Monday, April 11, 2011

Awesome weekend!

Okay, this pic isn't from this weekend. It's from Phoenix's 1st UD leg at DeWitt. Thanks, Sheryl, for capturing him doing what is probably his very most favorite exercise.

Then the Skinny Little Dog went and got UD leg #2 at the ICDOC trials at Amana over the weekend! Not only that, we tied for 2nd place in a class of 30 dogs. We lost the run-off (against Joanne Johnson) but honestly, I don't care! It felt so good to have everything come together and I think I could actually hear our teamwork clicking. Or maybe that was Nix's teeth, since there was a great deal of leaping and bouncing and sleeve grabbing between exercises.

It was a 3-day trial. Utility on Friday went very badly. We both seemed out of sync and at odds with each other. I wouldn't say nothing good came of that run because it really highlighted the need to for me to make him understand how important giving EFFORT is. Even if he makes a mistake, if he's trying, that's all I want.

Utility on Saturday was entirely different. Phoenix was all business, acted like he'd been doing this Utility stuff for years. Fronts and finishes were about 50/50 and yeah, there are always things that need work, but I was so totally proud of him. THIS was the dog I trained! (Sometimes the dog I trained disappears when I go in the ring - I think the fairies steal him. But they always bring him back.)

Sunday went awesome right up until the last exercise: scent discrimination. Just as he got out to the pile, a group of Open B people left for group stays and walked by our ring. Apparently people doing a mass exodus from the building was the most fascinating thing Phoenix has ever seen in his life. He froze in the pile, staring at the people going out the door. Then he forgot what he was doing. Total. Absolute. Space-out.

He stared at me. I stared at him. He stared at me. I stared at the mats, the jumps, the wall, the article pile and the judge. The judge stared at me. Finally, he shrugged. I gave a second command to find it. Phoenix looked at me like, "Oh! Yeah! Articles! Right! I get it now!" And he did. Good boy.

Our mistakes over the weekend were green Utility dog mistakes. I knew going into it that I had not exposed him to working in enough different environments where distractions might not be aimed directly at him but would be distracting nonetheless. We'll find some flying monkeys to train with this week.

It was a learning weekend, another leg in the journey.

And I am super proud of all my "agility friends" (sorry for the stereotype, you know who you are) who came to play obedience games for three days and finished Rally Novice, Beginner Novice and Novice A titles. Carrie/Addie, Michele/Packer, Barb/Coz and Marsha/Vinnie, you guys rock!

And there was great pie, too, from the gal who catered our food.

Hopefully, more trial pics coming soon.

And in spite of the predictions of dire weather all weekend, the tornadoes, hail and high wind happened to the west and the east of us, leaving us unscathed (except for the 85 degree high on Sunday, which was just plain freaky, it's only April for pete's sake).


  1. Glad to hear things went well for you and Phoenix! Congrats on his second UD leg!

  2. WOO HOO!! What awesome news, congratulations!

    It sounds like you have a good training plan to figure out how to show Phoenix what you want, and are picking up legs along the way.

    You guys rock!

    PS - Glad to hear the tornado missed you - that wouldve put a damper on your great weekend :)

  3. Good Boy Nix!!! Good job you "Agility People", for getting out of your 'comfort zone' and having fun with your dogs......even though you really probably just showed up for Meg's cookies!!! LOL I heard Rilda won the 'mother load' in the raffle!

  4. We were totally there for the cookies, the raffle and the garage sale!! And the food vendor was awesome - I ate Maid-rites three days in a row :-)

    Phoenix was fantastic... he just thought he might be missing something (maybe the best parking spot somewhere?) when they had that mass exodus. Now you're going to have us all going in and out of doors while you're training!

  5. AWESOME indeed!!!! WOW huge congrats on your second leg and with such a stellar performance too!!

    Phoenix is such a cool dog and I love reading about your adventures together.

    LOVE that pic of him working the pile. Very cool!

  6. This is so exciting to watch you and Phoenix sort through all this and way to go a 2nd Leg!
    Very funny about his space out Sun. Isn't it exciting to know that you can do it and will get there! Was a bit worried as our tv stations here in Ct mentioned tornados Iowa and in the same sentence dogshows and I wondered if it was anywhere near you since you hadn't posted for a few days. Congrats on your great showing.

  7. Are you going to Malinois Nationals? Wouldn't it be exciting to finish the title there!