Saturday, December 24, 2011

Congrats Leo - You're Moving Down to 4

We got Leo's OAJ title certificate in the mail today. While I made the decision before to move him down to 4", this certificate cements it. All future title certificates will indicate the preferred - as in, he'll be working on a PACH title if and when he gets over his teeter fear. So congrats, little man. You are now Gemini's Leo the Lionhearted CGC RN CL-F CL1-S OAJ.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MCDF Agility Day 3

Sunday Leo got to run first because we were running small to tall and they'd started the JWW ring before Standard. Plus the Novice and Open classes were much smaller than the Excellent. This was the only class he was entered in for the day.
My plan was to handle from the right with Leo clear up to the tunnel, making sure I drew toward #6 to pull him into the correct end of the tunnel. While he was in the tunnel I moved outward of #6. I called him over and front crossed to #7. I gave him plenty of room on the weave entrance but for some reason he wasn't really watching them so went in the wrong side of the first pole. Refusal. Corrected him and finished them cleanly. I had hoped to pull back and handle from the right on 10-11 and rear cross to 12, pushing him to 13, front cross after 14, and handle from the right the rest of the way through.
I was very happy with how Leo did. I knew the one refusal was acceptable for Open and my only concern about qualifying was time. Turns out we did get time faulted but we qualified! That was his third open leg and his OAJ title! So proud of my little man! He enjoyed his favorite treat, a Greenie, for a reward.

The biggest issue we had on this course was I felt like I was really pulling Leo around. It wasn't like he wasn't trying or wasn't moving. He was driving forward and continually working, engaged, and happy. But he just wasn't fast like he can be at the practice barn when he's really stoked. He also seemed much more concentrated on taking each jump. This is the first time he'd run three days in a row but, for comparison, in June he ran 9 runs over two days, albeit slightly shorter courses. He was jumping 8" then, too.

I have decided to move him to preferred. We're not so far along already that it makes a huge difference. He'll catch up quickly enough. But he's only 8.5". To jump 8" is asking a lot when you have such short legs. I'm happy with my decision and look forward to our next trial to see how 4" goes.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

MCDF Thanksgiving Weekend Agility

This weekend we're competing in the McKenzie Cascade Dog Fanciers AKC agility trial in Albany, Oregon at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center. We showed up waaaaaay early because there isn't much crating space at this venue and it was imperative to get crating for Leo's sis, Vegas. Leo was entered all three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) in JWW and just Saturday in Standard. Yesterday we stuck around late, late, late in the day for a sanctioned B match to get a chance at the teeter in hopes of my convincing him it wasn't evil and perhaps being willing to take it today in Standard.

The weather has been in the upper 30s to mid-40s most of the time with the mornings, of course, chillier. Our judges are Robyn Veenema and Larry Brockett.

This course looked totally doable. I planned to start on the right and rear or front cross after the tunnel then handle from the inside all the way until #9 where I planned a front cross to move into the next four obstacles. Since Leo and I don't have off side weaves down solid yet, I was going to work from the inside (right) out of the tunnel to the weaves and then front cross to 14.
SCT was 46 for 130 yards; our time was slightly over - 47.82 for a score of 98 and second place. Our second OAJ leg! So proud of Leo's weaves.

So the B match we just did a couple of jumps and the weaves (which he nailed and more independently) and then I took him over the teeter on leash twice. Then we headed home - a very late night.


JWW was up first today with Standard shortly before we headed home. Here's the JWW course.
My plan was to lead out in front of #1 and handle from the right with a front cross after 2 and a front cross after 4. Then I was going to pull him over the #6 jump, direct him with my right to 7 and then front cross in front of 8 into the weaves. From there I planned to try to rear cross at 12/13 and front cross for 15/16. Well, let's just say Leo's brain was engaged in play today and not so much focus. He had random accelerations that took him beyond obstacles so many refusals. I thought I might have shut him down at the #7 jump when I had to call "no" to prevent a back jump. Got him back but never did get the weaves all the way through. The first time he was looking beautiful and popped at the 10th pole. In retrospect I should have gone on and just encouraged us to work together on the jumps. Hindsight is always 20/20, so they say.
Clearly an NQ today but boy was he happy! How could I not just laugh at that silly boy? 

Standard I never got to walk as I was working but looked totally doable - honestly a completely fair Novice course. I figured we didn't have a chance what with the teeter but ran it anyway. I don't have video and wish I did. The highlight of the run? Leo not only took the teeter but he finished it!!!! 

Now the bad news... we had to restart our weaves once but got them. Then we had a refusal on the #3 jump (I think), a refusal on the dog walk, a refusal on the broad jump (I thought when he finally took it he was going to walk on it.), a refusal on #14, and a refusal on #15. We did complete each jump but it was a chore and by #15 I was pretty frazzed and thinking that cute, energetic, fluffball running with me wasn't so cute any more. Focus, Leo, focus! 
But he did the teeter so YAHOO!!!

One more day tomorrow...only entered in JWW and going for our OAJ.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NAJ Title

Leo's NAJ title came in the mail yesterday.

MHDPC AKC Agility Trial

Last weekend Leo got to play agility. He was entered in JWW both Saturday and Sunday at the Open level, our first attempts. Saturday my youngest son was with me. My goal was for him to get Leo out and pottied and to keep Leo with him until the last possible moment before our run. Hopefully by doing this Leo would be amped up to run fast. I was a little worried about how we'd do since I wasn't able to get in any practice with him on the weaves the week prior. He's not so screaming fast yet on the jumps that I worried about not being able to handle the rest. The most difficult part is me remembering to walk the course for Leo's path, not Vegas'.

I was really pleased to see a tunnel in our course. I can only speculate on why tunnels weren't in our novice JWW courses but I know for Leo, he enjoys them so I was disappointed. My concern, of course, was the off side of the tunnel. In working the novice class almost all the dogs took the wrong side of the tunnel. Fortunately Leo stuck with me. From there I front crossed outside the tunnel close to the #5 jump. We have one refusal allowed in Open JWW. I planned a front cross after #8 and another after #13. Leo ran the entire course really well. In fact he nailed his weave entry and wove well - until pole #11 where he popped out. We tried a second time and repeated the pattern and, while we had a third opportunity, I didn't push it as I wanted him fast and happy on the course. So NQ Saturday, but a happy good dog nonetheless. 

On Sunday's course I planned to start out on the left and front cross between 3 and 4. It's a little hard to remember now, but I think I actually ran up the right side of the jumps, the long way. Maybe, maybe not, there's no video and my memory fails me. I planned for and executed a front cross between 7 and 8 and also a front cross after #9. For now Leo still works best with me on the right side of him during the weaves so until we build up independence and confidence, that'll be my plan is to work from the right side. I'm really proud of my little man. He completed the weaves successfully the first time and quickly, too! After the weaves I moved out ahead and front crossed to send him to #11. I believe for the rest of the course I ran with him and rear crossed at #15. 

He qualified for his very first Open JWW leg and first place! He ran it in 38.92 seconds; SCT was 44 at 124 yards. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rogue Canine Agility - Halloween Weekend

This last weekend was crazy. We had to rush out of work, go home and finish packing, load the truck, and head south to Springfield where we were meeting Rachel. Rachel was driving so then the goal was to pack our stuff into her rig then get back on the road for another two and a half hours. We arrived in Medford about 10:30 pm. After unloading, pottying the dogs, and getting settled in, it was midnight. We had an early day Saturday to head to the show grounds and set up our stuff. Thankfully a client of hers was kind enough to save us crating space.

Our judges for the weekend were Lori Sage and Debby Wheeler. The club, Rogue Canine Agility, had a costume contest planned after our runs on Saturday. Leo was entered in JWW both days.

I was really pleased with this run. Despite my running the long way and not really handling the way we are taught and I know is logical, Leo did his part and did it well. He was second place with a qualifying run in 36.80 seconds. SCT was 44; yardage was 102. Lori sage was our judge. This was his second NAJ leg.

Once things wrapped up for the day, I got the Poms dressed in their Halloween finery. These pictures were taken at the park down the street from our house on Monday, not at the trial.

My little flying monkeys won a third place ribbon in the contest!
Our judge Sunday was Debby Wheeler. The weave entry was more baby dog friendly as it was "direct." Leo was acting off from the get-go Sunday (from the time our run started) and I couldn't figure it out at the time. I think what happened though was a bit of relaxed complacency. Plus he didn't feel competition. I'd had him out of his crate for a while and was holding him. I think now I have decided to warm him up ad recrate him, taking him out just in time for his run. That way he'll be happy and excited and amped up - even if only to see me. I know he has serious potential but the pizzazz I usually see in class was missing.

Regardless, he did it! He finishsed first place with a time of 41.80. SCT was 43 at 100 yards. And this was his NAJ run! He is now Gemini's Leo the Lionhearted RN CGC CL1-F CL1-S NAJ. And now we are officially on our way into our AKC career!

APC Summer National Specialty

Last Thursday was Leo's and my big day - our first real obedience trial and an entire day spent with Pomeranians and their people. We headed out fairly early to the Red Lion Vancouver at the Quay for the American Pomeranian Club's Summer National Specialty hosted by the Columbia Pomeranian Club. Obedience was to start at 9 with rally to follow. When I got my confirmation a few days before I was a little disappointed at the low number of entries in obedience classes despite the high number of conformation entries. It would sure be nice to see a lot more crossover as we know it's difficult for clubs to justify offering obedience when it comes out a loss with such low participation. Out of 90+ dogs in attendance, the club received just four entries for obedience and five for rally. Regardless, we were entered and grateful to have the opportunity at such a cool venue to have our first go at it.

I had entered Leo into Beginner Novice obedience and Rally Advanced. The Novice A and B classes went first then it was our turn. Fortunately someone was really nice and videoed for me on during our Beginner Novice class. Interestingly enough, a fact I had forgotten, our judge was Jill Jones, the same lady who had taught our tracking class the Sunday prior.
The schedule of events for all three days...

The beginning of the class was a little rough. I had thought the carpeted surface would muffle sound and perhaps be somewhat ideal what with also having fewer distractions because obedience was all by itself early in the day. I hadn't taken into account the smells that are held in carpet and hadn't even thought of "scary" metal discs in the flooring. I also didn't know they would have plastic sheeting for the ring walkways for conformation classes that were not only slick but a bit distracting. Needless to say, I didn't have the attention I would have liked and still had some issues with walking toward the gating around the ring. Leo's reticence toward ring gating is becoming a little troublesome as it seems to only occur when we're working in a real class or a match, not during practice at 102. I will say though, he willingly went into the ring without acting like the gates would get him just entering. So that was a huge bonus.

Also, his halt sits had been virtually non-existent the night before when we stopped at 102 to practice for a bit so I was pleased to see they had returned last Thursday. All in all, especially now that I've watched the video, it was a nice run and I'm proud of my boy. I also know what areas we still have to work on - and fortunately those are the areas I already knew we needed to focus on.

Our score was 189.5; qualifying is 170 or more. I was so pleased - our first time out and we nailed it! Very proud moment with my little man. We got some really cool awards, too. A blue rosette for first place/qualifying, a Columbia Pomeranian Club canvas tote complete with their logo, and a set of four CPC coasters. That was a nice surprise and a fun part of being at such a specialty event.
Next up was Rally Advanced. We had tried this class once before and it was a disaster then. I can't say this was a lot better, sadly. Our heel was almost non-existent - certainly not what I'm training for. Leo was lagging almost the entire run and I was having to really move slow in order to try to hold some semblance of teamwork together. I will say, too, that Leo was mentally with me the whole way. He didn't shut down or get afraid. That meant the world based upon some historical experiences in the obedience ring. I was so pleased with that, I was willing to and determined to stick through anything to get through the run.
That said, I must have been very determined because something happened that several people came up to me afterward (conformation people) and commented that they would have fallen apart if what happened to me happened to them. We got to station three. It was probably the only station I truly had concern about because standing Leo is not a skill we have mastered yet. I got to the station, tried it, and as soon as I started to walk he slipped into a down. I stopped, stepped back, and repeated. This time the second I stepped out to walk around him he sat. I knew we could get a 10 point deduction for repeating and didn't believe we could repeat twice. So I started to move on and was just about to move into the 270 when the judge stopped us. She asked why I was moving on and why I didn't stand him physically. She explained it is the only time in rally you can touch your dog. I replied that I didn't realize that and her response was somewhat abrupt apparently. I wasn't immune to the comment but was more focused in continuing on. I agreed, and began to move on. She told me to stop and come back and perform the station. Doing so and physically standing Leo, we were successful and moved on.

I thought I was going to lose Leo to the jump again after station 7, but I kept him with me. We were lagging through a few stations but his heel through the cones for station 8 was decent. The most difficult part I found was from the serpentine to #9 and then back down to #10. The stations were actually offset where I felt like I had to walk in a diagonal line and wasn't sure if that was appropriate. Also, when walking the course before our run, the judge gave me a bit of a hard time about counting my steps out on station 10 to ensure I truly did step back a full three steps when the time came. Fortunately Leo did this station well, sitting a bit early on the three step, but getting up and stepping ahead for the final step as well. As I said, I thought it was the ugliest run ever and I was quite grateful it was not on video. That said, as I type this out I "kind of" wish it was so I could figure out how in the world what happened did. After our run we left the ring and I took Leo outside for a quick run to the truck to load an x-pen my friend had ordered that I picked up. When we came back in a few minutes later, the steward was calling me back to the ring. I had no idea why and it turned out as I reached the ring and was told to go get Leo, we actually qualified. Our ugly as sin, out of sync, lagging mess of a run - where Leo did not shut down on me! - was actually a qualifying leg. To say I was shocked puts it mildly. While our score was a lowly 74, it was far more than I expected. All I can figure is the improvements we made as the run progressed must have redeemed us. That and Jill perhaps wanted to see success and encourages people to continue pursuing obedience. We got another blue rosette, a tote, and more coasters. How cool is that?!

At this point, with obedience done, we had time to just watch the others, visit, get to know people, peruse the vendors, and get ready to watch conformation. We were in it for the long haul with tickets to the banquet planned for the evening.
Plus, we were bringing home a friend for a while, too. Leo's breeder was allowing us to take a gorgeous little girl I'd had my eyes on home for a trial/just for fun. Her name is Gemini's Th Blacker Th Berry Th Sweeter Th Juice "Juicy". Isn't she just a doll?
She's 9 months old and probably just about three pounds soaking wet. Tiny! But wow does this girl pack a punch. Adorable beyond words and just about as full of life and energy and spunk as any twelve dogs, she's been a complete joy. We got her later in the afternoon from Trish and spent some time with and her pup, Heidi. The two girls got along fabulously running around Nina's photography room like they owned the place.

Afterward we were on to watch conformation. Here are just a smattering of the hundreds of photos I took that afternoon:

I love the little paw up!

Stretching those muscles. To keep warm? Hardly. Just a boredom buster probably. But cute as a button!

Here's Dorothy, the person whose darling little Poms got me interested in the breed all those years ago when my mom worked for her dad's company.

Leo's just chillin' watching the show.
With the ring behind him....

The breathtaking view from the Red Lion... This is the I-5 bridge spanning the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.

More Pom-pom calisthenics.

And here's Leo with all his ribbons of the day!
The banquet ran from 7 until 10; I was there until about 9:30. After dinner there was a live auction with a bunch of good stuff. Gift baskets loaded with dog toys and treats plus human goodies - wine was popular - blankets with the CPC logo, framed photos, and jewelry. The alcohol was flowing freely at the bar and all were having a good time. But I had to work the next day and still needed to pack for our agility weekend out of town. Plus, I wanted to get the pups home and introduce Juicy to my boys.