A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘Jamaica Kennel Club’

A Wing and a Prayer and we Fly

Busta, winner of the October 2011 Novice Obedience Class

Busta, winner of the October 2011 Novice Obedience Class. Owned, trained, handled, loved, and ocassionally cussed at by Debbie Davidson

I write this post about a significant accomplishment exactly one week late because I’ve been insanely busy. Yet I’m pleased to announce that my five-year-old Rottweiler, Busta, who has been in retirement and who hasn’t competed in an obedience trial since 2007 won the Novice obedience class on Saturday, October 23.  He won “high in trial” too with a perfect score.

The decision to enter the dog came from a place of desperation.  Earlier I had made the rather sad decision to retire my white German Shepherd bitch who showed a great deal of promise in obedience.  But, I needed a goal, something that would keep me working with my dogs, and I needed a dog that might, just might, progress through the various classes and earn an obedience title.  I hauled Busta out of retirement.

He had learned all the novice exercises when he was a puppy, but it was many years since I worked him.  Despite my best intentions to prepare him for the upcoming show, our work together was sporadic at best.  Three weeks prior to the show I did no work with him.  We were entering on a wing and a prayer.  Yet, we managed to impress the judge.  Busta remained focused in the ring and did everything asked of him quickly and enthusiastically.

Now I scramble to find time to prepare him for the Beginner’s Class on November 20.  It’s tough when there are so many other things clamoring for my time.  A fellow competitor who used to enter multiple dogs in obedience while working full time told me that she’d wake up early and train during the 5:00am hour, working each dog with one exercise for a total of three minutes.  I will have to try that.

We need to work on the one-minute stand-stay, and the high and long jump.  Busta proved many years ago that he is not a jumper.  He is the only one of my dogs who has never shown any inclination to jump on furniture.  With the Jamaica Kennel Club’s recent decision to lower the jump heights for competition obedience, I just might be able to entice Busta to perform the jumps.  We’ll see….

A Sad Decision Made at White Mist Shepherds

Athena is the dog on the right

I worked Athena on the field in obedience along with other German Shepherds.  She didn’t have a good day.  She broke all of her stays, lagged miles behind me in the off-leash heel, and I had to call her about three times in the recall.  As for the retrieve.  I managed to get her to hold the dumbbell for me at the beginning of class; however, she very reluctantly went out for the dumbbell.   On one attempt I had her sit at heel and wait while I tossed the article–a bright orange plastic dumbbell.  I sent her out and she promptly brought me back a discarded styroform cup.

Half way through the class, it was evident that Athena had shut down.  It was not for psychological reasons, however;  she was simply not feeling well.  Three people whose judgement and advice I trust pointed out that Athena has not regained her strength yet, and she needs to rebuild her muscle mass.  I see the dog everyday, I noticed the improvements in her, but I needed an objective set of eyes to see what really is.

Coupled with this, Athena has an arrhythmia.  We made the decision that she would not be competing in the Jamaica Kennel Club’s All-Breed Show and Obedience Trials, and will retire from the obedience ring and will enjoy the rest of her life as a house pet.  We were so close to that CD.

Intermediate Obedience

After only one month’s preparation, Athena and I will enter the obedience ring once more tomorrow, but this time we’ll be competing in the Intermediate class.   We have not mastered all the exercises perfectly.  For instance, Athena can reliably clear the high jump at 23″:  she must do 36″ tomorrow, and her retrieve is still rough around the edges.  However, her work shows remarkable progress.

Two weeks ago she refused the jumps.  I had to take her back to the beginner’s stage, letting her jump very low heights, rewarding, and raising the heights very gradually.  I also had to change the cue, as I discovered that somehow the old ones got poisoned.   The results:  she offers me jumps now.  Some will say that is not a good thing in a competition dog; however, the fact that she offers the jumps without me cuing her says that she actually likes to jump, and she knows what she’s to do.  And, she’s jumping off leash.  How could I possibly correct that?

We may not be perfect, and I have no idea how we will do in the ring tomorrow.  We may be brilliant, we may stink.  Regardless of the outcome, I remind myself that the process, the journey of getting to where we are, is far more important than the product, the first place, or the trophy.  While those are nice to have, I am more interested in how my dog learned, and that she had fun learning and performing, and that she will look forward to more training and trials.

That said, I sign off for now as handler and dog must be well rested for the task at hand tomorrow.

We Did IT!!!!!!!!

El Zima's Celestial Harmony, aka "Athena"I am so very proud of my girl, El Zima’s Celestial Harmony, aka Athena.  She placed second in the Beginner’s Class  at the Jamaica Kennel Club’s Obedience Trials held last Sunday.  Athena managed to place with only one week of consistent training.  She scored 185 points out of 200.  Not bad at all.
El Zima’s Celestial Harmony, aka “Athena”
White German Shepherd

 

She lost points due to handler’s error.  Okay, so it’s been a while since I’d been in the obedience ring, and it was my first attempt training and handling a dog in the Beginner’s Class, so I have to work on my technique.

Now we’re preparing for the Intermediate Class next month.  Keeping fingers and toes crossed once more; she has to learn to retrieve.

Returning to Training and the Show Circuit

White German Shepherd

Image via Wikipedia

So I decided that I want to return to what I love doing the most, my passion: training my beloved dogs and trialling with them.  The decision came this morning after making some significant changes in my life.

We are rusty, my Athena and I, but I marvel at Athena my white german shepherd’s enthusiasm for training. We trained for a bit today after doing spotty work during the past few weeks.  Now with our first show coming up at the end of the week, I will train everyday, but I will not intensify our work.

You see, Athena is so enthusiastic about training, that she will not leave my side, except for the stays.  Her eyes are so bright and alert with her German Shepherd ears standing tall, and her tail in a perpetual wag.  She has this cute finish:  when she’s sitting directly in front of me and  I give the cue for her to walk around me and sit at heel, she literally jumps up out of her sit and wraps herself around my legs.

Our training sessions are priceless, and I don’t want to kill Athena’s enthusiasm by training hard and stressing her out.  As Sunday’s show will be our first in over a year, and we haven’t trained in about as long, our performance will probably stink, but as long as my dog enjoys being with me and enjoys being in the ring, that’s all that matters to me, and I’ll know that I have done my job as a trainer.

A Dog-Trainer Decides to Boycott Jamaica Kennel Club Shows

Today, April 11, 2010, was to be the Jamaica Kennel Club’s (JKC) all-breed championship dog show and obedience trial.  I entered my white GS bitch Athena many weeks ago, paid her entry fee, and planned on entering some of my other dogs.

I took the day off from my organ-playing church job–not an easy task. Anyway, I gave advance notice and got the time off.

The night before I stayed up making last minute preparations for the show, like filling plastic bottles with water for the dogs, gathering up grooming supplies, etc. Next morning I loaded the dogs in the car and set off for the 20-something mile journey to the show.

I pulled up to the gates of the show venue to find that they were locked.  The grounds were deserted, and there was not even a stray dog to be seen.  Puzzled, I called the President of the Jamaica Kennel Club and was told that the show had been postponed until the 16th.

I asked why I wasn’t informed of this change (yes, they have my contact information.  This is not the first time I’ve entered shows).  Mr. President informed me that it was the Kennel Club’s responsibility to inform registrants of the change.  Now, I had called the JKC’s  office on Friday about one of my entries, but the worker there said nothing to me about a change of date.  In fact, she was to gather some information and get back to me.  She never did call me back.

It was right there that I decided that I’ll never enter another dog show.   I have had it with the Jamaica Kennel Club and its inefficiency.  All too often dog shows start 2 hours late when the dogs are hot and tired waiting around, and their owners/handlers are stressed and tempers flare.  I shall be visiting the office tomorrow and requesting a refund of my entry fees.  I will also be pulling the registration of all my current dogs, and will not be registering future litters or puppies/dogs that I purchase.

Preparing a German Shepherd for Beginner’s Obedience: How Hard Should the Trainer Push?

With only a few weeks before the upcoming Obedience Trials, I’m struggling to control my anxiety.  Athena, who won the Novice trial last November, setting a record as being the first white GSD and the first clicker-trained dog to win an obedience competition in Jamaica, will be entering the Beginners Class.

There’s some improvement to her performance.  I’ve finally managed to straighten her fronts, which for the most part were crooked, except for the fluke moments when she did a straight front.  Such fluke moment happened at the last show, but at this level, I cannot rely on such moments.  I need to be sure that she will come in straight regardless of where she’s positioned in relation to me for the recall.

Her jumps, on the other hand, cause me some concern.  She successfully clears the high jump at 24 inches (approximately); however, that’s below the required 32 inches for the show.  The regulation height set by the Jamaica Kennel Club is too high for a beginner obedience dog.  The heights for The American Kennel Club are lower, especially for large breed dogs. 

As no one at The Jamaica Kennel Club seems in too much of a hurry to reconsider the height of the jumps, I have no option but to condition Athena to clear these heights.  I make haste with her slowly, however.  My philosophy with training pet dogs is to go as fast as the dog is willing and capable to go.  I will not risk injuring the dog by raising the bar, literally and figuratively, too high too fast.

Last week I tried raising the jump height a full inch.  Athena willingly took the jump, but her back legs consistently knocked the bar.  That’s an automatic disqualification at the Beginner’s level.  So, I lowered the height once more to the point where she could jump without knocking the bar, and gradually raised it a 1/4 inch at a time until I got her back to the original 24 inches.

It’s hard, laborious work, and requires patience on my part.  Now, patience is a virtue that I possess in limited quantities.  I want a CDX on this dog, NOW.  But I keep asking myself when I’m tempted to push this dog to her limits, “Is it really worth sacrificing this dog’s enthusiasm for training and performing, and sacrificing her trust in me as her handler, for an obedience title?”

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