Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Match Sunday

We have a obedience match Sunday.  I entered Wyatt in Open A and Novice B and Patriot in Open A.  Still working on Patriot's Drop on Recall.  I have been doing it as a brace and it seems to help Patriot drop faster when Wyatt is there as a role model.  Not something I expected. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Long Sit

Wyatt has gone down on his long sit at home a few times when I have gone outside so it's good, in a way.  At least I can reproduce the problem and correct him at home.  I go outside at night so I can see him and he can't see me.  If he goes down, I go in right away, say, "Oops", and put hime back in a sit.  I need to remember to mix in some downs too or he will start coming up on the downs, especially in the winter.  I use a blanket when is is really cold. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Class Last Night

I took both dogs to obedience class last night.  There were some very specific things I wanted to work on:

1)  Patriot's drop on recall (DOR) -the dropping part,
2)  Wyatt's drop on recall - the recall part,
3)  Wyatt's long sit

I got to work on all 3.  I had 2 different people hover over Wyatt with arm raised to try and help with the freezing problem on the recall.  He did not freeze but I did see signs of stress especially when a tall man raised him arm over.  He did the long sit fine. which was good.  I also got to work on Patriot's DOR.  We worked on the rock back down and 2 different methods for teaching the drop.  I was using both methods but did get some good tips on the "board" method.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ware Obedience Results

I had a fun time yesterday in Gilbertville, MA doing AKC obedience.  It was a bit hectic working out of the car in Novice B with Wyatt and Patriot.  The place was nice but tiny.  There was no real room to crate or warm up so I worked out of the car.  The novice entry was small so I had to hurry to switch dogs and warm up.  I had to find an extra handler for Patriot for Novice sits and downs too.  They both dig well for the regular exercises though Wyatt's healing has been better.  He froze on the recall though, a first for novice.  I have 3 theories about thing freezing issue. 

1)  He is confused about what to do because of the jumps he may be confusing open and utility and not be sure about to do.  This was most likely ruled out yesterday since there was nothing in the ring for novice. 

2)  The judge standing behind him with an arm raised makes him nervous.  This seems more likely because he did fine in open with a judge who is a former teacher of ours.  Though I have tried in class before to crowd him and put pressure on, I need to have everyone in class, especially tall people, stand close to him with their arm raised. 

3)  General stress that is just going to take time.  I did make sure I was loud and clear in open.  I don't want to scare him or be different but it did seem to work being very loud and clear.  It's hard to do while still sounding positive, in my experience. 

I was thrilled that he came.  I did not think he would since he did not come in novice.  I also did not issue a second command in novice.  He always comes on the second command but I don't want to inadvertantly train a second command. 

Wyatt went down on the long sit about 30 seconds through so we did not get our first leg but I was happy overall.  It was our closest to a Q in quite a while. 

Patriot did really well in novice.  I am working on his drop on recall so I can enter him in open too.  He is not as smart or good when things go well, but he is much more confident and predicable once he gets it.  He ended up first with a 190.5, even winning the runoff for first. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Wyatt Update

Wyatt seems to be OK with his toe injury and his back/hips seem better too.  He tends to start having back/hips problems towards the end of the agility season.  His gait was fine early this week but it took a while for the swelling to do down.  I gave both dogs baths last weekend in the upstairs bathrub. The baby gate was closed to the downstairs.  I heard Patriot jump the gate.  Why, I have no idea!  Wyatt may have tried the same thing, I'm not sure. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wyatt Ouch

Wyatt came up lame Monday during his dog walk.  The dog walker did not take him back right way because she thought it might be due to cold.  He does lift a paw or walk on 3 legs sometimes when it is cold.  Unfortunatelt, the other dog walker did not read the journal we both write in and took him for a walk yesterday.  He was really lame when I got home.  They are usually very good so I am not meaning to be critical.  Stuff happens. 

One of his left front toes is swollen.  I believe it is a trauma injury that will pass quickly.  I have seen these before, often after coursing or racing.  Will definately rest him this week.  He needed the rest anyway due to his hips and back tightening up.  I have seen signs like running around jumps that are typically for this time of year for him.  It means that rest is needed from agility and even dog walks. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Latest Obedience

I am resting Wyatt from agility.  His back and/or hip seems to be starting to bother.  This is typical for this time of year.  He is starting to run around the occasional jump.  He also feels tight in his back and rear quads. 

I've been thinking about next steps for his "freezing" issue at the start of Drop on Recall.  Watching the video, he did seem to be looking at me.  Previously, I did see him looking around at that time.  He always comes on the second command to "come", which makes me wonder if I have inadvertently taught him to move on the second command when we are in the Open ring.  He came fine in novice.  That makes me wonder if I need to practice in a ring setup for open.  Maybe he is not sure what to do since it looks a little like directed jumping in utility.  There is a match coming up in early January.  Of course, it could also just be stress when trialing or an umfamiliar person standing next to him or some combination of the above. 

I am thinking of starting to trial  Patriot in open.  He is pretty good except Drop on Recall, which needs work.  Even though he is not as driven and fast learning as Wyatt, his confidence is better, which usually means he is slower, but more dependable once he does learn the routine. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ribbons From a Recent Agility Trial

This photo is of the loot we got a few weeks ago at a NADAC agility trial. It was Wyatt's best Q rate ever. He went 5 of 6 Sunday (top row). He got 5 firsts, 1 second, and 1 Chances Q. Chances does not have placements. Patriot (bottom row) got 4 firsts, one fourth, and 1 Chances Q. 13 Qs for the weekend!

Quick Report

Quick obedience report. 3 super performances, 1 qualifying. Patriot got a 187.5 in Novice B. Wyatt would have had the same score but went down on the sit. Wyatt had lots of good parts in Open too but needed a double command on the drop on recall and sat on the long down. It was fun to catch up with friends at the Big E too.

Obedience Today

We are trialing in obedience this morning after a long break.  Patriot and Wyatt are both in Novice B first, and Wyatt is in Open A later.  It will be interesting to see how we do after a long break in trialing.  A lot seems to depend on where the ring is, in my experience.  Hopefully, we will get a nice corner ring and not one on the aisles.  I think I will be a lot more relaxed since I am not as focused on qualifying.  Though it is still a goal and very nice when it happens, I try to focus on what I need to do as a handler, staying connected with my dog, and having fun when I am in the ring. 

NADAC Saturday

We had a fun time at NADAC agility in CT yesterday.  Dawn, Aidan, and I all went for the first 4 runs.  It was ideal for me since I "needed" all 4 classes for various titles including the precious NATCH championship legs.  Aidan found another 3 year to play with and Dawn got to run Patriot.  It was a also a nice relaxed trial with lots of room for the courses and a nice soft surface. 

Wyatt and I got 2 regular (standard) legs for our NATCH. We missed Chances, which we also need, due to a distant contact, which is still hard at trials for some reason.  Wyatt tends to stop at the top when I am far away and I can't coax him down without his releasing from high up.  We also missed Touch and Go by .28 seconds!  We only need one more TNG leg to finish all our elite titles and get the Elite Versatility Award. It was a really nice run though and I held the contacts to make sure they were solid. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NADAC Trial This Weekend

I have a NADAC agility trial with Wyatt and Patriot this weekend. It's a local trial so I can commute. There is only one regular class a day but it would be nice if we could pick up some NATCH legs. Of course, my focus will be on my handling and having fun! This is probably our last trial for the season. Trying obedience and rally next weekend after a long break from trialling.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Obedience Special Practice

I took both Wyatt and Patriot to a special sit and down stay practice last Friday night. There were 2 other dogs there. Wyatt only missed one down. He came up quickly as I was leaving for the first one. All sits were fine as were the other downs. I did not practice every sit and down stay with Patriot but he did very well too. He did break when I left with Wyatt on leash with me.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Obedience Update

I signed up for a rally and obedience at the Big E Thanksgiving Cluster on Sunday only. I have Wyatt in Open A and Novice B and Rally Advanced B and Rally Excellent B and Patriot signed up for Novice B and Rally Advanced B. Hopefully, I can find a babysitter as my wife is busy studying for a Diabetes Educator certification. There is a special sit stay class this Friday I am hoping to make. It will be interesting to see if Wyatt has gained in confidence. I think I will be more relaxed with my new Q philosophy.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I have been working on Wyatt's downs a lot. He has been coming up into a sit lately. He has done this before. Not sure why it happens periodically. Perhaps it has something to do with the colder weather or a physical discomfort issue.

I made some tunnel bags yesterday for a about $2 a piece. Much cheaper than the $100 most places get. I'll take a picture and describe the design in my next blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ob Class - Challenging

Wyatt and I had a challenging obedience class last night. First, we did long sits and downs. Wyatt has been having trouble with downs so I decided to stay in sight. The down was first. I asked the teacher if the dogs were too close since we had many dogs against the smaller wall. She say no so I went ahead. A few minutes into the down, a black Briard lunged over at Wyatt barking at him. He broke and walked towards me. I put him back in a different spot and he was OK. He proceeded to do some really great drops and retrieves. I decided to try directed jumping next. Wyatt had a difficult time but we did have some success with help. For example, I had to use cheese and go up to him for the sit. It was definitely harder at class. I assume this is because of the new location (also, there were poles next to the jumps) and greater distances. He has been doing a 100% unassisted directed jump exercise at home. So that's fine. Need to practice more at class with support. We then decided to try scent discrimination, which is usually a fun no brainer. Wyatt has a lot of trouble with that too, which is very unusual. The difference was the location and greater distance and I think, more importantly, that the "steward" handled the articles. So I definitely need to practice with different people's scents too. It may be that Wyatt is going to the hot scent and not my scent.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NADAC Results

I had a very fun weekend at a NADAC trial. The weather was miserable Sunday but Wyatt and I had one of our best days ever. We came very close to having perfect day and getting our elite versatility title missing Touch N Go by a few seconds. But we got 5 Qs in regular (2), chances, tunnelers, and jumpers. We did not get any regular and chances Qs the day before. The courses were really hard so it was great to get all of them Sunday, a first for us. This puts Wyatt at 10 more Qs for his NATCH for regular and chances. He got his elite chances title Sunday. We also got 2 jumpers Qs this weekend. Wyatt needs just 3 more for his superior elite jumpers title. I will probably retire him from jumpers after that. We have been in a bit of a slump for jumpers lately. I made sure I did not take any jumps for grants and stayed connected the whole time. Wyatt really rocked. He only missed one contact all weekend and I did what I needed to do to ensure good contacts. Patriot really did well too with lots of Qs and seem to really have a good time except when the weather got really bad and except when I demotivated him with an intense calloff. That really slows him down. I'll write more later on what it felt like to have an almost perfect day as I have been thinking and writing about the mental aspects of qualifying lately.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wow, Great Practice

Wyatt had a very good practice last night. I really worked on distance all night and kept a good distance away at all times. He did great and I could not believe how much farther he works than he used to. The other dogs, who we have been in class with for years, do not work much on distance so I could really tell how much Wyatt and I have improved comparing the distance we now work at comfortably with the other dogs. It was nice to work the distance in a relaxed fashion. I did get a few good tips too on some harder sequences that had lots of jumps side by side. That can be hard at a distance for sure. His contacts were great too although that does not mean much, if past experience is a guide, for our NADAC trial this weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Agility class tonight. Wyatt and I are dropped in for a tune up and practice some distance before this weekend's NADAC trial. I signed up Wyatt for Novice and Open and Patriot for Novice in a December AKC obedience trial.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obedience Class

I took both Wyatt and Patriot to obedience class last night. We got there late but I worked with Patriot in Novice/Open for about a 1/2 hour. He did well. He needs work on drop on recall. He retrieves but is hesitant and not too motivated. Good sits and downs. If only I could combine Patriot's sits and downs with everything else for Wyatt! Wyatt was happy to be back in class and also did well. The "judge" moved towards his in the retrieve over jump and he needed a second command. He also needed a second command for his first article. He went down once on the long sit even after months of practicing. Oh, well! More work to do. His broad jump and gloves were great. I am going to try and get to class every other week alternating with agility. I'd like to enter Wyatt in the Spring and possibly in a December trial.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Grasping for Qs

The elusive Qualifying Run (Q) in agility. I thought a lot about getting Qs and earning titles Saturday at the local NADAC trial. I have a goal of getting another agility championship with Wyatt in NADAC agility. The title is called a NATCH. It's a good goal. It has forced me to learn how to handle Wyatt at a much greater distance. That process has been very fun and it has forced me to improve my handling. Ultimately, I do agility because I like to learn new things and improve. I also like the excitement of having a fast and clean run with my canine partner.

But I have been too focused on getting Qs and getting that NATCH title. Focusing on these is not bad by itself. However, it was decreasing my enjoyment and actually counterproductive to our success. We have this part of mind called the ego that is always grasping for things, criticizing, and calculating. So when I messed up and lost a Q for us, I was beating myself up and having a lot of so called bad feelings. When we got a Q, I was too proud and having a lot of so called good feelings. And the grasping for the Q increased my nervousness, which decreased my performance and was resulting in handling errors on my part.

So I tried to take the No Q approach this weekend. When I found my mind saying we really needed this Q for a run coming up or calculating how many more we needed for a specific title, I just let it go and return to breathing and focusing on the upcoming run. I have found that I really need to remind myself lately of what I need to work on for each run, whether it be how I handle Wyatt's contacts (he need to hear from me throughout the contact, I need to drive to the end very smoothly, I need to paint a line with my hand a few feet ahead of him but stopping at the end of the contact), keeping my arm straight out for an "Out" command and not pumping, and a number of other things I tend to forget in the intensity of the run. So I focused on the course, keeping connnected to my dog, and what I need to work on and also remember for each run. The titles and Qs should follow from that. Starting for a place of grasping for Qs results in nervousness and also bad handling. I also find that I will take shortcuts and allow things that that I should train in the ring for if I want the Q too much. This actually results in less Qs in the long run.

I did well after our first jumpers run. We had a great run and I ran close to Wyatt because he has been running around jumps. I was pulling or pushing him around them no doubt. He did great. I thought he Qed but I saw we had an off course and a missed obstacle lately. The judge pointed out the jump I had missed lately. So I stayed happy with Wyatt's great performance and did not beat myself up. The next run was Chances, our hardest game. We qualified in Elite for the second time! I actually found it harder to stay focused on fun and the next run after getting a Q. My mind tended to go back to that place of calculating how many more Qs I needed for title or what I could get that day if things went well. Again, all things that are counterproductive. We had some other really nice runs where we missed one thing, which I accepted and focused on what went right. In regular round 1, we had contact problems. But I figured out what I needed to improve on next time and Wyatt's contacts were excellent for the rest of the day. We also had an awesome Weavers run and got Wyatt's elite Weavers title. It is extremely difficult to make time in Weavers. We had a perfect run with 3 awesome 12 pole weaves.

I found I had a very enjoyable day at agility, much better than my last weekend when I felt very disappointed. So my new mantra is: "have fun and focus on the run."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Agility Tomorrow

I can only do one day of agility this weekend and it's tomorrow. We are entered in a NADAC trial in VT. It's upposed to rain. For some reason, I am not too excited about it. I've had a very stressful and tiring week and have also been feeling that we need to practice more. Oh well. I am sure it will be fun to get away and who knows? Maybe we'll have an awesome day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fixed One Thing; Another to Be Fixed

Wyatt has been anticipating the finish on retrieves. He brings back the dumbbell and sits in front of me and is supposed to wait for a command to come back to heel position. I waited extra long and did not treat when he jumped the gun so he now waits (reluctantly.) I try to wait a little extra so he won't start anticipating again. I am still having problems with barking before the glove (directed) retrieve though. I think those are most like a prey item to him and all the fooling around and moving with me before he gets to go seems frustrating to him.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

NADAC Last Sunday

Felt a little disappointed last Sunday. Got a Tunnelers Q with with Wyatt but nothing else though we had some really good runs we could not get the 100%. It sure it hard for both you and the dog to both have a good day and put everything together with no mistakes. The courses were hard but we could have done them. Made some mistakes like I the last 2 tunnels with Chances. In regular, I realized that I was overhandling and stopping Wyatt before the yellow zone so I drove to the end more in our second Regular run. But then I got lost, something I never do. Ran by some jumps in Jumpers when I did not maintain contact. One of those days I guess. I think I need to write a list of things to remember that I can review before our runs so I don't keep making the same mistakes.

New Courses

I finally got the lawn mow Thursday night so I need to set up some new agility courses. I feel really stuck in thinking of new courses. Our contacts are pretty much stuck in the same place. We have 2 areas, one with contacts. With the non-contact area, I seem to always make up similar courses. We missed out Chances Q last Sunday in an otherwise awesome run with 2 tunnels side by side sending him out to the outer tunnel. Totally my fault, I saw that we might Q, got nervous and started to pump my arm, which brought him in.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quick NADAC Report

Wyatt went 1 for 6 but has some real close ones like .6 over for tunnelers and almost got chances but his 1 Q was a 1st in Regular (Standard) which we need for his NATCH. Patriot went 3 for 4 but pooped out on his last run.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I have been working on sits more. Instead of doing long out of sights, I am doing more short in sight sessions trying to work on fidgeting. I actually think I should do both types of practice. Wyatt tends to fidget quite a bit, which can turn into moving out of position, laying down, or standing up when under stress. So I am rewarding for short periods of no movement and saying "Oops" if there is fidgeting. Hoping to do at least one Open attempt this fall but agility has been the priority. There is an open date in December but my teacher is the judge. Shoot!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Run Thrus

Did some run thrus tonight at our local club. We brought Aidan. We are trying to keep him exposed to dog sports. He wants to do agility but it's hard as the dogs focus on me and not him and it's hard for Aidan to connect to the dog when they aren't focused on him, he does not understand that he has to keep at it and keep issuing commands. Then it's hard for him to treat quickly and not eat the treat himself.

Both dogs ran well though. I pushed the distance with Wyatt so we had a few small errors but it was great practice for our NADAC trial in Wrentham this weekend.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Checking In - Agility

I want my dog to constantly be checking in with me. When we run the best, we are continually checking in with each and adjusting to each other. Checking in, to me, is different from stopping and turning back to me. When that happens, I have not given Wyatt a cue in time. That is not desirable.

The NADAC folks that do bonus lines (they run the whole course basically from behind the start/finish line), usually teach their dogs to keep running in a "straight" line unless directed otherwise. That can work too, but then you need to be able to change directions with a verbal or physical command or both. They usually run the course "in miniature" from behind the line, but in theory the dog would keep going in a straight line no matter what they are doing. There is a very good team that trained this way but the dog does not always check in and runs its own course frequently and the handler complains that the dog did not check in with her. Anyway, what I want is a continual checkin using peripheral vision. That does mean I have to leave space to move in the desired direction when working behind a gamble line. It's a real challenge to shorten one's stride when one is used to trying to run WITH a fast whippet. But it does work.

Also, in a previous post I talked about the OUT command and that a lot of people pump their hands screaming OUT, which brings your dog in to you (the hand pumping.) Note that is it possible to just use a verbal to discriminate 2 side by side obstacles at distance. However, it is going to be much easier and less stressful to find out the physical cues your dog naturally needs to discriminate at the distance.

It is going to be helpful if you run NADAC or other venues with challenging gambles to have an OUT and GO ON command. However, they are typically going to be mostly physical cues. In my experience, this is something that needs to be studied and worked on when you get to the larger distances. I see a lot of really bad distance handling because people have not really worked on it or studied it. Again, typically you see this when people pump their arms and scream OUT to the dog, often from a stationary position. What they should be doing is leaving space behind the gamble line to be heading in the right direction, painting a line with their hand/finger a few feet ahead of the dog, keeping there arm out and level and (not high up or pumping), and supporting the dog with a verbal OUT. When I do OUT, I push out an open hand against the dog's line and lean into the dog's line. Some people keep painting the line. Also, if I need to do a contact/'tunnel or other discrimination at a distance, I push perpendicular to the dog's line at a point 1/3 of the way from the first obstacle. I was taught to go 1/2 way but I found with Wyatt that that was too late.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tracking Sunday

Here is Wyatt's track from Sunday. He did pretty well once we got going. I do need to start reading him more and reading the track less. He does tend to go off track and I need to recognize what he does when he goes off the track rather than reading my map or seeing the track itself and stopping to let him get back on. He found once turn very nicely, which I had lost track of. This field is narrow and I forgot to leave a good escape route and he picked up my scent from walking back after laying the track at one point. Wyatt followed the whole track and found all the articles. He seems to really like it because he gets very excited before we start.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Check In

I have been working with Wyatt (and Patriot) but not writing much. No big insights or competitions. We do have a NADAC trial in 2 weeks. I hope to be able to squeeze in an obedience trial or 2 in the fall. I am running out of room in yard to work distance with Wyatt (unless I can think more creatively) and Wyatt's go outs have been fantastic. I should try those outside and add the directed jump part in before he gets to used to coming back directly to me. I am also trying to ramp up my sits and downs training as I have been a little lax lately and I know from experience that we need to always be working on that.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Running Out of Room

I feel like I am running out of room in our yard with Wyatt. My main focus in agility now is distance work for NADAC Elite Chances. He is doing great but I may need to drop in on our local agility classes or rent a ring to get the distance we need.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I have been on vacation at the beach for the last week and a half and have done minimal dog training, just a little obedience here and there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Go Outs

After working on the utility go out command for many years - off and on, Wyatt is really starting to get good at it. It was quite exciting to see him get it finally. I started putting cheese wiz on a gate. That part is no problem. Then I tell him to sit while he is still licking the cheese. Then I go up to him and tell him to sit. After he sits, I go back and tell him to come. So I gradually fade the cheese and the going out to him to tell him to sit and he gets it. He will still sometimes go down instead of sitting. I have no clue why he would do that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tough Day!

I was really looking forward to a NADAC agility trial this weekend. I have to really pick and choose my dog weekends now with a 3 year old. Friday night, Patriot was throwing up. He is a master at getting into the trash and compost. Saturday morning, he did not eat so I was wondering if he would be up for running agility. Sure enough, his first run was really bad so I ended early. I scratched him for his next run and he later ran 2 runs. No Q's but we had some good runs. Wyatt and I had some dogwalk issues so did not get our standard (regular) runs, which we need for his NADAC agility championship. We had a great tunnelers run where he did not look back at me at all and we got a Q and a 4th with a speed of 4 yards per second. We also had a great Weavers run. Weavers has tunnels and 3 sets of 12 weave poles. It is really hard to make time at the Elite level. You can't have a single mistake and the weaves have to be fast. We had 3 great weave entries and I sped him up in the weaves as much as I could without pulling him off. We ended up getting a Q and a first place over some really fast dogs. One more Q for our elite weavers title.

I was really looking forward to Sunday but Wyatt came up lame after our first Touch and Go run where we really worked the dog walk. He did great but came off lame. I scratching him and weavers but he was still lame later so we have to scratch 5 runs and I also scratched Patriot's 3 others runs and headed home. I just hate to see Wyatt lame and limping! We rested him up and were ready for bed so I went to let them out around 9:30. As soon as I opened the door, Wyatt left off the top of the back stairs and went barking and running full speed towards the side woods and fence. Patriot followed. We heard some "screams" and ran out as fast as we could with pepper spray and flashlights. There was Patriot with 6 quills in his face and Wyatt with about 30 quilss looking very shell shocked. He was also holding up his injured paw. Pathetic! Dawn removed the 6 quills from Patriot and I drove Wyatt 15 minutes to the emergency 24 hour vet hospital. They had a critical case so I had to wait a long time. They put him under and took out the quills and did not see anything but a slight limp. I got home around 1 to find Aidan wet so I had to change his sheets. He was not too happy to have to wait for his bed.

We are doing better today. Wyatt is very mellow and resting up. I think he will be fine. Quite a day! Wish those porcupines would stay on their side of the fence. We use deer fence so once in a great while they will climb up a fence tree and wander off. Patriot got quilled before but this was Wyatt's first. He is a such a kamikaze!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wyatt Injured!

Wyatt came up lame after our first run today. He did not get better after some rest so I left the trial. Very disappointing! I could feel a good day coming on. He got all 3 contacts on the first run. Could not see any inflammation so I suspect it will get better quickly. This was my one time this month I could do agility so it's hard to have to leave. Hope he gets well soon. I hate to see him limping.


Only 2 Qs for Wyatt today and none for Patriot. Patriot was vomiting the night before and did not eat Saturday morning so I was wondering if he would want to run. His first run was way off - super slow so I ended early and scratched him for the next run. He was OK in tunnelers but 1 second over time. His last Touch and Go run was a little wild and had a number of off courses. He seems fine this morning (Sunday) so he should be OK today.

Wyatt and I had some dog walk issues all day. He was also stalling on the A Frame above the yellow zone quite a few times where I have to coax him down. Oh, to have the same perfect contacts at trials that we have at home and in class! The A frame we can manage but he had a number of contact faults on the dog walk. He seems to need a number of different supports at trials for a good dog walk and if I forget one of them, all bets are off. I need to slow down, to call him and get his attention, point to the end, and be really smooth and steady walking at the end or he jumps off when I move quickly. This is exacerbated when he is more keyed up like yesterday.

Chances was impossible. Hopefully, today's course will be doable by mere mortals. I used a slingshot start in one of the standard courses which helped me get enough time to cue him for an initial dogwalk/tunnel discrimination challenge. Also got some good distance in standard. Had a great tunnelers run (6 YPS) where he did not look back at all but keep reading me and moving forward at all times. Weavers was also very nice with no entry (and hence reentry issues.) I hope we made time as that was the last run of the day and I did not stay to check.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Wyatt and Patriot Stacked

New Photos

Wyatt was in the woods with me hanging out and I shot these photos of him. I was on the ground taking photos of something else at the time so they are shot in an upwards direction, giving some interesting angles and looks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chances Class

Wyatt got a tuneup yesterday from Dr Julie Roos and was primed to run! He did great on a hard chances course. I did have to step over the line a little bit to get him out to a distant tunnel. Will have to practice that. We had a problem Sunday with an otherwise great chances run with a A-Frame to a jump with the line (you can't cross) perpendicular to the A-Frame. We tried something similar last night with a dog walk and figured out the problem. I have a persistent tendancy to swing my arm way back before a send out arm motion. This has the effect of pulling Wyatt back instead of pushing him forward. He is following the line I am drawing. So I have to work very hard at starting my arm motion from my leg and not cocking my arm backwards. So I am glad I am doing 3 followup Chances classes. I think I have the techniques but still need someone to observe me and fix the things I am doing wrong.

Article on Wyatt

It's only partial and only has one of the photos but...

I'll try and post the full text and other photo soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On the Fly

I believe I am getting much better at reacting and adjusting on the fly in agility. This has taken me a long time. I have tended to have a plan and found it difficult to adjust as things happen, speeds are different than expected, etc. Part of it is being more relaxing and part is working together for 5-6 years. I must say, it makes a huge difference in saving runs and generally fixing things on the fly. I believe this is a super important skill but one rarely talking about or discussed. This has been especially key in contacts where I really have to stay in contact and adjust as needed depending on what I am seeing. For a long time, I tried to just do what I do at home and see what happened. Now, I can adjust my pace, position, words on the fly depending on what I am seeing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Wyatt did pretty well tracking on Wednesday. He whined to start and clearly enjoys the game. The track started out in really tall grass so the scent was easy to follow and he loved bounding through the tall grass. I had to really move to keep up with him. When he loses the track, he looks to me for direction. I need to help/encourage him to get back on track myself. Sometimes, if I can see or otherwise know where the track is, I can inadvertently point in that direction, which is no good for tracking. Unlike most of our other dog sports, he is in charge here.

Top 10 Training Tips

See this link for an article I wrote for an online whippet magazine...

Top 10 Whippet Training Tips

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Only 2 Q for each dog this weekend at a NADAC trial. Lots of good runs Saturday but off by one thing or the other. I felt out of synch with Wyatt Sunday but we did redeem ourselves and got 2 nice jumpers Qs, one for each dog, at the end of the day. Wyatt and I had a few small stumbles with Weavers Sunday but still were only 2 seconds over so I think there is hope for some elite Weavers Qs. I am working on not overhandling the weave entrances and trusting more. I picked the wrong test for hoopers for both dogs and passed the plane but did not stop and redo. In tunnelers with Wyatt, I stopped my flow/movement and stopped him and got an off course. Chances Saturday was next to impossible. Sunday was doable but had a problem with one part of the course. Had the same problem Monday at class (we did the same course). I set something up at home and made some progress tonight. Wyatt is doing great on tunnel/contact discrimination though I had a problem Sunday where I handled the same and he took the outer obstacle. Will have to study the video. He may need a stronger cue in the trial setting. Off with Aidan for a few days - no dogs so they get a break. Will do obedience tomorrow. I think my work with sit and down stays rewarding for shorter periods and for going away and out of sight is working.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Novice B Today

We had a good day. I scratched Wyatt in Open A for today figuring I need his sits and downs in Novice B to be solid before going back to Open A. Novice has a 1 minute in sight sit and a 3 minute in sight down. Open has the much harder 3 minute out of sight sit and the 5 minute out of sight down. Wyatt did fine in the sits and downs today (in sight.) Yesterday, he "froze" on the initial "come" command of the recalls. Today, he was fine and did a very nice recall with only 1 point off. His heeling was pretty good but he did not do the automatic sit part of the heeling. When you come to a halt, the dog is supposed to sit in heel position. He did not do a single one! This is typically a sign of stress or a busy location. We ended up with a 186, which is a very good score. He seemed a lot less stressed today and I also felt more relaxed. The judge was also very nice and mellow. This gives me more confidence to get back to Open though I need to continue some of the retraining I am doing for sits and downs. More on that later.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Obedience Results

Well, the good part was that a lot went right despite the location of the Big E Better Living Center, which is a very hard place to show since it is very noisy with breed going on all around and lots of traffic. Heeling was not as good as usual (not a single sit in Novice B) but other than that and sits and downs and recalls, all was good. His Open A retrieves and broad jump were very nice with few, if any, points off. He did have problems with sits and downs and also froze on the first recall command in both novice B and Open A. He was fine on the second command. The Novice B sit was good. He started to move his front paw down at the end but held the sit. He got up on the down and followed me and stayed in a perfect stand for the 3 minutes. In Open A, he repositioned and resat for the sit. The judge said he went down and sat up but I think she must have been referring to the repositioning. For the long down, out of sight, he stood up just as we were going out the door and again, stayed in a perfect stand until I returned. I have some thoughts about what happened but save that until my next blog entry.

Dog Memory

Walking around the Big E today, I noticed that Patriot had stopped to sniff someone and was wagging his tail and seemed very happy. When I looked up at the face, I saw it was his first owner, who had him until he was 2. He is now 8. We very rarely see this person but it was really clear that he remember on his own since I did not see the person and go up to her. Anyway, she petted him and goofed around with him and it was clear that he made the connection.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Feel of Distance Handling

Had a great agility chances (distance) practice last night. Wyatt and I have improved a lot in 5 weeks now that I have some techniques under my belt. I am finding that chances/distance has a different feel. It is much slower (for the handler). You can really (and really have to) lay back and direct the dog rather than running together. I still love the speed of running with Wyatt, but the feel of distance handling is also fun, but definitely different.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Obedience Wednesday and Thursday and Agility This Weekend

I entered Wyatt in Novice B and Open A Wednesday and Thursday since there were some weekday trials. I am devoting weekends to family and agility. I thought I would try Novice B again to warm him up and do the easier sit/stays. The location (Big E - Better Living Center) is not great for Wyatt but I thought I would check in and see where we are. Still working sit/stays at home. I have been using props to keep him from scooting forward when I go out of sight and I have also been trying to teach him that he should not be moving at all by rewarding shorter periods of no movement.

We also have a NADAC agility trial this weekend. I am hoping to pick up some regular (standard) and chances Qs for our NATCH. I am also running Patriot, though less runs per day. I moved him back down to open so we can be more successful in terms of Qs and courses and times.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Practicing Out to A Tunnel

I set up our course at home with a tunnel under the dogwalk and one under the A Frame to practice Out to a tunnel. Wyatt and I are doing better at pushing out to the tunnel with my improving and more consistent handling of this situation. I am pushing out against his line about 1/2 way between the previous obstacle and the tunnel, saying Out Tunnel, and also pushing with my hand towards that same 1/2 point. Now I need to gradually work from farther away.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chances Course From Last Night

The #5 tunnel was hard for us. Need to practice at home. Did pretty well on the rest though I had some high arm issues and was late in some of my signal to the second tunnel. Lynn says I need to try and think more in terms of multiple obstacles and not one at a time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Typical Chances Course

This one does not have as much distance as some but does have lots of discrimination at a distance.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Training the Out Command

I was thinking today how much of my recent agility work is really about what works for Wyatt. For example, in the discrimination work I have been doing, I need to paint a line a few feet ahead of him to show him the course/obstacle and to also put pressure perpendicular to his path half way between the previous and next obstacle to get him to understand that I am requesting that he take the outer obstacle. The "out" command seems to mean very little to him. I really verified this through trial and error.

I think we expect that we are going to train a verbal command with a hand motion of some kind that that is how the dog is going to discriminate. But I have seen that, time and time again, handlers use an out command but not really give any body and motion cues and the dog takes the other obstacle and handler feels that the dog is not obeying their command. I saw a dog taken off a course last week in just this scenario. The same thing happened all weekend to this otherwise great team. But I don't think you can just stand there and say out and expect the dog to get it.

I think our mental model is based on obedience and dog tricks where you train the dog to do something. But I think in agility and also obedience to a lessor extent, you have to find the body motions and cues that the dog understands. So you aren't training the dog at all, you are training yourself to find the motions that your dog understands.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I had a long (for us) agility session with Wyatt tonight really working on the "out" command in conjunction with discrimination. What I am finding is that the word "out" does not mean much to him. I think we get frustrated because we expect dog to understand verbal command but they really are 90% or more reading our body language. What did REALLY help a lot was "painting the line" - drawing a line with my hand/finger about 2 feet ahead of the dog where I want the dog to go and really pushing perpendicular into his line about 1/2 way between the previous obstacle and the 2 discrimination obstacles. My current class with Lynn Smitley gave me these tips. They really work - when you remember to use them consistently.

Photos from Saturday

I love the first photo because it shows both of us moving as team and, I think, captures some of the excitement of agility. You can see I am trying to "paint the line", something I have been working on.

Courtesy of Terri Fischer

Out Command

I had a really tough time with Wyatt practicing the out command using a jump heading into a 180 tunnel. He tends to want to go to the near side unless I really get in his path. The "out, tunnel" command seems to not be well understood by him and I am also not sure he is reading/respecting my line. If I use one jump I can push him out but with a tire and a jump, he gets too far ahead and does not seem to read my line. I got frustrated but realized later that I really need to back up and be sure he understands what I want. I have never been consistent with my cues for this so I can't blame him. Pointing the line did seem to help. I do thik that he understands "out" when there is a single obstacle. This worked on out Chances run Sunday. I am going to back up to 2 jumps and also separate the obstacles more. The tunnels ends were probably too close too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Elite Chances Q!

Thanks to all. Chances is a NADAC game where there are 3 challenges in Elite - distance, discrimination, and direction. They put a big line of tape on the ground where you can not cross. So you run the sequenced course but you have to direct your dog partner from a distance including helping them discriminate between different obstacles that are close together. Anyway, with Elite, obstacles are 20 + feet from the tape. So, it's pretty hard.

You need 13 qualifying run for your NADAC championship. You also need 13 in jumpers (we have a bazillion of those) and you need 23 in regular (which is what we usually think of as a standard agility course.) We have 7 or 8 regular Qs and those are coming now that Wyatt has fairly reliable. But, until today, we had never received a Elite Chances Q after trying for at leats one year. I was thinking we might never get our championship but this gives me a of hope. We had some near Qs last year but I realized I need help and I am now taking a class in distance work/chances. It appears to be helping!

Monday, June 08, 2009


We ended up with 8 level C (the hardest level - no faults) qualifying runs (Qs) for the CPE Nationals. I got 4 with Wyatt and 4 with Patriot. I was hoping for a few more but was happy with that. We missed a few by just a little bit. Patriot was over time 6 seconds in a nice standard run. It got hot quickly and I did not hose him down. We had 2 beatitul snooker opening sneaker but they both got the wrong end of the number 3 obstacle (sure sign of a hanlder problem.) I really blew the last colors run with Patriot by not running my plan and improvising my running on the outside. Highlights were Sunday's very difficult standard course with Wyatt and a really nice jumpers run with Wyatt - another tough course. I felt that by Sunday I was handling better and trusting Wyatt more and being more relaxed. Had a bunch of weave faults, which are generally stress related. Also forgot my contact handling support behaviors on Friday's first run.

Class Tonight

This distance class is so about the handler and not the dog. We are just figuring out what Wyatt needs to understand what to do. I really worked on "painting the line". I worked so hard on this I forgot a bunch of other stuff at first! It can be hard to put a new technique in place without losing, temporarily, the rest of the package. But when I did "paint line" - draw a line where you want the dog to go about 2 feet in front of the dog - and put pressure to get Wyatt to go out, cue him early enough - a real challenge, and move my body in a generally parallel way to where I want the dog to go, he really gets it. Hopefully, I can start to put this altogeher soon. We have a NADAC trial this weekend and another on July 4.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Distance Work

The distance work class I have been taking has been great. I finally feel like we are making real progress. NADAC Elite Chances Qs now seem possible. I see now that Wyatt has been ready but my handling was getting in the way. How many times have I said that?!? I just set up something at home where Wyatt did the whole course with me layering two obstacles. Here are the things that have really helped us.

1) Keep your hand out level and not up in the air.
2) Don't pump your hand and shout "Out, out, out" in concert with your hand. This was a specialty of mine!
3) Draw a line with your hand of where you want your dog to go. This really seems to work miracles!
4) Your dog is going to come into you if you run parallel without any pressure to keep your dog out. So verbals can do that or a "go on" command and, most importantly, running towards the line (putting pressure on the dog's line.)
5) Since Wyatt did not always respect my pressure/line, we found that I needed to step suddenly into his line to put additional pressure to take a obstacle farther out especially if the inner obstacle is a tunnel.

Thanks to Lynn Smitley for showing me all this!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Dog Sitters

I really missed having the dogs around last night when we were back home. We left them with our dog walkers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights while we were away at a Bluegrass Festival. When I arrived today, they pretty much did their normal greeting routine and seemed perfectly normal. Wyatt has had separation anxiety so I was worried about him. Patriot is very flexible and has stayed with other people before. We got reports that the dogs were fine and relaxed. Anyway, it was a relief to find a place we can board them occasionally and have them be happy.

If you are interested, I also have a non-dog blog at Reflectons From Cricket Hill

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Agility Practice

Had awesome practices with Wyatt and Patriot tonight. Patriot, who has not seen much agility action, was super primed and galloping through the course. AND he was following my cues. He was going too fast to make weave entries but who cares. He needs the enthusiasm. Wyatt did great too and was working well at a good distance. I have really been working obstacle discrimination at a distance and I have seen much improvement. I will go back to two tunnels right next to each other, which we started with and found difficult and also the dreaded tunnel/contact combo at a distance.

Obedience Class

Wyatt did very well in class last Thursday except for sits. He went down twice on his long, out of sight sit, and then once in sight too. I was a little disappointed since he has been doing much better (perfect) at home. I am going to back up a little next class (there is a 3 week break in classes) and stay in sight. Patriot keeps going down at home as soon as I go out the door so I am working on that too.

No dog events this coming weekend. In fact, we are leaving them with our dog walker to go to a Bluegrass festival. However, we have the CPE Nationals and then a NADAC trial the 2 weekends after that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chances Course

What we had trouble with was the 6 to 7 taking the 9 tunnel instead.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Great Chances Class

Wyatt and I had a really good Chances class. Chances is NADAC's version of gamblers. It is a numbered courses with (at the Elite level) a discrimination, directional, and distance challenge with a line where you 10-20 feet away from your dog. Wyatt did great on the really challenged first part but we had trouble with the second part. He kept ignoring my pushing him him out when there was a tunnel involved. Lynn suggested kind of stomping my feet and emphatically moving out quickly which seemed to work. I have to work hard to drop an opposite arm thing I sometimes use for discrimination. It does not work 50% of the time and what seems to work a lot better is use smaller steps, "saving room", and pushing out to outer obstacles with my path so that he will take the outer obstacles. I'll try and sketch the course tomorrow so this will be more clear.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tracking Saturday

I went tracking on my own Saturday. I found a field I can use 5 minutes from the house so it takes an hour rather than the hour morning to go with the local group. The field was very wet. I backed up and did some longs straights, lots of baited gloves, only one turn. Wyatt was eager to start but kept veering off. I held my ground if he got farther than 10 feet from the track. (The track was very visible.) I was a little disappointed. I wonder if I should have aged the track more in the wet conditions. I waited 1/2 hour. Anyway, seems like we need more straight work. I believe he still may have the scent when he veers off but is air scenting too much and not keeping his nose to ground enough. Too easy to miss a corner that way. I'll keep working the straights for now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sits and Downs

Sits and downs, at least for Wyatt, seem to be improving. Still seeing an occasional problem but he has been doing great, even out of the door and out of sight. I was seeing some creeping so I put a small board in front of him, which is stopping creeping.

Patriot, on the other hand, has been going down on his sits fairly often. I am sitting him back up and just not rewarding him for now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2 Tunnels

Wyatt and I are really having a hard time with 2 tunnels directly next to each other and sending him to the outer tunnel from a distance (or even very little distance!) This was from NADAC elite chances course where you had to send your dog to the outer tunnel. I tried opposite arm and also backing up and altering my path to head to the outer tunnel. Success rates to the outer tunnel we re about 50%. Not sure what the best combination of body and voice cues will work. I have an out command, an opposite arm, and also a change of path. I'll be taking a distance/chances course with Lynn Smitley next starting next week so we can start qualifying in Elite chances. For Wyatt to get his NATCH (NADAC championship), the 13 chances Qs are going to be the hard part. We have our jumpers Qs already and have some regular Qs (you need 23 of these) but there are 2 chances a day and Wyatt and I finally seem to have good trial contacts.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sits and Downs

Sits and downs with Wyatt seem to be improving. I backed up and went back to in sight and I am gradually adding the out of sight element back in. Right now I am going out the door but staying in view (they are big glass doors.)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Lessons Learned - Agility

It was an interesting day of agility Saturday. I did learn some important lessons. See the video to see examples of some of this.

1) I used to pull back and give Wyatt room to go ahead to the weave poles. This used to work great. Now, I am stopping him and frustrated him. I need to just run straight ahead, slowing down a little and not using an opposite arm. He does not need this support anymore and it actually hurts his performance. What works at one point may totally change at another point in time.

2) There are certain things that really demotivate Patriot. One is going back and redoing something like a weave entrance, another is front crosses, and another is not seeing me when he comes out of a tunnel. I need to minimize these though I believe I do need to restart weaves or he will get in the habit of partially completing them.

3) I need to really change my path in chances (gamblers) when there is a directional challenge at distance. At this trial, you had to send the dog to the outermost of two tunnels at a distance. Using an opposite arm and an out command was totally ineffective!

Tunnelers with Wyatt Saturday was one of those thrill of a lifetime runs. He is so good and so fast and motivated at tunnelers. We are really in synch in tunnelers and I can (usually) adapt on the fly. For example, he was way out ahead after tunnel 3 of where I thought I could be so I adapted my plan on the fly very successfully. He flies out of every tunnel and checks with me and if I am handling well and indicating the next tunnel, he is off again as fast as he can to the next one. What a thrill, like driving a performance sports car. Check out the video (the last run if you have not had a chance yet.)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sits and Downs Fell Apart

Sits and down seem to have fallen apart for Wyatt. I have been working at home with going out the door rather than just going around the corner. He is repositioning and moving forward on sits as well as going down. On downs, he is getting up and standing or moving into a sit. Last night in class, he did great on all the utility and open exercises but had both sit and down issues. I usually have the teacher fix them while I stay out of sight and no cheese when I return. Time to back up and move back to novice sits and downs (in sight 1/3 minutes) and gradually increase the difficulty from there. Sometimes I wonder if there is a physical component to these sit and down cycles. By the way, we tried putting a lot of pressure on Wyatt to see if he would "freeze" for the initial come command on Drop on Recall but he came every time. I also tried one at over 100 feet and he was fine too. Sigh. It would be easier if I could replicate the problem in class.

We are at a point where we are working on some really hard stuff - CDX and NADAC championship and sometimes I get a little overwhelmed on how hard some of things are to get right, especially at trials.

Wyatt Agility Photo

I just received this cool photo of Wyatt doing agility at the AWC National. Photo by InMotion.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Too Many Squirrels

I recently spent 10 days on the road in Atlanta, Georgia for the American Whippet Club National Specialty Show. I think it is important to get my dogs Wyatt and Patriot out for their daily exercise when we are on the road, not to mention myself.

I went for a few runs by myself earlier in the week. I found a little neighborhood near the busy Atlanta airport. Midweek, I met the lovely and talented Shawn Rudd and her whippet Georgie. Shawn and George did a flyball demo at the national and Shawn and Bella are a previous winner of the Willow Award. It turned out the we use very similar training methods for our very similar whippets Wyatt and Georgie. We went for a nice run with me holding Wyatt because Patriot was showing and went for another nice walk with our dogs. On the last day of the show we went for a final run. I thought I would bring both dogs as usual and give one for Shawn to run since she does not run with her dogs - due to a injury she received when running with Georgie.

We net at 8:00 AM which was earlier than usual. We started seeing lots of squirrels and I mean lots, like one every 10 feet. We have plenty of squirrels in New England but nothing like this. Patriot was pulling on his leash pretty bad so I gave Wyatt to Shawnie. Usually I keep Wyatt with me because he is so bonded to me he constanly tries to get by my side, Wyatt was good for Shawnie though and I had better luck with Patriot - at least until we came to a little squirrel infested park.

Suddenly, the squirrels appeared everywhere. Wyatt veered in front of me going left and Patriot surged right. I ran into the crossed leashes and Wyatt before I could react. Down I went on the hard Georgia cement sidewalk. Shawnie, in a dilemna, did not know whether to help me or grab Patriot's leash. She wisely got Patriot and came back to me. I somehow landed with the outside of my left hand down and bleeding and the on the outside part of my right wrist on my (dominant) right hand. My watch was another victim of the fall with the wristbands coming off the watch. I was bleeding pretty good on my left hand and my right wrist hurt like hell. I figured it was probably a sprain. We walked for a short distance and then jogged back to the hotel. We were mid-run so it took about 15 minutes to get back. Needless to say, my speed was not great. Wyatt appeared fine. His gait was good and we did not see anything bleeding at that time.

We went to hotel desk and asked for some band aids. It is a really posh hotel and I think the desk clerk was more than happy to provide many different kinds of band aids to prevent bleeding on the carpet. I washed up my left hand, got some ice for my right wrist, and noticed that Wyatt was bleeding too.

I went back to the ballroom where the conformation was going on and watched for a while. I figured I would ask one of the vets at the show to take a quick look at Wyatt. The scrapes looked minor but it would be good to check. Barbara Henderson, a very kind person, agreed to look at Wyatt after she showed a dog.

She got her stuff and very carefully cut away some fur and carefully cleaned out Wyatt's scrapes assured me that all would be well but that she would clean everything out to prevent infective. She saw me bleeding and told me she would also look at me - after she was done with the dog.
She cleaned me out about 10 minutes later and said I should get an x ray when I got back. She kindly went back to her room and got a roll of bright orange vet wrap with smiley faces on it that I used for until I got back home.

Wyatt ended up being fine. I drove 2 days back. Luckily, the wrist, which turned out to be broken, was fine for driving. Getting the van loaded, especially the heavy metal crate, was very challenging though. Just remember that if you and your dog get injured at a big dog show, that you will taken of - just don't expect top priority!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sit Stay Practices

I have been focusing on sits stays again and the thing I have added is going out the door. This is much harder for Wyatt - which is good - in that I can work at it at home and it should help at trials too. The hardest problems are those that only show up at trials. I am working on downs and sits too. Wyatt has been popping up on his downs the last few trials (when I go out a door.)

Last Agility Class

Our agility session ended last night. I really enjoyed having a new teacher. All her suggestions worked and for every dog! I learned a shoulder drop that brings your dog to you and is much smoother than a false pivot. Also a step back move to wrao jumps and many more small techniques and ideas. Mary Champagne also taught me to go and not wait for my dog but make him catch up to me! With a fast whippet, that is going to really bring our already good times even faster.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Open A First 8 Attempts

Here's a summary of Wyatt's Open A attempts. First, I should say that all the exercises he passed were very well done and he always did well on heeling. But in analysing the failures, I am hoping to learn what to work on. The basic thing we need is more proofing and confidence. I believe, though I made mistakes, that my handling is now basically OK though there could be ways I could support him more between exercises that I have not tapped into yet. I do believe his sits and downs are harder for him if I go out a door so I am planning to practice that at home.

1 Big E - All exercises OK, went down on long sit
2 Big E - Did not come on initial drop, sits and downs fine
3 Master Peace - Did not come on initial drop, sits and downs fine
4 Master Peace - Did not go out after dumbbell on retrieve on flat, sits and downs fine
5 Taunton (new place) - walked on broad jump, came after me on long down, lots of whining on long sit, sits and downs through door
6 Nationals - did not come after he was dropped on drop on recall, went down on long sit,
7 Big E - did not come on initial come of Drop on recall, did not go get dumbbell after jumping, came up sitting on long down, sits and downs through door
8 Big E - did not come on initial come of Drop on recall, shifted too much on long sit, came up on long down, sits and downs through door

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nov B 2nd Place Photo Patriot

I just received this photo of me and Patriot taken a few weeks ago. I was not sure what was going to happen as this was the first time I showed him in obedience. [I do run him in agility, lure coursing, racing, and conformation.] He did great, ending up with a 190 and 2nd place in a large 30+ class of dogs including more traditional obedience breeds. I love it when you are up there with the people that placed beating all those Border Collies, Labs, and Goldens. I guess my wife has trained him well along with my recent work with him - mostly to improve lagging. Also, he has not shown in a while. Time itself does seem to improve whippet obedience scores for some reason.

I wish the photographer had asked me to tuck in my shirt!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wyatt Rally Classes at the National

96 in Excellent B and a Q
99 and 2nd (on time) in Rally Advanced B

Patriot Novice B


Agility and Cold With Patriot

I made a mistake at the National with Patriot. He had been doing so much - coursing, Novice Obedience, Rally Advanced, Conformation, and Brace - that I decided to scratch with in his first agility run of the day. He seemed really tired the night before. However, because it was so cold that day - low thirties, he got out of the car for jumpers and was totally pumped and I could not control him enough to avoid a few off courses and weave pop outs. He settled down - I got him out much earlier - and we had a perfect open standard run. 98% of the time, scratching would have been the right choice - especially in hot weather.

Sits and Downs

Seems like I need to work more on sits and downs (sits anyway) again. I took a break for a while since Wyatt was doing so well but he went down in Open after about 30 seconds and had the anxiety issue at the previous trial. I am entered next weekend in Springfield so we'll see what happens there.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

National Brags

AWC National 2009
4th Place Triathlon
5th place triathlon conformation
4th place Novice B obedience – 30+ dogs, score of 192.5
4th place Versatlity Competition
2nd place Versatility Conformation
2nd place Brace
Rally Advanced – 96 and a Q
Open Std Agilty – 1st and a Q
High score – non-regular class with agility title
High score – regular obedience class with LC title
High score champion in a regular obedience class
High score – non-regular obedience class with agility title
Champion Award of Versatility Excellent

2nd – Rally Advanced B, score of 99
Rally Excellent B – Q and a score of 96
2nd Brace
1st Novice Preferred Fast Agility
Q - Novice Preferred JWW 3rd Place
Q – Novice Preferred Standard 3rd Place
High score – non-regular obedience class with agility title
Parade of Rescues
Parade of Honors - #1 NADAC agility whippet 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009

Quick Update from the AWC National

Wyatt and Patriot did really great today. A long day but lots of fun. Patriot will end up 4 or 5 in the triathlon. He got 5th in conformation and 2nd in Versatility Conformation. Patriot got a 98 in Rally Advanced (5th) and 4th place with a 192.5 in Novice B obedience. Wyatt NQed in Open A but got a 96 in Rally Excellent and a 2nd with a 99 in Rally Advanced. I really enjoyed showing in everything including conformation.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Lure Coursing

Wyatt got to run as a test dog and did great. His follow is very good. Too bad he is a fouler. Patriot did not run great but finished and did OK. He is 11/15 in versatility and could still do well if he does well is agility and rally and conformation and he is still OK for the triathlon as the LC scores are bunched tightly together and don't count as much as obedience and conformation typically in terms of the way the scores are distributed. But, even though it would be cool if he did well, I really just want to have fun with them and show our stuff. Tomorrow is busy with rally first, Patriot in Advanced and Wyatt in Advanced and Excellent. Patriot is then in Novice B and Wyatt is in Open A. I am hoping we can go out of sight without going out a door. I think that is much harder for Wyatt based on our last trial. Then I show Patriot in conformation for the triathlon and Versatility Competition (VC) Monday (tomorrow) night. Tuesday is brace and agility. It's been great to meet all the VC competitors. What a wonderful bunch of friendly people.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Made It To Atlanta

We made it to Atlanta for the American Whippet Club National Specialty. The dogs were very good for the 19 hour drive. We went 12:30 to 8:30 Friday ending up in West Virginia and did the rest today getting in around 5. We went for a nice 1/2 walk and are back in the room chilling. The dogs did not make a peep the whole way. Good boys! I did take them out for at least a short walk every 2-3 hours.

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Thoughts

More thoughts on our open attempts. Watching Saturday's video again - attempt 5 - I was very happy with Wyatt's heeling. 2 people also noticed that the judge moved as Wyatt was coming back after jumping, which seemed startle with so that he dropped the dumbbell. So we can proof that. I do believe I was still 2 feet too close. Anyway, if you look back at most of our NQs, it has been a lack of attention, probably from something moving in the ring. So proofing will help as well as what I did at the last trial, which was revving him up and looking at him during the initial command. Some of this is from having a sighthound and some is Wyatt, who is nervous and very observant too.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Handler Error!

Wyatt did pretty well but I made some key errors in our fifth attempt at a CDX leg.

I stood to close to the jump for the retrieve over jump. I looked at the judge's line and went with that and not what a little voice said was too close. The floor was bouncy and that was on my mind. All the handler's were discussing the floor. That forces him, I believe, to have to jump around me, which created a different picture to him. He then dropped the dumbbell a few feet away and behind me, something he never does. I understand that that is a deduction but not an NQ.

I tried to recover and keep him up for the broad jump but he stepped through the broad jump, something he also never does. I suspect it was stress from the previous exercise. We also did agility run through the night before, which may have contributed either from some physical tiredness or confusion with contacts.

The trial as at a new spot for us and it was very crowded. As we came in, I found a spot near the door. I set up the crate and noticed later that the crate door was facing the building door. I usually have the crate door facing the place where chairs are so Wyatt can see me. He has some separation anxiety (SA) issues. Again, I did not listen to that little voice that said to move the crate. I also noticed and ignored some spilled water and movement of the pad inside the crate, which indicates that he was pawing at the crate pad due to SA. The handler went outside the building for the stays, something I also wondered about. I believe that is more stressful for Wyatt. As I came in from the long sit, I saw that he was about 6 feet in front of the other dogs. The judge informed me that he was whining the whole time and crawled up. When I came in from the down, he was not there! The steward said he stood up and left right before he came back in.

I have not been practicing out of sight stays much since Wyatt did the last 4 or so perfectly but I guess i need to keep practicing these including going out the door, something that has been difficult in the past when I have tried it. Also, I need to manage him better especially crate placement. Sometimes I bring our Patriot to keep him company. Obviously, I need to stand a bit farther from the jump. However, I was very happy overall looking at the video. We also made it through the first part with a very uncharacteristic broad jump failure. My goal was to keep him focusing and up between exercises and I think I did that. You can't see it on the video but I keep talking to him between exercises saying what we were going to do next and I think that really helped. I need to think about if we should trial at less that ideal and new places or stick with the really good and familiar spots.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Agility Practice

My handling was not the greatest Wednesday night. I arrived late because I had to drive back home for my dog bag and was frazzled. I also had trouble trying to remember courses for 2 different dogs. But I did get to practice contacts and did well with the second part of the course especially weaves and teeters and dogwalks. I am going to do some run thrus tonight to get my confidence and get the dogs used to full courses with other dogs. Wyatt shows in Open A obedience tomorrow and off the nationals next week! I think we are in a good position to do well at the national but I am trying not to think that way and just think to have a good time with the dogs, do our best, and keep everyone safe.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fifth Try This Weekend

Wyatt and I will try for our first CDX leg again this weekend. I am going to try to stay more connected between exercises this time and see if that helps our problem with freezing occasionally on the initial command.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

FIrst Agility Class of the Year

I took both Wyatt and Patriot to agility class last night to tune up for the whippet national specialty. Patriot ran very well and did some (for him) fast weaves. I just had to remember how to do contacts with him. My wife changed him to running contacts but did not really finish so I have to slow him down and kind of point to the bottom of the contact to ensure that he hits the yellow zone. Wyatt also did very well and was very fast but crashed a bar on his first run. I moved him down to 16 immediately and he did fine. I not going to run him at 20 inches anymore so I am not sure why I was even practicing at 20! It felt great to run him at 16; the instructor thought he would be fine at 16 even with his early jumping habits. I was definately rusty with my cuing and with running the 2 dogs differently so it was great to be out doing agility again. I think both dogs were happy too and they are busy sleeping right now. They seem to need extra rest the next day, which tells me it was good for them. We all know that a tired whippet is a good (and happy) whippet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finish CDX First?

I am wondering if I should just trial in obedience until we get our CDX. As you know, we have no legs yet. I have 4 attempts coming in through mid-April. I only have so much time on weekends to trial per month so I am thinking, hard as it is, that I may put off trialing in NADAC agility until we get our CDX. There is a NADAC trial close by in early May but also an obedience trial that weekend. I can usually enter NADAC trials late, even day of show, so I could go to NADAC if we get our CDX by then.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Obedience Results

We had a good but long day today at the Obedience Trial in Franklin, MA today.

Still no Open A Q for Wyatt. Once again, he NQed on one exercise and did very well on the rest. A little frustrating but I think it is just going to take some trialing to put it all together as a team. Good news: another perfect sit and down and he came on the drop (he missed that twice). This time, he did not go out on the retrieve on flat, of all things, something he has never done before. I am going to check the video to see if did anything funny like not give our normal command. Something did feel a little off. I think I was nervous after he got the drop on recall and thought we were home feel. I threw to the side and a little farther than usual and the judge waited a while after the throw. I checked tonight and I don't look at Wyatt before giving the "Find It" command. I was wondering if I neglected to look at him but that was not it. We were working on a 188 if we had qualified.

Patriot and I did Novice B. I have never shown him in obedience before but wanted to get a dry run in before the national, where I will be showing him in rally, agility, and obedience. He ended up doing great. He got a second place in a large class of 20+ dogs, a 190, and also high scoring sighthound! I was really good with both dogs not looking back at all and trusting. Unfortunately, I did not get a video of me and Patriot.

A good day. I feel good about both dogs and am prepared to trial with Wyatt for a while. Even though we have had 4 very close to Q runs, I need to be patient and work together as both of us get comfortable with showing in Open A.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Weekend - Obedience - Saturday Only

Wyatt and I are in Open A again this weekend. WIsh is luck! I also have Patriot entered in Novice B to get ready for the National. Mainly just worked with him on lagging at home.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Practice Last Night - Brace, Novice, and Open

Wyatt and Patriot did so well last night as a brace team! They were super cute too. I MUST get our brace videotaped at the Whippet National. I did pick up a few things such as putting Patriot on the inside when heeling since he lags more. But they did great and it really seems easy if you have 2 well trained dogs to put them together. Hard to get them both to sit straight but I don't think I will be able to fix that completely.

Wyatt did fine with his drop on recall. I had the teacher really crowd him but he took off on "Wyatt, come" everytime. Even though it cost up two CDX legs, I am not sure there is much more I can do besides proofing it in different settings. Hopefully, they were flukes and not a habit. We'll see next weekend.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

So Close!

Wyatt did great in Open A yesterday but we missed one thing, enough to NQ. But heeling was very good. I was told he was right with me. I tried really hard to keep my eyes ahead and did pretty well with that but it's hard not being able to see him. Sits were straight with good fronts too. On the drop, I had to call him twice. I thought he may have been looking over in the other ring on the first command. Someone else said a dog barking right then. The judge said she could hear my command though so Wyatt must have. The rest - retrives and broad jump was picture perfect. I think we would have got about a 190. The sits and downs were perfect too. So close! Next time! I may try to proof the drop a little more - the initial come command. The judge raising her hand above his head may be making him nervous. He certainly never does not come at home or in class.

Here's a comment I got from a friend who was watching...

Hi John...

Just wanted to let you know you guys really did a nice job today......keep at it and it'll happen! The more confidence you exude, the less he will lag. My Skyler went from being a lagger to a forger the more we showed. Don't keep looking back at him....just keep going.....he's with you.

His stays were rock solid.....he didn't even fidget. I think he liked watching the Utility going on in the next ring....his ears were forward and his head was moving with the movement in the other ring all during the sit-stay. You guys are sooooo close!

Good luck in your next show!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Open A Tomorrow

Wyatt and I are in Open A first thing tomorrow morning. I am feeling pretty good going in. The only slight worry is a cold floor and not going down all the way for drop on recall or the long down.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Heeling Work

I have been working with Wyatt and Patriot both separately and together as a brace team on heeling. For Wyatt, I am fine tuning and trying to address the places where I lose a few points for lagging, which tends to be on outside turns (either about turns) or a 360 and on "fast." With Patriot, I am working with him everywhere. The technique I am using is the same though. As I am in the turn, quickly get a treat and have it ready at heel position when the turn is completed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wyatt's Check Up

Good news. Wyatt got checked out today by our sports vet Julie Roos, DVM and she thought he was doing really well and could go back to agility. She does want me to still reduce his jogging time with me. That was great news. It does seem like he needs a big rest time every winter. I may greatly reduce his jumpers runs and also run his at 16 now that he is a veteran.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

NADAC Agility Brag

Wyatt was the #1 NADAC agility whippet last year, getting #1 in 3 classes. You get 10 points for every qualifying run at the elite (like AKC excellent) level and you need at least 30 points to be even on the list. Here are the complete whippet results.

Whippet Jumpers 80 1 Wyatt John Heffernan
Whippet Jumpers 40 2 Hugo Kiely Grundahl
Whippet Jumpers 30 3 Patriot Dawn Heffernan

Whippet Regular Agility 30 1 Wyatt John Heffernan

Whippet Tunnelers 140 1 Wyatt John Heffernan

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Looking at our recent run thru scores for open obedience, we lost 6 1/2 on heeling, 1/2 on drop on recall, 1/2 on retrieve on flat, 1/2 on retrieve over jump, and 1 on broad jump. So I have been trying to reduce lagging on the heeling. I have been luring with cheese on all the different kind of outside turns to try to get him speeded up on those turns. That's where we lose most of our points. He also seems to lag on "fast" at run thrus and trials. My thought is to try and get speed on the turn and get that into his muscle memory.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Very Good Run Thru

Wyatt and I had a great run thru Thursday night. We qualified with a score of 190.5. We lost 6-7 points in heeling for lagging and a few 1/2 points off for fronts and finishes here and there. Sits and stays were perfect. It was one of the coldest days of the year so I did use a little mat for the long down. This gives me a lot of confidence going into our 3 upcoming trials.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Barking Before Gloves

I am getting tons of barking at the start of the Utility Directed Retrieve (aka Gloves) exercise. I can't quite figure out why. I have a feeling this will not be a problem in trials but I would still like to work on it. My guess is that the gloves are his favorite article to to retrieve due to the fact that they can be a moving white object (I frequently throw them low on the mats to get him pumped up.) Anyway, I think the frustration of having to sit twice before the retreive may be frustrating for Wyatt. Not sure how to work on this yet. I tried waiting until he stops to start and using his oops word but that did not seem to do much, at least in the short run. Any ideas appreciated!