Border Collie Society of America AKC Agility Trial

January 15th, 2017

Super fun weekend under one of our favorite judges, Laura Kuterbach! Zhora had a perfect weekend, earning QQ’s # 41 and 42 towards MACH3, plus her Time 2 Beat 2 (T2B2) title. Nina continued to run really, really well, I cost us a double Q both days with handler errors, and she put up two beautiful Standard Q’s, including saving our butts by managing to get over a jump from a crazy bad angle, and a lovely Premier Jumpers Q.

Nina Saturday Jumpers (NQ, nice run, every time I walked it I told myself to go deeper past the weaves before I made my front cross, but did I? No, and it cost us a double Q):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ # 41, first place, 15 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (Q, first place, 30 points):

Zhora Saturday Standard (part 2 of QQ #41, second place, 29 points):

Nina Saturday Time 2 Beat (NQ, nice run):

Zhora Saturday Time 2 Beat (Q, first place, 10 points, Time 2 Beat 2 title):

Nina Sunday Premier Jumpers (Q!):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (NQ, nice run):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ #42, third place, 16 points):

Zhora Sunday Time 2 Beat (Q, first place, 10 points):

Nina Sunday Standard (Q, second place, 29 points, she saved the Q by somehow getting over that jump near the end from a TERRIBLE angle):

Zhora Sunday Standard (part 2 of QQ #42, third place, 26 points):

Erie Kennel Club AKC Agility Trial – MACH2 Zhora and QQ #15 Nina!

January 8th, 2017

MACH2 Alkemi Blade Runner LS MXS MJS NF T2B (Zhora)

Me and MACH2 Zhora saying thanks judge Jeff Ipser!

What a weekend! Zhora earned her MACH 2 (Master Agility Champion 2 – that’s 40 double Q’s and 1500 speed points), Nina FINALLY earned another double Q (#15, first since last April), and had her best weekend overall in a very, very long time, the weather was terrible, the judge got sick and we had to get a replacement judge (just like when Zhora earned her MACH, actually!), the judge’s ring measurements were incorrect so we had to change the courses (an AKC rep came to the trial Saturday and Sunday)…excitement, adventure and really wild things.

The lake hasn’t frozen yet, so we are still getting lake effect snow. With lots of warnings in the forecast for this weekend, Sue and I decided to caravan and drive up Thursday afternoon in the hopes of having to drive through a north-moving lake effect snow band as it passed over us, thus minimizing our exposure to it. Well…the band didn’t move as expected, which meant we, and a ton of other people, were trapped in our cars at the Lackawanna toll booths for nearly two hours after a truck jack knifed at the Blasdell exit on I-90. It was frightening, the snow was coming down very heavily (almost 5″ per hour at some points), building up around the car tires, and it was so cold that the wipers kept icing up, so we had to keep getting out to clear snow off our cars and deice our wipers. We eventually got moving and got off the Thruway, had dinner, and then Jim navigated from home to help us find a way out of Hamburg. There were driving bans all over the place, accidents everywhere, you couldn’t tell where the road was, it was very, very scary. We left my house at 3 PM and I eventually made it back home just before 10 PM. Friday morning we decided to try again once the plows had been out, and other than a very nasty few miles with whiteout conditions, the drive was uneventful.

We arrived at Countryside just as the last few dogs were running Standard. The judge (Kelli Verrelli) kindly agreed to let Sue and I run, and we walked the course a few times still wearing our winter boots. Well, lo and behold, BOTH my girls qualified on a very tricky standard course with a very low Q rate. And then they went on to BOTH qualify in Jumpers – a double double Q Friday, WELL worth the drive!

Nina ran just beautifully all weekend, really paying attention to her jumping and knocking very few bars, and qualifying in all three Jumpers runs plus standard on Friday for QQ # 15.

Not only did Zhora earn her MACH 2 just 8 months after her MACH, she ran fast and happy and very attentively. In our standard run today (for her MACH2), we were on the startline when they noticed a timer problem, so we left the ring while they fixed it. Zhora has shown herself to be very level-headed about things like that, I just knelt down on the ground with her and played with her and she was unflappable. She came out just as ready to run as she’d been the first time. And she was the ONLY 8″ dog to qualify on that course. The Q rates were quite low overall, especially for the big dogs.

So thankful to judge Jeff Ipser for making the drive to come and fill in Saturday and Sunday for Kelli after she got sick! We trial with Jeff all the time and it was very nice to earn a MACH under him!

Zhora Friday Jumpers (part 2 of QQ #39, second place, 14 points):

Nina Friday Jumpers (part 2 of QQ # 15, first place, 17 points):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (Q, second place, 12 points):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (Q, first place, 15 points):

Zhora Saturday Standard (NQ but nice run):

Nina Saturday Standard (NQ but nice run, naughty table!):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (part 1 of MACH2, second place, 12 points, just ONE SECOND behind Nina!):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (Q, first place, 13 points):

Zhora Sunday Standard (MACH2!!! First place, 27 points, the ONLY 8″ dog to qualify):

Nina Sunday Standard (NQ but really, really nice run, I needed to show more movement towards the table, I asked her to lie down at the start, she said “I don’t think I will”):

MACH2 Zhora – there was hugging!:

2016 Invitational Pro Videos

December 26th, 2016

Here are the professional videos by Bow Wow Video from the Invitational, very different angles, and in Zhora’s Round 4 which has haunted me for a week it seems to look like she actually mis-stepped before I pre-cued my front cross, which primed her to pop the poles, so not 100% my fault, which made me feel a bit better (plus she looked a bit distracted in that run, moreso than any of the others). I see some things from this angle about my handling that I need to work on, and I can really see that Zhora was just thriving on that environment and getting higher from it, whereas Nina seemed to be made more Zen and focused by it, which is a very interesting thing to see – my friend Barb commented at the Invitational that Nina seemed very focused and she wondered if Nina was just used to trialing in that kind of environment, but really she’s only been there three times and normally trials in far less chaotic and noisy places.

Nina Time 2 Beat:

Zhora Time 2 Beat:

Nina Round 1:

Zhora Round 1:

Nina Round 2:

Zhora Round 2:

Nina Round 3:

Zhora Round 3:

Nina Round 4:

Zhora Round 4:

2016 AKC Agility Invitational

December 20th, 2016

Well the 2016 Invitational is in the books, and an awesome time was had. My girls did the best they have done to date, Nina was awarded the 2015 Top MACH Dog award at the banquet on Friday night, what a great experience with great friends and a really wonderful and positive crowd in Orlando Florida.

Checking out a tree on the way to Orlando!

We rented an agility field on Thursday for practice.

Arrival at the Orange Country Convention Center!

Sue and I all set up in our shared crating space early Friday morning.

Catching some rays out front of the West building at the OCCC

Nina’s slide at the banquet for 2015 Top Agility Vallhund, so proud of her! Picture courtesy of Wendi Pencille

Here it her certificate!

The Royal Canin fairies came in the night bearing gifts!

Zhora and Nina both qualified in Time 2 Beat on the Friday (Nina coming in 9th, Zhora 19th), and Zhora went on to run clean through three rounds, holding on to 19th place out of 139 dogs before I made a stupid mistake in an otherwise perfect Round 4, which I elected not to go back and fix, thus earning us a zero (we needed to go clean to win the breed medallion or be in contention for the finals). Since 11 8″ dogs go to the finals, we were genuinely in contention for the finals, and it was just amazing to have people come up and comment on how well she was running and ask if we’d made the finals after round 4.

One of the talking points read over the loudspeaker for another dog really touched me, the handler said that every time she and her dog ran they won, they either qualified, or they learned something. I am trying to take that to heart going forward.

“Official” videos to follow, Zhora’s Round 1 didn’t get taped on my camera.

Nina Friday Time 2 Beat (Q and 8 points):

Zhora Friday Time 2 Beat (Q and 7 points):

Nina Saturday Round 1 Jumpers With Weaves (NQ, I turned my back on her at the start which caused the bar down, and pulled away in the weaves which caused the pop):

Zhora Saturday Round 2 Standard (Q, 24th place):

Nina Saturday Round 2 Standard (NQ, I pulled her off the panel jump by over-rotating and she didn’t send out when I tried to layer the jump at the end):

Nina Round 3 Hybrid (Q, 16th place):

Zhora Round 3 Hybrid (Q):

Nina Round 4 Jumpers With Weaves (NQ, crowded her in the serpentine and mishandled the jump after the broad jump so she read it as a rear cross):

Zhora Round 4 Jumpers With Weaves (NQ, heartbreaker, I rushed my front cross in the weaves and made her pop the last pole, I didn’t fix it because it wasn’t her fault and she had run so beautifully all weekend, I decided to take the zero score):

On our way home, we took a detour to American Beach on Amelia Island like I did last year – so worth it to walk on the sand, put our feet in the ocean, ground ourselves again, and let the dogs just run around and be dogs for a while….

On to Nationals in March, and the 2017 Invitational next December!!!

Jan And Lobo – Utility Dog Run

December 12th, 2016

Here’s an awesome video of Lobo (Alkemi Beowulf del Roble LS CDX PT RATM CGC) and his mom Jan trying for his second UD (Utility Dog) obedience leg. He didn’t pass this time (he has one UD leg already, he needs three for his UD title) but I have no doubt he will get it soon. This is a very tough title, the runs are long and involve a lot of different skills (he has to heel, perform skills at a distance, discriminate an article Jan has handled from a bunch of articles, and he has to do this with different materials). Jan is a wonderful (and very experienced!) trainer and she clearly has such an amazing bond with her Lobo, the bit where they look at each other while they wait for the judge to place the discrimination article, and there is so much love and trust obvious between them…that does my heart good both as a breeder and as a dog person, we should all have that kind of bond with our dogs!

Tamarack Lake Agility Club AKC Agility Trial

November 27th, 2016

This was our third time showing under judge Alex Davis. She is a lovely person, always wants people to do well. Her courses were tough! Zhora picked up QQ’s # 37 and 38, just two more to go to MACH 2! Nina had some lovely runs, picking up an awesome JWW Q and a Premier JWW Q. This was her last weekend to qualify for nationals, she just needed two QQ’s to go, but sadly it was not to be. I am adopting a new strategy to try and fix the bar knocking – after pretty thorough video review and discussion with friends who have watched her run for years, the problem seems to be that she sometimes just doesn’t bother to add a stride when she should (it’s faster to just take the long spot and knock the bar – this is NOT Early Takeoff Syndrome), and instead opts to just plow through. So I am taking a two-pronged approach, a Vallhund owning friend (Hattie, who owned the late and sadly-missed Vaasa, who was so much like Nina) said she started just pulling her dog with the same problem when she knocked bars, and it solved the problem. So I am doing this (unless, of course, I think the bar was my fault). I am also SAYING “jump” before every jump to remind her to jump – I have always been someone who prefers to run with as few verbal cues as possible, and I do generally believe that showing the dog which jump is next is my job, but actually JUMPING the jump is the dog’s. But at this point….after so many NQ’s for bars throughout her career, I am willing to try almost anything. It did seem to be helping, I did pull her several times this weekend, and she did seem to leave bars up when I told her to jump (it’s an adjustment for me and I do forget to actually say jump sometimes).

Nina Friday Standard (NQ but SUCH a nice run, and I love the “AWWWWW” from the crowd when we NQ):

Zhora Friday Standard (Part 1 of QQ # 37, third place, 28 points):

Nina Friday Premier Standard (egregious teeter NQ but gorgeous run):

Zhora Friday Jumpers (Part 2 of QQ # 37, third place, 16 points):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (Part 1 of QQ # 38, fourth place, 16 points):

Nina Saturday Premier Standard (going well till the bar…):

Nina Saturday Standard (tough weave pole entry got us because I can’t leave her on the table, nice run otherwise):

Zhora Saturday Standard (Part 2 of QQ # 38, second place, 30 points):

Nina Sunday Premier Jumpers (second place):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (fourth place, 21 points, Jessie Westover and her CRAZY FAST Papillons were there today, which is how you get a fourth place in Erie with a whopping 21 points in JWW!):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (16 points again! At least she’s consistent!):

Zhora Sunday Time 2 Beat (9 points):

Zhora Sunday Standard (LOL at her on the table!)

Butler Dog Training Association AKC Agility Trial

November 20th, 2016

Candy Nettles designed some tough courses! Zhora broke out of her QQ slump with # 36 today. Nina had some lovely runs but only one Q. One more trial (next weekend) before a two week break and then the Invitational!

Nina Saturday Jumpers (NQ was my fault, nice run):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (third place, 16 points, I learned my lesson after Nina’s NQ at the tunnel, I made sure to really connect after the triple):

Nina Saturday Standard (NQ, nice run):

Zhora Saturday Standard (NQ, nice run):

Nina Sunday Premier Jumpers (very happy with the first half of this run, she slipped really badly turning to the weaves in a known “slippery spot” on the turf, so then it was experiment mode):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (second place, 18 points):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (part 1 of QQ #36, third place, 15 points):

Zhora Sunday Standard (part 2 of QQ # 36, second place, 27 points):

APOTC AKC Agility Trial

November 13th, 2016

Fave judge Mary Mullen couldn’t save us from yet another no QQ weekend! Some wonderful runs but…I blame the election results.

Nina Saturday Jumpers (nice run, NQ):

Zhora Saturday Time 2 Beat (first place, 10 points):

Zhora Saturday Standard (third place, 26 points):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (second place, personal best 24 (!!) points):

Zhora Sunday Time 2 Beat (first place, 10 points):

Zhora Sunday Standard (second place, 26 points):

CCOC AKC Agility Trial

November 6th, 2016

New judge to us Elane Rice. She sure likes turnbacks out of the weaves and trick finishes….

Zhora’s QQ streak had to end some time! She had two JWW Q’s and one Standard Q but handler errors cost us doubles.

Nina Friday Premier Standard (NQ):

Zhora Friday Jumpers (fourth place, 18 points):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (fourth place, 18 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (NQ but look at those independent weaves!):

Nina Sunday Premier JWW (NQ):

Zhora Sunday Standard (fourth place, 27 points):

Nina Sunday Standard (first place, 33 points):

Tamarack Lake Agility Club AKC Agility Trial

October 30th, 2016

Judge Barbara Bounds designed some tricky courses. Fun to run though! Nina managed a Standard Q and had some really nice runs, including an awesome Premier JWW run with one lousy bar (I am reminded of Léon: “always like this”). Zhora managed another two QQ’s (#34 and 35), which officially means she has not only lapped Nina in the MACH race, she has passed her (Nina has 14 towards her MACH, Zhora has 15 towards MACH 2), she is just awesome. I cherish every run with both of them, even if Nina’s QQ drought is getting more than a little old.

Nina Friday FAST (Q, first place, 38 points):

Zhora Friday Standard (part 1 of QQ #34, second place, 30 points):

Nina Friday Premier Standard (such a nice run but NQ):

Zhora Friday Jumpers (part 2 of QQ #34, third place, 18 points):

Nina Friday Premier Jumpers (OMG ONE LOUSY BAR!!!):

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (Part 1 of QQ #35, third place, 17 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (Q, third place, 34 points):

Zhora Saturday Standard (part 2 of QQ #35, fourth place, 31 points):

Zhora Sunday Standard (Q, fourth place, 29 points: