Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chiropractor & What's next with Bullet?

Bullet visited a chiropractor tonight. With the speed he lives his life, and the number of crashes he's taken along the way with the bodily stresses of Schutzhund I had no idea what to expect. What exactly would she feel?

Turns out he's not bad at all. A little stiff in the middle of his back, a small adjustment to his neck but overall he's in good shape. I keep him active, he's lean and muscular which I'm sure helps. He's scheduled for another appointment next week and then I'll see where he's at.

Bullet is still favoring a back leg, it's subtle but there. That means no training until he's better, the timing of that will determine what's next.

Bullet and I can do so much better than we showed at the Regionals. I was hoping to retire him from Schutzhund and focus on Lexis but really want to improve our scores. The GSSCC National is in Niagara Falls this year... sooooo close to home. Bullet is 6. It's now or never.

So yeah. It's a possibility. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Training Lex to run with my bike

Lexis has been going through her third heat (for my record) so she was spending more that her usual amount of time in her crate. The perfect opportunity to introduce her to my bike and let her stretch her legs.



Hooking her up to my Springer bike attachment we walked to the end of the driveway. No problems with any sort of spookiness (not that I thought there would be), so I hopped on and we headed towards the river trail.

Down the first street she kept anticipating where we were going and started pulling towards the sidewalk. I ignored this and kept moving forward and she settled in nicely beside the bike.

One block away we rode through a grassy field where she started to obsess over my front tire. I watched carefully, ready to act if she decided to slam into the side of my bike or bite the tire, but I kept right on going and let it play out.

Reaching out her head she decided to 'test poke' the tire. The friction of the rubber burning her nose was unpleasant enough to end that obsession.

Two blocks was all it took for Lexis to become like an old pro. So easy, so quick. And she loves it!

Dogs love to run.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Working photos of Bully

I have so few good pictures of Bullet working these shots make me very happy! :) Thanks to RuffDog Photography.



















Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Protection

Going into the protection routine, all I wanted was to "not fail". How's that for setting your bar high?

The weather had cleared nicely by this time. The sun came out and the water was drying up.

Bullet has never run 6 blinds in his life. We've been training on a field with 3 blinds and playing a lot of the shell game. This was to be a test, would he run them?

The judge did not have us report in, and I could walk him calmly to the end of the field and set him up.

Blind #1, yes!
Blind #2, yes!
Blind #3, yes!
Blind #4, peeked in, started to think about going straight to #6 so I called him, he came, yes!
Blind #5, yes!
Blind #6, woohoo!!!!

Call out of the blind, good.

Set up for the escape, sloppy but ok.

Escape, nice speed and catch... then he tripped Anthony up and they hit the ground and did a complete roll-over. Bullet was UPSIDE DOWN but not letting go of the sleeve.

Photos by Susan St. George, thanks Susan!












Oh-no. Was Bullet ok? Was Anthony ok?

They both held on and Anthony recovered quickly. I yelled my out command, knowing I'd have an issue. Bullet was pumped.

He didn't out.

I was screaming at him in my head and found myself punching the blind as I yelled my second out command. Slowly but surely he listened this time.

Control issues would be a good way to describe the rest of the routine.

Back transport, sloppy, he wanted Anthony and forged a lot.

Side transport, passable.



When I asked Bullet to heel away from Anthony for the long bite he left my side and sat in front of Anthony. I not only said his name with another heel command, I touched his head. After that he heeled nicely down field. Courage test was good, and he outed on one command and again after the reattack.

One last side transport and we were done!!!

I knew it was a pass, we had done it, and my dog was still in one piece. 90 out of 100.

Bullet passed his SchH3 in Bullet style.

Obedience

There is no other way to say this. Our obedience was one disaster after another and was, by far, the worst obedience routine I have ever done.

Bullet and I made it to the club by 6:30 as the trial was set to start at 7:30 and we were on first. Turns out that the time was pushed back to 9:00 so more people could watch. No big deal, I got my car under the tree I wanted and hung around for a few hours.

During those few hours the wind picked up, the sky darkened and it started to rain. Then it started to pour. And thunder. With lightening.

Obedience - Take 1
At approximately 8:50 the judge told us we were on in 10 minutes. I pulled Bullet from my car and did my pre-trial ritual. But he was high - too high. He crosses the peak performance line and descends rapidly into the pink zone. When he reaches this state of mind there is nothing I can do to bring him back down, no magical button to push. Not good.

Reaching the field we were waiting for the judge to start the day. They then made the decision to hold off for another 1/2 hour hoping the storm would settle. It was actually quite dangerous, lightening was streaking all around us.

Back into the car Bullet went.

Obedience - Take 2
Half an hour later we were told to get our dogs to try again, even though the weather was no better than before. Any hope that this second chance would give me another opportunity to get the right state of mind with Bullet was dashed as soon as I pulled him from the car. He was wound tighter than before. Verbal leakage and shaking is never a good sign. I must work on finding that elusive "calm down" button.

We did our long down first. Reporting in and heeling down field was a whiny event, but he kept his position and he went down, and stayed down. In the SchH3 you leave your dog and go into the farthest blind down field where he can not see you. I could still see him through the hole in the blind though. My poor, poor dog was getting pummeled by the rain, but he STAYED SOLID. Downs have never been our strength and for him to stay there, in that weather, in that state of mind is a massively huge success. We've been working hard on this and I saw results. What a good boy.

The weather got worse in the few minutes we were out there. I thought for sure a tree was going to come down in the wind.

The guy on the field did his heeling and his motions, and was about to do his retrieve over the jump when the judge called it off. The weather was too bad, we'd start again when it calmed down. I couldn't hear a thing and was focused on my dog, the judge had to come over to the blind to tell me this.

I collected my dog and we ran off the field, playing tug with his leash the whole way. Like I said, I was so happy with him for holding his down in that storm.

Obedience - Take 3
Still raining, still thundering, with lightening still streaking across the sky... we were called out to try again. Would Bullet be in a calmer state this time? Um, no. He was a basket case at this point.

Before he was merely whining and shaking, this time he was a barking fool. All the way down field. In his down stay. Woof-woof-woof-woof-woof-woof! He'd had enough. I stood in the blind and felt waves of despair flow over me, I wanted to grab my dog and make a run for it, but you can't do that. Bullet would have nothing to do with the stay this time, he was creeping towards me between barks and made it to the 3rd blind before he stopped.

I managed to pull myself together before the judge signaled me to get my dog. Walking back to him I realized I had to power through, we had no other option. I couldn't give up yet!

Heeling was horrendous. His attention was non existent. He actually stopped in the middle of the heeling pattern to shake water off himself, something he's never done before.

His motions were slow but passable.

Retrieve on flat was meh.

When it came to the jump I set up and threw the dumbbell and it didn't even make it to the jump, it slipped out of my fingers and landed just in front of it. How embarrassing. I had to leave Bullet, grab the dumbbell and throw it again. This exercise was ok.

The wall... oh, the wall. We set up and I managed to throw the dumbbell over this time. Bullet waited until released, ran over, collected the dumbbell then thought he'd loop over and check out the judge. Sigh.

This caused him to come back to the wall on an angle. That, and the rain, caused his front feet to slip out from under him and he crashed face first into the side of the frame. Of course I could see none of this from my angle, I just heard the bang. Bullet dropped the dumbbell, picked it back up and came around the wall into front position. Blood was pouring from his mouth. I took the dumbbell, asked him to heel and finished that exercise.

(They had to come and clean the blood off the dumbbell before starting the next round)


Thanks to Susan St. George for taking this picture.

While waiting for the other guy to collect his dog from the long down I had a chance to check Bullet's mouth for missing teeth, but they all seemed to be accounted for.

The sendout... Not bad at all. His focus was better in the heeling, he spun once and barked before taking off, but once committed he was fast, straight and listened to my down command.

I was in tears during my critique and didn't even hear my score. I was sure we had failed but I truly didn't care. I needed to make sure Bullet was ok, and I was worried that the reason he crashed in the first place was because of his leg - it was all my fault.

Giving him a good examination afterwards showed a hole in his tongue. That's where all the blood was coming from. He was walking fine and looked to be no worse for wear, believe it or not.

Turns out the judge gave us a 75 out of 100. It's an awful score but an unbelievable pass.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tracking

Three weeks before trial Bullet injured a leg. I gave him a week off, but when he was still favoring it after 7 days I became worried. Off to the vet he went where the diagnosis was a pulled muscle. The vet knew I was trialing in two weeks but asked if I could manage to keep him quiet another 7 days, then use the last week to build him back up. What choice did I have? Those three weeks were supposed to be my fine-tuning time, but you have to do what you have to do.

He still wasn't 100% by Thursday, the night we were to draw for our position in the trial. I'd rather pull him than push him and injure him more seriously, but he was mostly better... what to do, what to do... I made the tough decision to push him.

Tracking

June 3rd was a beautiful, sunny calm day. Our tracks were laid in a field of hay that was up to our knees/hips. I drew second.

The secretary asked that I have my dog ready to go once the first track was done. Not knowing where my track was laid or how long the dog before me would track and how long the critique would take, I took Bullet from my car too soon.

With Bullet, the less time he has to wait around, the less time he has to build himself up.

The start of our track wasn't stellar. He took off too quickly from the scent pad THEN thought maybe he should get to work and focus. First leg was merely ok. He stopped at the first article but was standing... I dropped my line quickly and moved towards him hoping for at least partial points, but he decided to continue tracking before I got to him. I had to scoop up my line and managed to snag the article on my way over it.

Meanwhile he thought he should be tracking faster which I wasn't expecting. Tearing the line from my grasp I had to scramble to catch up and grab the line from the ground. How embarrassing!

First corner was sloppy. Second corner was better. We came across the cross track of some deer (the tracklayer saw them go through) and Bullet took it. Realizing it wasn't the track he did backup and take the correct path, good decision boy!

Second article was nice, he could have been faster downing his indication.

The last two legs and corners were nice but I could see Bullet start to struggle in the long grass. His gait was lopsided and I was worried about his leg, and my decision to keep him in the trial.

When we got to the last article he decided to indicate with a sit and look around over the grass to see me coming. Damn dog!

Overall we lost points for the first missed article, sloppy corners, inconsistency in speed and inconsistency with the indication of the articles for a total of 79 points out of 100.

Bullet can track much better than what he showed that judge, but it wasn't a fail so I was happy.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Covenant Run to the Battle, SchH3

2011 Ontario Regional Championship & Sieger Show
Saugeen Schutzhund Club, Orangeville, Ontario
June 3-5, 2011

Judges:
Obedience & Protection – SV Judge & Körmeister Rüdiger Mai
Tracking – Cdn. Judge Frank McEniry

Helpers:
Anthony Hartelaub & Matt Bonanno

Scores:
79-75-90 pronounced

Getting Bullet's Schutzhund 3 has been one of the hardest things I've done. This trial was an experience and a half, filled with crashes, pouring blood, tears, prayers and profanities, all orchestrated by one mother of a storm.

The trial was well run, the judges, decoys and Saugeen members were amazing. Congratulations to all who entered.

One of the highlights for me was when Judge Rüdiger Mai commented, more than once, on how nice of a Schnauzer Bullet is. It's always nice to hear compliments on your dog. Bullet is something all right, I love him and doubt I'll ever be lucky enough have another one like him. We've had a lot of help along the way and I'm thankful for all my friends, training directors and decoys.

I wish I had video of his performances, especially of his protection routine. Some people did take pictures and I can't wait to see those and post them here if they let me. I will also write down what happened in each phase.

The personal pressure I've put on myself to get this title is now gone. We got it in Bullet style, lol!

The big question is "Now What?"