Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ups and Downs

First the good news... Ribbon did a fantastic job her first weekend out. She passed all four Novice trials. She also won three of her four classes. Her highest score was a 198.5. It was really hot and the days were long. She was a real trooper – which isn't a surprise, given her strong work ethic. We did have a few hiccups along the way. On our first run, during the off lead, something the judge did caught her attention and she lagged quite badly and I gave a second command, and then she recovered nicely and completed her routine with style. Her second trial was her best, she still had a little problem with the end of the heel free routine, but that was the only thing that occurred through the whole routine. On Sunday morning, this was day three in the heat; she did a really nice job. We got heeled into the stewards table on the heel free so she stopped to have a look at the table and then ran to catch up. She also moved on the stand for exam. I also got hit for bumping during my on lead heeling. Which is disappointing since Ribbon never touched me. So I had a bad feeling walking away from that class. However Ribbon did a nice job! Our fourth and final trial of the weekend was under the same judge we had the first time. I was curious to see if Ribbon would have any kind of reaction to her. And in hindsight I should have warmed up my stand for exam, given that she moved during the morning trial. However, I was sort of running between rings with Gali in utility and missed that opportunity. Her heel on leg and figure 8 was really, really good (in fact Ribbon got 4 perfect figure 8's). On the stand she moved ever so slightly, I thought it was more of a move, but on the video she barely moves her foot. However, when I returned to heel position, she stepped forward. So two points lost there. When I released her from the stand she started to move forward but not with me more towards the gate as if she wanted to leave or move away from the judge. I took a moment to call her back to me and asked her to set up into heel position and then heeled towards the set up point for the heel free. As we were moving along together I praised her and got a nice level of intense attention. I felt like we were back together as a team. During the heel free she certainly noticed the judge, but held it together much better with only minor flaws. Her final score for this class was a 195 and she lost 2 marks on the stand, she is right there for another couple of high scores and hopefully a HIT. I have her entered in two more trials in a few weeks and I have a pretty clear picture of what I will be working on.

Oh and on her stays she twice got attacked by a fly (which she really, really hates) and had a dog come to visit her on the down stay, but she remained in position and looked really solid.

Okay, now Mr. Gali – Our first trial was not good – period. He didn't get his second jump, so it was pretty much over before we even started. But I didn't do a very good job over letting it go so the rest of our run suffered. He didn't get his signals either. I don't think the lighting was good for him.

The second trial, I had gotten myself together a little better and was concentrating on each task at hand. I also took some advice from Susie about doing the signal even more away from my body so that he would have a better chance of seeing it. He got his directed jumping, but I held my signal for longer and on the second half I used a verbal command as well. This helped push him towards the jump for sure. It seemed like at one point he almost stopped, figured out where the jump was and then continued on. Our heeling was not our best, Gali missed some sits, but he got his signals and glove and moving stand. So all that was left was the articles exercise. He has always been pretty solid on this exercise so I was feeling pretty good. However, the obedience gods had other plans. As I turned to send Gali to the pile, my foot went underneath the mat and flipped it up, so that it lands on Gali's pasterns. He stopped and didn't know what to do. I didn't want him to worry so I gave him a second command and that was the end of that utility leg – Can you believe it!!!!! His second article was perfect – so good for him!!! I think the judge could have given us a redo, but she didn't. I feel somewhat cursed....

We have one trial on Friday and I have a plan of working him each day and putting the jumps out wider and doing more sequences to give him opportunities to be rewarded during a routine instead of only during training drills. So by 9:30 on Friday he will either have his UD or we will be done – maybe forever maybe just for a few months.

Oh Boy!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bring it on!

Two days to go until Ribbon makes her debut in Novice. She has been working really well and I am so excited to see how she does!!! It is always so fun to show a new dog for the first time. She is entered four times on the weekend. The judging panel is really good, so it will be interesting!

Gali trials in three days, he is doing utility on Sunday (Rally on Saturday). I have him in both trials for utility. I am feeling really confident about showing him this weekend. He has been training beautifully at home.

Here is the update on his eyes. I took him on Tuesday morning and he had some extensive tests. The verdict is that he has iris atrophy (the muscles that dilate and constrict his pupils aren't working as well as they use to) which makes him sensitive to light, plus he does have cataracts in both eyes. The Dr. could see to the back of both eyes. He felt that he didn't have any blind spots but in the center of his eye it would be like looking through the windscreen of your car if it was covered in Vaseline. He sees better at the outer rim of his eyes.

I explained to him what Gali does in obedience and he gave me some tips to help him manage the signals and directed jumping better including wearing contrasting clothing (which other people suggested too). Making the signal a little more methodical will give Gali more time to see it and for his brain to process what it is. The best news is that Dr. Whelan said that "there is no medical reason for him not to compete." – Music to my ears!!!

I have a plan for some black and white clothing for Gali's trials. I trained in the outfit I am going to wear (while his eyes were still under the influence of the drops) and he had no problems at all. I am also going to change into the blouse when I do the match tomorrow to give him another opportunity to get use to the lighting and become accustom to how things will look on Sunday.

Swansea here we come!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Next Step

At Gali's vet visit, she said that he had cataracts in both eyes. I'm not shocked by this, but it still wasn't the news I was hoping for. My next step is take him to an ophthalmologist, his appointment is on Tuesday. I am hoping to find out how much vision he actually has, is it safe for him to be jumping and how the cataracts progress. I have never had a dog with cataracts before, so I have lots to learn. The timing of the appointment is good because on the 27th of May Gali is entered in utility trials. Of course I will pull if the ophthalmologist says he shouldn't be jumping. Knowing that Gali has an eye issue, certainly explains a lot of what has been happening.

My theory is that because our utility trials were so spread out, due to my family situation in last few years. I didn't equate our failures in utility to a health issue, but thought it was a training issue. When I buckled down getting ready for his last trial, over the course of those 11 days there couldn't have been much change in his vision, so I think he adapted to my directed jumping cues. So my plan for getting ready for these trials is to do the same things and also include more signal work in addition to directed jumping.

There is a match the night before the trial and I am going to concentrate on those two exercises to give him an opportunity to become accustom to the lighting. And as always I want him to have fun and feel confident going into the ring.

This Monday we are in a rally trial, and also on the Saturday of next weekend. It will be good to get into the ring to do something different together. Gali and I always enjoy doing rally together!

Ribbon is also entered in the trials on the 26/27th. This will be her debut in Novice. I am really excited about it! We have been working hard on duration exercises and moving between exercises. I think the hardest part about having a new trialling partner is knowing best to warm them up and how to make the most of your time between exercises in the ring. With Ribbon I have been doing a combination of playing with her or heeling between set up points but giving her lots of verbal interaction and both seem to work well. I have a few different games I can play with, so I think I can keep her on track. I have also been working on front, finishes and sit for heeling (when don't you????). Of course because I entered the trial Ribbon has dumped most of her coat, so she is not her fluffy self, but still cute nonetheless.

Lots to do!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Not yet

Well, it wasn't the result that I was hoping for. We didn't pass. We had routine #3, which starts with directed jumping. I thought at least we will find out quickly if all my work will pay off. His go outs were perfectly straight and he turned and sat on a dime. I had bar jump on the left first and he sailed over it – I was feeling pretty good. He took the high jump on the right without hesitation. His articles were very good. The next exercise was moving stand, I think he stopped pretty cleanly, but for some reason on the recall he moved beside me as if he was going to go direct to heel. However, he changed his mind and came back to a perfect front. So this left signals for the end. I was working hard to keep my nerves down, but my hands were shaking quite a bit. He heeled beautifully, including a little woof just to clear the air. On the down signal, my arm didn't feel right, so he didn't drop, but I have to say that he was paying attention. His attitude was great, so I think the signal was off enough to mess him up. He moved forward a step and started to lie down, but then remained standing. And that was the end of my chance to finish my title that day.

I am certainly disappointed, but not discouraged. I would like to get the title; I am the one that needs to be reinforced!! But my friend Victoria said to me this morning – "You have more to be encouraged by then be upset about." She is right.

So... I have put him in two more weekends, Swansea at the end of May and the LOC on June 01. Also I am on my way to vets in a few minutes to get his check up and I am going to ask her to take a look at his eyes, which is something I have been worrying over for the past few months.

Stay tuned

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fell off the wagon

On Thursday morning I woke up with the most horrible headache, I guess it was a migraine. I have never had one before and now I can sympathize with those that suffer from these headaches. I went back to bed and didn't come out into the light until about 3 in the afternoon. Food was of no interest to me. That alone tells you how sick I was!! Even today my head feels bruised. Needless to say Gali didn't get trained.

Yesterday I was at a meeting all day and then went to the match at the trial site after dinner. He did well. He was fantastic on his directed jumping and articles. He was still a little stressed from riding in the car. He doesn't like it much and I didn't have much time to warm him up so his signals were off, but I am not too worried about that.

We are having a match at the training hall tomorrow and once the hall is all set up then I will train him again. I can't see any reason not to go to the trial, so we are.

Wish us luck!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Putting it back together

Yesterday I started to put my other utility exercises back into the mix. But because I still wanted to concentrate on my directed jumping I did that exercise after each of the other exercises. I had the hall set up differently. I had two side- by- side utility ring set ups. One ring had the bar on the left and the other had the high jump on the left. I moved from ring to ring doing exercises in combination. It went something like this:

  1. Articles, directed jumping (including go-outs)
  2. Directed jumping (rewarded some lovely turn and sits on a dime), Signals
  3. Moving Stand, directed jumping (big reward at the end)
  4. Directed Jumping, Signals
  5. Signals and Seek Back

He did really well at everything!! So that is good news. I am still giving a signal only for the jumps and I have to admit that it was hard to keep my mouth shut; I wanted to go back to my old ways as soon as the exercise was back in context.

Today my plan is play around with front, finishes and heeling ('cause he loves those). Also I want to do articles and directed jumping and in another set do signals and directed jumping. I am concerned that once signals are put together he may think about the signal recall during directed jumping. But I also have a fun proofing drill to help with this situation, so that can go on tomorrow's agenda.


Thinking positive!!! Happy Training!!