Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NAMAA Nationals 2014: LGRA Racing

 Pi with his rosette, Photo by Iola Stetson

I am so behind on making posts to this blog, so I will make this last installment of my 2014 Nationals coverage as brief as possible.

 Patti, Photo by Gary Claggett

The LGRA specialty is always held the second day of the specialty, and this year we had a total entry of four. After taking a pretty bad fall at the previous day's ASFA trial, Gilly was a little bit gimpy the next day so I decided not to run him in the race meet.

 Luna and Gator, Photo by Gary Claggett

The convenient part about having such a small entry of just four dogs is that we only have one race per program, which we can get done quickly so we can spend the rest of our time helping the Silken folks run their dogs.

 Pi on his way to a race meet victory
Photo by Gary Claggett

At the end of the day, Pi was the High Score Hound, however I'm almost certain that had Gator not been tired from running in the ASFA trial he would have handed Pi his ass. I scratched Pi from the ASFA trial after prelims so he would be fresher for the race meet, and it certainly paid off.

Luna, Gator, and Pi
Photo by Gary Claggett

In between the race programs, we did a couple of practice runs with Rietsu and her kennel-mate Saluki, Bukra. In the past, Rietsu has shown only a little bit of interest in a squawker, so we hoped that running with another experienced dog would help encourage her to run, and it did! We look forward to continuing her training, and hopefully she'll be ready to race by springtime.

Rietsu following Bukra down the track
Photo by Iola Stetson

And so concludes my reporting of the second annual NAMAA National Specialty. It was an exhausting two days, but we can't wait for next year! Unfortunately, Jairi and Rietsu had to go home before we took our customary group shot, but we'll make sure she's in it next year!

Tom with Gator, Me with Pi and Gil, Olivia with Patti, Kyle with Luna and Dude, and Rita with Holly the Ridgeback
Photo by Iola Stetson

Thursday, December 4, 2014

NAMMA Nationals 2014: Conformation, Day 2

 Patti: BOB, Pi: BOS
Photo by Iola Stetson

Our second day of conformation was much drier and sunnier, thank goodness! Our judge that day was Marcella Zobel, a local Borzoi and Whippet breeder.

Gator, Photo by Iola Stetson

As had happened the previous day, our dogs were highly distracted by the race track being setup not far from the show ring. This made things a tad challenging for us, but the judge saw past our imperfect handling and seemed charmed by the happy Agar spirit :-)

Rietsu holding her stack
Photo by Iola Stetson

Dude, unfortunately, had to be scratched from the show because he sustained a minor toe injury during the field trial and had a noticeable limp. Gil was also a bit stiff after his fall during the trial, but he managed to show decently nonetheless.

Gil, looking good at the trot
Photo by Iola Stetson

As it turned out, the results of the show were not much different than from the day prior. Patti and Pi both took top honors again, but decided to switch their BOB and BOS awards!

Pi on the move
Photo by Iola Stetson

Patti on the move
Photo by Iola Stetson

I was so proud of Patti; she has never showed more beautifully than she did that day. She offered me amazing free stacks and gaited perfectly. 

Luna, Photo by Iola Stetson

Stay tuned for the last installment in this series ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NAMAA Nationals 2014: ASFA Trial

Immediately following the conformation show in the morning, we moved on to the fun stuff: RUNNING SPORTS.

 Pi, running in Singles
Photo by Gary Claggett

The footing at Kirigin Cellars is always exceptionally good, but the drizzle we had had during the show in the morning made some parts of the field a little slippery, which caused more than one dog to take a nasty spill. Our total entry for the field trial was 4 in the Limited stake (Gil, Gator, Luna, and Patti) and 2 in the Singles stake (Dude, and Pi), making this the largest entry of Magyar Agars at an American lure coursing trial to date.

 Gil on the lure
Photo by Gary Claggett

Our judge was Tom Golcher who traveled all the way from Colorado. In prelims it was boys versus girls with Gil and Gator running in course one and Luna and Patti running in course two. Gil and Gator were pretty evenly matched on the run up until the first turn where there was a particularly slippery patch of grass. Gil attempted to turn right and fell, HARD, on his shoulder and tumbled a couple of times over. He was disoriented when he got up, but re-sighted on the lure and kept on running. My heart was in my mouth for the rest of the course, and upon completion I gave him a good look-over. He did not present with any lameness at all, to my relief, so I figured he was good to go for the finals.

 Patti, Photo by Gary Claggett

As luck would have it, Patti had also drawn the yellow blanket and took a tumble in the exact same spot on the first turn of the course. She did not fall nearly as hard as Gil did, and also recovered well, but could not make up the ground necessary to win her course.

Dude in Singles, Photo by Gary Claggett

Next up were the singles. Dude ran first and had a marvelous run; his very first time running in an official trial. It must have been just my bad luck that day, because Pi also fell during his run at the very same first corner. Nevertheless, he managed to earn the highest score of all dogs running in the prelim round, but I decided to scratch him from finals anyway to make sure he would be good to run in the LGRA meet the following day.

 Patti and Gil in slips
Photo by Ann-Marie Holmes

In finals it was one family versus the other, with Gil and Patti drawing the first course together and Luna and Gator drawing the second course with each other. With the course plan reversed for finals there were no more spills to be had (thank goodness!), and both runs were very evenly matched.

Luna and Gator in finals
Photo by Gary Claggett

Patti and Luna ended up tying for 3rd and 4th overall, but not wanting to take my chances on another fall I decided to forfeit the win to Luna. So, the final placements for the Limited Stake were (1/BOB) Gator, (2) Gil, (3) Luna, and (4) Patti. And, of course, Dude was the high scoring hound in the Singles Stake.

 Gator, Best of Breed, with Judge Tom Golcher
Photo by Gary Claggett

Even Rietsu got a chance to do a practice run, which she thoroughly enjoyed! She seemed to like the plastic baggies much more than the furry lures she's seen before. Perhaps she learned that from Hattie ...

Rietsu on the lure
Photo by Gary Claggett

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NAMAA Nationals 2014: Conformation, Day 1

 Pi: Best of Breed, Patti: Best of Opposite
Photo by Iola Stetson

Our little contingent of American Agars held our second annual NAMAA National Specialty on the weekend of October 25th/26th at the beautiful Kirigin Cellars winery in Gilroy. The local Silken Windhound club has been extremely generous in allowing us to "piggy-back" off of their regional specialty, and we could not be more grateful!

Gator, in the Open Class
Photo by Iola Stetson

The specialty takes place over two days with one conformation show each day, followed by an ASFA trial on Saturday afternoon and a LGRA meet on Sunday afternoon. I figured it would be best to organize my report of the entire event by separating my posts into four separate categories. So, for this installment I will be reporting on the conformation show results for Saturday.

 Dude, in the Open Class
Photo by Iola Stetson

Fortunately for the state of California, but unfortunately for us, we had a pretty serious episode of rain on Saturday morning. As you may or may not know, California has been going through one of the worst droughts in history, so as unpleasant as it was for us to show the dogs in the rain, we very much needed it!

Gil, from the Open Class
Photo by Iola Stetson

Our judge for Saturday was Mr. Dennis Blickenstaff of Cabaret Beagles. Dennis is a seasoned UKC judge and has judged our dogs several times before, so he was no stranger to our breed, and having a friendly and familiar face at a show is always a welcome comfort. Nevertheless, the entire weekend was characterized by a bittersweet atmosphere, due entirely to the fact that Pesh is no longer with us. While her absence was notable, we still had a good overall entry size of seven for our Saturday show, including our newest import, Rietsu, and Dude the "golden boy."

 Pi, showing from the BBE Class
Photo by Iola Stetson

Just prior to the Agars entering the ring, the field committee for the lure coursing trial had been laying out the lure course for the afternoon, and our dogs eagerly took quick notice. As such, it was a bit of a challenge to run them around the ring along with the wet turf, but we managed, and a good time was had by all.

 Rietsu, showing from the 10-12 Puppy Class
Photo by Iola Stetson

Pi and Patti were shown in the Bred-by-Exhibitor class, while the other adults all showed in Open. Rietsu showed from the 10-12 Puppy class and did very well considering this was her first show ever! Pi defeated Gil for Winners Dog, and sister Patti defeated Luna and Rietsu for Winners Bitch. At that point it was all a win for me, and I could not have been prouder. Pi edged out his little sister for Best of Breed, but it really could have gone either way. Rietsu was Reserve Winners Bitch, and Gil was Reserve Winners Dog.

 Luna and Patti, competing for Winners Bitch
Photo by Iola Stetson

Many thanks to Dennis for judging, to Iola Stetson for the fabulous photos, and to Kyle and Rita Yates for the beautiful metal art trophies!

Patti, showing from the BBE Class
Photo by Iola Stetson

P.S. Dude and Luna entered the Halloween costume contest which was held right before the ASFA trial and they were awarded "Best Couple"!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2014 Splash Dogs National Championship

I decided I better get caught up on this blog before I start posting about Nationals, so here it goes!

 Photo by Celeste Schmidt

In September, Pi and I got invited to participate in the 2014 Splash Dogs National Championship. In order to qualify, the dog has to have five qualifying jumps within the same jump division for that calendar year; they then get invited to compete in that division at Nationals.

Pi's average jump this season landed him in Juniors division, which tends to be the most competitive division in Splash Dogs. Since we didn't get to go last year I really made it a point to go this year, because it was being held so close by (Reno, Nevada). I was a little bit concerned about the weather being too cool for Pi's liking, but temperatures in September tend to stay within the "summer" range, so I figured it was still worth going.

 Pi and his silly jumping faces!
Photo by Kristin Beitzel

The National Championship is structured to take place over two days. The first day, each dog gets to attempt two semi-final division jumps. The second day, only those dogs who placed within the top half of their division get to return for finals where their highest scoring jump then gets used to determine final placements. Generally speaking, the days are scheduled from lowest division to highest division, with the lower divisions jumping earlier in the day. So, that gave us plenty of time to make the drive over the border on the morning of the first day (we weren't scheduled to jump until about 11:00am). I loaded up the car into a special Baby Pi limousine and off we went!

The weather report for Saturday morning predicted a high of about 75 degrees, which is a little on the cool side for Pi's tastes, but not too cool for him to enjoy the day. When we arrived it was sunny and warm, and I was feeling good. As soon as we pulled in I made a quick trip to the registration table to check in, then I got Pi out to let him potty and stretch his legs. We got there with about an hour to spare so there was plenty of time to warm up. Most dock diving competitors like to do warm up jumps before their real jumps, but I have found with Pi that it's best not to give him too much time on the dock before his official turn is up, unless it's at least 90 degrees outside. So I walked him around and let him watch the other dogs jump, which always gets him really excited.

 Pi giving me a workout
Photo by Celeste Schmidt

There were about 24 dogs in our division at roll call, and Pi drew an early jump time in the line-up. His first jump he hesitated before leaving the dock (I had hoped we were past that, lol), but his second jump was a solid 16 feet, which put him outside of the junior division and gave him a great chance of making it into the finals competition. Sure enough, he wasn't the only dog who jumped out of the division that day, but he ended up with the highest semi-final junior division jump and a spot in finals the next day!

The weather forecast for Sunday was not looking good (high temperature in the high 60's and possible rain), but I decided to take a chance and stay on. So after a restless night in a motel we headed back the next morning. As I had feared, it was pretty cold on Sunday morning, and Pi hesitated before every jump, but he gave it his best sighthound effort and ended up placing 10th overall in the junior division finals. At the awards ceremony I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that Pi was the #1 Junior Division Dog for the 2014 season! They gave us a beautiful little plaque to commemorate the achievement as well as a lovely rosette for his 10th place finish. While it was definitely not his best performance ever, we still had a great time meeting with friends and getting to spend one-on-one time together. And with that was the end of our dock diving season. See you all next summer!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Blood: Introducing Rietsu!

This announcement has been a long time coming, but I didn't want to say anything about it until she was actually here in the states. Introducing the newest member of the California Magyar Agar tribe, this is Rietsu, formerly known as "Boróka" (her puppy name given by her breeder).

Given the small population of MAs here in the states, and most importantly the small number of breedable bitches, we have always been looking to bring in new blood from overseas. I was particularly interested in bringing in a dog from an established line of active hunting Agars, who's type is notably different from the typical FCI show/racing Agar. I was fortunate enough to find out about Rietsu from a friend in Hungary, and upon hearing of her availability I immediately contacted the breeder. To make a long story short, it took several months, and a lot of help from our Hungarian friends to get this new girl on a plane to SFO, but she finally arrived on Wednesday, August 27th at 4:30pm.

I made the trip down to the airport with a friend in tow, and after sitting in traffic for at least an hour, we finally arrived at the cargo facility to pick her up. After going through customs and filing all the necessary paperwork I was finally able to get her out of her crate. I always worry about these long, international flights, especially with younger dogs. They don't get any opportunity to leave their crate once boarded, and the journey is very long. However, as soon as I pulled her out of the crate, I could see that it was clean and unsoiled. I immediately took her out of the warehouse so she could go potty, which she did in short order.

She was worried for sure, but not afraid or skittish at all, which is always a good sign. While we were walking back to the car, a seagull flew overhead and she noticed it right away, following the bird intently with her eyes. It gave me a lot of hope that she will grow up to be a keen and skilled hunter.

Fresh off the airplane!

Although her sleep schedule was thrown off by the flight, Rietsu has settled in to her new life in America very well. She's extremely attentive, and sweet towards her humans, and she's making fast friends with her new doggie housemates.

 Rietsu, Photo by Jairi Rai

Rietsu is co-owned between me, Jairi and Tom. I cannot give enough thanks to her breeder, István Szloboda, for allowing us to bring this lovely girl to America, and to our friends Bori and Rita for helping her make the journey to her new home. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for her!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Racing in Tehachapi

The Tehachapi mountains overlooking the field

Finding Greyhound competition at amateur race meets is pretty tough out here in California, particularly the northern end where we live. So, when our friends, Ellen and Mike Cobleigh, said that they were interested in running their Greyhounds at the LGRA meet down in Tehachapi we packed up all the dogs and headed down there to meet them.

Tehachapi is a small city in Kern county just west of Mojave. Although small and out-of-the-way, it's got some beautiful landscapes, and a nice little sports field that is perfect for racing. It's a good five hour drive from where we live, so we decided to drive down the night before and stayed at a motel in Mojave.

Check-in for the meet started bright and early at 7:30am. Temperatures can get pretty high in that area, especially in the summertime, so we wanted to do our best to beat the heat. It was a small meet, but with everyone's help we got through pretty efficiently, and finished around 1:00 in the afternoon.

As it turned out, Hattie was pretty un-enthused about racing that day (for whatever reason, lol). She finished all three programs, but just barely. I don't know if it was the heat, or the elevation, or what, but her lackluster performance was definitely the polar opposite of the Agars.

Final scores

Pi, Patti, and Gil ran three very exciting races, with Pi ending up the victor of the meet. He and Gil are always an interesting match for one another. I think if Gil were younger he would probably edge out his son in the speed department, but as it stands now, Pi manages to beat his dad just barely. It would be interesting to see how they would finish on a longer track. Gil always seems to be gaining on Pi more and more towards the end of the race.

Anyway, it was a really nice little meet, and as always there was a lot of good company. We may not be able to make it down to all the southern California race meets, but we will try to return again soon.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pi's BIG Jump

Photo by Jairi Rai

Apologies for the delay in reporting on this, but I recently finished taking the California Bar Exam, so between preparing for it and recovering from it I haven't had much time to post to the blog.

Anyway, there's not much to say in this post other than that Pi had a really awesome time at the CA State Fair Splash Dogs event. We were only able to attend the last day, but that was okay with me because the last day is the day for the finals competition, and if Pi could qualify I definitely wanted to jump for that.

Photo by Jairi Rai

He started out the day doing some pretty mediocre jumps, which was partly my fault because I didn't throw the toy far enough. With the way he's been jumping between the junior and senior divisions I was worried he wouldn't qualify for finals, but he just managed to get in for the senior finals (yay!).

Photo by Jairi Rai

When our time came to do the last two finals jumps, I don't know what came over him, but Pi broke all his personal best records with a whopping 19 foot jump!!  Just to put that into perspective, his personal best up until that time had been 16 feet. He improved by 3 feet, putting him into the Semi-Pro division. As the day had gone on, he was hesitating less and less, and by the time finals rolled around he didn't hesitate at all, at least not that I could tell. I hope that this event was not just a fluke and that he will continue to jump without hesitation. If he keeps it up he should be jumping at the highest level possible soon enough.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pi's Splash Dogs National Championship Invite

We hope to be there, weather permitting! Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tamarack Junction Summer Solstice

Pi in his new fishy swimsuit made by Super Fly Suits

On Saturday, June 21st, we packed up all the dogs and headed out to Reno for the Tamarack Junction Splash Dogs event. We weren't sure how long we would be gone, so we decided to bring everyone, plus this event gave us a rare opportunity to do free practices in a smaller pool. I was hoping Patti might be interested in jumping once she saw her brother do it, but I didn't really get the response from her that I expected, lol. Oh well, we will keep on trying.

I had ordered Pi a brand new swimsuit made by Super Fly Suits, but had yet to try it on him since one of our own local jumps had been cancelled due to the drought. I was really looking forward to having him debut his new look.

I only entered Pi in two splashes, and while he didn't make any spectacular jumps he did have a good time (which is always the priority). In the first splash he placed 7th in the senior division with a jump of 15'5". Placing high in the junior division is pretty easy for him, but if he goes a few extra inches he lands at the bottom of the senior division.

Pi just about to launch off the dock before he hesitates

I have been trying continuously to get him to stop hesitating at the edge of the dock before jumping, because it seriously impacts his distance. In fact, it's not uncommon for him to slip and fall into the pool in the process of coming to a halt when he hesitates before jumping (which he did at this event).

You can see that Pi's feet are barely touching the edge of the dock. 
This was right before he fell into the pool after he hesitated on the jump

I'm not really sure what to do at this point other than practice, practice, practice. What I'm hoping is that Splash Dogs will revise their rules to allow for two handlers on the dock at one time, so one of us can hold Pi at the back end of the dock and one of us can throw the toy.

In the second splash, Pi jumped a little shorter (as usual) and placed 2nd in juniors. All in all it was a great day, and we're looking forward to more summer dock diving events as the weather begins to seriously heat up!

Pi doing his best fish-out-of-water impression