Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here's video of Kittie's would be mach run, hear how quiet it is, do you hear the groan of everyone watching? It's hard to see, but she starts stutter stepping after dropping bars.

Rambling about bar knocking

After class last night on the long drive home, all I could think about was bar knocking. Kittie's not a great jumper, that's obvious, but I'm trying to wrap my head around how....why...she goes for months with just the occasional knocked bar in trials and then all of a sudden, she can't keep bars up to save her life, and then the stutter stepping starts to take over. That's the point that I start to really fall apart. Stutter stepping effects her running, it gets very hard for me, because we're running together and then all of sudden I'm a mile ahead of her, because she's still back taking tiny, tiny strides trying to figure out where to take off to jump. I reread Linda's article on Early take off syndrome and the biggest thing that jumped out and hit me like a ton of bricks was *Confidence*....dogs that stutter step do it from a lack of confidence. This makes perfect sense!

Through out this Spring, when Kittie was just Qing machine, her Q rate was high enough that if the occasional bar came down, it really wasn't a big deal, we still were getting at least one double Q each weekend. Then the big MACH weekend came, and down came a bar, I'm sure I completely deflated....I know everyone watching did. I truly think Kittie picked up on both my, and everyone in that crowds disappointment, that's when the stutter stepping started, in that run after she knocked the triple jump! and it's been with her surprise, since I'm sure that was enough for Kittie to lose confidence, she's just insanely sensitive and so serious in everything she does.

So, my job now is to get her confidence back. Lots of easy jumping, with praise no matter what and big, big rewards for keeping bars up and no stutter stepping!

Monday, July 28, 2008


I got to run under 2 of the 3 judges for this year's invitational this weekend, and the concensus seems to be thanks, but no thanks. Several people who were definintely going, are pulling their dogs. The calls were completely inconsistent and all over the place and the courses just ridiculous! Ex Standard had 8 qualifying runs, in total for all heights and just about every one of the NQs came from the weave pole entry. Dogs that *always* hit their entries couldn't get it, the only dogs with maybe 2 exceptions that got it, were slow dogs.

Kittie's doing some major bar knocking again, this has been the routine for her whole career. Just when I think I have things figured out, bars start crashing again. She's just the best dog, great drive, focus and a nice variety of skills. She's so easy and fun to run, but this is so hard on both of us. She's mainly hitting the double and triple, not a little tick either, she's jumping *way* too early and literally landing on top of the jump. About the only reason for this that I can come up with, is I've been doing a lot of work with Abby over the past week, just rewarding her for offering jumps, so my jumps are set at 12" & 14". Kittie of course has been doing them too, and lazy me hasn't changed the height for her (she used to jumnp 12" before AKC changed the heights), she jumps 12" just fine, but her arc is totally different, much more rounded, so maybe that's a part of it. It's so frustrating, Kittie would have a Q rate around 90% if she didn't knock bars!

Abby had some wild standard runs this weekend, even got that evil weave poles entry, but couldn't hang on to stay in the poles. She had a beautiful JWW weaves run on Sunday, but missed a weave's always something!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Outdoor Trials

I'm so sad, I found out earlier this week that my favorite trial is going to move indoors next year. There are fewer and fewer outdoor trials every year it seems, and the ones that are left have very low entries.

Am I the only one who loves an outdoor trial? Just spending the day outside with my dogs is good enough for me, but an outdoor trial is just the best! You get to run on grass, good traction and cushioning for both us and the dogs. Sure sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate, but that just adds to the interest to me. Some of my favorite agility memories are of being huddled under a tent waiting to run in down pouring rain.

We're off to an outdoor trial this weekend. The site is beautiful, with a small lake right there and the weather forecast looks good, sunny with highs in the low 80s!

I have an odd request, think ugly! Yes, that right, send your ugly course vibe my way. Kittie's speciality is ugly, twisty, turny courses with very low Q rates. The easy, flowing ones with lots of straight lines just eat us alive!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not Yet

Kittie's really making sweat for this! She had a beautiful standard run on Sunday on a tough course, with a first place! The JWW course was easy, flowing and the Q rate was really high.....strangely, those are typically not the courses Kittie does well on.

I was feeling really calm, despite every other person I saw asking me if I was nervous and giving me a pep talk. The only time I felt that flutter in my chest was when I saw them bring the mach bar ringside, it felt so real, that was *Kittie's* mach bar! The whole place was dead quiet as we stepped up to the line, the toughest part of the course was the beginning, three sharply angled jumps, with a front cross right before the weave poles, no problems at all, then it was just a fast, straight stretch of jumps......she brought down the triple and the whole crowd just groaned, then she visibly slowed down, knowing she knocked a bar and then the nervous stutter stepping started, poor Kittie.

We're entered in an outdoor trial next weekend. Kittie usually has a really high Q rate at outdoor trials.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bill didn't come

And we still didn't double Q....what the heck, I though leaving your husband home was the trick to successful agility runs!

Kittie was really, really wound. She didn't stop barking the entire time she was ring side, until I picked her up to go in the ring. We were all set, ready to run......then the timers were having an issue, no big deal I though, I'll just hold her, it shouldn't be too long, well within a few seconds Kittie had enough, first the wiggling started, then...oh no, the pug scream started and continued until it was time. Nothing like standing on the line, holding a wiggling, screaming dog! We actually started off pretty good, then a bar came down, followed by another bar down, then she thought we were heading to the weaves and missed the teeter, then she almost off coursed into a tunnel, followed by an incorrect weave pole entry....and one more bar down to end things.

The lesson in all of this, if the timer is malfunctioning, go take a seat right outside the ring until they call you.

She did have a nice JWW run. Maybe tomorrow...........

Friday, July 18, 2008


Really, I'm not one of those people with all sorts of superstitions, but I can't help but to get all wrapped up in this.

Every single trial that Bill has come to this year has been a total bust, not a single double Q the whole weekend, and every weekend that Bill doesn't come has resulted in at least one double Q...sometimes more. I need to break this weird pattern, I like Bill, I did marry him after all : ) and sometimes he really needs to be there.

We're trialing this weekend, and Kittie is running for her MACH! Just one double Q is all that's needed. Bill would like to be there, but has other plans he would gladly do instead (the dirty dozen bike race, it tackles all the major hills in the city and makes a stop at the vintage grand prix). Everyone has an opinion about whether Bill should be allowed to come! Everything from hell no, leave him home, to he definitely *needs* to be there, to run standard, if I Q call him to come for JWW.........I just don't know what to do. It's our MACH, I really want him around, but I want to actual get the title too!

I don't really do anything different when Bill's there, I may be a bit more focused...okay more obsessive when he's not there, but really I don't think there's a big difference....other than the obvious results.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Road trip?

I've been thinking about the invitational a lot lately. I would love to go again this year. It's a really fun event and such an honor to be a part Kittie's consistency has come a long, long way.

But, it's being held in Long beach again which makes it a very complicated and expensive trip. I can't stand flying, never cared for it, but with all the additional security issues it's just miserable. I hate stuffing the girls in their little sturdibags for hours and hours (although they don't seem to mind). Then there's the issue of what to do with Rudy and Willy, they are not dogs you could just leave at a kennel, or have someone just stop in a couple of times a day. Last year I begged a friend to come home from Chicago to stay with them, that worked out, but I don't know if I could pull that off again this year.

Here comes the part where Bill starts calling me Lucy. I'm thinking of *driving* to the invitational! A cross country road trip with all four pugs in tow! I would take some real time off from work (a first in years), we'd stop at all the cheesy tourist attractions, go hiking, camp some of the time as soon as we get out of the bitter cold. Since I'd have a car anyway, we could stay a little further from the show site and save a ton of money and we'd be more mobile to see more of the west coast too

Really, we're just fine in our bags. We'll be waiting here until you come to your senses.

What do you think? Crazy trip to insanity? or fun cross country adventure? There's other issues to figure out, like what to do with Rudy and Willy once we get there. It's a long day and Willy gets kind of stressed being around *that* many big dogs all day, but I wouldn't want to leave them at the hotel all day either, there's also the little issue that it seems like Bill's my bad luck charm for agility. I've yet to QQ on a day when Bill's at the trial this year.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hiking in Apollo, PA

Bill and I took the pugs (and their friend, Luca) out to roaring run watershed for some hiking and swimming.

Abby being brave and swimming!! Every chance she got, she was in the water swimming like a little fish!

Kittie, with the creek behind her.

Me walking with Willy and Luca over the suspension bridge.

Abby considering some high diving into the creek!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


How cute are these guys?! I've been in love with smooth coated brussels griffons for a long, long time.

I won't be adding to our family for several years, but I've been thinking about the next puppy a lot lately....and I'm not sure if it's going to be another pug. It will defnitely be a small dog though.

Here's my short list of breeds I'm considering in random order:


Toy Fox terrier

Boston Terrier

Brussels griffon (smooth coated)

Pug, I really think no matter what breed I get next, I will always share my home with a pug.

Papillons really appeal to me because they're a small dog that's considered very trainable and intelligent, now I've been training dogs known to be anything but for close to 10 years now. I'd love to see first hand how the experience is different. My pugs have done well in agility, but there are issues, I haven't seen a pug who is truely a *great* jumper. I've learned how to work around their bar knocking issues, but it's a constant challenge. They are insanely sensitive. I would love to run a dog who is bit more "stable" in a competition environment.

Brussels griffons...well they sound almost just like a pug, intelligent, but very sensitive, maybe more sensitive! I'm just so drawn to them. I know and understand that temperment and I know I'm good at bringing a lot out of those sort of dogs.

I'm still researching and learning about Toy fox terriers and bostons.

Pugs are what I know best and I could just stick with what I know and love! Maybe a little black female pug, next time!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hiking in Boyce Park

Group shot, don't they all look kind of annoyed? "c'mon, enough with the pictures already!"
We had to sneak out onto the "NO Dogs Allowed" soccer field, for some chasing and playing with their favorite new tuggy toy.

Another group shot. It got really dark, quickly and withon a minute of getting back to the car it started down pouring.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dreaming of vacation

this place looks absolutely perfect seriously I can't imagine anywhere could be better.

What I need to find is somewhere just like "sheep dung estates" that's just a wee bit closer, for an extended weekend. I'm trying to put together a little agility trial/hiking/eating way too much vacation in the finger lakes to coincide with a 4 day trial held there at the end of September, but so far it looks like I'm late on this, as all the nice houses and cottages are booked up, at least for the weekends.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Barking, lots & lots of Barking

It's been non-stop, round the clock barking around here. I don't know if we have new neighbors, if someone recently rescued a couple of dogs, or what, but the barking hasn't stopped yet.

There's the big dog barking, loud, low pitched and constant and the shreaky, screaming little dog, (maybe a puppy?) punctuating the big dog's barks.

I'm watching Luca, a litle cockapoo for the week and you guessed it, he's joining in with the neighbors! Abby's been grumbling a bit, with the occasional "real" bark thrown in.......

Who just lets their dogs bark non-stop? My dogs bark, but they're not allowed to just go on and on.

It's bound to get worse too, once people start setting off fireworks. Why I didn't I just enter that trial this weekend?!