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Archive for April, 2011

Our First APDT Rally Trial

The weekend didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned but it worked out ok.  Vada and I entered our first APDT rally trial.  My club was hosting it and there weren’t any Dutch Shepherds registered.  I figured Vada could be the first.  I thought we could squeeze the trials in before Schutzhund since it was supposed to start at 9:30am after the CDSP obedience trials.  And the running order was Trial 1 Level 1 then Trial 2 Level 1.  They needed help with stewards so I offered to come early and help with that too.  Well, the obedience trials had a good sized entry and went really late.  And rally is very slow moving.  I’m not sure why but it is.  So I ended up not being able to go to SchH training on Saturday or Sunday.  But we had a good time anyways, I learned alot about a new spot and Vada earned her RL1.  Karl worked on Saturday too.  He stayed to watch Vada’s runs and help with getting portraits taken of Copper.  I wanted pics of him now since he’s feeling better.  They didn’t turn out exactly how I was hoping they would.  But maybe I have unrealistic expectations.  Maybe the spirit and life that I see in him is not able to be captured in a picture or maybe not when he is in a stay.  I should get them in a week or two.  Mary edits photos very well.  She also said she can make his whole muzzle white.  He lost hair follicles on the side of his muzzle where he received radiation and his skin pigment is black.  It’s very noticeable.  I don’t mind though.  I’d rather he have that on his muzzle than the tumors.  He has been feeling TONS better the last few days.  I think he’s finally recovering from all the stress of the last few months.  Hopefully I can start to recover now too.

Our first run on Saturday.  I was really nervous.  I enter it like no big deal.  I read the rules/sign descriptions twice.  Haven’t practiced or done a rally class.  But then I get in the ring and get nervous and worry about making fools of me and my dog.  Silly girl!  Vada get a bit nervous inside.  We are use to training outside or in big areas.  And after watching the videos I realize how much background noise there is.  We don’t have that outside.  Parts of the course felt really tight too.  Very different than Schutzhund which is long heeling patterns across a football field sized field.  But rally does work to keep her attention.  I remembered after a bit that I could talk to her too and help keep her focus on me.  I also realized that we are in need of some major polishing up in our heeling.  Lots of looking around and not super drivey.  But no barking which was nice.  The one exercise where I have not really taught her the skill needed is the around finish or finish to the right.  I worked on it at agility class and a few other times but I have not “taught” it to her.  It is apparent in the video.  We squeaked by but it wasn’t pretty.  On this run I lost 6 points on that exercise.  I also lost points for putting down her leash on the down and walk around exercise – not sure why I did that.  I also lost points on making my 360 circles too big.  I was worried about making them too small as the rules said hula hoop size circles.  Maybe for the dog?  On the final exercise, which is a bonus for a possible 10 additional points, I had never practiced that with her.  You are not allowed to turn your shoulder back at all.  She just did not know which side to come to as I was not giving her help and in agility I work her on both sides.  I realized on Sunday that I had put my leash in my right hand on Saturday.  Sunday I put it in my left hand and she came into heel position perfectly.  She’s soooo keen on the little tiny details.  That works in our favor if I am paying attention.  I was glad that I looked at my score sheet as I was able to clean up my handling points for the rest of the weekend.  We scored a 192 and 5th place.  I did not tug with her before we went in but afterwards we went outside and tugged.  We both needed to release our stress energies!  We were both calmer for our 2nd run.

This was our 2nd run on Saturday.  I was calmer.  I’m not sure what our score would have been if we had not NQd but I’m sure it would have been a good score.  I should have looked at my sheet to learn from it.  I think what makes rally hard is that you have to read and do the signs, follow the numbers so you don’t miss a sign and stay connected with your dog all at the same time.  It’s alot of work mentally.  Maybe it would be easier if I knew the signs better and didn’t worry as much that I would do one wrong (like I did at the UKC rally trial – stupid finish w/half vs no halt).  Our NQ was when she was supposed to stay sitting as I walked around her.  I gave her a 2nd sit command and so she thought she was doing something wrong and turned to go with me and stay in heel position.   On Sunday I used a stay command (even though she really should have just stayed with no command – handler habits are hard to break) and we were good.  So, I take the blame for our goof.  I thought the rest was nice.  She wasn’t certain what we were doing on the bonus exercise and kind of went to front and then finish.  On Sunday when we encountered that sign again I helped her out by taking a bigger more obvious step over and by giving her a bit of a cue in front of me.

On Sunday we had a 196 and 2nd place and then a 208 and 1st place to finish our RL1 title.  She is an amazing girl who is great about handling whatever crazy things I throw at her.  She’s getting “around” and is liking it alot.

On the way home since it was gorgeous out and we had missed 2 possible Schutzhund sessions, I stopped at a park to train.  It’s so nice this time of year.  Cool enough to train but warm enough to not freeze.  No bugs.  No kids.  And no organized sports.  Great time for tracking and training obedience at parks!  I realized that I need to make a better point to proof Vada to get a better performance out of her.  She’s bored and it’s easy for her.  I also realized that I tend to stick to exercises/skills that are comfortable.  I have to remind myself to work on Open and Utility exercises and to start making that a priority.  I brought Letty out on leash in case she got any ideas of taking off.  She still might if there was a dog or running kid or rocket ship flying through the sky.  But I was very happy with how focused she was on me and how she stayed engaged with me the whole time.  It’s so nice to see things starting to come together!  She had trouble staying in a sit when we did the 1-2-3-Ready game since it was in a new place.  I backed up but probably a rep or two too late and she was stressing.  She is a puppy!  I forget that alot.  Then I took Copper out for a short walk to sniff smells at the park.

Both days I napped!  Saturday night we stayed home and made dinner.  Both uncommon events.  It was nice.

Copper went and saw Dr. Heather on Thursday as his neck was out but on the right this time.  He was improved from the day that he hurt it but still was off.  She said his back was MUCH improved.  She adjusted him and did acupuncture.  He held still a bit better this time.  He’s been feeling great the last few days.  It’s like I have my old dog back again.  I love to see that spark in his eye.  I don’t think Karl’s as crazy about it since Copper barks at him to make his dinner faster.  We had agility class that night and on the drive up there I dialed in on my laptop and listened to Susan Garrett’s Recallers Course conference call.

Yesterday I took my van into the shop and got a bunch of repairs done on it so we’re all set to hit the road to Omaha tomorrow.  It has 253K miles on it so it’s doing pretty darn good!  I’m excited for my spring vacation to start.

Friday I took Letty out tracking at a park near my house.  She’s getting the hang of it.  I’ll probably do a few more puppy tracks and then start doing some straight lines and scent pads.  We do club tracking (way down in Saint Peter – 2 hours away) on the 30th so I’ll need something on a line by then.

April Showers…

We haven’t had much rain yet.  But it’s coming.  We had our first thunderstorm the other night.  It was nice to hear thunder and see lightening again.  And the next day things were much greener.  Vada enjoyed playing in the mostly thawed out pond.

Narc’s vet visit went well.  He was a very good boy.  His teeth are very worn down but the roots are good.  So no problems there.  However, we did discover that his bulla (inner ear) on the right side (the side he landed on when he fell off the dogwalk) is larger than the left.  Dr. Jina took another xray and sent them to a radiologist.  Unfortunately the results were “there is a difference and there might be a problem but you can’t tell without an MRI”.  MRIs are $1500-$2000.  If there is a problem and we treat it then they’d have to remove his ear canal.  He would not be able to do bitework anymore.  He currently can’t do bitework.  That seems to be the only symptom that he has and Dr. Jina didn’t think there would be any other problems.  Usually dogs with this problem have recurring ear infections.  Narc had 1 and it went away when we treated it.  Antibiotics might clear up the bulla problem if it is an infection.  So he’s on high powered antibiotics for a week.  Then we’ll do more xrays and see if there is improvements.  If not, he just doesn’t do bitework anymore.  Not the end of the world as he’s just happy to do anything and is really enjoying the little bit of agility that he’s doing.  Last Tuesday we had our first club training day outside.  He was crazy silly boy.  He had been on antibiotics for a few days.  So I’m hopeful that they will help.

I also brought one of the outdoor cats, Reba, in as she had a goofy eye.  It looked bad to me and the vet but once she got her hands on her she could tell that it was not as bad and was already starting to heal.  Reba was super good at the clinic.  We kept her in the bathroom for a week.  Karl put antibiotic ointment in her eye to help it heal.  It made some improvement.  It’s still a little cloudy but we let her back outside to be with her buds.

We were at the vet for almost 2 hours.  So we missed Vada’s class but I was able to run her in Seven’s class.  It was good practice to go back and forth between the 2 dogs too.  Just like a trial.  It was fun.  However, last week I was not very focused and class was not good.  The dogs did well but I just didn’t have any energy and was not handling well.

The day after Narc’s visit to the vet I took Copper to see Dr. Heather.  His back was out pretty bad.  There was one spot (his sacrum) where he yelped and turned at her showing teeth.  I don’t recall him ever reacting that strongly.  She did acupuncture again and even hooked him up to some electric device.  He felt better after the adjustment.  He got lots of cookies too.  He hurt his neck again yesterday I think.  His right shoulder had alot of heat and he was walking slow and couldn’t lift his head up.  I gave him a tramadol.  He slept all night (4 nights in a row!) and was doing better this morning.  He goes to see Dr. Heather again on Thursday.

That weekend I worked Letty in a protection seminar at Lisa’s with Stephan.  She did really well.  He did a good job with her.  There was a lady there on Saturday that got some good pictures.  It was nice to be training outside on Saturday.  Sunday was cold and we started earlier so we trained inside.  Saturday mom came to watch for a bit and then we went out to dinner.  It was all her idea!  We had a good time.

I had barely even started my Visual Basic project by the night it was due.  I did get it completed in time.  However, I was at class until 10pm.  Then the hour drive home.  Not a good way to start the week!  No wonder I was tired for agility class.  But now 3 of the 5 projects are done.  I have another due the day after I get back from Iowa.  My goal is to get it done BEFORE class.  But we will see.  Good intentions are just not enough.

I attended my 2nd MAC board meeting.  It was on a Friday night.  They get to be late too.  But it was in Saint Louis Park this time so only an hour drive home.  One thing I hate about these after work events is that I feel guilty for the dogs being home and crated so much.  It’s already hard to give everyone time.  Copper needs time with all his medical problems and Letty needs time because she is a growing developing puppy.  Vada and especially Seven have been really neglected lately.  Narc could use alot more time and training too.  Vada was patient but she’s starting to pester me more lately.  I’ve also been having Letty out on her own more since she body slams Vada really hard.

Over the weekend I went to an agility handling seminar that Terry put on as a fundraiser.  I just audited.  The courses were international style.  I brought Letty with and worked on crate and mat games and tugging.  The dogs that were working had really good skills.  If Vada had been entered, it would have been a mess.  So I was glad that I did not take a working spot.  But I’m starting to realize that there are just things that she can’t do.  I think maybe my hopes for her are too high and that she just can’t be successful.  Not in USDAA anyways.  She’s just too big and powerful and I’m not a good enough handler.  We have alot working against us.  I signed up to work her on international courses with Tracy in IA and I’m almost wishing I had just done the Masters courses.  But when Tracy was here I did the international day and Tracy was good at helping us to be successful.

This weekend Vada and I are entered in our first ever APDT rally trial.  I think she’s the only Dutch Shepherd registered with them!  I think we’ll be ok except that I have to teach her the around finish.  It’s at Total Recall and my club is hosting it.  And it’s early enough that I can go and then go to Schutzhund – both days.

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