Sunday, September 23, 2012


It's been a really awesome couple of weeks in the training/trialing department.  Last Saturday we went to an agility trial.  I had really tried hard to dig into the motivation issues Max had on Labour Day weekend (other than the heat).  I asked a coach/mentor how I could get Max aroused enough to focus on me instead of the environment before starting a run.  She turned the question around and asked me if I was 100% focused on Max or if I was thinking about how I was going to handle/ when I needed to go into the ring etc.  She even went so far as to bet that I was not 100% focused on Max.  I thought about it for awhile and realized that while I truly believed I was giving Max 100% attention I really was thinking about all of those other things as well.  My only goal last weekend was to stay connected with him prior to the run starting (during too but once we get started things seem to settle out).  Lo and behold he had three fabulous runs.  We missed the Q in Gamblers due to me mishandling the gamble but got Q's in both master snooker and master standard.  Max was drivey and focused for all three runs.

Rylie and I had some differences of opinion.  In the standard run he told me in no uncertain terms that if I expected him to put his Cavalier King Charles nose in the dirt at the end of the contacts I was batsh** crazy.  Regardless of that the run was really nice - an off course jump and popping the weaves meant no Q but other than the ongoing fight about contact criteria things are coming together.  In the gambler run he actually got the gamble but because he chose to run his own course in the opening rather than the one I'd planned he didn't have enough points (if he insists on doing this I'm going to have to teach him to add).  In snooker he apparently realized the error of his ways and agreed to the course I planned - we did get a Q for that one!

Last Sunday was the CFSO picnic.  Great fun with lots of Cavaliers of all sizes running around.  I won a door prize again this year - Yeah!

Saturday we had another trial.  Max was totally awesome.  It was cool and he loves to play agility in that weather.  His jumpers run was lovely other than the fact I missed jump #15.  Max did exactly what I asked.  I had run the course a few minutes earlier with Rylie and managed to get all the obstacles so why I missed it I don't know.  I made the judge very sad.  Rylie ran the jumpers pretty well.  He is just barely in master jumpers and all the handling is something he's just getting used to.  I think he only had 5 faults so I call that successful.

Next was our gamble run.  Both dogs have been over a year without a gamble Q.  Working away from me isn't something we practice a lot and while neither of them mind me being a distance.  This course was ideal for us as the distance part came after they were already going.  Both dogs got a Q.

Standard was really nice too.  Max ran beautifully and got a Q.  Rylie ran well (we are still arguing about contacts).  A late handling move on my part cost us the Q.  We had worked on weave poles during the week and his weaves were lovely though.

Today we went to a jumping seminar after our weekly lesson.  I got some good feedback from the dogs and now I have some additional things to work on.  Next trial isn't until the end of October.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekend Training

This was my second week training both dogs in the same class and I think I'm going to enjoy it.  Rylie barks at me when I take Max as if to say "Hey - you've got the wrong one" but he settles down and quietly waits his turn.

I had some time this week to reflect on last weekend's trial and the events that led up to Max deciding to leave the ring instead of running his final run.

1.  It was incredibly hot - Max is not a fan of running in the heat (neither am I for that matter).

2.  I had to run the dogs back to back.  It was a small trial and they told me to take my time but I allowed myself to feel self imposed pressure to get back into the ring quickly.  Rylie ran first and I immediately (after loving him up a bit) handed him off to my trainer and grabbed Max.  I left the treat/tug toy with my trainer just outside the ring so she could give Rylie treats.  Max and I ALWAYS tug before a run.  I haven't noticed it really gets him more aroused (which is what I'm hoping for)  but regardless that is what we do and he gets a few treats as we warm up.  This time nada.  We get to the line and of course there is no hope Max will be focused without our warmup so he isn't.  He looks around and sees my trainer just outside the ring feeding Rylie treats (well kibble but still).  If you were a highly food motivated dog where would you rather be?  Bingo - Max made a beeline for the treats.

3.  Did I mention it was stinking hot?

Moral of the story.  I did Max a great disservice but not giving him a proper warm up with my full attention.  I am not an experienced enough handler to run two dogs back to back.  I should have either taken all the time I needed to go through our warm up routine or been more assertive that they put at least one dog between us, or just scratched the run.

Lessons learned at class today.  Running Max makes me feel like I know what I'm doing.  Running Rylie first over the same course is humbling.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labour Day Weekend

It's been a busy weekend here in the land of emptynest.  We (and by this I mean 90% engineering dad) are in the midst of painting (which I'm barely allowed to do) and redecorating - which I am allowed to do.  Saturday was shopping for some cupboard hardware as engineering dad is building me a pantry closet.  Sunday the boys and I had a nice long run in the woods (well they ran anyway) and in the afternoon we went down to our local wading pool for the Pooch Plunge.  Both of my guys thought this was a super fantastic idea - although Rylie may have wished that those pesky Golden's would keep away from his ball.  After a try or two neither of them had an issue with the makeshift ramp and were easily able to get themselves in and out of the pool.  It was hot and sunny and was a beautiful day for a swim.

Today we had an agility trial.  Max ran first and turned in a truly awesome performance in his master standard run for a Q.  He was very pokey in the snooker and we got whistled off when he took the wrong side of a jump.  It was a really tricky course  - or else I picked a really bad route but I doubt we would have made it as far as we did if he had been running his normal speed.  By the time jumpers came up in mid afternoon Max decided that he just wasn't playing the game and left the ring.  There might have been a couple of things preventing him from having the focus he should have but I will have to consider just not running him outside in the summer.

Rylie's standard run was really nice.  His contacts were lovely.  A pop out in the weaves cost us the Q. I think I could have restarted him but he never pops out and I just decided to carry on and be happy with the run.  His advanced snooker was lovely and we did get a Q in that one.  The master jumpers course was tricky and pretty twisty turny.  Rylie took one wrong end of a tunnel but otherwise was spot on.  I think we are starting to gel as a team and I am starting to be able to see the course a bit better from his viewpoint.
All in all I was thrilled with Max's standard run and al three of Rylie's runs.  I am mildly concerned with Max's last two runs  but we have two more trials this month so we'll see how they go.  I was much happier with my handling and decision making than I was last weekend.