Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time for Holiday Photos

Today we had a photo shoot for the calendars to be made for 2015. Here are some of those photos.

Promise inquires of Jasmine, "How long do we have to wear these antlers?"

Dogs deliver holiday wishes.

The Newbies (what are we doing here?)

All the brown dogs had their own party.

The Party is about to begin. Happy New Year!
Three & 1/2 Poodles?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Roxanne & Sugar: The final results from competing at the AKC Obedience Classic in Orlando, FL

The final results of the AKC Obedience Classic, held in Orlando, FL, Dec 14 & 15th have been posted. It's official, Lee's Sugar Bear UD GN RE GO WC, placed in the top 40% of the other competitors with a final placement of 22/54 entered dogs. I AM THRILLED with these results? Why? Well, consider some little known facts that definitely impacted Sugar's first ever national competition.

Surgeries - Sugar earned his UD title by early December 2012.  The quest was then on to start & finish all 3 Rally titles, complete his Graduate Open (GO) title and begin the journey towards earning the required 10 UDX (Utility B AND Open B qualifying scores in the same competition day) legs for a new title. Sugar started the 2013 year off well and quickly did all 9 Rally competitions with qualifying scores to earn his Rally Novice, Rally Excellent and Rally Advanced titles.  By April Sugar had earned 2 of his UDX legs....and then things began to come unravelled.

It was obvious that something just "wasn't right" and it wasn't a training issue, but rather a health issue. Sugar's on-going struggles with tonsillitas and prostate infections finally caught up with him and July 2013, he went in for surgery.  What normally is an easy 3-day recovery period, for Sugar, was a 6-week "no steps, no bounding up or down, no running, etc." recovery period.  Then another 6 weeks of just rebuilding muscle, strength and stamina.  At that point, mid August, AKC notified me Sugar was qualified for the AKC Obedience Classic and then began the process of building muscle memory and getting Sugar mentally and physically able to compete once again.  

Attacked! - It took many matches and multiple Utility B, Open B and Versatility competitions for Sugar to get back into the competition mindset.  Still, the time for the Classic was rapidly approaching and Sugar had not successfully completed 1, nope not even 1, Utility competition when he headed to Salisbury for the trials in early November & time was running out.  However, finally, at last! Sugar successfully competed and earned his 3rd UDX leg.  

All looked like it was going well...UNTIL, Sugar was being warmed up for another Utility B trial in Harrisburg, PA, when HE WAS ATTACKED BY A BORDER COLLIE who launched out of an Open A ring to come after Sugar. I managed to keep Sugar physically safe as I turned to yell fiercely at the marauder Border Collie intent on doing damage to Sugar#@!  The BC backed away, but the damage was done with Sugar emotionally as this was a first time in 3 years of competing in the obedience ring something like this had ever happened.  It took all I had to go outside to calm him, then come back and go compete in Utility ring.  Did he qualify?  No, he was 'spooked' and 'jittery', but I was able to keep him working in the ring anyway.  By the end of the day, and it was a very long day, he competed again in Versatility (no, he did not qualify), before we headed home.

That was on Saturday, November 16, 2013 and by the next day, Sugar and I were headed to Remington, VA to compete for his first ever Junior Hunt tests.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have a GREAT event following on the heels of a really TOUGH event.  Sugar qualified in the double event easily and earned 2/4 Retriever Jr. Hunt Test legs for a new title.

The race was on with the AKC Classic Obedience ONLY a month away and now I was working with Sugar's damaged confidence and fear of ANYTHING that he perceived was a monstor.  What was a monstor after that attack?  The dogs he played with everyday at Applewoods Dog Training, a new dog in the yard, a blowing plastic sack, a sudden noise, an unexplained breeze blowing through the swirling leaves, and etc...the list of "monstors" just went on and on and on.  

The question was "How to get through ALL of this confidence issue in less than a month and still go compete nationally?" Whew!  that's a tough issue to work through in a very short period of time.  Margot Woods and I worked to rebuild Sugar's confidence.  A long time friend and fellow dog trainer, Donald McCaig, best selling author and sheepdog trainer, stopped by to visit with Margot and his Border Collie, Fly on Friday, November 22 (just 5 days after the attack).  Sugar and I made a special trip to Applewoods (Friday's are my day off) just to work with Donald and Fly.  Wow...that was an intense training session as Sugar had to work through doing Utility exercises, in a ring, with a racing by Border Collie named Fly..who looked the same as the one who had attacked him.
Here's a clip of Donald's take on the episode (Sugar's name was changed to Boris in the retelling.)

Last Friday, I visited my friend Margot Woods, a skilled traditional trainer in Laurel, Maryland http://applewoodsdogtraining.com/. My appearance was particularly welcome because last weekend Margot's student's dog had been attacked by a Border Collie in the obedience ring and Fly is one of the malefactor breed.

Boris, the attacked yellow lab, nearly had his UDX (an advanced obedience title) and his Master Hunter title and was competing next weekend in Florida where, doubtless, there would be lots and lots of Border Collies who probably wouldn't attack him but might well throw him off his stride.

Interestingly, Boris didn't react to Fly at all when they met: "Ho, hum. Another dog."

But when, at Margot's instructions I sped Fly past Boris whilst he was doing obedience exercises (selecting the correct scent article), he avoided the Border Collie (and those articles).

When Boris was focused on his work, the sudden appearance of a nearby Border Collie disturbed him.  Margot said he wasn't reacting to Fly, he was reacting to a mental "profile".

Some routine desensitization work and Boris stopped reacting and I wish him good luck in Florida.
By the first weekend in December, Sugar competed at Point of Rocks, MD and OH WOW! earned his 4th UDX leg!  I was so proud of him as Sugar worked despite being in very close quarters (much like Harrisburg) and Border Collies (or so it seemed) everywhere.  "So, maybe the Classic was a real possibility?" I thought and it was in that mindset we left MD and headed to Fl to compete.

Competing nationally was FAR MORE INTIMIDATING than I thought it would be.  However, Sugar and I had earned the right to compete so despite health issues and mental challenges from rude, untrained dogs, Sugar and I competed Sat and Sun.  Sugar qualified on Sat morning, but his energy and entire body language was "Whoa, what is all of this here?"  I needed to quickly build his confidence and shift his energy so I found a Dock Diving pool, paid my $$ and did another first - dock diving!  It was fun, easy and helped Sugar to relax.

Sugar's body language and attitude were better on his Saturday afternoon competition (I had to go find paper towels to dry him off before being 1st dog in the ring after lunch).  Although he did the Directed Jumping, he was to close to the High Jump which cost him 40 pts.  By Sunday afternoon, he was competed again and this time picked up a leather article instead of the metal (this issue had been consistent since the attack and we'd trained all week prior to the Classic on him getting this correct despite NEW monstors).

The face of a "FLORIDA MONSTOR!"

Sugar won't even LOOK at that twirrly gig "MONSTOR!"

So, Sugar competed at the AKC Classic Obedience and placed 22/54 dogs. Did he place in the top 10? No. Did he place in the top 20%? No. Did he place in the top 30%? No. Did he place in the top 40%? Yes. Sometimes "winning" isn't being at the top or in the top percentile. Sometimes, "winning" is just showing up regardless of the difficulties it took to get there and the challenges of the prior journey.

Am I proud of Sugar? You bet I am-:) He's a winner in my book. Lord willing, next year going back to the AKC Classic Obedience will be far less intimidating and a smoother journey getting there to compete. Hopefully, the dock diving will be there so Sugar can have some fun while competing in obedience.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jr. Hunt Test Video

Weary Roxanne and Sugar Return

Roxanne and Sugar did well in Orlando and as we await their final scoring, they are recovering from the long journey. Since it was warm in Florida and a challenge to cool Sugar, Roxanne was pleased  to find a Dock Diving set up and Sugar didn't hate it. Here they are ready to go home. Sugar looks beat.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Applewoods Calendars Available Now

Be sure to get your Applewoods Calendars for 2014. They are chock full of photos of Applewoods dogs and you can get yours at www.applewoodsdogtraining.com and click on the "Pro Shop" tab.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

We may have snow but Roxanne is enjoying the warm weather

Here is Roxanne with Sugar sitting by the beach having breakfast on their way to the AKC Classic Obedience Trials in Florida. NICE! Maybe the snow will stop if we think warm thoughts!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Roxanne's adventures on her journey to Florida for AKC Obedience Classic

Sugar and Ben had to jump into this water and retrieve downed birds as well as do blind field retrieves.

Roxanne & Sugar waiting their turn

Jan with the hunting hat.  Just who wore the hat first? Hmm.

As some of you know Roxanne and Jan took their dogs to Remington, VA (between Manassas & Culpeper) over the weekend to a Jr. Hunt Test where, when they arrived they discovered that since it was a Spaniel trial, the dogs had to flush the birds first.  This is something neither Sugar nor Ben had done before.  I hope you all get to see the video that Jan posted showing how the dogs flush the birds and then find them once they are down. The work they have done in  utility practice as well as the prior field work helped them string together commands to make it work for their dogs. Commands  like "let's go", informal recall, "far enough" along with the random sit, & signals all came together to work for success.  Both Ben and Sugar qualified whereas only one Spaniel qualified.  I have a suspicion they wondered where these people came from who swooped in and did so well. They will shake in their boots next time they see them coming. TeeHee!  Kudos to handlers and dogs for a job well done.
 Roxanne shared some photos from S. Carolina where she managed to stay ahead of the storm and get some down time on her way to the AKC Obedience Classic in Florida. Of course, Roxanne needed some  time to practice formal utility drills so she set up a mock ring at her hotel before moving on. This is a bonus of owning your own set of jumps.  She took Sugar to the beach and allowed him to retrieve bumpers from the surf which he dearly loves to do. I am sure she utilized all that space by the lighthouse for long go-outs since that really helps get the dog thinking he is going past the ring gates in the ring so he moves at a better clip than if he  thinks that he always stops  at the gates.  Bonus: all that swimming & running makes for one tired dog to sleep in the car while on the road for a long drive.

Off to the South Carolina beach

Notice Sugar at the foot of the lighthouse