Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine Play

Astro looking hunky a few days before Valentine's.
Zephyr and Astro received puppy baskets for Valentine's Day from Friday and Linus.  The baskets were full of treats and toys.  The new toys combined with some fresh snow made for some great play.  You'll notice Zephyr's hock is wrapped.  That's because the week before he cut it while flying through the forest.  I'm keeping it covered while it heals.  

"Astro, do you want to play in the snow?"
"Come On Astro, LET'S PLAAAY!!!!"
"All right already, Lets GO!"
"You're toast, Zephyr!"
"My Toy!"  "No, It's My Toy!"  "My Toy!"  "No, It's My Toy!"

Zephyr was feeling the love and was full of spunk.  After running around with Astro and bad mouthing with the crows he and I had one of our best play sessions in a long time.  He was running and playing with me and we had a great tug session with my hand.  Don't worry, I had thick gloves on and he was very gentle.  Of course he eventually won and bounced around the yard tossing my glove in the air.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Astro's 1st Rally Trial

Love This Boy!
 Last weekend Astro and I were in our first AKC Rally trial at the Sahuaro State and Lost Dutchmans shows in Phoenix.  The shows are held indoors at the Arizona State Fair grounds.  As this was our first trial I didn't really know what to expect as far as how our performance would go.  We'd been doing well in practice, but things are different at a show.  I'd made my goals to keep Astro happy and enjoying the show experience, to get him to play with me in the show environment, to keep myself happy and control my nervousness, and to do our best in the ring.  Of course I hoped we might qualify too, but for our first trial I wanted to focus more on the other things.  Plus, I think that helps me stay calm.  I can get very nervous at these types of things and Astro really picks up on this and it causes him to get nervous and upset.  This can really affect our teamwork and success.  He is very sensitive and even if I get a little upset, nervous, or frustrated about anything he usually notices it and it worries him.  Zephyr is the same, but I do think Astro is more bothered by it.  One thing I've figured out is that the best way for me to relax and get him to connect with me when we need to "work" is to play.  We play tug, chase, especially effective is when I sit on the ground and we wrestle, it's great!

Walking into the ring on Saturday.  I think the ring steward was pretty amused at my nervousness.   As I fiddled with Astro's collar and leash twice he said, "Don't take it off."
The weekend was so awesome and we achieved all our goals plus more!  I'm not saying I didn't get nervous, and Astro probably noticed, but it didn't keep him from being happy and wanting to play, which helps us both.  We were entered in the Novice A class, which is for teams with a handler that has never gotten a Rally or Obedience title on a dog before and dogs that haven't earned any previous obedience titles.  

Our first time in the Rally ring.  It was so nice to hear everyone clapping at the end.

Astro did an excellent job and in our first trial on Saturday we qualified and got 1st Place with a score of 95!  To say I was surprised, thrilled, and so proud of Astro is an understatement.  I was just thrilled that the judge announced that all three teams qualified and called everyone back in the ring for ribbons.  She asked everyone what leg of the title they were on, I raised my hand when she asked who was getting their first.  I was already beaming at that point.  When she announced that Team 37 was 1st place with a score of 95 I had to check my armband to make sure it was really us.  After we walked up for the ribbons and went back to our spot I had to lean down and give Astro a huge hug and kiss.  I admit, I had to hold back a few tears of happiness.

You'll see in the video that towards the end we turn around and come back.  That was to redo the fast pace going back to a normal pace.  The first time Astro got ahead and didn't slow back down.  I thought that would be a big deduction and you can redo a sign once for a reduction of 3 points, which I thought would be better.  She said I was smart to do that.  I was really using my hands a lot to guide him through the course because I was nervous and wanted to do my best at keeping him focused.  I just love how Astro's tail is wagging away and how he looks up to check in with me.  And Holy Cow, that cute plop that he does into a down, who can resist that.

With our judge, Nancy Craig. 
To top it off when we got back to my parents' house and Astro was heading toward the yard a bunny took off right in front of him, and of course he took off after the bunny.  It escaped, and then another one took off.  Bunny chasing, a perfect way to celebrate!

Doing the Call Front 1, 2, 3 steps back on Sunday.  His sits were cattywampus (a great word) on the steps back so we lost a few points.  
Sunday was another excellent day.  Astro did it again, earning 1st Place with another score of 95!  At this point I was over the moon.  I felt like we had done a good job and I think we were smoother on Sunday, but I knew we had a few bumps too, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Cruising Along with a Swishy Tail.
The judges both commented on what a nice job Astro did and that he's a good worker.  I know they don't see many greyhounds in the shows.

Working Hard.
 Astro was really happy and playful both days even though I know he was a little tired on Sunday.  We were all exhausted when we got home Sunday.

Let's Go!
It's such a great feeling to be doing something with your dog as a team.  I loved that they called us Team 37.

Give us a plop, I'll walk around, and we're done!  WOOHOO!!
Sunday's judge even said she loved how Astro does his downs.  On Sunday when we walked up to get our ribbons I had him "Take a Bow", so cute.

With our judge, Ruthann McCaulley.  Thanks to our friend Chris for encouraging us and taking the video and pictures!  
I never expected that we would do so well in our first shows.  It was such a wonderful surprise.  I'm especially happy that Astro stayed so happy and was able to do such an excellent job in the show environment.  What a sweet boy!