HABOC AKC Agility Trial

May 6th, 2018

Judge Lavonda Herring is always one of our favorites. Her courses this weekend were pretty tricky, especially for Lavonda, and we didn’t have our greatest Q rate ever. But the dogs and I had fun and that’s what really counts as always!

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (third place, 19 points, 4.9 YPS, me blind crossing like a maniac):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (doing her usual “rabid badger” impression because of the tunnel start, NQ, there are 12 weaves Nina…I know you want to get a move on, but THERE ARE 12 WEAVES):

Zhora Saturday Standard (NQ, I was a “moose” and she didn’t see the teeter until she couldn’t get on safely):

Nina Saturday Standard (second place, 31 points, 4.029 YPS):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (third place, 16 points, 4.6 YPS):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (if she hadn’t broken her start line stay, this would have been an awesome Q):


Nina Sunday Standard (the only bar she dropped all weekend):


May 6th, 2018

CONGRATULATIONS to Jennifer Corbin and Cricket (Zhora’s sister, now officially Alkemi Braveheart LS ADC) on earning her Agility Dog of Canada title in Agility Association of Canada (AAC is like USDAA but in Canada)! Cricket is a speed demon like her mother Nina, and Jennifer and Cricket have worked very hard. This is Cricket’s first title, but I doubt it will be her last, they’re an awesome team! Way to go! (Cricket also barks on the table….I fear this may be genetic LOL)


May 6th, 2018

Can we just take a moment to admire this handsome devil? Pluto (Zhora’s son Alkemi Crusader LT, formerly known as Chex) lives in Los Angeles, his owner Pat is an amazing dog trainer, and maybe he’ll get to be in the movies some day! So happy he has an amazing home, and I can’t wait to see what he and Pat do in the future! He’s growing up very nicely!

Puppy Palooza 2018

April 22nd, 2018

Alice and I attended Puppy Palooza this past weekend at Follow The Leda in Gansevoort, NY. It was an information-packed, well-run, fun, and very informative weekend!

As with any seminar on any subject, it’s important to stay true to your own training philosophies and beliefs, while keeping your mind open to new ideas that could be useful. You keep what you like and discard what you don’t. I have definitely become a fan of the One Mind Dogs methods, because they really do just work and make sense to me and my dogs, and while I am not a “purist” of any method, I do think OMD is far more natural to me than any other, and since I started Alice with the OMD puppy course, I am working within what I started.

What I liked:

  • it really made me conscious of how much reinforcement I am giving away by letting my dogs get it from the environment or each other instead of from me. So I picked up all the toys that could be tug toys, and have already had two tugging sessions this morning. If I want to use tug as a reinforcer, I need to make it valuable, not free. That said, I am not someone who is going to deny my dogs the joy they get from playing with each other. I’m not doing Ruff Love and I’m not aiming for the World Team. I just want to be reasonably successful at my sport and have fun with my dogs, and have my dogs have fun with me.
  • Some really good discussion about tug mechanics and ways to get a dog tugging well (Alice had a decent tug drive but I can see already that just changing a few things has improved it even in just two days). Also not giving up, if you start a tug session, you HAVE to get at least a little tug going before you stop.
  • Some excellent reminders about not being lazy and getting up and USING training opportunities like mealtimes and high energy times
  • I LOVED the motivational posters she has all over the training arena. I usually hate that sort of thing but these were great and actually did make me think.
  • The concept of Transitions (Greg Derrett) – starting at the crate, working on connection and building drive with tug or food from the moment you get the dog out, and between exercises or after an error.

What I will be discarding (or at least adapting):

  • Tara is a Greg Derrett adherent. I am not. I might have appreciated a heads up that the methods being taught were going to be taught strictly within the Greg Derrett/Anthony Clarke framework, rather than just presenting things as “this is the right way” (as opposed to “this is the right way within the GD/AC  methodology”). This was not a huge deal, but it did chafe a little, especially being told that things that didn’t follow this methodology were “wrong”.  I do mostly OneMind Dogs, their methods aren’t “wrong”, they just differ in some ways to GD/AC methods, and for me they work.
  • Reinforcement Zone – I do not want my dog driving to my front, that’s not how I handle. But I will be more conscious of my reward placement.
  • The comments about how puppies should not know what a jump is or what weave poles are. My puppy is sequencing with tiny jumps or just standards, she is working the “offering the jump” exercises, she is learning one set of 2 x 2 weaves, she is running through channels. NONE of these things are harmful to her and ALL are beneficial.
  • Circle work. I am sure it has benefits. But most of those benefits (learning acceleration/deceleration, learning the handler’s running style, learning to switch between reinforcers, etc) can also be had by running small sequences and doing handling flatwork or handling work with hoops. And running small sequences and handling flatwork are more efficient for me. I feel like for me, circle work is what I did 15 years ago, I no longer really think it has benefits that can’t be equally obtained in other, more efficient ways.

Overall, I am glad I went. Both Tara and Jared were really good instructors, and it was a very fun weekend.

Orbit AGAIN!

April 15th, 2018

Orbit (Alkemi Cosmic Curiosity LT) won best puppy at the Kandasaga AKC match today! Awesome work again Ruth and Jim!

Erie Kennel Club AKC Agility Trial

April 15th, 2018

Our dear friend Sherry Jefferson was the judge this weekend. Zhora had a GREAT weekend, earning QQ’s 65 and 66 and qualifying in 5/7 runs. Nina ran wonderfully but we didn’t get a QQ together. She had a great Jumpers Q on Friday and an AWESOME Standard Q today and only knocked one bar that wasn’t entirely her fault.

I was SICK this weekend. I wasn’t feeling great Friday morning and it got worse from there. I would have come home except there was an ice storm here. So I can see in the videos that I wasn’t quite myself, but my awesome dogs came through for me as they always do.

Zhora Friday Standard (NQ, really tough weave entry for the little dogs):

Nina Friday Standard (NQ, weaves again):

Zhora Friday Jumpers (third place, 14 points):

Nina Friday Jumpers (first place, 19 points):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (third place, QQ #65, 13 points):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (NQ):

Zhora Saturday Standard (first place, QQ #65, 28 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (NQ, I mishandled the 180 to the weaves):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (fourth place, 17 points, QQ #66, this was a FUN course!):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (NQ, first jump since she broke her stay and we weren’t connected, really nice run otherwise):

Zhora Sunday Standard (third place, 31 points, QQ #66, also a super fun course):

Nina Sunday Standard (first place, 33 points):


April 9th, 2018

Alkemi Cosmic Curiosity LT had a FABULOUS weekend in West Springfield! At only his second weekend out, he went Best of Breed over a Grand Champion (who won Westminster, no less, so a very nice bitch!) from the 6-9 month puppy class under judge Joy Brewster on Saturday and then on Sunday took Best of Winners over a class bitch under judge Kathy Madden.

Huge thanks and congratulations to his co-owners Ruth and Jim for raising and training and showing and (most importantly) loving him!

CCOC AKC Agility Trial

March 25th, 2018

While most of our peeps were in Reno at the National Agility Championship, we played agility with judge Mary Mullen instead!

These were kind of “abducted by aliens pod Mary Mullen” courses, quite tricky and with some pretty low Q rates. One of our worst weekends in terms of Q’s in a while, but some lovely runs anyway, and some really awesome, connected runs with Zhora.

Nina Friday Standard (NQ):

Zhora Friday Standard (part 1 of QQ # 64, first place, 27 points):

Nina Friday Jumpers (Q, first place, 22 points):

Zhora Friday Jumpers (part 2 of QQ # 64, second place, 19 points):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (NQ):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (Q, first place, 18 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (NQ):

Zhora Saturday Standard (NQ):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (Q, third place, 20 points):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (NQ, I didn’t connect at the start, but what a nice connected run after that!):

Nina Sunday Standard (NQ but nice run):

Zhora Sunday Standard (Q, first place, 29 points, only 8″ dog to Q):

Butler Dog Training Association AKC Agility Trial

March 11th, 2018

Zhora followed last weekend’s perfect weekend with another QQ (#63), and then today, as I was walking the jumpers course, said to myself “Myself, be careful where you put your front cross at the end of the weaves or you’ll pull her off that second last jump”….so of course, I pulled her off the second last jump. She got standard today and won the class.

Nina had a lovely jumpers Q yesterday and then had a perfect standard run…except she felt judge Susan Stephon’s table count was too slow, and that a three count was plenty. Oh Nina….she’ll be 11 in May, she can do what she wants, apparently I’m not the boss of her.

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ # 63, third place, 17 points, just a second behind Nina!):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (first place, 18 points):

Zhora Saturday Standard (part 2 of QQ # 63, first place, 25 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (pesky table!):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (NQ…watch where you put your front cross I said….):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (NQ, nice weaves):

Zhora Sunday Standard (first place, 26 points):

Nina Sunday Standard (yowza…I like how she takes the jump she missed near the beginning, as she comes back halfway through):

Admiral Perry Obedience Training Club AKC Agility Trial

March 4th, 2018

Zhora followed up her MACH3 last Sunday with a PERFECT WEEKEND! Earning QQ’s #61 and 62 towards MACH4.

Not to be outdone, Nina earned QQ #23 toward MACH2 yesterday, giving us a double double Q Saturday. I made an error in our standard run today that cost us a QQ, but she qualified in Jumpers this morning for a 3/4 weekend, which is awesome for her!

One of our favorite judges Oksana Syrkin, gave us her usual fast, fun courses and generous wheel. There’s a reason we love showing to her!

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ #61, third place, 19 points):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ #23, second place, 20 points):

Zhora Saturday Standard (part 2 of QQ #61, second place, 31 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (part 2 of QQ #23, first place, 34 points):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ #62, sixth place, 16 points):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (Q, second place, 19 points):

Zhora Sunday Standard (part 2 of QQ #62, second place, 32 points):