Sunday, February 08, 2009

We're having much more fun

I took Strummer to his first ever fun match this weekend and he had a great time playing in the obedience ring. Which would have been great had we actually been entered in the obedience part of the show. Unfortunately when I signed up for the agility fun match I did not realize we would be sharing the indoor arena with 4 rings of obedience right up next to the agility ring with nothing but a few flimsy bits of surveying tape to divide them. There's no way I would have signed Strummer up for this had I known but when I arrived and saw the setup I figured that he'd been doing so well in class as far as not leaving me to join the dogs in the other agility ring right next door that he'd be fine with obedience which didn't seem nearly as enticing. Thing is I don't know much about obedience and as it turns out one of the exercises they do involves throwing a plastic barbell thingy and it was just my luck that they happened to throw it right at the exact moment that Strum was driving out of the weave poles into a nearly empty corner of the ring that had only the table. It's possible he thought the flying toy was his reward for a job well done in the weaves or more likely he wasn't thinking much of anything at all and in his sky as a kite state was attracted by the motion of the flying toy. I saw this coming a mile away and called him. He ignored his first recall, ran up to the toy then decided to heed my second recall and came flying back to me, thankfully without picking up the toy. On the plus side he's so fast he was in and out of there in the blink of an eye though it felt like an eternity to me. I'm not sure if the obedience people found this amusing or were horrified by the wild crazy coyote dog flying into their ring. I don't recall hearing any great peals of laughter and given how stuffy the AKC agility trials are around here and how the obedience folk seem way more uptight than the agility people I'm supposing it was the latter. This is what I get for naming my dog after a punk rock icon. There's a big AKC show next weekend, one of those huge deals where they combine conformation, obedience, agility and who knows what else. Big huge crowds come out to watch and for those that like that kind of thing it's a great opportunity to show off for the crowd. But it also puts people preparing for it on edge and because AKC trials aren't on my radar I had no idea this fun match, put on by a breed club, was meant to be practice for this big fancy trial and not so much practice for the baby dogs. Oh well, next time I'll know.

I altered the course to avoid the dog walk and A-frame and instead got extra practice on the weaves and table, both of which were good. Teeter was good too. Jumping/handling however had gone right down the crapper. He was so wound up he wouldn't collect for anything and he had one eye on those other rings so he was distracted and not following my direction as well as he should have. On the plus side he was way more focused on his second run, stayed out of the obedience ring and had 4 beautiful runs through a full set of poles. He even squeezed between the judge and the first pole to get his entry because she was standing right at the entrance since the next obstacle was supposed to be the A-frame I was avoiding and she was in position to judge that. He still wasn't collecting properly on his jumps on his second run though it's possible I cued him too late. I ran the same course with Lola and she read the front crosses no problem but she's not nearly as fast as Strum. Either way I'll be paying close attention to that at class tomorrow night and I'll break out the portable jumps on my lunch hour for a little refresher course. He was even having problems collecting on the practice jump so I think we need to review a bit and I need to rile him up a bit more in practice.

I took Lola to the match as well so I could work on her table. I've been working on her 'down' cue off the table and that's been an adventure that I'll write about eventually but not tonight. I wasn't quite ready to put her on a table in a new place but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be able to reward her right there on the table if she managed to do it. On her first run she balked at the table at first but she got on and went into a down. Yeeha, lots of treats for that. I ran her back and forth on the A-frame then back on the table and she did it no problem. On her second run through I waited a bit to reward her and she popped up after 3 seconds. I did get her back down though without a fight and she once again gots lots of treats. I put her on and off the table about 4-5 more times really quickly before my time ran out and she did great. There may be hope for a Standard Q after all. The trick with her has been to avoid turning it into a battle of wills because that makes her freeze right away. One of these days I'll remember to write about what we've been doing. The rest of her run for both runs was perfect, good weaves and contacts, no problems with the course though we were running a novice/open level course. She was even moving at a decent speed without me pushing her. She must have been feeling good and her feet not bothering her.


After I got home from the match I shot some photos of Strum on the dogwalk plank in the backyard. Table is at 4' high. He was 10/10 so I didn't get any photos of his gait for a miss and I certainly wasn't going to try to get him to miss in order to get a photo. As it turns out he is doing a rotary gallop, at least in the photos. I'll try to get some video this week as well.

He had a successful week of training on the dogwalk, I was beyond pleased. His sessions have been a combo of backchaining the full length 4' high dogwalk (6 reps or so) and running the full dogwalk (4 reps). He's been 100% over 3 sessions for the full dogwalk reps though 50-70% on the backchained reps. Best part though was that I took him up to Powerpups which is an outdoor facility where he's never practiced before and he was 100% on all his dogwalk reps even with the wind howling. He had nice weaves, teeter and table there too. There was supposed to be a course set up for run throughs but when I arrived the wind was blowing so badly that the field was a mess of collapsed jumps. It wasn't blowing that badly in Boulder when I left so I didn't even think to call to see if it was bad up there. I'd driven an hour to get there so Alan generously offered to let me put Strum on whatever equipment I liked since there was no way the jumps were going to stay up for me to run a course. This was more the sort of practice Strum needed anyway and I knew we had the fun match the following day so the drive wasn't a total waste.

Today was a relaxing day of hiking on the Mesa Trail/Skunk Canyon for Strummer and Cody. The dogs were off leash for a good bit of the trail but there were warnings of mountain lion sightings so we kept them on leash for the iffy parts of the trail. This was the steepest, longest hike I've been on (just under 2 hours) since foot surgery and the resulting knee problems I've been having. Aside from a bad knee twist on a rocky part of the trail I managed o.k. and I felt o.k. for the rest of the day after icing the knee a couple of times. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. Would be good if I could get back to regular hiking. I started back up with running this week too, one minute run/one minute walk for about 1/2 an hour. I had worked my way up to 3 mins. run/1 min. walk a month or so ago but then my knee flared up again and I had to back off until now. Hopefully this will be it and I can finally return to normal running. I miss it a lot and keep having dreams where I'm running long races and flying along effortlessly then I wake up from them with my knee all sore and feeling gimpy. Not fun and I've had enough of it.

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