Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kili - DAL Trial

Kili also had a very successful weekend at the Dogs At Large trial over the Thanksgiving weekend. She completed her Expert Snooker Bronze and her Bronze Award of Merit titles. The Expert Snooker Bronze requires 10 Q's in Snooker at the Master level. The Bronze Award of Merit requires 10 Q's of combined Standard and/or Challenge, and 25 Games (Jumpers, Snooker, Gamble, Steeplechase, or Team Relay).

Sadly I only got 2 of her runs on video, neither of which were particularly good. In her Master Standard run, she made an unusual error of popping at pole number 10. Her biggest weave pole issue is typically hitting entries... once in she rarely pops. Her Challenge run was really nice, but unfortunately that big, long stride was a bit difficult to manage on a tight portion of the course and resulted in an off course.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

19 months - Agility Dog of Canada

Kenna attended her second AAC trial over the Thanksgiving weekend. And what a trial it was! She was entered in 8 runs over the two days, with 6 being eligible for Q's and 2 being FEO (For Exhibition Only). She Q'd 5/6, only missing her very first run of the weekend which was Steeplechase.

On Saturday she picked up the last 2 Starters Standard legs she needed to finish her Agility Dog of Canada (ADC) title. It took Kili and I over a year, and countless trials to earn that title... Kenna did it in 2 days and 4 runs (you need 3 Q's for the title). She also was awarded the Judge's Choice award that day, for the best Starter/Advanced Contacts. The prize was a trial record book for recording your runs and Q's.

On Sunday, she picked up her first 2 Advanced Standard legs, and the final Starter Jumpers leg she needed to move up. Which means I really need to get to work on Gamble and Snooker now! We did struggle a bit with her dogwalk contact on Sunday. She is really coming into her own at trials, becoming speedier and more driven (as if we needed that! ha!) and she was having trouble sticking her 2-on-2-off dogwalk contact. She was going so fast that she was sliding right off the end. She was still making the contact so it's not a fault, but for control and criteria I really want her to stick it. We'll be working that even more in practice, and also in FEO runs at trials when the atmosphere really gets her excited.

Here are her Sunday runs:

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

19 months - CKC debut

  Kenna had her CKC agility debut the weekend after her AAC debut. We made the 3.5 hr drive down to Calgary for this trial because we had to miss the big show at Spruce Meadows this summer. I had strained my back pretty badly the previous week, so the drive was a bit rough. I'd been in physiotherapy all week in order to get to a point where I hoped I'd be able to make the drive and still be able to run the next morning. I think my physiotherapist might think I'm a bit nuts... being in a rush to heal in order to... compete with my dogs. ha ha. Anyway, he did a great job because I was only a bit sore the morning of and was able to get both girls around 5 courses each... and still drive home to Edmonton!

Kenna was an absolute superstar. She had a perfect trial going 5/5, and with 3 Novice Standard Q's she earned her very first title, her Agility Novice. She needs one more Jumpers to complete that title.

She was very focused and only had one slip up in that regard, which was during her very first Standard run. She generally doesn't visit with the ring crew, but when she got up on the table she suddenly heard the photographer's camera clicking which got her attention. She was a good girl and didn't jump off the table until she was released, but the next obstacle was the weave poles and it was just too much. She ran over to investigate why this person was sitting in the ring using a clicker... and where was her treat? Click, treat! I called her back, and she went back to work and finished the rest of the run without incident. Silly baby dog!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kili - PACE trial

Kili also attended the PACE trial and ran very well, though we continue to struggle with what just generally seems to be bad luck! On this weekend most of our errors were handler induced, but I was still really happy with my handling. I felt like I made really great decisions for our team and executed some of the hardest stuff very well. Unfortunately we would then have a small bobble or oversight (I called her too hard in one spot and cause her to take the wrong end of the tunnel, I got tongue tied and couldn't get "weave" out of my mouth quick enough, I didn't think I needed to call her in the tunnel and got an off course jump, etc) that was generally my fault.

Kili is not quite as "honest" as Kenna is. An honest dog is one that generally always looks to her handler for direction, rather than just taking what she thinks is correct and checking later. Coming out of a blind obstacle like the tunnel, Kenna generally looks to see where I am and what I am cuing next... whereas Kili will just launch over whatever is in front of her unless I call for her attention. The benefit of an honest dog is that you sometimes don't see every trap while you're walking the course. An honest dog will either just follow you regardless, or at least give you a split second to see that they are looking at a different option on course. With a dog like Kili, if you don't foresee the trap... it's usually too late by the time you realize she's seen something else!

Monday, September 11, 2017

18 months - AAC debut

Kenna turned 18 months old on Friday and weighed in at 27 kg. She had her AAC debut the very next day and I was very pleased with how it went. Overall she was fast and driven, but also focused and controlled.

We started with just a single run on Saturday in Jumpers. She rattled a couple bars, but left them all up, and finished the course clean in a little over 15 seconds... earning herself her first Q and also first place in the entire Starters class.

On Sunday Kenna got to run 3 times. She earned her very first Standard Q-  that first Q took Kili over a year to achieve and Kenna gets it her first try... go figure! She had a few problems with the weave poles, but she was very high (translation: excited, driven, over the top) and this club's weaves aren't perfectly straight which you can actually see in the video. Kili had a hard time with these weave poles  too when she was a novice dog. I was really proud of Kenna for getting through them and it's good for the dogs to see weaves that aren't perfectly straight so that it just becomes another potential problem that you have proofed against. I was happy with her contacts as she hit her 2-on-2-off positions quickly and showed good understanding and control - you can see her begin to release off the A-frame as I'm making the blind cross in front of her, but she remembers and steps back on her own to wait for the release word.

Her second Jumpers run was beautiful, but unfortunately she knocked a bar, and I think that threw her off stride so that she missed the next jump. I was really happy with the way she quickly called off the tunnel though and came back to take the missed jump.

Her final run wasn't videoed but we had a little teaching moment. She was the very last dog of the day and it had been a long day for a young dog! She had a bit of puppy brain and broke her start line, so we ended up spending all of our time working a start line. It's part of transitioning a young dog from training to trialing - they have to learn that the rules still apply in competition! It was a valuable lesson and I'm hoping she remembers it next weekend for her CKC debut!

Overall, I was so happy with this weekend and so excited to see what the future holds for us as a team.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

16 months - Official UKI Debut

A few weeks ago Kenna had her official UKI trial debut. UKI allows dogs to compete in 2 events, Nursery Agility and Speedstakes, starting at the age of 15 months. I don't think Q's in Nursery count for anything, but Speedstakes does. No Q's for Kenna, just a couple of little mistakes, but I was very happy with how she ran. She was fast, focused, and very responsive. She is such a good little puppy for just 16 months old! I can't wait for September when she gets to start AAC and CKC!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Regionals 2017

Kili and I participated in the 2017 AAC Alberta/Northwest Territories Regionals in June. You will remember that last year at her very first Regionals she blew me away and placed 3rd. This year we stepped it up a notch... literally! Right into second place!

We started with warm up day on Thursday. This is when we all arrive and get our tents set up. This year the competition was in Edmonton, so we didn't have to drive or stay at a hotel which was nice. You can also do warm up runs where you just get to do whatever you want with the equipment, and can use a toy reward. And there's also 2 rounds of Steeplechase. The Steeplechase runs are normal AAC sanctioned runs, so you can count them towards your titles if you Q. Kili Q'd both of her rounds, finishing her Master Steeplechase title (requires 10 Q's) and was also one of the fastest combined times so she qualified for the Steeplechase final on Sunday afternoon. Keep an eye out for the bird that made an appearance in our first Steeplechase! That was exciting... but not for me! The Steeplechase final was the very last event to be run on Sunday, and everyone (human and dogs) was exhausted. Poor Kili was SO tired. It was her 10th run over 4 hot days and she was not really on the ball. However, she gave me everything she had left and she finished third!

I was really happy with how we ran overall. We had some missteps, and Kili was Kili, which is always interesting, but I felt like we were really on as a team for pretty much the entire weekend. She was listening and I was hopefully being a good handler for her. I struggled a bit this year with expectations. Last year was very stress free because I didn't expect us to do much except hopefully have some good runs... and she went and placed 3rd! I had anxiety about "what if we don't do as well this year?" and I found it affecting my enjoyment of the trial. I reminded myself that Kili has already proven herself, and no one really cares where she places, so neither should I. And although I had to give myself that pep talk before every run (I'm a competitive person, what can I say?), and I wasn't completely without nerves, it did help and I found myself much more free to enjoy myself. Side benefit: I run better when I'm not nervous!

One of my goals from last year was to do better in Gamble. I think we did achieve that goal, but I was still a bit disappointed as I think we could have done better. The first Gamble was our very first run of Regionals on Friday and she came out absolutely wild. When she's wild she can't hit weave pole entries. If she'd been a bit more settled, we definitely would have had that Gamble. Oh well. More stuff to work on!

Sadly, I made a last minute decision not to attend Nationals again this year, despite it being close by in BC. I am also playing competitive Ultimate Frisbee this year and I have several trips to attend for that, as well as a trip home. Nationals ended up being at the bottom of the totem pole and I decided to cut it to conserve money. Also, I found out that it was being run on sand, and Kili can be such a princess about sand. I was concerned about spending the time and money to go and her not running properly because of the footing. It is sad though, because this is the last year for Kili to be competitive as the jump heights are changing as of January 1st and she'll be competing against large border collies. I'm okay with that though. This dog has absolutely nothing left to prove to me. She has attained all of the career goals I set, and shattered any other expectations I had of her. I'm happy to just go along for the ride and see what else she plans to achieve!

Here's Kili with all of her swag! Where will I put it all!?