Trying Out USDAA

4 Feb

I have been a little leery of USDAA … it has a reputation, shall we say, for being a bit more cut-throat and difficult than, for instance, CPE.  I can honestly report that I saw nothing cut-throat this weekend: quite the contrary, in fact everyone was quite friendly and welcoming.  (Of course, it helps that there’s a big cross-over between the two venues, so I wasn’t really a stranger.  Who knows, maybe they be-head strangers :).)  As far as the courses … I ran Gromit in Performance 1, and Clewe in Starters — basically the same courses, with a lower A-frame and no spread jumps for Gromit.  I entered in Gamblers, Relay, Standard, and Snooker. I found the courses to be fair and fun.  If anything my dogs ran better than usual this weekend.

Let me say openly, I never expected to do QUITE so well this weekend. Here are Gromit’s runs — he was a consummate professional.  I was a little worried about the  table — he is accustomed to just bouncing off at the end of the points classes in CPE.  But, he was fantastic — hit every contact, kept every bar up, not a single off-course, and only a handful of wrong-way turns.  He Q’d in all four classes!  Delightful.

Clewe also Q’d 4-of-4, though his runs weren’t the smooth perfection of the G-man.  He needs more support than Gromit, and I often fail to provide it.  He wants very much to be Right, and sometimes this makes him turn his head or hesitate if he’s Not Sure — and cause a mistake.  I’m confidant we’ll continue to come together on this — I’ll give more timely, more clear direction, and he’ll learn to read my half-assed cues better :).

I was most worried about him BITING me.  To be perfectly honest, he has the potential to be a very bite-y Border Collie.  Throughout training and trialing, this behavior sneaks in — each time somewhere new(ish), and each time I work hard to figure out what’s causing it, and fix the problem.  In a nutshell, he bites when he is excited, a little frustrated, and doesn’t know what else to do — lately it’s been right at the last obstacle (especially if it’s the table) because he hates to be done with agility.  I compound the problem by getting excited at the end of the run …. and in my excitement I give even less clear cues, and maybe flap around a little bit.  I went into this weekend with a plan to help him (and me) avoid the dreaded BITE.  I am pleased to report that he did not land any bites, nor did he try to.  He may have thought about it a little bit, but I managed to redirect him to either the last obstacle or the leash.

Beyond the whole “yay no biting!” success, we had a lot of other great moments.  Using the video, I timed his poles at 3.12 s and his dogwalk at 2.38 s in Standard — speed is his middle name! He took down a few bars, missed an up contact on the teeter and a down contact on the A-frame (both in Gamblers), but he hit everything else.  He had some spins that would probably be refusals at a higher level … but all in all, he was awesome.  Here are Clewe’s runs:



Clewe Completes Level 3 CPE

22 Oct

This weekend at the “Gnomes v. Zombies” Bo-Gee trial, Clewe finished his Level 3 title!  The course included 12 weave poles, so they weren’t fault-able, but Clewe did them perfectly anyway! So proud of him.  He finished in just 6.5 months of competition.  In comparison, it took Gromit almost two full years to finish Level 3.  Yikes!

To finish Level 4, Clewe needs all 8 Standard Q’s, plus one more Colors and two more Jackpots.  He wasn’t running perfectly this weekend — a few too many knocked bars and silly spins for that — but he ran well and really did a good job.



Speaking of Gromit … he had a great weekend — Q’d in 9 of 10 runs.  He missed the 10th run by knocking the first bar … in Standard, of course. He now needs “only” 15 Standard Q’s, plus 115 points in the games, to get his C-ATE.  I think we rate to get it in Spring 2013.

11 Sep

Baby Goldens from a great breeder — my friend Gerilyn, also the owner of Canine University. Two pups still available to the right homes!

Zuma x Rowan Pups 2012

The puppies have been very busy these last few weeks and I haven’t had a moment to update their blog! We’ve been too busy going places and doing things to make sure that these pups are ready for life!  The puppies have been eating solid food now for several weeks and have been introduced to all different kinds of proteins. We’ve varied their diet so that they are getting beef, turkey, chicken, pork, tripe and even salmon. They are loving all of it and don’t seem to have any dietary upset.

Potty training is going really well and they rarely miss the box. We take a travel potty with us wherever we go and they hit it with almost 100 % accuracy even on their first visit to the training center in a huge space. I am amazed at how quickly puppies pick up on keeping their bedding dry and…

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Trial Report: Bo-Gee, July 2012

29 Jul

We had another fantastic weekend at Bo-Gee!  This time around, Gromit was up for his C-ATCH, but he needed to Q in both Standard runs.  Well guess what, he did it!!

I’m so pleased, I can hardly stand it.  On Saturday, Standard was the last run of the day.  Part of my wished for a NQ, just to take the pressure off for the next day.  He did perfect poles, then all three contacts all well.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and proceeded to fail to handle the next few jumps.  We squeaked by with no faults, and Q’d! Today, Standard was the first run of the day.  I honestly wasn’t nervous ahead of time.  I felt sure that if it didn’t happen today, it would happen another day.  Since March, Gromit has been Q-ing in Standard about half the time, and he’s Q’d 7 of the last 10 Standard runs.  He ran a great run — clean, and I managed not to freak out until the run was over, when I did start shaking!  Yay for Gromit :).  He earned his first Level 5 Q in Jumpers on December 6th, 2009 …. so this has been a long time coming.

Gromit’s C-ATCH run:

On to the next challenge:  C-ATE!  He already has 20 legs in all six games, and a total of 3730 points.  He needs 20 Standard legs (worth 500 points), and a total of 5000 points overall — so 20 Standard legs plus 770 points in any class.  If he keeps Q-ing at current rates, we could earn the C-ATE sometime in late spring 2013.  Wow!

Clewe ALSO had a great agility weekend.  Like Gromit, he Q’d 9 of 13 times overall.  He finished his Level 2 title, and had a number of really great runs.  In particular, we are getting better at straightaway series of jumps, and his poles have improved significantly.


Here’s a video of my favorite run with him — his first ever 51-point Snooker!

Bo-Gee in June: Hot and Awesome!

25 Jun

Yes, I am a fan of Barney (from How I Met Your Mother, naturally).

It was a bit on the hot side this weekend, and there was that crazy flash thunderstorm on Saturday … but we still had a great time at Bo-Gee!

IMG_4141 Clewe Q’d on 9 of 13 runs.  Not bad for a baby agility dog at his 5th trial ever.  At Gromit’s 5th trial, he was still busy running out of the ring half the time and was mostly at Levels 1 and 2.  In contrast, Clewe finished Level 3 Full House and Jumpers this weekend, earning his CL3-F mini-title. He then had his first ever Level 4 run in Full House — and Q’d! Good boy.  Clewe needs one more Standard and one more Colors to finish his Level 2 title.

In general Clewe is running more smoothly, but his poles were terrible this weekend so I will definitely be doing some remedial work there. He dropped way too many bars.  I also wasn’t happy with his A-frame  — he wasn’t missing the contact, but he wasn’t doing it like I want, either.  My goal for both dogs is to have them be extremely easy to judge where contacts are concerned.

IMG_4135 Speaking of contacts, Gromit had a banner weekend! I sent him to six teeters, five A-frames, and six dogwalks, and he hit Every Single One. Amazing!  He Q’d 2/2 Standards (yay!) and 9/11 games — I got greedy in Sunday’s Snooker, and he felt the “out” jump was WAY too far out in Saturday’s Jackpot.  Other than that I have zero complaints with him this weekend.  He is now only 2 measly Standard Q’s away from his C-ATCH — I never thought we’d be doing so well.

I also had two great runs as a backup handler for Tee, who is a stunning little red BC.  She Q’d in 1st place in Fullhouse and Jumpers with me — good girl!

Chris took Clewe’s Colors run for me — it was hard to tell who was taking who for a spin :).

Clewe’s Jumpers run:

Chris & Clewe run Colors:

Gromit’s Wildcard run:

Me & Tee:



Gemini: Agility in the Rain

5 Jun

It sprinkled, poured, misted, and deluged all day Saturday at Gemini.  Chris managed to get one lonely vid of Clewe running Snooker:

He was running at Level 2, so he only needed 28 points.  He did 1-4, 1-6, 1-7 in the open, then 2-3-4 in the close.  He dropped 5b, I think by hitting the upright with his nose when he turned his head to watch me. But, he had 29 points, enough to Q!  That finishes his Level 2 Snooker and earns the CL2-S title (2 Snookers and 2 Jackpots at Level 2).

Act-Up: Mother’s Day Weekend trial

14 May

It’s true, I signed up for an agility trial on Mother’s Day weekend. In lieu of the customary breakfast in bed, my husband and boys brought me lunch at the trial. Not just a Subway sandwich or Chinese takeout either — my husband is the Cubmaster for the local den, and he borrowed a big pot and some portable stove thingies, and they cooked home-made spaghetti sauce right on the spot. Needless to say it was a wonderful Mother’s Day present, and it really impressed all the agility folks. One person whispered that I should make sure to click and treat him :).

Da boys!
The Henry Boys 5-5-12

The trial was a lot of fun too! We were blessed with cool, sunny weather — just right for agility. It did get a little hot, but nothing too unbearable, especially since the trial site has air-conditioned indoor crating.  Eli ran Gromit in Colors — Gromit chose the course Eli had NOT planned, but Eli was able to totally compensate!  If Gromit hadn’t knocked a bar, they would have Q’d.

Gromit had a great weekend! Q’d 4/5 on Saturday, missing only one contact all day (in Standard of course).  He made up for it on Sunday by earning his fourth Standard Q at Level 5! Only 6 more to go to his C-ATCH! 🙂  He hit every single contact on Sunday: 3 teeters, 3 dogwalks, and 2 aframes.  With Saturday’s successes, he hit contacts 13 of 14 tries.  Not bad at all for my (formerly?) yellow-phobe. He also had a great Snooker run (three tricky 7s, and made it through 6 in the close before the buzzer went off), a 42-point FullHouse, and a 55-point Jackpot. Here’s a lovely Colors run from Saturday:

Clewe had a bit of a rough weekend overall — knocking jumps, acting silly at times. We are definitely still learning about each other — you can see in videos that sometimes I believe he has committed to an obstacle and begin to move away, and he obviously hasn’t and pulls off obstacles. He’s coming right along though — I’m very proud of him. Among other accomplishments, he was (mostly) quiet in the indoor crating area, and he did a VERY nice teeters on Sunday in both Jackpot and Standard (he has a bit of a habit of flying off the end, because he is so excited to run agility! Yay!).  Overall he Q’d three times: Jackpot, Fullhouse, and Jumpers.  We had had lots of personal Q’s too.

Here’s an interesting video of Gromit and Clewe both running the same course.  I think I must have walked the course goofy, because I ended up in the wrong spot at the same point in both runs.  Lucky for me the dogs are forgiving! 🙂


Bo-Gee (April 2012): Wild & Windy CPE

4 May

Ask anyone who was at last weekend’s trial how it went, and they will probably comment on how cold and windy it was!  Jumps were blowing down spontaneously, and more than one tent and EZ-up was taken down by gusts that reached 45 mph.  The blowing dust  bothered dogs and people alike — I finished at least one run half-blind with tears in my eyes.

But, it was the first out-door trial of the season — not to be missed! Even though outdoor trialing was tough for Gromit when we first started, it has become my favorite way to do agility.  I love that there’s plenty of room for everyone to hang out and watch the trial, and I love the big, open rings. At Bo-Gee I especially love the Saturday night pot-luck after the runs are done for the day.

I’m pleased to say that Clewe did great at his first outdoor trial, ever.  When Gromit and I started trialing, he had a little “problem” — he would finish his run with me, then blast out the exit and go gallivanting around, visiting everyone.  When I pulled up to Bo-Gee three years ago, and saw the temporary snow fencing that defined each ring, my heart sank.  I knew he would not respect that floppy, torn, knee-high fence, and I was right.  In fact on our first run of the day, his sequence went like this:

jump, jump, A-frame, jump, jump OVER the orange fence, visit-visit-visit everybody’s EZ-ups, cross the wide path between rings, visit-visit-visit another line of EZ-up’s, jump OVER the orange fence and INTO the other ring, do *that* A-frame, jump OVER the orange fence, run down to the stream …. you get the idea. I remember someone saying “call your dog” and me thinking “um yeah, that’ll work.”

Needless to say, I had to fix that problem … and I did, with help from my dog-training mentor & friend Gerilyn. In just two weeks I taught Gromit that agility ended with ME — not with a free-for-all.  He never blasted out an exit again, and he never leaped out of a ring for “Fun Times at the Outdoor Trial.”

Oddly enough, I was not worried about Clewe at this, his first out-door trial. He’s shown such drive and focus for the Very Important Agility Game, I just didn’t think he would care to go gallivanting –and luckily, I was right. He Q’d 9 out of 13 runs this weekend — not bad for a baby agility dog!


Here’s a little smidge of his weekend:

…and some of Gromit too!

Off to Bo-Gee!

26 Apr

I’m packing today for the first outdoor trial of the season!  I always look forward to Bo-Gee‘s trials at the Deerfield Fairgrounds in New Hampshire.  It is a two-ring, unlimited-entry trial, which means there are LOTS of dogs and everyone gets in, no matter what! I am so looking forward to driving up to that big field full of agility stuff, EZ-up tents, and RVs.

I learned last year how much MORE fun the whole shebang is if you camp out. After the trials are over, there is a huge potluck on Saturday night — a great opportunity to relax and socialize with agility friends.  The best part of camping there is that I don’t have to get up extra early and drive — last year I did the first walk-through in my PJs!

I’m running both Gromit and Clewe in all the runs: 3 on Friday, 5 on Saturday, and another 5 on Sunday.  It’s impossible not to get my hopes up, after the last trial (where Gromit was perfect and Clewe nearly so).  I don’t expect another perfect weekend … but it would be wonderful if Gromit Q’d in Standard once or twice!

I will be busy, bouncing back and forth between the two rings running 26 times, woo!  I’m also working as a dedicated scorer.  It’s so much fun, I can hardly stand it. Whee!

Gromit’s Agility Weekend: First Ever PERFECT WEEKEND!

8 Apr

As I said, I had a tremendous weekend at All Dogs CPE agility!  Perhaps not wishing to be shown up by his amazing little brother, Gromit quietly turned in his first ever perfect weekend.  This is especially difficult, because he runs at Level C (no mistakes allowed) for the games these days.  It’s especially amazing, because it means he Q’d two whole times in Standard, our traditional nemesis!


Just to give some perspective, here is a little summary of Gromit’s agility career, comparing his Q rate in Standard to the games, before this weekend.

Level Standard Games
1 12% 30%
2 36% 55%
3 21% 55%
4 20% 57%
5 8% 61%
C NONE 61%

That 8% at Level 5 is calculated from the 1 lonely Q he has after 13 attempts.  See how nicely he’s improved in the games, even though the levels get progressively harder? But, contacts, especially those in Standard, continue to thwart our C-ATCH dreams.  Well, my C-ATCH dreams.  To be honest, I have to say I think Gromit enjoys leaping off the top rungs of the A-Frame.  BUT.

This weekend he Q’d in Standard, not once but TWICE.  

His Q rate in Standard is now 20% (3 of 15), and in the games it crept up to 62% (142 of 230). That’s enough math!  Here are some of his best runs of the weekend:

Standard on Saturday:


Snooker — 51 pts, fastest perfect Snooker time in the whole trial:


Standard on Sunday: