Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ohio Freestyle Competition Results

Well, we're back from Ohio and we had a GREAT weekend. This has always been a good show for us, and I'm glad we had the opportunity to attend once again. It was even more fun this year having another Oklahoma team along for the ride, as our friends Pam & Nike were able to travel with us.

I couldn't be happier with how the dogs did. Pixie, Shelby, and Roxie all did their best. At the end of the weekend - we Q each routine with a 1st place finish (four routines each day). Pixie finished her Novice MF and her Beginner HTM titles. Shelby & Pixie finished their Beginner Brace title. Shelby & Roxie finished their Intermediate Brace title, and Roxie picked up two legs towards her Senior Championship title.

I was very please with Pixie. I sometimes don't always give her enough credit, but this little dog has come a LONG way in the last year. This was a big weekend for her - 15 hours in the car plus two nights in a hotel before we even started the competition. Then she performed two routines each day. We have typically seen a drop in performance on the second day - most likely just not enough physical and/or mental stamina.

However, this weekend - while I could see it was harder for her, I actually think her routine on Sunday was better than Saturday's performance. At the least, it was equal which is a huge improvement for her. I think it is starting to click what this is all about.

I was also very proud of Roxie. She did a great job on her tango routine, and really tried hard on their brace routine. I haven't asked her to do brace for over a year. The last time we performed the routine in competition (in the same building, with the same music, with the same partner) she had a seizure during the routine on the first day and on the second day showed some real anxiety for performing.

I'm not sure if it is the music, the building, or having Shelby there (or a combination of all three) - but Saturday she did show some anxiousness about it, but did a very nice job. On Sunday, I could see it even more and she really did not want to do the routine. The judge was kind to us and did give us a qualifying score (which I was not expecting).

This was a big achievement as they are now only the second team to achieve an intermediate level title in brace. To date, no one has achieved a championship. I am going to re-evaluate this to see what our next step is. I have a new song picked out and we will perform in a different location if we keep up with the brace routine. I will also provide LOTS of reinforcement for working with Shelby to see if we can figure out a way to make her feel more secure about the routine. Or we may just retire from that division and be proud of what we have been able to achieve.

Earning this title qualified them to enter the ProStars competition, so we did send in a video of the routine to enter. The video was actually quite a good performance for them, so it felt good to be able to enter.

So, now it is time to reflect and decide what our next competition will be. Roxie needs one more leg to finish her Senior Championship. We've entered the video competition, but she just does not show well on video - so we'll have to maybe consider a live event.

But first, this week will be about sleeping!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WCFO Freestyle Conference in OKC

I can't believe it has taken me so long to write about the WCFO Freestyle Conference that was here in OKC last month. It was a lot of work, but it turned out very well and it seemed that everyone had a good itme. The location was perfect - if you are in the OKC area and looking for a venue for a dog event - please check out the Bricktown Hotel & Convention Center. They were wonderful!

There is so much to write about - but the highlight of the week was that Roxie & I won the ProStars event in the musical freestyle division. This was very surprising considering all the wonderful routines that were entered, and I'm still not sure in which universe this happens. We were one of only two routines that performed live - and you never know whether that is going to be a good thing or not. While it is usually good for Roxie because the judges can really see all her energy and effort, there are no "do overs" and you are not guaranteed your best routine. Roxie was in good spirits and as we went along with the routine, everything just seemed to come together and she had probably one of her best performances ever. It was very cool to have everything come together at just the right time..
Roxie really enjoys this tango, and hopefully we can use it to finish up her Sassy Senior Championship later this year.

Shelby also placed 3rd in ProStars for Heelwork To Music - but before you get too excited, there were only three teams entered in that division. She just wasn't on that day, but she was very happy and had a good time. We may send a video fo her routine to enter the ProStars competition at the Holland event to show that she is able to perform a little better. But her tail never stopped wagging.
This was the first time WCFO had offered two full days of competition at this event, and we were thrilled with the turnout - over 45 entries each day. It was strange for me to not be every 4th or 5th routine in the ring. I didn't enter as many routine as I normally do, and most of the ones we did enter were more for fun - so it was a much more relaxed event for me.

Pixie was entered in Novice MF both days. She did a very nice job on Thursday, earning a qualifying score and 1st place. In the past, we have seen a significant drop in performance with her on the second day of competition. She did have a slight drop on Friday, but it was a pretty good performance for her. I was very pleased with the fact that she seems to be getting stronger on her second day performances and am hoping that eventually her performance levels will be about the same on both days.

Roxie was entered in pairs with our friends Laura & Tilly. Our routine qualified both days and we were able to finish our Novice Pairs title. We really enjoy our pirates routine, but we're not sure we'll be able to carry it onto Intermediate. But who knows - we may give it a try. Roxie and I were also part of a team routine which included members from OK, TX, and OR. There were 9 of us performing to Wizard of Oz. We had Dorothy, the Lion, The TinMan, the Wizard, the Good Witch, the Bad Witch, Flying Monkeys, and Roxie & I were the Scarecrow. Unfortunately, we did not Q the first day and it is unlikely our team will be together at the same competition again - but it was a lot of fun and we had a really good time.
I also entered Pixie & Shelby in a brace routine. When I entered, I figured I had a good month to practice and get the routine ready. Well, time being the way it is - it slipped by and I didn't get a chance to work the girls together until the Sunday before the competition. Needless to say, it did NOT go the way I had envisioned. I guess in my mind, I figured that with Shelby there - Pixie would work harder to keep us. Not so much... Pixie just kind of gave me the look of, "Well, Shelby's here and she can do all the work, so I'm just going to sit over here."
So, we were the fourth team in after lunch and I'm sitting at the table eating my turkey sandwich thinking, "hmm, what can we do for the brace?" As I mentioned, Pixie's stamina is not as good as it could be - and not only was this the second day of competition, but it would be her second routine of the second day. I figured there was a good chance that she'd just sit in the middle of the ring and not budge. Ah Ha! Inspiration! "I'll just use chairs int he routine. If she's just gonna sit there - she might as well sit on a chair." OK - so we won't talk about the fact that I've never actually trained Pixie to sit on a chair - but she does like to jump up on my desk chair at home, so that's close enough, right?

As we get ready for our routine, I grab two chairs out of the audience, and place them facing about 10' apart. Pixie jumps up on one. That's good. I send Shelby off to sit in the other one (a move she knows from a prevoius routine)... And we're off to a pretty decent start.

Now, don't ask me exactly what we did in that routine. But the girls seemed to work nicely and Pixie was engaged for most of it which was nice to see. The last thing I do remember is Pixie body-checking Shelby off the one chair at the end. It was pretty funny - and then she wouldn't get out of the chair... so we had to carry them off with her still sitting there. As we got to the gate, she jumped down - and that photo is the funniest thing I've ever seen... "Pixie, this is air traffic control, you are clear to land on runway K9 as soon as Shelby clears the way". We did manage to get a Q on the routine, and now I have to try to figure out what we did so we can repeat it in Ohio!

The following two days were a little bit of a blur as I was trying to work through the emotional of loosing little Nellie. But the seminar presenters were all wonderful and I heard some really nice comments about all the workshops. It was so cool to have an event of this size in Oklahoma, and hopefully everyone had a really good time.
Of course, there was the whole drama of trying to get my friend Gaby and the puppy she was taking home back to South Africa - but I'm thinking that is a whole other story.
Now - it's time to get ready for Ohio.... we leave on Thursday!
PS - The wonderful photos were all taken by Jim Poor Photography!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flying Beagle Ears...

I'm getting the feeling that I will see these a lot if we keep doing agility! Pixie is progressing - we're actually starting to see her "run" at times during practice. Hopefully that will start transferring over to trials and other locations too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What The Other Dogs Do...

Well, it was a rainy Sunday morning - and I was very tempted to stay home and stay in bed... but Roxie, Shelby, & Pixie and I went off to practice for our upcoming freestyle competition. I probably should have gone with my initial plan - since when we got to practice I realized that I had left the boom box at home... it's hard to do freestyle with no music! Then practice did not go as well as it could have - but we still have a couple weeks to work on things...

Anyway - when we get home, I'm a little curious as to why the dog room is so quiet. I realize I had taken most of the noisy ones with me... and when I walked into the dog room, this is what I saw - Jacquelyn and Bonnie taking a nap together on a rainy afternoon.

Aren't they cute when they sleep?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Megan & Nellie's Last Dance

We filmed this during Megan's stay with us this summer. Nellie loved dancing with her and we are so happy that they were able to have one last dance together.