Friday, September 23, 2011

Late Summer Trial Rundown

So time has just flown by and it's officially Autumn, and yet I haven't blogged about the late summer trials I competed at with Dally and LaMesa! Boo! And since I have a trial coming up this weekend, I hope to have a lot more to say from this one, so I'm just going to do a quick wrap-up of the late summer trials.

July 10, 2001 - Border Terrier Club of America trial at Queen City Dog Training Club
After the first day with a double NQ because of a some handler mistakes, I just wanted to Q once that weekend. And boy did we make a splash! We earned our very first Double Q, earning 13 PACH points in standard and 4 PACH points in jumpers. I was so ecstatic when we finished our Jumpers run. People thought I had MACHd, but it was pure happiness. Unfortunately we didn't get my Jumpers run recorded because Camille was "in awe" of our run and forgot to press record! LOL I was able to get a Double Q ribbon as well to celebrate our feat!

August 28, 2011 - Miami Valley Doberman Club trial at Queen City Dog Training Club
Saturday (8/27) saw a very fast Standard run, and for once Dally was too fast and could not get stopped on the table, so we had a table fault for that. However, our Jumpers run was very pretty, and just as fast, and she finished with 9 PACH points and her fourth MJP leg).
Sunday (8/28) saw a run that I was able to get some actual distance from Dally, and learned to support the A-frame, in Standard. She ran extremely fast for her, earning 20 PACH points! Her Jumpers run was a lot of fun, and another fast course with her earning 11 PACH points and our second QQ!!
We really ran like a team all weekend--I was so proud of Dally and the improvements we made!

September 18, 2011 - Greater Cincinnati Poodle Club trial at Queen City Dog Training Club
Saturday (9/17) was trying, tight course in Standard, but it was fun. I tried to continue the formula we had in August by trying to run ahead of Dally just enough to get her moving. She earned 9 PACH points in her run, and first place in a tough 4-inches division for her 8th MXP leg. Her Jumpers run turned out to be her first sub-40 run ever, and she was moving!! We earned 8 PACH points in that run and our third QQ!
Sunday (9/18) saw a handler error in the Standard when I was reminded of her run on 8/27 with a tunnel to table...same setup, so I thought I'd try to get her to check-in with me before zooming onto (and possibly off of) the table. She checked in alright...and then stopped right in front of the table, confused about what I was wanting. My mistake. No Q. In Jumpers, though, we redeemed ourselves to earn our 7th MJP leg and 4 PACH points.

So to wrap-up, Dally has earned 3 QQs, 149 PACH points, 8 MXP legs, and 7 MJP legs so far this year! I'd love to earn three more QQs by November 30 to be qualified for the AKC Nationals (Preferred dogs have to earn 6 QQs) in Reno, Nev., but we'll have to see if we can stay consistent at other venues that aren't Queen City.

After the June Hoosier Kennel Club trial, LaMesa didn't compete in July due to her heat cycle--I had entered her in an all Open/Novice trial in Columbus, Ohio, but we had to withdraw from that trial.

August 27, 2011 - Miami Valley Doberman Club trial at Queen City Dog Training Club
We ran Jumpers first, and after a private lesson with Melanie the weekend before on what I needed to do to work on LaMesa's distance work, we were able to show-off our hard work with this fun course where I could send her over a far jump in order to get where I needed to be. She ran by the weaves once, but was clean the rest of the way for her second Nov JWW Q! Her Standard run had one little hiccup when I mis-handled a tunnel--my hand pointed to the correct entrance, but my body ran towards the other end, and she followed my body--oops. I learned that I need to support everything with my whole body for right now, with her being so green (she's not Dally--Dally would have been slow enough to have stopped and corrected sooner). However, it was still a Q and her second Nov STD leg!

September 17, 2011 - Greater Cincinnati Poodle Club trial at Queen City Dog Training Club
After months of attending AKC agility trials and not having an official VMO (Volunteer Measuring Official) for her temporary height card, there was finally one at this trial. At previous trials, LaMesa had been measured at 11 inches tall, thus being able to jump in the 8-inch jump height (the cutoff for 8-inches is 11), however this VMO measured LaMesa at 11 5/8 inches tall, thus moving her up into the 12-inch jump height. Thankfully I've been training her at 12 inches, but it such a big difference. I shrugged my shoulders and accepted the measurement, knowing that for the next two months she has to be moved up to 12-inches until she turns 2 in November, and then I can get her official jump height card with two measurements--hopefully with two patient, small dog appreciating, VMOs.
So, we went into Jumpers at 12-inches, hearing a few, "She's jumping 12? I'm sorry..." but we went determined to show she could do it. Throughout the course she was taking off too early, and it finally caught up to her towards the end of the run when she came down on a bar, thus marking an NQ for the run.
I think by Standard she was more used to jumping 12 inches again, and we ran a beautiful course! She nailed her weaves and nailed everything, until I started to take off towards the end, like I do with Dally, and she ran by a jump to catch up to me...oops. So we had one refusal, but she was still good enough to win her (new) jump height and earn her Nov STD title.

LaMesa is a lot of fun to run. In the backyard I can make up all sorts of sequences and she'll be like, "OK, Momma, let's do this" and she nails it. I'm excited for what Open has for us!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DogSport Essay Contest

Earlier this year I won a free subscription to DOGSport Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine covering all aspects of canine sports. It's a pretty good read, and I was happy to start receiving the publication because I follow them on Twitter as well. I had noticed in the first issue I had received that the magazine was running a contest where the winner received a year's worth of entry fees from DOGSport Magazine (about $4,000 total for the year of 2012).

Basically you had to write (in 500 words, or less) why the magazine should pick you to win the prize. In return, the winner will help promote the magazine at the trials entered and do photos and write-ups for the magazine. Sounds perfect for me, right?

Unfortunately, you had to pick only one dog and one event. I originally was going to write about LaMesa and our new budding partnership, but after the latest successes with Dally and the sudden change in her attitude towards competing, I had a tough decision between writing about each girl. So I did my best to try to sum up my desire to represent DOGSport with Dally in one essay and LaMesa in another, and asked a couple of co-workers to choose which one they felt was the better entry. Here are both essays:

A Few Roadblocks Towards a Partnership

Have you ever been given a golden opportunity, only to not be able to fully embrace it due to circumstances that you really can't control? That’s how I feel about my young Swedish Vallhund, LaMesa, and her agility career.

Thanks to a family friend, I got an opportunity to own a Swedish Vallhund puppy with great athletic potential. The breeder said this one pup showed more interest in running around and jumping than standing stacked on the groom table, so she thought the runt of the litter could be a success in the agility arena. One look at her little nubbed tail scurrying around at high speeds and I knew we would make a great team.

"Mesa" is my second dog, but she’s been a whole new challenge for me. While my first agility dog's early career was full of just making the time and almost a lack of enthusiasm, Mesa is a firecracker with the drive to do whatever she can to please me. When she looks up at me after we’ve completed a series or finished running a course, it’s like she’s saying, “Did I do good, momma?” She waits for nothing more than just a pat on the head and a “good girl.” Working with her has been refreshing for me and very educational.

I see so much potential in my little furry partner, however it’s been hard to get the ball rolling and keeping it on the right track. Things have been slow for us to due to a lack of funds for more training and more trials. When looking at the budget and trying to decide if I should campaign my older Corgi (who's own agility career blossomed this year) more than the younger Vallhund, LaMesa generally gets the short end of the stick.

I always assumed it’d be physically and mentally challenging to run two dogs at a trial, but I never really realized how hard it would be on the on the pocketbook. I’d do just about anything to not have to think twice before travelling to support my favorite American Kennel Club agility trials and show both dogs to their full potentials. Mesa has a strong potential to compete annually at the AKC Nationals, and even make a run at the AKC National Invitational once she's solid in Excellent B.

So why should DOGSPort Magazine choose Mesa and I as the recipients of the entry fees? It would mean that LaMesa never had to sit on the sidelines in 2012, giving us the chance to accomplish our goals and making things were just a little easier when it comes to difficult monetary decisions. The advantage of not having to worry about entry fees also means being able to attend clinics to improve our partnership, all while sporting the DOGSport brand.

The Trials & Tribulations of Training a Corgi for Agility

“Training a dog is a lot like training a horse, only the animal is smaller and you’re not on top of them--unless you fall on them.” This has been my training mantra since I started training and competing in dog agility four years ago. I grew up training and showing horses, but after life took me further from my horses, I turned to my Pembroke Welsh Corgi and decided she needed a job and I needed something to train.

Dally is my heart-dog. I got her as an 8-week-old puppy before work forced us to travel around the United States for various lengths of time. Because I had to leave my horses and family behind, Dally became my everything--and she still is. She’s been through the tears and the laughter, the moving boxes and the long hauls. We embarked on an incredible journey when we discovered agility after finally settling in Lexington, Ky.

At the beginning, we struggled with the typical agility challenges: the weave poles, distance work, consistency, etc. It was then that I also learned about that infamous “Corgi attitude.” We’ve had those days--and by "we" I mean Dally"--where she just didn’t feel like running the course my way…or even running the course at all.

And Dally’s not your "typical" fast Corgi. She often somehow "knows" the standard course time and run just barely under time to qualify. For a while, it felt like she just didn't feel the urge to put forth much effort in running faster than a gently lope.

She’s been a challenge, but has rewarded me by teaching valuable lessons in patience, forgiveness, and humor, and the best part of all, recently, Dally has simply blossomed.

At the mature age of 6, she’s decided that faster is better. We’re now racking up the AKC PACH points. Something clicked in her mind and she now believes that trials can be just as much fun as training, and she’ll pull me to the ring and be feisty at the start line. We make the ring crew laugh as we do our normal preparations of getting excited to run, while she makes very ferocious Corgi noises, only to be all business upon hearing, “Go.”

Now that we’ve hit our stride, we’re looking to qualify for the AKC Nationals. Unfortunately, my tight budget seems to hold us back. While Dally's potential is unlimited, my limited funds put a cap on how much training we can receive and how many competitions we can attend. I’d love to have more money to put towards attending clinics to learn more to be a better handler for Dally, but those goals seem like they're just out of reach. Instead, we enjoy our time at local trials.

I’d love to see Dally's potential fulfilled in 2012 before her age starts to catch, and the help from DOGSport Magazine would be a giant step in the right direction with the DOGSport brand.

Can you guess which one I chose? I decided to send in my essay about Dally because it showed more about what we've been through, while I'm sure there were probably quite a few entries about budding partnerships like mine and Mesa's. The winners will be chosen no later than Oct. 1, so I have a few more weeks until I know my fate. It would be a big help to have this opportunity next year, since I'm sure my ability to train and trial will be stunted due to wedding savings and preparations.

Keep your fingers crossed, and I'll keep you updated!