Monday, December 14, 2009

nYAAO! Yet ANother Agility Organization

SUMMARY: In case the umpteen variants currently available aren't enough for you, here's another one coming your way.

Noted agility seminarists Greg Derrett and his significant other, the formerly Bay Area local person Laura Manchester [Derrett], are bringing their new agility organization to the U.S. You can read about it on the UKI (UK Agility International) web site.

That's  in case you aren't already flush with conflicting rules and equipment in these other umpteen agility organizations, almost all of which are available here in profusion although perhaps not in your neighborhood (in alphabetic order):

  • AKC (American Kennel Club's program)
  • ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club's program--rules are what NADAC used to be)
  • CPE (Canine Performance Events)
  • DOCNA (Dogs On Course North America)
  • NADAC (North American Dog Agility Council)
  • TDAA (Teacup Dog Agility Association)
  • UKC (United Kennel Club's program)
  • USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association)
And that's not to mention the Canadian org's if one happens to live in that vicinity. And if you compete internationally, there's the FCI and the IFCS agility venues as well. Eeeegads.

I'm not saying that any existing agility organization is perfect or couldn't use improvement. UKI might be the be-all and end-all of agility that solves every issue that anyone has ever had with agility and people would be willing to drop their lifetime title pursuits in other organizations to start over there. But wait, how about this: Hey, the Bay Team is a big organization with a lot of ideas and experience; maybe we should start our own flavor of agility, because WE know how to DO IT RIGHT!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Fixing Boost's Weaves

SUMMARY: Getting the left-hand entrance.

It dawned on me at the ASCA trial a few weeks back that Boost was getting all of the weaves she entered with a turn to the right but not those that she entered turning left. Training since then has focused on that.

I continued to use my little wire fencing pieces to mark the entrance in most cases, or, if I didn't have those, any other object in the vicinity. As long as something was there, she usually (but not always) made that entry. Sometimes, however, she ran right through the wire fence and seemed to give it no second thought.

A couple of days ago, I noticed that, when doing "left" and "right" when sitting, she turned her head to the right but her whole body to the left. Made me start thinking that perhaps there's something structural or somewhat out of kilter. Yesterday I almost called the vet/chiro up in Lafayette--but I just hate the thought of the 90-minute drive, so I thought I'd wait until after class.

Before class, I set her up with the fence in position and tried several runs with her turning left. She got almost all of them. But, when class started, she just blasted through or around the wire time after time. Instructor N pointed out that she's more hyped up in class than beforehand. Said maybe it could be something physical, but if she can make the turn with the wire there, even though it's not much of a barrier, there's no real good reason why she can't make the turn without it there.

The three things we discussed:
  • If she doesn't make the entry, just stop, give the "uh-oh, too bad, bummer" talk and just walk her off and let her sit out while the next dog runs. We tried that several times, and on the 5th try, I believe, she made the entry (but now she's seen that same entry all those times). The next try, she didn't.
  • Put up a "maze"--basically bits of x-pen or more substantial gates than my little fencing--in places where she's NOT supposed to run, so that if she's blasting through full speed after making the wrong entry, she'll suddenly arrive at a place where she can't get through/over/around. N. said that this has worked for several dogs except one, who figured out that you could skip *two* poles at the beginning and still have it work. So we tried it several times with Boost, and she made a couple of correct entries, and then also skipped two poles. N. did mention that eventually they might figure out to look for the gates up and adjust accordingly. I hate clever dogs.
  • Just picking her up and telling her not to do that. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. After a zillion different strategies for trying to get Tika to quit grabbing my feet in the middle of a course, this is something that I came up with on my own, and that's the trick that finally gave me back the ability to run a full course with her. So today in the yard, I tried a couple of fast, drivey weave entries with the "uh-oh, bummer" strategy, and she missed 3 in a row. Then I picked her up, carried her around for about 10 seconds, saying that I was disappointed in her and she needs to get those weave entries. Set her down on the ground at the beginning of the weaves, and she did them. Then we did more fast drivey entries and she got them all. Hoo-ah. We'll see whether that sticks until tomorrow.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Tika More Titles

SUMMARY: ASCA was a bonanza

I just got around to plugging our ASCA weekend into my database, and discovered that Tika finished a bonanza of ASCA titles. (I've never tracked ASCA separately before, because the only ASCA we had done were dual-sanctioned with NADAC, and NADAC was all that I cared about. So I had to go back through my old premiums (see, saving stuff like this is useful!) to figure out which were ASCA Qs also.)

In one weekend--running all at the Elite level--she finished her Novice Jumpers title, her Open Gamblers title, and her Elite Standard title. Are you impressed, or what?

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Monday, August 06, 2007

ASCA Weekend

SUMMARY: Fun with friends, disaster on course.

Friends and dogs

When I was doing both USDAA and NADAC, I never truly realized how separated the user groups were; I just saw some people sometimes and sometimes I didn't see them. It wasn't until Saturday morning, when I spent the whole time chatting with people I hadn't seen in probably 3 years, that i realized how many people I no longer saw after I stopped doing NADAC/ASCA trials, and then ASCA split off on their own with the old NADAC rules.

Still, there were a lot of people whom I see regularly, and others who apparently know who I am but I hadn't met them yet.

It was a full trial, but only one ring with 5 classes, so only about 70 dogs entered, and a good-enough portion (like me) with 2 dogs, so not that many people. What a sense of comradarie among the ASCA folks! Everyone knows everyone; everyone recognizes everyone else's dogs, too, even though they're mostly all Aussies. And many of the dogs are related, too. I must say, though, that even for me, all the different Aussies are much easier to tell apart than all those black-and-white Border Collies.

Contrary to most USDAA trials--but no surprise--most of the dogs were Aussies, with only a bare sprinkling of Border Collies and a few other random dogs--a lady with bull terriers, a miniature poodle, a couple of small mixed breeds, but otherwise no small dogs and I can't remember that there were any other breeds.

Tika's ups and downs

And contrary to our previous CPE weekend, all of my runs felt like disasters. Tika qualified only 5 out of 10, and in USDAA terms, only 2 would have been Qs. Still, those 2 were very nice--both first places in Standard. Of which I'm particularly proud: Here, she was competing directly against 12 other dogs, and (sorry, unlike most of CPE), there were some very fast, experienced dogs AND handlers competing. The times for some of the runs each time thrilled me.

Tika was a good girl and did everything I told her to--the problem was that my instructions were too often NOT WHAT I MEANT AT ALL. For example, in one jumpers run where I did a rear cross to the right, for some reason I *also* said "right", so she turned MORE right than just for the rear cross, thereby bypassing the next jump and taking one off to the right. Duh.

Gambling an odd way...

But you know what my biggest thrill was? This is kind of dumb, but the gamble on Sunday was quite challenging; only 6 of 30 dogs got it. We didn't get it. (There's a long story there, involving a mis-set timer and having to run the whole opening short story is that I'd have gotten it the *first* time if the timer had been working, and I'm stickin' to that story even though I have no rational way to justify it. :-) ) Anyway, after we failed the gamble, someone who always does very well wandered by and said in a matter-of-fact way, "Well, if Tika didn't get it, I don't see how the rest of us can hope to." That was my thrill! How far we've come, apparently, from way back in the dark ages with Remington and Jake, me hiding in a corner and sobbing my heart out because I'd missed my 30th gamble in a row or something like that and thought I'd never get an Elite or Masters gamble ever in my life.

So there's hope for everyone. :-)

Boost's weekend

Boost was very fast, nice start-line stay, mostly nice contacts although I used the opportunity (thinking of this as a Fun Match/Training Opportunity) to proof her contacts, and she actually moved 3 different times (out of 10 runs that's not bad) so I was able to do something about that.

She knocked bars galore, and I was trying very hard not to call over them. I did remember to set her up 10 feet from the first jump every time, and she in fact never knocked the first bar. We also still have issues with not taking jumps that are in front of her.

I've determined that she has trouble entering weaves when she has to bear left. We tried a couple of those multiple times before getting them. She had no problems with fairly straight or entering when she was bearing right. And that's supposed to be the harder one for dogs to learn! On the left turn, she tends to run past them.

And I found out that, at full speed in full excitement, apparently she won't do a tunnel entry that she's crossing the face of. I sent her back and forth across one tunnel face 6(!) times before she finally went in. And it wasn't a dark tunnel or in the shade. Sooooo more things to work on.

With all of that training in the ring, the bobbles, the knocked bars, and so on, we managed only 2 Qs, but they were again first places out of a good-sized class. So, when we get it together... someday...

ASCA Courses

Saturday's courses for the most part I didn't notice as being a lot more open and flowing than USDAA or CPE; maybe a little (except for novice jumpers, which was wayyyyy open all weekend). Sunday's the standards and elite jumpers were much more open. It was fun. It was particularly fun with Tika, because she's one of the few dogs would could be sent full speed straight ahead and make a 90-degree turn into the weaves and make it. Wooo-hoo! Someday I'll be there with Boost. I hope.


Here are some photos of the site. A friend was taking photos of the dogs all weekend, so hopefully she'll have time to look at them and post them somewhere that i can grab a couple.

Driving towards the trial site, 6:00 a.m. The beginnings of sunrise. Long stretch of road through the countryside. No one else in sight, so I could slow down to take a photo.
The trial site: Back yard of Workin' Paws in hollister. Their house is to the right of the garage. All the homes in the neighborhood seem to have 5+ acres. Their neighbors are very nice to be willing to allow events next door.

The site is cozy enough that I could crate right out of my car. Had all the doors and windows open plus sunshade everywhere on Saturday to deflect the rays. It was still cooler in the back of the van than most places at the trial site, except maybe directly under the one small shade tree. Saturday I had to change into shorts by 11ish (me, the no-shorts lady); on Sunday, the overcast didn't clear until noon, and the rest of the day remained almost chilly when in the shade, although quite toasty in the direct sun around 2:00. Heard on the radio that yesteday was the coolest (bay area) August day in about a dozen years.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Another Bar Knocker

SUMMARY: Boost lays them flat.

We've been working on basic serpentines this week at home. Boost is getting a little better about not running past a jump when approaching from a drastic angle, but she is knocking knocking knocking bars.

In class today, I don't think she had a run where she didn't knock at least one, often 2 or 3 bars (at which point we'd stop and regroup and try again).

Our instructor (Jim this time) had me pace off 12 feet, then 10 feet, back from the first jump to put her into a sit-stay. Nancy (and others) have always said that, for ideal speed over the first obstacle, you want your dog to have two full strides before that first obstacle. I've always just put Boost as far back as I could, my theory being that that would give her time to get the feel of her stride. But she was knocking the first bar today, too. At 12 paced-off feet, Boost threw in a half-stride after two full strides. At 10 feet, she did 2 full strides and didn't knock the first bar.

Now I need to remember that in competition; pace off 10 feet pretty exactly and start her from there.

That doesn't solve the midcourse bar knocking. Some of that was me giving commands over the jumps, which is so frustrating because I thought I had that timing down after working with Tika, who is pretty danged fast around a course. But there's something different in their strides that throws me off with Boost somehow, or maybe I'm too worried about her pulling off the jump, which she still does a LOT because her commitment point is so late.

Well, this weekend at the ASCA trial with (in theory) fast, wide-open courses should be interesting. I'm looking forward to it more and more, in part because work is so stressful the last couple of weeks. Nothing terrible, just deadlines and too much to do.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Today's Briefing

SUMMARY: Upcoming events, rodents, Jake's ghost

Only two weekends to our next actual trial. It's a CPE trial, so I'm hoping that I'll be more relaxed and focused on using it as a training experience with Boost (although CPE doesn't allow training in the ring, there's training and then there's training). On the other hand, I'll also be Big Chief Running Score Table Czar, being the resident expert on CPE scoring, so who knows how relaxed I'll really be. Fortunatly we've got a bunch of people who are good at score table.

Then--I planned my calendar out for this entire year. I was supposed to be doing another CPE trial 2 weeks after that. However, for whatever dumb reason, I missed the fact that the premium was out, and now the trial is full and I can't get in. Have I mentioned before how very much I despise limited trials for exactly that reason? There go my year's plans, down the tubes. If I had been counting on that trial for a specific purpose (as opposed to simply "convenient trial on convenient date", I'd really be floating my begonias. (Whatever THAT means. Sounds distraught, though, doesn't it?)

However, conveniently there's an ASCA trial the same weekend, and closer to home. ASCA agility is now the way NADAC agility was originally. Simple--Standard, Gamblers, Jumpers. And all the usual normal equipment. But I haven't done any of that in so long, that really I can't count it as a weekend for earning legs, because they'll be of pretty much no use to me. But they do allow training in the ring like NADAC did/does. So it's a fun match. A pricey fun match, but a fun match none-the-less.

Tika made it out of Novice to Open and Elite in NADAC, but so few of those were dual-sanctioned with ASCA that in fact according to them she's still in Novice Jumpers and open Gamblers. But apparently I can run her in Elite and they'll just apply any Qs to the levels I'm missing. For me, it wouldn't feel fair towards the other competitors to put her into Novice or Open, so Elite is what I'll do.

Apparently I didn't even bother to register Boost with NADAC or ASCA. So I had to send in her registration to get a number. Get this: It costs only $10 to register a dog. But you have to be a member to register a dog, and the minimum membership fee is $10. So what they're not telling you is that it costs $20 or more to register a dog. It's all in how you phrase it, I guess.

Her, I *will* enter in Novice because that's about where we belong, IMHO!

Even though she seems to be channeling Jake's ghost.

I used to have this old, low-slung, wrap-around-backed chair that was so crappy and ugly that I always had it covered with a throw. I kept it only because the dogs liked it. Jake in particular. One of his big hobbies was digging enthusiastically at the throw cover until he had bunched it up into a useless glob or thrown it off the chair entirely, and then going off on some other urgent chore. I'd put the throw back on. Next time he came by, he'd notice this travesty and do his artistic rendering of a lump of fabric again. This went on several times a day, for years.

When Boost came along and tore the chair into a zillion pieces, I finally got rid of it. Poor Jake, his main hobby out in the trash. I finally got him a nice replacement bed, a soft outer part with a removable inner cushion. In January of this year. Talk about bad timing. Anyway.

The bed has been sitting there. The other dogs have used it on occasion. But over the last couple of weeks, Boost has used it more and more, and Jake's spirit seems to have taken over her brain. (Sounds like a bad horror movie, doesn't it?) I've noticed her on occasion digging and pulling at that center cushion until she gets it out of the bed, and then she goes off on some other mission. So I put it back. Next time I notice, it's out in the middle of the floor again.

It's nice to know that some dog hobbies can be passed along from generation to generation.

I'd like mouse-catching to be one of those things, but apparently catching mice in the house is a lot harder than catching them outside. Outside, you can dig under the compost bin, then push on it until it tips over, then, after spending half an hour eating all the really nummy bits of kitchen waste that were inside the bin, you can actually get at the mice or rats and dispatch them. Not so easy to do with a fridge in the kitchen.

Maybe it was yesterday's weather--very unsummerlike, overcast and gloomy and windy and looking for all the world as if it wanted to rain (apparently did in san francisco & a few other places around the bay)--but the "mouse" that I have had in my kitchen and bedroom was hyperactive all day yesterday. I could hear him digging and chewing and dashing around in cabinets and behind the fridge and under the stove and dammit there was nothing I could do about it. Even saw him dash across the floor several times. Even the dogs were going nuts. They wanted to go into the living room, next to the kitchen, and were poking around eagerly at the couch as if they had seen and/or smelled the furry little beast right there. Boost even stood or lay in the kitchen for about two hours, ALMOST catching him as he scurried out-from-and-back-under. Driving me nuts.

So I finally took the two traps that had previously been sprung but caught nothing, and reset them and placed them more strategically carefully under the sink. I had barely sat down at my computer when i heard one go off. Bingo! I disposed of him in the trash can, sat down at my desk... and the other one went off. Got another one of the little buggers.

It's heartbreaking at the same time as it's a relief to catch them. I don't want or need their diseases and their pee and poop all over my house. But I do really love little furry wee beasties, and opening the cabinet and seeing the little bright black eyes (deceased) and little sweet furry bodies, oh, it tears me up. But catching them live and turning them loose outside isn't going to help me or whoeve else's house I'd put them near.

So I put THAT one in the trash can, along with the trap (I dont' bother trying to separate ex-mice from the traps--they all go to the dump together), went back into the kitchen... and heard one scamper among the items stored under the sink at the SAME TIME as one was gnawing under the cabinet on teh opposite side of the room. This morning, my housemate reported that one ran into his bedroom and back out again right in front of him. Dammit!

Anyway, bought a ton more traps today. Set them all over the place in clever strategic areas, but there doesn't seem to be quite as much hyperactivity in the heat of this sunny summerish day. Still, sat down at my desk, and heard one under the sink go off. Disposed of that one, set another one. Later--heard it go off again. So that's four down and I could've sworn that when I went up to my bedroom to set traps up there, I heard scurrying.

I've never had a mouse problem like this before, and it's a little intimidating. How many of them are there? One female can have up to 10 litters a year with up to a dozen or more babies per litter. Yikes. I might be doomed. We'll see whether I can get 'em all with billions of traps. I don't really want to use poison bait, which seems to be the more effective but scarier method.

And on that note--I'll be off to Wednesday Night 8:15 class shortly. It'll be a quiet night, as our usual instructor Jim is gone (Nancy's taking his place) and three class members--that I know of--are also out of town, including Ash and Luka, who won ALL THREE tournament events at the northwest regional last week. Jim says that he can't remember any dog ever doing that. So when they're back in town, we'll have a big old celebration. It's just amazing to think about how far he's come since he first joined our class as basically a novice, seems like not that long ago, but I guess at least 2 years now. And here the rest of us are, putzing along...

But it's good for a lot of celebrations. I hope he doesn't get tired of it and decide that it's all too easy. Although rumor has it that he might be thinking about a second dog so he can play with the big dogs--

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Monday, September 23, 2002

Title Updates for the boys

Jake has earned his superior gamblers title (S-EGC).
He now needs only 60 standard-leg points for his O-NATCH! We'd be getting there faster if he wasn't popping dogwalks left and right.

I finally went thru the ASCA certificates and figured out where both dogs are now--

Rem is RS-E,GS-E,JS-E
Jake is also RS-E,GS-E,JS-E


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Monday, August 12, 2002

Carson City NADAC/Titles Updates

Backfill: 11/10/02 Dogs had another pretty good weekend this weekend. Both dogs got both gambles (although I must say I thought they were pretty easy compared to many we've been seeing).

Jake missed high in trial by one popped dogwalk, argh. But he now has his S-EGC.

Last time I said how close we were to his O-NATCh, I was actually looking at the points needed for the S-Elite titles. But now that I've got the numbers right--Jake needs only 1 gamble & 5 standard legs for his O-NATCh. Garsh, it's sooo hard to believe! If I had entered him in more standard runs this winter & spring, he'd probably be right in there. :-)

Remington ran fast 5.5 out of 6 runs, despite 98-degree heat in Carson City. Even Qed AND PLACED in both *NADAC* jumpers runs. What a boy! The .5 run was the 3rd run of the day and pretty danged hot--he started out really fast but I screwed up a cross & had to call him off a tunnel he was headed full speed for--he stopped & came back but then just trotted the rest of the course. I guess I don't blame him.

Not only did Rem get both gambles, but he finished 1st and 2nd! (Jake got 1st in both gambles, but I'm starting to expect that of him in NADAC, she says with a wink. )

Have I really improved that much suddenly, or relaxed that much, or have I just hit a flukey run of courses that match my skill level? I guess I just need another 0-qualifier USDAA weekend to bring me back to earth. ...Going to west valley in 2 weeks, so we'll see.

...Hmm, now it occurs to me that Jake must be getting close to his ASCA championship!? I haven't tracked which events were ASCA sanctioned. Hmmmmm..... Something else to plug into the database... We just got so many legs, at least Rem did, before everyone was ASCA sanctioning things, that we're a bit behind the NADAC pace.

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