Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rear Crossing Tunnels

SUMMARY: Trying to fix Boost's problem again.

Boost has never seemed to figure out rear crosses on tunnels. (That's where I send her into a tunnel and cross behind her, so that she needs to come out aware that I have changed sides.) She always turns towards the side I originally started on.

I've tried tackling this before, with a greatly shortened tunnel, running into the rear cross from different angles, tried starting from different distances from the tunnel to give more or less space for me to cross before she went completely in, tried being quiet, tried yelling her name, tried yelling "left" or "right" just so she could take the hint, tried doing exactly the same thing over and over to see whether she'd figure out that when I did XYZ, I always ended up on the opposite side... but no, I could do it 10 times (as an experiment) and every time she turned to the original side. So much for dogs figuring things out by repetition.

This weekend, what I finally hit on that seems to have some response is this: run straight down one side of the tunnel (parallel to the dog as she goes into the tunnel and runs through it), and she turns towards me. Repeat. Run straight down the other side of the tunnel, and she turns towards me. Repeat. NOW try a blatant rear cross, and she catches it. I've tried a few combinations of that sequence, and she seems to get the rear cross by comparison with running straight.

But if I go off and do a sequence of obstacles leading into a rear cross, boom, she's turning the wrong way coming out again.

Will have to research this a bit more. It's just very odd to me. Obviously some cue that I think that she should be getting that she isn't, or doesn't understand what it means, or that I give in different situations that means something different and I don't realize it. Maybe later this week I'll get out the video camera and try taping some sequences.

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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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Friday, December 01, 2006

Much Better Today

SUMMARY: The title says it all.

Yesterday, the merest movement caused intense agony. For example, if I decided that I wanted to move my leg an inch to the right, I braced myself, gritted my teeth, girded my loins, grabbed the leg of my sweatpants to try to move the leg with my arm instead of using the leg itself, moaned or grunted or yelped in pain anyway, then lay back exhausted to decide what I could manage next. You can imagine that getting up to go to the little patient's room was quite an expedition.

Today I'm so much better, much more what I had expected from their descriptions. Knee is a bit sore and stiff, but I can get around, I can, say, roll over on my side with only a little agitation, I can even walk a little distance, cautiously, without a crutch if I need to do challenging things like move liquid from one place to another.

This morning I meandered out into the back yard (yesterday morning I wasn't meandering ANYwhere, thank you very much), traded one crutch for the pooper scooper, ambled slowly around the yard picking up poop, and then played a bit of fetch and did some agility with Tika and Boost.

Now, let's define "doing some agility"--another exciting episode in which I discover that the dogs don't understand what I thought they understood. I lean the crutches on the teeter (it's convenient) and step away a step. I stand facing a tunnel that's 20 feet away from me.

Picture the set-up: teeter is to my right, weaves are ahead of me and to the right of the teeter. Tunnel is U-shaped, one end straight ahead of me, other end 10 feet to its right. Line up dog on my left side. Put my left foot out straight towards the left end of the tunnel, hold my left arm straight toward the left side of the tunnel, face my shoulders and head towards the left end of the tunnel, and say "through."

The dog makes a u-turn in front of me and does the weaves.

Gradually we work our way to where the dog does the right side of the tunnel.

Finally, with patience, the dog does the left side of the tunnel. Lots of excitement and play (well, as much as I can manage without actually moving, protecting my knee all the while) and praise and do it a couple more times for reinforcement.

Turn in the opposite direction. Now the teeter is to my left. There's another u-shaped tunnel, left end directly in front of me and about 20 feet away, right end 10 feet to its right. There's another tunnel whose entry is ahead of me and to the right about 10 feet.

Line up dog on my left side. Aim foot, arm, shoulders, head towards left end of tunnel straight ahead. Say "through." Dog crossed in front of me and goes into the tunnel to my right.

Eventually we get them into the right side of the correct tunnel. And, finally, into the left side of the correct tunnel.

Yow. Something else to work on. Does it never end?

But on a more exciting note, I was sending Boost out through a tunnel and giving her an "out" to weaves, and she was making the entries and staying in! Progress has definitely occurred there.

So, anyway, I'm feeling much better today. Just woozy from the Vicodin, but calm and mostly pain-free. Life is good. Dogs are calmer today, after their exercise and brain work.

Yesterday was filled with gratuitous barking, Boost chewing on the Xmas tree skirt, dogs poking noses into trash cans, all those things that get active dogs turned in to the pound for doing because they're not getting the mental or physical stimulation they need. And I don't think I was out there with them more than 15 minutes max, so it really doesn't take much.

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