Friday, April 16, 2010

Back on Schedule

It feels like for ever since I've written about the individual for which this blog is named! After a week long stray from that topic, I do have a little bit of news about Marge.

We went back to agility class on Tuesday! I was SO excited. Though I didn't mind the indoor classes and think I learned a lot of good handling skills for tight courses, I couldn't wait to get back outdoors under the stadium lights. You can kind of consider this a late Tuesday Training post.

Our class is full. We've got a Rottweiler, a Golden, a Vizsla, a Cane Corso, a Portuguese Water Dog, a Lhasa Apso, and a Papillon with us. Only one of these dogs is one that Marge has a real issue with, but so far it looks like it will be okay. Only half the class was there this week, so it meant extra time for those who showed up.

The course was a bit easier than the courses we typically saw last year - still probably above the Novice level, but it just didn't feel like the Excellent level stuff we did last year. Some of the dogs are a bit greener than Marge is (can you believe we've been doing this a YEAR already?) so I think that might be why. I'm planning on having several private lessons with my instructor to begin to get ready for Open Standard (I forsee us flying through the rest of Novice Standard) and working on our Jumpers With Weaves skills (which I think are lacking - I feel like we might be in Novice for a long time).

The course (we ran each half twice, here's the better of each half):

The breakdown of the course:
  • I led out to jump 2, just so I could be there for her to go over the teeter. I was happy to see that she wasn't really spooky about the teeter after her last sloppy one at the trial. She's still waiting at the pivot point, but I'm kind of letting her get used to it on her own - I know it will add seconds on to our time, but I'd rather that than make the teeter scary for her.
  • Down the line to the triple - I sent to the triple and then front crossed as she came back to me. Her contacts were OK - I didn't use the post-it and she did some freaky stuff at first (like targeting the contact zone itself), but looked better each time.
  • Back crossed before the jump to get to the weaves - the stupid Weave-O-Matics kept moving around and made it so that the poles bent the wrong way, which explains her issues tonight. Her entries looked good. She did pop out a couple of times at the 10th pole, though. Need to work on these for sure. I want to make them more independent.
  • Really beautiful through the 180 to the tire. And an AWESOME send to the table. She did spin back towards me on this run but I don't think I cued it enough. I was shocked at how far out she went in front of me to get there.
  • A-Frame/tunnel discrimination went crappy, as usual... took the Frame the first couple of tries. I adjusted my handling a little bit on the last run, using my off arm to guide her back in toward me, and she did take the tunnel, but she looked at the Frame first. She's even worse with the dog walk (always chooses the contact obstacle even if I'm shoving her in the tunnel and then gets stressy when we repeat it).
So, over all, we ran this pretty clean. She was so fast that night, I think it was cold and I hadn't walked her much during the day, so she was really feeling good. She took a couple of faceplants, too, just from being such a crazy girl and speeding around her turns.

No behavior problems, either. Friendly towards all people and indifferent towards most of the dogs. She's warming up slowly but surely to the Cane Corso, who has been so generous to provide his rear end for her to sniff, and the Golden Retriever, who she's gotten snarky with in the past.

There are roughly three weeks until our next agility trial, a local AKC trial that we're doing both days of. I will use my time well to get her prepared for it!


LauraK April 16, 2010 at 5:57 PM  

Great video! You gals looked great out there. I'm sure it's awesome to get back into class- I know the feeling :)

Riley and I have our first AKC trial on May 23, it's the first one offered in CO open to mixed breeds. I'm a little nervous, but very excited about participating in AKC as it will allow us to compete a lot more this year. And, since I know about your great experience with AKC Canine Partners, I am more at ease about it, so thank you!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart April 16, 2010 at 6:11 PM  

Wow ! Another trial. I can hardly keep up with your busy-busy girls.

BRUTUS April 16, 2010 at 6:22 PM  

Ah, to be able to send a dog around like you dog with Marge... I think I must run 3X the distance myself, I would have had to do all kinds of front crosses through that tire area! Good exercise for me, but sheesh! You guys just keep looking better & better!


The Army of Four April 16, 2010 at 6:43 PM  

VERY cool! We love following the progress you're BOTH making. :)
Marge, thanks for giving Sam time to tell us Taco's story.
Tail wags,

Chris and Ricky April 16, 2010 at 6:57 PM  

You two are looking great out there in your agility class! Marge did do really well with the send to the table and you were doing rear crosses often so she was ahead of you - cool! Glad to know she did well with the other dogs in the class too.

NOV JWW is doable - you might fly right through that too!

Sara April 16, 2010 at 6:58 PM  

Agility is just meant to be done outside, isn't it? Looks like so much fun.

You too looked great.

Stella April 16, 2010 at 7:48 PM  

Marge looked full of joy and fun!

I'll look forward to updates.

Stella and Jo

Cyndi and Stumpy April 16, 2010 at 9:31 PM  

I predict Marge will ace the next trial and continue to amaze us with her constantly improving social grace! With you at her side, of course!

Lorenza April 16, 2010 at 9:47 PM  

I guess my Google Reader was acting weird because it did not tell me about your Incredible Journey posts!
They are beautiful!
I know you two wil do it great at your next agility trial!
Glad to know Marge felt comfy around all the people and the other doggies!
Kisses and hugs

AC April 16, 2010 at 10:24 PM  

What a little speed demon! Marge looks so confident and happy out there.

Marge's face planting made me think of Kona doing the same. She does zoomies, loses her feet, goes nose into the grass, gets up, and slinks off looking at me as though I was the one who pulled the grass from under her feet! Silly pups.

Another trial!! We're staying tuned for all the fun training during the lead-up!

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! April 16, 2010 at 11:54 PM  

How khool!

Thanks fur sharing!


houndstooth April 17, 2010 at 1:02 AM  

You and Marge look so good together! Good luck with class and the next trial!

Diana April 17, 2010 at 2:43 PM  

You guys did really well. Love the outdoor place. Looks like a great place to train. My only thing is, watch your video again (after the weaves)and just watch you and not what the dog is doing. Watch your arms and see if you can see what cue you are trying to tell your dog. It might give you insight to why your dog did what she did. (Im not critizing, I have those same I thought her a-frame contact was awesome! Diana

KB April 17, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

Marge was REALLY fast on that run. I agree - I'd never seen her so far out in front of you but she did the right things!

I noticed that you gave her a bunch of treats at the end of her successful run through the weaves. That's a good idea. In our "backyard agility", K sometimes pops out early if she's already focused on the next obstacle. I should try occasionally pausing at the end of the weaves to treat her as a way to avoid that problem.

Our agility course is now barely poking out of the top of the snow so it'll be a little while before we can "play" again. Oh, and my trainer told me that some people use the Mannersminder as a way of remotely treating their dog on an agility course. E.g., place it to give treats while the dog is in the contact zone.

Gus, Louie and Callie April 17, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

Great video. Marge you are doing awesome.. We know you will be ready in three weeks to kick some butt..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

Kathy Mocharnuk April 17, 2010 at 5:25 PM  

You guys looked great. I love how you stopped and rewarded and really looked confident about where you were going. Marge ROCKs going to a new class with new dogs and being good with it all, she has really come sooooo far with your help. I did not see when you had trouble with the discrimination but we have been having a lot of luck with those since someone gae me a tip to like aim my feet at the far side tunnel holder on the very outside when you need the tunnel-that makes all your body langage point the right direction (who knew, where your feet point makes the whole rest of your body point that way too, it changes how your hips look and your shoulders0 and I have been amazed at how easily my dogs have been reading that when I make sure my feet are really pointed out that way, maybe a tiny bit of deceleration a little bit so marge switches to handler focus before she locks onto the aframe and pays attention a bit , I point my feet going more straight for the Aframe and for that I usually find I do not have to do any deceleration for the contacts I can usually just let them stay in object focus because those work like little magnets for my dogs ;-) . You can also sometimes reward for the tunnel, my dogs do the same thing, they would rather take the contact because it is so much higher in value and gets rewarded all the time, but how often do I reward tunnels....not often at all, booo me! Not sure that is usful for you and Marge, but it has been working good for us.

RILEY AND STAR MY MALTESEKIDS April 17, 2010 at 10:35 PM  

Oh my gosh! That is so impressive! I love watching the video. It really gives to an appreciation of what a Champion she is and how hard you both work! Incredible!

Hope you have another video made soon!

Riley and Star.

Scout and Freyja April 18, 2010 at 10:36 PM  

Marge is wonderful no matter what she does or at what level. With you she has accomplished so much - more than most would ever imagine. She is a star and you are her creator.

The Army of Four April 19, 2010 at 11:44 AM  

Sam - thank you so much for the comment you just left on Zim's post today. I was so hesitant to post; you can probably understand why. I'm so glad one of the prescription diets works for your kitty! And great idea about drying the canned out on paper towels!
Karen - mom of the Ao4

tula monstah April 20, 2010 at 9:08 AM  

faceplants-- oouch! um, you're not suppose to do that. you can tell both of you had funballz practicing that night..

keep up the good work:)

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