Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jackson gets invited!

Jackson has been invited to the 2010 AKC National Obedience Invitational to be held December 4th & 5th in Long Beach, California !!!!

Now, you're probably wondering, "How is it possible for a dog struggling to get an average score of 180 to be invited to this prestigious event?"  And, it is a highly prestigious event - especially for those dog/handler teams that work all year to qualify for an invitation so they can compete for the NOC - National Obedience Champion title.

Well, as it turns out - and I'm not sure why AKC does this -  in addition to the highest scoring dogs (according to their OTCH points) being invited, the top three performance dogs in each breed (also according to their OTCH points - Jackson has 2 : ) are also invited. In the case of Great Danes, as well as many other nontraditional obedience breeds, there are just not that many competing at the utility level, so Jackson more or less received the invitation by 'default.' But, I'm not saying that it's not a great accomplishment for nontraditional obedience breeds to be invited, because I am thrilled to have received the invitation. I think it recognizes the really hard work that trainers of nontraditional obedience dogs put into training their dogs to get them to the utility level, even though they may not always be competitive with those dogs scoring consistently in the high 190s and getting placements.

I'm also not saying that Great Danes are not capable of getting those high scores, because there is an OTCH Great Dane, and a couple others who do consistently score in the 190s.

And, in case you are wondering - we do not plan to attend. However, I think I will frame the invitation and look at it periodically for inspiration : )

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let the games begin!

I am excited! I have signed up for Susan Garrett's e-course, 'The Five Minute Formula for a Brilliant Recall.' It's her first e-course. It begins August 1 and consists of 31 games in 31 days - five-minute games that will help with focus, attention and drive, not to mention brilliant recalls.

Now, I don't do agility, but I have found some really helpful information on her blog regarding training basics and foundation work for any activities you do with your dog. Jackson is certainly not the high-drive dog you normally see in agility or obedience, so I figured anything I can try that may result in more focus and attention on me in distracting situations is worth the try.

I'm going to give it 100 percent for the month, and I'm really excited to see what results may come of it. I'll keep you posted on our progress : )

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Colorado Trials - #6!

Here I am with my laptop (don't you love WIFI?) on the open porch of a cabin in Estes Park, Colorado, enjoying the mountains, hoping to see wildlife, and also reflecting on the weekend trials : ) Jackson is beside himself with all the new mountain/wildlife smells. I am happy to be relaxing in the mountains and I'm also happy with the trials. I really enjoy coming to the trials here in Colorado because it's such a nice venue and the people are so friendly.

We did pick up our 6th UDX leg on Saturday. (Yay - only four more to go!) However, it was a different story on Friday and Sunday. Friday was a split decision - we qualified in Open, but not in Utility. On Sunday, we NQd in both Utility and Open.

Okay, now for the high points - aside from getting the leg.
1) On Friday we got the highest score ever in Open - 191.5 (not really high by competitive dog standards, but great for him!)
2) He was able to work through his stress to complete most of the exercises, even on the runs where he did not qualify. He really tried!

Now for the rest of the story -
He was the second dog in the ring on Friday. I was nervous - he was worried. It was not a good mix : (
The first exercise was the directed retrieve (gloves). Bad pivot, bad signal on my part so he took the wrong glove. NQ. The judge was great though - he said, you paid the money so go ahead and help him with the other exercises. (This does not happen often, and sometimes it depends on whether there is an AKC rep on the site.) So, I did help him with the signals and articles, which he probably would not have been successful with if I hadn't helped him. The moving stand was great though.

He was able to work through the stress on Saturday though and qualified in Utility. Not a good score. Lot's of points off for slow to respond, crooked sits and finishes, etc., but he did everything. I thought things would be better on Sunday, because he would be used to the site. We were the first team in the ring and he was very distracted by what was going on in the next ring and outside the rings. Signals were the first exercise, and he missed one of the signals. NQ. The other exercises were good except for the directed jumping. His first go out and jump were great. On the second go out he walked in too close before he sat, so couldn't take the jump. NQ again.

He was pretty consistent on Open all three days. His only problem was on the broad jump Sunday. I hate when the broad jump is the first exercise in Open. I'd rather do something moving first to get him warmed up. Anyway, he stepped on the last board when he jumped. NQ. It might have made a difference if I had set him up back further from the jump to give him more room. You just never know.

He really tried, but worry and stress are still our enemy. It was small entries in Utility B and Open B (10-12 per class) and a nice trial site. Lots of room for crating and warm-up with only three rings in the building, but still difficult for him to focus on me and the job at hand.  I don't know that we will ever overcome that entirely. My training plan for July will include continued work on focus and ramping up the training with distractions.