Friday, September 17, 2010

Paws It Forward

Check out Philip's non-Agility blog for a chance to get in on the Paws It Forward gift-giving! :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Rule Changes

I made a quick post about the pause table changes last week, but that isn't the only thing that has changed in AKC Agility rules this month.

The A-Frame used to be 5'6" for all dogs, but has now been lowered a bit for the little dogs. So starting September 1st, all dogs jumping 4" or 8" get to have their A-Frame lowered to 5'0" - it might not seem like much, but when the dog is under 11" tall, even 6" makes a huge difference.

The tire has also undergone a height change, now being set 4" lower than before for all dogs. So now the 24" dogs will jump a 20" tire, 20" dogs - 16" tire, and so on. The two extreme heights get exceptions - 26" dogs will jump a 20" tire, and the 4" preferred class dogs get the tire placed on the ground (true height depending on the tire wall size, which is regulated to be between 3 and 8 inches thick).

The Dog Walk has also changed to exclude the up-contact, only requiring the dog to touch the contact zone (lower 42" from the end of the board) on the descent.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September AKC Trial

This weekend Philip and I went to a new venue for our Agility trial. Well, at least it was new for us since we've never been there before :) This place was a horse arena of sorts, and so it had dirt on the floor rather than the usual grass that we are used to. It's also a covered arena, which was awesome, as there was no scorching heat! Overall, I was a little unsure how Philip would take to a new surface, but decided I would give it a try anyway, just so that we know for the future.

Turns out the dirt didn't phase him at all, I don't even think he noticed a difference. They were good about raking over it between the different height classes, and that kept everything fairly smooth. You should have seen the holes that the bigger dogs were creating in sharp turn spots and through the weave poles though! It's too bad I didn't have my camera with me...

On Saturday, the Excellent Standard course was a little tough, but not as bad as I've seen before. Little dogs were on fairly early in the morning, so Philip was full of energy. Unfortunately, while many people want their dogs to be fired up, mine tends to go nuts when he is too energetic. This run was not an exception - Philip took off making up his own course and having a grand time, but paying absolutely zero attention to me and making lots of mistakes. He was so bad that I actually gave up and took him to the exit before finishing the last 3 obstacles. This is the first time I've ever not finished a course with him. I used to wonder why many handlers do that, and now I know... When the dog is being so ridiculous, it's only frustrating to keep going, and detrimental to everyone involved, so no point in continuing. Suffices to say this was a non-qualifying run.

After the Standard craziness, I moved Philip's crate out from the covered area and set him out to bake in the sun a bit. Seeing as it helped a little at our last trial, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try this time either. Meanwhile, I got ready for our first Excellent Jumpers run. The course looked really nice, so I had some hope for Philip. When time came to run though, he again took off without paying much attention to me - sigh... After a refusal and a wrong course within the first 5 obstacles though, he got his mind back and finished the rest of the run nicely. If it wasn't for his silliness, we would've had a great run, but alas - maybe he didn't get enough sun.

Sunday started off with Standard again, and again Philip had way too much energy. Just to quickly sum up the terror since my memory is still fresh - he took a wrong course by crossing behind me (bad dog!), hesitated getting up onto the table, messed up the weaves entry twice, was seemingly terrified of and super slow on the teeter, jumped off the A-Frame while I was trying to front cross (thereby ending up behind me again), and finished off by completely skipping one of the jumps that was right in front of him. Sounds like a wonderful run, doesn't it? Yeah... another NQ.

Last but not least was our second try at Excellent Jumpers. The course looked quite a bit harder, and had a repeating pattern of two jumps that the dog had to take 3 times, twice coming out into the far end of a tunnel (usually not good for Philip). I watched the dogs before us run and devised a plan - one with lots of running for me, but one that should help Philip stay on track (if he pays attention!). Philip started off very fast again, but I yelled at him as usual, and this time he seemed to have gotten his head back right as he was about to take a wrong course. The mistake was averted and I took him along the planned route. When we reached the tunnel first time around I called him away pretending like we'd go in another direction, then yelled "Tunnel!" as he was running past the far end. You should have seen the momentary confused look on his face, but surprising it worked, and he darted into the tunnel as I repeated the command - so far so good. Out of the tunnel we came to the weaves, which he took very slowly but thankfully accurately. Then we were back around the jumps towards the tunnel for a second time. Again I pulled the same trick on Philip, and again he gave me a very confused look, but yet again the strategy worked well! A few more jumps out of the tunnel and he crossed the finish line. Another Corgi owner watched our run and I asked him if the judge called anything (those tunnel confusions could have easily been refusals), but he said he didn't see anything. Excited, I waited for the results, and indeed we got a Q with no mistakes, and even a first place :)

Funny thing is I didn't have much hope left for Philip before this JWW run, so I packed up his crate shortly after walking the course in anticipation of a quick get away after a failure. The guy sitting next to me noticed it and said "Packing up already? What if you have to wait for a ribbon?". I laughed and said that in the unlikely event of that happening, I would just wait with Philip's leash in hand - I think he foresaw the future :)

So now we have our very first Excellent Q. It's funny how Philip has struggled so much in Open JWW, but got a Q in Excellent JWW on his second try. At the same time, he started off great in Standard, and has been in Excellent Standard since May, but still has zero Qs in that - go figure! Ah well, we'll get it eventually, and this whole weekend of frustration was totally worth it for that Q! Let's just hope Philip's energy madness isn't gonna stick at next trials.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pause Table Changes

Since Agility is a relatively new sport, the rules under the different organizations are constantly changing. This year AKC has introduced several changed starting on September 1st, and one of the biggest ones affects the Pause Table performance.

As you might remember from my original Pause Table post, AKC's rules were requiring the dog to either sit or lay down on the table for 5 seconds in order to perform the obstacle correctly.

This has been an issue for many dogs and handlers, so the complaining finally got through. Starting September 1st, the dogs are no longer required to perform any particular action on the table, but rather just stay on it for 5 seconds. The dogs may stand, sit, lay down, or balance on their hind legs - so long as they stay on top on the table, the count continues.

This new rule gets rid of any time loss when dogs would break their position, but getting off the table before the 5 seconds is up will still count as a fault, and require the dog to get back on it and the count to be restarted before continuing on. I think it's a good change overall. The one bad thing I can see coming from the new rule is that the impatient dogs will be tempted to break the count early if they are allow to stand "on guard".

Judging on what I heard from the people attending trials last weekend, everyone is very happy with the change so far - things are moving along faster, and many dogs are really benefiting from this. You have no idea how often I've seen a dog get up on the table and sit when it's supposed to lay down or vice versa, with the poor handler practically doing cartwheels around it, but no more of that!

I'll be attending a trial this weekend, so it'll be interesting to see this new rule in place first-hand. It probably won't have much of an effect for Philip though, since he's always been very good with sitting or laying down on the table. Since we also compete in USDAA, which always asks for a down, I'll continue making him lay down in AKC as well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

August AKC Trial

Philip and I went to another trial in mid-August, so let's play a little catch up :)

This was a 2-judge trial and had FAST scheduled for both days, so I was excited and entered all three run both days. Shortly after entering, my instructor warned me that this particular club (one holding this trial) was notorious for being very slow. So when the time came to go to the trial, I had prepared for things to be a bit slower than usual, but how bad can it be with two judges and two rings, right?

Excellent standard run was to be the first run for Philip, and I calculated that getting there around 9 should give plenty of time for previous runs to finish. When I got there though, I noticed that they weren't even half way done with the previous runs… As a matter of fact, we didn't get to our first run until about noon! I was so frustrated at this point, that I was ready to just pack up and leave, but I was already there and the runs were paid for, so I stuck it out.

Our run didn't go so well, probably partially to my frustration with all the waiting, though I had a feeling Philip must have gotten worked up too. He wasn't paying any attention to me - running totally wild and taking obstacles he wasn't supposed to. He went so far that he ran for a jump, and right when you would think he was going to jump, he just changed directions and went right around it. Sigh… of course a shameful NQ.

My instructor watch our run and said that Philip looks like he has too much energy. Not surprising really, considering he'd been sitting in his crate for 3 good hours waiting for something to happen. So she suggested I have him sit out in the sun, so that he "bakes" a little and hopefully mellows out. I estimated an hour wait or so for our JWW run, maybe two seeing as to how slow these folk were, so I sat us out in the sunny spot to wait.

Of course this was all wishful thinking as we ended up waiting another 3 hours before the Open JWW ring was even open for walking. I wasn't prepared to sit in the sun that long, so I had long retired back into the shade by then. The jumpers course didn't look too hard, but the sun-baking was all reversed in the shade, and Philip again made a fool of himself on the ring, earning us another NQ.

It was close to 4pm when we were done with the run and I had made previous plans to meet a friend at 5pm (I was sure we'd be done by 5, even one-judge trials usually finish by then!). Of course, we still had FAST scheduled, but before that the Novice dogs had to finish their Standard and Jumpers runs. So seeing how slow the day had been, and unable to stay past 5 anyway, I decided against waiting, and we left to go home. Good thing too, as I found out the next day that the FAST dogs didn't finish until almost 7pm! Seven!!!

Sunday morning I took my time getting to the trial as I now knew just how slow things were trudging along there. I believe we got to the site around 10:30am, and still ended up sitting around for a couple of hours before our turn to run. This time I came prepared for sun-baking though, so I armed myself with sun screen and a hat, and took Philip with me to watch the other dogs in the sun rather than resting in the crate.

The Standard course looked tough - it started out with a jump follow by two C-shaped tunnels right behind it to each side, with exits and entranced facing each other, and then another jump straight out. The dogs were supposed to go over the jump, to the far end of the left tunnel, out the close end and into the far end of the right tunnel, and then out the close end and over the far jump. I'll see if I can dig up a picture, but basically the dog had to do a figure eight in the tunnels between the two jumps. When Philip's turn came to run, I set him up for the jump, and lead out towards a tunnel. I called him over the jump pointing to the tunnel, and he ran right past me to the next jump - sigh! I don't think he was even listening to what I was saying, though he was a little better for the rest of the course.

Now, the jumpers ring was moving quite a bit faster on Sunday, and the Open runs ended up catching up to our Excellent Standard. I has them move Philip up, and still ended up having almost no time to walk the Jumpers course - only got to walk it once before being kicked off. Of course I could have asked them to let me walk more seeing as it wasn't my fault, but I didn't want to hold up the trial any longer. Instead I parked Philip in the sun for some more baking and watched other dogs in front of us to memorize the course better.

The course wasn't very difficult, and I paid good attention to the could of tricky spots while watching gopher run. Our turn came up and I set Philip at the start line to lead out a little. As I called him over the jump I saw that the "baking" was actually working! He was a little slower than usual and almost looked slow-motion, this was a good sign. I decided not to push him and just went along with his pace. He gracefully took every jump that I pointed to, mastered the weaves on the first try, and paid good attention to me even when I almost messed up one of the turns.

We finished the run cleanly! I couldn't believe it! Oh yes, let me remind you that we've had 2 legs in Open JWW since May, and been needing the one last one for all this time. This was it, Philip got his last needed Open JWW Q!!! It was practically surreal - I probably made lots of weird noises and I cheered in excitement, and our instructor and a few other people in the know clapped for us. All the waiting was worth it to me at this point, finally we are out into both Excellent levels, and it even means we no longer have to stay as long at the trials waiting for the Open run. Yay! Philip got a beautiful ribbon for his new title too :)

The day wasn't over yet though, we still had out FAST run to go, and this one also needed only one more leg to move out of Novice. Philip has never had any problems with FAST, but it's offered so rarely that we just haven't had a chance for 3 Qs. Seeing as he was finally doing well, I was determined to wait this one out. I don't remember exactly now, but I think I waited another 4 hours before it was finally our turn to run FAST. Meanwhile, I baked Philip in the sun some more :) The course was very easy as usual, and Philip did great. I decided not to wait for results and took off as soon as we finished our run, but I did check to make sure the scribe sheet was correct, and the results came in affirmative a few days later - Philip earned a total of 64 points, and took first place, finishing our Novice FAST title.

So there you have it, our very long weekend, but one that was totally worth it in the end. Next time this club holds a trial, I will most definitely not entering FAST though, as there is no way I would purposely want to wait around till 6-7pm again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


It looks like I've neglected the blog a bit :( Life got a little busy over here, but Philip is still enjoying Agility and doing great! I do have some updates, and I promise to write it all up before the end of the week! This way I have a goal time frame, so stay tuned :)