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MN April 2017 :: Out of State WCRL Judging

look at the nice hanging tag!

One of our activities last weekend was judging a rally trial in MN for the Minnesota Mixed Breed Club.  This club is great- they hold different kinds of trials and events open to all dogs. This may seem unusual for people who are newer to dog activities – but many years ago, AKC events were only open to purebred dogs and a group like this brought together competition events that are available for all dogs. Many people involved in the club do have dogs of specific breeds – but they enjoy the club and activities. Our friend we visited has been a member for a very long time and so we’ve heard great things about this group for many years.

On Friday I arrived early enough to help the group set up the rings and then we came back early on Saturday to start.  This was my second judging away from ‘home’ and my first out of state judging opportunity. The club is very experienced at holding trials and at a point where they have systems for doing things but are also flexible and not stressed by any slight changes.  It was a very good environment for judging and hopefully a good environment for exhibitors

It was interesting to see a very different group of dogs and handlers than the “usual” here.  A few observations:

  • Even though the obedience trial was going on nearby (as in on the other side of a wall), not very many dogs were doing both.
  • MANY fewer teams working towards multi-level titles. I’m not sure what this means, but it felt like a good thing. I didn’t see the sadness about not getting the qualifications that I often see elsewhere.
  • Lots of A dogs!  Lots of level 1 teams!
  • Several people who are experienced at trials but new to WCRL rally.
  • Several people who calmly and politely left the ring when it was in the best interest of their dogs. While it’s unfortunate the dogs weren’t ready in the moment to be trialing, it wasn’t a bad choice and likely a great choice.  Use the information to modify training but not create additional stressful/incorrect experiences in the ring. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in Ohio – I’ve seen some teams NQ and pull out treats to reward a lot through the rest or teams get sad/unhappy and leave the ring.
  • A new exhibitor was working with her 3-legged dog.  We see a number of these dogs in regular manners training or behavior classes at home, but haven’t persuaded them that there are all kinds of other fun activities to do too.
  • They thought I was very fast.  I did not think that I was!
  • Many more teams who attempted the retrieve bonus exercise – and very, very well.

I had a great time seeing so many teams!

Still catching up with 2013

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.

IMG_4735April: 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. IMG_4600

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!

Griffin's First Agility TrialWe 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!

Judging Clinic

We went to the 4-H Judging Clinic on Saturday, it was fun to see a lot of people from all over. One of the more exciting was someone I had seen at ClickerExpo last March….she has a fabulous golden and they do obedience. I saw her at a few 4-H events, and finally caught up with her last August. She’s given me a name of an obedience instructor that I’ll probably be doing some privates with.

Last year was my first time judging with 4-H. Our club did two fun shows (I did the showmanship judging) and I got to judge Obedience, Showmanship, and Rally at a county fair.

During the clinic I learned a lot about what I could be doing better, but I also learned about all the things I was doing well. I disagreed with the presenters at times, but that’s the great thing about judging…. unless it’s in the rules, it really is up to the judge.

I learned about some new systems for scoring, like flipping up your paper and using the opposite side for making notes about the patterns and noting crookedness, lagging, forging, etc. This will provide more info for the exhibitor and help me keep on track.

I learned how important it is to read and know the rules. It appeared that others did not.

I really like how we do discussions at the end of our fun shows. We talk about what we saw, what the kids really need to work on, what judges are looking for, how things will be the same or different at other fun shows, at county fair, and at state fair.

I learned how to better prepare our kids for events. Some of the things I’m teaching because it’s how things are done. Some of the thigns I do because of the project books listing xyz as being important. But some of the things we do are superstitious. I thought I had gotten rid of most of those…but some are still present (too much eye contact to the judges).

Ultimately they had enough demo dogs for the time frame, so Griffin didn’t need to work. That may or may not have been a good thing. But he was adorable when he came in for a visit later.

I realized later I should have gotten some of my doggy friends to go, that they could be very good judges. I also wished that the instruction at the clinic had a piece on teaching and how to appropriately interact with youth.