Thursday, December 23, 2010

2011 Goals

Is it that time of year already?  We're on the cusp of another new year. Sadly that means I have to recognize not only the things I accomplished but also the goals that were not reached.

The biggest dream in the world, to keep Jinx healthy to ring in 2011 with me was not possible.  The bottom fell out of my world when I lost her in May. I think I actually had myself convinced that the experimental medicine would work and Jinx would beat the cancer that they had pronounced terminal. Losing Jinx made me want to end the year at that point and just start over because everything that came later seemed anticlimatic at the time.

One thing about having multiple dogs, however, is that you do not have the luxury to grieve and hibernate with loss.  True, you grieve but you have to do it on the run, and the other dogs are present and demanding your attention. I don't have experience in handling it any other way to know if this is preferred, but it works for me. I can honor the greatness of the dogs that came before by being a kind and patient trainer while teaching the dogs how to access their own potential.  My year ended with another tough loss, this one totally unexpected, when Digit passed away in his sleep. I guess this means I really have to work hard to pass on the love I had for them.

I said that I would earn an FH and a MR1 with Quinn this year.  Well, the FH is going to be moved to the "to do" list for 2011 but we did earn our MR1 in one weekend, back to back trials, even earning an award for the high score on the second day. Since I am not a member of a Mondioring Club and do not have access to that regular training, I was very proud to have accomplished that goal primarily with the assistance of my schutzhund club members and the occasional ring seminar.  An interesting thing happened along the way, though.  One of the reasons I had delved into ringsport to begin with was because Quinn had gotten so trial-wise in schutzhund and was almost to the point of not letting go of the sleeve at all.  He knew when he wore an e-collar, and he also worked perfectly in seminar... but in a trial I might get the first out quickly, the second more slowly (hmmm... nothing is happening? I think I'll just hang out here on the sleeve a little longer) and the last took repeated commands and promises to God.  In the ring trial, his "out" was immediate.  I considered what made the difference, and decided it was the long fight. When we did extended grips not only was he satisfied, but he was darned happy to finally let go and take a breather!  Now, when I take him out and give him sleeve bites, I am getting the same fast reaction. We've applied this method to other schutzhund dogs and it seems to be working. In fact, I am so encouraged by this that I intend to trial Quinn in 2011 for his AWD1,2,3 (AWDF titles) in addition to finally earning that FH!

He was not bred, and likely never will be. The dog that I thought would make a nice match is being being bred to a dog in an arrangement that will guarantee the sale of the pups.  Good for the owner; not so good for Quinn.  Oh well, I love him.  Just not in that way!!

I said Cooper would earn his BH, SchH1 and FSA and we fell short on that one, but not by much!  We traveled to CT to take the FSA and passed that. We even made a run at the Type1 the next day, since we were there and almost did it. Next time!  He has really turned into a great little dog.   Since Tom and I were gone most of August to Alaska on our trip of a lifetime, and I was also mentoring club members, I did not enter our fall trial. I had to find another trial for his BH and ended up doing that late in the season, at the Machtig Strom trial. No schutzhund1 for us this year, therefore.  But I did enter four conformation shows at Ixonia where Cooper earned his UCK Conformation Championship.  How cool is that?  In 2011 I will do Cooper's Type1/CE and earn at a minimum his SchH1.

It's time for Ridley to take her turn in the spotlight, too and in 2011 we will earn a BH.  

I have some pretty big plans for a dog that I don't even own!  Pre, a Belgian Malinois, owned by Sam L is a dog that I have here to trial this year. My goal for Pre is to compete in the AWDF Championship, the North Americans and the Malinois Nationals this year.  He is an awesome dog.

 I have a new German Shepherd Dog puppy, Marco.  His year will be spent learning tracking foundation and all the cool obedience methods that I have been privy to recently.  He is going to be a big boy and I have big plans for him.

I see that I said I would sell some dogs.  Bart and Enno found new homes.  Excel and Chica are still here.  Excel still needs a home but I am training Chica in HRD and also plan to try her out as a sled dog very soon! She has that coyote style body type of the Alaskan huskies and loves to run, so we'll see if she can't haul my big butt down the trail....

I may be conservative on some of my goals.  It is entirely possible that my training program will be on fire this year and I'll title dogs right and left.  We are fortunate to have a new club helper who will (crossing all my fingers) be available for more training, which will help tremendously! 2011 could be alot of fun!