A New Title (or two)

Last weekend was the EKKOC (Evelyn Kenny Kennel and Obedience Club) show held down in Springbank just outside of Calgary, Alberta.

Finn was not only entered in his usual Advance/Excellent Rally, but he was also scheduled to do two days of Scent Hurdle racing on the Friday and Saturday evening.

Now, I hadn't posted about Finn's very first Scent Hurdle trial in Edmonton so I'll zip through our experience there first.

The first weekend in June was the Edmonton show and Ready, Scent, Go's debut in Scent Hurdle racing. I was pretty excited as Finn had been absolutely stellar at practice and the fun match we had gone to.
His scent discrimination was dead on, and he seemed to have no trouble running while dogs were in the lane next to him.  So I decided to head up for Scent Hurdle only and not to enter him in any Rally so he could conserve all his energy.  A three hour car ride later and we arrived at 4pm to find out that racing probably wouldn't start for another hour or two.  I walked Finn around and then put him away in his crate so I could go browse the Vendors.

Finally 6pm rolls around and we are finally ready to start the racing.

I couldn't help but be nervous and at the same time I was incredibly excited.  Our team was so confident that we would rock, when things started to fall apart we weren't prepared for it.  Needless to say Finn was one of those things that fell apart.  Whether it was my fault for not bringing him out and getting rid of that excess energy that built up during the car ride up, or it just being a new place and a new sport, Finn's first race had him running across to the other lane to go investigate the papillon on the other team.

The whistle is blown and our team gets a NT (no time).  The next race, Kelly and Tula line up in front of us and we go second but Finn is still too amped up and takes out the second jump on his way down.  Mind you, he did get the right dumbbell but since the jump was knocked down it was another NT for our team.

So the first race was pretty discouraging and it didn't help that the team was a bit harsh and intimidating.
The second race was against one of the local Calgary teams who we had a fun match with and Finn did fine.
He ran first both races, and was quick to bring back the correct dumbbell to me.  As much as we lost both heats and the race, this got our spirits up.  Just in time for it to be squashed. lol

The third race was run against a subdivision group of the first team we raced.  But this time we had to switch sides and run on the other lane.  I didn't even think anything of it because we had practiced so much and we do similar exercises in Flyball.  Well the whistle blew, Finn runs down, grabs his correct dumbbell and runs up alongside the hurdles on the side closest to the other lane and right before the start line crossed over to go give his dumbbell to the other team.  The whistle was blown for us to stop and that was when the bad news was delivered.  Two cross overs by the same dog and that dog is out for the remainder of racing for that day.  Seeing as though we only had four available dogs to race, our team was disqualified and had to sit out of our final race.

I was so upset.  I had no idea what happened to my amazing dog at practice.  I also think that had the second cross over happened while we were racing a team we were familiar with, it wouldn't have been as upsetting but the team we were against was rude and a bit mean.

I almost considered just dropping out of scent hurdle but thanks to the encouragement of a team mate, I hung in there and I am so glad I did.

We ran two days of racing and our team, Ready, Scent, Go! ran clean each race.  Finn didn't even look at any of the dogs on the other teams!  I was so proud of him.  He raced down, got his correct dumbbell and booked it back to me!

Here is a link to one of our races on the Saturday::
EKKOC Race - Saturday, July 14, 2012

We moved Finn to running last just in case I felt like I needed to hold him back and I'm okay with that.  I'd like to eventually see if he could run second or third just to have the opportunity to scent discriminate a bit more, but I'm in no rush.

Because our team ran clean every race during the two days, Finn earned himself enough points to obtain his Scent Hurdle Dog title (SHD - 50 points) and his Scent Hurdle Dog Excellent title (SHDX - 100 points).
He is just slightly under half way of earning his Scent Hurdle Dog Championship!!  Our next race is at the AKC show in just a few weeks.  We have another two races so I'll report how things go after!

For now, I managed to grab a few pictures of Finn during our practice tonight.  Enjoy!

Even in our team color of pink and purple Finn still manages to look handsome and masculine!


A few photos of Finn

Can't leave out the black and white beastie!

Finn has been busy with the usual Flyball, Scent Hurdle, Herding and Rally.  We have a Rally tournament coming up the second week in July and are hoping to earn two more AE (Advance-Excellent) legs for our RAE title.  We have four legs already, and need six more for the title.

Finn and his adorable litter-mate sister, Jessie.

It's an inside joke...

Handsome Finn at 2 years

A very big brag on Bocce

On the May long weekend (19-20th), Bocce participated in his very first Flyball tournament in Coaldale, AB.  Unfortunately there is no video for his first tournament as our team, Go All Out, were pretty short handed. But! We have a tournament coming up in the middle of July and should have a few extra hands to take some video to share.

I am very proud of Bocce, and I am so happy that we have finally found something he loves so much.

In his flyball debut (running only part-time), Bocce not only earned his FD (Flyball Dog) and FDX (Flyball Dog Excellent), but his FDCh (Flyball Dog Championship)!!  So he is now Goodwin's Downtown Debauchery FD FDX FDCh!

In lieu of video, here are some recent pictures of the flyball superstar.


Goodwin's Downtown Debauchery aka Bocce

There is another little dog I need to introduce on this blog, and he is the one who introduced me to the Australian  Shepherd.

Bocce is a 4 year old, red merle boy from an unknown background.
He is affectionately known as Half-Pint, Boogaloo or just Debauchery when he is being naughty.

Bocce is not the most confident dog and we've been working towards increasing his confidence through Flyball.  It has been amazing to see the change is Bocce within the past few weeks.  His focus is getting better and it is wonderful to see him enjoying a dog sport!

Below is a video of Bocce doing his first full run.  This is the practice where it all clicked for him.
The weekend before, one of our teammates was having to shove the ball into Bocce's mouth to get him to take it from the box.  I am so so proud of him!

Stayed tuned for future Flyball results from Bocce!  If all goes well, Bocce will run in his first Flyball tournament in the middle of February.   :)


CKC Rally Standings - 2011

I am very proud to say that in our very first year of trialing in Rally Obedience, Finn ranked as the #2 Australian Shepherd in Alberta and the #10 Australian Shepherd in Canada!

I don't have any pictures of him with all his ribbons yet, so in its place, here is a picture of the handsome boy from our hike the other day.

The Lethbridge Dog Show and a Lesson Well Learned...

Finn and I headed down south on November 18, 2011 to attend the Lethbridge & District Kennel Club Dog Show.  Now, when I had registered for this dog show back in October, Finn and I had been working hard on polishing our Obedience skills to earn our CD (Companion Dog - Novice Obedience).  As an afterthought, I registered Finn for one Novice Obedience trial on the Sunday, along with the two Rally Advance trials on Saturday and Sunday that we were originally heading down for.  I will spoil the ending by saying we didn't Q in our very first Novice Obedience trial, but we did learn a hell of a lot for the future.

So, how exactly did the weekend go?

We arrived in Lethbridge around 4:30pm on Friday night which gave us plenty of time to attend a Obedience and Rally fun match sponsored by Go!Dog!Go! K9 Sports at the show grounds.

After realizing I still had an hour or so to kill before the fun match started, we headed back to the hotel to drop off our bags and set up Finn's crate.  The hotel was absolute chaos.  Apparently not only was it a dog show weekend in Lethbridge, there was also a girls junior high sports tournament going on.  Now, I can handle (and enjoy) kids one on one, but put a group of preteen girls together and I am very adamant as to why I only want "fur children".   :)

Back at the fun match we signed up for one round of Novice Obedience and a round of Advance/Excellence Rally.  The Rally run was fun as it always is, but I made a mistake on the entrance to the serpentine (entered with the first cone to my right, instead of my left  /facepalm) which cost us 10 points.   First lesson learned, I won't ever do that again *hopefully*.

Our run in the Obedience Match turned out well with us getting a mock score of 195/200.  Finn still tended to  lag behind doing our about-turns (which we had been working on but weren't 100% there yet) and other than one crooked sit when asking for a finish, he was rock solid and very focused.  I was super pumped for our obedience run on the Sunday.

With dog shows, it is always hit or miss when it comes to ring times.  Sometimes you pull the short straw and you need to be there bright and early before 8am and sometimes you luck out with a nice 1pm start time.  We lucked out with ring times for the weekend with Rally not starting until 1pm both days.  Bonus!

Saturday, we had a great start to the day.  Finn and I slept in, got breakfast, played some tug and then we made our way over to the show grounds.

Our Advance run was fantastic.  I worried a bit more than usual going into our run as the show grounds were pretty busy with spectators and three sides of the obedience ring were open for spectators to watch.  That is a decent amount of distractions for a young dog like Finn.

In the end, we wound up with a 98/100 and high in class.  Our judge, Judith Snowdon, made the comment that "it was a joy to watch Finn and I work together in the ring" and that you could see the special bond between us.  As much as I was thrilled with such a high score and the High in Class, the compliments by the judge made my heart swell.  I tend to doubt my capabilities as a trainer, especially with a dog as talented as Finn.  He is my first dog I've ever seriously trained and sometimes I think he is training me and not the other way around.  To hear comments like that from a judge, someone who has successfully trained and trial dogs, makes me feel as though I am doing a great job with Finn and fulfilling his potential. :)

After the show, Finn and I made a detour to check out a dog park nearby and run off some excess steam.  The Lethbridge dog park was gorgeous and Finn had a blast running around like a mad man.  I wish Calgary and area had more dog parks like Lethbridge.  What fun and what a work out!


Sunday's routine was similar to Saturday, with the exception that we would have to be at the grounds for our Novice Obedience run at 11:00am.

After waking and packing up the room, I decided to take a couple pictures of the dog park Finn and I had visited on Saturday before heading over to the show grounds.

Now our beloved trainer, Kim, at Hyper Hounds, has always warned me about exercising Finn too much before a trial.  Have you ever had someone tell you something which you shrugged off because you think "oh, that will never happen to me"?  Well, that was me on the advice of exercising Finn too much.  I never imagined a scenario in which I would run Finn too hard and it would harm his performance.  I mean, Finn is a crazy Aussie boy, he can go all day and night and still be begging for more!

So as I'm sure you have figured out, Finn and I got to the dog park, I took some pictures and Finn found some buddies to play with and had a blast.  Our total time at the dog park, maybe 15 minutes.

As soon as we get back to the show grounds, I fall back into our regular routine.  Finn hangs out in his crate and I mentally prep (and panic) for our run.  The fun match results from Friday calm my nerves a bit, but I'm still popping lifesaver mints in my mouth like Gregory House pops Vicodin.

Then the ring steward lets me know that we're on deck.  I pull Finn out of his crate and like usual, we start our warm up.  As much as my heart is beating a mile a minute, I try to walk into the ring with mock confidence.  The judge was very friendly, he gave us a minute then asked if we were ready. I looked at Finn, gave this terse little head nod and the run began.

Well, our run was horrible. Actually I shouldn't say that, our heeling was a wreck, but the rest I can be pretty proud of.  Looking back, I think it was a combination of my nerves and Finn leaving his focus and energy at the dog park.

To me, heeling is the most dreaded part of the Novice run .  It takes a lot of focus and if the dog isn't there mentally and easily distracted, then the heeling falls apart very easily.  In our case, I'd tell Finn to heel, and he would stay sitting while I moved forward.  He would lag, sniffed the human "poles" on the figure 8 and get distracted by the spectators on our about-turns.  We weren't connected, Finn wasn't focused and it showed.

So the official end result is that we NQ'd during our off-leash heel exercise, and I am perfectly fine with that.  I wouldn't have felt good if we had pulled off a Q with that run.

However, things that I am proud of during our first Novice Obedience run:

- The sit and down stays were rock solid
- Finn's recall was quick and there was no hesitation
- When he actually heeled, his halts were awesome

The Rally run was similar, but at least I could talk to Finn and clap my hands to keep his focus on me.  We came out with a 92/100, and would have scored higher if a certain handler hadn't moved her feet during a halt/front/finish exercise.  Oops.  The judge bugged me about that one :P 

So in the end we left the Lethbridge dog show with 2 Q's in Rally Advance and a very big lesson I will never forget.


And so we begin....

I've hummed and hawed over the idea of starting a blog for Finn for quite a while now.  As much as I may fail to update this blog regularly, I want this as an outlet to record Finn's training progress, brags and updates in general.


Who is this Finn character??
Breed: Australian Shepherd
Registered Name: Casselcreek Good Cop Bad Cop
Sire: CH Shawndals Got Nothin' To Lose STD (cs) RNcl (CARO) RN (CKC) CGN
Dam: CH Casselcreek Blue Ember Tn-N.
Height: 22"
Weight: 25.5 kgs

Finn - 9 weeks old

I had bought Finn to be my very first trial dog in the world of competitive dog sports.  Needless to say I am truly lucky to have the puppy I took home.

I may be biased, but I think he is turning out to be a pretty handsome dog.

November 6, 2011 - Finn at 17 months

Currently, Finn and I train and compete in Rally Obedience.  We are also currently training in Formal Obedience, Herding, Flyball (Go All Out Flyball Team - Finn's Page) and Scent Hurdle Racing; with the hopes to start trialing in those sports as well in 2012.

Stay tuned for Finn's adventures in the world of competitive dog sports.

Finn with his litter sister Indigo (Casselcreek Girl Gone Wild CGN RN)