Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jade FG40K

We attended a flyball tournament over the past weekend with the crew. While a variety of issues kept me from fully enjoying myself as much as I usually do at these events, the dogs had a good time and did well, and that is what was important. Plus, Jade received his plaque for earning 40,000 points in flyball, a feat he accomplished back in September.

Jade is our first dog, and the one who started all the craziness. He was so full of energy and eager to learn, and we were having a blast finding new things to do with him. We signed up for a 6-week flyball class at a local dog training club, taught by our current team captain. At the end of 6 weeks, Jade had already learned the basics, so the instructor invited him to a team practice. After only two more practices, Jade ran in his first tournament!

Jade was 2 years old already when he started flyball, but has still been able to reach the 40K mark and is currently the 15th-highest point scoring Lab in NAFA. In his prime, Jade was running an average of 4.1 seconds, with his best times being 3.9 seconds (I think he did that twice). He has been a valuable addition to our club's Mix team over the years, and helped them be runners-up in the Multibreed Division in our NAFA Region last year.

Jade turned 9 in the fall, and it seems that his stamina just isn't quite what it used to be (though he still has more energy than many dogs half his age). On the second days of tournaments when he would start to get tired, he began dropping his ball more and more. So, we are now running him part-time and sharing spots with other dogs, which is working out well. It is keeping him happy and active, and not setting him up to make mistakes.

It is a little bittersweet putting the new plaque on the wall. I don't expect we will earn another 10K in his career, so this will probably be the last title he earns. It is an impressive one though, and I am proud of all he's accomplished and feel fortunate to still have more days ahead of us on the racing lanes together.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Since one-half of our human family had Presidents’ Day off as a holiday, I decided to take a vacation day myself, and we attended a one-day agility trial on Monday. We just brought Django and Maebe, and only entered them each in a few runs, but they had a good time.

Django had a goofy Jackpot run to start off the day. Often his first runs of the day are silly as he burns off a little steam. Our first Standard course was pretty fast and flowing though, so I was optimistic about it. The run itself went nicely, except that Django blew his A-Frame contact! Django NEVER blows contacts – I couldn’t believe it. We still had one more chance for a Standard Q, but the second course was considerably more difficult, with some tricky obstacle discriminations, and a few tunnel entries that were not terribly obvious.

Of course, Django does tend to actually do better on the more difficult courses, and he ran the second course very nicely, earning 2nd place and a Q! The only slight wrinkle in the performance was my fault. As we approached the final tunnel, I got worried that he would choose the wrong entry and get an off course, negating our perfect run to that point. In my concern, I basically called him off the tunnel, even though he was heading for the correct entry. At that point he started to head over to the wrong entry, since I had inadvertently made it clear that his first choice was incorrect. Being the good boy he is though, he turned around again when I called him, and I directed him back into the correct entry. Our biggest hindrance lately has been my not trusting him and babysitting obstacles more than I need to, which slows us down and causes unnecessary confusion. I know I am getting worse about that lately, as we are only about 12 legs away from earning our C-ATCH title, and I think in my excitement I am just trying to make every run count.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Up North

We spent a long weekend with the dogs at the Winter Outing at Dog Scout Camp in St. Helen, Michigan. We try to get up to camp about three times a year to visit with good friends and spend a lot of time with the dogs. There are plenty of trails to hike around on, and a lot of dog activities to do. It is always a good time.

We arrived mid-day Friday, and took all the dogs for a hike, then took Django out skijoring. We knew we had to get some time in on the skis early, since the weather was expected to warm up drastically on Saturday. It was ironic, given the low temps and high snowfall that we’ve had in Michigan this winter, that our skiing and sledding weekend would be affected by thawing. We made the most of it though. Lowell got Jade out with the kicksled on Saturday morning, but by noon when I took Django and Maebe out, the ground was already becoming exposed on the trails. We turned back, and spent the rest of the weekend hiking through the woods with them all, which is always a peaceful activity.

The dogs all had a great time and came home very tired and happy. Plus, we came home with a new toy: a training-sized dogwalk that we won in a fundraising auction. It is the perfect size for our yard (too many trees back there for a full-length one), and we’re hoping will be just the thing for fixing Maebe’s contacts.

Now I’m looking forward to the warmer weather predicted for this week. With the snow melting, we might actually be able to pull some equipment out in the yard and do some more training than we’ve been able to in the last month.