Saturday, September 29, 2007

big events elsewhere

I've been glued to my computer screen and bascially very unproductive since Friday watching the FCI Worlds in Norway. Well, watching the courses, results and some of the clips available on youtube and on Eric's site( discussing with friends and cheering on the various teams. I wanted to try out some of these challenges so badly that I set up the Large Individual Jumpers yesterday. Hmmm...... three off-courses on my first try with Uma :-) OK, so maybe we're not quite there yet... But now I have tons of motivation and lots of ideas for practice.
There's a little bit of a controversy surrounding the mysterious non-appearance of the Polish Large and Small teams. Two dogs which qualified, Christine, a terv from the Large team, and Scotty, a border terrier from the Small team, never made it to Norway, for reasons unknown to me. Apparantly, all this happened at the last moment, no alternates were called on and the Polish teams simply did NOT run. This is so very very very Polish. Only the medium team ran and placed 16th out of 23, the last teams with no off-courses.
Anyway, congrats to the American Large team for Second Place, their runs were awesome and I am still crossing my fingers for Carrie Jones and Jive who are in contention for the individual medals.

The second event, not so big, but very cool, is the ASCA Nationals. I can't wait for updates from New Jersey! Lisa and Dust are competing in the ASCA Agility finals, as is Adriana with Certik (who, I think, is also in the stock finals on ducks). Victoria, with Mira's sister Rosie and Mira's niece Sylvie, is in the Obedience finals. Mirjam with Twix are in the conformation invitational (and finished #1 conformation bitch for 2007), so I am keeping my fingers crossed for everyone.

Training-wise, this week I spent two sessions on weave pole drills and the easy command into the weave poles after a line of jumps, playing around with the spacing of the jumps to get her to slow down and not crash. In the first collection drill I did, she broke a wooden jump bar with her chest, so... maybe this IS indeed what we need. I've also been doing tons of general weave pole drills with Uma, less with Malcolm, who gets bored more easily. In the WC course I discovered the need for stronger call-offs on long lines of jumps, so that will be something I work on now.

I'll see if I can embed a youtubte video posted by someone else of Malcolm last week. This is Jumpers, if the clip works. The barking isn't him, it's some dog at ringside. Let's see:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Malcolm's big day

Yesterday I trialled at the same place (Bydgoszcz) where the National Championships took place two weeks ago, so the trial I sadly didn't make because of the tragic and and unexpected events that took place that night.

I really wanted to go to this trial, although it's a 4-hour drive, and I made it. This time the weather was sunny and warm, very unusual for late September in Poland. We ran in T-shirts.

I took both Uma and Malcolm, even though I wasn't sure he was ready yet, because well... I didn't feel like leaving him at home for the entire day. I trialled Mal in Pecice, but before that the last time he had been entered was in... I think March. In an ASCA trial in Ohio, where he lept off contacts, nosedived off the teeter and acted like a total horror. So we had issues to overcome. In Pecice he was decent, hitting his contacts, but missing weave pole entrances and popping out. OK, and barking.

And yesterday... well, somebody switched dogs on me. He didn't put a foot down wrong. There were three runs (exams, standard and jumpers) and he took a third and two seconds to go FIRST in the combined standings (as in - HIGH in TRIAL!). So this is now officially Uma and Malcolm's blog, because it looks like he's back in business.
There was a large crowd of spectators, as the trial was organized at a regional fair and Malcolm was just enjoying himself immensely. When he finished a run, people would applaud and he would just smile at everyone and look pretty :-)

The courses were a horror. The judge is a new judge who has just branched out from Schutzhund and Obedience into judging agility. I call this "the new judge syndrome." He does not have a feel for the sport, yet he wants to prove that he KNOWS all the difficult challenges. So he stacks them up in one course. The result is a mess and a course that is not fluent but very, very cut up and nasty. Uma was doing her best, but in each and every one of our runs there was a little bit of a problem, where I was just a tad second late with my command. And with those tight courses, that means an off-course. Mal is slower than Uma, who is possibly the fastest Aussie I've seen and definitely the fastest I've had, by approx. 4-5 seconds on a Jumpers course and 6-8 seconds on a standard course. That gives me exactly the time I need to be in the right place and gives me a bigger margin for error.

So what these courses told me was that with Uma I really, really, really need to focus on her turns and my timing on turns, because that was were we messed up. And weave poles still. She really needs to learn to collect herself before entering weaves and I think I'll use Lesley Olden's method for teaching "easy" for that. And I'll get started on it THIS week. Now.

Lesley sets up an exercise where the dog first extends her stride and then has to suddenly collect it. She puts in "steady" (my "easy") just before the dog had to collect. I think I'll do that and then add the weave poles as the next obstacle after the collection over the jumps. Then I'll take out the jumps and leave the "easy" command. This would be the exact opposite of what I'm doing now (trying to increase speed into the weaves), but I think it may help.

I have read comment's from Greg Derrett's seminars about the dog shifting her weight back onto the rear as a necessity for good weave pole entries and I'm sorry I've never seen him explain this in person. Because I can do that with Uma on contacts, while doiing tricks etc... but I don't think she gets this when entering weaves. This may also be one of the reasons why she can even hurt her face when hitting the weaves at full speed.

Anyway, here's a course that Malcolm ran clean and Uma had an off-course after the weaves. I still don't see how I could have handled this any differently, it was just a nasty course and I'm glad this was the only off-course we had.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

a week passes by

This is mostly a blog about Uma with whom I am currently doing the most agility and felt I needed a training blog to keep myself focused and to keep friends updated on what we're doing. But Uma is not my only dog and the stories of their lives are just as important to me. So Mira's story had to interfere.

For those of you who asked - Mira died of a ruptured brain aneurysm, which I didn't know she had. Brain aneurysms usually do not give any symptoms, sometimes they can cause headaches. But with dogs, it's a tough criteria to go on for diagnosis, as they usually don't complain. So I didn't know there was anything wrong. Now I am analyzing the minute changes in her behavior to see if there were perhaps any clues, but the truth is.... there just weren't. I really didn't even know what an aneurysm was up until last week.
So I was packing the car for the Polish agility championships, a trial I had really wanted to go to and do well at. It was 3 in the morning, it was dark, it was raining. As I was carrying the stuff to the car, the dogs were all running around me and suddenly Mira just fell. Just like that. No warning. I thought she had just stumbled, but she was unconscious and having what resembled a seizure and which stopped after a few seconds. I tried doing CPR on her, I woke up Janusz, we put her in the car and sped off to the nearest emergency clinic. She died in my arms. When we got to the clinic the vet only confirmed the death and kept the body for an autopsy. That's how I found out about the aneurysm.
The vets tried to cheer me up by saying that if a ruptured aneurysm doesn't cause instant death, then the dog ends up paralyzed or in a coma. I didn't feel particularly cheerful, I couldn't even drive I was crying so hard.

No need to add I didn't go to the nationals trial. They told me it rained all day long.

Understandably, it's been a very tough week. Possibly the worst one so far in my life. As they say, misfortunes never come single. When one thing in your life gets screwed up, then all others follow. We had 3 sheep mysteriously killed, I started a lousy and very stressful job (which I need to give up ASAP) and finally came down with the flu on Friday. Clearly, stress related. I'm usually pretty optimistic about life, sure I've been sad at times, but never, never like this. I still can't put into writing what I feel about Mira's death, so I won't. For now, at least.

Anyway, I guess I wanted to prove something to myself, so I took Uma to a trial today. My flu and all, driving alone, drinking warm tea from a thermos, all bundled up in a blanket, as pathetic as it gets. Come to think of it I'm not really sure what I wanted to prove. That I've survived? Anyway, two of the worst runs of my life, with off-courses in places where you'd never think an off-course was possible. Uma wasn't listening to me, I wasn't moving, it wasn't working and I didn't feel like chatting to anyone. All I proved is that when you've just lost a dog and have the flu, you should stay home.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


K-Aus Don't Be Fooled By Mira CDX ADC CCGC RV-E JV-E GV-E DNA-CP

I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and forever cry.
I am not there. I did not die.