Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All in a Day's Work: New UKC Champion

UKC CH Patuxent's Black Tie Affair RN AX AXJ NF CL1
On Sunday, September 23rd, Knight-man and I drove out to Carlisle, PA for a UKC show. This would be Knight's second day of showing at a UKC event and his 3rd and 4th show through UKC.

We walked into the weekend needing 50 breed points, and 1 win with competition. Knight walked away with 50 points and 2 more wins with competition. We didn't have any breed competition, but there were 5 breeds in the companion group ring. That means Knight's Group 4th and Group 3rd placements from Sunday counted as wins with competition.

UKC certainly is quite the confidence booster, for both of us. The judges have all been very friendly, Knight shamelessly did a little happy dance for both of them when he received his ribbons.

We're taking a break from Conformation like things next weekend, and will be doing a one day AKC Agility trial! As much as conformation is starting to grow on me, I'm itching to get back in the agility ring. Our last trial was way back in... March I think? Way too long ago! That's for sure!

In order to keep my sanity, I'm forcing myself to stick to 1 day trials and shows for the majority of this first semester. I don't want to completely burn myself out haha. Still trying to keep things pretty balanced, each day of agility is matched with 1 day of conformation in the month. Until Miss Mia has her AKC CH I'm going to try to keep it up. It certainly can't hurt to keep my face familiar in the conformation scene.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

That Dog Nerd VS. The Grooming Marathon!

Man! I am still playing catch up with this blog. I took way too many pictures for this day not to turn into a post though. Without any further ado, I present to you:

That Dog Nerd vs. The Grooming Marathon

Victim #1- Mani: The Before 

Mani After-bath
I took advantage of my friend Sarah's fantastic grooming shop for 2 whole glorious days. Thanks to my hectic work schedule this summer, I did not get to do anything close to "regular grooming" on any of the dogs for months. Day 1 in the grooming shop mostly consisted of giving everyone a good brush out. 

Mia: Before
Mia: After-bath

Day 2 of my grooming marathon was a very full day of bathing. Wash, rinse, blow out, and repeat. With 5 papillons to play with, I can confidently say I got plenty of practice with my blowing-out technique.

Knight- After brushing, before bath
Knight-man: After Bath

 My hectic work schedule was done for the summer, text books had been purchased for the fall semester, a new chapter of my life was unfolding. 
Lilly: After Bath

Mani, Knight, and Mia
 I ended Friday, August 24th, with 5 clean papillons and one very sore back.Saturday, August 25th, I'd be heading back to campus to begin my first official day of being a "student" there. College life, here I come. Let the adventure continue! 

Twister! Bathed and basking in the sunlight

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tori Self Seminar: Advanced Handling 2012

As previously mentioned in my post "Recharging the Soul" I managed to drag myself away from work for a few days in August to attend one of Tori Self's handling seminars. It was a really fun seminar, Rev was super cute, and Tori didn't object to me creepily asking if I could take of picture of Twister, Rev, and Knight together.

Here's all the video clips I pulled off my cellphone from the seminar. I apologize for the low quality. The iPhone footage combined with me uploading it straight from nero to youtube resulted in a bit of a quality suck.

I walked away with a few things to keep in mind with my handling. I figured I'd share them, mostly as a reminder to myself.

Watch Your Shoulders 
 Not literally, but be mindful of them. Tori reminded me of this while I was running Knight, but it's something important I can use with the whole gang. All my dogs are now confident enough in the ring that if I'm not giving them enough input as to where we're going next they will take an educated guess. That educated guess almost always has to do with where my shoulders are pointed.

A perfect example of this is right at the start of the video, right about 12 seconds in. We're supposed to be turning to the jump parallel to the wall. Since I wasn't trusting Knight with my handling, I was looking back at him. That opened up my shoulders to the off course jump which he confidently took.

In the next clip, when I keep my shoulders forward to the correct jump, the off course jump is no longer an option in his mind.

Drive Your Lines
  Something I'm usually pretty good with in training, but tossing it in here cause it never hurts to have a reminder. When you have a line, GO FOR IT! Race your dog down the line, not only will it get you a faster time, it is so much FUN! Be Confident and go boldly.

Run with Enthusiasm 
  If I had to walk away from this seminar being reminded of only one thing, it would be this. Run with enthusiasm. Bring energy into your handling! It's hard to be excited while you're waiting for your tiny dog to do a 270 degree turn while you're on the inside, I know. But when you bring more energy to the table you give your dog a reason to bring more energy to the game too. The difference between when I walked and waited, and when I shortened my steps and pretended to run was insane. Knight was much more excited about running when I made running exciting. That should be a no-brainer.

Sometimes though, those simple no-brainers are the easiest to forget.  I want to expect speed and enthusiasm from Knight every single run. Isn't it only fair that he ask the same of me?

All in all, it was a fantastic seminar. Getting out and running around with my little dude was a much needed break from everything going on in my life at the time. I highly recommend checking out one of Tori's seminars if she's ever in your area.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How The Summer Was Spent

Now that we are well into September it's time to do some catching up. This summer flew by in a long blur. Work became the priority in my life. I was working a full time job 5-7 days a week, and a much lighter part-time job between shifts 3 days a week.

Days ran together. My life was the kennel. Thanks to Selina I managed not to work myself to death. We were out of the house for over 12 hours for a few rocky days. There were many days when rolling out of bed was a battle, and finding time for my own dogs seemed impossible. It wasn't all bad though, I certainly walked away with a ton of hands on experience of running a kennel. I'd like to say my phone skills with clients improved a bit, that's not to say there's plenty of more room for improvement though haha.

In June, before the insanity at work kicked off, I entered Lilly, Knight, an Mia in an AKC conformation and rally-o event. The Friday night before the show I got a grooming lesson from Selina. This occurred after  she watched in horror as I flailed around with the blow dryer. A few hours later, after a few corrections here and there from Selina (okay.... more than a few) Knight was done. He looked pretty fantastic if I may say so myself.

Knight Q'd both days in Novice Rally, finishing off his RN. While Lilly had a triumphant NQ both days in her Advanced classes. Something about the wide open fields of Rally rings sends Lilly's brain out the window. We NQ'd in style though, showing off some distance sends to the jump and a verbal rear cross. Lil strutted out of that ring like she just finished her MXJ. I couldn't help but laugh it off, she lives to keep me humble.

On Saturday I missed the dog classes thanks to doodling around the rally ring. Mia gaited well for me on the go-around, but acted like I was going to step on her the entire time for the down and back. Walked away from the ring with no points, but with something to keep working on.

Sunday, with a bit of paranoia, we made it to the ring in time for the class dogs. Twister took the class, Knight-man followed with a second over another dog. Mia continued to lean far away from me on the down and back in her class, further proving it is something I need to work on, not just a random fluke.

All in all it was a great weekend. We set up our grooming area over with  Sarah and the Unique Poodle Crew. It was so much fun! I, Hillary Graff, was having FUN at a conformation event. Having people like Selina, Sarah, and the Unique crowd made a huge difference. I walked away from that weekend wanting more. For the first time, I didn't leave the ring feeling disappointed, frustrated, or lost. I didn't want to give up. I felt ready for more.

And more will certainly be coming, I've tossed together a fall show schedule that has agility and conformation  pretty evenly divided. We'll see how things pan out!