Agility Seminar Time

Yesterday Juno and I attended the Tracy Sklenar seminar at Marin Humane Society.  Juno and I have been doing agility together for 6 years now- she is extremely consistent, places high, has earned all the championships I’ve wanted for her, etc. We don’t take class consistently anymore because she doesn’t seem to need it- she runs faster at trial than class and does great with practice only 1-2x per month. We’re at that comfortable point in our career together- which is greats but can also be a bit boring (I like torturing myself;)! There’s gotta be something more! While she places good and her speed has gotten better over the years, is there something I can do to get more speed out of her? I know she has it- I see her potential when chasing squirrels!

My agility instructor has taught new handling styles over the years but I kind of figured what we were already doing was working for us so why train a new move?! Well I’m at that point where I wish I’d tried to train some of those moves more to see if they unlocked some secret hidden potential in me and Juno’s teamwork on course! So I decided to do a seminar day to relearn a lot of those moves and find out about new ones- after all, you hear of a new move almost weekly now!

I’ve always been horrible at memorizing the names of these new moves but after the seminar (which was fabulous by the way!), I now have some extra moves in my toolbox to perfect and use when needed on course. My favorites; the double blind cross, the Japanese, and German turn. Looking forward to playing with these new moves in practice and trying them out at our summer trials. Actually learning new agility moves has gotten me out of my agility slump and made me excited to train this summer to prep for Nationals in November! And not only learning new stuff, but being reminded of things you already knew but needed reminders of really helps. Juno loves learning too- it’s clear in the videos from the seminar that she was having a blast and that I was clearly the only one on our team that was getting bored at agility! Well I’m back Juno- and ready to play!

Videos:

https://youtu.be/8h0X2FkY1Uc

 

https://youtu.be/7iTpi6Y3hwM

 

https://youtu.be/TgJ9SrM1WD8

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2014 Cynosports World Games

We just got home from 5 days at the USDAA Nationals (Cynosports) in Morgan Hill, CA. I now have post-nationals depression. I’m so sad that after looking forward to and training for this event for 2 years, it’s finally come and gone. We trained and qualified for the 2013 games in Tennessee but couldn’t go at the last minute so were happy to find out the games  this year were right in our backyard pretty much! In the last year I started training with a friend’s border collie, Ripley, and got him qualified so I could run 2 dogs at the event this year🙂 All in all I’m very impressed and proud of me, my dogs, and my friends and their dogs over the last 5 days!

My friend Narae and I traveled to the event together and 2 of our dogs were also teamed up for the PVP. We were pretty keyed up the first couple days, very excited to finally be there after all the hard work and prep over the last year! It was hard for me to settle down at all at the event, just too much to see, watch, people to talk to and meet, etc. (there were dogs and their people competing from 11 different countries and all around the USA). Wine helped around lunch time each day to calm our excitement😉 I’m really surprised that not once did I ever get nervous at the event, concerned about a run or two a little but not the old nerves I used to get at trials. I felt just so darn excited to  have made it this far and everyone else seemed to be in the same boat so it was just fun to all be excited together!

I’m really impressed with my dogs and how well they behaved in general, didn’t get nervous or shut down, listened to me well, didn’t bark non-stop, etc. It’s like they knew it was nationals and a big deal but like me just wanted to have a good time and not get nervous- we were all on the same page, which doesn’t happen often, and it felt great!

Here are their overall results:

Armband

P12031

Class

Perf. Speed Jumping Quarterfinals

Dog

Juno

Breed

All-American

Time

44.79

Time/

Faults

44.79

Placement

17/36

P12031 Power & Speed-Perf (warm-up class) Juno All-American Elim
P12031 Perf. Versatility Snooker Juno All-American 50.06 47 10/61
P12031 Perf. Versatility Standard Juno All-American 47.56 47.56 14/61
P12031 Performance Grand Prix Semifinals Juno All-American 41.38 5.00 23/40
P12031 Perf. Speed Jumping Semifinals Juno All-American 38.01 38.01 16/45
P12031 Perf. Versatility Gamblers Juno All-American 38.08 38 36/61
P12031 Perf. Versatility Jumpers Juno All-American 34.56 34.56 12/61
P16066 Perf. Speed Jumping Quarterfinals Ripley Border Collie 50.30 Elim
P16066 Performance Grand Prix Quarterfinals Ripley Border Collie 40.05 0.00 25/76
P16066 Power & Speed-Perf (warm-up class) Ripley Border Collie 21.31 21.31 16/80
P16066 Perf. Versatility Snooker Ripley Border Collie 45.42 47 13/113
P16066 Perf. Versatility Standard Ripley Border Collie Elim
P16066 Performance Grand Prix Semifinals Ripley Border Collie 35.76 0.00 19/60
P16066 Perf. Versatility Gamblers Ripley Border Collie 38.73 50 14/113
P16066 Perf. Versatility Jumpers Ripley Border Collie 33.26 38.26 47/113
P16066 Perf. Masters Challenge Biathlon Standard Ripley Border Collie 44.89 5.00 31/50
P16066 Perf. Masters Challenge Biathlon Jumpers Ripley Border Collie 35.36 5.00 16/50

Also, their Perf. Teams placed very high, Juno and Bianca’s “We’re Partners But Not That Way!” placed 14 out of 143 teams and Ripley and Gemma’s “Dog’s of Anarchy” placed 31 out of 143. The top 30 teams got to run in the finals Relay so Juno’s team ran but Ripley’s was one out of the running to do so. Once again it’s proven that two medium speed, consistent dogs make a great high placing team- they came in 4th at a local event earlier this year that earned them their nationals qualification. We had a blast with both of our teams- both Bianca and Gemma (our teammates) ran all their events clean (without faults)! Juno ran all her team events clean too! I’m very proud of some of their placements above, especially since we’ve never competed against so many dogs so it’s cool to see them placing so well.

Besides 5 days of agility, we also did a lot of shopping at all the fabulous vendors, Ripley attempted dock diving kind of unsuccessfully (he wouldn’t dive off the high dock!), Juno fell in love with lure coursing after she was done running agility for the week, and Rookie tried his paw at Barn Hunt which he had ZERO interest in and lure coursing which he LOVED barking at and getting all wound up- not so much the jumping over obstacles while chasing a lure though😉 They all relaxed well in our tent for the week and did great at the Motel 6, despite hundreds of dogs also staying there and making noise all night.

I’m glad we were all prepared for and feeling good for nationals. I know I can never train enough and I really only do agility training about once a week with the dogs and do other conditioning on top of that throughout the week… but I must say they were trying their hardest and in perfect physical condition to be competing for 4-5 days and I was happy about that! Oh the places they would go if I would just win the lotto already so we could do dog activities full time! Sad to see nationals gone by so fast- now to figure out our next adventure to train for!!! Hope everyone had as much fun as we did at Cynosports!

Funs Over :( Time to go home.

Sad to see the fun is over😦

Posted in Dog Agility, Dog Training, Juno | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tonight’s Evening Hike

So you want to feel like you’re the last person left on this planet? If so, go out and hike at Morgan Territory in Clayton in the evening time. It was a brutally hot day today that lasted well into the evening. By 6pm I had it… I’d promised the dogs a hike and I was bored at sitting around inside trying to keep cool, so I loaded them in the van and we hit the road. We drove down Morgan Territory road in Clayton… turned up some old country music on the radio, rolled down the windows and just drove for about 30 minutes. If you’ve never driven down this road you should- it’s 1 lane a lot of the time and winds through the countryside between Clayton out to Livermore and is scattered with old ranches and tree covered streets. We came across one of the entrances to Morgan Territory Regional Preserve (not the main entrance- just a random gate along the roadside).

We hiked up, up, and more up! The trail started deep in the woods so was a little spooky but I had my bear spray in hand😉 At the top of the first hill out of the woods there was the most majestic view- me and the dogs sat for a long time taking it all in!

We then hiked along the ridge trail to the next highest peak and took this video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uxwhdYa8jc&feature=youtu.be (turn your sound off). I felt like the last person on Earth up there- we didn’t see a single person, couldn’t hear anything but the wind, and only saw 3 deer the whole hike. It was exactly the type of hike I’m always looking for!

We ended up hiking until about 8pm- the thermometer still said 94 when we got back to the van but it felt like 70 up in those hills with all the wind. I think the dogs enjoyed going somewhere new too! It was beautiful seeing the shadows on the hills change over the 90 minutes we were up there- can’t wait to go back and explore that park more!

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Hump Day Hike

It’s been too long Blog Community! About time to let you know me and the mutts are still alive and doing well! We haven’t been hiking too much recently since it’s rattlesnake season in our area. We’ve been hiking at some coastal trails and behind our house a bit but we really miss all our long local hikes! I couldn’t take it anymore so decided to risk it on Wednesday so headed out to the trail in downtown Clayton that heads up the hills to the back entrance of Black Diamond Mines (trailhead right before Clayton Community Park on Clayton Road). I made sure to keep the mutts on leash and look out ahead of me for snakes at all time- we didn’t see any thankfully!

Despite not having hiked too much recently and it being hot out, I had no trouble breezing up the mostly uphill trail… the dogs on the other hand thought it was WAY too hot to be out hiking. I actually had to carry Juno for the first time ever since she stopped walking at one point, and then carried Rookie a little too. We took a couple breaks in the shade of the few trees along the hilly trail and enjoyed a nice breeze as we got higher. We didn’t make it to the top of the hill by the BDM entrance because the dogs were just too hot (can’t believe I outlasted them for once!).

I’ve missed hiking so much- missed how it centers me and helps me remember what’s really important in life. I love this trail because at a certain point you don’t hear anything from the outside world- pure silence- it’s heavenly! Of course every time I stop for a break the dogs hear ground squirrels and suddenly want to bark and run- it’s a vicious cycle- then we start walking again and they are hot and tired!

This trail offers some beautiful views of the backside of Mt. Diablo, the Clayton countryside, and once you’re over the hill the windmills scattered out over the Delta area. Most of the trail is uphill and not very shady. Cattle fencing runs on either side of the trail the entire way up so it’s not a super safe place to let your dog’s roam free. It’s very peaceful though and a great workout! There is only one way up and down (no loop that I know of) so the view is the same both ways unless you park a car at either end of your hike and hike down into the BDM park (which is also an amazing place to hike at)!

Here is a video I took from about half way up the hillside- sitting under our favorite tree- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlbF8YJgzYE&feature=youtu.be (lots of wind noise so turn down your speakers- I’m not saying anything important;)

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer and staying active with your canine companions!

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Guest Blogger at K9 Nose Work

I had the great opportunity to share Rookie’s Nosework story and our lessons learned on the K9 Nose Work blog last week. Check out the story and other great posts on their blog here- http://www.k9noseworkblog.blogspot.com.ar/2014/01/guest-blogger-maura-warnecke-helps-bust.html

I’ll leave you with 2 photos I just bought of Rookie at his last NW3 trial where he earned his title. Can you tell what Rookie’s “alert” is from these photos?

Alert!

Alert!

Here Mom!

Here Mom!

 

 

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Rookie’s Nosework Level 3 Journey

On Sunday Rookie and I spent the day in Hayward, California competing at our 3rd Nosework level 3 trial. His first attempt at an NW3 trial was a year ago yesterday where we had a great day and he came in 3rd place overall, although he did not title. His second attempt was last February where he came in last place at the trial- it was one of our worst search days to date and neither one of us was having any fun due to the heat and very long day. I decided then our plan going forward and how we would prepare for trials going forward. The weather is so unpredictable around here- I would’ve thought that a February trial would be perfect cool sniffing weather but it was warm and I wasn’t prepared at all. Going forward I decided if a trial was over an hour away I would stay the night closer to the location so he could rest longer before a long day at a trial, he would be confined in his crate in the van ALL day- not crated outside the vehicle at all so that he would be forced to rest and not distracted, and I would up the aunty with better rewards. Between those trial preparation modifications and my experience at 2 previous level 3 trials now, we finally pulled it off on Sunday and got our Level 3 title! Here’s how we did it! I hope this blog will help remind me for future trials of what we did right and wrong so we can hopefully do it again!

Steak cooked in bacon fat- it was gross on my hands but didn't crumble!

Steak cooked in bacon fat- it was gross on my hands but didn’t crumble!

Interior

3 classrooms to search (3 minutes each):

1-     Rookie finds the first two hides fairly quickly, one on the leg of a desk a few feet high and one I’m blanking on. 30 seconds is called so we go back to check last corner that we skimmed over quickly before. He runs up to a desk and 10 seconds is called… he alerts on desk drawer so fast and I kind of think he’s faking me out but I don’t have time to waste so call alert with 6 seconds to spare and he was right! I lagged calling finished after though so I was so scared that I didn’t call it in time- but I did;) I couldn’t believe we got one in the last 10 seconds… talk about nerve wracking!

2-     Room 2 we enter and Rookie runs around sniffing with all his might- he’s taking in deep deep breathes through his mouth over and over. He focuses on one area of the room especially but can’t pin point anything so we work the whole room. 30 and then 10 seconds is called so I called Clear! Thankfully it was really clear and I didn’t call a false alert at some point!

3-     Last room he finds 2 hides fairly fast again- first on top of a desk leg in the middle of the room and then in a yellow box about 4 foot from the door. We search until the 10 second call at which point Rookie starts to show interest in the white board pen holder area and he almost talks me into it but it seemed like one of his unsure let’s see if I can fool mom into thinking it’s here tricks, not a clear and distinct alert, so I called finished.

Containers

About 25 containers (2.5 minutes), mostly luggage and bags with a few boxes. We make a plan and head down the first “row.” The last container in the row in the back corner was a tall suitcase. He skims past it and I ask him to come back and search around the whole thing at which point he alerts to the top of the luggage and we get it. We search through the rest of the bags and he shows mild interest on a couple other bags but no alerts. He zooms by each piece very quickly so I hold him back and make him walk around each piece completely which felt sloppy and slow but it was thorough and worked well in the end. I didn’t believe there could only be one hide but at the 10 second warning I called finished, nervous we might have missed some hides… but we didn’t. Distractors were some crackers, a dog toy and biscottis. Good boy doesn’t care about toys or sweets thank dog!

Exterior

We enter exteriors straight after containers. It’s a very small search area that is all concrete and we have 3.5 minutes which makes me thing there are 3 hides. The light breeze helps move the odor around just enough. He finds a high hide about 4 feet high in a door hinge first and then works his way over to the next door and finds it in the door jam down low. We work the rest of the area and he keeps acting like there might be one more but I’m hesitant because it seems like the door jam hide is just blowing everywhere and that’s what he’s smelling so we call finished at the 10 second warning.

Vehicle

4 cars/trucks with 2.5 minutes total. Once checking the cones like he always does and finally focusing on the vehicles, he nails the first one quick on a truck (in the middle crack between the front of the truck and the bed). The second one he gets quickly after in the wheel well of a car. I make him search around all the vehicles this time since I made the mistake of calling finished too early at the last trial and forgetting to search one whole side of a vehicle. I had a planned route for searching the cars but he pulled me off that path to go to the odor and I’m glad I let him… we altered our path and made a note of where to come back and search after.

As we waited for results to be posted I was so scared we’d missed some hides- not because I didn’t trust him but because it seemed like so little hides; 3, 0, 2, 1, 2, 2. I was happy I at least took my time this time around and wasn’t going for speed… I made him work hard until the end of each search time and he worked happily- being rewarded handsomely at the end of each search with steak I cooked in bacon fat. I kept his energy up with a lot of food and high energy talking reinforcement and also a lot of down time in the van alone. He was really ready to search each time I came to get him out- it was a happy site to see!

When the results were posted I saw we found all the hides and I was beyond excited! I was very nervous about that first room though and not calling finished in time. But as they handed out title ribbons we got ours- I don’t think I could be any more proud of Rookie at that moment! One of the judges came up to me after to complement our great team work and my good handling with him- it made the whole last 4 months of practice worth it! And while we didn’t get any placements like we have in the past, we got the best thing of all- our NW3 title! We also got a pronounced in the interiors and containers which means the judge thought we had an exceptional search. Rookie joins the ranks of the very few tiny dogs who have ever gotten a NW3 title- possibly the smallest dog yet!

Posted in Canine Nosework, Dog Training, Rookie | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The In Between Time

Me and the dogs spent the last two weekends at agility trials. I have a new member in the mutt pack, Ripley the border collie. I’m running him this year for fun and to try to qualify him for USDAA Nationals next year since his mom can’t run him anymore. The dogs have astonished me at how well they have accepted this new guy into our pack and he is doing good with the mini mutts sniffing him and bothering him in the down time. Both weekends proved successful, we’ve already racked up a few Q’s for each dog towards Nationals. While we spent 3 whole days away from home for the trails, we spent about 7.5 minutes total actually running agility in those 3 days.

Spending time away with the dogs brings many special moments and a sort of refocus on life that just isn’t possible when at home going through the daily tasks and my busy schedule. It got me thinking this weekend… 99.99999% of the time at agility trails isn’t spent doing agility. Even when I’m volunteering all day and running around like a crazy person at the trial, there are so many moments that I am so thankful for that don’t involve actually running a course but have been given to me because of the sport.

Two weeks ago a woman walked by me and the dogs and told me what a beautiful “picture” she saw when she strolled by us; Me sitting in my chair all bundled up in a big coat as the sun was rising, Juno sitting on my lap and reviewing the course map with me, Ripley and Rookie both laying down in the back of the opened van tailgate sun bathing and watching me happily- it really was a nice moment of utter relaxation and serenity. At least once per trial weekend I am struck by a moment like that and it makes me happy that year round, not just during the Thanksgiving season I can be so very thankful for special times like these: watching how damn happy it makes the mutts when I walk back to the van after being gone only a short time, walking them around the show grounds when I have some free time, settling into the van at night to camp with a good book, some wine and the dogs snuggled in all around me, watching and listening to the rain pour down at the Santa Rosa fairgrounds while I’m tucked in cozy in my van with not a thing in the world to do, working the score table with a sleeping Rookie content in my lap, going through the drive-through at Sonic with 3 dogs fighting to poke their heads into the front seat to catch a whiff and say hello to the person inside the little window, practicing Nosework with Rookie on a fog covered horserace track at 7am, the cries of excitement when we get off the freeway and are close to arriving at a dog show, and the list could go on and on.

In Between Time

These are such simple things but so important to me and often stand out more than the big life events when I think back about what makes me happiest. I always feel rejuvenated the days following a dog trial, like my mind if refocused on what’s important in my life and what makes me happiest. It’s a grand feeling! And it so just happens that for 30 high energy seconds scattered throughout these memories are our actual agility runs and I’m totally fine with that ratio🙂

Posted in Dog Agility, Something To Think About | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments