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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Rylee's 2009 Rock Concert

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's COLD!!! Working on Skills

Just like the majority of the country, the Seattle area is gripped by an extreme cold snap.

Today was 11 degrees when I got up. While that might be warm compared to the Chicagoland area which was at 2 degrees. However, the below freezing temps are well below anything that this area is used to having.

But there is good news - we have SUN! It's too cold to snow and way too cold for fog or clouds. I took the attached picture on Monday when the wind chill was well below 20 degrees and as you can see, it's nice and clear.

Another benefit is that the ground is now frozen so that means that darn mole can't make any more holes! Yeah, I'm really reaching now for highlights, but something is better than nothing.

As for the dogs, they're driving me bonkers...or more truthfully, I'm going nuts being cooped up! Poor dogs, they haven't been able to run outside for long periods for almost a week now and that's tough for this young bunch. Dan and I have been trying to play with each of them individually using tug & release games, fetch and anything else we can come up with. That reminds me, we haven't played hide & seek (which also works on Stays) in a long time.

Tonight I'll be bringing out a mini plank and the Manners Minder I recently purchased as well as playing a few target games. Last, but not least, Dan's going to bring an agility table in so we can practice our instant downs and sending at a distance (or at least the length of the hallway ).

Stay warm everyone!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Courses - Hounds for the Holidays

Today was the last day of the always wonderful Hounds for the Holidays Trial and I judged Excellent JWW. This was an incredibly fast course with an average time of around 27-29 seconds. To the best of my recollection (this means there's a ton of room for error), the winning time in the 20" class was a high 23.??

Here's the usual list of suspects that snatched dogs or handlers into NQ land:

* After the #5 jump, several handlers intentionally sent their dog over the #9/14 jump thinking it was a part of the first pin wheel. Ouch, I didn't see that one coming...

* Several handlers pulled their dog off of the #12 jump in their rush to get a front cross in after #13. After watching this sequence 340 times, it was clear that in general, those that drove deeper into #12 achieved a much more efficient line from their dog from #12-13 as the dog clearly saw the 'pull' toward 13. They were also able to avoid their dog taking a large loop in that turn (see the dog's path in red).

* By far, the jump that was missed the most was #14. Since I was standing straight down the course (on the dark vertical line in the picture) and could easily see the handler & dog's path from #12-14, I had a birds eye view as things were happening. The issue appeared to be that in their haste to get a front cross between #13 & 14, handlers kept moving across the course and didn't strategize the placement of their front cross.

To illustrate, I drew a series of lines for both the handler & dog. The red lines show the wider route while the green lines show the more efficient route.

As you can see by the red lines, in general, when the handlers continued to slide to the left side of the #13 jump their dogs went very wide after #12 (approx. 57.4') and the result was a late front cross that failed to setup the dog for the #14 jump.

In contrast, the path shown by the green lines created a more efficient dog path after #12 (approx. 40.8') and easily set the dog up for the #14 jump. By being cognisant of the optimal dog path AND planning which part of the #13 jump a dog should take (in this case by having the dog jump closer to the right stanchion) this sequence was smooth and dogs landed with #14 straight ahead.

* In the closing sequence, most handlers were able to leave their dogs at #15 or #16 and run down the right side of the jumps without a problem. I did see a few blind crosses between #16 & 17 by some long legged handlers that were beautiful. Unfortunately, there were a few dogs who incurred a refusal/runout at the #19 jump. Those were tough to watch as they had beautiful runs up until that point.

Thanks again to everyone at the trial for such a wonderful, wonderful time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Course Fri Hounds for the Holidays

Attached is Friday's Excellent Standard course from Hounds for the Holidays in WI.

This was an amazingly fast Standard course that kept handlers moving...some weren't so thrilled about the hurricane pace from the table on and others commented it was their favorite part of the course.

This portion of the course is what I'd call the High Rollers section. It was between jumps #15 - #17, that a run either catapulted into the record book or went down in flames as a dog took the off-course dog walk.

Exhibitors handled #15 - #17 one of three ways:

Option 1: With a front cross between #15 & 16 so the handlers were going down the left side of the last line of jumps.

Option 2: With the dog on the handler's right, they pushed their dog to the #15 jump and then ran down the right side of the last line of jumps.

Option 3: With a blind cross between #15 & 16.

In Option 1, I expected the majority of handlers to execute this section with the front cross and they did. Most notably were those folks who did a nice smooth front cross in a DIAGONAL from #15 down to the left side of #16. This allowed the handlers to stay ahead of their dogs for the line of jumps down.

In contrast, quite a few handlers did a front cross that wasn't as efficient and had them heading for the ring wall. These folks completed a front cross, but their line was straight across (vs. changing direction and moving down toward the left side of #16) and once out of the front cross, they found themselves in a foot race with their dog and a possibility of the dog curling in before crossing the finish line.

To ensure Option 2 was successful, handlers first had to be patient in sending their dog to #15 and wait for commitment before moving or changing direction. Next, handlers either needed to be a step ahead of their dog as they took the #16 jump so that the intended path was clear (think picking the dog up on the landing side of #16) or they needed to have a strong "get out" to push the dog away from the dog walk and down the line of jumps. I think this was my favorite choice of the three since it was simple and didn't require any fancy steps.

Option #3 is the sleeper option that I hadn't thought of, but for those who executed it, it was a great choice for them. The blind cross between #15 and 16 allowed handlers to stay ahead of their dog and was knee friendly since it didn't require a plant and pivot like a front cross might.

I think all three options would be a great class exercise and it would be interesting to time them. Hum...sounds like I may have a lesson plan here!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Courses Thurs Hounds for the Holidays

Day 1 of 4 of the infamous Hounds for the Holidays show in WI is done. The trip so far has been spectacular with us flying into Chicago O'Hare, grabbing some Garrett's Popcorn (a holiday favorite of mine) and then hopping on a short 22 minute flight up to Milwaukee.

The hotel we're at is wonderful and opens up their doors, this weekend only, to dogs. There was a fabulous welcome sign as well as a table of freshly folded towels near the door specifically available to wipe off the toes of dogs in case it snows (which it's trying hard to do) or they have mud on their little feet from playing in the hotel grass.

When we got up to our room, the hotel staff had already placed a white sheet on the couch for any 4-legged guests and had kindly folded up the bedspreads so that dogs were free to romp around as they pleased.

Today I judged Nov & Open Std & JWW. I have to admit it was a fun way to start the weekend. The indoor soccer turf arena has 3 rings - one for Exc Std, another for Exc JWW and the third specifically for Nov & Open.

In Open Standard, the majority of handlers worked #1-4 with their dog on the left side which required a pull over #3, which was nicely done. Next handlers did a front cross after the teeter to put their dog in the far side of the tunnel.

The challenging sequence for this group was just after the pinwheel at #8-12 where handlers needed to get the dog up the #13 dog walk. Those handlers who tried a front cross on the take-off side of #12 generally set the dog up to take the teeter instead of the dog walk as dogs took the #12 jump at a slice and handlers weren't able to push their dogs out to the dog walk.

The handlers who were consistently successful in this area either did a front cross on the LANDING side of #12 or did a rear cross as the dog was heading up the dog walk.

I saw quite a few handlers work hard to get their dog on the left side before the weaves. Some did a front cross, but most executed a blind cross to accomplish this. I have to say, I wasn't expecting there to be a cross in this area, but it worked well here as a side-switch maneuver. After the weaves, a few dogs did go onto the off-course table.

Speaking of tables, today's position was a down. I was surprised at the number of dogs who had blank stares when their handlers asked for the down. Dan mentioned the Excellent dogs were quick to drop so I have to think the incredibly large venue, 1st day jitters, indoor turf & stimulation had a role to play in my inexperienced & young Open & Novice dogs inability to flatten in place .

Next is Open JWW. One of the things I liked about this course was the flow. While it had the appropriate amount of side switches and options, the majority of the course kept the same design as the Novice JWW course run just prior.

The main challenge on this course was the serpentine followed by the pinwheel. There were two styles that were mainly used. The first is shown in red where the handler stayed on the right and rear crossed the #9 jump. The second style was a front cross between #5 & 6 and hand the handler stay ahead of the dog through the serpentine portion.

Both choices worked well for teams.

The last two courses are Novice Standard and Novice JWW. Take a moment to review and enjoy!