Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lazy Days

This wraps up one of, if the the, laziest weekends I've ever spent. I'm working on getting over cold #2 of the season and this one has struck my lungs and caused a horrendous cough that's making life no fun. Like usual, the dogs wouldn't let me get away with sleeping in without getting up to put them out around their normal time so both days saw me up and letting them out and serving breakfast around 7 am. From there it was back to bed and restless dogs that clearly needed to get out and do something. I'd had hopes to try to get out yesterday as today was supposed to bring rain and, while very cold, yesterday was to be dry. I just couldn't do it. By today, not doing something wasn't an option. The natives were restless.

We made it to the big park in town around 10:30. This time I wore shoes that were waterproof so I wouldn't feel miserable and be forced to cut our outing short. I decided the dogs and I would get some tracking practice in first. We had originally planned on going out with our friends, Beth and Orra, again but I hadn't felt up to the drive and the extra hour early - and honestly hadn't planned to leave the house at all today. As we all know, plans they do change. The first track I laid was for Leo. We're still working on 5-10-15s in a straight line. I got him out and started to work. He was having a really hard time. He charged to the first article and then just went veering off in a long arc between 5 and 10. I'm still speculating how much of that was goofiness and how much of it was my fault. I remember reading that you should track into the wind. We finished our first track with more than a little help from me, and I laid another track for Vegas. This time I tried to lay it into the wind. She seemed rather clueless and I, more than once, considered letting the dogs romp first and track second. They were both excited and distracted - mostly because we haven't been out of the house as much as they are used to and we hadn't been to the park in quite some time. She, too, required a bit of paw holding for our first track but we got through it.

I put her back in the truck and got Leo out. I had him work her track, all freshly double-laid again. Wouldn't you know it, the little stinker sighted in on every article and basically sight-tracked the thing. Obviously a much quicker method but not our ultimate goal.

Leo put away and third track laid. This time I changed direction again - because the wind did! Boy was this getting complicated. I swapped Leo for Vegas and got to work. She was a bit difficult again and I despaired of her "getting" it. And then she did what I so thoroughly enjoy watching her do in nose work class - she put her nose down, her tail up, and she got to work. For the third stretch from 10-15, she worked beautifully. Yay Vegas!

Of course her time out was over too quick and I put her away to lay Leo's third track. I'm excited to say that he, too, "got" it this time on the third leg. I have to tell a secret though.... I got a little craftier this time around. Last week when picking up the kids from their dad I was wandering Fred Meyer and noticed they had gloves and other winter wear on clearance plus 70% off. I snagged four pair of stretchy knit gloves in forest green and brown. Can you get where I'm going with this one...? You got it. Less ability to site in on the article. Aha! Foiled that little Leo for sure. :) I'd be wearing a pair of green ones with the intention of using them but hoped to get my scent on them first. After his little sighting game of tracking I decided I needed to switch gears. I had been using a white sock and a pair of black and orange leather gloves but they are readily visible on the grass. The green gloves - not so much. His third track was much better!!!

I know by the time I laid Vegas' third track I had spent a lot more time laying track than I had working the dogs but I guess that's just how tracking goes. It was very exciting to see her work it more the third time. We struggled greatly with the wind today, but we had some positive results and I'm learning. That is the exciting part - seeing success and not having my dogs shut down like they lack interest. Leo is sometimes a little too fun-loving and enthusiastic but I won't dampen that. His love of life and his happy spirit are what makes me enjoy and adore him so much. Vegas even when she wasn't working was looking to me for direction. She wasn't shutting down; she just doesn't get it yet. This tells me we need to continue to take it slow but they will find success and ultimately, they will enjoy the work, I believe. Another really cool thing is they're both working out on the line when we get going, too. I just have to remember to hang back and let them work at a distance - something we're so not accustomed to yet.

After we were done with our tracks and everything was picked up, the dogs' harnesses removed, and the truck locked up, we headed over to the dog park for a few. There was only one dog in the large off leash area and two Dobermans in the smaller fenced area. Not sure why they couldn't be out with the rest but it made for pretty boring times and we started to head to the top of the park to instead venture into the woods. A lady came in with her Golden Retriever and Vegas and he took to each other for a few, romping and running. It did my heart good to see her play like that; it's such a rare thing. She really enjoyed playing chase with him and then the cat and mouse of pouncing at each other and whatnot. Shortly thereafter we did head into the woods, an adventure the dogs both adore, and here's a pictorial of our time there.
I'm not sure what this is all about. The last time we wandered the woods it wasn't there. I'm quite certain its man-made...

 Such a good girl, she climbed up here and waited for me to take a picture and give the release command.
 Looking out at the Willamette.
 The city parks department has been at work. This is new, too.

As soon as we got out of the woods and up to the grassy area of the park, Vegas cut loose and did several large, looping laps. She was so silly.

 The stick she wouldn't retrieve behind her.
 The Leo sized stick she did retrieve, and ran around with for a while.
We were home by noon and spent the rest of the day blissfully lazing about, alternating between snoozing and reading a book. The fresh air and romping did the dogs good although Vegas still had a bit of the zoomies tonight with her toy.
And that's that. A weekend under wraps already and heading into a Monday at the start of a very busy week. I'm trying to make up week 6 of the foundation agility class I am teaching by teaching tomorrow night since Leo's session is over and the barn is free. Then Wednesday would be a triple header if I could be in three places at once. Instead of going to the Willamette Valley Great Dane Club meeting or the Sherwood Dog Training Club meeting, we'll be at our fourth week of nose work class. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by. Tuesday evening I'm going to try to get some tracking practice in unless it's too darn wet and maybe, too, work on some nose work and ball exercises with the dogs. With such a long stretch between agility trials I feel like I need to get "on the ball" to keep Vegas limber and moving. Hope y'all have a great week!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nose Work Week 3

Last night was another fun class. I was really glad class was held. The weather forecasters around her had been predicting "Snowpocalypse 2011" for some time and everyone was canceling things left and right for fear of dangerous conditions. Yay for Shelley for not canceling our class. We were all pleased and ended up with conditions being dry and the sky moisture free until around 7:30 pm.

We started off with four finds along a wall and some vending machines in the main area of the armory. There was one odor source on a bicycle, another in the landing slot of a soda dispensing machine, a third on a square pole situated right between the soda machine and the candy machine, and a fourth on the far, outside of the candy machine. Vegas was up last in our running order and, per the norm, sang to us from the truck the entire time. That girl has quite the repertoire in her (possibly increasing) separation anxiety. Fortunately the vocal is nearly the extent of it - no damages other than a bit of extra hair loss and slobber.

When it was our turn, the object that had been more difficult for some of the dogs was the bicycle but she honed in on it fairly quickly. From there she moved down the length of the machines and quickly found the one on the far side of the candy machine.

Our next search was in another hallway/area we hadn't used yet. It was your typical hallway with a laminate floor, quite a few doors running the length of it, a hallway off to the right, and no furniture to break up the odors wafting. One hide was on a metal door to the outside behind the handle. The second was on the frame of a large, floor-to-ceiling window. The third was on the floor right at the juncture of the two hallways. The last was on the door frame of a door several doors down the hall. Vegas found the one on the metal external door first. She then bypassed the window frame one in a quest to move down the hall. After poking her head around and requesting to go on a walkabout in the right hallway, I held her back and she almost immediately found the floor hide. She then made her way back to the original area, checked the doors again, tried to garner attention from everyone else, and then found the one on the window frame. The last find took a bit longer and we had to try a few things including going further down the hall and repeating the "find it" command and gesturing toward the wall. She ended up working her way toward the hidden item, beyond it, back, and then had a little help from Shelley and found it.

Our last activity for the night was to try an unpaired odor test. We used the large room of the armory and set up a huge circle of boxes. One of the boxes held the odor.
Unlike last week where Vegas beelined straight down the boxes and "got it," last night she seemed very nonchalant and uninterested. She quickly took me around the entire circle with nary a glance or sniff at the boxes. In the end she didn't get it and Shelley had to guide us to it (since I didn't know which one held odor either). It was kind of a bummer but she gave us some homework tips to work on helping her find the odor more easily.

Tonight we went for a walk after a stressful day at work. I had really hoped to come home from work and get to play with the dogs in the snow but, per the norm, the weather people got little right about the weather and the smidgen of snow we'd had was already melted. So, brisk walk in the brisk cold was all we got but the dogs enjoyed it and I got a little decompressed. And that's all I can say about that or I'll start steaming up again about work. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Herding, Drill Team, and Tracking - Oh my!

What a weekend! We started out by going to the herding clinic. What a blast! We got to work with goats twice and sheep once, plus I got to work the goats a bit with this cute guy:
I would recommend Brian Abingdon to anyone interested in herding. His laid back, straight-forward, matter of fact attitude makes learning something so foreign so much easier. I mean, let's be honest. You sign a waiver that says if any of the livestock are injured or killed you are responsible for the replacement cost. It's a little scary to think you might be responsible for hurting another animal plus paying for it. Some of them are fairly expensive. Now, granted, Brian's cavalier attitude was kind of humorous but not my own. He calls the animals props. They're props used for us to learn. He'd jokingly lecture to the dog that it was "his goat" - particularly when his BC's were getting a little too pushy with them. And he said that if one gets hurt, it happens and he knows where to get another. Yes, that's reality, but thankfully he wasn't one to over-react which makes going into a gated off space with a Great Dane and three goats a little easier. Here they are:
And here is who I dubbed the ring leader:
He definitely wasn't keen on Vegas and made practicing a bit difficult as he kept breaking from the other two and me. I can say that Vegas was getting the hang of it the second time around and while I felt like I constantly was telling her what to do and gesturing with my arms, she was tuning into me and definitely not off looking for goat poop. After lunch we got to work with these fuzzy fellows:
This time we had the whole arena. Of course my goal would never have been to herd them through the course that was set up - between and around gates and through a Y-chute in the center, we did manage to get them around the arena twice or three times behind the gates.

All in all, it was a very fun time and I look forward to doing it again.

After we got home Saturday we had about 45 minutes before having to load back up and head to the barn to practice with our drill team. I'm excited to say all of us were there this time and we made some progress. It seems like we've had so many ups and downs that cause choreography changes that we haven't really learned what we've done. But this time around we solidified some things and were able to move through the first half or so of the song. We set our next practice for two weeks and in the meantime each need to come up with some ideas for a few 8-counts. Should be fun to watch other groups online. Thank God for YouTube!

Sunday morning we got up and headed to Champoeg Park to meet Bess and Orra. It was clear and sunny, albeit cold. The park was very soggy and made me really wish my hiking boots were more waterproof. Suffice it to say, my plans to stick around for a hike afterward with the dogs changed quickly when my feet got wet right away.

To begin Beth had me lay a track for Orra so it had some time to age. For her I headed out 50 paces, set a flag, paced five more then hung a right and headed 50 paces, stuck a flag, five paces, then turned left for another 50 paces and dropped her article and goodies. It was really cool watching Orra complete her track later - what a champ she is. She hadn't been out in four months but she nailed that puppy like it was nothing. Very cool!

For Vegas, Beth began by laying a 5-10-15 track. She set a flag, went five paces, set a flag and article, paced ten and set an article and flag, paced 15 and placed the flag and article. Each article had a goodie to reward Vegas. Beth was really awesome giving me pointers and telling me exactly what I should do, when to back up and start her again from the previous flag, reminding me to let her lead out on the line, etc. Vegas wasn't as quick to get it, but she did show progress by the third track.

We repeated the steps above two more times on fresh, double-laid tracks and called it good for the day. It was a lot of fun and a very simple way to get started. We discussed getting together this coming weekend, too, on Sunday and she suggested I try to get Vegas out at least two more times to track.

I'm excited to say we went out again tonight. We used the park down the street from our house. Because of the gear and needing to keep the dogs off the grass area while I was laying track, I went ahead and drove down there. I had a pair of gloves and a sock for articles plus dehydrated beef liver and Fido's Best Elk Jerky. Leaving the dogs in the truck I double-laid the first track, repeating what we'd done Saturday with a 5-10-15 pace track. I got Vegas out, brought her to the track, and hooked up her harness. She was kind of spacey. She found the first article and treat then pretty much wandered or stood aimlessly. I got her on it and into it again and we made the second and third articles quickly. I swapped her out for Leo and let him run her track. He was slower to "get it" and I really had to work back to the article to move ahead each time.

I set a laid a new track again and Vegas picked up on it much quicker this time. Her turn was over way too quick and I re-laid the same track again this time for Leo thinking it would be a bit easier for him. We had the same trouble as the first time. As Beth said, "Our dogs have a hard time working independently." She's right; we don't let them very often. It's a relearning process for specific activities and it'll just take time. Leo's turn over, I moved ahead a bit and laid a third track. This time Vegas did well from the first to the second but the third she really was melting down. Perhaps she just felt the need to get out and romp and was too distracted. I'm not sure if it was that or a lack of understanding but I felt her shutting down a bit.

After we were all done and I had picked up the flags and articles, I let the dogs romp around the park. They were thrilled!

And tomorrow we have our third nose work class again! Yeah for a fun dog week. Just need to figure out when to fit another tracking session in....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Little of this, a little of that

Vegas went to the allergist this week and, as a follow-up to my last post, I had asked Dr. Randall about birch. She immediately went and told her staff to add to the custom-made serum for Vegas some additional birch related components to better protect her against it. How cool is that!

We also got additional feedback about what we can do to adjust as need be her serum doses based upon her allergies. For instance, when she was itchy this last Fall, I could have upped what I gave her a bit as well as giving the injections more frequently. Nothing like a little more ammo in my pocket against these darn allergies! It was a good visit and she was happy with how well everything had worked for Vegas.

Last night we had our second nose work class working on detecting birch odor. We were down one student in class and got started a bit quicker, so we managed to squeeze in three searches instead of just two. The first one was held in the wide open space of the armory. Three elements were hidden - one in between two metal lockers on a small edge where they were slightly offset, anther on the floor between two basketballs, and the third on the upright, round pole of a portable basketball hoop.

And here are a few pictures of Vegas searching:

 Once she discovered the treasure there, she kicked the ball promptly out of the way. :-)
After this search we went into a hallway area. The hallway really doubled as another work area and display area. There were a couple of cases with storage, an open shelf with supplies and a large printer on top, and a couple of desk. Nonetheless, it was a smaller space with more nooks and crannies, plus was open on both ends at doorways. We had four finds in here. One was on the floor in a small doorway where the odor was fairly contained; all the dogs had a pretty easy time of that one. The next was under a table attached to a table leg. Another was in the leg space of a metal desk and the last was flat on the shelf under the printer. Interestingly enough, the last one was a bit more difficult for some as the scent was able to drift through the shelf and up the back wall, making its location more difficult to distinguish.


Blogger is being cranky tonight and turning my pictures sideways. After restarting and trying everything including linking from Flickr, I give up and will post more pictures later. I had some great ones of the dog others in class but here you can see a few of Vegas, courtesy of Andrea. She was really "on" last night. She seemed to get that we were there to work and she wasn't nearly as prone to being social. 

The last search of the night included our first unpaired birch. It was simply a row of four flat, white boxes and the last one had a few q-tips with birch odor on them. The goal was to walk the dogs down the line and reward instantaneously when they showed more attention to the last box. We've done so much box work at home I can only figure that's why Vegas "got" that she was to move down the line of boxes and didn't stick her nose in the air to search the room. She did this really well and we moved on to our final search looking for another paired item in the weight room. 

All in all a great night and fun to take pictures and see the dogs get into working. You can really tell when their nose knows and how they engage their minds to figure out the puzzle of "where it is." 

On the agenda for the next fews we have some really fun things. Saturday is an all-day herding clinic at the Three Rivers Working Australian Shepherd facility in Yamhill, OR. The day will start at an unGodly hour since we have to be there by 8am, but it will definitely be a worthwhile experience. The clinician is Brian Abingdon of Abingdon Border Collies and I can't wait. Although I can say I had a moment or three of pause over the last few weeks about being outside all day in February in Oregon. And then I got wise and emailed Sherry for some details and found out what the game plan of the day is. 
We start with the beginner dogs in a section of the indoor arena (when the weather is nicer the beginner dogs are in the round pen), then intermediate dogs (or ones that are ok in a bigger space :-) in the whole indoor arena, then the more advanced dogs that want to run in the outdoor trial arena. (I think the only one outside will be my dog with the cows). Once everyone has one run, we start back with the beginner dogs. Everyone gets at least two runs and three if they stay late enough.
From the clinic, if I get out of there in time, we will be going to our drill team practice. Then, on Sunday we'll be going to Champoeg State Park with our friend, Beth, and her Lab, Orra, to play at tracking! It's a fun-filled, dog-filled, friend-filled weekend and now I just need to kick this stupid cold to the curb so I can fully enjoy it! Pictures - and possibly - video to come of our adventures this weekend. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Irony & Whatnot

Irony of all ironies? The first odor we are learning in our nose work is birch and I just looked up Vegas' allergy results from a bit over a year ago....

The first is from her skin test; the second from the blood work. Either way, there's a degree of allergy there. So, as if I needed to have to worry about that for my girl, I'll be watching her to make sure she doesn't seem itchier while we're taking this class and working with birch. 

On another note, I picked up a training dumb bell today at the dog show to start working with Vegas. Funny enough, she had no problem taking it from me and even taking it the correct way. It was after that she had other ideas.... 

I guess I'll have some other work cut out for me now....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Intro to Odor Class #1

Vegas and I attended our first Intro to Odor class tonight with Shelley Smith. As I was driving home from work tonight and looking forward to the class I realized it would be the first class Vegas has ever taken other than agility. The class is held at an armory which turned out to be a fantastic location. Tons of space, lots of options for hiding the object/odor, and very convenient for me. Our friend, Andrea, and her Bullmastiff, Brody, are in our class, too!

The first scent we teach the dogs to begin to identify is Birch. The whole concept is allowing the dogs to do what comes naturally - to scent things out. Birch is kind of minty smelling and basically we'll spend quite some time on this odor and pairing it with a treat for the dog to find first. For instance, our first find of the night included three metal tins, each magnetized to a different surface, with the birch odor inside and the treat on the outside. The tins had several holes poked in the face so the odor could be detected. It was really interesting to watch the dogs and for Shelley to narrate some of the dogs' actions. Some seemed to constantly put their nose above the source because the surface it was on allowed the scent to drift upward. It was really cool to see how they would eliminate places the odor was not and hone in on where it might be, and especially to see their head whip around when they started to pass it and then caught a whiff.

Vegas was super excited to come inside on her first search. Of course the others in class had attended the previous six weeks so were accustomed to the people and the location. For V it was the first time and she loves people. After she trotted around greeting people and making them laugh, she got to work. Of course she alternated work with social time. It was interesting though, when I could get her to focus and work, she seemed to find the item fairly quickly. And then she went back to trying to visit.

Since the odor is new, the treat was paired with it. For the most part the dogs were probably seeking out the smell of their treat. But, the second they discovered the item they received a ton of praise and plenty of treats with their nose right near the source. This is the beginning of correlating the two together.

Our next search was a doorway search. Instead of heading into the room, the tins were stuck to the lockers in the entryway to the workout room we were in. Even with handlers hanging back in the doorway it was a bit difficult for the dogs to grasp that they weren't to go on into the room and search. Vegas' turn came with quite a bit of commotion with the next class arriving and the next dog barking. She kept trying to go out of the area we were in to see what was going on. And then there was the tail find....

She went from the entryway into the workout room and her tail swooped up along the lockers and sent one of the odor tins flying six or so feet. Everyone got quite a laugh out of that, of course, and it took Shelley several tries to remount the tin to the locker for her to find it. In the end, she was successful in finding all three again despite the level of difficulty in being in an entry way where the odor was allowed to drift and move away from the source so much more easily.

Our instructor was nice enough to give each of us a small, glass vial with a couple of birch scented q-tips so we could practice at home. Hopefully next week we'll begin to see more success and Vegas can settle into the environment and know what is expected.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher AKC Agility - February 2011

This last weekend we attended the Mt. Hood Doberman Pinscher Club AKC agility trial. Only two weeks since the last, it felt like it had been forever. Guess that's the sign of an addict....

Our judges were two we hadn't run under before, Mark Upshaw and Laura A. English. The courses were awesome! Saturday's entry was completely full with 660 runs entered. We arrived around 6:45 am and started to unload. I'd purchased a new crate for Vegas and a cart to haul our stuff this week. The crate was overdue as her previous one had cracks through the tray and was rusted all over from her panic attacks and chewing the bars. Hopefully I can keep her more calm in this one and avoid the destruction. I had always wanted a crate dolly but wasn't willing to pay dog show prices for them. I saw an ad for something last week at Harbor Freight and figured, why not? With a couple of good bungee cords, the cart worked great and saved a lot of strain on my body. Turned out it was great timing as my low back was out Saturday as it was. There were quite a few moments where I wondered if I would be able to even run Vegas.

Before even getting started for the day I took the dogs to Nina's Photography portrait booth for some Valentine's Day shots. They unedited proofs can be viewed here, images 106-161.

So all set up and starting to get my bearings, I was in between the rings chatting with my friend Nancy, a MHDPC member and chief ring steward, and she commented on there being plenty of spots to work. I told her I was going to look at that and figure out where I could work. I told her I was only running two classes and she looked at my sticker and said I was running three. Thank goodness for Nancy; I had forgotten I entered Fast!

Unfortunately they had already walked the course. Fortunately there were still some maps left so I grabbed one and started to make a plan.
As with most things, plans are subject to change. I had taken Vegas to the warm-up jump and gotten her moving, warm, and ready. Then we had a bit to watch others run as Saturday was small to tall. Of course I got other ideas for how to run the course then.
So, in theory, the blue course was good. It would have given us more of a cushion on points and definitely provided better flow. Unfortunately it wasn't to be. I'm learning to trust my gut with what works best for Vegas. On Fast, I should almost always go with the send bonus first if I can. Vegas hits the course for the first time and is totally on fire. Since Fast is always run first in the day, it's a great energy burner and kick start to getting her going. I probably would have had a crazy dog on fire over the first two jumps giving us the momentum to get the send. Oh well, she obviously had fun.

Next up was Standard - albeit several hours later.
I'm never thrilled with starting with a tire. I've learned to work with our lack of a start line stay, but the tire makes working with it difficult as there's so much to go around when running with her. Interestingly enough, I was able to get a few feet with her. I walked the course both on the inside of the dog walk and on the outside.  For most handlers, being on the inside made sense although they were doing a front cross at the end of the dog walk for the #4 jump. However, in my case, I knew I could beat Vegas out of the tunnel. It doesn't really matter in the end. After all, I could beat her to the end of the dog walk, too. I decided to take the outside though and it worked well. Interestingly there was the same pinwheel twice in this course, the only difference starting with a different jump. The next part I had to really think about how to handle was the weave entrance. To make a front cross or not make a front cross? Off side handling or not? I opted for the front cross which gave her an extra yard or so heading into the weaves.

All was going well and we got to the table. At the end of the a-frame a lot of handlers were planning a front cross. I figured I could push and flip to the tunnel. That section was almost our downfall in this course as I almost pushed her off the jump and toward the wrong end of the tunnel. But, it all came together and we finished in 58.45. SCT was 70 seconds. Our placing was 17th out of 19 qualifying 24" dogs.

It wasn't until 4pm or so that we finally ran JWW, but it was another fun course.
On this course I was pretty clear what I wanted to do from the start. It made sense for me to set Vegas up good and far back from the first jump and for me to handle from the inside. I set her up fairly well inside so she could clearly see the #2 jump. That plan also set me up to handle the weaves on the correct side and not push her too far into the finish jump. She nailed her weaves like a champ and we moved on to 4 and 5. I used a rear cross at 6 and kept going. The next question was whether to front cross or rear cross at 11-12. I believe I had hoped to front cross but ended up with a rear into the 12-13 sequence. I had also hoped to get a rear cross in at 16 but ended up on the outside running all the way. Regardless, we pulled that one off, too! 38.05 with 43 SCT. This was our fourth QQ and a total of 15 MACH points for the day. Super proud of my girl and the MACH dream is starting to seem more like a reality. We're now 1/5 of the way to the required QQs and just under 1/7 of the way to the required MACH points. Go, Vegas, go!

Sunday I had a chance to peruse the pictures photographer Joe Camp took from Saturday. Here's what we got:
Check out the muscles in my ripped girl!
I posted this one to Facebook and everyone noticed how concentrated she is. There's a story to that. The 12" dog walk has not always been our friend. Even as is, she is always very deliberate in her footing. I would love to have more speed from her but not at the risk of injury. Early in her training she fell off the dog walk and wasn't able to get back up until after the winter break in our training. A year or so ago she fell twice more, the second  time I was able to catch her. No matter, I love the pictures. Joe does such a fantastic job.

We started earlier on Sunday (Perhaps because of Super Bowl?) and were also running tall to small. Standard was first again and JWW a bit later; they didn't offer Fast.
So I'll just start out by saying, Sunday was just a day not to be. But, we had fun and Vegas ran well. It was one of those days where I should have been at the handler trade-in tent and Vegas should have been exasperated with me. Fortunately she's awesome and the errors were minor enough that she probably hardly knew what happened. For instance, in an effort to avoid pushing her to the wrong end of the tunnel, I pulled her off jump #2. Oops! No matter, we kept on going. After all, why slow her momentum on something that was my fault and the Q was already gone. I am pleased to say she again nailed her weaves. Damn, that girl has made her full 12 weaves every single time in 2011. Amazing. At 9 I planned on rear crossing the teeter but never foresaw Vegas taking off over the #10 to the tire again. I guess it was a lot closer than it looks in the map. So now we have an F on our score sheet and a W. Glad we could keep the scribe busy. :-) The rest of our course we ran fine and she was smiling all the way. Our time was good so no complaints there.

It wasn't too long and we ran JWW.
I had worked the previous, open class with a very similar course. I saw handler after handler after handler attempt a front cross after #2 even with a lead out. It probably worked about 20% of the time. The rest of the time the handlers were way too late with their queue and forward motion (perhaps shooting for a scoop to #3???) and the dog took the #7 double behind them. Fortunately I know my girl and figured it wasn't worth trying the cross even though I could have been in position. After all, who wants to jump in front of a moving train? Jumping in front of a running Great Dane isn't much different! I worked her from the outside with the plan to rear cross at # 5. My plan was then to front cross after #6 but I ended up in a rear cross, I believe. Something fell apart in there and it's a bit of a blur now. I know no bars came down but I want to say I think I caused her to miss the #7 jump. Her weaves were fantastic again, complete with a front cross afterward. I remember pushing through the rest of the course with even more ambition just to make sure I worked it for all it was worth. She did really well; again, the issues were mine.

I had volunteered to work afterward and then we were loaded and out of there before 1pm. We stopped on the way home a few miles down the highway to grab some lunch and I also treated Vegas to one of her favorite post-trial things: vanilla ice cream. Boy does that girl know what's coming when we pull up there! She sure enjoyed her treat - and even shared a bit with Leo (mostly on his head). We came home and unloaded and then I decided to bathe Leo. The fairgrounds were not kind to him what with his coat being so long and it being rainy and muddy. That led to bathing Vegas, too, since she was due. Of course, what's a bath without a silly picture?

We now don't have any agility trials for about five weeks. I'm already going into withdrawals but I know we'll keep busy in the meantime and I'll have lots to blog about. Vegas gets to start her Intro to Odor (nosework) class Wednesday this week and she'll get to go to an all day herding clinic on February 19. Hopefully I'll have some pictures and fun stories to share.