Merlin and Hawk

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Well not a whole lot of agility going on right now - too much snow and mud! So far we have a couple trials coming up, so will be trying to find some time to work Hawk (the only one entered til April).

So far we've got: January 12 & 13 - CISSC - Pawsitive Partners - Hawk (Ex A Std & Jww)
February 1-3 - GLKC - Greater Lafayette Kennel Club - Hawk (Ex A Std & Jww)

and then maybe none til April 19 & 20 - PPB - Sports Club II - Merlin (Ex B Std & JWW)

Will post any videos/etc if I get some before the next trial, otherwise may not have another entry til January 12 :)

Lafayette, IN Agility Trial & UKC Conformation Show

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Well we've had a busy two weeks! We had a trial in Lafayette, IN on the 2nd and got to run on GLKC's new flooring, and then the next weekend we had a UKC Show in Danville, IN and got to try out UKC with the CATS club. Then this week has been finals - so finally I have time to write about the past few weeks!

I had Hawk, Rhymer, and Cloud in the agility trial. Cloud hasn't done much agility (he's sort of a novice dog in excellent) and this is his first time in a trial with me, after only a few weeks training together.

Hawk - 12" Excellent A in both STD & JWW (had 1 AX leg & 1 AXJ leg)
Cloud - 16" Excellent A in both STD & JWW (no AX/AXJ legs)
Rhymer - 16" Excellent B in both STD & JWW (8 MX legs & 9 MXJ legs)

Hawk's Standard run was the only qualifying run, but the other runs were "almost but not quite". Hawk's Standard run felt great, and was TWENTY seconds under time! She finished in first place, with the fastest qualifying time of any 12" or 16" dog on that course :)

Her JWW I didn't hang back quite long enough to get her to turn to the right jump - oops!

Then the next weekend Merlin, Selkie and I headed to our first UKC Conformation show. Merlin hasn't really anything to do since July, so he was absolutely thrilled to be out doing something special again. This was Selkie's second dog show - her first was a puppy match at Ft Wayne last month. She's still not old enough for the regular classes, but they offered a class for puppies 3-6 months old so we entered her in that.

They had a blast! In the first show Saturday, Merlin beat the other Shelties for 35 points toward his championship and placed 2nd in the herding group! Selkie won "best 3-6 Sheltie". The second show (also on Saturday), Merlin again beat the other Shelties for 35 points and Selkie again won "best 3-6 Sheltie". In Sunday's first show, the other Shelties didn't show up so Merlin won the breed for 25 points and again placed 2nd in the Herding Group, and Selkie was again "best 3-6 Sheltie". Then Sunday's second show was amazing! Merlin needed just to get his first place ribbon in his class to finish his championship, and he and Selkie were the only Shelties that showed up. Merlin won the breed, then won the Herding Group, then he went Reserve Best In Show! And to top it off, Selkie had once again gone "best 3-6 Sheltie" but followed that up by winning Best Puppy In Show! Woohoo!!!

So Merlin is now UKC CH Faerie Magic Touch PT AX AXJ SSA CGC (one Pairs leg short of his AD), and is a UKC Multiple Group Placing, Group Winning, Reserve Best In Multi-Breed Show winner :)

Can't wait til he's up for doing agility in the Spring - I've really missed doing things with him. And who knows - maybe a UKC GRCH and an AKC CH will be soon to follow! :) I'm counting down the days til Selkie can do real conformation shows - she's such a riot to be in the ring with.

Considering a blind cross...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I've never been much for blind crosses. Usually I like that moment of a front cross to reconnect with the dog and make sure we're on the same page. Generally I only do blind crosses now when the dog can't see me anyway - but even then I usually elect for a front just to "make sure" the dog comes up on the side I wanted. Lately I've been wondering just how much time a blind cross (in certain situations) would shave off - particuarly when used in certain 180's or serpentines. The results? See for yourself.

Analysis: first blind cross - 2.5. second blind cross - 2.5. front cross - 2.9. The blind cross was almost a half second faster.

Does that mean I'm going to turn all my front crosses into blind crosses? No, but I will definitely consider them more when analyzing a course - particularly since Hawk seems to enjoy them. I would like to try them with Merlin also, since time is our nemisis on course :) If he likes them as much as his sister does it may make for a better game :)

Current Focus

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thought it would help to put what we're currently working on (or hope to improve) into words :)

Merlin - just chilling out for a while, not doing agility again til Spring. This winter we'll build up to fun play and maybe train some tricks.

Rhymer - ironing out teamwork and getting contacts more consistent, work on weave entries/independence.

Hawk - faster, more consistent weaves. improve distance/gamblers skills.

Cloud - build up teamwork, improve weave consistency, work on looking for obstacles/light distance skills.

Trinket - work on crosses, basic jumping skills, work on 2o2o, re-intro weaves.

Flutter - after recovery from spay, help her build her rear back up with bar-less jumps, tunnels, and dog walk/teeter.

Coyote - teach crosses, intro to tunnels and beginning jump skills. teach 2o2o.

Selkie - teach sit, follow a hand, and come when called :)

and if you're wondering, yes I train 8 dogs :)

FWOTC - Fort Wayne, IN

Thursday, October 25, 2007

GREAT weekend! Hawk and Rhymer were both entered. Hawk needed one more OAJ leg to finish her title, and was in Excellent A Standard for the first time. Rhymer was entered in Excellent B JWW & Standard, needing 2 legs for his MXJ and 3 legs for his MX.


Standard: Oops! Missing your walkthrough may leave the handler disorientated :) My fault on both flubs, but we did about as well as everyone else on that course. I was happy with how well she pulled through that last sequence (pin wheel to the teeter to the end).

JWW: Was really pleased with this run, just need to get faster weaves in trials. :)

Standard: The way I did the lead-out was a little different than most people. A lot of people chose to lead out on the other side, but I thought the left side gave the dog a clearer idea of where to go. I elected to layer the extra jump to better tuck Rhymer into the chute. We could've tightened the exit of the weaves to the tire, but I like his speed through the weaves. Not sure what the stop on the Aframe was for, but we've been kind of off training since his last trial (had some chiropractic work done). Since he was behaving himself, I let him have some fun on the rest of the contacts. I was very pleased with how nicely he tucked in to the approach to the teeter.

JWW: Was very pleased with this run on his part - we need to work weave pole exits apparently! I didn't want to push too hard too soon for the turn but pushed too late - good dog for saving my butt!! He was a little too "YEHAW!" on the large pinwheel and we need to work on tucking in a little tighter. Double Q though! :)


Standard: Mostly could just use tighter turns - I may set up the tunnel - triple - serpentine - aframe sequence to figure out a different way to handle that. I didn't see anyone figure out a smooth way to handle it. Much happier with her weaves this run.

JWW: Fairly happy with this run for a twisty course - could've snugged up a couple places (like the weave entry) or pushed a little more for speed, but I wasn't sure how she'd handle on one of these courses.

Standard: Who knows on the teeter! A lot of dogs were having teeter problems on that course. Same problem as Hawk on the tunnel - triple - serpentine - aframe. I figured since we'd NQ'ed we'd do the 2o2o contacts. Pretty happy with the rest of the run.

JWW: Like how this run went (could've snugged up a few places but twisty is not his forte). I'm kicking myself for how that rear cross went at the end! I think we needed the rear cross to suck him back that way but he sucked too far back and we missed it completely. Oops. :)

Motivation and the Performance Dog

Monday, October 1, 2007

This has been bugging me for a while so I figure I might as well ramble about it.

I was talking with a friend of mine explaining that in my next puppy I would like to get a little more drive.

My friend replied that I am just not being motivating enough -- that there must be something in the world that the dog enjoys enough to give the performance I'd like, and if not then the dog must not be hungry/lonely enough to find it motivating.

Do WHAT? Why on Earth would I want to starve or ignore my dog just to get a faster obstacle performance in a GAME? It's supposed to be FUN for pete's sake! Now I don't mean I don't think you should train when the dog is hungry for breakfast or dinner - but that's very different from withholding several meals on a regular basis, or leaving your dog in a crate for the entire day so they're so happy to see you that they'll do anything for you.

I love my dogs and I love this sport, but BECAUSE I love my dogs I don't want to try to "force" them to love the sport! I do what I can to show them it's a fun game and to reward their best efforts, but if they don't enjoy it why should I ask them to do it? Maybe they find something else more enjoyable, or maybe they just have a laid-back attitude about life and don't get riled up about anything at all.

When it comes down to it, my relationship with my dogs comes first. Some say the above attitude will keep me from "getting anywhere" in agility, but so what? It's a fun game that I play with my dogs -- and as long as my dogs are happy doing it, so am I. :)

Terre Haute Kennel Club report

Yup I still LOVE the facility -- could have done without all the death-trap walnuts though! Despite being attacked by walnuts, a beetle, and the very very loud concert in the building next to the trial it was a VERY fun trial.

Hawk, Rhymer, and my teamwork was all a little "off" this weekend but Rhymer hasn't trialled since about this time last year, and Hawk hasn't trialled since the beginning of July. So being the first time back out in quite a while (and Hawk's 3rd trial ever), I was fairly pleased with how it went overall.

I haven't got the videos uploaded yet, so I'll post a link when I get that up.



  • 9/29/07 - Excellent B JWW - Q - 1st place - 31.28 seconds, 14 MACH points - MXJ leg #7
  • 9/29/07 - Excellent B STD - NQ - did not stop on his Aframe, called the run
  • 9/30/07 - Excellent B JWW - Q - 1st place - 32.16 seconds, 14 MACH points - MXJ leg #8
  • 9/30/07 - Excellent B STD - NQ - did not stop on his Aframe, called the run

(He tests his contact stops every 6-12 mos to see if I'm still serious when I ask him for them. Clearly he knows I am now!)


  • 9/29/07 - Open JWW - NQ - a couple refusals due to my bad timing
  • 9/29/07 - Open STD - Q - 1st place - 69.62 seconds (held contacts) - OA leg #1
  • 9/30/07 - Open JWW - Q - 1st place - 33.58 seconds - OAJ leg #1 - bad timing again
  • 9/30/07 - Open STD - Q - 1st place - 73.88 seconds (held contacts) - OA leg #2

Off to Indiana Collie Club's trial next weekend, and Fort Wayne's trial shortly after that!

Pupdate and Training Fun

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Well, Tammy thinks Merlin may've hurt his ACL so we've definitely got an appointment with Dr. Mark tomorrow. Until then we're trying crate rest and leash walking to potty, to try to keep him from further injuring whatever. I definitely love clubs that have a "partial refund for injured dogs" policy though - at least I can put that toward treatment to get that dog back to normal, if needed. That helps a lot! I do hate to ask this club for that money back, as it didn't come even close to filling its 330 runs, but that's not really an option at the moment.

I've still got Hawk and Rhymer entered (both classes, both days), so at least I'm not pulling all my entries. Should be fun! We're staying with a dog friend/student and carpooling with them, so it'll probably be nonstop dog talk all weekend!


I set up a really random course the other day -- mostly built around the fact I didn't want to move the contacts. I wanted to work a bit on dog walk/tunnel combinations, a 270 or two, and a little bit on weave entries.

(Click on course to enlarge)

Rhymer: Rhymer got to be the test dog for this course. I tried being on both sides of the weaves, but neither was much more successful than the other. Front crossing after 4 tightened his weave entry, but made the pin wheel a little rough (he likes to work away so that part worked out okay). With a post turn at 4 (with me hanging back a little so he knew to shorten up his stride), he turned a little too wide to the weaves but corrected it and hit the entry, but then I was "stuck" behind 9 in the pinwheel. I suppose I could've kept going with him on my right and eventually rear crossed at 10 or 11 but for whatever reason that didn't look like a good option in 3D. He absolutely loved the rest of the course.

Hawk: Hawk thought 1-3 was an absolute riot! We ran into the same problem with the weaves-to-pinwheel that Rhymer and I did. Hmm! If it's not raining today after Spanish class I'll go out and take another look at possibilities. She thoroughly loved the rest of the course. She and her dad both chose the far tunnel entrance of the yellow tunnel, but that may've had something to do with the way I signaled it. Hmm, might go look at that again too!


The other day someone informed me that Hawk has really slow contacts. Out of curiosity I looked up the "blistering fast, competitive, and OK" obstacle times someone had sent to Clean Run's list a while back. Hmm.. doesn't look so slow to me, considering I imagine the fastest times are big dogs (ie Border Collies)? Not bad for a little 13.5" girlie :)

From Clean run:
Dogwalk - fastest times are getting down to 1.5 seconds (big dogs). Fast
2o/2o are just under 2 seconds. You would ideally like your dogwalk under
2.5 to be competitive but under 3.0 for the average competitor is still

Teeter (variance due to equipment) - fastest times are just under 1 second.
Very good is around 1.2. To be competitive you want it under 1.5. Less than
2.0 is good for the average competitor. Small dogs there is a huge variance
due to equipment.

A-frame - fastest times are around 1.3. Very good times are under 1.5. Less
than 1.8 to be competitive. Less than 2.2 is good for the average

Weave poles (huge variance due to surface and spacing) - fastest times on
grass are between 2.2 - 2.4. Very good under 2.7 on grass. Definitely want
to be less than 3.0 to be competitive. Average competitor is doing well to
have 3.3 or less. Carpet can add over half a second depending on traction.
I took several attempts of her contacts frame-by-frame on video and timed from the moment her first paw made contact with the obstacle to her first paw leaving the obstacle (since she does a 2o2o).

Her times (average based on 2-7 attempts):
Teeter: 2.3 seconds
Weaves: 4.1 seconds
A-frame: 2.6 seconds
Dog Walk: 3.2 seconds

Off to school as I'm already running late (agility talk is clearly much more fun than getting ready)!

Sorry all

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sorry all,

Got really behind in updating this! You can check out all my recent agility videos at

Hawk, Rhymer, and Merlin all have a trial coming up at the end of the month. Hawk is entered in Open Standard & Open JWW, and Rhymer and Merlin are both entered in Excellent B in Standard & JWW. It's a really small trial - so Rhymer and Merlin are only 4 dogs apart in the running order -- and that's if all those dogs show up! YIKES!

Trial: Agility Club of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Overall a very nice trial. The club members were friendly and had a lot of fun doing neat things for the 07-07-07 trial day. My only real issue was the footing - I love natural footing (dirt, grass, etc), and this was indoors on Astroturf. It was surprisingly slick (I found myself sliding on it a bit, and Merlin was as well [not a blazingly fast dog by any means]), and I was amazed at how much my feet and legs hurt by the end of the day! Other people seemed to be oddly sore as well, so I can imagine the dogs were probably feeling the effects from jumping on that surface as well. Glad to hear the next trial this club holds will be at a different location on the better Astroturf (with the pellets for cushion and traction). The Merrillville trials use that footing and I absolutely love it!

Hawk got her first permanent card measurement first thing Saturday by Gail Storm at 14" exactly. She quickly got accustomed to the trial atmosphere and settled in to her crate for a nap while I walked the course and then ran Merlin in Standard.

Merlin had a nice run other than skidding off the pause table (I didn't realize the table was slicker than he was used to). Quite satisfied with that! Later in the afternoon Merlin ran in JWW and had another nice run, and qualified for his 4th MXJ leg! Woohoo!

Hawk's first run was in JWW. It was a very open course which she thought was a riot. Other than missing a jump and going back for it (and me trying to put in an ugly front cross) it was a lovely run, especially for her first time! I couldn't have been more pleased with it. Then in Standard she did it again with another lovely run on a challenging novice course, with just one refusal again (on the aframe). She qualified both runs for her first leg each, as well as a first place in both classes!

Sunday seemed to run better as far as ring conflicts. Merlin ran in Standard and was raring to go, with a lovely run to get his first MX leg! He just wasn't the same dog in JWW though, and our teamwork fell apart. We missed course time by 3 seconds, and Merlin is now sitting out of agility for a while. His back appears to be really bothering him, and his shoulders and neck are stiff after the bad slip he took landing off a jump in that JWW run. I'll post more updates on his recovery process as we go along, but I'm definitely pulling him from the CISSC's agility trial this coming weekend. Tuesday he's got an appointment with Karin Gose for some Reiki, and that should hopefully help him until his veterinary chiropractor (Dr. Mark) comes back from PA.

Hawk had very nice runs on Sunday, with one refusal in JWW (just didn't see the tunnel) and two in Standard. Strengthening her ability to go looking for the correct obstacle is on our list of things to work on. She again Q'ed in both runs for her second leg of each title, and again with first places in each!

Overall it was a rollercoaster weekend - between Hawk's awesome first weekend and Merlin's injury, it just goes to show you should never take ANY run with your dog for granted. I believe there's a saying, "life's a journey, enjoy the ride." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Chute and Broad Jump

Friday, July 6, 2007

Tonight since it's so hot we waited to do dinner until about 7 PM. Hawk's close to the jump height cut-off in AKC, so every ounce counts - she gets the same amount of food as usual, but instead of working for treats we're working for dinner (she doesn't seem to mind). I measured her at 13 1/2" the other night, so hopefully she'll get safely in the 12" class (cut-off is 14").

I didn't want to drill her with her first trial tomorrow, so we focused on the chute and the broad jump. She had a little trouble remembering the point of the chute, but soon she was zooming through it, so we focused on coming out straight, with her head down. She seems to be getting it, but I certainly won't be running too close to the chute, just in case!!

The broad jump is going great - the only issue is she tries to "wrap" it if I'm not close enough to her, and doesn't jump the entire thing. I think with the jump standards there she would be fine though, and she was jumping much straighter by the end of it.

I think they actually turned out to be a good pair of obstacles to pair together in one lesson, since she had to focus on making sure she's completed the obstacle before attempting to "wrap" it.

Merlin and I worked a little bit on the chute as well, since he had a bad chute experience in April (got stuck in a wet chute), just to give him some more positive chute experiences before this weekend and next.

Instead of having the goal of qualifying, I usually have a couple things I want to try for in our runs. If we achieve those things, make progress toward them, or do something else wonderful I'm generally pleased with the run (regardless of whether we Q or not). So.. goals for this weekend.

Goals for Merlin
- speeding up! I'm going to attempt to really rev him up on the start line and then go, and avoid start line stays if at all possible. He can do them, but he slows down.
- remember for me to slow down on the bottom of the contacts! If I slow down, he'll hit his contacts (we stopped 2o2o'ing because he would get very slow and worried, regardless of how enthusiastically we worked on it).
- trust him to find the weave entry.

Goals for Hawk
- hold all contacts!!!!!!!!!!!
- support the broad jump and chute as much as possible.
- let her weave as independently as possible.

Spread jumps

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Today Hawk and I focused on spread jumps. I'm in Kokomo this week, so I don't have an actual double/triple here like we do in Muncie. Instead I had to improvise, by setting up 2-3 normal jumps such that the distance between the bars and the heights of the bars were correct. It looked a little odd, but didn't seem to phase Hawk at all. It could actually be good proofing in the future, for odd-looking jumps/jump wings I suppose. Hawk had no trouble with the triple and double, and I was pleased to see she took their size into account when wrapping(1) - in order to leave the bars up.

She hadn't seen a broad jump up to this point, so I decided to work on that a bit as well. At first she attempted to do a 2 on, 2 off (2o2o)(2) contact on it. When she realized that wasn't getting her anywhere, she proceeding to jump over it. Bingo! Lots of cookies for the smart girlie. After that she had no problem doing the broad jump regardless of where I was at.

Her rear cross is coming along nicely, but she's not comfortable enough with it to ask for it in trials yet. She understands it on the flat, but we're not very consistent over jumps yet (still need to work out timing to not turn her before the jump).

If anyone's interested, here's a video of Hawk doing agility. There's one spot where a rear cross would've been preferable, but given the above issue with the rear cross, we went for an ugly front cross instead.

(1) Wrapping - taking the jump and then turning as tightly as possible to the left or right upon landing (depending on which side the handler is on), around the side of the jump, and back to the handler.
(2) 2o2o (2 on 2 off) - method of doing the bottom of the contact such that the dog stops at the bottom with his/her front feet on the ground and the back feet on the board.


Common people/animals to be mentioned in this blog:

Me: I'm Jenn Stanley. I'm in college as a Telecommunications major - which basically means someone that works behind the scenes at a TV station doing video editing and such. I'm also an agility instructor at Agility Dreams in Muncie, Indiana. I started in agility in 2002. I also do obedience (not currently competing) and conformation. I compete primarily in AKC, and occasionally in USDAA.

Dewy: Shetland Sheepdog male (neutered). Born 9/11/2002. He has his NA, NAJ, CD, and CGC. He also has 2 CDX legs, 1 OA leg, 2 OAJ legs, and 1 leg each toward his NAP and NJP. Retired, but enjoys playing agility at home occasionally.

Rio: Shetland Sheepdog male (neutered). Born 10/24/2003. He has his CGC, but is highly noise sensitive/high flight risk. He lives with my mom, and enjoys playing agility at home only.

Merlin: Shetland Sheepdog male. Born 9/7/2004. He has his PT, AX, AXJ, SSA, and CGC. He also has 3 MXJ legs, and is one pairs leg short of his AD and shows in conformation. He loves to do it all.

Hawk: Shetland Sheepdog female. Born 1/18/2004. She has her PT and HSAs. She has her agility debut this weekend. She is a half-sister to Merlin.

Titles explained:
AGILITY: NA, NAJ - AKC Novice Standard/Novice Jumpers With Weaves. OA, OAJ, - AKC Open Standard/Open Jumpers With Weaves. AX, AXJ - AKC Excellent A Standard/Excellent A Jumpers With Weaves. NAP, NJP - AKC Novice Preferred Standard/Novice Preferred Jumpers With Weaves. SSA - USDAA Starters Standard.
AD - USDAA Starters "versatility" title.
OBEDIENCE: CD - AKC Novice Obedience. CDX - AKC Open Obedience. CGC - AKC Canine Good Citizen.
HERDING: PT - AKC Pre-Trial Tested.