Friday, March 30, 2012

Checkin' Out the Chicks!

This picture immediately made me think that the boys were watching girls go by......Classic male behavior when on the beach!

Hey, Jimmy! Hey, Jimmy, Did you see the tail on that one?!!!
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sit! Stay! Pay!

About a week ago, whenever it was that I uploaded my latest blog header, I received the distressing news that my blog was officially out of free storage space. Blogger gives you one gig for free and after that's used up, it's time to pay up! Fortunately, they don't gouge you too badly. For $5 a year, I was able to rent an extra 20 gig. That will take quite a while to fill! Of course, at this point, when you start handing over money to increase your blog size, they know they've got you hooked! So hopefully I don't see the rates creep up every year.

With that being said, I can post a lot more photos with no fear of running out of space! You have been warned......

I am so much more handsome than Wilson!

Jimmy doesn't know I just pee'd on that patch of sand he's sitting on!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Back in the Golden Days

Here are a few shots taken as the sun was beginning to set. With no tinkering of the photos at all, this is how gorgeous the last light of the day became.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Weekend Report - From Rags to Riches

 In our last episode of The Weekend Report, we came away disappointed and frustrated by the return of table troubles. This weekend was a trial held by the English Setter Association of America. It was their first ever agility trial and they did a very nice job. It was held in the same indoor soccer arena as the last trial.

On Saturday, we started with the Jumpers course. It was a bit tricky, but not too bad. We breezed through with a speedy run. Woohoo! It wasn't until I looked at the posted scores that I had my bubble burst! What I thought was a clean run turned out to have a weave pole fault! I had turned my head/body toward the obstacle after the poles just a bit too soon and pulled Jimmy out of the weaves. With my head already turned and the judge behind me, I never saw it happen or her hands go up to indicate the fault. So, bummer, the tiny chance of a double-Q was already gone. On a positive note though, coming out of the ring thinking I Q'ed, my voice did not contain the poorly disquised sound of disappointment it might have had, had I known. All Jimmy heard was my sing-songy happy voice of a Q.

A couple hours later came our Standard run. Of course, I was already nervous about the table. It was Aframe, to a jump, to the table. Jimmy should have had good momentum to carry him onto the table, but instead he slammed on the brakes just in front of it. My instructor was at this trial and told me to keep trying, keep trying to get him on the table so he would understand he had to do it in order to move on, doing it until I ran out of time or the judge whistled me off the field. Fortunately I had a wonderfully patient judge who let me keep arguing with Jimmy until he finally relented and got on the table. It probably took 10 or more tries and when he finally gave in the crowd cheered for us. I clapped and cheered, telling him what a good boy he was. I could tell by his facial expression he was really stressed out! We went on and finished the course. Of course, I was crushed by yet another trial where the table was such a miserable thing.

I considered not bothering to drive back for Sunday....

This time the day started with Standard. Again, nothing too tricky. It was teeter to table, then a left turn to the weaves. Looming behind the table was a tempting tunnel entrance. Analyzing videos and watching my runs, my instuctor thinks Jimmy doesn't like me getting to the table before him, he needs to drive ahead and have me catch up. This is sometimes hard to time correctly. Despite being very fast, Jimmy is not a dog that wants to get too far from me, so if I am not careful I get to the table too soon. For this run, with a teeter before the table, I needed to be extra careful as Jimmy is a bit cautious (read as slow) on the teeter. So I decided to front-cross at the end of the teeter and sort of fling Jimmy to the table off of my right hip. It would also help to keep him away from the tunnel in the background. Much to my surprise and delight, he popped right onto the table! He stayed for the count and off we went. I was so caught off guard by this stroke of luck that I could barely remember how the rest of the course went. Fortunately, I think muscle-memory took over, and we finished correctly! And to add icing to the cake, once the scores were posted, I was pleased to see our run was speedy and netted us a 2nd place ribbon!

Of course, this put pressure on me for our JWW run since we now had a double-Q on the line. It was a fairly easy course with just one spot where Jimmy might choose an off-course tunnel instead of staying with me. He stayed with me and we finished it cleanly! OMG!  We had our 2nd Q for the day! So this was double-Q #4 out of the 20 we need. Now, it gets interesting here, because we ended in 4th place. And so did a little Jack Russell who had the exact same time as ours, 32.24 seconds. This meant we had to have a run-off to see who got the ribbon. We each got to run the same course again, and who ever had the cleanest, fastest run, got the 4th place ribbon. It doesn't jeopardize your original Q, it just determines who gets the ribbon. Run-offs are exceedingly rare, so everyone was watching and cheering loudly! I went first and cheered Jimmy on the whole way, taking risks I would never take with a Q on the line. He ran it beautifully, cleanly, and a full 2.25 seconds faster than his original run! 29.99 seconds! The JRT went next but they made a mistake so Jimmy and I won the ribbon! It was SO exciting and fun! We added another 31 MACH points between the 2 runs as well, bringing our total to 323 out of 750 we need.

I video'ed Saturday's disappointing runs and then didn't think to video Sunday's at all. Duh! I haven't unloaded the camera yet, so nothing to share visually I'm afraid.

So I went from very disappointed on Saturday to downright giddy on Sunday! Agility, at least for me, is such a manic sport!

Tracking Jimmy's MACH progress:
Excellent B JWW legs: 17 (out of 10 needed for his MXJ) Now he's working on his MXJ2!
Excellent B STD legs: 6 (out of 10 needed for his MX) Better than halfway to our MX!
Double Q's: 4 (out of 20 double-Q's needed for a MACH.... 20 Percent!)
MACH Points: 323 (out of 750 speed points needed for a MACH...... 43 Percent!)

Time 2 Beat legs: 3 (out of 15 needed for his T2B) 24 points (out of 100 needed) 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Just Jimmy

Just Chillin'

Mexican Hat Dance?

Wish I'd caught his full tail!

EGADS! The water is Freakin' Freezing!

The Sand Spaz!
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beach Silhouettes

I follow Wendy's blog, Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey . She is a wonderful photographer and has recently been posting lots of silhouettes. She even gave us a little tutorial on how to get the shots. (Thanks Wendy!) 

Despite the lesson,  I have yet to master the camera setting that get it done right. I did, however,  get a couple of semi-silhouettes that I really liked:


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Go Ahead, Punk!

Make my day!

Jimmy giving Wilson the double-dog-dare stare.
Just try to take my ball!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beach Bookends

Well, we had a glorious spring weekend at the beach. Even by South Carolina standards, it was unseasonably warm, as was the entire east coast. Of course, a good bit of our time was spent on the beach. The boys were quite sick of me and the camera! You probably will be too by the end of the week!

Here's the first of many.....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pin the Tail on the Cardi?

We've made a quick down and back trip to the beach for the weekend. It's time to turn our condo over to the summer rental agency. It's a bit earlier than most years, but it would be good if the place actually paid for itself! It's gorgeous down here, in the upper 70's/low 80's, very definitely beach weather! It's a bit warm even for Myrtle this time of year.

Of course, the boys are getting beach time!

Wilson presented me with this silly picture, and it immediately made me think of the game "Pin the Tail on the Donkey". In this case it can be "Pin the Tail and Ears on the Cardi!"

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Accentuate the Positive!

Today I am feeling rather petty. I just learned a fellow agility competitor's young dog has been diagnosed with cancer. They are dealing with the sadness, stress, and medical treatments that accompany this. What a difficult time for them. And to think I was bashing Jimmy for his table performance in yesterday's post. Shame on me! It's only a game and I should rejoice in every opportunity I get to play it. You never know when it will be your last time.

Having said that, I am going to share our good JWW runs from the weekend. Jimmy did a great job in Jumpers and I should be proud of his efforts.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Weekend Report - Off to a Very Disappointing Start

Well, it was a lot of fun getting back to trialing when it comes to seeing friends, watching runs, and just hanging out. It was definitely not fun when it came to qualifying in Standard. Jimmy refused the table both days. We even had a private lesson friday evening to get in a bit of extra practice and reward. SIGH. In most cases, it is handler error that is behind this kind of failure, so I am willing to accept the blame. But, darn-it, Jimmy is a smart boy and he does know what to do. It's never an issue in class or in my yard. I think he's become ring smart and knows there is nothing in it for him at a trial, and that he doesn't have to and I can't make him.

Here's how Saturday went....

It started with Jumpers with Weaves (JWW). It was a very tough course with lots of tight lines. In the interest of getting a Q, I sacrificed time for keeping bars up. I gave Jimmy wide turns to avoid knocking a bar on a tight slice. This paid off and we qualified! Yea! We even made it into the top ten, albeit right at ten. We earned 9 MACH points. So it was a great start to our day.

Being a one-ring trial, several hours later came the Standard course. This was another tricky course. The hardest part was the weave poles to a tunnel/AFrame discrimination. You had to send your dog up the Aframe and then flip or pull him into the other end of the tunnel right at the base of the AFrame. The tunnel shot straight under the AFrame to a jump on the far side. So unless you had a slow dog, you could NOT beat him to the other end of the tunnel to direct him to the jump. But before even having to worry about this, came what was really an easy start. Tire, dogwalk, curved tunnel needing a bit of care to get the right end, dogwalk and then table. Well Jimmy ran down the dogwalk and slammed on the brakes right in front of the table. We were toast! It took about three wrangling tries of to get him on the f'ing thing, and then we were off. We made it through the tough section I mentioned, me being only a tiny bit late to signal the jump after the tunnel, but managing to get in a sloppy rear cross and then finished the rest of the course cleanly. So if it weren't for that screw-up at the table, we would have had a double-Q on two tough courses. Arrgghhhh. LOTS of people did not qualify on this course so I was in very good company, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I heard the next day that even the judge was disappointed with the incredibly low Q rate.

Now on Sunday, we started with Standard. It was an awkward start, two weirdly angled jumps to a tire, but with a very tempting AFrame nearby. And to get the dog over the jumps cleanly, your body language almost indicated the AFrame. So this is where we went south first. I tried to rear-cross the tire and Jimmy read it as a push to the AFrame and up he went. Next mistake came at the end of the dogwalk. It was headed to a tightly curled tunnel, so you had to work it to be sure of getting the correct entry. We got the wrong one but it was not too upsetting since we were already cooked. Usually by this time, when I am already disqualified, the agility gods will decide to take pity on me (or perhaps they have a perverse sense of humor), and  throw me a bone (pun intended) with a successful table. Not this time! It was a chute to the table, and again Jimmy slammed on the brakes. He started his little sassy barking dance at my feet. Two days of this was too much for me. Before he knew what I was doing and could dodge it, I had snagged his collar, swooped him off the ground, and thanking the judge, I carried the little jackass out of the ring. I did this as a knee-jerk reaction, and in hind sight it may make his table avoidance issues even worse now, but it sure was satisfying in the moment!

And, after another long wait, came JWW. With no hope for a double-Q, the pressure was off. It was a reasonably easy course, and we breezed through it. I was able to push for a bit more speed as dropping a bar wouldn't be a big deal. This resulted in us actually making it into the ribbons with a 4th place and a hefty 13 MACH points. So now we have legs 5 and 6 toward our MXJ #2.

To take away something positive from the weekend, my instructor was competing at this trial. As luck would have it, she was watching both times I ran Standard and saw our table fiascos. She did say I was a bit ogre-ish in the way I loomed over Jimmy on the first day. That can be quite off-putting for the dog. But on Sunday it appeared a bit more like he was just giving me the paw. "Nanner, nanner, boo, boo, I don't have to!" She has some ideas to address our issues so at least I can be hopeful.

I did get video, but have not had time to get it off the camera and then up to YouTube. In lieu of that, for you true agility addicts, here are Saturday's maps. I'd love to hear your feedback on these beauts :-)

Oh, and one final thought (if anyone's even made it this far)....I hate it when the clocks change to Daylight Savings in the middle of a trial weekend. It's bad enough needing to get up at 5am to make it to the trial in time for a small-to-tall running order, but it's even worse when your body still thinks it's only 4am!

Tracking Jimmy's MACH progress:
Excellent B JWW legs: 16 (out of 10 needed for his MXJ) Now he's working on his MXJ2!
Excellent B STD legs: 5 (out of 10 needed for his MX) Halfway to our MX!
Double Q's: 3 (out of 20 double-Q's needed for a MACH)
MACH Points: 292 (out of 750 speed points needed for a MACH)

Time 2 Beat legs: 3 (out of 15 needed for his T2B) 24 points (out of 100 needed)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Toe the Line?

Wilson and Jimmy weren't quite sure what I meant when I told them they needed to toe the line on the way back to the house.....

I've got a two day agility trial this weekend, so look for the return of the Weekend Report. Please send along all the double-Q karma you can. The pursuit is back on!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jimmy's Training Videos

Well, I finally remembered to take my new video camera to my weekly agility class. For your entertainment, here are my runs. I train with Paulena Simpson, one of the top agility competitors in the country in both AKC and USDAA. She is an excellent teacher with a great sense of humor and makes class SO fun.

Trial season is just around the corner......I can't wait to get back in the ring!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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