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2008 training goals

August 2008

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31st

Sparkle did much better with Xanadu when they met out in the yard several times today. I took treats out and treated Sparkle for letting Xanadu come up and sniff her. By 7 pm Sparkle decided Xanadu would make an acceptable playmate. Xanadu also discovered the hanging tug toy out back.

Kamikaze has been very nice as well. She even let Xanadu up on a pillow next to her. I guess the red heads have to stick together.

We are a bit anxious as we watch Hurricane Gustav heading this way. I may be off line for awhile.

30th

We drove up to Monroe today and showed Kamikaze in conformation, picked up our new puppy, and drove home. Long day. No luck in conformation. New puppy, Xanadu, is super cute, lovey, and cuddly. She rode all the way home sleeping in her crate. Everyone is politely interested in her except Sparkle who seems terrified. She took one look and ran to another room to hide. It seems OK if Xanadu is in the vicinity now as long as she's not in Sparkle's space or trying to interact with her.

I also got a nice surprise in the mail when I got home. My Kamikaze collage from Loftis came in as well as a 5X7 of her jumping.

28th

Kamikaze did better tracking today. It was a short 'Z' shape and she worked hard to keep her focus. She has rediscovered her article indication as well!

Week #5 of the obedience class I'm teaching was tonight. Only 2 students showed up since there had been scattered hard storms in the area. We asked them if they wanted to join Advanced Beginner class or do one on one stuff. They both joined Advanced class so Cheryl and I were off the hook for teaching. We both did some retrieves with our guys and we chatted some.

My brother is headed up here from New Orleans tomorrow morning just in case Gustav gets nasty. He doesn't want to be caught in the craziness that happens in evacuations.

I still have plans to pick up my puppy this weekend. It looks like I may just be driving up Saturday and showing and getting the puppy and heading back home. 

26th

I've been laying Kamikaze a short track with encouraging treats every 10 steps each evening the last few days. She has to track to get her dinner. She did very well tonight. A most amusing thing happened after she tracked. I had her track laid in the back part of the back yard. When I brought her in I let Lego out to potty. I realized as I was putting tracking gear up that I'd forgotten to pick up the flag. I looked out the back door and Lego has made a beeline for the flag and is dutifully tracking down the path I left. I know he's hoping to find the good treats in the glove at the end. Luckily Kazee is not great about cleaning up every morsel. So when he got to the end of the track there were some tuna bits for his trouble. LOL! So, maybe I need to make a better effort to get him ready for the TDX test. It's just such a pain to age tracks four hours.

Tonight was also the dog club meeting for the month. I missed the last two for soccer games, so I went to catch up on the news.

I am also concerned about Gustav. This storm is projected to enter the gulf this weekend with it's eyes on the Louisiana coast. Of all the blasted weekends! I'm supposed to be picking up my puppy in north Louisiana at a show this weekend. If it looks like it's still aiming this way by Friday I guess I just drive up Sat afternoon, get puppy and run right back home. I can't leave my dogs outside overnight if there's a chance of Tropical Storm powered rains. 

25th

I had a rather disappointing day. I thought I'd try a track at home with Kamikaze. It didn't go well. I swear she's forgotten all she ever knew about tracking. I then went back to treats every 10 steps and a small 'L' track. It took a lot of coaxing to get her sniffing the ground, but then when she found a treat down there she kept her nose closer to the ground. She still completely got lost at the one turn. And she's lost her article indication all together as well. We'll be in remedial tracking for awhile again. It's just a bit depressing. She was coming along so well before the summer hit. I try to remind myself that she 'lost' her retrieve completely once before and it's all back as good as new. Same for weave poles. So, I don't know why this one was more upsetting than the other lost brain cells.

Today was also the funeral for my aunt, my dad's only sister. She had been struggling with Alzheimer's for many years. The service was in Tennessee, and I didn't take off to go back for it. I hear there were many family members there and they all got together afterwards for some family time.

For the wildlife lovers I have once again caught the deer on film. This time was interesting as the fawn still has spots! And it's a buck with a real rack and not just nubs.

23rd

I was up before dawn again to meet Cheryl for tracking practice. I was lazy and only took Kamikaze. I laid Grace's track when I got there and then Cheryl showed up and laid Kamikaze a track while I did a short "L" for Bernie. Bernie did his first and it seems all of a sudden he's figuring out this game. He did his short track today with no food and even made a respectable turn. Grace was just awesome! What a good tracking dog she's becoming. Unfortunately for me Kazee stunk up the whole place. She couldn't even focus long enough to make it to the first turn. It was just painful to get her down the track. I have a feeling she's forgotten completely what this game is about. I left practice wondering why I bothered to get up. At least Cheryl got some good training in. Kazee and I will need to start practicing again before I get up at the crack of dawn for her again. I did get in a quick heel, drop on recall and broad jump session in this evening with Kazee and Sparkle. I was just too lazy to pull out the high jump. Kazee did great on all of it. Even her drop speed has improved. I was greatly impressed with Sparkle as well. She dropped the first time this time. And her heeling was much more focused than last time.

21st

I worked on Kamikaze's weave poles again in short spurts several times today. We are back up to doing 6 poles in a nice rhythm now. When I push it up to twelve her eyes start to spin and she can't seem to get the mental control she needs without me holding back on her leash to get her rhythm started. We'll work on it again some more tomorrow. I did catch a good shot of Sparkle relaxing on the doggie deck today.

I taught obedience class again tonight. I felt like it went better tonight. I picked up my custom chair at class too. We have a lady in our club that paints custom work on those captain's style chairs. I thought it was an awesome job.

The photographer from the last agility show has picture up now.

A great Kazee sailing shot
Start line take off
Sparkle flies
Where's my head?
There it is
Blink 'N Weave
Lego always has a great time

20th

Yesterday I had my last soccer game of the summer season. We won. That makes us undefeated. Yee-Haw.

The best news is the beagle pup's breeder got her computer back up and going after weeks of being down. Here's what I got from her.
 
My puppy - the one she calls Promise(11 weeks)    Puppy pile from left... Riser (going to a home), Promise, not sure which solid red ,Spirit, Dark

18th

Kamikaze went in to the vet for her yearly shots and check-up today. Everything is great with her. I spent several short sessions with the weaves today. We were back to 6 poles and on-leash again. I've got to get her one step back. She was driving towards a pack of tuna, so she was happy to play in short sessions. She was getting the rhythm back on leash. The leash gives me the ability to hold back on her some to encourage the pull through the weaves instead of the bouncing.

I heard from the beagle pup lady too. She took my puppy and the other puppy she's homing to class tonight with their mom. She says my puppy was wagging her tail and greeting everyone. Great news! She also said the AKC papers are in! Another relief.

17th -Addendum

I meant to mention an experience I had this weekend in my last entry. It must have been Sat. morning because I don't believe Sparkle had run but one day at the time. I was walking Sparkle around the RV parking area. She is always the last to potty. She can hold three pounds of poop and a half gallon of water in her.. I swear. Anyway, a lady saw us and stopped to ask about Sparkle. From sheer observation I happen to know she runs a very successful beagle in agility. He doesn't sniff and he really enjoys himself. I told her Sparkle was from the pound, sprung by rescue. I was complimenting her on her accomplishments with her beagle and kind of explaining my woes with Sparkle and agility. She said the most encouraging things to me about her struggle with her beagle in the beginning. How other people told her to give it up and ask why she kept on trying. She said that the beagle was the hardest thing she's every trained and even at MACH 7 or so he can still have his moments, "SIT? what's that mean". When she heard Sparkle was only just two she told me not to give up and was thrilled she was already in Open Jumpers.  I was so thankful for her uplifting words. May her beagle bay on for years to come as a beacon for Sparkle and I to focus on. Go Scooby go!

17th

I got home from my four day agility show in Hattiesburg at a very  nice hour tonight. Here's the run down on the trial.

Thursday:
I got up at 4:30 AM and drove the 2.5 hours to the show in the motor home. I had plenty of time to unload crates at the building and then park and hook up the motor home before the show started. Sparkle was up first in Novice Standard. She started out nicely. Even running instead of walking and sniffing. Then at obstacle five or so (the teeter)  she proceeded to do the typical " I couldn't possible touch those obstacles made of boards." She ran in happy circles (staying in the ring though). I got her back and we did a couple of jumps and then a great table. After the table count I picked her up and we ran for some treats. I was disappointed that she wouldn't touch any contacts since I've been working on it, but I was happy she stayed in the ring and even came back to me to do agility when it became apparent I wouldn't force the contact issue. Her last run of the day was Open Jumpers. She did exceptionally well. She was actually moving the whole course and not stopping and sniffing. She did her weaves perfect the first try with even a bit of bouncing in them instead of strolling. Her downfall came after the weaves. There was a 180 turn after them and she got excited and ran to the edge of the ring to sniff and dash about. I got her back and she finished the course in fine fashion. So, she ended up with only one Refusal at that jump after the 180. So she was within the standard to Q, but we were too far over time with the dash and sniff affair. I was very pleased with this development though.
Lego ran Open Standard first. It was an OK run for Lego. Some running around. Some deaf ears. His Excellent Jumpers run was in similar fashion.
Kamikaze started with Open Standard. It was a beautiful run! A great dog! She weaved the first try, but it wasn't her pretty stepping weaves. She tried bouncing and almost lost her balance several times. it was a perfect score and First Place. Without much delay she was in the ring in Novice Fast. Another nice run. Q with 4th place. her open Jumpers run had a scary turn or two, but right with me. Another perfect score with a second place. WOW! She's continuing in her form from Houston a few weeks back.

Friday:
Sparkle took the day off this day of the show. Lego started in Excellent Jumpers. I believe it was another pretty OK run for Lego. The in Open Standard I believe I had to haul him off for being out of control.
Kamikaze was in Open Jumpers. Another perfect run. Another first place. You go girl. Then in Open Standard I got a 16 month old Siberian in the ring with me. I don't know if I started to stress thinking of how perfect she had been to this point or what. But we had several mistakes. Her Novice Fast run was a redeemer run for her as she listened quite well. Then dumb handler stepped over the line in the send part. Kazee did everything in that run fine, but my foot over the line cost her the Q.

Saturday:
I woke up sick as a dog this morning. I couldn't even breathe through my nose. Sparkle ran in Open Jumpers first. It was the beginning of a nice run. Then there was a 180 to the weaves. She got all silly and dashed around. She did come back and attempt the weaves (poorly) and we went on. She finished in an OK style for her. She ran past a couple of jumps but we made it out with a happy working beagle. Her Novice Standard run was a red letter affair. It started tire, jump, Aframe, tunnel, dogwalk. I promised myself and everyone else if she did the Aframe without a hesitation then we'd try the dogwalk and if that went well I'd leave for treats. Well, I almost held up me end. She did the Aframe first try. Slowly, but not refusing it. In the tunnel and then she did the dogwalk with no refusal. Still slow. I didn't leave immediately but took the jumps to the table (which she loves) and we left after our table count for bonus treats. That was it for Sparkle this weekend as she had Sunday off.
Lego had a very decent Excellent Jumpers run. I was extremely pleased. Unfortunately followed by a disastrous Open Standard run. Ring, jump, Aframe, tunnel turned into Ring, Jump, tunnel, tunnel, Aframe backwards, Aframe forwards sailing off from the Apex, tunnel, tunnel, tunnel, tunnel. SQUEAL in surprise as you see mom blocking the tunnel exit and snatching your collar. The walk of disappointment followed by a single treat and nothing spectacular.
Kamikaze's runs were just crazy today for the most part. She tried to crawl in a bar setter's lap. She's never visited ring crew. She started the weaves in jumpers at pole two, but was weaving. I did one of those things I swore I'd never do to her. (remember I am the walking dead... almost falling over sick) I stopped her weaving progress to make her restart the poles. I have done this at home one or twice. I know it proves to kill her confidence that she knows how to weave. Not only did I do it once, but three times I stopped her mid weave. Ever wish you could rewind and retry something that's gone by? That was me by the end of that run. Obviously that was not a passing run. I paid the price for my mistake all weekend. In Standard she just wouldn't even attempt to weave at all for the first five tries. Then she did them very well, as proved by a coupe of shots by the photographer. Thankfully for her I had someone holding her outside the Fast ring while I ran Sparkle in Standard. I traded dogs and went straight into the ring with her with no time to ponder my troubles. She had a beautiful Fast run with a 5th place Q and a title!

Sunday:
I woke up feeling much more human. Lego had two spectacular runs! The ones that make people ask me if this is the same dog as yesterday. His Standard run was just so smooth and fast and responsive. I think I have figured out his combination. First no stress in my brain (both runs today the other ring was walking, so no other dogs). Second no yelling his name. Only communicate hard turns with a quick "COME COME" and "unusual" (contacts, tire) obstacles by name. Use body for everything else. He cued extension and collection for turns after jumps like a dream on my body cues.
Kamikaze wasn't herself today either. Mostly it was her stress about the weaves (which I created). She tried out the bar setter again today in Jumpers and the score table in Standard. I have my work cut out for me for next month's agility trial in Gulfport.

I spoke with the beagle pup's mom. She was getting together contracts for the upcoming transfer. It appears I'll be getting my second choice pup, the one she calls Promise.

9th

This morning I was up before the crack of dawn so that I could meet Cheryl for tracking practice at the crack of dawn. I took Sparkle and Kamikaze. I laid Grace a track while Cheryl laid Sparkle and Kamikaze a track. Sparkle's was to cross some parking lot. Kazee was a basic track in a nice field. Bernie was up first with an L track and plenty of treats laid on it to keep him interested in the game. This is not his favorite game. He managed to follow his track well until the struggle at the turn. He made it through and got his bonus treats. Grace was next. And although it was obvious she hasn't played this game for awhile, she did amazingly well as her track progressed. She will be an official tracking dog soon.

Kazee needs work on her starts now. The new rules are likely to remove the direction flag for TD tracks soon and Kazee is obviously trained to walk straight ahead when we approach the flag without really checking to be sure of where the track is. After the initial struggle there she tracked like a trooper up until the last turn. It looked like she was struggling a bit, and ends up she was searching for a place to poop. By the time that was done she'd lost the track completely. It was a major effort on the humans' part to even find the glove for her. Lesson learned! I will ensure she's done all her business before we start the track. Sparkle goofed around some at the start as she's been doing recently. Once she started down the track she was not really into the game yet. Cheryl knows her weakness is trees near the track. (she must go sniff trees or brush piles) So, Cheryl laid the first leg up to almost the tree line and cut the first turn directly between two trees that were fairly close together. Oh, what a struggle for Sparkle to track humans and not sniff trees. It took several pops of the leash with a sharp "LEAVE IT" to get her to track again. Once she struggled past the trees she was spot on. Even stopping for a metal container. The came the parking lot. She tracked confidently off the curb and onto the concrete. She over shot the turn, as most dogs will when they are just learning, and headed straight across. I reeled her in and insisted she put her now down. She had been skimming the grass top since the track was only an hour old. Once her nose went all the way down she knew exactly where to go. The rest of the track was beautiful, and she stopped for the finish glove too. On the way home I stopped at Cheryl's and sent Kazee through her channel weaves to help her remember the stepping pattern instead of the bouncing she's been doing since Houston.

I got home and went out to work on the agility field to-be for a couple of hours. Then it just got too hot and I came in to watch the Olymics.

Jedi got a bath before dinner this afternoon. He was terrier today and killed a snake. He had snake blood and guts on his sides from shaking it (it was long enough to slap both his sides), and I wasn't about to let that in the house.

 

8th

Last night was time for Cheryl and I to team teach beginner obedience. I just didn't felt like it went well at all when I got home. Not sure why. Next Thursday Cheryl will be braving it alone as I'll be in Hattiesburg at an AKC agility show Thur-Sun.

Rich flew out this morning to go to St. Louis for a seminar. He'll be back late tomorrow night.

Sparkle and Kamikaze each did an open run through (minus stays) this evening. Kamikaze was just about perfect. Sparkle's heeling left much to be desired, but her retrieves were happy and she went out on the first command each time. The broad jump seemed to have slipped her mind. One reminder run by and she remembered again how it was done. Once I got her inside and treated I realized I forgot to do a drop with her. OOPS! We'll work on that tomorrow. 

5th-Happy Birthday Sparkle

Sparkle is two today. It's hard to believe!

When I got home from work there was a message from Marie, the beagle lady. She called AKC today and threw a fit about them delaying her litter registration. Not sure how she pulled it off, but supposedly they processed her request to register the litter and she should be getting individual papers in the mail in the next couple of weeks. Great news for her state of mind I am sure!

I had my last scheduled soccer game tonight. We won again. Now we only have one game to make up from a rain-out and the season will be over.

4th

 It was past time for the oil in the Expedition to be changed out, so I went this afternoon and took care of that. Then since it was only 90 degrees out and, thanks to

Edouard, there was nice breeze and some cloud cover I set up a little agility. Just four jumps and the weaves. Sparkle went first. She is showing some speed on her jumps now at home. That new soft toy with velcro and treats in it is helping. She remembered her weaves too. Lego did a quick few jumps into the weaves. He did very well. Kamikaze clipped the first jump the first several tries. I'm not sure if she's lazy or has poor form or hasn't learned to adjust her stride or what. After we got past the bar knocking I sent her to the weaves. She is not weaving as well as before Houston. It seems that surface killed her one step pattern. It was so slick that when she planted only one foot she slid. Now she is trying to hop. It is working for her, but it's slower. I need to take her to the field and use the channel weaves with a small gap to try and encourage the stepping again. I got Jedi out with the intent to get him through the weaves a few times. He seemed to walk a bit stiffly and his gate seemed stilted. I'm not sure what's up. He was terrier hunting some today as deduced by the dirt caked on his face. Maybe he pulled something. He did go through the weaves once and I gave him good treats and put him up with some Metacam to rest. I set up a jump chute with my four jumps to see if I could improve Sparkle's form some. I was skeptical as to whether or not she'd even bounce a line of jumps. She's never seemed enthused enough to give it that much effort. I was pleasantly surprised to see her make a genuine effort at bouncing them. I adjusted the distance some and she did a jump chute just fine. I need to do it with her more regularly to get her in shape and help her form. Kazee got to try the jump chute to. She did great at bouncing by the third time through.

Sparkle did a couple of retrieves. She actually anticipated the command to go get it. I was so happy with this considering it's been taking two commands to get her to go. I guess that's what italian sausage, bacon and beef pizza toppings do for a beagle's enthusiasm.

Just as I was going to bed I got a call from Marie, the beagle breeder. Her application to register this litter was 'unable to be processed at this time'. She called the owner/breeder of the sire, Parker. Now that one of Parker's sons (UNO) has won Westminster, it appears the man who showed/paid for Parker's show career is now trying to dispute that he should/does own the dog, or half the dog. The lady who bred Parker has already been through the courts and they've declared him to be her dog. For some reason, this has not settled the issue with AKC just yet. Until AKC determines the outcome of the dispute there can be no litters registered with Parker as the sire. Poor Marie. It just hasn't been her summer. Both I and the other puppy home told her we still want our puppy at the end of the month. We'll still have a very well bred dog. We are both more performance oriented people, so it won't be the end of our worlds if we have to apply to AKC to get the puppy a

PAL number. I doubt it will come to that, but the AKC papers may be delayed several months.

3rd

Nikita, Kamikaze and I went back to the obedience show today. Ever heard "Shoulda stayed in bed."? Nikita started the day by managing to flunk every exercise in fUtility A. I threatened to shave her tail if she flunked the down signal again. So, what did I get? A down on the drop signal promptly followed by an un-cued sit. Ok, so I didn't say she had to pass signals. I need to revise my threats. She went to the article pile both times and grabbed 'just some article' to bring back to get out of doing that exercise. Then for gloves we got #1. Ok, yesterday we flunked #2. Today when I turned she walked to the judge to beg for mercy. I called her to heel. Sent her to the glove. She promptly went all the way around my body to retrieve #2 with great confidence. ARGH! Now the stand. We always seem to pass stand. She stood fine and then did an auto call to heel as soon as the judge stepped back. I did at least get a dog that went all the way out to the fence for go-outs, but no sit or stop out there. Just a walk back in.

Kamikaze tried Open A today. I actually had a chance to warm her up some so I was hopeful. Her heeling was still much distracted, but decent. Her drop was very late. Many steps after the command. Might've flunked that. First retrieve was nice and no smashing mom today. Over the high jump she flew and made a grab at t he dumbbell and missed, so she just came back without it (over the jump though). Then she was confused as to how she got there without it. She tried to chase the steward carrying it out of the ring. Guess she thought she needed to get it to make things right. I left her for the broad jump and she sailed the required distance, but did it just inside the jumps. So, she didn't actually go over the boards. On her sit stay I had a Cheryl watch her. She got an itch after a minute and then just like forgot why she was out there and started walking. Cheryl says she seemed to find her brain again and sat right in the middle of the ring to finish the stay. When I returned the judge said it was my choice as to whether to leave or try the down. It took me a minute or two to weigh my options and then I said I'd like to be excused and we left. It seemed like the best option to not give her a chance to screw that up to what with the way the day was going. So, dog that can do it and did it yesterday blew it good today. Oh, the young and silly!

At least Cheryl and Grace managed a Q in Rally advanced both days. One more and she'll have that title too.

2nd

Lego, Nikita, Kamikaze and I went down to Kenner, LA today for an obedience show. Rich tagged along and got dropped off at my brother's house in New Orleans. They spent the day at the WWII museum down there while I showed. My day started with Nikita and fUtility A. In true Nikita form, she busted the down signal. At least this time she actually sat when I gave the down signal. That's some progress. She did the sit and come signal fine after that. Then she did both articles correctly, though not enthusiastically. Unfortunately I got glove #2. Once again Nikita was sure there was a trick to sending her to glove two. She went out to it and then looked at me like "I'm not falling for this training trick". She wouldn't pick it up without a second command. She did a very nice stand, but then once again no go-outs. She would go just to the jumps and then sniff them and come back.

Lego was next in Rally Advanced. He only needed one leg for his title. He actually did a very nice job today and got a 98 out of 100. It landed him in 4th and got him his RA title. He'll now be retired from obedience.

Kamikaze was last of my guys to go today. She was in WildCard Open. That's basically the same atmosphere and setup as Open A, but it isn't a class that counts towards titles. More like a practice run. She was second in the ring. So, the plan was to watch heeling pattern and then go get my dog and warm her up. The plan bottomed out when the first lady asked to be excused after heeling. ACK! I raced for my crates, got Kazee out, grabbed a treat and raced back to the ring. I got in one straight line heel with an about turn before out the jumps were set for us. When we went in the ring I still didn't have her focus good. Heeling started OK, but she wasn't watching me like she usually does. On the first halt she took a couple of extra steps before she realized I wasn't walking anymore. The good news is she immediately returned to heel and sat. First about turn caught her sleeping a bit too. Second halt was much like the first. Then the focus started in some. She ended OK and then had a nice figure eight heel pattern. On the recall she took off like a canon ball when I called her. The judge was a bit pokey on the drop signal for me. I got out "DROP" when she was 2/3 the way to me already. I didn't figure I'd get a drop that close. Surprisingly, she proved me dead wrong and skidded into a down only two to four steps out of front. I called her in for a nice finish to that exercise. She was obviously still amped up quite a bit though. I threw the dumbbell and when I sent her she almost tore up mats headed out to it. She missed the dumbbell on the first fly-by snatch attempt. She had to stop quick and pick it up. Then the race to return it was on. She creamed my legs and the rocked back into her sit in front. Her finish was nice. The judge, and everyone else around begin chuckling at the 'Siberian Flare' she was adding to the exercises. My throw over the high jump was too short so the judge went to pick it up and return it to me for another throw. It was all I could do verbally to keep Kazee in heel position while the judge picked up her dumbbell. The second throw was better, but off to the left a bit. When I sent her I swear she only took one stride before launching over the jump. She snatched the dumbbell up on the first try and I was sure she'd by-pass the jump on the way back based on her position. WRONG AGAIN! She took one long stride and sailed back over. I had me fists clasped and my knees locked in preparation for the slam this time. Which I got nice and hard again. It was all the judge could do to tell me to finish my dog to heel without audibly cracking up. I got Kazee set up for the broad jump. When I left her I was afraid to even look at her now that she was almost quivering with energy. I told her to jump it without even looking up. It looked like to strides and an airborne dog. She must have hit the ground on the other side of the broad jump half way to the end of the ring. Then she seemed confused on what she was supposed to do next. She made a bit arc back sort of in my direction at butt-tucked speed. Then the brain kicked on again and she did about three spins in front of me before she came to an abrupt halt in front. The audience was loving her! We exited the ring racing for her treats. OK, so I love the enthusiasm, but we could knock it back a notch and I'd be better with it. She also did her first set of out of sight stays in the ring. She did roll her hips around several times, but stayed down. We ended up winning that class with a 187. She was the only dog that would've had a passing score had it counted towards a title.

I got home and found that the Tien Tran photo from Houston was in!