Monday, August 30, 2010


The Rocky Mountain All Terrier Club hosted a three-day AKC trial at Arena Sports which is a very nice indoor soccer field. I love running my dogs on this surface. Joan Meyer was the judge and she designed some very challenging courses that were fun to run. A lot of extension leading into technical sequences and then ending with extension again.

Friday Summit double Q'd with two awesome 1st place runs (no video). Saturday, I pulled him off of a tunnel (refusal) in standard and then he won jumpers that afternoon. Sunday he won standard in the morning and then popped out of the weaves in jumpers (I stumbled and he turned his head to look at me and came out). I was very happy with all our runs. There were a few places where I would have either changed my strategy (RC to tighten up a turn vs. FC, etc.) or I would have improved my location or execution but overall, I thought I handled well (even when we had a double Q on the line) and didn't play it safe.

I also realized that Summit didn't drop a single bar all weekend.

Saturday's Standard run. NQ (refusal at tunnel). I did not support the tunnel. But I am very happy to see his response to my shoulder's turning away and lateral motion. Great dog!

Saturday's Jumpers run. 1st place 21... seconds. I LOVED the ending. It was a straight-out sprint to the finish.

Sunday's Standard run. 1st place with 35 seconds. Had a bit of a wide turn at the jump before the table. I did a forward motion front cross and even though I left him on the dogwalk and didn't release until I passed the panel, it was still late. In hindsight, I would have decelerated and sent to the jump and then pulled to the table.

This was Soleil's second agility trial and she was AMAZING! She was quiet in her crate. The only time she barked was when I would get Summit out of his crate (to go potty or to the ring) and it was just a few little yips. On Saturday, she got to play with her two Sisters who were there (both went to performance homes). I also brought her long-line and there was a nice grassy park next to the building where we could play chase and tug while she could run dragging the line. She got to experience a lot of activity and met lot's of new dogs including an 8 week old Aussie puppy.

This coming weekend we have a three-day USDAA trial outdoors at a wonderful grassy site with a lake.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Videos from FRAC USDAA trial

Masters Standard - Second place

Steeplechase Finals - Elimination

I changed my strategy at the last minute (without walking it). What WAS I thinking;-)

Steeplechase Round 1 - First place

Masters Standard - Third place

Summit also qualified in Masters Jumpers both Fri. (1st place) and Sun. (4th place) and Gamblers and Pairs Relay but I don't have video of these runs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Weekend of USDAA

Friday morning Donna and I drove up to Laramie, Wyoming for a 2 1/2 day USDAA trial at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. This is one of my favorite venues as no matter how hot it is outside, it always seems to stay cool in the arena. It's also a one-ring trial so no conflicts and one can relax and watch the Starters and Advanced classes.

The judge was Tom Kula and as usual, he had some challenging courses that were a blast to run! Friday we had three classes. Summit won Round 1 Steeplechase, qualified in Masters Gamblers, and won Masters Jumpers.

Saturday he placed 3rd in Masters Standard (I held all three contacts to make up for the quick releases in Steeplechase), he had a beautiful run going in Grand Prix but came shooting out of a tunnel at the end and past the plane of the next obstacle (jump) which originally was directly in front of the tunnel exit but by the time we ran, the tunnel had shifted and I didn't notice. So we had a refusal there but I was really happy with his run. Snooker.... I ran both Sage and Summit and it was one of those Snooker classes that had the Red-Color-same Red combo which I can't ever wrap my head around and so by the time the walk-through was over, I still didn't know what I was going to do. So I didn't make it very far in the opening with both dogs. They decided to run Steeplechase Finals that evening instead of waiting on Sunday. I was tired by the time we walked the course and since I won Round 1, I was last dog and changed my strategy (without walking it) and chose to RC the broad jump instead of staying on the inside and pushing out to it. My timing was off and my lateral motion into Summit to cue the RC cued the wrong course tunnel instead. Oh well, Steeplechase finals is for pushing for speed and trying new things and it was a good lesson learned.

Sunday we were 3/3 again. Summit placed 2nd in Standard with held contacts. Had a smokin' fast run in pairs and our team placed 5th. Our partner was Taz, a Keeshond, and who is Summit's age. That afternoon we qualified in Jumpers (4th or 5th?) with some wide turns on a very difficult course.  Jen filmed some of our runs and I will post them as soon as I receive them.

So now Summit is also just needing a single Snooker Super Q for the ADCH title!

I am confident Summit will earn it soon. I am not so sure about Sage... but that is ok. She earned a MACH and because of the challenges we faced as a team, I never expected her to earn a Championship title at all.

Soleil had a lot of fun playing tug ringside, meeting new dogs, playing with a young Corgi and BC, and there was even a kid with a plastic tricycle for her to observe. She went for walks around the fairgrounds and met some goats. She was good in her crate even when she was not sleeping. This was her first hotel experience and we were on the 3rd floor of a Holiday Inn. Jen, Donna, and I reserved a suite and Soleil happily settled in the hotel room with four Border Collies and slept through the nights in her crate. I received a lot of compliments on her boldness and confidence.

This week we have a three-day AKC trial in Windsor at a very nice indoor soccer field.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Running Contacts and Soleils new BFF

The half day running contacts seminar with Daisy Peel was awesome and I am very excited to teach Soleil running contacts. She'll have a running dogwalk and aframe and a four-on for the teeter.  I have some preliminary skills to work with her on such as building rear-foot awareness and driving independently to a target. The same stuff I taught Summit but with a different end purpose.

This morning we worked on a nose touch to a target. She figured it out pretty quickly and was driving about five feet away from me to touch the target. We'll play with backing up and putting back feet on an object tonight or tomorrow.

Here is a video of the little Miss playing with her new BFF, Nova. This was at the DOCNA trial that we visited on Saturday. I should mention that all the chase games I've been playing with her paid off on Saturday. One time I let go of her leash to unwrap it from around a chair and she darted off towards the rings. Not trusting her recall (she was on a mission) I yelled "reaaaaady" and turned and ran the opposite direction, she immediately switched gears and spun around and chased me in the direction away from the ring. Luckily the ring was empty (this was a two-ring one judge trial). Thursday, Summit has a full day Masters level handling session which should be a great learning experience.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another fun weekend and socialization continues

We had a busy weekend and will have an even busier week. Saturday and Sunday morning I had the best trail runs with Sage and Summit. The weather has been on the cool side (67 in the morning) and perfect for running on the forest trails. Soleil got to visit a DOCNA trial on Saturday where she met lot's of new people and their kids and friends' dogs. I was very pleased with her focus in a very distracting environment. She performed sits and hand touches on cue. She also got to play with Jackie's BC puppy, Nova, who is the same age. Later Jackie and I walked down to the creek and Soleil had fun jumping into the water (yes! she loved the water). I brought home a wet, dirty, and very tired puppy.

Sunday I took her to a friend's house where she met Sage's littermate brother, Taz, and the other BC's including 6 mos. old Meg. Soleil was her usual confident self and although she was keen to play with Meg, the size difference was too great. Soleil will have to grow a little bigger first.

The training challenge continues and Soleil is now offering all four feet in the tuperware lid. At first, I found that although I clicked for all four feet, by the time I offered the reward, she had already moved her two front feet out of the lid. So once she was offering walking onto the lid with all four feet, I started to anticipate and click sooner so was able to reward for the correct position.

Currently on cue:
Nose touch (to my hand)
Sit (still fading the hand signal)
Recall (pretty reliable in most cases. I use her name when I know she will come. If I'm not sure, then I use Pup Pup).
Ready (drop the tug and get ready for another game)
Go Potty

This afternoon I will be auditing a half day running contacts session taught by Daisy Peel. I would like to do running contacts with Soleil.

Thursday is the all day handling session and Friday we leave for Laramie, Wyoming. This will be the first trial I will travel to with three dogs. Luckily one is only 5 1/2 lbs.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ricky's Training Challenge

Summit enjoying his pool on a hot day

This morning Soleil and I participated in Ricky's Training Challenge. Our challenge? Shape Soleil to get all four feet in a large tupperware lid. We had a slow start with Soleil offering all the behaviors she's learned this week. Finally she looked at the lid and I marked it and then she took one step towards the object and I marked that... it went fairly quickly from there. She is such a smart puppy and shaping simple tricks like this is really improving my timing and concentration. A couple times I clicked late or didn't click a response when I should have but by the time she was consistently walking up to the lid, we were on a roll. By the time we finished with her breakfast (about 7 minutes), she would walk up and place her two front feet into the lid. I wish I had a video camera (it's on the shopping list!). We'll do some more when I get home from work this afternoon. So that was a fun and thanks to Ricky for posting about the Training Challenge! We'll need to think of more tricks to train.

The photo of Summit has nothing to do with this post other than I think he is really cute ;-) In the afternoon when I get home, I play frisbee with the dogs (not puppy, she's not allowed outside when the big dogs are running). After a few retrieves, Summit happily jumps in his pool and lays down until he's cooled off. He insists on bringing the frisbee in too though so I'm having to throw a wet floppy frisbee. Sage gets in the pool too but prefers to simply stand in the pool until her pads are cool.

Maybe my next trick is to shape Soleil to get in water?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Soleil visits friends in Boulder

I was up very early Saturday morning to go for a 2-hour trail run with Sage and Summit. It's amazing how much TIME a puppy eats up in a day. Since I wanted to be out on the trail before it got too hot, that meant I needed to be up by 5am so I could train and play with Soleil and tire her out as she would be spending three hours in her X-pen while we went for the run.

When we returned, I immediately packed her up and we left for Boulder to go visit my friend, Judy, who has several Aussies. Sisu is her 6-year old competition dog and Merlin, her 6 mos. old puppy. Soleil got to play in the back yard and meet the dogs. We had to carefully watch Merlin as he thought Soleil would be great fun to play with but not only is he huge, he's going through that klutzy adolescent stage. So he got to perform fun tricks while calmly meeting Soleil.

As usual, Soleil was her very confident self. Exploring the yard, appropriately greeting both dogs, and digging a nice little Sheltie-sized hole in Judy's Hosta garden.

Training update-
Soleil is walking nicely on leash (only occasionally crossing behind to check something out). The hand touch is on cue. She is offering a sit and we'll start playing with a down this week. Her recall is very good right now and she goes crazy when being restrained for the restrained recalls. She is tugging harder now and her growl sounds like a Gremlin.
I feel like I've been taking my time with the trick/position training but right now I've really just been focusing on building play/tug drive and chase games. Her appetite has increased quite a bit so she is more interested in food now which is making it easier to shape behaviors.

Today Jen came over with Bode and we worked through the August Clean Run Central course (by Annie Pyle). We spent two hours running each sequence and analyzing strategy. Many times it came down to  handler location to get the nicest turns. I replaced two of the single jumps with spreads since I always like to practice crosses, recalls, and Sends over the double and triple. Afterwards, Jen held Soleil for restrained  recalls. Soleil loves this game and it really makes her crazy to get to me.

This afternoon, I decided to use the glue remover I bought at Sally's Beauty Supply to attempt to remove some of the excess glue on top of Soleil's head. It worked and she was such a good girlie to lay *mostly* quietly while I massage the oil into the fur. Then of course that followed with her first bath and nail trim. She was not a happy camper during the bath but when I took her outside in the yard to dry off, she forgave me and after rolling in the grass several times, she was happy to play tug.

We have another free weekend next week and then it's off to Laramie, WY for three days of USDAA. Soleil will get to meet lot's more people and since it's USDAA, she will get to hang out ringside (it will be interesting to see her reaction to a dog running a course since I never have her outside watching me train Sage and Summit).

That Thursday before the trial, I have a full-day seminar with Daisy Peel!!!! Stacy brought her out and I'm auditing the running contacts session on Monday and doing the full day high-drive Masters level session on Thursday. I am very excited to train with Daisy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Soleil Update and PICTURES!

Soleil (AKA missy, little miss, and pup-pup) is 10 weeks old today. She weighs 5.4 lbs. and is appx. 9 3/4 - 10" tall (I am not an accurate puppy measurer). We've been spending our time playing a LOT of tug games, chase games, restrained recalls (to a tug), and this week we've been working on hand touches and walking on a leash in the neighborhood. She has met lot's of new people, friendly dogs, and children. She has made several trips into the city (Denver) and has been in elevators and city parks and shopping districts. She is a Cosmospolitan Girl!

She is learning to live with Border Collies and is very respectful of their space. She received a couple of mild corrections from Sage and has learned that jumping up and biting Sage's face is not a good idea but following her around and laying next to her is OK.

She's not allowed to run in the outer field with them as she is too tiny and when my BC's are in drive, they would run over the top of her. But we do off leash walks around the field in the evenings with either Sage or Summit and that seems to work well.

She is not very treat motivated; much prefering toys so we've been using her mealtime for training sessions. This can get a bit messy as she is on a raw diet.

I've glued the tips of her ears. I may have used a little too much glue. Next time I'll know to use half as much. I haven't braced them yet, the hair isn't quite long enough on top. I will do that next week. They still seem to naturally carry pretty high up on her head.

Yesterday I got some pictures of her with her very first lamb riblet and then when we all went outside and I sat on the back porch hoping to get some non-blurry pictures of the little Miss.

Enjoying her lamb ribblet in the sunroom
Ms. glue head with her lamb ribblet
Rolling on the dining room floor
Observing a bug in the grass
The wobble board is her favorite place to perch
What! Did you say my name?
Watching Sage
Sitting pretty
"Where are you going Sage?"
"I'm going over to my favorite grazing area"
Checking out the grass with Sage

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Handling Aggressively

I meant to post these runs from the last trial but puppy has been keeping me busy. Both these runs are from Sunday. A double Q and both 3rd place.  I am a bit disappointed with my handling in the Jumpers run in the afternoon. See, the story is...  I wanted a double Q. So that meant being careful and conservative and not handling as aggressively as I should  and not executing a strategy that would have set the best line and given my dog the earliest information. I played it safe because I had a QQ on the line.

Summit is long past qualified for AKC Nationals 2011 (if we decide to attend), he will certainly earn a MACH someday but it's not an immediate goal. So really, I didn't *need* the double Q. But I sacrificed my handling in order to ensure a clean Jumpers run to get it.


Here is the Jumpers run

Notice how much SPACE I give him to land after the #3 jump. I could have tightened that turn up so much more. My FC was placed to give him room and avoid a dropped bar. Look how much time that cost us. Then after the weave poles, I stay with him in the weaves and I am on his right and then execute a RC (in order to stay out of his way). He hesitates at the finish jump (does a quick head check) and then takes the finish jump. I originally had walked the course with the plan of leaving him in the weaves and FCing the next jump in order to be on my dog's left and then run down the line to the finish. On Saturday's Standard run I did leave him in the weaves and FC'd a similar jump and he dropped the bar. So I gave up my original strategy and played it safe and RC'd knowing it did not set the most efficient line.

This is my goal; to handle as aggressively as I do in practice and trust the training. The goal is not the "Q" but to test our skills as a team. A failure of part of that test is simply information to bring back to the training field.