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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Courses, Hollywood Dog Obed. Club - 9/27/2009

Before I reveal today's courses, I want to give a hearty THANK YOU to the Hollywood Dog Obedience Club & it's wonderful exhibitors. You guys were all an absolute blast to hang out with.

There was only 1 issue semi-worth mentioning & I bring it up simply as an fyi/lesson for all.

The issue had to do with an exhibitor who was not thrilled with their dog's VMO measurement. No problem, I can understand their concern when a dog measures up, but as I indicated, they would have an opportunity to receive a 3rd tie-breaker measurement - no big deal.

However, the issue accelerated when the exhibitor turned their back to me during the conversation and continued to verbally express their displeasure amongst a crowd of people.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with me. However, how you handle your disagreement is what counts and that's the point I'd like to make. There's no need to be disrespectful and in this case, verbalizing in a passive-aggressive manner to a crowd is poor sportsmanship.

As one of the witness exhibitors said to me "I'm so impressed with how you held your ground and wasn't intimidated by their poor behavior." The truth is, judges are NOT out there to screw people. While most exhibitors realize that, there are the select few who chose to take everything as a personal assault. Bottom line, if you don't agree with the judge, the issue is NOT up for debate, negotiation, commentary or criticism and emotions & knee-jerk reactions need to be avoided as they're comparable to a two-year old sticking their tongue out at an adult.

Learn from others' bad behavior and just don't go their.

OK, onto the Excellent Standard course.

On paper, this looked a bit wicked in a few places, specifically the #12 jump to the a-frame. However, I LOVED how it ran and the #10 - #13 sequence was my absolute favorite. But before I jump ahead of myself, let me back up a bit.

Sequence #4-6 was a straight line and except for just a few dogs, there were no off-courses. The larger challenge turned out to be the push-out to the #10 jump. Several handlers pushed out and then pulled back too early, causing a refusal at this jump.

Now on to my favorite section....I just loved the slalom-like maneuvering dogs did from #10 - #13. First it was the left turn to #10 & #11, then the right turn to #12, then the left turn to #13. This portion really highlighted the dog's athletic ability and kept both the handier and dog engaged. For me personally, it was very fun to watch.

The last sequence, #15 - #18 was handled quite nicely with no real surprises. Handlers were great at holding their ground after the chute to ensure the dogs would come in to them and stop their forward momentum toward the off-course jump. This group made it look easy!

Thanks again for another wonderful weekend.

I'm so glad to say that I caught an early flight home and won't be traveling until mid-October. I miss my home, husband and dogs, so this will be a nice break from the frequent flyer marathon I've been on this last month.

Oh, the only other noteworthy item was that the guy next to me on the airplane started talking about how he didn't enjoy sex with his x-wife and how his new wife was 'Wow!'. I couldn't even begin to tell you how that subject came up, but I'm getting really good at redirecting conversations back into 'safe territory'. Well, as the country song says 'God is great, Beer is good and people are crazy....'

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Courses, Hollywood Dog Obed. Club - 9/26/2009

Today I was successful in staying out of the very hot sun the majority of the day, but I was a tad bit worried about the Standard judge. It had to be 115+ in the sun, but she did hold up. Standard, with no shade, had to have been brutal.

Today I had jumpers and started off the day with Excellent. The course flow was terrific for the dogs with it's big loops and handlers looked very comfortable with the increasing dog speed as the course continued.

Obstacles #7 - #14 was a NASCAR race track for the dogs with a bit of collection and a side switch between #14 & #15. Ironically, this sequence was very similar to a challenge on yesterday's Standard course (not done intentionally), although in this case, the dog's path & momentum made the sequence much smoother.

I drew in red the path the majority of handlers did, which was a rear cross on the landing side of #14 so that the dog was on their right side going over jump #15.

The last line of jumps was a straight run to the end and the dogs seemed to really enjoy it.

I've also added my Open & Novice JWW course as the nesting was nice while still keeping the appropriate amount of challenges.

On other news, the club and handlers have been very supportive, nice and helpful. The other judge and I have worked hard (thanks to the effort of the ring crew and exhibitors) to move through the trial in a systematic order so that no dog or person was left sitting in the sun. Lots of folks are helping out when they can and it's been pleasant.

We go back in a bit for an evening BBQ and I'm looking forward to it. I heard the film crew for the Mentalist was briefly back again today so I'm still hopeful to run into Simon!

Although, I can't understand why he hasn't stop by to say "hi"?!?!?

I Guess being an AKC Agility judge doesn't have much pull here in the Hollywood area .

Ah, a girl can dream though....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Courses, Hollywood Dog Obed. Club - 9/25/2009

I'm down in Southern California and it is very dry and HOT at 105 degrees. Lucky for me, my judging path was a saunter and not a marathon.

Some of the local exhibitors were starting a pool as to which judge would cave first from heat exhaustion. Apparently it's not uncommon for judge's to go back to the hotel with heat stroke.

Well I'll tell you, I'm feeling ill. But not from heat stroke...I ate way too much at the Cheesecake Factory. It was so good, I just couldn't stop!

Back to agility....Today I judged Excellent Standard and you'll notice #2-5 is similar to last week's NC course, however the rest has an entirely different feel.

Often times when I come into an area to judge, the local handling flare comes out. That was the case today as handlers maneuvered obstacles #6-8. I'll admit, my thought on how handlers would negotiate this sequence was different than what actually occurred.

In the diagram, I've got the handler's path in red and the general dog's path in green. Let's talk about the handler first.

I'd guess that 90% of the handlers did a front cross on the landing side of #6 and then added a rear cross on the take-off side of #7. Unfortunately, as you can see from the dog's path, most dogs either went to the right on landing after #7 or they had to do a hard adjustment to turn toward the left toward #8.

When I had designed this course, I had imagined handlers would treat this sequence either as a pinwheel where they kept the dog on the right (and possibly adding a front cross on the landing side of #7/take-off side of #8) or by doing a post turn over #7 so that handlers could stay on the left side down to the a-frame.

The area that most impressed me was #13 - #18 and the speed and distance handlers had. They were able to make this look smooth.

OK, on to other non-agility news. Before we began the agility trial, there was a film crew out at the park where we were filming an episode of the Mentalist. Ah, I just love that show! As I said to a few friends, I'm not a star chaser, but the thought of seeing Simon's smile 'live' had me rubber necking in hopes of spying him. Unfortunately no luck, but it was fun to be in the same place.

Tomorrow is jumpers and I'm hoping my judge's path is in the shade. Could I be so lucky? After judging, the club is doing a BBQ and Croquet is on the agenda as well. Ah, anyone know how to play????

Thursday, September 24, 2009


With a title like Heart, I'll bet you're expecting a flowery inspirational message. Well, not today ladies & gents!

Today's blog is about the rock band Heart!

As you can see by the pictures (from my camera phone), I spent last night at the State Fair which featured Heart as the entertainment for the evening. Heart is from Seattle so it wasn't surprising that the show was sold out and the crowd was hyped.

One of the best things about being an adult is going back and doing things you didn't get to do as a kid. Seeing Heart, a band whose music I grew up with, happens to be one of those things. As some rockers age, they loose their edge....

So are you wondering if Heart is among them? Well, let me just say the concert was AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!!!

Ann's voice is soul gripping and she made the notes sound effortless. Seriously, I left the concert certain I could belt 'em out as graceful & powerful as she did! Lucky for everyone, I got over that euphoria quickly before I foolishly acted on that pipe dream .

I've been to dozens of concerts and shows in my lifetime. Everything from musicals, symphonies and opera up through country, heading into cult bands like the Grateful Dead and into rock bands such as the Police, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Motley Crew (to name just a few).

What makes a concert or show so amazing is when you feel the energy and mood as if you were hearing it fresh and for the first time. It's captivating and takes you out of reality (without the use of drugs - a slight poke at the Grateful Dead followers of the old days ).

In this case, I've listened to Heart's music for decades and have always enjoyed it. Last night, I got to live it with the artists and watch it come alive on stage. I could actually feel the power of Ann's voice from within myself. It was easy to be carried away into feeling the connection through their music.

Beyond Ann's soulful sound, credit also needs to be given to the musicians creating the beat, complimenting the mood and bringing the sound alive with their exceptional talent. This is a solid band whose sound can only be described as 3-D because it has so much dimension.

Nancy's guitar talent is beyond impressive and her voice is beautiful as well. An added addition to their line-up of guitarists was a gentleman from Alice in Chains, a rock band with a bit of an edge.

I have to say, if you EVER have a chance to see Heart in concert, do NOT pass it up. I'm off to go dig up my old Heart CD's to download onto my ipod...maybe I'll try out those high notes while nobody is home

Monday, September 21, 2009

Courses, Ashville, NC - 9/20/2009

Yesterday ended my fun-filled assignment in NC. The trial was great, but the travel back home was a bit adventurous - that story at the end.

But first, I'm going to start off with Excellent JWW. It was interesting how many people said the course was fun, but also hard. When I asked for more detail from one person, they specifically pointed out the beginning sequence.

I find that interesting because some did struggle with it and others made it look like a piece of cake. After giving it some thought, I think those that struggled did so because they set up #1 & #2 as a straight line and expected their dog to turn tightly to the left. I suspect quite a few dogs were focusing on the weaves and weren't necessarily prepared for the turn. A bit of late handling or cues added to this as well.

As for the serpentine going down in the tunnel, handlers positioned themselves so they were either on the right side of the jumps (closer to the middle of the course) or on the left side (closer to the ring gating). After watching both, I really liked the handling of those who were on the left because it didn't require a push to the tunnel and actually put handlers in a better position to pick up and cue the dog for the next sequence.

The next part that was a challenge to handlers was the weave pole entrance. The dogs had plenty of space to get the entrance, however some handlers were rushing and kept running before their dogs had a chance to load in the poles. Quite a few handlers have clearly practiced their weave entrances and did an exceptional job.

Last, but not least, the off course tunnel entrance called to many dogs. Most handlers who succumbed to this challenge were driving forward from the weaves, over the jump and it wasn't until the dog landed and was already locked on to the tunnel before they began calling their dog's in.

Overall, it was a very fast course and it looked like a lot of fun to run!
Next we have Excellent Standard. Ironically, we had the same beginning as in Jumpers and several dogs missed the #3 jump.

The next challenge was the off course tunnel entrance and I was surprised as how many dogs shot in there! Some of the dogs just had to have that side of the tunnel and other times handlers turned in to face their dog (handler on the right, dog on the left) and pushed their dog into it.

The remainder of the course was pretty straight forward and fast!

Again, what a wonderful club!

OK, on to traveling news. I made it to the Ashville airport with hours to spare and unlike what the schedule said on-line, all of the flights at the airport were delayed by quite a bit of time. The entire day I had a feeling it was going to be this way so can't say I was surprised. As I was up at the counter and checking in, they canceled the last flight out, which of course was the one I was scheduled to be on. Long story short, there were no hotels (the state fair was in town) and I'd potentially be stuck for a few days as most of the upcoming flights were already sold out.

I figured the next best thing was to try to make my flight in Atlanta by getting a car and praying weather & traffic cooperated. Mapquest said it was a 3 hr 40 minute trip, which would put me at the airport at about 8:45 for a 9:30 flight. Tight, but do-able...

So off I travel via car. From North Carolina I traveled down through South Carolina and into Georgia. Nice highway, nice scenery and the speed limit is 70 mph - YES! As luck would have it, I was at the airport by 8:00 p.m. - plenty of time for my flight.

As I go to check-in, I find out they've given my seat away. Seems they'd overbooked my flight and thought the cancellation of the Asheville flight would be a great opportunity to take privileges and bump me, even though they said they wouldn't. So now the irony is that I had to go on stand-by to get my seat back! Lucky for me, flights were delayed throughout the airport and at least 10 people weren't able to make my original flight so a seat was available.

Times are fun in this modern day of air travel, but I'm happy to be home! Regardless of the travel adventure, the time spent with the club and exhibitors in North Carolina was worth it. Thanks for the fun time everyone!

As a side note, there have only been 2 times in my 10 years of traveling as a judge that I've almost gotten stuck in a city. Today I looked up the prior location to be sure I was remembering correctly (which I was) and wouldn't you know it, back in 2003 I almost got stuck in Ashville, NC due to mechanical issues!

Now that's weird....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Courses, Ashville, NC - 9/19/2009

In theory, this is going to be a short post because I'm tired and really need to get some sleep tonight. However, I have so many thoughts going through my mind, I'm not sure how the heck I'm going to do that!

As an overview, it was another incredible day in North Carolina. Great exhibitors, a wonderful club and an incredible BBQ dinner to top it off. Even more fun was all of the wonderful company, both judges, old friends and new friends as well!

I loved watching the dogs run my courses today and while I hate to sound like a broken record, the handlers really did a great job of working them.

My favorite course of the day was probably Excellent FAST. That's a bit of a surprise because I'm not a FAST fan. It's just my personal opinion, but the inconsistency in rules and the band-aid fixes over the last year have really turned me off on this class.

Even with all of the above said, I work hard to come up with unique Bonus challenges and try hard to put out a FAST course that makes handlers think by offering plenty of unique options. Today's fit the bill and I really enjoyed judging it. The Bonus had an option where one direction was worth more points than the other and the #10 obstacle was a two part obstacle that could be take in any direction. Again, lots of options out there and people were able to move around the course to get a ton of points.
My next favorite course was the Excellent JWW.

This was a fast course that offered up a few challenges that I'm not sure even I expected!

First, several dogs went running wide and went around the #3 jump. The main style of handling the opening sequence was either 1) by leading out, calling the dog over #1 & 2 with their left hand and then turning into the dog to present #3. Most dogs had trouble collecting for this option. 2) handlers did a front cross between #2 & 3.

In my opinion, the best place for a cross was at #4. Either as a rear cross or a front cross between #3 & #4.

The next challenge area was from #9 to #10. Surprisingly, the off course dummy jump called a handful of dogs. The other common error was that handlers were pulling up before #10 and the dog would curl into them and take the #11 jump backward. Overall, handlers smoked this course and were a ton of fun to watch as their speed increased throughout the course.

Last but not least was Excellent Standard. I liked how this course ran, but I wasn't able to watch the majority of the 20-24 & 26" dogs run it as a provisional judge stepped in to handle my overflow runs while I went off to do Jumpers.

The major issue the dogs I judged seemed to have was that they were leaving the descending side of the dog walk contact early to curl into the #3 tunnel. Of course this was at the prompting of their handler : )

As I mentioned, the courses today ran great...I'm officially off to bed. I'm so tired from all the fun! : )

Friday, September 18, 2009

Courses, Ashville, NC - 9/18/2009

So much to write about and so little time!

First, it's great to be back in this part of the country. The last time I was in NC was about 7 years ago and before that I was in Georgia about 5 years, so it's been way too long!

It's great to see old friends and to see how their dogs have progressed. There are several folks who when I last saw them, were in Novice. Now they're the experienced Excellent to beat. How time flies...

I also got to see a ton of the Dalmatian folks with their Dals, some of whom are relatives of my young spotted girl. Lots of good relations on this trip.

OK, on to the courses.

I started with Excellent Standard and from an observer's point of view, these guys did the course justice and I really liked how 'aggressive' several handlers went in the name of fast & efficient handling.

The strength out here is definitely pushing their dogs for speed and beautiful turns where the dog landed parallel to the jump, allowing for a solid acceleration.

The one place on course that got quite a few dogs was the triple jump. I noticed that the majority of handlers cued the triple and then immediately took-off for the teeter. This caused dogs to collect and/or check-in with their handler and earned knocked bars in this area.

Next came Excellent Jumpers.

First, I really liked this course. When laid out, it looked deceptively simple, and could easily be called a bunch of straight aways. However, that's exactly what proved to be the challenge on this course!

Overall, handlers managed all the way up through #13 without incident. However, #14 - #18 proved to be the difference between the 'big dogs' & the 'puppies'. In summary, if handlers weren't able to make it down to the landing side of #16, dogs were curling for the off course jump prior to #17.

Surprisingly, most handlers drove down to the end of the weave poles and after their dogs completed the weaves, did a front cross so they were on the left side of the row of jumps AND (this is the important part) right next to their dog. Handlers then found themselves in a foot race with their dog heading down the straight line of jumps and not surprising, the dog was passing their handler by jump #15 and was well ahead going over #16. This is where the off course jump presented itself as an option and many dogs took it.

The most successful approach to this sequence was executed by handlers whose dog had independent poles so that they could break away and do a front cross on the LANDING side of #14 so that they were well ahead of their dog in the straight line of jumps.

Last, but not least was Excellent FAST. I'm not sure what to say about this course. I like the send challenge, but am not sure they were ready for it here. This is a tougher challenge that I'd like to try somewhere in the heart of USDAA country and rather than with folks who are still getting used to the FAST game. However, I will say that handlers really tried to work this one out and gave it a ton of heart!

Well, I just got my phone call for dinner and I'm starving! I'm looking forward to 2 more days of agility play with everyone here.

Have a good night ya 'all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Judging in North Carolina - Sept 2009

This weekend I'm at a three-day show in beautiful North Carolina.

As I type, I'm sitting on the front porch of my historic 'hotel' in a rocking chair, overlooking the beautiful lake you see pictured to the left. I'm listening to the frogs sing and the chatter of other mysterious night life chime in, while a light breeze moves across the water. It's so peaceful.

The land where my 'hotel' is and the surrounding small town is mainly owned and used as a religious retreat. With views like this, it's easy to understand why.

The second picture is of the front of my historic hotel. The rooms and facility are rather unique.

The rooms are more dorm style so they're smaller and basic, while the restaurant is served buffet style. My all-you-can-eat $7.50 dinner was REALLY good!

The lobby areas (yes, there is more than one) are very ornate and formal with Queen Ann style chairs and lots of floral and stripe prints. Oh and of course the rocking chairs on all of their porches are awesome!

On the drive up, I spied some neat buildings so after dinner I took a walk down the hill and into town. The town is very quaint and feels like one of those places where crime hasn't hit yet. No big city feel here and so different from my New York adventure last weekend!

The first place that caught my attention was the beautiful church along side the lake. The architecture and stone have an old quality about them and felt welcoming. When I walked up to the church, the doors were unlocked for visitors - another change from when Dan and I were in Springfield, MA and they had to keep the church doors locked due to vandalism.

One of the unifying features each of the buildings in the town has is the use of stone. Some have beautiful stone steps like the ones pictured, some have stone pillars, some have a foundation of stone and some have all of the above. Since the town is hilly, there are also stone walls cut into the hillside along the streets and sidewalks where needed.

Last but not least, I came across "Amen Corner" and found it fitting and funny. For those that don't know, Amen loosely means "So Be It". Having this sign at an intersection struck my religious funny-bone, maybe because whatever happens there (accident or a smooth transition) "So Be It" - almost like "Take Your Chances!".

Well, I'm off to bed to try to make myself sleepy in this new time zone. Check back tomorrow for courses.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zulu's First Herding Adventure

Things have been busy the last few weeks, but my dogs haven't been neglected.

Today was Zulu's turn for an adventure and so we went for our very first herding lesson. I say 'we' because my prior job while Spot was herding was to be the person behind the camcorder videoing the event!

Today, Zulu and I took our chances together with the sheep and it was a BLAST! He's hooked, I'm hooked and another hobby begins.

Zulu had been around sheep very early in his puppy life and didn't show any interest. This is pretty common and doesn't necessarily mean that a dog won't 'turn on to sheep' later in life.

In the picture attached, Zulu was showing interest in the sheep at the Agility arena, although they're not dog savvy so they don't really give a darn about the dogs and so they don't move or run often. On the other hand, Zulu was showing a tremendous interest in the chickens when they were around so I knew there had to be some type of interest on his behalf.

We started off today by just letting Zulu hang around the area outside of the sheep pen so that he could explore and get a lay of the land. After a time, another herding Border Collie was brought out so that she could work the sheep while Zulu stayed outside. The idea was to see what type of interest he would show as the sheep went by.

Zulu was interested when the other Border Collie went out to the pasture, but as soon as the sheep passed by, he was immediately much more interested in them and let out a squeak of barks. My instructor laughed and informed me that he was now officially 'turned on to sheep' and we could move on to the next level which was going in with the sheep.

After initially being on leash with me, we let Zulu be free and I got to follow the instructor and the sheep while she worked Zulu. He did quite a bit of things nicely and it was really fun to see him work. He circles predominantly clockwise (I need to learn the herding term for that) and so I have homework to work him counter clockwise at home.

I admit, I had so much fun, even though I was just following in the sheep pack and watching my dog work. I was surprisingly comfortable around the sheep and have to thank my sheep friends for that (thanks Dave & Franna!). I've got a herding book I'd purchased quite a while ago and I think it's time to dust that off and read it again.

Zulu and I have another lesson in 3 weeks and I'm really looking forward to it!

New York, New York!

This past weekend I was judging in New Jersey, but was given a New York City tour by my pal and fellow judge, Scott Stock.

NYC is amazing and it reminds me so much of my hometown of Chicago. There is so much going on and culturally it's a hub that everyone should experience. While living in Seattle has certain advantages, unfortunately it hasn't evolved into a city that houses true diversity. NY has is that its roots in being the gateway to the United States where people from all walks of life have settled here over the last century.

During my NY tour, we took the subway (last picture shown) and stopped at Grand Central Station (2nd picture). There were at least a half dozen artists drawing from the very place I took this picture as the architecture is beautiful. Unfortunately my camera phone doesn't do it justice! For some more professional shots of Grand Central, here is a link: We walked through Manhattan, down Park Place and up Broadway.
Next is a picture of Times Square which was busy, busy, busy! We passed the Ed Sullivan Theatre where David Letterman's studio is, the theatres on Broadway and saw the famous New Year's Eve ball. Since the date of my visit was 9/11, the city was preparing a special event to commemorate those who lost their lives in the twin towers.

One of the things I found amazing was how garbage pick up is handled. As we walked along the streets, there were bags out at the curb. Apparently everyone brings their garbage & recycling down each evening and the city picks it up in the early morning hours. Now this may sound icky, but surprisingly, each bag was piled nicely, there was no smell and the streets were clear of litter. There were garbage cans on every street corner for people to use and none of the cans were overflowing or filthy.

Another interesting thing is that in this park of NY, each sidewalk corner was made of a beautiful natural stone and not cement. I can understand how people think that the USA has streets paved with gold!

For dinner, we went to Little Italy, which is next to NY's China Town. We had an amazing Italian dinner and then stopped at an outside vendor for some cannoli's. Ah, how I miss having these delicious treats!

I just had to take a picture of all of the cannoli's so that I could fondly remember them...

Last but not least is a picture of the subway that I mentioned earlier.

As always, a great trip and a wonderful experience!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Courses, New Jersey 9-13-09

Today was another great day judging in New Jersey and I got a bit of Vitamin D thanks to the sun.

OK, first the Excellent Standard course.

In the opening sequence, the 16" class had the most off-course tunnels, while the 20+" dogs had the least. Very surprising to watch and except for more obstacle discrimination training in the large dogs, I'm at a loss as to why.

Another surprise was the number of dogs who went into the wrong side of the #3 tunnel. It was interesting to note that as handlers turned in to their dogs, the dogs read this as a rear cross and turned away from the handler and quickly scooted themselves into the far side of the tunnel. Those who were successful pulled their dog toward them before releasing to the correct side of the #3 tunnel entrance.

The next surprise came after the #5 jump when quite a few dogs worked their way to the teeter, which wasn't even considered an off-course option (an obstacle must be within 21' to be considered an off-course option) when I designed the course.

The things that consistently went right were beautiful weave pole entries, stunning rear-crosses at jump #11 and the line to the #12 a-frame and the handling of the last sequence on the course. Specifically, the handling between #16 & #17. Half of the handlers were on the far side (right side of #16) and executed rear crosses over #17 and the other half of the handlers were on the left side of #16 and executed a push to #17. A nice job was done in handling this subtle sequence.

Next was Novice Standard. All I have to say is poor Novice! They were the last class of the day and honestly, most dogs were just fried mentally.

The course was nice and flowing and several teams did an exceptional job. Unfortunately, other dogs just stared at their handlers like they were asking them to climb Mt. Everest in a bikini. Those poor, tired puppies!

The club was fantastic and it was fun to judge with my pals, Scott Stock and David Nauer. In our off time, we watched football in the hotel lobby and failed miserably at not talking shop at the club dinner on Saturday night...sorry club! Ugh, I always swore I wouldn't turn into one of those judge's who rehashes stories of past trials over and over again. Next time I'll come prepared with a list of non-agility related topics to discuss! : )

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Courses, New Jersey 9-12-09

Today was a great day in New Jersey. The weather was overcast and the ground was a bit wet due to rain the last few days, but the park grass held up nicely.

Attached is Excellent JWW & Novice JWW. The courses were slightly different as the club out here has all 5' bars for all of their jumps. My course was designed for 4' bars so things felt a little less roomy, although the spacing between the obstacles remained the same. Lucky for me, the actual ring size was 100 x 120 so there was plenty of room for all.

OK, starting with the Excellent JWW course. The majority of handlers setup their dogs so they were taking 1-3 as a straight line. Several dogs curled in toward the poles after #2 and earned a runout/refusal before jump #3.

Unfortunately, the off course jump by the weaves felt a bit closer to the poles than I would have liked, however only about 4 dogs took this as an option (not bad for over 250 dogs who ran this course).

Going up to jump #10, most handlers did a front cross so the dog was on their right as they sent them over #11 and simply called them back over jump #12. The line was incredibly smooth and very well handled by all.

The closing sequence began after #13, which required handlers to pause for a moment to allow for their dogs to come in to them so that they were looking at jump #14. Handlers who rushed this part were sure to get the off course jump. #14 - 18 was a very fast ending sequence and allowed the dogs to really run.

All in all, everyone did a great job and really made the course look easy. I especially want to compliment handlers on their wonderful weave entries. Nice job!

On to Novice JWW. Again, great weave poles! The largest challenge on this course was the off course tunnel option after #2. Many dogs had that tunnel in mind and regardless of what their handlers did, they were in the particle accelerator like a shot out of a cannon!

Of approximately 298 runs, there were a total of 117 Q's. Most from the Excellent B class.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and I'll be judging Excellent & Novice Standard. More courses on Monday, once I get home ; )

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seminar - Stacy Peardot-Goudy 9-10-09 Final Course

Ah....I'm sitting here after another successful seminar with Stacy, thinking about all of the things I've learned.

The beauty part about a seminar is that you learn a lot about your own dog and a ton about others as well. As an instructor, that's invaluable information that I'm able to (and will) share with my students.

On a personal note, as an instructor, I've learned that I'm an intuitive trainer. That means my style is that I can see something, accurately read the situation, know what needs to happen to fix it and can accurately show how to do it. However, my weakness is in the verbal explanation of "Why".

That's where Stacy really does excel and so I never get tired of hearing her thought process. Stacy has perfected her methods and easily makes everyone successful because she is clear, concise and keeps things SIMPLE.

Again, it was a wonderful seminar and I can't wait to host Stacy again in February!

On to another subject, I'm off judging in New Jersey this weekend so look for courses on Saturday & Sunday : )


Seminar - Stacy Peardot-Goudy 9-10-09

Day 3 working with Stacy and the exercises are better and better. I'm impressed she can come up with such amazing challenges.

Today, Stacy was officially magical, miraculous and we all were bowing at her feet! OK, now that everyone wants to throw up Seriously, we had a BLAST and as always, left learning a TON!

One of the things that I consistently hear people comment about Stacy is how great she is about helping each individual team and makes learning enjoyable for all.

By the end of the day, dogs were tired and handlers left with a ton of ideas and homework to continue to improve and add to their skill level.

For those that don't know, Stacy will be back with us in February and we're all sooooo excited!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seminar - Stacy Peardot-Goudy 9-9-09

Today was the first of the Masters/Excellent seminar with Stacy Peardot-Goudy.

Lots of great challenges for the advanced dogs and a ton of work for novice dogs when you break this up into small, manageable sequences.

Again, lots of great lessons to be shared with my students.

Today our day ended with Thai for dinner and a relaxing massage. It was topped off with a dead battery on my car so we got to sit in the Safeway parking lot while my husband came to retrieve us We had a good little giggle about the situation. If we hadn't of been so full from dinner, we would have walked over to get some ice cream : )

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Seminar - Stacy Peardot-Goudy 9-8-09

This week I've been hosting my absolutely favorite presenter, Stacy Peardot-Goudy.

We started with a Novice seminar and one of Stacy's absolutely favorite challenges, a box-circle of jumps w/ a few contacts includes.

We learned a ton and I'll be bringing a lot back to my students. That means I won't be sharing any secrets here, but am happy to share in private lessons if you're not attending class the next few weeks.

We ended the day with Beth's infamous fried chicken & mashed potatoes and my homemade blackberry pie. YUM!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Inspiration - Where Is It & What Is It?

A few weeks ago I realized that something was missing in my daily life - Inspiration.

When I was younger, more tangible things were my inspiration. Purchasing my first home, a refrigerator that had water & ice in the door (that was a real milestone for me!), buying my first new car and being the first in my family to have a college education, just to name a few things.

Now that I'm older and have achieved those mile markers, I'm finding that inspiration has a new face and it's far less tangible.

For example, this past Spring, I was inspired by all of the flowering trees, shrubs & bushes found on my property. I took pictures of every single one and found myself amazed at how many different kinds and colors were planted here. Nature's beauty inspired me and put a smile on my face.

More recently I was reminded of another inspiring moment when I re-watched a video of an Agility handler who, as she ran the course, knew she was dying from an aggressive cancer. She, and everyone at the trial, knew it was going to be her last run with her beloved pet. The effort took incredible physical will power, but she had decided that she wanted to finish her goal of earning a MACH with her dog. The run was amazing, the moment incredible and the smile & joy between her & her dog was obvious. It was a real movie-moment as she accomplished her goal and was able to celebrate with mere weeks to live. She was living in that moment and although she could have been angry at her circumstances, she chose a different path and without knowing it, became an inspiration to many, many people.

If you'd like to watch (and I encourage you to), the link is:

Inspiration is a powerful thing and I'm not so sure it can be planned. After all, the recipient must first be willing to recognize or accept Inspiration. Second, what does inspiration look like?

For me Inspiration is something out of the ordinary. It shines. It makes you feel good. It moves you. It's something you want to share and it brings on that ah-ha! or light bulb moment. Maybe it's simply the right message or 'thing' at the right moment. But I think we can all agree that when we see Inspiration, it sticks with you, it makes you think and it allows you to grow. If you're lucky, it even expands the world of possibilities before you.

So, a few weeks ago when I was experiencing a coasting moment in life, I knew it was time to open my eyes and look around. Since I'm past the phase where a pair of Prada shoes will do the trick, that also meant it was time to open up my heart to remember those things that Inspire me and to seek those things out. Think of it as coming home or getting back to the heart of who you are - it's rather fun.

Well, those are my thoughts on Inspiration. Today I've decided mine is sun & bright green grass. Some days it's when my puppies lay on my lap. I think Inspiration should be a part of our weekly intake and it's FREE!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Class Course - Sept 2&3, 2009

This week's course was inspired by a challenging exercise I'd been asked to do about 5 years ago.

The sequence I'm referring to is the 6 jumps in the middle of the course that are set up in 2 straight lines. Seems simple, right? : ) Yeah, those who know me know better than that!

Well, I decided to add a bit of additional excitement to this challenge by turning this into a strict jumpers course. By taking out the weaves and using just jumps and a tunnel, this turned into a very fast paced course where everyone needs to be on their toes to be timely - even if their dog isn't the most speedy pup out there.

Another benefit of having a fast paced course is it forces handlers to work on distance. Distance makes for some unique challenges as timeliness and communication are even more important! In this case, body language after the tunnel were key...come to class and I'll be more specific

This is a fun course and the middle challenge certainly is enhanced with the speed. Give it a try and enjoy!