Perth Royal 2007

Well the Royal Show started yesterday here in Perth. For those of you who don’t know the Royal is probably one of the bigger events on the calendar. It is one of the big three I suppose, up there with the State Titles and the Western Classic. It is a massive agricultural show that also has lots of side show alley rides, hundreds of show bags and lots and lots of exhibits. There is every kind of event from show jumping to dressage, sheep shearing, pig diving, to wood chopping, cat shows, cows, pigeons, poultry, sheep dog trialling and so on. In the agility trialling end of things there is a teams event every year – in Agility and in Jumping plus the usual Individual Classes and this year they have decided to include two of the games events; Gamblers and Strategic Pairs. Back in May I had been positive and felt sure that Raven would see another Royal and indeed she has! Yesterday was the Teams event – Cypher was in one team called the Master and Apprentices and Raven was in another called Could Be Brilliant. They got four runs each – two of agility and two of jumping. One of the attractions of the Royal event is that only one ring is run so you are really able to watch everyone else run unlike most trials when you usually have to be somewhere with a dog most of the time. It’s certainly one of the nicer things. Every year though it seems there are a lot more drawbacks for those competing. This year the RAS (Royal Agricultural Society) decreed that no one was permitted to bring their own shade (be it cabanas, umbrellas or whatever) as an extra marquee would be available for competitors. Well there was an extra marquee and still there was not enough room – we had people and dogs parked in the sun as well as those in the new marquee having to vacate to the back of it once noon passed due to the sun shining directly into it. They were all squished up in a very narrow area at the back between the marquee and the fence. We also had more restrictions placed on the unloading and offloading of cars meaning we needed to go up to an opposite gate to the agility area in order to be able to drive in and unload. These two things combined with the substandard equipment always brought out for the Royal tends to leach all the excitement and fun out of an event which should be and could be one of the biggest drawcards at the show and showcase to best effect for the public the absolute blast the dogs and handlers can have on an agility course. I think though I will always go to the Royal – as much as Raven turns up her feral meter whenever we run (I am yet to have a decent start line at the Royal with her and this is after 5 years mind you) I can see she absolutely loves the cheers and clapping of the spectators and laps up the attention from them. She’s an absolute rocket to try and handle and I often fall short of her demands on course I must admit. Whilst she is a super fast dog at most times, at Royal time she seems to step up a gear or three and unfortunately my handling and getting info to her in an expedient manner seems to be quite lacking. So we go without any expectations except for one – that we will have the best fun. Yesterday she certainly more than fulfilled that one. She had a few bars down and a few off courses but for the most part she handled well for me apart from one laps of attention in a jumping round where she thought she’d prove how well she could keep the jumps up by doing about 6 extra ones with me standing there waiting for her to figure out that we actually were not going the way she had just so gracefully indicated. She came back and we got back on course. No matter as our team had already bombed anyway so I wasn’t the least bit concerned. Cypher’s team did very well – we won the Jumping event being the only team without any DQs. Cy had one fault in each round as he dropped one bar (oddly enough the exact same bar both courses). His team mates pulled off 2 clear rounds plus a couple of rounds with just one or two faults each. In Agility he again had one fault in each round – got called for a pretty close a frame contact (think that’s like only the second or third in his career) and in the second round he fell off the middle of the dog walk. Yes the flat plank middle bit! Unbelievable really but may have had something to do with the fact that I had given the command to ‘contact’ a bit early, a bit loudly and a bit too close to him. We think he may have just glanced at me to see where I was and he mis-stepped the plank. Landed on his feet so no dramas but of course it incurred a fault. However he did well in that he didn’t DQ at all. A couple of team mates did so we were pretty much out of the running I believe. So all in all not a bad effort and lots of fun to run. Took Spryte with us and she had her first taste of the atmosphere at the Royal. I did a bit of target training work with her in the breaks. She was quite curious about the crowds and the people, especially the little people her size however when I put the target down she didn’t hesitate and went straight to it. I worked her for a five to ten minute session then put her away again. Photos below are from yesterday. Tomorrow we go back for the individual classes.

When good dogwalks go bad! Step 1
When good dogwalks go bad! Step 2
When good dogwalks go bad! Step 3

Luckily Cy is very much a bounce back kinda guy!

Who likes to look good for the camera

Raven – lapping up the Royal spectatorship
A little thing like Lymphoma is not going to stop this
speeding bullet from having fun.

I think she spied a Tim!

Shall we run this dog walk contact again?

The Raven Weaven Demon!


WA – Home of the Masters Irish Terriers

Now I’m not sure if WA is just the most talented state at training the non-typical agility breeds but a special congratulations to Pam Connor and her Irish Terrier girl ‘Nuala’ (pronounced ‘Nu-la’) for gaining their Masters Jumping (JDM) title yesterday . They have only been in the game 18 months with Nuala just turned three. Nuala is only the 2nd Irish Terrier in the country with their JDM (The first was also a West Aussie – Vicki Anderton’s Murphy handled by Tracey Wansbrough) so to say Pam was over the moon would be an understatement! Kudos to her dedication and commitment!

Double Trials and Training Musings

Yesterday Gosnells Dog Club ran a double header – full trial in the morning and full trial in the afternoon. I had 18 runs all up 16 with my two and 2 with Dexter my borrowed red and white BC. Dexter did really well yesterday – he did absolutely everything I asked of him and kept his bars up except for the last one in the morning run due to his mum Janice vocally celebrating a touch too early! He picked up his fourth pass in JDX and now has one to go.
My two didn’t do too badly – Cypher didn’t have a great morning, due in part to me over handling him in Masters Agility and causing him to lose his momentum over the spread jump and thus crashing it. Mental note to self: Must train more static obstacles (like contacts) straight onto spread jump using minimum distances. We don’t see that much in training – a contact onto a spread jump (double bar staggered). For the majority of dogs that don’t go at super speed this can be an issue. He also knocked a bar in Open Jumping which was unusual – I withdrew because I had lots of runs to do and the fact that the ring was miles away from the car/dog crates. In Open Agility he had a GSD come running at him from the Novice ring just as he was finishing off the weavers I just grabbed him and picked him up which really gave him an ego boost – he was very vocal that he could have that GSD if only I would just let him down from my very safe shoulders! Judge offered a rerun and asked if I’d like to come back and I asked can I just go again straight away. Cy was fired up and ready to go. So we went! Heehee he did a lovely course – never seen him weave so fast in a trial before! Unfortunately it was a tricky distance challenge out of the blind chute tunnel straight onto the a frame however a very appealing jump closer to the handler on the inside got most dogs as they curved in to their handlers. Cy did have a wobble there as he got a little slowed down by the chute and as much as I tried to show him the aframe he just wasn’t going to see it. Never mind it was a great run apart from that. We then went in Masters Jumping and he did absolutely everything I asked of him, not a paw wrong, he ended up with a third place so that was good. I had actually added about 5 or 6 meters extra to his path by completely forgetting a front cross and doing a post turn instead, he adapted well to my glitch though *g*. Raven had Masters Agility first up and simply proved that she is way smarter than me. I could tell at the start line she was not going to stay for love nor money nor the promise of chicken jackpot! So instead of being a strong, consistent handler who insisted that she wait I decided to risk a run off the start line over jump 1 and then into a flexi tunnel under a very prominent aframe. Needless to say she took the aframe! I took her back and we did the tunnel and then kept going until she knocked a bar in the middle part of the course. Open Jumping she knocked a bar in the distance challenge so we withdrew again. Masters Jumping she kept all bars up but was handling really wide due to basically not really caring about where I was on the course and thus of course got a refusal. However she did keep all her bars up. She did keep all her bars up in Open Agility too and did a cracker run for a second place less than a second behind Domino (aka 10mps dog!).
The afternoon was much better for Cypher who could quite well have been four for four if his handler had not been intent on running her own course in Masters Jumping. I walked the course about 10 times and ran it exactly the way I had planned and he was with me the whole time again not putting a paw wrong. Unfortunately I’d walked the course wrong (either that or the judge had sneakily moved the numbers when I wasn’t looking *vbg*) so no pass there. Oh well the course I ran was much smoother I felt :-). He ran clear in Open Agility for a lovely pass and second place again to 10MPS dog! Then in Open Jumping and Masters Agility he also ran clear – he was a bit slower in time in Masters Agility as I hadn’t quite got the course stuck in my head and was looking at numbers (never a good sign). In Open Jumping lots of good runs, he ended up in 6th place. Raven didn’t crack a pass in the afternoon – in Masters Agility I was just too slow for her, she’d been done for the seesaw in Open Agility so I doubled my verbals for the wait on the seesaw in Masters and she did wait beautifully but I was just too slow directing her to the next jump correctly. She kept all bars up in both those courses and had a bar down in each of the Jumping runs. So it wasn’t a complete write off as I was pleased she’d kept her bars up in half her runs given how feral she was. Not so sure Ken should have lowered her chemo dose last Tuesday!
Spryte is coming up for 14 months old next Friday. I have been tackling the running contacts the Silvia Trkman way and I have to admit that if only I could train this everyday with her that I would be much farther along, at the moment the board/down plank is not much higher than her height (45 cm – 17 inches).
Then I started watching some videos on the net of running contacts – and I’m wondering if they are worth all the work required. The only two major advantages I see are 1) Much faster 2) Less impact. The disadvantages: 1) I cannot run/handle fast enough to give directionals after them 2) They require absolutely spot on, exact, extremely consistent and very precise training. This training I have only seen done well by a mere handful of people in the world, and many more very seasoned, experienced, at top level, well respected trainers/handlers have made the decision to steer away from them. So I’ve made a decision this weekend based on the fact that I want fast consistent contacts by next year – I will start target training with her this week, we are going to two on two off on the dog walk. The aframe we will determine later when I see how she goes on it at full height.
Her jump work is going well – we have started doing the bend work on a single bar and also bounce grids of three jumps. Her weavers are slightly staggered still and will stay that way for quite some time. I am also working the entries separately.

So I better get off this blog and into some training!

New Toy

So Tim got me a new digi camera for our anniversary (ten years – who’d have thunk it?). I think he was worried I’d keep nicking off with his rather flash (and horribly expensive) Nikon whenever I needed to take pics and he wasn’t around. So I got a Canon Ixus 70. Don’t ask me about the specs, alls I know is Tim chose it and he who is very thorough about that sort of thing would no doubt be getting the best camera for the price range. It’s small and neat and pocketable, and I’m still figuring out all the functions it has. Took it on our bush walk yesterday – yes Cypher (who gaited and pulled 20kms the day before) had the audacity to not display an ounce of stiffness the following day…whatever elixir of life he is on I need some! So we went for an hour at the regional park and I took the camera with some vague idea of having a muck around with it. Got a very few decent pics…one really needs to practice at the keeping hand still thing. Either that or take 300 shots to get 5 decent ones!

Raven with her “so not impressed about sitting
here whilst I can hear the other two chasing
bunnies in the bush!” look
Is this the face of a dog who ran a half marathon the
day before?? Who spent the entire hour walk the next day
bouncing, chasing and generally not slowing down for anything!

Raven on the log – she made the lying
down look awkward
Spryte aka The Mite – I have just said the word “bunnies!”

Cypher’s ET Day

Today Cypher did his Endurance Test with a bit of help from a friend at work who cycles regularly. The ET is basically a 20km test of the dog trotting along side a bike (or you can run it if you’re that good) with a bit of basic on lead obedience at the beginning and at the end. It’s done in three stages, today was around 6.8km each stage. After the first stage there’s a 15 minute break, between the second and third stage there’s a 20 minute break. There is a Vet there who checks the dog over fully before the start (takes temperature, resting heart rate, checks their general condition), and then he checks the dog after each stage and before the start of each stage to ensure heart rate has dropped and the dog is still good to continue. So basically it’s a fitness test of the dog I’d guess you’d call it. I’ve done a couple already – Raven’s got her ET and also her sire, Bear had his ET. It’s not difficult to ride particularly at that set speed however it helps if one has a decent bike and since that’s one on my Christmas list I asked a colleague to help out. I must admit I did rely on the Border Collie’s natural propensity to go all day as I did hardly any preparation for the test. I took Cy out on the bike for the first time in a year and a half just over 9 days ago – he got three trips in total before the test – 4km, 6km and 8km. However he did the 20kms today with no problems, there were a couple of hiccups I must admit. Like him slipping his collar when he thought he’d much rather trot along side the female BC following him however Dean got him back on lead quickly. Then there was his altercation with the back tyre of the bike when he took a fright at the video guy however he decided he had a new found respect for the bike after that and learnt that running too near was not a good idea. His “resting heart rate” was 96 at the start. I place it in inverted commas as I don’t think he was quite in resting mode – pulling at his lead and making eyes at the female BC. His heart rate got up to 156 after stage 1 was back down to 120 at the start of Stage 2, he finished stage 2 at 156 bpm again and then for the 3rd stage was only back down to 144. The Vet told Dean to take it easy so he did and he was still 144 when he checked in after the 6.8kms of the last stage. He did it fairly easily, without pushing, keeping up easily just beside the bike for the last stage (he’d given up on the pulling idea). When he checked in again for the Obedience he was back down to 126. I thought he’d be out like a light tonight but I see Spryte has enticed him into a full on play session! So much for exhausted – however I daresay he’ll be feeling a bit stiff come the morning!
So there’s another pair of letters to add to his growing name; Nahrof Quick Change ADM2 JDM2 ADO3 JDO4 SPDX GD SD ET. Hopefully, fingers crossed we’ll add an Obedience title into that mix before the end of the year.

Cy getting close to nature early morning
Cy doing the basic obedience bit at the beginning

About to start

Hang on what do you mean “Off I go?!?!”

A leisurely trot around Little Rush Lake

Ok is this one our last lap?

The lolling tongue: in built cooling system

Spryte News and Trialling Days

It’s been a while since I posted I had been trying to find the time (and, if I’m being honest here, the inclination) to bath young Spryte up proper, give her the full grooming treatment so that I can get some recent (13 month old!) photos to go along with the brag of saying she achieved her Herding Test title on that Sunday the 19th of August. Robyn and I did a swapsies – I took Tag (Ch Winpara Secret Obsession ADM JDM JDO SPD GD SD) and ran him in Novice Strategic Pairs for a qualifying card and a 2nd place I believe it was. Robyn took Spryte to the Herding trials that day and came back with both the required passes for her Herding Test (HT) title. Considering this was only her 4th time on sheep I was mightily impressed with the little pipsqueak. Thanks to Robyn of course who knew which direction to walk and where to turn! So the photos of the Spryte mite are still forthcoming – I have got as far as combing her out and tidying up her feet today. We shall endeavour to bath her next weekend.

Raven received treatment last Tuesday – the nasty one (Doxorubicin). Her WBC’s were back at 5.2 which was a relief to say the least. However this treatment has knocked her around a bit more this week than when she had the drug the first couple of times. She’s been more tired, nauseous and generally just feeling a little off. Not that there has been a day when she has knocked back food though! And it certainly didn’t stop her from doing some training Thursday night and bits and pieces of UD everyday. The weekend before was kind of a wipe out – we had a CAWA fundraising trial on the 26th of August. Agility, Jumping and one Strat Pairs run. Let’s see – 8 runs in total – 4 with Raven, 4 with Cypher. The weather was atrocious – cold, wet and windy to boot! Raven didn’t finish a course since a bar came down in each. And Cypher – well he just didn’t switch on, he had a bar down in one, 2 bars in the other, went into an off course tunnel in Open Jumping and DQ’d in Masters Jumping by back jumping a bar! Thankfully Mr Reliable was back in our Masters Strategic Pairs run and he and partner Sage pulled off a lovely run for 1st place and our first pass in SP Masters! Raven and Nifty also managed to keep it together (with a couple of hiccups) to claim their first leg with a 4th place. I also helped Lisa out and ran Emmy for their first leg of SPDM and a 3rd place. So at least the whole day wasn’t a total write off – which when you got as cold and wet as I did is a fairly significant saving grace!
This weekend panned out somewhat better. Raven qualified in both Masters Jumping and Open Jumping, I completely fluffed her on a Masters Agility course that really leant itself to her style of running (at a distance!) and then in Open Agility she actually missed her DW contact (I must admit I was pushing the lateral limits of an independent contact with her in that one!). But it was a thrill to run and not one bar down. She was starting to show a bit of fatigue I think though today. Either that or she was just not quite herself yet after treatment. She came 4th in both her jumping runs, this combined with a feeling that she wasn’t as full on as she has been recently just means that she has not quite returned to 100% after the chemo this week. She has a week off this week so hopefully she’ll bounce right back soon. She and Nifty also did a cracker of a Strategic Pairs run today – no mistakes and we finished with a pass and 2nd place.
Cypher was much more on track today as well, he came 4th in Masters Agility and also qualified in Open Jumping 3 seconds slower than Raven. We had a few hiccups in SPDM in the afternoon and even without any hiccups pairs were running out of time so no joy there. I have posted photos from today below;

The flying Strat Pairs dogwalk

On the home stretch in Strat Pairs

Open Agility – as usual waiting for her handler

1.14 second A Frame coming right up!

Yep – not a single dropped bar day!

Cypher’s doing the flying dogwalk look

And the prissy seesaw two step contact

I’m not sure but rear crosses should not be this close surely?
I’m sure I felt the breeze from his tail swish!