Thursday, 6 March 2014


Twice this winter, I have taken Piper out with her new friend (and cousin - his uncle is Piper's grandsire) Blaster to go sledding! Blaster's owner has the appropriate harnesses and a sled re-fitted for the dogs to pull.

Blaster (left) and Piper (right). Standing in their harnesses, waiting to go!
It's been lots of fun, but it's lots of work too. Because the Aussies won't just run ahead, we take turns on the sled, while the other person runs ahead to give the dogs a goal to run to. We encourage them as they run, shouting "YES" and "GO GO GO", but they rarely go more than a few feet past the running person. They just want to chase us! It's more work than just an off-leash run, which they seem to appreciate.

Blaster and Piper stopped... "we don't want to run past our people!" Silly dogs, barking their heads off.

Last time we went out, they certainly did a better job with their "go-ons" than the first time. Often Piper will out-pull Blaster, she just loves it! And barks her head off the entire time, which drives me nuts, but I try to tolerate it since she's just doing something she loves.

I'm not sure we will get out again this winter, but it's definitely something I would look into continuing with her next year.

Blaster and Piper pulling Wendy

Blaster and Piper pulling me.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

CKC trial, February 9, 2014

Last month, I entered Piper in a CKC trial run by the Hamilton Dog Obedience Club (HDOC). We were entered in two runs of Pre-Novice Obedience, and one run of Rally Novice. We stayed overnight with a friend in Waterloo, so were easily able to make it to the trial on time (arrival at 8:00 am). I found an empty spot and set up Piper's crate, with my chair in front of it.

We had the very first run of the morning at 9:00 am (lucky us!), with Pre-Novice Obedience. Pre-Novice (PCD) is a class that goes before the traditional Novice (CD) (obviously), however it is voluntary. You don't have to finish your PCD before you try for your CD. The exercises are very similar, however easier.  We spent about 15 minutes warming up before we went in, and Piper did pretty well, although I was very nervous. We had a few spots with tight leashes, and a sloppy sit, but other than that we did quite well! There was a Golden Retriever and Belgian Turveurn in our class as well. Since it was pass/fail, there was no winner.

After that, we had a few hours of waiting around. I pulled Piper out of her crate about every 45 minutes to let her stretch her legs, and she was very good. Didn't make a peep while in her crate. I was also in luck, because I had set up Piper's crate in the middle of a group of CDT (Companion Dog Training) people, several of whom I had met before at various fun matches. One lady with a German Shepherd was competing in Utility (the highest obedience level), but was not having a successful weekend. She and her dog were entered in all four trials that weekend, and hadn't succeeded in earning even one qualifying score. The woman on the other side of my had two Cocker Spaniels and was fairly new to obedience, although she had quite a bit of experience with field trials, and beside her was a couple with two Irish Red and White Setters. Both were fascinating to talk with, I enjoyed hearing their stories about all the other dogs they had had and the trials and training issues they had faced.

Our next run was Novice Rally at around noon. We were entered in Novice A, since Piper doesn't have any other CKC titles. The course was essentially three straight lines, with signs all along. There was more heeling involved than I have seen in other rally courses. We kind of suck at heeling. We sped through the course in 1 minute 15 seconds (you are given 2 minutes), and although we did all the stations perfectly, we lost four points for having a tight leash and three points for being out of position. Sigh. Clearly we need to work on heeling. We finished with a score of 93 (out of 100), which is a pretty good score. We got second place out of four. I suspect I was maybe walking too fast, not talking to her enough because I was nervous, and probably not signaling with my body enough. Also, it's possible I didn't warm her up enough or practice enough before we went into the ring. Still pretty good though, and it was definitely a qualifying run!

We had to wait another few hours for our last Pre-Novice Obedience run. I had been nervous of this one for several hours - the judge was a very tall, very loud, black man. Piper (as a typical Aussie) tends to be reserved around strangers, and I had no idea how she was going to react to this judge when he did the examination. We did fairly well with the heeling patterns, and when it came to the examination, Piper not only allowed the judge to touch her, but raised her head so he could scratch her chin! Sometimes that girl boggles my mind. When it came to the sit-stay at the end, Piper broke and lay down with only 10 second left. When I returned to her, the other dogs and handlers were dismissed, and the judge allowed me to re-do the sit-stay, which was very kind of him. We passed, but only because he allowed us the re-do! And so Piper earned her second (out of three) qualifying run towards her PCD. There was the same Belgian Turveurn as in the morning, and a Sheltie in this class as well. 

It was a long day, but successful! Piper now has two legs towards her PCD title, and one leg towards her RN title. Hopefully in the spring we will be able to trial again and finish.