Monday, April 25, 2016

Tessa's Agility Videos

In honor of our upcoming (hopefully!) C-ATCH, I have created a youtube playlist of all of Tessa's Agility videos!

All are public, for a limited time!  Most are Q's, but some are not.  Most are CPE, but there area a few that are not.

Most recent is first.  They go in reverse order!  There are almost 90 videos in all!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tessa Got a Le La Ru Award!!!!

High on my list of things I thought that Tessa and I could never possibly accomplish together . . . Tessa got a Le La Ru Award for our submission to the Dance Into Spring Event for the Dogs Can Dance Challenge!

The Le La Ru Award is given to the team who earns the highest score of the event.

Anyone who has followed this blog knows that Freestyle has never been Tessa's particular passion.  She is my Agility girl, always and forever!

In fact, many years ago, a WCFO judge commented that Tessa and I were "not a Freestyle team", but "an Agility team".

Well . . . she was wrong.   We are BOTH!!

Yes, I brought some of her Agility into this particular routine.  After all, it was created - mostly by Tessa - to showcase the best of Tessa.  And part of that is always going to be her jumping.

Incidentally, this is also the routine with which we got our WCFO Intermediate title last November (but the video is NOT from that event - it was filmed for the Challenge and it is my property to share).

Here is the video of our performance, BTW . . .

This one really was all Tessa's!!

Here are some of my favorite comments!  Actually, these are my favorite scoresheets of all time!

"This was a super performance!  The choreography honored the dog, matched the music perfectly, and built to an exciting crescendo.  Best incorporation of jumps into a dance that I've seen."

"Super teamwork!  Both team members were attuned to each other throughout the performance.  Their exuberance came through to the audience."

"Smart use of moves that Tessa obviously loves, to bring up her energy and put her heart into it."

"It was clear that you know your girl very well, and how to help her succeed.  It was lovely watching your respect and love for her.  It looks like she loves to dance with her Mom."

"Two gals out on the town.  I loved it!  The pace changes and choreography were really New Yorkish."

"The big apple props were very appealing . . ."

Love it, love it, LOVE IT!!!  It is beyond amazing to get comments like that on a routine with Tessa!!

Her score was 152 points!  That is high!!

This may not be the "big one" that we have been working for all these years, but it is an absolutely delightful and unexpected surprise that makes me every bit as happy!

Tessa and I will have to keep creating and performing together, after all!!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Back to Freestyle . . . . ????

Although I do work with Tessa, sometimes, on skills from other sports, our focus has been about 80% Agility; 10% Fitness.  This has been a good choice for us.  Ever since I stopped putting any real focus on other sports, Tessa's Agility skills have skyrocketed.

But . . . it was never my intention to only do Agility with her forever.  I do enjoy other activities, and I'd like to enjoy them with her!

So, last night we had a few minutes at the building after I taught class and I played around with her with some heeling/Freestyle stuff.

Freestyle.  Not Tessa's favorite thing.  She doesn't hate it.  But she has never really developed a true love for it.  Our experience in Freestyle has been fits and starts.  And although she has done a few really nice performances, and we actually have our Intermediate WCFO title (which is a huge deal!), I still have never felt that Tessa is a "Freestyle Dog".

Yesterday I took a completely different approach to a bit of Freestyle training.

I had some chicken on me and I started to wander around the room.  Tessa sniffed around a bit, then took a passing interest in me, and then finally drove up into heel with a look on her face like, "whaddayadoin'?"  At that moment, I went "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, TESSA!!!"

Oh, she likes that!!  She preened a bit and continued to move along, holding perfect position, with a nice little bounce to her pretty trot.

Hmmm . . .

I tossed a treat and she broke away and meandered around the room again.  I did the same thing.  Again, when she drove up into position, I went, "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, TESSA!!!"  She glowed!!

I started to delay a bit before giving her that bit of cheering.  I was also giving her chicken, but never for coming up into position - always for moving for a bit of duration first.

We worked it a bit in center position, too.  Moving toward me in center has always been a weak point of hers.  Darned if she didn't get a little trot going there, too!!

I am going to play around with this more.  The really exciting thing is that in the DCD Challenge, we can overlay the music over the video, so even if I am going "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, TESSA!!!", that will go away when I make that edit!

Maybe Tessa has a future in Freestyle yet . . . !  In any case, it's worth exploring.
Tessa's ribbon for one of her Freestyle titles

Monday, April 11, 2016

And then there were TWO!!!

Well, now we are down to needing just two more!  One Wildcard and one Snooker.

I could scream from the rooftops for joy over the fact that this will not come down to Jackpot!  I think that of all of the categories in CPE Agility the last one I would want to need one more leg in for anything is Jackpot!

I took Tessa down to Breakaway Action Dogs in Frederick, Maryland this weekend.  We actually ran both days, which is highly unusual for us.  That was originally not my intention.  When I saw that they were offering a round of Jackpot on both days, I figured that one would be Traditional and one would be non-Traditional.  You can always tell which it is going to be when the running order for the trial is published.  If everyone is grouped together, they are running a non-Traditional Jackpot.  If Levels 1/2, 3, and 4/5/C are running separate, it will be a Traditional Jackpot.

When I decided to enter, it was my intention to scratch on the day they were running the Traditional Jackpot.  But then . . . I was signed up, and it wasn't that big of a deal to go down twice . . . so, I decided to go both days.  I knew that our chances of qualifying on a Traditional Jackpot were slim, but . . . you really never know.  And in the end, I was so glad that I gave it a shot!

I used to go to Breakaway Action Dogs quite often.  Speedy did a good bit of Rally there.  He actually earned his Level 2 APDT Rally title there, in a course on which he did his one and only successful Stand for Exam in competition.  I used to take both Maddie and Dean Dog there for Agility.  But in all the years I have been doing Agility with Tessa, she and I had never gone there once together.

There were two reasons for this.  The floor used to be a very hard and slippery black rubber matting.  Back when I was running Maddie I didn't think as much about the safety of the flooring as I do now.  I don't think most people really did because we didn't have very many flooring options available.

Also, during the Agility events they don't have room for crating in the main room, so you had to crate out of the car.  Maddie didn't love crating out of the car, but she could handle it.  Dean preferred to crate out of the car.  But Tessa HATES crating out of the car.  She simply cannot settle in the car.  I almost never ask her to do it, and usually when I do we have finished for the day.

When I became interested in entering this trial, I made some inquiries and found out that they have replaced their floor with the same blue flooring that we normally train on!  I decided, in spite of the crating out of the car situation, to go ahead and enter her.  But then, just a few days before the trial, I found out that they have another building now and they were offering crating in there!  Perfect!

So, off to BAD Tessa and I went!  On Saturday we were just running Jackpot and then on Sunday a round of Jumpers and then a second Jackpot.  The Traditional Jackpot was on Saturday.

In spite of unseasonable April snow, we enjoyed a pleasant drive down.  It really brought back a lot of memories to drive into Frederick and go back to this location.  When we got there I found the crate room and got set up.  Stephanie and Oliver were there, so we set up near them.

They were still running 1/2 Jackpot, so we had a bit of time to settle in.  Tessa was rarin' to go!  Every time we walked by the main building, which she had never been inside of in her entire life, she preened and waggled.  It was clear that she knew exactly what was going on in there and she wanted to go in and run!

I took the time to look at the map for the 4/5/C Jackpot.  At first I thought we would never be able to do the gamble.  The line was a big rectangle with a curved tunnel at the "point".  I would have to send her into that, which was not a problem, and then over another jump that was sitting pretty much next to it.  That wasn't going to be a problem, either.  The problem was the next jump.  It was sitting directly behind the tunnel.  If I hugged the gamble line too much when I sent her to the first jump, I would pull her off the second.  Even if she took the second jump, she could end up returning to me and then go back into the jump, or else just waste a whole bunch of time!

I looked at it, tried to plan for it, but finally decided that I needed to actually see what it would be like.

When it was time to walk, I found that it wasn't as bad as it looked on paper. I planned out a strategy and I knew we had as good a shot at it as any!

Well, it turned out that it all worked out well.  We barely squeaked by, but we made it.  When the buzzer went off, Tessa wasn't in a great spot, and she ended up taking an extra A-Frame (which ate up time).  We just made it, though, and she got the gamble!!!!!!

Isn't that blue floor lovely?  It is very nice to run on!

We got the Q!  I am so happy that one of our Jackpots that we need for our C-ATCH is a Traditional one!  That is a big accomplishment!

When we went back on Sunday, Tessa was tired.  I have not kept up with her fitness work as I should, and I need to rectify that at once!

She, very uncharacteristically, knocked the first bar on her Jumpers run.  I thought that NQ'ed us, but it turned out it didn't!  So, we got that Q!!

Then we ran our non-Traditional Jackpot.  This one was very do-able!  The gamble was a Tunnel, A-Frame, Jump, and Tunnel kind of serpentine in the middle of the course.  There was no distance required!  It was really just a matter of getting that done and accumulating the correct amount of points!  In the end I sent her to a tunnel that she didn't need and that almost ate up too much time, but we were just under, and we got the Q!!

I can't believe we got two Jackpot Q's in one weekend!  We struggle with this game so much, at least the Traditional Jackpots!

I am so proud of Tessa and I couldn't be happier!

So . . . all we need now is one Wildcard and one Snooker.  We will go for both in three weeks at Periland!

Check out our progress chart!  Just two more blank spaces!!

Monday, April 4, 2016


Yes, I used all caps in the title!  Yes, I'm shouting!  But I am shouting with joy and excitement, so I'd say it's allowed!

Tessa and I now just need FOUR MORE Q's to earn our C-ATCH!!!!!!

Wow!  This is such an amazing place to be!  So close!  And we've come so far!  And we are still flying forward as we move closer and closer to our goal!

We went to Barto on Saturday.  I just love Barto.  Tessa loves Barto - she runs really, really well there.  Something about the place really brings out the best in her.  But, also, I feel close to Speedy there.  It's almost like Tessa, Speedy, and I are together again.  It's like he's there with us as we walk the beautiful grounds and while Tessa and I run together.  That makes the whole experience extra special.

And Stephanie and Oliver came along, which always makes it more fun.

Uncharacteristically, we went later in the day to run the last three classes of the day: Wildcard, Colors, and Snooker.  We needed Wildcard and Snooker, so late in the day it was!

It was a miracle that we found crating when we got there, as it was a very full trial.  But we did manage to find a pretty good spot, room for both of us and for Tessa and Oliver's crates.

We had to wait a bit for our first run.  We got there much earlier than we needed to be there.  Better too early, of course, than too late.  But Tessa was rarin' to go and she did have a bit of a difficult time waiting as long as we needed to.

Finally it was our turn.  Tessa was definitely "on" and she did a lovely job in our first run.  I made one tiny handling blip.  I called her name when she was in the air over a double jump.  I actually saw her change her body in the air so she could turn toward me.  I should have waited until she landed!

But she compensated beautifully, and we managed to Q and get 3rd Place.

Her happy demeanor at the end tells the whole story!

Now we only need one more Wildcard Q!  Wildcard can really be a bugaboo for us, so I am extra happy about that.

Next was Colors.  We are working toward our Colors Championship.  We need 15 Level 5 Q's for that, and we were running for #9 on Saturday.

That run was perfectly perfect!  Everything about it was flawless!  We Q'ed and got 4th Place!

We had quite a long wait after that.  They had to run Levels 1 and 2 Colors, and then they did 1 and 2 Snooker before they did 3, 4, 5, and C.

It was very, very late when we finally walked.  I was tired, and I was not thinking as sharply as I would have liked.  I bumbled around out there for the entire walk through, trying to figure out an opening that I thought would work well for us, but the best I could come up with wasn't great. 

As I was watching some other people run, I saw a PERFECT opening!!  Generally I don't like to change my plan to one that I haven't walked, but I considered the matter carefully and decided that this time it was smart to do so.  After all, Snooker is a game where you need to be able to think on your feet!  HA!

Well, it went perfectly with the unwalked plan!  I hesitated just a bit at one jump, but it didn't cause an issue.  Here is our run . . .

I love the serpentine at the end!!  I love how she dug in as she executed it!!

Well, that was our 4th Level 5 Snooker Q, so we only need one more of those now, too.  When I realized that, I was just utterly dumbfounded!

Q and 1st Place!  While I am not into placements, it felt good to place above an entire group of dogs who had placed above us all day long!  Tessa just rocked this run!

Tessa put her heart into all three of her runs, and she compensated for some little mistakes of mine.

I just love this girl.  I just love that we are doing this together!  I love that we are having so much fun as we accomplish this goal!

Now, just four to go!  The two Jackpot are going to be the tough ones.  We are running in two Jackpot classes this coming weekend.  We shall see how that goes!

But, no matter how it takes, I will love every second of it!


Tessa waiting in her crate for her first run of the day.  "Can we please run NOW?!!?"