the sheltiechick blog

April 25th & 26th Trial

I have jumping videos still to edit and post, but this weekend we had our first agility trial of the season, so I thought I’d go ahead and update what happened.

First, I will say that I was excited to see the weather was going to be WARM this weekend. Last April, we were huddled up under blankets and still freezing, so this was going to be a nice change. Unfortunately, this spring has been VERY windy, and this weekend was no different, with winds 25-35 MPH both days.

On Saturday, we got our first leg in Open Jumpers! We had a hiccup at the weave poles which cost me a refusal and some time, so I got a score of 93 and second place. I don’t own my own set of 12 weave poles, so the only change Auggie has had to practice them is out at J’s house, and thus he wasn’t exactly used to powering through 12. He popped out at pole 10, and I had to put him back through the last two (I chose NOT to go back to the beginning because that would cost us even MORE time – right decision, as I was only two seconds over this way.) So it’s not really his fault. Plus FIRST LEG IN OPEN JUMPERS!!

Still no legs in standard and it’s almost entirely my fault. There were three jumps, then a tempting off-course dog walk… but the correct obstacle in the sequence was the a-frame. I SAW that dog walk and thought “golly, Auggie may want to take that.” I SHOULD have front-crossed after the third jump and put him up the a-frame.
But I ignored the little voice in my head. I thought “But he LOVES the a-frame!!”
Sure enough, Auggie went up that dog walk. I ran to the end and tried to pull him forward enough that he wouldn’t get stuck in his endless loop of dog walk THIS way, dog walk THAT way (SO FUN FOR AUGGIE… not fun for me) and failed. He turned around and took the dog walk back, and about halfway across the plank… the wind gusted up and my little dog got blown off the dog walk.
I grabbed him and waved at the judge, who told me I should put him through the tunnel at least to make it a good experience for him, so I put him through the tunnel and then celebrated like we just had the best run ever, and got the heck off that course.

So it was my fault he off-coursed onto the dog walk. But I can’t do a damn thing about those 35 MPH winds. Auggie was not the only dog blown off the dog walk, and for all we know he might have been blown off when he was SUPPOSED to be on the dog walk anyway.

He is okay; running, playing, jumping around as usual that night, but sure scared the crap out of me. We’re going to see a canine chiropractor hopefully sometime this week to have him checked out to make sure he didn’t twist anything, but he’s acting fine.

On Sunday, we actually got to run the full standard course – and Auggie only took the dog walk once (!!!) Also major breakthrough in that he did EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of his contacts with no problems. No off-courses, but a run out on Jump 2 (my fault) and a refusal on the tire – he was sniffing something interesting on the ground – and a refusal on the table, because I don’t tihnk he’s had to actually jump UP onto a table since… well, last trial in September, I guess? I really need to get my table built.
Anyway, the faults plus the time faults screwing around try to get him moving again/get him on the table put us waaay over. So here we are… four trials, eight runs in, and not a single Q in standard. There’s nothing else to do but laugh about it. I think I’ll fall to the ground sobbing with joy when we finally get a standard Q!

Open Jumpers Sunday was pretty good. I had a refusal on his weave entry – not totally sure what happened there, I’ll have to watch the video and see if it was my fault – and he popped out of the weaves again (adding “set of 12 weaves” to my list of stuff to build and work with.) I didn’t succeed in calling him off an off-course jump. I’m going to blame that on the again 25-35 MPH gusting winds and that he couldn’t hear me, because I THINK he heard me… but it was too late; I think he turned an eye over to me RIGHT before he was about to take the jump – like as he was already in motion to jump, he suddenly heard me and realized I wasn’t right beside him. Ah well. So again, faults plus some time fiddling around getting him through those weaves put us too far over to Q. We would have been SO GOLDEN except for those darn weaves! My fault entirely.

Strangely enough, this is the first time I haven’t had major ring nerves before we go out and run, and the first time I’ve really left the ring honestly feeling like “Meh! So we didn’t Q!” I’m not sure why. I kinda like this, though.

Our major goal, besides Auggie’s successful contacts when we actually got into standard (oh wind!), is that Auggie has apparently returned to my awesome little man, not dropping a single bar. That’s my guy. Aw yeah.

I jokingly asked Auggie why I was picturing us in Excellent Jumpers and still in Novice Standard.
Okay, maybe I’m not totally joking.

Natural Jumping Method – Week 8

For week 8, we move up to four oxers. The pattern is vertical, oxer, oxer, oxer, oxer. Jump heights are still set at 10 inches and distances are still 90 inches for Auggie’s two-stride length per the calculations in the book.

He learns a lot faster in this video than he has in previous weeks. By the last jump in day 1 he’s running smooth and fast – save the last jump, which he still stuttersteps up to. On day 2 he drops a few bars, but notably, during jump 5 he actually doesn’t stutterstep up to the last jump! I have no idea what the difference is, because he goes back to doing it in the next jump and during all of day 3. WEIRD DOG.
Hopefully time will even out the issue here. I’m the kind of person who likes to know the “why” behind stuff though so I’d really like to know WHY he is still stutterstepping the final jump and only the final jump. I may never know, but I would LIKE to know, haha.

Auggie and a sheep

Forgive my baby talk. We were having a really good time outside today, just hangin’ out, bonding… enjoying my day off together. (And DANGIT I’m sunburned.)

This is the sheep. It was $5. It’s about the same size as Auggie.


Auggie isn’t really impressed by it now. When I first brought it home I set it outside his crate and he just sat there, staring at it until I finally gave in and opened the crate to let him out.

Okay now he’s laughing at me.

And the rest of the pics from today (not all that exciting):


Easter Egg Hunt 2009

It was nice and sunny outside, warm enough that I just needed a jacket – so OUTSIDE WE GO for the egg hunt this year! I had the camera but was slightly less inclined to throw myself on the muddy ground for photos the way I can lay on the living room floor and get photos whenever we go the egg hunt indoors, so my angles are a little different than usual.

This egg was hidden inside the gator’s mouth – I didn’t get a shot of him knocking it out of the mouth to pick it up.

Cookie treats inside the eggs!

Ohhhhh egg.

Nosing it over to me so I can open it for him…

…until he decided it was easier to open them himself.

This is the third year we’ve done an egg hunt, and this year he was pretty good at remembering how to open the eggs with just enough to pressure to pop them as opposed to actually chomping down and breaking them. (He broke a couple the first year… oops!)



All the eggs are in the basket! He wouldn’t sit nicely next to them so I gave up and told him, “Fine – get up and do something cute with the basket.”

Which means he pushed it over with his paw.

Yeah okay, I admit it – that’s pretty cute.

Trying to open them again in case he missed a cookie somehow…

He still wouldn’t sit down nicely next to them. But okay that’s pretty cute too.

He nosed the basket over to knock the rest of the eggs out…

…and resumed opening them to make SURE they were really empty.

You see, he doesn’t trust that when I say “No, the treats are REALLY gone,” that I’m being honest. I don’t know why. I’ve never lied to him.
About all the treats being gone, anyway.

Agility Update

The weather has gotten a little better, and last week we managed to get out to J’s house twice and work outside – practice we desperately needed since our first trial is coming up in a few weeks here.

First, the jumping is going pretty well. His confidence is pretty good and he was taking the 12 inch jumps outside nicely, better judging his take off points. This week in our jumping program we are entering the Problem Solving phase, which may prove pretty challenging. I’m nervous about it, because I don’t want to really shake Auggie’s confidence right before a trial, but I feel like we need to just keep pushing forward and hope for the best. What else can we do?
There will be a VMO present at our trial at the end of this month, and I’m desperately hoping Auggie is thinking short that day… nothing to do but hope for the best.

Second, we got to put the target on the full height a-frame for the first time and it went SPLENDID. He really gets the idea of driving to the bottom now rather than hopping off halfway down. I’m hoping we continue to have success with that in the weeks that come and his bad habits don’t return.

J informed me that this spring we’ll be focusing on obstacle discrimination when it comes to things like a tunnel under an a-frame or dogwalk. “You’ll see that in open,” she tells me, as though she thinks we’ll soon be competing in open standard…
Let’s just get a SINGLE NA leg first, and then I can start worrying about open standard!

Anyway, I have many many many videos to edit and upload, and I will get on that soon, but finals are creeping up and I have been working on some large-ish projects that need to be completed… uh… well, Friday. So until I get a chance to really sit down and edit the videos, then post them all on YouTube, then write about it here… you’ll just have to believe me that Auggie did AMAZING on his last day of the series of five oxers!! Nice, even pacing, sailing over the jumps – just gorgeous!

Natural Jumping Method – Week 7

Week 7 is a series of five jumps with three oxers. The pattern is vertical, oxer, oxer, vertical, oxer.

LOTS of stutter-stepping as he tries to navigate this series. About halfway through day 2 he starts to even out as he figures out how to adjust, though during his fifth run he ends up stutterstepping WAY too close up to the bar and has to pop up over it… and if you pause it at just the right moment he’s making a hilarious face as a result. Day 3 goes pretty well, but I notice that he’s consistently stutterstepping up the last bar. I’m not really sure why that is – if it’s a matter of him not seeing another obstacle beyond the final jump, so he makes some kind of weird adjustment for some reason? I honestly can’t figure out why he would do this. It’s interesting, anyway.