We did a lot of things last year that I don’t think I shared about – here’s just a sample!
January: Griffin and I entered our first AKC obedience trial (but had to leave before it was even our turn!).
February: I went to the area veterinary conference and went to many talks on behavior – but also was very excited to hear a talk on Pigmentary Uveitis in golden retrievers. It’s a very specific health problem that we’ve only recently become aware of. Griffin’s family has helped with some of that research. Blaze and Griffin both had their eyes ultra-sounded last year as part of a research project.
Back to the conference – My favorite talk was one by Sophia Yin on how she developed the Manners Minder and how she developed the training protocols. I’ve seen her speak quite a few times and this was definitely my favorite talk from her.
April: We hosted a WCRL trial! Blaze had a really great day and so did Griffin. Our training group went to a huge Pet Expo and did 3 shows a day for 3 days and had a booth. It was a lot of fun but very exhausting (our group also supplied the flooring and equipment for the ‘main ring’!). One of our frequent-presenters, Shade Whitesel came for a seminar and left me with a lot to work on in terms of duration behaviors and cues.
May: I spent a lot of May and June working on the new 4-H “Dog Achievement Program.” There was -so- much work put into it, I was part of a committee working on the project development and coming up with the 700+ activities (yes, seven hundred!). Everything was just finalized in January 2014 and it looks pretty great! This is designed as a non-competitive, self-paced beginner dog project.
June: Our group hosted a seminar by a very high level schutzhund competitor Mario Verslype. I took a ridiculous quantity of notes. With his own dogs he’s against many of the compulsion tools typically used in the sport and combined with his success (and consistency), it made for a fascinating presentation. Weeks and weeks of attention at heel before adding in motion, and then it’s all carefully rebuilt outside. For some behaviors, he’s only doing one rep per day and just building value over weeks. Incredibly slow and detailed. And his tracking – so detailed – little things I haven’t ever thought of!
July: And just a week later I was -so- happy to finally see Ward Falkner present an obedience seminar. He and his golden Zoom won the AKC national obedience event in 2011 and 2012 and they have achieved an absurd number of perfect scores and high-in-trials. And I couldn’t find anything online about what his seminars were like. He is an -amazing- presenter. He was organized, happy, working with everyone at the level they were at. Balancing working time and lecture. He carefully prepared many, many handouts. He took questions. He had lovely Zoom there as a demo dog (and he let other people take Zoom out). He was very professional in his presentation and genuinely seemed to want to help everyone. He had a level of passion that reminded me of Ken Ramirez and Kathy Sdao- but without the many years experience of ‘happy-professional-presentering-voice-to-the-public.’ I took so many notes and I was really upset I had to leave early to attend another commitment. He’s a really nice person. He works hard and I love his relationship with his dog- Zoom was bouncing and silly when not working – something the many youtube videos don’t show.
August: State Fair 4-H and county fair. My kids did a wonderful job with their projects and at the dog show. I’m very proud of what they were able to do. They’re adorable and hilarious. A group of kids that I help in a nearby county came up and helped my kids with last-minute studying and cheering them on. It was my first year as lead advisor and I survived!
We hosted another rally trial, Blaze and Griffin both finished their Level 2 titles. I never thought I would see Blaze do that!
September: Denise Fenzi seminar! More excitement and seeing a different group than some of our normal seminar attendees.
October: I finished some requirements and now I’m a WCRL Level 1 (provisional) judge. I do my first judging assignment at our March trial!
November: An obedience and instructors seminar week with Fanny Gott. This is the event our trainer group most looks forward to. We had fun training all day (and many nights). We had some great new seminar-friends and had a lot of fun with training and no visits from the ‘shaping police’ as one attendee feared.
December: Shade Whitesel was back – I missed part of it, going back and forth to an agility trial with Griffin (his best and worst!). I still managed to get in a lot of notes and enjoy what I saw
And then there were many, many successes of students. We had students compete in rally, obedience, and agility. We had one puppy class instructor who participated in our April trial with her new dog – around just 6 months after adopting the adult dog and they had beautiful work. We had another family do their first agility trial with their first dog last month – they started in classes a few years ago and worked hard to build up confidence in the dog, he was able to confidently and quickly work in the agility ring – they didn’t look like a beginner team! And there are quite a few others who had amazing accomplishments!