Monadnock Humane Society is a beautiful facility in Swanzey, NH. Not only do they provide excellent rescue and adoption services, they are one of the best training resources in the area. MHS offers classes of all sorts, wonderful seminars, and a venue for performance trials. They also hold special events, such as their autumn walkathon & fundraiser, which Tripp & I attended in late Sept.
We were invited to perform a musical freestyle demonstration. The PomPoms got together for our group routine, and "Team TnT" offered our singles routine. It was super fun, and a great opportunity to practice for upcoming competitions. My first lesson was not to overdo the warmup! I should've taken video of that - Tripp was lovely. But by the time we were called to give our demo, Tripp was a bit bored. "What, more dancing?" LOL So he was less rock & roll today. At least I learned something for the future!
We also did an APDT Rally demo. Like I always say, I'll take free run-thrus anytime! Agility was on our to-do list as well, but unfortunately between everything else I missed that demo. Too bad, I was looking forward to that the most. But the trainer was kind enough to let us play on the course after the show, so we still got in some practice. :-)
It was quite an event outside the rings... lots of vendors, contests, and other goings on. Fun for everyone. A great turnout for the shelter. I'm so glad we could be a part of it.
Sep. 4 found us at American K9 Country for the Merrimack Valley KC show. At the time of entry I was unsure if I would still be in Rally Advanced, or need a moveup to Excellent which I'm not sure I'm ready for (we all know how that turned out, LOL), but the club was offering Non-Regular classes, which I had never seen done before. After researching the rules, I could not resist the chance to enter Rally T Challenge, along with the regular trial. Seems no one had ever seen it done, and it garnered a charge of interest at the show. Unfortunately, only one other person entered that weekend, and it was on a different day. So Tripp and I were all alone out there. Not much of a challenge for 1st place, but it was still a great experience, and lots of fun. I truly hope more clubs will offer this class in the future! No, you can't earn titles, it's just for fun and the sake of competition. Maybe a chance at some cool prizes, but that's it. Entry fees are lower though, and it really is worth it for so much fun mixing it up out there, plus it's great practice for more advanced Rally exercises. :-)
About the Rally T Challenge: This is a "non-regular" class. Regulations are based on AKC's Rally Advanced level. Any exercise from Novice or Advanced, as well as a few exercises exclusive to this class may be used. The course is longer and a time limit is set. The judge determines course time by averaging 3 personal walk-thrus. The time limit, however, is not posted until the end of the competition. Scoring is normal for each station (max. 10 pts. per), with the addition of 1 point added for each second below course time, or 1 point deducted per second over time. There are no NQs in this class; all dogs are awarded points. A perfect score is 200, though it is possible to score higher than this, or receive a negative score. A big part of the challenge is the walk-thru. Handlers are allowed to walk slowly through the course only once, and absolutely no practicing the given exercises is allowed (this includes after you leave the ring, which you must do immediately). Also, if you are unsure of a sign, you're on your own - can't ask the judge for clarification. Handlers are expected to be familiar with all rules.
The T Challenge is definitely aptly named. It is a new and exciting way to showcase your training, challenge your skills and mental acuity, and just have a lot of fun doing something different! I highly recommend entering!
Regular Rally trials saw good entries that weekend. Advanced alone had 20 on Sunday (8 in A, 12 in B). Interestingly, we in A division (the novices) scored better than nearly everyone in B (those more experienced); even the judge commented on that! It was a tough course too; challenging exercises, intricate layout. And the judge held us to high standards when scoring. She was fair, professional, really nice.
Tripp made me very proud that day! While his performace was not entirely flawless, he did wonderfully overall, even on some usually hard exercises like the Figure 8 (past bowls of smelly treats)! Such a good boy. Funny thing is he was extra tired come afternoon... apparently it's more exhausting to behave himself than it is to be a twerp. ;-)
We hit one snag in the trial - after finishing, the judge explained that there was a timer malfunction. She offered two choices: I could do it again and be timed, or take whatever score I got. Time only matters in Rally as a tie breaker, so I could still place IF my score was good enough. She could only tell me that I Qed. I thought it over (that is, I agonized over the decision) and finally resisted the temptation to be greedy - I was pretty sure we did okay, and realistically we weren't likely to do much better a 2nd time - but possibly could've done worse or NQed. I'm so glad I made that choice. Reviewing the video, Tripp did better than I thought. Turns out there was also no need for a tie breaker; scores were all off by at least 1 point. We ended up placing 4th with a 97 (wow, good class!) and earned a second leg towards RA. All in all, a wonderful day!
On the weekend of Aug 27-28, we entered in the Lakes Region Kennel Club Rally trials in Canterbury, NH. This was our first time in AKC Advanced. We had 3 trials, 3 chances to qualify; just enough to earn Tripp's RA title... plus the club was offering a Medallion for new titles that weekend! Ooh, I wanted that bling. No problem, right? This is what happens when I get greedy and overconfident...
Saturday morning. Trial 1. Course featured a jump as the 2nd exercise. Uh oh. I approached a bit faster than I should and Tripp immediately went into agility mode. That meant flying over the jump and running out to find the next obstacle. With none to be seen he proceeded to have puppy zoomies all around the ring, completely ignoring me, AND THEN hopped over the rear fence, taking off across the field!! *Gasp!* I jumped the fence right after him and finally got him to lie down at a distance so I could catch up to him. Spectators were impressed with that, but I was much less so at my need for repeated commands. I also worried that we were disruptive to the team in the adjacent Obedience ring. I am still in shock at Tripp's antics, as he has never flipped me off like that in Rally, nor left a ring by jumping the fence. He definitely had Agility on the brain! One entry scratched. But at least people had a good laugh, Tripp was immensely proud of his brattiness, and we got compliments on how graceful we both looked jumping over the fence. LOL Still, I sure hoped he'd gotten that out of his system! ;-)
Saturday afternoon. Trial 2. Tripped redeemed himself in the ring, earning a 95 and 2nd place. I was careful to approach the jump (which was, thankfully, further in this course) in a very controlled manner this time, however I messed up on the Spiral exercise and did an extra circle around the last cone. Had a feeling it might be wrong as I was doing it. So I lost us 3 points right there. Tripp took the other 2 for poor position and bumping, his usual faults. But overall a pretty good performance, certainly better than the last one! A nice rosette for placement and our first Q with a score that's nothing to sneeze at... I'll take it!
Saturday evening Hurricane Irene was closing in on New England. I remained on the fence about the next day's trial. With no more chance at titling that weekend, I had less pull to attend, but still hated to eat another entry fee and lose a chance at a second Q, esp. if the harsh weather held out till later in the day. I kept things packed up and awaited the morning forecast...
Sunday morning. Trial 3 proceeded indoors as far as I know, but after watching the weather (and deliberating for at least half an hour) there was no way I'd beat the storm if I went. And Irene hit us even sooner than predicted, so I'm glad I stayed home. But there went another entry fee. AKC ain't cheap, you know. Ugh. I suppose after our track record of solid Qs in all past Rally trials, it was bound to happen, but still, that first leg was our costliest Q yet. Then again, I'm sure we'll beat that investment by far in Agility as we do more of those trials! LOL Come to think of it, we probably already have!
(Excerpt from www.vipoodle.org)
The Poodle is the consummate versatile dog, beloved for centuries for beauty, unique sensitivity to people, and brilliant performance in widely diverse activities. In support of the Versatile Poodle, the Versatility In Poodles, Inc. established on August 5, 1994, the Versatility Award to give special recognition to Poodles who have excelled in multiple areas of achievement.
On Aug. 8, Tripp was awarded VIP's level one Versatility Certificate. Though I had my eye on this achievement for a while, it took some time for me to gather the necessary information, submit an application, and await approval. In actuality, Tripp had qualified for VC as of May 22, 2011, just shy of his second birthday! The certificate may be a couple months late, but it is regardless another proud accomplishment. :-)
Tripp's qualifications include show championship, rally titles, temperment testing, and health clearances. Ten points are required for VC, fifteen for VCX, both from multiple categories. I am hoping to achieve this second level some time next year.
T'was like a midsummer's dream;
Poodles spinning pirouettes,
performing heelwork to music,
(people dancing with their pets).
We joined in the PomPoms,
our all-Poodle team,
for musical freestyle
and great fun, it would seem.
With dogs fluffed and primped,
and on necks a pink sash,
pink barets on our heads,
and scarves that didn't clash,
we all looked divine
and knew that somehow
our performance would be
one that'd make the crowd "wow!"
With can-cans and spins
and a kiss on the nose,
we danced 'round the ring
on the tips of our toes.
I admit now and then
the beat may have been lost
and some pups got distracted
but at what little cost?
We may not have been perfect,
but by the time we were done
everybody was smiling,
because what matters is fun!
July came in the blink of an eye, it seemed, and we found ourselves at the PomPom's final rehersal before a performance at an event in Brimfield, MA. A friend of Honey's captured this footage of our practice.
She also asked for some video of Tripp showing off his tricks. I've never made a list of everything he can do, so it's sometimes hard to spontateously come up with an impressive montage of behaviors! LOL
The demo in MA went well. It was a very nice, farmer's market/family day type outing. A small crowd gathered around for our two performances. Other freestylers put on shows as well. We all had so much fun, and looked forward to our next gig.
Just a few weeks later on Aug. 6, the PomPoms attended Cumberlandfest, a large fair in RI. It was an awesome venue with a larger audience. With nary a rehersal, the team breezed through our routine. Perhaps we fumbled a bit, but it was still a blast and the spectators were happy, so that's all that counts. ;-)
Tripp and I also debuted our singles routine to TNT by AC/DC. It was an exciting opportunity to perform at this event, and great practice for future demos. We will be entering in the fall WCFO freestyle trials as well, so just as with any other sport, I will take all the "run thrus" I can get! It wasn't perfection (as expected our first time out), but again, lots of fun, and the audience was impressed. With a couple tweaks and some more practice, Team TnT is really going to rock!
After playing catch up on training this summer, I decided to take a chance and enter some Agility trials. Were we ready? Maybe, almost. We wouldn't know for sure until we tried. I entered the most affordable ones I could find that fit in my schedule and planned to treat them as run thrus. Maybe we wouldn't Q, but maybe we would; either way it'd be good practice.
First up was an AKC trial in Amherst, NH on July 3. Agility Club of NH has lower entry fees than other AKC clubs, so I limited my options to their events. I entered Standard and Jumpers. We NQed both runs, but actually did somewhat better on course than I expected. I was bummed that Tripp fell off the dog walk (he was okay), esp. since he slowed down so well on command for a safer entry... an experienced competitor saw the incident from another angle and said he was distracted/surprised by the steward, who should not have set up so close to the dog walk in the novice ring. Too bad, I think we might've actually had a chance at qualifying if he'd run the whole course. But it was still a great learning experience, and the club was super helpful to this newbie, nice atmosphere, friendly competitors, encouraging for a green team. On the plus side of not earning any legs, I have no pressing need to continue in AKC agility... although I am likely to try again once we have more experience competing. That is, when Tripp is not covered in dye for creative grooming.
On July 31 the Aus. Shepherd Club of New England held an ASCA Agility trial in Canterbury. ASCA performance is open to all breeds and mixes, offering an alternative competitive outlet. Trials are downright cheap (but what isn't relative to AKC?) and perfect practice for other venues, and ASCA registered dogs can earn titles while they're at it. What's not to like? Membership/registration (a one-time fee) was affordable too, so I figured why not sign Tripp up for a chance to put some more letters after his name. Yeah, he needs more of those, you know. LOL Just like he needs more silk for the 2/3 full ribbon wall. ;-)
Anyway, it was a super hot day for outdoor agility. I went nuts and entered us in FOUR classes (those irresistable prices, I didn't even think of all the work it'd be for a single day). All things considered Tripp did great. Many of the Aussies were melting out there; Tripp was feeling the heat too but kept his momentum up pretty well throughout the day. The facility offered a kiddie pool and hose for the dogs to cool off in, so I'm sure that helped.
We started off with 2 runs in Standard Agility. While nowhere near perfect (the twerp is developing a pattern of taking off after a couple obstacles, but once control is reestablished he does pretty good, and as long as he doesn't go "off course" we don't lose points, just time - but I'm trying to nip that zoomie behavior in the bud before it becomes a habit) we actually Qed in both runs and earned 2nd place (though I think that was by default - only 1 other dog in our height division as I recall). First trial, Tripp managed to give a "clean" run - at least, no course faults - I got a time fault for taking way too long setting up at the start line. Man, if only I had my act together we could've got a perfect score! Oh well. Good learning experience. That's what we were there for! Second trial we beat Standard Course Time, but Tripp went off course, getting one fault. Still great for beginners. I wish I had video of those Standard runs. I bet my handling caused him to go off course (it usually is the handler's fault). Video has been great for critiquing my handling skills, it's an awesome educational tool for competitors.
I did catch our afternoon trials on camera. We gave Jumpers and Gamblers a shot. Both were NQs but lots of fun, and overall well played. Tripp went off course in Jumpers, which automatically non-qualifies us, but we made good time and earned a respectable 4th place among a decent size class of speedy herding dogs! I didn't understand the time placements including NQs at the time, which seemed undeserving (it's just separate scoring systems, makes sense actually), now I regret not taking a ribbon for our wins, esp. considering we actually beat some competition in those. But like I said, it's not as if he needs more ribbons, seriously. LOL Next time, however, I'm taking everything they offer, just like any other show. Hey, at least it's something tangible in return for our efforts. ;-)
Gamblers was really interesting. I had very little experience with this game so my expectations were not overwhelmingly high, but of course I had hope. It was more challenging than I'd thought - in a good way. Very strategic. Not nearly as easy as one might think. Lots of fun! Unfortuately I was unprepared at the start line and ran in without setting up, which sent Tripp out of control. Regaining focus ate up lots of time, and while we earned plenty of points and nailed the gamble (plus earned another 2nd place), the buzzer went off just as Tripp sailed over the final jump. Missed it by that much! We still had a great time, and I consider it another very good learning experience. (I know I keep saying that. But it's true!)
As much as I enjoy Jumpers, I'm not sure if I will compete in that class again until Tripp is delivering more clean runs. In this sport, it's wise to put your money where your best odds are. Though knowing me in dog sports I'll probably chance it. I definitely want to try more Gamblers; it's a very cool challenge, possibly addictive. I will absolutely be back for more ASCA agility (an infrequent local offering it seems) - after all, we have legs, now we need to finish that title... and maybe go for more! ;-) Meanwhile, I'll be focusing our agility efforts mainly on USDAA, which allows dyed dogs, so we're all set to keep trialing when creatively groomed. Hopefully we start those trials later this fall. If we seem ready, I might throw in one more attempt at AKC before winter closes in. What can I say, I'm a glutton. LOL