January at a trial down in City of Industry, Apollo got QQ #20 for his MACH (the next run after getting QQ #19! I'm so lucky that it happened that way since we can often go months and MONTHS without a qq!). And then our final happy time was at the Terv trial in Palo Alto where he had another perfect trial going 4/4 under Lisa Miller and Dan Selthofer. Boy do I ever love their courses!

I don't think I'll ever 'campaign' Apollo for invitationals again, although it's so easy to get bit by that bug when you see yourself in the top 5 list. After Invitationals in december this year, I think I will start ramping down his agility, but we'll see what happens.

To summarize, invitatioanls suck.

So tomorrow morning I'm off to Canby for the NW Regionals. I'm very nervous about it and was dreading it for the last week or so but I'm finally starting to look forward to it. The competition will be fierce, but Icon and I will just do our best and hopefully will get a bye to the semi-finals for both GP and SC.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy birthday Polly!

Yesterday was Apollo's 6th birthday! That is 42 in dog years or 60 in boxer years. But he still has the emotional capacity of a teenager. That's why I love him so much, though!

Polly says, "Huh? What's a birthday?"

But Icon said, "Hey I know what a birthday is! Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! "

Well at my house on your birthday you get a ribeye cooked to perfection ALL to yourself! Polly was all over that!

Icon was sad though. His birthday isn't until December! But no worries Icon! At my house you also get your own steak of you do something special at agility! If you recall correctly, you got one after your MACH on June 1st. You have ample opportunities coming up, such as the NW regionals you can try to do something nice (like if you win GP I'll give you TWO steaks) and you'll get one when you earn your ADCH too!

Foster didn't care about birthdays or steak. He just wanted to fetch his frisbee!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sandy's handling system

Sandy has lately been preaching a new and simple way of looking at agility. I haven't had much time to think about it yet, but when she talks about it in class it makes sense. Although now that I'm listing them I don't see anything about rear crosses, so maybe that should be in there too. Although I think that's more a style of handling that an element of a course.

The theory is that you can break down every agility course into the following elements:

Straight Lines
Pulls (I can't remember if this was one. I have to double check with Sandy)

If you train your dog to know how to handle these elements (and yourself to handle your dog through them consistently) then your dog can do any course out there. The trick is identifying the element within the course correctly. Quite often people won't identify them correctly.

So for example in this course, 2-3 is a straight line and should be handled as such.


But in this course, after just rotating the broad jump slightly, this turns into a threadle because if your dog is trained to know 270's their natural path is to take them there. If you don't handle it as a threadle and they come into the jump then they don't understand how to do 270's independently, which means that at that point you have to be there at jump #3 to push them around the backside. In doing this you would lose an advantage of being able to leave the dog to handle that on his own and get into position for jump #4. Independent 270s can be a wonderful thing!


Monday, June 16, 2008

Scotts Valley weekend!

Well Polly had another binge session yesterday. He ate a tray of warm cheese that I accidentally left in my car while Debbie, Dan and Caroline and I went to look at RVs. He left the bananas alone though! What a good dog... (I try to look at the positives...)

On Saturday Debbie and I held a BBQ that we invited a bunch of agility people to (well mostly Debbie). The 'reason' was Icon's MACH bbq, but I think the 'real reason' was because they had bbq's there! Debbie brought most of the food including chicken wings that were delicious (which were actually from Kerilyn because I had told her the bbq would be the weekend before when she was actually AT the trial, but that's another story), skirt steak that was delectable, portobello mushrooms that disappeared as fast as Debbie could grill them, and . We also had margaritas and mike's hard lemonade to drink. Tammy brought crackers and dip and Kay brought some fruit. I had so much fun!

The agility weekend was a bit of a bust though. Apollo had some bars down in his first JWW run but he kept them up for the rest of his runs. Sadly, I didn't keep up my side of the agility bargain with him as I sent him off-course in standard on Saturday and messed up his weave entry in JWW on Sunday. Thankfully we pulled it together in Std on Sunday for a Q and a whopping 14 points.

Icon's weekend was not much better, but his problem was all bars! In his Sunday JWW run he slid after a jump and wasn't able to recover enough to keep the next bar up, but he tried. We Q'd in the Saturday Std course. On Sunday he took the triple down on both runs. I'm not entirely sure why he dropped the triple either time aside from the fact that he didn't jump high enough. On his Saturday Std run it looked like he jumped too early (but he kept it up). I wonder if he's jumping for the 2nd bar instead of the top bar of the triple. On his Sunday Standard he just didn't get high enough (but he didn't appear to take off too early). On his Sunday JWW he might have taken off too early.

I plan on buying a triple jump to get him more exposure to it.

Saturday JWW from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon Saturday Std from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon Sunday JWW from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon Sunday Standard from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Polly has 2 perfect weekends in a row!

Of course, they weren't the same KIND of perfect weekends....

Last weekend Polly went 0/4, but I'm sure the poor guy wasn't feeling very good as he had diarrhea in the ring on his last run of the weekend. Poor guy. We spent the rest of the week recovering from that and he was finally feeling better on Friday when he got into and ate 5 of my blueberry bagels.

So Saturday morning we got up and Polly ran outside to explode on my rear lawn. Greaaaaaaat. I wasn't sure if it was a return of the illness he had the week before or if the bagels were coming back to haunt the both of us. I decided to take him to the trial anyway.

At the trial I was a little bit concerned about him exploding in the ring. To have it happened once is embarrassing, to have it happen two trials in a row would mean I'd have to give up agility for the rest of my life! I had Apollo out walking for quite a while before his first JWW run so that if he would have to poop, it would be BEFORE going into the ring. But apparently he had cleaned out the plumbing earlier in the morning because he wouldn't go again.

So luckily, we had no poop in the ring. And to make matters even BETTER, he ran clean! Followed by a clean run in standard for QQ #9. He finished 2nd in std behind Maja. Then on Sunday he had 2 clean runs again for QQ #10. Polly is now half way to MACH 2. This time he finished 3rd in Std behind Derby and Maja. Damn those bc's jumping 24! If they had been jumping 26" Polly would have gotten 36 points for that run with the first place. Oh well! 18 points will have to do. Apparently, after complaining to Silvina and Tammy at least part of the reason they started jumping 24" was because they don't think they can beat Icon in 26" (which is not true!). Although Silvina did say she though Maja dropped to many bars at 26, so that's probably the real reason :).

Anyway, so Polly had a great weekend. Icon had an OK weekend. We didnt get any Q's on Saturday. He dropped a bar in both courses. I pulled him after JWW (2nd bar) but didn't pull him in Std. I'm not sure why I decided to be incredibly inconsistent at that trial, but oh well. I've decided not to bother pulling him for dropped bars at this point. I'm not sure that it does anything. On Sunday Icon got his first QQ toward MACH 2.

What's the moral of the story from this weekend? Feed your dog 5 bagels the day before a trail for a perfect weekend (although I can't guarantee which KIND of perfect weekend you will get!).

Another moral of the story is don't let your dog drink water from the Foster City Lagoon while swimming. But that is another story...

Friday, June 6, 2008

5 bagels

Apparently Polly was feeling well enough to steal and eat 5 bagels off of my counter when I quickly ran to the bank and to get gas at lunch. Of course he'd probably still manage that on his deathbed.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My psychic prediction about the trial this weekend

Last night I had a dream. A dream about the FAST courses at this weekends trial. Am I psychic? I think so! But we'll only know for sure on Saturday.

I dreamed that Dan Selthofer designed the course. I believe that that part is true, but since I already knew he was a judge I don't think I can really call that a psychic prediction...

So I got to see the course map in my dream! There were jumps on the left side of the course and a 30x80 pool on the right side. The dogs had to jump in the water and slalom around the rubber duckies bobbing in the pool. Below find an attempted recreation of the course map I saw in my dream.

I'll update everyone if this is what happens this weekend! Anyone want to make a bet?

Oh, I forgot to mention that in my dream we were also on a cruise ship for the agility trial.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Polly's first run EVER!

Ah, the memories! I accidentally ran across video from Apollo first ever trial! It was at an AKC show in Hayward and boy was I ever happy at the end of the run! Polly looks so young!

(I tried to embed the video, but it didn't work!)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mach Icon!

This weekend we managed to get that last qq for Icon's MACH! We almost got it on Saturday by q'ing in JWW first thing, but in std Icon fell off the dogwalk, so we didn't get that q (we also had an off-course, but I won't count that since we had already fallen off the dogwalk) :( Truly, I blame it on Caroline, who jinxed us because she wanted to be there for our MACH. On the Saturday she had to go photograph a wedding. Apparently, she's pretty good at this wedding photography stuff. Ok, so she's good at ALL photography stuff. She just sucks at making my dog not get his MACH! Luckily he didn't get hurt coming off the dogwalk. No thanks to Caroline!

Here's the video. Click on the link to see it in high def.

Icon Saturday Standard from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

On Sunday we managed to pull it together for a double q and our MACH! The JWW course was really fun with a lot of running. The standard course was also a lot of fun with a tricky area with the chute, 2 tunnels and the table.

Icon Sunday JWW from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon Sun Standard from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

I think I will just not talk about how Apollo did this weekend. It's not worth mentionting :( He's still not feeling very good.

After the MACH Debbie popped the cork on the champagne she brought and we had a toast. Thank you debbie! It was lots of fun and I'm so proud of Icon.