Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Quiet Weekend

I spent the weekend at home, having failed to get into the Sportsmen's trial today that I entered. Dratted mail!

I did hear that Raissa Hinman and Aura finished their CDX today, Mary Kuhns and Caitlin won the Novice A class with an impressive 196 and earned their first Excellent Rally leg, and Nancy Stein and Reuben earned their 2nd Novice leg today.

Earlier this week, I started teaching Joker a stand signal for Utility. This is harder than with the other dogs I've taught one to, since I never taught him a solid kick-back stand for Novice or Rally. He does seem to be catching on already. The part that confuses him is he thinks any hand presented needs to be nose-touched. Using the leash to hold him back seems to be helping. Another Utility exercise we are working on his Directed Jumping. I'm really not sure when he learned how to do such nice go-outs, but with a visible target and two sticks to make a chute at the end, he's doing full-length go-outs with a great sit at the end. I've even started combining a go-out with some jumps. We did a two-target marking game today. I think that's the first time he's ever done marking with two targets. He seems to have the concept pretty well. And he's done several sit stays (after failing both at last weekend trials).

With Ty, I've been working on her drop on recall. She's finally understanding dropping at the bar from a sit stay with us 50 feet apart. I figure I'll go to 2 bars the next time we train it. She's also doing pretty decent Directed Jumping. Her sit at the end is loopier than I like, so I narrowed her chute to try to tighten it up. She used to have a very loopy sit out in the field, so it isn't that surprising. We also drilled some finishes. Her left finish via a signal is still the most consistent.

Gryffin is also in sit-stay boot camp. He doesn't really seem to have the concept that front foot movement is BAD, so that's what I'm working to help him understand. I am seeing some improvement, though I haven't gone out of sight much this week. We've also done some go-out sit proofing, with toys to either side of the go-out spot. Today, we worked some DOR with a bar, just to remind him about stopping promptly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Art of Praise

In last month’s wonderful, new, glossy-paper issue of Front & Finish magazine, there were several articles discussing how to avoid the trap that using food to train your dog can create. It’s not that training with food is bad. It’s what some trainers do with food that is the problem, such as failing to wean away from excessive food; depending on the food to get the performance that they like and want from their dog; handing out a treat for a really lousy effort on the part of the dog; failing to build a solid relationship with the dog that is separate from treats; etc. Here were all of these articles in the same issue, addressing a topic near and dear to my heart. This got me thinking about and paying attention to how much food I was using while training the three dogs I’m currently working. They are Gryffin, my 5 year old neutered male Flat-Coated Retriever, who as of this past weekend has 4 UDX legs and 51 OTCh. points; Ty, my 3 year old intact female Flat-Coated Retriever, who just finished her CD; and Joker, a 7 year old neutered male Border Terrier who was purchased as a pet for our son when said son was 12. Since said son is off at college and his dog loves to train, Joker gets to play some, too. I’m looking for Open legs on him. Our four recent attempts netted no legs, with the biggest issue going down on his sit stay.

The Flat-Coats are both fanatical retrievers, so I use toys a fair amount in my training in addition to food. Flat-Coated Retrievers are supposed to have a wagging tail; the breed standard says so :-). Having a tail-wagging FCR isn’t such a surprise. But Gryff wags when he sits in front. He wags on his finishes. Almost anytime he sits, his tail is sweeping the floor. If it’s still, I can usually get it moving with some praise.

Joker the Border Terrier loves treats – I have yet to meet a BT that doesn’t – but he also seems to be overjoyed at the chance to Do Something and get attention and petting. He loves to leap in the air to touch his nose to my palm. When I praise him and pet him, his tail wags, his body wiggles, his facial expression seems to say, “This is just the best!” It is sure reinforcing to me when he responds this way and it makes our training time together fun.

One of the topics I encourage my beginning students to explore is how their dog likes to be praised and/or petted. I think it is important to find out through trial and error what works to calm your dog and what excites him. This is ideally something you do without involving lots of cookies. Some dogs are calmed by a stroke on their head. Others get excited by this. When I was showing my BT Java in Novice, I got in the habit of bending down and patting him gently on his left side before the start of the Heel Free (off-leash heeling) exercise. If I do that with Ty, she immediately releases herself and wiggles all over. She quickly taught me that patting her is just plain dumb right before the start of an exercise. Instead, I use some quiet praise to let her know I liked the setup she just did.

About the closest thing to cuddling Gryffin can do is when he’s sitting in heel position. I reach down and quietly stroke him on the top of his head or scratch him around his left ear. It helps to calm him some. He likes to walk through my legs front to rear and have me scratch him in front of his tail, on the top of his rear end. I can do this very rapidly in the ring, especially Utility when articles or gloves are being picked up, and then proceed promptly to the next exercise. Some dogs enjoy it if you pinch their butt. Others hate it. Some like to have you play-grab at their feet. Others are offended by this. Try a variety of what I call “pushy-shovey” games to find out what works with your dog and what doesn’t. Some dogs are fickle enough to like something one day and be irritated by it the next. Java was like that. He forced me to try something new frequently.

I’d also suggest that you simply stand with your hands off your dog and praise him. How does he react? Does he wag his tail? Do his eyes brighten? Or does he ignore you and wander away? Obviously, different dogs and different breeds will react in a variety of way to praise. Our two BT’s react differently from each other. Java has always been the most serious of our dogs. It takes more effort on my part to get him to cut loose and really wag his tail. Joker definitely lives up to his name and is generally sillier than Java.

Years ago, I was working with someone in a private lesson. When she released her dog, she would grab at the dog’s face. Based on how the dog reacted – backing away and trying to avoid the grabbing – the dog found this unpleasant. I took the dog to experiment some with different types of releasing. When I gently pinched and prodded the dog in the ribs, she bounced back in an upbeat sort of way. The rib prodding energized her. The head grabbing did not. When the dog’s owner changed how she released and played with her dog, her dog responded by bouncing back and interacting instead of avoiding her owner.

In my essay Musings on Entering the Ring, I talked about the Setup Game, where you practice moving around the training area/ring, working towards getting your dog to sit in heel position promptly and correctly. Mix this game together with praising and releasing. Practice the two together. After a smartly done set up, praise with enthusiasm, give your dog a little push away from you (or a big one, if he likes it), and dash off to the next set up spot. If your dog likes to spin, cue him to do so, and race away and get him to chase you.

It always strikes me as oxymoronish to say, “Work at playing with your dog,” but sometimes that’s what it takes. Keep experimenting. If you’ve tried something for a while and you aren’t seeing an improved response from your dog, try something else. Have fun and eventually, so will your dog.

Until next time, happy training!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Setting Training Goals

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a goal-setter. I wouldn’t have the training building in my back yard if I wasn’t. My dogs wouldn’t have advanced titles, nor would I have finished several other long-term projects over the years. Although goal setting is not for everyone, it is for me, and I’d like to share some of how I use goals to achieve what I have with my dogs in the various title-earning venues in which I’ve participated.

One of the wonderful aspects of obedience is the title progression. While there are certainly success stories of someone finishing an OTCh. (Obedience Trial Champion) title in 2-3 weekends, this is far from the norm. For most of us, getting to a UD (Utility Dog) title or beyond is a multiple-year project.

When I am helping someone new, I usually ask her what goal(s) she is aiming for. If she hasn’t titled a dog before, this will be harder to answer, but I like to know what would satisfy her in terms of a title level and a score level. Say she says that she would like to earn a CD on her 7 year old Golden Retriever and she would be thrilled to get a score above 190. Since she’s starting with a middle-aged (or beyond) dog, and she hasn’t done a lot of training, getting this particular dog trained all the way to the Utility level probably isn’t a realistic goal because of the dog’s age. So we concentrate on the Novice exercises and work on her handling so that she’s not losing points for handler errors. We work to eliminate as many substantial deductions (those of 3 points or more) as possible, but don’t focus as much on the little errors. We might introduce the retrieve and jumping if the dog is physically able to add some variety and spice to their training.

If someone comes to me with their new puppy and tells me their goal is an OTCh. title, my first and foremost goal is to help them build a very strong foundation with attention to critical details, including solid attention, excellent heeling, accurate position changes, solid stays, fast recalls, and retrieving and jumping skills. While I do stress these details in my early competition classes, not everyone tunes into them nor is everyone interested in these exacting details.

I set four different kinds of goals with my dogs: lifetime, annual, monthly, and weekly. Sometimes I write them down, sometimes they are just a flexible list in my head. I do try to revisit these goals regularly to revise as needed.

Lifetime goals: what titles do I hope to earn during this dog’s lifetime?

These are the dream big, shoot-for-the-moon goals. These might be goals that you want to share only with yourself and your best friend, but it really helps if you share these with your instructor!

If my dog is of good quality for his breed, an AKC breed championship is one of my goals. When I get a new dog, I aim for obedience titles of OTCh. (Obedience Trial Championship, a title I’ve earned on 2 Flat-Coated Retrievers and 2 terriers so far) and a UDX (Utility Dog eXcellent). With my three most recent obedience title-earners, they first earned rally titles. In the past, I’ve earned Tracking Dog titles and agility titles. With my recent Flat-Coats, I’ve added advanced field titles as a goal. Gryffin earned my first ever Junior & Senior Hunter titles. I have a goal of a Master Hunter for him. Having never attempted this title before, I’m still a bit overwhelmed by the requirements. Will we achieve that goal? I can’t say, but we’re having a lot of fun aiming for it.

Annual goals: what titles and training goals do I hope to achieve in the next twelve months?

These goals tend to be more concrete. I have to look at what the rest of my life looks like for that time period and when I can attend trials. While we are blessed with a huge number of trials in my area (southeast Michigan), I don’t like to trial every weekend, so I pick and choose dependent on several factors. These include judges, trial site, host club, and what other time commitments I have. I have a pretty good sense at this point in my training life when a dog is ready to qualify. It is always something of a gamble when we start to show a new dog - we are dealing with dogs, after all! I spend far more time training than trialing, and I look at trials as a test of our day-to-day training. When some error crops up once in a trial, I make note of it, but don’t get hysterical over it. But if it happens in another trial not long after, then it becomes more of a focus in my training. If a trial goes well, I think back over my recent training and continue along that path. If I start having breakdowns in performance, I might focus on those particular exercises that didn’t go well. I might also have to make a major course correction with a particular dog.

Monthly goals: what do I need to do this month to advance towards our annual and lifetime goals?

These goals might include something like “Train in at least one new location each week,” “Attend a fun match,” “Get started on Scent Discrimination.” For my dogs, I have been focusing on finishes for all 3 that I’m training, and in a recent trial, I saw some excellent effort on finishes from each dog. Were they all perfect? Nope! But they were very much improved, and that’s what I want to see.

Weekly goals: what do I want to accomplish this week to advance my monthly goals?

I might pick 2-3 weaknesses for a given dog or in my handling and really focus in on those exercises or portions of exercises. In the advanced classes, there are several critical components: heeling, fronts, finishes, recall speed, retrieves, stays. You need to make sure that your foundation on each of these remains strong enough to satisfy your goals. I almost always work some heeling when I have more than just a couple of minutes for training. This is the most important exercise for building and maintaining teamwork, and just like working out, it requires regular sessions for you and your dog to stay in tune with each other.

Occasionally in my advanced proofing classes, we make a list. Anyone who wants to join in writes their name and their dog’s name on the list and includes 2-3 goals to focus on for the week. This is a voluntary thing, but usually those who participate make some good progress by doing this.

I stole a wonderful idea from Margie English several years ago. She described how she went about improving her dog’s scores to work towards an OTCh. title. She kept track of her dog’s scores on each exercise in Open and Utility and then worked on the areas or exercise that were most consistent point-losers. Often the difference between winning or getting OTCh. points is only .5 to 2 points, so if you can shave off that much, you can earn OTCh. points. After showing my Border Terrier Java in both Open B and Utility B one weekend with so-so results, I did some counting. We had to do 22 finishes over the 4 classes, and he lost a 1/2 point on all but 3 of the 22 (I know this because I almost always go over my score sheet with the judge to be sure I know where we lost the points). So we lost 8.5 points on just finishes over the course of the weekend. Sure enough, when he finally started being straight more often than crooked on his finishes, his scores went up enough that he finished his OTCh. My OTCh. Australian Terrier Rio was the same way with fronts - once he started doing those more consistently, he finished his OTCh. title.

So start thinking about what are realistic goals for you and your current dog(s), jot them down for later review, and get training.

Until next time, happy training.

How I Use Matches to Prepare for a Trial

I'd like to discuss how to use practice matches to help prepare you and your dog for a trial. My experience is primarily with obedience and rally matches, but you can take this same approach at an agility match or a field training set up.

When I first started in obedience in the mid-1980's, a rule of thumb that is still valuable today was this: when you can participate in 3 different fun matches with your dog under similar conditions to what you will be showing under in an obedience/rally/agility trial (similar levels of distractions, no food in the ring, no special collars, no extra props) and pass all of the exercises at your current level with scores and performances from you and your dog that satisfy you, then you are ready to enter a real trial.

When I was preparing to show my first dog, Casey, in Novice A, I didn't really understand how to use matches. I used them as a test rather than as part of my training progression. I went in the ring to "see where we were" and being a newbie at the game, was wrapped up tight in a bundle of nerves and anxiety. Neither my dog nor I did very well at any of the three matches I entered before our first AKC Novice A obedience trial. I was learning ring procedure while trying to teach it to my little dog. That's one of the hardest parts of training your Novice A dog - it's like the blind leading the blind. So what have I learned over the years since those early, poorly-used matches?

Before I ever start entering my inexperienced puppy or dog for a run-through at a match, I start taking him along with me and my older dog(s) on road trips as soon as it's practical to do so. I have shown most of my dogs in conformation, which helps them get used to the dog show scene with much less pressure for performance put on them. It doesn't hurt that I can take food and toys into the conformation ring. This gives them a fine early imprint that the ring can be a great place to be.

When I take my inexperienced dog along with me, I walk him around the grounds, letting him meet people and see the sights. I set up a crate for him so that he can get used to resting at a busy trial. If he's far enough along in his training, I work on some voluntary attention work. I encourage my dog to play with me (I confess that getting my dogs to play other places is one of my weaknesses as a trainer) and to perform any silly tricks he's learned. Nothing very long or demanding, just laying the foundation that when he goes to a new place, we do some stuff together.

I am fortunate to live in an area of the country (SE MIchigan) where there are many clubs and training schools. This means that with some effort on my part, I can get my dog to many different training buildings for practice, whether simply renting floor time to train or attending a fun match.

As my new dog progresses in his training, I will start asking a friend to follow us around the training area while I work on heeling. I might ask for her to call commands, but I don't necessarily respond to her commands. I want to see how my dog handles having a person nearby while we train. I start putting different heeling components together and as I see my dog able to handle these different parts when training on our own, I ask my friend to call a pattern for us. When we can do this with some reliability in day-to-day training, I will then enter a match.

I still remember taking Treasure (Ch. OTCh. U-UD Grousemoor Forget Me Not UDX OA OAJ WC; Can UD) to her first match. Unlike my more recent dogs, I trained her consistently in obedience from when she came home at 8 weeks old. She was 13 months old and just learning halts – I think she'd had about 10 days of training on them – when we attended our first match. During the on-leash pattern, I asked the "judge" to skip calling halts. I used extra verbal commands (this is how I teach my dogs to heel) as she needed them. She did well enough during that first pattern that I added some halts during the second heeling pattern. I kept the leash attached, even though in a trial it is supposed to be off leash. I knew my dog wasn't ready for off-leash heeling, so we didn't try.

When you enter a match, especially the first several times, remember to expect less from your dog than what you can get from him in a familiar location, especially if it is much busier at the match than your dog is used to. One thing to be careful of is that you don't suddenly start correcting your dog more at the match than you do where you normally train. Too much of this will sour your dog on new places instead of building his desire to work with you in a new place.

During your run-through, if something goes wrong, ask for a do-over of that part. Maybe you are doing the Novice Stand for Exam and, as you return around your dog, he turns sideways. I would at the very least mark the error with my verbal correction, and do it over. If a 2nd or 3rd try doesn't fix the problem, I move on, but make a mental note that I need to work harder on that particular part.

If your dog errs in an unexpected way, pay attention to where the judge was in relation to your dog or what was going on nearby, and try to recreate the error in training. For example, dogs are often really surprised in Open when the judge is nearby and walks in close behind the dog as he comes into his sit in front of his handler. One of my dogs finds it overwhelming to retrieve his dumbbell if someone is standing nearby, so it is something we continue to practice.

Another important ingredient to explore at practice matches is time. How long does your dog need to be at a busy place before he can focus enough to work? Does crating him in the building create the right desire or is keeping him in your vehicle better? If it's possible, I usually crate mine inside when I'm doing obedience, rally, or conformation, though they are now used to a lot of time in my van at hunt tests and field training outings.

How long does it take to "air" your dog? Does he need some way to blow off steam before getting down to work? At most trial sites, there isn't anywhere to let dogs off leash to run. I know some people who take along a bike or a scooter to give their dog some exercise before going in the ring. I've gone out with a retriever bumper with my dog on a flexi-leash to give him a chance to run a bit.

How much warm-up time does your dog need? What sorts of warm-up works the best? I personally always do some rhythm heeling to warm us both up and help calibrate our attention and teamwork. I do some fronts and finishes and general position maneuvers. I'll add more components to our heeling (turns, halts, pace changes). If I'm going into Novice, I do a Stand for Exam. If I'm going into Open, I might do a short, on-leash retrieve and possibly a short drop. For Utility, I add on glove turns, signals on a 6-foot leash, possibly a moving stand, possibly an article retrieve or two (my current dog, Gryffin, seems to benefit from this). With my terriers in particular, I have to be very careful to not use too much food in warm up, because this dramatically illustrates the lack of food in the ring to a dog who you have shown a lot. If you can give the majority of your treats inside the ring at a practice match, you can increase your dog's desire to get into and stay in the ring.

Over time, my goal is to make our time in a match ring as much like a trial as possible. I reduce and eventually eliminate extra commands, props, and any treats during the performance. I don't correct every little mistake. I feel it's critical for you to let some minor mistakes go by to make sure your dog can recover and get back on track, because you know what? You are going to both make mistakes! If something happens in a match that would be an NQ (non-qualifying score) such as a failure to drop on the Drop on Recall or a substantial deduction (3+ points off) such as an automatic finish, I do correct that and repeat the exercise if possible.

Fun matches are a great place to figure out some of these ingredients and to fix problems that crop up when you start to compete in trials. Use them wisely. There aren't any matches in your area? Organize one! If everyone brings their equipment, whether jumps or ring gates, you can simulate a trial.

Until next time, happy training.


The common definition of a fun match is an event at which you can practice competing with your dog, but doesn't earn you scores towards any title.

There are AKC Sanctioned Matches, which a club must hold under AKC rules in order to show the AKC that the club is ready to hold an actual trial. Back when I was first training, there were several of these a year in my area of the country, and at least in the Novice A classes, there were trophies given out and you were scored.

There are also so-called Show 'n Go matches, which I believe were named that because there weren't any prizes, so there was no need to stay around and wait for the end of the class - you just showed and could leave.

Musings on Entering the Ring

[I started writing essays recently. This was the first. I am distributing them using Constant Contact. You may sign up to receive them "hot off the keyboard" by going to the Northfield website and clicking on the "Join our Free email list" link. I plan to archive the essays here.]

I judged Rally recently. After judging a lot in 2007, this was the first assignment in 2008 for me and the first under the Rally Regulation changes that came into effect in January 2008. In thinking about judging over the past several months, I haven't been sure that I even want to judge all that much. And then, about a month ago, I found out that I would be judging outside. Oh, yippee! Two weeks ago was the all-weekend monsoon rain, and sure enough, I showed outside. Fortunately, just in conformation. But it made me think a lot about how various types of weather might cause difficulties to Rally exhibitors outdoors. Okay, no downs (if judging was in the early morning, the grass would be wet from dew; or worse, there might be puddles somewhere). Use as few sits as possible. Don't do any fasts you don't have to. Judging in the afternoon sun? Have the honor dog do a down stay. It did make for some different course design decisions than judging indoors.

So, to the point of this essay: entering the ring. I've competed in a large variety of dog sports: obedience, conformation, tracking, rally, agility, and hunt tests. In each sport, there is a point at which you "enter the ring" for the judge(s) to start the judging process. That entry is often the first impression the judge has of you and your dog. I can still remember entering the Utility A ring with my first dog, little 10-lb Australian Terrier Casey. I'd take off her leash and the judge would measure her (this was back in the days when judges measured all dogs in Open and Utility). Then we would proceed to the start of the Signal Exercise. But we didn't often proceed as a team. I'd lead and Casey would trail behind, sometimes multiple feet behind, eventually catching up to me. In looking back on those ring entrances, I can't imagine how she would then actually manage to heel with me, but she did. Not brilliantly, but passing.

When judging at my recent Rally assignment, there was generally a direct correlation with how a dog and handler entered the ring and how much of a team they were through the course. The dogs that came in sniffing the grass and needing to be begged to sit at the start (some handlers didn't even bother with a sit, which is allowable in Rally) mostly continued to do so during the course. They weren't a team. Then there were the teams that came in together, with the dog focused on the handler, sitting promptly by the start sign. They mostly proceeded through the course with the same style they would have if we'd been inside on mats.

It all comes down to attention and practice, practice, practice. In my obedience classes, we practice this in several ways. We set up sections of baby gates, and work on going through the opening in the gates and moving varying distances from that opening to a set up spot. Sometimes we use the Racing Game - run from entrance to set up spot. This can energize a lackadaisical dog. Sometimes we turn to the left, sometimes to the right. We also do the Setup Game. I use round rubber disks (PolySpots I bought from Wolverine Supply) that I've numbered from 1-12. I place these in a big square around the training area, usually with at least 12-15 feet in between. Each disk is strategically placed so that you have to set up in a different direction than the previous one. Sometimes you set up in the direction you were already going. Sometimes you need to be 90 degrees to the left or to the right, sometimes 180 degrees around. The goal is to get your dog set up in heel position so that you can read the number on the polyspot right side up. I like to see handlers get their dogs lined up straight before asking for the sit. This takes practice and more practice. It takes the dog paying attention to the handler and the handler planning the best path for their team to set up smoothly. If I need to do a 90 degree left turn on a set up, I often move to the right a few feet before turning left for the setup. When you practice this exercise, figure out which direction produces the best and most efficient setup for you and your dog. Work on the weaker directions, but plan to use the best ones when you are in front of a judge. You can't plan if you don't know which direction produces the best setup.

Agility handlers should be practicing getting to the start line, removing the leash and having their dog on whichever side is best for that particular course. If you have a dog who is highly distracted by the previous team finishing their course, practice your ring entries first by yourself until you and your dog are an efficient team. Then add a person running nearby. Then add a person and a dog running.

Field dogs need to know how to move out of the last holding blind to the line. At the Junior level, this can be on leash, but judges do want to see some control here! My OTCh. Flat-Coated Retriever, Treasure, was a superb heeling dog in the obedience ring. Put her out in a field with guns and birds... forget it! She dragged me to the line, determined to get there as fast as possible. Because I wasn't that serious about my hunt test training at the time, I didn't rehearse the correct behavior for going from holding blind to the line enough in practice for it to be a well-established habit. Again, this takes practice, and a lot of it, under increasingly test-like conditions.

Each time I train one of my dogs, I try to find at least one setup to praise and treat. The setup is a behavior I want to keep sharp and valuable to my dogs, and so every so often, when I get a setup that is particularly quick and smart for that dog, I tell him he's right, sometimes give a treat, sometimes even break off for a game. When I go to a practice match, I again try to reward at least one well-done setup while in the ring. When I'm in a trial, I recognize a good set up with quiet praise.

Whatever your sport, learn what the setups need to be, and practice, practice, practice!

Until next time, happy training!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marshbanks Golden Retriever Club's 2008 Obedience & Rally Trials

There is so much to write about, it's hard to know where to start! There were lots and lots of legs and titles earned this weekend at the Marshbanks obedience & rally trials by many different folks!

I'm happy to report I was 6 for 8. The 2 NQ's were Joker going down on his sit stay in Open B both days. Dang, guess we need to train a lot more sit stays. I can't say retrain since I confess to very little work with him on stays. Ty was 2nd in Novice yesterday for her 3rd leg and CD title with her 3rd 198. Gryffin got his 3rd UDX leg, with a 2nd in Utility for 9 OTCh. points. Today, Ty had a 195 (we lost 2 points for moving feet on her SFE) and 3rd place. Gryffin lost a runoff for 2nd in Utility with a 196.5, got 2 more OTCh. points for that, and got 2nd place in Open B with a 198, for 3 more points. He's got 51 points now, and earned his 4th UDX leg and his very first High Combined! What a difference a week makes!

I want to say a huge thank you to Corinne Williams, who rounded up a fabulous bunch of ring stewards. And thanks to all of you who stewarded who are reading this!

High in Trial on Saturday was Kathy Sweet and her Brittany Vanna out of Open B with a 198.5.
High Combined was Laura Romanik and her Sheltie Flare.
High in Trial on Sunday was Marcia Johnson and her Golden Saber out of Open B with a 199.
High Combined was Adele Yunck and Gryffin.

Here are the very impressive total of legs, Q's, and titles from NDT trainers. Nice going, everyone!

Class Name Dog Leg/title Score Placement
Rally Nov B
Helen Szostak Vega 2nd leg 97 2nd place

Rally Adv A
Barb Farrah Vegas 2nd leg? 99 1st place
Mary Kuhns Caitlin 1st leg 2nd place
Brenda Reimer Liza 1st leg 4th place
Kim Hundley Obie 1st leg?
Judy Bocklage Tally 2nd leg

Rally Adv B
Barb Farrah Oscar 98 1st place
Georgette Holst Esme 3rd leg RA

Rally Exc A
Dani Noto Gamble 3rd leg RE 97 1st place

Rally Exc B
Patty Boist Max 3rd leg RE 93 4th place

Novice A
Judy Bocklage Tally 2nd leg 191 1st place
Mary Kuhns Caitlin bonus leg 190 2nd place

Novice B
Jackie Takas & Monty 3rd leg CD 198.5 1st place High in Golden Specialty
Adele Yunck & Ty 3rd leg CD 198 2nd place
Barb Farrah & Vegas 2nd leg 197.5 3rd place
Nancy Stein & Reuben 1st leg

Open A
Linda Grzywacz Promise 2nd leg 197 1st place
Raissa Hinman Aura 1st leg 196.5 2nd place
Lynaia Bermann Lexi 2nd leg 194.5 4th place
Jay Mahler Golda 2nd leg
Belinda Tantalo Daisy 1st leg
Kay Braddock Hank 1st leg
Kathy Knol Casper 3rd leg CDX

Open B
Shelley Devereaux Gena 196.5
Belinda Venner Sparta 194
Adele Yunck Gryffin 3rd UDX leg 193
Eveyln Morga Ember 7th UDX leg 193

Utility A
Mercedes True Max 2nd leg 197 3rd place

Utility B
Adele Yunck Gryffin UDX leg #3 196 2nd place 9 OTCh. Points
Jay Mahler Sadie 185
Eveyln Morga Ember UDX leg #7 189

Rally Adv A
Barb Farrah Vegas 3rd leg RA 98 1st place
Mary Kuhns Caitlin 2nd leg ?
Judy Bocklage Tally 3rd leg RA 96 3rd place
Kim Hundley Obie 2nd leg 88
Deanne Matthews 94

Rally Adv B
Barb Farrah Oscar 98 1st place

Rally Exc A
Dani Noto Gamble 97 1st place

Rally Exc B
Patty Boyst Max 95 2nd place

Novice A
Mary Kuhns Caitlin bonus leg 188 1st place

Novice B
Jackie Takas Monty bonus leg 198.5 1st place
Barb Farrah Vegas 3rd leg CD 196 2nd place
Adele Yunck Ty bonus leg 195 3rd place

Open A
Raissa Hinman Aura 2nd leg 195.5 1st place
Linda Grzywacz Promise 3rd leg CDX 194? 3rd place?
Jay Mahler Golda 3rd leg CDX
Belinda Tantalo Daisy 2nd leg 4th place

Open B
Adele Yunck Gryffin 4th UDX leg 198 2nd place 3 OTCh points
Shelley Devereaux Gena 197

Utility A
Bonnie Hornfisher Becky 1st leg 183.5 2nd place
Mercedes True Max 3rd leg UD 182.5 3rd place

Utility B
Adele Yunck Gryffin 4th UDX leg 196.5 3rd place 2 OTCh points (He now has 51) High Combined
Eveyln Morga Ember 190

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ann Arbor Dog Training Club October 2008 Trials

I showed in obedience today at the Ann Arbor DTC's fall trial (I skipped yesterday for various reasons). This was my first time in the ring since July 4.

I started with Joker, my son's 7 year old Border Terrier. He was in Open for the first time, and because of me, had to be in Open B. We started with heeling, and when I said heel the first time, Joker galloped forward. Did he think he was retrieving? Who knows, but let's just say his heeling put a smile on the judge's face :-). Stellar it was not, but he did manage to keep recovering. When we got to the figure 8, he suddenly clicked and from then on, he did a very fine job (well, for him ), even doing very nicely on his fronts and finishes. Maybe not perfect but excellent for him. Sadly, his sit stay only lasted 2:45, so he didn't Q. Drat!

Next I showed Gryffin in Utility B. Except for some steps forward on the signal stand (I think we lost a point there), he did a fine job. Beautiful straight go-outs. Super article pick ups (one of his bugaboos). Ended up with 4th in the class with 196. Someone said that was good for 2 OTCh. points. We're inching along, now at 37.

Then it was Ty's turn in Novice B. She hasn't shown since April at the National. All week, I've been reminding her to BACK because she's been forging so much! She didn't surprise me with anything radically new, though she was not sitting on set-ups rapidly like she normally does. Dave Maurer was our judge, and he did something very kind, which I will sure remember when I judge. He asked if I was ready before the Figure 8, and just as I said ready, Ty started to scratch. He asked "Really?", I said "NO!", she finished scratching, I said "Ready!" and off we went. Very nice overall performance, fine stays. We were called in for a runoff against PJ Larson and her lovely Terv, who had won the class the day before with a 198.5 and had a very fine class today. Ty's runoff pattern was even better than her class patterns, and happily for me, we won the runoff and 1st place with a 198+.

It was finally Gryffin's time to do Open B. Gryffin has had a spotty record in Open, with only 6 Q's to his credit ever and a high score of 197. His last Open Q was nearly a year ago at the Marshbanks trial (granted we'd only shown in Open 2 more times, both NQ's). His class was very nice. Could he do his stays? He had Golden girls on either side, AND Dave Rugulski's Flat-Coat girl Sassy only one dog away. Hurray for him (and me :-)), he did do them, and earned his 2nd UDX leg. We were in what turned out to be a 3-way runoff for 3rd place, and ended up 5th, but he earned a 198.5, which just makes me smile :-D.

A bunch of NDT people got legs of various sorts. I apologize to anyone who I leave out, but I'll tell what my middle-aged brain remembers:

Friday in Rally:
Mary K and Caitlin 3rd place in Nov A for their first RN leg (not sure of the score)
Brenda R and Liza 3rd place in Nov B for their first RN leg 97
Nancy S and Asta 4th place in Nov B for their second RN leg 97 (and I know there were at least 2-3 more 97's, since I was table stewarding)
Barb F and Vegas 1st place in Adv A for their 1st RA leg 99
Sandy M and Tara 1st place in Exc A for their second RE leg 99
Kim H and Libby finished their RAE title
Barb F and Oscar did Adv B and Exc B (sorry, don't know scores, but I think at least one was a 1st place)

Mary K and Caitlin 1st place in Nov A for their first CD leg
Belinda V and Sparta earned their 1st UDX leg

Mary K and Caitlin 2nd place in Nov A for their second CD leg
Irene M and Sera 1st place Utility A for their first AKC UD leg
Mercedes and Max 3rd place (?) Utility A for their first UD leg
Alice J and Onyx 1st UD leg
Belinda V and Sparta earned their 2nd UDX leg (in the first 9 dogs in UB, they were the only ones who passed!)
Adele and Ty 1st place Novice B 198+ 2nd leg on her CD
Adele and Gryffin 2nd UDX leg, 4th in Utility B

Congratulations to everyone and to Ann Arbor DTC's trial committee for another fine set of trials.