Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Vegas!

Vegas had a birthday on Monday! While we definitely celebrated, I'm just very late getting to this post.

Sunday Leo and I had been at a tracking seminar but we got out a bit early and were home in time that I was able to spend it with my girl. We started with our local pet store, Critter Cabana, for some goodies. Vegas gets to pick out her own each year... This year she tried stealing things more than once....and I paid at the register for a few items already "used."
Crunching down on a "stolen" treat.
I had to laugh at the expression on the puppy's face.
One of the Sulcata Tortoises that roams around the store.
The loot!

Then we picked up her boy from home and headed to Sonic for an ice cream.

From there we headed back home only to take a walk to the park down the street from our house, just the two of us. And from there, I got to do a little reflecting, and basically just enjoyed my girl's company. She's such a blessing to me.

This was right as she was finishing a roll in something unidentifiable. lol

My favorite of the day....
A "strong eyed" Dane...?

Someone showed up in a wedding dress and set up a camera and tripod to take pictures. Of the groom? Not sure.
Mild temps for late October so she enjoyed some splashing around and wading in the Willamette River.

We headed home where she got dinner and enjoyed a nice evening on the couch watching movies with the boys.

I'm trying not to make a big deal out of her turning five. It has the potential to stress me out a lot if I think about it too much. Fortunately she's so youthful in her actions, her energy, and her spirit that it's easy to live each day just loving her for who she is and being thankful for the amazing bond we share.

Happy birthday, Vegas Rose. I love you with all my heart and look forward to many more birthdays together.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Clackamas Kennel Club Obedience B Match

Today Clackamas County Kennel Club held an AKC sanctioned B OB match for conformation and obedience. Originally I figured on just bringing Leo since he's entered this week in the Pomeranian specialty. After how well Vegas was working with me at 102 the other day and because she desperately needed to get out of the house, I decided to bring her. I'm so glad I did!
We had a chance to try out Beginner Novice. My biggest concern was really her not being able to sit in the middle of the ring while I walked around it. She held that really well! Her heeling was actually the biggest issue. She mostly forged. Strangely she'd been heeling really well outside the ring. I guess I must have different mannerisms inside the ring that I'll need to identify and work on. Other than that, not sitting on the recall (she went around me and then came to front to sit), and getting up as I walked back to her after the sit for exam, she did better than I expected.

The leashed heeling patter was a heel to a left turn, slow pace change, about turn, fast pace change, right turn, and a halt.
Only four dogs who were in the class would have received qualifying scores. Vegas got third!!!!! Not too darn shabby for a dog whose never taken an obedience class and who just had a quick practice a week ago!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

First Visit to 102

Last Friday night I took Vegas with me to our obedience club facility (102) for the first time. We weren't entered in the match but wanted to go deliver our friend, Lindsay's, collars and watch her practice with her Danes. Let's just say that after leaving Vegas in the truck for 10 minutes while I went in and scoped things out, plus the fact that life has been way too busy lately, she was pretty darn amped up! The biggest thing was her very loud, and wet, panting. Of course she wanted to love all over anyone there and was nearly beside herself. But, we even got asked to be a distraction at one point and went out one door, around, in the other door, and walked across the front of the ring during long downs.

Then Sunday I had reserved time to go work with both dogs. I brought Vegas in first. I decided to focus on heeling patterns around the ring intermixed with some jump work for rally maneuvers and Beginner Novice exercises. I'm really excited to say she was very focused and doing very well. Little sniffing, little distraction and disconnect, and a lot more fun than the last time I tried obedience work with her. I set up my video camera for a good portion of our session and will hopefully get some of that edited out soon and shared.

My favorite part? Attempting a drop on recall and her bounding, exuberant rush to me with the drop onto the elbows, rump in the air, goofiness that is all Vegas. Love that girl!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mt. Bachelor Kennel Club AKC Agility Trial

Last weekend the dogs and I headed out Friday night after dropping the kids off with their dad for Prineville, Oregon and the Mt. Bachelor Kennel Club trial. We'd never been there before and I knew Friday night traffic plus a plan of 3.5 hours or so on the road plus a tiring week... After slogging through East Portland and Gresham, we started to pick up the pace. The route we took was Highway 26 East over Mt. Hood. Sadly we're moving into our "early dark" time of the year so I didn't get to see much around me. It's rare that I go up and over Mt. Hood when there's not a goal of being out in the snow, so I wasn't familiar with the drive. And I'd never been to Prineville. We arrived at our hotel about 9:30 and all was settled, dogs pottied, truck unloaded, and calming down for the night shortly after 10.

We got up and headed off to the fairgrounds with the intention of arriving by 7 am or so. The first dog was to be on the line at 8:30 am. The trial was at Crook County Fairgrounds and the view was simply stunning when we crossed under the arch with wispy clouds and pink and blue skies at sunrise. We got unloaded, set up, and picked up course maps. Another new (to us) judge, Pamela Sturtz, fun courses on the agenda, Leo measured for his permanent height card, and we were ready to go. Saturday we ran small to tall; Sunday tall to small.

It was a little while before Vegas got to run despite the fact that it was a one ring trial so fewer participants. They were running Excellent Standard, Excellent JWW, Excellent Fast, Time-to-Beat, Open Standard, Open JWW, Open Fast, Novice Fast, Novice JWW, then Novice Standard.

I started out on the inside and started to lose Vegas' head right away at to the dog walk for not queuing the jump turns quick enough. It was slight, but scary. Once she was to the dog walk, my plan was to get ahead of her, move out beyond the end and make sure she had plenty of room to turn and dive into the tunnel. The last thing I wanted to was to crowd her making that turn. That worked well so then I needed to get beyond the end of the tunnel to be to the inner/left side of #9. My goal and plan had been to front cross after the teeter but for some reason my brain didn't kick in and I didn't. That's where we fouled up. Because of the sharp turn I then had to make back to lead her through the turn of jumps to the dog walk, I caused a refusal. The rest was just fine except for popping out of the weaves to which there seemed no good reason. Oh well, it was an NQ anyway from the refusal at #12.

JWW was a little tricky but looked fun. I was pleased there was only one tunnel. I set Vegas up and handled from the right to start the course. My plan was to rear cross when she was committed to #5 and then front cross before #8, if I could, or rear cross again after #8 to make the turn to 9 and 10. Then I figured on a rear cross to #11 into the weaves. All was going well and I even got her to the right end of the tunnel which was an easy off course. The #13 jump pointed the dogs right to it but more teams than not avoided that pit fall. Coming out of the tunnel to the #15 triple, she must have not guaged her stride right or something and knocked a bar. That caused me to go off my game and I handled the ending poorly.

We took some walks around the grounds a bit, spent a bit of time napping, and basically just tried to wile away the hours until Leo's runs. It was a very long day and I was glad to head back to the hotel. Sunday we had to pack up and check out of the hotel then headed to the fairgrounds, early again since we were running tall to small. 

So Standard started with a tunnel which meant standing well back of the entrance to give Vegas that nice speed into it. The overlaid circular sequences following the dog walk just meant I had to be on my game, careful not to push or pull too far. My goal was to work from the inside, beat Vegas to the end of the dog walk and be sure to queue the contact command but still move out quick enough to be sure she took the #3 jump instead of the chute. Easy enough - she doesn't like chutes. From the tunnel exit (and yes, I felt her pain on that long-ass tunnel), I wanted to be up toward the jump and pull into to the teeter. After the teeter it was important to use my body and my shoulder to draw her toward the chute versus the line that was set up back to the #3 off course jump. Since she's somewhat slow in the chute I wanted to get out and front cross off the far side of the #9 jump to pull her straight out of the chute and then into a nice line over the jump to the table. Table to the jump and a pull back to the a-frame, easy enough. However there was a void in the corner beyond the a-frame and some dogs crated on the other side of the fencing plus above next to the bleachers. Appealing smells, sounds, and typical dog curiosity meant I wanted to control her descent on the a-frame to ensure contact with the safety zone and then move out far enough to get a good line into the weaves but not over-control. Tricky, tricky. 

But talk about tricky. Rachel and I must have walked the next sequence 25 times. It doesn't look so bad on paper. The sequence comprised of 14-17 looks like a line with some offset jumps, right? Yeah, not so much. Walking it there were umpteen choices and none of them pretty. You had to avoid pushing beyond one jump or into an off course or pulling off the correct obstacle, too. It was a fairly narrow channel of space and almost any handler maneuver could cause a problem. Options considered:
  • Front cross after the weaves, front cross after 15, send over 16 to 17. 
  • Front cross after the weaves, over 14 and push with off side arm to 15 (to avoid the teeter off course), pull to 16 and flip to 17
  • Remain on the left side of 14 to 15 then push to 16 (while trying to avoid #11 as an off course)
  • Remain on the left side of 14 to 15, attempt a front cross to pull to 16, then flip to 17
The list goes on. It was a case of trying to be prepared for anything. Nothing I did in that line changed my plan for the tire. That was my typical flip and send to the final jump. At least Rachel and I knew that if we NQd (because of a mistake in that sequence), it was because the course was really difficult, not something simple we messed up. 

We did it! I was so pleased with my girl. She handled it all and we worked so well as a team. Course yardage was 183; SCT 68; our time 57.49. We earned 10 MACH points!

Jumpers was another loopy course where you had opportunities to get lost or take the wrong "loop." But it looked doable, fun, and smooth. We were really enjoying Pamela's courses. Walking the course my plan was to front cross after #3, rear cross at tunnel, turn over the triple, nail the weaves hard and fast, front cross after the weaves, and run like hell for home. And that's just about what we did. Vegas rocked it - 162 yards, SCT of 46, and we ran it in 40.09. Five more MACH points and another QQ. So proud of my girl. She's so amazing and sometimes I just can't believe what a wonderful partner I was blessed with. 

Our MACH countdown to date is: 12 QQs and 286 points. 

We again had to wait for Leo's run. Eventually I started packing up as much as I could. Once he'd run we were able to get out pretty quick - he was one of the last dogs of the day anyway. On our way out of town we stopped for the dogs' traditional Dairy Queen vanilla. This time was extra special. The gal at the window asked if she could give the dogs a bone. I told her, "No, thank you; the ice cream is for them." We got our order and got on the road. I didn't get it out of the bag until a couple miles down the road. To our surprise....
Bonus! Needless to say, Vegas was a happy pupper. 

Since I was getting to drive home in the daylight but didn't have time to stop since I had just enough time without major traffic delays to get to my boys in Beaverton (without a stop at home first), I was naughty and took some pictures as I drove. Don't worry! I had one hand on the wheel at all times as well as my eyes on the road. I just held the camera and hoped for a good shot. Here's some of the lovely high desert country we drove through. 

I'm a flop at geography so not sure what mountain this is in the background. I can't see the's probably Mt. Hood....? 

I'm continually fascinated by the cool rock structures in my part of the country. Look at this! It almost looks carved as if it were a pole fence. 
And here...the layers.... 
Plateau/flat top.  
And here, the next couple of pictures with burned ground...they were on the left side of the highway. Traveling west that would be...north.  

And this was the right side of the highway....unscorched.  

As soon as I cleared the high desert and headed into the Mt. Hood National Forest, the colors changed. The fir and pine trees came back as did the leafier trees. I was really trying to capture the glory of color but, well, it was darker and I was driving..... Very pretty though.