Lil earned her NATCH2 this weekend

Lil's NATCH2 photo with cooler-than-cool Judge Sunny Williams

Lil’s NATCH2 photo with cooler-than-cool Judge Sunny Williams

(above) video of Lil’s NATCH 2 Jumpers Run.  This was our sixth run on Sunday at the end of a 3 day trial.  I was so thrilled at Lil’s enthusiasm and energy level.  She got the job done with great pizzazz.

(above)  Lil’s Tunnelers Run.   I loved this run.  Lil was fast and her turns were super tight.  Her YPS were over 5.50.   I think she loved this run too.

(above) one of Jake’s Touch N Go runs.  NQ due to crossing the plane of the barrel and then circling it in the other direction but I was beyond happy I didn’t lose him at that point.  This was his first outdoor trial of the season and something was clearly tempting him in the grass.  Good boy for staying in the game.

I’ll be uploading more videos of Jake and Lil’s runs.  There were so many really nice runs, I can’t decide which ones to post.

Lil and Takoda hanging out ringside at the trial.  Jake was in the RV with Bruce at this time.

Lil and Takoda hanging out ringside at the trial. Jake was in the RV with Bruce at this time.

IMG_3535 I was so blown away that Takoda was so relaxed and quiet at his first outdoor trial and you can see how close our doggie neighbors were.  He took it all in stride like he has always hung out at trials.  He also did some amazingly precise heeling through oodles of dogs and people waiting to run.  I was shocked he was able to remain focused in such a distracting environment.   By Sunday he was playing and tugging with me as well at the trial as he does at home.  This little puppy is so darned adaptable!  So are his litter mates who were also at the trial.



Lil earned her Versatility NATCH at Mountain Dog Sports Trial, February 27, 2015

Lil's V-NATCH photo with Judge Ron Young.

Lil’s V-NATCH photo with Judge Ron Young.

(above) Lil’s Versatility NATCH photo with Judge Ron Young.   It was cool that Lil earned this Championship Title under a judge who knew us from the East Coast.

I didn’t feel any pressure about this run being for Lil’s V-NATCH, because Lil runs Weavers courses well.  The only reason we lacked Elite Weaver’s Qs is I tend not to enter this class when it is offered late in the day on Sundays, which seemed to be fairly common on the East Coast (this is not a complaint though). I just personally prefer to run Elite Weavers (3 sets of 12 poles) with a fresh dog.   But since moving to Colorado in July, I’ve found many trials offer Weavers on Fridays, so we were able to get 8 needed Elite Weavers Qs (for a total of 13) over the past 6 months.

(above) Lil’s Versatility NATCH run at Mountain Dog Sports on Friday.

Elite Weavers was the first class of the trial.   Lil was acting tentative outside the ring so I ran this course with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, thinking Lil would appreciate feeling that type of energy to avoid feeling bogged down by the soft, deep dirt or feeling concerned about the environment which smelled strongly of horse poop and pee (Yucko).  Lil got her Boogie On about half way through the first set of poles and finished well under SCT.  She ran incredibly well all weekend long, Q-ing 11 of 14 runs and as usual the few NQs were due to handler errors.  I was (and am) so happy because this was the first trial at this site where Lil felt like her confident little self.  🙂

(above) Lil running Elite Touch N Go on Saturday

By Day 2 of the trial, Lil felt entirely confident when entering the horse arena. The tentativeness I felt on Day 1 and at previous trials at this site was gone.  I loved how tightly she wrapped the hoop and barrel. If you watch her wrap the hoop, you can see she was so tight, she had to hop over the timer foot.  🙂

(above)  Lil running Elite Regular on Sunday

This is one of my favorite runs of the weekend BECAUSE we NQed early on.  The turn after the dog walk seemed so easy on Round 1, that I took it for granted on Round 2. I guess I forgot it was easy on Round 1 because I handled it vs. stood there facing the tunnel while watching Lil run into it. Duh!  But as a result of this early off-course tunnel, I decided to run the rest of the course from a self-imposed handling box. Lil aced it…and she looked like she LOVED the distance.  🙂

(above) Lil running Elite Chances Round 1 on Sunday

Having recently participated in Paula Goss’s Advanced Distance workshop, I knew exactly how I wanted to handle Chances courses this weekend.  I knew WHERE I wanted to be, and WHEN I wanted to be there to show my dog the correct path ahead.  I handled Round 1 and 2 the same way with Lil and Jake and both dogs ran the course beautifully.

(above) Lil running Elite Chances Round 1

(above) Lil running Elite Chances Round 2

(above) Jake running Open Chances Round 1

I made the same mistake with Jake both rounds and pulled him off a hoop but I was so happy with how well he ran this course both rounds.  This was a tough weekend for Jake.  He found the temptation of huge mounds of horse poop along the one side and the back of the arena to be too much to resist on about half of his runs.   But on Sunday, I only lost him to horse poop on one run.

(above) Jake running Open Chances Round 2

(above) Lil running Elite Chances on Friday

The Chances course on Friday was one of the most challenging courses I’ve encountered.  There was only one Q in the entire Elite class.   Lil didn’t Q due our only missed dog walk / tunnel discrimination of the weekend, but I loved how well she ran the uniquely challenging portions of this course.  The coolest thing for me was that I knew exactly WHERE I wanted to be to send her out to 2 jumps after the second tunnel….which was as far away as possible from the tunnel exit when she emerged.  My plan worked beautifully.

Another challenge I felt really good about was the left turn after the first tunnel.  Once again, I knew WHERE I needed to be.. and WHEN I needed to be there in order to pre-cue that left turn before Lil ran into that first tunnel.  Plus she totally aced running through the “box” in the center of the course twice.  The first time was straight through 2 hoops to the far entrance to the purple tunnel.  The second time was from the exit of the purple tunnel OUT to the jump.

(above) Jake’s Open Chances Q on Friday

Jake Q-ed this very challenging Chances course in Open, which was particularly challenging for him due to the proximity to huge mounds of horse poop in that area of the ring.   I almost lost him twice.  The Q was saved by the Open line having a narrow channel in which the handler could walk in front of the tunnel, which helped me coax him back into “working mode.”

Jake’s contacts were PERFECT all weekend long.  So were his tunnel/ contact discriminations.  There were many things to feel good about which helped balance out numerous Es due to Jake wolfing down huge mouthfuls of horse poop.   SIGH.  Good thing we don’t need no stinkin’ Qs.   HA HA and true!

A sampling of Jake and Lil’s runs at last weekend’s trial

Mountain Dog Sports hosts GREAT trials.  The vibe is always positive and fun and last weekend’s trial was no exception.

I had one goal coming into this trial and it was that my dogs run with their usual gusto and focus in what I consider to be a very challenging environment for Terriers…. an active horse arena.   A little background……. Lil struggled the first time we trialed at this site  in October.    She lacked confidence and even lost focus a couple of times which is rare for her.  Surprisingly Jake ran pretty well in October.  He only checked into the Mouse Hotel in one corner of the arena once.. and gratefully he checked right back out after one or two JAAAAAAKE  HEREs!

So with the sole goal that my dogs run fast and focused, I decided to run with them a lot more than I usually do.  Not sure how they would have done had I used more distance (maybe just as well) but I was very pleased with how well they both ran… AND for all the Qs they racked up!

Lil ran 13 courses and Qed 10 of them.  Jake ran 10 courses and Qed 5 of them.   Jake also earned High in Trial for Open dogs.  I could not be more proud of how well both dogs ran.

What a fun way to spend a weekend!

Jake and Lil’s first time running agility in an active horse barn…. fresh poop and all!

Mountain Dog Sports runs great trials.  The vibe is friendly and fun and they keep things moving along.    This weekend’s NADAC trial at the Adams County Regional Park was held in an active horse barn…. with mice, fresh horse poop and likely fresh horse pee too.

Although Jake checked into the very popular “mouse hotel” in the far corner of the ring a few times over the course of the weekend 🙂 , he didn’t stay overnight (HA HA) and came back when I called and then continued running courses with great focus and speed.  YEY JAKE!  I think the fact that Jake stresses UP vs. DOWN worked well for him in this challenging environment.   He had great drive all weekend long.

Jake was totally amped when entering the arena and ring but he had great start line stays (except the first one).  I attribute his success to playing all sorts of fun start line stay games away from agility over the past few months.


Jake earned his Open Chances Title and ran some beautiful Open Standard and Jumpers Courses.   If he keeps running this well,  I will continue to keep track of his qualifying runs for NADAC Championships.   Jake will turn 10 this year and if he qualifies it would be so much fun to run both dogs at Champs in 2015.   This is an exciting thought for me because a few years ago I thought his agility career was over due to an on-and-off again NQR (not quite right) but after three full days of trialing he is still looking great so I’m feeling optimistic about the upcoming year.

Now onto Lil……Lil is different from Jake in 2 ways…well there are more ways they are different but these are two ways that are significant in terms of this weekend’s trial:

1) Lil stresses DOWN vs. UP

2) Lil is not as confident as Jake.

As a result, Lil’s coping mechanisms in this challenging new environment were very different from Jake’s.   On Friday (day 1)  she acted concerned when entering the arena, and in the ring she looked insecure and lacked confidence which resulted in much lower drive than normal.  She even stopped to sniff (a rarity for Lil) and it was not happy “investigative” sniffing.  It looked more like “OMG!  WHAT IS THIS SMELL?” sniffing.  My best guess is the smell was horse urine since that area didn’t have any visible horse poop and a lot of dogs stopped to sniff the same spot.

So the question I asked myself was: “What should I do about Lil’s reaction to this new environment?  I didn’t think Lil was being a “bad dog.”   I felt she was doing her best but she was too concerned about the environment NOT to check it out.  I decided to sleep on it thinking she might work it out on her own overnight.  I also decided it couldn’t hurt to walk her through fresh horse poop in the parking lot (there was plenty to choose from) while asking for attention.  She quickly GOT that her job was to keep her head up vs.  sniff or take a nibble of horse poop.  Next I asked for some start line stay style WAITs while she was standing in the midst of horse poop and she quickly GOT that she should keep her head up in that situation too.

After a handful of super short sessions (each session 2 – 10 seconds long) Friday afternoon and Saturday AM, Lil was offering attention while walking through or standing in the midst of horse poop, so I figured it was fair for me to say NO if she dropped her nose to sniff in the ring.  And one firm NO is all it took to stop the sniffing but Lil still lacked confidence and drive when running courses.  So I decided to run with her far more than I usually do and to run in a style that was as dynamic, upbeat, and as much fun as possible.  It reminded me of how I used to run International style courses to keep her motivation and drive high.   That seemed to work well and Lil ended up running much better….although slower than usual.

Below is a video of  Lil’s Elite Jumpers run on Saturday.    It’s the only video we have from the weekend.  Thank you Heather for video-iPading this run and for emailing it to me.

(above)  Lil running Elite Jumpers on Saturday.

RE: speed and drive.  Lil usually takes 4 or 5 strides between jumps (20-21′ spacing).  In the video I counted as many as 7 strides between jumps but a couple of the jumps clearly had wider than usual spacing, which was consistent with the map (according to the course builders looking at the map).   I could feel Lil’s confidence rise and her striding opening up as we ran this course and as a result her speed picked up considerably.  This was her final run on Saturday and I think it was a real turning point.   She ran better and faster on Sunday and acted more like herself again in and out of the ring.


It was difficult for me to see Lil struggling so much with this new environment, especially because she is usually such a rock solid, trial dog but it was great to see her adapt over the course of the weekend.   And Jake rising to the occasion and running so well helped keep my spirits up for sure.  If the weather holds up, we are going to an outdoor trial near Durango, Colorado in 2 weeks.    I think Lil and Jake will enjoy running on grass and being outdoors… and I will enjoy one last weekend camping in the RV.    My fingers are crossed that this beautiful fall weather continues for a couple more weeks.