Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Boot Camp Status

Polly's boot camp is progressing, although tonight is the first night I've continued since the last post. I had great intentions to take the contact board to the trial last weekend and continue with our little sessions. I DID take the contact board to the trial, however while I took it out of the rv (again, with the good intentions) I never did end up using it. AND, to make matters worse, I forgot it there!!

Luckily our friendly neighborhood Terry LeClair picked it up for me and will bring it to the trial next weekend. Thanks Terry!

But that did present a snag. Forget that we're in the same Tuesday class and I could have requested that he bring it. And never mind that he stores his RV not 10 minutes away from me, so it probably isn't out the question that I could go get it. I had no contact board to continue my contact training for this week!

Well, I'm not an number 5 - with a strong 8 wing - for nothing (see - my VP is HUGE into enneagrams at work). Using my amazing powers of analytical thinking I was able to deduce that I can use my dogwalk DOWNRAMP as a contact trainer! (for the number 4's out there, I could have used the upramp as well)

So tonight we continued. And it went well. No video, sorry! The jouney of the contact trainer was more interesting than the destination.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Polly's contact boot camp

On Polly's first time back doing contacts I just started on the dogwalk to see where he was. He trotted nicely over and stopped but he sure took his sweet time. A trip over the dogwalk with the target didn't improve things. Well, it's been a long while since he's seen a target, so that's understandable.

So we spent a few minutes on just targetting. Polly is actually really smart (he just plays the dumb blond sometimes) and remembered very quickly what the point of the target is.

Next I got out the contact board and started him driving to the contact on that. We started with his feet just one step from the contact and quickly moved back further and further as he remembered his job. He didn't drive well at first, probably becuase he didn't have the momentum going. But as I moved further back he improved. I had forgotton how much I need to rev him up for it though, which is dumb of me because I always rev him up before a run at an agility trial.

I was happy with day two of remedial conatcts. I thought he looked great! We only did 4 repetitions becuase Polly hates to repeat things over and over. I do bait the target with treats randomly, which is generally a big 'no-no', but it works very well for me. I will probably work with the contact board a few more days and then move to the downramp on the dogwalk. Although I need the table for that and I loaned it to someone. I guess I have to ask for it back and just use the contact board until then!

Polly's remedial contatcs from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon hates to be out-agilitied by a boxer so he had to have his turn too. I really like how Icon's front feet stay in correct alignment off of the dogwalk, even when I'm behind him; he doesn't curl in to me (much). His first time is the best. The 2 and 3rd time he curls in a bit. This is the result of his initial training where we spent lots and lots and lots (ugh, and LOTS) of time on the contact board in that position. It's nice to see that that training stuck, for the most part!

Icon remedial contacts from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Remedial boxer contacts

I took Apollo out of agility class about two months ago. There were a couple of reasons for it, mainly that he just didn't seem to be enjoying it anymore and overall we weren't getting anything out of it. We'd pretty much run every sequence a-ok in class and then go sit down and wait for our next turn to run a sequence a-ok. So now he comes with me to Icon's class each week and I'll do some stuff with him after class or during other people's runs if there is room on the field. And this way he still gets to see his fans.

Now, I don't know if his newfound lack of interest is because he's just getting older (he's 6, which is old for a boxer!). At home he's quite content to do nothing but curl up on the couch in whatever room I'm in. When we're all out in the backyard Foster and Icon still pester me incessantly to play with them, but Polly is generally happy to go lay down in the sun and watch me do whatever yardwork I'm doing. And then when I'm not paying attention, he'll go and eat the cat food. But that is another story.

I'm also not sure if the newfound lack of interest is even that. Is it possible that now I'm comparing his enthusiasm to Icon's and it just SEEMS like he's less enthusiastic? Quite probable, I think! The same thing happened when I started doing agility with both Foster and Apollo. Of course Foster REALLY didn't like agility. But I can't blame him. Throwing 75lbs over 24" jumps doesn't sound like fun to me either.

But anyway, Apollo is in the twilight of his agility carreer and invitationals is our last ditch effort to be an agility star! So I've decided to get back to some serious training with Polly! Our strengths are that he rarely goes off-course or misses weave entries (which is fairly new, as of December last year I was trying to sell him for $10 because he couldn't make a weave entry to save his life). Our weaknesses are bars (We'd be at MACH gazillion if it wasn't for one bar on SOOOOO many runs) and, it's becomine more obvious recently, speed on contacts. I need to think if I want to try do to something about the bars, but I expect my decision will be no. However, contact speed I can do something about! So look out, Polly. You're about to go through remedial contact boot-camp!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Travels in a world of zombie cats and mutant dogs

On our walk this morning we came to the intersection of Weird and Scary. On a quiet, shady, tree-lined street there is a rundown, decrepit house with a carpet of brown grass in the yard and bent curtain rods in the window that we pass on most of our morning walks. Usually a dog screams at us from the back yard as we pass and a suspicious old lady pulls back a curtain to peer at us, presumably to ensure my dogs don't pee on her already dead lawn.

This morning as we approached the house a black cat was standing in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking our path. He was skin and bones, his fur was missing in places and his eyes were glazed. He just stood there as we approached, staring at us. Apollo and Icon were fooled, they thought he was just a normal cat! They didn't feel the evil emanating from him that Foster and I felt. After a significant amount of pulling and butt smacking, Foster and I finally convinced Apollo and Icon that chasing this cat was NOT a good idea. We started to back up slowly. I didn't think the cat would be able to walk, let alone chase us in his dazed and ragged state, but zombie cats might have special teleportation powers so I didn't want to take my eyes off of him. After backing away for only a few steps a black streak rushed towards us followed by high pitched barking. The streak stopped for just long enough for me to see it was a long legged chihuahua with teeth as big and white as a shark. While zombie cats just MIGHT have teleportation powers it quickly became clear to me that mutant chihuahuas DO. He rushed us from the front, the side and from behind in quick succession, coming close to us, but always out of reach. We scrambled back up the driveway of the house, towards the fence. Suddenly a bass bark accompanied the soprano of the chihuahua and the head of a big, hairy beast - that was obviously part lion - crashed between two boards of the fence. His teeth snapped shut inches from Icon's tail. Once again, we backed away, this time not slowly! Behind us the chihuahua lunged and yipped just out of reach, but trying to keep us in range of the lion's jaws. When we reached the sidewalk again the lion-dog pushed himself between the two fence boards and leaped towards us. Luckily his attack was abruptly halted by a chain around his neck. He rebounded back and hit the fence. Not daunted in the least, he started rushing and leaping at us again. Totally forgetting about the zombie cat in our way, we ran down the sidewalk. The cat wasn't there. My theory about zombie cat teleportation powers proved true as he was now staring at us from the middle of the street, waiting for the next car to come by so he can run them off the road and drink their blood.

Hearts beating rapidly, we quickly turned the corner to leave the intersection of Weird and Scary behind us. We passed a house where a couple was on the front lawn with their cute little 12 week old yellow lab puppy. The puppy ran up to Apollo and gave him a kiss. Everything was suddenly right in my world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I am also a crappy driver

I received a letter from the DMV telling me that my driving sucks and if I don't change my driving habits I'll be in trouble! This is all due to a "following to close" infraction on the Richmond/San Rafael bridge coming back from an agility trial in January and a "speeding" infraction on the Dumbarton bridge coming back from an agility trial in July. Hmm, agility and bridges seem to be the common link here... Well, and my driving.

Apparently I should have gone to traffic school instead of just paying the fines. But this all just leads back to my 'laziness' issue because there's no way I'm going to waste my time going to traffic school!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'm a lazy handler

I've been told this twice now by Sandy. It must be true. Most of our mistakes are not caused by an untrained dog or handling errors, they're caused by complete and utter laziness. Case in point, Bay Team GP Rd 2. Could you have not just taken ONE more step towards the tunnel, you lazy thing? Apparently not!

But now that I think about it, I'm really a lazy person in general (although I prefer the term "efficient"). I was never very good at taking tests, especially ones with essay questions. It's not that I didn't know the stuff, it was that I KNOW it, and it's such a waste of time to write it down. I'm all about the multiple choice! Too bad they don't have that in agility.

Monday, September 8, 2008

There are a lot of bugs in Texas

and I think they were out to get me. When I got to DFW and stepped out of the airport the first thing I saw was this huge cricket jumping straight at me. Ack! When I got to the hotel and was waiting for the front desk people to get out of bed and check us in, there was a huge beetle that started lumbering towards me from the bushes. I started to back away until I saw an earthworm just behind me inching along the cement. He was crawling away from me, towards the stairs. I have to admit that I was curious to see what would happen when he reached them. Would he fall down a level or do Texas earthworms have special stair-climbing powers? Before I could see, he abruptly changed course and started inching towards me! Now I was caught between a huge beetle and a bizarrely talented earthworm. Luckily, at that point the hotel receptionist opened the door and I was able to escape.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

USDAA Bay Team Regionals

What a weekend! Firstly I have to say I love my RV. I can't believe I ever lived without it. It's so nice to have a place to go to and relax at a trial. Although, come to think of it, I never did that. But it's nice to have the OPTION to go there and relax. What's even nicer is to not have to worry about getting up and driving first thing in the morning on a trial day. I can wake up and leisurely get ready for the trial (and somehow I still manage to run late!). But it's definitely more relaxing. RV, I love you!

Overall the trial was very good to us, although I choked on the big kahuna, GP Round 2. It was an easy course that we could have aced. I'm not sure we could have beaten Rob and Cap for the win (although it's possible...) but we definitely could have run that one clean. But NOOOOOoooOOOoo. I had to go and not support a tunnel entrance enough so Icon didn't take it. Before I knew it, he flew over a jump for an E. Doh! Maybe we are destined to start in the quarter finals this year at nationals. We do have one more chance this weekend in Texas, though. Other than that one boo-boo, Icon was awesome (ok, Icon was awesome all weekend, the boo-boo was mine). We qualified in everything else, with our only mistakes being a missed weave entry in SC rd 1 (but luckily we still made it to rd 2!), and a dropped bar in Snooker, which cost us 6 points and probably 1st place, but we still q'd. It wasn't a pretty run at all and I'm sure I caused him to drop the bar. We also had a bit of a weave issue in the opening of gamblers on sunday, but we did get the gamble for a q. I think I need to practice weave entries more. The problem is that his issues arise when he's approaching them full speed and it's not easy to get that in my back yard.

Icon had many brilliant moments on the weekend. On Saturday we won Team Jumpers, Standard and Gamblers and came 2nd in Team Snooker by one point. Pretty freaking awesome to do so well at a regional with 48 dogs in our jump height! Our other notables were an apparently spectacular Jumpers run on Monday where I had people approaching me all day saying how amazing the run was. It was very very embarrassing to say the least, but nice to hear :) And to wrap up the weekend Icon won 26" Steeplechase! That was a nice feeling after totally screwing up his GP Rd 2 run.

Apollo was such a good boy all weekend. He didn't have a voucher for GP Rd 2 so we had to get there the hard way, and he did it in style, but the judge called his up contact on the dogwalk so he got there with 5 faults. What a stupid rule. His approach was totally safe for it, but just because he naturally strided over the contact he gets called. That's ok this year, but next year they are not allowing faults in GP so that would have been considered a non-qualifying run (btw, Icon also got called on his up contact, and thereby lost his 2nd place in GP Rd 1. Apollo clearly missed it, but I think Icon's was a bad call - boo!). In his Std run on Sunday, Apollo fell off the dogwalk :( While massaging him later I noticed that he had a scrape on his arm from it. Poor guy. He didn't run as well the rest of the weekend, although he did run clean (according to me) in GP Rd 2 (the judge though his missed his dogwalk up contact) and got a bye into the semi's at nationals (Yay Polly!!) and came 2nd in PSJ Rd 2 (and won $48!!) He definitely wasn't moving with his Polly Pep after the dogwalk fall, though :(

Foster also had a fun weekend with a bunch of dock diving! A friend took him on Saturday because I was too busy with the trial, he didn't get to do any on Sunday, which was my fault because I had him up at the agility site instead of down by the RV where Chia could grab him and take him in the pool. But on Monday he got to go back again and he was doing some great jumps for a 75lb dog! He made 15 feet! I'm thinking about entering him in another competition because I think he could do well :) Due to the trial, I didn't let Icon do any dock diving until end of the day Sunday and end of the day Monday, but he loves it so much. He also had some really nice jumps going over 16 feet. He has great speed on the dock and if he would get a bit more height he could be a contender! But it's not something I'm going to train for ;)

So I had such a great time at the Bay Team regional. On Saturday night we had an ADCH bbq for Debbie and Shadow, where we had WAY too much food (but it was yummy) and it was freeing cold. On Sunday I had fun hanging out with Debbie and bbqing even MORE way too much food white it was still freezing out. This was the first time we both had our RVs at a show and it was fun!

Ok, here are some videos from the weekend:

Icon Team Standard

Bay Team Saturday Icon Team Standard from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon GP Round 2 :(

Bay Team Sunday Icon GP Rd 2 from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon Masters Jumpers

Bay Team Monday Icon Jumpers from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon SC Rd 2

Bay Team Monday Icon SC Rd 2 from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Polly GP Rd 1

Bay Team Saturday Polly GP Round 1 from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.