Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Class Should Be Interesting Tonight

SUMMARY: We've had no class for two weeks due to rain. And--

--tonight it's not raining! But it's overcast and gray and the wind wails around the house with a message from the north. By 8:00 this evening, the thermometer will read 44F (6.7C), but with wind chill and humidity, Accuweather's estimate on the cold feel will be 39 (3.9C). That's almost bearable if there's no wind, but, dang, that wind!

And I'm running on 3 hours of sleep from last night. We won't mention any names, right, BOOST?!?!

Could be an interesting evening. I am, at the moment, after a nice warm bowl of chicken noodle soup, pondering just crawling into bed and calling it a night. But the canids are restless, prowling around the house and yard, gleeful with temperatures that allow them to run and run and never overheat!

Still, that down comforter and electric mattress pad are calling my name. How cavemen survived without electric mattress pads, I'll never know.

I have 45 minutes to decide. Ah, me.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dogs Got Wednesdays?

SUMMARY: How do they know what night it is?

I don't get it. It's 7:30 Wednesday evening, when we have been leaving for agility class in recent months. BUT.

We haven't been to class in 2 weeks. (Anyway we're supposed to be going on Tuesdays but have been rained out.)

We went for a long walk to the park and some frisbee in the rain instead.

They got a full dinner instead of the usual quick snack before class.

I don't do ANYTHING DIFFERENT on Wednesdays than any other day, and in fact did stuff LESS like an agility class night tonight than I would on a normal class night. Why are they in here nudging me and pestering me and telling me it's time to get going? What do dogs know from Wednesdays?

Renter says it must be because he always brings home Chinese food (and always the same Chinese food) on Wednesdays and they always get the same little Chinese food treat (a single bite) from him. Is that really it?
Dogs are amazing. And I can see it's going to be a long evening. They've stopped nudging but are lying there staring at me.

NO CLASS TONIGHT, YOU HEAR ME? If you can identify WEDNESDAYS, you're certainly clever enought to READ MY LIPS: "NO class tonight!!"
Looking to my left:

Looking to my right:

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Life in the Agility Lane

SUMMARY: Dogs + class + car + yard + blahblahblah
For some reason, people seem to think that I'm into dogs. Go figure.

For example, my nephew gave me a lightweight fleece blanket with a picture of golden retriever (or maybe lab) puppies on it. Very nice blanket. But, see, dog stuff is not part of my *normal* life (in which I might use a blanket); it's part of my *dog* life. My house is decorated with dragons, not dog stuff. But, well, it gets cold around here with the heat turned down, so, nifty, a blanket. I take it down to my office chair to wrap around myself.

Also, here's a collection of greeting cards I've received over the last year. (Did I ever mention to anyone that I'm also known for things piratical? Apparently I did--)

Despite trying to keep my dog life and regular life separate, they all intertwine. Last night, backing out of the driveway to go to agility class, I broke off a sprinkler riser by the driveway. Eight and a half years in this house, backing out of the same driveway, and I've never touched it. Go figure.

Dogs did well in class last night. Tika's contacts were beautiful (sigh), very fast 2-on/2-off. Boost's weaves were beautiful. Boost still knocking some bars and not wanting to come in to me on serpentines. We were lucky: Tuesday classes were cancelled due to rain and it's supposed to be raining again today, so we just squeezed in Wednesday.

I'm trying to transfer out of the Wednesday night class because it's getting close to Real Hikes season with the sierra club Wednesday Night Hikers. But evening classes are very popular and at the moment there might not be any other openings. (My old Thursday night class was turned into a world-team class. Go figure there are enough people at that level around here for their own weekly class. Tough competition all the time at local trials.)

This morning the Merle Girls and I dropped off MUTT MVR at the dealer to take care of a few things. I set the alarm for 6:30 to be first in line, and the dogs were VERY excited because alarm always means going to dog agility. They were a little confused when I did a few things that I don't normally do on agility morning. (Yes, they did really look puzzled.) After dropping off the van, we walked home the two and a half miles. I remember making this walk back when i first moved here, and being exhausted at the end. Now? Piece of cake. I don't hike all that often at the moment, but when I do walk or hike, it tends to be more than a mile, so am I a studly hiker or what, doing my 2.5 completely level sidewalk walk?

At home, I'm sitting at the breakfast table, which on my split level looks down over my office, just a wrought-iron railing separating them. Tika comes over, looks through the railing, and starts growling, then when I say "What?" she goes into full offensive barking, looking down into my office. I look that way to see what evil she has detected (note that Tika is NOT Boost, who sees evil in many places, but not Tika ever). Go figure. Here's what I see:

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Agility Activity

SUMMARY: Class, fun match.

Halleluia, it was not raining yesterday so we had class last night! Dogs were happy to be running. Tika did beautifully, she's such a good experienced girl--and seems so slow in comparison to Boost. (Although she's not by any means a slow dog.)

Boost did pretty good. Did all her weaves beautifully, even when I cut away toward the end to get to another position (the thing she COULDN'T do correctly 2 weeks ago in class, and no, I haven't worked on it since). Knocked a bar almost, but not quite every, run--hmm, ok, I think I did three exercises with her and 4 with tika, so that's not a great sample size.

There were only 4 of us in class last night, so we all pooped out on the early side and headed home in the dark.

Sunday is Boost's and my birthday! Boost will be 5--gasp, how is it possible?--and I'll be older than that.

To celebrate, we've signed up for a UKI fun match. UKI is a creation of Greg Derrett and Laura Manchester-Derrett, and Laura's from our general agility area originally before she moved to England for a while, so it's fun to see her back again. If you haven't seen the buzz about UKI agility, here's their web site. It's up in Fremont, only about 45 minutes from home, and has limited entries and 4 classes, so we don't start until 8:30 and expect to be done by 12:30, a huge difference from regular trials.

And it's supposed to rain a bit between now and Sunday, but Sunday itself should be clear. Happy birthday to us!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Canoas Creek Says No Agility Class (Big Surprise)

SUMMARY: Sob! Dogs going nuts, need practice, oh well.

Message from the hill: "WEDNESDAY MORNING and EVENING classes are canceled due to 72mph winds (from Jim's new weather station there on the hill) and torrential rains."

So we played tug and tossed toys in the small living/dining area and practiced Tika's rear-foot limp and Boost's handstand work. If I did this every day, we'd be there by now.

And now, I know you wanted--more weather photos!

Hail around noon today (slow speed so you can see streaks of them falling & bouncing. Didn't use tripod so also blurry. Such an arteest).

Now, a block away from here, little tiny Canoas Creek runs through a culvert on its way to the Guadalupe River. Here's what it looks like on a typical May day:

Here's what it looked like at 5:00 today after the rain had been pretty much gone for 3 or 4 hours--you can see the disturbed vegetation higher up showing the earlier level--

--as in, this is what it looked like at 2:30 this afternoon after the rain had been gone an hour or so (you can see there's still wet, disturbed vegetation a foot or two higher than this).

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Going To Agility Class

SUMMARY: I love going to agility class and here's why.
Agility class is way across the valley, up a winding road into the hills. At certain times of the day, the commute is a bear. And that long and winding road is, well, long and winding. When I first started (1995(!)), I desperately tried to get anyone at all to make that drive with me, it was SOOO long and SOOO far away.

After all these years of driving it once, twice, or even three times a week, I no longer think anything of it. Really, if weather and traffic are at their best, it's only about a 20-minute drive.

And I love going. Oh, sure, so very often these days I am stressed about how much I have to do and how little time I have, and if I were to stay home for 3 hours instead of going to class (10 minutes to close up the house & computer & get treats & such, 25 minute drive there, 15-20 minutes to potty the dogs and get set up, 90 minutes class, 15 minutes to take off shoes, put away dogs, etc., 25 minutes back down the hill... it adds up) then I'd be able to get so much more done.

But saner heads prevail (as in dogs who will be INsane if I don't go). Plus I pay for it whether I go or not. Waste not, want not.

No matter how stressed and overwhelmed I am before class, how tight my chest is on my drive up the hill, by the end of the evening I am relaxed, breathing easily, cheerful, imbued with a feeling of having accomplished something of value.

The evening is structured, so I don't have to make major decisions. I have to listen and watch and learn. I have to figure out how to handle a course--but with ample confirmation and assistance from the instructor.

Sometimes I'm frustrated with my dogs or myself. Like last night, that serpentine into the tunnel with Boost where she knocked the bar every time no matter what I did. Or coming out of the tunnel and wrapping over the jump, where she knocked the bar every time no matter what I did. Shades of some of my futile bar-knocking exercises at home! But I had an expert watching and helping who could confirm that I was doing the right thing, and identify what the dog was doing, and give some suggestions for later.

A safe, helpful, useful environment.

The view from Power Paws is stunning. Last night, instead of seeing miles and miles of sparkling valley lights, we saw only a swath of lights around the valley's perimeter surrounding a mysteriously dark center. We gathered at the edge of the field to observe, and realized that low-lying fog had obscured many square miles of homes and businesses. The instructor talked about some of the things he's seen in the weather patterns from their aerie on the top of the hill as we stood together, wondering and admiring.

And there are the friends. We chitchat a bit, we joke in class, we laugh often--far more than I do in my regular everyday life.

Last night we had a reunion of our old Wendesday Night 8:15 class, who got to be so tight together. Then Lisa's dog broke (structural issues), and I couldn't manage 2 classes a week any more so dropped that one, and Jenn got a new puppy and decided to focus on him instead of her older dog, and Ashley moved to the world-team class on a different night...

But last night we all came up to celebrate Ashley and Luka's triumph from last weekend's AKC Invitational. (He not only won all four preliminary rounds, but won them with the fastest times of any dogs in any height at the event; then he won the final round with the fastest time of any other dog in any other finals group. Pretty big achievement.)

He brought his crystal bowl engraved with the 16" Winner title, and his gigantic blue and purple ribbon, which I could hardly take my eyes off because I looooovvvve blue and purple. Classmates brought food that nearly overflowed the small tables out in the field that PP keeps on hand for the occasional treat. We feasted on grasshopper pie, tamales, crackers, various cheeses and sausages, guacamole, chips, a variety of drinks...gosh, only 24 hours later and I can't remember it all.

We ate and chatted and congratulated Ash multiple times. Now I know how a small town feels when the boy next door becomes the starring Superbowl quarterback. We're all so proud, even though we really had nothing to do with his success, which was all his own hard work. Makes us feel good. Maybe we hope his skill and success will rub off on us. We all fondled the ribbon and the bowl, and he didn't even try to stop us.

As I drove home, I realized--dang! how could I not have taken any photos!-- but also how lucky I am to have such a wonderful place to go with my dogs, such an excellent opportunity for bonding with my dogs and my friends, for learning something new, for getting some exercise and fresh air, for relaxing and stretching and getting back in touch with the reality that there's more to life than just getting things done at work and around the house.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Morning Thoughts

SUMMARY: Top Ten, bored dogs, nifty dog stuff in nondog catalog, agility class and schedule and training and weaves, dog noses.

Top Tens
  • Why does USDAA have Top Ten Tournament for Championship dogs but not for Performance? I notice this because maybe Tika would have had a chance to be there this year. Maybe.)
Bored dogs
  • I've been finding out what my dogs are like when we're not doing agility. Why? No class Oct 22 (Power Paws Camp preempted it). Class Oct 27. No class Nov 5 (Disneyland). No class Nov 12 (USDAA Nationals.) Class this week. No class next week (Thanksgiving). 
  • We did have agility competition Oct 31-Nov 1. And will have one day Nov 27, then two days Dec 12-13.  Feels like long times between when we're short on classes.
  • Doesn't help that  I've been trying to do an early 6:00 Thursday class; leaving home at 5:00 is still in my normal work day, plus traffic means it's a 45-50 minutes drive instead of 20-30, all of which means I have been getting in 15-30 minutes late, therefore missing class time. Am going to have to switch back to Wednesday 8:15 which means no more Sierra Club hikes until some other later class opens on another day.
  • Meanwhile pesky bored dogs. Walking a couple of miles a day isn't a good substitute for classes & competition, apparently.
Improvements Catalog supplies the well-heeled dog (so to speak)
  • Beautiful folding wooden gates if you don't want to use cheap-looking standard gates to keep your dogs out of certain rooms.
  • Back when I had a Siberian Husky--for 16 years--every year I meant to get around to making a light-up Santa and sleigh display pulled by huskies. Good intentions, not enough time to figure it out. Now I could just buy one! And it's gorgeous, too.
  • Or how about just a light-up doggie holding a gift?
  • Check out their pet listings; a "Paw Plunger" for cleaning dirty paws; an embossed "Potty Rock", beautiful wooden crates, plus several actual useful items.
  • Wish I had implemented click-through payments for this site so that if you went to these locations I'd get 10 cents for it! Ah, well, another opportunity missed. Get in line behind making a husky santa sleigh.
Don't you wish you had a nose like a dog?
  • Boost always knows when one of Tika's  treats has rolled under the closet door at some time earlier in the day.
  • When I sent Boost out to get the paper yesterday morning, she stepped outside and then went into ferocious danger action--hackles up, bouncing on stiff legs while making some serious barking, looking at my porch, my tree, my eaves, my fence--and Tika followed suit, barking up an angry storm.  I saw nothing. It was an hour before I could get Boost out the door without the same reaction. What did I miss?
Agility training
  • My yard is just not big enough for all types of agility practice, for dogs who can cover 18 feet in a single full-speed bounce jump, 60 feet is nothing--not enough space to GET to that kind of striding.
  • Both dogs have been making some nice, tough weave entries in the yard. And in class last night. And then--missing some in the yard. Gah. It never ends.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Scully Retires

SUMMARY: Scully--Verwende Prinses--treats her friends to ice cream and it's COLD out there plus going nuts with the camera
You'd never guess that Scully is closer to 14 than 13. She's been mostly retired, trying to get just 1 last Q for her lifetime bronze but just not quite fast enough any more most of the time. Plus she's a LITTLE dog. Plus a princess. Scully's class-time retirement party was last night, so we visited the class and took photos of everyone there to celebrate.

OK, maybe they were mostly there for class. But Scully's human dad came up for the mini-party, too; he made awesome ice cream

and it was still excellent but would've been even more excellent had it been 2 days ago and 100 degrees instead of last night at 60 with a brisk and icy wind. Yesterday: Summer. Today: Winter. Gotta love california.

Scully could hardly hold still, she was so excited. This is about the only shot where she's not in full hyper motion-- with her human family, waiting for some ice cream.

Mostly the Little Black Dog looked like this in all the photos.

You would hardly believe that this little active fluffball, multiple agility champion and possibly the most-titled dog in the Mixed Breed Dog Club's history (to be exact: ADCH APD SACH RCH-Bronze SCH-Bronze TM-Bronze AKD-Gold AGD AJD; C-ATCH3 ExSN ExJP ExCL ExFH ExWC ChSN ChST ChJP ChCL ChFH ChWC ChJU U-CD MB-CH MB-CDX MB-RA MB-VM5; EAC EGC EJC CGC), spent the weekend in the hospital being treated for just-discovered kidney disease and a tetch of pancreatitis. She will be getting IV fluids two or three times a week for the rest of her life. I guess if you get ice cream with that, it's not so bad.

Other guests/students:
Sparkle (Scully's Little Black Adopted Sister):

Bernie the Beagle:

MinPin Belle:

Porsche the Wonder Corgi:

Savannah who whupped everyone's butts in 22" Masters Gamblers last weekend:

Dylan, who looks perfect in sunset lighting:

Sooner,  the Papillon whose ears drape gracefully down the sides of his head instead of standing upright in a butterflyish manner, and who was curious about everything except what it would be like to hold still for the camera:

Boost and Tika had to wait in MUTT MVR until the 2nd class of the evening. Tika demonstrates that a really good shake, when in a freeze frame, looks pretty dorky:

Still dealing with my little crappy point and shoot, which likes neither motion (great for photographing dogs) nor any kind of darkness (great for photographing around sunset). But as long as I was there and the lighting and sky were beautiful and the nearly full moon was up--what the heck--get artsy and all that.

Waiting their turns.

Walking the course.

No hamming it up for the camera from the instructor demonstrating push-throughs, nope, not at all:

Tunnel. Moon. Agility handler. What could simpler?

Moon. Field light. Instructor. Successfully finishing a course. What could be better?

More photos uploaded here but mostly of interest to class attendees.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Olio Again Because That's What Life is Like

SUMMARY: Dog hair, jump knocking, class, agility trial, heat, titles, clouds, sunset, deer.

So dog hair IS useful for something.

(OK, blogger has uploaded 2 of my photos and now claims it can't finish any more. What the--??)

We are getting the remnants of tropical storm Ignacio here. Therefore, hot. Therefore, wonderful clouds. On the way to class last night, couldn't stop stopping for photos.

Both dogs did great in class. Boost is still running like an actual agility dog. I am trying not to get my hopes up too much. Boost got some tough gamble things. Tika, I discovered, no longer remembers how to do a "left" (away from me) off the aframe into a tunnel. Crap. Didn't practice that today.

(Still says waiting to complete the next 2 photos. I really don't want to have to do my own HTML for these--I have a bunch--)
The sky just got better and better up at class--

Jump knocking: We did some bar-knocking drills in the yard today for a few minutes, because we haven't in a while. It was 90F (32C) at 6 p.m. so none of us wanted to do much. Both dogs did great at various heights. Tika knocked one bar, Boost didn't.

Because it was just HOT. Hottest I saw on my back porch was 106.9 (41.6C); couldn't get camera there fast enough. It is now 9 p.m and 85 outside AND inside. It will be hard to sleep.

Which [not sleeping; hot] is bad because there's a USDAA trial this weekend. Have to get up at 5:00 or so. Glad it's not in San Jose; Prunedale usually has coastal fog & moderate temps. Heard it's supposed to be 90 there tomorrow, though. Gahhhhh.

(Load the d#*(@* photos, fer crying out loud!)

There are about 60 dogs in Masters 22" (Boost's division). About 20 in Performance 3 22" (Tika's division). Will be long day. Placements for either dog would be exciting but not sure it's too likely. ...Actually, just Qs would be nice.

Boost needs a Grand Prix qualifier to be able to compete at next weekend's Regional. She hasn't gotten one ALL YEAR sheesh.

Last run of hte day Sunday is Jumpers. Boost needs one to complete her MAD. Tika needs one to complete her ADCH-Silver. Hope hope hope.

(Arrrrrghhhhh I'll have to do my own html crap.)

To keep the dogs busy while I tried to work today, gave them giant rawhides. Tika dropped hers and would have nothing more to do with it.

Boost held onto hers briefly, then slunk into the back yard and buried it somewhere. End of my attempted diversion.

Two down sides to being out in the hills are the deer running into the road and the lack of cell phone connections. I try to be careful and so far haven't hit any deer, although I've had to stop suddenly more than once. Once saw a deer who was standing still suddenly run INTO a car ahead of me that was almost at a standstill. Don't know what the deer was thinking. Ran off. Hopefully OK.

Leaving class last night, at the end of the road, I came across a deer in the road struggling and struggling to stand. I stopped, put on my blinkers, and tried to phone for help. Cell phone said it had a signal, would sit there for a minute, then say call couldn't be completed. Tried and tried. Got out of the car and walked around trying for a better signal. Deer struggling and struggling to stand, over and over. Looked like one foreleg, maybe shoulder, badly damaged.

Stood there for about 10 minutes (including phone time) trying to decide what to do. It was dark--didn't want someone else to hit the deer (both in concern that it wouldn't be killed outright but in even more distress, and that the car or people would be damaged).

Finally got up the courage to approach a house nearby. It's dark and rural out there; I'd be worried about someone unexpectedly knocking at my door at night. I saw a guy working on a computer, and knocked, and he answered.

I told him what was up adn that I couldn't get a signal and could he call someone. He said no one was interested. I said the deer oculd be there for hours or days in pain and someone would do something if we called them. He said there was no one to call. I said how about 911 and ask them? Or the police? Or the highway patrol? I had no idea who was responsible for rural roads thataway. He said lots of deer get hit all the time. I said, yes, but this one is struggling and struggling and could be there for a long time; something should be done. He said no one cares.

I said, are you going to call someone? He said he wouldn't know who to call. I said 911, or the humane society, or SOMEONE. He said, yeah, sure, he'd call someone. And stood there obviously waiting for me to leave. I could tell he had no intention of calling anyone. I walked back out to the street and watched; sure enough, he returned and sat down at his computer and continued doing whatever he was doing.

I decided to go back to Power Paws, but what to do about the deer on this very dark road? I discovered that I had no idea how to light a flare and the instructions on the flares were illegible. Something to work on later. While I tried to figure that out, and tried the cell phone again, the guy came out with a flashlight.

I said, so who did you call? He said, I didn't call anyone, no one cares, someone shot my dog with an archery arrow once and no one came out. I said if you call the right people, someone will come. He said there must be 3 deer a night that get hit out here.

Saying nothing more, I got into MUTT MVR and headed back to Power Paws, several minutes back up the road. Probably scared the heck out of them coming in at night. But when they came out and I said, "There's a deer--" JB said they had already called the sheriff and someone was on the way. I looked a little confused; turns out that the student who left a couple of minutes before me DID have a phone signal and had called Power Paws about the deer.

I explained about the other guy saying no one would come, and PP were disgusted. Even more disgusted that apparently whoever hit the deer didn't call anyone, either.

The short story is that the sheriff arrived shortly after I left--PP and some other people were there by that time, waiting (having also called the sheriff)--and put the deer out of its misery. That's about an hour after I first saw it on the road. It was still struggling to get up.

On my way down the hill, I had to swerve as a skunk ran (well--kind of hurriedly waddled) out of the shrubs and into the road. Missed him, whew. So that's my sad deer story.

To end with a little better image, here's what San Jose looks like from class (click on this smaller image to see a larger one for better effect):

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Friday, July 31, 2009

So Far So Good

SUMMARY: Even Boost does well in class.

Last night, things look good. Even Boost did some difficult gambles--including one that no one else managed (didn't try that one with Tika). Even some with weaves at quite a distance with me dashing in and out among obstacles. Want no excuses from her at the next trial about popping out of weaves!

She ran well all evening. A joy.

Tika was happy and energetic, no sign of slowing down or soreness at all. Still practicing at 22" instead of 26".

Life is good.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Knock Off That Bar Knocking and Check Out That View

SUMMARY: Working on Boost's main issue (of --um-- 2 or 3 main issues).

Spent an hour yesterday with WTC ("world team coach", yeah surely one of these days I'll make an extra page for all of my associate's aliases used here) with Boost analyzing some of her bar-knocking issues and coming up with ways to address them.

WTC watched her jump several times and she jumped nicely. Jumping when I'm moving out ahead of her, though? She's taking off early. I'd already identified that one of her bar-knocking issues (and refusals & runouts) is that she spends too much time looking at me rather than figuring out the course. Several things I've done on my own are devoted to getting her to look at obstacles instead of me. So this reinforces that issue.

We also identified that, when rewarded promptly and "punished" promptly--very promptly--after hitting the bar, she starts doing better, so she's at least somewhat aware of what she's doing with her back legs. The punishment is to immediately make her down (but in a gentle but firm voice, not scolding) and turn my back on her for at least a few seconds. That means that the instant she hits the bar--certainly by the time she's landing--I have to be telling her "lie down" or it's too long after hitting the bar for her to get it.

We also worked on ways to get her to think about the jump and looking forward instead of looking at me for a reward. We experimented with the treat-n-train for dispensing a reward after she's done a jump correctly. It's not bad, but there is a bit of a delay in dispensing the treat after the beep. I'll have to reaccustom her to that delay.

Mainly I'm going to be focusing on tossing high-value treats on the ground in front of her when she does jumps successfully. I could be standing, or sitting in a chair as motionless as possible so she's not looking at me so much for the reward. Which also means I have to be quick with the toss so she doesn't have time to look at me, but not so quick that I accidentally reward a ticked bar. Timing is everything!

So we're going to work on one jump for now with me sitting and tossing treats, or with treat-n-train at one end and a low table or phone book or something at the other end for me to toss the treat to, anything so she's looking ahead instead of at me. And no sit-stay or anything, just telling her "hup" from where she's picked up the last goodie. She was doing very very well at not touching the bar by the end of yesterday's session.

And we'll also work on 2-jump bounce jumps, full height (actually 26"; her competition height is 22"), 7' apart. And gradually adding me standing in different places, them me moving a little bit, then both of us running at them, and so on.

So for her--and the issue may be different for other dogs--the idea is to teach her that the JUMP is the important thing, not me, and that looking FORWARD is the important thing, not looking at me. And we'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile--Just going up to Power Paws is a pleasure. I mean, the company's good, but the view is ever-changing and always beautiful.

In this photo, I believe that PP is the level area just above the stoplight on the left side. (So hard to pick it out from down below.)

The downside to living up there is that you're always looking for smoke, always hypersensitive to the scent of burning. This is a bad thing to see in the foothills below you as the fire season begins.
But--back to the upside--look slightly more to your left at sunset, and this is what you might see:

And this is what class on Thursday evening is like--looking still further to your left-- (those are neighbors' houses you see):
Gazing out over San Jose:

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Friday, May 08, 2009

No Thanks, No Puppy for Me

SUMMARY: In which I continue to realize that I am content with my current dog population and that my current dog population has some agility issues.

There's a brand new border collie puppy at Power Paws, and it visited class last night. It was very cute. It was happy to see everyone. It had delightful puppy breath. It wiggled and ran and fell over and got up and wiggled some more. As astonishingly freshly cute as every puppy ever made. I snuggled it.

And I had absolutely zero, not one, not a whit of, desire for a puppy of my own. Puppies are hard work. Training is hard work. Taking care of dogs is hard work, and expensive, too. I like having two dogs. Me and my twos, we be a happy little family unit.

Someone in class suggested that, when I said, "I have no interest in a puppy," that I was trying to convince myself. Funny that that's the reaction--does everyone else want a new puppy so badly that they can't imagine someone NOT wanting one?

No thanks, no no no--I've got enough training and attention challenges with the dogs I've got!

But I do like having lots of friends in agility. I left my Wednesday night 8:15 class a while back, but I'm still an Honorary Member. So when certain members of the class promised human treats to celebrate his 3rd consecutive placement on the World Team, I invited myself along.

Then they invited my dogs to participate in class, so I got a bonus class this week (in exchange for giving up my Wednesday night sierra club hike).

As an additional bonus for going up to class on Wednesday, I had an opportunity at a stop light to capture the sunset.

Then, as yet another bonus, in Power Paws' driveway, Mr. Owl awaited me on the phone lines for a photo op in the twilight. No tripod, but not bad anyway. (Great Horned Owl.)

And so, with two nights in a row of class, I have established this: Tika runs well at 22", and Boost knocks a lot of bars.

So here we are again.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

This Weekend

SUMMARY: USDAA trial, here we come

Both dogs (and I) did pretty good last night in our first class since Feb 12, about what might be expected. Instructor says Boost's bar knocking is now "like a normal dog"! and we just need to do a private session on two on anti-bar-knocking drills. Tika looked fine at 26". SMART USDAA, here we come!

I've got Tika entered in performance (jumping 22") in several classes. But still in Steeplechase and Grand Prix at 26" because we still need one tournament for our tournament platinum. And still in Standard and Jumpers at 26" because we still need 3 Standards and 4 Jumpers for our ADCH-Silver. Would just like to do that before she's all performance and we have to start the ADCH count all over again.

I don't even want to look at what Boost needs to get even her MAD; at least 2 of her siblings already have their ADCHs and I'm trying not to feel sibling rivalry (after all, they aren't MY siblings). I'm just going to try and go and enjoy her and relax and try to have her relax a bit going over jumps.


I'll tell ya--maybe I don't talk much in class or socialize much, but it was wonderful to be back among friends in the evening.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Random Things in April

SUMMARY: The mind wanders. The life wanders.

  • Last week it was so cold that I ran the space heater under my desk on several days. Yesterday we beat the all-time temp record for this date, which was set over100 years ago. Hey, people, this is supposed to be April! Dogs don't much care--still wnat me to Throw The Toy--except that when they fetch it, they run and drop it in the shade and wait for me to come get it. This weekend--when we're doing agility again finally, mind you--it's supposed to be cool and very rainy. Unsettled weather: Unsettling.
  • Last summer I bought a brand new purple Jolly Ball for the back yard. (Well, really, for the dogs, but it lives in the back yard.) The dogs love that toy. Shortly thereafter, it vanished. I looked everwhere, even underneath the miles of shrubbery lining my fence. Nada. Finally gave up and bought a new one.

    Last week I got to work finishing that trimming job I started...uh...a while back. Guess who's been overwintering 6 feet up in the shelter of the shrubbery? Yes! Mr. Jolly Ball!

    Reminds me of the time that Mr. Red Jolly Ball vanished from the yard and I gave up and bought a new one. Came autumn, fruit trees dropped their leaves--and there was Mr.RJB nestling in the branches of the apple tree 15 feet up. (Thought I had a post on this but can't find it. Sorry; know you're disappointed.)

    Now--*I* would notice if I tossed a JB into a tree or a shrub. Renter claims that he'd notice, too. OK, you guys, fess up: Who's been sneaking into my yard and tossing JBs into mysterious places?
  • Huh--this horrible nasty way overgrown privet, once stripped of its branches (my intention was to remove it entirely--maybe there's be more room for another tunnel?), has apparently self-grafted like crazy. He never listened to Mom Privet saying, "If you keep wrapping your branches around each other like that, they'll freeze that way!" Makes me want to stop sticking my elbow in my ear all the time. Fortunately it did not self-graft itself around Mr. JB. The real problem here is that now I think that this is so cool that I don't want to take it out after all. Sigh. The price one pays for one's art.
  • Naming dogs: I take forever to come up with dog names. That's why Jake stayed Jake as he was before i got him, and Remington stayed Remington as he was in his pre-TMH life. Keep threatening to name my next dog Spot or Fido or King or Queenie. ...So...how come no one ever names their dog Kingie or Queen? Is this sexist?
  • Just lounging around in the yard, watching the Graf Agility Zeppelin float by.
  • Painted Ladies recently migrated northward through our area in massive quantities.

  • We're starting agility class again this Thursday, after a 9-week absence for R&R Woo hoo! Dogs will be much happier. We're just starting some practice again in the yard. Boost is still knocking bars. I've been perhaps less than faithful in doing everything that was recommended during our hiatus. But we did have a good time. Mostly.
  • Unemployment rate in Silicon Valley popped up to 11.2%. California overall 11%. Fourth highest in the country among all 50 states. Wasn't high tech supposed to be recession-proof? Agility trial entries are down. Is it the economy, stupid? Or the stupid economy?

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