HABOC AKC Agility Trial

February 24th, 2019

Judge Kristine M Schmidt wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. She’s from Long Island and is a little brusque. I don’t know, I’m not looking for a new BFF, just a fair judge with fun courses, and she provided those!

Her courses were really technical and challenging but still fun, and they were quite devious in that often the solution you found for the challenge created a whole new challenge!

Nina had a perfect NQ weekend but ran fast and happy and sassy and I will take ANY NQ’s like that! Love her! She didn’t knock any bars all weekend either!

Zhora had a FAST Q on Saturday (her only Q that day), and QQ #95 today. Our “slump” (such as it is) is I think because she’s kicked up a notch in speed and distance and it’s taking me a while to adjust my handling to it so our mojo is off. She’s amazing. I love her so much and she loves this game so much. I am very lucky to have her.

And ALICE! Her first time doing “real” agility and she ACED it. Beautiful FAST Q (her second NFP leg!), beautiful Standard Q (her first NAP leg!) and got the zoomies in Jumpers, which I was happy about! She seems to stress up like her mum and grandma, which is perfect. I dared to fix the weave poles in Standard but I USED her zoomies in Jumpers and was thrilled she came back and worked with me even with an attack of the crazies going on. Just thrilled with her. My goals are simple: show her how much fun this can be, get some experience under her belt, find the holes in my training, zero expectations otherwise. We are doing one day a weekend plus games on other days if appropriate. I am going to be strict with myself per Melanie Miller’s advice and fix just about nothing.

There is a HORRIBLE wind storm going on here, big branch off the tree in front…we are SO glad we put the money into trimming that tree and taking down the dead ones!

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (NQ):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (NQ):

Zhora Saturday FAST (Q):

Alice Saturday FAST (Q, NFP leg #2!):

Zhora Saturday Standard (NQ):

Nina Saturday Standard (NQ):

Alice Saturday Standard (NAP Leg #1!):

Alice Saturday Jumpers (ZOOM!):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (QQ #95, 16 points):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (NQ):

Zhora Sunday Standard (QQ #95, 29 points):

Nina Sunday Standard (NQ):


February 18th, 2019
Lobo’s Crazy 8’s Bronze Title

Lobo’s owner Jan Robles says:


Crazy 8s is a fun two minute search for 8 rats hidden along with four litter tubes. Your dog earns 10 points for each rat, a climb, and tunnel. A false alert is minus 20 points as are failures to climb or tunnel. A second false alert is a NQ. 500 points are required to earn the Bronze title.

My Little Man loves this game. “

Lobo is Alkemi Beowulf del Roble LS and Zhora’s brother. This is Lobo’s THIRD breed first. Jan and Lobo are a force of nature!

Alice Training

February 17th, 2019

SO happy with how she is coming along. Various videos of coursework and weave pole work. Very happy with how her start line stay is coming, I need to remember to be very clear about actually handling the first obstacle for her though. I LOVE her attitude and sticktuitiveness, and how she’s starting to reallyy build speed.

Doberman Club of America AKC Agility Trial

February 10th, 2019

Judge Ginger Robertson set some technical, tight and fun courses for us. And NINA IS BACK! Feeling great, like her old self, sassing me, crazy to get going, just does my heart so much good to be playing with her again!

Zhora earned QQ #94, an uncharacteristic bar cost us a QQQ, and two NQ’s today, but fast and fun and awesome runs.

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (QQ #94, third place, 15 points):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (NQ, but WHO CARES!?):

Zhora Saturday FAST (NQ):

Zhora Saturday Standard (QQ #94, second place, 27 points):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (NQ, nice run):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (NQ, I got in her way):

Zhora Sunday Standard (NQ, rear crossed the weaves!):

Nina Sunday Standard (NQ but nice run!):


February 2nd, 2019

Today was Nina’s first practice since we worried we could lose her at New Year’s. She’s BACK!

Alice is coming along wonderfully (and is in season, hence the leopard print).


Alice coursework:

Alice weave work:


January 27th, 2019

There it is! Alice’s first AKC Championship point! I skipped Saturday because of the weather and ironically the weather on Sunday was SUPPOSED to be ok, but instead Erie got a huge snowstorm and getting home was terrifying and Jim needed to give me on-the-fly navigation instructions to get around closed stretches of I-90. But we got home safely, met Kat Klein, who is awesome, and spent some time with Ruth, Jim and Orbit! So proud of my baby girl, she showed so well!

Some Thoughts About Novice Dogs

January 19th, 2019

We all have to do what we feel is right for our dogs. We base our decisions about this on experience, education, research, opinions of those we trust, and (I would hope) science.

An agility dog, in addition to being a loved family member and pet, is a long-term project. You are never “done”, there are always tweaks and improvements and changes throughout a dog’s life.

I elected to start Alice using the OneMind Dogs methods. I have used many of their ideas and skills over the last few years, but she was the first dog I used their methods with from the start. I followed their puppy training methods in addition to my own things and (my training partner and friend) Sue’s suggestions.

One thing Sue suggested, which I did, was to start running Alice on modified courses from a VERY early age. I think she was sequencing at something like 3 months of age. No contacts, no bars or bars on the ground, no weaves. The real benefit of this is that sequencing and running with me and adapting to my changes in direction and speed are things she’s been doing for over a year now. It’s nothing new to her.

Now some folks feel quite strongly that you should wait to start trialing (and in some cases even training for agility) until the dog is older, fully mature, trained through Masters level, etc.

Again, we all have to do what feels right. For me, I like to get a dog out at a trial pretty early. Nothing replicates a trial environment. And nothing shows up the holes in your training like a trial. And even though my dogs start coming with me to trials as young puppies, and don’t find the environment AT a trial anything unusual, actually RUNNING is a different story. So Zhora started competing shortly after she turned 15 months, and now so has Alice (she’s three days shy of 16 months).

The important factors for me are:

  • keeping my expectations reasonable and limited (I am not looking for a Q or perfect performance, I am looking for the dog to get her feet wet and have a wonderful, exciting experience, and leave the ring wanting more)
  • keeping the dog safe (do a few simple obstacles and see where we’re at). I didn’t ask Alice to do the teeter (even though she has a very solid teeter performance in practice) or the weaves, just jumps, aframe (which she loves) and tunnels. Remember, the goal isn’t a Q or even a whole course, the goal is short, successful, and FUN.
  • keeping the experience high energy and fun (I want a dog who is screaming to go at the start line, who wants to go right back into the ring at the end of a run, who thinks playing agility with me is the Best. Thing. Ever.). So I didn’t ask Alice for a start line stay (I held her collar and then released her), I did only a few obstacles, I praised her the whole way around (“look at you! what a good dog! you’re a rock star!”). I really believe in that Linda Mecklenburg quote about how if you want a dog to be a champion you must treat him like he already is one.
  • do a proper warm-up and focus work beforehand (I do this with all my dogs before a run, and even a short baby run is still a run). So some brisk walking, a few practice jumps, leg weaving, chasing the Lotus Ball, motivational downs (repeated high energy down, release, reward), shadow handling, short on-leash recalls, nose touches, tugging.
  • set her up for success: I no longer say “jump” in practice, for example, but in a markedly different environment like a trial, I want to help as much as possible
  • DON’T FIX ANYTHING!!! When Sue and I were course building and thus having to stay until the end of the trial, we watched a lot of Novice and Open teams run. We noticed how you could tell the difference between Novice handlers with Novice dogs, and experienced handlers with Novice dogs. Most of the experienced (and successful) handlers didn’t fix anything, or fixed only one thing. Whereas the Novice handlers tended to try to fix EVERYTHING. One thing Melanie Miller told us at the seminar last summer is so very true: the fastest way to slow a green dog down is to fix everything. Fixing things too early erodes a dog’s confidence and makes agility a stop and start sport instead of a keep going sport. Fixing things may have a place, but the first few runs for a green dog is not that place.
  • MAKE IT MEMORABLE IN A POSITIVE WAY. My dogs’ special treat after a run is a few bites of a plain donut, or baby food, or canned puppy food (the Royal Canin starter mousse is their favorite). Alice had only had crumbs of these things before yesterday, but yesterday, for the first time, she got the same as the “real” agility dogs get. We did my usual post-run routine of leaving the ring, HUGE praise all the way back to the crate (“You’re amazing! What a rock star! Go get your cookie! You earned it! Go get it!”), and then the reward given in tiny bites by hand with huge praise with each bite (“oh my goodness you’re so smart! Look what you did! How awesome are you! Yeah eat that cookie! That’s your cookie! You’re amazing!”). I have a special extra-stupid voice I use for this reward-feeding routine, but it makes my dogs crazy-happy and that’s what it’s all about. Remember that one big bite is one opportunity for reward, whereas five or six little bites is five or six opportunities for reward!

I was thrilled with how Alice handled her first run. She was happy and focused and this was by far the best first run I’ve had with a dog!

Admiral Perry AKC Agility Trial

January 18th, 2019

With severe storm warnings for Saturday/Sunday, I decided to make the drive today for just one day. Sure was worth it! Zhora Triple Q’d (she is so awesome) and her daughter Alice made her trial debut (I had a sentimental/superstitious need to have Alice make her debut under our dear friend and favorite judge Sherry Jefferson). My goal was simply to have her get her feet wet, maybe do some obstacles, hopefully mostly stay with me, so I came up with a simple FAST course, just jumps and tunnel and the aframe (which she loves), I didn’t ask for a startline stay, just wanted to keep it up and high energy and fun. HOLY MOLY! She was a ROCK STAR, ran amazingly well, COMPLETELY ignored Judge Sherry (who is also her beloved Aunt Sherry, and even Zhora had to give Sherry the “hey Aunt Sherry!” eye), stayed focused and happy and completely unfazed and the icing on the cake was that she QUALIFIED! She’s never run on turf, she’s never run in a match or a trial…no worries. I had zero expectations of her (and I still don’t, my only goal at this stage is for her to learn how fun and exciting this is), but holy moly was I impressed. She’s the first dog I did OneMind Dogs methods with from the start, and I do think it made a huge difference, she understands so much more at this stage than I ever hoped she would, plus she has that awesome temperament, she doesn’t worry, she doesn’t fret, she takes her job seriously, she is a working dog and exactly what I hoped for from this litter. Zhora and Bert, you did good!

Zhora Standard (part 1 of QQ # 93/TQ, 32 points, 4.097 YPS):

Zhora FAST (QQQ, first place):

Alice Novice FAST (FIRST RUN, FIRST Q!):

Zhora Jumpers (part 2 of QQ #93/TQ, 19 points, 4.769 YPS):

Erie Kennel Club

January 6th, 2019

The first trial of 2019 is in the books under judge Laura English. Nina’s bout of pancreatitis that started at the Alkemi reunion and kept her out of the Invitational flared up acutely the weekend before New Year’s and culminated in three days of hospitalization over New Year’s at Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center. I genuinely thought we could lose her for a bit but she’s home now and doing very well. I am cautiously optimistic.

So Zhora ran alone this weekend. I could tell that my stress levels have affected things so I wasn’t thrilled with my handling but I was thrilled with her performance.

Saturday Jumpers (second place, 17 points, 4.675 YPS, love this run):

Saturday FAST (first place, 71 points):

Saturday Standard (NQ):

Sunday Jumpers (NQ, I didn’t get the cross in I wanted before the jump before the weave poles and it cost us a Q):

Sunday Standard (second place, 30 points, 3.879 YPS):

2018 Invitational Videos

December 24th, 2018

Here are the official videos. That first jumpers run really shows just how costly a moment of disconnect can be, she looks to me for reassurance, I wasn’t looking at her, so even though she made a valiant attempt to get back into the poles, she was too far along.

Time 2 Beat:

Round 1 Jumpers:

Round 2 Standard:

Round 3 Hybrid:

Round 4 Jumpers: