Friday, July 13, 2018

Nights One and Two of Our First C-WAGS Scent League

Since Rye and I have been spending so much time at agility trials, I've been trying to find ways to get Barley a little more solo time. When I saw that our friend's training center was offering a C-WAGS scent league, I knew that we had to sign up. A scent league is similar to a bowling league. It lasts for a set amount of time--ours is 6 weeks--and each week the same dogs show up and complete one search each. Since Barley had earned her Level 1 title last year, this was a good opportunity to try out Level 2 for the first time.

There were two choices for the league: Sunday mornings or Monday nights. Since I had plans to visit my sister and go see Reba McEntire on the first Sunday and Rye was already registered for some Sunday agility trials, we chose the Monday night league. We were leaving my sister's house in Virginia the morning of the first night, but we were all set to get home with plenty of time to unpack the car and stretch our legs before heading to the league. 

Unfortunately, the universe had other plans.

About halfway through our trip, the a/c quit working. I wasn't too concerned about it. The temperatures were close to 100 the whole time we were in Virginia and that day was in the 90s--my little Ohio car has not had to deal with that kind of heat often, and I figured she was just tired. We rolled down the windows and I made a mental note to call and make an appointment to get that fixed on Monday.

Then about an hour and a half from home, we went through a toll plaza and my car stalled. I thought maybe I'd just let the clutch up too early, which surprised me because I didn't think I'd done that, but I turned the car back on and she came back to life. But another mile or so down the road, she kept getting slower and slower and the engine temperature, which had been fine, had suddenly skyrocketed. I had to pull over.

After waiting for an hour for AAA's tow truck to arrive, we got towed to Firestone. I was panicking the whole time because the dogs had to stay in the car for the short tow. The windows were partially down, but we'd already been hot from sitting on the side of the road with no a/c for an hour. Even if the dogs had been allowed in the tow truck, though, there was no way Rye was going to ride that close to the tow truck driver. She was doing her best to make sure he didn't get anywhere near the car while he was hooking it up. 


The adventure continued with the Firestone crew saying they couldn't have my car ready that day, but they called to book a rental car for me. We quickly realized, though, that the rental company probably wasn't going to be very excited about the dogs hopping in their transport van or a rental car, so I had to trust my gut and leave the dogs in the Firestone office while I went to get a car. Despite Rye's meltdown over the tow driver, both dogs were quickly enamored with the whole shop, so I just held my breath the whole ride to the rental and booked it back to Firestone as quickly as possible.

Instead of dropping Rye off at home, we had to go straight to the scent league. Luckily, we made it there right as they finished the Level 1 searches, so we had plenty of time to check in, go to the Level 2 briefing, and then we were the second dog up in Level 2. Barley was so excited to be out of the car that she sniffed every single container and object thoroughly. Her alert is so subtle that I couldn't tell which ones actually held the odor, so I called two false alerts. In C-WAGS, you can have one fault, so we failed.

Week 2 was much better, though! We practiced more throughout the week and we had a completely uneventful day leading up to the scent league. Barley found the first odor really quickly. Then I had another false alert, but we quickly found the second odor after that and got our first leg of Level 2.


In C-WAGS, you have to have 4 qualifying scores to move up to the next level, so we're 1/4 of the way to Level 3 now! 

Barley was so proud of herself and we both loved having a little one-on-one time. We decided to extend that happiness a little longer with a short walk at the arboretum to celebrate.



We can't wait to see how things go next week!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Welcome Gladys

My sister has been a foster for the rescue that brought her dog Maddux to her for years. Recently, she became a foster failure when she officially added Gladys to her family. Gladys' adoption came shortly before the dogs and I had planned to visit my sister to see Reba McEntire. While I was super excited to meet my first niece, I was also nervous about how the dogs Barley would react to having a new cousin.


Thankfully, my sister is super understanding about my crazy girl and was willing to go along with whatever crazy plans I had for introducing them. When we arrived at her house, I sent Rye out in the backyard with Gladys and my sister. Rye loves other dogs, but she doesn't do well with seeing them when she's on-leash--even if there's not an official greeting. While Rye and Gladys romped around, Barley and I unloaded the car and set up her crate. 


Sometimes Rye decided to back Barley up if Barley is upset about another dog, so I didn't want to overwhelm Gladys with both dogs right away, so when the playful pups were tired, we brought them in and put both of them in crates. 

Since Barley had done well with meeting Rye while Rye was in a crate, I thought that would be a good approach with Gladys, too. Barley hardly even noticed that Gladys was there! She ran to the basket of toys, found my nephew's treat ball, and started to play. Then we took Barley and Gladys on a walk together so they'd have some time to move near each other, too. They walked beautifully together. When we were just relaxing, Barley was not happy if Gladys approached her and she'd growl and bark at her as soon as she got a few feet away. Then Rye would start barking, too. Luckily, everyone in the house was good about reminding Gladys not to get too close and I kept Barley on leash any time all of the dogs were in the same room. By the end of our visit, Barley would nap on the chair while Gladys played with her toys a few feet away. 


Even though they weren't best friends by the time we left, I was so pleased with how well they did. It took weeks before Barley would relax near Rye while she was in a crate--and that was with multiple daily "please love your new sister" training sessions. The fact that Barley would take a nap while Gladys moved around was amazing to me.

Rye loved having a new playmate. At first, Gladys wasn't quite sure what to think of Rye bouncing around the yard, but they found their groove pretty quickly.




Play mostly came in quick bursts because it was in the high 90s and humid every single day we were there, so there was a lot of darting under the big tree or resting in the shade to cool off. 



When all three dogs were around each other, Rye still mostly chose to stay near Barley, but Rye thinks Gladys is the perfect addition to our family! And I couldn't agree more--I'm so excited to have a niece and I can't wait to spoil her rotten!

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Perfect Day

This summer has been filled with so many activities that there just haven't been enough hours in a day to actually blog about everything we've been doing, so over the next few days we'll be trying to play catch up since I'm sure one day I'll want to look back and refresh my memory on everything.

This past weekend, Rye and I entered our fourth CPE agility trial. Our usual venue didn't have any CPE trials on the calendar between May and September, so we decided to check out another venue a tiny bit farther away that a lot of people we'd met at our first 3 CPE trials really loved. I'd heard that this venue was much smaller, so I wanted to get there extra early to snag a decent spot for our crate. 

Of course, things never go as planned. We left the house in time to get to the trial site a good 30 minutes before the morning briefing, so I was confident that we'd be there in plenty of time. I typed our location into my Waze app and it's pleasant pop star voice sang each turn and exit to us the whole way there. Then suddenly we were going through a cute downtown and residential area and I was sure Waze had led us astray. I hadn't seen any images of the outside of the building when I'd used Google Maps to make sure this was a reasonable drive for us before entering, so I expected it to be like the other facilities we've been to, either a big warehouse type thing or a sports complex. There were several old, big brick buildings that looked like they could be breweries or loft apartments, but certainly not an agility gym. I didn't see any sign for an agility facility, either, so we drove until we got to a spot we could pull over and check the address. The website for the facility was the same one Waze had used, so we tried again and I inched through town. Still nothing. I decided to try my Apple Maps app. The same thing happened, so I pulled into an empty parking lot of one of the brick buildings that had an address a couple numbers off from the agility facility. I looked up and in the second-story windows was the name of the place we were going. But there was no visible door. It took another few minutes to find the actual door and where everyone else was parked. We'd gone from getting there long before the morning briefing to arriving 5 minutes into the briefing.


I rolled down the windows for Rye and rushed inside to see if there was a spot for our crate--and it was not looking good. They were also ending the morning briefing and getting ready to start the walk-thru for the first course. I did a quick walk-thru and then grabbed our crate from the car and squished it in in the only spot left that I could find and one of the busiest spots in the building--right in front of the results table. Thankfully, Rye doesn't mind a lot of activity around her, so I think I was the only one that was stressed by the amount of activity around us.

Our first course was Full House. This is a game that's all about getting points. There's no set course and you have a certain amount of time to get as many points as you can; for 16-inch dogs, that's 30 seconds. You also have to complete a certain number of different types of obstacles. Certain obstacles like contact equipment, weaves, and big jumps like the double are Jokers, which count for 5 points, and tunnels and panel jumps are circles, which count for 3 points, and then regular jumps are 1 point. You have to get at least 3 single jumps, 2 circles, and one joker as well as meet the minimum number of points for your level. This was our first time trying it, so we needed to get 19 points total for level 1. Rye was a little wild and didn't do exactly the course I'd planned out in my mind, but we ended up getting 31 points to qualify and end up in first place.


The next course was Standard. I really liked the course when I looked at the map. There weren't many traps where Rye might make some choices and take obstacles I didn't want her to take. We've been struggling with our start-line-stay at trials recently, though, so I haven't been able to get any distance at the beginning of a course and I've had to start with her. That means that I'm behind her for almost every single course. On this course, the one trap was going from the A-Frame to the last obstacle. The A-Frame faced an off-course jump and the actual final jump was kind of hidden between one of the columns in the middle of the building. I didn't get to where I needed to be quickly enough and Rye decided to go with the jump in her sightline. We got 5 faults for that, so even though we finished 18.12 seconds faster than the other dog that qualified, we ended up in second place. I was still really proud of how Rye did, though!


Our third course was Colors. I don't know why, but I really like this game. In Colors, there are two courses to choose from and they have to overlap a couple times. When I looked at the course map, I knew I wanted to do the circle course. The other one looked fun, too, but the circles were just a nice figure 8 and we practice figure 8s in class all the time, so I felt really confident going into that course. Colors courses are pretty short--this one was only 11 obstacles--so they always go quickly, but Rye was on fire for this one. She read me perfectly and we finished the course in 14.42 seconds! 


Our fourth course of the day was Snooker. We hadn't ever tried this CPE game, either. When I read the description of this one in the rule book, I had no idea what the game was supposed to be, so I watched it during our first two trials to figure out out. Snooker is a two part game. There are 4 red jumps on the course, so in part one, the goal is to go over one red jump and then a non-red obstacle, a second red jump and a non-red obstacle, and then a third red jump and a non-red obstacle. Once you've done those six obstacles, there's a 6-obstacle sequence you try to get through. To qualify, you have to get through the first part and have at least the minimum amount of points for your level. Each red jump is worth 1 point and then the non-red obstacles are worth whatever number of points is beside them on the map (which is also the order you do them in for the mini-sequence in part two). I had a plan for this course, but Rye was ready to rock and roll and she jumped really big after our second red and I had to think quick and readjust the plan. On the map below, my original plan is in blue, starting with the left jump at the bottom of the map and what we actually did is in pink. Rye's plan actually got us more points than my plan, too, so we qualified with 43 points. 


Snooker was really intimidating to me the first couple times we watched it, but it was actually a really fun game. We're looking forward to trying it again at the next trial!

Our final course was Jumpers. Once again, I got way behind Rye and she ended up taking one jump twice because of that, but we still qualified with the 5 faults for that. We ended up having a perfect day by qualifying in all 5 of our courses! With our Q in Jumpers, we can move up to Level 3 for future trials and we're now in Level 2 for everything else. 


We had a really fun day together. It really felt like Rye and I were clicking. Each trial, we seem to become a stronger team. I'd really like to get our start-line-stay back so that I can start out ahead of her, but right now, she seems to need me to start with her and that's ok--we'll keep working on it. 


We ended the day with a book and a rye IPA and then turned in early. Such a successful day wore us both out!


We've got our next AKC trial coming up and after the fun we had at this trial, I'm really looking forward to getting back out there!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Rye, A Story of Loose-Leash Walking

When I got Barley, I thought loose-leash walking was one of the easiest things to train. Barley has always liked to just be near me--even when she was snarling at other dogs, she was almost always doing it right at my side. We'd do a quick little refresher each spring when the squirrels came back out and then wouldn't think about it again for another year.

Even when the snow is coming down and it's her favorite time to walk, she doesn't want to be far from me.

When I got Rye, I learned that loose-leash walking is a HUGE challenge. Most people that know Rye think that she's a really excellent loose-leash walker. In our first obedience class, we were working on different heeling patterns and our trainer said, "I'd kill for that kind of focus from my dog." In classes, Rye walks beautifully at my side and she watches me to see if we're changing direction or stopping.

On actual walks, though, she turns into some sort of monster. She strains at the end of her leash. She lunges after squirrels, chipmunks, cats, and cars. Heel is a word she acts like she's never heard. Normally, I'd think it was the fact that we were outside with distractions, but she's perfect and responsive when we walk around the grounds at agility trials. There's just something about an actual walk that turns her into a different dog.

Rye's leash is usually so tight you could hang clothes on it.

Walking with Barley has always been my way to find my zen. Walks with Rye have kept us from achieving that peace because I've spent so much time battling with her over loose-leash walking. We'd either need a pound of treats to convince Rye that she needed to stay at my side or I'd end up getting really frustrated every single time we left the house as we continued to fail at loose-leash walking. Neither one of those options really worked for me, so we needed a new approach.

Every dog is different.
For Barley and me, walking is the way we connect. We literally gaze lovingly at each other as we trot down the sidewalk. For Rye, walks are a way to connect with the world. At agility trials, she knows she's there to work with me, so those walks serve a different purpose than walks in our neighborhood or on a trail. When I finally accepted that Rye didn't want to bond with me on walks, I started making some changes.

Change the rules.
For Barley, loose-leash walking was equivalent with heeling. We also used the leash clip to evaluate the loose leash because when we got our Canine Good Citizen certificate, we had to make the leash clip stayed pointed at the ground. Now, I think about it differently. There are some times when heeling is non-negotiable. Rye needs to stay close to my side on busy roads or if we're passing other people. But when we're in a safe spot, there's no reason she can't follow her nose and use her whole leash. I even started occasionally walking her on a long line. What I've found is that when Rye has a little more independence, she doesn't ever pull on the leash. On a long line, she rarely even uses the full length of the line. She also doesn't really check back in with me, but if I call her, she'll come back for a snack before following her nose again. Barley still trots along beside me and she seems to enjoy having a little more space from Rye, too, so walks are a lot happier for everyone when I'm not trying to force Rye to walk right beside me.



Keep things fun.
Since there are times when I do need Rye to walk right beside me, we do still need to practice loose-leash walking in a heel because it is no fun to walk with a dog that's straining on the leash beside you. We try to work in games to practice this when Rye and I are on solo walks or when we're walking at agility trials. One of our favorites is where when Rye starts pulling, I turn into her and change directions; then she runs to catch up to me and when she does, I repeat the process. Usually, after we've done this three or four times, she falls into step with me and walks much better. We also play a game where I encourage her to go out ahead of me by throwing a treat ahead of us and then when she comes back beside me after getting the treat, she gets a snack in heel position. That keeps her focused on me because she's waiting to see when I'll throw the next treat and she learns to check back in with me after getting ahead of me. (But we have to make sure that we're in a safe place because sometimes treats bounce!)

Every now and then, we get two loose leashes at once.

Don't be self-conscious.
The hardest part of loose-leash walking with Rye is that a lot of times we look ridiculous. When we turn the corner from our house, we're on a main road through town, so we see a lot of Jeep Wranglers and mail trucks that cause Rye to react. Four houses into our walk, there's a miniature pinscher who lounges in a window and barks at us, which causes Rye to meltdown. When we're playing the change direction game, we look crazy. We'll walk three steps and then turn around, walk four steps in that direction and turn back around. It can take us 10 minutes to walk by four houses with all of our turning around. I hate having attention drawn to me and on a busy road there are a lot of opportunities for people to see us walking like we have no idea where we're going. But I just try to remind myself that they are also watching when Rye is lunging at Jeeps or the min pin in the window and if we're going to draw attention to ourselves, I'd much rather it be because I'm training my dog than because my dog is acting a fool.

Be consistent.
When Rye and I walk by the min pin's house every day, there are times when we can make it down the street without having to change direction more than once or twice. I often find myself thinking that it would just be easier if we went the other way out of our driveway and avoid that block altogether. Sometimes when I have both dogs, we do avoid that part of the neighborhood just because it's a lot harder to work on the training with two dogs, but when I find myself thinking that with Rye, I try to plan routes that will take us by that house twice so we can get in a little more practice. That's when I really start to see improvement with her and sometimes that transfers to walks with Barley.


Loose-leash walking has not been an easy road for us. I've had to reevaluate the purpose of our walks and redefine what I'm looking for when I'm thinking about loose-leash walking. After doing that, walks have become more enjoyable for the whole family even if we do occasionally still have moments of frustration. 

Be sure to visit Wag 'n Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier, our co-hosts for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, as well as all of the other bloggers joining us this month! Our theme for July is Loose-Leash Walking, but we welcome any positive training posts.

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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.