Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lions and DOCNA and Bears

ETA: I fixed the links to the photos.

It was a busy holiday weekend and I took an extra day off since I hadn't taken any vacation days yet this year so I had 4 days of fun. There was hiking and biking and lots of dog walking and some agility and wildife and a bbq and the rest is all a blur.

Sunday was fun at a DOCNA trial for the trouble twins. I left Cody at home with Jonny and it made me sad but was probably the better thing for him and was definitely the better thing for my wallet. It's a 2 hour drive to this trial which is why I chose to do only 1 day of the 3 since I didn't want to pay for a hotel. It's a shame though because it's a nice facility, parking and crating are close to the ring and it's only a one ring trial so I could relax and not worry about conflicts. The judge had some nice courses and was so nice to deal with. The entry was small so she wasn't rushing us into the ring while the other dog was finishing so I was able to keep Strum relatively calm before his turn and go in after the other dog was finished. We got through 5 events by 2:00 pm so no I wasn't dragging out the day. In fact I was set up and ready to go several times before the 'Go' signal was given.

On paper our results look good. Both dogs Q'ed and took first place in their Jumpers and Standard classes. I left the ring 1 second early for Lola's Time Gamble and something like .38 secs too late for Strum's so we missed a Q in that class and those were all the classes I entered. However in reality Lola's Standard run was a mess of run-bys and I kept fixing them which I don't like to do and I'm not sure why I did. Her Time Gamble went o.k. but there was some weirdness to my handling because she didn't follow my plan and I had to make something up which sometimes doesn't end well. By the time she got to her Jumpers run she was stress sniffing on the start line, something I haven't seen in ages, so I started with her instead of leading out and had to alter my handling plan yet again and I got a bit lost for a moment but I got her through the course and it was a nice run. I hate seeing her stressed out though, even if it's only a little bit. I'd trade a crappy run with a Q for a nice smooth, happy, barking at me in joy run with an NQ any day. We have another trial next weekend and I'm going to remember not to mess with her on course if things go wrong.

Strum also had a not so pretty Standard run that was a Q but felt like it shouldn't have been. The highlight was his running dogwalk and A-frame. Both were things of beauty. However he hit the weave entry with too much speed and missed the 2nd gate, my forward motion was to blame. I should have stopped and let him find the entry then caught up to him since his weaves aren't yet independent. Then my lungs exploded after he exited the blue tunnel for the second time and my handling went right down the crapper. We held it together for the Q but ugh, not a very smooth run. Thanks to Greg we have video. It isn't pretty but oh well, he's just a baby and it was only his second standard run at a trial.

The worst part of the trial for him and me though was his A-frame during the Time Gamble. It was the first obstacle and he did his launch over the top and land at the very bottom of the frame thing which is frightening and not at all what I want him to do. When it happens in practice I always mark it very strongly with a no reward marker. This does seem to work because the reps I get after that are good in practice. I should have stopped him during the run, told him 'No way mister' and had him try again. Instead I kept right on trucking, I was so focused on the handling and getting ahead of him, he's so fast. It wasn't because I cared about the Q and in fact had I stopped and redone the obstacle it wouldn't have mattered because it's Gamblers so that wasn't why I kept going. I need to remember to reinforce my training in the ring and let the run go if I feel like I've lost the flow of the handling. I get so single mindedly focused sometimes, have to work on that.

His Jumpers run was awesome though, a wide turn but otherwise no problemo and he had the fastest time of the entire Starters class, all height/divisions. We pulled off some nice lateral sends and front crosses, even a rear cross-fun! No bars down in Jumpers or any of the other classes unless I didn't notice something go down in Time Gamblers. Perfect startline stays for all his runs too. Teeter in Standard could have been better, I've been letting his teeter slide lately. He behaved nicely for the most part at ringside and though he took a few glances at the ring when I had him off leash at the practice jump he chose to stay and work with me. I felt like he was calmer (relatively speaking) and more composed and focused then he was at his last trial so hopefully we're making some progress in that area.

Here's a great photo of Strum jumping with his tongue hanging out, what a goofus. And Miss Lola doing what she does best. Strummy's flying dogwalk. And looking like a kangaroo on the teeter.

One of the cool things about this trial is that you get toys for your Q's. The dogs loved getting new toys and we spent Memorial Day playing with them.

The girl with drive who don't take no jive.

All mine.

Strum did manage to get his paws on one.

Pleeeeeeeze throw it for me?? Pleeeeeeeeze??!!

As for the lions and bears. We went up to a friend's house for Memorial Day and she lives in the Foothills above Boulder, just 10 minutes up or so but still it feels like you're up there and beautiful views of the surrounding hills. They were even more beautiful because a storm was blowing through and low clouds settling in between the hills. I was going to bring my camera but changed my mind at the last second, didn' want to be bothered with photography during social hour. Yeah, I know, what an idiot. I felt even more so when the bear made his appearance. We were sitting in the living room in front of a roaring fire listening to my friend's tales of the wildlife she's run into living in this house including a mother bear and cubs coming right up to the living room window. Next thing I know I see a bear come up near the window and I'm on my feet pointing and yelling and nearly peeing my pants 'Bear!!!! Bear!!! There's a baby bear!!!' It was a yearling actually but still very cute. He made his way around the house and we all followed him from room to room, some of us running downstairs, some of us staying up and everyone running when someone yelled 'There he is!'. We had to yell to scare him away a couple of times, once when he went in the garbage can (it was empty) and once when he started licking the grill (food was all inside but we left the grill out to cool and forgot about it). It's no good for the bears if they get used to people. Eventually he disappeared when he realized we weren't going to let him get anything good. We told our friend we expect to see a bear everytime now when we come to visit.

Then the next day I noticed a Division of Wildife truck cruising my neighborhood. He parked in front of my house and hung out for awhile which made me suspicious. I went out and asked him if something was loose in the neighborhood and he said a mountain lion had attacked a goat last night and headed back towards the hills right through the neighborhood. He was listening for radio signals in case the cat had a transmitter collar. The goat attack was maybe 1/2 mile from my house (goat was o.k., Great Pyrenees dog chased the cat up a tree). Hard to say but it's likely the cat ran up a drainage ditch that runs just 2-3 houses away to get back to the mountains. I'm worried he may come back now that he knows about the goats (there are tons of babies) or maybe he'll come back for wee Lambchops who lives only 2 blocks away. I've been looking in the yard and up in the trees and calling 'Here kitty kitty' first before I let the dogs out in the yard. There are so many deer in the neighborhood in addition to everyone's dogs and livestock it must be so tempting for the cats to come into town. There are a lot of foxes about too, I saw 3 yesterday in the space of a few hours. Not sure if the cats eat them though. I'm always on the lookout for mountain lions but we've never had one come so close before. Much as I'd like to see one from the comfort of my living room I'm hoping he'll stay in the mountains where it's safer for everybody involved.


  1. Congrats on your Qs from the weekend. It's so hard to remember the good stuff and discount the bad stuff; I'm also prone to "we didn't deserve that Q" kind of thinking, but in reality you still met the requirements as stated in the rules and not all dogs and handlers can do that. So bully for you!

    Love the barking weaves photo and the flying dogwalk. Lovely!

  2. Thanks, I know it's still good to get a Q. I wasn't meaning to sound too negative and down on myself, just trying to give a realistic account so I know where to focus my future training time and efforts. I also need to look at what went wrong so I can remind myself what I need to focus on at trials or I'll keep making the same mistakes over and over.

    Overall I had a great time at the trial and Strum had a blast. Even Lola looked happy by the end of her Jumpers run. Plus we came home with lots of cool toys and the dogs were happy about that.

  3. You should have tracked me down to film Strum's jumpers run - you guys were flying out there!

    I'm glad I dont have to concern myself with lions and bears in my area, though we have lots of coyotes. So when are you getting your new Great Pyrenees to keep Strum, Lola and Cody safe? :)

  4. I didn't see you or anyone else I knew when I was heading to the ring so I didn't bother with the camera. Unfortunately I forgot all about filming until I went to get a dog out of a crate and saw the camera. I even had a tripod in the car but kept forgetting to get it.

    I think if we add a Great Pyrenees to the pack my husband will finally have that mental breakdown he's been promising me all these years. For now the dogs will have to make do with me and a garden hoe to protect them.