My Toastmaster’s speech about my dogs

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If you have a fear of public speaking or just want to gain more confidence, there is a great organization that can help you – it’s called Toastmaster’s and you learn different roles at the meetings and learn to give speeches.  The first Competent Communicator manual has 10 speeches.  I gave mine on a variety of topics, but the last one – which is supposed to be inspirational – I talked about my love for my dogs – Here it is:


Perhaps you have been thinking of finding a companion or a mate, perhaps you really haven’t given it any thought at all.  Then while reading the paper one evening, you see an ad that reads:

Single seeking companionship. Age and ethnicity unimportant.  I am  young svelte & good looking . I love to play and take long walks on the beach. I like cozy winter nights spent lying by the fire. Rub me the right way and I will respond with tender caresses. I will be at the front door when you get home from work wearing only what nature gave me.   Kiss me and I am yours.  Call now. 555-FIDO.

Wow – that sounds too good to be true you think to yourself – I wonder who wrote that – were they just making something up to sound good – I think I’ll give the number a call and see what’s up.

Ring, ring – Woof – yes I’m calling about the ad – the one that promises unconditional love, greeting me at the door with no clothes on – Is that you?

Woof woof woof – (that means  –  – I’m down here at the shelter and I need someone to come and get me quick!)

I’ll be right there.  With this you will have the beginning of finding true love and companionship.

Every year between 3 and 4 million pets are in shelters and will be put down, because they don’t have a home.  When you decide to adopt a dog, you are saving 2 lives, the pet you take home and a homeless animal somewhere that can be rescued because of the space you helped free up.

The benefits of having a dog are numerous.  Studies show that dog owners live longer and are happier.  They have reduced blood pressure.  They react better to stress.

Having a dog will encourage you to go out and get some exercise.  This will lead to additional benefits like lower obesity rates, lower cholesterol and building a stronger immunity.

Dog ownership also helps with heart disease.  People that have had a heart attack and get a dog are less likely to have a reoccurrence than someone that does not get a dog.  But the biggest benefit to the heart is here.  Your emotional heart.  Your heart where you find true love.

I grew up in a family where we had cats, but no dogs.  I never really understood the bond that people had with their dogs.  When I used to be in timeshare vacation sales, sometimes people would say that they didn’t take vacations because of leaving their dog behind – to be honest, I thought they were kinda crazy.

A few years back, I started thinking about getting a dog.  A friend of mine had just gotten her second dog and she was always pushing me to get one.  I started looking on the Internet in my spare time – this was back in the days when I had to go in the office room on the big desk top computer – not like today where I can just surf the net on my laptop while watching TV!   The site I looked at the most was Petfinder.  They work with a number of rescue groups.  We had talked about either a beagle or an Australian Shepherd.  My aunt came to visit with a friend, and she told us a story about an elderly couple that she knew that had an Aussie, and the dog would herd them into their room at night – it was such a sweet story.

We looked for about 6 months, never really saying that we were getting a dog, just looking at them on the internet.  We had the concerns that many have on becoming a dog owner, what about those vacations, will the dog chew everything up, what about potty training?

One day we saw a beautiful Aussie on the Aussie rescue site through an organization called Buddies for Life.  We made the leap – from looking to calling.  We were interviewed by a lady – boy I thought we were getting a kid – lots of tough questions and they would also have to inspect our house.  We were all excited and a little nervous.

The next day, the lady called and said that where the dog was being fostered, the foster parents had decided to keep her, but that the dog did have a sister that was not listed because she was very shy and she wasn’t sure if she could be placed, but if we wanted, she would bring her over to us to look at – I said sure.

That’s how our dog Sullivan came to live with us.  I can tell you it has been one of the best decisions we have ever made.  She was so shy and nervous! When we first took her to basic training, she wasn’t accepted because she was so shy she wouldn’t even take a treat!  She has been with us for over 5 years and will be competing at the National Championship for Dog Agility – she has really come a long way!

About 2 years ago, Bonnie, one of my agility friends that had a golden retriever mixed breed dog, really wanted an Aussie.  We were at a trial and she saw a dog she really liked and asked the owner about it – she said it came from a breeder friend of hers and that they were just having a litter if she was interested.  Bonnie took down the information and ended up getting one of the puppies.  Then another friend took one of the other puppies.   They both wanted me to get one of them, but I resisted – 2 dogs – that’s a lot I thought.  A few months went by and one day Bonnie told me that the breeder had wanted to keep the last dog, but had decided to look for a home for her.  She was already 6 months old – usually when you get a dog from a breeder they are 8-12 weeks old.

She finally convinced me to give her a call and that’s how we got our second dog, Kala.  She is the total opposite of Sullivan, being very social and outgoing.  She is just starting in agility.  She brings us so much happiness that we can’t believe that we ever questioned getting her.

Now I know about the bond a person can have with their dog.  Your dog doesn’t care whether you are rich or poor, democrat or republican, fat or skinny.  They are waiting by the door when I come home and no matter how my day has been – and there have been a few rough ones lately – I still get a big kiss.

But don’t just take my word for it –

Recent research shows that spending time with a pet may be even better than talking about your problems with a good friend who’s also a good listener.  Studies show that, when conducting a task that’s stressful, people actually experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a supportive friend or even their spouse was present!  Well, I can totally relate to that!  Dogs don’t judge, they just love.

It’s important to realize that owning a pet isn’t for everyone.  However, for most people, the benefits of having a pet outweigh the drawbacks. Having a furry best friend can reduce stress in your life and bring you support when times get tough.

If you are thinking about getting a dog, please look at a rescue or shelter dog first.  Many rescue groups specialize in pure bred dogs.  You can also check out local breeders like where we got Kala from, but please do not get your pet from a pet store or a puppy mill. This is the worst choice because the dogs are not well cared for and are bred just for profit and put down when they are no longer useful.

Unless you are becoming a breeder yourself – do like Bob Barker of the Price is Right and get your dog neutered or spayed.

I don’t know if having a dog is right for you – it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.  You will have to spend some time with training and of course take your dog to the vet when necessary and things like that.  If you are willing to do these things, you will reap many rewards – like the ad said – if you are looking for someone to take those long walks with, sit by the fire and have someone waiting by the door eagerly awaiting your return – then what are you waiting for – get a dog and find true love!

Well – that was it – hoped I convinced someone in the audience to get a dog and hopefully start in agility!

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Judging Agility

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Life’s  not fair – right??   Has there ever been a time at a trial when you felt that you were right, but the judge ruled otherwise and you end up without that needed Q?  Well – you’re not alone.  Talk to anyone that has been doing trials for awhile and they will all have a story to tell.  This is just part of the deal when you decide to take part in a sport that has a judge involved.  I have been in many judged sports, mostly gymnastics and diving and there are definitely times that leave you screaming “NO FAIR”!!!  So how do you handle it??

The good news for dog agility is that the judges really do seem to be on your side.  Most judges want to see you Q and will give you the benefit of the doubt.  If you feel that you were wronged, bring it to the judges’ attention as soon as the event is finished so they might remember your run.  If you are nice and approach the judge in a good manner, you will have a good chance of getting the mistake fixed, or perhaps finding out why they ruled that way and learning something from it.  Once you have discussed it with the judge, remember their decision is final.  Don’t keep going on about something once it is over.  The best you can do is let it go and focus in on the next run.

On the flip side – there will be times where you did make that mistake, but the judge either didn’t see it, or didn’t call you for it.  These are nice and make up for the times that things didn’t go your way.  Once you get going in agility and have done a few trials you will see that you will get some good calls and some not so good calls.  Remember -no one is out to get you and your dog.  Quite the contrary.  Everyone wants to see you get your Q’s and move up the agility ladder.

Once I felt that my time was wrong (manually timed) in a Jackpot closing.  The run was video taped and the counter on the video showed that I was under time (from when the whistle blew), but the timer, who was on the other side of the field showed just barely over.  Very frustrating!  But as a friend said – well if you had done better, it would not have been an issue – so the responsibility is ultimately mine to make sure we are under time to be sure to get that Q.

Before you start to blame the judge, put yourself in their position and realize that it’s not easy watching run after run and if you are in a place like Florida -where most trials are outdoors – the weather can really get to you.  All of the competitors go rest under their tents and the judge is still out there.  Most trials I have been to, the judge barely takes a break.

The next time you go to a trial give a little more thought to the judge.  Most of them have their own dogs that they run, so they  can see both sides.  If you see someone get a lucky break, be glad for them and know that yours is coming.  Most of all, don’t let one bad call ruin your day or your trial.  Remember – judges are human too!  Now let’s go get some Q’s!!!

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From A Dog’s View

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The other day we watched a great movie – Hachi – A Dog Story.  The movie stars Richard Gere and is a remake of a Japanese film of the true story of Hachi, an Akito that goes to the train station every day to wait for his master to return from work after his death for 9 years. There is a statue in Tokyo where the real Hachi would wait.  Unfortunately the movie was never released in the US, but in other parts of the world, but it is now available on DVD (we got it at Redbox) and I highly recommend it, but do have your tissues ready as you will cry!  Many scenes in the film were from the dog’s view point.  They were mostly black and white with limited color and shot from an angle as to what Hachi would be seeing.  It gave the movie an added element.

I’m thinking about this in terms of agility training and especially when we walk the course prior to a run. Perhaps you have seen videos on YouTube where the camera is placed on the dog as they run a course. They are worth watching because it shows how your dog would see the course.   Most people just walk where they are going to be on the course and don’t stop and think about the dog’s view and how they see the next obstacle .  If you can, walk the course before they set the bars and walk through the jumps, stand directly in front of the contacts and tunnels and the course will look totally different than when you just walk your path.  This will help you plan your directions and have fewer off courses and faster run times.

Being aware of the dog’s point of view will give you an extra advantage and help you earn that needed Qualifier!  Good luck!

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CPE Wildcard

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Wildcard is a great game in CPE.  It is also one of the games that people tend to get confused on.  I think that a lot of the confusion stems from the way the obstacles are labeled.  The idea of the game is a short course where along the way you will have a choice of 2 obstacles.  One will be a little harder than the other.  This will happen 3 times on the course.  Depending on which level you are on, you will either need to take 2 easy and 1 hard (Levels 1 & 2) or take 2 hard and 1 easy (Levels 3,4,5,&C).  The course is numbered so you will have obstacles say 1,2, then 3a &3b.  The b will be the harder of the obstacles.  Sometimes they are different colors – yellow & blue – in which case the judge will let you know which color is considered the hard one.  This is one of those games where you will want to be at the briefing to make sure you know which obstacles are considered hard and which ones are easy.  Then know how many of which you need for your level.

As you walk the course make a plan according to the abilities of your dog.  What works for someone else, may not be the best for you.  There are no refusals, but once your dog starts an obstacle, you need to stick with that one.  This means that if your dogs takes the easy one first and you meant to do a hard one, you will have to make the adjustment on the next choice, so flexibility and thinking on your feet are important.  Play out of few scenes during your walk through.

As you go through the obstacles you will hear the judge call out points – 1 point (easy) and 2 point (hard).  For example if you are in Level 3 & above you will want the judge to have called out 2,2,1 (in any order) and if you are in Level 1 or 2 you will want to hear 1,1,2 (in any order).

In Levels 1 & 2 you are allowed an off course. In all Levels 1-4 you are allowed up to 10 faults (can not be the same faults) like a bar down(5 faults) or overtime (up to 5 faults – 5 seconds).  You cannot have an off course in Level 3 and higher.  Level C must run with no faults.

We have had good success with Wildcard.  Sullivan is about halfway through Level 5 (she missed a few Q’s with an off course, wrong end of a tunnel and a back jump on her last two runs) and my pup Kala has Q’ed on all of her   early runs and moved up to Level 3.  She has done one Level 3 run, but did not Q.  We have 2 more trials in January.

In order to avoid confusion, ask the judge which are labeled hard and then just approach the course thinking about how many hard and how many easy you need.  Don’t forget to make the correction if your dog takes the wrong obstacle. Good luck!

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A Long Time to Qualify

Are you in agility for the fun of it?  Of course you are, but you still want to get those Q’s!  What happens when your dog goes for a long stretch without any Q’s .  It can be frustrating.  We had qualified all of our Level 3 Standards just over a year ago.  Standards take the longest to move to the next level because you have to do twice as many as each game.  So Level 3 Standard has to do 6 Q’s where as Jumpers Level 3 is only 3 Q’s.  As you move up, not only do the courses get a little tougher, but course times are also shorter.  This is what hurt us the most.  My dog Sullivan is very accurate and rarely takes an off course, but doesn’t go very fast.  Especially in the heat, which is most of the time here in Florida.  Once we got our Level 3 standards we went on to Level 4 and struggled to make the time!  I kept thinking – this is our day – only to be met with an over time or sometimes she would miss the weaves (usually a pop-out on 10 or 11).  This went on for a year if you can believe it!  Now you know that your dog has no idea what a Q really is and they are usually doing their best, so you really have to be careful and not over criticize so your dog will still have fun doing agility.

We are happy to report that at our last trial we did 2 Standard courses and qualified on both of them!!!! So now we “only” need 6 more to get to Level 5!  We also Q’ed on Jackpot and Jumpers – also areas where we were behind.  We did not enter anything else as to conserve our energy since I didn’t know how the weather would be.  We had 2 perfect days!!

If you are struggling in an area in your agility trials, don’t let your dog see your frustration.  Give them praise and then work on your issues in training.  You want them to be happy and excited to go to the trial!  Have patience and you will get those Q’s!!!!

Need Weave Pole training – check out Susan Garrett’s 2×2 training!  Your dog will be weaving in no time!



Is My Dog Ready to Trial?

CRWCCHow do you know when your dog is ready to enter his/her first trial?  It can all seem very intimidating!  My Kala will be in her first trial this coming weekend and sometimes you really don’t know what to expect.  We are going to a CPE trial and only entering a couple of the games.  CPE is a very favorable venue when just starting out.

Here are a few things that I feel are important to have before going into a trial.  The first thing is a good recall.  You will be taking your dog to unfamiliar territory and although they may be doing a course where you train, they could decide to leave the ring or go jump on the judge!  You want to be able to have control of your dog whether or not they complete the course.  If this is your first trial , you will probably be nervous and your dog will pick up on that as well.

If you haven’t practiced that many courses, don’t worry.  We practice sequences of about 4-5 obstacles.  As long as your dog can do sequences, they can usually make it through a beginner course.  Most beginner courses flow fairly easily, but you will have to switch sides at least once.  If your dog starts going all over the place (the zoomies) just be patient and call him back to you and continue on.  In CPE you will only be faulted one off course no matter where the dog goes.  Now if they take a few more obstacles and then go off course again, then it would be another fault.  You are allowed one off course fault at the beginning level.    What if your dog leaves the ring?  I don’t know if there is a hard rule on this, but I have been to many CPE trials and have never seen anyone excused from the ring if their dog went out of the ring and came back in.  Now if the dogs goes way off and takes forever, it’s probably best just to say thanks and excuse yourself and go catch your dog!

In CPE, in Level 1 (beginner) there are no weave poles or teeter, so you can start without having these obstacles.  Also in CPE there is a category called FEO – for exhibit only.  You still pay your entry fees and you have to be registered, but you will not get any credit for the run.  You cannot train in the ring, no toys, treats or redo’s, but you can keep your dog on a lease and do the course.  It is a good way to get started without any pressure.  Even if you start in Level 1, and your dog is not cooperating at all, you can call for your leash and still do a few obstacles on leash before leaving the ring.  Don’t go crazy and try and do the whole course if you call for the leash midway, this would be considered training and is not allowed.  Just do a few things and exit the ring with a thank you to the judge.

One of the reasons we are just doing a few of the games is that I don’t feel we are ready to do much on contacts.  Kala can do the A-Frame and Dogwalk, but doesn’t really have a good bottom stay yet.  We are entered in Jumpers (only jumps and tunnels), Colors (2 intertwining courses that should have one contact at most) and Fullhouse (gain points, one of the jokers could be an A-Frame or Dogwalk, but there will probably be something else too).  Fullhouse is where I expect to do the best since if she goes off course (except the table) we will just be getting some extra points.

Everyone has to make their own decision about when to do for that first trial.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your dog and just go for the fun of it!  Just as a reminder, to begin in CPE, your dog must be 15 months and registered with a CPE number.  You will need to go early to get measured no matter what jump height you are in.  If you are getting measured before your dog is 2, then you will have to be measured again for a permanent card after that.  Good luck!

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CR180x160_agilityThis past weekend was our first trial of the season – It rained most of Saturday which wasn’t as bad as you might think since it wasn’t as hot as it normally is for this time of year in Central Florida. On Sunday it was hot and muggy with a few showers at the end of the day. The last trial we were at was probably last April, so I was anxious to see how we would do.  My dog Sullivan is one of those dogs that slows down in the heat, making it hard  to qualify in the Florida heat.

Jackpot has always been a favorite of ours.  We always love a challenge and with Jackpot, you never know what your dog is going to do.  There are two types of Jackpot (some venues call it Gamblers or Fast) in CPE.  Traditional and non-traditional.  In traditional Jackpot, there is an opening where the object is to collect a certain amount of points (depending on your level) before the whistle blows, then send your dog through 4 obstacles (the table is the last one) in an order determined by the course and at a distance – which is marked by a tape.  The handler cannot cross this tape once the whistle blows.  The dog must complete the obstacles in order. The first obstacle is 2 points, then the next one is 4 points, then the next is 6 points and the table (paw must be on) is the 8 points and when the clock stops.  You can complete the “jackpot” and still not qualify if you did not get enough points in the opening or took too long in the closing.  Your dog can cross the tape and go in and out of the area, but you cannot.

Non-traditional Jackpot is created by the judge and each one is different than the other one!  They will involve getting points and some sort of distance handling, but that’s about all that can be said upfront.  It is very important that you attend the briefing at Jackpot since many of the “rules” are what the judge dreamed up for that trial!

At this particular trial last weekend, Saturday was a traditional Jackpot, and Sunday was non-traditional.  The non-traditional allowed you to do part of the jackpot during the opening and then when the whistle blew you had 18 seconds to finish the last two obstacles (a tunnel and table) behind a tape.  If you took any contacts or a combination jump that he had set up you got double points after the whistle – but then you could run the risk of not finishing in time – so it was really fun.  I started out with my “perfect” plan, but Sullivan had other ideas and ran her own course – had I been able to count the points in my head I would have realized that we were one point short and could have taken an extra jump (worth one point) after the whistle since we finished with 10 seconds to spare.

On our traditional Jackpot, we did really well – collected enough points and completed the jackpot with relative ease = only to find out we missed the time by less than a second! UGH!!! So we did not qualify on either run this past weekend.  It was disappointing, but on to the next one!!

This is a video of our traditional Jackpot – you can here the judge calling out the point values (there is a jump combination that was worth 5 points).  You can also hear the first whistle when we are in the weaves.  We would have not gotten any points for them even if we had finished them, so when the whistle blew, we went straight for the jackpot!

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Our next trial is Oct. 9 & 10 and we are hoping for a little cooler weather.  My Kala will be trialing for the first time so it will be very exciting!

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Place or Qualify?

When I went to my first trial, I had no idea what it meant to place or qualify in a run.  In some agility venues you have to qualify in order to get a placement ribbon.  That’s not the case in CPE.  If you place, but did not qualify, you can still get a  ribbon for 1st – 4th place if you finished the course.  If you got an NT (no time) then you would not place.

What exactly does it mean to qualify – or to Q in agility speak?  To qualify means that you completed the course under the course time and within the amount of faults allowed on that course for your level.  In CPE there are 5 levels before Championship and you must qualify in so many runs before you move up to the next level.  You can take each level separately, so you could be Level 2 in  FullHouse and Level 3 in Standard.

While a high placement is nice (love those blue ribbons!), it is more important to focus on getting your Q’s if you want to get titles.  I have seen on occasion where something doesn’t go right on the course, say the timer didn’t function and the judge feels like it would have been a Q, the judge will offer the handler either a do over or a Q without placement – most people will take the Q without the placement, because they are looking to move up to the next level.

In CPE the levels are divided into Regular (Standard), Handler Games (Colors & Wildcard), Strategy Games (Jackpot & Snooker) and Fun Games (FullHouse & Jumpers).  When you get the necessary Q’s for each category you will receive a nice certificate from CPE.   For example we are in Level 5 in FullHouse and Level 4 in Jumpers – we will not receive our certificate until we get all Level 4 Q’ for Jumpers.

Once you have completed all of the Level 5 requirements you will receive a C-ATCH (CPE Agility Team Champion) title. This is very exciting!!  At most of the trials I have been too, the C-ATCH handler is rewarded with a decorated jump bar that is signed by everyone and even a cake!

CPE Qualifying Ribbon

CPE Qualifying Ribbon

CPE Placement Ribbons

CPE Placement Ribbons

I realize that when you get started, some of the lingo can be a little intimidating.  If you don’t know what something means – just ask!  Most handlers will be more than happy to explain it to you.  Everyone started out as a beginner.  Once you go to a few trials – you too will be telling everyone how many Q’s you had that day and how many more you need to get to that next level – have fun!



This past week we had a class just on FullHouse lead by one of our agility members that has done extremely well in CPE so it was a good opportunity to come out and learn a few new strategies.  FullHouse is one of the CPE games that is fairly easy to qualify in because you get to make your own course and there are only a few rules that you have to remember.

The course is set in no particular order of obstacles.  All levels run the same course and time.  Large dogs, 16″ and over have 30 seconds to accumulate points and small dogs have 35 seconds.  At this time a whistle is blown and you have 5 seconds to get to the table (pause table) to stop the clock.  For every full second after the 5, a point is deducted from your score.  Depending on your level, you will need 19-25 points.  Specialist and Enthusiast are lower.   Jumps are worth 1 point , circles (tire, chute & tunnels) are 3 points and the joker is worth 5 points.  There are usually at least 2 jokers.  Jokers can be contact obstacle (A-frame, dog walk, teeter), weaves (usually 6 poles), double or triple jumps, or combinations.  Aside from having to accumulate a certain number of points depending on your level, you must do at least 3 jumps, 2 circles and 1 joker.  You can have 30 points, but if you only took 2 jumps, you will not qualify.  Also, the table is live at all time, so if your dog goes to the table at any time during your run, you are done.

I usually walk the course thinking of it as a regular course and try a look for a path that will flow and get points.  All obstacles can be taken twice for points and contacts can be back to back if they are performed in a safe manner, so if there is an A-frame, you can go up one way and turn around and go the other way and collect 10 points.  I usually caution beginners against doing a jump and then back jumping over the same jump, since this is not a behavior you want to encourage.  I find it is usually better to find a small circle to do 3 or 4 things for double points as this will flow better for your dog.  If you end up taking something a third time, don’t worry as this does not count against you.  If you tell your dog to take a tunnel and they pass it by, don’t try and go back and fix it, this only wastes time, go on to the next thing.  Just be sure you take another circle to make up for it.

Another nice thing about FullHouse is that you can go to the table at anytime.  Many times once I know we have the required amount of points, we just go to the table.  This will get us a qualifier, but probably won’t place very high.  It depends on what you are looking for.  The last thing you want is to have the points and end up on the other side of the field when the whistle blows and lose points for taking over 5 seconds to get to the table.  I have seen it happen many times!  Also, in CPE your dog only has to get up on the table.  They don’t have to sit or lie down or stay there for any amount of time.

FullHouse is loads of fun and once you learn the few basic rules, you will have no trouble getting lots of Qualifiers even if you did a completely different course than the one you intended!


CPE Trials

The Florida agility season is about to begin.  Our first trial will be Sept. 12-13!!  It will still be very hot , so we are entering in only a few events.  They do have a few night time trials during the summer here, but I finally gave up going, since we never did very well – just too hot and they end at 2 or 3 in the morning!!  The heat doesn’t seem to bother some dogs (like my Kala) but others (my Sullivan) just seem to wilt.

With CPE nationals in Kissimmee (our backyard almost!) we have decided to focus on just CPE trials this season.  I might try one or two AKC with Kala, depending on how she does in CPE.  Her first trial will be in mid October!!  We really need to step up our training.  In CPE one of the nice things for beginners is that there are no weaves or teeter in Level 1.   You can also enter FEO (For Exhibition Only) and run the course with your leash (no toys or food though).

We love CPE!  It’s a great group of people and a great way to get started.  If you want to compete for fun or see where your dog is at before doing AKC or USDAA, CPE is the place to be.  The jump heights are lower than in the other venues and the rules are a little more forgiving.  There is a lot of variety with 5 different games and a standard run.  Each day you can only do 5 runs, so most trials offer a slightly different program each day.   Not only is it fun to run, but fun to watch, so those long trial days go by really fast!!

Some of the games are just running the course that is set up like Jumpers (has jumps, tire, tunnel, chute – no weaves), but most of the games require some strategy and thinking on your feet.  Jackpot is like the traditional Gamblers where you must aquire a certain number of points in the first part and then perform a series of obstacles from a distance in the allowed time frame.  As you move up in Levels, the tape gets further away!!

Colors (Sullivan’s best event) is 2 short courses intertwined – you must complete only your course.  Each one will usually have one easy part and one hard part – you have to decide which one your dog will do best.  We tend to do well because it’s usually only 9 or 10 obstacles and Sullivan sticks with me.  It is timed, so that is a factor.

Wildcard is another short course that will be one course, but three times during the course there will be a choice of two obstacles.  One will be easier than the other (ex: a tunnel or weave poles).  In the beginning levels, you have to do 2 easy ones and one hard one, in the higher levels, you have to do 2 hard ones and one easy one.

In Fullhouse it is a wide open course.  The object is to collect points within a certain time.  Each level has a corresponding number of points that you  need.  You can do each obstacle twice for points.  Not only do you need the points, but you must complete 3 jumps, 2 circles (tires, tunnels) and one “joker”.  The joker is usually a contact piece like A-frame or Dogwalk, weaves or a combination.  It’s lots of fun.  You must go to the pause table to complete your run.

Snooker requires the most strategy and is in someways the most challenging as it requires you to make adjustments if your dog makes a wrong move.  It is easy to get blown off the course (disqualified) because the rules are a little tougher.  There are generally 3 or 4 red (marked with a flag) jumps  and you have to do a red jump, then go to an obstacle (which are numbered for points) then take another red jump and another obstacle (obstacle can be the same, but the red jump cannot) and do it one more time, before running the course – obstacles 2-7 and ending at the pause table.  The red jumps are usually spread out and if you take two obstacles before getting to the next red jump you will hear a whistle – not good!!!  We used to be fairly successful at snookers, but lately time has been an issue for us.  If the course does have 4 red jumps and you knock a bar down, you can go to the other red jump that you weren’t going to use – but you cannot take any obstacle in between.  I love watching it!!

Everyone at CPE is very encouraging and we are getting quite a few trials here in central Florida.  To see if there is CPE in your area, check out the website here. You can also start your own club too.