Friday, August 24, 2007

A New Wrench

Well, my good obedience greyhound friend, Kathy Helmke, just alerted me to a new twist I can look forward to at the Greyhound Nationals. She'd already warned me about the show grounds being near train tracks and the noise created by the changing of rail cars. The park is not fenced and we are near a busy road. There's a pond with possibly ducks and geese. Overall, just a distracting and sort of bizarre place to say "hey, what a great place for a dog show". My guess is that the show folks don't have to worry as much about distractions as the obedience folks.... remember you have to be perfect in obedience. A loud noise or flapping wings could easy cause your dog to miss a signal or a voice cue. Katie and Travis are used to working outside and are pretty well focused..... especially Katie, so I wasn't too worried about what she had told me thus far......... until now.

In utility, directed jumping requires you to send your dog to the other end of the ring (50 feet) and request a sit. Once seated you direct your back over a jump on your left or your right, per the judge. You repeat the exercise, sending your dog to the other end of the ring and then directing them back over the other jump. The jumping isn't too hard, but sending your dog to the other end of the ring (go outs) is a difficult concept to teach. Ideally, they should run straight to the other end, but to a dog... what is straight... where is the other end...and why the hell am I doing this when I'm just going to come back? It takes a lot of practice to get a dog to run confidently away from you, all the way to the other end, and straight and centered. One of the ways you accomplish this is by teaching your dog to run to and touch the middle section of gating. This gives your dog a visual target. In the southeast we typically use, ring gating that looks like old style baby gates divided by stanchions (see picture). Katie has learned to target a stanchion. WELL, Kathy informed me that the Greyhound Nationals do not use the same gating, but use posts and chains. Poor Katie is not likely to make sense of this new visual in a show ring setting. BUT luckily we have over a month to work on this. She should transfer her good go out skills to a new type of gating fairly easily as long as we actually practice it.......... so guess what Stephen and I are building this weekend........ new ring gating!

And by the way, Katie has been just perfect. Absolutely wonderful! Her article pile is up to 6 now and she's finding the correct scent article like a champ. We'll keep adding 1 article a week until we are up to 8 again.

Travis on the otherhand is sloppy, but oh well. He's still quite entertaining and so animated. He does everything as fast as he can. I'll have to warn the judge on the drop on recall that he comes in like a Ferrari!!!!