Sunday, November 27, 2011

I believe, I believe, I believe!

Ty worked wonderfully again today at the Sunday Toledo KC trial. We did Utility B V first with judge Rich Strong. All was fine until the Signals. She did a lovely drop. When Rich signaled for the sit, I had this feeling Ty might pop up (which she has never done with a real judge, but several times in training) into her sit prematurely, and I didn't take my time and refocus on her before giving my signal. And, as many times before, she just lay there. One difference was that when I paused and then gave it again, she did it nicely. In the past, she has continued to lie there or stood up again. So I think it was progress :-). I told Rich that I felt I owned that goof. She certainly might have done exactly the same thing if I had waited, I'll never know. Rich seemed more disappointed than I (it's not like this was a surprising thing for her to NQ on, after all), and said something about us working a really nice class. And we did only lose 1.5 on the other exercises, so yes, it was a really nice class. For a change, though, I was more disappointed in myself than my dog, and very, very happy with the improvements she'd made since yesterday. Today's go-outs were rock solid, without the head checks we'd had on both yesterday. In fact, everything except the sit signal was mighty fine.

So no UDX leg was possible, but maybe we could get another Open B Q? She worked another nice class. I was especially pleased with her solid holds on her dumbbell fronts (Ty had THE worst fronts and holds with a dumbbell when we started that I've EVER had with a dog). I had an 'oh dear' moment on the broad jump when I noticed the middle board was closer to the last board than the first one, but she jumped it just fine. I tried not to get my hopes up too high before stays were over, since there just isn't a use in that! Yes, she did her sit stay and down stay! At the end of the class, there were about a zillion runoffs, but I wasn't called for one. Much to my stunned surprise, we WON the class with another 198.5! It netted us 6 OTCh points, the all-important-nearly-impossible-to-come-by-in-this-area Open B 1st, and High in Trial!
I grabbed judge Del Lund as he was heading home and begged for a picture.

Shaking Rich Strong's hand.

Ty's 1st All-breed High in Trial!

I am still so surprised because Ty's highest Open score before this weekend was a 197, and that happened in July, beating her previous best of 196. She hasn't ever worked as consistently as she did this weekend. To earn TWO scores of 198.5 was beyond anything I thought our team capable of.

So, my hat is off to you, Ty-Ty. Thanks for coming through so well this weekend, and convincing me that I just gotta believe... 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Goals for Ty and Me, and TKC Today

I showed Ty at the Toledo KC trial today in Open B and Utility B. We were just 1 for 4 at the October Marshbanks trials held at my building - so much for home court advantage! - but we hadn't done a huge amount of obedience after training field from July through early October. The Marshbanks trials did give me a read on the work we had undertaken on all the band-aided exercises from July (let's see, we were having issues with Signals, articles, broad jump, drop on recall, and stays... yeah, we were a mess), and we've been working pretty consistently on those weaker exercises in the past month. Ty is closing in on 7 years old (next month), and my goals have been rather vague with her. Sure, an OTCh. would be a lovely accomplishment with her, but I know what it takes, and I'm not sure I'm willing to work hard enough with her to get there, plus she can be such a worrier, great one day and lousy the next. We've also NQ'ed rather a lot this year. I've just spent time catching up Ty's career totals workbook. With our Q rate at 50%  for 2011 - we've Q'ed in Utility 9 times in 16 tries and 4 times in Open in 10 tries - there is a lot of room for improvement. My most concrete goal has been to finish her OM this winter. Given all the weak exercises, a UDX has seemed a bit far fetched. Before today, Ty had 1 UDX leg, and 81 OM points, and 3 OTCh points, all earned 1 point at a time for 3rds or 4ths.

Ty's Signal Exercise has been an incredibly difficult one for her to master. I did what in retrospect was too much free shaping with Ty related to lying down when she was younger, and she tends to revert to throwing various behaviors at me when we work Signals - rolling on a hip, crossing her front paws, popping into a sit or a stand, putting her chin on the floor, dropping... My long-time student and friend, Raissa Hinman, gave me some excellent advice a few days ago when we were training. She suggested I do a lot of random treating for Ty doing nothing. Well, not quite nothing. But for holding her focus on me and waiting patiently after responding to a signal, instead of guessing what might earn her the next treat. I've tended to focus on the fact that she has failed the sit signal so many times in the ring as her NOT doing something. I think all the guessing has been terribly stressful for her. Ty is very devoted to me, but I tend to lose my patience with her fast. Training in field this past summer without the pressure of soon-in-the-future competitions helped my patience a lot, and was something of an "Ah-HA!" moment for me.

At the Marshbanks trials, Ty went down on the sit stay day 1 before I was completely out of sight, and at about 1 1/2 minutes on day 2. She showed me that weekend that doing stays a couple of times a week in class was not adequate. One would think, given my lousy history with stays, I would devote more time to them. Since Sonic the new puppy has joined the family (that's another post or three), she gets one more meal a day than the other dogs, so Gryff and Ty have to do stays while Sonic eats first thing in the morning. This has led to a few going down on the sit stay, since Ty is usually rather sleepy at that time.

We have been working much harder on the Open exercises in the past month than perhaps ever in her life, and I was actually feeling pretty optimistic about our changes for a Q.

I guess my biggest goal for the coming months is to qualify more often, since we can't get anywhere towards any of the on-beyond-UD titles without that. Reducing my nit picking and working more on attitude and 'do it right the first try' is a bit of a switch for me, but today showed me that I seem to be on a better track. Ty earned a 4th place in Utility B with a 192.5, good for 9 OM points and 1 OTCh. point. To me, she had an unremarkable indivual portion in Open B. I was just trying to concentrate on passing and keeping her attitude up. And of course there were stays to be gotten through. We did order V, which meant the down stay first. By golly, she qualified! When the class was over, I did a bit of warm up, just in case. We were indeed called in for a run off, 1st of 3 teams. I'm not crazy about Ty's heeling, because her position is quite different than my previous Flat-Coats. Parts of the runoff were good, but parts were not. I watched only part of the 2nd teams runoff, but know they are a great team. The 3rd team called in had won Utility today with a very high score, so I didn't even watch hers at all, figuring it would be nice. When the judge was getting ready to announce the scores, he said there were a lot of high scores that didn't place. Then said the 3-way runoff was for 3rd. I thought to myself, "Well, dang, we are 5th." I was ecstatic to earn 4th place with our hightest EVER obedience score with a 198.5. We were the only non-Tanbark Golden Retriever in the placements :-). So we picked up 15 more OM points, bringing her total to 105, just over half way to the 200 points needed.

I almost don't want to go back tomorrow. Almost. My big goal for tomorrow? Don't let today's successes mess with my plan. First, we must qualify.

Where I've been and what I've been doing

I haven't posted much lately because of several factors:
  • I borrowed Flat-Coated Retriever Little from her co-owner Helen back in June when she was 9 months old (I wrote a brief paragraph about her in the post about the Maiden Voyage of T3) and trained her for several months, mostly for field, doing e-collar conditioning with her and force fetch. It was a win-win-win: good for me to practice my basics skills, as well as to have an unpolished dog with whom to demo in classes, good for Little because she got lots of training and learned to swim, and good for Helen, because she got a much more trained dog when I returned her in early October.
  • Gryffin bloated not once but twice on July 27, requiring emergency gastroplexy to have his stomach tacked. A silver lining to that terrifying episode is that his internal organs looked to be in good shape - no signs of any tumors, stomach showed no signs of damage from the torsion. I'd never seen a dog bloat before, but had little doubt once it started what it was. I have since seen this difficult to watch video of a dog bloating on YouTube. The dog survives, so please watch it so you can recognize the signs. Time is critical - many, many dogs die because their owners don't know to get them to a vet in time.
  • I went on a 9-day field training trip to Ohio in the travel trailer in late September/early October. Gryff was entered in two back-to-back weekends of Master tests, and Little was entered in her 1st Junior test. Gryff failed the 1st series in the 1st test, but got his 7th MH pass the next weekend in completely miserable conditions, and Little earned her 1st JH pass. My friend Corinne came and stayed with me in the trailer and we had an excellent time training during the in-between week. 
  • I have a new puppy!!! Coastalight Prime Time, AKA Sonic, was born August 14, bred by Wendy Tisdall, who is from Nanaimo, BC in Canada. Training Little right up until I left to pick up Sonic helped me keep my excitement to a dull roar. I haven't had a baby puppy since Gryffin 8 years ago in 2003, nor an 8 week old puppy since Treasure in 1993. Sonic is a complete gem of a puppy, loving training and mostly not too naughty. She's 15 weeks old tomorrow. Sonic and I flew home on the day she turned 8 weeks, and we haven't missed any days of training except when I was away in Lakeland, Florida to do a seminar when she was 10 weeks old. Fortunately, I discovered Pat Nolan's Retriever Training for Puppies website before getting Sonic, and I've done a bunch of little exercises from his videos. This also got me started videoing Sonic's training, and there are now a couple dozen short training videos on YouTube. Look for them on my channel AdeleYunck or search for 'Sonic the FCR'. You can subscribe to the channel, which means you get a notification via email any time I post a new video. I have quite a bit of footage not yet edited and released. I'm trying hard to video her when we start something new, to show the rough edges that usually exist at the beginning. I also just started reading Denise Fenzi's blog about training her new Tervuren puppy Lyra, who looks to be about 2 weeks older than Sonic. It is interesting to see what she is focusing on vs. what I'm focusing on with Sonic.
So that's where I've been and what I've been doing. Training a LOT and loving it like crazy. I really do love puppies and training them.