Monday, October 28, 2013

An excellent pappy

It has felt like ages since the Royal so I was really looking forward to the weekends agility trial hosted by the Agility Club of WA.  Unfortunately I managed to pick up the flu bug AGAIN during the week so it wasn't quite the pleasant day doing agility I had planned plus it was an unseasonably warm day of 29 degrees as Perth does it's annoying launch from Winter to Summer with the barest hint of spring in between.   

Cassie has never competed in that sort of heat before so I wasn't really sure how she would handle it.  I purchased a very cute extra small sized cool coat for her last year so that got a good work out and certainly seemed to keep her temperature down during the day.  I thought she looked a lot more comfortable than some of the other small dogs who were huffing and puffing away.  Her speed once on course seemed as per normal.  She absolutely flew around the Excellent Jumping course using her super pappy warp speed (aside from a brief visit to say hi to the judge, as you do...) finishing with a clear round and her first pass.  Her second run was Excellent Agility and again she flew around the course but unfortunately crossed behind me when I was trying to push her out to a jump and we ended up with an off course.  For her first time in this class was very happy and she handled the see-saw without any hesitation.  I just need to work on getting her to run more to the end.  I'm sure that will come with practice.

I also entered her in Open Jumping for the first time.  We've been working on some distance handling at home and she is going really well so I thought it was a good opportunity to give her additional experience on courses that are generally more challenging.  At the end of the day if the distance challenge is too hard I can just cross over the line.  She didn't do too badly but I thought the heat was starting to take it's toll and although she ran fast I struggled to keep her focus and she went visiting part way through her run but finished off really well.  Lastly we had our first Novice Strategic Pairs run with our new partners Ashleigh and Spirit.  I had to wake Cassie up for this one as she was pretty whacked by that stage.  I had trouble getting her focused before we went in the ring and I wasn't overly surprised when she air scented her Aunty Kriszty watching and I lost her briefly while she thought about going over for a visit.  Thankfully I got her back and we still got through it with a Q and 6th place against all heights.  I'm pretty sure they were first placed 200 out of three pairs.  Spirit was his normal Mr Perfect self and didn't put a foot wrong.

Sonic was only entered in Masters Jumping and Masters Strategic Pairs.  His MJ run was OK but he turned the wrong way over a jump, got all out of position which I struggled to fix and we ended up with a refusal.  He doesn't look lame when he runs and is still running better than earlier in the year but is still not driving off the ground as much as I would like.  So his hips are clearly still impacting the way he runs even with everything that I'm doing.  He has a ball when he's out there though so I'm going to stick with it and see if I can increase his muscle and fitness further to see if that will help.

By the end of the day I was truly knackered and my voice was barely a croak, with a bit of sunburn thrown in.  Our next trial is two weeks away and the really good news is that we now move to night trials until April next year.  I suspect that Cassie will love doing night trials!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Perth Royal Show 2013

I have a weird phenomenon going with the Royal.  One year will be amazing and the next I can't buy a quallie card.  This has been going on since I started doing Royal's with Murphy and Soda back in 1999.  I remember one year taking home 30kgs of dog food (in the days when we actually got good stuff as prizes for the Royal!) only to leave with nothing the next.  The tradition has carried on yet again in 2013 with a pretty average Royal after Sonic double Qing and placing in both his events in 2012.  Sonic ran overall reasonably well for a dog who gets very little training.  He had two fantastic runs in Masters Jumping but wasn't fast enough to challenge for the top spots.  Agility didn't go quite so well but the courses were pretty hard and our skills a bit rusty.

Then we have poor little Cassie who I can safely say is not a fan of the Royal Show.  She was pretty freaked out from the minute she got there.  She has never been comfortable under cover in unfamiliar places so the kennelling area under the marquee was stressful for her to begin with.  She settled a bit when she got to play with some of her friends and before her runs was offering me tricks and playing with her toy as she would at any trial.  But once she got to the start line and copped an eyeful of the crowd she didn't want a bar of it!  She did get better over the two days she was there and was running reasonably confidently on one side of the course where the competitors were but as soon as she had to run on the side where the crowd was gathered it was all too much for her.  I did everything I could to keep it happy and fun with no pressure.  More than anything I wanted to give her that experience and even though it was overwhelming to her I hope that she is stronger for the exposure and being out of her comfort zone.  I also have to say a huge thank you to both Kriszty and Simone for being outside the ring and ready with rewards as soon as Cassie finished to help make the experience as positive as possible. 

After how upset she was I had thought that I would never take Cassie to the Royal again but on reflection I probably will.  I've seen so many other dogs who haven't coped at the Royal as young dogs but have overcome the stress later on.  So we'll see.  The problem is there is no other place quite like the Royal so almost impossible to proof for that sort of distraction.  Cassie has a lot coming up over the next 12 months and I'm sure she will mature and grow as an agility dog over that time.

Aside from dramas with my own dogs I enjoyed the Royal and the opportunity to watch others competing.  In particular the Masters Jumping courses were fantastic and allowed competitors to throw caution to the wind and just go for it.  There were some phenomenal runs that were seriously breathtaking to watch.  One of the reasons I love competing in Perth is the depth of talent here and how much it drives you to be better handler and dog trainer.

We have a few weeks off now which is weird after the crazy agility month of September.  I'm looking forward to a bit of a break as I have heaps to catch up on at home and an agility area to finish off.  Our next trial is ACWA where Cassie will have her first Excellent Agility class. She did the see-saw properly for the first time at training last week and I have set up the tunnel under the dog walk at home. So we'll keep working on getting those two things ready for the ring. Then we get to do Strategic Pairs for the first time with our new partner the handsome Spirit a little tri-colour papillon who has been doing agility for a few years now and one of Cassie's many boyfriends. I'm sure they will make a great little team and all going well will partner up for the ANKC Nationals in Brisbane next year.