Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Update...

Well, it has been a crazy summer - with some ups and downs. My niece Megan came to stay with me at the end of June. I really enjoy having her come visit each summer. However, a couple weeks after she arrived, I lost my job due to a reduction in force. Other than no longer having an income, it was kind of nice to be able to spend time with her.

We went to the zoo quite a bit (I have a membership pass), and made a weekend trip to San Antonio when I went there for an interview. We also had a lot of fun going to Tiger Safari where she got to actually hold and feed a baby tiger. As usual, she helped with the dogs.

She did some freestyle with Pixie and also ran her in agility. Shelby and Pixie are actually in the same agility class, so Megan ran Pixie this summer. They really work nicely together. In July, my parents, sister, and older niece were all here for the Youth World Quarter Horse Show for about two weeks, and then everyone except Megan went home for about 10 days. But they were back to help Nicole move into OSU.

We didn't have any freestyle competitions this summer, but Megan did run Pixie at the TDAA trial in Norman. They got Pixie's first standard Q and were really close to a second, but had a dropped bar. They were also able to finish up Pixie's Games I title - her first agility title. :)

My mom and her dog, Oakley, also competed so it was a fun weekend. Shelby finished her Intermediate Standard title, and earned a couple Q's towards her Games III title. So, all in all - it was a fun weekend. So, now that summer is over and the family has all gone home - I'm focusing mostly on trying to find a job...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Competition Preparation...

I do like to film each of the routines I am planning on competing, so that I can get an idea on how it looks and areas where we can focus our training to get the most improvement/polish. This is Pixie's new HTM routine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gearing Up For Competition...

Well, I am excited to announce that we will be having our very own freestyle competition right here in Oklahoma mid-September. So, we're back to working on getting our routines ready. Last weekend, we filmed a couple of the routines to see where they were and whether they still feel good. We have quite a bit of work to do still - but it's good to have a goal ahead.

Shelby's Mary Poppins Routine

Circus Beagles (Brace)

Playing With Pixie's New Music

Monday, June 7, 2010

WCFO World Event Results Are In...

Well, it has taken a little time to get the results, but they were worth waiting for:

2009 Junior World Champion Heelwork To Music Level I
Megan & Bonnie performing to "LoveBug"

2009 Junior World Champion Musical Freestyle Level II
Megan & Nellie performing to "UP!"

2009 World Champion Beginner Brace
Kris with Shelby & Pixie performing to "Hot Honey Rag"

2009 World Champion Novice Pairs
Kris & Roxie with Laura & Tilly performing to "He's A Pirate"

2009 World Champion Pro Stars Special
Kris with Shelby & Roxie performing to "Riverdance"

2009 Reserve World Champion Pairs Beginners
Kris & Shelby with Megan & Pixie performing to "Let's Get Together"

2009 Reserve World Champion Pro Stars Heelwork To Music
Kris & Shelby performing to "Once Upon A December"

Friday, May 28, 2010


Well, Bonnie is starting to feel better. She went in a couple weeks ago to have a mammary tumor removed. She got the staples out recent and seems to be back to her normal self. The official results indicated "ademocarcinoma".
The good news is that if they were able to remove it all, the prognosis is good. However, the biopsy did indicate that the tumor extended all the way to the margins and that a blood supply was involved, so the official prognosis is "guarded".
She's back to feeling like her normal self, so we're happy about that.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pixie's Tail Dances A Reel...

or a jig, or whatever this song might be. As some of you know, Pixie is more or less the most mellow dog I've ever known. At least her tail is happy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Michele Pouliot Comes To OKC

Well, no rest for the weary... My friend Karen arrived from AZ on Thursday afternoon, and she helped me finish up some last minute errands we needed to take care of for the seminar. Michele's flight came in late - and was even later due to a weather delay, and we were even later due to construction on the highway... so, we finally rolled into bed about 1am on Thursday.

Friday was a great day. We started off with a private lesson with Shelby. Michele had some good ideas for a routine concept I have playing with for some time - but, boy do we have a lot of work cut out for us now! We had another private lesson with Michele in the afternoon to work with Pixie - again, she had some really good suggestions on how to go back and work some of the basics to hopefully eliminate Pixie's idea of running out of the ring.

We had a nice dinner with Michele and the gals from Little Rock on Friday night. Saturday began the two day workshop. We had 18 working teams and 10 auditors - what an amazing group of freestylers!

The seminar was fantastic - one of the best I have been to in quite a long time. If you have an opportunity to attend one of Michele's seminars - RUN, don't walk to get in line to sign-up. I simply cannot recommend her highly enough. She is not only a fountain of knowledge, but just a lovely person as well... you couldn't hope for a better combination.

I'm hoping to sign-up for her online class starting next month. The "training" aspect of freestyle is the part that I usually find the least "fun" - so I need to make sure I have a way to stay on track and keep motivated to reinforce some of the foundation work I've been a little neglectful of lately.

Of course, I was thinking of taking some time off of freestyle this year - but Darn, That Michele! - I am now full of all sorts of ideas... even considering hosting a competition here in OKC in the fall. We'll see...

PA Competition

Well, our first competition this year came a little bit earlier than expected when I made the decision to attend the freestyle competition in Pittsburgh, PA that was held at the end of March. Roxie & Shelby needed one leg to finish their Brace Championship, and since Roxie is getting older - I felt that taking this chance was the right thing to do.

We entered Roxie & Shelby's brace routine, Shelby & Pixie's brace routine, Shelby's MF routine, and Pixie's HTM routine. The brace routine has been a challenge since Roxie had a seizure during the routine about a year and a half ago. It wasn't so much a technical challenge for her - as it was an emotional one as I know she still carried some anxiety about doing the routine with Shelby.

Our last practice before we left for PA did not go as well as I would have hoped. After some initial confidence in our "new" routine, I could tell that Roxie was very anxious - and then a miscue that resulted in me almost falling on Roxie and actually stepping on Shelby only added to the concern. Of course, we only had a mere three days before we left for the competition. I knew I had two choices - worry about whether Roxie will shut down, or try to find a solution that might help. Going back to when we made a music/costume/choreography change for the last competition with good results - I decided that I would change out the music and rechoreograph on my drive to PA (I had a good 16+ hours in the car).

Fortunately, I found a piece that I really liked and was editing like mad the night before we left. I had the new choreography planned even before I was done editing. I really liked that the new music had a much softer feel and not so heavy a beat/rhythm - I knew this would make it easier for Roxie somehow.

We had a nice drive - just a bit of weather. My friend Chuck, who runs the beagle rescue, tagged along for the ride as his family lives in Pittsburgh and he hadn't been able to get back home for several years to visit. So, it worked out well. Of course, Shelby went all kinds of crazy when she saw him... once she figured out he'd be in the car for a while - she FINALLY settled down. Chuck is one of Shelby's absolute favorite people.

We got to the hotel on Friday, dropped off our "gear" at the competition - three crates, one chimney, two circus buckets, three clothes racks, one chair, 6 costumes... all the while I was thinking "why I am unloading this much stuff? I can't possibly NEED this much stuff!" Then it was off to find a grocery store to pick up hot dogs, and then off to bed.

Saturday morning started with Roxie & Shelby's brace. As we entered the ring, I could tell Roxie was a little unsure. The music started and she responded - a bit slower and a bit less enthusiastic than normal - but she hit every cue and performed as best as I could hope. Shelby was an absolute rock - totally focused and needing very little additional direction from me, which was nice because then I could really focus on supporting Roxie through the routine.

I really enjoyed the new music and the choreography just seemed to "happen" - I didn't even really have to think about it... they did as well as I could have hopped for... and managed to get their final Q!

I promised Roxie that if they qualified on the brace on the first day, I wouldn't make her do it again on Sunday - so I bumped the entry over to the individual class and danced with just her. We had a great time and I saw her be able to relax and have fun with the performance. Roxie is now "officially" retired. We'll continue to do freestyle - but just for us, and just for fun. We won't be pursing any titles - if some come along, great... if not, we'll just enter and do the routines we want to do because we want to do them. It seems appropriate that Roxie ended her "serious" competitive career dancing to a song called "FairyTale".

Shelby was an absolute rock all weekend, and it was a pleasure to see her so focused. We did her Mary Poppins routine and Saturday was probably one of the best performances of this routine she has done in competition.

Pixie is going through a learning phase - on both routines on Saturday (her individual HTM and her brace with Shelby), she ran out of the ring just as we started the routines. I actually think this is a good sign - as it shows she is starting to "think" on her own and not just follow me - but it is definitely something we will have to work on in practice - back to the basics!

She did better on Sunday, after an initial attempt to run out as we entered the ring for the brace routine (but before we actually started), she was going along quite well... until I cued a beg and realized I was getting a "oops, gotta poop now" instead. Since I didn't want it to hit the ring - I just reached down and caught it... to everyone's amusement of course. I guess I just figured that is what soap and hot water is for! I definitely didn't want it to be a problem for whoever came in the ring next - and I know from having "dogs" that are really just noses with four legs, that it would still smell "different" (either of poop or of cleaner)... so it was just a natural reaction - of course, I ended up winning the "Fastest Scooper" award!

But Pixie ended the weekend on a positive note and did a very nice job on her HTM routine - and was able to get a Q and finish her Novice HTM title.

We had a really great time - it was so good to see old friends and to finally meet some list friends in person. I don't often get to travel to shows in this region, so that was a lot of fun.

The drive home wasn't too bad - we had achieved a very long time goal of finishing our brace championship, and Pixie managed to finish a title as well. Of course, when we arrived home on Monday afternoon - we had little time to rest. Michele Pouliot was arriving on Thursday for the seminar I was hosting... pretty good timing, maybe she'll have some suggestions for Pixie!

New Titles...

Well, once again - I have fallen a little bit behind... we received the results of the December video competition and our pairs routine (me with Shelby & Megan with Pixie) Q'd and won a 2nd place. Not too bad for having two beagles in one routine! That finished our W-PFD (Pairs Freestyle Dog) for this routine. If Megan comes out and visits again this summer, maybe we can work on a new routine.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Catching Up & TDAA Trial...

Well, I've been pretty bad about posting lately. This year has been full of all kinds of "weird" for lack of a better term... mostly weird weather than has a tendency to put a damper on things. In February, we got back to working on our freestyle routines. It's been rather slow progress, but the girls have several new routines in the works.

The big "event" was our trip down to McKinney, TX for Shelby & Pixie's first agility trial this year. Neither dog was really ready for competition - but it was being held on dirt (horse barn) which is an environment that is particularly challenging for the beagle noses. So, I figured it would be a good learning experience for them.

After driving three hours in a torrential downpour (did I mention we've had "weather" this year?) - we arrived and as soon as we walked into the building, the beagle noses hit the ground like they were magnetized.

Both girls did well on their first run - Connect The Dogs - and each received a Q. This finished Shelby's Games II title and was Pixie's 2nd Q.

The standard runs were a little bit more challenging - Shelby doesn't quite understand the weaves poles yet, and Pixie is still a little confused on the table. We elected to use the standard runs as training for Shelby, and just ran past the weaves. Pixie gave everyone a good chuckle when she hopped on the table and begged.

By the middle of the third run, I could tell Pixie was beginning a mental melt-down. She tried to run out of the ring, but everyone was on top of things and kept her contained until she came back to me and finished the run. She has a very low mental and physical threshhold, and it was just more than her little brain could handle. We'll keep working to build up her stamina in working longer runs. Can't really blame her when we usually only do 4-6 obstacles at a time in class -- the long drive, new environment, and four full runs was just a bit too much.

Even though Shelby only Q'd her first of four runs - it was a good day for her. Each run got stronger as a whole with less sniffing and less distraction. She is one of the most "aware" dogs I have ever known, so new enviornments can be a little difficult for her. So, it was nice to see her improving as the day went on.

Pixie did really well. Other than the mental meltdown at the end of the day, she has shown lots of improvement - and even managed to get more points on the first game than Shelby did (she had one extra jump), and ended up winning the award for High Scoring Beagle.

It was a really fun weekend, and we're looking forward to playing more agility once we are done with our freestyle competition. Now - it's back to freestyle!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Goodnight Sweet Jacquelyn...

It is with a heavy heart that I let you know that I said goodbye to my little Jacquelyn on Saturday. She had been pretty sick since last Sunday. After showing some improvement on Friday, she took a turn for the worse Saturday afternoon and we knew it was time to let her good. She passed quietly and peacefully wrapped in her favorite blanket in my arms.

Jacquelyn was a very special little girl. She came into the rescue about 3 years ago and her arthritis was so bad, the director called me with a very basic question - is there anything we can do, or is letting her go peacefully to the bridge the best option?

She could barely walk. If she laid down, she couldn't stand back up on her own. If you touched her, she'd scream in pain. I volunteered to take her to my alternative medicine vet (also a DVM) to see if accupuncture might help. The look in her eyes was so sad and empty, as if she had already given up. I “asked” Jacquelyn to give me two weeks to see if this might help, and if not - we'd let her go so she didn't have to suffer.

Each morning broke my heart as I had to get her up to go outside. She screamed, I cried. We went for treatment every other day for two weeks. By day 11, I still wasn't sure and figured we would probably be saying goodbye since she was still in so much pain. However, the morning of day 12, Jacquelyn "told" me she wanted to keep fighting. I went to go help her up that morning, but before I could get there, she made the attempt to stand up on her own. She still needed help, but it was obvious she was fighting. For the first time, she really "looked" at me and I could see her spirit returning to her eyes.

We endured several more hard months, but she showed slow and steady improvement. It was such a joy to see her personality emerge. One that liked the spotlight very much. As part of her therapy, we started doing some basic freestyle skills – mostly just heeling, a few spins, and a couple weaves to help her build muscle and improve her flexibility. I’m not entirely sure that Jacquelyn ever knew she was doing freestyle, but she enjoyed going to training with us.

A highlight for Jacquelyn was when she was able to actually compete. After a lot of thought, I made the decision to enter Jacquelyn in the handi-dandi class at the upcoming competition we were attending in Austin. I could tell that Jacquelyn LOVED being part of the gang and getting to go on the adventure. Our routine was done to the song “I’m Walkin” – because her victory was truly the fact that she was able to walk into the ring. I’ve never seen her happier. She had a grin on her face and I could tell she was having a great time. My favorite picture of Jacquelyn is of her wearing her 1st place medal. I’m very thankful to all the freestylers that were there to share Jacquelyn’s “victory” with me. I had worried when entering her that some may see how she walks (still with a limp and some obvious challenges) and think “why is she doing that to that poor old dog?” But everyone cheered her along and she seemed to enjoy soaking in all the applause. It was a very special memory for both of us.

She loved having her ears rubbed, and her motto was always seemed to be "It's Jacquelyn's world, you're just living in it." She was just such a happy dog. She knew how to open the cupboards in the kitchen and more times than not I was trying to scurry her out of the pantry. She didn't think twice of walking over her sisters to get her ears rubbed, and loved nothing more than to wander out in the yard in the sunshine making piggy noises. Well, she might have liked being dressed up more than searching the yard – she’d “run” over to get a fancy collar or to have her sweater put on.

She has really taught me so much - patience, endurance, and a love for life. I was blessed with 3 more years with her than we ever thought we'd have... but it still doesn’t seem like enough. She will be truly missed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy 2010!

Wow - what a year... 2009 was quite busy for us - we were able to go to four different freestyle competitions. We travelled to Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina - and enjoying having the year's freestyle conference right here in OKC. We finished several titles and had a very good time with friends along the way.

We said goodbye to our sweet little Nellie, and are grateful for each day we have with the senior girls.

We travelled back to California to spend the holidays with family. We had a great time. Pixie got to go tracking 3 times and we didn't even have to wear a jacket. One day we got to go play at the agility show n go. Pixie did very well, and Shelby had a good time - although she was a little distracted by all the activity going on. We even got to say HI to an old obedience friend - it was surprising to see that he was no longer showing akita's, but it was good to say HI and catch up.

Jacquelyn LOVES Christmas. She's quite the character. I was a little worried about how she would handle the drive. She is quite old and doesn't move so well - but that didn't stop her from sniffing each present under the tree every morning and going in and out the dog door. Roxie and Kelly sat with my dad whenever I was out doing something. Bonnie settled in quite nicely as well.

We had a great time giving a freestyle workshop at Jump Start Dog Sports in Yorba Linda, CA. This was our "sixth annual" and I am always so honored to be invited back by this group. They are a lot of fun and I enjoy spending the day with friends. Megan even joined me and attended the workshop with Pixie. They do a very nice job together.

So - now we're onto looking at 2010... not too much "planned" at this point. I did just send in my entries for the competition in Pittsburgh in March. I'm hoping I'll be able to finish up three titles - and then maybe we can focus a little bit more on tracking and agility. Pixie is doing very well with tracking, and Shelby really seems to enjoy doing agility - so that might be a nice change of pace.

Hopefully we'll see lots of our friends at events over the year. Best of luck on your way to achieving your own goals this year!