Saturday, November 13, 2010

Catching Up - A little about a lot

It's a sad thing when I start to type the title of my blog and the same - or something similar - comes up already. Especially when the title is catching up. Electronically I've been notified that I'm a blog slacker. Oops. I vow here  and now to try to be better and at least blog weekly, if for nothing else than to keep up my diatribe of Vegas' activities.

October 30
Our Great Dane group was invited to a local, indoor dog park for their Halloween party to benefit the Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals. A last minute Halloween costume had to suffice for Vegas; Leo's costume never got made. In Bark was kind enough to give us an entire room to let the Danes romp together and, of course, we took part in the other festivities as well. Here are a couple of shots they posted to their Facebook page:
Vegas getting a thorough ear sniff from the owner's GSD
Walking the "runway" during the costume contest
I'll have some video I'll post later to show the Danes all playing together including Vegas actually participating a bit. We had a blast and I hope the donation made to OFOSA helps out. Our group was able to contribute a big box full of items they requested including treats, toys, and washable bedding. 

October 31
On Halloween we had our second ever rally trial. The event was being held at a location we have run agility frequently and, unfortunately, rally and obedience were being held in the barn on the dirt floor. Both the mental adjustment this required for Vegas as well as the abundant smells in the dirt made for an interesting day. Rally was supposed to start at 11:30. My oldest son came with me and helped with the dogs as much as he drove me nuts with impatience. We checked in around 9:50 or so - I got there early on purpose so I could see the Danes and Pomeranians in the conformation rings. When we checked in, the steward gave us our badge and told us they were running on schedule and "it wouldn't be like 4 o'clock when we ran." 

So hours went by as we alternately watched conformation, chatted with people, watched obedience, and worked the dogs on their individual rally moves. Leo's first rally rundown can be viewed here. By the time we got around to it, let's just say I was about to hit the roof, so was my son, and so were my dogs. They were bored, tired, mentally exhausted, and just plain done. Maybe wondering about the significance of the quotes up there.... Well, it was 4:15 when we got our turn in the rally ring. Yeah. 'Nuf said. 

So here's our course and our video:
The course wasn't difficult overall. We are out of practice and Vegas was definitely more interested in sniffing cones, etc. I will never compete in rally again in a dirt barn that's used for horses and so many other events - at least until I have a dog that's training is more rock solid and I'll need some professional guidance before that is likely to happen. 
We did end up qualifying but it's kind of like in CPE when you're allowed to knock a bar in the upper levels in a Standard course, I didn't feel our performance was worthy. The score was 81 - certainly a far cry from our first run back in July, but it serves as our second leg toward our RN. I also entered both dogs into their next rally trials for the second week in December. With two chances Vegas ought to complete her title but more about that then....

November 7
Another venture we've recently started is participation in a drill team. We have gotten together three times; once was just people so we could plan out what we were thinking of doing. Lindsay, as usual, was prepared for us and provided a bit of research and options to discuss. Here are the main organizations: 

After discussing things a bit and getting a feel for where each of us were in training, we felt the best approach would be to work toward an freestyle obedience style and eventually submit to the Canine Freestyle Federation because we can video our final performance for judging. Lots of pros in that plan. 

So after that we met a couple weeks later and did some heeling on both sides, halts, and went over some of the components we'll each need to know. During that meeting we had Lindsay's Dane, Bess, Vegas, and another PDX Danes' member's Dane, Echo. Since that time it appears Echo won't be working with us. We are now two Great Danes, a Bullmastiff, a Tibetan Mastiff, and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Last weekend's meeting was a lot of fun - albeit brain draining and wet toward the end. Lindsay's friend, Rene, offered to choreograph for us which was incredibly nice and sweet. And boy is that girl on it. Already had music for us and 40 counts of eight choreographed. It was fantastic once we all started to understand it. We practiced without dogs, with dogs, and individually on the first eight counts of eight. Our next meeting is not scheduled yet but we plan on working on one section at a time with just a review of the previous ones. Hopefully we'll have video soon!

And that brings me to this weekend...

November 11
I took two days off work. Finally. Finally, finally. Boy was I overdue. So Thursday the dogs and I got up and got ready then went for a little hike. Our idealic little hike didn't start out that way though. This was a place I'd seen driving to one of my son's football games not too far from our house, Parrott Mountain. We arrived and the gate was closed. No good. Across the road was a place to park with a very clear No Trespassing and Violators Will Be Towed sign. No bueno. So off down the road I went and found a large pull-off about a half mile down the road. Unfortunately the road is super narrow and windy so the walk was a bit treacherous. But once we were there, boy were both dogs happy to romp. Here are some pictures. 

The rest of the day was spent running errands and getting ready to leave town early Friday morning for an AKC agility trial at Argus Ranch

November 12 - 13
This weekend we're at an agility trial. Friday was for Excellent classes only; they're not running Fast this weekend. The trial is hosted by Sno King who puts on a great event. The trial is packed with a full 660 runs today. I've never seen the parking lot or barn so full. 

Yesterday we left about 6:15 am and arrived at 9:30. I ended up helping to set up some equipment initially and, in turn, was able to choose a crate space and set up a little bit early. Then I got the dogs out to run about a bit, stretch, potty, and then went back in to hang out a bit until course maps were out. Here is what we were facing yesterday:

We had one judge and two rings plus a lot of dogs to run. Not starting until 1pm meant we were there quite late for an AKC trial. We had about three hours between runs with our JWW course around 3pm and our Standard around 6pm. Jumpers went well. Vegas was running fast, although not her fastest, and we were doing great until the weaves. She nailed the entry but I think she looked up and wasn't sure if that was what I wanted her to do or what. I don't have any video yet this weekend so couldn't tell what I was doing. I'm starting to think though, that the problem lies with me and I need to just tell her to weave and keep going as if she is and stop worrying about it. Even with the weave bobble she was done under time so that's always a good thing to keep in mind. And I continued to push her to run fast all the way through versus just giving up. That's a kudos to me because with these giant breeds, you really have to encourage that speed and never try to work issues and figure you'll get the speed later. I know Vegas knows how to do these things; now it's just a matter of doing it quickly. She's fast for a Dane, too, but we can always use more speed. So no go on JWW yesterday.

Standard was another story. There were two places I was worried about, just a little. The first was the tunnel to dog walk wrap. I really wish AKC had done away with those moves as another concession to large/giant dogs. It is so important for them to properly get their footing from the start of the dog walk. Their leg stance is often right at the width of the walk and stepping up onto it in a hurry without attention to the feet can be truly detrimental. Speaking from experience, Vegas has had three falls off the dog walk in addition to several slips resulting in gashed up inner thighs. And I'm lucky my back didn't break the one time I caught her. 

That said, oh boy did she handle it well. What a girl I have. I was sure to be in place to make sure she came well out of the tunnel before making the 180 to the dog walk and off she went, hitting the end of it with some force - somewhat unlike her. Go Vegas!

The second issue was the weaves. Doggone it they were just out there enough from the dog walk and slightly turned out so the angle presented concentration. I had walked the course with me on the inside but decided right as I was going to walk off the course and get Vegas warmed up and ready to do a front cross at the end of the walk - knowing I would be there ahead of her - and go through the weaves on her right. This also solved another possible groundwork challenge of getting in a front cross at the right spot after the weaves without throwing her off going into the tire. Voila! It worked perfectly. Wow what a run it was. The SCT was 62; she ran in 50.22. I was so, so, so proud of my girl. We finally, finally got our AX; that was the third leg we desperately needed to move out of Excellent A Standard. Whoohoo! And we got a really pretty new title ribbon, too. lol

Saturday, November 13
Today we were running tall to small. But my brain obviously didn't register all of the pieces because we were starting both Excellent Standard and Excellent JWW at the same time - one in each ring - with alternating heights. Crap! That's right; I showed up too late to run Standard. I was so, so, so very bummed - and while I have not completely stopped kicking myself, there is a silver lining. That run today would have been an A again because, duh!, I forgot to fill out a move-up form yesterday! Ugg. Needless to say, I did that today. 

So, we were at Argus for about an hour today - hardly worth hauling anything in after all. We ran JWW about 45 minutes after I arrived and, I'll spare the delay, didn't Q. The run was beautiful. Vegas was fast considering the course setup and some of the challenges. She was really revved up going in. I got her jumping on me and full on jumping up almost like she wanted to jump into my arms. She was being a real goof. The first obstacle was a tunnel followed by a line the depth of the course complete with a triple and a double then another line the width of the course. I sent her into the tunnel and just trusted she'd come out following. She did for sure and I don't know what happened but the she knocked the double. Again, I don't know if it was a misstep or if she got off stride or if I could have turned sooner and by not doing so brought her out too far. Anyway, nonetheless, we kept on moving, just like yesterday, hauling butt. At the end of the "L," she had a 180 then a 90 degree turn back up toward the score table then a 90 degree turn into a 180 back down the line to a tunnel. She did everything else perfectly including the weave entrance. Yardage was 144; SCT was 40; our time was 33 and change. Considering the Dobermans were running it in 25-26, that's not too shabby for a girl that outweighs most of them by about 40 pounds. So Vegas got vanilla ice cream this afternoon and that catches me up through today. Whew!
Tomorrow is another story and that'll have to wait until Monday or so to update. But I'm determined to stay on top of it now. 


  1. Wow, you guys have been busy!

    I'd like to start rally soon, but not until our heeling gets a little better. We probably could Q now, but I'm a perfectionist. At least up to a point.

    Our first agility trial on a dirt floor is two weeks from now. I'm worried about all the horse smells for that, let alone rally. You're braver than I am!

    I saw a little bit about the drill team from Lindsay's blog, and it looks so fun. I love the idea. I wish people around here were more open to things like that, but I'll just be a fan for now.

    I never knew you had a Pomeranian! Do you have a blog about that one, too?

    CONGRATULATIONS on the AX!! That's fantastic. I also really dislike the tunnel to dogwalk 180. Even though Layla isn't as large as Vegas, she's wide and long. She's fallen off the dogwalk a few times too.

    Congratulations also on the JWW course, even if it wasn't a Q. That's a fantastic time for any dog, let alone a Great Dane!

  2. Thanks, Amy! I hear you about the perfectionist thing. That's why our rally run was so disappointing. You guys will do great and I'm sure you could do it now. But I understand on heeling well. At our first trial that's one thing the judge said. He said that just about the only thing that could DQ you in Rally Novice was a tight leash.

    I wouldn't worry a ton about running agility on a dirt surface. Just remember to keep her head and be early with your commands so she doesn't have time to think about going off and sniffing. The speed of agility as compared to rally definitely helps, in my opinion, to keep the focus.

    Thanks for your kind words. After today they definitely help!

  3. Oh, and Amy, yes, my little Pom has his own blog, too. It's Little Leaping Leo (