Friday, April 17, 2009

AKC Adding Mixed Breeds

AKC to accept Mixed Breeds in 2010

The great news of the week is that starting in April 2010, the AKC will allow mixed breeds to participate in Agility, Obedience, and Rally. This is a tremendous opportunity for Mixed Breed owners and their dogs.

While there are a number of other organizations that allow mixes in agility, including UKC, USDAA, ASCA, NADAC, CPE, and DOCNA, not all of them are available locally. And even the ones who are seen locally are not numerous. In Columbia, each year we have one UKC trial, two ASCA trials and (starting this June) USDAA. You can find more opportunities in Kansas City and St. Louis, but still not that many per year, maybe a total of 10-15 trials for all those venues combined. In contrast, There are many AKC trials available. Not just the two in Columbia, but many in Kansas City, Lawrence Kansas, St. Louis, etc.

For owners of mixed breeds wishing to do Obedience or Rally, the change is even more striking. They will go from having perhaps one or two opportunities per year in a 100 miles radius to many.

AKC's new program will be a particular boon to our local 4H kids, many of whom have mixes. I'm super-excited about the new program and can't wait for it to start!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Do a demo for us!

My van, fully loaded. There are two Dobermans and a Min Pin under there, and you can't even see the other tunnel...

Now that it's out of the van, it looks a bit more organized.

Ginger takes a break in a lull between crowds.

Jura goes after a thrown toy as a reward.

Vegas, Mr. Suave and Persuasive. Do you have a treat for me? I am starving you know.

"Come do a demo for us" they say. "It's for a great cause, and you'll get a lot of exposure."

And they're right of course. It is always for a great cause, and it is super exposure for our training center. And we enjoy doing them. So we usually do at least two or three a year, and yet we also turn down several others each year. Why?

Because holy beejeebus, it's a crapload of work.

Today, we had a demo at the MU Veterinary Teaching Hospital Open House. We were set for three performances of 10-15 minutes each at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30. For this Open House, we spent several hours copying brochures and locating our other paperwork (enrollment forms, business cards, the form for our new summer camp for kids, etc). Then we went to the training center last night and pulled two sets of 6 weave poles, 8 metal 4' solid-base jumps, two 15' tunnels, 8 tunnel weights, poles and bars, 20 sets of ring gates, feet to go on the ring gates so they'd stand up, the CCSC sign (digging frantically in the closet to find the darn thing), one of our exercise balls, rally signs and stands, cones, and chairs. I also made sure we had sun screen, paperclips and clipboards. For the dogs I had treats and their training bags, but that stays pretty prepped.

Then this morning we had to load it all. Two other people had already loaded the gates, rally stuff, and paperwork. I arrived at our building before 8:00 a.m. and loaded the two tunnels, weights, four of the metal jumps, all of the jump bars and both sets of weave poles. All on top of three dogs. I found I couldn't fit the rest of the metal jumps in, so instead went and pulled four more jumps, our freestanding wing jumps.

Off to breakfast, then we arrived at the site at 9:30. After some confusion about where we actually were supposed to be, we now had to unload everything and set up our rings. We started setting ring gates only to find that one Bachelor's Degree (me) and one PhD (Ginger) can't count for snot. We needed 26 sets of ring gates for the size rings we wanted, not 20. But having learned the hard way that at demos you always gate everything, we made our rings smaller instead of leaving gates out. If you don't gate everything, people try to drag their dogs through tunnels and over jumps willy-nilly, willing or not. Since we don't like to see dogs traumatized for life by well-meaning but naive owners, we gate. Today we also had to deal with high winds, so we ended up using tracking stakes from Steve and Jamie's van to help hold things down.

So after almost another hour of setup, we were finally ready for our first demo. And that's always the fun part. Talking to people, especially kids, about a sport I love to do, one that is accessible to all dogs of all sizes, shapes, and types, is great. The crowds were wonderful, the kids asked funny and perceptive questions. We were a bit shorthanded this demo, with Andrea in Omaha and Kathy in Wichita. Steve and Jamie had a dog, and I worked all three of mine, even 11 1/2 year old Viva. Ginger worked both her adult Springers and the 3 month old puppy had a great time with the crowd. Liz showed up with Standard Schnauzer Vegas and he demonstrated the exercise ball. We talked and explained until my voice was pretty much gone.

Our dogs were, I have to say, amazing. They worked the rings and the crowds, allowed innumerable hands to pet them and lots of chirping children's voices over their heads. Viva, the old Dobe, is a pro at this stuff, but Zipper the Min Pin is still young and I was just so thrilled with his attitude and patience. Ditto the Springers, the Weim Faith who was pretty much always mobbed, and Vegas too.

Finally we were finished with demos, but not at all finished with our day. We had vet student help to break things down, but we still had to repack the cars, then haul it all back to the building, take it all out and put it back. Even though our last show was at 12:30, it was almost 2:30 before I and the dogs finally arrived home. Where they promptly crashed into sound sleeps, exhausted by their day.

We do love to do demos, but now perhaps people may understand why we just don't do that many...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Back in the groove

This week I feel that I'm really able to get back to training for the first time since tearing my calf muscle. While the calf isn't totally healed, I'm at a point where I can run and even jump with it. I just need to be really careful to warm up properly.

After what has been almost a month of very little work or diminished capacity, I felt that on Monday night Zipper was sluggish and very distracted. He was doing a lot of sniffing and watching dogs outside of the ring rather than actually working. He did get all 12 weave poles when he did them, but overall I was pretty discouraged.

Last night was a different story. It seemed as if he really snapped into place again. I was able to do some really nice handling. I worked on calling him down the dogwalk as I ran and being aggressive in my handling to show him his line; watching all those great teams at the AKC National had some influence! Bonus, he did some nice voluntary heeling too. He only got distracted a couple of times and I was able to get him going again. Tonight will probably be a night off, then tomorrow night is our last class of the session. I'm going to re-enroll him in the same class again next session because I had to miss so much of this one.

This weekend will be my first runs on more uneven ground, at the Vet School Open House Demo.

The DDGraphix store!