25 February 2012

Agony & ecstacy

In addition to the 10 rally trials (Papago Labrador Retriever Club of Greater Phoenix, Sahuaro Kennel Club and the Lost Dutchman KC) that I participated in with Tyro at the beginning of February, I also competed with Miska in 5 obedience trials.  She was entered in Open A (this is the second level of obedience competition in the AKC & CKC).  Last year Miska earned her first leg in Open at this same venue and at the same trials.  After all the training we had been doing lately, I was confident she would finish her title.  OH, SO WRONG!!

In fact, for the most part, it was an extremely frustrating and very disappointing time, to the point where I wanted to cry. It went from "not bad" to "absolutely terrible" and then finally to "elation".  Lately, we've been training outdoors since there are no indoor obedience facilities here.  And outdoors, Miska had been doing very well. As per the H (Habitat) in Susan Garrett's DASH principle, we were practicing in different locations around town, albeit on our own, without others dogs as distractions.  But Miska is used to working with / around other dogs so I wasn't worried about that part.

Anyway, there is a world of difference between practicing outside the ring and competing in the ring.  My dogs are capable of completely changing personalities.  Outside the ring, they are absolutely brillian; once they step inside the ring and take their first few steps heeling, they act like they have had lobotomies,  Their brains are replaced with ones that have never had any obedience training.

Dogs always surprise their humans in the ring and Miska is certainly no exception, doing or not doing things she'd never done before.  But the main problem lately has been the broad jump with her often walking through the gaps instead of clearing the jumps.  In addition to that undesired behaviour, she also failed to come on the drop on recall and often her heeling was terrible at these trials.  These was something about the ring we were in that she didn't like because in one corner where we had to do an about turn, she was never beside me on the heeling pattern.  (Wait until we compete in outdoor trials!!)

After four abject failures (NQ's), I seriously considered pulling her from the last trial but decided not to because, what the heck - I had paid for it.  And I am so glad I didn't because she finally passed!!! But the trial wasn't without a major hitch.  We were the first Open A team in the ring after lunch so the stewards had to set up the jumps.  When I sent Miska over the high jump, she stopped between the jump and the dumbbell and started to eat something.  In a loud voice I said to the judge, "Is there food in the ring?"  Of course, there shouldn't be any treats or food in the ring but she was definitely noshing on something.  The ring steward thought it was some dog hair but someone else said it was definitely something edible.  Anyway. the judge allowed a re-throw and she did the exercise perfectly (well, maybe her front or her finish was crooked but she did the hard stuff.  When we reached the broad jump, she sailed over it!!  Hurray!!!  But it's never over until it's over and we still had the long sits and downs to do. On the first day of trials, she was sitting perfectly when I left the building and in the same position when I returned to the ring but the judge said to me, "Oh don't let her fool you - she got up & then sat back down again!"  That results in a fail although we had failed on something else prior to the out of sight exercises.  Anyway, to make a long story short(er), Miska did her group exercises perfectly and as a result, she got a qualifying score.  Whereas the day before NO Open A dogs qualified, 3 of us qualified.  Miska's score was 184 and she got a second place.  I was so ecstatic!! 

8 February 2012

Green & other colours

Five days of dog competitions in Phoenix AZ (Papago Labrador Retriever Club of Greater Phoenix, Sahuaro Kennel Club and the Lost Dutchman KC) equaled 10 rally-obedience trials for Tyro and frankly, we were both fried at the end of them.  Tyro, however, did me proud and brought home a sea of green qualifying ribbons as well as several placement ribbons of various colours for a total of 10 "Q's" (qualifying scores) and 5 American Kennel Club RAE legs.  Ten RAE 'legs' are needed for an RAE title so he achieved 50% in one long weekend of trials.  Tyro had to pass both Advanced and Excellent categories at the same trial to earn one RAE leg.  And this weekend, he also earned 7 placements:  one First, one Second, four Thirds and one Fourth.  Well done Tyro!

2 February 2012

14 Years Young

Happy 14th Birthday to Amber (CH Varazs On Point at Blackbullet) and Bartok (Varazs Bartok Bluebeardscastle), the two remaining puppies from our 1998 litter born 14 years ago today, Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day).  This was the last litter out of our beloved Nekah (Am/Can CH Maritza of Kezdet Nekah Am/Can CD CGC). 
Amber (CH Varazs On Point at Blackbullet)
Amber at about 7 weeks


Amber in 2003

  Bartok (Varazs Bartok Bluebeardscastle)

Bartok at 8 weeks
Bartok, 13 yr old

Bartok, 13 yr old in July 2011