3H Days (Hot, Hazy, and Humid)

One of the risks of running a dog in agility is Mother Nature’s wraths. She may decide to throw those hot, hazy, and humid days at important events .  I personally call them “The 3H Days”.  Despite our cold and freezing Winters, and depending on where you live yes, Canada does have them.   If you live in the Ottawa Valley, you know that you’ll have to survive through at least 2 weeks of them every Summer.  Not pretty, I know.  This year was no different, and the thermometer spiked up to 32 on the Saturday, which with the humidex felt something like 37.  On Sunday, it was 34, with a humidex of 42.  All I can say is the earlier your runs are scheduled, the better it is for your dogs…

August 14-15, 2015….

Fannie

This weekend was planned in order to allow both dogs to play agility. Saturday was reserved for Fannie, and we attended the CKC trial offered jointly by the Ottawa Valley Golden Retriever Club and the Ottawa Valley Poodle Club AKA Goldenpoo Trial. ;-)  Her first run was novice standard, and here is the video.  To my great surprise, she hopped off the table (GASP!) but successfully completed the weaves in her first try!  Good Fannie!  I also experimented and tried a rear cross at the very end, which wasn’t a good idea. Still, my little Fannie dog qualified and obtained her Novice Title. Fannie also succeeded in running a qualifying PAD course, so heeeeeere come another title!  She is now an AGNS and an NPS dog! AGNS (Agility Novice Selected) and NPS (Novice Points and Distance Selected).   Ooooooh.   I’m getting goosebumps simply by writing this.  ;-)

Because of the 3H days factor, I scratched Fannie out of the other Novice event she was scheduled to do.  On a nice day, it would have been fun, but on a day like this, it’s not worth it.  Mesdemoiselles Fannie and Jasmine were bundled away in the air conditioned car and we put-putted away. May I add that I’ve never scratched a dog out of an event before.  Yes, it was *that* hot.

Oh, a stop at DQ was required to celebrate the titles. Mmmm, those chocolate milkshakes are delicious on 3H Days….

fannie rubansBy the way, I have no idea how those ribbons got in Jasmine’s face.  ;-)

Must be Fannie’s doing.

Jasmine

Friends sometimes say that I’m too hard on myself. Well, I finally prove them right. I’m on vacation this week, and working on updating Jasmine’s agility spreadsheet (yes, I keep a spreadsheet, so sue me) and I’ve been noticing several things. First, when Jasmine is “in the zone”, she’s “in the zone”.   Here is a example: October 2014 Masters Jumpers: she’s one of four dogs who only have a 5 point fault. Two dogs qualified, eight dogs were eliminated, yadayadayada out of 20 dogs. That’s good! Right? Lesson number 1, don’t be so hard on yourself and your dog. Agility life will be much simpler if your dog feels your confidence in him/her.

Jasmine was certainly in the zone last weekend. Yet again, we tried to get a qualifying run in starters snooker. We were at the Hilltop trial in beautiful Williamstown Ontario, which is technically, our home turf. I’m a member of the hosting club. Well, first of all, I arrived at the last minute…. again… I was lucky enough to have enough time to walk the course…. again…. My first thought was : “Good, no contact equipment except for the teeter. Jasmine tends to linger in the contact zones in competition, but she adores the teeter”. My second thought was…. “Wow! We can do this!”. I ran back to the car, got the white fluffy dog, and…. only used tug toys to get her “reved up”.  We ran, but I forgot that 7 is a 3 obstacle thingnig.  Of course I completed it in the opening, but I completely forgot it in the closing. Even so, we finished with a 51 point snooker…. 51 POINTS!!!!! That’s a record for us. YES!! I was jumping up in down in circles when I saw the Q on the score sheets. “Q”!!!!!! This was our Starters Games Title!!!!   I’ve been waiting for years!!! Here is the picture of my noble little dog! Please note that this beautiful girl is 10 years old…

Jasmine ruban

Since this was Jasmine’s day, I had also entered her in Masters jumpers. Poor little tyke…. She was probably feeling the heat by this time, or she was probably hurting somewhere,  or both, and she simply refused to run. She hopped over the first jump, and simply stopped at the second one. Ok Jasmine… I get the message…. One run on hot, hot days for you now.  At the end of the trial, I stayed a bit to help out with the loading. It would have been a good idea if I had remembered to take my meds that morning. Something must have wacked out in my system, because I suddenly saw the horizon tip on its side while I was resting. That’s it. The hot day and my blood pressure must have been fighting each other, and I simply packed up and left.

An the fun continues…

I’m just beginning my vacation, so we have another trial scheduled for Fannie next Saturday. This is getting fun!

Posted in A-Frame, Confidence, Humidity, Qualifying Runs, Rear crosses, Weaves | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Training

I won’t make any comments like “I’m back to blogging” or “Long time no blog”.  I’ll jinx myself if I do, and won’t be back for another year.  No, I’ll go directly to what I want to talk about.  How about that?

Last week, I took a first private lesson (poor instructor…  no one warned her about my chatting) and came back home with homework!  Yes, homework!  Training that I have to do,  which I’m didn’t have to come up on my own.  YES!

Basically, she and I discussed what I wanted to do or work on, and we agreed to concentrate on a few things.  Yes, Fannie and I did a short demo, but we had to stop because of the rain, thunder, etc. etc.  Imagine… Both of us sitting under a canopy with Jasmine and Fannie discussing agility.  At least we were out of the rain.

First, rear crosses: they are like a foreign language to me.  I’ve never really had a reason to learn them properly before, because Jasmine isn’t fast enough OR doesn’t really run ahead of me.  Fannie, on the other hand, has the potential to tolerate them.

Second, tight turns:  It’s not something I really worked on with Fannie.

Third, weaves:  Doggone it, I can’t seem to get Fannie as excited about them as Jasmine is.

Finally, send to tunnel: I tend to babysit Fannie to tunnels most of the time, not really trusting her to complete them…

Now that we have a plan, we just have to “execute” it…. Right?  Not that easy when the region is going through its first real heat wave of the Summer.   We patiently waited one whole week before doing our homework.  Good thing our instructor is very patient.

What you’ll see in this video is Fannie’s homework.  I did all the same exercices with Jasmine, except for the weaves and the tunnels.  I’ll post the video later on.

Rear crosses: Fannie certainly doesn’t get a rear cross to the right, but does well with the left.  Yup, a sure sign that she totally doesn’t understand the command.  I began with a good 3-4 metres away from the jump.  Not sure what to do with my arm yet….

Weaves: I opened the weaves at about 5 cm, and did a straight entry, both sides, as well at a 45 degrees angle.  Fannie understands that I’ll put the reward at the end, and it’s waiting for her.  She’s happy!  We were around 2 metres away.

Tight turns:  I can’t believe I did that!!!  I was silent!!!  The reason we’re working on the turns is to give them a command!  Argh.  Other than that, she did well I think.

Send Tunnel: She did well, but on the left entry, I raised the level of difficulty.  I stopped at about 1.5 metres away, and she started to do a U-turn inside the tunnel.  I gave her the command to continue, which she followed.  Note: I’m standing at about 2 metres away of the tunnel most of the time.

Next session

  • Remember to warm up and engage with Fannie.  I automatically do it with Jasmine, sooooo, what am I waiting for to do what’s right with Fannie?  Hmpf!
  • Keep the same distance in RC with Fannie.  She still doesn’t get it.
  • Remember to put a jump after the weaves to avoid the hops getting higher and higher at the last 2 poles.
  • Keep that arm up to support her, which I tend to forget.
  • Remember to give the “tourne” command to Fannie (I still can’t believe I didn’t do it!)
  • Remember to practice both sides with tight turns.  *sigh*
  • Keep increasing the distance that I stop away from the tunnels, which will reduce the “babysitting” at the tunnel.

General comment: The advantage of training both dogs one after the other is that I can compare performances.  Although Jasmine shows more speed, what truly surprised me was the focus she gave me this evening.  She usually ends up doing her own thing in a normal practice.  This may mean that I’m keeping each dog’s session the right length of time.

Fannie is totally focused on me, which I explain by the food.  Next time, I’ll leave some toys on the ground where we train.  We’ll see what happens then!  Yes, I’m an evil human.

Here is our practice video.  It’s a bit boring, and you’ll quickly get tired of me saying : “Bravo”.

Posted in Rear crosses, tight turns, tunnel, Weaves | 2 Comments

Back to blogging AKA Dog training

Hello everyone!

Yes, I haven’t been very disciplined about posting in my blog, but sometimes, life happens…  Family obligations, work, and personal challenges were obstacles.  However, this isn’t in my plans for this Winter.

I’ve decided to start modestly, and go back to training basic tricks to my old and young dogs.   Fear not my friends, I’m not quitting agility.  No, I’m simply taking my time.  You see, Fannie loves ring crews too much, and continuing triailing would simply be a waste of money, and frustrating for both human and dog.

Here goes….

Trick number 1 – Play dead

Here’s Jasmine version of it.  She mastered this trick eons ago.  Sometimes, an extra “bang” is required for her to understand what I want….  ;-)

Pow – Jasmine style

…aaaand, here is Fannie’s first steps in conquering “Bang”

Pow – Fannie’s beginning

Next goal: to update this blog in less than three days…  See you then.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Williamstown Fair 2014

Yes, I’m back. I have a lot to say, but one post would simply be not enough. Instead, let’s begin this return to blogging by describing our day at “Canada’s Oldest Annual Fair”,  the Williamstown Fair. We’ll leave agility training discussion for another day. 

Our agility club hosts a demo at the Williamstown Fair for a few years now. It’s a first for us, but we’re really not strangers of this sort of thing. We have done similar activities for the libraries where I’ve worked, but this event has, by far, the biggest audience.  Interested about the fair?  Here is their website.

Two demos were done, and this video is the one at 10 am. Fannie visits the spectators, but let’s be honest, that’s what people like: dogs making mistakes. They think it’s the cutest thing. My mistake was not rewarding both dogs more often.

What I liked the most? Jasmine’s little tail, showing me she was happy doing agility.

What I liked the least? I didn’t call Fannie in the tunnel, so off she went to visit.

Here is the video.….

In between demos, I strolled around, taking pictures.  Enjoy…

P'tit Ford

Jasmine giving you a good look at a Ford tractor.  1957 I think.  My father’s first tractor was this model.  He told me he loved it because it was so easy to do repairs….

Beyond 21 JasmineJasmine stiking a pose at the Beyond 21 booth.

Le 5 mai 2014 056

This is probably the closest my dogs will ever get to cows.  These are Ayreshire cows, and ours were Holstein.  Still, they both produce milk, so it’s the thought that counts.

SDG

Last but not least, Fannie getting to know a staff from our neighbouring library, SD&G County Library.

Posted in Demo, Williamstown Fair | 1 Comment

Much, much more than just a fun match

A friend of mine contacted me at the beginning of the week, letting me know that there was a fun match in Orléans today.  I hadn’t planned on attending, but since I had to cancel last week’s fun match, I quickly went online and registered.

Fannie desperately needed some practice at a new venue.  She now completes 12 weave poles at the club field, and does it fast.  Unfortunately, she’s completely ignored them at our last trial and/or K9 Kup day.   I had to introduce her to a new environment, and show her how fun it can be to do agility in new and strange places.  This had to be done soon, since we’re attending a trial next weekend.  Yikes!

In order to attend the fun match, I had to do a “no show” to our club weekly lesson.  Oh dear!

The fun match had a start time of 1:30 pm….  My kind of schedule.  ;-)  As I was driving to Orléans, I was startled by the changes in the area.  I haven’t been in this section of Ottawa for at least a year, and new houses and condos have sprouted all over the place.  Well, it was announced this week that Canada has now reached a population 35 000 000.  I guess houses are needed for all these new people.  :-)

Starters Standard Run – 1st attempt

Well, it was as I expected.  I risked a rear cross just before the jump, and Fannie headed for one of her favorite obstacle, the dogwalk.  She even ignores the toy!!  Gasp!  She visits the videographer.  Double gasp!  The rest of the run goes well, apart from her affection for the dw.  Here is the video.

Starters Standard Run – 2nd attempt

Both of us are more comfortable.  We’re following the same plan, except I asked a friend of mine to act as a ring crew to distract Fannie.  I also started with a lead-out, copying another friend’s plan.  Both worked out great!  She still slides down the dw contact zone.  I’m not sure, but I think she might be enjoying this….

Something I’m not happy with is her fly-off from the teeter.  This is a first for her, so I’ll try to get that out of her system.

Oh, her weaves… Her weaves…. = Happy….  Happy Lyne…..

The rest?  A rear cross to the tunnel, and a good contact on the A-Frame.  I’ve been working on her contacts a bit more lately, because I thought she’s been showing the tiny bit of a beginning of a crappy contact method.  My goal is for her to have a two on, two off, and this worked well for this event.

Here is the video.

Her greatest moment?  The starters gambler

I never expected for it to go so well.  Both the mini gamble and the gamble included a dark tunnel.  Although we’ve been practicing doing dark tunnels lately, and rewarding them like crazy, I wasn’t sure how it would go.  I also planned a course with weaves, which is something I never do in trials.  Jasmine takes such a long time to do obstacle equipments, that weaves are out of the question, because they take so much time to do.

Well, Fannie is not Jasmine.

Even with a wrong entry, we had time to do the whole thing, and two mini gambles.  Add the main gamble to that, and we ended with a total of 70 points.  That’s not something we’ll be able to do very often…..  :D  Yes, I’m enjoying it…..

Another video.

Rubberized obstacles

Most clubs have rubberized obstacles now, and both of my dogs have been training on them for the past 2 years.  Notice how Fannie just sliiiiiiides down the contact equipment.  Hmmmm.  Rain or shine, I’m making sure to include an agility session this week before the trial.  I have no idea what this may have caused…  Not that I’m worried that much, but I have a feeling she’ll try to put on the breaks much sooner at our next agility session.

Dark evil tunnels.

No problem there.  End of story.  :-D

Well, a very satisfactory day indeed.  I’m now looking forward to our next practice.

What about Jasmine?

Jasmine is still on sick leave.  She’s taking part in our practice sessions, as you’ll see in future posts, but I’m not subjecting her to stress just yet.  She can relax and enjoy herself as being a dog of leisure….  ;)

Why is it much more than just a fun match?

It’s also an opportunity to gain confidence as a handler, and as a team.  You find out what works, and what doesn’t.  Most importantly, you get to play with your furry friend, in a mock-trial setting.  I don’t consider myself a great handler, but if there is one advice I can offer, is that you can never have too many fun matches. You are building a working relationship with your dog, and every second is meant to be fun.

Enjoy them.

Embrace them.

For you will look back at them with nostalgia and pride once your team’s agility career is done.

and your dog will show you his unconditional love, by doing his/her job.

Play agility.

Posted in A-Frame, Teeter, tunnel, Weaves | 6 Comments

Agility Q!

Many things have happened since Michou’s passing, and I’ve been so busy, I’m a bit behind in my posts.  This one had already been written, so here it is,  a month later …  Still fun to post!

Fannie’s first Q EVER!

Jasmine kept me waiting three years before giving me a Q in agility.  In the meantime, I stopped trialing, found a new coach, and re-trained.  I appreciate each and every qualifying run that little dog does, and if she doesn’t Q, it’s mostly my fault.

With Fannie, everything is different.  Training her is so much easier, which has made it possible for me to homeschool  for a while.   Now that I have more experience, competitions don’t stress me out as much, and I can count of Fannie to follow my handling, minus a few ring crew visits.  No avoidance.  No zoomies.  Pure fun.

Hilltop Agility Trial

The goldenpoo CKC trial (Jointly offered by the The Ottawa Valley Golden Retriever Club and the Ottawa Valley Poodle Club) was being offered the same weekend as the Hilltop Agility Trial, and gasoline being the price it is, the money sign made it easy for me to choose which event to register in.  Note: I’m a member of both clubs, which is why there was a “choice” to be made…   Hilltop was held in Williamstown, a beautiful small town in Eastern Ontario known for offering “Canada’s Oldest Annual Fair” since 1812.  Fannie was entered in Starters Snooker, and two events of Starters Jumpers.

Starters Snooker

Ah well, what can I say?  Fannie had the choice of taking the ever obligatory first red jump or the tempting A-Frame not far behind.  Well, she took the A-Frame, of course.  Result?  Fannie is now a member of the snooker 0 point club.  Sigh.  I even have a video for prosperity!  Tee-hee!

Starters Jumpers

Our greatest challenge, visiting ring crews, was our downfall.  Fannie took one look at the young girl guides, and rushed over to kiss them.  Yup, we had off-courses.  Here is the video, you’ll understand what I mean.

Starters Jumpers 2

Ah!  Our glorious moment!  It may have been because of the warm weather, or Fannie was probably very tired after a long day, but we did a qualifying run.  She didn’t visit anyone, and just did her job.  Unfortunately, I didn’t ask anyone to film us, as almost everyone was busy, and I didn’t bother.

Relaxing before the actionRelaxing at the Hilltop Trial

Fannie's first Q being made officialFannie’s Q being made “official”.  Do NOT disturb official!

The official picture!

The official picture.  :D

Good moments:

-no visiting ring crews

-her speed!  Isn’t it great?

Things to work on:

-Weaves.  We’re obviously not practicing enough.

-Obstacle discrimination.

-It’s yer choice training.  We need it.

Jasmine’s new job

Since Michou’s passing, my mother is finding it difficult to cope with no furry friend in the house.  I won’t go in the details, but adopting a new dog wouldn’t be a wise decison right now.  Therefore, I’ve offered Jasmine’s company to them, and she spends short periods of time at their house.  At the wise age of 8, Jasmine is the perfect dog for them.  She’s visited and has stayed with them so often, that there is no adaptation period.  She snuggles naturally to my mum.  She asks to be picked up by my father.  My father brings her outside when he works in the yard.  She adores them, and they adore her.  On a more personal note, Fannie misses her, and so do I.

Posted in Confidence, Fannie, Jasmine, Qualifying Runs, Therapy Dog, Weaves | 4 Comments

Goodbye Michou, Goodbye

Michou, 2000-2013

Today, we say goodbye to an old and faithful friend.  Michou, who was my parents’ dog, passed away on Monday.    She was a sweet and gentle cockapoo, who quietly took a huge place in our lives, and we weren’t even aware of her most of the time.

How can I describe her?  At first, her name was Bichou, but my father couldn’t get himself to say it, so he called her Michou instead.  We all followed suit.  She was ball crazy, yet would roll it down the basement stairs when she was tired of playing with it.  She would introduce herself to guests by sitting pretty.  She was in love with all of my nephews and nieces, and in one case showed it by stealing socks when one of them would come for a visit.  Then, we would find her sleeping with said sock.  The first time we heard her growl, was when she met Jasmine yet, she quickly accepted her.

She wasn’t a sports dog, and her one trick was to sit pretty.  Even so, she had taught herself that.  She arrived in my mother’s life when she was undergoing chemo treatments for her cancer.  My mother once said to me that she didn’t have time think about her cancer, because she had to take care of Michou, who was a puppy then.

She was part of many birthday parties, smarty cakes, Christmas “réveillons” and Easter dinners by sitting patiently beside one of us for food.  She lived in a seniors’ household, yet loved kids, and was very gentle with them.  She was witness to our joys, to our sorrows, to our goodbyes, and to our beginnings.

She left us as she lived, very quietly.  She was old, and her heart simply gave out.  Lying on the floor, her breathing suddenly couldn’t be heard anymore.  She was gone.

Michou, your quiet presence helped my parents go through what was probably the most difficult time of their lives, losing their son.  You’ve earned your rest.  Sleep well.  You will be missed…

These pictures are snapshots of the actual photos.

My father his hands full of dogs. (Jasmine and Michou)

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Smile for the camera!ImageLook ma tante!   Michou sits like a human!

ImageThe boys and Jasmine are “in” the x-pen.  Michou, outside.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments