Monday, December 13, 2010

Video Yourself!

How much has this Agility thing gotten to me? Well, when I was offered the chance to have some video taken on a Sunday (meaning I'd have to miss the first hour of the Steelers game), I accepted without hesitation. My family and friends will never believe this but I swear it's the truth.

The brief session was well worth our time and I would encourage all novices who are starting to sequence obstacles to have someone videotape them.
Handling still feels very unnatural to me and it takes alot of thought and concentration on my part to even try to get it partly right. With all of that going on in my head, I find it very difficult to see what Gilda is doing. (Most of the time she looks like a little gray blur anyway)

I found that the videos gave me some really good feedback. It was also nice that I could watch it while I was relaxed and not trying to keep a busy dog occupied.
I could see things in the video that I wasn't even aware of. In one clip, I'm alongside the A-Frame with my outside arm raised saying "Climb!". Good right? Not really since at that point Gilda is already flying over the apex way ahead of me! In another clip, I can see her coming off of the obstacle early and moving toward me... A sign that I tossed the tug toy way too late. I didn't realize these things until I actually saw them on the video!

Where are these videos you ask? It seems in additon to learning Agility and Blogging, I also need to learn how to do some editing!

[No luck with the editing so here is an uncut version of Gilda's A-Frame]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A-Frame & Jessica the Magician

In human terms, Gilda's favorite Obstacle seems to be the A-Frame. Last night in class, we did an exercise which was designed to teach the dogs how to leap over the apex of the Obstacle and then take 2 strides down the backside. It seems that Gilda is naturally gifted in this department because Lord knows I hadn't secretly taught her any of this and yet she does it beautifully! (I am so focused on running as fast as I can to the end of the A-Frame that I cannot witness this personally but it is what Linda and Jessica report!).

We also worked on our first "Snooker" during this class. Gilda was able to do some nice sequencing work including serpentine jumps (yet another skill we had not previously worked on) and probably would have been able to sequence 7 Obstacles with some solid handling...

Still working to overcome her fear of noise and moving objects, the Teeter is Gilda's least favorite Obstacle. Tonight however, Jessica had her moving quickly toward it and pushing it to the ground with 2 front paws all within a 5 minute session! It's truly amazing to watch Jessica use her experience and most of all her 'right on the money' instincts. Jessica knows exactly when to increase the criteria and how much to increase the criteria. Best of all, Gilda was excited and happy throughout the whole session. Simply amazing...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First CPE Event

Mike and I attended our first Canine Performance Events (CPE) Trial over the weekend. After attending 2 American Kennel Club (AKC) trials (as spectators), I couldn't help but notice a huge difference in atmosphere. I'm not sure if it was the sponsoring kennel, the judge, or CPE in general but it was a much more relaxed and positive atmosphere with lots and lots of novice Agility teams!
I met some fellow Agility Underground teams: Michele (Ransom) and Amanda (Kismet & Minnie) were so friendly and they took me under their wings and answered my many questions. I also got to cheer them on for their Fullhouse runs!

While I really enjoyed the AKC Agility Trials that I've attended, I left both of them feeling intimidated and overwhelmed. Spending time at this CPE Trial left me with the feeling that I now had an attainable goal for Gilda and myself!

CPE offers the following events:
Standard
Colors
Wildcard
Snooker
Jackpot
Fullhouse
Jumpers

You can read the rules for each of these at the CPE website http://www.k9cpe.com/ under the 'Rules' tab.

I am interested in working toward a Level 1 Standard Run (no teeter; no weave poles) and a Fullhouse Run.

Fullhouse is interesting because the handler directs the dog through a course of their own design in order to score points within a 30 second run. In the Fullhouse Runs that I watched, the dogs were required to complete 3 Jumps (3 of a kind), 2 Circles (Tunnel, Tire, Chute), and a Joker (A-Frame, Dogwalk, Teeter) to complete the Fullhouse.

There were no faults given, only points accumulated. This is something I feel we can work towards and something which will help Gilda become acclimated to the Agility Trail environment. I guess that means we better get out there in the 2 feet of snow and practice, practice, practice!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

WTG Gilda!

Gilda had a great class last night thanks in large part to her 'Jess Sessions'. Working with an experienced and patient handler like Jessica did wonders for Gilda's ability to follow cues.

{Our AU friends :) }
Gilda performed her first Double Jump and first Winged Jump obstacles and seemed really excited about jumping in general.

Even more exciting though, Gilda was able to sequence 4 obstacles with turns (Winged Jump, Tunnel, Jump, Jump) with me as her handler! This is a huge accomplishment for both of us.

Gilda also seems to be learning that Agility class means work, not play and her racing off episodes during class are shorter and less frequent. Each small step makes Agility that much more exciting. I can see now how so many people catch the Agility Bug...