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2009 training goals

August 2009

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30th

I got back from the conformation shows around 5 pm. It wasn't really our weekend. Friday Kamikaze thought gating around the ring would be more fun at 'racing' speed. Not a good plan. We ended up in second place. Might have had first if she wouldn't have acted up so much. Xanadu and her siblings all got royally dumped too. Xanadu lost her class to a bitch that was being dragged around the ring with the nose down and tail tucked. I hate this game! Well, at least Karen and her sister were there. Karen's Shiba's went the way she wanted and Max got the point over his brother. I haven't seen Karen's sister,  Joyce, since I was a teenager. The three of us had a scream of a time.

Saturday started better. Xanadu ended up Reserve Winner's to a four point major. The only redeeming part in being second place was that her littermate, Dani, got the major points. Karen's day didn't go as well. Redi got kicked out of the ring for acting the fool and not letting the judge touch him. Kamikaze got LAST place even while showing pretty well. I wonder sometimes why I play this political game.

Sunday I spent my dollars for Xanadu on the CGC test instead of prancing around the ring. She wasn't going anywhere under that judge anyway. So, we promptly passed the CGC test instead. YIPPIE! She didn't struggle a bit with any of the tests. Good girl. She's the second in the litter to pass the CGC as her brother, Riser, in Ohio has already passed. Marie did well in 15' beagles today though. Rosie, another of Xanadu's sisters, got the four point major today. So Marie has lots to brag about on this litter from this weekend. And she still has one more day to show. I showed Karen's nutty Shiba today. In hopes that he didn't associate me with a bad experience in the ring, I took Redi in. The only goal being not to get excused so that Max could beat him and get the point. He did the table well for me! I didn't ever try to fuss with his feet to make him perfectly stacked though. We didn't want to win anyway. So that was a success for Karen as Max won the point and Redi stayed in the ring. For some reasons I can't explain I stuck around until 1pm to show Kamikaze again. Even with almost a perfect showing, free stacking like a dream, gating at a perfect speed and holding stacks for the judge we still got last place again. I know she has no good coat as she blew it all out last week, but please!

On the way home I almost called Kazee's breeder and told her I quit the stupid conformation game. But now, it's almost a desire to prove I can finish her versus the desire to walk away from a game that is so slanted based on the judge's name or possibly the handler's name.

26th

I loaded up Xanadu, Kamikaze, Sparkle and Rich and headed out to the agility field tonight. There was a jumpers course set up and Rich has been bugging me to let him at least practice a couple of times before he runs in Gulfport with Sparkle. Their first try didn't go too bad, but not great. He pushed her in the wrong direction several times and then got lost and let her attention fade off him. We put her up and I got out Xanadu and ran the course. She's a blazing fast little thing. We missed the last jump of the pinwheel both times. It was a winged jumped and I assumed she'd take it, but she stepped past it with me as I ran to get in a front cross. Ah, baby dogs! She did get the weaves on the second try. Then Cheryl ran one of her guys. Then it was Kamikaze's turn. The course was set up rather tight as space was limited, so I knew we'd struggle with collection some. It didn't go as bad as I thought. I fed her information fast enough to let her adjust fairly well. She did play the 'weaves, what weaves?' game again. I immediately snatched her collar and took her back several jumps to re-try the run at the weaves. She nailed it fine then. I think she's gotten in the nasty habit of blowing them off the first time on purpose. She knows she'll get just as much reward for doing them on the second try. The perils of the 'thinking' dogs! Sparkle and Rich took another turn after Cheryl ran her other dog. They did great then! She missed one weave pole in the middle as her only fault. I let him praise her and then they went back to try the weaves together again.

Rich set up a sprinkler in the back yard this afternoon. Xanadu was fascinated with it. She's the only beagle I've ever had that seems to find water fun and amusing. She didn't really chase the sprinkler. She did bite some at the water. Then she just kinda stood in and let it sprinkle her like it was the neatest thing we'd put in her yard.

I have two conformation baths and some grooming to do tomorrow as I am heading out 5AM Friday to a conformation show in Monroe. Beagles have a four point major the two days Xanadu is entered.

24th

Another nice day starting in the sixties! I pulled out my ring gates and obedience jumps this afternoon. Kamikaze did a whole utility run through. Oh, the things that can go wrong! No drop signal. Forgot how to 'send directly' to the articles, although she got both articles right. A go-out over a jump on the way. But, most of it was nice. She did glove #1 correctly the first try. She heeled very nice. She remembered the point of go-outs on the second try and did them right several times. She even did directed jumping correctly (watched me for the correct jump signal) the first couple of times. A bit later I went back and worked on the signal problem. It was a persistent problem. I must be doing the drop signal badly again. We did get if fixed and had a big party.

Xanadu got to try go-outs again. She still doesn't really 'get' it. She will race to the ring gate if the treat there is big enough to see, otherwise, maybe a sniffing stroll, maybe a blank stare. While I was working her and my hands had nice steak smell on them I pulled her articles out again. I haven't been very consistent on actually trying to get her to understand this game yet. I just pull them out occasionally. Seems she'll never get it! I'm sure I felt this way with everyone I tried to teach them to. She is up to picking from three. She seems to do it almost right the first try. And then it goes downhill from there. I assume one day the light will come on up there for her.

23rd

I took everyone that can track out tracking after church. It was barely 80 when I left the house. A rare treat for us at 10:30 am in August! The short version of our outing is no one gave their best performance. With that said there were no articles left to rot in any fields either. 

Xanadu had almost a 30 minute old track. She still doesn't turn well AT ALL. Don't know what I'm going to do with her. I also can't read her yet at all. Can't tell if she's just going straight because she knows to go straight or if she's tracking. I did discover she has 'issues' passing critter smells up to track humans. It's even worse than Sparkle! She gets distracted by mere squirrel smell. She does seem to know when she's picked up the track again after losing it, but even some treat specs at the three turns didn't help her turns much.

Kamikaze had a 45 minute old track. She pulled her typically start flag procedure. "Track? What Track? Do I know how to track?" I popped her harness once good and fussed at her to cut out the blonde act. She immediately put her nose down and dug in to the track. Very nice job up until the last two turns. She muddled around in close proximity to the track then. Enough so that She hit on the last leg part way down and drug me into the glove.

Sparkle had a two hour old track. She started great. Picked the right direction right off. Struggled some at the first and second turns, but was close enough to find leg four well. Never really committed to the last leg, but was wandering in the general direction. Close enough to smell the glove and all.

Lego had a 2.5 hour old track. He did NOT start well. Typical though. He couldn't pick a definite direction. I think it's all a part of the game to him. "This is a sniffing game, so I'm going to sniff all I want." He struggled at turns one and two and three. Amazingly, he passed over article one and close enough to number two to pull to it. He nailed the last couple of turns fairly well, but was off the the side of the track at the end and almost missed his glove. It felt horrible, but looking back he may have done better than I thought since he found everything he was supposed to. I may have been holding him back thinking I knew where it was supposed to be. He most likely was more right than I let him be.

Most of the rest of this weekend was working outside. Burning piles of debris on the agility field and behind the fence. I have bug bites everywhere. Including the tops of my feet and my boobs (?!). Not sure how those two places get bit!

19th

Misty seemed normal today. Normal stool in the morning. Met me at the door after work. Normal barking, bouncy self at dinner. She even insisted on going out in the yard at dusk to hunt bugs. The locust seem to be her favorite target. Bandit seems well too. I only know he isn't asking to go out every hour, so I assume he's cured.

Sparkle actually flushed a bunny this evening on her 'bunny hunt' walk. (Rich takes her out just at dusk on a flexi leash to search the woods next door, that we own, for bunnies to track or chase) She was one happy camper. You could hear that 'beagle on the trail' voice in the house. It's much more frantic sounding when she's seen it and not just smelling it. She just knows she could keep up if she wasn't dragging around 200 pounds behind her! She managed to even pull Rich over onto his hands and knees as he was trying to navigate a tight spot in the woods when she yanked for all her 25 pounds was worth. When he finally drug her off the trail to bring her in the house she had that 'oh so contented' beagle face! If this isn't a beagle showing pure joy at a successful hunt, I don't know what is.
 
So, for all those hunters that claim you'll ruin a good hunting beagle, it'll lose it's desire to hunt if you snuggle it, make it a pampered house pet, or let the kids play with it.....I say "You're full of dog poop! If that's all it takes to make your beagle quit hunting, you got poor quality hunting lines!"

18th

Misty was not herself today. She didn't get up to meet me at the door when I got home. Even though she was fasted yesterday she wasn't really too interested in eating. She ate it just to make sure Bandit couldn't have it. Then she continued to lay listlessly around all evening. I took her on a walk to the end of the road and back with the other two old ladies (Shelby and Nikita.. both 11) I had to MAKE her get up, but I thought a little movement might help move things around in the intestines. I cried, soft drippy tears, most of the walk thinking that our time with these girls, especially Misty is swiftly coming to an end. 

Now Bandit's been getting me up several times a night to go potty. HRMM... wondering if Misty caught a 'bug' that has now infested Bandit. Hope if that's true that he handles it better than her. Gave him an anti-diarrhea and some fiber. Hope to help him early.

I got out with the three obedience girls and practiced some heeling. Sparkle and Xanadu did fairly well. I had cheese crumbles I could spit. They both did drops very well too. Then Kamikaze did some article, signal, moving stand and glove practice. I really should have pulled out the ring gates and done go-outs, but it was threatening rain and almost dark.

17th

Sunday was quite a let down. It almost had to be after Saturday. Kamikaze and Lego both got hauled off Standard. I sent Kamikaze flying all over off courses in Jumpers, plus she floated a lot. Stared at the crowd, and such. I took Misty in to the vet today. She's had diarrhea since Wednesday. They can't find anything apparent wrong with her, but seem to think from what I described that she has an inflamed colon. She's been eating and drinking fine. They gave her some anit-inflammatories and an antibiotic as well as some anti-diarrhea pills. We fasted her today. Also added some extra fiber. Here's hoping she clears up soon.

15th

This was a 'red-letter' agility day. It started with Kamikaze pulling out her first Excellent FAST Q. Then, Sparkle ran, I mean actually RAN a jumpers course with me. We missed getting the weaves right though. Then Sparkle ran an ENTIRE Novice Standard course with me. One refusal and it wasn't at any of the contacts! A couple of seconds faster and she'd have had her first Standard Q. Good news is those are the same contacts she'll see in Gulfport at the end of September when Rich runs her. To cap off my day Lego actually Q'd in Excellent Jumpers! He hasn't Q'd in agility in exactly two years. WOW! He's been running really well recently, so I knew it was coming soon. What a day!

14th

Sparkle wasn't entered today. Kamikaze had great, speedy runs, but still no Q. Only hit the weave poles the first time in FAST, but didn't get the SEND part. Lego also had really nice runs, but no Q's.

13th

I ran Kamikaze, Lego and Sparkle today. Sparkle refused to actually run for me and the most I got out of her was about 6 walking obstacles in Novice Standard. At least that included the weaves and the dogwalk.  Jumpers was only three obstacles. Lego ran really great today. Just like in Monroe. He didn't pull out any Q's but I left each run very happy with him. Kamikaze got the SEND part of FAST today, but didn't accomplish any other points. Too bad, because it was a SEND that most all dogs were flunking. After that run I told her I just wanted the screaming fast dog back and I'd forget about Qing for now. She took it to heart! I had super-sonic Siberian the rest of the weekend. Her main issue was not even attempting to weave the first time. But, then she'd come back and fly through them on the second try. Most annoying. So no Q's for her, but I felt really good about her. 

10th

Rich and I spent yesterday afternoon mowing. The agility field, the back acre, all the yards. Long job. I used push mower to cut in around trees and such while Rich rode around. I overdid it again in the heat. Rich had to almost drag me in the house because I got so bad off I could barely stand. After recovering I rode for awhile. Then we switched periodically. We are now aware the John Deere riding mower is about to lose it's mowing deck. The welding is hanging on by a thread. Don't want to lose riding mower in the middle of summer!

Today was go-out practice day. I set up the ring gates and jumps early in the morning. I had several 5-10 minute sessions with Kamikaze on go-outs. I started each one with a moving stand/call to heel. Since that's the exercise right before go-outs and she's been struggling with stopping quickly. She seemed to know what to do every time on go-outs by the third session or so. I added in some directed jumping. She struggles a bit here waiting long enough to see my hand signal. As soon as I open my mouth she is headed for a jump. I think I'll make my jump commands unique as to direction she should go. Like teaching her right and left. That seems more logical to me in doggie minds than the people that try teaching unique commands based on which jump to take. Since the jumps move around, that other technique seems to require the dog to reason way to much. They have to hear the word, examine each jump and make a decision. Of course, it's just as likely they ignore the word in that case and follow the hand signal. I am hoping unique words based on direction may make an impression so that even if she takes of the wrong way she'll correct when she processes the directional command.

While I had the ring gates out I started go-out training with Xanadu. HRMM... I struggle a bit here with a good technique. I can't do the same thing I did with Kamikaze because Xanadu is too short to see the top of the ring gate where I put the treats for Kamikaze. Putting them on the ground created the 'track to the treat' dog (which I suspected it might). I ended up tapping a finishing nail into the front of the ring gate at Xanadu height. I can smash a treat on it. This may work out for her. The couple of times we did it that way I saw her speeding up as we went, and keeping her nose up more and her eyes on the ring gate. This was probably her first official go-out training. It went OK. I had her to 15 feet away by the end.

Just before Rich made it home I did a bit of heeling and drop work with the beagle girls. I was too lazy to get the treats I could spit, and the heeling showed it some too. Both got a bit distracted along the way in heeling. But, both had beautiful drops. 

Tomorrow is my last soccer game of the season. If we win we'll be undefeated. (we tied several) Then Wednesday afternoon I'm off to Hattiesburg, MS for a four day AKC agility trial. Misty gets to ride along since Rich will be gone Fri-Sat. She'll be excited to go somewhere. She's never been in the motor home either. Lego and Kamikaze are entered all four days. Sparkle's entered Thur and Sat. Xanadu will be along for the ride too. We'll be all alone as Cheryl didn't enter here this year.

7th - Picture time

I decided to set up some agility stuff. I pulled out teeter and dogwalk. Tire, weaves, table, tunnel and a couple of jumps. I put the tunnel under the dogwalk ramp to practice tunnel/dogwalk and dogwalk/tunnel and discrimination between the two. Put the weaves after dogwalk so Kamikaze could practice weaves after a contact. Ok, by the time I got all that set up I was really hot and sweaty. I had to go in and rest before and cool off before I could even work a dog. I only spent about an hour working dogs. I have plenty to work, so no one but me was out more than 10 minutes at a time. By the time I was done. I could barely stand. Seems I got way too hot and weak (remember the stomach virus... not much food last couple of days). No way I could put all that back up. Went in and took everyone with me. Several hours later I was able to put it all away.

Lego was first. He did very well! Reminded him about the drop on the table several times. Got dog dropping on ground before table. OOPS. A little to forceful with the drop reminder. He had great weaves, even fought for a tough entrance (he missed it, but really tried). Nice dogwalks too. Then Xanadu got a turn. We never got to much of a sequence. She bounced off her dogwalk contact. ACK! Not another dogwalk problem dog. Spent her 5-10 minutes fixing that. Kamikaze was next. She ran great. Lesson learned with her... She'll take a dogwalk in the dogwalk/tunnel discrimination no matter what you or your body says. I even took Sparkle out and she RAN with me. Even got up decent speed across the dogwalk and teeter. Great treats for her. 

I know pictures make the blog so much more interesting... so here's some catch up.

We had to dismantle the firewood stack to have the house treated for termites. So in this picture the stack is only knee high. Xanadu loved it!

With it being so hot outside, the play tends to happen more inside in the air conditioning. It was fun to watch Lego decide he wasn't too old to join in. Xanadu wasn't sure about him playing though. She was careful around him.

 


I love the standoff... like "I dare you to move." "No, you first"

6th

I am feeling much better today. I had a half a grilled chicken breast for lunch with some fries. And a chicken strip and a half for dinner. I think I may be human again tomorrow.

I took the current obedience dogs (Sparkle, Xanadu, Kamikaze) out to obedience class tonight. I even stopped on the way and bought some cheese 'crumbles' to use as treats for the beagle heeling. Sparkle's heeling looked much better. She still had moments of lost focus were she ambled along beside me, but it was much improved. We even did a couple of figure eights with great results. If only I could shove some cheese in my mouth to walk in the ring. *sigh*  Sparkle also practiced her drop on recall, broad jump and retrieve on flat. She worked about half a class.

I got Xanadu out for the rest of class. She got in an off-lead figure eight. It was OK. She struggled with the distraction of a person squeaking a toy. Messed her nice heeling up bad. She also practiced broad jump. She almost remembered the game the first time. I pulled out the 'flying french fries' for her again. She sails them when a fry flies over. I did get a couple of jumps without the help of a fry too! Her drop is not solid in other places I see now. She is great at home. Took two commands to drop at the training place. She did the retrieve on flat great though. 

At the end of class they were doing stays. I left Xanadu in a sit stay and walked out of sight. She handled it like a champ! I was very pleased. I went back and rewarded at one minute. Then walked off for another minute and a half. I pulled out Sparkle and Kamikaze for the rest of stay practice. No matter what the teacher was telling everyone, Sparkle did sit stays. She wilted almost every time into a down. Very frustrating. On the other side of the coin, Xanadu only got up from her down stay once when the teacher added the distraction of making sweet noises and saying 'Puppy, puppy, puppy.' And then she only did it once. Survived it several more times. The one thing I really wanted to brag on Xanadu for though was this... When stays were over I picked up Sparkle and took her to the car. Left Xan and Kazee in down stays. Then I stood in front of the car and called Kazee. Not excited or animated. Just her name and 'come here'. She got up and came to the car, but Xanadu STAYED! How sweet is that! I took great treats to her and rewarded her for not getting up and coming with Kazee. 

I got in a couple of go-outs with Kamikaze as they were picking up the ring gates they use for puppy class. She went all the way all three times. Sometimes crooked, sometimes a down instead of a sit when I said sit. But always a complete go-out. Good girl. Then a quick signal practice that went well. A couple of moving stands, and we went home.

5th -Happy Birthday Sparkle

Sparkle is three years old today. Rich bought her a birthday bone at Petco. 

I did get some training in Monday. Mostly heeling with the beagle girls and some signals with Kamikaze. I took the trouble to slice up cheese so I could spit at the beagles for heeling. I HAVE  to be more diligent in using the treats I can spit when working with their heeling. It makes a huge difference. Xanadu is even fairly proficient at catching and heeling. Sparkle needs some work on catching while heeling. She stops to catch and chew. But, it keeps her head and attention up on my face and not around at the universe. I did do some drops with Xanadu too. I am still using a hand signal and a verbal, but she is doing great. I thought I'd try just the verbal (what I typically use in the ring). No luck. Ah.. not as far along as I thought. But wait... Maybe she's a signal girl. Sure enough! Just the signal with no verbal sent her crashing down. How interesting. Kamikaze seems to be a better signal girl too. I thought it was because she knew utility signals. I'd still like Xanadu dropping on the word only too. That way I have options in the ring.

I was up several time in the night and this morning I woke up sick. Stomach not happy. Didn't make the drive to work. Didn't eat until almost four.

Very sad too...Found out a work friend's husband shot himself during the night. 

2nd

I got  up this morning to head to the show just to find the entire kitchen was a water puddle. I tracked it down to the ice maker it seemed. It appears the hose that shoots water into the ice maker started shooting and never shut off. The water was no longer coming from there. Don't know why it stopped. I got all the water in the kitchen cleaned up and left towels right under the fridge area. Rich promised to run home right after church to check on. I got Kamikaze and Sparkle in the Expedition and off we went. Kamikaze had nice heeling, but for some reason missed the come signal. How odd. I can tell she's a bit more apprehensive today, as am I. It's the fault of thinking about a Q instead of thinking about seeming my dog and me have a great time together. And, of, course, there's the intense go-out training of last night too. She nailed her articles in fine fashion though. That's probably the one exercise we've spent the most time on. I think she's very comfortable with her job there. Then the gloves. This is where things get a little funny, It was glove #3. I felt pretty comfortable with that... until the turn to it. I turn left, into Kazee, to get glove #3. When I turned she bounced up in the air and circled me twice then sat in heel. HRmMM.. interesting anyway. When I put my hand next to her face to give the signal to get the glove I can tell she's looking for the jump. " I understand jumps" I can see her thinking. Sure enough she races out in front of me and veers to her right to take the jump. Then goes to the corner on the other side of the ring to get the glove.  "You HOO.. this side of the ring", get her back and she snatches glove #2 and brings it in. The stand for exam was better in that she understood we were heeling right off the bat. She still took WAY too many steps before completely halting. When I set up for the go-outs I knew she was way too stressed about this job. I overdid it last night. She did trot out, but way left. Then started looking over her shoulder for help from me. Just as she gets almost far enough to be considered a real go-out, she turns towards me and I see an apple rolling across the ring in front of my feet. Kamikaze races back to check and see what it is. I tell her she can pick it up. She tries a couple of times, but is turned off by the bitter skin taste. This is just too funny. What great stress relief for both of us. The judge gives us a re-do. She doesn't really re-do it at all. Then our official second attempt she goes almost all the way I tell her to sit. She walks up several steps before sit placing her maybe 2 feet behind the jumps. Judge says I can send her to a jump if I think she can do one safely. I point at one and tell her to jump. She races straight back to me all happy with herself. OK, at this point we're both just glad we're out of hear. Still, not a bad performance for a beginner utility dog.

Sparkle seemed a bit more comfortable in the building today. I spent many short sessions getting her to do attention heeling. She seemed better. Her ring performance started  better as well. She actually stood up and started walking with me when I said heel. We made the first halt and restart OK. So, it's not attention heeling, but she is walking beside me. I lost her some after the slow. She did the slow fine, but didn't want to resume normal pace. I had to give a second command. Then she was good through the next parts until the fast, where she didn't speed up much at all. Then the last about turn she just stood there and waited on me to halt them came back to heel. Figure eight heeling was funny. She would start great through the inside turn. Then as I came through the center and she switched the the outside she just kept going straight towards the judge and the jump. I halt. She comes back to heel. Same thing for the second pass through figure eight. I am still pleased she made an effort to heel today. She did a pretty drop on recall too. Then a perfectly acceptable retrieve on the flat. Though, no real finishes (return to heel) are happening. On the high jump exercise I had a bad throw again. Making it easier to skip the jump on the way back than to take it. I tell her to go. She sits and sits. I am opening my mouth for a second command when it clicks with her that I said something and she goes to get the dumbbell. Then she actually veers back in and takes the jump instead of going around. GOOD GIRL! We start walking to the broad jump. I can see she thinks it's time to be done and get her treats. I hate how the last exercise is set up so close to the exit. I am walking backwards and keeping her in front of me while I try to block her view of the exit. It sorta works. She dances around. Always close to me though. Then she'll lay down and not sit up. Then dance some more. It took forever to get her sitting facing the jump. When she finally sits I just stand beside her. She's crooked, but at this point I just want to be done and so does she. She is also way to the edge of the jump not centered at all. And it's to the edge where I'll be standing. OH well, here we go. I leave her and she's staring over her shoulder at the exit. After the judge tells me to send her. I wait a bit thinking she'll look back. No such luck. So I just give the command. Good thing 'Sparkle' is a nice long name you can drag out. She actually starts strolling towards me and the jump. The way she was sitting it would make more doggy sense just to walk to me. That's what she's lined up with anyway. She is doing just that too. I am not surprised. Then... just as she gets to the edge of the jump where it's jump or walk by do or die time. She veers away from me and takes the jump. Just over all the boards on the inside edge, but straight over them. WOW! Great Girl! I am very pleased with that obviously thought out decision to do the jump. No finish there either, but I give her a verbal, that she never gets, because I am afraid of an immediate exit if she walks behind me. We passed everything, but heeling which she gave a try at. On to stays. When we go back in she lays down as I am putting my arm band behind her. OH great. Not again. She does this as a stress behavior and it happened several times in the ring too. I tell her to sit. Not happening. I had to step in front of her and tap her toes with my foot to get her back up, and then it's only barely a sit. She's rolled all the way over on one hip with her legs kinda straight out. It looks bad. Like the unwilling border collie sit on the table in agility. This doesn't bode well. I fully expect her to be wilted into a down as soon as I walk off. What does happen is the GSD on the other end walks out after us, the Golden next to her stands up. After three minutes we come back. The golden is still standing. Sparkle is, amazingly, still sitting, even a pretty upright sit now. I feel good about the down. The Golden next to us won't down at all. She leaves him in a sit, he stands again. The Golden other side of that Golden walks off. So now it's a standing Golden, Sparkle and a little Tibetan Spaniel (behaving). After five minutes it's just Sparkle and the Spaniel. The other Golden gave up and walked off too. But, my girlie passed anyway. She passed the stays with all that going on! 

1st

Kamikaze, Nikita, Sparkle and I drove to Mandeville for an obedience show. Nikita and Kamikaze were the only Utility A entries at the show. The stewards and judge were kind in letting me warm up Kamikaze after Nikita's run.  Nikita's run was sad. No drop signal, but got sit and come. Went to article pile first time and stood over it and stared aimlessly at everything but the articles. Then sniffed a couple, including the right one. Moved to stand over the right one. Picked it up. Dropped it looked at me, the judge, the walls. "Just tell her to get it. She knows which one it is!", says the judge. "Nikita FIND IT!" gets her to pick it up and stroll to me. Next article. She turns and takes a jump the I give a second command to find it. She goes out to the pile. Sniffs. Stares. Sniffs. Picks up the right one and shuffles in. ARGH! This is like getting molasses to run in the winter. She did get the right glove, #2. And she passed the stand for exam. The go-outs still didn't happen. She went almost all the way and when I said sit she just walked back in. I also noticed how slow all her sits were. Like she was easing down into a sit. Then she'd look annoyed at me for immediately asking her to stand up and move and sit again. She has earned her well deserved retirement. I wanted to show her in obedience at Siberian nationals next month, but I can't ask her to do this anymore after seeing this performance. It's obvious now that it's uncomfortable for her to get up and down that much. I feel bad that I insisted on her doing this until it hurt her.

Kamikaze was up next. This was her first try at Utility. She had pretty decent heeling. Then nice signals, but for that lunge forward into a down instead of rocking back. We get hit a few points for moving up on that. She nailed the articles, both of them. I was very pleased she didn't find the first one right away and didn't quit on me, but started a systematic check until she came across it. Great dog! I was nervous about glove #2, but she was perfect. We lost the most points on the stand for exam. I had to command her twice to heel. She was sure we were set up for a go-out and was confused. Then she doesn't put it in "full reverse" when I tell her to freeze, but shifts into neutral and takes several steps before the stop. She did stay rock steady for the exam and came to heel at a nice pace. I'm starting to feel nerves now as we've passed everything. For the go-outs she races just out past the jumps, then curves back and takes a jump on her way back to me. So, we didn't "Q", but who passes their first time in Utility? The judge was very complimentary. I did set up go-outs at home tonight to see if we could fix the problem. She did the same thing here that she did in the ring, so I know it wasn't ring stress, but actual gap in training. I worked her on those tonight until she was doing them again.

It was Sparkle's first attempt at Open too. I know her weakness is heeling in the ring. She's a pretty heeler outside the ring. She wouldn't even start heeling. Sat there. Second command didn't help. Judge told me to go back and help her get started. I did, but it was still bad heeling. Really bad. She did, however, do the drop and retrieve on flat. Retrieve over high she missed the jump on the way back to me as it was a bad throw. She did the broad jump too. Not bad for Sparkle's first time. She wilted into a down two minutes into the sit stay. Nailed the down stay. I think she's got this title in her somewhere, so now I need to focus on training her more again. She's been on the back burner since Xanadu came to live here.