Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Capturing Summer with Crunchy Treats from Nutro

When I think about summer, one thing that always comes to mind is parfaits. Growing up, we used to walk down to TCBY and I loved getting frozen yogurt parfaits. I also tend to think about blueberries when I think about summer, even though I don't actually like them. We used to spend a lot of time picking blueberries when I was little and I always hated that I didn't even get the added benefit of getting to pop a few in my mouth while we worked!

Thankfully, anytime I end up with a salad that has blueberries in it or a bowl of mixed berries, Barley has been more than happy to gobble them up so I don't have to waste them. Every now and then, I even make the pups their own parfaits with a little yogurt, whipped cream, and some berries so they can get a special summer snack.

But a girl can't eat a parfait every day and still make it over an agility jump gracefully, so what's a pup to do when she's craving berries and nobody will make her a parfait?

Our friends at Chewy.com had just the answer for us: Nutro Crunchy Treats in mixed berry. These are smallish, triangular treats that break apart very easily into even smaller crunchy bites. 

Barley has had Nutro treats on many occasions, but since I usually don't buy many crunchy treats--and when I do, it tends to be holiday-themed treats--Rye has never had them and both dogs were excited to test these out.

The mixed berry treats are blueberry, cranberry, and cherry flavored. The first thing I noticed about these treats is how good they smell. I used to buy the banana ones and they smell just like banana laffy taffy (full disclosure: I once tried them because they smelled so good and they do not taste like banana laffy taffy--I learned from that mistake and just enjoyed the scent of the mixed berry ones!). These mixed berry ones smell just like blueberries.

These treats have about 5 calories/treat, so I don't have to feel guilty about giving the girls two each when I put them in their crates, which is what we use crunchy treats for around here. Since they also break up easily, I can stretch the bag out for a long time by breaking each one in half and letting the girls think they're getting two treats. They also made the perfect topper for Barley and Rye's mixed berry parfaits!

I was a little surprised to see that chicken meal comes before any berries in the list of ingredients, but from the research I've done on chicken meal, I'm not bothered by that being an ingredient in their treats and there are no weird by-products in the ingredients list. 

The girls love these snacks and I'm thrilled to have a snack that smells like summer instead of the stinky fish treats we usually have! 

Disclaimer: We were given a package of Nutro Crunchy Treats in Mixed Berry in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Memorial Day Getaway

Last year, the dogs and I rented a house in Pennsylvania for my cousin's wedding. I immediately fell in love with the house and never wanted to leave. So, when two of my cousins had babies within a couple days of each other and my grandparents and aunts planned a road trip to meet the babies, it seemed like the perfect time to go back.

While we waited for all of the family to be in the same place, my mom, my sister, my aunt and uncle, and one cousin and her baby took a trip to Valley Forge (y'all, the southern girl in me has to work really hard not to type Pigeon Forge every time--and I can promise you, Dolly Parton was not there). 

Valley Forge was not at all what I expected. The dogs and I have been to plenty of historical sites and we've never had to spend much time dealing with crowds. From the moment we pulled into the parking lot, there were swarms of people. We've done enough training that the dogs are pretty good in crowds as long as we keep moving. But with 6 adults, one little bit, and 2 dogs, moving wasn't really happening.

Valley Forge was also a lot bigger than I expected. The original plan was for my sister, my cousin and her baby, and the pups and I to walk while the rest of the group looked at the historical stuff. The trail to the different sites my mom, my aunt, and my uncle wanted to see was going to be 5 miles one way. The dogs and I could probably do a 10-mile hike, but not when we started in mid-afternoon and hadn't planned for that. After much back and forth, we finally decided to all drive to the various sites and then the dogs, my sister, my cousin and her baby, and I would walk while the others looked at all of the different things.

Once we got moving, things were a better. I couldn't tell you what any of the things in our pictures are, but it was a really pretty place with lots of stone buildings and rolling hills.

The day was perfect temperature, too, which was good because there wasn't a lot of shade in the areas we were exploring. 

I don't think the dogs cared all that much about walking where George Washington had walked, but they were excited to stretch their legs after being in the car the day before.

However, they were excited to get to the rental cottage after our walk. 

Taking in all of those good farm smells.

The cottage was even better than I'd remembered. The inside has so much character and everything outside was in bloom (which was a huge contrast to our rainy early April visit last year).

Since there's a trail on the property, I let Rye have her first long-line walk. Barley prefers to walk right beside me, but Rye's little hound nose lives for adventure and I thought if she had a little more freedom, she might not be inclined to take a solo adventure like last time.

Rye loved being on a long line. 

She got to splash in the stream and follow her nose without being held back by me and Barley. Barley also seemed to enjoy having a little space from Rye, who is usually darting after a scent and clotheslining Barley with her leash when they're both on regular leashes. Rye never once checked back with us without prompting, though, so she won't be getting that much freedom in other places.


The thing Rye didn't love was seeing cows in the pasture across the street from our driveway! The first time we walked down and saw them, she poofed herself up as big as she could get and barked like a maniac. 

After seeing them a couple times, she eventually calmed down, but didn't want to turn her back on them. A few treats helped to convince her that she should pose for a picture with cows in the background.

The dogs and I were so happy to just escape for a couple nights. While we spent most of our time at my aunt and uncle's house with the rest of the extended family and the babies, it was nice to be back in the farm house and enjoy having our own woods to walk in. 

We love our house and neighborhood, but if we won the lottery, I'd happily move into this house any day. We can't wait for another excuse to go back!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Our First Two-Ring Trial and an AKC Title

This weekend, Rye and I entered our third AKC agility trial. Even though the same training club that organized our first two trials organized this one, there were a few differences. For the summer, they decided to host trials at a new venue that's well air conditioned and has enough space for two different rings.

I was a little nervous about entering a two-ring trial. The idea of a two-ring trial just seemed really big. They accept more entries for two-ring trials, which means more people and more dogs and I just couldn't wrap my head around that.

The day started a little bit rough. I'd put off making my lunch until the morning. Then I had to reload the car with our chair, floor covering, and crate that I'd taken out during our recent traveling. We ended up leaving about 15 minutes later than I'd planned and then got stopped by every red light in town--even though I was the only car on the road--and then we got stopped by the lift bridge in the harbor.

At least it was a pretty delay.

Despite the chaos of the morning, we were still one of the first people to arrive at the trial. I got our crate set up and then grabbed one of the measuring forms to fill out before collecting Rye rom the car. At our first AKC trial, we had our first official measurement with a Volunteer Measuring Official (VMO), so we had to get our second official measurement at this trial. Rye gets very nervous about being measured, but I was armed with some meatballs and she was a very brave puppy. She measured in at 17 and 5/8 inches, so she's solidly in the 16-inch jump height and she doesn't need to be measured again.

Then it was time to start the day and this day became one of our very favorites.

I'm quickly learning that the trial site can really make all the difference in how the day goes. This is the third location we've been to and it was fantastic. There was a nice shady city park across the street from the building, so we had a space to walk and connect between runs.

The crating area was huge, so we could be near our trainer and classmates and still have plenty of extra room around us instead of having strange dogs right next to us.

I even fell in love with the two-ring format. At our second AKC trial, we had a lot of waiting around. It was mid-afternoon before we ever got started that day. At a two-ring trial, they have two courses set up so that two dogs can be running at once. In one ring, they had the more advanced dogs running their standard courses and the novice dogs started their jumpers courses in the other.

We were the 8th dog to run, so our day got started very quickly. And what a start it was! Rye and I were really in sync except for the entrance to the weaves. She really struggles with sending to the weaves in trials and I'm not entirely sure why. I think some of it is just the excitement of being at a trial. She's a dog who is always ready to go, so having any downtime really gets her wound up. Even though we started pretty early in the day, we'd still had almost two hours at the trial site before our first run. We'd stayed pretty busy with getting measured and walking around, but she'd still had about twenty minutes of doing nothing while I went to the briefing and walked the course, so slowing down enough to enter the weaves was not at the top of her priority list. I tried to collect her before the weaves--slowing her down seems to be the most effective way of getting her into the weaves--but it wasn't very effective this time. Luckily, in novice courses, you get three attempts at the weaves with no penalty and she finally did them. My favorite part of the video is the very beginning. As I'm setting her up and getting her slip lead off, her tail is wagging like crazy, but as soon as that lead is off, she's all business and ready to go. I just love that about Rye.

We got our third Q in jumpers--and you need three to move on to the next level, so we got our Novice Agility Jumpers title (NAJ) with this course. My little sweet potato ran the course is 26.01 seconds. Only 4 out of 14 novice dogs qualified on this course, so I was pretty proud of her! Unfortunately, they were out of the new title ribbons, so we have to wait until the July trial to get the pretty, fancy ribbon.

We didn't run our second course for another 5.5 hours, but it didn't seem like such a long wait. One of our classmates has been trialing for several years and she was in the Excellent/Masters classes, so I got to watch her run her two courses. We also spent some time walking around the park and working on our focus during that time. We ate lunch and just relaxed for a little while.

When you Q, you get to pick your own toy even if your mom thinks it's ridiculous.

The novice standard course was the last course of the day to start. We were the 10th dog to run that course. I wasn't feeling particularly confident about this course. For Jumpers, I had a clear plan before we walked the course and I knew it was going to work as long as Rye was focused. For Standard, I studied the map several times and couldn't figure out how I'd handle several spots on the course. Even when I walked the course, I didn't feel as confident. There were several spots where Rye might be far enough ahead of me that she'd choose her own course. Rye had also had a bit of a meltdown when some of the facility employees came by on a cart to empty trashcans while we waited for our turn. She recovered quickly, but every time she saw them again, she'd howl. I worried for nothing, though, and we had another clean run. She did talk back to me when I told her to go to the weaves, but I eventually got her back under control (you can hear our trainer sending me some telepathic messages during that part of the course as she recorded our run for us) and we got our second Q of the day.

Only 2 out of 16 dogs qualified on this course, so this course was extra special for us! I can only imagine how good this little dog is going to be after she grows up a little more. It's hard to believe that it's only been a year since her very first agility class.

Now that we have our NAJ title, we'll be moving up to the Open class for Jumpers for the next trial. There are different rules about off-courses, refusals, and attempts for the weaves in that level and we'll have 12 weave poles, which might also help Rye since we do 12 weaves in class and that might seem more familiar to her.

We have 2 of the 3 legs we need for our Standard title, so we'll still be in the Novice class for that course at the next trial.

This little dog is so much fun to work with. We're really having a good time together and I can't wait to see how we'll develop as our communication gets stronger and Rye gets more experience.

Monday, June 4, 2018

A Training for Travel Checklist

The girls and I spend a lot of time in the car. We travel to classes. We travel to trails and to trials. We travel just to travel. But when I sat down to think about what to write about for our theme of Transportation for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, I had trouble thinking of something to write about.

Last month, I briefly mentioned how the it's your choice game helps keep the dogs from jumping out of the car when we travel and keeps them safe when we're entering doors at class, but I didn't really have a full post worth of information to add to that. We have things we need to work on like putting on their car harnesses without me having to chase the dogs around the house trying to get them on, but I haven't had it in me to tackle that challenge yet.

Then I remembered how I wrote about the importance of having a plan early last year. When I travel-with the pets or by myself, I love to have a plan. I don't mind being spontaneous at times, but I like to know what to expect when I travel, especially when I have the dogs in tow. When I know what to expect, I can tailor our training to the environment we'll be in. Here's the list of questions I use to help all of us prepare for safe, happy travels.
  • What's the setting like? I like to get as much information about the setting as possible. If it's a training facility, I want to know where we'll be between turns, where we can take potty breaks, and how much room we'll have between our space and other dogs. If it's a restaurant, I want to know how big the dog-friendly area is and if there's shade. If we're spending the night in a hotel/motel, I want to know if our door will be on the outside wall facing the parking lot or if we'll have a hallway outside our door and then I want to know what kind of noises I can expect the dogs to hear in the middle of the night when I'm sound asleep. If we're renting a cottage, I want to know if the pets are allowed on the furniture so we can brush up on our off command if we need it. On trails, I want to know whether there are good side trails we can take if we need to change direction to avoid another dog, whether off-leash dogs are allowed, how wide the trails are, what kind of wildlife we might encounter. When Barley and I went to our first noseworks trial, I had a lot of anxiety because all I knew was that Barley wouldn't be able to see the other dogs while we were working--but I didn't know what the crate room set up would be like or where we'd park or how many people and dogs would be there. When we went back for the second trial, I was much more relaxed and we had a lot more fun. 

And sometimes you show up to a new place and the setting is perfect.

  • Who will be there? Traveling to class is my favorite because most of the time, I know exactly who will be there, but every six weeks, we start a new session and there's always a chance that we'll have a new classmate. At trials, I have a pretty good idea that there will be a lot of people and a lot of dogs, but not many kids and there are clear rules that people tend to follow to keep their dogs safe. On trails, we'll probably see other people, other dogs, bikers, runners, maybe people with fishing poles, probably a few kids, maybe people on rollerblades or skateboards. Living right by the lake, I know that from May-September we'll see lots of people enjoying the trails, which helps me decide what time of day to walk, whether I should take both dogs along, how many treats I need, whether we'll be able to stop for photoshoots or just plan to walk. 

Sometimes you can see that there's not another soul around and can handle a third dog.

  • What supplies do I need? When I assess the place we'll be, I can figure out what I need to manage the dogs. If we're going to a familiar park, I know that we can get away with some medium value treats. If we're walking in our neighborhood or a new park, we might need some string cheese. If Rye's going to have to be measured by a judge at a trial, then I stay up late making her meatballs even though I gag when I eat meatballs. Some places require crates and covers for the crates to keep the dogs safe and calm. We might need Kongs and peanut butter if the dogs need to entertain themselves for a little while. If we're staying somewhere for a while, we need toys and maybe beds to make the dogs feel more at home. If pets aren't allowed on the furniture, we need blankets and sheets to cover any furniture they might get on when I turn my back.

The weather isn't always consistent in our area, so it never hurts to bring winter gear along.

  • What will I do if something unexpected happens? With two reactive dogs, something unexpected can always be expected. Sometimes Rye sees something and loses her mind and no amount of treats will get her attention again. She can't take her focus off of the object even when we change directions. So, we need to have a plan. Usually, with Rye, that's just to pick her up and remove her from the situation. For example, a couple weeks ago, two kittens were playing in a yard a quarter of a mile away from us, but Rye saw them and wanted to go play with them (because she thinks she is a cat) and she planted her feet and started barking. I couldn't get her attention with treats. I couldn't get her to turn around or to sit or to lay down so I could regain her attention, so I just scooped her up and carried her until we had turned the corner and she couldn't see the cats anymore. Rye doesn't mind being carried, so that solution worked well for us. 

It's so hard to see a cat and not get to say hi.

  • Can my dogs handle that? This is probably the most important question I ask myself when we travel. I don't mind challenging my dogs a bit. Being in new places is hard for Rye. Being near other dogs is hard for Barley. Traveling to new places means that I'll be pushing the dogs a little bit. But when I have all of the other information, I can help them deal with those challenges and that's how they grow and learn and become more comfortable in those situations. Sometimes, the answer is no, though. Barley wouldn't be able to handle being in a crate in a room full of strange dogs if I had to walk away even for just a second, so she doesn't go to agility trials. We've turned around and left breweries before even entering the door because we saw off-leash dogs roaming the tasting room. And I try really hard to avoid having to spend the night in hotels/motels with Rye who wakes up and barks every single time there's a noise outside of our room. 

Between the three of us, we're not missing a thing.

Traveling with pets can be stressful, but when you gather as much information about your destination as possible, some of the stress can be eliminated. When I'm not worrying about the pets as much, we can all have a lot more fun together. 

This month, the theme for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is Transportation: how do you prepare for traveling with your pet? Be sure to check out our co-hosts Tenacious Little Terrier and Wag 'n Woof Pets and all of the other great blogs linking up with us this month.  

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Going Postal for Primal Treats

Last week, we started Operation Bring Back Barley's Smile to reassure my best girl that I haven't forgotten her even though Rye and I have been spending a lot of time together at agility trials. The next step was to sign Barley up for a class of her very own. Our friend's new barn hunt training center was having a Rats 101 class, so I signed Barley up. She'd never been to the facility and we had no idea how many dogs would be there, so I knew we'd need some good snacks to help her stay focused on what she was supposed to be doing. Thankfully, we had a bag of Primal Treats Beef Nibs from Chewy.com's Chewy Influencer program.

These treats were exactly what we needed. The front of the bag says that they're meaty and delicious, which is just what I was looking for.

I wasn't sure what to expect from these snacks when I selected them. We'd had other Primal treats before and they were always freeze dried treats. Barley loved those, but we couldn't use them in agility because they would leave meat dust all of the floor and the dogs would spend class sniffing the floor instead of doing what they were supposed to. Before we even opened the package of Beef Nibs, it was obvious these treats were not going to do that. In the the little window on the front of the package, I could see that these were little treats that didn't need to be broken up at all.

These look like little mini hot dog slices. They have a hot dog-like casing around the edge and a soft, meaty center. They also are easy to break up even though they're small enough that they don't need to be broken up (unless you're out on a walk with your reactive dog and realize that you only have a few treats left and a mile left to go before you're home--then you can easily double your treat supplies!). 

Barley loved these snacks. In fact, she loved them so much that my plan backfired. She was so focused on me and the snacks that she really didn't care about barn hunt at all. She sniffed the rat tubes each time we went in the ring, but as soon as she'd given them a little sniff, she looked to me for another treat. We paired the rats with the Beef Nibs in hopes that Barley would stay engaged with the tubes a little longer, but as soon as she got her snack, she abandoned the rats. I'm not sure if we'll try barn hunt with Barley again or not, but if we do, we'll be trying some new methods next time!

Don't tell Barley, but I let Rye try a few of these, too. I've mentioned before that Rye has been struggling with certain things on walks (other dogs, Jeep Wranglers, UPS/FedEx trucks, mail trucks/mail carriers walking, cats, squirrels). There have been some days when I have had to pick her up and carry her until we can turn a corner and get out of sight of whatever she's reacting to. These treats have really helped prevent that. If I can get Rye's attention long enough to get one of the Beef Nibs into her mouth, I can keep her attention and keep giving her the treats for nice, calm behavior. That says a lot about how high quality these treats are. Even string cheese doesn't keep Rye's attention when one of her triggers appears, so these are magical. The best part is that these treats aren't slimy or smelly, so they're easy to toss a handful into my pocket before heading out the door for a walk.

We all love these treats. The bag is full of small, high value treats that are easy to break up, easy to toss in my pocket for a walk, and according to the girls, taste great. There's not one thing I would change about them! In fact, I've already added them to our Chewy auto-ship so that we'll have another bag of them any day now.

Disclaimer: We received one bag of Primal Treats Beef Nibs from Chewy.com as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program in exchange for our honest review.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Four Paws Up for Full Moon Jerky

I've spent so much time with Rye at agility trials late that it's seemed like Barley was a little depressed. She wasn't her normal smiley self on walks until we took one without Rye. When Rye walked with us, she walked a couple paces behind me instead of right at my side. She quit hanging out on the couch beside me. I decided that Barley needed a little more one-on-one time. Part of that involved me telling her that she could do both of our Chewy Influencer reviews this month with no help from Rye. Since they were both treats, she thought this was a much better deal than the role she got to play in our waterless shampoo review last month.

I held out both packages of treats for Barley to pick which one she wanted to start with. After much deliberation, she decided she wanted to go for the Full Moon Artisanal Black Cherry BBQ Beef Jerky. We've tried other Full Moon treats before, but this was a new flavor for us.

The first thing I noticed was the packaging. It's really cute. There's a little cow shaped window that lets you see the treats inside the package, which is always a plus for me. The package is also a cheerful pink with lots of little images of cows, cherries, and grills with steaks on them.

On the back of the packaging, they highlight the benefits of these treats. The ingredients, which includes glucosamine and chondroiton, are good for hips and joints. From our experience with supplements, I know those are ingredients that dogs to have consistently to have them for the ingredients to be effective, but Barley has had strange reactions to joint supplements, so any time she can get a little extra joint support in a treat is a good thing in my opinion. The treats are also made in the USA and they don't source any ingredients from China.

The jerky strips were mostly the same size when we opened the package. There were a few smaller pieces, but most of them were big enough to be broken up into many smaller bites, which is a good thing since they're pretty high calorie at 43 kcal/treat. 

Barley was so excited to dive into these treats. 

They immediately got her wag of approval. She gobbled one piece up, licked her lips, and gave me that border collie stare, so I knew they were high value! That meant they were perfect for our next training challenge. 

Part of Operation Bring Back Barley's Smile was signing her up for a C-WAGS scent league later this summer. She'll start working towards her Level 2 title in basically the dog equivalent of a bowing league. For 6 weeks, the same set of dogs will meet one night a week to compete. In Level 1, the only scents used were birch and cypress. In Level 2, they also use clove. Clove was the first scent Barley was trained on, but it's been a long time since we used it, so I needed to do a little refresher for Barley. 

Our Full Moon Jerky was perfect for pairing because it was something Barley really wanted to work for. I ripped up a couple slices and paired a piece with our scent vessel. 

It didn't take long for Barley to find them. We did four paired searches and then Barley had no problem searching for the scent all on its own. She was really happy to still get a few pieces of jerky for rewards each time, too.

There are only a couple downsides for me for these treats (Barley says they're perfect). In at least three spots on the packaging, it reminds you to refrigerate them after opening for maximum freshness. I've mentioned before that I tend to forget about treats if I have to put them in the fridge instead of in our treat drawer. Since jerky is a classic road trip food, I'm sure we'd go through the quickly enough that they'd still be fine even if we didn't put them in the fridge, but once "refrigerate after opening" is printed on the packaging, I get nervous about breaking that rule! 

The other downside for me is that making them cold changes them in a bit. They were much harder to break apart when they were straight out of the fridge. A few pieces also had that gross congealed fat that beef gets when you stick it in the fridge and that just kind of freaks me out a bit--and it makes it not very appealing to stick a few pieces in my pocket before heading out the door for a walk.

Those were not concerns to Barley, though. She will never complain about getting a bigger bite if I can't tear treats apart and she loves beef fat.

So will we get them again? Absolutely. I'll be adding a bag of these to our monthly Chewy order before Barley's scent league begins so that she can get a special reward for using her nose!

Disclaimer: We were provided one bag of Full Moon Artisanal Black Cherry BBQ Beef Jerky in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program through Chewy.com

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This weekend, we entered our third CPE trial. After the April trial, I was a little nervous to go back to the scene of failure. Rye's been doing really well in agility since then, but I was worried that she'd remember the fun she had being wild the last time we were at this location and go back to being naughty.

We started with a short day on Friday. They only had two different games and only a little over 100 runs for the day (usually, it's 350 or so). Since it was a shortened day, check-in didn't start until 11:15 and the first run started at noon. That meant that we could sleep in and I could get a nice walk in with Barley before we left instead of the usual chaos of waking up early and getting on the road before the sun is up.

Our first course was a game that we haven't played before: Jackpot. In Jackpot courses, the goal is to test how well handlers do when it comes to planning a course and test how well the dogs work at a distance. The game is a two part game. In the first part, you make up your own course to get as many points as possible. Obstacles are worth different amounts of points; for example, a single bar jump is worth one point, tunnels are worth 3, and contacts are worth 5. You try to accumulate as many points as you can until you hear the whistle. Then the second part is the gamble. In a traditional jackpot, this is distance work. There's a line on the floor and the handler has to send the dog over a a series of obstacles without crossing the line to show how well the dog can work at a distance. The gamble is worth 20 points and that's added into your points from the first part and if you have enough, you Q.

In our course, we had 30 seconds to get as many points as possible in the opening. Then we had to send to a tunnel, over a jump, over the A-frame, and end on the table. The best part of starting with this course is that the only cones on the course are the ones for the gamble at the end, so Rye and I stayed away from that side of the course and had a chance to get into a rhythm before any cones came into play. I walked the course and had a plan for how we'd run the opening--and some of those things happened, but Rye also chose a few things on her own. In Jackpot, though, that's ok--you get points for any obstacle the dog successfully completes, so when she took a tunnel I didn't ask her to take, we still got points. After the whistle blew, we had 18 seconds to get over to the gamble and complete it before the second whistle blew. To qualify in level 1, you have to complete the gamble and you have to have at least 32 points. Rye did a good job with the distance in the gamble and we ended up with 43 points, so we qualified. I don't think Rye actually got her contact at the end of the A-Frame, but the judge didn't call it, so we still qualified.

Our second course was our Standard course, so jumps, tunnels, contacts, and weaves. We had moved up to level 2 in Standard before the April trial, so this was our third attempt to get our first level 2 Standard Q. This course felt so good and I was positive we'd qualified, but when I checked the score book, we had 15 faults. When I watched our video, I saw the judge call a major fault after the dog walk, which means that Rye missed her contact at the end of the dog walk (a dog has to get all four feet through the yellow at the end of the contact equipment). Rye didn't do her normal contact behavior in any of our courses this weekend--which is her front paws on the floor and her back two in the yellow, or 2-on-2-off--but I was pretty sure she got all four feet in the yellow. You can't tell from the video, though, and I guess this just evens out from not having the missed contact called in our first course. Minus one little blooper with a cone at the last tunnel, Rye did a great job and I really couldn't be prouder of this course. If we're not going to Q, I'd much rather it be on a course we ran like this than for it to happen because of the silliness we had in April. 

Little cutie pie with her Jackpot ribbons and her winning biscuit.

In our first trial, one of the other competitors gave me a really good tip. He said that if he's not entering his dog in every class, he doesn't enter in the last class of the first day or the first class of the second day. If you aren't entered in the last class, you can leave at least an hour earlier and if you aren't entered in the first class (and you don't need measured), you can come a little later. We didn't enter the first class on Saturday, so we didn't have to be there at 8 on the dot for the start of the first class. It's a bit of a guessing game for when you need to get there, but they sent out the number of dogs running in each class with the trial confirmation, so I knew there were 78 dogs running in the first class (if everyone showed up) and then we still had to get through the level 3, 4, 5, and C (which is the highest level) in the second class before our turn came up, which meant we had at least an hour and a half before we needed to be there. I didn't have to get up at 4:45 and I got another quick walk in with Barley before leaving and still had time to make lunch to take along.

The one downside to getting there a little later this time was that all of the paper copies of the course maps were gone by the time we got there, so I had to just take a picture of the maps that were on the wall and study them on my phone.

Before our first course, Rye and I did a little bit of focus work and then I went to watch a couple of the higher level dogs run their courses.

Then it was time for our next attempt in Standard level 2. This course was a mess. She did a little bounce move off the A-frame, took an off course tunnel, and then flew off the end of the dog walk. I tried to calm her down because when she gets excited she sometimes goes for cones because she gets confused about what I'm asking her to do, but she didn't want to down. We've really been working on making her listen, though, because if I give in and let her win, she knows she doesn't have to follow my cues, so we kept working through it until she listened. Eventually, I got her into a down and she did the next jump well, but struggled to get through the weaves. The more we attempted the weaves, the more wound up she got and she nipped me! Once she finally got through the weaves, we were back on track and the last 6 obstacles were beautiful. You can hear some of the other competitors in the video--whose dogs are in levels 4 and 5--talking about the difficulty of the section after the weaves. The second jump after the weaves didn't give the dog a clear line to one single obstacle--they could have gone to the teeter or either tunnel, but Rye read me perfectly. I was also so proud of that little dog for her teeters all weekend. I was worried she'd spook herself again because this teeter is especially bouncy at the end, but she was great.

This course was such a mess that I was sure we hadn't Q'd. We took a little walk and then we sat in the car while I ate lunch and called my mom so she could give Rye a pep talk before our next course.

She listened very carefully to her grandma's pep talk.

When we went back inside, imagine my surprise when I went to check the scorebook to see how many faults we'd gotten and found that we'd actually Q'd! We'd only gotten a fault for the off course tunnel she'd taken after bouncing the A-frame. The Standard Course Time (SCT) for the course was 70 seconds and we squeaked in just under the limit at 69.29 seconds--the very slowest we have ever finished any course.

Our first 2nd place ribbon.

We didn't enter the third class of the day, which was Wildcard. I like Wildcard courses, but they're the only one we've tried but haven't qualified in, so I decided we'd take a little break. Rye and I spent some more time doing a little more focus work.

And we took a nice walk where we worked on some sit-stays and some come to side, and we had a little pep talk of our own. 

She doesn't take pep talks from me as seriously as she takes ones from her grandma.

Our second course of the day was Colors where there are two different courses where the paths overlap a couple times. I was really confident in the course I chose. Then Rye did something she's never ever done before. She dropped a bar. And she didn't just drop it. She belly flopped on it. She was unfazed and we finished the course with one off course tunnel (those darn tunnels are just too much fun!). Unfortunately, in Colors you aren't allowed any dropped bars, so we'd already NQ'd by the second jump. I was still proud of her, though, because she read the last two jumps so well and it felt like we are really starting to know how to communicate with each other (even if we occasionally have some miscommunication).

Our last course of the day was Jumpers. Rye really loves Jumpers courses. In CPE, Jumpers courses are just jumps and tunnels, so there's no slowing down like there is with contacts and weaves on the course. I was a little worried because the first seven obstacles were identical to our Colors course. I'd watched our video of Colors three times and I couldn't figure out why Rye crashed into the double--I still can't (so anyone with more agility expertise that has some video analysis, please chime in!). I couldn't think of a better way to start the course, though. If I was on the other side, there was no way she was going to the tunnel. If I started with her, I'd never make it to where I needed to be after the second tunnel. So, we started the same way and I just hoped that Rye would jump big. She broke her start-line stay and took off a little early, but other than that, she was fantastic and we Q'd in 20.15 seconds (the SCT was 57 seconds).

This weekend was such a positive experience. We did some really great things together and also identified a few things we can keep working on. I'd highly recommend checking out a CPE trial for anyone just beginning in agility. It's been a great place for Rye to work on her confidence and focus, and for me, too. Everyone is so supportive--if you listen to the people in our videos, they celebrate our successes (like leaving the cones) and they offer support when things aren't going well--and these are people we only met in March and have only seen 3 times. It's been such a welcoming environment with a little less pressure than the AKC trials (which we've still enjoyed, but CPE is really more about just having fun). We're really loving this venue and can't wait for the next one!