Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MOVIES!!! From DSM/Davenport weekends

I must admit, Natalie's walk through Novice JWW was the BEST!!! She was following Johnette around the course, while carrying her little stuffed Siberian Husky, Sugar. Pretty soon we'll all be out there with our little stuffed 'perfect' dogs!! G

The You Tube posts need to be under 10 minutes in length. Thus, there are 4 of them. SORRY!!! I really tried to put them all on one. Oh well!!! ENJOY!!

Still awaiting a formal post from the Agile Reporter.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Criteria - Lessons in Life?


What a wonderful couple of weekends watching all the dogs run!!
I'm working on a movie, but with 99 videos to review, it could take a couple days! G

There are so many lessons to be learned in life. I often wonder whether I'll live long enough to learn them all. It's not likely, since I feel the need to repeat some of the same ones so OFTEN!

For the last two years, I've lived and breathed 'criteria', when it comes to working with Seeker. Life is made up of rules, you do your 'job' and I'll 'try' to do mine. Unfortunately, he seems to be the more successful one! In the spring we were having some "table issues", Seeker would touch and go. So, we played some games of tugging on the table, racing to the table, etc.
He developed a very nice table. So, today, he spun in front of, bounced off of, and pretty much 'dis'ed' the table. Hum........watch this clip and try to determine for yourself what went wrong. I'll provide you with my thoughts a bit later.

Did you know that the average human attention span is 15 seconds!
Is it any wonder we can't make it through a simple agility course without
thinking about what we have to do when we get home?
Am I the only one that does that?

I'm the ultimate in "FOCUS ESTER".
If you look up ADHD, there's my picture.
Of course, I'm ABD.
(All but Diagnosis!!)

So, back to this clip.
What is my criteria?

Well, Seeker must hold his start line. Perfect.
He must hold his contacts until released. Hum.....
He must go directly to the table and assume a down.

So, the table issue might be what jumps out at you initially. I believe, however, it was the teeter performance that caused our ultimate demise. You might need to watch the clip again, but on that teeter performance, I did NOT release him with that rotation. He released himself. Had my brain been engaged, the 'game' should have been OVER. By the time I figured out what just happened he was already over the jump and into the poles. As he's weaving I could justify the teeter performance.....um....somehow. I made something up on the fly! Honest, I was going to be able to justify my poor criteria performance! Either that, I was just going to hope that I was the only one that noticed! BAD HANDLER!!!

I 'reasoned' that if he missed his dog walk that I'd pull him. Seeker is one smart dog, he handled the dog walk perfectly. So, I front crossed the A-Frame and guess what happened! He left on my motion!! I jig and jagged and shame on me, I kept going! At this point in the game, our roles had reversed. Seeker was now the handler and I was 'along for the ride'. The voices in my head were screaming, "Make it stop", but it was like watching an accident unravel before your eyes, I was a helpless bystander in my own accident. Then came the table. How could I NOT pull him by then!! I wish I would have thought about it. My mind was back on the teeter that had started it all. Tell me, am I the only one out there that has a complete conversation with myself out on the course? YIKES!

Bottom line, I was taken by surprise. This little dog had 'lulled' me into thinking he wouldn't perform obstacles that didn't meet our criteria. This was a valuable lesson and I will in the future be ready each and every time I walk into the ring. I hope........

So, what is your criteria????

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thinking Outside the BOX!!!

I've spent the last 10 days running amuck throughout the Midwest one a whirlwind tour from Omaha agility, to Whittington, IL for the PWDCA Specialty and back to Des Moines for 3 more days of agility. Since I don't have the runs up loaded from the Des Moines Agility Trial, I thought I'd entertain you with a Utility A run from a very special PWD, Sydney! He only made one mistake, but being this was after 2 full days of agility, I think he was BEYOND exceptional!!

GREAT JOB Tracy and Sydney!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Omaha Sunday Results!! PWDCA Specialty Results

Kruz - Bill and Addie - Carrie, both DQ'ed on Sunday in Omaha!!!

Seeker finished up his OAJ to move into the Excellent A JWW class.

In Whittington, IL at the PWDCA Mad Dog showed in Novice Preferred and
went 4 for 4, with 4 firsts. No, she wasn't the only one in her class!!! VBG

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Omaha Trials - Fri/Sat Results

Well, we're in Omaha this weekend. On the Rhonda Crane "Midwest" Groupie Tour. I guess we didn't have much else to do this weekend. VBG

Carrie, Marsha, Bill and I have been keeping the 'orange crew' alive and well in NE. We were joined by Trish and Bichon, Angel, under Carrie's 'tent'. I'm not sure if Trish really wants to be seen with 'us' yet, but she seemed to hold her own. Angel gave Vinnie plenty of dirty looks.....just in case he was thinking of getting a little 'too friendly'.

Carrie and Addie earned a DQ on Friday!! GOOD JOB THEM. Kruz and Bill got a JWW 3rd and an ALMOST DQ in STND. They did VERY well. The rest of us didn't fair as well. We were all VERY close! We got finished just in time Friday afternoon, as the rain was coming in!!

Saturday we had several Q's, as well as many near Q's. Addie earned a Exc A FAST leg and a JWW 1st!! Betty and Frank earned JWW legs and I'm pretty sure there was a blue ribbon hanging on Frank's door. Seeker earned his first MACH points out of Standard and did some lovely things.

I'm off to Whittington, IL tomorrow, after we're done running, for the PWD Specialty. It should be fun, Mad will run Monday and Tuesday in Novice Preferred. We'll be back on Thursday, just in time to turn around and head to Des Moines Friday morning. These things always sound good at the time! G

Monday, September 7, 2009

USDAA Trial - Post 2

Down to the particulars of the weekend. Seeker ran 9 times, and he had a BLAST!! On Saturday he was in Standard, Gamblers, Snooker and Jumpers. Sunday was a repeat of these four classes with Pairs thrown in. Don't panic when you see the judge's arm flying around, it's just something they do. LOL

Our judge was from New Hampshire, Maureen Sullivan, and other than talking funny, she was absolutely the best. If she happens to be an AKC judge, GRAB HER!!! She was friendly and fun to work with. That was great, as she saw a LOT of us over the two days.

In USDAA an off course is an automatic NQ in any class. General Refusals are only counted at Master level, I think??? Weave pole refusals are counted at Advanced level once you get a correct entry into the weaves. You can still place, even if you don't Qualify. The following are used in scoring is S/Refusal/Failure/Elimination. I don't remember what the "S" stands for, no, it wasn't a four letter word. Although, that could apply here as well!! G I know they use the S for a missed contact and a bar down.

Standard is just like the AKC Standard class. Minus the broad jump. Now there's a PLUS! G I know they use the broad jump in other classes, but we somehow 'avoided' it all weekend. Seeker got 1st both days with Q's. There are 12 poles in all starter levels except snooker where there are 6.

Gamblers is what NADAC use to be back in the late 1990's. You have an accumulation period, 25 seconds for our class, then the buzzer sounds and you have 15 seconds to make the gamble. Obstacles are given number values, jumps are always worth one point, round obstacles (tire, tunnel and chute) are always worth 2 pts, and then it's judges decision on pt values. You can take as many contacts as you'd like, back to back is fine. You can only get the points twice however for repeating an obstacle. Seeker was very happy to find that the teeter was a 7 pointer on Sunday! Seeker got 1st both days here too, with Q's.

Snooker is a strategic game. At the Starters level, there are 3 red jumps position throughout the course. You must start with a red jump (worth one pt), then take another pointed obstacle, back to a different red jump, then a pointed, then the 3rd red jump, followed by a pointed obstacle. At that time you start at #2-7 and run the course. Weave poles at Starter level are not scored if you miss an entry, but must be completed. 51 points is the maximum you can accumulate. So on Saturday the weaves were worth 7 pts, so I did (3-7's), then my ending. I got the max points in the shortest amount of time for 1st and a Q. Sunday I was greedy and tried for 3-7's once more. I lost him in a tunnel and would have been fine...but I panic! UGH! That's a killer. We took #2 in the incorrect direction for a whistle. We still got 3rd, but no Q.

Things to remember about snooker, you can't take two red jumps in a row. You can't take to 'colored' obstacles in a row, unless you've completed all your red jumps. Then you do the numbers sequence. Finally, if you drop the bar on a red jump you need to go to another red jump. Are you confused?? I was too, until you ran it. Then it all made PERFECT sense! HONEST!

Jumpers is just jumps and tunnels. No weaves. Seeker got 1st on Saturday and 3rd on Sunday, but no Q's. He dropped one bar each day. Wendy with her Black Sheepdog, "Tempo" was there. She is pretty sure that Tempo and Seeker share a sire. The sire's Native name is "One Jump'. Thus we have Tempo On Jump and Seeker On Jump. Tempo was having the same problem Seeker was. We could be in Starters Jumpers for a LONG time. VBG

One funny thing about our Sunday's jumpers run. I took a 3 jump lead out and noticed a jump wasn't set correctly. I asked the judge if I could reset the bar. She said I could, so I walked over and reset the bar, stepped back and released Seeker. She said later, I've never had a handler ask to set their own bar while their dog waited at the line. She was laughing. Of course, she never had a worker - work the timer, scribe and set bars all at once either...but more on that on my other blog.

Pairs involves running a two dog team. Okay, let me clarify, you are only running your dog! There is another handler/dog team. If you know of another dog at your level, you can enter together ahead of time. That's what Seeker and Scorch did. If you don't have a partner, you can send in your entry and they will pair you up with someone. You can be at two different heights, one level apart. So, a 8/12, 12/16, 16/22, 22/26 can run together, as you don't do any of the others course. I believe you do at the upper levels in which there are 3 dogs on a team.

You get to decide which dog runs which side and you have a baton you have to pass before the 2nd handler can begin.

At first we named our team, "Boys will be boys", but then I got to thinking about the old show, "The Smothers Brothers" and how they would say, "Mom always loved you best". I guess we should have called the dogs, Tom and Dick! If you don't get this....please don't tell me. I know I'm old, but I'm in denial.

Seeker knocked a bar, but it turns out that's only a 5 pt (seconds) deduction, so we Q'ed with 2nd. YIPPEEE!!!! The yippee is for the Q, not the dropped bar.

Finally, the scorers sheet! OMG!! If you've ever had to keep a bowling score (On PAPER!), this is what it looked like! It's rather crazy, but you figure it out after awhile. I guess you'll just have to trust me on this one. I'm not even going to attempt to explain it here!

The best news is, they post this almost immediately and ribbons are self serve!! No waiting for the "Ribbon Police" to put that sticker on your ribbon so you can leave!!! In fact, we didn't even have running numbers!! That's right, no sticker for your shirt, no sticker for your ribbons. Crazy huh!!

There's so much more to tell and explain, but I'm tired! I think the best thing to do is go yourself, work a class or two. Not 9 or 12 like Bill and I did. Ring Crew of TWO!! I'm 'almost' kidding here. You all remember what it was like to be in "NOVICE"...you get NO respect. G

We did have a good time and Seeker thought it was a blast. Kruz got to judge all day and Mad was bored to DEATH!! They got a DQ cone on the way home however, so that was worth the trip.

Here's a combo of video runs. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, skip ahead to the ending. Seeker will let you know his thoughts on running 9 times in 2 days!!

USDAA Trial - Post 1

Have you ever traveled to another country where you don't speak the native tongue? Well, that's what happened to us this weekend. We entered our first USDAA trial up in MN. We've been competing almost exclusively in AKC, so for us, this was getting a bit out of our comfort zone. New verbiage was EVERYWHERE!!! Snooker, red jump, colored obstacles, pairs...oh you think you know the difference....thing again!

First a little background on agility evolution. Many people may believe that AKC has always had agility. Oh NAY NAY! AKC was actually the last registry to add agility to their performance events in 1994. Technically, UKC added agility in 1995, but it was an existing format.

Agility actually evolved from horse jumping in England. While equine courses were being changed, the dogs were the half time entertainment. This involved dogs jumping sequences. The big dogs jumped 36" and the mini's 18".

USDAA (United Stated Dog Agility Association) was introduced in 1986. It was based off the British standards in the sport. It too has evolved to lower jump heights and A-Frames. They have the Championship Level (26/22/16/12/8" divisions) and Performance Level (22/16/12/8" divisions. One interesting note here is that the Performance Level is extremely competitive in USDAA. It does not have the negative
connotations as you see in AKC. It think some of this has to do with the lower height for the dogs themselves. To compete in Championship level in the 22" class your dog must be under 21" at the withers.

Some of you might be thinking that NADAC was the next dog agility venue to materialize. Again, you'd be mistaken.

The second venue to come to the states was NCDA (National Club for Dog Agility) in 1987 by Bud Kramer. This venue was geared toward lower jump heights, reduced yards per second, actuary was scored, as well as a variety of other equipment. Crawl tunnel, sway bridge are a couple examples. The UKC purchased this format from Bud in 1995.

NADAC began in 1993 and was almost identical to USDAA at the time. The major difference was that the jumps were slightly lower, at 24". This venue has also evolved to lower its jump heights to a maximum of 20", lower it's A-Frame and removed the teeter, spreads, tire and chute from it's courses.

Now that you've had your history lesson for the day. Back to USDAA. (I'm going to do comparisons to AKC here, as that's the venue I'm most familiar with)

You have three levels.

Starters = Novice AKC
Advanced = Open
Masters = Excellent

You can just get those 3 level titles if you'd like. It's 3 Q's under 2 different judges, just like AKC. Or should I say AKC is just like USDAA??? Well, you know what I mean. So, you could get a Starters Standard Agility, Advanced Standard Agility or Masters Standard Agility (this takes 5 Qs).

That being said, most people go for the "Versatility Titles". Agility Dog (AD), Advanced Agility Dog (AAD) or the Master Agility Dog (MAD). These titles require the 3 Qs from the Standard Courses and one Q from each of the 4 games (Snooker, Jumpers, Gamblers and Pairs)from 3 different judges.

You can also title under each of the game classes with 3 Q's if you'd like to.

There's other titles out there, but my brain is tired, so if you want more information you can check it out on their web site!

I'll add a second post later today about our weekend. Seeker ran 9 times in two days. It's a great way to wear out your young dog!!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lessons Learned in Rochester

Seeker and I had a lot of "take aways" last weekend up in Rochester. There were some really great things and some things that challenged us and we'll need to go back and work on. I guess this will be an on going process of finding what works, what should have worked and Oh My Gosh, 'What were YOU thinking!!!'.

Let's start with the last thing first. I made a short movie video called, Seeker's Out Takes. You know, those things that you'd really rather not have your friends see. It's very short, one involves the table. You have to watch closely, as the table is rather far away, but as he jumps on it his shoulder catches and he falls on top of it. Both Rhonda and I are now laughing, what a klutz!! Seeker's take a look around like, "What just happened?" The second part of the clip is his fall off the dog walk. Trust me, it did NOT phase he. He probably risked himself move by trying to stay on then if he would have just baled. Bless his heart for trying. I was planning on stopping to see if he was okay, (he was), but he blew right past me, took the jump and entered the weaves before I had time to say much of anything. G

His Standard run had a lot of nice things in it. I loved the start. I thought it was going to be more difficult than it was, but I wanted to front cross between 3 and 4 to set a nice turn and I had plenty of time. His start line and table were wonderful, I couldn't ask for more. Now to pick. His contact pieces were slow, not totally sure where that came from, so this week we'll work on some running through and some contacts holds with tugging in the yellow. I'll see what we get this coming weekend. We really struggle with tight turns, or wraps around the jumps. This is mostly on my shoulders as I was really late on my pre-cues for the wraps. One coming out of the tunnel, jump and back to the dog walk. The other coming over a jump and into the chute at the end. No wonder he ended up in the next county!

His jumpers run on Sunday was probably the best of the weekend. Yes, he dropped a bar, but he really ran well. Getting picking, he could have been tighter going around both speed circles, but I think that will come with practice. Something else to work on. From a handling perspective, I could have been a bit smoother with my transitions of moving and letting up. So much to learn! But it sure is fun.