It's silly. But it's something I always have a bit of trouble with. And a quick google search reveals I'm not the only one.
When you compete in multiple venues, and earn countless titles, where are those titles supposed to go? I mean, in relationship to each other on the dog's official name... There is an established order for AKC - registered name, followed by Obedience titles, then Rally, then Tracking, Hunting, and Agility. Except any Championship titles precede the name. In UKC, on the other hand, all titles precede the registered name. I've been told the order is supposed to be titles listed chronologically by date earned. As for any of the other performance venues (such as CDSP, USDAA, etc.) I have no idea! And then when you combine a whole bunch of them together... Oy!
Now, technically, most clubs don't recognize titles from other clubs. So for instance, Tripp's AKC registration will only list titles he earned from AKC (or their approved "other" venues), his UKC registration will only list UKC titles, and so on. Even CDSP, which recognizes Obed/Rally titles from any other organization, disregards any other performance sport because it's not applicable. Therefore this should not be a true dilemma, as your versatile dog's full variety of titles will rarely be recognized in one place. But it is - those titles are your hard work, bragging rights, proof of your dog's working ability, and memories & keepsakes of an amazing partnership. Of course you want to list them all together somewhere!
Which brings me back to the question, what order are they all supposed to go in?
Ah, but I digress... This dilemma was actually spurred by some very exciting news! Can you guess? ;-) Yes, it involves another new title...
I may have found something that Tripp enjoys as much as agility. Of course, at first he thought it WAS agility... LOL
Over the weekend we attended an Intro to Barn Hunt workshop at Fit-N-Trim Dog Training, just over the MA border. Barn Hunt is a fun, new, fast growing sport in which dogs climb and tunnel through a hay bale maze to search for a live rat hidden in a safe, aerated tube. Empty or litter filled tubes are present as well, to test the dog's ability to sniff out the correct one. Training for the sport is relatively easy, and most dogs love the chance to use their natural hunting instincts. Check out the BHA's official site at www.barnhunt.com.
At the seminar, we learned the basic rules of Barn Hunt and how the trials are run, then the dogs got a chance to try out the hay maze. I made the mistake of pointing out to Tripp what was happening, using the word "tunnel" and letting him see a dog go through the bales... of course, he automatically thought it was a unique agility course and started screaming. Ok, back to the crate for you, mister loudmouth! LOL When it was our turn, he was in full on agility mode (dang, it's been 2 years, you'd think he'd forget, but no, that Poodle brain just went nuts - can you say "agility withdrawal"? ;-) After nearly dislocating my arm & tripping me several times we finally made it into the "start box" where Tripp continued his noisemaking. (Seriously, you'd never know this dog had a single obedience title, or training even!) After he eventually shut up for two seconds, I let him go. In Barn Hunt trials, dogs are required to show willingness to go through a hay tunnel as well as put all four feet on a bale. Obviously, no problem for Tripp. He shot through the tunnel and immediately started searching for the next agility obstacle. Soon he spotted the A-Frame against the wall, thankfully well fenced-in, and he ran to that trying to figure out how he was supposed to get on it. LOL I did manage to convince him that jumping on a hay bale would be fun too, so he did that a few times, and offered to repeat the tunnel as well. ;-) Getting Tripp to leave the ring was a little more difficult, but nothing compared to what was to come...
For the next session, dogs were introduced to the rats. The trainers stood behind the ring gating with a securely caged rat, while the handlers brought their dogs up to the other side of the fence to see the rat. Some dogs were unsure, just needing some encouragement, while others were enthusiastic about getting that critter. Can you guess which group Tripp was in? hahaha Yup, he was so enthusiastic that within a few seconds he managed to knock over the fencing into the trainer & rat. (They were fine.) Ok, apparently we have little need for practice in this sport!
After the introductions, an instinct test was set up. In this first level, 3 tubes are placed in a row in plain sight; the dog simply needs to navigate the easy course and indicate which tube contains the rat. The tubes are solid & camouflaged, with only small slits for air, so the rat is not visible to dog or handler, therefore the dog must rely on his nose AND the handler must trust the dog's judgement! Tripp checked them all out, and quickly found the rat. His signal was pretty clear - he stomped the tube. LOL I had to basically drag him out of the ring as he obsessed over the rat tube, which the trainer now held. That will be our biggest hurdle in trials - calling off the hunt.
On the plus side, Tripp was no longer in agility mode - by now he figured out this was a different sport - but just as exciting! :-)
Next they set up a novice course and scattered the tubes in hiding places amidst the hay. This was a very interesting run, as I learned to distinguish between how Tripp indicates a rat vs. a tube with just litter in it (when they aren't right next to each other & easy to compare). First in the course was the empty tube, placed in the same location the rat was last time (to really test the dogs). Tripp checked it out briefly but moved on as I told him to find the rat. By his reaction to the tube, it was pretty obvious that it was empty. After sniffing around for a bit (I think our "find it" games at home have been good priming!) he found another tube wedged between some hay bales. He was very curious about it and soon began pawing at the tube. I wasn't sure if he'd found the rat or not. I don't think he was either. LOL After asking him a few times "did you find the rat?" he moved away, so I figured it must've been the litter tube. Sure enough, after a bit more searching, he found the rat, and starting digging a bit more quickly, plus wagging his tail and generally acting more intense overall. The difference was somewhat subtle, so knowing his "tells" might be a bit tricky when we first start trialing. It definitely demands close attention from the handler.
I think Barn Hunt may be one of those sports that has many unexpected benefits, beyond being a fun new titling venue. Owners may learn more about reading their dog's body language. Dogs may gain confidence by learning to work independently, and navigating the course, which can be scarey for some sensitive dogs. Surely it fosters a stronger bond between dog & handler, as does any activity, but especially ones that requires trust on both ends. And of course it is an outlet for a dog to express natural instincts, which may not be allowed in everyday life (critter chasing, sniffing, digging, etc.). Plus the bonus of nosework sports being surprisingly tiring (despite being low impact, physically) - and a tired dog is a good dog! And a happy dog!
I wished I had brought my camera... Not just to capture Tripp showing yet more versatility (are we really surprised? haha), but if only to get a photo of his smiling face. He was SOOOO HAPPY! Obviously, he adores Barn Hunt, so of course we will be getting into trialing soon. Like I said when we started agility, Tripp is a natural, and loves it so much, how can we NOT? :-)
And I mean WAAYYYYY overdue! I think I may have set a personal record for procrastination this time - at least regarding dog stuff. LOL In my defense, I really was busy and it does take a bit of time to gather all the materials needed for this...
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. The Award has two levels: VC (Versatility Certificate) and VCX (Versatility Certificate Excellent).
As of Sept. 2012 (yes, 1.5 years ago!) and the completion of his ATD title, Tripp had earned enough points in various categories to qualify for VIP's Versatility Certificate Excellent. This is their highest award. Requirements for this more demanding level include 15 points in at least 4 categories, with only 6 points max allowed in each, therefore promoting true versatility. Points are earned with official titles & certificates through recognized organizations.
Since I postponed (understatement of the year? LOL) submission of his VCX application, Tripp of course continued earning points beyond VIP's requirements. His accomplishments include titles in Obedience, Rally, Freestyle, Tricks, Weight Pull, Agility, Conformation, and temperament tests, plus health testing, totaling 33 points by my count (at least 27 of which were "usable" according to the rules/limits) at the time of VIP's recognition of versatility. With no end to competing in sight, that number will continue to rise as Tripp continues to prove just how amazing Poodles can be! (Hmm... perhaps VIP should consider adding a "master" level certificate... ;-)
If it wasn't already for certain, Tripp is now officially an International Superstar! We recently spent a long weekend in Montreal, Quebec for a big UKC event. This time I actually had a chance to see a bit of the city, Poodle at my side. Although I'm a country girl at heart, the architecture of the old urban buildings, particularly the cathedrals, was beautiful, and alone made the trip worthwhile. I just wish I had time to see more. Our hotel was excellent, and everyone enjoyed meeting Tripp. Even the owner herself fell in love, going so far as to invite us into the restaurant so the family could meet the amazing Parti Poodle, and insisted we return. As usual, we were also stopped countless times on the street and at the show for petting, compliments and of course photos. I will always wonder how widespread on the internet random images of Tripp have become! LOL
The show itself was once again held in conjunction with a huge Canadian pet expo. It seemed even bigger than in the spring! Every "domestic" critter imaginable was on display (including some not so domestic, like foxes and semi-wild cats), along with various vendor booths, and again they had pony rides and other family attractions set up adjacent to our show rings. The arena for the agility, disc dog, & freestyle demos was right next to our rally ring, but thankfully the view was blocked. Plus it was so noisy in there from the massive crowd that Tripp was oblivious to the nearby excitement, which worked in our favor. ;-) Certainly the whole thing is a testament to good temperament! It takes a very stable dog to handle all that craziness, including a majority of people & kids who are totally ignorant of proper interaction with dogs. Trippy put up with a lot more than he should have to. Such a good boy!
Show details below...
It seems to be everyone's favorite "catch-word" at the moment, so I just had to say it. Epic seems appropriate to describe our latest show weekend. Or at least our schedule! 4 Conformation shows, 8 Rally Obedience classes (entries in both level 2 & 3 in 4 trials), all packed into 2 hot summer days. That's 12 events in 1 weekend. If ever my sanity was up for serious questioning, this confirms that I've completely lost my mind. LOL
I'm so glad that Tripp is such a good sport...
Click on "Read More" below for the full story and video footage!
You all know Tripp does a lot of tricks. You've seen many in his freestyle routines. He knows so many that I can't even remember half of them without looking at a list. But ironically, with all the filming I do of him, I have never compiled a video specifically of Tripp's tricks. Until now...
For some time, I had intended to apply for Trick Dog titles through DMWYD, partly because they count as points towards VIP's versatility certificates. As of Sept. 3, 2012 Tripp officially became an Advanced Trick Dog, thus giving him more than enough points for his VCX. (Now I still need to apply for that. Don't hold your breath. ;-)
As DMWYD states, titles also offer training goals to keep handlers motivated and focused on, well, doing more with their dog! No other organization offers recognition for the "sport" of dog tricks. I admit, I have heard the rare brush-off that it's just a "buy-a-title" thing, since lower titles are given basically on the honor system (you just have a witness confirm performance - which could be "fixed" - but really, why would anyone do that? Meanwhile Championship application requires a video submission to ensure correct performance.) But it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to have video capabilities for even Novice level, and I don't forsee organized trick dog competitions popping up across the country (how would you even judge that?)... So how else could it be done? Besides, if these weren't respectable titles, VIP would certainly not be recognizing them!
Not everyone wants to compete in mainstream trials, but many people enjoy teaching their dog tricks. Even if it only takes place in their living room, it still makes for great bonding and mental stimulation. Titles are something tangible for us humans to get in reward for our training efforts. And as previously stated, it keeps us motivated to go futher.
Ok, so getting down to the technical details... There are 5 levels of trick titles - Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and Champion. Each level is successive to the one before it. There is a long list of tricks, organized by difficulty, from which to choose behaviors to earn the titles. Each title requires a certain number of tricks at the given level or higher. Novice requires 15 tricks (Tripp is adept at 26, and can do more - imperfectly), Intermediate requires NTD title, plus 12 tricks at the appropriate levels (Tripp knows 18, and again, a few more still in the learning stages), Advanced & Expert require the previous titles plus 5 more high level tricks (Tripp now has 8 advanced tricks and 6 expert tricks, plus a few of his own). TDCH reviews all levels and has more stringent, specific requirements and some more difficult behaviors. I'd like to get that far with Tripp some day.
So why the extreme delay in announcing this new award? I mean, besides being a master of procrastination. Well, making movies takes time... but I certainly couldn't tease you all with so many fun tricks without providing a video montage of the talented Tripp showing off! ;-) Our latest movie includes the tricks used for credit towards his ATD title, as well as a few new & original ones thrown in... after all, it's been almost a year, we've learned some new things along the way! But if you meet us on the street, don't ask me what tricks Tripp can do - I still can't remember them all! LOL
On the first weekend in June, we "did it all" at the American Pit Bull Terrier Club of New England's UKC conformation show and weight pull in Westfield, MA. They offered a great, affordable package deal for all 4 shows plus both pulls that I couldn't resist. Running from one ring to another to keep up with the schedule is a bit hectic, but worth it for a chance at Total Dog. ;-)
It was a wicked heat wave, and we were all thankful that the weight pull trial was held under cover in one of the fairground barns. We were not so lucky in conformation, but at least there was a frequent breeze. On the down side, the wind continually blew thick clouds of pollen off the tall pines. Allergy sufferers were not faring well by day two of this!
Tripp did wonderfully despite the heat, moving well in the show ring, and working with his usual gusto in weight pull. Now that he is going for WP Championship, we follow a different strategy, building points rather than earning basic qualifying legs. The point schedule goes by increments of weight pulled - on wheeled carts, 10x the dog's body weight = 5 points, 15x his weight = 10 points, and then it jumps to 25x his weight for 15 points, and so on. Darn it, what happened to 20x? (Weight requirements are different for track systems and snow sleds, but the increments are comparable.) I'm slightly irked by this, because Tripp can do 20x under the right conditions, but I don't forsee 25x ever being reasonable for him. I know to never say never, but I will bet that we're stuck at 10 points max per trial. At that rate, I'm not sure if we'll ever make title (UWPCH requires 100 points) unless there's an upsurge in local trials - Tripp could very well be retired before we see 8 or more trials in the area! LOL Oh well, we'll keep trying anyway, having fun on the journey whether we reach the destination or not. :-)
Anyway, what this point schedule means is that if Tripp pulls 15 times his weight, he will earn 10 points - but if he pulls, say, 17 times his weight he won't earn anything extra, so basically the effort is pointless. So now at trials our goal weight will be 15x and we'll likely end at that to conserve energy. This should be easy enough for Tripp as he's just beginning to make an effort at that weight! LOL Although I did wonder if he'd make it that far in last weekend's heat. Luckily he weighed in at only 48 lbs (I'm pretty sure their scale was off, but no complaints here! hehehe) so he "only" had to pull less than 750# to hit 15x. I expected to need closer to 800, so one less pull was fine by me. Tripp too, I'm sure!
I will say it was an educational weekend... Part of my concern over hitting our goal weight in WP was the number of pulls required to get that far. The down side to Tripp weighing in light was that he got stuck in a lower weight class with the "little" dogs, which meant moving up weight increments just one block at a time. I knew you were allowed 2 "passes" - the choice of skipping 1 or 2 move ups - but was under the impression that this rule was over the entire trial. That still would be more reps than I wanted Tripp to do in severe heat. But hallelujah, come to find out, the rule is 2 passes only between pulls - you can skip 2 increments after your first pull, then do your second, then skip 2 more, then pull again, and so on. That was the best news I got all day! And we did exactly that. We entered at the highest weight allowed for Tripp's class, skipped all that we could, and ended up only needing to do 4 pulls to hit our goal weight on both days. Tripp says that was plenty, now bring on the A/C! ;-)
But WP was not the end of things. We also had two conformation shows each day. While Tripp looked great out there for the most part, we were somewhat less successful, taking Reserve CH in all 4 shows. Basically, runner up. (Well, at least he made good point fodder for our competition. LOL) I wasn't entirely disappointed at first, since he did win that placement over another Poodle, so I still expected to earn Total Dog for our competitive win plus performance Q. That was really all I wanted anyway. Alas, my education continued, this time not particularly to my pleasure. Turns out he actually must win his class (or take a group placement) to be eligible. In other words, Reserve counts for nothing, so that was just some expensive handling practice after all. Total Dog is slightly tougher to earn than I thought, no wonder it is so coveted! On the bright side, I should be even prouder that Tripp has earned it twice already, with limited showing. We'll keep trying for more. Why stop now?
No matter if UKC says Tripp is a Total Dog on a given day, or not... he will always be that and more to all of us who know him.
He is The Ultimate Versatile Poodle!
My Total Dog. :-)
I know, I'm weird. Most people dream of visiting some tropical island somewhere... me, I've always wanted to go to Canada. After 30-something years, that dream has finally come true. I can't quite cross it entirely off my bucket list, however, as I was too busy with a dog show to actually see any sights. Well darn, I guess I'll just have to go back... ;-)
Northeastern weather even in mid-April, though usually nice, can still bring stubborn remanents of winter. Lucky us, Mother Nature decided to bring sleet & snow on our departure day. We hesitantly ventured forward anyway, and though the drive was slow, we made it to Quebec safely.
A fairly new club, the Association Canine Canadienne Multisports, hosted a weekend UKC dog show in Sherbrooke - just over the border, a little more than 3 hours from here (in good weather) - which included Conformation, Rally Obedience, AND Weight Pull! Official WP trials have been scarce enough lately, but to find a show that holds more than one performance event is rare, esp. in this area. I could not pass up the opportunity to attend.
Saturday we started with WP under judge Robin Clark, who was wonderful. And I'm not just saying that because she later commented that Tripp was the best dog there! (There were other good pullers, but Tripp really gets in the zone.) I planned to do minimal pulls - just enough to qualify - since we had a very full weekend and Tripp is not quite back to top condition yet. I was ready to quit at 560 lbs (one pull more than we needed to Q), but everyone begged us to continue since he was pulling easily and in excellent form, plus they wanted to show off this great sport for the audience, as well as prove the versatility of the Poodle breed. I completely agreed with those points and, after making sure Tripp was indeed good to go, continued on with one more pull. We ended at 700 lbs. - over 13 times his body weight.
From there we went on to prepare for conformation. Mary King was our judge, and we had some nice competition; just a few puppies - Tripp was the only CH entered, but at least he wasn't the only Poodle, and the others were lovely. It was anyone's game out there. Though we didn't win today, Ms. King gave us a wonderful critique - actually apologizing profusely for not placing us! She absolutely adored Tripp, but due to his curled tail which is considered a "major fault" in the standard (despite being mainly cosmetic), she had to go by the book and put up the less faulted dog. Well gee, I certainly understand that! I had to tell her several times not to feel bad - I was actually thrilled for our opponant, as this was her very first show with practically no experience and a young dog - what a fantastic introduction for her! It's always more satisfying to beat competition, and not get what I call a default win. She went on to earn a group placement as well! I'm so happy for her. And I was just excited to be back in the show ring (after what? 2-3 years?) with Tripp looking awesome out there, and such great feedback from the judge topped it off.
Sunday was our busiest day, with Rally added to the schedule. Once again WP was our first activity. Tripp remained in near perfect form, with plenty of enthusiasm, but we stopped at 560 lbs today to conserve energy. This was more than enough weight for another Q, which finally completed Tripp's UWP title! It was a long wait for that one, as he'd earned his first leg when he was just over a year old! (To think back then I thought putting more than 500 lbs behind my dog was unimaginable. Ha! And now that's barely an effort for him. Mr. Tough Guy. This amazing Poodle continues to prove that it's all about attitude and condition.)
We continued on to Rally, with Mary King judging this as well. It wasn't the best start. In Trial 1, level 2, I somehow managed to miss a sign even during walkthroughs. Too focused on my dog (even the invisible one) I blew right passed a sign on my right shortly after an about turn. Hmm, well that explains why there was such a big gap of nothingness there! LOL I sure kicked myself for that one. Tripp did well, this one was all me. So NQ, which automatically gave us one less opportunity for a leg towards his Excellent title (which requires 10 double Qs in level 2 & 3 in the same trial).
Level 3 went better for the most part. At least we did everything we were supposed to! Tripp had several imperfections due to distractions - did I mention this show was held in conjunction with a BIG animal expo, with hundreds (thousands?) of people, tons of noise, pony rides, and kiddy bounce houses all just outside the rings. Not to mention the show photographer set up literally next to the Rally ring, intermittently squeeking toys during a shoot, and of course all the smells of cats, birds, reptiles, etc. along with the other show dogs being groomed nearby! Thank God they set up the Agility and Frisbee dogs on the opposite side of the convention center!!! Despite all this, Tripp managed to pull off a score of 97, only being docked for excessive sniffing during the honor down stay. Truthfully, he was totally obsessing and crept way out of position, so that score was very generous!
Improvement continued in Trial 2, level 2. While Tripp still was not as accurate as I prefer, he did do a great job considering the environment on top of not having much recent practice in the sport. Amazingly we earned a perfect score of 100. This brought us to just ONE point away from Rally Championship! So close!
By level 3, our final competition, we were both pretty tired! My feet were ready to fall off. Tripp still did wonderfully and finished with a 99. That made his UROC title! Yippee!!! It also gave us a QQ, bringing us halfway to URX. We will continue on to that goal.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, we entered conformation too, under judge Tina Camp. Another great, fair, helpful judge. Once again we got a wonderful critique after ring time, and she just loved Trippy (who did a good job sucking up to her, hehehe.) This time, much to my surprise, we won Best of Breed! Tripp moved very well and that was the deciding factor. (She "could care less" about his tail. ;-) We didn't get anything in Group, but our Breed win qualified us for the coveted Total Dog award!! This will be Tripp's second Total Dog, which is earned by a conformation win plus a qualifying score in performance within the same show/trial.
I have but one regret for the weekend... I forgot to have an official photo taken! How could I? (Exhaustion, that's how. ;-) I was a little bummed that the club didn't offer new title ribbons, but a picture with the judges and Tripp's prizes would've made up for that somewhat. Posing alone at home just isn't the same. Oh, I still got a nice pic of course, but I do kick myself for not capturing that moment IN the moment. Oh well. C'est la vie!
On 4/21 we were lucky enough to attend a beginner herding workshop with Tenley Dexter, one of the top stock dog trainers in our area. I didn't know what to expect out of Tripp, but figured it would be something fun and different to try. This boy never ceases to amaze me; he truly is a testament to the Poodle's endless versatility.
After an educational morning learning about herding, training and behavior (much of which was applicable to other sports, or simply living with dogs), we got to try the dogs on stock. The Poodles (mine and a friend's pair) were the only non-traditional herding breeds there. Most of the dogs were inexperienced. Even after learning that herding is not all instinct, but requires more training than most people think, I was astounded at the seeming lack of instinct, or at least initial desire, for herding in some of those sheepdogs. Incredibly, there were several dogs in the pen who would not even acknowledge the existence of the sheep. Or simply couldn't care less about them. These were Border Collies, Aussies, Shelties, and the like! Of course some others were naturals, and most showed some degree of interest, but the fact that any of them didn't even try to herd was so surprising.
And then enters the Poodle. Tripp remained well composed, full of unfamiliar drive, and went right to work. He certainly has what it takes. Obviously it was somewhat crude, being untrained, but there was a definite attempt at controlling the movement of the sheep. Not just chasing, but actual herding. He circled this way and that, maintained a good distance, and took direction from the trainer well. It was very exciting to watch this new instinct surface, and Tripp obviously had fun. He was so happy afterwards, even into the next day. And I was happy that he actually didn't get filthy, and could postpone bathing for another day. LOL
Hopefully we will find other opportunities to do more herding in the future. (Many of the herding people encouraged us to continue - me, with a Poodle - that really says something!) I would like to at least try an official Instinct Test (for HIC or HCT title - oh yeah, we need more titles, LOL) although I'm not sure I have enough interest - or time to commit to training - for actual herding trials. It would be facinating though. Regardless of where we go from here, it was an awesome experience. We both had fun, and that's what really matters.
Most of these wonderful photos were taken by Lisa Tofsrud. I am so thankful, because I only got a couple good shots on my camera. Unfortunately video was not allowed at this workshop.
(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.