Sunday, February 26, 2012


Today was a good day for us at Riverside.  Here's a play by play:

Round 1:  Jackpot Level 4
     This was a non-traditional Jackpot and it was a bit of a puzzle to plan.  There was a jump in the middle of the ring that was worth nothing by itself, but doing it successfully meant the next obstacle's points were doubled.  You could do that jump as many times as you wanted but could only do each other obstacle twice, whether doubled or not.  Anyway, Jonah did well in our opening and was much farther along when the buzzer sounded than I had expected he would be.  The buzzer meant we still had 18 seconds to collect points and get to the table, so I improvised and got some more points.  It turned out I played the timing pretty close, as I was within a second of the time, but we got the Q and 1st, and only several dogs in the whole trial had more than our 56 points.  I think most of those dogs were fast small dogs who got more time.  Anyway, it was a fun run.  Jonah's A-frames were excellent, but his DWs weren't.  The DW was pretty wobbly--lots of dogs were bailing or being generally tentative.  Jonah ran over it pretty well but was clearly a little nervous and ran through his 2o2o.

Round 2:  Wildcard Level 4
     This run started with a jump to a tough discrimination that lots of dogs were missing, but Jonah nailed it with another gorgeous running A-frame contact.  Good boy.  The course was running well until we had to jump right next to the crowd.  He got nervous, looked at them, and I didn't support the jump well enough, so he ran past it.  Luckily there are no refusals in CPE, so we just turned around and he picked up speed again pretty well to finish the course much more confident.  We were the only dog in the class, so we got another Q and 1st.  Even with the little incident he had one of the faster times.  I think the fastest dogs were 5 seconds faster.

Round 3:  Colors Level 3
     WE GOT OUR COLORS Q!!!  This was a pretty straight forward course.  I wanted to do a BC but chickened out and did a FC instead.  Other than that, it ran fast and flowing.  Jonah didn't show any signs of nervousness.  We did come in second by less than .1 second, though!  Oh well, I'm super happy to have the Q.  That's all I really want.  Now we're only one Colors Q away from our Level 3 title.  It seems funny to still not be a CL-3 since we already have 20 Qs at levels 4 and 5, but that's just the way things have turned out.

In other trial news, Jonah was mostly very good with other dogs today, and only barked a few times in the very close quarters.  I never blamed him when he did bark--there was just not enough space and people were not very aware of where their dogs were.

Dave and his parents were there watching and Jonah never looked for his dad, which was great.  They were sort of hiding in the spectator corner, and we made sure that Dave was already there before Jonah and I came in.  Dave played with Jonah outside, but once it was time to go inside we stayed separate.  That seemed to work really well.

Overall, it was a great day.  We got home before 2:30 since we just ran the three classes, and now it's time to get ready for having the family over for dinner tonight.  Good day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Try it Again...and again...and again!

We went to run thrus yesterday to get another shot at the jumpers course.  The tough section looked like this:

In class, Jonah had turned really wide over 5, and his wrap at 7 wasn't great.  I had tried:
1.  Handling 5 and 6 with Jonah on my right and RCing 7.
2.  FC between 5 and 6, shoulder pull at 7.

At run thrus I tried:
1.  FC between 5 and 6 (with me staying close on top of him to really force a tight line), Ketschker at 7.  The FC was much better than last night, although still not as tight as I'd really like.  The Ketschker didn't work too well.  Jonah got confused and back jumped.  We're just not very used to Ketschkers.  When I did the BC part, I moved sharply to my right, opening the bar back up to him.  If I had held my ground better and just run straight ahead he wouldn't have been unclear about whether or not he was supposed to jump the jump again.

2.  Ketschker at 5, FC wrap to the left at 7.  This time the Ketschker worked brilliantly.  His turn at 5 was perfect.  Then the FC wrap at 7 was messy and he went wide.  Oh well.  I was psyched about the Ketschker.

To finish the day we did a novice standard course but I made sections of it into gambles.  He was great with layering a jump to go out to the teeter, but he popped out of our weave gamble.  It was tough:  I was a good 15-20 feet away, the weaves were right into the wall, and they were right next to the other dogs (of whom there were 11!  good business for Grace!!).  He got the entry and would weave all the way to 11, when he wanted to peel out early.  It wasn't great, and too bad that it was the end of our day, but it was a tricky question, and we got it after a couple 'oops' moments.

One woman told us how she always loves to watch us run.  It felt so nice.  Grace also commented on how 'experienced dogs' were flying through one section but green dogs were always taking a funny look at it.  She included Jonah in the 'experienced dogs' category.  I guess it's all about what your reference point is, but it's cool that he's getting towards that point.  What a good boy he is!  Hopefully we'll have a good day at tomorrow's trial, too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Class Review

Jonah ran tonight's first class well, but lacking a little umph.  It included two discriminations, a pinwheel, a serpentine and some other challenges.  Jonah ran clear right to the end, when he popped out of the weaves at the 11th pole.  The weaves ran straight into the wall and they were the last obstacle.  Honestly, I had taken my eye off him at the last second to see where to throw the bait bag.  I wouldn't have noticed he didn't finish the weaves if the others didn't tell me.  Oops!

Luckily we got to run it twice.

The second run was excellent all the way through.  On the first time, I'd gotten ahead of him at the DW and he did his 2o2o but he didn't drive to it quickly.  This time I stayed more even with him and he actually went much faster.  I'll have to remember that.  I was good about jackpoting the great contact before we went on (honestly, though, he just wanted to keep going--I don't know how much he cared about the party).  I ran the serp on the other side this time.  Both worked well, but it was good to try something different.  This time I trusted him in the pinwheel and busted my butt to get in a FC after it.  It was actually quite nice, and I always enjoy a handling challenge :).  I stayed more connected for the weaves this time, and he didn't have any trouble.  Overall, the course was fast fast fast, and his lines were good, too.

The second course was a jumpers course and honestly I wasn't pleased with the way it went.  I mean, we got all the obstacles and didn't drop any bars or anything, but he was just really messy with his lines, making very wide turns.  I tried handling different parts different ways, but I never figured it out quite right.  I'm glad there are run-thrus tomorrow.  I'm going to think about it a bunch and try again.  When I watch some of the international handlers, they seem to really micro manage a lot of turns, so I might try to play with that rather than sending him out and trusting him to turn nicely (which he didn't).

Riverside Trial Preview

This Sunday Jonah and I will head up to Riverside for three runs.  Here's what we have to look forward to:

Round 1:  Jackpot Level 4
    This will be a nontraditional Jackpot, which is generally easier, although we nailed the USDAA 'traditional' gamble this past weekend!  It looks like Jonah will actually only be the only dog in 20" level 4. Sounds like our odds are pretty good :).

Round 2:  Wildcard Level 4
    Last time we ran wildcard at Riverside it went really well.  The only concern is that, because Riverside is on the smaller side, off-course options are even closer together!  I'll just have to keep him connected and focused (although our standard run last weekend proves that this isn't always easy).  Again, I think Jonah will be the only dog in the class.  Of course, a Q is always more important than a blue ribbon.

Round 3:  Colors Level 3
    I would REALLY like to get this Q.  All we need for our Level 3 title is 2 colors Qs.  If we get this one, we could finish our CL3 at All Dogs in a few weeks.  It just seems silly to me that we're so far behind with colors.  If things go well in colors, it's easy, but there's just not a lot of room for error.  Last time I took my eye off him and he missed a jump.  This time I need to give him 100% focus.

The other factor this weekend is that Dave's parents will be in town and are coming to visit.  That wouldn't be any problem except that there really is not much spectator room at Riverside at all.  Combine that with the way Jonah acted with Dave around last weekend means I don't know exactly how things will go.  There's also tons of downtime at trials and not a lot to really do with the family between runs.  Maybe I'll look around and see what's in the area.  Anyway, I'm going to have to let Dave be in charge of all that--there's enough to do already at a trial without having to entertain guests, too.  On the other hand, I'm so proud of how Jonah is doing, and I love to show him off :)!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Beginning of an Era?

So I often talk about agility.  Usually Dave is interested as a kind husband who cares about his wife and his dog.  But recently I've peaked his interest in agility when I've talked about how I believe a really athletic handler could do exciting things for the sport.  He watched the starters and advanced teams this weekend and now he agrees with me.


I finally got him to try handling Jonah!

Today I set up a fun speed circle, and they flew around.  It was just jumps and a tunnel and very basic.  I'd run it with Jonah this afternoon so he knew what to expect.  They did miss a couple jumps at first, but they both had fun and ran fast.

Next time Dave says I can set up an 'S' where they actually have to change directions :).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

ADG USDAA: Big Ups, Big Downs!

Sorry I forgot to post a trial preview.  I'm not sure how that slipped through the cracks.  Anyway, the trial's over now so it's time for the recap.

Round 1:  Steeplechase
     I thought this would be a good chance for Jonah to get a Q in Steeplechase because there were no masters classes today, so I was hoping most of the masters teams wouldn't come.  Well, that was partially true, but there were still 18 dogs in our division (only 2 or 3 dogs in any other height category--yay 22"!), and many were very competitive.  I didn't think it was that bad a course, and I was feeling pretty good about our chances.  Well, that didn't last for long.  The beginning of the course looked like this:

Well, Jonah was excited and started good and fast.  He was flying through the weaves and I started to peel off so I could get in a landing side FC on 4.  My lateral distance pulled him out of the poles at pole 11.  Not wanting to go back to the beginning like I should have, I tried to get him back in at the last pole, but he was confused and back weaved.  Grr.  So, by obstacle 3 we were eliminated.  I was frustrated, but the rest of the course actually ran pretty well.  I was a little flustered after the weave incident and ended up changing some of my handling on the fly because of it, but he went clean the rest of the way and was running pretty well.  His A-frame contacts looked great.

Round 2:  Advanced Gamblers
     So when they gave out course maps, our gamble wasn't numbered.  It looked like this:

I stupidly hoped for the best, thinking the first jump would be the unwinged one on the line, with a 90 degree turn to the left to the poles.  I thought that if I got him going fast enough at the jump he would jump big and the weave entry wouldn't be bad.  Well, it turned out that the first jump was the winged jump, so we had to layer the other.  It was extra tricky because, as this map shows, the winged jump was right in the corner of the ring.  The obstacle closest to it was a chute pointed away from it, so it was just very difficult to get there.  I watched all the performance dogs go and no one qualified.  I watched the first few championship dogs go, including one dog who is really phenomenal (won the GP national title last year), and no one qualified.  It was really hard.  So, I didn't think we had much of a chance.  We had a nice opening, though, and when the buzzer rang we headed over to the gamble.  I'd timed it pretty well.  I sent him out to the jump and then pushed and yelled "Out!  Weave."  And he did.  While he was weaving I had a conscious moment of, "Be quiet Katie.  You better not screw this up."  And I didn't.  He went straight to the end and flew over the final jump.  So...we actually WON our first Advanced Gamblers!  I don't know what to think, but it's pretty awesome!  A few other dogs did end up Qing, but the rate was very low.

Round 3:  Advanced Standard
    This was not a hard course.  However, Jonah saw his dad from across the room while we were waiting to start, and it was pretty much over before we started.  His opening line was alright, but then we got to a tight spot with a RC.  I didn't give him a great line, and I take full blame for him missing the jump.  But his brain totally left at that moment.  It took me a while to get him back going.  But then, before I knew it, he was off looking for his dad again.  It was pretty embarrassing.  He'd do a couple obstacles and then totally disconnect.  This was the same dog that had just had a phenomenal gamblers run.  Not this time.  He jumped immediately off the table, he missed an easy weave entry, he ran past jumps.  Then, after he finished, he left the ring without me to go find his dad.  It was awful.  I had to be stern with him to get him to wait long enough to put his collar on.   So...his contacts did look excellent, but that was about the only thing that went right on this course.  Sigh.  Maybe next time.
     This last run was so frustrating because I don't know how to practice it.  Dave comes to our classes regularly and Jonah never even notices.  Yet at trials he can't seem to focus if Dave is anywhere in the room.  The only way to practice is to have Dave at trials, which then means we don't do well.  It's not a great situation.  I'll have to think more about options, but for now I'm frustrated.  At least we had the awesome gamblers run!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I love my dog.

It's pretty great to have one hour of awesome set aside every week.  It's not like we have perfect lessons all the time--we make our share of mistakes, but it's just SO MUCH FUN!  There are lots of times where I have the privilege of seeing Jonah really happy (like, every time I come home, whenever we play, when he romps wildly around the yard...), but none trumps when he's doing agility.  I'm so lucky to get to share that happiness with him.

At class tonight, there were bunches of things that Jonah did very well.  They included:
-A frame contacts.  They were awesome every time.
-We did beautiful threadles.  They were fast and efficient.
-Table performance.  It was looking very good.
-Distance.  I worked on handling weaves, a push to a tunnel, some jump work and a push out to the teeter all at some distance, and he was excellent.
-Discriminations.  We did a bunch of them and he was perfect every time.

Here are some things we had more trouble with:

This was the beginning of our first course.  When I walked it, I thought it was pretty straight forward.  I like to run with him form the start when I can, so I was planning on RCing 3.  Well, Jonah was so high starting out that he wasn't paying as close attention to me as when he's settled in.  By running with him, the angle from 1 to 2 was slicing 2.  As he was jumping 2, he saw the A-frame.  I called him off it, but the line was pretty wide, and then his angle of 3 was awkward so he turned wide from 3 to 4 as well.

The second time I ran it I made sure to push a little wider between 1 and 2 so he was straight from 2 to 3, but it was still a little messy.  If I'd done it a third time I would have just done a lead out, and I think it would have been more tidy.

This entry required patience on my part.  The first time we did it I was already moving forward when he exited the tunnel (I had to handle the weaves with him on my right), and it made him enter at the second pole.  The second time I came to a full stop and waited for him to come in towards me so he straightened out his entry.  When I was patient, it worked.

Recap from Last Week

Here are some videos from run-thrus last week.  Not our best work, but his A-frame is looking pretty good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Sorry I've been so quiet lately.  I have video to post from last week's run-thrus, and I never posted about last week's class.  I'm currently in the process of trying to put an internship together this spring, but it's proving to be very time consuming and frustrating.  Hopefully things will be all set soon.

Anyway, here are some gambles Jonah and I did yesterday.  He was awesome!  Maybe we'll even get the gamble this will be our first Advanced run!

This was the only one we didn't get the first time.  Jonah came back over the offcourse jump rather than driving forward to number 4.  The second time we got it:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wrap exercises

In the last few days I've set up this course from agilitynerd and played around with it.  I really enjoy it!

There are some trees to work around in our area, so some of the angles were slightly different, but in general it gave us a lot of good questions.

-We had some trouble with 2 to 3, where Jonah took the off-course jump at 4/12.  It took a much harder call than I had expected on paper or walking it.  Other than that, it ran smoothly.

-Next I ran the course backwards.  The only spot we had trouble was 6 to 5 (weaves to jump).  I tried to peel off pretty far, thanks to a tree being in the way.  That pulled him out of the weaves.  We actually had to practice that a few times before he would charge straight through the weaves with me about 12-15 feet away.

Sequence 2:
-I thought this one was lots of fun.  I really liked 4-8.  I ended up putting a FC on the landing side of 5 and then another between 6 and 7.  When I looked at the map I thought it looked pretty demotivating to just spin around in circles that much, so I wanted to change it by turning him the other way.  It worked really well and he was super drivey with good tight turns.

There was one more sequence but I haven't done it yet.

I really liked these, though, and it was nice to have tough exercises from an easy setup.  Thanks, Steve!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Last Week's Lesson

I realized I never posted about our last lesson.  Whoops!

It's been a full week and I have to admit that I don't remember everything, but I'll highlight a couple things.

1.  The first two obstacles looked like this:

I was worried that, if I ran with him from the start like I usually do, I would be putting pressure towards the tunnel as I went around the weaves.  So, I led out.  I guess I took my eyes off him when I released him, because as I started running for the A-frame he took the jump, found his weave entry and was half way through the weaves.  Oops.  Not exactly how I'd envisioned it.  The second try went perfectly, and the third time I ran with him, and that worked fine as well.

2.  A second challenge looked like this:

We actually didn't have any trouble with this, but I was careful to talk to him while he was in the chute and I was completely stopped when he came out, so he collected, adjusted his line and went on with the course.  I did it both as a push (with him on my right) and a pull (with him on my left).

3.  This was where the real fun was:

Grace dared me to try to get a BC in either between 3 and 4 or after 4, as that set up well for the next section of the course.  I determined that the only way I would be able to do that was to stay 'above' the teeter, layering 2 and 3 with the teeter.  I was pretty sure he would drive out to the tire, but I was worried he would come in towards me and miss 3.  I figured it was worth a try, at least.  The result was:  Jonah was perfect!  He was super drivey and charged to the tire.  I gave a strong 'out jump' command, and he flew over 3 and 4.  Of course, I was so excited that he'd done it that I forgot to put in the BC!  That's alright, though.  I was very proud.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another one Bites the Dust

Ugh!  I just didn't get in to another CPE trial.  This is really forcing me to change my plans.  I now don't think it will be possible for us to have finished our Level 4 title by nationals, and I'm worried that we might not get into nationals, either.  Unfortunately there's no good USDAA trial to fill in for the one I just didn't get into (there's a local one that weekend, but it's all masters).  I'm going to enter another CPE trial in March, but now I have no confidence that I'll get into it, either.  At this point, I've gotten into 2 of the last 6 CPE trials I've entered.  Humph!

February Goals

January was a very good month for us, and it's looking like February will be too!

Here's a review of our goals from January:
1.  I'd like to practice running Jonah with another dog in the ring, in a pairs-like setup.
     Yes!  It had mixed success.  The first time, Jonah got loose and decided to chase Zer.  That was bad.  The second time, there was no chasing or barking, but Jonah was clearly very distracted and ran right past the jump closest to the dog.  That was not great.  The third time, Jonah didn't notice the dog at all!  That was excellent!

2.  I'm hoping for a successful first pairs run.  It would be excellent if we got the Q and finished our Starters title, but so long as we don't have a terrible experience I'll be alright.
     A+!  We did it, and now Jonah's an AD.  It was a lovely run and Jonah was not bothered by the other dog in the least.  What a good boy.

3.  Take Jonah on a socialization outing at least once each week.
     Yes.  We were quite good about this, and Jonah went on several trips to Willards, Beaver Brook, Petco, Chiesa Farm and probably others.  He was excellent both on and off leash.

4.  Bring the pause table inside and practice with it frequently.
     Nope.  There's still no snow, though, so we were using it regularly outside until last week when I picked it up.  Now it's on the porch and I should just bring it inside so we actually use it.

5.  Build a weave entry trainer and use it inside.
     Yes.  It's not a thing of beauty, but it works.  The trouble is that we don't really have that much space to practice all the angles of entries.

6.  Take advantage of our contacts still being outside as long as they're there.  Maybe even do some discrimination practice.
     Yes.  Looking at the weather, I don't think I ever should have brought them in.  Anyway, we did get good practice with them and we did discrimination sessions a few times.

Now, looking ahead to February, we still have two weekends off before we trial, since I didn't get into one.  That means, as far as trials, we have a USDAA trial on the 19th and then a CPE on the 26th.  

For the USDAA trial, we're entered in Steeplechase, Standard and Gamblers.  These are potentially tough classes.  Steeplechase is always hard to qualify in just because it's so competitive, but I'm cautiously optimistic because there's steeplechase in the morning and then just Starters and Advanced classes all day.  I'm hoping all the Masters dogs will stay home!  As for Standard, most Advanced courses don't look that bad to me, but it's our first time at Advanced and there's no room for error.  In gamblers, we just don't have super distance skills.  It's certainly possible that we could get an Advanced gamble, but it's not certain by any means.  

The CPE trial will give us shots at Colors Level 3, Wildcard Level 4 and Jackpot Level 4.  There shouldn't be many surprises there.

Other than that, it's practice at home, classes and some run thrus.  Here are some goals:
1.  Get at least one Q at the USDAA trial.  The Standard Q would be extra valuable!
2.  Get at least 2 Qs at the CPE trial.  If I don't get the Colors Q I might cry.
3.  Get video of one day's courses, whether at class, run-thrus, or one of the trials. 
4.  Set up at least one gamble a week to practice on distance skills.  
5.  Bring in the table and work on a fast down with a solid stay (at least now that we're out of starters we only need a cumulative 5 second count, not a consecutive one!).
6.  Get to the point where Jonah understands the wrap exercise where he should turn inside the tree/cone/marker.  Also have him be consistent in turning the correct direction when I send and pull, FC, RC or Ketschker.

I really would like snow, but it looks like at least for the next 10 days or so we'll be able to do lots of agility!