Monday, September 28, 2015

I love going for titles!  First of all, it means I believe my dog is ready to trial, that he understands the exercises  and has the confidence to perform them under pressure.  And let's face it: competition by its very nature means there is a certain amount of pressure.

It's my job to make sure that pressure does not undermine my dog's confidence and that during the competition we remain a team working together, playing together, and performing together. 

Nevertheless, I've come to 'expect the unexpected' when showing.   It goes with the territory.  Ya never know what's going to happen--and that's also part of what 'competing' is all about and what makes it challenging.  Not knowing is what gives it an edge, a kick.  Having a measure of victory over the unknown is part of the thrill.

Devon has been taught all of the exercises in Open and Utility. However, I train alone.  Distractions are few.  Furthermore, Devon has had very little ring experience (opportunities are very limited here)  which rather concerns me, especially as he is very inquisitive as well as super friendly.  That he might stop to check something out or 'greet' the judge is not beyond his reach, that's for sure.

Under the circumstances the best I can do to help Devon become more confident and have a stronger understanding of his job is to take advantage of any distraction that might come our way during training--and proof. 

Our proofing generally is with inanimate objects, such as toys, balls, squeakers, etc.  Having another human present is a rarity, but when opportunity knocks, I listen! 

My son and daughter-in-law came for a visit a few weeks ago and I enlisted Christina to help me proof.  (She was VERY willing, so no arm twisting was required:-) Thank you, Christina!

What I noticed most was a slight reticence on his part.  It was very obvious to me that he was somewhat concerned.  And he did on occasion make mistakes.  The best part , however, was that he could quickly regroup and rise to the occasion. 

He is such a trooper.  Love this boy!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Devon studies things.  There are occasions when he 'reacts first', but most times he will take things in, evaluate, then make his move.  He is a very sensible boy.

 Here Devon is watching some shorebirds, deciding whether or not they need some herding.
                                                      (Alas, an interloper scared them away.)

Devon practicing the Group 'Sit' with a few other Border Collies.  From left to right:
                                    Kaffee        Devon            Myst             Shooter      Dax

                      My four boys after a run.  I love to see them in their 'play clothes':-)

Kyle is standing in the back,    then    Kellan               Devon                Dax

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Well, the ring conditions in Prescott for obedience were abominable.  Seriously.  They were the worst I have ever experienced.  My poor Dax had to do go-outs into the sun, and I was squinting so badly, I was afraid he would think I was not happy with him. ( When we set up for go-outs, I actually told Dax that he was on his own.  Tragic.) 

Then to top it off, hot air balloons were inflated maybe 100 feet away, then lifted and were above us more than once.  Talk about distractions!

Additionally, there was what was called a 'mud fest', which was basically a run through various mud pits and other obstacles.  These runners ran right past our rings.  Lovely.

Devon, however, was in Novice, so his ring wasn't quite as dramatic as the Utility ring.  Never the less, the conditions for obedience were pitiful.  (Conformation was held inside the event center.)   
On Friday ( Sept 18,  2015 ) Devon earned his 2nd Novice B leg under Judge Nancy Craig with a 198.5--and High in Trial!
(A video was supposed to have been made, but unfortunately the person taking it hit the wrong button.  So no video...)

I pulled Devon on Saturday.  We had a ring change for our class and I preferred NOT to subject him to what was Dax's  Utility ring and it's worse conditions.  We are in no rush.  Instead, we showed in conformation where Devon was given a 'Select'.   We have all of our majors towards his Grand Championship, so are now simply working at pointing him out.

                                                   Devon being awarded his High in Trial

                                          A few of the balloons hovering over our rings.

                                          Devon's Novice ring---pathetic.  The indoor/outdoor carpeting
was rippled and wavy and uneven.  Worse, it was laid over decomposed granite that had NOT been leveled, so there were the additional less visible hills and dales and potholes from that.

                                           A little romp during the 7 hour drive to Prescott.

                                             My boys running towards me!

                                                  (Devon is wearing his harness;-)
                                                                   Happy Devon!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Devon earned his first Novice Leg!!!!   I am so, so proud of my little 'monkey'.  

On Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 Devon and I showed at the Greater Agility Club of Las Vegas obedience trials in Las Vegas under Judge Curt Curtis.
We didn't go into the ring until 6:30 PM, which made for a very long day.

I have to say that it was wonderful to be indoors where footing is so stable.  We here in the Southwest rarely have such luxurious conditions.  All too often our go-outs are towards open fields,  lakes, horse arenas, or infinity.  The ground is uneven, at best, making heeling a trek over hill and dale with various obstacles such as gopher holes to avoid along the way. We can have rings of re-bar and ropes, white poles with fluttering ribbon, and sometimes even baby-gates.  So showing at this trial was a true luxury!

Devon and I came in 2nd with a 197.5.  On Saturday as I arrived Curt Curtis seemed to be waiting for me.  I thought he was going to chastise me for leaving without getting my High Combined award for Devon's brother, Dax, the day before.  I was all set to tell him I had left because  it was past 7PM and I had a 7:30 dinner date, that I was obviously going to be late for.  But no, that was not the case.

Mr. Curtis wanted to reassure me that Devon was a great heeler with wonderful potential and that it was I who had lost him the most points, as I had rounded my left turns.  Live and learn!

Amy Balchum kindly videoed us on her phone.  Thank you so much!

Because Devon is so young and we have had so few matches, I only entered him in the one show.  But...

Devon, Dax and I are going to Prescott this upcoming weekend.  Wish us luck!

Monday, September 7, 2015

 We tried to introduce Devon to as many different sights, sounds, and smells as was possible.  Here Devon is meeting some Llamas at a petting zoo.  The smells were outstanding.  He also met some turkey, a pig, goats, and ponies.  Fun day!
 Devon also went to all the dog shows with me so that he could absorb the ambiance and be comfortable working at shows.  Training on the grounds was definitely a part of the adventure.
 Hiking in the mountains was another experience Devon was introduced to.
 And of course, training in my small, converted 'training' room was absolutely a part in Devon's development:-)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My wonderful daughter-in-law, Christina, is visiting from Ohio and volunteered (!) to help me proof Devon.  What a stupendous, progressive lesson Devon and I had!  Here is one from his signals:

Devon missed my first signal.  No big deal.  I simply let him know he had made a mistake, helped him succeed (showed him that he could perform despite the major distraction)  , then repeated the signal.  Devon came through with flying colors.

Proofing is meant to build confidence and stabilize my dog's understanding.  That's what it's all about!