Sunday, June 28, 2009

What an Excellent boy

It's been a very quiet couple of weeks for us in agility. My post last weekend about my cat probably an obvious clue! The weather has been pretty horrible here in Perth. In past years bad weather hasn't been enough to deter me from training, but this last week the decision between warm lounge vs oval and rain was an easy one. Sonic has been working pretty hard this year so having a week off from agility for him certainly isn't a bad thing anyway.

It was Gosnells Dog Clubs turn on the weekend to run a double header and I entered Sonic in all four Excellent level classes. The weather was crap with wind and rain all day. It really was quite unpleasant. Sonic and I had an OK day but the morning saw some serious arse creeping going on. However I was weak and I let it go (hanging my head in shame). The afternoon I had a bit of a think about what damage I was doing and I decided that it was time to blow runs if necessary to put a stop to it. Our first event was jumping with Sonic running the course really well, but unfortunately had one bar down. Next up we had agility with a course that was not the easiest I've seen, but Sonic actually handled it really well. I wasn't thrilled with his contacts and independance on his dog walk is something that I really want to do some work on. Unless I'm in front he is slowing down quite a lot. The refusal that he got on course however was entirely my fault. I put in a front cross before the weavers and didn't realise until it was too late I was almost on top of them when I turned. I doubt he would even have seen them let alone found the entry!

The afternoon saw our performances improve somewhat (no start line creep in jumping) with a really nice run in jumping giving us a clear round and the last leg of his Excellent Jumping title. Not a bad effort for a dog who is not quite 23 months of age. I still don't think he's ready for Masters though... Agility was also a better run in my opinion, but he did a BIG start line creep and I ended up having to go back to him four times before he stayed put. Obviously after the first time I went back to him I DQ'd us, but as it happened he did an off course. So even more pleased that I bit the bullet and didn't let him get away with blowing his criteria on the start line. His contacts were better and I felt it was the best see saw he's done so far in a competition.

So my immediate decision is what to enter him in for the next few trials. I'll be leaving him in Excellent Jumping next weekends trial. After that is Geraldton so I may put him into the Masters class to see how he fares. If he doesn't handle it well then I will do some Not For Competition runs back in Excellent until I think he's mature enough. I'm really not sure whether to run him in Masters and just let him grow in confidence with experience or if leaving him at the same level will encourage the confidence. I shall have to ponder some more.

A big thanks to Kriszty for filling in as videographer extrordanaire for the day. Colin was unable to come to the trial so it was great to still be able to get Sonic's runs on tape.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kenny the karate kat

Hello. My name is Kenny. To people who don't know me I'm a cute and fluffy kitty cat.

I live in a house with five border collies. People who don't know me feel sorry for me. Imagine a poor little kitty cat having to put up with so many big scary dogs!

If only they knew.....WOAHA HA HA HA HA HA

In my spare time I enjoy eating, sleeping and torturing border collies. Especially when I'm really pissed off. If my human is being rude and dares to give me my dinner late, I indiscriminately bash the closest one. I love the way that they scatter like frightened rabbits when they see me coming.


Tonight my mean and nasty human has kicked my big fat furry butt off the lounge chair. She said something about her arm going to sleep. Damn useless woman. The lounge chair arm rest is my favourite spot in winter and you need a crow bar to detach my backside from it. Normally it's the only reason that I have anything to do with my human (unless she's giving me my dinner of course). But when it's cold I pretend I actually like her by snuggling up real close so I can leech as much body warmth from her as possible. I pretend that we're bonding. Humans are so stupid!

No problem. Didn't want to sit there anyway. My human has these lovely warm beds all over the house for me. The flea bags think they are for them but that just couldn't be possible. Everyone knows it's all about me. I'll have to whip out my special intimidation skills and drive the flea bags away.

Ha, the old brown one! He's normally off like a shot when he sees me coming.

Damn it! He's not moving.

Mmmmm. That ones not moving either. Grrrrrr!

What's going on!!!! The flea bags must fear me...

Well I'm definately not getting up there. The human calls that the "dogs" lounge. I call it the local slum. I can smell the big show-off flea bag from here. I could be on TV too if I wanted!

Blast, that young and annoying whipersnapper's not moving either. Why are my powers eluding me???

Fine. I'll let this one with the silly red pyjamas share with me. But I'm letting EVERYONE know that I'm not happy about this and I'm staying in the furthest possible corner in case I get flea bag germs!

Just wait evil flea bags. There will be retribution for this. Tomorrow, when it's not as cold and I'm not so desperate, you'd better RUN.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Finding our horsepower

The Agility Club of WA held it's double header today. We were back at the Dog's West grounds so that was a relief after last weeks distractions at Northern Suburbs. Children zipping around on scooters were no where to be seen! Sonic had some nice runs today but we only ended up with the one qualifying card.

First up we had Excellent Jumping which was a fairly reasonable course but had a couple of fairly "challenging" angles and a couple of nasty traps. Sonic made a pretty good fist of it but came unstuck at the second of the two traps, going over a jump instead of straight into a tunnel. Next up was an Excellent Agility course which was a nice open flowing course. Sonic handled it really well other than thinking the dog walk was the see saw, but unfortunately knocked a couple of bars in his haste.

The afternoon saw another tricky Excellent Jumping course with tough off entry tunnels and more tight lines. This was by far our crappiest run of the day but I did rush him into the ring after clashing with Lexi in Masters Agility. I didn't feel that he was near focused enough and to me it showed in this performance. Lastly we had our second Excellent Agility run. This was again a really nice flowing course and finally Sonic and I managed our first clear run of the day.

I came away feeling really positive about his performances today. He is definitely getting more drive off the ground and I thought he was noticeably faster in a couple of his classes. Fortunately this hasn't had any detrimental affect to his skill level (other than the arse creeping on the start line...) He is generally reading my body very well and is always tight around his corners. Sonic is also getting even more vocal as he goes around the course so quite clearly he is really enjoying himself. I still feel that he has lots more speed in him but I've always been slightly paranoid that although he is extremely high drive you never are guaranteed that the drive they have for general stuff will translate into the agility ring. I was reading Susan Garrett's blog yesterday and she actually writes about speed in your young dog. Part of her article says;

"You shouldn't want your novice dogs to be frantically grabbing obstacles, squirreling around like mad. The power and the speed will come, but the time spent working on the finesse will pay off down the road. It is far easier to teach collection and thoughtfulness to your young dog before they realize they are equipped with a 400 horsepower engine and a set of Pireili tires– then after!".

It is always a relief to me to hear someone of her calibre say that. It reassures my faith in the path I've taken with Sonic. For those of you who haven't been to Susan blog, I recommend a read.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sonic and the Scooter Child

Sonic and I had a fairly quiet time at training this last week. With the ADAA three day trial last weekend I think most people were too exhausted to head out to training and stayed home to rest instead. I managed to do one night of see saw work with Sonic and the rest of it was spent doing jump grid work. I had hoped to work more on his other contacts but unfortunately it didn't happen. I have to admit though it was nice to have a couple of early training nights. However after this weekends trials we definitely need to work on them this week...

Saturday was a double trial run by the Sheltie Club at the Canine grounds. It was magnificent weather so I was looking forward to a really nice day. Sadly it wasn't quite as good a day as I had hoped for. Sonic and I started with an Excellent Jumping run. The course was quite tight and I was interested to see how Sonic handled being able to stretch out and then collect up for a couple of tight turns. As it happened he ran really well but was unlucky to have a bar down when I front crossed (very badly I might add) on his line to get him round to an off tunnel entry. There was some bottom sliding on his start line too that needs to be addressed. I'm glad he's keen but I need to nip that stuff in the bud now. It was slack of me to not jump on him about it then and there and I'm going to have to at future trials otherwise I'm going to have crap start lines. Nothing worse than not being able to trust your dog to stay put when you lead out. The sneaky little bugger must think that I don't notice. Next up was an Excellent Agility run. This run was a bit average with Sonic managing a massive fly off on the see saw and a very average dog walk performance. His weavers on the other hand were great as was his A-Frame. I really felt the course was too hard for Excellent level. It was nested from a Masters course and in one particular part the Masters dogs really struggled to get through so it was no surprise that most of the Excellent level dogs couldn't manage. In the afternoon Sonic and I had a fantastic Excellent Jumping run for a clear round and a pretty good Excellent Agility run where I front crossed him onto a A-Frame on a ridiculous angle and needless to say he couldn't hold on and went flying off the side! The upside was that he didn't fly off the see saw.

Today was another double header, this time at Northern Suburbs Dog Club. More amazing weather was on the agenda and I was hoping for a slightly more successful day. But, it certainly wasn't looking good after the first run. Unlike most of our other trials, Northern Suburbs run their trials at a huge sporting complex in Carine. On any given weekend the place turns into sporting grand central with every sport imaginable being held on the grounds. It is also the local dog walking, child playing, bike riding and general exercising area for all the surrounding suburbs. Sonic's first run was on the closest side to one of the main walking paths and just as we were about to start there was a few loud bangs and then a child went whizzing past on a scooter. This was a little too much for Sonic's senses to handle so after the fourth jump he could go no further. With hackles up Mr Reactive started alarm barking and staring off after the scooter child. The best I could do was collect the youngster and depart the ring. Shortly after we ran Excellent Agility. Luckily the ring was further away from the path and I was able to keep him focused and calm with a nice clear round to follow.

Lunchtime saw me, frankfurters, clicker and Sonic standing by the path and some serious "look at that games" were happening with any oncoming scooter children (of which there were many). Sonic has a serious love of frankfurters so scooter children were soon forgotten. The afternoon trial was on the other side of the grassed area so although we had spectators sitting on the ground watching there was no moving objects. Sonic lapped up a really nice Excellent Jumping course with an easy clear round. Shortly after was the Excellent Agility and although I believed that we went clear, the judge gave us a penalty for a jump that she said was taken the wrong way. I am pretty positive that we did it correctly but the judges decision wins so no qually card for us. As much as it's annoying I'm in no rush to title him so I'm not really worried that we didn't get the card. However he is now sitting on four Excellent Jumping cards so if he titles at this weekends double header we may be doing Opens for a while. Sonic is not even remotely ready to tackle a Masters course.

Some other fun stuff last week was one of Riot's new commercials debuting on TV. Better Pets and Gardens had a three day "Riot" sale. Kathy their promotions manager is quite chuffed that Riot is called Riot. It has certainly helped them develop some catchy phrases for their advertising campaigns. I'm really looking forward to seeing what else they have come up with from all the footage that we got on the day of filming. Nothing like enjoying seeing the fruits of your labour.

Monday, June 1, 2009

ADAA comes to WA

This weeks training was a very focused and single minded event. I let go of any thoughts on running sequences and aimed myself and Sonic squarely at double box grids and see saw practice. I thought it went pretty well myself. I chocked up the see saw and revved the boy up for the bang game. He was growling and shrieking while throwing himself over it so I think it went pretty well. It's still going to take time for him to really get the hang of it (as seen in his agility run on the weekend) so we will spend another couple of weeks focusing on getting it right. The double box is getting really solid too and the work he did at the ADAA trial on the weekend showed that he's getting much better at reading my body and sticking tighter to me.

This leads me on to WA's first ADAA experience. Three days worth of trialing was set up although I made a decision to only compete on one day. It was nothing to do with not wanting to compete and a whole lot to do with not enough hours in the day to keep up with my current life demands. I just couldn't face three days of not seeing my house during daylight hours.

So I went along on the middle of the three days. I'd entered a full days worth of events with Sonic with the intention of scratching from anything that I thought would be not right for him. But thanks to some extremely enjoyable courses set by Cathy and Mal I competed in everything but an Open Snooker class that I felt was too hard for Sonic's experience level. Sonic did have some weaver entry issues over the day, knocked a few bars (that I'm assuming was due to them being higher than he's used to) and flew off the see saw but I was really chuffed with his dog walk and a-frame and he handled beautifully. I took a different tack when getting him ready for each class by revving him right up with a tug toy. This seemed to work really well and he definately felt more focused and was driving harder around the course. He was quite vocal too so I'm assuming he was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. All in all it was a great day with all the people that I spoke to very positive about it. I have no doubt that we will see more ADAA in WA in the future.

Sonic and mines week of training will be once again focused on the see saw. It's obviously still not up to scratch until such time as he stops flying off the end of it... Although I have to say that I'd rather he powers up it and flys off rather than trit trotting up it waiting for it to tip. I'm going to move back to some of GD's other grids now. I feel like we've flogged the double box grid up to a pretty good standard so we'll do some revision on the next DVD's worth. Plus I think I'll have to do some weaver work as it was quite uncharacteristic for him to miss that many entries on the weekend. It's always something!