Saturday, 24 May 2014

UN PT2 Sunday

PT2 for Anise. Spryte at 2:15 in the video with her borrowed handler.  Strider at 3:15 in the video with me handling him.

UN Vehicle search video from Sunday

UN Nosework Trial

Last weekend the shelties and I attended our first every nose work trial in Castlegar, BC.  It was a United Nosework Trial, an organization soon to be taken over by the United Kennel Club. In fact you had to have a UKC registration number to enter the trial. Lucky for me both dogs have been previously registered because we occasionally compete in UKC obedience.

I had no intentions of competing in a nose work trial this year.  We have been busy focusing on agility and moving to a new province.  I was a little disappointed that I would be missing the first SDDA trial in Western Canada, but it fell on the weekend after we planned to move.  So with no plans to compete I haven't been actively training in the sport. In fact we haven't played the game since last fall.

Then one day I was on Facebook and noticed a post regarding a few spots left in an upcoming nose work trial.  It was on a weekend I was free. I started thinking how fun it would be to attend with the dogs. But with so little practise I was thinking it wasn't a great idea.  So I posted on a local Facebook site about where I could get birch odour locally.  No one was sure, but a few people had some scented qtips they would lend me.  So that night I was hooked up with a great nose work kit, and had a nice chat with a local dog trainer.  The wonders of social media :)

So after 2 weeks of practise we headed to Castlegar for our first trial. UN/UKC works a bit different than SDDA (the organization I was currently training for). First their odours are different. They have 5 different odours, the first three levels being Birch, Anise, Clove.  Second they have pre tests that you have to pass before you can compete in their trial. A pretest is a container search with 12 boxes, one of which is the hide box.  You must pass the pre test at the level you plan on competing at before you can play. Third, they have two different formats of trials. A regular trial where you run all 4 elements at once back to back. If you pass all four you get your UN1 title. And an elements trial, which can offer any combination of the elements, but you need two passes in each to earn an elements title (2 container passes gets you a novice container title). When you get all 4 element titles at a level you now have the UN1 title. Fourth, you can only run one dog in each class because they will not move the hide.  If you want to run a second dog you have to get someone else to run the dog for you. If the owner ran both dogs then they would know the location with the second hide and that would be cheating.

The organizing club had a practise room set up with 3 boxes in it, one with a marked odour box. So we could warm up the dogs on odour on the trial grounds before going into our search. Spryte did well with the warm up and I was ready for our PT1.  In we go, we start behind the cones and then when ready I gave her the "search" cue and off she went. She was very focused, search each box, went to the end of the row, didn't find it and started heading back. Then she stops at a box and starts head bobbing. I'm thinking she has it and called alert. Then I heard the most heart sinking word from the judge, "wrong".   I took a few steps away, Spryte hit the next box, head bobbed with enthusiasm and then gave her trained "sit" alert.  She had alerted on fringe odour.  One more box over and we would have had it right. How frustrating! Now we couldn't play in the next event, the container search, because we didn't pass our PT1.

The next PT was held in the afternoon.  My plan had been to run Sprtye in the morning and Strider in the afternoon PT. With the fail in the morning I now had a problem, I couldn't run two dogs in one event. Lucky for me another competitor offered to run one of my dogs for me. I gave her Spryte. She warmed her up on the practise boxes.  Sprtye was in love with the new lady who fed her hot dogs, and then they went in to the PT.  I kept my fingers crossed and waited outside the building for them to return.  Sprtye worked like a champ, knew exactly what to do and gave her "sit" alert, this time at the correct box. Yah she passed her PT in 9 seconds!  Strider and I went in next. He was just as focused on the job and went from box to box stopping and sitting at the last one in the lineup. I called "alert" and got  "yes!" from the judge. Wahoo, Strider passed his PT1 in 11 seconds.

So now we had the go ahead to play in the elements trial. The afternoon's event was a vehicle search. 3 vehicles lined up together all facing forward.  At the first level the hide will be on the front of the car.  From the front wheel well, along the front bumper to the wheel well on the other side.  So the dog can go from front bumper to front bumper without ever having to search the rest of the vehicle.  It was raining, so our judge was nice enough to have the vehicles moved under a covered picnic area for the search.  The judge gives a briefing to let us know the boundaries of the search area and the starting line. Then we all go wait away from the search for our turn.

When Spryte's turn came up we entered the search area, I pointed to the first vehicle and cued "search".    Spryte started smelling each vehicle, very interested in the first one. She skimmed the other two, so I brought her back to the first. She started barking in frustration, she couldn't find odour. So we went down the line of cars again and she started to sniff more heavily at the third vehicle.  It was a jacked up truck, so the bumper was above Spryte's head. She got right under it, sniffing around heavily on the right side of the bumper and then she finally sat.  I called alert and we got another "Yes!".  It felt like we had been working for several minutes (max time allowed is 3 minutes). So I was shocked to hear later when receiving our Q ribbon that the total time was only 1 minute and 34 seconds.

Day two I decided to enter the level 2 PT's with both dogs, having the same lady running Spryte again. I wanted to get these out of the way if I could. Entering a PT on the same day as a trial, didn't work out well for us the day before and it was something I wanted to avoid in the future.  So both dogs tested on Anise and both dogs passed. Spryte did it in 16.22 seconds, and Strider in 19.43 seconds.

The first element of the day was novice containers, again just Spryte was entered.  She was really starting to get into the game. She whined outside while waiting to go in for our turn and barked on the way in. She was having fun now and was getting very confident. We passed the round with a time of 9.43 seconds and earned a third place finish too!

After lunch was another vehicle search. Again Sprtye was way more confident and excited. She crossed the start line, went straight to the first vehicle, was very intense in her search and then sat after sniffing a spot on the front bumper.  It was another successful find and completed in a mere 13.59 seconds. Our fast time earned us a second place finish.  The two successful vehicle finds also meant Sprtye earned her novice vehicle title!

It was a great experience and I'm glad we attended. I now have a  better idea of what a UKC nose work trial is all about.  In fact we had so much fun, we are heading back to Castlegar in three weeks to do the other half of the elements.  A interior and exterior nose work trial. Wish us luck!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Izzy and Cricket

Last weekend both Izzy and Cricket took part in their first outdoor agility trial of the season (and first outdoor trial for the pups).  I believe it was only their second trial for both dogs.  Both dogs did fantastic. Lots of Q's and fast times. I heard so much great feedback about both pups.  Often they would be first and second in their class. The handlers have done a fantastic job with these spitfire dogs!

Here are a few pics taken from that trial.



Seminar pics and videos

ok so it turns out one of the other participants at last weekend's seminar was also taking pictures and some short slow motion videos. She was nice enough to share her pics and videos with others.
Here they are, enjoy!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Agility Seminar

Spryte and I spent last weekend attending an agility seminar taught by Justine Davenport and Jessica
Patterson and hosted by Agility Addicts.  It was two and a half days of intense agility courses and learning.  The location was wonderful.  It was held at the Kelowna Dog Sport Center with two full rings set up, one inside the arena and one outside on grass. It was great to work on both surfaces during the weekend.
    We also rotated instructors, so whoever we had in the morning we would get the other instructor in the afternoon.  I loved this format. Both Justine and Jessica are amazing handlers and instructors. But their styles of running are a bit different.  Jessica tends to run a bit more and prefers to front cross whenever possible.  Justine will add a lot more threadle rears on course.  Working with both of them allowed us to be exposed to their handling choices and why.  They also explain things a bit differently too. So with two different explanations we were bound to absorb the information more thoroughly.
    There are usually a few big "ah ha!" moments during a seminar for me.  This time that moment came when Justine was explaining running on the backside of tunnels.  Her training tip for us:  If you are going to run along the backside of a tunnel you need to already be on the backside as the dog enters the tunnel. If you are still behind the dog as it enters the dog will assume you are doing a rear cross and will come out the other end of the tunnel turning in the wrong direction.  What fantastic advice! It makes total sense and takes the guesswork out of tunnels for the dog.
   The other "ah ha" moment came from Jessica when she was explaining when to blind cross on jumps.  For her if you need to control the turn, then a regular front cross is best. The dog can see you rotating into them and will cue off your shoulders.  If the dog will be slicing the jump and you are basically heading in a straight line, then a blind cross is fine as long as you can get across the dog's line and out of it's way.  Blind crosses on wraps are great, because the wrap is turning the dog naturally and you are already out of the dogs way.
    So once again it was a fantastic seminar. I feel like I am becoming a Justine and Jessica groupie! I have worked with them pretty much monthly since January, and I still continue to learn a great deal about agility.  They have pushed me to become more aggressive in my handling and to really test the limits of what Spryte and I can do. I just can't get enough :)  So I will be hosting them in Calgary in August.  I can't wait for the chance to work with them again!
    No videos from the weekend, my camera was still packed. However, one of the seminar hosts took a few pictures of the weekend.  The first two pics are Spryte and I.  The one below is of Spark heeling. I was able to bring Spark on Sunday for some exposure. We got to work on some tunnel & jumps skills and rally skills at lunch and at the end of the day.  She worked great. She was fast and crazy during the agility portion. She was so excited to be working. It was her first time doing agility since March! She hadn't forgotten a thing.  The rally skills looked good too. Her heads up heeling is looking very nice but she looses interest after a few minutes of work. So we need to continue to keep sessions short. But I was so impressed with how she could focus around all the distractions of a new location and people.  I absolutely love this picture :)

There where a lot of shelties there! So we got a group picture, small to tall. Spark is a very small sheltie in my mind. I'm sure she is right on 13" now.  And she didn't even come close to the smallest sheltie there. The ones on the extreme left are the tiniest shelties I have ever seen. One is already 5 months old!  It will be fun watching the little guys grow up, and it's great to have so many shelties out here in the Okanagan.

Perfect end to a fantastic weekend, CAKE!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A change of scenery

Well it has finally happened. Paul and I have made the big move to Kelowna, BC. A dream of ours for several years now and it has finally become a reality.
    We arrived a couple of weeks ago and have been pretty busy settling in to our new life.  The first thing on our agenda when we arrived was to find a place to live.  Our temporary home is a 640 sq ft condo in West Kelowna. The view is nice, it has several amenities including a hot tub and gym, and it is walking distance from several stores.  But it is a bit tight with three dogs and no yard!  Having to leash the dogs and walk them every time they want to potty is getting old very quickly.  So house hunting was a top priority.
     We really wanted an acreage again as we both like the feeling of lots of space and the opportunity to run businesses from home.  The problem with the Okanagan is that it is filled with giant mountains surrounding large lakes. It's beautiful to stare at, but it means flat land is hard to come by. If we are going to have an acreage, we want it to be usable. Owning a five acre parcel with 4.5 acres of it dropping down a cliff is not our idea of acreage living.  We have been looking off and on for a few years now with no luck.  The houses are either very old and in need of a complete renovation or the land doesn't fit what we are looking for. It was pretty discouraging.
   After a week here we started hunting again for a place to live. This time a 6 year old home on 5 acres in south east Kelowna was on the market.  We booked a showing and headed out there that evening.  When we arrived we where instantly blown away.  The property was exactly what we where looking for.  It is a flat property with trees on the perimeter.  It is located on a quiet dead end street with horse properties and acreages surrounding it.  The land has several fenced off horse paddocks that could be used for dogs to run in.  It has the largest riding ring I have ever seen! Perfect for dog agility :)  There is even a small wet land area with colourful birds chirping happily, and a creek running along the edge of the property.
  The house is amazing too.  It's beautifully finished with no expenses spared.  Lots of huge windows, walk out basement, large wrap around deck, amazing kitchen (totally wasted on my mac and cheese cooking abilities), huge on-suite, games room, large garage and more. It has a very warm and welcoming feel to it.
    The combination of land and house was a dream come true.  The decision was made quickly to offer on the house.  After a couple rounds of negotiating the deal was signed and we are now officially Kelowna residents. Well we will be mid June when we move in! We are very excited and have lots of plans for the property.  June can't come quick enough.
     With the house hunting out of the way we now have some idle time on our hands.  This has been filled with lots of outdoor activities that we have been missing out on in Alberta. Boating, hiking, eating on the patio, walking around downtown Kelowna, visiting a floating boat show on the lake. So much to do and it's all so close. We feel so lucky to be able to participate in so many outdoor activities minutes from our door.  Now this is really living.
  Finally our days have also been filled with planning our new businesses. It's amazing how energized we feel with the opportunity to reinvent our livelihoods.  My classes will change to a drop in format., which will allow more flexibility in the lessons.  We are also toying with the idea of running a small boarding kennel on the property.  Paul has also started up a Kelowna vacations business specialising in tours of all sorts.  They will be offering boat tours, mountain biking tours and camps, hiking, wine tours and weekly condo rentals. You can check them out at
    Well that is all for now. I'm off to sit on the patio and soak up some rays :)


Saturday, 3 May 2014

2013 CKC Agility stats & Scout Out West

The CKC was a bit quicker posting the 2013 stats now that they have a system worked out. 
I was excited to see that Strider made Top Ten in Canada for the third year in a row.  He placed #9 all breed. He also placed #3 Herding Breed and #2 Sheltie.  Spryte also earned herself a Top Ten placement by achieving #8 Herding Breed.

Spryte and I competed at the Scout Out West agility competition a few weeks back a the Shape Up facility in Edmonton. I have never attended a Scout Out competition before and did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a very small group and a very laid back and casual atmosphere.  We were told specifically that mistakes happen and not to stress out about it. Mostly they wanted to see how we recovered from a mistake and our attitude at the end of the day.

We ran four courses, one standard, one steeplechase and two jumpers runs.  The first run was very much like a fun match.  You ran it the best you could and it was judged like any other agility run.The twist for the first two rounds (standard and steeplechase), you could run it again as a training round for $5!  How many times have you walked off a course and thought to yourself, "man I wish I could try that one again!"  Well this was our lucky day!  What a great opportunity to work on contacts (SPRYTE!), handling challenges, weaves etc.  They didn't care what you did with your second run, as long as you finished by "x" amount of time.

So our first round was Standard.  We had a good run but Spryte crashed the double jump. She is having a REALLY hard time with the FCI double. Her jump height is 18", two inches above her normal AAC jump height. This doesn't bother her at all. She hasn't knocked any bars. What she is struggling with is the width of the double jump. The double jump is also 18" wide. This is HUGE!  She consistently misjudges the distance and crashes the far jump.  She hits it so hard she does a summersault and lands on her face. It looks awful and I worry about how it will affect her long term.
So she did her classic crash in our first run. The judge let me redo my run with the same result. It took a few attempts before she cleared it. As soon as she got it I ran off the course to jackpot her with hotdogs. This resulted in a pretty crappy score for my first run.

After that we did much better.  Round two was the Steeplechase course. We would have had a clean run except for a jumped Aframe contact. *sigh* I have a lot of work to do on contacts. I need to enter a trial and fix it in competition. 

Round 3 was a jumpers run. A very TOUGH jumpers run. The spacing was tight and your handling had to be bang on.  We came oh so close to having a clean run. We got through all the tough spots and all the traps, then four obstacles from the end we had to push the dog past the first tunnel mouth to the second one.  I watched countless dogs take the first mouth and had decided to give Spryte an "out" command to push her past.  Well that was my downfall!  She was driving hard to the correct mouth and I over handled her and gave the "out" command. Well in my training "out" usually means to move laterally away from me.  And that is exactly what Spryte did. She moved laterally away and took the off course jump.  How heartbreaking for me, up until that point it was a run that made your heart sing. It was pure magic!  I have included the video and you can see clearly when I say out and Spryte suddenly veers off course.  Good Dog!!! Shame about the handler!

Our last run was another jumpers run and it was perfect! A clean run, perfect handling, the type of run that had me grinning for days after.  We even took a second place in this run, just slightly slower than Justine Davenport and "Preston".  This run is also below too.

So now we wait to find out who will represent Canada at this year's FCI World Championships in Luxembourg. I was really hoping we would all know by now, but I guess it's a tough process. Hopefully they will let us know soon, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation.

Jumper round 2, clean run!

Jumper round 1, off course