Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Agility Class

One very valuable thing I picked up already at class was that I was not consistently "painting the line" 2 feet ahead of my dog.  I saw that improving this had already helped a lot. In general, focusing on consistent arm motion in terms of the height of one's arm and the distance in front of the dog seems to have side benefits of handing more consistently.  I have also noticed last night with myself and other handlers how often assuming a dog was committed or assuming that an obstacle was easy is the kiss of death!  Focusing on my arm motion seemed to help stay consistently connected with my dog for the whole course. 

Wyatt ran pretty well last night though he slowed down quite a bit for his last run.  It was very hot and he did a walk and a run during the day.  I am still perplexed that he wants to run in class but not at home.  I am scheduling an appointment with our sports vet, Julie Roos.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Deaf Dogs Part 2

In doing some research on the issue of allowing deaf dogs to compete in AKC Rally, Obedience, and Agility, I found out that the breed club for Dalmations, the Dalmation Club of America, requires breeders to euthanize deaf puppies.

As with any breed of dog, there are a few things you should be aware of when choosing a Dalmatian as regards faults of health. One is congenital deafness. This occurs in Dalmatians at the rate of about 12%, although whole litters are often born with no deaf pups. However, ethical breeders have their litters tested for hearing impairment at a professional facility by a trained technician, when such facilities are available to them. Any puppies proven deaf are euthanized. The test, called a BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) test, measures the hearing response of each ear on each puppy. The tester then provides a printout of each puppy's test, which is then given to you at the time of purchase. In this way, you know your puppy hears.

Do not adopt a completely deaf dog even if it is given to you, as you will be letting yourself in for a lot of work and probable heartbreak: work, because the dog cannot hear you, and for all but the most experienced handlers is rendered untrainable; probable heartbreak, because if the dog ever escapes from you, he cannot hear traffic. You can conclude the ending. The deaf dog leads a sadly neurotic life, as every hand on his fur or step on the floor startles him because he cannot hear. Most deaf dogs become so fearful and timid that they must be put to sleep anyway; it is better to do so right after the BAER test proves the dog deaf, before a family is attached to the dog. Should you somehow procure a deaf Dalmatian, the breeder is obliged, by any code of ethics, to replace the puppy with a hearing one or to refund your money and take the dog back. 

On the other hand, there are numerous people who have raised deaf dogs very successfully and argue strongly against this policy.  The deaf dogs can be spayed or nuetered so that's not a good reason to put them down. 

Rescue Story 


I was shocked to discover this DCA policy.  I don't have tons of experience with deaf dogs but the one I see in agility who runs regularly seems wonderful and has a great partnership with its owner.  What do you think?  


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wyatt Status

I just can't figure out what is going on with Wyatt.  I practiced agility in the yard with him yesterday morning and he was very skittish and not into it.  He seemed especially spooked with tunnels.  Also, in the house, he jumps off the couch as I approach, which is usually a sign of injury for him.  I took him to our first class bringing Patriot along as a "backup dog."  I figured there was a small chance Wyatt got stung by a bee or something in a tunnel in the front yard and that was causing the problem.  I was surprised that he ran like a champ for all of class.  I ran Patriot first, which, let us say, increases him motivation but still.  I am going to rest him, one walk a day, no running, no agility at home and see what happens.  I had been doing some longer 50 minute runs.  That may have been too much.   More about the actual practice in the next blog entry. 

Deaf Dogs

I was reading that the AKC was considering letting deaf dogs compete in rally, agility, and obedience.  I say,  "Let them play."  The few deaf dogs I have seen definitely had a harder time succeeding in agility in spite of talented handlers.  They just don't have access to as much information.  Some claim they have an advantage because they can tune out distractions.  That's just not what I saw.  Also, the visual distractions may be heightened.  Besides, who cares?   99% of us are there to qualify and support any and all dogs that can qualify.  Especially handicapped dogs.  Though some breeds have deafness issues, agility, rally, and obedience accept breed disqualifications (not to mention mixed breeds) so it's not about breeding.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wyatt Back to Normal?

Wyatt seemed much better yesterday yesterday in terms of wanting to do agility.  I did bring him out to the field on a loose lead and he was fine after that.  Still not sure why he did not want to play for a few days but he does seem a little skittish still.  Could be all the tick checks and hygiene stuff. 

I am practicing the switch part of the last course I posted, trying to get it more smooth and flowing.  "Painting the line" with my hand seems to help. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scaredy Cat Dog

Wyatt is so funny.  He had a little hygiene problem yesterday after pooping.  I cleaned his rear with some baby wipes.  Well, it must of hurt or something because he would run away from me all night.  I tried to do some agility and he ran away too.  That worried me because it could have indicated an ouch.  But then I remembered why he was avoiding me.

Anyway, I did eventually coax him into doing some agility and he did great.  I did the following course, which was similar to Sunday's NADAC Chances course.  The map is not to scale but I believe I was at least 30 feet away laterally from the weaves, which is great.  I don't always have confidence that we can do these distances but yesterday proved that we can.  I did have trouble sometimes sending out from jump 3  to jump 4.  However, I was able to consistently send him out even if he stopped and looked back for direction.  Something I have learned this year is not to give an out command if you want your dog to straight (for example from jump number 4 to the number 5 weaves.  This has the opposite effect and brings your dog into you.  Just keep running parallel to your dog. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

NADAC May 2010

I felt relaxed and not nervous all weekend.  However, the weather was a distraction.  It was very cold and rainy Saturday and very cold and VERY windy Sunday.  Not too many Qs but Wyatt got a regular Q he needs for his championship Saturday and a tunnelers Q Sunday.  Patriot got a jumpers Q Sunday. 

Patriot was very slow Saturday so I was not sure if he was not over his injury or just did not like the cold rain.  It was the latter because he was very fast on Sunday, so fast he was hard to control.  However, I just ran him happy and ignored any off courses.  That is a wise thing in most cases but it is especially important to keep Patriot happy.  I should be practicing with him more.

Wyatt and I had a bunch of real close heartbreaker NQs.  We missed time by less than a second in weavers and Touch and Go Saturday.  On Sunday, he ran by the very last jump in jumpers.  That would have been his Superior title.  I may have pulled him off.  On Saturday, we got the very hardest parts of Chances, which we really need, but missed the "easy" last part, which I largely ignored during the walk through because I thought it was a no-brainer.  Had a nice Q and first in tunnelers Sunday.  The video is below.  No regular classes Sunday because of high winds. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Here's part of an elite chances course from our last trial.  The line that can't be crossed is after the "first" curved tunnel.  We got most of this including a discrimination of an A-Frame and Tunnel after the last jump from a large distance.  In this course, you take the curved tunnel and then go around the outside staying behind the 0 line.  I did great moderating my steps and leaving plenty of room to drive out to the first 2 jumps.  People that did not save room had trouble driving out to the first 2 jumps.  Wyatt took the tunnel back towards me.  The mistake I made was trying to give an "out" command after the second tunnel.  That drew his attention towards me and to the tunnel.  Successful teams kept running parallel to the dog.  I also found that this worked at home after a little practice. 

NADAC Trial This Weekend

I am taking Wyatt and Patriot to a NADAC trial 20 minutes away in Greenfield, MA this weekend.  I am looking forward to it.  I have been working with Wyatt on driving to the end of contacts and also on distance.  Biggest thing in distance is definitely on my end.  If I don't cue him early enough or in the right way, we don't get it.  I also worked on a specific challenge I'll write up later.  I need to create a little course map for it.