Friday, March 27, 2009

Rags to Riches or The Little Dog That Could (From AADTC Newsletter, Nov 1987)

The following article was written by Deb Schneider, my first obedience training partner. She recently unearthed the newsletter in which it was printed, and put it on Facebook. I have her permission to share it here.

Third Saturday of October, 1986

It was a fine autumn day, crisp and clear, tinged with the red and gold highlights of fall colors near their peak. The drive to Allegan, Michigan would have been a complete pleasure except for Adele's mounting nervousness. There was tension in the car's closed space, tangible to me and Adele's Australian Terrier, Casey, who sat panting on my lap.

We were on our way to their very first Obedience Trial.

We found the fairgrounds after several misguided circuits around the tiny town. Getting lost did nothing for Adele's nerves. She had barely turned off the ignition before grabbing the dog paraphernalia and rushing off to the trial building. Unloaded and signed-in, she started to warm up Casey.

The little dog had a history of "wimping out" when stressed, and Casey was displaying more and more of these traits: flattened ears, panting, even her normally perky whiskers had started to wilt. Adele wasn't in much better shape.

Finally, their number was called. I hid discretely behind a pole where I could watch their performance and not be distracting. They started slow ... Adele was white and trembling and Casey lagged a wimpy half body length behind her. The little dog that ordinarily heeled well had disappeared. Casey had also forgotten how to sit at the halt. Adele managed to remember a sage's advice to go ahead and give and extra command when things looked bad in the ring. She proceeded to squeak "Casey, Heel!". Then she did it again. And again. And... from where I was standing I could almost see the big, black mark the Judge made next to the "Unqualified Heeling" square on his score sheet.

"My knees were Jell-O!" Adele exclaimed on their release from the ring.

And then the question I dreaded... "How did we do?"

I tried to be encouraging, but Adele knew as well as I did what had gone wrong. Adele took her first non-qualification well. After all, Casey was her fun dog... the dog she was going to learn how to train and show in preparation for showing her second dog, Tramp, who had exhibited more competitive potential.

But on her return from Allegan, Adele started looking for ways to improve Casey's performance. And over the next year she found many.

Third Saturday in October, 1987

The drive to London, Ontario was hectic and mostly done in the dark. This time we were both showing in Novice B and if Adele was nervous, I was too nervous to notice. Her husband, Fritz, was along and we were all exhausted by the trip. At least all the humans were, but when we got up to the hotel room, the three dogs started tearing about like overtired children. At last we all settled down to catch what sleep we could before our morning show times.

Next morning we left with plenty of time to spare. We found the show grounds easily and got the dogs settled quickly. A year of experience showing both her dogs had given Adele a new confidence. She left them in their crates, having learned that absence not only made their hearts grow fonder, but also added an edge to their performances. While the dogs waited quietly, Adele attended to the problem of a conflict between Casey's obedience time and Tramp's breed ring time. Casey was moved back a dozen dogs, and we all settled into the hurry-up-and-wait atmosphere of the dog show.

With Tramp finished in breed, Adele rushed off to change. Casey could tell something exciting was up... people kept stopping by her crate and telling her how cute she was. Adele returned and took Casey for her last minute trip outside and a quick warm-up. Then into the ring they went.

I watched from ringside, confident that Casey's attention would be on Adele. From the first "Forward", it was obvious everything was all right. Casey's ears were up, her gait perky, her tiny face poked in the air to meet Adele's confident smile. No Jell-O knees this time, Adele strode out at just the right pace for her little dog.

Casey was glued in heel position. Her sits were fast and straight. The performance gave me chills and I noted smiles of approval from many of the familiar faces in the audience. Casey's recall was not only fast and precise, it was also adorable, and drew coos from the crowd. She did her long sit in a half doze and her down without a twitch.

Adele was met with many congratulations as she wove her way through the crowds back to her crate. As she switched Casey for Tramp, I teased her "Wouldn't it be funny if your dogs tied each other with high scores and were in a run off together?" Adele pooh-poohed the thought, but we hastily planned what to do just in case.

Tramp's performance was also very good that afternoon. Not as good as Casey's, Adele said, but more than acceptable. She was very pleased. Adele was warming up Casey and I, Calix, neither of us expecting to be in a run-off, but wanting to be ready just in case. Fritz had Tramp on a leash nearby. Suddenly, I heard the steward call number 113. It was Casey!

As Adele rushed to ringside, I heard the second number, 141. Oh no, Tramp! At the gate Adele remembered she had only on six foot lead for both dogs and we did some fsast shuffling, putting my leash on Tramp.

The dust settled and Adele and Casey were in the ring with Tramp and me at their side. I managed to get Tramp's attention just long enough for the first step at "Forward", and then she wrapped around my legs looking for Adele. At the halt, the judge said, "Well, I guess it's obvious!". Casey had won the run off, the class, and earned High in Trial with a 199.5!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What to do between exercises in the obedience ring

I was in Gonzales, Louisiana last weekend to teach a "Balancing Act" seminar. Because I flew there, I didn't have any of my dogs there, so I prepared the following video to take along to show the variety of ways in which I release and interact with my dogs between exercises in the obedience ring. You can tell from the video that all of the dogs enjoy my touch, which makes it easier to reinforce them in the ring. In how many different prop-less ways (i.e., no food and no toy) do you release your dog? There is one particularly looooong stretch - a full minute - between finishing the UKC Open Figure 8 and starting the Drop on Recall. The judge had to wait for the Honor dog's handler to return, and then she had to give instructions to a steward. What would you do for that length of time in the ring? Practice and find out!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fulton County KC - Day 1

I showed all 3 dogs (Gryffin, Ty & Joker) in Open B at the Fulton Co KC's trial at TKC today, and Gryff in Utility B as well.

Joker was first up in Open of the 3, and did a decent job, although his broad jump was a bit of a heart stopper - he trotted to it, slowed down, and then popped over it, ticking the last board softly. Cute drop, cute retrieves, not too shabby heeling. And he put a smile on the judge's face (Dan Herald). His stays were just fine, hurray! This earned him his 2nd CDX leg.

Ty was next up. On the Retrieve on Flat, when she was about 6 feet away, she dropped the dumbbell, and it bounced/rolled forward off to my left. She continued to me slowly, looking a bit perplexed, then went and picked it up, and kind of finished. We lost 5 for that. Drop and High Jump were fine. I handed the dumbbell back to the judge, which may have been the undoing of her Broad Jump. She stared hard at him when I left her, and when I said "Jump it," she just sat there staring. When I repeated my command, she came to me instead of jumping, while continuing to stare at him. Guess who hasn't proofed for the judge holding the dumbbell??? Frankly, I haven't proofed her for a lot of things. Her heeling was fine, as was her sit stay, which, given that she'd gone down not once but TWICE yesterday while training, I was relieved and very happy with her. She didn't go down for the the down stay immediately, and I didn't get her over on her hip. Sad to say, she popped up as I left the room, did a sit for a while, then went back down. Phooey.

Gryffin had a fine run in Open B, and then went into Utility. We had Open B III, finally something other than I or II. We had Utility B II again. Geeze we've had it a lot! It was a very nice class, but he walked on both stands, so I wasn't sure how much that would cost us. His sit stay was fine, but (boo hoo!), he scratched and bit at his side during the down stay, sat up briefly, and went back down. It was especially a boo hoo because he blew a 198.5 score.***

Gryffin did get 2nd place in Utility with a 195.5, and picked up 7 more points, bringing him up to 75 OTCh. points. So the day was not a total loss :-).

Kay Braddock and GWH Jet Q'ed in Open B, as did Mercedes True and English Setter Max. Corner go-outs got them both on Directed Jumping.

Belinda Venner and Lab Sparta earned their 8th UDX leg AND was in a runoff for High Combined!! They earned 2nd place in Open B and 3rd place in Utility B. This with the bar first in Utility (which has been causing them a lot of problems this year).

It was a fun day (well, except for those danged down stays with the black dogs...).

*** Linda MacDonald and her Golden Wings won the Open B class with a 197.5, which finished Wing's OTCh. title and netted her High in trial.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Siberian Husky Club Trial, March 6, 2009

I showed only Gryffin at the Siberian Husky trial in Dexter. We had a not-so-great NQ in Utility B (corner go-outs, moved on the MS exam, dropped an article leaving the pile, loss of focus on the sit signal so didn't do it without excessive waving on my part ), which meant another trial without a UDX leg. I can't be too upset, since he hasn't failed more than one Utility class in a row since last summer.

I'm very happy to say that we got 1st place in Open B. We had Open B II (again - 4th time this year out of 7 Open classes), earned a 198.5, and 1st place. This completes the 1st places he needs for his OTCh. title, and he also got 4 more points, bringing his total up to 68. And to top it off, he got High in Trial! He hasn't had many (this is his 2nd all-breed HIT - he had one from Novice - plus the one he got at the 2007 FCRSA National from Utility). It has been many years since I've won an Open B class, so it was a very fine day.

We really enjoyed getting home and having a nice run in the beautiful spring weather :-).

Detroit KC March 1, 2009

I can't remember the last time I showed a dog in obedience at the Detroit KC show at Cobo Hall. I have been there with both Gryffin and Ty in conformation, but I'm pretty sure I never showed Java there, and he's now 12. In any case, in my search for the Open B 1st that Gryffin needs for his OTCh., I decided we'd give Cobo a 1-day try. Except for being a dunce and not looking at the directions before leaving home (and thus went well beyond where I should have gotten off I-94...), our trip there was pretty uneventful. Hauled our large pile of stuff in on my crate dolly from several blocks away, found our benching spot, got everything set up and Gryff settled.

As everyone (all 4 of us) did who showed in Utility B, we NQ'ed. We had order I. Gryff's heeling was poor and unfocused, and he sneezed during Signals and didn't drop. Passed everything else, but had "all the way in the right corner to check out the mat rolls" go-outs. He DID jump the jumps properly, which was a bright spot in an otherwise pretty dismal performance. So no UDX title for us today.

In Open B, also order I, he did redeem himself, although it certainly wasn't the wonderful performance from two days before at the Collie trial. We had a runoff for 2nd, which we won. Too few dogs for any OTCh points at all. He earned a 196.5.

With our showing done, it was back to the bench to hang out, socialize, and talk to people about Flat-Coats. I had Gryffin out several times for the "meet and greet the public" and he thought it a splendid way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I put up a table with my display board that is full of pictures of NDT staff members and their dogs, along with info on what we do. I put out some of my brochures and schedules, as well as some for Dr. Smith and Annarita's Mrs. Doolittle's Pet Sitting Service. I also had a business card rack out. It felt great to see people picking up not only my information, but my colleagues' information.

I'm hopeful that a few new people will head out our way for classes because of my efforts. Before BNI, I would have thought about it, but I don't think I would have been organized enough to actually set up the display.

Will I go back next year? It's hard to say, but it was a good marketing opportunity.

Collie Club Trial, February 27, 2009

Gryffin and I went to the Collie obedience trial in Dexter on February 27. Del Lund was judging. In Utility, Gryff was a bit more subdued than I expected, but pulled off a decent Q. I felt lucky to walk away with a 195.5 and 3rd place (1 OTCh. point). On his go-outs, he was very interested in the mats in the right corner, whose corners stick up in an interesting way. His go-outs were more in that direction than I liked.

He had a lovely Open B run - I left the ring feeling like it was one of his best ever. We were in a runoff for 1st. While we didn't win the runoff (darn), at least this time I felt like we had a decent runoff, just the other team made no mistakes. We got a 198.5 and 2 more points for the 2nd place, bringing him to 64 and 9 UDX legs. We show again on Sunday at the Detroit KC benched show at Cobo Hall, so my fingers are crossed that we can get the UDX finished.

Also, I'm happy to say that Northfield Dog Training was very well represented - each class had a qualifier from NDT. Several others had near-Q's at all levels. Nice going, everyone!

Utility B:
Adele & Gryffin 195.5, 3rd place
Kay Braddack & German Wirehair Pointer Jet Q

Utility A:
Russ Hornfisher & Golden Morgan - 1st place

Open B:
Adele & Gryffin 198.5, 2nd place
Belinda Venner & Lab Sparta, Q
Kathy Knol & Dachshund Casper, Q

Open A:
Jill Baker & Sheltie Hobbit - 2nd place and 3rd leg to finish their CDX!!

Novice B:
Jan West & Sheltie Lizzie - 1st place 196.5, 1st leg!

Novice A:
Judy Bocklage & Lab Tally - 1st place, 3rd leg to finish their CD!!