Friday, December 21, 2012


Dogs' first real snow (more than an inch) in Virginia, 2010. (Bentley 3, Lexi 1)

They are calling for snow today... maybe 2 inches?  I'm bummed because I have to work all day!  I'd rather stay home and play in the snow with the dogs.  They love it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Day (Day 2 Recap)

 Masters Snooker:

Bentley:  I can actually laugh at my husband because I think this might be his worst Snooker outing ever (with both dogs).  It was just a really tough course, he's not used to not Qing!  Not many dogs (I don't think any that I saw) went for all 7s, which definitely says something about the course.

I was a little irritated because the running order had Bentley and Lexi running back to back first and second (on the running order Jonathan is listed as running both).  I know that Snooker order is randomized, but a good trial secretary should check through it and move dogs if there's someone running more than one.  Luckily a couple people were nice enough to move (in Snooker you aren't allowed to move down since you could gain an advantage, only move up, so we were at the mercy of others).  But even then Jonathan basically ran the dogs one after the other.  (You can see in the video I'm trying to keep Lexi occupied and somewhat quiet while Jonathan runs Bentley and vice versa).  One thing I noticed is that Bentley is great at convergence (like when coming over the perpendicular yellow jump).  Bentley dropped a bar in the closing and didn't have enough points.

Lexi: Really loved that she respected Jonathan's position at the outside of the tunnel and was prepared for a turn.  That was nice!  The tunnel was just to start the timer, and was a "dead" obstacle in the opening.  I thought it was brilliant of Jonathan to send Lexi through as he made his way across the course.  It kept her occupied, and gave her a better angle to the jump.  You can tell that Jonathan is not used to running her as he really didn't cue any of the turns until after Lexi was in the air.  That's why he got such wide turns.

Because she didn't stick to his plan and went into the tunnel, her off course in the closing left her without enough points for the Q. 

Steeplechase Round 2: 

Bentley:  After seeing how he almost didn't make the finals in the first round, Jonathan decided he would try to push Bentley for speed.  You can see in the video that he doesn't do much of a lead out, and is doing a lot of cheerleading.  I can tell--Bentley is definitely running faster!  In the end he was only 1 second slower than Lexi (she had a brief mistake), compared to 4 seconds slower in the first round.  Of course, he also misses his a-frame contact, but that's something we can proof in practice.  He also does no rear crosses, and uses pushes when he can.  Like I said, I can really tell a difference.  I think we'll see more of this from them going forward.  Because of his fault at the a-frame, he ended up not placing.  But still, a really nice run!

Lexi:  The really wish you could have seen the beginning of the run.  I got a really nice push to jump 4.  I also debated long and hard about what to do heading towards the broad.  She has a tendency to tick the broad (doesn't see it enough), so I wanted to make sure I showed enough motion, but there wasn't as much space beyond the broad as I thought (I originally wanted to rear cross on the flat), but the front cross worked out really nicely.  She squared up and it worked.  If I had shown more deceleration the run towards the tunnel would have been cleaner, but I'm still happy with it.

I knew I would have to bust my butt to beat her out of the tunnel to help her with the weave entry and I just didn't get enough push out.  I still know she's capable of it in practice, but in a trial she doesn't want to slow down to collect for the entry.  More work for sure!

Masters Pairs:

Lexi:  We didn't enter Bentley in Pairs (he has his Relay Master, and honestly I think it's kind of a silly event), and Lexi only needs one Q for her Relay Master and then we never have to enter it again.  I looked at the course map and felt really good.  Silly me, I didn't even think about the fact that I would need to give her a clear cue about where I was as she exited the tunnel.  I showed no motion to indicate I was rear crossing until she couldn't see me, so of course she came out and looked the wrong way.  At that point, it was too late to salvage as she grabbed the a-frame.  Luckily our partner was really nice, but I was irritated that I didn't handle better.  Though I should compliment Lexi on her wonderful start line stay even as a dog was running in her line of sight, and I was moving away from her.  She also nailed the weave entry like a good girl!

Grand Prix:

Bentley:  Poor little buddy took quite the tumble off of the teeter.  He's pretty bad about waiting for the teeter to slam, and then immediately jumping.  We proof it quite a bit in practice, but do allow him to hop off in trials as long as he rides it until it hits.  This is the first time I've seen it backfire.  It hits, he jumps, and it hits him again as it bounces back up.  (Side note, we took him to be adjusted yesterday and the chiro said he was fine, not even sore.  Whew!)  Oh, and these are lovely 2o2os we're getting, aren't they?  (NOT!)  But again, he did a nice job and Qd earning him his Tournament Master (10 Tournament Qs with at least 1 in each event).

Lexi:  I felt bummed out after this run, but honestly the only mistake was at the weaves, so I'm okay with that.  I think I was just disappointed because I knew the weave entry would be hard, but I decided against front crossing (knowing she would then get in) because I felt like that was cheating, and I should be able to cue a turn.  Not sure why she popped them...because she's a naughty, excited girl, that's why! :)   Clearly she saw me peel off and the dogwalk, but finishing the weaves independently is something she's typically good at.

 Masters Standard:

Bentley:  Last class of the day and I could tell that my pups were tired.  With Bentley, that's not unusual.  We opened the crate door and he didn't get up.  That's saying something!  Despite that, he ended the day with a bang and a Q in Standard.  That was his 5th Masters Standard Q, and his SAM (Standard Agility Master) title.  Crazy enough, my boy only needs 2 Qs for his ADCH!  I can't believe it!  (Of course they are Masters Gamblers Qs, so it could be awhile, but still...I'm SO proud!)

You can see in this video that he hops off the side of the teeter (after the incident in Grand Prix).  We'll have to make sure he's comfortable hanging on in our upcoming practices.

I also feel like Bentley's speed was pretty good in this run.  I remember almost 2 years ago Stuart Mah told us that even if Bentley will never be light speed that we should set speed goals with him.  One of those was a 45 second Standard course.  I'm not sure if we've ever achieved it, but this one was around 47 seconds.  I think that if Jonathan had tightened up some of his backy uppies (and trusted Bentley to make the turns) he would have been there!

Lexi:  My girlie was tired.  Yes.  Let me say that again.  She was tired.  Unheard of!  If you compare her dogwalk to the ones from earlier in the weekend you can tell she isn't all-out running.  Despite that, and some sloppy handling on my part, we managed a Q to wrap up our weekend.  She is now only 1 Standard Q from her MAD.  That seems crazy, too.  Wasn't she just a puppy?!

I decided to lead out on this course and show ZERO forward motion to see what kind of turn I would get.  It was decent, but I still feel like knowing that there was no motion it could have been better.  Of course I could have trusted her and taken off sooner, too.

My happy dog self released on the a-frame requiring me to do this weird, semi-rear cross to the table.  It worked, though I'm not sure how!  Sloppy rear cross on my part going into the chute, but we managed to keep it clean enough.  I don't know if you can see it in the video, but I'm laughing all the way to the teeter and telling Lexi "Sorry girl!"  And then possible the best part of the weekend...the turn heading towards the weaves.  I got a nice, tight turn.  HOORAY!  Then she nailed her weave entry.

And even better news?  We took Lexi to get adjusted yesterday and the chiro said she felt good.  Needed minor adjustments and was a little sore in the shoulders (probably from the a-frame crash on Saturday), but seemed fine and healthy.  Terrific!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bentley the Star! (Day 1 Recap)

We are back from our trip to Indianapolis.  It was a lot of fun.  I guess I forgot how much I love being out there with my dogs, my husband, and my agility friends.

I will say that it wasn't what I expected.  The building was small with really tight crating next to the ring, only 1 ring, and no where to walk your dogs inside (no paths, halls, etc...).  It rained and was freezing the first day, so getting Lexi out, warmed up, and exercised was really tough.  I did find that we could walk up and down the stairs (there was a little loft area) and do some tugging up there, but again, space was really cramped.  Even the second day when it wasn't raining I didn't feel comfortable letting her off leash to fetch and tug outside because we were close to a busy street and she seemed a bit more worried than usual (because of all the dogs in close proximity).  Needless to say, she was pretty amped.

 That being said, we were really diligent about stretching Lexi out, and getting her nice and warm.  I used her Back on Track coat for the first time when she was in the crate.  I was using it when she went outside too, but the little brat chewed off the leg holders and now it won't stay on her!  Guess I'll have to learn to sew :) 

Oh and the greatest news?  She had no health issues at all!  I could tell by the end of the weekend that she was tired (that is honestly a FIRST), but she had no limping, nothing but all-out running!  And speaking of all-out running, we were a bit of a mess.  Obviously out of sync, and out of control.  But oh well, there were some really nice things interspersed with the crazy.  And I keep reminding myself that 6 months ago I was crying hysterically because I didn't think she'd ever be able to play again!

So on to the recap...

Masters Gamblers:

Bentley: I posted about it last week that I had a really good feeling about Bentley's distance skills.  He's been working really hard to actually go out and look for something that isn't right in front of him.  And I was right!  He nailed this one, and honestly not very many dogs did.  The skill required was honestly just distance.  There was no tricking the dog using motion (you can tell from the map there is no way to show motion because of the location of the tunnel and the dogwalk).  I wish you could see it in the video, but Bentley came out of the tunnel, looked at me, and saw that I had my hand out and looked away and found the far jump.  I was thrilled. 

Lexi: This run with Lexi was entirely my fault.  The opening was actually pretty nice, and then I got greedy.  I ran her before I ran Bentley, and I thought I had all kinds of extra time, so I decided to do a second a-frame.  That's when the buzzer went off, of course, and Lexi bailed on the a-frame and I frantically tried to get over to the gamble.  I don't think she could have done it even if I had set her up correctly, but it definitely made things a lot more frantic.

Masters Standard:

Bentley:  Mr. Consistent did a great job on this course.  I always knew that once we fixed (don't know that fixed is the right word...but slightly improved might be better) his contacts, he wouldn't have much trouble with Standard.  He rarely takes off courses, and is fine with tight turns.  He did almost refuse the tunnel, but managed to salvage it despite Jonathan's slightly muddy cues.  Discriminations are also no problem--as long as you want the contact!

Lexi:  Well, let's just say that I don't even want to post this video!  But, in the interest of learning and getting better, I guess I should break it down and figure out how/where to improve.  First--the good.  I really liked her 270 recall to heel at jump 4.  That's no easy feat for my girl.  Watching the video I'm still not sure why she pulled off the jump before the chute.  Yes, I dropped my hand, and yes I peeled off, but this is the dog that needs only an arm forward and she'll commit 6 feet before the jump.  I'm not mad because that's not a bad thing, I'm just surprised because it's unusual for her.  The tunnel issue was my fault.  It looked momentarily like she might take the wrong end of the tunnel, so I yelled her name and she pulled off (good girl).  I should trust her more.  The sequence to the table and the heading towards the dogwalk was pretty good.  I wish I had show less motion at the double, but the layer of the jump was nice.  And then she took the tunnel.  I never would have thought she would have taken that.  I thought she might take the close tunnel, so I played it safer that way, so I didn't say her name.  After that I decided I would practice, so I made her hold her dogwalk then wanted her to get into the weaves on her own.  I swear, she can do that at home!

Masters Jumpers:

Bentley: Again, Bentley almost takes an off course and then almost gets a refusal, but Jonathan has time to get him back on track into the serpentine and he runs clean and Qs!  I am always quite jealous when Jonathan gets to do a lot of pushes (where I have to do crosses).  Sometimes it's nice to be able to beat your dog.

Lexi:  I was really bummed after running this course with Lexi because I felt like she was capable of a lot better.  My biggest mistake was not trusting her at the tunnel and then not being able to make a front cross into the serpentine.  Having to do the rear cross put me behind and I rushed ahead, cuing her to run past the second jump.  Then she blasted out of the tunnel and ignored where I was and missed the 180.  I kept going and we finished nicely.


Bentley:  Little guy gave it his all and eked out a Q!  Jonathan and I have decided that the days of lead outs and rear crosses are mostly over for Bentley.  We've come to realize that he has most of the skills, so it's time to work on speed--something Bentley has never really had.  You can see at the yellow jump towards the end how a front cross would have pushed him to move faster.  I told Jonathan he has to stop being a lazy handler!

Lexi: I thought Lexi did really excellent in this class.  Of course it's her favorite (fast and furious, right?) but I was super proud because I think I got a pretty nice turn headed towards the broad jump.  Also notice that she wanted to cut behind me out of the green tunnel, but was a good girl and didn't!  She did take off way too early for the double (was I in her way and she couldn't see it?)  Then she smashed into the a-frame out of the tunnel and I got worried.  As she came into position she stopped and I said "Are you okay?"  (Okay is her release word--oops!)  But little girl did awesome and got a Q!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Boy

I really should be packing for this weekend now (we're leaving tomorrow right after work), but I have to at least take a minute and share how proud I am of Bentley.  We have been trying to build in some distance work in all of our training.  And our trainer has been really good about helping us find ways to run sequences and throw in some gamblers skills.

I have to say, he has improved so much!  Of course there are things that he is more likely to go out to than others (weave poles and the dogwalk!), but he is now willing to turn away from us, and his tunnel sends are better (though definitely his weak spot).

We have come so far from this video (taken over 2 years ago)...I was so excited because this is the first time that we were able to consistently send him out to a tunnel at this distance...

And now I believe we really have a chance!  Always a work in progress, but he has really shown us that he is willing and able.  What a good boy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Progress..and Nerves!

I've posted about it pretty much everywhere else, but this weekend is Lexi's first trial since her injury/diagnosis.  I know that she is ready.  She's in great shape, is definitely light years stronger than she was months ago, and is completely healthy.  We haven't seen her limp since the very first occurrence back in July (knock on wood, of course)!

Also, this past weekend we took both dogs up to the building for extra practice.  At the end of the sequence was a straight line of jumps and I sent Lexi on ahead of me.  As she came over the last jump, she attempted to turn into me as she landed (since I was behind), she slipped and totally splayed out.  I held my breath...and she jumped up, barking at me!  Whew.  So needless to say, I'm quite worried about my little girl.  It's not like you can run her cautiously.  It's not in her vocabulary.

"Collection is for chumps!"
Since her return, she has also been a lot naughtier.  I felt like we were finally connecting when it comes to timing (mostly my fault!), and now I feel like I'm starting over.  She's also blowing me off a bit more than usual, I think because she is so amped up to be out there.  Her behavior off the course (or while waiting) has also deteriorated, so I foresee a lot more impulse control work (it never ends) in the future.  For example, I put her in a stay while we walked the courses in class last night.  She has a great stay, but honestly has a tough time while we're walking courses (who knows why).  But last night, she whined the WHOLE time she was staying.  That's unusual for her.  She also stood up once at the start line (which she does at home occasionally, but has never done in class).  I'm a bit worried about this and hope I can keep working it enough that it doesn't become habit.  Oh, and she also blew two dogwalks!  (That's like a bigfoot sighting, it happens so rarely!)  I was pushing for speed, and trying to alternate between asking her to hold and quick releasing, so maybe it was too much.

It doesn't help that it has been raining for the past week or two, and I've been working late so the dogs have gotten almost no training (and not as much exercise as I'd like).  They are a little over the top these days!

(I'll try to post the other half of this tonight or tomorrow...Bentley deserves his own post, too!)