Monday, September 19, 2005

Clicker Bill

Billy is operant! Yay! (feel free to be pedantic and remind me that I can't use the term "operant" in this way, but I won't listen)

After my little experiment at Friday night agility using a verbal marker and garlic sausage to get Billy looking into (and later running through) the tunnel, I went a step further today and introduced the clicker. Bill was leery of the noise initially, but freshly cooked garlic sausage made him brave. I decided to get him targetting a plastic lunch box lid, and it took only a couple of minutes- he seemed to immediately grasp that the click meant he got a piece of sausage. I had to tap the lid a few times to get him near it, starting with looking at it, then sniffing near it, then touching it.

I started to move it around, and suddenly he "got it"- jumping away from me to touch his nose to the lid, then jumping back at the click to get his sausage. He even ignored Joy the cat, too involved in the game to bother with her. The most impressive thing for me was his eye contact- he truly understands communication with eye contact, and even when he was turning to touch the lid, Bill was watching me to see my reaction. Clever clever pup.

Muddy is such a good boy- despite my inconsistent, irrational, impatient weavepole training, he keeps working for me, keeps trying. For just a few seconds of tugging or a quick throw of the tennis ball, he keeps giving it another go- and I think he even enjoys the training, its our special time. In just one week, we've gone from 3 poles wide apart to 8 poles just inches apart (or straight, but slightly slanted).

Unfortunately I'm just not happy with that wonderful progress, and had to "try something else"- putting him back on lead and hoiking him through. Unsuprisingly, it didn't work, he just lost his rhythm and footwork, and started walking through.

So today I went back to our channel method, tried to keep it all positive and successful, and Muddy has forgiven me, as usual, and gave it 100%. I have 3 weeks- that should be long enough to close the poles those few inches- I just need to stick with this system and let him develop his rhythm and confidence. Worst case scenario- we scratch from agility, and stick to Jumping. But I think we can do it.

Jack's contacts were great on Friday night- much slower than our running dogwalk experiment, but still quick enough and solid enough for a decent teams effort. Good old Jack, he's truly the most honest, giving, easy dog, and I wouldn't be here at all it if it wasn't for Jack. Love ya, Jubby!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The "Show Kelpies"

Kelvin Barr and Gordon Curtis and their "show kelpies", parading round the ring. Tony Boyle (who later judged the National Yard Trial) and Boylee Pepper (my Billy's dad), and Simon Leaning and his posh "Best Type Kelpie", winner of the Bradley Sisters trophy, Fleetfeet Will (who also performed very well over both weekend trials).

Kevin Howell and Karana kelpie

National Yard Trial photos

Neil Kristiansen and Badgingarra KB backing, Neil and Badgingarra Jock (our Jake's dad), and Jim Luce working one of kelpies in the yards (oops, sorry, can't remember which).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Kelpie photos

First 3 photos: one of David Sweatman's kelpies in the National Yard Trial
Last 3 photos: Gordon Curtis' Binnaburra Tuff in the National WKC Field Trial

National WKC Field Trial pics

Binnaburra Tuff (Gordon Curtis)

Kevin Howell (Karana) penning

Jim Luce, at the post, and lift and draw

and a very handsome kelpie... sorry, forgot whose he is- ?a Gogetta dog??


What was I THINKING??!! In some last-minute panic attack last week, I actually entered Muddy in the Agility Nationals, held on the 15th/16th October... despite the fact he is totally unable to weave, and in fact has no defined contact behaviour, and generally misses most contacts. Oh yes, he also is a pretty lousy jumper, and will run under jumps if he misjudges them and can't easily clear them. Also I'm not totally sure he will do a closed tunnel/chute- he hasn't got much experience with them. So I guess they should just engrave our names on those trophies right now...

We have about 3 weeks to do some very rapid remedial training- so far its twice daily weaving practice, and I guess I will have to add some jump chutes and maybe the odd contact training session. Easy!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

National WKC and Yard Trials

Its been a big few weeks- the National Working Kelpie Field Trials one weekend, then the National Yard Dog Trials the weekend after. Of course I missed a lot of the fun, having to work during the week, but the weekends were fantastic- nothing like watching great dogs and handlers work.

Because I'm too tired to write anything original, here's a report I wrote earlier:

I'm home after my weekend at the National WKC trial... rather bummed to be home, because the Open is still running, and the finals are on today- in fact, they will be starting the last 20 Open runs in a few minutes (7am). But I couldn't get the week off work, so I will have to rely on home video and SMS reports during the day.I went up Friday night, so missed the first 2 days. The trial had the kelpies and others running together, in 2 parallel Field Trial events- the WKC (for kelpies) and the Australasian (for everyone).

It was BEAUTIFUL weather, sunny enough to get sunburned, but not hot, and a nice breeze during the day, although the nights were very chilly. The Northam showgrounds are a convenient,if not picturesque, venue-easily accessible for spectators, camping, bathroom facilities and kitchen right there, and a 5 min walk from the town centre. We were lucky enough to be staying at Neil Kristiansen and Denise Scudds' home just a few minutes away, which is much nicer than the usual swag in the back ofa ute arrangement :) The Luces and Marshalls are also staying there, and have been very interesting to chat with, as have all the Eastern Staters- some lovely people all round.

The course was nice- smallish ground, totally flat (footie oval, basically)- 150m cast and draw to the peg, into the yards, a very straightforward yard section, nothing too difficult for the 30 points, then out to the gap, across the ground to a trap, and back across the ground to the pen. I have to mention the fabulous commentary provided over the loudspeaker by young Peter Barr, who ran a couple of dogs very well, and then commentated the rest of the event for most of the weekend.

The Novice class apparently had a fair few shockers, so there weren't many scores, and even fewer good scores. I'm not sure why- I'm told the sheep weren't a problem, and some of the same dogs went on to run much better in the Open. Anyway, I guess it was a good day to miss, although we have some of the runs on video.

The Kelpie placings were:
1st Simon Leaning with Marionvale Flash on 171 (84 + 87)
2nd Simon Leaning with Fleetfeet Axle on 162 (87 + 75)
3rd Kevin Howell with Karana Bonnie IV on 150 (61 + 89)
4th Kevin Howell with Karana Sami on 147 (56 + 91)
5th John Charlick with Donna on 122 (59 + 63)
+ Gary White with Whites Sami on 64

The Novice Australasian results were similar:
1st Neil Kristiansen with Badgingarra Shelby 182 (90 + 92)
2nd Kevin Howell with Karana Bonnie IV 150 (as above)
3rd Kevin Howell with Karana Sami 147
4th David Sweatman with Skyblue Maggie 113 (55 + 58)
5th Ros Reynolds with GoGetta Brody 81 (46 + 35)
+ Gary White with Whites Sami on 64

My OH's kelpie was first on (nearly missed his run as he arrived 5 min before), and apparently he was pretty happy with his run- for a dog that's 100% yard, and gets very little training, but withdrew after running into a stroppy sheep.

The Open has been great- nice sheep, and a few good scores, and just great to watch the variety of kelpies and styles.
Some of the better runs so far:
Kevin Howell- Karana Bonnie IV (kelpie) on 90
Jim Luce with Paddy (kelpie) on 91
Simon Leaning- Boylee Barney (BC) on 92
Tony Boyle - Boylee Sweetpea (BC) on 90
and Boylee Pepper (BC- my Bill's dad) on 93
Neil K with Princes Tom (BC) on 94
Gary White - Henry's Bundy on 90
Simon Leaning - Marionvale Flash (kelpie) on 91
Simon Leaning- Stoneridge Harry (BC) on 91
Kevin Howell- Karana Duke (kelpie) on 94
Kelvin Barr- Barrkel Kevin (kelpie) on 92 ("Happy Father's Day, Dad"as young Peter announced over the tannoy)

and THE run of the weekend was Gary White with Whites Jilly (kelpie) on 99!
(I think there's never been a 100 given in WA yet, so that's about as good as it gets). Unfortunately it had to happen while I was off running dogs, so I missed it, but I heard it was a dream run.

With a few nice runs in the 90s late on Sunday, and a number of good dogs yet to come, it looks like a decent score will be needed for both kelpies and BCs to make the finals.We managed to tape a few runs, althought the quality of videoing declined rapidly as the days got longer, I got more sunburnt, and the beer started flowing. We also ran out of tape, but luckily they are videoing the finals professionally.

From the WA agility/obedience corner, Yvonne Haynes and Boylee Ceilydh, and Marianne Rogers and Christies Cocoacina both held their own against the "pros", very impressive considering they are both new to the sportand training their own first sheepdogs. I missed their Novice runs, but in the Open, Marianne and Coco started well, made it through the yards and out to the obstacles before Coco got a bit wound up. Yvonne ran Ceilydh in the Open early this morning, and I just heard that she had a lovely cast and draw, and got through the yards and both the gap and trap. Hope someone got that on video!

One shameless little boast- my OH had a really nice run yesterday with his BC (Boylee Fred)- I'd been giving him a lecture (as armchair expert LOL!) about not hurrying the dog, because he sometimes rushes the dog down on the draw, and it gets a bit unsettled- and so he took it steady, and had a BEAUTIFUL run-except he was so unhurried he ran out of time just before the pen, which lost him 20 points, but even without the pen he scored a 72, so was pretty happy with that :) Unfortunately his kelpie had a nightmare run later on, so he's apparently retired him from utility, and will stick to yard trials (which he does well) from now on... until next trial, maybe ;)

As reward and commiseration, he's getting a new pup- a spotty tricolour BC, who will be called Murphy, and looks like a real honey, and hopefully will make a good trials dog.