First Double Q’s, Sort Of…

Well there were 2 Q’s each day, which was awesome. Really. Less than awesome is our continued Standard Ex A curse/funk that we cannot get out of. Good thing though is I think I have figured that out.

Fun parts first. We were at Walnut, a site I really like. Both mornings were almost identical—chilly and running Time to Beat first, then Jumpers shortly thereafter. All the courses were pretty reasonable, lots of running and one backside jump thrown in for good measure (much to the horror of many of the die-hard AKCers in attendance). Forest was fast and furious, pretty much perfect for all four of those runs, saving me again a few times. We earned two Time to Beat Qs and our first-ever MACH points in both JWW classes. I haven’t run AKC since last year when I forgot to move us out of Excellent A, so this was our debut in the fun, fun world of MACH chasing.

Standard also could have been cut-and-copy from Saturday to Sunday as well. Both days weather-wise went from very chilly dog-shivering-in-his-sweater and gloves-for-me weather at 8am to dry and borderline hot by 11am. Also the Standard ring was more in the middle of the action, more in the sun, and according to Forest more-not-as-fun. Yesterday he checked out on me and sniffed off into a corner (possibly because I did a poorly-timed FC off the bottom of the Aframe earlier, maybe he was leaving me out of embarrassment), but we saved it until he hit the same corner again and did a wide loping turn, running around a jump. I didnt care at that point, we just kept going (and verbally goosed him out of the weaves, sorry pal). Today I knew he was a goner as soon as it was our turn in the ring—I warmed him up just a hair too much and he suddenly got too hot–he was fine one second then loopy and melting the next second as we walked into the ring. Popped his weaves and missed his Aframe contact. Oh well. Laurie also made a good point after the fact that we all need to be better about keeping our dogs cool, it was well-taken. I am/was in denial of it being 80 degrees in January, especially with the mornings being the way they were, but I still should have been more prepared and aware.

My epiphany today about our continued success on fast, flowy courses with lots of handling requirements (T2B, JWW, Steeplechase) opposed to continued failure on straightforward “all obstacle” Standard runs is this; we practice handling, a lot. Other than trialing, I dont know when the last time was we ran a full course with all (or even more than 50%) of the equipment. AKA a Standard course. My handling has gotten so much better and his confidence is so much greater. But, when I am too lazy to drag out the Aframe for months at a time and/or we only train short twisty jump sequences in a sterile room, we lose ground on some of that other important stuff.

So, the plan is to get back outside and get on some longer/full courses more often. I did rejoin the local club which I think I will be much more mentally prepared for this time around (as will Forest–the days of him charging other dogs or running away from me while on course are 99% over). I rejoined the club moreso with Phin in mind, but I think it will benefit Forest as well. I also have some agility friends who have a private field down in SD that I may be able to take advantage of (win!) and I may even see if I can squeeze in an occasional drop in class with my original instructor down that way as well. She has a great field, just need to see if I can get in a class and down there after work one in a while.

Lots of video from this weekend, I splurged and bought a few and have another view of our great JWW run from Saturday courtesy of Deb (thanks Deb!).






In Brief

We had our first trial of the year this last weekend and it went as well as I could have hoped. The Rabbit was in fine form, getting his crazies out first thing in Standard on Saturday then managing 4 out of 5 Q’s for the rest of the weekend. Steeplechase, Adv Gamblers(!), Grand Prix(!!) and Adv Standard. He was a bit silly, I was a bit ridiculous, but somehow we managed together to keep it together for the most part. At least enough to eek out the Q’s where it counted. He got many, many compliments this weekend on his cuteness and uniqueness which I gladly acquiesced with.

Not to say I don’t have a million more things I should be working on with the Rabbit (nothing new, all the same–ie. contacts and weaves), but it bears repeating that I love him lots. I’d felt rather disconnected from him after some holiday family drama and time apart, but I think we are back together mentally again. All it takes is a bit of extra training time, a weekend trial and getting to sleep under the covers with me for a few nights (Pete was out of town so the dogs get to take turns sleeping in their rightful spots on/in the bed!). I just need to remember to always support him out on the course, and as long as I do that, he really sticks his neck out for me. He saved me big time in our Standard run on Sunday after my horrifically slow FC off the Aframe. He darted around me and went exactly where he was supposed to—how he knew to do that, I have no idea. Same for his read on the Gamble on Saturday. I am still in awe of how that worked out…

I also am finally finding my “true agility friends” as Laura told me I would quite some time ago. She was right, it does take a while, but you start to figure it out after a few false fits and starts. We had our little oasis of niceness and normalcy at this weekend’s trial, lots of positive chat and support. I was pretty oblivious to the majority of general trial-related griping until I made the mistake of going home and looking at facebook. Bleh. Anyways, I am finally finding the good people. And it makes it just that much more fun. Which, we often forget, is why we do this in the first place. Lots of trials coming up in the next few months, looking forward to it.

Goals, née Resolutions

I’m not that great with resolutions. They seem kinda corny to me, not to mention I never really keep up with them. At least for the long term. I do however, like “goals”. Not so much starting over and admitting you were blowing something off in the first place as continuing on with specific road markers to guide you. So, these are our goals for the year.

Forest:
– clean up his contacts (go back to upholding actual criteria for his 2o2o DW. keep training the Aframe to remove the two-hit fly off issue we have once he gets really moving)
– finish his AX title (we’ve been in Excellent Standard for over a year and somehow only have one Q. That takes talent!)
– finish his AAD title, move up into all Masters
– get a Grand Prix Q
– if the GP Q happens we can think about nationals… but… I don’t know if we’re ready for all that. Plus the whole team thing is so over my head. I’d be terrified to let other people down, especially people I dont know very well… I would love to go on a roadtrip journey though, thats what I think is most appealing to me about the whole Nationals thing.
– keep him running “up” and happy, give him fair/equal time for training (at least the amount he needs, which is honestly not all that much)
– keep him fit, which should be easy as long as he is getting enough training, hiking and off leash time
– get his CA (Coursing Ability) title, or at least get him out coursing as much as we possibly can. That honestly is more important to me than any titles or agility accomplishments. The kid just wants to RUN!

Phin:
– keep working on the basics. clean up his heeling and get an actual “swing” (I hate heeling, which is evident in my resistance to training it). get better sits, downs from a distance. get a stand on verbal.
– keep working on handling–both agility handling on the flat and more importantly, everyday let-me-look-in-your-mouth handling.
– make a decision about his dogwalk–running or 2o2o–and stick with it. I have been waffling on this for this exact reason; I know once I decide I cant go back, so I am stalling. I may keep stalling and give him a few more months to see if age helps at all with running the plank (instead of thinking its a bounce obstacle). In the meantime we’ve starting training an isolated 2o2o on equipment/props that hopefully wont confuse the issue.
– try some fun runs and practices in the Spring
– technically he could start running AKC as early as March, and I know he could do Novice JWW just fine, but I think I will be waiting ’til May at the earliest. There are 2 back to back AKC trials down in SD in May, so we’ll see if he’s ready for that by then.
– try to have him ready for USDAA starters in the fall. He’s eligible in June, but September-October is probably more realistic.
– keep looking for somewhere we can train outdoors with a good teacher, ideally who knows Mecklenberg, but thats a stretch down here in SoCA.
– get up to see Rachel Sanders at least once, hopefully more than once, for some guidance.
– do some coursing with him as well, he loves it almost as much as the other brother.

Diego:
– stay fit, happy and healthy
– give him lots of love for being a good “TM”

Me:
– look into permitting and local laws for future business plans
– get my CPDT-K”S”A certification (Certified Pet Dog Trainer–Knowledge and SKILLS Assessed).
– teach my upcoming classes with an open mind and truly learn from my students
– be EXCITED(!) about teaching Obedience!
– find more agility and performance training mentors I can speak with regularly and openly about Phin and our training goals and challenges
– stay positive, calm and collected, regardless of what is going on around me. 🙂

Happy 2012.

He’s Official

He being, “officially”, now AKC- and USDAA-registered Los Rios’ Gut Feeling. AKA Phineas. A crazy sounding name with a few months of well-pondered reasoning behind it.

Los Rios is the name of my family’s ranch, still in existence, but unfortunately no longer in our family. It was my grandfather’s and his father’s apple ranch in the San Bernadino mountains, I’ve talked about him here after his passing last year. I am not certain, but there are plans with some of my remaining family members to keep things alive in some way shape or form, and down the road, my dream is to be a part of Los Rios the next. And, of course, all the dogs will be a part as well, so Phineas has been deigned the founding canine member of the Los Rios kennel name.*

The “Gut Feeling” part is sort of obvious, but also has a double-meaning. Obviously I took a leap of pure dumb faith when I decided to take him. I knew it wouldnt be easy and I did it against both my and other involved parties’ best judgement. However, I now know my instinct was correct, and he is becoming exactly what I was hoping for, a brilliant performance dog. To top it off, one of my favorite Devo songs is “Gut Feeling” and its eerie, bizarre tone is quite fitting for Phin. Really powerful and unique and capped off at the end by crazy rock out mayhem… I was driving a few months ago and it came on unexpectedly, and it just struck me as so him…. I think its a perfect fit.

Los Rios’ Gut Feeling aka Phineas at 12-13(?) weeks.**

In more Phin news, he has made me feel better about his ability to operate “normally” in public. We stayed at a friend’s house for New Years last night. This AM we walked quite a bit and graced two separate breakfast/coffee establishments. He was extremely well-behaved (as long as his brothers weren’t kegging off on their own little tirades—yappers), and even solicited petting from a “mature” gentleman who was parked next to us at a nearby table. I think the elements that made him okay with this specific guy were, 1) the outdoor, unfamiliar environment, 2) the fact that he had been able to acclimate to this man from about 20′ away for a good 20 minutes before we got up to leave and walk near him, and 3) the fact that the guy remained seated and had a pretty calm energy. So… at least I am narrowing down his triggers. He seems to be mostly set off by restricted space, sudden environmental changes and areas that he feels are “his”–ie the training center and home. Also in both my parents homes he is a bit of a liability, so I am learning where he needs to be carefully managed. But today he got a gold star—holding his mat stay with his bros while little kids roared around us, birds darted in and out of the bushes and other (less-well-behaved, ahem) dogs barked and strained at us.

Proud of my boy today, a great start to a New Year. Happy thoughts to all of you.

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* I propositioned Pete to change Forest’s name as well but was denied. So Forest shall remain, just Forest. Such a simple name for such a complicated dog….

** Yes, I was a rotten person and put a GL on this squalling puppy. Feel free to yell at me…