Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Keegan and Steeler play in the snow!

On Sunday when I got home there was two feet of snow in the back yard! Keegan thought playing in the snow was great fun. Steeler took a little bit of convincing. I did get some video on my phone - so not the best quality, but you can see they are having a blast!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Steeler's new Rally title

Whoo hooo - Steeler has a new rally title. This Saturday we competed in our first APDT Rally Trial. Three trials in one day makes for a VERY long day. We drove up to Keene the night before and stayed in a hotel with a friend and her Kees. She and Steeler got along great. We were a bit worried about it - so it was fun to watch them play. Of course they thought the beds were for leaping on and across - but what fun to watch them play. I wish I had had the video camera handy! Of course when it came time to sleep ... well that was a bit of a problem. But we survived. We left the hotel around 7AM the next morning and didn't leave the trial until almost 8 PM. What a LONG day! I don't think we will do three trials again - certainly not that far away! It was great fun though! Karen and Ruffi were there, and got their level two title and finished their last run with a perfect 210! Lisa and Brew, LauraJean and Ares, Sue and Milo and Steeler and I all had some nice runs and got our level one titles!

Steeler didn't have the best scores - but I was really pleased with his first time out! His first run was a 189 - we had some tight leashes, double cues and maybe a retry of one sign. And the first run was definitely the one where I felt the most disconnected. Steeler and I were pretty far down on the run order - so we walked the course and then didn't run for 2 hours! I am out of practice for this kind of stuff!

His second run earned us a score of 200! Again with some tight leashes and extra cues. I think there was about 4 hours between our first and second runs! But Steeler did really well being crated inside with all the other dogs! He did get lots of time outside with his pal Brew for a break from all the chaos - but it was really too cold to spend too much time out there. Here is his second video -

This was a tough start for Steeler to have to come into the ring and put his back to the people and dogs watching.

By the time we got to our third run everyone was pretty much exhausted and video'd out. Steeler and I earned a score of 195 - which is pretty good considering that by the time we got the bonus exercise Steeler was done. The bonus was a call front and side step right or left - the dog is supposed to move with you staying in front. Steeler decided to finish instead. He had probably reached his limit of what he was willing to do.

At some point I will dig out the course maps and post the courses. APDT rally is a lot of fun! And the atmosphere is very supportive and friendly. Much less tense than I have found the AKC trials to be!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Totally awesome class tonight!

Steeler and I had a totally rocking agility class tonight! I had an epiphany earlier today or maybe last night ... Last week I was so focused on this vision of Steeler heeling out to the start line gazing at me adoringly the entire time. OK so that is a bit of an exaggeration - but you get the idea. And what I realized was that I wasn't doing anything to help him get to the start line while still paying attention to me. I wasn't making it fun for him - because really - heeling in a horse barn? While dogs are doing agility. Seriously - I think that was asking an awful lot from my little spotty boy! Someone hit me with that rolled up newspaper! :-)

So what did I do different tonight you ask?

Well I got Steeler out of his crate while Trixie was running (steeler and trixie have run pairs together in a seminar setting so I have no worries about the dogs meeting) and we did some warm up attention stuff and playing with a toy in the aisle with the horses - it's about an 8 foot wide cooridor and three (or four?) large horse stalls long. Then when it was our turn I RAN to the start line with Steeler. He is a dal after all and they were born to run! We are having a little bit of trouble with sitting at the start line. Steeler does not like to sit in the cold barn dirt.

We ran two crazy courses tonight! Both were lots of jumping and lots of fun. It was a good thing for me to work on with Steeler since we have in the past had trouble with lots of jumping. Steeler did the first course AWESOME!!! There was a series of 9 jumps to a tunnel - and since Steeler has had trouble with that kind of intense focus in the past I decided to reward right before the tunnel with a big jackpot. I of course interupted his perfect run - but I think it was worth it! And we got to do it again - so that was good.

The second course was a bit more difficult for us - lots of wrapping jumps and reversing direction. But Steeler did pretty well. This course included the teeter and that looked really nice tonight. Last week he wasn't driving up it - so I was happy this week he picked up where we left off last week. I wish I had video - but maybe that is why he did so well tonight! I forgot the battery for the video camera. :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Totally Awesome Nosework Seminar this weekend!

So Steeler attended a Noseworks Seminar this Sunday at MasterPeace with Scott Williams. There were 16 working dogs and several people that came to audit. Steeler thought this was LOADS of fun. Search the boxes for food ... yeah how could that not be fun! We covered quite a bit in this seminar and it is very much a "working" seminar.

First up we divided into two groups of 8. Scott and helper Pat, put 8 or 9 boxes in a straight line and walked the dogs up and down the line letting them sniff and then when they indicated in some way that they were really interested in the "food box" (which thankfully was marked for us) we opened the box and gave the dogs lots of praise. Oh and the first couple of times they showed the dogs the food in the box and then hid the box in the line. So we did this three times in a row and then put Steeler back in the crate. We cycled through the first group of eight - the first time the boxes were straight, and the dogs were on leash. Round two - the boxes were in straight line - the first time down the line the dogs were on leash. The second/third time the dogs were off leash. For round three the dogs were off leash and the boxes were spread out unevenly on the floor. some up against the wall some in the middle ... you get the idea.

After this we gave the dogs a break and the second group got their turn to work. Then we had lunch. :-) For the next session with the dogs we made the search area smaller and got the food out of the box! We cut the area in half and added a big cardboard box that was open on it's side, an over turned table, over turned chair, a shoulder bag and several of the original "boxes" that we were using. (I think they were 9 in x 5 in x 4 in) In this scenario, the dogs were once again working off leash and the food was hidden in a bowl around one of the objects and there was a "box" in the general vicinity. For Steeler - the first time the food was placed in the big box open on its side, the second time I think it was either behind the table or over by the wall. The third time it was behind the shoulder bag. It was really cool to see him work. Lots of the dogs were getting tired when we got to this exercise so Scott was very aware of which dogs could handle three searches and which should end with the second successful search and not pushing them to a third repetition. This exercise all of the dogs went through one set. Then we talked for a bit about trials and the sport and had a question and answer period. Then the dogs got one more chance to work.

This time we went back to "box work" and the boxes were arranged in a horseshoe. The really cool part about this exercise that we did was that we (the handlers) did not know where the food was hidden. And we did this exercise on leash. It was our job to let Scott and Pat know when we thought the dog had found the right box. This is where it became obvious that Steeler had clearly caught on to the game. It was SO cool to watch him work! I can see how people could easily get hooked on this. It is really fun to see all the different dogs work.

And Steeler was even able to hang out in his crate quietly for most of the seminar. I did give him a little bit of a break in the car for a bit, but I thought he did very well! Steeler and I were both exhausted by the time we got home Sunday night!