summer_jackel: (Coba profile)
Happy news: Zhava has earned the first point toward her championship, and my fluffy little sparklefox is now 'Outlaws Cobalt Gambit CD,CGC' on paper. There was a dog show! We totally won! It was great!

If you happen to want a whole lot more detail than that, it's under the cut )
summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
Kyn cooked some delicious BBQ ribs the other day. No hounds, of course, were allowed to be unsupervised anywhere near the cooling meat, which makes miss Zhava very sad. She had never wished so passionately to commit a perfect crime, and it would only have taken her mere seconds to complete it.

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oh please, humans, just turn your back for a moment. That's all it would take, just a second of the relaxation of protective primate glare, and those ribs could be mine, so mine, oh please. )
summer_jackel: (Coba profile)
We've had a great show today...Zhava was chosen reserve winner's bitch, certainly the highest I have ever handled a dog in a conformation class. Coba lay down on his sit in Obedience again, but the day had been so long and hot that I hardly blame him. Another day of showing tomorrow!
summer_jackel: (Default)
The idea is
that in the ring, my pup will stand
poised to show her beauty to a judge---
but she's a puppy
and doesn't see the point, so I am
moving her forelegs while she moves the hind
and then fiddling with the hind while she fidgets
on the fore, and by then
the judge has probably moved elsewhere.
Today it was
sunny spring at the park, and Zhava stood
relaxed in perfect grace, her fine head high,
expression lofty, solid stance, tall and all of splendor
For just a moment.
summer_jackel: (Default)
So there was a dog show! Coba qualified for his second of three necessary trials to earn his Companion Dog title in novice obedience. It was one of our better runs, with a score of 186, and I am very proud of him. He was calmer and more focused in the ring, probably because I am becoming more comfortable with it myself, partly because at four he's starting to find his stride, to be the dog he was becoming. Coba can be a bit of an amplifying mirror for my emotions sometimes (if I didn't need supervision and commentary, I shouldn't have gotten a shelite, right?) and the complicated little beast is usually more effected by what's going on in my head than I give him due credit for.

There was a run-off for fourth place. I was not expecting to be called back into the ring, and really blew it by giving him the wrong command right as we started. "Let's go" slipped out instead of "velcro;" it confused him, and he was all over the place for the rest of the trial. "Let's go" is one of the things I say to release him; he knew better than to think I was actually telling him to go do whatever he wanted in the middle of a dog show, but I can hardly fault him by thinking he was allowed to lag back and take a quick, genteel sniff at the side of the ring before re-attaching himself to my heel when I stopped. Egregious handler error, but hey, qualifying score, fun and exciting show, can't complain. We had a lot of fun, and I have gained a deeper understanding of myself, my dog and how we relate. I'm pretty sure that's why I'm doing this to begin with.

In addition to that, Zhava debuted in the breed ring. She was the only one in her puppy class and was not placed above the mature winners of the other classes, but our moment in the ring was a happy experience for both of us. One handler, who ended up taking her huge, beautiful solid red bitch to Best of Breed, was quite kind to me and appreciative of Zhava, and gave me some useful handling advice. I should gait the dog more slowly going out and back than when asked to circle around the ring, and must keep the dog on the mat in an indoor show. I've never shown indoors, so didn't realize that they mark out the pattern on the floor with mats. I love this idea so much after a few moments of horrible confusion in outdoor rings, so I suppose can be forgiven for clutching to it for security. Still, I must remember: The mat is for the dog.

Leaving the show, I finally felt like a competent novice, less out of my depth. I am very proud of my truly splendid and amazing dogs, who are still blessedly exhausted. And two people complimented Coba's grooming. So life's good.

A couple of pictures under the cut )
summer_jackel: (Default)
My pup continues to grow. For all that she strongly implies the thing that she is becoming, Zhava still remains a knobbly-kneed puppy, not fully grown in coat, height or anything else. Here are some moments.

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dogs in sun and mist )
summer_jackel: (Coba profile)
The show was lots of fun. We didn't place, but Coba's first obedience run in particular was great. I think he might even have had a pretty high score, had he not sat up at the very end of his down stay. But I can hardly fault him; the dogs on either side of him had broken completely and were up walking around, and he only sat when a siren startled him. He is almost there; I just need to work him in somewhat noisier, more urban settings, and in more strange places. His second obedience trial wasn't as good, and he lay down on his sit almost immediately...but hey, we know what to work on.

I was not expecting any success in conf...shelties are very competitive in breed, and he's lacking in ear set, which is heavily pointed. Still, my handling is getting better, and I needed the ring experience. Coba may not have a chance at finishing a championship (if I can even get points on him); Derzhava has a very real chance at finishing, but only if I learn how to handle her. Getting there!

The Borzoi people found Derzhava when Kyn and I took her to spectate the end of the show, when Coba and I were done. They were very kind (and some of them recognized her mother), and I got to meet the Best of Breed dog, a rockstar of a Borzoi, GCh. Aashtoria Wildhunt Hidden Agenda, "Casper" who I have admired from afar for some time and didn't expect to meet at a local show. He's even prettier up close, even/especially when politely pulling his lips away from his lovely sharp fangs to express distaste for his hairspray.

Kyn, Eclipse and I had a great time, and I think I'm almost done with dog show nerves. This relaxation translates into Coba having more fun, too, and I think if that isn't the ultimate point of this exercise, you are doing it wrong.

Also, lots of pictures. )
summer_jackel: (Coba profile)
This post is all dogs all the time; only read if that interests.

So I went and entered Coba in a show, and somehow that date which seemed so comfortingly far off is now the day after tomorrow, because said show is this weekend. I am nervous and not attached to any kind of success, but I do feel more comfortable about the whole thing than I have been in the past. We're just back from a practice meet, which was useful.

Coba didn't do terribly well in the last obedience trial a couple of weekends ago, but we will get another chance, since we're entered in obedience and conformation for both days. I think we're ready, or at least at one of those stages in newbie-hood where the only thing for it is to just get out there and do the thing, screw up and learn.

Coba seems to be understanding what conformation showing is and what's desired of him, so he's relaxing, which is the important thing. I have a lot of anxiety about going back into a conf ring (we won't discuss my first experience with it), but now, with the understanding that we are not going to win, I'm actually starting to look forward to it. (I'm doing this because I thought it looked really FUN, right?) Obedience...well, I know he can do everything that's wanted and quite well, but this is a weird time for Coba. Well into his third year, he's becoming more emotionally adult; he's also been through a lot of major changes in the past couple of months with the loss of Jez and a new pup. This is translating in part to his being more confident, but not reliably so, and "rethinking" and testing some of his training. He is going to be a bit of a wild card in the ring this weekend---he could be perfect of abysmal. I'll try to calm down and support him by not telegraphing my nerves down his leash.

So here are my notes from tonight, written here because writing things down often helps me internalize them.

---Remember to hold left elbow close to hip, touching body; hand down with a relaxed appearance. Don't hold arm way out to the side.

---Bait while he's on the table, but not while gaiting him; the aim is that he looks ahead as he moves, and not up at me. He will naturally want to do this, since there's a dog in front of him, so I shouldn't distract him with food at that point.

---Ideally, the handler isn't looking at the dog during gaiting, to avoid distracting the dog when you want him looking forward. Look at him enough to know that he's moving the right way.

---The leash needs to be held "accordion style" in my left palm, looped around the upward-held thumb, tight enough that connection is maintained with the dog and so that his collar doesn't slip. If it does slip so that the leash interferes with his profile on the judge's side, fix it before bringing him out! I am really glad that I got a good lead; I didn't fully appreciate how much of a difference it made until I had one, and replacing his show chain with a leather collar might help the slippage issue. I'm understanding now why a loop lead might be a good idea, and may consider going that route when it's time to get a lead for Derzhava.

---REMEMBER TO BREATHE IN THE RING. RELAX. It is unforgivably silly to be more nervous in front of a dog judge than I have been the last few times I appeared in front of an actual, legal judge. It just is.

But enough of all that. You want puppy pictures.

Also, there's this incredibly cute Borzoi puppy. Some canine and avian, too. )
summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
This enchanting little creature came to live with me a few days ago.

Photobucket

puppy! )

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summer_jackel

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