Saturday, February 28, 2009

Updated! First Trial, First Q!!!

I found someone with a camera to take our photo and email it to me. :-) Not very clear, but still a photo! And, course map at the end of the post for agility enthusiasts.
The dogs (all of them) and I left Kansas City with the snow right on our heels. Syd was entered in her first agility trial for jumpers and standard. We started out early this morning with jumpers. Believe it or not, syd qualified with 100 points and ZERO faults. I couldn't believe it. Of course I have no camera because I never expected syd to quify. Shoot, I just taught her weaves last week!!! We now officially love the 2x2 weave training!!! Now we wait forever for the standard run and if Syd takes the Aframe I will call this a wonderfully successful day.

News from the Standard Run. Almost 6 hours after our Jumpers run yesterday (and exactly 12 hours after we left the house that morning), Syd and I were on task for the Standard Run. I did say that if Syd performed the Aframe, I would be thrilled and call it a successful day. Well, it's a good thing I had it in writing to remind myself of what I considered success. :-P
We got to the Standard run, and I was concerned that Syd was tired and not quite so excited at the start line. She ran the first four obstacles beautifully, great speed, and she turned without me even directing her verbally, and she shot up and over the Aframe like a champion. Contacts at the bottom; a wildly successful attempt at an obstacle that's been a confidence issue for Syd.

After the Aframe was the table, and Syd ran over without her usual table-gusto, and hopped up on the table. When she lifted her head up and turned my way, I knew instantly by her expression that Syd was utterly and completely disconnected from me. She just stood on the table, not actively avoiding me, just locked in a far away gaze, in her own world. I tried to reconnect with her and get her to go to the next obstacle, but she seemed stuck. Somehow, she did get off the table, and she went and stood behind a tunnel. Very odd. So, I motioned to the judge to whistle us off, and that was that. It toook what seemed forever to get her to come to me and get off the course. I think about it over and over to try and figure out what happened. At this point, I think I have to chalk it up to a very green dog, a long day, and maybe even a bit of a shock to herself that she flew over the Aframe so fast! Who knows, but at the end of the day, Syd got great experience, a completely unanticipated first Jumpers leg, and she met lots of new friends who thought she was just as cute as can be on the course. And, as Cardigan Addie's mom Carrie said after I got Syd off the course in Standard, "Wow, she's got a lot of speed, doesn't she?" I think the fact that Syd finished the jumpers course at least three jumps ahead of me is an indication that she needs a faster handler!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Movin' On Up

Syd was a rock star at agility class tonight (at least in her own mind!). This was our last class of the current session. Tonight was the evaluation period to determine who stays in "Advanced Sequencing" and who moves up to the "Competition" class. The course was a bugger for green dogs, but it really did test our handling skills with plenty of opportunity for the novice dog and novice handler to go off-course. Rear and front crosses, calling the dog over the back of jumps, angled entrance to the weaves, etc. Lots of fun, and really enlightening to see how Syd interpreted my body language. The first run through, she went from jump 6 to the dog walk (16). I had too much forward motion, and forgot which dog I was running (Kane would never dare to be even 1/2 a step ahead of me)! One step too far forward, and Syd was off like a shot to the dogwalk. The next time through, I pulled her around much earlier, and she came right back over the correct jump. Good girl, Syd!

I'm thrilled to say that Sydney did fantastic, and our instructor asked me if Syd would like to move up to the Competition class. YAY! I can't believe this is the same dog I started training last year. :-) Oh, and here's the course, for agility nuts!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jeri asked, "Do Corgis Shed?"

Oh, I dunno, maybe it's not so bad

Syd is blowing coat. Thankfully she's just like clockwork, and I was expecting her to start blowing coat last week. Saturday I decided she needed a bath to get all the hair out. So, she had a good bath, and a power dry. The tub was a disaster, and thankfully I used the little drain cover to keep the drain hair-free!

Later that evening, I decided to keep brushing to work all the old hair out. This is after a massive coat-dropping warm bath and blow dry the same morning...

That was Saturday evening. Last night, I brought out the Furminator. I figured if she was going to blow coat, I might as well get it all out!

Of course, I am thrilled that Syd is finally blowing coat. First, we have an agility trial in Lake St. Louis this Saturday, and Syd will be measured. At her first trial, she measured 11 1/2 inches, and maybe, just maybe she'll be able to measure lower now that she has no hair! Second, it means that Syd should be back in coat by mid-April, and she shouldn't come in season until the very end of the specialty. Since she's entered in agility at the specialty, I'd really appreciate her holding off until the following week!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sister Blogger

UPDATED!!! Mom finally took time to upload the two little video clips of Carly playing with her peeps...

Bonding with Big Nick.

And running with sister Breezy.

Syd begrudgingly allowed sister Carly to post on her blog... mostly because it puts Carly in a not so angelic light. ;-)

Carly sez: "What? I'm WAY too cute to be in trouble for chewing the living room carpet..."

First Agility Trials

Syd ran in her first-ever agility trials on Valentine's Day weekend. Because I am trying to get a not-quite-ready dog ready for the CWCCA national specialty, Syd and I have been working really hard to try and get our act together! She's not really trial-ready, but I need her to get trial experience in new settings as much as possible before the April specialty. So, these trials are just my idea of really expensive fun-runs...

Because Syd's confidence and anxiety is something I always have to consider first and foremost, I decided to enter her in the FAST class for our first trials. I didn't know if she would flip out in the new environment, with all the barking dogs and high energy levels. Would she stay with me? Would she try to leave the ring? I thought that entering FAST would be a good opportunity to test the waters without fear of being whistled off-course at any time. I thought that if I could get Syd to work with me even for a few obstacles, or get her attention back if she was stressing, then I could try to make it a good experience, and then just leave the course once I felt she was overcoming any stress.

As it turned out, I didn't have to deal with any of that. Syd was definitely more comfortable in her crate when we were at the show site. She felt safe in there, and Kane was her buddy to keep her calm. But when it was time to line up for our run, Syd was really good. I took her to the practice jump area, and she was 100% focused on me, never even looking at another dog or person. I was so pleased with this start, I was optimistic that Syd might be able to stick with me on the real course.

Syd got her favorite cheek and ear massage as we waited for the few dogs ahead of us to run. She gave me the "sleepy eyes" look several times, and I was amazed at her level of calm. In hindsight, it kind of makes me feel badly that I had such low expectations for her first trial! Maybe I was remembering Big Nick's first agility trial (something I'll have to post about later, when I can handle remembering that experience!).

At the start line, the only sign of trouble was that I told Syd to Down, and she could not hear me. She was looking intently at the jump ahead of her. Her ears and neck were forward, and she would not make eye contact. OK, so there was no chance of a lead-out. Great. Slow mom, Fast dog. not a pretty combination! I got myself ready, and when I let go of the collar, Syd was off. Surprisingly, she did not zoom ahead and make up her own course. I was able to get her attention from that first jump and direct her around the course. She missed the Send Bonus because she took the panel jump and then came to check in with me *outside* the box before going back to take the tire jump. Well, this adventure wasn't meant to test our distance work, so it didn't much matter if she qualified.

Syd has had a confidence issue with the A-frame, something that has gotten much better since our very own A-frame appeared in the back yard. But, with the stress of the new environment, I wanted to see what she would do. Well, she wouldn't take the A-frame. No way, no how. She did run up the teeter, and for some reason she bailed just above the contact zone. That was new. But she tried it, and did not seem stressed, I think that was just more a reaction to the excitement of running the course.

When our run was over (12 points after all of our time faults, thank you very much!), I played with Syd and she got to have some really good treats! I was so happy that she made the attempt, and more importantly that she trusted me and she didn't freak out even for a second.

The second day was much better. Syd still didn't get the Send Bonus, this time totally my fault as I stopped moving altogether, duh. But, she ended up with 29 points and a nice run, a run that would have qualified her if she'd done the last jump in the bonus and gotten the Send Bonus. Oh well. She ran great, but again, once I knew she wasn't going to qualify, I tried the A-frame several times, concentrating only on the A=frame. Not gonna happen. sigh. So we went on to the triple jump, and she was delighted to soar over that and finish her run.

This week, we've been to our agility building for lots of practice. Syd's been working on the A-frame, and I can definitely see an improvement in her confidence, and I notice that she really puts more speed into her approach, which says to me that she's more committed to doing the obstacle. Last night, she even took the A-frame when I was at least 6 feet away from it and her. Normally I have to practically scrape the side of the thing when she takes it. So I am optimistic that Syd will be able to overcome this little confidence issue.

More than anything, I'm pleased with her overall confidence at the trial, no eyes darting back and forth watching to see if other dogs were "out to get her" and the confidence with the individual obstacles will come with practice and experience.

We head to the St. Louis area next weekend for another day of agility fun, so we'll hope that every new adventure builds on the last. :-)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

She did it! Good Girl, Syd

Sydney was a good girl this weekend. And her mother didn't pass out, either! This weekend was the St. Joseph cluster, close to home. I entered Syd so that we could get back in the ring together. I have not shown Syd myself for a long time, and I just needed to do it and get over my own fears.

I'm happy to say that Syd behaved and was comfortable this weekend, and neither of us had a meltdown! I could not be more proud of her, knowing how hard she's worked to overcome her fear and most importantly, to trust me. She was calm in the ring, and she never even turned around to see the dogs behind her. By the second day, she did try to point her ears back a bit to hear what was behind her, but otherwise, she was perfect. :-)

We were entered three days, but after two days of a happy show dog, and one tired mom, we opted to call it quits and take today off. I didn't see any sense in pushing Syd an extra day and possibly undoing the progress from the previous two days. Hawk got a couple of days of practice in this weekend, too, before we head to NYC. He did not complain when I told him he could skip the bath this morning and go roll in the dirt outside!