Happy Easter 2009

The only one who looks spectacular in this picture is the grand DoberDame herself, Baby.  She planned it that way.  She kept turning her head to the side, and I had to call her name over and over – thinking it’s senility at work, but really, it’s not. It’s her somewhat evil plan to get everyone else dazed and looking goofy, so when she decided to look and I snapped, she was looking good, and her friends were looking bushed.

Happy Easter 2009

Here’s one of Luigi Easter Bunny with that certain attitude that one catches after living in South Florida too long.

DoberBunny With Attitude

Here are Leissl and Raven looking fresh before the DoberDiva wore them down to their last threads of patience.

Leissl and Raven

Enjoy your holiday!

Helen

Raven Rocks and I Roll!

Helen and Raven’s First Agility Q and ribbonRaven rocks! She did a fantastic job at the DOCOH agility trial on March 28 and 29.  This was both our first times ever in an agility ring, and we qualified in all four runs under judge Roger Eiermann.  Our guardian angels were definitely with us. In Nov Pref 20 inch Standard, Saturday we earned an 85 and 4th place, and Sunday a 90 and 3rd place. In Nov Pref 20 inch JWW, our scores were a 91 and 2nd place on Saturday, and an 87 and 3rd place on Sunday. This is a lovely picture of us after our first run.

Raven gets officially measured.

Here is Raven getting measured.  She stood very very still and got a cookie when she was finished being so good.  She topped off at 26 and 3/4 inches.  That’s my girl.  Her legs are long and slender just like her tail.  That lovely tail got commented on several times, most of the time was, “Ouch that thing hurts!”  But a lady whose Standard Poodle sports a mohawk mentioned her preference for the all natural look.  They are striking, those Dobies au natural…in more ways than one.  Tehehehe.

Judge Roger Eiermann

As a matter of fact, our judge, Roger Eiermann, has a Dobie, among other breeds, and this was his frist time seeing a tailed Dobe.  He also has a Pomeranian (or a Papillon), Chihuahua, white GSD, and one other.  Maybe a sporting breed.  He lives in GA.  Very nice man and a good agility judge.

Getting back to tails, there was a professional photographer or two at the trial.  They work together for the same team and play for keeps.  They take pictures of everybody’s runs and if you are a photo hound, like I am, and you take a look-see, you end up spending $39.50 for 4 photos.  OK, one was of Raven entering the dog walk, tail is sticking straight back behind her.  It’s a thing of beauty.  I could not resist that one.  Those pictures will arrive sometime in the next 6 weeks.  Unbelievable that these folks have a monopoly on this and you only get to see paper proofs on the day of the trial, no e-copies, no internet site, just $8 for a 4 x 6.  $12.50 for a 5 x 7.  And let us not forget the shipping and handling.  I would have loved just for them to just send me the whole set for $50 through e-mail.  Forget postage, photo paper and such!  I’m going to scan them anyway!  I hadn’t even thought about trading off with someone to take pictures for me and I for them till after the trial.  Maybe next time.

RaVeN’s Quiet Time

Here is Raven at home taking a quiet moment for meditating before her big weekend.  She loves her teeter, and she also likes to get on chairs, tables, anything above all others.  Raven is a reincarnated mountain goat.  I’m pretty sure of that.  Stubborn in some respects, loves to climb, and has a non-stop vocalization when she wants her way.

Happy girls!

This is us on Saturday with our two ribbons and happy faces.  The white ribbon (our first placement) was on one of four tables with my camera and a half full traveler mug of peppermint tea.  I was putting our gear together to go home, and Raven got busy.  She had to put her paws on the table, collapsed it, and everything slid down to the ground, including me as I rolled under trying to save my camera.  The white ribbon is now a lovely tea-stained white, which will remind me that though Raven is now trained, she is still Raaaaaaaaaaven!  Thank goodness the camera came out of it still clicking.

Raven going home. Raven and her ribbons

Here she is in her “Driving Miss Raven” seat ready to be chauffeured home. And later, at home, she poses with her colorful rainbow of ribbons from the weekend. Who’d have thought we’d get to here from there when I was ready to strangle her all those months ago?

Squeeeeze!

Not many teams qualified all four times – the maximum entries you could make with one dog in this two-day trial.  I know because they had a raffle for teams that Q’d all four times and for those who NQ’d all four times. (Q is agility speak for qualify and NQ is the opposite of Q.) The NQ cup was half full.  When I put my ticket in the Q cup at the end of the trail on Sunday eve, it had two other tickets.  Some others followed us, but not many.  We did not win the raffle.  My luck with raffles is another story for another time.

I have grown so much as a dog trainer from working with Raven, and I’ve had some wonderful help along the way.  The best part is I can finally say that I totally love and like this little rascal and have been able to throw away that medication for high blood pressure!  🙂

Helen

Observations from Our Inaugural Agility Trial

In an agility exercise in class one night, our teacher Jeff, ran our group through a series of seven jumps. Raven and I learned many variations a team could do with seven jumps. Halfway through one of the variations, Raven ran off to another area to do the dog walk, but I called her back and we picked up where we’d left off in that jumping exercise. When we were done, Jeff explained that stuff like that also happens in trials, and you have to learn to get your dog and composure back on track.That was a lesson that I kept in mind all weekend of the DOCOH Agility Trial because I figured I’d need it. I wasn’t disappointed.

On our last run, JWW, Raven took a trip to the Bahamas after weaving out of the poles and I needed her back for the panel jump and the rest of the course. I had to work really hard, but she did leave the island and came home, and we went onto qualify even with an 8-second traveling penalty. It’s good to remember you can salvage those flighty moments.

Here are a few other things I learned, observed, felt, and thought about over the weekend as I participated in my first agility trial.

The more advanced moves you know, the better you will get through the course because you have more options. However, you can get through the course with basic moves if your dog is motivated, you have a good relationship with her, and you can bellow.

I don’t use the right lingo for all the agility terms yet, but the concepts are in my head, and so is the plan to practice the concepts and grasp the lingo.

If you’re not in the best of shape, seek out your chair immediately after your run. Remember to bring a chair, or you’ll be using the cold, hard bleachers to recover on.

Professional photographers are on the sidelines taking pictures of your runs. Those pictures are expensive! Find another exhibitor to reciprocate taking pictures of each other’s run-throughs.

You will get a lot of tips. If someone overhears a tip and thinks to the contrary, they will share their point of view with you when the coast is clear.

Tips are good. They broaden your perspective. When the time comes, chose the one that works best for you, or make your own up and use it.

A certain amount of naivety is a good thing. As our judge, Roger Eiermann, said, “Don’t focus on how many mistakes you’re allowed, but instead, focus on doing your best run.” I thought about that and concluded when you start recognizing your mistakes while you’re running, then you have to learn the mind games to get you through that.

The first-time you exhibit in an agility trial is probably one of the only places where you can go back to being a child before having to realize what the real world is like.

With a few exceptions, I had never been more nervous than when waiting in line for our first run. The man in front of us was just as nervous. He told me he performs in a rock band, and doesn’t get as nervous performing rock as he did that agility course. We compared notes later and found both our nerves decreased from one ring to the next. He’d gotten a title on that first run and I’d gotten my inaugural run out of the way. Talking about your nerves and other stuff is a good thing because you find out you share a lot with other exhibitors.

Watching Raven as she concentrated on staying behind the starting line while I walked away from her for a lead out tickled my heart. Staying is not her forte, and she worked really hard to do that. The bond between human and dog is one of the best things in life and agility reinforces that.

Carry more plastic bags than you need. When arriving and departing, you may need to throw someone a spare when the second part of a two-part dump happens. What’s that saying…something happens. And it can happen in two parts. Sometimes three.

A compliment lasts a long time. A compliment followed by the word “but” turns into the anti-compliment.

I don’t need to remember to bring my nifty plastic armband to agility trials.

Unlike rally, agility exhibitors get to see the map of the course they’ll take with their dogs as soon as they check in. They can check in no matter what time of day they arrive. If they are entered both days, they check in on day one, and get their numbered shirt sticker for both days. If they lose the sticker for day two, they can get a blank one from the sticker goddess and write in their number.

Unlike obedience competitions, it’s do-it-yourself check-in at ringside. Put a check next to your dog’s name. Someone did that for me on our last ring on Sunday. This is an Agility Angel at work.

Agility Angels are everywhere. They glisten and are what make agility trials happen.

You can get just as happy seeing someone else’s dog complete an obstacle he’s been refusing tens of times before as you can if it were your own dog.

You learn a lot by watching how the good exhibitors run a course, and even more on how they get themselves out of occasional predicaments.

It’s an amazing feeling when you think you didn’t qualify and you found out you did. When you think you qualified and you didn’t, it’s the same feeling, but the flip side.

By the second day, I found out who my competition is. Placements are divided by heights, not the whole dang class.

Rose was able to tolerate Raven’s crate yodeling. (I wonder if she wore earplugs.) Rose is an encourager, and one of the reasons Raven and I entered. Encouragement rules! So do Rose’s raffles. (Thank you for both.)

Other agility students rallied behind Raven and me. That was a big thing and helped spur us on, and I hope we are encouragement for them, too.

After the trial, Raven arrived home to business as usual, bossing her cohorts around, shoving her ball at me, and gobbling up dinner, which included a startling amount of chicken wings. Dogs are so very grounding.

Now that I’ve touched the sacred soil of an agility trial, I look forward to another one where people and their favored breed of dog gather to jump, weave, and make contact.

Luigi’s RN – 03-14-09

Luigi’s RN - 03-14-09

Luigi Schwarzmann finished his third Rally Novice leg at the Fort Lauderdale Dog Show and Trial with a 95 and a 3rd place.  This was no foo-foo course.  This judge set the course like a good novel would read.  Lots of twists, turns, and challenges to face.  The grand finale exercise was the one Luigi and I had been practicing ad nauseum, call front – 1, 2 and 3 steps backward.  We also practiced the swing finish to the point where Luigi nearly forgot the regular ol’ heel finish, so we had to redo the call front, finish right exercise.  Afterwards, Rose was nearby and snapped some pictures for us.  Thank you Rose!   All in all, Luigi and I walked away having had a good time.