Friday, May 20, 2011

Reese in Action!

We were lucky enough to have Amy from GreatDanePhotos at our trial last weekend.  Here are some the photos of Reese in action!

"Image by GreatDanePhotos (c) 2011. Used with permission."
"Image by GreatDanePhotos (c) 2011. Used with permission."
"Image by GreatDanePhotos(c) 2011. Used with permission."

"Image by GreatDanePhotos (c) 2011. Used with permission." 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

There Are No Shortcuts to Anywhere Worth Going

Reese and I attended our first CPE trial this past weekend. She was amazing! We attended both days - 4 runs each day.

CPE has six games, I have done Snooker and Gamblers in USDAA and CPE has Snooker and their Jackpot is like Gamblers. CPE also has FullHouse, Colors, and WildCard, all three of which I have never run. So a couple of days before the trial I got the Running Order. The first run will be FullHouse, the first dog and handler on the line at 8:00 is Sarah and Reese - Yeah Baby!

I actually was glad that FullHouse would be the first run, as it would give Reese and I time to adjust to a trial situation again. It was a new place we had never been before, our second trial, and we were playing a game I knew nothing about. What could go wrong?  Not a whole lot as it turns out.

FullHouse was a good run. Startline stay was good. Reese was a little bouncy but I'm sure she was sensing my nerves. Reese had weave issues apparently not liking weaves in a new location. After the weaves she bounced around a jump and then back jumped it. Watching the video you will notice that Reese had moved on already but I failed to notice this and this is when I started directing my "Imaginary Dog" back over that jump. But when even he didn't perform, I moved on back to Reese. The weaves were one of the jokers but I knew we could do the A-frame for a joker and would be fine. She nailed the A-frame but we ran out of time so no Q.  We ran to the table and that was when the "freaky handler" made her only appearence for the weekend and tried to carry Reese to her leash.  That was NOT normal and Reese would have none of it and she told me so. I put her in a stay on the table and quick put her collar back on and out of the ring we went.

Before our next run I decided to do a little shopping at the vendors. I found a martingale style Lupine collar, I have been looking for one of these forever. Our friend Donna uses one for her dog Jadah and it has worked great for them. I wasn't sure what the design of the collar was that we had fit Reese for, but when I realized it was Sunflowers, there was not even a question in my mind - we were getting that collar. My cousin Sue loved Sunflowers. They symbolize Sue for me and I have never been able to look at Sunflowers the same since Sue passed. So I figured this might be some good luck for us. Sue loved animals and dogs in particular. Call it what you want - after we got that collar, when I put it on Reese for each of her runs the rest of the trial, everything clicked. And each time that collar was slipped over her head I calmed down another notch.

Standard run was good but didn't get video. Got to the line and no "exit guards", took a deep breath and thought well, it is what it is. Off came the collar and away we went. Startline was good, I knew the course well, so no issue there. I was running hard and it was a great run, we were really in sync, I was giving clear commands, Reese was listening and reading my body language great, no bobbles and no bounciness, and then we got to the dogwalk. I wanted to make sure she had clear instructions again so as soon as she got to the top and started across I said, "Touch". Reese stopped and was sniffing at the top plank. I encouraged her to "Walk it" but she jumped right off and ran to the other end to jump on the yellow to "Touch". Whoops, why did I say touch so early. We kept going the rest of the run which was flawless. Bummed that I don't have it on video as it was such a nice run. We got to the end and had a party. Slipped her new collar on and all was well.  Boy was it a fun run! Why was it so great since we didn't Q. Because we ran as a team, connected and totally in tune to each other - well except my mistake on the dogwalk. 

Next up was Snooker. I can't believe that our first Q was in Snooker -who would have thought. Colors was the last run of the day. I loved it, it was a nice fast course, tons of fun. Reese did great, another Q. With each run on Saturday I got more relaxed and Reese and I ran better and better together.

Sunday we started the day with Jackpot. I wanted to use this run to test out Reese's dogwalk and teeter and make sure there were no lasting issues from the day before. So I had both the dogwalk and the teeter in my opening sequence plan. Reese started up the dogwalk but bailed on the up plank. No worries, movin' on, we got to the teeter. She started up, came off. Okay so still having issues. So we didn't get our points in the opening sequence but we got the gamble which 1 out of 2 parts of the course wasn't bad. So no Q but got good information on the dogwalk and teeter. After the Jackpot runs had finished the judge said I could take Reese over the dogwalk with her on leash and see if she would go over it. At first she didn't want to and was hesitant. But I got her to go over once slowly and with some coaxing. Then we did it a few more times with more speed each time. We did the same thing with the teeter.

Next up, Standard. Would we get the dogwalk.....yes we did!  It was slower than she can do, and I was babysitting more than I should need to but after what happened I wanted to be there to support her and she did it well. The only problem was that I was so happy she did the dogwalk and seemed to be over her issue with it that a few obstacles later I was looking for the teeter which is not includeded in Standard in this level. I found myself in the right place to send her over the conspicuously absent teeter but not in the correct position to send Reese to the correct jump. I misdirected Reese and she back jumped a jump and then took it and we finished the course. It was too bad about the jump which was all my fault. But the important thing to me was that she did the dogwalk! Spoke to a friend about our run and she suggested I check our score because we might have Q'd anyway. So I did and we got another Q. I couldn't believe it, I never would have guessed.

Then it was onto WildCard - another fun, fast course and Q. Finally, we had Jumpers. This was a great course too. I was a little off as Reese had gotten pretty jazzed at the start watching some other dogs. I was able to get her refocused but I was still distracted. I was a little too tense to keep the run as smooth as I would have liked but it was still a good run and a Q.

My goals for this trial were pretty simple. Keep myself calm and run. Reese was very focused. Ready to go for each run. She knew her job and did it perfectly, I did my job (with a few errors) but we really were a team. Reese was sleeping her crate in the afternoon the first day. The last trial she didn't sleep in her crate until the second day. The second day this weekend she was sleeping in her crate both in the morning and in the afternoon.  She also slept, yes I said slept - the put your head all the way down sleep, in the car both to and from the trial.

After this weekend I can say without a doubt that trialing is so much more fun when you stop worrying about what-ifs and really believe in yourself and your dog. Then you can relax and just run and have fun with your dog which is what it is all about.

Reese after a successful weekend trialing!

A card Reese and I received from our biggest fans.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Raptor Release

Last weekend I went to the Spring Raptor Release.  A local Raptor Center takes in injured raptors from all over the world, rehabs them and when they are ready, the birds are released back into the wild. They also have resident birds that work as ambassadors for the public to learn about them.  It was a fun day.

Did you know that songbirds migrate at night and use the stars as guides? Raptors migrate during the day so it is safer for songbirds at night. The raptors hunt with their eyes so need the daylight to see their prey.

I am a bit behind on the 52 week stuff so will have to get back to that.  Now that winter is finally gone, it will be fun to get some pictures outside.