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30th

Nikita had to do signals right on the first try of each signal before her dinner tonight. She was not at all pleased with the plan. She did her drop and sit the first signals, but the come took two signals. Back to try again. I started getting auto downs again though as soon as I turned to face her. After calmly walking back several times to re stand her she started getting frustrated and trotting off and refusing to come. I had to corral her and take her out back where there is a fence to keep her in. I kept insisting she do the signals correctly the first try though. After getting her out on the back patio she seemed to do better since I was fairly calm about  fixing her mistakes and didn't get all flustered back at her. As soon as she did them right I raced in to dispense her dinner. This is the way I finally got reliable articles out of her, so maybe it will work for signals too.

When we got back from dinner I got Shelby out for some more positive only heeling time. I didn't start with on leash heeling this time. She started a bit skulky, but it wasn't bas at all. Every time her head came up and her steps got springy I dispensed treats and hugs. Most amusing was the fussing noises coming from inside the house. Typically I am used to hearing Kamikaze howl when she knows I'm training and it's not her turn. This time the noises were Sparkle squeaking and batting the blinds because she wanted a turn. I take this as a good sign when the beagle wants to come out and heel. Naturally I obliged Sparkle and she came out next for heeling and stands. She did very well heeling, but it's hard for me to transition my step length and speed to her after heeling with the big dogs. Her stand was once again super solid. No slouching or anything.

Of course, Kamikaze got her turn next. She avoided all bumps at left turns save a small brush of hair against my leg on one of them. I even did off lead heeling in the front yard with wonderful results. I left her in the sit stay and she did great for two minutes. Then the down stay. At  1.5 minutes she started to roll her hip. FINALLY! I got a chance to fuss at her for that and put her back like I left her and start the 3 minute stay over. She didn't roll her hips the second time and did just fine. For my last training of the evening I got Nikita out on in the back yard for signals. She missed the come signal on the first try so we reset the whole exercise and she did it just perfect the next time. Maybe we'll have less and less second chances needed over the next week until it's all done right at first by the end of May.

29th

After work I went home and fed everyone and then immediately started in with obedience practice for all. I started with Kamikaze. We did a whole Novice routine. She looked good and worked with great focus. She's even avoiding the left turn bump better now. Her stays were perfect with still no fidgeting. I even added a line of treats on the ground in front of her to tempt her to sniff. Only one neck stretch and I just made the ugly buzzer noise and that was it for sniffing on the down stay. Sparkle got her turn at a run through and after a bit of a warm up she heeled well and her stand was very nice. I even hovered in her space and step over he and she didn't cower. Hopefully she's ready for that one last passing score at the end of May.

Nikita only did heeling and signals again today. Once again the down and sit signals were pretty good and the come wasn't. We worked on that come signal until we were sick of it and she wasn't getting any better. I ended up pulling out the Flexi leash. I stretched it to it's limit and gave the come signal. When she hesitated or didn't move I was able to yank her off her feet. We had to have this come to reality meeting once for Novice recalls as well. Several reinforcements with the leash attached and she was popping up and trotting in immediately at the come signal. We'll have to work on this several more times I am sure.

I decided to heel some with the retired girl too. Shelby does great with on leash heeling and for some reason freaks out with the leash comes off. So I decided to work it some today with only positive reactions. We started on lead and all was well. Lots of praise and cookies. Took the leash off and started out with slinking dog. Only praise on cookies on my part. She eventually started heeling well and even did signals once just before we went in. I need to do a lot of this positive heeling with her and maybe there's a chance for her again.

Last was Lego's turn. I did enter him in Rally Advanced. So, we worked on some of those signs. He had a great time and looked good working at it too.

28th

I worked on stays bright and early this morning with Kamikaze and Sparkle. I was hoping for an nice energized dog that I could work with on those fidgety stays. Kazee was amazingly focused and never rolled her hip, so I didn't get my chance to stop that behavior. But, she did start the bored sniffing of the ground, so I got to stop that one again. Sparkle's stays were solid as stone. Later in the day I worked with both of the young girls on a quick Novice run through. Both looked good. Then I spent a small window of time practicing drop on recall. It seems to negatively affect Kazee's nice Novice recall when I practice this. I need to be cautious about blowing her beautiful recalls. I am going to cue her that there's to be a drop with the word I use to call her. Hopefully not using the same call command for a fast, direct to front behavior will help her understand.

This afternoon I worked with Nikita on heeling and signals. I am determined to pass that exercise at our show at the end of May. She did her down and sit fine, but seems weaker on the come signal. She either walks in like she's unsure or she just doesn't come. I will concentrate more on fixing this problem. 

27th

I got back from the show rather early today since I didn't stay for conformation. I am heavy with disappointment at the final outcomes from the weekend, but there are many good things to focus on.  On Friday I got there in plenty of time to setup, unload, potty everyone and still have some settled focus time. Nikita started off with not too bad heeling, but a complete defiance on the drop signal. At least she takes any hope out of the question early. She managed to do both articles correctly though. She even retrieved glove #1 as directed. He stand for exam was almost perfect with a bit of spring in her step on the call to heel portion. She did both her go-outs to the #1 glove corner and then seemed confused when nothing was there, so she didn't sit, but just returned to me both times. At lest she went all the way out there. So, the two flunked exercises are the ones I so want to pass in the ring this year. I see I set the proper goals! Kazee was right on Friday. She was focused and ready. I walked into the ring without a fear in the world for the first time ever. Her heeling was just so nice. She bumped me a couple of times on the figure eight on the inside turns, but didn't lag a bit on the outside ones. He stand was solid as stone. Her off lead heeling felt just as nice as on leash. What a great feeling. The recall was just as in the million practices. She raced in, looking like a certain knee smasher coming, and then skidded to a halt in front. Perfect looking finish too. Wow that felt great! I watch the other competitors and there was no competition in her league that day. I felt good going into stays. We've worked a good bit on them and we haven't had stay problems in a long time. The sit went fine. Then the down. I started getting queasy as I watched her sniff the mats in front of her and roll her hips back and forth and back and forth. She was just bored! There was nothing going on anywhere for her to watch. The seconds ticked by. One minute, she's still fidgety, two minutes, please quit licking the mat, two minutes 30, she's thinking about scratching. Two minutes 45, we're gonna make it! Two minutes 55 seconds and she decides to sniff her own butt which 'accidentally' caused her to straighten her legs into an almost sit. OH MAN! we just flunked with less than 5 seconds left on the stay. How bad does that stink?!? The judge walks down the row telling each person who made it. She looks at me, "I'm really sorry about that." I tell her "Me too". I am devastated, but what a great performance for our first time in the ring! First place ended up being a 187.5. Once the scores were posted I saw that Kazee would've had a 193.5. Oh, the shame of it all!

At the hotel, Kamikaze got to practice some nice boring down stays in the hall between buildings. When she sniffed I clapped my hands and the sound echoed through the hall. Her heads shot up and I fussed at her for getting distracted by smells. Nikita got to practice signals, which of course, she does just fine. Nikita starts Saturday like Friday. Some OK heeling followed by no drop signal understanding. She did, however, do the sit and come on signals. She once again passed both articles. The glove that was supposed to be #1 turned into #2 today. Oh well! She did a great stand again though. The first go-out she only went half way and then stopped and came back. The second go-out she went all the way sniffed the ground for her treat and refused to sit. Even with several SIT commands, she just started trotting back. The judge told me to send her over the high jump as she was walking in. I took a big step toward it and said "JUMP". She hesitated and looked at me and I insisted again, so she took the jump on the way back. At least that was something positive. Kazee wasn't quite as focused today, but I was also a bit more apprehensive after yesterday's disappointing fail. It was still a beautiful run save for the sudden onset of no sits on the heeling stops. She had THREE no sits. I have no idea where these came from! She has NEVER failed to sit on a halt. Each one of those is THREE points. I felt the score melting away. With just those points off we were looking at a top score of 191. MAN, that stinks! What a stupid way to lose points!  I was still a bit edgy about stays after Friday. The sit went fine. The down still had me watching fidgety dog, but not as bad as the first day. The Aussie next to her got up and stood after about 20 seconds of the three minutes had gone by. She turned to watch it. "OH please, don't let it wander to her and look like it might be fun to play!" Now I'm watching my dog, who's watching the Aussie. With about a minute left the Aussie starts a few steps toward Kazee. ACK! I can hear the owner next to me pleading with the doggy gods. "PLEASE STOP" she is whispering over and over. The dog does stop and takes a tentative step forward (away from Kazee) and freezes for the remainder of our time. Kazee passed this time! I ended up with a 186, which considering I was dealing with a top score of 191, wasn't bad. That means she could've had a 195 if she'd have just sat on the stops.

Day three. I know Kazee will be getting frustrated with all the crate time by day three. Nikita starts out again with no drop in the signal exercise. We practiced it in the parking lot several times this morning, and it worked fine there. she did sit, and eventually stroll in. For the third day in a row she got both articles correct. I am proud of that. I can hear, in the back of my mind, howling coming from Kazee's crate. Nikita turns the glove #3 into #2, but then does a perfect stand. Her first go-out she only goes half way again. The second one she goes all the way, and mostly straight. It took two sit commands for the sit, but she did this time. Then she even did the jump in the way back. I go back to the crate and Kazee has pulled a piece of the chair (I slid in front of her crate to block her view) bag in the holes of the door and chewed a hole in it. This bodes well, NOT! I get her out and take her outside for some focused obedience work to give her mind something to do. She does great and I seem to fix the bump on the inside turns of the figure 8. Back to her crate for about 15 minutes to wait our turn. When I went to get her out for her last warm-up before the ring she's shredding the crate mat. Man, is this gonna be interesting! She starts off jsut great. Beautiful heeling. Then, on the last halt, all the conformation dogs in front of us just starts barking up a storm and Kazze forgot to sit as she pricks her ear sup to see what all the fuss is about. OK, so hard to fault a youngster for that, it even startled me a bit. The figure 8 was very nice, no bumping. The stand was just perfect. On the way to off lead heeling she starts bouncing, trying to jump in my arms. I try to calmly tell her to settle and it doesn't work as she continues bouncing and spinning. "STOP IT!", I say a little more forcefully and she settles, sort of, into sitting in heel. But it was more like watching the drag racers at the start line as the lights are changing and they are racing their engines and the whole car is rumbling and wiggling. I've got an uneasy feeling about this heeling off leash thing. It started OK though. She was controlling herself, but just barely. It went a bit crazy at the fast, as she couldn't seem to slow back down to normal speed at the right time and kept going about 5 feet ahead. She checked herself and stopped and waited for me to catch up. No second command needed. Amazingly, she finished the pattern just fine. The recall was great. We ended up with a perfect score on that one. After the leash was back on and we were headed out she was no longer controlling herself as she bounced and spun. Unfortunately, since Novice and Utility were the same time, I'd moved Kazee to the end of her class. That left me no time to try and run her some, or something, before stays to calm her down. This is feeling like a disaster waiting to happen now. I am in line for stays, "Settle down, SETTLE!" I'm saying as I rub her ears in a calming manner. The lady next to me in line with a border collie wants to know if she breaks stays. I tell her she never has gotten up or gone to another dog, but then again, she's never been quite like this. I leave her on the sit stay and watch in stunned silence as she "settles" herself into a down just 20 seconds into the sit stay. WHAT WAS THAT? Certainly not what I  was afraid of! After the sits I put her back up in a sit and tell her that was not the exercise I was looking for. Then we leave for the downs. Kazee is most fidgety this time. She's rolling back and forth on her hips constantly. Unfortunately, as she's doing that she she's inching closer and closer to Catherine's IG, Noel. With something like 13 dogs in the stays, there's not much room for fidgeting. Thankfully she's not making eye contact or anything with the toy dog. You can start to see the IG leaning away from her on the down though. I'm personally glad the IG busted already, so if Kazee's rolling gets to her it won't be the downfall of her leg. Kazee makes it through the down stay. So, drat it all, I over did the SETTLE word before stays or she'd have Q'd today too. By all rights she should have gotten her title this weekend. Of all the bloody things to flunk! She would've had a 192 Sunday. If I could take back the no sit on the heeling I'm looking at a 195 again. I will  be fixing the fidgety stays before LCCOC!

24th

I worked with Lego on some Advanced Rally moves. I am mulling the idea of entering him in the LCCOC obedience show at the end of May. He, of course, is perfectly capable of all the moves and even did the off set figure 8 with Caesars as the distractions. The real question is will he behave himself in the ring. I think since I can talk to him constantly he may do OK.

I laid Sparkle a track through the gravel and out in to the road, down the road, and back in to the gravel. She is starting to do the devoid of vegetation tracking better now. It's much slower going than tracking through the grass.

Kamikaze got her bath for the show this weekend. I'm not sure she'll show in conformation since she still has no coat grown back in. She's debuting in Novice obedience though. I have high hopes for her performance there.

21st-evening

I did an entire Novice run through with Kamikaze today. The worst part was her figure eight heeling. We haven't practiced that much and it shows. All in all she did just beautifully. I am hoping for a great performance this weekend for her debut in obedience.

I did set up my dogwalk this evening to work on contact performance with everyone, but particularly Josie. Of course, she has no problem in the universe sticking beautiful contacts at home. How frustrating! I tried to get Sparkle to speed up her dogwalk performance as well, I got some freeze dried beef (compliments of Bernie and Cheryl for Q'ing with him a couple of weeks ago) to encourage some speed. It seemed to help a decent amount. Of course, by the time I trained, she'd be playing all day outside at full tilt after 3 days in the motorhome. I expect she was a bit tired. I can't seem to get her out of a trot when just running around with treats in my hand either.  It was hot too. 

I should have worked with Nikita on utility stuff, but it was just hot, so I gave her a bath instead. I'm not sure which option she'd have chosen given the chance. Neither are on the top of her list.

21st

We are home safely from the 3.5 day USDAA show in Gulfport. I got there Thursday in the late afternoon for a shot at three master classes starting then.

I have procrastinated on writing this entry some as I was/am feeling rather blue about my dog abilities. I've always thought of myself as an above average, maybe even pretty good dog trainer, but after this weekend I've been faced with a different reality. Perhaps I am just as average as they come. Not that average is bad, it's just hard to come to terms with the thought that I wouldn't be any more competitive with an "agility breed" than I am with what I have now. I've always taken solace and pleasure in the thought that if I decided to get an "agility breed" then all these agility people may have to take stock of me in a different type of competitive light. How I've watched these people and their dogs thinking I could train or handle it just as well if not better! It's been a rough couple of days emotionally as I come to terms with my averageness. I will not ask to run another's 'great' dog ever again for sure.

The weekend started fairly well as Jedi had a great run right off the bat. This rarely happens, so I was thrilled. Unfortunately, he ended up a bit over time on the run, but he was focused and listening. Josie even Q'd the first run out. The other runs Thursday night weren't awful either. Josie did the gamble most beautifully, but missed the Aframe contact in the gamble. I really must resolve to work on those contacts more consistently! 

The motorhome stay Thursday night was fine, and me and the kids went to sleep watching Star Trek Nemesis .  Friday Sparkle got to run a couple of times. First thing in the morning was Snooker for her and she took off like lightening. I was thrilled to death with this response! She even started the zoomies and ran a couple of laps. The best part was she did recall after a lap or two and resume agility. We were one obstacle from a Q when time ended, but I was very happy. Her next run was last thing of the day. She was a bit more tired and mostly walked he jumpers course, but it was clean just way over time. Jedi gave it his all in Snooker and got a nice solid Q. Too bad the shelties got better Q's, so no Super Q for him Friday. We also blew his pairs run when he left the start line not listening and I panicked and started shrieking too much. We so almost got through it anyway, but third to last jump I pulled him off trying hard to cue him to turn after it and not take the jump in his path. Josie managed a second place Q in her pairs run though, even with the missed Aframe contact. Jedi did have the best standard run I've gotten out of him in years. I tried hard to focus on cueing direction and holding the hollering down and trusting him to weave and not over handling it. He did a beautiful set of weaves too. His two refusals were both my fault for calling the turn to early and calling him off the jump in front of him. Jedi didn't end up with any Q's on Friday at all. Cheryl joined us in the motorhome Friday night so she could be there for first thing Sat. morning.

Saturday Josie had a good day. I didn't get the gamble or the standard I wanted, but she Q'd in everything else. Including a Super Q that Jedi really needed, but you have to Q to Super Q, and I miss cued him at a jump in the closing to blow his chances. I didn't realize it until I got home, but that pairs leg on Saturday with Josie gives her her Relay Champion title. Jedi so almost got a Pairs leg again. He had a refusal at the weaves, so when I spun him around to weave I ended up on the side I didn't want to be on, and I couldn't stop him from taking the nasty off course jump. Sparkle ran pairs with Brassy the beagle, and we were once again clean in that run, but over time. Sparkle was walking a lot of it and we had to restart the weaves, but she did do the Aframe without a refusal at all. I was happy with that. It was the only time I asked her to do an Aframe all weekend. Jumpers was slow and she got spooked by a blowing plastic bag ring side. I had to pick her up.

Sunday was the worst I guess. But I suppose we were all tired. Jedi did have a solid Q in snooker again, but again those shelties did it better. He got 4th. Josie took an off course in snooker in the closing. She made a valiant effort at the gamble and I was just slow getting where I needed to be to cue the last couple of jumps in the gamble. She walked jumpers most unenthusiastically. Sparkle was jazzed for jumpers I borrowed some of Elaine's beagle treats and Sparkle loved them. She shot of the start line in jumpers and ran fast, but didn't turn into the tunnel. She started lapping the ring, but she seemed focused on the back area. I did get her back for the tunnel and a loop of jumps, but once we aimed at the back again she took off. I was thrilled to see the fast beagle, but she wasn't coming back this time. It turns out a lady in her van was feeding her dogs in the van just outside the ring gates of the starters ring. I mean she was pouring food in bowls! Well, that was too much for Sparkle and she left the ring. Luckily there were people out there and they bent down to stop her and she came back to me as I slipped out of the gates. Too bad she remembered that experience for her snooker run. We got the first red and half of number 6 and she started lapping again focused on the back. I got her back and she took half of 7 instead of the other half of 6. And off she went. I got her to run towards the exit (front of ring) with me and take jumps in her path on the way out. Disappointing in some aspects, but I'm thrilled with her having fun and lapping. I am thinking now I wrote the goal for the wrong title for Sparkle. I choose to aim for the USDAA novice jumpers title because I was concerned with weaves. Seeing as how weaves haven't been an issue really, but course time has, I should have aimed for the AKC jumpers title (that she already has).

17th-Happy Birthday Kamikaze

It's hard to believe, but Kamikaze is one year old today. There are no more 'puppies' at my house now.

15th

I did a utility run through with Nikita this afternoon since she's showing the last weekend of the month. She is perfectly capable of doing all the exercises now very well. It's a matter of can she do them ALL right on the same day. She was a bit uncertain on her articles this time. She'd pick up the right one and then carry it a bit and put it back down. Her signals required two signals for each position instead of one. Her go outs were straight and happy. She even did the jump the first time. The second time she jumped as required, but for some reason thought she was wrong and didn't return to me after the jump. Don't know what that was all about. All in all it was an OK session.

The vari kennel I bought off ebay fro Cheryl arrived this afternoon. I clorox wiped it down and put it in the motorhome for the trip to Gulfport this weekend. Cheryl's staying with me for a couple of nights.

14th

I did the motorhome checkup this afternoon. The vehicle starts and runs fine. The cabin battery is functioning. The air conditioner works. I vacuumed it out and cleaned the counter.  Now I just need to pack it up.

This evening was weave pole practice for everyone. I got out all 12 since Jedi needed to run through them a couple of times. I started with only 6 though, so Kamikaze could do a refresher. She did them off lead the first time, but was looking at me and not driving, so I got out her agility leash to attach to her. She is still doing better with driving and footwork with the leash as a mild restraint to keep her from over stepping the gap between the poles. She is so about to bust out of her unsure period into the "I GOT IT" phase. Her entrances were close to perfect. I think she only hit the wrong entrance once. I added the other poles and got Jedi out. He was less than enthused with this idea. It took some positive talk and treats to get him to play with me. After the first time through with great treats and pats he decided it wasn't such a bad game. He can weave just fine! I am resolved to NOT baby his weaves this weekend ,except maybe in pairs. He either does them right the first time or we take the refusal and try again. I only put him through 3 or 4 times so as not to wear his patience thin.

Sparkle was next with all 12 poles up. She does 12 fine, I just tried to increase her speed some by getting a little ahead and cheering some. It seemed to help a bit. Josie is a weave demon here at home, and is usually steady at shows too. She raced through them a couple of times for her treats. Lego wanted his share, but treats aren't free, so out he went to the poles. I so wish the agility crew could see this dog weave like he is capable of doing. Josie may be my most consistent weaver, but Lego is by far my best weaving dog. His biggest issue is usually starting them properly, and then at shows sometimes it's hard for him to keep his concentration about him to keep the rhythm. I am amazed every time I see him race through the poles at the speed of sound here at home. I am floored that I could even teach that to a beagle.

13th

This weekend was our LCCOC agility trial. We ran Excellent only people on Friday afternoon. This means Lego got one run Friday, in jumpers. He actually ran fairly well and looked like an agility dog with a bit of poor steering, and a nosey nose (imagine that). After doing the twisty turns at the beginning well and even weaving the first try, he had  to run around behind the tunnel close to the edge of the ring and perch up on the raffle table to see if there were any interesting things he wanted to buy tickets for. The photographer got a shot of him doing this, unfortunately he is blurry as the camera was aimed at the tunnel exit he should have been flying out of. It was still an amusing shot though. 

We were all ecstatic that a cool front blew through Friday night. The show sight was just plain HOT on Friday. It was most pleasant to show there on Saturday and Sunday though. Lego started the day with another really OK Excellent jumpers run. He only made a brief stop at the raffle table to check one last time on the items there. The very next class was his Open Standard run. The course looked fairly doable for him. I always get myself in trouble when I say that though. He was wild, even exiting the ring once for what seemed like forever (but didn't get whistled off, so couldn't have been too long). This ring seemed to be much more smelly than jumpers. There was one spot around the table that he just couldn't leave alone. We did make it around the course, and he hit all his contacts, so there were some good points. Sparkle ran her Novice Standard course next. She got 3/4 of the way up the Aframe (YEAH!) and then decided it was just too hard (WHHAAA!) and turned back. Darn it! I was so ready to race for the exit when she finished the Aframe and get her some great treats for doing it in the ring. OH well! She just wasn't the same perky dog after she bailed the aframe attempt. She walked through a tunnel and strolled past the teeter and kept on going. Strolled all the way to the exit, ignoring me. I stayed put close to the teeter and table and kept happily calling her name. Just at the exit she turned back and looked at me. "Come table!" (this is her favorite obstacle as it dispenses treats) She trotted back to me and hopped on the table and dropped into her default down and started wagging her tail. "What a good beagle!" I picked her up and we left for treats. So, she didn't get away with giving up on agility and I was able to treat her for coming back and doing something rather than just coming back to me. Jumpers went fairly well, but she still seemed disturbed by her failure in Standard. She was very slow and had to go check on the judge once and be sure he wasn't EVIL. We finished together and raced for the treats.

Sunday was scheduled to be interesting. Cheryl had to play bells at church that morning, so she dropped her kids off at the show to be in my care until she could return. This involved me actually running Bernie in Excellent Standard first thing in the morning. Bernie has run for me several times at class and even once in Pairs. He usually does OK with me as long as he's sure I have control of the treats. When I went to get him out of his crate he shot past me to find his mom. "HEY! Bern, come here." He stopped and wandered back to me. I got some treats off his crate that Cheryl left and waved them at him. He was still sure his mother was there somewhere and he wanted to find her. Even waiting our turn outside the ring with me shoving treats at him he was scanning the audience and people close by. "HELLO Bern, you're with me, see TREATS." By our turn he was just deciding that mom wasn't coming to rescue him and I'd just have to do. The course started Tunnel, jump, Frame, tunnel. When Bern came out of the tunnel I got his head and aimed him over the jump. I forgot about the mack truck turning temporarily though, and he didn't cue that he needed to straighten out his stride towards the Aframe well at all. I had to adjust my handling and run on the other side of the jump than planned to block the off course jump he was striding to. I had to dart behind him at the Aframe entrance to straighten him up enough to get a non-dangerous approach angle as he started up. OK, I just broke rule number one with Bernie, NO back crosses, but it was still working and we got it together as he came over the Aframe. I got him in the right end of tunnel after Aframe. The tire jump was next and coming out of that tunnel I knew Bernie would be wide and I'd seen him 'never see' the tire jump earlier in the trial with mom running him. I got his head out of the tunnel and started pulling him hard towards me. It worked and we got the tire jump, but now we are not at all lined up for a straight entry onto the dogwalk. I had to do another vicious cut behind him as he ran to whip his head around toward the dogwalk just at the entry so he could enter it safely. Then rule number one was out the window again as I back crossed the dogwalk while he was  headed up. It all worked out OK though and I felt like I was reactively running him and not planning well at all. It's hard to remember just how big he strides when I don't run him much. The EVIL weaves were after the dogwalk. There was lots of dead space to get his head and drop him into low gear for weaving, so there was a chance. The dead space, though, allowed him time to start the mother hunt again as we were on the other side of the ring where many spectators were. When I said weave he didn't even acknowledge that those things sticking out of the ground were an obstacle that he'd ever seen. I called him back for try number two, and three and four. I mean I couldn't even get him to walk between pole one and two. He was head up and looking. We tried one more time and just went on. He hadn't weaved for mom yet this weekend, so she wouldn't be upset about no weaves for me anyway. The rest of the course went OK, but somehow I managed to lose contact with him after the table and sent him racing past a jump. Still not sure what happened there. I did get him lined up and sped up for the broad jump well though and he didn't knock any bars with me. I have had a tendency with him in the past to go just a bit too fast and he smashes jumps trying to keep up with me. Overall, it wasn't bad and I took him back to his crate for the really good treats.

Lego was in the next class, Excellent jumpers. Once again we had a really nice run. He was even focused at the start. No big run offs this time, but a couple of bad handler cues. I had time to take everyone out to potty while they finished up excellent jumpers. All my guys, and Cheryl's got some time outside. Grace didn't even grumble at me for putting the leash on or taking it off. She played with her 'Frisbee type toy' with me and tugged and everything. Next run was Lego in Open Standard. Once again a doable course. It started like Bernie's Excellent standard run. I got Lego over the Aframe, but in the wrong end of the next tunnel. He raced circles around the tunnel a few times before I got him in the right end. hen through the tire and over the dogwalk. At least he didn't race out of the ring here as he did yesterday. I got him to do the weave poles, but it wasn't pretty. Then jump and off towards the teeter (and that same smelly spot from yesterday). He ended up in the smelly spot. I had to almost walk on top of him to get his attention. We finished up well, but how disappointing after a nice focused jumpers run. 

I walked the Open Jumpers course for Bernie since Cheryl had not reappeared yet. As the time grew closer I tried her cell. No answer. I guess she's still stuck playing. I kept the phone on me. Just as Open jumpers was starting she called to say she was on the way. "Will I have time to see a course map?", she asked. "You won't even have time to get here!", I tell her. I was right and Bernie was mine again. This time out of the crate he had given up on mom, as I'd been the guardian and treat dispenser for 5 hours. He was with me from the start. No looking around this time. We were off and running well. I was sure there weren't successful weave poles in our future, as they were set up after a straight away, there wasn't going to be much chance for low gear before the entrance. And his non-attempt in standard was weighing on my mind too. As we raced towards the weaves, some strange rift in thought opened in Bernie's mind and he veered towards the finish jump on his right (away from me) instead of keeping his forward momentum. I stopped instantly where I was "BER-NIE!! COME" I managed to just stop him from taking the off course jump. He does a 180 to check in with me. "Let's go w-e-a-v-e", as I start the slow duck-like walk forward at the weaves he lines up with me and starts through pole one and two. I was careful to be right by him, but not ahead, and slinky walk quietly at his side while he concentrated. He was doing them rather fast, for Bernie, and I knew from experience he  might start to lose it at pole 10 and try to pop out. He was off balance, and losing his rhythm at 10 just as in practice I stomped and leaned at him to force a stutter step through 10 and 11 to avoid stepping on me and then I dropped my shoulder  and pivoted to him to call him through 11 and 12. It worked and we were off again with a clean set of weaves behind us. There was this horrible (horrible if you turn like a truck) stair step like thing after the weaves (jump, hard left, jump, hard right, jump). I did the slice behind the dog as he hits the ground type back cross to avoid any bar knocking, but still pull his head off the jump in front of his face. There was some strong "BERN" hollering, but we got through it and all those bars stayed up. "OH CRAP! I have a Q on the line now ." I started thinking of the last jump, a double, "keep your momentum up or he'll take that bar" was my only thought as we dashed to the finish. He cleared the double and just kept going. ACK! "BER-NIE!" He stopped at the ring gate thankfully and I got a hand full of hair until I could get the leash on. Then he drug me to the crate for his reward. I was singing his praises and giving him some of everything there was. I put him up and went to check the score sheet for myself. "Did I really just Q with someone else's dog?" While I was there I picked up another friend's blue ribbon to deposit on her crates. Cheryl walked in as I was holding the ribbon "this is NOT yours", I say as her eyes started to light up, "oh", she says. "But, you got one just like it!" I say and she gawks momentarily at me. "He weaved?", she blurts out. "Not just weaved, but got a perfect score!" She was so excited she whipped out the cell phone to call hubby and tell him. Her blog has a picture of me and Bernie with the ribbon. (see April 13th)

Sparkle's Novice standard course once again had Aframe as the third obstacle. After yesterday's Aframe attempt, but quitting at the almost point, I was sure that wasn't happening. She did the tunnel, jump part and I said "Frame" she aimed at it but veered at the last second. I did something I usually don't do with her because she veered, but didn't start walking off. I called her to me and gave the Aframe one more try. She started up it with a large thrust from the rear legs. I was careful this time not to get out of her sight on the other side, but stay beside her as she progressed. She made it up and over and I was singing her praises. I hadn't planned this from the start, but I decided to use this opportunity to treat her immediately for the Aframe performance. I was more interested in having the happy running dog in jumpers later than risking her being upset by some bad performance. So after she came down I picked her up telling her good beagles get good treats. We went straight to the crates for the good stuff. I made it back to see Cheryl and Grace run. Grace is much better about running and not herding mom. She still doesn't weave and Cheryl didn't push it, but she did all the contact obstacles just fine, which I think was one of the goals. Novice jumpers was next. Sparkle was engaged at the start and we took off at on OK clip, for Sparkle. She slowed some as the course went though. We ended up with one refusal at a jump where she tried to go wide and then sniffed the number instead of jumping. She finished fairly strong and I felt like even if we were a bit over time it wouldn't be more than the 10 seconds she was allowed after that refusal. I was right! She was only 5 seconds over, so she Q'd with a second place. That gives her her first agility title!

10th

I worked some more on Sparkle's concrete tracking skills today. I laid a track through the grass, down a gravel drive, out in the road and down the road, up another gravel drive and into the grass again. It wasn't very long, but included turns on gravel and concrete. I dropped miniscule treat nibblets on the gravel and concrete every five to eight steps. I also only aged it about 10 minutes. Much to my delight I witnessed a truck drive down the road after I'd laid the track. Perfect! Not too much traffic, but at least one vehicle. Sparkle was much improved this time. She actually sniffed her way around on the concrete instead of trying to go straight across it. She overshot both the concrete turns a bit, but did recover. She got about half the treat nibblets laid down, so she was actually trying to track and not hunt for treats. With that great shot of confidence, I laid Kamikaze a track. I am determined to figure her body posture out! She doesn't track like anyone else I've trained to track and I'm struggling with telling when she's tracking and when she's goofing around. Hers was thirty minutes old, three turns, all through the grass except for crossing a gravel drive. She started OK, head down and everything. Then after about 20 feet her head popped up and she looked around and came back to me. I put her on the start flag again. Same result. This happened several times before she committed in her mind that she was right. We made across the road without difficulty. At the first turn she immediately turned her body in the right direction and took a couple of steps before lifting her head and second guessing. She danced around at the turn for awhile with her head up. (those who saw Lego track back in the beginning, picture that kind of behavior at turns with her too) She finally committed to the right direction and started off again. The second turn seemed very similar. She turned correctly at first and then danced a bit. This time there was less dancing and she got on with it pretty fast. The third turn was almost perfect, but she could smell the glove at that point. She flopped on the glove with such exuberance! I need to watch her carefully just before the dancing happens now. It seems that she indicates the turn correctly just before goofing around. I seem to remember this behavior last weekend when Cheryl laid us a track too.

I met a guy selling a 36" wire crate on Craigslist this evening before obedience class. I arranged to meet him at a grocery store parking lot figuring there'd be plenty of people around. There were more than plenty of people! He was, thankfully, perfectly normal. About my age, had wife and little house dog in truck with him. I bought his wire crate and we said a mutual thanks and went our separate ways. Then off to obedience class. Kamikaze is doing so well in her class. I feel like she is very prepared for her debut at the end of the month. Sparkle got to practice stays, recalls, and figure eights. She is doing much better on figure eights! I only had two people show up for my 8 pm class, so I was done by 8:30.

Tomorrow afternoon starts the LCCOC AKC agility show. Lego and Sparkle are running. 

9th

I got a great shot of Kazee jumping in the backyard. She looks so happy too!

8th

I did some obedience work with everyone today. I started with Nikita. All I did with her was signals. She has this bad habit now of dropping into a down as soon as I turn towards her. It took about 12 tries to get her to wait on the signals before dropping. The rest of it went fine. I got out Shelby's articles a put down three metal to work with Lego. The first time out he brought back the right one. The second time was the standard 'grab one and race back for a treat' game.  I politely put it back with the other two and sent him again. He did OK the third time. Then I laid out 4 leather ones.  He got the right one the first time. Then he started getting irritated with the game and didn't want to play anymore. I made him do that one more time. It was painful, but he finally picked it up. I decided to see how Sparkle would do with articles. She sent to the two leather ones fine. Of, course she had no idea what to do. I went out and encouraged her to pick up the scented one. No WAY was she picking it up. I picked it up and held it out and she took it and as I trotted backwards she brought it to me. We tried the same with two metal. " If you think I'm holding metal in my mouth, you're crazy!" was Sparkle's response. I put it in her mouth and told her to hold it. She did hold it some what reluctantly, and she even brought it a couple of steps in to me.

I took Kamikaze outside and we started out of sight stays. I left her in a stay and walked out like a Novice stay. Then after 30 seconds I stepped sideways until I was out of her view. I counted to 5 and stepped back into view. I gradually increased the time out of sight until she managed a 45 second out of sight sit and down stay. That seemed like plenty for her first try at it. Lego came out and we worked on signals. He's good at the down signal, but weak on sit and come. He gets weaker on those the farther away I am. He needs signal refresher words right now. Then I briefly worked the moving stand and call to heel exercises. It's starting to get pretty warm here for any long outdoor training sessions during daylight hours.

 

7th

I worked some on Sparkle's concrete tracking skills. It didn't go very well at first. She doesn't seem to understand that the game is the same no matter the surface. She got frustrated some and tried to give up. I then laid a track that went into the road and down the road, but I added a miniscule treat every 5-6 steps to encourage her down the road. That seemed to help a lot.

I also finally found the time and motivation to repair my tire jump that Kamikaze tore up as a puppy. Since I was working on it I also decided to shrink the diameter of the tire. USDAA requires a much smaller tire than AKC. I originally built it as sort of an in-between size. I decided to make it closer to USDAA size so Kamikaze wouldn't be shocked by how small the tire is in that venue. It took surprisingly little time to get it fixed up and ready to use. When it was re-hung I sent Kazee through it several times. The first few times she struggled to grasp the smaller tire concept as she jump between the tire and the frame or went under the tire. She caught on quickly and was purposefully aiming her body for the center of the tire. I slowly raised the height up to 24 inches and she continued to understand to aim at the center. I practiced Sparkle some on the tire too since she has more of a tendency to run under or around it than she does other jumps.

On the way to Kazee's conformation class, I took Lego, Sparkle and her to the agility field. It was a 'course night'. That meant there'd be a whole course set up to run instead of just exercises. I was early enough out there to be the only one there for about 15-20 minutes. That gave me a perfect opportunity to run Lego on the course without other dogs around. I left him in his stay at the start. When I said 'OK' he took off over the jump and straight past me. It was eerily similar to the last couple of shows. I was thrilled! I finally can nail him for this behavior. Maybe this will help me fix him in the ring. I snatched a knot on his head for ignoring the task at hand. He then ran the course perfectly, weaves and all, twice. I tried Sparkle next. She started out a bit faster than usual, but had slowed significantly by obstacle 12-13. Ok, so she'd been busy running around all day, and was likely a bit tired. She did, however do all the obstacles without refusals, including the Aframe. She did her 12 weaves just fine too. She never tried to run off either. She got good treats and one more try at it to see if I could speed her up. No luck there. I still got pokey walking near the end. She still did it all again though. Kazee was next. Since 12 weaves were obstacle number two, I kept the leash on her for the start. She weaves better at this point if I have a bit of backward pressure on her to keep her from over pushing her stride and missing a pole. She did jump, weave with gusto. She even hit the entry correctly. She was one stepping the poles and didn't show signs of quitting in the middle. She did all 12 straight line poles like a pro. I stopped her and gave her a treat and took the leash off. She took the next jump and then cut behind me to the Aframe. (oops) Did I mention she's a contact 'sucker'. I called her back and we tried again from the weave pole exit. She did just great until obstacle 15 where she was supposed to do a 180  into the chute. There was a stray (extra) Aframe off the course, but in eye sight after #15. I couldn't call her off. She did it and then came back to finish the course just fine. I was proud of her dogwalk performance too. She stutter-stepped the up ramp a bit to be sure her footing was good, but didn't hesitate to run across it after that. The stutter is fine with me as it ensures she hits the contact on the up side. I gave her treats and put her back at the start line for another go at it. The weaves weren't as good the second time, but no off courses this time. "GOOD DOG!" I then worked on weaves with her a bit before heading to conformation class.

I was a bit early for conformation class. I asked the teacher to do a utility stand for exam on Lego. I'd about given up on him ever showing in utility because of the durn stand for exam. He freaks when some stranger hovers over him to pet him. He's been doing much better lately with people, so I gave it a whirl. He was still freaked, but didn't seem to shake as bad as the last time I remember trying it with him. Maybe I need to start training articles more intently with him. Kazee did great in conformation class. If her handler can remember to walk her in after the gaiting she stacks herself great.

Oh yes! Almost forgot. Kazee has mastered the art of jumping in my arms on cue finally. It took me months to get her to understand that one. It's our big salute to Jack, the first husky that ever jumped in my arms.

5th

I was up nice and early to meet Cheryl to track this morning. When I got there I laid a 4 turn track for Grace to run. Cheryl pulled up as I was laying the track. She laid Kamikaze one and then we went to run Grace's. It was obvious Grace knew what she was doing, but was bit out of practice. She made it all the way to the glove and got her snack. I laid Bernie a quick one turn, short track with freeze dried liver ever 5 steps to encourage the nose on the ground and not the eyes in the air. He did pretty OK. His biggest tracking fault is the understanding that the glove dispense the snacks. SO, he visually scans for it and if he can't see it he gets discouraged. Hopefully baited, short tracks will help him. Kamikaze was up next. She started well. Much better than last time we were able to meet to track. She even knew where the first turn was and went that general direction, but didn't commit well. Cheryl got us on track. She did that leg fine, but overshot the next turn. By now she was getting silly and bouncy. Cheryl got us on the next leg. She overshot the turn, but did turn and go. We ended up 10-20 feet to far south and traipsing in a raspberry thicket. This was the worst lost she's gotten in some time. With all the dancing and overshooting it got hard for Cheryl to be exact about the track. She gave me an idea of where it should be and we exit the raspberries. She searched back and forth across a section of the field until she found the glove. She got her treats. It wasn't pretty at all, but looking back from the end it wasn't terrible. I am guessing the high grass holding more scent in a new place was just a bit more than she was ready for. For the finale I got Cheryl to lay Sparkle a short track that crossed onto concrete and turned while still on concrete. The end would cross back to the grass. I only aged it 15 minutes as she hasn't done concrete since she was very young. She did the first leg and the turn in the grass like a champ. Then as she approached the concrete there was no hesitation in stepping off the curb and out of the grass. She seemed to be doing well until the turn on the concrete. She got lost. She wanted to go straight across the concrete patch and search for the scent in the grass. I held my ground in the middle of the concrete. She even back tracked once to the curb where she's stepped off and checked to be sure the scent really left the grass there and headed onto the concrete. She started getting frustrated at losing the scent. I helped her on the turn a bit by stepping that way. She seemed to catch the scent a bit and I praised her as she sniffed in the right direction. She headed the right way with only a bit of confidence. She slightly overshot the turn to leave the concrete again, but pulled herself back on the track. In my opinion it was because she caught wind of the glove in the grassy area not far off the concrete. She got her treats. We need to work on concrete tracking more!

3rd

I laid a track in the field across the street for Kamikaze this afternoon. I think I unintentionally let it age almost an hour before I got out there with her. I wasn't too worried. Since it's rained a bit recently the grass and ground were still pretty damp which is great conditions for holding scent. Walking to the start flag she was actually sniffing the route I took to get the flag stuck in the ground and the track started. Wow! That's a new twist. It was like she recognized what it is I was about to ask her to do. I praised the sniffing. She even sat in front of the flag, without any direction from me, to wait for her tracking harness to be put on. I got it hooked up and off we went. For the most part we went down the first leg with a nose close to the ground. At the first turn she cut the corner a bit, but I let her go as it she had a definite indication that she was following track and not goofing off. She corrected onto the second leg well and danced just a bit on the second turn. When she did figure out the direction, she was sticking to her decision and keeping her nose down. The third turn she made with almost no hesitation. She took me right to the glove and pounced on it with glee. I poured tuna out for her. I was just thrilled with this performance. She only danced with her head in the air a couple of times and then got right back to work. It showed me that she is perfectly capable of playing this game well. 

Kamikaze and I attended the Advanced Beginner obedience class at 7. Then I taught the Novice obedience class. Kazee is doing great on her off leash heeling. She had a chance to practice figure eight heeling for the first time. She did very well on that as well. Her recall was darn near perfect. She raced in and didn't bump me or step on toes and she sat in a perfect front. Half way through class I swapped her and Sparkle out so Sparkle could get some training in too. She did pretty nice heeling for a beagle. Her recall was slow but perfect in the front position. Her figure eight heeling is improving some. Cheryl was in my Novice class with Grace. Grace has come a long way since I saw practice obedience last. She walks in heel well now without craning her neck around in front and her stays were much improved. Now if we can just convince her that a person touching her head and back as they walk by shouldn't be greeted with a growl!

1st

The photographer that was in Amite has his pictures posted. Here's some links for your viewing pleasure.
Lego Weaves
Lego sees no need to do the chute
Oh, THIS Chute!
Sparkle SAILS the broad jump
Lego through the tire
Sparkle weaves
Lego off the start line
Hound dog portrait