Tonight was a very successful flyball practice. Koira ran nice. I am able to start her back at 20 feet now with her still running good (though her speed to the box could still stand to be greatly improved). She is releasing her tug faster to get lined up for the next run, which I am taking as a signal that she is eager and excited to run. Box fumbling is getting much less frequent. Her box jump has faded from a 8" white solid board jump to a 6" white pvc jump, with her turn remaining really nice. I have high hopes for the box jump being fully faded by our tournament in mid September, with a nice turn during the tournament.
Pallo did some really nice, clean, fast runs. He has his long tug back and is holding onto his ball despite that. (We have been using tiny, less fun toys for him for a long time now as he tends to drop his ball much more with a large tug.) He only dropped early once that I caught, out of 10 runs. And, he was running in start today really nicely. He previously has had major issues running start, where he would run off to the side, get confused, then run back to me. Its nice to see him focused enough to line up, look down the lane, and take off the second I tell him "Go". With our team, we have plenty of solid dogs that can run start, so its unlikely Pallo will have to start in a tournament, but I still like to know that he can, just in case.
I normally don't like the idea of the height dog running start. The start dogs have to rerun if there are early starts (dog passes start line before the lights turn green), and with two false starts allowed per heat (one for each team) a start dog can run 2-3x as much as any other dog on the team. For the shortest dog on the team, jumping at their maximum height, this seems like asking them to just do too much. They are already putting in so much more effort to clear all those hurdles that asking them to run more doesn't appeal. But, a situation may come up where Pallo is the best candidate to run start, either with my team or on an Open team, so I am glad to know he is capable should it come up.
The other dogs on our team are all coming along really nicely. Our two newest graduates from the beginner class are doing really good with fading the box jump. Some of the dogs we have been working with for a long time, both in the new dog class and the regular practice, have shown some great improvements. Everything from speed to box turns to staying in the jumps to hugging the correct side of the lane to dealing with distractions seems to be going really good. We are looking forward to our September tournament coming up, and I think we will be fielding some really nice teams that will be able to run clean and competitively.
This weekend I'm going to a friend's bridal shower, then headed to a disc dog competition the next morning, followed by some hang out time with my sister. Its also my dad's birthday tomorrow, so I am hoping I get a chance to go out and visit him over on the coast sometime soon.
ETA: And a final note, the points for the NAFA tournament in July are officially in and posted on the NAFA database. It is confirmed that Koira earned her first two titles and now has a total of 117 points, 110 of which are from this recent tournament! Koira officially has letters after her name, and I am so proud of my little girl.