Flying Liver & a Birthday!

Yesterday was Rhys' Second Birthday. I can't believe that two years have gone by so fast for the little man. It's kind of a surprise to me. He still seems like such a baby, though stuffed in to a "big boy" body. I think he will always have a little bit of the puppy look about him, just due to the structure of his face, which I love. Not to mention his goofy personality matches that puppy face. ;)
To explain the flying liver part, yesterday night I was getting the dogs dinner ready and had liver pieces cut up in a plasticware container. Well, some how I knocked the container off the counter and it landed on the floor. Luckily, it landed right side up so no liver escaped. However, there was a significant amount of "liver juice" in the bottom of the container--ya know, how meat when it thaws out expresses juices? So with a good splat on the floor, liver juice went flying all around the kitchen, coating the dishwasher, cabinets, floor and some of the wall. I was quite impressed by how far it flew, to be frank. Anyways, after the initial shock of something whizzing past his face, Rhys looked around, kind of gave a shrug, and said "well, time to get to work" and "helped" me clean up. Riley, on the other hand, was completely disgusted and would have nothing to do with it. Liver has a rather. . .distinct smell, so I made sure to clean it up quickly & thoroughly. However, this incident provided some amount of amusement for the Rhysey-kins.

CISSC Trial Jan 9-10, 2010

Well, a good way to start off the agility year. We haven't been to a trial in over a month and were beginning to have symptoms of withdraw. ;) It's also a great time of the year to have it so the dogs can get out of the house during the winter and stretch their legs. Of course, weather can always be an issue in January in the Midwest but we lucked out this past weekend and while it may be a stretch to say it was pleasant, at least it wasn't too bad when you had to go outside.
Lisa Potts put out some very nice courses this weekend. It's wonderful to come across a weekend when all the courses have fairly nice flow. It was kind of a rough summer with courses-challenges, yes are necessary but can't we get a bit of flow in there too? Had a couple of prime examples (not to name any names--Dan Dege, the Robinson's). The average competitor is out there to have a good time, enjoy the company of friends both human and canine and is not trying out for the world team. However, many courses seem to be geared to a higher level of competition. And that's fine but it can be a little. . .daunting & demotivating, to say the least to us average smoes. Anyways, I heard many many people come off the course this weekend saying "Man, that was fun" and it just lifts the mood of the whole event & there is a certain party atmosphere when people feel good about the courses. That is really what the whole sport is about & I love that!
Anyways, Riley has been in rare form recently. I'm not sure where this drive has come from all of a sudden but I'm not going to question it. Maybe it's the fact that Rhys provides a little motivation, or maybe my handling is finally giving her what she needs or maybe she just is getting a high from running fast. I don't know, and truthfully, I don't care but I LOVE to see it. It cracks me up big time. Mostly cause she expresses her excitement in these little growls and rowfs that no one else can hear but me while we run. I've asked a number of people if they can hear her when she goes by and apparently she's not that loud to be heard by the crowd but every now and then in practice where it's quieter, Liz just gets a chuckle when Riley runs past going "grr, grr, grr". She had a really nice weekend, Qing 3 for 4 runs with all 4th place finishes. Just out of the multiplier but still placing is a big accomplisment for us. All the dogs that placed before her are Invitational/National competitors and have their MACHS too. She was tics of a second behind Jane Glier's Cait, which has kind of been my local benchmark so Riley has really kicked it up over the past few months. I'd like to say the handling work with Jen Crank is helping me understand what she needs from me to do her job. At least I'm understanding what my flaying limbs are suppose to be doing. . .whether they cooperate or not is another question. Also whether I'm in the location I need to be or not is debatable at times too. She really likes me to do front crosses and I can get them in. However, I tend to be out of position and feel like I'm going to take out jumps/sandbags/and one occasional teeter. But we're getting there. . .I think so, at least (can't be any worse than I already was, right). So Sunday racked up double Q number 8, and quite a few points too (at least compared to other trials).
Oh the little Rhysy-bear. . .what to do with him? ;) Love-of-my-life, cute as a button, smart as heck, but a complete goof some days. ;) Saturday he was a pokey butt, but I really expected that after sitting in the crate from 7:30 in the morning till about 3:15. Poor guy. He was slow but clean on his JWW run, and while over time, he still Q'd and finished his NAJ. Agility title #2 for him.
Bless his heart, on Sunday he was a different dog. Ran earlier, was extremely happy and was moving along at a good clip when he realized there are soooo many people he didn't know and wanted to go introduce himself too. He doesn't get quite all the way to the fence but does gravitate in that general direction, not paying attention to me and putting himself on the other side of the jumps. Almost got him back when he say a member of the ring crew. Oh well. I would much rather have this dog than the painfully slow dog. He brings a smile to my face when he is that happy so really, it warms my heart and makes the day worthwhile. He's still young--won't turn two till next week, and I know I don't have the relationship in agility with him that I do with Riley as of yet. I hope it will come one day. He's ridicously smart (though you'd never know it from his goofy expressions) and very good at other venues but I haven't quite figured out what makes him tick yet. I'm bound and determined to try my hand at clicker-work with him. I've always been a little intimidated by the clicker but I've got renewed interest/motivation/tools, and a dog who is willing to explore out of the box so we'll give it a go. It can only build the partnership stronger, right?
So all in all, a fun weekend. Got to see friends I haven't seen for a bit, so another bonus!

UKC Show 8/22-8/23

Well, two weekends in a row now we've hit conformation shows. This time out, we decided to try UKC. A couple other Westie ladies talked me in to going to this show but then backed out about a month ago due to another committment. So I decided to try it anyways, though I assumed no other Westies would be there. It was definitely a different type of environment than AKC. Some people wore jeans and tshirts. Some dogs were clearly not use to the show ring. Breeds I'd never heard or seen before. As Westies are normally buffed & puffed a lot for the show ring, it's kind of weird to go in to the UKC ring without any powder, hairspray, or other gunk in his hair. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I washed his head the night before so he didn't have his usual texture to it, making it look flat and he also got a part right down the middle. I don't think he looks his best without a little stuff in his head hair. I think he might like it too. . .he thinks he looks all cool with a big old head of hair. ;) He doesn't like the teasing part but he does look impressive when it's all puffed out. . .anyways, I digress. . .
So Rhys took WD, BOW, BOB, as quite frankly, there wasn't any other option. ;) But then the more surprising part happened when he went on to group. He took a Group 1. Then we went on to Best in Show. And apparently, as we found out firsthand. that they award a reserve best in show. So that was pretty awesome. First UKC show and up we pop with a reserve BIS. He also took a group 1 in both the next shows too. So he is pretty dang close to being a UKC champion. If there was one more westie there, he would be a UKC champion in one weekend. But since there wasn't, we'll have to find a show somewhere else. Now I've got a goal of going BIS. UKC will probably be my only chance for acheiving that so why the heck now. ;)

One point down, 14 to go!

We went to the Muncie shows for the first time this past weekend. He took WD, BOW on Thursday, but since all the other regulars pulled, we had no competition which equals no points. Saturday he took RWD to Betty's cutey Duffy. Sunday, after a VERY early morning start, we found a judge that apparently liked us enough. She gave Rhys WD and then when we went back in, BOW at the Anderson Kennel Club show.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. One on hand, I'm horribly glad to get that first point over with. I've been starting to worry that it would never happen and have been stressing over whether it ever would. By Saturday afternoon, it was getting pretty bad. ;) On the other hand, I have decided I do not particularly care for winning over a friend. It just doesn't seem right when you are going up against someone you respect and is just as deserving as you are. Both dogs obviously have their own (yet different) advantages but also their own respective disadvantages. Maybe this will get better with time, or at least a bigger show where there is more competition.
What was proved to me this weekend quite clearly is that some judges like smaller dogs while another will like bigger dogs. Funny that it should come down to something like that, but whatever. It has always cracked me up that something so clearly written as the "standard" can be interpreted in innumerable ways. Guess that means that I'm going to have to be very diligent about keeping track of who likes what and show my dog to those that would appreciate him the most. Anyways, a big YIPPEE that the first is done. I'm hoping someone will tell me the first is the hardest but I'm thinking that is so not going to happen. ;)


So I had to share something funny. I bought a whole bunch of blueberries at the grocery store last night, as they were on sale. I was cleaning them up when I thought "Hey, blueberries are good for dogs" and I know lots of other dogs who eat them. So I dropped a few in to Rhys' food bowl, as he was laying there in the kitchen. They intrigued him, he picked one up and took it in to his crate, where he proceeded to kind of eat it. Came back, got another squished it around in his mouth, then spit it out. This went on with like 6 or 7 blueberries, till he finally gave up on them. So I held one up to him and he ate it. . .kind of. . .
I finally figured it out. . .he was squishing them in his mouth, eating out the flesh, and then spitting out the skin. I was highly impressed! I just couldn't believe he figured out how to basically skin a blueberry! Now that's talent! ;) It makes sense though. . .the skins can be a bit tart or acidic so he apparently decided to skip them and go straight for the good stuff.
Riley wouldn't have anything to do with them . . .she's getting more and more picky, which is odd. Who knows, with that one!

Live Update #2 from ACI

To finish up yesterday's report, Rhys did well. . .that is, up till we got to the A-frame. He didn't get very high up it and then kind of gave up. I ended up giving him a boost over. I figured it was better to have him complete it successfully and get whistled off then have him figure out that he could back off of it. He had a good time so that was fun. After waiting like 7 hours, his steam was running pretty low so it didn't surprise me.
Today, Rhys got another jumpers leg. He did a nice job. Didn't take time to stop and look at the crowd like yesterday, so he was only 3 seconds over time. I thought that was pretty nice. So that's leg number two. Crossing my fingers, we'll get that final leg next month and it would make him a Versatile Dog with the parent club. Then we can go back and work some more on the basics (i.e. weaves). I rushed him a bit on this, so most of the stuff is my fault for putting him in those situations without the confidence to complete them as accurately as they could be. But he's done quite well considering. Especially an improvement since last weekend too.
Riley. . .(sigh). Enough said. We just came off the standard course. Every thing was pretty good. She was a bit slow but that's kind of to be expected on the third day of a three day trial. Can't fault her for that. The only, teeny tiny little bobble in the whole course was a missed weave entrance. But that's enough to do us in. Sucks. I even went out of my way to give her an on-side entrance and she still didn't take it. Oh well. Another chance in jumpers coming up. It's gonna be pretty sad if we go 4 trials in a row with only 1 Q in a run. That sucks. As Karen said to me, we think she's doing it on purpose, just to irritate me. ;)

Live Update from ACI

Well, I'm very pleased to announce that Rhys has earned his first leg in agility. By no means was it pretty, but he certainly has made progress since the last go round. In fact, thinking about it, he actually really did quite well. I'm very pleased with it. His speed was a little faster today. . .he was still over time but not nearly as much. And some of that was eaten up by admiring the photographer and also a stop to see what the heck all those people are staring at. ;) Course, we obviously have to work on weaves still. Let's see what he does in Standard. . .crossing my fingers on the A-frame. ;)
Oh Riley. . .why oh why, do you do this to me? ;) It's always something silly. We get through the tough part of the course only for her to blow something stupid. Yesterday in JWW, she missed the entrance to the weaves, while in Std. she got through a really tricky section, hit the weaves nicely only to run past the bloody A-frame. So far today, she got the tricky bits in Std. again only to miss the weave entrance. She gained speed after tunnel and hit the wrong side of the weave entrance. You fix one thing, she finds another way to NQ. :) She's been here almost 5 hours so I needed to wake her up a bit more before we went in to the ring than I did. Oh well. We'll give it another shot in JWW.