Monday, July 22, 2013

Close Calls

At our July AKC agility trial held at Queen City Dog Training Club, we had four really tough courses. I love the ones that make you think, except when I'm stressing about LaMesa and wanting a Q. But, still, they make you think of how you can help your dog through the course in the most efficient matter.

I've decided I need to start taking copies of the course maps and taking photos of them for the blog to share, so you know how the course is laid out. Unfortunately, I think I threw the maps from this trial away. Oops. Blogger fail. Sorry about that, folks.

Saturday's Excellent/Masters course started off with a tough opening. It involved a 180 that you had to call your dog off an inviting off course tunnel. I didn't really get to see how the tall dos handled it, but I knew I wanted to handle it with a Ketschker. I've been working on those with LaMesa a lot lately, and a little with Dally (Dally doesn't get some of this "new-fangled" agility stuff like backside jumps, Ketschkers, etc., but she somewhat does them). I saw a few handlers do them successfully, so I did mine with LaMesa and it came out beautifully (I was a little over-exaggerated on my handling for it with her, but it still worked). Dally, though, saw the tunnel and tried to go towards there, so I changed my handling and did a front cross to call her back. She came back just fine, just burned up part of a second.

In this run, I felt strong about LaMesa's chances for that ever-so-rare Q. When she nailed her weaves I knew if we could just keep the bars up, we had it. She was right on point with everything, until the second-to-last jump when I should have supported it just a split second longer...and she pulled off. I was heartsick. I thought we had it. So frustrating.

Dally ended up with a QQ on Saturday with some great runs--you couldn't tell she had been on the injury reserve list for three weeks before the run! LaMesa and I struggled with an off-course and missed weaves in Standard.

Sunday was a frustrating day. LaMesa never again got close to nailing her weaves the rest of the weekend. And Dally and I had some miscommunication on a wrap in Standard that blew another QQ. (A lot of dogs were struggling with that wrap, of all sizes.)

I didn't upload Dally's runs from Sunday, but here is LaMesa's attempt at Standard, which shows the difficult wrap that we also messed up on.

I know the wraps was my fault with both girls--I just need to work those more. It's so hard to go from fast forward motion to a quick wrap around to the table like this calls for--the sudden stop of forward motion from me causes both LaMesa and Dally to stop right in front of the jump. There's that fine line in a wrap where you can go too far and risk a back jump, or not enough and risk a refusal. I just need to find that line.

We're off trials until September now--money is very tight with some circumstances, so we're taking a break and hope to get back on track soon. Dally has all of her Qs and QQs for her 2014 AKC Nationals qualification and she just needs less than 200 points to wrap it all up. With taking a full month off, I'm not sure we can get it now, but who knows. She's been running really well lately (as you can tell in this video from Saturday's Standard run):

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dally Turns 8!

Today is Dally's 8th birthday!!! That's right, my pretty Corgi girl is celebrating turn two whole paws today, and she's not showing the slightest sign of aging (well, minus the gray hairs sprouting on her face, but we blame LaMesa and Matt for those, and, of course, you don't mention those to her).

I never would have imagined the world that was opened up to me when this little round ball of fur bunny hopped into my life.

Dallas Mae has been an awesome little buddy to help me through so many things like multiple state moves, loneliness, new jobs, big decisions, broken hearts, tears of sadness and joy, etc.

I never would have thought she'd take me to Reno, Nev., nor back to Tulsa, Okla., to compete on our sport's largest stage. I was told five years ago or so that she wouldn't be an agility champion, but in November we proved them all wrong.

She's my little Snuggle Bug at night--when we go to bed, I spoon Dally, with her head sharing my pillow with mine, and one of my hands rubbing her belly until we both fall asleep.

She loves to get revved up before we cross the start line in agility, she loves her walks in the park, and her swims in the creek.

Today we'll be hitting up the Bluegrass Barkery for her birthday treats and having a little celebration, and of course a lot of tennie playing. I'm hoping to have eight more years with this little girl.

(You can read more about my relationship with Dally from our post on The Daily Corgi.)

Happy 8th Birthday, PACH Frontiers Honkytonkbadonkadonk RN, AX, AXJ, NF, MXPB, MXP4, MXJPB, MXJ4, PAX....aka Dallas Mae....aka Dallas Corgi Furr....aka Dally

Monday, July 8, 2013

As Seen on Facebook: Why We do Agility

Today two agility friends shared this video on Facebook (and more to come, I have a feeling), so I wanted to share it with you.

Those who are not dog people (or horse people, coming from my "old life") don't really understand how we can spend all our free time, "waste" our money, and exhaust ourselves just "running our dogs" through courses and being happy with it. This video shows exactly why--we do it because we love our dogs. We love the happiness it brings us to work together and have fun. We might not Q every time, or, if we do, we might only bring home ribbons that clutter our walls or our shelves, but that's not why we do it.

I had a former boss who flat out said, "You know, you'd actually be able to travel and do more things like I do if you didn't waste your money on dog agility." (Oh, yes, she actually said that.) I was appalled by her saying that to me. My response? "I don't waste my money doing dog agility. It's my sport and it's something I've grown to love. If I didn't do agility with my dogs, I think we'd all be unhappy."

After a particularly hard weekend of not Qing with LaMesa, I always need to be reminded about how much she still loves me. She doesn't know we didn't Q--she still got her treats and she got to play with mom, one-on-one. For Dally, I've always had to make it fun. Now I see how both girls run their little hearts out for me every time we get to the starting line.

We do agility because we love our dogs. We do it because they are our hearts and bring us joy. If a Q or a championship title come along the way, then that's just the icing on the cake. Until then, we'll continue to "waste" our money on those "cheap ribbons" and the "worthless" certificates that come in the mail every so often. We'll sacrifice our comfort of nice hotels for the cheap ones so we can afford to participate in the sport we love. We'll be alright with saying our dogs go to a chiropractor, yet I've yet to see one for myself. The happiness and joy we feel as we snuggle up to our dogs at the end of the day trumps all of that, and trumps that European vacation said former boss might get to enjoy every so often.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Results from the June Trials

For the month of June, I hit up one day at the Derby City Agility Association's trial in Buckner, Ky., and then just five days later I hit up three days at the Hoosier Kennel Club trial in Indianapolis, Ind.

At the Buckner trial, Dally was her usual rock star self, pulling out a QQ. The courses were fun--I was able to do all blind crosses on the jumpers course with Dally. Each presented a challenge where the ending wasn't really the end, because the dog would have to come back around after jumping near the exit. Endings like that can be pretty difficult for dogs because they get in a habit that as they come down the final line, they kind-of know when the last jump is. But with courses such as the Buckner courses, the handler really needs to cue to the dog to come back around because they're not done. For me, it's more of exaggerating the cues for the next obstacle and calling their attention to the fact that we're still going. Both Dally and LaMesa handled that pretty well.

With Buckner being LaMesa's last trial jumping 12", it comes as no surprise that she knocked a couple of bars. But there were also a few times where we'd miss cues, plus she'd miss her weave pole entries. It was a frustrating day for Team Vallhund, but my spirits were raised when we got our last challenge measurement so she could jump 8-inches from now on.

Hoosier Kennel Club
The next weekend we travelled North to Indianapolis for my dad's trial. My dad's the secretary for the Hoosier Kennel Club, so I always show in their trial all three days because I help keep the trial moving forward. It's always an exhausting weekend for me and the pups (they show all three days, plus I show them in FAST when it's offered).

Dally was a perfect 3-for-3 for QQs! I was so proud of her hanging in there and rocking the courses. Again I was able to run with a good amount of blind crosses in, which has been great for Dally--they really drive her forward more. I just know I need to get to my spot faster and cue her better, but thankfully she's a little more forgiving because she's seasoned.

Dally's debut in Open FAST wasn't as successful, though. Dally's just not a distance dog--she knows that if I'm not there to support the obstacle, she doesn't have to do it. Friday's course had jump-teeter-tunnel for the send, and she refused the teeter. Oh well! Saturday I thought would be easier, with jump-tunnel-jump, but she went in the wrong end of the tunnel. I wasn't made or frustrated. I know that I don't work her on distance sends any more, so you can't fault her. She's definitely no Porter!

Three days--8 runs--can wear out a Corg!

LaMesa made her trial debut in 8-inches at the Hoosier. Friday we ended up getting a gift-Q. What's ironic is that at one of the previous trials my friends and I were talking about gift-Qs and how almost everyone had gotten one, except for me. Someone commented that in your agility career you'll get gift-Qs and you'll have Qs taken away from you when they shouldn't have, so at some time it'll all even out. So when LaMesa missed her weave pole entrance the first time in Excellent Standard, but I immediately put her back in, I figured we had NQd (the rest of the course was clean and well-run). My dad then told me that we had in fact Qd. The judge even reviewed the sheets and approved the results. Did I feel like I should have gone up to her and said that LaMesa missed her weave entrance? Maybe. But, to be honest, I had just gone through a hellish 24 hours (I lost my job the day before) and was already an emotional mess. After conferring with friends, I decided to let it go. (Zipping up the fire suit now...)

But LaMesa did actually earn her first Novice FAST Q on Friday by nailing her course, so she ended up with two Qs on the weekend.

LaMesa's problems the whole weekend was mostly weave pole entries. There was one or two times that she nailed the entrance the first time, but most of the time it was a missed chance. I finally decided to start picking her up if she missed her entrance--that it wasn't a game to keep running around if we don't do our job (weave). After doing this once or twice, our last run she nailed the weaves. So maybe it got through to her.

Naughty Vallhund after being carried off the course in the
"Walk of Shame" after missing her weave entry.
Now we've been working on weaves in the back yard for short bursts of time throughout the days, and she's getting very consistent. She's even nailing them in class at both BFO and Shamrock Acres. This weekend will be the true test if she'll nail them at Queen City.

(Sorry I don't have the videos from these trials--I've lost the cord for my camera for the Buckner trials, and Matt has the Hoosier runs on his iPad and they haven't been uploaded to YouTube yet. But I'd like to show you some of them as soon as I can.)