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31st

I laid a track for Kamikaze at lunch. She did much better about her start and keeping focused for the first couple of turns. Then she started pulling her nose up some and looking around. She finished OK and was happy to find the glove. I think she can do this tracking thing if she can keep her concentration.

Tonight was Kamikaze's conformation class. I took her and Sparkle to the agility field first for a bit of practice. Sparkle and I focused on training the Aframe as a climbing wall and not an obstacle that requires a running start. It seems at shows she always gets to the Aframe with no momentum, so I figure I should train it that way now. After the first couple of attempts where she quit halfway up, she learned she could do it just fine from a stop. Maybe this will help me at the shows. Kamikaze focused on them pesky weave poles. She actually did 6 straight line competition poles this time. It wasn't speedy or pretty, but she did them. I was so excited that she's finally recognizing straight line poles as an obstacle she is familiar with. We went on to conformation class where she did well too.

30th

Lego continued his pattern of running straight to the back of the Jumpers ring to sniff and blowing off agility altogether and then coming out for a decent attempt at Open Standard all weekend. Sparkle did just as well in Novice Standard Sat as Friday but she missed the teeter. Still no dogwalk. Jumpers on Sat she was a bit faster, but still over time, and got no course faults. So, now she has her second Novice Jumpers leg with a first place. Today she did OK in Standard, but still no Aframe. Jumpers was dismal. She was not with it at the start line so when she started sniffing and walking I got her attention for three good jumps and then we left for treats.

Misty came on Sat. since Rich was out of town. There was a professional photographer there at the show and since I had all the hounds I got him to take a professional shot of them all together.

28th

Lego and Sparkle had an agility trial today. We carpooled with Cheryl to help on gas. Lego went into the jumpers ring and played th erace around, but not do agility game. I took him off and told him he was a naughty dog. I put him in his crate without treats. Standard looked like it might turn into the same kind of thing, but after about 5 obstacles he decided to play agility with me. He even hit all his contacts and all the weaves. Durn dog! Sparkle started in the Standard ring. She ran around the Aframe and the chute (that one surprised me), but she ran, well trotted, the whole course without ever deciding she needed to exit. After our dismal run-offs on Monroe and at Overcome I was thrilled. Her jumpers run was just as good. But she did everything in jumpers. She could've Q'd if she'd ever gotten out of a 'prissy girl' trot and stretch her legs some. I was still very happy to have the beagle choosing to do agility and not choosing to run off.

27th

I am teaching Novice for show obedience this session on Thursday nights. I took Kamikaze to do some heeling in the Adv. Beginner class and Nikita to work articles and go-outs in a different place. Sparkle came along for the ride, but I didn't work her because of the limp this week. I didn't want to ask her to sit over and over. Kazee did nice heeling off leash in class. Nikita actually did go-outs and jumps in a different place mostly on the first try. She did the first set well. Then the second one she didn't take the jump, but did the go-out. We fixed her taking the jump on the next try thought. She even did her articles in a new and different place with good confidence. She got them both right the first try. I was very pleased.

25th

I ran Nikita through the first 4 utility exercises this afternoon. That's all but the go-outs and jumps. I was just too lazy to pull out the jumps. For the first time in quite awhile she did all the exercises correctly the FIRST time through. That made for a short training session. I am encouraged now for her chances in Beaumont at the end of April. 

While I was out I got Kamikaze out with 6 stick in the ground weave poles. The light is still at a steady glimmer. I used the stick in the ground ones so that they'd give a little as she shoved past them. I want her to learn to push on them as she drives through. One of these days I'm gonna get her out and it's all gonna click into a nice weave performance.

Sparkle is better today and shows no limp while walking. She still favors that leg when she wants to pull on the leash or spin around.

24th

Sparkle and Kamikaze were so glad to see each other that they were extra rambunctious in their play this morning. Sparkle came up lame in her rear left leg. She was not really wanting to put any weight on it. A quick trip to the vet confirmed my suspicions. There was nothing seriously wrong with her leg, but most likely pulled it playing with Kazee. So, it's house arrest for Sparkle the rest of the week. She'll not be happy about that one either. We'll just have to see how badly she twisted that hip to see if she'll be running agility this weekend. Last time she pulled a leg playing with Kazee she was 100% in 3-4 days.

I pulled out my nice set of 12 weaves to work Lego on this afternoon. He did very well weaving . He missed the entry a couple of times, but not a bad percentage of solid entries. While the weaves were out I got Jedi through them a few times. He didn't seem very into the agility stuff after his long 4 days of it. So, I tried not to push him to weaves many times. I pulled up all but 6 poles and just for kicks I brought Kazee out to see if there was any light dimly glowing yet on straight line weaves. To my great surprise, the light is beginning to glimmer. She very carefully and thoughtfully walked in and out of each pole in the right direction. WOW! It certainly isn't what I'd want in competition, but she did them. I worked with her just a bit with the straight up poles. She is still very iffy about the game and has to think awfully hard to get in the poles, but there is definite potential now.

23rd

I got home from College Station at a reasonable hour tonight. I only entered the first couple of classes this morning so I was out by noon. Overall it was a good weekend. Josie Q rate was just awful though, and I was constantly amazed when I walked by my own crates and saw Jedi's with many ribbons and Josie's almost empty. I had said I really wanted Jedi to do well this weekend, but I didn't mean for Josie to do badly. 

I left home at around 4 AM Thursday and drove all the way to College Station non-stop. I arrived there about 10:15-10:30. Evidentially the 6 hour dive that early in the morning didn't help my appearance any, as people that know me where sure I was deathly ill. I kinda felt a bit weak in the knees too. Nothing a good shot of caffeine and some food wouldn't help. Jedi's day start with the most disastrous pairs run. His first run of a trial is never anything great to behold. I was just glad team didn't start until the next morning. Jedi did improve greatly from there. Gamblers was next. He had a super run and took off into the gamble with gusto. He did all the hard stuff! Jump, GET OUT teeter. O my, is my Jedi really gonna get a gamble? He's headed at the jump after the teeter. I think he's committed so I turn my shoulders to aim at the last jump in the gamble, OOPS! He ran inside the jump after the teeter just as I rotated my body. STUPID! STUPID handler! There was no need to turn my body at all. He was going to come to the last jump anyways as it was aimed towards me. I blew he most excellent gamble. He had a bit of a wide turn snooker run, but still good for a Q, and as a matter of fact only just short of the tunnel he needed for a SUPER Q. If he'd just turn better! He ended up with third though! Not a bad feat at a Texas show full of shelties. He went on to also Q with a third place in Jumpers. I was feeling pretty good about his team chances now. I wasn't worried about his teammates at all. I picked them well. 

Josie did NOTHING on Thursday. She missed every contact (even the teeter one) in Advanced Standard as well as sliding off the table and then refusing to lay down. No way was she doing a teeter gamble. Teeters eat dogs at shows! In pairs she wouldn't get on the teeter the first (or second) try or she would've Q'd with Dino. Jumpers saw me not handle a tunnel/ jump discrimination at all and she went right in the tunnel. This was AFTER I ran it with Jedi and handled the discrimination fine. Poor Josie.

Friday morning first thing was Team Standard. Oh man! Anything, but that first thing in the morning. This was the one event that made me nervous with Jedi, There are just so many ways to screw that up! He actually ran pretty well and didn't take an off course for an E. He did E on the three refusals rule though (three refusals in one run is an E in team). I was crushed, My teammates did well and told me not to fret, that the team competition was still young and Standard isn't worth as much as the other classes anyway. He went on to hold his own just fine in the other team classes that day. He was running really well when Snooker came up. I laid a 49 point plan that flowed well for him. I wasn't sure we'd get finished with the 7, so maybe just a 42 point plan. We were lucky enough to be the last 16 inch dog. I watched team after team crash and burn. I knew there was at least one 51 point Q, but I lost track of the next Q points. I knew it was a good run, so I was sure we needed to finish through 7 for any chance at the second Super Q. There were a couple of scary call offs, but he ran fast and well. I raced for the number 7. How much time is there? GO GO GO GO. Jedi raced over the teeter and out of the ring and we never heard the end buzzer. I ran over to the score table. YES! YES! He did it! Super Q number 2 under our belt. And at a Texas show packed with Shelties to boot! He also pulled out another Master Jumpers Q that evening. Josie hit the teeter contact in Adv. Standard, but got called on the Aframe and dogwalk (questionable call). AND slid off the table AGAIN. She had some real decent runs, but only pulled out a Q in Jumpers this time. Jedi was so tired Friday night he crawled into my lap at the hotel and went to sleep. I've never tired him out before.

Jedi was running a bit slower on Saturday. First thing was TEAM Gamblers. He did his typical first run behavior. Run straight lines and ignore mom as much as you can. After only about 10-15 seconds into his run I hear the words I most dread running Jedi. "LOOSE DOG!" OH MAN! I look over my shoulder and catch a glimpse of a fluffy dog no bigger than Jedi (thank God) racing across our ring to see us. Jedi hasn't seen it yet. Please let him turn his head when I call him. "JEDI!" He turned around alright, and right over the obstacle I was next to (the AFRAME). Not a bad thing, as it blocked his view of what was coming. He raced off the Aframe and into a corner. "JEDI! COME HERE (stomping of feet in desperation)" He trots to me all submissive like and I reach down to pick him up. Just as my hands touch his head the other dog rams it's head into his butt for a sniff. No ugly noises were made on either part. There was someone snatching little fluffy dog just seconds after I got Jedi up. I had Jedi up in the air in an upside down cradle staring at the ceiling. "What you don't see won't hurt you" and "Can't attack while lying upside down" are running through my mind. The judge checks in with me. "We're all fine", I say. She wants to know if we want our re-run now or at the bottom of the class. "Now is fine", I say. What a great attitude adjustment I got out of him for that nice snatch up. He ran like a dream and we got 43 points for our team. Later all the Jedi fan club comes by to tell me how they were freaking out when they saw the dog come into the ring. "YEAH, me too!" Evidently the ring flooded with people who know Jedi who were trying to stop little fluffy dog before an ugly event occurred. I never saw them. I was too focused on getting Jedi up. Turns out it was some Starters dog gone wild. Poor owner. I never found out who it was, but I know they wanted to melt into the dirt. Jedi pulled out a Pairs leg for the day too. He was clean and relatively quick. His partner took one R at the weaves, but who am I to complain? I didn't offer to do them! He had a nice Jumpers run with just a run by on one non-winged jump on a hard corner turn. He just never saw it, so we just kept going. Josie had a clean pairs run too, but her partner E'd. She managed only a Q in Jumpers Saturday. We got the Aframe call again in Adv Standard.

Sunday I only had a couple of runs. Team Relay was first thing of the morning. At least Jedi's good and worn out now. All three dogs had to weave though. Jedi's entry was an awful angle. I am also a bit nervous about the border collies on my team handing off to us. Cherie says Detour will down after his run and stay down. She hands off to me. Her run was great. The hand off was fine. Jedi ran well. We got the evil R at the weave pole entry, but then he did them all and I got the call of the jump after the weaves just barely. He finished his part of relay with only the one fault. (R's are only 2 points off in team) The hand off to border collie number two goes without a hitch and we watch. Unfortunately he misses the weave entry and then back weaves for the E. "I still love you!" I tell the owner. "It's not over yet. We can still make it if some of the other teams do badly". He was so upset for blowing it in relay, but hey, they're only dogs, and we're only human. We watch and wait. The third place team takes an E and multiple faults. "That's gonna help a lot.", I think. When the waiting is all over we'd dropped to 7th place (of 8) from 5th, but we were still above the minimum score to Q. So, Jedi's got his required team Q! HOORAY! Master Gamblers was next and it was a weave gamble. That's so not happening for my guys! Jedi ran OK, but certainly we weren't weaving out away from mom. I decided with Josie to practice that durn Aframe contact and the dogwalk as well. "RING, JUMP, FRAME, feet feet feet! " "HEY that's not FEET! Try again." I got a nice contact performance the third time over. "YEAH! good" She actually hit it the first 2 times, but it sure wasn't on purpose. On to the dogwalk. I got a nice contact the first try! "YEAH good!" We made it across one more time before the whistle blew and she nailed the contact then too. No gamble, of course, but a nice training session. Adv. Standard was next. Dino had Q'd Saturday so Megan and I are both looking at just needing this one stinking leg. "Wouldn't it be great to get out of Adv. Standard together!" We both think it would. We've been in Adv. Standard purgatory for over 2 years now together. Dino had a smashing run until the teeter (fourth to last obstacle). He blew it on the teeter AGAIN. Josie was next. She started with that slow nervous dog look. "JUMP, RING, Here here TUNNEL " She starts moving a bit more like herself as we hit the dogwalk. "FEET feet". She actually slowed into her trained crouch for the contact. This is going well. "Go on table. E-A-S-Y down. " Thankfully the table was right in a corner next to the snow fencing between the rings, so sliding off looked like it wouldn't go well, so Josie held onto the table. She even dropped pretty quick. "Here HERE!" almost an off course to the Aframe! Heart pounding a bit now. "Jump Chute Jump here Jump Jump Frame. Feet feet feet" She actually slid down to her crouch again. I'm starting to get excited. Just please don't refuse the teeter! "Jump weave weave!" She entered and was weaving well. Now there's the off side tunnel entrance. I used my body to kind shove her past the wrong entrance. "Here teeter Right HERE" She got on without a refusal. She was slow on the teeter, but stepped into the contact after it tipped. "GO GO GO HERE JUMP" And we're over the finish. I catch her as she soars at me and I whirl around to the judge who gives me the thumbs up sign. WOO HOO! YIPPIE! I race to the score table just to be sure we made time and that the sheet is clean. I didn't think she ran too slow, but I need to see it. Megan tells me I made it and I party heartily with Josie. We have escaped Adv. Standard purgatory at long last! Josie AAD!

Josie AAD!                                                                     Jedi Team Q! SUPER Q #2

19th -Happy Birthday to me

Today is my birthday. Although I have forgotten to mention it, this month also holds the days we celebrate birthdays for Shelby, just turned 10, and Jedi and Bandit, just turned 9. I'm off first thing in the morning for a 4 day USDAA agility show in College Station,TX. Jedi is running team for the first time, the saints be with us. He has a great team set up. Josie really wants an Advanced Standard Q and a Master Gamblers Q. I'd be happy with just a team Q for Jedi, but a Gambler Q and a Pairs Q would be nice too.

18th

Kamikaze, Jedi and Josie went out to the agility field for some individualized work tonight. Josie and I worked Aframe contacts until she refused to do the Aframe. OOPS! Hope that doesn't blow up in my face this weekend. Jedi worked on happy, faster turns and weaves. He seems to weave better if I just silently walk along than if I cheer him like I do Josie. Kazee got to work on contacts and weaves again. Cheryl and Grace came out early for Bern's class so they could work some too. She also brought along her house guests to watch. Her sister and two girls are here for Spring Break. Jedi just loved the girls as did Kazee, and surprisingly enough Josie thought they were OK too. Kazee can do the weave motion well if the poles are just under a tennis shoe width apart AND I don't move. I can stand the end of the 6 poles or somewhere in the middle next to them and she's fine. Any trotting along beside her throws her off. I guess she starts looking at me for the treat or something. Interestingly, the first few tries through the weaves she did good on the first four poles, the number I've been working at home, but lost it on the last two. So maybe the at home work is doing something for her. I'll need to keep it up and work her up to 6 poles at home too.

17th

I worked on Kamikaze's weave poles some today again. I am beginning to think she'll never do straight line poles. She seems to get it if there's a channel as wide as my foot, but any smaller channel and she stares at me like she has no idea what I want or she races past them altogether. 

I took Josie and Kazee out to the training field tonight to practice before classes started. Josie needs remedial contact work. It's so frustrating that she never misses a contact in practice, but consistently misses them in competition. I worked some on just having her bounce on to the side of the down contact and assume a 2 on 2 off stance for her treat. She gets it on the dogwalk, but not on the Aframe. I have taught her to do a down at the bottom of the aframe which she never does at shows for anything, but still consistently thinks is the appropriate behavior in training. I'd be happy with that if I could get it at a show, since that's not happening I'm reinforcing the 2 on 2 off. Kamikaze did her contacts and some more weave pole training. Her contacts look great so far. 

After I worked them I took off to conformation class. Kazee seems to be getting the idea to keep her tail down a bit more, but maybe she was just worn out from agility.

15th

With most of my training buddies out of town for various reasons, I decided today would be a good day for aged tracks in new places. I have spotted several open fields close to the house that I thought I'd try out. The biggest one is conveniently located behind McDonalds and the adjacent two eateries, Starbucks and Cane's Chicken. I grabbed a breakfast cinnamon bun and then laid Lego's track in the empty field. The next field is on the way home from McDonalds on Highway 16 behind Greensburg Bank and a local daycare. I decided since Kamikaze only needs a short track I could wedge her a stair step type zigzag up one side of the field and still leave me plenty of room for Sparkle's track. After getting Kazee's track and then Sparkle's laid that left me just enough time to pick up Kazee and head back to her track. It was exactly 30 minutes old. She tried starting all crazy again, so I just reeled her in and restarted her. I did that twice before she settled. I'm also fussing at her for the non-work, head-up dancing now. She is doing much better. She got down the first leg OK, made the first turn and the second turn great. That last turn was just plain bad! I'm not sure we were ever on the last leg at all, but she was working the field back and forth in the generally correct direction. After a good bit of this, I figured I was in for a personal hunt for the glove. Well, golly be, if she didn't hunt out the glove on her own and happily collapse on it. She never really tracked down the last leg, but she managed to find the glove with her nose as she zigzagged across the track. What a good girl! I am starting to be able to see in her mannerisms when she is on the track and when she's not. I dropped her off at the house and loaded the bicycle up in the back of the Expedition. I drove down the street to the car shop to have the Expedition serviced. The ride home was extremely nice. 

I had about an hour to piddle at the house before time to load Sparkle and Lego in the truck to do their tracks. Sparkle's ended up at 2.75 hours. Her longest ever. I also walked up to the flag at a 90 degree angle to the track instead of aiming her down it. She had a bit of trouble with the wind blowing across the start. She was starting in the right direction, but off the track to the left, in the direction the wind was blowing the scent. I held my ground at the flag until she pulled herself onto the track. She was beautiful, making the first two turns with relative easy. She even alerted to the leather square article on the 3rd leg! I was ecstatic about that. That's the first time she's made any effort to alert to anything but the glove. I dropped several treats on the leather piece and we took off again. The next two turns she did with ease and she alerted to the bandana on the 5th leg as well. I just love tracking with this dog! The next turn was bad! She overshot it and then couldn't seem to get the scent again. I had to reel her in to about where the turn was and she still struggled at the turn itself, but as she hunted around farther and farther from me she hit the track and we did the last turn perfectly fine. I sometimes wonder what it is at certain parts of the track that make distinguishing scent harder than other parts. She came up the last leg a bit off the glove, but corrected herself as she scented the glove and got her yummy soft food treat at the glove.

Lego made it to his track at about 4 hours. His start was just plain bad. I walked him up to the flag at a 45 degree angle to the actual track. He was much to busy investigating all the strange smells left by food trash and such to actually track. And the wind wasn't helping us much either. You could tell he knew what direction the track generally went in, but he was determine to start and a 90 degree angle to the flag instead of the 45 degree. I held my ground until I saw him head in almost the 45 degree angle. I did have to re-start him a couple of times at the flag. I forget how different a tracker he is than Sparkle. His mannerism are different and he doesn't pull you down the track like she does. Once he got started things went fairly well for most of the track. He did the first two turns in perfect Lego fashion. (not perfect fashion, but very Lego like) He hesitated at the Mardi Gras beads on the third leg and I had to re-enforce the alert quickly. So, at least he thought he might be supposed to stop for them. Turn three was good, but on turn four the wind pushed him into the turn a bit early. He did manage to correct himself as he searched around and he had a nice sharp alert to the pill bottle on leg 5. That leg had us skirting a stand of thick brushy woods. He did OK until something in them stirred and he wanted to go flush it out. I had to firmly correct him several times for heading into the woods. He struggled around the edges of the woods some because of the distraction. He did manage to find the glove at the end just past the woods, but that last part of the track was just ugly.

A big plus of the day is all the articles made it home. I didn't have to personally search for any either. That makes me feel pretty good about my TDX possibilities some day. At least my guys were close enough to right on the scent to find all the articles just fine.

13th

I laid Kamikaze and Sparkle tracks this morning. I aged Kazee's exactly 30 minutes, the minimum age for a test. It was a zigzag pattern with only two turns and much longer straights. She did much better about starting without being wild. She even crossed the gravel drive with confidence. Her first turn went pretty well, the second one was a bit ugly as she started getting frustrated and trotted circles around me over and over before she settled in to actually look for the track again. She found it and went down the last leg. She didn't she the glove until she was 20 feet from it. She was so excited that she'd actually found it without seeing it. I made a huge deal of her and she got a rib bone back at the house. Sparkle's track was 2.5 hours old. That's the oldest I've ever made her do I think. I also walked up to the start flag at an angle to the first leg instead of lined up with it. She didn't look for the scent at the start at all. She went straight ahead. I held my ground and reeled her in and re-started her. She found the start and off we went. The first turn seemed to puzzle her some, but she found it eventually. Once again, she had no use for stopping at the article on leg two. I had to call her back to it to show it to her and pour treats on it. Turn two seemed difficult as well, but she found it on her own. Turn three was close to the woods, turning to parallel them. She did better here. She did have a desire here and there on that leg to wander to the woods. I fussed some at her and held my ground. She walked right over the article on this leg as well. Same thing I did for the first article I did here. She at least has no trouble re-starting tracking. We were headed right at the woods again and were turning to parallel them again. She wanted to skip the turn and go into the woods. I fussed and she went back to tracking human. I had lots of trouble on this last leg keeping her out of the woods and on the track. She got frustrated at me once and wanted to quit since she couldn't track critter. I was able to coax her through it and she found the glove and alerted to it and go her some prime rib. Then to the house for a rib bone.

I worked Kamikaze some on weaves too. I tried offsetting my stick in the ground poles. She ends up just bounding over them and pushing them over. That's not helping. So, I figured maybe I could just work on entrances. That was a better idea. She's starting to understand which way to go around pole one. I want a husky that weaves by June. 

The last obedience class for this session was tonight. Kamikaze did some off leash heeling again. She was a little less attentive than usual. I think all the tracking and weave poles and playing with Sparkle wore her down. She still did very well. Her recall was great, and her stand was better than ever. She's even starting to stick her stays without downing on the sit. She made it two minutes this time in a sit. Four minutes in a down. She's gonna be ready for end of April obedience debut it seems. Sparkle did very well in her class too. She did about half the heeling off leash. She almost seems to do better off leash like she knows there's not an attachment to depend on if she snoops some while heeling. Jerry gave me a couple of good tips for figure eight heeling and teaching the left pivot.

11th

Tonight I taught my last agility class for this session. I got there early to work with Sparkle and Kamikaze some. Sparkle did great again. I stuffed treats in the pocket and we went to the equipment and I trotted and pointed and she did everything. She never tried to run off. Kazee is doing well on weaving for her age and the time I've spent with her. She does channel weaves at about a boot width apart if there is a target with a treat of you are squatting holding the treat in the line of the poles at the end. She needs work on doing weaves while I move. She ends up looking at me when I am running and not focusing on the poles. I only had 4 people show for class, so I ran Kazee in the class environment for half an hour. She needs the work with all the noise and distractions of other dogs and people. She did very well. When I saw her brain starting to fry I put her in the car and got Sparkle out to see if she was ready to try some distractions again. By golly!, she did great. We even did exercise that involved wrapping jumps and twisty turning stuff. She never once tried to take off and she was happy and focused. All she needed was an improved handler.

10th

This weekend got me motivated to bump up the tracking training a bit. I laid Kamikaze a short two turn track in the front yard. Sparkle got a 3 turn track with multiple articles and Shelby got a one turn track with treats every five steps. Kazee was her usual crazy self at the start and although she did make it down the track eventually, it was just bad. I laid her another track across the street. Shelby is so unsure of what this game is, so she follows the treats for awhile and then comes right to me waiting on instruction. I did get her to follow the track and she was so proud of herself when she discovered the glove. Sparkle is a tracking machine, but somehow we have lost the significance of articles again. She went passed each one (including the glove) with no indication what so ever! I called her back each time and showed them to her and dumped out the treats. She had no trouble re-starting after each article though. Tracking to her is not about articles, it's about tracking until you find the source of the scent. Kazee did better on the track across the street. It seems essential to her training that the glove is not visible from any distance. She knows it's the source of treats and will actively look with her eyes for it.

Later in the afternoon I played dumbbell games with Kazee and Sparkle. Sparkle was happy to retrieve it each time, even over the high jump, but her stay needs some work. She wants to go get it as soon as it hits the ground. This is not surprising seeing as how I started training her with no stays at all so she'd be excited about the retrieve. Kazee is very enthusiastic about this game. So much so that she comes skidding in with the dumbbell and smashes it into me. She also did well over the high jump.

Kamikaze and I returned to conformation classes tonight. I had to bathe her up. Since it's been so rainy here she was not very touchable. She cleaned up so pretty. I even set her on the grooming table in the driveway and blew her dry. I was spitting hair for an hour after that. The teacher at class says she's really matured since we were there last. She looks so grown up. Once I got myself back in the rhythm of  conformation we did well at class. She is free stacking herself very well now.

9th

I was a tracklayer this weekend for the tracking trial. This was my first opportunity to see Roberta's farm. It's really a nice tracking venue. She's offered to let me come practice there. I think I'll be taking her up on that many times now that I've seen it. Only one dog passed this year, but we had several others come so close. I enjoyed my time at the farm and got a bit of sun on my face as well.

6th

Tonight I took Kamikaze and Sparkle to their respective obedience classes. The teacher in Kazee's class brought a 'distraction' for us to work around. It was a squeaky toy. The first couple of random squeaks while we were heeling got Kazee's attention. I 'd pull her head back around to focus on me and the treat in my hand. Within a couple of minutes she was heeling confidently past the squeaking noises and paying attention. We even got brave half way through heeling and we did some off lead heeling with the enticing squeaky noise. I am very proud of how she did. Then we did a little stand for exam exercise which Kazee passed well. For stays, we started in the down stay. I wanted to get my full three minute Novice stay in. Even with the teacher walking by squeaking the toy she stayed. Even when the dog next to her got up and ran a circle or two around her she stayed. Then the teacher dropped the toy on the ground and stomped the squeaky and the kicked the toy and made it jump in the air and look all appealing, and still she stayed. I was most impressed with my baby dog's down stay. The sit stay was next. This has been a problem for her as she gets lazy and melts into a down. Tonight was her night to shine though, She stuck the sit stay with squeaky toy and all for a full minute and a half. We did recalls through the gauntlet of the other dogs lined up. The teacher dropped the squeaky right in the middle of the recall path, "oh, man, do I pass if she brings it to me?" The teacher said as long as she comes then if she brings the toy that's fine. Kazee held her 'wait' fine with me leaning and dancing and the teacher saying 'Call your dog' a couple of times. Then when I called her she ran to the toy touched it once with her nose in passing and kept right on coming. WOO HOO! A bit of a crooked front, but I was happy. On her second recall try she never even looked at the toy and came skidding into front with a slight bump of my knees, but nice and straight. Sparkle did equally as well in her class and heeled like a champ. He stays were perfect, and her recall was great. She even let several strangers do stand for exam without cowering, although she moved on front foot when one of them came up. I did fuss at the shift, but I did return and then I fixed her stand and we tried again. It was a good, productive round of classes for me. 

4th

I taught my agility class tonight. Blake says that was week 5, so one more to go. I took Sparkle and Kamikaze out with me to the training field. After I set up my exercise for the night I got Sparkle out. I walked her down to the end farthest from the gate. With both pockets full of treats, just like at home, I took the leash off. I calmly trotted past jumps and over, over she went happily. I paid her and started toward the teeter. No hesitation at all. Good treats for that. She also had no balking at the A Frame and trotted instead of strolled across the dogwalk. No words passed my lips other than "YES!" I added some 180 turns after the jumps aimed into the appearance of nowhere. She turned with me every time. No attempts to run off, and no sniffing. She did 12 weave poles without a hitch and even cleared a 20 inch jump that was in our path. I am much more hopeful now that we can work through whatever this issue is (apparently it's me) and have a nice happy agility career. Since only 2 of my student showed up I let Kamikaze participate in class. Her first time running the sequence she was wild and took off to the other class to say hi. the second time she was a bit wired as well, but came back half way to the other class. After that she was good, and other than skipping the weaves, she did admirable in class.

3rd

I have spent many hours thinking on Sparkle's agility issues. I have also spoken to Elaine, who I respect as a trainer, and some others. Why do I have a beagle that can weave so reliably, and do 2-3 minutes of obedience fairly reliably, but can't do a 30-50 second agility course? What have I done differently to train weaves and obedience so much better than everything else? The answer that comes to mind is free shaping versus 'normal' training methods. A large part of Sparkle's foundation work in obedience was free shaping. Treats for watching me in heel position. Treats for being in heel position. Ignoring other behaviors or luring into the right place were frequent occurrences. There has been no shortage of treats in obedience training. And, I have a 19month old beagle with 2 CD legs. So, is trying to do a minute or two of agility without a treat going to get me the results I want? I am beginning to think not. Weave poles involved a long series of free shaping. When she was very young she got a treat anytime she accidentally walked between pole one and two in the right direction. As we progressed, I required a wrap around pole two as well for the treat. I didn't rush weaves because I wanted a dog that understood the game well. Of all the things on an agility course to stress Sparkle out the weaves are typically NOT one of them, but they are for many beginner dogs. SO, this afternoon I set up 2 jumps in a line, but off set so that the outside uprights were in line. I also pulled out the teeter. I stuffed my pockets with the cheap treats and strolled out with her and Kazee. I stood in close proximity to a jump. I kind of stepped at Kazee forcing her to hop the bar. "YES", I said then dispensed treats. Sparkle tried her best obedience maneuvers. Kazee took the jump again. "YES", and more treats. Sparkle starts looking up at me like "Feed me too". One more Kazee jump was all it took, and Sparkle jumped too to get the treat. I put Kazee in the house and went back out with one pocket full of freeze dried beef liver and one full of cheap treats. I stood close to the evil teeter. When she touched it with two paws I dispensed liver. Then I waited for four paws. More treats. Then I waited on the walk up. Just at the tip point, more liver. At the bottom, liver. As it banged the ground on re-coil, more liver. Jumps got cheap treats, teeter got liver. Since she knows the obstacles already there was no fear for safety or such. Once she got the idea of offering to do an obstacle for the treats, I started jogging past them. She took them each in turn with no words or cues from me. It was all her choice. Then I jogged forward and just as I passed a jump I did an immediate 180 and dispensed a treat out of the near hand for turning with me. For the last couple of minutes I tried extending my arm towards one from a distance and seeing how far out I could get and still get the desired behavior. This all took only 10 minutes. Then I put it all up and went in. There is nothing stupid about this beagle! I just need to learn what is going to keep us happily working as a team. I feel better about our future after this session. Now I need to move the sessions to different places with equipment.

2nd

The Overcome Agility trial has come to a close and all of us survived. It was the first year that any major bumps happened that I had to deal with. Since I've been the Trial Chairman the last couple of year, I am responsible for bumps. Things in my life in general have been having large speed bumps, so I was praying for another smooth year like last year. Our judge was from New Hampshire, flying out of Boston Friday night. I starting worrying about him getting out of that airport as the big storms were making news. After we set up equipment Friday night I went home and found the Boston airport website and checked his flight. It was listed as "DEPARTED and ARRIVED". AH, thank goodness. He got out of Boston, now we'll have smooth sailing as he switches planes in Dallas. He wasn't arriving here until 11 pm. Rich volunteered to pick him up. 'I'll just go run a hot bath and try to relax and remove all stress', I thought. No sooner had my rear end gotten warm Rich comes strolling in the bathroom holding the phone. 'It's your judge. He's stuck.' 'WHAT? I checked he got out of Boston fine.' 'No he's stuck in Dallas.' 'How do you get stuck in Dallas?' Turns out American Airlines was unprepared for incoming flights (how's that happen??) in Dallas, so our wonderful judge sat on the tarmac waiting for the plane to have a gate to pull up to to unload just long enough to miss his connecting flight. Mind you that was around 30 minutes or so. Of course, being that Baton Rouge is this 'huge' hub (HA HA) there aren't any flights that come here after the missed one. The nice judge, Paul Stolzenburg, said the next guaranteed flight he could get was 10:10 Sat. morning. There was an earlier flight he could get stand-by status on. ACK! The show starts at 8 am and we have a very full day. He offered to rent a car and start driving and see how far he could make it before he passed out. Thankfully, Meg and I had had the back-up plan discussion since our judge was flying from a snow zone. So, at least I knew that we had 2 Master level judges entered in our show this weekend. I told him that was a ridiculous idea and he should just book the flight and get a room there. Then I called Meg, after 10 pm of course, to let her know we'd have to instituted the back-up plan until around noon maybe. Meg was exceedingly calm and reassuring as I was flipping out. We seem to have adjusted well to keeping each other calm in flip-out situations. I called the hotel to change his reservation to one night. It was too late to reasonable call his Sat. morning pick-up ride and let her know not to pick up anyone. I decided to call her at 6 am. I was unable to get his ride on any phone (2 cell numbers, and a home number) the next morning, so I had to spin by the hotel to grab her on the way to the show. Thankfully the hotel is at the exit I'd get off for the show anyway. I got to the show site around 6:30 am Sat. I was planning for 6, but I just didn't sleep well and did get up and moving when I wanted.

The Master level judges were both gracious and agreed they could work out a system to judge Master Gamblers since one of them runs big dogs and one runs little dogs. We got the show off and going by 8:05 AM, No one seemed the least bit upset that the judging for Gamblers was changed. It went smooth as silk, and during the class I got a call that the judge got a seat on the earlier flight and would be arriving around 9:45 instead of noon. Rich was still able to pick him up at that time and deliver him to the site. He got there as we were about to finish up Starter's Gamblers. The next big bump in my life as trial chair happened at the end of Master Gamblers. One of the competitor's dogs was jumping up in excitement after his run and dislodged the owner's tooth from it's socket. Since I'm the Chairman, of course I get the panicked wife asking where they can get emergency dental care close by. 'Emergency dental care? Hrmm.. that one wasn't on my list of things to be prepared for!' I got a phone book and started searching while everyone else I knew was getting asked for there input. Thankfully, John's brother is an emergency room physician and John called him for input. He recommended the dentist they keep on call AND called her for us and told her the situation. She met the competitor at her office on the way to her son's baseball game. The competitor was back in time for his next run and patched up until he could get a permanent fix on Monday. He and his wife were thrilled, and the dentist just took their info and said she'd settle up with them later.

Once the judge arrived and all things got going smoothly, I began to calm down and enjoy myself. Jedi and Josie, neither one, got the gamble that morning as it was a weave pole gamble. Josie ran very well though. Jedi, on the other hand, started off with his tendency to run off to corners instead of turning. In Starter's gamblers I got Sparkle to do 3 jumps towards the back and then I picked her up and we left while she was still playing so I could treat her. I tried to get her over the A frame, but she flat wouldn't touch it. How odd. Standard was next. Jedi was a bit of a wild child, but improved a lot from the morning gamblers run. Josie did not get her last Adv standard Q, She slid off the table, and missed a contact or two, but she was running well. In standard, I got Sparkle to do several jumps headed to back and did the table. We left after the table for our treats. In pairs Josie and Jedi BOTH ran their halves clean and both their partners E'd in exactly the same place. (mind you I didn't volunteer to do that half!) Misty got to run PII pairs. She had so much fun. Her partner earned her PII pairs title on that run. I scratched Sparkle from Pairs because I didn't think it was fair to run her when there was a 100% chance she'd blow it. That would not just blow our money, but someone else's money and their chance at a Q. We did get to see her buddy Brassy, a beagle, Q in pairs though. Her first Q! Steeplechase was a fun course. The biggest nasty was the last 4 jumps. It was a hard little handling problem. Josie ran well through it and hit both the Aframe contacts. Then we made that ending look easy, She wasn't running all out, but acceptably well. I thought there was a chance at her Q'ing. Jedi's turn was going like a dream. He was nailing the turns and even weaved all 12 poles the first try. Going in to that final stretch we were clean and sailing. I maneuvered the broad jump/HERE jump/ GO jump part with him well, ONE MORE JUMP. I back crossed the next to last jump hard to pull him off the off course jump in his path. "JEDI! here here here NO" Well, durn it all! He took that off course jump anyway. He even hesitated for a minute and I thought I had him stopped, but no cigar. So, all but for that last jump Jedi ran the Steeplechase of his life. I sure he'd have Q'd. Very disappointing, but hard to be too upset as he listened and ran like a champ for the whole course. Some of the other competitors pointed out he was in good company taking that off course, as many of the high quality dogs had done the same thing. So, at least he E'd with style and dignity instead of by being stupid like usual. Turns out Josie did Q in Steeplechase by 2 seconds. Snooker was last thing of the day. Jedi needs 2 Super Q's. Neither of my guys made it around that snooker course though. Sparkle did a little in Snooker, but actually left the ring to beg for treats off the people out there waiting their turn. That was her first exit of the weekend, but it was also the first time I sent her over a jump towards the exit and tried to call her around it to get her picked up to treat her. I had been going to the back and then picking her up before the course wrapped back towards the front. I got home before 8 pm.

Today I did get to the show site at 6 AM. We had to build the first course this morning. It was Master Standard. Jedi wasn't in great form, but not too bad a Jedi either. Josie was up with Adv Standard next. PLEASE, PLEASE, one more Q. Well, not quite, she blew the Aframe and dogwalk contacts again. But she didn't slide off the table or refuse the teeter. So we're back to the original problem with standard now. CONTACTS. I really need to buckle down and train her how to run the contacts successfully, since trying to train her to stop has not worked at shows. Sparkle once again made it to the table, skipping any contact obstacles on the way, in standard and then we left. Grand Prix was next and both my guys had terrible runs. I ended up picking up Josie and leaving. She didn't want to run that course at all. Now we were back to Snooker. Josie flat didn't stay at the start and walked straight into a tunnel. I think that's her first ZERO in snooker ever. Jedi, on the other hand, did very well. He did three 7's in the opening. My fear was #5. It was two sets of 6 poles. He came out of the #@4 tunnel, and hit the entrance fine. GO boy GO. oops! skipped pole number 3, but kept weaving. DURN! At least it was a respectable run. Sparkle did 1-7, 1-7, 1. in her run. The plan was to do that last one (jumping out towards the exit) and call her around it and leave for her treats. Instead she ran out again. She didn't go far though, and came back in the ring to me. Last class was Jumpers. Jedi ran first of my guys. His first couple of turns were UGLY, wide things, but we kept in together to not get the refusal. Then we came so close to running past tunnel #7 that I wasn't sure if we got the R there. After that things ran well. He made it just under time, and there was no R on his sheet. Finally a Q with him! Josie ran jumpers smoothly, but not as fast as she can. She was still under time and beat Jedi. Misty got to run PII jumpers. She just thought that was great and she Q'd too. Sparkle did 8 obstacles in jumpers before missing a tunnel entrance made her see the exit, and off she went. Once again I got her back in the ring and did a jump so there was agility to reward her for. We got packed up and all and I was home by 6:15. When I got home I checked the USDAA site for my dogs records. Turns out Jedi got his Jumper Champion (10 Master jumper Q's) on that run and Josie got her Jumper Champion BRONZE. (15 Master jumper Q's)