Monday, December 5, 2011

One more QQ!

I wasn't going to post until after both December trials for a full update, but this was too exciting to pass up - Philip got another QQ this past weekend! He ran so well the whole weekend, I was very happy with him, what a good boy! We are now officially a quarter of the way to our MACH, go Philip, go!

Oh, and he also finished his MX title with a 10th Q in Standard :)

Stay tuned for a full update after the trial this weekend.

Friday, November 18, 2011

AKC Rule Changes (January 1st 2012)

AKC tends to have up to 3 rules changes over the course of each year (usually on January 1st, July 1st, and/or September 1st).

I went over the July changes right before I disappeared, and in September, we didn't really have any changes other than some for the clubs and how they go about registering for trials. Among them, the recording fee has gone up by 50 cents for each entry, and our local clubs are making us pay that. Doesn't seem like much, but a dollar here and a dollar there add up over time.

In January 2012, we have quite a few obstacle changes coming up though, so here they are:
- Most notably, the chute length is changing. I believe its length has been 10-12 feet up until now. Well, starting January 1st, the length is changing to a mere 6 feet (well, between 6' and 6'6" technically)! That's a crazy short chute, you have no idea. A short one like that is allowed to be used during bad weather right now, and I saw it in action at the last two trials we went to (because it was rainy and muddy, but that's another story), and boy is it short. It's practically a joke - dogs come flying out of the thing. It will be interesting to see this become the standard, but I don't suppose it'll be any advantage to me. Currently, I actually like that the chute is pretty long, and Philip gets stuck in the momentarily - it gives me a chance to catch up and collect myself, I don't get many of those on course with my lightning dog. Now they are taking even that one spot away - sigh...
- The tunnel is seeing a small change in that a 4" spacing between the ribs is now required (used to be up to 6"). No real effect to competitors from that one.
- Weave poles now officially require 24" spacing between the poles (used to be between 22" and 24"). They've been pretty standard already though, so no effect from this change either.
- Double and triple jumps are now emphasized that no solid sides will be allowed, i.e. all bars must be visible from all sides. Nothing new really, all doubles and triples I've seen so far have been non-solid.
- The wings for all jumps are now described as being 16"-36" wide (24" recommended), and 26"-42" high. Not sure what that's changed from, but it's highlighted, so I'm including it :)

That's all for January changes. More changes will be coming in July (new titles mostly), but that's still a bit away, plus it could still change, so I'll save those for later.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Wow, it's been a looong time since I've written anything here. Sorry for my lack of presence :( We are still competing, and I thought I'd give a quick update on our current status:

In AKC, we are now up to 4 QQs and 280 MACH points. I'm not even worried about the points at this point as I'm absolutely sure we'll have 750 way before we reach 20 QQs. Philip often gets a single Q in a day, and he is so fast, that he earns points like no other. Double-Qs are a bit harder to come by for us. We just got the 4th one yesterday as a matter of fact :) Philip finished his MXJ title yesterday as well (i.e. 10 Qs in Excellent JWW)

Also in AKC, Philip got his Excellent FAST title over the summer, finishing the last leg we needed in Excellent A. I was worried we wouldn't get it in time before the local clubs stopped offering FAST much, but he managed to finish it on the second to last try :) Since I was signed up for one more, I gave it another shot in an Excellent B run, but Philip didn't Q in that one,and we haven't done FAST since (not that it's been offered much anyway). I think that we are done with FAST for good though. The next title Philip could get in it would need 10 more Qs, and with how rare it has become, it would take forever to get them. Plus, it always requires lots of sitting around, waiting for the run, since FAST is usually at the end of the day.

On the other hand, we've started running in T2B instead! I'm really enjoying it, as the runs are always very quick, and our local clubs usually make them the first run in the morning, so no lingering around needed to wait for the run. Philip seems to have an "all or nothing" attitude for T2B right now. He either pays attention to me, runs fast and clean, earning 1st place and 10 points, or he fails miserably and gets an NQ because he's being a brat. So far, we've had 6 tries at it, and qualified 2 times, both with 1st place, so we have 20 points.
Other than being fun, a great advantage of the T2B for us is that it lets Philip get his "crazy" out if he has some in the morning. I'd much rather him bombing a T2B run and being collected in the regular runs than the other way around. Of course, quite often he bombs all 3 runs of the day anyway - brat!

In USDAA, we only had one trial since my last update here, which was back in June. Since Philip only needs Standard and Snooker Qs to finish his Advanced title, that is all I signed him up for. He bombed the Standard run on Saturday, and then wasn't feeling too well on Sunday (too much fun the day before = sore and slow Philip), so he had no Qs that weekend at all. So we are still in the same place in USDAA.

So there you have it, a quick update on our progress. We have 2 more AKC trials in December, and then that'll be it for this year. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How about some Q and A?

Philip and I have been going to so many trials in the last few months that I've barely had time to regroup and post about anything other than our results...

However, summer tends to be a bit slower on that end, so I'll have much more free time, and thought I should spice up the blog with fun/useful information :)

Want any particular topic covered? Have a question you've been dying to ask? Or maybe something that you already know, but think others would find useful? I know I have at least a couple of regular readers, so speak up, give me some ideas ;) Just post in the comments section, and I'll be sure to respond!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

AKC Rule Changes in July

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but Agility is still a young and growing sport. Many different organizations hold trials and offer various Agility titles, and each comes with its own set of rules. These rules morph over the years, usually improving on the safety or the challenge level of the sport.

Starting July 1st, some new rules are going to be taking effect in AKC Agility. Since Philip and I have a couple weeks before our next trial, I thought it would be a good time to review these :)

The biggest news is, of course, the new Time 2 Beat Class. I've mentioned it now and again before, and I plan on making a detailed post about all the rules closer to date, but I'm very exciting for this new class. It's meant to run more like the tournaments in USDAA, and should be a fun new thing to strive for. This class comes with its own new titles when certain points are accumulated, but I'll explain all that when I make a separate post, I promise.

Second up is the removal of MACH point place multiplier. As you might remember from my quick tangent on MACH points before, the current system has a multiplier in place, such that any dog taking 1st place gets their points doubled, and 2nd place dogs get 1.5 times the number of points. Well, starting July 1st this will no longer be in effect, so the number of points earned will be equal to the number of seconds ahead of SCT, no matter what place the dog came in.
This is both good and bad. On the one hand, it's better for those people trying to get into the top 5 of their breed and go to the invitational events, since there won't be a bias for dogs that run in smaller classes and default to 1st or 2nd places due to sheer lack of competition. On the other hand though, those of us just shooting to put a MACH title onto our dogs won't have the luxury of getting a point boost when our dogs do run fast and beat others anymore.

Last, but not least, AKC has introduced a PACH title. This title is very similar to MACH, but it is for dogs running in the Preferred classes. Previously, preferred dogs could only get PAX (20 QQs, no points) as their highest title, but now they have new heights to strive for. To earn a PACH title, the dogs have to earn 750 points and 20 QQs (just like for MACH, but doing so in the preferred height). The very cool thing about this new title is that it is retroactive, meaning that any dogs who have completed the required number of points and double-Qs prior to this date will still get the title added to their name!

There aren't going to be any obstacle changes that I'm aware of, so I think this about covers it. Be on the lookout for a comprehensive T2B post sometime soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First Double-Q!

I just posted about our AKC trial this weekend, but for those of you too lazy to read the whole thing, let me just point out that Philip got his very first Double-Q today! I'm so proud of my boy :) Yay!

May AKC Trial

Philip and I went to another trial this weekend. I wasn't originally planning on going to this as it was a little father than I'm used to, but I signed up for it because it offered FAST both days, hoping we'd get at least one of them and finish the elusive Excellent FAST title.

This trial ran FAST first thing in the morning, which was nice for a change, and Philip was full of it and ready to go. On Saturday, the Send bonus was very difficult, having to do the A-Frame, then take the back side of the tunnel, and go back over the A-Frame again! I don't know how in the world the judge expected dogs to get this one, but I'm pretty sure only 1 or 2 dogs qualified this course among all jump heights. Obviously, Philip wasn't one of them. He actually did the A-Frame nicely both directions, and even took the tunnel, but unfortunately he took the closer (incorrect) end of it. Otherwise, he ran a bit crazily, and even broke his lead out stay at the beginning, but I figured I should let him since it gets his energy out for him.

Next up was Standard. The course was a bit tricky, and I thought to myself that Philip might mess up one particular spot (the tunnel before the A-Frame), so I decided ahead of time that if he would mess that up, I would demand for him to stick his 2-on-2-off on the A-Frame or otherwise take him off course. Philip had an idea of his own though - he took off running like the wind and took a wrong jump right at the start, then ran past the chute and around it, and when we reached the tunnel I though he wouldn't get, he actually got it right. However I was set on my plan and the run was already ruined anyway, so I had him go up the A-Frame and asked him to pause at the end. Of course, he didn't even flinch an ear, and ran off. I was mad at his antics at this point, so I yelled at him to lay down, told the judge thank you, caught Philip and carried him out of the ring. I told him he was bad and didn't give him any treats (normally, I give him some no matter if he runs well or not, but not this time!). He looked confused, but eventually accepted his no-treat fate. Hopefully it taught him a lesson!

Last of the day was Jumpers. This course actually has a very nice flow and everyone ran it very fast. Sometimes it's boring to have easier courses like that, but this day it was a relief to me consider how Philip has behaved up until then. I don't know if the course was just really that much easier than usual, or if the lack of treats earlier has left a mark in Philip's brain, but he paid very close attention to me, and ran perfectly. He was a bit tired and not too fast, but we finished clean in 6th place, earned a Q and 7 MACH points. Yay, day not totally ruined :)

On Sunday, we woke up early again to head to the trial. About a third way from home I saw light rain drops on my windshield. No big deal I thought, but as I kept driving, the rain got harder and harder. When we got to the site, it was raining fairly hard, and it was windy and cold. On top of that, while I really hoped that Sunday's FAST would be easier, I came to find out that it again required a back-end of the tunnel :( Philip just doesn't know how to do these send, and I knew right away he wouldn't get it. I really contemplated not running considering the crappy weather, but figured we should give it a shot, plus it would be a chance for Philip to get his craziness out. So I walked the course and made up a vague plan to get minimum points necessary. Philip ran fast and seemed to have tried hard to pay attention to me. Still, as expected he took the wrong side of the send tunnel. I even did another approach to try it again, but again he took the closer side. I let him do the rest of the send, and then over the finish line. This weekend FAST just wasn't meant to be for us I guess.

The rain kept going, and the disappointing morning run made me think I should just head home rather than continue getting all wet and cold. I was already there though, and it was already paid for, so I tuckered into my car, and waited for out next run to be ready. Both Jumpers and Standard courses were moderate difficulty on map, so I figured we'd give it our best shot, and if all else fails, maybe get another lesson or two into Philip's head about listening to me on course.

Standard was up first, and right away Philip almost messed everything up. The run started with a C-shaped tunnel, so I placed him in front of the entranced and stepped to the side before telling him to go. He darted off towards me instead of the tunnel, and i scrambled screaming "NO!" and pointing to the tunnel again. I don't know how I stopped him from going into the wrong side, but he turned and went the correct way - whew! Judging by that start, I expected Philip to go crazy again, but he was actually very attentive to me and ran the rest of the course well! He didn't stick his contacts, but I did exaggerate slowing him down, so he still didn't miss them. As we finished the run, I was worried that a refusal might have been called at the beginning, but when the results were out, we had a Q!!! Guess since he didn't actually trip the timer, he didn't technically start running yet, so that's why no refusal :) In fact, he ran so well that he took 3rd place with 18 MACH points :D

Finally, we got ready for Jumpers. I walked it again to ensure I knew the course, and tried to keep Philip's attention on me. We walked out to the course, and he seemed a little tired, so he wasn't overly fast. This is good since I can keep better control of him when he isn't running like lightning. He came close to taking a wrong end of the tunnel before the weaves, but saved it in the last moment. He then sprinted ahead of me at one point, but I managed to slow him down when staying on track. A couple more jumps and we were done. I couldn't believe it, a clean run, a second one of the day! Philip got his first ever Double-Q!!! I waited for the results just to be sure, and he did it, he really did. He earned another 9 MACH points in this run, and we had our very first QQ!

What a way to finish the weekend. Our grand total is 2 jumper Qs, 1 standard Q, a total of 34 MACH points, and a Double-Q. I don't even care that Philip didn't get the FAST leg any more. The QQ was totally worth it. I'm so proud of my little man! We'll get that FAST another time (gonna be a while before another trial pops up with it), but thats okay, we are officially on our way to MACH. Good job Philip!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

April AKC Trial 3

I did a one-day trial today with Philip because it was offering FAST, and we just needed one more Excellent A leg in that.

However, the stars (or rather Philip's brain) were not on my side...

To start off, we had a Standard run, in which Philip went absolutely insane. He ran happily in circles, taking several wrong turns, zooming off the contacts, jumping off the table early, messing up the weaves entry, and generally being an idiot. At least he was a happy idiot, and had a blast paying zero attention to me. Goodness, I haven't seen him this crazy in several months now, I really really need this behavior not to continue, I don't know what's gotten into him!

Next up was Jumpers, and thankfully Philip had gotten all his craziness out of him by the time it started, so he paid attention and ran well on this course. Unfortunately, he somehow managed to knock two bars though :( Another thing we haven't really seen in a while. Why are all these immaturities making a comeback all of a sudden?

Last but not least was the whole reason for going to this trial - the FAST run. The send bonus today consisted of a jump, going straight to the A-frame, and straight into a tunnel (C-shaped with either side being okay to enter!). Sounds easy enough, but there was also a jump right on the handler line where the dogs were supposed to go to the tunnel. Of course, when a dog sees the handler over to the right, and a jump nearby, the dog will think that the jump is the correct obstacle, so this made the send bonus tricky. So much so that I even considered not waiting for the run when I saw the map, but I stuck it out in the end. Everything went as expected - Philip went over the jump and onto the A-frame with ease, and then turned towards the wrong jump instead of the tunnel. I stood to the side pointing to the tunnel, and he stopped and eventually turned back into the tunnel without taking the jump. However, the judge had already called a refusal and faulted our bonus :( It was good progress, but still an NQ.

So, as you can probably tell, it was a useless and frustrating day for us. I'm kinda glad I'm not signed up for Sunday, as it would have probably ended in a similar manner. Oh well, till next time...

Monday, April 25, 2011

April AKC Trial 2

Alright, here's a quick recap of the trial this last weekend.

On Saturday we started off with Standard, which was a very difficult course. Philip did great to start with and got through all the hard parts, but unfortunately took the wrong side of the tunnel towards the end :( Figures that he'd mess up something easy like that. I'm not complaining though - only three 8-inch dogs qualified this run!

Jumpers was a nice course, and Philip ran fairly well, but again took the wrong side of one of the tunnels. Somebody told me that I leaned incorrectly and that's what probably caused him to change direction. That might very well be so, unfortunately I didn't have a video to review this run.

We had FAST on Saturday, and the send was interesting, but was the same as a part of the earlier Jumpers course (including the tunnel Philip messed up). It played to our advantage that the dogs had practiced that little part earlier, and Philip was a star. He got through the send bonus without any hesitation at all, and we got a total of 68 points to get us a Q. The timer malfunctioned a bit, but since Philip was the only dog in his class height, the judge asked if we'd be okay with SCT as our time. I accepted - better than risking failing a re-run :) Just one more ExA FAST leg to go!

On the Sunday Standard run Philip's bratty not-paying-attention attitude made a slight appearance. He back-jumped a jump instead of wrapping around it as he should have right from the start. Later, he also blew right off the A-Frame ignoring my pleas to "pause", and went straight for an off-course Teeter. Weird dog, I hope I don't see that again anytime soon! Grrr...

Jumpers run was really tricky (same judge as Saturday's crazy Standard), but I carefully watched earlier dogs for spots that needed work. There were 3 spots that many dogs messed up - first was an off-course jump before which many handlers failed to get their dog's attention; second was a double jump out of the tunnel, and several handlers rushed forward without working it much, so the dogs blew past it; last was right at the end of the run, where the dogs had to tightly wrap around a jump before the finish line. I thought I had everything down, but right as we reached the first off-course jump, even though I called Philip's name, he paid me no attention and went for it anyway :( We did well on the double, and even the wrap at the end, but that first mistake caused up to NQ.

So we ended the weekend with just a single FAST Q, though that was a good one to have. Let's hope this weekend was a one-time set-back, and Philip doesn't go back to his aloof self again...

Monday, April 11, 2011

April USDAA Trial

Philip and I went to a USDAA trial this weekend. These don't happen very often in our area, and it's nice to do something a little different for a change :)

The trial offered 4 runs each day, and Philip ran everything at the Advanced level since he finished his Starters title last time. We practiced 12" jumps in class for the last two weeks, and Philip had done alright with them, so there was good hope for not knocking all the bars down :)

We did have a pretty good weekend overall, so here's a quick overview of our runs!

Saturday - Advanced Gambler:
This was the first run of the morning and it was nice for a change since Philip got to warm up without having to worry about being on course so much. He ran fast, and cleared the bars with room to spare, but launched off of the dog walk missing the contact. I took him back over it and slowed him way down, so he got the contact on the second try. We easily got enough points, and Philip did the Gamble with ease (it was a jump to a tunnel straight ahead, then a left turn along the line to a teeter and another jump. We got a Q with 47 points total.

Saturday - Advanced Jumpers:
This course was nice, but I let Philip play a bit too much beforehand so he was pretty tired, and unfortunately knocked two bars down :( Otherwise he ran clean, so it was totally my fault for not stopping him from playing. Needless to say, I made him rest after this run.

Saturday - Advanced Standard:
The Standard course had a couple of tough spots, and I was sure that Philip would fail with a wrong course or something else silly. I made sure he slowed down to get his contacts, and surprisingly he got both of the hard parts correctly. He then almost skipped an easy tunnel, but got it with a little assurance from me, and since there are no refusal counted in Advanced level, we got a Q! I totally didn't expect this one, so that was nice :)

Saturday - Advanced Snooker:
For our Snooker run Philip did great with the first two red-color pairs, but after we got the 3rd red, I had him do a jump-tunnel sequence. He needed to go around the jump after taking it in order to get to the tunnel, and I think I flinched toward the jump too much, so he ended up taking the jump again instead of going around - whistle and NQ for us.

Sunday - Advanced Gambler:
The gamble portion of the run was very similar to Saturday's, the only difference being that it was mirrored to go right instead of left, and the dog had to take a different side of the tunnel than before. I though we'd do well, but I got overzealous during the opening, so we ended up on the other side of the ring when the gamble buzzer went off. I rushed Philip back, meaning for him to take a jump towards the gamble, but he got sucked up the A-frame instead. The put him in a bad position, but time was ticking so I have him go to the gamble anyway. He took the jump, but was facing towards the teeter instead of the tunnel, so I had to stop him, and after that I couldn't get him into the tunnel. Strange since he usually loves tunnels, but oh well - no gamble and NQ for us this time.

Sunday - Advanced Jumpers:
The jumpers course was very nice. It had just enough interesting turns, but wasn't so hard that it makes your head hurt. It was warming up outside and Philip was really tired, so I was worried he'd knock bars again. He ran super slowly, but hopped over every bar and got everything right. He took 2nd place with a Q.

Sunday - Advanced Standard:
Compared to Saturday's, this course was very nice, and Philip did great almost all the way through. When he got off the table though, he knocked one of jump bars :( I also managed to call him off the weaves after that, and Philip actually finished a second over the allowed time. All in all NQ.

Sunday - Advanced Pairs:
Last but not least we ran pairs with Sally the Corgi as our partner. She liked jumped over the contact zone, so we decided that Philip would take the first half that had the A-Frame, so that Sally wouldn't have to. The course wasn't hard, and Philip did it well, albeit very slowly. I almost forgot which jump was last, but got it right, handed the baton to Sally's handler, and they finished their half like pros! We had the slowest run of all, but we still got a Q - yay!

So we had 4 Qs out of 8 - not bad at all if you ask me, especially considering how badly we bombed our last USDAA trial. Philip now has 1 Q each in Standard, Gambler, Jumpers, and Pairs, and just need a Snooker Q and 2 more Standard Qs to get out of Advanced :D

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April AKC Trial 1

Actually, this was more like half-a-trial because I only went on Saturday. It was a bit far of a drive, so I didn't wanna do it twice, but they were offering FAST on Saturday, which is why I braved the drive - to get an extra chance at a FAST leg before July, especially since he has failed at two of them already.

Turns out, this was an awesome decision on my part - Philip had a great day. We had the Standard course first, which was pretty tough, but my little guy did very well. He did many hard parts correctly, but he messed up once, taking a tunnel too early. Still, it was a very nice run for him, even though he NQed.

Jumpers was next, and everyone was saying that it's really tricky too. I walked it a few times and saw that it certainly had some lucrative off-course jumps, especially at the beginning - there was 3 jumps in a straight line, but the dogs needed to only take two of them, and then take a sharp turn to the right. I saw many dogs take that 3rd jump, and I knew that it would be tempting for Philip too. So I decided to take a different approach - I placed Philip on the start line and walked out past the two jumps, standing in front of the 3rd (wrong) one. It was a bit risky being such a long lead-out, but Philip waited for me nicely. As he approached me over the two jumps, I turned and he followed! Back in the days, he might have blown right past me, but this time he listened, so I was very happy with that! He followed my lead very well for the rest of the course too, and had a nice clean run in the end. Another Q in Jumpers for him! As a matter of fact, he even took second place! Only 4 dogs qualified this run in our jump height (out of 15 or so), and the third dog was only 0.05 seconds behind Philip - crazy :)

Oh, on a slight tangent, let's talk MACH points. Now that Philip is in Excellent B, he is earning his points on qualified runs. The way these work is that each course has a standard time, which is based on how many yards the dogs has to run, and also fluctuates for different jump heights a bit. The MACH points earned are equal to the number of seconds that the dog came in under the standard course time.
So, for example, let's say the course time is set to 76 seconds, and the dog finishes in 61.3 seconds. The finish time is rounded up (to 62) and subtracted from the course time, so we get 76 - 62 = 14. This dog would earn 14 MACH points. Though there is another caveat - if the dog finishes 1st, its points get doubled (giving this dog 28 points), and 2nd place gets a 1.5x factor (giving this dog 21 points). Third place and further just gets the seconds as calculated above.
So, back to our Jumpers run - Philip finished 16 seconds ahead of the standard course time, but since he came in second, he got a total of 24 MACH points!

Last up was the FAST run - most important one of the day for us :) The course was similar to the Standard one that we ran earlier, and the send consisted of a jump into a tunnel, and back over the same jump. It was somewhat similar to the sends we had a couple weekends ago, but not quite as tricky since the tunnel was perpendicular to the jump, and required entering into the closest (more obvious) end. The beginning was a bit tough to plan to get all the necessary points, and I walked it several different ways. Philip still has fairly weak weaves, so I usually try to avoid them in FAST, as they just slow him down and often fail, but the way this course was laid out, the best approach to the send was from the weaves. I watched how other people were walking it, and most were taking that route. So eventually I settled on a plan that would include the weaves, thinking that if Philip messed up, I'd just let him bail out and run alongside of them instead. There was another 10-point obstacle I could take after the send, as a safety measure for points if weaves messed up.
Philip was the first one to run, so I didn't get to watch other dogs, but I settled on that plan. He did the beginning well, and we plunged into the weaves. Lo and behold, he did them very nicely again (he's done them well all day!). I was on the wrong side of him, but we switched and I took him to the send. He took the jump, and hesitated a bit before the tunnel since it was a bit far, but with a little extra persuasion from me, he went for it. He then almost missed the jump on the way back, but miraculously fixed himself. We should have had enough points at this point, but I felt like we had plenty of time still, so I had Philip take the 10-point serpentine of jumps anyway, and then he was over the finish line. So in the end we had a whole 76 points (too bad they aren't MACH points, heh), and of course a Q - out first one in Excellent A FAST.

So there you have it, we had 2 Qs and came very close to it on the other course. Philip was really good all day, got a good amount of points, and only has 2 more ExcA FAST legs to go :) Good boy! As a reward, he got a delicious hoof to eat today, he's been at it for about an hour, and has barely made a dent in it - hehe :P

Monday, March 28, 2011

March AKC Trial 3

We had a yet another trial this past weekend. I think this is the first time that we've gone to 3 trials in a single month - Philip is on a roll :)

Saturday wasn't his day... On Jumpers, he took a wrong course, also causing a bar to fall down as I was trying to get his attention. On Standard, he was all over the place - missing a Dog Walk contact (bad dog!), jumping off of the Table too soon, and skipping the last pole on the Weaves. So two NQs for us on Saturday.

Sunday was a bit misty and cold in the morning, so I wasn't sure how we'd do, but the courses were very nice, which was gratifying for a change. When Philip started off on Jumpers, he nicked the very first bar, which I heard, but couldn't see if it fell or not. As the course went on, there was a point where we were running kind of back towards the beginning. So I decided there would be no harm in sneaking a peek to see if the first bar stayed up. So I looked and saw that it was fine, but meanwhile Philip took a wrong turn because I wasn't watching him! Ugh, I'm so mad at myself. My instructor always says how you should never look back at a bar - there isn't anything you can do about it anyway, so keep focused, you'll find out later if it stayed up. Of course, it's very difficult not to look, and it bit me in the butt this time. Philip ran the rest of the course beautifully, and would have qualified had I not made that mistake.

I was bummed out and not looking forward to Standard, thinking Philip will probably mess up the table or take the wrong turn as usual. However, when the time came to run, Philip was paying attention and I got back in the proper mindset. He did the Table okay, and I really stressed the Dog Walk with him, telling him to wait a good 5 times, so he slowed down and got the contact. Lastly, he did the Weaves well, and finished the course clean! So we got a Q for this run :) Philip took 7th place again (he really likes being 7th I think), and got a whole 18 MACH points - good boy!

Too bad I was an idiot on Jumpers, otherwise we would have gotten our first double Q - oh well, maybe that bad run is what caused us to run better in Standard. Good weekend anyway :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Watch Philip run!

Yay, I was finally able to upload a video of Philip's run :) This is from last weekend when Philip earned his third and last Q in Excellent A Standard. Excuse my terrible screams, I had to do it to get Philip's attention :)

Here are a couple of things to notice...
We started off to a good start, you can see that Philip has a nice lead out. Before the Dog Walk, he either thought we were done, or saw something interesting in the corner, but I quickly got him back on track. Then it all goes down hill from there. At the end of the Dog Walk, I tell him to "pause" which is his two-on-two-off command, and you can see that he clearly ignores it and takes off for the Chute. It's the correct course, but now I'm way behind him, so as a last resort I screamed for him to "Go Weave!" and amazingly enough he listened (he doesn't normally do the weaves well unless I'm right next to him, plus there was that tunnel he could have taken instead). Continuing, Philip tries to sniff under the Table, and then ignores the two-on-two-off again from the A-Frame, dashing for the Teeter. I'm seriously amazed that I managed to get him to turn back to me, his paws were almost on the Teeter! Definitely lots of close calls there, but qualifying the run was certainly a nice surprise, and just what we needed :)

Video Fail

Well, I was going to show you guys a video of one of our recent runs, but apparently YouTube is a total failure now, requiring me to link my account, and blah blah blah - stuff I don't wanna do. So now I can't upload videos to my channel anymore, since I refuse to comply...

Does anyone have a recommendation for another video hosting site that I could use to upload a video, without selling my soul to them?

Monday, March 14, 2011

March AKC Trial 2

We went to another trial this weekend (told you there are lots coming up!). We had a good weekend, and I'll try to make this short :)

Saturday Jumpers had a really tough weave entry, and unfortunately Philip missed it, getting to the second pole instead of the first. Otherwise his run was really nice, Philip paid attention, and made no other mistakes.

Saturday Standard had a few tricky turns, so it took a lot of screaming on my part to get Philip to go the right way. However, the screaming actually worked this time! One time he got super close to the off-course Teeter, but I managed to get him off just as he almost stepped on it :) He also got his weaves spot-on even though I wasn't next to him - good boy! He got a Q and took 1st place out of the Excellent A dogs in this course, and this was our 3rd and last Excellent A Standard Q!!! Woohoo, after 10 painful months (he finished Open Standard last May!), we are finally moving on to Excellent B Standard!

No FAST this weekend, so I waited for little dogs to finish, put in the move-up request, and headed home. Sunday morning started way too early due to the time change. As a matter of fact, Philip was still asleep when I got up - not a usual sight at all, he usually waits eagerly for me! Also, being so early, the grass was all wet from the morning dew at the site, soaking my shoes completely - that wasn't so pleasant, yuck...

Sunday Jumpers had another tricky weave entry, and again Philip messed up and took the second pole :( Looking back, it was totally my fault for not correcting his approach, but since he was one of the first dogs on the line, I didn't get to realize this till after our run. The rest of the run was really nice, I even had several people comment to me how well Philip ran :) He paid perfect attention, I didn't have to scream at him at all, and I got all my front crosses in as I wanted!

Sunday Standard wasn't bad at all, and I even had high hopes for it, but unfortunately Philip knocked one bar down :( I'm really not sure what happened there, as he doesn't knock bars much at all anymore, but the rest of the course was clean, so it gives me good hope that Philip might finally be getting better at paying attention to me. I'm starting to believe that getting out of the "terrible twos" really did wonders for him now that he is 3 years old!

So all in all, just one Q for us this weekend, but a very desired Q, and only 1 mistake each in the other runs, so I'm very happy with the results. Now that Philip is finally in Excellent B for both courses, we can start shooting for doubles, and we'll have more opportunities for points - yay!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March AKC Trial 1 - Saturday

Hello again! March is a busy month in the Agility world for us. We have 3 trials this month, and just got back from the first one this weekend!

This was a really big 4 day long event, but Philip and I only went on Saturday and Sunday since I have to work and all :) The event also had Obedience, Rally-O and other fun stuff going on, but more on that in a bit.

Saturday's Standard run was a usual disaster, though it was an extremely tough course. Our fiasco started off with a missed contact on the Dog Walk! That was definitely a first for Philip, and I actually didn't know it even happened until after the run. I really need to enforce the contacts with Philip more. He tends to run off without stopping in trials, even though he does his two-on-two-off in class. Besides that, he also took a wrong jump (I totally expected that one, it was a really tough turn), and made another mistake that escapes me right now.

Before having our JWW run, I went to check out the Obedience rings, and saw the CGC testing area (that was going on the whole weekend as well). I've been wanting to get Philip his CGC for a while now, but I always felt like he'd fail the dog greeting and stranger greeting parts of the test, since he is a jumpy boy. I told the CGC lady that I wanted to watch a test before trying it, but she encouraged me that Philip is behaving really well and I should just try it. I wasn't convinced yet, so I told her I had an Agility run to do, but that I might come back later.

The JWW run was a much better turn out. Philip was getting nicely tired by the time it came up, so he paid attention to me, and he did the course very nicely. There were a couple of spots where I had to scream for him, but he actually listened and came back to me. He got a Q taking 7th place, and earned 4 more MACH points :)

Being such a big event, there were a lot of dogs there, so we had to wait quiet a while for our FAST run. So while waiting, I went back to the CGC area. I thought I would sign up for a spot with Philip, but apparently the tester lady figured we came to test, and started it before I even realized it! She petted him, looked at his ears and teeth, lifted his paws, brushed him, and Philip just sat there like a sweet little angel boy! I was so amazed at it. She then asked us to do some commands - sit, down, stay, come, as well as walking nicely on leash, and working with distractions (two girls did some hula hoop spinning near us). We walked by a dog, and shook hands with the tester. Last but not least, I left Philip with the tester on leash, and went behind a trailer to fill out paperwork. This is usually the hardest part of the test since dogs don't like having their owner out of sight, but Philip has a great stay and has been out of my sight many times, so I knew he'd have zero issues with that one. And so we passed our CGC test! I never imagined it would be so simple, I'm so proud of my boy :)

Anyway, back to Agility, the FAST run. As you might remember from our last trial, Philip had finished his Open FAST title, so this weekend we got to try Excellent FAST. In Excellent there are 5 more points to earn (for a total of 60), and 5 more feet on distance (for a total of 15). Saturday's send bonus included a tunnel, out to a jump, then having to do a 180 from the jump back into the same tunnel. The points weren't so bad to get in this course, but I decided to go for the send first. With Philip's love for tunnels, you'd think this send would have been easy-peasy, but the U-turn proved to be a little too much. Philip took the tunnel, and the jump, and came back around it, but the turn made him lose his momentum, so I couldn't get him to go back into the tunnel. He was just so confused, and then found something to sniff in the grass, so we got a fault for our send. Of course, no send = NQ in FAST.

Before walking off course though, I figured I'd do a little contact practice. In our class just a few days earlier, the instructor was talking about how if you mess up your run early in the course, you might as well practice things you have trouble with, and pointed out the contacts is one of those things for Philip. So I took him to the A-Frame, and he blew off it as he usually does in trials. No contact meant no running for him, so I turned around to the exit. In hindsight, I should have picked him up and carried him out (as our instructor told me, but alas - I forgot). By running him out, he still got to take a couple of jumps and have some fun on the way, so it might not have stuck so well that he did something wrong. Oh well, next time I'll hopefully remember.

That wraps up our Saturday shenanigans, and this post is getting long, so I'm going to split it up, read up on Sunday shortly in the new post! :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February AKC Trial 2

This past weekend marked exactly a year since Philip and I started running in AKC Agility competitions. We went to the same trial that it all began with last year, one which is famous to be on a rainy weekend with lots of mud. Even though the forecasts were promising earlier in the week, this year still wasn't an exception, and it started pouring Friday night... Even though last year a few select people (including yours truly) braved the course anyway, this year the trial secretary decided to cancel the runs on Saturday. I ended up driving to the site anyway since the email didn't go out until after I had left home, and it definitely looked slushy there, so maybe it was for the best. Still though, it sucks since we all paid for it and didn't even get to try - don't think we'll be getting any refunds.

The weather cleared up by Sunday though, so we were on for our 3 runs. First up was Standard, and Philip did a pretty good job, except being sucked onto the Teeter at the very beginning, earning himself a wrong course. He also stopped before getting up on the table, though I heard that another dog had peed on it earlier, so that might have been why.

The jumpers course was set up with a very tricky beginning - there were 3 jumps straight out, but the dogs had to only take 2 of them, and then take a sharp U-turn into a tunnel. I managed to turn Philip away from the 3rd jump, but he didn't turn far enough and went for a different jump out to the right instead of the tunnel. He also ended up knocking the 2nd jump bar, and then another later.

So we got two NQs in those runs and had quite a while to wait before our FAST run, which was the last thing of the day. This trial was taking place as part of a bigger dog show, so I went to see the pretty doggies during the break. Philip got quite a bit attention there since he was all muddy (I let him romp in some slush after the runs) - everyone commented on how much fun he must have had that morning :) Unfortunately, I forgot to grab my camera, so no pictures of pretty dogs for you guys, but I saw one super weird dog. It was called a Bergamasco, and you guys should totally look it up, such a strange looking dog!

Anyway, back to Agility. We finally got to run FAST around 3pm (ugh!), and I thought it'd be easy as always, however Philip had gone completely out the window! We began with a tire into the weave poles, which he messed up, and I didn't bother fixing. So we ran ahead to the Send Bonus which included a jump, an A-Frame, and a tunnel. Well usually we have no problem with these things, but Philip just would not go to the jump! I was flabbergasted. Finally he went over it after me taking him in circles for the 3rd time, and he easily did the other two obstacles of the Send. After that I wanted him to turn left, but he totally ignored me and ran straight ahead. It's no big deal in FAST since we can do whatever we want, but he was frustrating me beyond belief, since we needed our points, and were running out of time. I finally called him to the Teeter, which was worth 9 points, and then he ran by a jump that was right there for 10 points, having me turn him around yet again, but he did get over it and to the finish line on time.

In the end, we got barely got our Q, with just 1 point over the requirement, and 0.11 seconds under the course time! This was our last needed Open FAST Q though, so Philip got his title and will be moving up to Excellent A FAST next weekend!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February AKC Trial 1

We went to our first AKC trial of the year this past weekend. I can't believe I didn't make it to any AKC trials until now. No worries though, we have quite a few coming up in the next months :)

AKC has recently come up with a new Agility class called Time 2 Beat (T2B for short). I'll touch on it more in a separate post later, but it will be officially starting on July 1st. Our local trial secretary is very excited to start putting it on, but consequently that means that they'll mostly stop offering FAST once they get T2B going. To let us FAST-fanatics get our fill of it before it's gone though, they are offering it a lot more up until July, so Philip and I are going to try and get our Excellent FAST title before it disappears. Anyway, you are going to see a lot more FAST on this blog in the next few months!

So, on to our trial... Saturday started off with Excellent A Standard, which was a fairly tricky course, and Philip had the case of crazies on it, forgetting who I was or what I wanted :) It's really frustrating when he does this (which seems to be pretty often recently), but at the same time it's pretty hilarious to watch him go insane too.

The Excellent B JWW run was much better though. I had my well-behaved Philip back, and the course had a great flow, so he listened well and completed the course with a Q. This was our first Q in Excellent B and we earned our first MACH points! Philip was in 7th place and earned 12 MACH points in the run - not bad at all!

We had to wait a very long time for our Open FAST run, and the weather was warming up, plus I wasn't feeling so well, but we stuck it out, determined to get our Qs before July :) Philip is generally very good at FAST so far (he's only NQed once in it, and that was because the course was full of mud due to rain, and he couldn't run), so I never stress those runs. The Send Bonus was pretty interesting being set up kind of in a middle of the course with a jump into a tunnel, but it was no problem for Philip. He ran great, we got a total of 71 points and took 2nd place. The first place went to an awesome little Papillon, that dog ran like the wind! This was our second Q in Open FAST, so just one more to go before moving up to Excellent.

Sunday wasn't nearly as good of a day for us, as Philip was back to his crazy self again. On the Standard course, he indulged in his tunnel love, taking each in the wrong direction, and then getting a double dose when I fixed him to go the correct way. He also messed up the weaves and totally skipped the two-on-two-off on the contacts - sigh!

The Jumpers course seems to always go better for us recently, but unfortunately Philip knocked down the very first jump bar, which was disappointing. He also took a wrong course at the very end, but that was probably because I didn't really care at that point and wasn't paying as much attention as I should have.

Oh well, the two Qs on Saturday were still a fairly good outcome for the weekend. Our next trial is in two weeks and we'll have FAST both days, so we should have some Qs there too :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January USDAA Trial

Hi guys, sorry I've been kind of MIA recently. I got super busy over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and had little time for blogging or even Agility itself. We did attend a couple of trials in December that I haven't written about, but I'll back-post them when I have a chance. In quick overview though, Philip bombed most runs and got only one Q in Open FAST over both weekends.

We are in a New Year though, and this last weekend we got attended a USDAA trial. I had taken Philip out of classes for a few week over the holidays, but managed to get one in right before the trial to get him warmed up. Still, his lack of practice was prevalent at the trial. Plus, as I've mentioned before, Philip runs 12" at USDAA, and while some dogs take to jump changes with ease, Philip is not so fond of it...

We ran Advanced Standard, Starters Gamblers, and Starters Jumpers on Saturday. The Standard run was really good, except for the fact that Philip decided to knock second to last bar! It's pretty upsetting having a stupid error like that at the end of the run, but I brushed it off as Philip getting used to the higher jumps. He also messed up his Weave entry, but that wouldn't have counted against us at this level.

Gamblers run had a nice set up, with what I thought was a pretty easy gamble portion. Philip had a good start doing everything as I asked, but half way through the opening the judged stopped us - apparently the timer had malfunctioned and we had to start over. So back to the start line we went, and again did the same routine. We managed to gather quite a few points with no issues again, and then Philip did the gamble beautifully. I was ready to cheer as he flew over the last jump, but in a split second all hopes were shattered as the bar went fumbling to the ground :( That was pretty sad, and even the judge chuckled that "it must've been an earthquake".

Jumpers run seemed a bit tough for a Starters course, and I felt bad for the beginners to trialing. I knew Philip shouldn't have trouble though, so didn't worry too much. The bar knocking gods were not on our side though. Philip knocked two right at the beginning. Beautiful run otherwise, but oh well.

On Sunday we had another shot as Advanced Standard, followed by Starters Snooker and Starters Pairs. The Standard run wasn't too exciting as it ended up with two knocked bars again - one at the start and another towards the end.

The Snooker course looked a bit challenging, and I was a little discouraged by that and the constant NQs over the weekend, so I came up with a plan, walked it and figure that it'll be whatever it'll be. Funny how that works, but the time when you don't really expect much are usually when you have good runs. Such was the case this time too. Philip paid perfect attention to my direction, took the course as I planned, and most importantly kept all the bars up! We had a beautiful run with a total of 46 points, a Q, and a first place. The judge cheered for us exclaiming "no bars!" :)

Last up was a Pairs run. Our usual partner in crime Willis was unavailable this day, so we had a new partner - a Bichon Frise names Travis. Travis is new to Agility and this was his first USDAA trial. He is such a cute little guy though, and has so much fun on the ring! We split up the course for him to take the first half of the course which was a little shorter and easier (8 obstacles, mostly jumps). Philip and I took the second half (10 obstacle with contact equipment). Travis's owner was a little worried that she wouldn't be able to catch him after their half, but I encouraged her to try. Travis must've gotten bored waiting for this run, and when he got to the ring, he had the cutest case of zoomies ever! He ran and ran around the ring, and I just giggled waiting for them :) He got back on track eventually and finished his half, then we did ours, complete with a knocked jump bar even! Of course all the running around and the knocked bar NQed our run, but it was so much fun, so I thought it was a good end to the weekend :)

So there you have it. Overall, Philip paid really good attention to me the whole weekend, which was a bit unexpected, but very pleasant. I really hope this trend stays for the upcoming AKC trials! The 12" jumps really killed him though with all those knocked bars. If it wasn't for the bars, we'd have almost all Qs. Oh well, we'll take the one Q we got, and actually it's a really big one as it finished our Agility Dog title, so Philip can move up to Advanced Games next time :)

We have quite a few trials coming up, so stay tuned for more of our adventures!