Friday, 4 April 2014

Catching Up

Wow I haven't posted in a while!  Been busy with life.  I have some catching up to do, and here is the first update:  After nearly 16 years in Alberta, Paul and I have decided to move to British Columbia. It's something we have been talking about for the last three years, but the timing just never seemed right.  But this year is different.  Paul isn't tied down to a business, the housing market is hot right now so it will be easy to sell our acreage, no puppies to raise and the winter has been so awful that we both can't wait to get away!  We are thinking of Kelowna.  Lots of outdoor activities for us, the lake, mountains, ski hill and there seems to be a lot of dog stuff there too. April 22 is our big move day.  I'm excited! I'm ready for a change :)

 My second update is that I have decided to try out for the CKC
Agility World Team.  I have been humming and hawing over it for a year. I feel really lucky to have Spryte. She's fast, athletic, loves to work and gives it 110% each time we step to the line. I kept feeling like if I didn't do anything with her I would be wasting her.  I was worried that years from now I would regret not trying out. I would never know what we are capable of achieving. So even though this is outside my comfort zone I have decided to go for it.  I will never improve if we don't take our training and competing to the next level.

To try out for the team there is a 3 step process. First is the application.  They wanted to know what we have achieved so far.  This was tough for me.  We  have the required CKC agility excellent titles, but don't have much to show in the way of big events. Unfortunately the last two years of nationals (AAC and UKI) we have missed due to heats and pregnancies.  We did make regionals, but they wanted big events and I had none to show for it.  I will be more prepared for this in the future.

Second was the CKC Try Out trial. This was the first time the committee has held an actual Try Out event. It was held at the fabulous McCann Facility in Flambourough, Ontario last weekend.  So myself and a friend flew down to the event to compete. Friday was a CKC agility trial fundraiser. We entered all 4 events and ran clean in all four. Spryte even earned her Master Excellent Jumpers with Weaves title.

Saturday and Sunday was the actual event with international courses designed and judged by an international judge from Finland. This way we could all try our skills on true international courses.  The courses were tight and tricky. I was shocked at how little space there was between some of the jumps. If the dog wasn't paying attention or the handling was late the dog would be off course in a second!  The other thing that shocked me was how tough the judge was on contacts. She was calling up contacts, teeter contacts that would normally be fine in AAC, down contacts that would probably have been ok.  I was experimenting with a running Aframe the last few months.  It was going well in practise but this judge called every single one of my Aframe contacts. So back to stopped contacts for Spryte and I.

In the end we did pretty well, we probably finished up middle of the pack (aggregates aren't up
yet).  I wish I could say we had a clean run but we didn't. I had one course where it would have been clean except for the contacts. Otherwise we had off courses or refusals.  I really had to change my mindset going into this competition. I'm used to running well, lots of clean runs. But I am not used to this style of course.  We are newbies and it will take time before we can run clean and consistent. But what I am thrilled with was Spryte's skills. All the stuff we have been training we had a chance to execute on multiple courses. We did threadles, threadle rears, flappy tappys, backsides of tunnels, backsides of jumps, backsides with serpes over jumps, weave entries with harsh rear crosses, blind crosses. It was amazing! I was so proud of Spryte. She did everything I asked her to do. She showed me that she has the skills to compete at this level, we just need the experience.  So despite what on paper may not look like a great weekend, I couldn't have been happier with our performance. (3 videos below)

Step three of the process is a Scout Out in Edmonton on April 19.  More international courses and
challenges.  After that the team will be announced.  If we don't make it this year I will try again next year. It may take a few years before we have the experience to have a strong application. But either way I am so happy I decided to go through with applying. It's been good for me ;)

Spark update:  Spark will be 6 months old tomorrow.  She is a ton of fun! She has tons of personality, always wants to play and tug on something (generally our clothing), she loves to work and is very social.  Right now our training is focusing on rally skills (video below), handling for agility (wraps, serps, threadles, all on jumps with the bar on the ground), and body awareness and balance exercises. I admit the body awareness stuff is the most fun for me. Spark is learning to do a handstand (she can do it on a cushion but can't do it on a wall yet) and to climb the stairs with her back end first.  I have videos below. She is also learning to sit pretty for core strength, and to get all four paws inside a small box (hard for her).  As well as the balance disc and perch work from before.  I am having a ball with this puppy and love her so much! 
(pictures are from today).