Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ocea - The Portuguese Water Dog

Hello - Ocea's episode of The Dog Show is on the Internet!
Over the summer Donna Chicone asked me (Kristi) and Ocea
to be on the show to talk about PWD water trials and demonstrate water work.
She came to the lake in August and filmed Ocea doing a variety of exercises,
and in early January we went to the TV studio to film the interview.
The show is on many community cable stations
(see the "Stations" section in the website),
and is also the featured episode (#38) on the homepage right now.

Check it out at:

(Kalista's Cerulean Wave CDX RAE AX MXJ WWD SROM)
is Nina's 1/2 sister

She's an awesome Water Dog!
Excelling in Water, Obedience and Agility!

Not to mention a GREAT COMPANION!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Newest Orange Team Member! MARTI!!!!

Carrie and Mike are the proud new owners of MARTI!!
A little Cardigan Corgi.

They made a 'world wind' tour over the weekend to pick her up.
Chicago, Pittsburgh, Chicago and then the Perkins
parking lot in Cedar Rapids so we could
SQUEEZE her first hand!!

I even got to potty her!
I think???

Helpful hint for potting Corgi puppies.
They are so short that you have to look
for the tail to be in the air to know if
they are going!!

Not sure what you do with Pembrokes?

You can squeeze her yourself this
weekend in Davenport!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January Boredom!

We've had several weekends at home and
we're itching to get out and run some agility!

It could be that we haven't seen the sun
in about 10 days. Seems a lot longer.

It could be it's been too cold, windy, rainy or icy
to really do much outside.

It could be that we;re tired of cleaning out
cupboards and cabinets!

Mostly I think, we're just ready to
have a little FUN ALREADY!

This got me to thinking about the new
2010 agility season and what will help
us be successful.

I found a couple quotes I like.

If you can dream it, you can do it!
Walt Disney

Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you're doing,
you will be successful.
Albert Schweitzer

Looking forward to seeing
everyone next weekend!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weave Pole Performance

Photo by - Marsha Kingsley
See her amazing photos at:

If you’ve been around agility for any time at all, you’ve probably seen a number of different training methods for weave poles. Let’s face it, they ALL WORK! Weave Pole Training Methods, along with Religion and Politics are one of those topics you’re 'almost' afraid to bring up. Followed closely by Contact Training, but that’s another post entirely.

Way back in the day, there was the ‘push pull – lure method’. By George, those amazing dogs GOT IT!! Of course, almost everyone had a strong obedience background, so the dogs only weaved on the left. If you could weave on the right, you had us ALL IN AWE!!! I’m NOT MAKING THIS UP!

Then there was the ‘weave-a-matic’ craze. You might also know it as ‘canted poles’. The poles started out flat on the ground and you slowly raised them up. The drawn back on this method always seemed to be that last 2 inches. If the poles weren’t slightly canted, the dog just didn’t see the entry.

Followed closely by the ‘channel weaves’ which as it implies involves two channels, each channel having 6 poles placed approximately 42” apart, as you brought the poles together you’d have your 12 weaves at 21” width. Like the weave-a-matics, they last couple inches seemed to be the issue.

The ‘newest’ craze (it’s not actually super new) seems to be the ‘2 by 2’ weave method. This involves training 2 poles at a time, using shaping and placement of reward. This method does require that the handler understand the importance of placement of reward.

All of the above methods will work. All are interesting, and can bring about a rather lively discussion for those that have really strong feelings on training weaves. I’ve used all of the above, so I too have my opinions, but I’ll refrain from that discussion for now.

The discussion I was really heading toward, although I took the ‘LONG WAY AROUND THE BARN’, was the use of wires.

At a recent agility trial a friend and I had a brief, and thought provoking discussion about using weave pole wires. First off, in case you’re afraid I’m against wires, I own a set!! A really nice aluminum set to be honest! Does that make me pro? I don’t know. Well, kind of. Boy am I ever wishy washy! Yep, that’s me! FOCUS ESTER!!

She has a big dog, let’s say over 22”. I’m not even sure how we got on the topic of weave poles, but it might be that we both have dogs that are younger and were discussing the channel vs. 2 X 2 method. She then pointed out that she really didn’t like the wires as she felt they hit her dog’s legs when he’d stride, thus made the weave poles uncomfortable to perform. Hum, interesting. I’d never thought of that. We didn’t talk about it very long, but it sure did make me think. Sometimes this is actually a GOOD thing!

So, I began to think back at the training methods used on our dogs. (I just need to interject here that when I say ‘our’ dogs, I really mean Bill’s dogs. I am strictly the dog trainer and handler. I have CATS!) G

Molly – She was just a little thing at 11.25” and she learned via the push/pull method. Weaves were a struggle throughout her career, but when wires came along they were a GOD SEND!! They allowed ME (I was the one with the problem) to trust her during training, knowing she’d be successful. I LOVED MY WIRES!!

Kruz, Nina and Mad all learned with the ‘Channel with Wire Method’. Looking back I made MANY mistakes. First off, I started them all WAY too young. Well, not Mad since we didn’t get her until she was 2. Kruz and Nina however experienced the running through the chute as puppies, while we told them to “WEAVE”. I’m just sitting here shaking my head. You poor ‘kids’, how did you ever learn? I did a GREAT job of teaching them to run straight by a line of poles!

Kruz and Nina are/were both at or over 21’ tall. Kruz is right at or very close to 22”, Nina was a strong 21”. They both had longer legs. Kruz never had very good footwork in the weaves, unless they were opened up just one inch, at that time he’d perform a lovely one step. Nina developed a nice bounce back and forth in the weaves. If however the weaves were opened just an inch, she would one step. Mad is 19.5” tall and would always one step.

So, here’s where I got to thinking. With the taller dogs, were they bumping those wires with their legs, thus causing them some discomfort? Was I accidentally ruining a nice weave pole stride? Did Nina compensate by going more up right in a bouncing motion to avoid the wires? Did Kruz, being a Border Collie, a breed that works lower to the ground in comparison to the Portuguese Water Dog, do the only thing he could to avoid the wires? Develop a poor stride. By opening that channel just one inch, did that allow them to stride comfortably through the channel with the wires on? It’s sure something to think about.

Mad and Seeker are both smaller dogs, both measuring around 19.5-20” tall. So, for them, the wires may never have been an issue. Seeker did see the channel with wires for a very short time, but most of his training has been the ‘2X2 Method’.

Will I give up my wires? No. I do think they offer a lot of value for those that don’t have a clear understanding of how the “2X2 Method” works. I believe they can be a great aid for those that aren’t quite ready to ‘trust their dog’ during training. Wires aren’t perfect, you obviously have to ‘get rid of them’ before you can trial. But I do still LOVE my wires. I will, however, be more aware of the dogs’ size and how they interact with them. What an interesting and thought provoking discussion. THANKS WENDIE!!

Friday, January 15, 2010


From the USDAA Web Site -

We are pleased to announce that we have received a Letter of Commitment from the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville to host the Cynosport World Games on October 13 - 17, 2010. Options are also being offered for 2011 and/or 2012.

The facility is home to the Kentucky State Fair and the Kentuckiana Cluster of Dog Shows and has ample RV and general parking, and includes both indoor and outdoor areas for competition and other use. Much of the competition and the finals will be held in the Broadbent Arena on packed dirt and will be streamed live via the Internet.

We are working diligently with the facility, local sports commission and hotels to secure room blocks at favorable rates.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting the Most out of a Fun Match

I don’t often refer to other posts, but I think this is really a good one.
It ties in really well with the last post regarding being a good dog trainer.

1/12/2010 - What's Holding you back?

This also reminds us how important HOME WORK is!
That’s really all our weakness are, something to strive to improve on!
Don’t be fooled, everyone and every thing has something that can be improved.
If you don’t believe that, look at how far cell phones have come!
Remember the BAG PHONE!!
(If you don’t, I don’t want to know!)
We had one! Ollie chewed the cover off!! LOL

I went to an “Agility Show and Go” Sunday afternoon at a site that will be hosting an AKC Trial in a couple weeks. As I watched dogs and handlers run through the course, I noticed many missed opportunities where the handler could have rewarded their dog for a job well done. The event did have a very large turn out, which made it very trial like, so what better reason to make sure your dog is rewarded. I do understand that people don’t want to take up a lot of time when so many are waiting, and I agree. You can, however, ‘pick’ those areas you really want to focus on and reward for those performances.

What concerned me most were the teams that obviously had areas that needed some attention, but rushed through that sequence, just to get off the course. Maybe a better choice would have been to work on that area and then skip the rest of the course?

I do see the logic behind running a whole course to see ‘how you’ll do’, the first time. Searching for that ‘break down in training’ and your ‘Home Work’. The second time however, most dogs know where they are going, so, you’ve lost the opportunity to see how your dog will truly do. Instead, it might be best to look for areas to reward. It could be your contacts, tight turns, weave poles, front crosses, rear crosses, let’s not forgot holding their start line position!
There are so many things!

Just something to keep this in mind the next time you attend a ‘Fun Match’.
You do want to be conscious of not taking too much time.
At the same time you want to be sure you’re providing your dog with the positive
feedback that will ensure he continues to perform at his best at future events.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Makes A Good Dog Trainer?

Here are some traits that I feel make a good dog trainer.
(Listed in no particular order)

1. Purpose - Have passion and purpose when training your dog.
If you don't have it at that moment, then you shouldn't be training.

2. Respect - Treat your dog with the respect she/he deserves.
You’ve made the decision to compete in agility.
You pay the entry fees, drive the vehicle, haul the crate, etc.

3. Teamwork – Work on your relationship EVERY DAY!

4. Change – EMBRACE IT! Change is good! Challenges are GREAT!

5. Communication – Help your dog understand what you want, by having clear criteria in your training and handling.

6. Self-Development – The commitment to continue building your knowledge in regards to dog behavior, and new training techniques. Be sure to be 'open' to those new training techniques. Search for the methods that best fit your dog’s learning style, and realize that "one size does not fit all".

7. Vision/Goal – Have a vision/goal for yourself and your teammate.

8. Faith - Have faith in your teammate and your training!
A 'CAN-DO' spirit goes a LONG WAY!

9. Perseverance - When break downs in your training occur, and they will, look at it as 'homework'. Something you can work on together and emerge stronger!

10. Positive attitude - Your teammate knows the difference!
Be positive! Be confident! SMILE!!! Enjoy your dog.

Enjoy the Journey!

Photo by - Marsha Kingsley
See her amazing photos at:

Can you think of others?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What is the Steeplechase?

It's a Tournament game designed to show
a team's ability to work at speed.

Bottom line, it's a jumpers course with
Weaves and A-Frame added in order to
add a little twist of difficultly.

There are two rounds of competition.

Everyone who's entered runs in Round 1.
You must qualify, being within the time allowed,
(which is determined by the fastest 3 dogs in
each height), in order to move to Round 2.

You pay one entry fee,
with the chance to run twice.
The second run is for MONEY!
Don't get too excited,
it's not usually that much.

As far as scoring, you do not have refusals, it's just time.
A bar down adds 5 seconds to your time, as
does a missed contact.
Thus you can drop a bar, or miss a contact
and move to Round 2 if you are fast enough.
An off course, like in every class
is an Elimination. Or NQ.

Steeplechase also requires that you
complete either the Weave Poles
or A Frame twice in a course.
Thus, if your Round 1 has the weaves
twice and you make it to Round 2,
you know you'll be facing the A Frame twice.

Below is the Steeplechase Course
from Saturday in O'Fallon.'
The cut off for qualifying time was
35 seconds and change.
The fastest time was 28 and change.
This course had weaves twice, so
you know what that meant for
Sunday! Double A Frame!

Here's Sunday's Course.
Seeker took the off course tunnel on
the way to the #16 A Frame.
That tunnel was just too tempting
after the other two times through.
He was in pretty good company.

This is a really fun class, but
you'd better have your running
shoes on.....oh and a lead out!

That discrimination is 60' from the start line!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh What FUN!

Sunday didn't go so well from a "Q" stand point.

From a lessons learned stand point...WOW!
Seeker ran Jumpers first again.
Seeker's 'one jump' syndrome,
reared his ugly head...again!
Hey, it's just one jump and
I know he can keep them all up.

The trend of the weekend,
or maybe it's a USDAA thing,
was depressed jumps with a
turn in the opposite direction.
We did pretty well at these overall,
but it did cost us a "Q" in the Grand Prix
as Seeker turned in the 'logical' direction
and I was late on my call. Thus he took
an off course jump. RATS!!

It seemed to be one thing or another.
An off course 'usually' my fault.
Or one bar down, his fault.
We came away about even for the weekend.
If we could only coordinate our 'Screw ups' on the same runs! G
Stuff happens!
Bottom line, we had fun and
we got to take ALL the dogs home.
Sound and healthy!
You can't get a better prize than that!

The trial was held at a brand new soccer complex.
It just opened in November,
it was very nice!
We had to use a back entrance for the dogs,
apparently they couldn't
afford a handle for this door yet! G

I loved the duct tape handle!

We did have a lot of fun.
Kruz was stacked on top of Seeker's
crate all weekend which allowed him
to watch every single run!

He might have had more fun if he got to
run too, but he'd have to jump a bit
higher than we'd like. Thus, he got to watch!

We worked a lot of classes.
It's a great way to learn!
Not to mention, people notice!
Cynthia sad that the 'orange people'
are always willing to help out!
What a GREAT compliment!
Not to mention I won the

Michele H - You can have the basket,
for a raffle or prize at the ICDOC obed trail,
minus chocolate of course! G

I did some scribing, gate stewarding, and
also tackled the 'bowling sheet'
for Starter Gamblers!
That was FUN!!
Like I said, 'A great learning experience!'

We hung around for Rnd#2 of Steeplechase
to gain some experience.
He did very well, but had an off course.
That's the 'kiss of death' and an elimination.
No matter which class it is.
You'll just have to trust me when I say,
"You don't want to hear the toot of the whisle"
Yep, just like in TRACKING! G

Here are some of the 22" dogs that ran
in the Second Round.

I will admit, it looked like a BC convention!
There were a lot of Aussie present as well.
The 22" and 26" seemed to be dominated by
herding dogs or mixed breeds.

And Finally.....What's the best way
to top off an agility weekend?

But finding a pair of ORANGE SHOES!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Seeker AD!!

We started the day with our Starters Jumpers class.
(Novice for you AKC only folks)
I really wanted this leg so I could move into all t
he Advanced (Open) for the next trial.

It was rather challenging when compared to the
other 3 times we've been in Jumpers and dropped

This was actually a GOOD thing for us.
Seeker has to focus a bit more.
He got'er done!

We had a biff in Snooker, Gamblers
and Standard, nothing huge, but
non qualifying.

We pulled it together where it counted however,
and got another Qualifying in the Steeplechase!
That's the GOOD NEWS!
The bad news is it's the last class tomorrow!

Steeplechase is so much fun.
Dogs and handlers are pushing as hard as they can
and the crowd really gets into it.
Today we had double weave poles,
thus, tomorrow will be double A-Frame.

I asked Bill if he would tape the 22"
Steeplechase class tomorrow.
I'll make up a You Tube video.
They are FUN to watch.

Today's favorite breed -
A little Corgi JRT Cross.
He was CUTE!!!
(Carrie, I got you video!)

Favorite Dog Name -
A pug named Heloise.

Favorite 'little dog', Roxy a
small labradoodle.
Meme, she looks 'just like Vinnie'!
(Got you video too!)

Hopefully we'll be on the road by 3.
Fingers crossed, we finished at 6:30 today.

Have a good evening!

Friday, January 1, 2010

USDAA O'Fallon, IL - New Years Weekend!

What a way to start off the year!
Yep, with an Agility Trial!!
It doesn't get any better than this!
(Okay, if it was 5 hrs closer, that would be nice!)

Oh, did I mention it's SNOWING!
Bill said, it's just flurries, but 90 minutes's still coming down!
So much for skateboarding in a clean parking lot!

This is a 3 day trial with today's classes for teams and pairs.
Since I don't know the rules, and don't have a teammate,
(2 GOOD REASONS!) we just drove in today.

Tomorrow Seeker will be running in 5 classes.
Advanced Gamblers, Adv Standard,
Starters Jumpers (we really need a leg!!),
Starters Snooker, and Steeplechase.

Sunday he's running in Adv Stnd, Grand Prix,
Starters Jumpers, Starter Snooker,
Adv Gamblers and Steeplechase rd,
if he makes the cut.

Keeping track of what classes to enter is like
tracking your credit hours in college,
without an advisor!

USDAA doesn't allow move ups the same weekend.
Thus, we need one more leg in St Snooker, but
if we get a leg tomorrow we can't move up until the next trial.

If we can get just one Starter Jumpers leg,
we can move into all the Adv classes
at our next USDAA trial.

We're trying to earn his AD, Agilty Dog,
but need 3 judges and thus three weekends to do it.
It seems that you only have one judge per weekend.

Any level dog can enter the Grand Prix or Steeplechase.
These classes are needed in order to be
eligible to enter USDAA Nationals.
It will be held in the Fall of 2010.
Where? I'm not sure yet.

I honestly don't know any other reason
you'd enter these two classes?
Other than for fun and money!
I'm sure they are needed for something,
but I'm not sure what.

Maybe I'll ask tomorrow?

Until then, hug your dog and stay WARM!