The AWI qualifier was held at a dog festival in San Marcos. It was a gloomy day with some rain, wind and somewhat cold. The AWI finals are held in SoCal this year and 4 teams qualify for the finals at each event. They allow up to 2 Q’s per person at qualifiers and I was hoping to get 2 dogs into the finals. It was a decent sized competition with around 20 teams competing in the qualifying division. Minimum age to compete at the AWI is 12 months and it was Key’s 1st birthday the day of the competition!
Muse had two great rounds of freestyle in the wind and despite my shitty throws in toss/fetch, she qualified! Enzo was bonkers all day and could not put a single good round together unfortunately – I figured my hopes of 2 dogs qualifying were gone. To my surprise, Key managed to put together a very good first round of freestyle and one of the best toss/fetch rounds to put her just one spot out of qualifying going into the final round. She had an even better second round freestyle score in stronger wind to finish in a qualifying spot! I am proud of my little Kernel K for getting a spot in the finals. Unexpected but very proud and appreciative of the judges for seeing the quality in what she is doing in freestyle, considering she is still doing a puppy routine.
Muse won the money in the cash and fetch event with a pretty big score. Slayte got 2nd! It’s the first time Muse beat Slayte in toss/fetch since some time last year! That’s a compliment to Slayte because Muse is a pretty fantastic toss/fetch dog!
Key is incredibly intense, focused, fast and good at tracking. She does not have the pure catching ability of Muse but given how windy the competition was, I think she’s pretty darn close! Couple that with her better speed, jumping ability and cuteness, I think she’s going to be beating Muse in the future, possibly as early as this year. She is flashier than Muse and simply looks more exciting when playing. The future is bright for these two as they are only 1 and 2 years old right now!
One problem with Key right now is I have to use super flex discs as she tends to fumble around with any other normal plastic discs (fastbacks or xtras). She likes the soft disc to be able to bite into when retrieving. Super flex discs are OK in freestyle, but when throwing distance, it’s a real pain. It ends up being similar to throwing a floppy disc having lack of control and lack of distance. I hope she can learn to play with xtras in the future for toss/fetch, but for now this is what we have to use. I tested an xtra on her yesterday and she was able to catch it just fine but as soon as she’d catch it, she’d start messing around with her grip on it as she would try to retrieve it. It was better than the previous test a while back, but still not good enough.
Key’s freestyle and toss/fetch rounds:
Muse freestyle rounds (Muse says what wind?!?!):
Also congrats to Kirby for the other two qualifying spots.
First weekend in March was the Las Vegas Blast Off competition. Saturday was a Skyhoundz Discdogathon and Sunday was a UFO local. I always Enjoy this competition and this year was no different.
I love the Discdogathon because there are 5 games that test you and your dog’s skills in different ways and since there are so many games, the dogs sleep good that night! The 5 games are freestyle, pairs d/a, bullseye, spot landing and time trial. I tend to be good in all the games except spot landing as I have never been able to figure out how to successfully get jumping dogs to land in the circles on the field or to be able to predict how low to throw the disc so they won’t jump, but at the same time won’t miss the disc because it’s too low. It’s not something I practice or have a reason to really be good at it beyond this specific event so I’m not going to be too worried about it. The other events apply skills needed for freestyle and toss/fetch, so I think that is why I excel in those.
There were 16 awards given out for the Discdogathon. 3 for each category and 1st overall for the combined score. I managed to figure into 10 of these awards. Hopefully I don’t make any mistakes but it’s certainly possible. My dogs swept the time trial. Muse 1st, Key 2nd, Enzo 3rd. In pairs d/a, I was part of all of the top 3 teams. Slayte won the event with Key getting 2nd (with Ellie) and Darren and I got 3rd with one of his dogs (Ultra or Xcell…). I was the hired hand and ended up throwing in this event to 11 dogs. Muse won freestyle with Key getting 3rd. Yes, Key got 3rd! She only missed a few discs and was truly amazing. Muse also won bullseye as that is her best event. Muse then won overall for the combined event and Key got 3rd!
Sunday is where I really wanted to do a good job for the dogs. UFO points are going to be very important for us this year since the UFO finals are going to be in SoCal. 4 of the top competitors from SoCal made it to the event, so the competition was strong. Muse won the overall combined freestyle + toss/fetch and Enzo got 3rd. Enzo had one of his best freestyle rounds in a long time. Almost scored as high as Muse! Key finished 5th overall, which is very impressive. Her freestyle was decent but her toss/fetch was even better. In the open toss/fetch division (2 rounds), Key won!!! I can’t believe it! Muse got 2nd but apparently couldn’t keep up with Key!
Little Key is going to be awesome. I have been saying she will be a great freestyle dog for sure, but right now she’s putting up big points in toss/fetch. I am so excited!
Freestyle rounds Sunday:
Key toss/fetch rounds Sunday:
As I do every year, I come up with a list of goals for the year, then review at the end of the year to see how we did. I plan to work towards these goals with practice, hard work and determination.
* Develop another unique throw. Possibly a throw where I switch hands during the motion, sort of a misdirection.
* Revisit a throw I used to do where I’d do a MAC off my chest but it was with a backhand motion, and the disc would really come out in a unique way. It wasn’t consistent enough. Come up with new tweaks for it and try to incorporate it into a routine.
* Continue to work on strength, conditioning and my weight good. Elliptical trainer, hiking, throwing practice are the ingredients.
* Develop a new routine. He will be 9 years old at the beginning of the season and needs an age appropriate routine.
* Remain competitive and qualify for a world finals or two.
* Continue to build drive for disc.
* Win a couple of toss and fetch events this season.
* Work on new in-close moves to add variety to her routine.
* Place in top 5 at a world finals event.
* Win a major / regional overall competition.
* Win a major toss and fetch event.
* State or Club Champion.
Key (she has a busy year ahead of her!):
* Quality dog catch.
* Get this new move working that I’ve started. She jumps onto my back from the front, runs down and then through my legs for a throw, dog catch or flip (future).
* Fast multiples sequence.
* Come up with a pre-routine.
* Develop a full 2 minute freestyle routine.
* Consistently get 5 throws at 30 yards or 4 at 40 yards plus a short throw.
* Place in a toss and fetch competition – this is not realistic, but it would be cool!
* Develop a nice flip. This won’t happen until the end of the year when she’s older and fully developed. It will be after the season is already over.
Here are the end of year results for 2014. We ended up 11/16 for 68.8%. Not great but that is skewed due to unforeseen problems such as Slayte and Enzo’s injuries and Muse going into heat right in the middle of the season.
* I want to develop and perfect a 2-handed throw that I’ve been tinkering with, that should look impressive with Muse’s freestyle routine.
Accomplished! I use this in my routine with Muse.
* Make a new backwards staker under the leg throw I’ve come up with consistent. If it works, it’ll be pretty awesome.
Failed. I got the throw working decent but it didn’t get consistent enough to use in competition.
* Add air brush variations and improve consistency.
Accomplished! I do several air brushes in every routine and they are almost always successful.
* Body roll improvement.
Failed. Too many other things to work on, just not enough time.
* Continue to work on strength and conditioning. Elliptical trainer, hiking, biking, throwing practice, strengthening / stretching are the ingredients.
Accomplished! I have lost 20lb this year.
* Qualify at least two dogs for both the AWI and UFO finals.
Accomplished! Muse and Enzo both qualified for the finals but unfortunately Muse went into heat and we were unable to attend the finals.
* I want Tooney to still be competing when she turns 12 at the end of the season.
Accomplished! She retired after the last competition of the year, the Crusty Classic.
* Make modifications to his freestyle routine to simplify things a bit and make him more successful. Focus on what he does best, medium distance throws.
Accomplished! I was able to simplify his routine and he was having a great year until his leg got cut open, causing him to spend the rest of the season recovering.
* Get more consistent at being a top toss and fetch dog. Despite having a toss and fetch win in 2013, Enzo overall wasn’t as strong as he was in previous years.
Failed. He had some good rounds for sure, but he was not consistent.
* Place at a competition during the year.
Accomplished! He placed and won numerous events.
* Develop a mature routine that includes more medium and longer throws while keeping his focus.
Failed. I decided to stop doing freestyle with him because of a nagging injury. The up side is he has been able to focus on agility and get much better at toss/fetch type events.
* Improve at toss and fetch. In 2012, he was excellent. In 2013 he started jumping more and was missing a lot. This year I hope to get him the practice he needs to improve.
Accomplished! He placed or won almost every toss and fetch event I entered him in.
* Win a major competition during the year.
Accomplished! She won numerous qualifying events this season, having the most successful season for any dog that I’ve had.
* A perfect freestyle routine in competition.
Failed. Lots of 1-drop routines including at the Purina IDC finals. I have so many difficult throws, we’re bound to have one of them not connect.
* Win two toss and fetch competitions.
Accomplished! She won several toss and fetch events this year.
* Get 5 40 yard throws off in a minute toss and fetch every time (or almost every time). She does this more than half the time right now, but I want to see it at least 90% of the time.
Accomplished! She gets 5 40 yard throws pretty much every round. I spent a lot of time working on this, especially alone. How do you work on this alone? While practicing throws, I would visualize my round with Muse, much like shadow boxing. It made a huge difference. I effectively was able to improve her rounds simply by practicing it myself. Muse also did a lot of pupalates (balance peanut, disc, etc) and hiking with me, improving her strength and conditioning.
We went to the 2014 USDAA Nationals where both Enzo and Slayte competed. Slayte didn’t have any clean runs, but Enzo had his best finals performances ever and finished 4th in PSJ.
Then we were on to the 2014 Crusty Classic, the California State Disc Championships that runs over two days. Muse won the championship last year and was looking to defend her title.
Saturday was rainy and windy. I entered Slayte in the intermediate division and won with a big score. Muse won the open division with a very strong performance.
Sunday was even windier, despite the forecast telling us it was supposed to be 9mph winds. That was a joke! It was cold and very windy. Only one other competition this year was windier, and that’s saying something as this was the windiest disc dog season I’ve had over the years competing. Muse got hit with the worst wind she’s had all year in her freestyle round and had a rough time of it. Somehow, she managed 71% catch ratio. That took her out of the running for the state championship, but we did the best we could. Slayte again won the intermediate division and won the award for the single highest round of toss/fetch for the entire weekend.
Key turned 6 months old at the competition and I debuted her in freestyle. Being such a young pup, freestyle simply means multiple discs (safe and simple). Jenn and I are amazed at her focus, drive and total professionalism on the field. It is amazing! When I walked out onto the field with her for the first time, it was like she had done it hundreds of times already. She is the most promising pup we have had and we are so lucky to have her. I can’t wait to see what she does in agility and disc in the coming years.
The highlight of the weekend for me was being able to retire Tooney from competition! Jenn competed with her Saturday and I competed Sunday so we could share the celebration 🙂 In the final throw of her career, she caught the disc right in the middle of the bullseye. It is fitting since as a team we were known to have consistently accurate throws and catches.
Key and Finn had a reunion Saturday night and they rumbled like Steve calls it, WWE style. It was a great time as they went non-stop over an hour! They won’t see each other again for several months, so I’m glad we had this time together.
I was lucky enough to compete in both the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge National Finals and Skyhoundz World FInals.
First up was the Skyhoundz Discdogathon World Finals, which was the biggest on record with over 100 teams attending. Ez-ups were 3 deep in certain places around the field. At the last chance qualifier we entered Slayte and Muse in several of the events. Slayte qualified in bullseye with both Jenn and I! Chuck Middleton and I qualified with BamBam in the pairs D/A. Muse was already qualified in several events for the finals.
At the Discdogathon finals, Muse was on fire. She fished top 10 in time trial and spot landing, 15th place in pairs d/a and 3rd in bullseye! I finished 9th with Slayte in bullseye. Chuck and I finished 5th in pairs d/a with BamBam. Here are all 3 world finals bullseye rounds (we didn’t film any of the other rounds):
At the Purina IDC National Finals, Muse and I had our best freestyle round of the year so far. We did our best and only had 1 miss, finished in 4th place.
It was a great week of disc doggin’ and will be one to remember for a long time. Despite scoring big points in several events, having placements, competing on a huge stage and all of that – it wasn’t the highlight of the trip. The highlight was Key suddenly being able to track and catch discs out of nowhere. A week earlier she struggled to follow the disc and would jump erratically at high discs and would tumble while chasing low discs. At 5 months, compared to Muse at that age, Key is faster, better catching ability, better tracking, stronger jumper and more stamina. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. We compared her to videos of Muse at the same age. Muse had better tug drive at that age, so that is still an area we are working on with Key. This is just amazing and far and away was the best part of the whole trip:
A week later, we had our dogtoberfest event where Muse placed 2nd overall Saturday and won overall Sunday. Jenn won toss/fetch event with her on Sunday! She was in the awards photo for every event on Sunday, so that’s pretty impressive. Enzo finished 5th overall both days. Slayte had a solid outing and is loving disc every time he gets to compete now. Key also made her debut in competition and was very impressive. People are starting to refer to her as Keybot because of her similar performance to Muse (AKA Mubot) being a frisbee catching robot. Most dogs at that age are just learning to catch, while Key is pursuing the discs and learning how to approach them. You can see in some of the videos how she watches the disc, usually putting her head down as she follows it.
The disc dog season so far has been very busy for us.
At the SoCal UFO major, Muse finished 2nd overall and 2nd in toss/fetch. Muse was 1st in the UFO North American rankings for quite a while and is now in 2nd place.
We went to Colorado for the 2-day Thorntonfest, which is one of the biggest competitions in the country with something like 13 states represented. Saturday was the Skyhoundz qualifier, which Muse won! Enzo finished 3rd! Sunday was the AWI qualifier, which was the main reason I went. Muse won and Enzo got 2nd! Enzo was in first place going into the final round and I thought Enzo had the best freestyle round, but Muse still managed to come from behind to win. Muse also won the AWI Cash and Catch prize money, which I donated back to the CDD club. Since both of my top dogs qualified for the AWI, I judged the SoCal AWI a couple weeks later.
We had our Skyhoundz regional and discdogathon. Muse was amazing. She won the overall and D/A (nearly setting a record) on Saturday and had all 3 D/A rounds of over 20 points AND she missed one and another went just out of bounds. Her scores could have been even higher. At the discdogathon, I judged the freestyle event. Muse won nearly everything else, though. She won the team D/A with Jenn and I, the time trial and the bullseye. She got 2nd place in the spot landing event. Wow. She’s qualified for virtually everything for Skyhoundz now, but it is unlikely we will be able to attend the finals.
Jenn got invited to the Purina IDC Western Regional for agility with Slayte. She had a good time, but Slayte wasn’t clean on any of his runs unfortunately. He was a wild man out there. He has been consistent since that competition, so it’s a bit disappointing he didn’t run clean. I entered the freestyle flying disc qualifier on Friday and Muse got 1st while Enzo finished 2nd. Enzo had one of his best rounds ever, but Muse still scored higher. No matter what he does, Muse is going to finish ahead I guess! They only took one qualifier for a handler and Muse was the dog since she won. Muse had a good round at the finals but not her best as I think she had some problems with the heat, stress (from all the noise) and difficulty tracking the white discs. Despite that, she finished 3rd and made the podium.
We aren’t done yet, more updates!
Muse placed 3rd in the USDDN Super Open qualifier and won the Super Pro division. She scored a perfect toss/fetch score of 22.5 in the Super Open division with only 5 throws. I still had 30 seconds left but didn’t need it! Her scores in freestyle were fairly low for her and it tells me maybe she doesn’t have a good routine for USDDN as they look at very specific things. I believe some of the things we excel in don’t reflect much in the scoring system such as my advanced throws. There is probably just a single category worth at most 2.5 points (out of 40) that accounts for advanced throws while in other organizations it is going to influence all the categories, thus boosting our score more.
My hope is to go to the AWI and UFO North American finals along with the CCC to compete in the UFO toss/fetch and D-Tour finals (which Muse is already qualified). I am not much for distance but the fact we’re already qualified and the UFO major along with the toss/fetch finals all happening at once, it’s a pretty good event for us to go to. Muse will have a chance to win the UFO North American cup if we are able to go to the CCC and the finals in Naperville. The main possible issue is that Muse could go into heat. If she does, then we won’t be able to go. Nothing I can do about it and I’m not going to worry about it.
One thing that I want to say is I’m super excited about how Muse is doing in toss/fetch. She is winning most toss/fetch events she enters now. Her speed and catching are significantly improved from last year and she’s at the very top of her game right now. She’s not even 2 years old yet! Previously, freestyle was always more consistent than toss/fetch. Now her toss/fetch has caught up and she puts up a huge score nearly every time. She used to miss discs for no obvious reason and I couldn’t even tell why. She’d jump, the disc would be close and she would just be off enough she couldn’t make an attempt on it. I knew she’d improve and she certainly has. She catches virtually every throw now and we get 5 throws in 60 seconds at 40 yards nearly every time as well.
Lastly, we got a new puppy! Key. It’s Slayte’s daughter (with Emo, Muse’s mother). It looks like she is going to be good at tracking discs and she has high prey drive. It will take time to find out if she really will be good. Hopefully she’ll also be an agility dog!