A Note about the Raven

Raven is an intensely driven Border Collie girl who at 5 years of age is just starting to get it all together in the agility ring. She has given me many highs – winning at major events like the Western Classic and our State Agility Titles plus many first places at trials around the metro and country areas. We also had a weekend of success at this year’s Nationals here in Perth – winning three classes and coming 2nd in the highly competitive Open Jumping Final. We got our Open titles last year (with a little help from our friend Robyn Evans of Winpara Border Collies) after a number of years(yes you read that right – “years”) of trialling in the Open class. Our control issues are being whittled away however our bar knocking issues are something that will be with us for life and I believe this is due to my lack of knowledge when it came to teaching the basics. I will never give up trying to solve this issue. Never having owned an absolute speed freak before,Raven has taught me so much about agility and has allowed me to experience what the ultimate agility team of dog and handler can be like.Thanks Ravies – you’re the best and I love you to bits. Let’s go have fun in Masters now! Below is a list of her more notable achievements:
1st Place 2002 Western Classic Novice Agility
1st Place 2005 Western Classic Open Agility
1st Place 2006 Western Classic Open Agility
1st Place 2005 National Qualifying Trial 1 – Master Agility
1st Place 2005 National Qualifying Trial 1 – Open Agility
1st Place 2005 National Qualifying Trial 2 – Open Agility
3rd Place 2005 National Qualifying Trial 3 – Open Jumping
2nd Place 2005 NATIONAL FINAL Open Jumping
1st Place 2005 Rockingham Dog Club Trial – Master Agility AND Master Jumping
1st Place 2005 State Qualifying Trial – Open Agility
3rd Place 2005 State Qualifying Trial – Master Jumping
2nd Place 2005 State Qualifying Trial – Open Jumping
3rd Place 2005 STATE FINAL – Master Jumping
3rd Place 2005 STATE FINAL – Open Jumping

Qualified equal 3rd out of 6 for WA State Team 2005
Member of 2005 3rd Place WA State Team at Nationals

Training Log

All the “professionals” recommend you keep a training journal when starting a dog in agility. Guess I haven’t been too disciplined about that but since I’m bored and not ready for bed I thought I’d compile a list of all the skills Cypher has at the age of 12 months – all agility related I guess but some could be transferred to obedience eventually. Let’s see:
1) He knows the word WAIT and will wait before coming out of his kennel, out of the house to get in the car, before he gets out of the car, before going through the sliding door to the backyard, in front of a jump, a tunnel, a tyre, a table, dogwalk and the weaves.
2) He will wait in a sit or a down and will move between those 2 positions from a signal from me at up to 20 meters away.
3) The word OKAY to him can mean one of several things – OK to go and eat, OK to move forward to my side, OK to do an obstacle, OK to release off a contact, OK to let go of tugtoy, OK to run and get tugtoy, OK to come and play tug with me. OK to go through a door or get out the car.
4) The word CONTACT when said in open space with no visible target means a fold back down, chin on the ground between front 2 paws,
5) when said (not always) whilst on down plank of dog walk means do a drop at the bottom of contact with bum and two rear paws on contact, front two paws on grass with chin on the ground. Automatic wait for release word of OK.
6) Knows the words sit and down.
7) Will sit or down on the table.
8) Turns to his left on the word ‘SPIN’ and to his right on the word ‘TURN’.
9) On the word CLOSE comes to heel to whatever side my shoulder is turned towards him on.
10) Can do 12 weavers from either side with me far behind or with him or just slightly ahead. Working on a recall with me at one end a couple of meters away and him left just a meter away from the start. I can be on either side of weavers.
11) The word OUT means run away laterally from me dependent on which body cue – ie I lift my arm and hand out on my right hand side and he moves away from my right and vice versa for left.
12) Will recall on COME 8 out of 10 times, will give eye contact on hearing his name.

There’s probably more but I can’t think of it right now…here’s a pic of him on the table.

The Rules…whenever

ANKC Agility is overdue a rule change – so at the end of last year and the start of this year every State in Australia made submissions for rule changes – the big one being a change of heights and more height categories to give longevity in the sport to our large dogs and to give the mini and toy breeds a chance to have a go. These submissions all went before a conference of all state delegates in January this year. It is now nearly November – and we still don’t have our new rules. Latest news is that they will not come in till July 1st 2006. This is a huge disappointment for many competitors. Unfortunately it came down to a few people who caused this to happen. There has been a lot of traffic on the agility lists here in Australia about this – and there are many frustrated people out there. All we can do now is sit tight, hope that the motion that passed at the conference to not bring them in till July next year can be rescinded or ammended or whatever the hell they do to motions to get them changed so that our large dogs can enjoy the sport longer and our tiny dogs can enjoy competing…such is life when you’re involved ina a big organisation I guess. Patience is required…

Cypher’s Hips and Elbows…Lookin’ Good!

Cypher got his hips and elbows x-rayed for scoring around the end of the school holidays and I sent them off to a Dr Wyburn in Margaret River for scoring – I got the scores sent back to me in a very timely fashion. His elbows were perfect 0:0 and his hips were 1:4 – a very low score so this is one happy Cypher owner! This gives his hips the Australian Grade of 1 and International Grade B. Woohoo! If anyone wishes to use him later on at stud he certainly meets the health criteria most breeders would set. He has also, quite some time ago now, had blood taken for testing for CL (Ceroid Lipofuscinosis – a storage disease) and CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly) and he has resulted in Clears and Normals for both. So for what are considered the most common health issues in the BC he is free of them.

Right must go and tell all dog friends who appreciate a good hip score!

The Sunday After…

Monday 24th October 2005

Well Raven brought me back down to earth with a thud at yesterday’s very small trial (100 entries over in 2 hours!!) up at Carine in the afternoon. She kept her insanity under wraps right up until she crossed the start line of her first run in Open Agility. It was a straight run of 3 jumps and you then had to pull them through for a threadle. She decided to keep going after jump 3 despite the very firm verbal to “Come” and nearly caused us an off course. Then she decided to finish it off – she did the threadle jump and went straight in the wrong end of the tunnel – so after that it was “you are going to give me 2 0n 20ff girl!” on all the contacts – needless to say she did every contact at a flying run and did the next couple of obstacles while I was still standing by the contact waiting for her 2o2o position – she did a nice handstand on the table so she didn’t fall off at least but she seriously shouldn’t have been going that fast off a seesaw anyway! She popped the weavers despite me facing her and giving her the strong command to weave at the end (I had noticed several dogs had popped the weavers and made sure I was very clear about her doing all the weaves but she still popped them to go to the tunnel – cow!). So needless to say I called her back to redo the seesaw and redo the A Frame and made her wait. It wasn’t a pretty run by any stretch of the imagination and she was quite aware of my displeasure with her LOL!! Thankfully by the time we got in the Master Agility ring she had reigned in some of her insanity and gave me a beautiful run with a completely running contact on the dog walk which the judge called us for unluckily – I had a look on the video someone took and it was quite clear that she got it there. Never mind eventually our judges will get round to appreciating running contacts. I was happy with her run. Open Jumping we ran clear for 3rd place and Master jumping we knocked the 3rd bar and left the ring – so 2 out of 4 runs were pretty good. Just wondering if she is now in the mode of needs lots of runs to get any kind of sanity. We shall see at her next trial in a couple of weeks.
I took Cypher with me and in between runs and at the beginning and in the afternoon at the end and we practiced doing 12 weave poles in many different ways and he was fantastic, very enthusiastic and getting quicker all the time. Very pleased with his weave pole progress.

The National Agility Trials

Monday 17th October – aka Recovery Day
Well it’s all over red rover – Perth has held it’s very first Agility Nationals and it is all said and done. I am very chuffed with how it all went and the comments I have heard from everyone have been highly positive and very impressed. Please to say also (not that I’m biased) that Border Collies took 5 out of the 6 finals and of those 5 finals 3 of them come from show bred Border Collie lines. The other 2 were a rescue BC and the other was a working BC from Blue Moon Border Collies in the ACT.

I was worried I’d be on a bit of a downer now that it’s all over but having today to relax and recover and just reflect and digest all that went on has made me realised I am glad that it is all over but that I certainly had a ball and that the whole thing lived up to and even exceeeded my expectations. Tim took some fantastic photos of so many dogs and he got some great ones of the Raven that I will cherish for a very long time.

This being our first time competing in such a highly acknowledged and competitive event I was content with just making a final. To win 3 events, come 3rd in another event and to come 2nd in a Final was far more than I ever expected and to say I was thrilled would be an understatement. Raven excelled this weekend and it seems the more runs she got to do the better she went. I was so proud of my little speed freak…and I was especially proud to have other handlers who I considered particularly good, come up and comment about her to me. This event has definitely confirmed for me that I will be there next year in June in Sydney and will be especially pleased to run her and Cypher.

We only have 5 trials left in the year now and all of them will be a bit like a country trial after such a weekend but she loves this game so much I will try and keep my handling up to her demanding standards!

GSDA West Coast Challenge Double Header Trial

GSDA Double Header Trial Sun Oct 9th Trial 1 (MORNING) – Trial #38 for the year. Well that theory I have about her being better in the afternoon after she’s got the little bit of mania out of her system in the morning was blown out of the water today. First run up was Masters Jumping – we had a tiny wobble to get her over a jump however she did run clear and won 2nd Place Master Jumping! Next run up was Open Agility -It was a nice flowing course and I had a ball and so did she, we blitzed this course and won 1st Place Open Agility. Next run up Open Jumping – no wobbles this time and we absolutely nailed it – tiny flaw in my front cross meant she had to brake quite hard to get around me which may have cause us to fall back into 2nd place by 1.5 seconds. No matter I was happy she won 2nd Place Open Jumping – 3 out of 4 runs all clear! Masters Agility course was very hard for the fast dogs and she took a jump from the wrong side – but I hadn’t really expected to go clear so again I was happy she kept every single bar up.

Trial #39 GSDA Afternoon Trial – Absolutely NO clear rounds here this afternoon. However I take responsibility for 3 out of theose 4 runs – I caused refusals to happen on both Masters Jumping and Open Jumping and also Open Agility – she kept her bars up in all three and my handling didn’t come up to her standards again. Masters Agility – well that was my 2nd heartbreak for the weekend (afterthe Open Agility State Final). It was a lovely course and I went for broke – we have all our titles and I have complete confidence in her bars now so I pushed her for speed to see if she had any more gears to move up. I ran with her from the start instead of leading out and we had a ball! I handled her really well all the way and she raised her speed several levels and we were on the home stretch – just the weaves and a single bar to go. She just taps that last bar as we cross the finish line – ARGH!!!!! The judge had the decencey (or perhaps indecency!) to come and tell me she was his fastest dog by about 10 seconds on that course ARGHH!!!!!! As much as that last bar hurt I could not take anything away from the run – it was an absolute thrill and great to know how she responds to me upping the speed ante on her. Good to find this out before the Nationals next weekend!