Not sports equipment, didn’t sign the check

They didn’t sign the check.

I often say this when briefing a rally class. Our dogs don’t sign the checks, mine have a check book, but really, they don’t get to pick when and what they enter. I try to do a mix of things. If I put as much effort into one sport as I do into 5 sports 2-5 venues each. we’d be champions. And in rally we are, RAE2, multiple ARCHMX awards. because the dogs like it as do I.

I see so many handlers disappointed because their dog didn’t do x or y. they ran around a jump, they broke a stay, they didn’t retrieve, and that handler is mad at their dog. Head up, these are dogs, sentient beings doing the best they can for us humans. They are not sports equipment.

A broken stay is not the equivalent of a ski binding that got stuck. A run around the jump is not the same as a stovepipe in a pistol. That drop that didn’t happen, not the same as a broken bat.

If we have issues with our dogs, they are training issues, proofing issues, and method issues. I do know of folks that if the dog can’t do it competitively they get another dog. Really? If my dog can’t do it competitively, I work on my method, am I teaching it clearly and well, can someone else give me some insight into what is going on. Does my dog hate this sport?? Well let’s find one he likes or some other activity that is REWARDING TO THE DOG…

And the drilling. some dogs enjoy drilling, the late Kestrel could have been drilled till the cows come home, “you like this, you like this, you like this” on and on she had more persistence than I did…, other dogs , Merlin and Hawke, I did it twice, I did it right, what’s your issue human?? Did I trade them in on a more driven dog. NO I found what worked best for them. Again they are who they are, they are not sports equipment.

I guess at some point we either have to take ego out of the equation… I trained my dog, this test shows what I need to work better, or admit that the dog is an extension of who we are and how we are valued… and I feel sorry for the dogs in that position.

The best thing about my dogs?? They sleep in heel position, every night, dogs on the left.

Bottom line, you the human entered the show, the dog didn’t sign the check, they really aren’t volunteers in this process. They like to work, and/or they love you but they didn’t get up this morning fill in an entry and sign a check.. respect that. I try to.

2015 in Review 2016 goals

At the end of last year I set some goals “Goals for 2015 (I always set goals.. keeps me moving forward)
Kestrel: CDX-CCH and her CDSP Versatility title, PCDX, RLVX12-15, ARCHMX6, RATS
How did we do?

Kestrel: She got her RLVX12-15, and her ARCHMX6, and RL3X8, RL2X10, RL1X10 and her PSD SD-ND novice Distance.
not bad at all
And Elf who joined us in February got her RATI, RATN, and CGC

Goals for 2016
Merlin: CS-ATCH, ARCHMX4, RLVX7-10, CDX, CDSP Versatility, RATM
Kestrel to enjoy some of 2016
Elf: CDSP Starter, BN, RN, RA, ARCH, CPE level 1 and 2, start AKC agility

Merlin Does IT!!!

Merlin Earns his ARCHMX2, along with trial chair Chris Argento and Judge Rachel Brostrom

Merlin Earns his ARCHMX2, along with trial chair Chris Argento and Judge Rachel Brostrom

ARCHMX2 – His WCRL/APDT Rally Master title, Again! another 10 triple q’s level 1, 2, 3 with scores of 195 or higher.

What did I learn from this, perseverance and training pay off!!!  Heel like you’re going somewhere and the dog will join you.
Keep my face in my space, make him responsible for his part of the teamwork!

She’s Back and Thank you AKC

Last Sunday the 31st, Kestrel went back into the AKC open ring, 4 years to the weekend of when she last competed in open. Four years ago, she refused a jump, people ringside said Proof your Dog, I called my vet. When Kestrel refuses a jump, there’s a problem. Her issue turned out to be the long plaguing iliopsoas strain.

Kestrel went on to compete in venues where she could have a lower jump height as jumping seems to aggravate the issue. She does WCRL/APDT rally with a jump height mod, and CDSP Obedience with a jump height mod.

The AKC started the pre classes. For some, the advantage in novice and open is no group stays, the long sit and the long down. Kestrel views the advantage as the 1/2 height jump height. She can manage one 10″ jump without issue. And this past Sunday, Kestrel did so.

She was so happy, and so was I. She heeled, albeit with a bit of nose rubbing and dancing around, she figure 8’d, she dropped on recall like she slammed on the breaks. Sure she forgot that you aren’t supposed to autofinish on every return, she retrieved on the flat, and retrieved over that little high jump and leapt with joy over the broad jump. Happy dog, Happy handler!!! Great fun.

Thanks AKC for this class, that is so great, and tailor made for Kestrel!

NEROE is history, and history repeats!

So this past weekend was the NEROE (New England Rally Obedience Enthusiasts) WCRL/APDT Rally Trial at All Dog’s Gym.  In past years we have made a good showing.  In 2011, Hawke was the #3 vet overall earned and RLVX6, and Kestrel got her ARCHMX2.  In 2012, Kestrel was on the DL, Hawke earned an RLVX12 and Merlin an RL1x5. In 2013, Kestrel was #2 Vet and Hawke was #5, and Kestrel won the cash tournament.

This year, once again 2 Raptorz were top Vets, #4 Vet was Kestrel and Merlin was the #5 vet overall.  Kestrel finished her ARCHMX5 and an RLVX9, and Merlin earned his RLV and an RL1X9.  The tradition of sound working older dogs continues, and I feel very blessed that they can keep on going   Kestrel is 11, and baby Merlin is 8.  I guess when you are old enough to compete in vets you aren’t really baby Merlin.

2012 Dog Year in Review

2012 was a pretty good year now that it is in the rearview mirror. Hawke, at 12 1/2 has partially retired. She started the year with a partial cruciate tear, but due to her willingness to rest and rehab – dodged the surgeon’s knife. She came back quickly to complete her RLVX10, RLVX11, RLVX12, RLVX13! in APDT rally. In September she finished her APDT Rally ARCHEX! In CDSP (Companion Dog Sports Program) Obedience she earned her Novice championship TWICE, CD-CCH, CD-CCH2. She took a little time off at year’s end to recover from some minor surgery.

Kestrel had some accomplishments in 2012 despite spending much of the year laid up with an iliopsoas injury, another cruciate tear, more iliopsoas, and a bout of year end lameness. She was pulled from more trials than those in which she competed. She had a great November, taking a perfect 210, taking High Combined in a CDSP trial. She got halfway to a CD-CCH this year, and earned a CDX-C leg. 2013 promises to be a better year for Kes.

Merlin earned his CD-C and his 7th RAE leg. He completed his CDX-C. He’s been plagued by an inability to wait – but that’s been a benefit in his agility career.

2013 plans:
Hawke RLVX14 or 15, CD-CCH3, lots more libraries! lots more walks
Kestrel: BN, some good Nov B runs, and finish that ARCHMX3..
Merlin: CDX, CD-CCH, CDX-CCH, close in on his CPE agility CT-ATCH, and finish that ARCHMX.

Tall order…. but its fun , and the training is as much fun as the competing.

More 2011 Amazement

The APDT Rally top 20 Rankings came out this weekend.  I know we did A LOT of rally last year.  We love it, I judge it, all three dogs enjoy the venue.  Kestrel is the #8 overall top 20 dog, #1 labrador in APDT rally for 2011, and Hawke, our dear stubborn, taught me ever so much Miss Hawke is the Top Veteran #1 RLVX dog for APDT 2011.  Kestrel is also the #5 ARCHMX dog and #20 RLV veteran.

Kestrel had to miss quite a bit of last year due to various injuries that still persist, she’s on a 30 day no jumping program right now.  To get to the top 20 , not even doing every single trial she could, is a great tribute to her willingness to work, and eagerness to do it right.

For Hawke to be the top veteran, it’s a dream come true.  2011 Was a great year for Hawke, she won her veteran’s class at the Lab Club of Greater Boston Specialty and earned her time in the sun in the Best of Breed ring, she finished her BN, and she did a lot of Rally that she really enjoyed, and earned her CD-C and one leg towards a U-CD.  She’s never been an easy dog, she’s not willfull or rowdy, she’s just stubborn.  She took puppy kindergarten multiple times, partially because of her clueless owner, partially because Hawke will do things when she’s good and darned ready.   She likes APDT Rally, and she likes CDSP obedience.  Probably because there are treats involved, if Hawke was a salesperson, she’d have to be on commission, she wants payback for everything she does.

At nearly 11 1/2 she still has it all going on, she likes to work, she likes to show off, and somedays she does a really good job.  She’s in the midst of recovering from a partial cruciate ligament tear on January 4th, but today she did CDSP obedience, with a jump heigh modification, and did really well.

I will cherish Hawke and Kestrel’s accomplishments for 2011.  To be nationally ranked is a true privilege.  These are dogs who are pets and companions first and foremost, but to see them achieve in competitive venues, its double chocolate dipped icing on the cake!