Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sheltie Trials

Just finished up four days of agility hosted by the local Sheltie club. The judges were GREAT - Scott Stock and Robert Kripaitis. Some interesting courses and lots of fun.

Tia had a wonderful weekend - two qualifying runs in Excellent B Jumpers and one in Excellent B Standard, all with first places! Her other runs only had minor errors, and she was running very well. The Bopper is quite the dog!

Queezle, on the other hand, was in the doghouse. We were having "bitssues" - she felt she should be in charge and that I was getting in her way, and I said like hell sweetheart. I pulled her off the course multiple times for obnoxiousness, because if she isn't going to work with me as a team, then she doesn't get to play. She didn't like having her runs cut short, but she also wasn't particularly willing to back down - several people commented on her attitudey walk when I was taking her back to the car. It was very frustrating for me, because at our last trial back in June I was thinking that we were really starting to run as a team. We had this problem a few years ago with the weave poles - I would say, "Weave," and Queezle would say, "Make me." This weekend she was doing the same thing at both the weave poles and some tight parts on courses. Not totally sure what brought it on, as we have been able to practice in different places pretty frequently (and last weekend we did a lot of agility during downtime). I think we'll get through this storm faster though because she has really good weaves once she shuts up and does them. It's like when a horse suddenly starts balking at a bridge they have crossed every day - she is testing me, and as long as I am consistent and don't let her get away with bad behavior she will revert to the awesome agility dog that I know and love.

Today she bounced back - we made it almost all the way through Standard before she started giving me grief, and then in Jumpers all I had to do was make her lie down when she started to bark at the weave poles and then she composed herself and we finished the run in fine style. We are entered at Cato in two weeks, so between then and now we're going to make sure we do some quick weave pole practice once or twice a day. And contacts too of course - you can never practice those too much!

I also ended up running Hokey and Dani some because my mom got mild heatstroke on Friday (she is fine now) and then she had other things going on on Saturday. Hokey and I had a nice run in Excellent Standard and the qualified in Exc Jumpers! Dani NQd in Jumpers both days but we had pretty good runs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Some Photos from the Rodeo

I didn't get many photos, because a) it took me two days to find the camera in all the haphazardly packed bags from moving out of the apartment, and b) my battery was low and all of my replacement batteries are still in Ithaca. Oops. So here is a very limited pictorial.

Queezle in her expen, which she liked as long as I wasn't off spending time with other dogs (whenever that happened, she turned into a whiny beast).

Queezle and the coyote. She really didn't react to it much when she first saw it. Some of the dogs freaked out, and the following night one Ridgeback went postal and ripped its tail off. I told Queezle to stay away from that one.

June and Clifford doing rally. June was the rally instructor for the weekend. She is doing agility with her young boy Chance, but Clifford is a rescue who just does rally for fun now.

Clifford lounging.

And that's pretty much all I got!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

June and July... In August

On June 17th, Queezle got a Group 2 in Topsfield, MA! We then drove back home for my brother's high school graduation, returning to MA Saturday afternoon. On June 19th she was Best of Opposite.

The 23rd through 26th were the agility trials in Cato, NY. Tia earned two Excellent B Jumpers qualifying runs I believe. Queezle qualified in Open Standard to finish her OA! She is now in Excellent in all three classes. Most excitingly, Flag the Ridgeback qualified in Novice Jumpers in the pouring rain on Friday to finish his NJP! The also means he will get a versatility title from the Ridgeback club.

Next up were the Bainbridge shows. On Thursday Queezle was Select bitch. Friday she won the breed, nothing in the Group. I also showed Flint the young Rottweiler puppy, who went Reserve Winners Dog. It was his first show ever, and he had a grand time. Saturday Flint went Reserve again and Queezle was Best of Breed. Queezle had been blowing coat pretty rapidly over the weekend (the entire Terv entry was), so on Sunday we elected to stay home and went to herding practice in Caroline.

July 9 and 10 we drove up to Hamlin, NY for conformation and obedience. Queezle was entered in breed on Saturday, but severely lacking in hair so she just showed in obedience. Flint was very cute but got second in his class. Queezle's heeling in Open A obedience was not stellar, but she did everything else very well despite the very high temperatures and ended up being the only qualifier! The score was not pretty, but a green ribbon is a green ribbon. On Sunday her heeling was much worse, and we ended up failing on that. On the retrieve over the high jump she got the dumbbell, brought it back and dropped it at my feet. Since we had already failed, I told her to pick it back up. She pounced on it, laying down as she picked it up. Then she looked at me confused, and rolled over with the dumbbell in her mouth! Goofy dog. After that we drove home to Vernon for a week of doctor and dentist appointments for me (eww), plus an impromptu haircut.

On July 22nd I judged the Livingston County Fair for dog 4H. Temps were in the 90s, so we flew through the ten obedience entries and two grooming & handling kids. All of the kids put in a good effort, and there were no big disasters. The two Aussies in Grad Beginner did an especially good job. Hopefully all of them will stick with it and continue training next year! Driving home I bought ice cream for the dogs and me.

Saturday the 23rd we drove down to Binghamton for an obedience trial. Queezle put in a lovely performance in Open A, but sat up with 20 seconds left on the long down. Grad Open took forever to get started, so Tia was pretty deflated by the time we went in the ring, and then I couldn't hear half of what the judge said so we did a pretty shoddy job. Tia really perked up on the glove exercise though, which made me happy, and on the directed jumping took the jump that I told her to (which turned out to be the wrong one - I had misheard the judge - but oh well!).

Sunday the 24th was wild. I went to pick up Queezle's number, didn't see mine on the board so I assumed I had the wrong number in my head and picked up 217 instead. Bad choice. A few minutes later the real 217 came to find me and take her number back, at which point I went to the table to figure out what number I really was. I was actually 214, but since I hadn't been written on the board they put me at the end of the class. Then when Queezle and I got to the ring for our turn, the judge didn't have a sheet for us! He had to go check with the trial secretary that I really was entered, and then we finally got to go. Queezle did a wonderful job, qualifying with a 192 and second place to finish her CDX! She finished both her CD and CDX under Frank Washabaugh - I guess we'll have to watch for him when we're getting close to our UD!

Tia was awesome in Grad Open. She did the drop in the ring for the first time ever, even though it took two commands. The rest of her signals were nice. On the articles she brought back the wrong one, but she did actually bring me one, which is a step in the right direction. She brought the correct glove and did her moving stand. On the go-out, she went all the way to the gate (another first for us in a trial setting), but then instead of sitting came back to me. On the directed jumping she took the wrong jump, but the rest of it was such an improvement that I couldn't really be mad at her. We'll keep working! On the way home we picked up five ducklings for my mom. They then spent the night at my apartment and I delivered them on Monday. Initially I was calling them the Jackson 5, but they have since been renamed the Chocolates - Godiva, Toblerone, Ghirardelli, Lindt and something else that has escaped my mind. Can't really tell them apart anyway, except for Godiva who is the smallest and Toblerone who is the biggest.

Last Wednesday I moved out of Lake Street and dumped my stuff in the new apartment. Lake Street had its faults, but I did love that apartment and will miss it. Next year should be fun though, as Queezle and I will be living with a bunch of band people.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ridgeback Rodeo - Days 3 and 4

It has occurred to me that I never put the actual name of the site - Scattergun Reserve, which is an absolutely beautiful place and a paradise for people interested in hunting and shooting when it isn't overrun by Ridgebacks!

Saturday I had a full day with the Ridgies - lots of people showing up to try agility, and some repeats coming back for their dogs to get some more experience. There was only one dog the whole weekend who wanted nothing to do with agility - we were able to coax her most of the way up the aframe, but there was no way she was going to go in the tunnel and it was clear that she was only cooperating on other obstacles because her people asked her to and they were the lesser evils in her mind. Other than that every dog tried most of the obstacles, though for the ones that had trouble learning the tunnel I had them skip the chute - no need to have a scary experience before they have a chance to become more comfortable with a regular tunnel.

Dinner on Saturday was steak grilled to perfection, along with beans and salad. Afterward Eric hooked up the tractor to a hay wagon and took most of the rodeoers for a hayride. Queezle was sure that we would all die horrible deaths, but many of the dogs thought it was a good time. We followed a trail around the farmland on the property and bordering the woods.

Sunday was the fourth and final day of the Rodeo, and brought the ATTS evaluations. For the ATTS, the dogs go through a series of stations that simulate real-life situations that a dog might encounter, and the three testers evaluate whether or not the dog responds appropriately. The handler is not allowed to talk to or encourage the dog in any way. First was the neutral stranger, who approaches the handler and chats briefly, without acknowledging the dog. Queezle sniffed her but that was it. Next was the friendly stranger, who greets the dog. Queezle allowed her to pet her, looking back at me rolling her eyes (classic Queezle in public - she can't understand why strangers insist on drooling all over her, but since they are harmless she allows them to worship her).

At the third station a person shakes a bucket full of rocks while behind a blind, and then reaches out and puts the bucket on the ground. Ideally the dog will investigate and put its head in the bucket to see what's inside. Queezle looked up at the noise, and then ignored the bucket. She did eventually check it out after I made a fuss of admiring the bucket. Fourth was the gun test. A person behind a blind fires a starting pistol once, pauses, and then fires twice more. The dog is expected to startle, and should then recover. Queezle doesn't like thunder or fireworks, so I knew she would have the most trouble with this station. She startled and then plastered herself to my side. She was still a little unsettled after a few seconds, but was composed enough for the head tester to tell us to go on. At the fifth station a person opens an umbrella in front of the dog and puts it down. The dog is supposed to investigate and will ideally touch the umbrella. Queezle went right up to the umbrella and touched it, then continued on (I had to laugh at that - what with Ithaca weather Queezle is very accustomed to seeing and hearing umbrellas!).

The sixth and seventh stations test a dog's reaction to tactile stimulation. First they have to walk over a plastic tarp, and then over a wire ex-pen laid out on the ground. Queezle didn't blink about either one. I was kind of surprised that she did the ex-pen on the first try - I had figured that she would need to investigate that first. She was still keeping her ears turned toward where the gun had been though, so she may have been thinking that a wire grate was nothing compared to possibly getting shot.

The last three stations are all sort of molded together, and deal with a "weird stranger." First the person, strangely dressed, steps out from behind a blind while making noise. The stranger then turns toward the dog and handler and starts to approach while acting threatening. The testers expect dogs to react based on their breed and training (for example, a schutzhund dog would lunge at the stranger), but all dogs should register that the person is a threat. Queezle picked him up right away and moved close beside me, watching him carefully until he had turned back.

Queezle passed! The chief tester commented on how she is very aware of everything going on around her - that's a Belgian for you! The only people who know whether a dog passes are the testers and the handler, so I don't know for sure how everyone else did, but from the dogs that I watched most of them did well. It was really interesting to watch, as there were breeds other than Ridgebacks entered. The behavior and different reactions were fascinating.

After that it was time to pack up and head home. I had a great time, and maybe will be able to go back next year!