Saturday, March 29, 2014

TeamDailyCorgi AKC National Agility Championships Round 2

 Saturday dawned bright and early for yet another day at the AKC National Agility Championships. It was Round 2, but day three for us (Thursday was Time 2 Beat), so you could tell the dogs were already a little tired of showing up at the complex.

Corgi Ying & Yang.
Exhausted #TeamDailyCorgi captains
Saturday was Standard, and the 4 & 8 inchers were in Ring 3. The opening was rather de-motivating---jump to a 180, to the dog walk. It wasn't as twisty-turny as the Jumpers run, but there were quite a few challenges that could cause some dogs to take off courses.

Porter kicked things off with a clean, fast run. Merinda handled him so nicely through the opening and the ending. Then I followed with Dally just one dog later. Again, a clean run. As I expected, the opening was de-motivating for Dally, but she started to kick it up after the weaves. In fact, she handled the 3-jump ending very well.

Unfortunately Maddie knocked the bar on the second jump, but was the fastest of the 95 scores, so hopefully that'll still help her. As far as our 12" counterparts for #TeamDailyCorgi, Keebler knocked the double on a superbly fast run, and Jimmy missed his dog walk contact. :-/

But one bonus from the day: Porter ended up finishing in third place for the Round 2 Standard, and is now sitting in second place overall through the first two rounds!!

Just one more seems like we've been here forever! It was cold and rainy the rest of the day, so we spent the rest of our time watching obedience, shopping, and then handing out at the hotel. Sunday is Round 3: Hybrid. If Dally goes clean (she's currently sitting #9), she's got a good chance for the Challenger's Course. If Porter goes clean. he's a lock for Finals (if not, Challenger's). So, we're pretty excited!

Porter and Merinda with their 3rd place ribbon from Round 2!

Cumulative scores so far! Porter's #2, Dally's #9!

Friday, March 28, 2014

TeamDailyCorgi AKC Nationals Round 1

The Stumps of Fury mobile arrived in Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday after about a 9-hour drive. The drive up was uneventful...and rather boring. Definitely not conducive for photo opportunities like last year's trip to Tulsa. Hence the lack of road trip photos...

Thursday's activities included a "warm-up run" in the Time 2 Beat class. This was my first time ever running Time 2 Beat, but it's like a hybrid of Standard and Jumpers. Dally did well and we ended up clean with 9th place. Porter took an extra jump, and our friend Maddie ended up winning the 4" division! Team Daily Corgi started rocking the joint early!!

Friday we competed in the official start of Nationals, with Jumpers. This was a twisty-turny course with lots of wraps and difficult weave entry. This time the 4" representatives of Team Daily Corgi went 3-for-3 clean! Maddie finished 5th, Porter 7th, and Dally 12th. Going clean is the name of the game right now--I'm good with being consistent and clean. I know we aren't the fastest, but if we can be clean, that's the best.

After cheering on some of the Small Dog Posse, we ventured north to Hershey for a few dog photo ops and a tour of the Hershey's Chocolate World! Finally, some fun times for the dogs!

Saturday we'll be competing in Round 2, Standard. Let's hope we can continue the clean streak!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stump of Fury Heading to AKC National Agility Championships!

We're hitting the road again!
Dally & Porter are going to be road tripping buddies once again! Meet the captains of #TeamDailyCorgi

Merinda and I will be hitting the road extra early Wednesday morning to head east to Pennsylvania for a return trip to the AKC National Agility Championships.

Be sure to follow along as we tweet, Instagram, and blog our adventures. This year we're teaming up with a few select Corgis for #TeamDailyCorgi, brought to you by The Daily Corgi.

Follow along by searching #TeamDailyCorgi on Twitter & Instagram, and also:

Twitter: @TheStumpKids
Instagram: @MLA317

And Merinda:

Twitter: @PorterTheCorgi

And our friends, Taryn & Jimmy, who will be attending their first AKC Nationals!

Blog: Tail of Two Cardis

I also wanted to share my bio that I wrote for the announcer this year. It's a little non-traditional, but I hope it gets read at some point this week:

This is Dally and Megan's third consecutive trip to Nationals, but every year it's always a happy surprise. For a dog that some said wouldn't be an agility champion, the pair earned their PACH in 2012 and are well on their way to PACH2. Megan knows Dally isn't the fastest, but she knows Dally will try to please her, and that's all that Megan asks for. She's thankful to have such a wonderful sidekick by her side at all times. Dally is her heartdog and has earned many, many miles under her collar. This has truly been a fun ride.

Be sure to tune into the fun!! Here's hoping for some epic adventures and great memories!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Every Trial's Progress with LaMesa--Greater Louisville Training Club

There are times that I don't think I see much progress with LaMesa and agility trials, but then there are times that I see a lot. We're coming so close to being a solid team.

At the Greater Louisville Training Club's Kentuckiana Cluster, I felt like we were finally gelling, which is surprising since we hadn't trialed since November and not trained very consistently over the winter.

Our first run was Masters Jumpers 8" Regular, and I was so happy when she nailed the weaves perfectly the first time. Then a mistimed blind cross might have cost her her rhythm to knock a bar, but she handled the push so well when I realized my mistake. But everything felt solid.

Then Standard came and she kept the bars up, but she misread my moves for the wrap and she pulled off the jump. Oh well...she was again solid on her weave poles!!

Sunday's runs I was just wanting some clean runs--no dropped bars, no miscues. Well, we got the "no dropped bars" part down! And again another day of solid weave poles! The Jumpers run had one oddly-placed jump that seemed like it was a good idea to either blind or front cross. I performed a front cross with Gus (that post to come if you're asking "Who's Gus?"), but I had enough time to do a blind with LaMesa. Poor decision. I didn't get deep enough in the jump to cue her on the blind. That was my fault. But the second pull off was her fault...I believe (if I'm wrong, please correct me). But, again, clean weave poles!

And, finally...we finally got a Q in Masters Standard!! That makes for our 3rd Masters leg! We ended up in third place in a class of like 35, with some stiff competition. Her run earned her 28 MACH points, and we probably could have been faster. I tend to be more conservative in Standard with LaMesa because I need her to stay focused on the task at hand. At the table I wait until the judge says "Go" before I take a deep breath and the cue her for the next obstacle. When the second the last jump was a panel jump and I saw it move when she jumped, I almost had my heart in my throat. But, she was clean! (I don't have the video, unfortunately.)

So we're getting there...slowly but surely, we're getting there (which is the only thing she's slow about, haha). We're becoming a team!

Here's the wrap-up from Dally's weekend.

Friday, March 21, 2014

6 Year Trial Anniversary for Team Dally: Greater Louisville Training Club

This past weekend at the Greater Louisville Training Club's Kentuckiana Cluster, Dally and I celebrated our 6-year AKC trial anniversary. It's hard to imagine that 6 years ago we debuted and now we're getting ready to hit our third straight AKC National Agility Championships!!

The Cluster has always been hot and cold for me and Dally…we have yet to QQ there. It seems like after our debut, where we went 3-for-3 for our first ever Qs, we do well to Q once a day.

And that continued this year. It was a long day for us--it went tall to small, and even though it's a 3-ring trial, it still makes for long days. I was lucky to not have to be there early, unlike Merinda and my other friends, but we still arrived around 1:30 and still waited until 5:30 just to walk our first course, which happened to be Masters Jumpers. Then within an hour we were also walking the Masters Standard. It was wait…then hurry!! We were done by 7:30 and on the road. Still exhausting.

Saturday's courses were fun, though. We tackled Tim Pinneri's Jumpers course just fine. I like courses that start with tunnels because it's a good way to rev Dally up early. Serpentines are a strong thing for Dally because she and I are able to do the straight line, which saves yardage. We Qd and finished 5th in a tough 4 Inches class and 10 PACH points.

The Masters Standard course was manageable, but for some reason Dally skipped a pole in the middle of the weaves--that was a first. So we finished strong and fast, just to have fun.

(Yes, we were the last dog of the entire day…how much does that suck??)

Sunday was a little better--we arrived around 1 and were actually done by 5:30. A lot of people were leaving early because of bad winter weather coming, which helped with the timing. Again, we started with Jumpers, which saw Dally Q with 4 PACH points. She was a little slower, but she kept things going. In Standard I swore we had our first QQ, but the judge raised his hand on a jump and it was noted as a refusal on the scribe sheet. I'm still not sure what she did, because he didn't raise his hands like she knocked the bar, No one knows exactly what happened still…it's a little irritating.

Oh well, that's agility right? We came out of it with 14 total PACH points and a good warm-up for Nationals. We hadn't trialed since November, so I was nervous about how rusty we were. Maybe the slowness was some of Dally's rust…I don't know. But I think we'll be OK for Nationals.

Here's LaMesa's trial wrap-up, including a little surprise... ;-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GLTC Kentuckiana Cluster AKC Agility Trial: Course Maps

This weekend the Stump Kids and I traveled an hour west to compete at the Greater Louisville Training Club's Kentuckiana Cluster--four days of dog shows: rally, obedience, agility, conformation... Pure craziness.
The following are the course maps from Saturday and Sunday, from judges Tim Pinneri, Jennifer McDonald, and Annette Natal.

Coming up, our wrap-up!

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Early Spring Saturday

So maybe it's not officially Spring yet, but it sure felt like it on Saturday!

The Stump Kids and I celebrated by spending it outside as much as possible.

First we hit up a show 'n go at Goose Creek Dog Sports, which was exactly what we needed to get back into the swing of a trial. We haven't gone to an agility trial since November and we're hitting the Louisville Cluster next weekend. Not to mention AKC Nationals are just a few weeks away!

And boy were both girls pumped to do some agility! After a month of injuries (LaMesa's leg spring, Dally's ripped toenail), they've only been doing dog walks and not much else for quick recovery. LaMesa made her presence known by lots of barking, plus a nip on my butt when we were heading to the ring gate…oh, and her infamous face planting into the A-frame. (When she's really amped and she's not really working with me but just running, she tends to take off high onto the A-frame, which results, most of the time, in a face plant.) As always, she recovered and handled two difficult courses very well (minus some handler errors).

Dally didn't look too rusty, which is good…but boy was I! There were a few times where I didn't drop my shoulder enough to bring her in (I have to exaggerate some of the movements for more elaborate moves with Dally), and didn't handle a wrap correctly. This is what I've been worried about--how rusty would I be on full courses? Sure this winter I've done a lot of drills with a couple of jumps and the weave poles in the back yard, sprinkled in with a couple of run-thrus here and there at Goose Creek, but it's not the same as running like you do at a trial, no matter how long you've been doing agility.

After working Dally and LaMesa, plus my friend's two dogs (a Toy Poodle and Papillon) in a couple of Masters and international courses, I headed to meet some friends for a 6 mile run at the Legacy Trail. After I completed my run, I took the girls for a 2 mile walk on the trail while we waited for my friends. Since I have never walked them on this trail before, they enjoyed the sights and new smells a lot.

The Trail has a lot of cool paintings along the 10-mile length.

Happy Vallhund!

I'm going to try to do some drills in the backyard this week leading up to our trial. I'm already getting excited, trying to fight the urge to start packing now.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Puppies in Agility: How Much is Too Much Pushing?

It's time for another thought-provoking day sponsored by the Dog Agility Blog Action Day! Today's topic: Starting Puppies in Agility

I don't know if I'm the best source of information on this topic, but I have been there. In fact, starting a puppy in agility was the main reason why I started this blog--I wanted to chronicle my journey with LaMesa as she started her agility career, as well as my journey with Dally, whom I had started a few years prior.

Dally and I didn't start doing agility until she was about 3 years old. LaMesa, however, was started around her first birthday.

Starting a puppy from scratch was definitely a lot more difficult than starting a more mature dog who had already been around the block a couple of times. It's so hard to remind yourself that everything is new in every way, and they won't get everything so quickly.

I'm thankful to have had people who made sure I didn't push LaMesa too much too early. I'm afraid there are some that will start their puppies already on difficult things such as tight turns, jumps, climbing, when their bodies just aren't ready. I'm all for laying down groundwork--that's what we do with horses is do a lot of groundwork before they're even introduced to the saddle.

For LaMesa, we started classes with Merinda. On top of the basic obedience, we did a lot of different things like learning to wrap jump standards. We learned to do changes of directions on the flat with front crosses, rears, and blinds. We learned how to push away to get distance…again on the ground. We slowly added contacts, but kept them low and simple. We started to add jumps at a low height, which for LaMesa was 4 and 8 inches, towards the end of the first session.

This photo was taken during one of our first class sessions.
This time we focused mostly on her focus on me.
We wanted to make sure our dogs were able to handle the stress of jumps before we added that stress. It's so important to remember that.

I think it's also important to remember to give your puppy a vacation from training. With young horses, we called it the "2-Year-Old Vacation". That vacation allows for their minds to take a break, just as much as the body. What you'll find is that somehow a lot of that training really was absorbed by the young one, and when they came back from vacation they're further along and ready to learn more. Young dogs need those vacations as well. They need a break from constant training to be able to be a dog--stretch their legs and their minds, relax and enjoy the partnership they now have.

LaMesa's first trial wasn't until she was 15 months old, at a CPE trial and entered in just a couple of classes, mostly to get the experience. Her first AKC trial wasn't until she was 18 months old, and perhaps I should have waited a little longer for that one, as it was outside and she was so wired.

LaMesa's first agility trial ever--CPE. She looks so small there! 
I don't push to trial often, but definitely not as a young dog would I want to hit a trial every weekend. The stress that can put on their minds, as well as their bodies, might not be ready for that. Maybe it's just me, but I shiver to hear about dogs who are close to their MACHs when they just turned 2. Are we asking too much too soon?

We have to remember to make this fun with our puppies, as well as our dogs. Absorb the lessons that not only are you teaching your puppy, but that your puppy is teaching you. LaMesa has taught me so much more patience and diligence than I ever have with any young horse or older dog. And I'm still learning.

My Partner
Be sure to check out other DABAD blogs for their takes on training puppies in agility.

Some good reads from the day (so far):

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Mardi Paws!!!

As a French student in high school, I loved celebrating Mardi Gras. I still love to celebrate it and I hope that someday I'll get to be in New Orleans for the festivities.

Until then, I'll just take the Stump Kids to the Bluegrass Barkery for their Mardi Paws Party, where they provided king cake for both dogs and humans! They even had a photo booth and provided beads for everyone to wear.

How awesome that the Barkery baked doggie king cakes??
Here are some more some photos from the celebration that Merinda took (thank you!).

LaMesa's "costume" looked like she was showing the
day after Mardi Gras….beads and mask askew, missing a shoe...

Dally was intent on keeping an eye on the king cake.

Happy Mardi Paws Gras!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Toenail Tragedy

As dog owners, we've all heard that sound that makes us jump and puts our hearts in our throats. That pain-filled yip. Upon turning the Stump Kids outside, Matt and I heard that painful yip, but neither of us knew who it was.

At first I thought it was LaMesa, who has been recovering from her sprained leg (or toe, we never were  100% sure). But then I heard from Matt, "Hey hun, can you bring an old towel?" I walked into the screened-in patio to see blood already covering the tile floor…coming from Dally's front foot.

Dally had ripped a toenail out of her front foot. It must have gotten caught in the bottom track of the sliding patio door as she and LaMesa drove through the open door. Of course I was on my way to a doctor's appointment. A quick call to our vet at Gainesway Animal Hospital gave me the idea to pack her toe with flour to help stop the blood. (Unless you have blood stop powder, which of course my company makes, but I don't have any samples with me at home….of course.) Matt set up a chair in the patio and sat down to cradle Dally and her painful foot until the blood stopped.

At least 30 minutes later, the bleeding stopped and Matt set up a crate with Dally's bed and blanket in the office and she had to wear the "Cone of Shame" to keep her from licking her toe.

I was able to clean off her foot later in the afternoon by trimming the toe hairs. She's been limping on it, so I tried to wrap it in gauze and SyrFlex (cohesive bandage made by my company, one job perk) to help cushion it so she doesn't bump the toe. However she was not a fan and spent 10 minutes flipping her stump with great agitation. So I went ahead and took it off, which made her happy. Instead she's now on a regular dose of Traumeel to help with the pain. I just hope the nerves cool off soon. Poor thing looks so miserable limping around the house, and I can't take her for a walk or to do anything else until the toe heals.

(My husband made this little collage while I was at the doctor. Note the zebra print to go with Dally's trademark.)

At least this happened early in March, instead of closer to Nationals. And hopefully she should be healed and ready to go by the Louisville Cluster in two weeks (our first agility trial since November!).

This isn't the first time Dally's ripped out a toenail--she somehow ripped out a toenail while walking in my old apartment trying to squeeze between me and the couch. That was an ugly situation, too. What is it about toes that makes them bleed so much for so long??

I told her this wouldn't happen if she'd let me Dremel her toenails shorter, but she doesn't care.

Have you ever had a dog rip out his/her toenail?