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November 25, 2011

My Little TV Star

Back in September, Dandy answered a casting call for a part in a State Farm commercial. We ventured into Greenwich Village in New York City for the job, and it was quite an experience to see how things work ‘behind the scenes’. I wondered if Dandy was going to end up on the cutting room floor, knowing how fickle show business is! Well, it is now a reality, the commercial is being aired across the country on the three major networks (ABC, NBC & CBS)! I discovered it first on Youtube on November 22. Then while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, I saw Dandy on my TV! It was aired that day during the National Dog Show and a football game as well, I heard from friends & family that they had seen it. It’s a great commercial as it uses the theme song from the old TV show “Cheers”, which is a great song...”where everybody knows your name” Note Dandy is at the very end (which gives me time to ‘catch’ him when I hear the song!); he is being walked down the city street at night by a young man who waves to his State Farm Agent through the office window. It’s a bit dark, and there is text that obscures the view of Dandy, but he does manage a millisecond of direct face time as he mugs for the camera just before he walks out of frame! I have it saved on my DVR so I can watch it over and over, and a copy is on my computer too. They really didn’t make use of Dandy’s best features; he does a killer head-tilt, and he could have been the one waving to the State Farm agent! But it’s very cool to see him on TV, even if it’s a just a small walk-through part, and I’m very proud of him, once again.

Here is the link to the commercial on youtube….you have to watch to the VERY end, right after the shot of the traffic light.

Dandy in State Farm Commercial

Agility in November

November gave us two indoor USDAA Agility trials. On November 5 & 6, we headed to BucksMont in Hatfield, PA, to a trial hosted by High Octane Agility. Tempo was in Advanced, needing to qualify in Standard, Pairs & Gamblers to finish his AAD title. That didn’t happen, but he did get his Gamblers Q with his first time in Advanced Gamblers on Saturday. The gamble had 12 weavepoles plus 3 jumps, and he nailed it! His other runs had good portions but something went wrong in each of them. He did however qualify in Steeplechase, with a 3rd place finish in the Finals. This was his second Steeplechase Q, making him eligible to enter USDAA Cynosport (Nationals) in 2012! Dandy had an upside-down weekend; he did not qualify in his ‘best’ classes (Standard, Jumpers & Steeplechase) but DID qualify in those that are hardest for us! He qualified in Master Gamblers with a 1st place; he got a Super Q and 1st place in Snooker; and he qualified with a 3rd place in Grand Prix. This was his 2nd Q in GP for 2012, so he is now qualified for 2012 Cynosport in both Steeplechase & Grand Prix.

We were in Barto, PA, on November 19-20, for KineticDog’s tournament-only trial. Dandy was on a team with very experienced dogs, and although they did well in all the classes, the Team Relay proved to be our downfall…two of us went off-course, and we ended up not qualifying. Individually, Dandy earned 3 Q’s getting 2nd place in Team Gamblers & Jumpers, and 3rd place in Team Standard. But Relay was the game-changer….in many ways. Tempo was on a team for the first time, just for experience and so he would get to play that weekend. He was teamed up with his littermate Quid and another young Border Collie friend named Tag! Individually, they did OK, though not setting the agility world on fire…they were not in position to qualify but we still gave it our all when it came to the Relay. Tempo & I had to do the middle part, running second, and he shocked me when  he actually held his ‘stay’ and let me get the head start that was vital in our section. He was awesome! Quid and Tag! each got one refusal but they too rocked it! Amazingly, our Relay boosted our points total enough to qualify! So the baby boys earned their very first Team Q and Tempo is now qualified to run in both Team and Steeplechase in 2012 Cynosport! I also ran both boys in Grand Prix, but neither qualified. Dandy had an awesome run but took a brief detour for an off-course when the dogwalk caught his eye. Tempo had 3 refusals, so he did not qualify either but he did really well on a very tough course. Overall, the weekend was a great experience for both boys, since every course included both the Wall Jump and the Long Jump, which they don’t get to practice outside of trials. Below are links to videos of Dandy in Team Gamblers and Tempo in Team Relay & Grand Prix.

Dandy in Team Gamblers

Tempo in Team Relay with Quid & Tag!

Tempo in Grand Prix

October 25, 2011

Autumn Agility

October 22 & 23, 2011 at FDR Park…what a glorious autumn weekend for an agility trial! This was my 4th AKC trial for the year, and will be the last until 2012. Hosted by Skyline Agility Club, the weather was very crisp, mostly sunny, no rain or mud…perfect weather for the dogs!

Saturday was perfect, Dandy qualified in both Excellent B Standard and Jumpers With Weaves for his 3rd Double Q. Tempo qualified in both Novice B Standard and Jumpers With Weaves to finish his Novice Agility and Novice Jumpers titles. I moved Tempo up to Open for Sunday, and though he ran great in Open Standard, we incurred two refusals (run outs at jumps) so we did not qualify. However, he did earn his first leg in Open JWW with one refusal. Dandy did not qualify in his Excellent Standard class as he was a bit wild and I was not focused enough to anticipate his early off-course. But he did qualify in Excellent B JWW to earn his 5th MXJ leg. So overall, each dog was 3 out of 4.

I ran both boys in the 26” class for two reasons. First, they are both jumping 26” in USDAA and I prefer to maintain the same criteria since we run in USDAA most of the time. The second reason is that AKC has a new rule that the tire jump shall be set one jump height lower than the true jump height.  In the 24” class, the tire is set at only 20”. The 26” class uses a 24” tire. Since my dogs must jump a 26” tire in USDAA, I feel the 20” tire could be dangerous for them. A 20” tire will encourage a flatter trajectory which makes the tire even more risky. I will eventually have to move one of them to the 24” class, once Tempo gets to the Excellent level, since the 26” class is so small that it’s very difficult to run two dogs in it. Maybe AKC will eventually allow a break-away tire for the safety of all dogs, and then it won’t be so worrisome.

Since Tempo was the only 26” dog in Novice and Open, he easily took 1st place when he qualified. But he was faster than all the 24” dogs, so there is no shame. Dandy took 2nd place in all of his classes; there were only 3 dogs in Excellent B 26”, but the competition was fierce in this tiny group. Had Dandy been in 24”, he would have had a much easier time getting a blue ribbon! But placements do not influence me when making my decision on which height to compete in.

Some VIDEOS from the weekend:

Dandy in Saturday's Excellent B Standard

Dandy in Sunday's Excellent B JWW

Tempo's debut in Open Standard

Tempo's debut in Open JWW with a Q

October 19, 2011

2011 USDAA Nationals

The 2011 USDAA Cynosport World Games (a/k/a Nationals) is now history. The event was 6 days long, which is L-O-N-G. But I’m so glad I was a part of it. I drove down to Louisville, KY, on Monday, October 10, and drove home the following Monday. I managed to do the drive in 12 hours with just a few short pit stops. Thankfully the weather was nice and sunny on both of my travel days, which made it more pleasant.

The day before I left for Kentucky, I felt a cold coming on. By Tuesday, it was in full swing, and I was pretty miserable. On Thursday, I felt a little bit better, and by Friday, most of the cold had left my head. I still had an itchy throat, but breathing was much improved. I survived on lots of antihistamines, decongestants, cough drops and tissues.

My experience at Nationals had its share of highs and lows. Tempo was not entered as he is not ready for that level of competition, so it was just Dandy for this event. The warm-up class on Tuesday was just awful…Dandy had not been worked in several days, and after a 12 hour car ride on Monday, he was pretty wild! The course was a Grand Prix-style course, and while he nailed his contacts & weaves, and kept the bars up, he went off-course three times! I was not handling well at ALL, as I was feeling terrible from my head cold, so combine that with a wild Border Collie, and things did not go well. I was terrified that this was a prediction for the next 4 days. I was VERY glad that Tuesday’s class didn’t count for anything, and glad I DID enter it as a practice session. I was just hoping that I could get my act together for the next day… Wednesday through Saturday would be four Team Classes, plus Grand Prix & Steeplechase Quarterfinals. Dandy was teamed up with two other Border Collies for the Team event (3 dogs/handlers, 4 classes plus the Relay for the top 30 teams out of 170 teams.)

On Wednesday, we ran Team Gamblers. I was still off due to my cold, so I’m glad it was Gamblers where I could improvise a bit. We didn’t get the big bonus points as they required distance skills, which are a weakness for me & Dandy. But we managed to get a respectable number of points, placing us in the middle of the pack. On Thursday, we had Team Standard, and that course was chewing ‘em up & spitting ‘em out! I didn’t run until the afternoon so I got to watch a number of runs while scribing that class in the morning. Dandy ran the course clean, held the contacts, and we ended up 17th out of about 120 26” dogs.

Dandy in Team Standard

We also ran in Steeplechase Quarterfinals, which was a heartbreak…I had high hopes of making it to the Semi-Finals as Dandy usually does well in Steeplechase. He ran the course beautifully but he got hung up in the middle of the weavepoles as they were not securely staked; I heard the metal bases clanging, and wasn’t sure what happened until I saw Dandy exit incorrectly. At that point, I knew he missed a pole, so I had to do the weaves over again. Unfortunately, this cost us too much time and we missed the cut-off for the Semi-Finals by less than one second.

On Friday, we ran Team Snooker and Grand Prix Quarterfinals. Team Snooker went well, I went for three 7’s in the opening, which we got, and almost got through #7 in the closing, but with only 48 seconds, we didn’t quite make it; we just missed getting the 7 in the closing, so we ended up with 44 points. Grand Prix was yet another heartbreak. It was another tough course with a particularly gnarly section offering multiple off-course options. I handled well without choking; Dandy was brilliant, doing everything he’s been trained to do. Unfortunately, he was faulted for missing the ascent contact zone of the dogwalk. He has NEVER been faulted for “up contacts”, and whether he actually hit it or missed it, I can’t say for sure. Someone who was watching his run said he did hit it with his rear foot/feet. A few other 26” dogs were faulted for the same thing, so it appears that the judge wanted to see *front* feet in the contact zone. Bottom line is that we incurred 5 faults, and we would not be advancing to the Semi-Finals. Again, a fluke thing…some bad luck…and major disappointment…but it was still a beautiful run and one I’m very proud of.

Dandy in Grand Prix Quarter Final

Without advancing in Steeplechase or Grand Prix, we had just one run on Saturday, Team Jumpers. Once again, a gnarly course! I saw many great teams go off course. Dandy was once again brilliant, we were clean right up until the next-to-last jump when I rushed a rear cross and incurred a refusal, but it was just a little bobble in an otherwise beautiful run. Again, I was SO proud of Dandy.

Dandy in Team Jumpers

Sunday was Team Relay and Grand Prix Finals, so it was a day to relax and watch some of the best agility teams in the US. I ended up working every class, including the GP Finals, and I’m really glad I did. Last year, I watched from up in the stands, and felt that I would NEVER be able to handle that pressure…it just seemed way too scary! But sitting in the ring, setting bars and fixing tunnels, helped me realize that it’s still just agility. It’s you & your dog, doing the thing you love, but with the added excitement of going for gold! It would be amazing to someday be in the finals, but the competition is intense even in quarterfinals at Nationals, and anything can happen to anyone. A missed contact or a dropped bar might mean the end of one’s advancement, but it’s not the end of the world…just look at your dog’s face and he will tell you, it was still a blast!

Overall, Dandy was amazing. In the 4 team classes, he rocked…he got good scores in Gamblers & Snooker, just one refusal in Jumpers, and CLEAN in Standard. Our teammates had a bit of bad luck, so our team did not advance to the Relay but it didn’t matter…Dandy was awesome! In Steeplechase & Grand Prix quarters, it was just bad luck that kept us out of Semi-Finals. Again, Dandy ran beautifully! Throughout the 7 classes over 5 days, Dandy nailed every (down) contact & every weave entry. Not one bar came down, his jumping was stellar. He incurred just one refusal, and his only off-courses were in the one warm-up class. He did not come home with any ribbons or prizes but he truly ran like a champion all week. I could not be any prouder of my special boy.

Tempo was such a good boy all week long…I did take him out one day to the practice jumps when no one was using them, and jumped him for a couple of minutes. He was SO excited to get to play; too bad he couldn’t have played MORE. And a sidenote, he kept the bar up on every jump. He did get to play with his brother Quid, and with Dandy, every night in the motel room. Not a real exciting week for him but he never complained, he was a very good boy.

I did have several moments of tears…it’s just very hard to be at an event such as this and not feel the pain of missing Token. I bought a Rainbow Bridge charm for my bracelet, placed next to my tri-merle Border Collie charm. He is always in my heart…

Next year, USDAA Nationals will be in Colorado. I’m not planning on making that trip…1700 miles, high altitude, trial outdoors where weather can be snow or 80 degrees…but I sure do want to take Dandy to Nationals again someday! And Tempo needs a chance, too, so I’m hoping for another “east of the Mississippi” event someday.


October 4, 2011

September Addendum

I must have been really tired when I wrote my last blog entry…I left out my report on Tempo at K9Logix! And it was a very significant trial for him. I only entered him in 2 classes each day. He earned his 2nd Advanced Standard leg with a 1st place on Saturday, and came oh so close on Sunday for his 3rd…but I fell way behind as he drove ahead with all-new confidence, and he hit the A-Frame instead of the seesaw for an off-course fault. On Saturday, he ran in Steeplechase Round 1, and he was spectacular! He ran CLEAN and fast and placed FIRST in Round 1!!! Tempo & Dandy were both in the 26” class; Dandy missed the weave entry and with a miscommunication at the A-Frame, he only finished 6th in Round 1…so Tempo earned his bragging rights, beating his big brother for the first time. In Sunday’s Finals, both boys ran super…both lost a little time at the very last jump as they had to wait for me to catch up, but their times were very close. Dandy’s time was 32.8 and Tempo’s was 34.09 (Tempo wasn’t really sure he was supposed to take that last jump!) Dandy ran clean and finished overall in 2nd place, with Tempo hot on his heels in 3rd place. Tempo had 5 faults added to his score for ticking the Long Jump but he would have finished in 3rd with or without those 5 faults.

And we even have video of Tempo’s Round 1…So very proud of the baby boy!

Tempo's Steeplechase Round 1

September 20, 2011

September Agility Fun

How can it be that September is more than half over? We had a super time at The Blackthorne in the Catskills in NY September 9, 10 & 11. It was a very small trial, hosted by Y Agility, but it was stress-free and filled with laughs and good times all around. Making it even better was bringing home some ribbons. Dandy had a rough start to the weekend, having been on R & R with torn pads for the past week, but things improved as we got a bit more in sync. No Snooker for Dandy at this trial as I really wanted to focus on the Gamblers class, and that paid off, he qualified twice in Gamblers, both 1st place, and finished his Gambler Champion title! He also qualified in Masters Standard with a 1st place. My friend Barb and I took advantage of a new rule in USDAA Pairs that allows a host club to offer the option of mixed height pairings. So Barb’s 12” jumping Corgi Olivia ran pairs with 26” jumping Dandy. We ran clean and qualified and took 3rd place in the “big dog” division! Rounding out the weekend, Dandy qualified in Steeplechase taking 1st place in both Round 1 and the Finals.

My goal with Tempo was to qualify in Starters Snooker to finish his Agility Dog title. Thankfully, we accomplished that on the first day. Tempo had a different opening planned than I did, engaging in lower point obstacles than I had wanted, so I had to improvise the entire opening. But we finished the close and he pulled off a Q with 44 points, earning his AD! He also earned a few more legs over the weekend, one each in Advanced Jumpers, Advanced Standard and Advanced Snooker (50 points!), and all blue ribbons. I had not entered Gamblers with him, so that will be our next project, Advanced Gamblers. Tempo also made his debut in Steeplechase. He did not qualify but it wasn’t awful; he knocked 2 bars, and we lost some time when he wasn’t sure where I wanted him to go, but it was a fairly technical course for him. He got to run in Round 2 since so few dogs qualified; he went off-course by popping the weaves and going on to the AFrame before I could fix it. But again, not a bad run for the baby boy.

Tempo’s littermate Quid was there also and had some very nice runs in Advanced, including a great qualifying run in Advanced Snooker.

The following weekend we headed to Massachusetts for the K9Logix trial in Greenfield. What perfect fall weather we had!!! So nice to NOT have heat & humidity!!! Dandy had a great weekend, with a 75% success rate. He qualified in Masters Snooker with a Super Q and 2nd place, and in Masters Pairs to finish his Relay Champion-Bronze title! He qualified in Steeplechase, though only placing 6th in round 1 when he missed his weave entry, and we lost time with an AFrame bobble. But he rallied for Round 2 and finished in 2nd place. Grand Prix was a tough course, there was one spot in particular that offered several options for handling. Unfortunately, Dandy was the very first dog to run and I could not watch others run to see what was working and what wasn’t. So I went with the option that I felt would work best for MY dog. It was dicey but we got through it clean and earned our first Q for 2012. Icing on the cake, Dandy took First Place in 26” and earned a Bye into the Finals of a 2012 Regional! The last class of the weekend was Master Jumpers, and we ran near the end. I watched this course that looked easy on paper just chew ‘em up and spit ‘em out. It was a total speed course, rather than being technical, and lots of bars were coming down, along with some off-courses. Incorporating a blind cross and a couple of rear crosses, Dandy ran clean! I was thrilled as this run finished his Jumpers Champion-Bronze title! Right after our run, however, I learned that the timer malfunctioned. I had the option to either run it again for time, or just take Standard Course Time. I elected to just take Standard Course Time as Dandy had bent his dewclaw and I was worried he would hurt himself. Dandy usually runs about 10 seconds *under* SCT, so he would have surely placed 2nd, or possibly 1st, but we took the 4th place ribbon rather than risk running again with a busted dewclaw.

In addition to a great trial, I also enjoyed some more ‘family reunion’ moments. Dandy, Tempo & I stayed with our friend Janet, and Tempo had his picture taken with his Uncle Rip (Token’s littermate). The black and white boys look so stunning together. Tempo’s littermate Maze was at the trial, and she looked great, bringing home some Q’s and ribbons of her own. Donalee and I took advantage of the day and snapped some photos of the 3 siblings together (L-R: Dandy, Maze & Tempo).


August 27, 2011

Video Links for August 20, 2011 Trial

Blogspot wouldn’t let me edit my previous post, so I have to create a new one for the video links…

Dandy in Excellent Standard on Saturday

Tempo in Novice Jumpers With Weaves on Saturday

August 26, 2011

Agility – A Family Affair

August 20-21, 2011 – What a very special agility trial! It was the weekend of the only local agility trial here; Monticello Kennel Club hosted an AKC Agility trial at New Hope Farms in Port Jervis, NY. It’s one of my favorite trials since it’s only about 25 minutes from home!

This year was extra special as it was overflowing with friends and family. As usual, many of my fellow club members from Tri-State Dog Obedience Club (most of which are also students) were there competing. It was fabulous to see them have great runs and be so successful. Even the non-qualifying runs were still ‘great’ as everyone was able to learn from ‘what went wrong’. When we can recognize why something went wrong, it’s a great lesson! It’s not unusual to see my students get more ribbons than I get, but I’ve learned to appreciate that as my own positive reinforcement.

However, this weekend was a successful one for me as well. Dandy was entered in the Excellent B classes while Tempo was in Novice B (Tempo did one day of AKC back in May, this was just his 2nd AKC trial). On Saturday, Dandy qualified in Excellent B Standard with a 3rd place, in a very competitive 26” class. He was having a super Jumpers run until I said his name one too many times, and incurred a refusal, so no “Q”. (yes, one of those lessons from ‘what went wrong’!) Tempo earned his first Novice JWW leg, with a score of 95 and a First place. He had a bar down in Novice Standard, so no Q there. The last class on Saturday was AKC’s newest class called Time 2 Beat. I entered both Dandy and Tempo in it, and it was a blast to run! I ran Tempo first, and he was clean and perfect until we were just 2 jumps from the end, I fell behind and he arced back and took an off-course jump. So no Q for him. I ran Dandy next, and since I was able to handle more aggressively with him, I was able to keep him on course at the end. He was clean and perfect through the whole course and earned a Q and First place. OK, so my two boys were the only 26” entries in T2B…but Dandy was faster than the 1st place 24” dog, so he deserved his blue ribbon <g>!

Sunday was a rarity for me…four runs, and four Q’s! Tempo earned his second leg in Novice JWW as well as his 2nd leg in Novice Standard. Both were scores of 95 as I incurred refusals in both (over handling <g>). And both were blue ribbons as he was the only 26” dog in Novice, but I am very proud of his runs, he absolutely deserved to get blue ribbons. He did amazing weave poles all weekend, totally independent and flawless, which most Novice dogs cannot do. And I did two-jump lead-outs with him as well and he was brilliant. In the Excellent rings, Dandy was truly brilliant, qualifying in Standard with another 3rd place, and in JWW, with a 1st place, on an extremely technical course that ate up the small dogs as well as the big dogs. This was Dandy’s second “Double Q” and he earned 54 MACH points. Now I have had no aspirations to go for a MACH as I do AKC so rarely, I prefer USDAA. But who knows, maybe one day we’ll do more AKC….

Great runs with both boys was fantastic. But what truly made the weekend special was the addition of family. For starters, my mom came to watch on Saturday, and got to see both Dandy & Tempo run. This was just the second time she came to a trial to see my dogs, and see what my obsession is all about. I was really glad she was there this year. The other family members that joined us were Token’s kids…Jan and Dandy’s littermate Seeker came all the way from Pittsburgh, running in Excellent; and Lynn and Jenny, also Dandy’s littermate, were there to run in Novice (just their second trial ever). They both did great, walking away with several ribbons. Tempo’s littermate Quid was also entered but he was absent as he had been exposed to kennel cough several weeks prior. A total of five of Token’s kids were entered, four of them actually competed and earned multiple ribbons. This was a proud and bittersweet moment for me, seeing Dandy, Seeker, Jenny & Tempo in the agility rings. Token’s star still shines brightly in his pups. Star

Dandy’s & Tempo’s breeders, Terri & Ed, were also on the roster of special guest stars, how wonderful that they were able to see so many of their pups! They even stayed until the bitter end of Saturday to see Tempo & Dandy in the T2B class. Since I had to run them back to back, Terri helped me out by holding one while I ran the other. Ed, Lynn & Chris (& Jenny & Bryn) made a grand cheering section!

We even got photos to commemorate the special reunion!  Family, Friends & Agility…what a wonderful weekend!

Photo: Seeker, Jenny, Tempo & Dandy with Terri

Terri & Pups_082011-5Terri & Pups_082011-11

August 10, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer 2011

This summer has been hot, hot, HOT! And that means I have not done much training, but have been taking the dogs swimming at the lake more than ever. They are happy no matter what we do, but a bit more training would have made the summer more productive!

It’s August already and June seems like a very long time ago, when we competed at the USDAA Northeast Regional in Bethlehem, PA. The first day was so hot & humid that I was not my best at all. But the next two days were a bit better and we had some decent runs. Dandy placed 7th in Team Gamblers and 5th in Round 1 of Steeplechase, in some very fierce competition. He had a bye to go into Round 2 of the Grand Prix, so he was in the Finals for both Steeplechase and Grand Prix. Unfortunately, an uncharacteristic missed weave entry in both classes blew our chances of any placements or byes for Nationals. But aside from the weave entries, our runs were super!

The following weekend, we spent 3 days at The Blackthorne in the Catskills in NY for another big USDAA trial. Dandy was on a team with two other Border Collies, and his team won the Team Relay and qualified placing 5th overall. Individually, Dandy placed 5th in Team Standard. He also qualified in Steeplechase placing 2nd in Round 1. The weave poles bit us again to cause an E in Round 2, as he went wide on a turn and passed through the weaves for an off-course. He did well in Masters titling classes, qualifying in Gamblers, Pairs, Standard (2nd place), Snooker (3rd place & Super Q), and Jumpers (3rd place). I ran Tempo in Starters Standard, and he earned his 2nd leg with a First Place.

In July, we attended one day of an indoor USDAA trial at a soccer/sports facility in Rahway, NJ. It was unbearably hot inside. One ring had good footing but the other ring was slippery for dogs, and many, including mine, were unable to get any traction. I was glad I only entered one day. Dandy qualified in Masters Snooker to finish his Snooker Champion title. And he also won Steeplechase (26”) despite the slipping in that ring. Tempo did not manage the footing well in his one run, and he also crashed the tire, but thankfully it was a breakaway tire so he did not get injured.

July 23-25 was spent at KineticDog camp in Barto, PA. The instructors were awesome as usual, but the weather was again far too hot….and then we got hit with pouring rain & lightning on the last day. The camp was Masters level, so I only worked Dandy. I did get Tempo out each day at lunch break to work for a few minutes. I have things to work on from our camp experience, but the weather has not been very helpful in getting me motivated.

We closed out July with another indoor USDAA trial in Hatfield, PA, and thankfully this facility had A/C. Not super cool but it was heavenly compared to the 90+ degrees outside. Another Team event for Dandy, and another Team Q and another Silver Medal!!! After my E in Team Standard, Dandy made up for that by earning a 2nd place in Team Jumpers, and 3rd place in Team Gamblers & Snooker. This team Q earned Dandy his Tournament Master-Silver title! Dandy also qualified in Masters Standard with a 4th place, finishing his SACH-Bronze title. Tempo had a good weekend, qualifying in Starters Standard with a First Place, finishing his Starters Standard Agility (SSA) title. He and his littermate Quid qualified in Starters Pairs with a 2nd place, which finished Quid’s Agility Dog (AD) title! I also had Tempo in Starters Snooker which was all jumps which did not give me hope…but Tempo didn’t knock any bars and was doing wonderful…until I missed a jump in the closing. Great dog, bad handler! So we did not qualify but Tempo was super!

Besides the dog stuff, I went to quite a few Little League games to watch my nephew Aaron play on the Wallenpaupack All Star team. Aaron did a tremendous job with his pitching, very proud of him! I also enjoyed taking hundreds of pictures of the kids throughout their All Star journey. My sister Gail came home to PA (from CA) for a visit in July, and she got to see Aaron play ball, so it was good timing for her visit.

A couple more agility trials are on the calendar before the big event in October, the USDAA Nationals in Louisville, KY. I’m looking forward to running Dandy there, though it saddens me that I won’t be running Token, too. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss him. And every agility event is a reminder to me that he is gone. Dandy & Tempo are my salvation, they are the best dogs ever. But there is still a huge hole in my heart for Token. The healing process is slow going but Dandy & Tempo will get me through it.


June 8, 2011

Agility Days of May

We were pretty busy in May. On May 14, we did just one day of an AKC trial hosted by Port Chester OTC, held in FDR Park in Yorktown Heights, NY. Dandy knocked on bar in Excellent JWW and my handler error caused an off-course in Excellent Standard. So no Q’s but he ran really well. Tempo made his AKC debut. He had one bar down in Novice JWW but he qualified in Novice Standard with one refusal and a score of 95 and 2nd place. His brother Quid took 1st!

May 21-22, we were back to USDAA at the Contact Agility Club trial in Dover Plains, NY. In Starters Standard, Tempo had 2 bars down on Saturday, and a wrong course on Sunday. His only other class was Starters Pairs Relay, which he did earn a Q in with a 1st place. On Saturday, Dandy’s only Q was in Master Jumpers, but besides being 1st place in  26”, he also posted the fastest time of ALL jump heights, 149 yards in 22.49 seconds. On Sunday, Dandy went 3 for 3! He qualified in Masters Standard with 2nd place, Masters Snooker with 4th place, and Masters Jumpers with another 1st place. A good day for Dandy Smile

May 28-29, we were in Saratoga Springs, NY, for the Y Agility trial. Tempo was only entered in Starters Standard both days. He qualified on Saturday with a 1st place for his first Standard leg. Sunday was not so successful Sad smile. My main objective for Dandy this weekend was to qualify in Team for this year’s nationals, which we did, with a Silver Medal to boot! Dandy had great teammates with Jeanne & Zeke, and Terri & Rise, and we won the Team Relay class.  Individually, Dandy placed 2nd in Team Snooker, Team Gamblers and Team Standard, and was the highest scoring 26” dog. He also earned another Q and 1st place in Masters Jumpers. Very proud of my Dandy!

Dandy-Team Silver Medal-May2011

Tempo is a work in progress and we still have many skills to work on together. I’m in no hurry to get titles on him, continuing to enter just one class a day, for the most part. A little experience & mileage mixed in with his training, so hopefully next year he’ll be ready for primetime.

Summer weather has arrived and in between trials & training, the boys are enjoying their swims at the lake.


May 8, 2011

Let May begin!

After a rainy and snowy April, we hope that May will bring us more pleasant weather!

We closed out April and welcomed May with a USDAA trial hosted by High Octane in Bethlehem, PA. Dandy qualified in Master Pairs Relay, Master Standard with 3rd place, Master Gamblers with 3rd place and Master Jumpers with 2nd place, which finished his JCH title (Jumpers Champion). He had one bar down in Steeplechase and got hung up in the weaves, so we did not make the cut to qualify. He had a beautiful Grand Prix run but missed his A-Frame contact so we did not qualify. I think that was the first time he actually missed an A-Frame…so it’s summer school for Dandy <g>. He seems to think he should join the trend to do running A-Frames but I disagree Winking smile

Tempo made his debut in Starters Standard. On Saturday, the dogwalk was the 2nd obstacle and he lost his balance across the top and had to bail. He landed gracefully on his feet, so we continued on and he was fine with the A-Frame and Seesaw, and also did great weaves. Tempo has only been on a full-height dogwalk about 4 times, and he’s never been on one outside. So our running in Standard is primarily to expose him to different equipment and to habituate to new environments. On Sunday, he was fine with the dogwalk as well as everything else, but he knocked one bar, so again we did not qualify. But I was very happy with his focus and how well he acclimated to all the new experiences. He did qualify in Starters Gamblers with a 1st place, he did a beautiful job with that class!

This weekend, we finally got outside to do some training. Next weekend, just one day of an AKC trial…Dandy in Excellent B, and Tempo making his AKC debut in Novice. Then we’ll be back to USDAA for the next several weeks.

April 25, 2011

So On We Go…

I have not updated the blog since my post about Token. My heart has a huge hole in it, but I know that every day with Dandy & Tempo is precious. So we are back to competing and honoring Token’s legacy.

February 19-20, we went to Fitchburg, MA, for flyball. It was very hard to be there, Token would have finished his ONYX title there. Tempo raced fulltime and finished his FDCH. The awards ceremony was too emotional, but it was a big hurdle to get past.

March 5-6, we went to York, PA, for more flyball. Tempo earned his FDCH-Silver title, with a personal best time of 4.39 racing in the 2nd position. Dandy continued to race well with the Multi team. But I felt disconnected, I did not feel that my heart was into the racing. I’m not sure when or if we will do flyball again.

March 26-27, we went to our first Agility trial of 2011. The trial was in Barto, where we were for our last trial, back in November…the last place that Token competed, where he qualified for 2011 Nationals Team. Checking in at the gate, the first time I had to check-in Dandy, but not Token also…another difficult ‘first’ to get over. More tears, more baby steps. Dandy ran well but we were a bit rusty & out of sync as far as timing. He did qualify in Steeplechase with a 2nd place, his 2nd Q for 2011 Nationals. Tempo made his debut, running in Starters Gamblers and Jumpers. He didn’t qualify but did fairly well for his first time “away from home”. I had not planned to trial him this year so I have been lax in training him. But it’s time to get him started.

April 9-10, another USDAA Agility trial in High Falls, NY. Dandy qualified in Masters Standard with a 2nd place, finishing his SACH title (Standard Agility Champion). He also qualified in the all-important Grand Prix for his 2nd Q for 2011, so he is now qualified for Nationals in Grand Prix and Steeplechase. His GP run was 1st place which also earned him another bye into the Finals at a Regional event. He qualified in Steeplechase, with a 2nd place in the Finals. Tempo ran in Starters Jumpers both days, qualifying in both.

April 16-17, I entered Dandy only in a local AKC trial. On Saturday, Dandy qualified in Excellent A Standard, 1st place, to finish is AX title. On Sunday, we ran for Token in honor of what would have been his 8th birthday. Dandy ran like a champ, taking 1st place in Excellent B Standard and 4th place in Excellent B JWW earning his very first double Q along with 57 MACH points. A sad day but Dandy made me so very proud…I cherish every run, every moment.

April 23-24, back to USDAA at K9Logix in Greenfield, MA. Saturday was miserable…it was snowing in the morning, ground was slick, contacts were icy, temperatures in the 30s. The snow changed to rain but it was still frigid. Cold, wet, miserable. Dandy managed to qualify in Masters Standard with a 4th place, despite my poor handling. And he qualified in Steeplechase finishing 2nd in Round 1. Tempo’s Gamblers run was in the snow, so I didn’t let him do the dogwalk or seesaw, they were too slick, and he knocked the first bar in the Gamble. Sunday was a much better day, wore a tee shirt instead of 3 layers of fleece! Dandy ran well, but we didn’t manage to run clean. But we did run clean in Steeplechase Finals to take First Place! Tempo ran in Starters Jumpers and ran beautifully, qualifying for his 3rd Q in Jumpers to finish his Starters Jumpers title!

My plan for Tempo is to continue to enter just one class a day at trials, maybe two on occasion. I’m taking it slow as he still needs more training with obstacle performance, and he needs more skills. I’m hoping that we will be able to train outside SOON. This has been the winter that never ends!

I still miss Token every day, but I am so grateful to have Dandy & Tempo in my life. I am determined to enjoy every day I have with them both. Token has given me two beautiful gifts, his legacy lives on.


January 17, 2011

My Beloved Token

Merlynn Eclipse – April 17, 2003–January 14, 2011

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Friday, January 14th, 2011…my heart was broken. My sweet Token passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.

When I arrived home from work, just before 5pm on Friday, Token welcomed me home as always…I invited him up into my arms for a hug and a kiss, and he gave me his usual sweet greeting. Minutes later, as I was getting prepared to give the dogs their supper, Token was standing still in the kitchen, as if in a daze. I spoke his name but he didn’t look up. He wandered into the bedroom where he laid down and lost continence. He then walked to the living room, laid down with a thud, and I grabbed the phone to call my veterinarian. It was just past 5pm, and I was referred to a 24 hour hospital. I called there to get directions, it was a 45 minute drive. By then Token’s breathing became labored and  his gums were white. He could not get up at all, he was totally limp; I clumsily picked him up and placed him in the front seat of my car, where he could be close to me. The drive to the hospital in Newton was excruciating…Friday night traffic, no passing zones, red lights… I stroked Token’s head and spoke to him as I drove…at some point, he seemed to no longer be moving. By the time I arrived at the hospital at 6pm, he was gone. I was certain it was a really bad dream, it just could NOT be real. But it was.

I requested a necropsy and what they found was a mass on his spleen that had ruptured and was bleeding internally. It all happened so fast, it was surreal. My only comfort is that he did not suffer…he went very quickly…and he did not appear to be in pain…he seemed to just go to sleep. But I am devastated and sad and numb, and I miss him terribly.

Token was a very special dog. He was sweet and loving, every person he ever met was his friend, including kids; he was bomb-proof, nothing ever seemed to worry him. He was athletic and talented, though I struggled with learning the proper way to handle him in Agility. He taught me so much as he needed very precise information from me, and if I didn’t give it to him, he would ask me to please be more specific! He was a natural at Flyball and he introduced me to a whole new sport that we had fun with in between agility trials.

He was always fun to run in both Agility and Flyball, he had a presence about him that could not be denied. But there was something special about him that had nothing to do with his performance…it had everything to do with his spirit and his heart. The best things that were ever said about Token came from spectators who knew little about the sport they were watching. Token seemed to get their attention just with his aura.  Years ago, a woman who ran a therapy dog program saw him in the waiting room of a veterinary office and she kept looking at him; she finally came up to me and told me that I had to do therapy work with him as he was “special”. Once at a flyball tournament in New Hampshire, a spectator told me he was “the coolest” thing she had seen all day. I replied that there were MANY Border Collies there that were really good, but she saw something unique in Token’s expression. I will never forget running him at an Agility Trial in Saratoga Springs…we didn’t run clean but that didn’t matter…a woman who had been watching came up to me and said “He is really special, isn’t he? I can just tell.” It wasn’t that he was “the best” or “the fastest”. It was something else altogether…and those of us who saw that in Token are all the better for it.

Token would often press his muzzle against my face. It was just one of the ways that he touched me both physically and emotionally. And that is what I’m remembering today. Not all the titles and ribbons that he won, nor the titles and ribbons we never did get…but the heart and soul of a very special dog that I was blessed to have in my life.

It hurts so much, he was taken way too soon. But I am blessed again to have two of Token’s sons. Dandy & Tempo are not carbon copies of Token, there was only ONE Token. But there are pieces of Token to be found in both of them, and they are my pride and joy, my heart and soul.

Thank you, Lynn, for bringing Token to my life. Thank you, Terri, for seeing Token’s aura, and thus bringing Dandy & Tempo into my life through Meg. Thank you, Cindy, for also carrying on Token’s legacy through Cass and Blur.

Dear Token, I adored you from the first moment I saw you and I will adore you forever.

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