Sunday, January 03, 2010

Tika's Happy Toe

SUMMARY: Update on Tika's toe: Doing great!
Somewhere over a week ago, I put the doggie door back in so that Tika could go in and out on her own again. No sign of problems with the toe. (Just a problem with Boost whom I spent 2 weeks unintentionally teaching to tap at the door when she wanted to go out or in. Now guess who taps ALL THE TIME even though the doggie door is now available once again!)

I'd been putting a little bootie on her left front foot whenever we were out in the yard, and I continued to do so. Then earlier this week I started letting her run and chase the toy when we go out to play, instead of holding her collar while Boost chased it, like we've been doing for weeks now. (And, yes, that was as much fun as it sounds.)

And the toe was fine. So we went to the park and played frisbee with the bootie on. (The bootie on tika's foot, not on the frisbee or not the frisbee on tika's foot...) And the toe was fine.

This weekend we went up to the mountains and Thursday we played a bunch in the snow and she was SO happy butt scrunched under leaping ears back running running running grabbing my feet, with bootie on. And the toe was fine.

With much ecstatic growling and tugging:

Then on Friday we hiked for about 3 miles in the snow, and her bootie came off after about 1/4 mile and I decided fagedaboudit so she was unbootied. And she ran ran ran happy foot grabbing happiest. And the toe was fine.

Then Saturday we hiked over 6 miles on sometimes extremely icy sharp cold snow. She slowed down quite a bit but so did Boost. And the toe was fine!

I'm thrilled. Happy new toe year!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hot and Stuff

SUMMARY: Heat, hammers, walkies, training.

I've carried a hammer in my car since forever. Comes in handy at every agility trial for pounding in canopy stakes and pulling them out afterward. After our June CPE trial, my hammer vanished. Looked everywhere I could think of. I'm half convinced that, someday, I'll open some box or bag or whatever and there it'll be, tucked absent-mindedly away for transport back to the van from where I was set up. Meanwhile--gots no hammer in MUTT MVR.

Dropped in to Orchard Supply & Hardware today to pick up another one. I mean, how much could a hammer cost, anyway. Twenty bucks! For a basic, reasonably heavy, wood-handled claw hammer! Sheesh! Bought it anyway.

It's been hot again, up in the high 90s (32C+) & low 100s (38+). No A/C in this house. Last couple of nights it hasn't cooled down overnight; tonight it's doing better. At 6 this evening, I got up to go out to the yard with the dogs; Tika would have none of it. Did she want to stay inside? No! She wanted to go for a walk! Straight out to the front hall, eager, prancing, bright-eyed. Wouldn't come out to the yard, wanted a Walk. So we went for about a 2-mile walk. It was danged still hot, and humid, too (not compared to some places in this country, but still--), and I was very hot when we got home.

Have been working on some of the jumping drills for Boost and, what the heck, Tika, too. They're both doing very well.

USDAA trial this weekend, and Tika has to jump 26" in just the Jumpers class. Only 2 more Jumpers legs to ADCH-Silver. Everything else at 22" performance.

Hope it's cooler this weekend! Site is closer to the ocean, so often is cooler than here in the summer-miserable San Jose desert.

Time to go to bed and practice sweating all over the sheets. Ta.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Entropy 3: Playground Equipment

SUMMARY: Once I've bought all the agility equipment, it's supposed to last forever. Right? Am I right?

Gathering up all the agility equipment from my yard, cleaning it, dismantling it, hauling it all off the school field, reassembling it, using it, and then reversing the process, was a bit disconcerting. All this equipment is NEARLY NEW, isn't it? Yes? Just bought it RECENTLY?!

(My view of recency might be skewed. I just gave away a stack of 2'x8' lattice panels that have been sitting in my yard unused for a while. Well--OK, I've been in this house since 2001 and they came with me. And I was in the horrid rental house for a year before that, and they came with me. And we bought them when we moved into the previous house intending to put along the top of the fence to keep our escape-artist husky in the yard, until we discovered that she was also going through or under the fence in many different places and ways and gave up on the idea. And that was fairly recent, I guess... Well, it was my 3rd house I owned, anyway, and so how long ago can 1987 really be, anyway? But I digress.)

Actually pretty much everything I have I bought after I moved here, so 2002 or later. So it *is* pretty new, really. It just sits out in the yard forever, through rain and sun and wind and automated sprinklers and marauding squirrels and avian vandals and like that.

I was shocked to note the condition of my short yellow tunnel when I packed it up; I have already tossed one tunnel a couple of years back, the first piece of equipment I bought that was real agility equipment, wayyyy back when (but not as far back as 1987), and I wasn't expecting for another one to die so soon afterwards.

Guess I'll keep using it until one of the dogs goes through it.

At the demo, the PVC base of my tire broke. It'll still work OK, as it's all pretty sturdy--now it's a matched set with the broken-but-sturdy PVC base of my table. And anyway the dang tire itself ALWAYS needs rewrapping; the tape deteriorates quickly, and I didn't feel like rewrapping the whole thing this time around; just got the worst parts.

Also at the demo, some of the bungies that hold the weight onto my tunnels and hold the tire upright broke, but that's to be expected because those things decay almost overnight out in the UV rays. I keep the flea market bungie vendor in business all by myself.

Getting up close and personal to my contact obstacles revealed that the lichen is moving in on my dogwalk and the slats of the Aframe are coming loose. It all ought to be scrubbed, patched, repaired, and repainted. Hopefully I won't have to replace the surfaces; already had to do that 3 years ago with the teeter (the first contact obstacle I got, which was at least 10 years ago) and it was a pain in the pattotie. Dogwalk and Aframe would be even worse.

And of course all the jumps are slowly going to the dogs. Er--well--you know what I mean.

The longer yellow tunnel doesn't look so hot, either, although not quite as bad as the short one. Fortunately for Boost--who loves doing tunnels and does them on her own--and for me--who loves having a way to make the yard twice as long for my running dogs (make a U shape and they run full-tilt in, through, and out again)-- I have a really good, sturdy, double-thick vinyl expensive high-quality 20-foot competition tunnel that I bought probably only 3 or 4 years ago, with no sign of problems at all.

So I was jaw-droppingly stunned Sunday evening when I sent the dogs into the 20' tunnel (yes one immediately after the other) and Tika came out the other end but Boost came AROUND the other end.

Expletive deleted.

It's not torn; there's no sign of glue or adhesive; it looks like it was pressure- or heat-sealed together, and I have no idea how I'm going to fix that. Now I need to find the info on whom I bought it from so I can see whether they can give me a tip on repair. I don't think duct tape will work with the kind of pressure the dogs put on. (For those who don't know, fast crazy insane dogs [not mentioning any names, right Boost? right, younger Tika?] actually run along the BACK of a curved tunnel so that they don't have to slow down. Mass times energy=force plus gravity or something physicsy like that--in other words, there's a LOT of pressure put on the tunnel walls.)

Next time I buy or make equipment, it's going to be permanent, undecomposable, nonrusting, stainless, nondecaying, lichen-resistent, bird-repellent, waterproof, eternal equipment that will last forever. Really.


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Monday, May 25, 2009

A Memorial Day to Remember

SUMMARY: Agility demo and complete exhaustion. A good time was had by all.

We did an agility demo today for our neighborhood association's Memorial Day parade and fair. (We didn't do the parade.) We used my agility equipment rather than trying to find a driver and bring up a trailer from wherever they're currently located--Salinas or some such place. And here is all my agility equipment (save the dogwalk): three tunnels, Aframe, teeter, 7 jumps, chute, table, weaves (partly borrowed), broad jump, tire, fence posts (some borrowed). [Remember that you can click photos here to see a much larger view for details.]

I have never done so much equipment hauling and cleaning and mending in my life. Hours yesterday, hours today. I'se all wored out. Fortunately, BAS, who also lives in the neighborhood, came early with her strong-backed spouse and helped me set up and then helped me haul everything home at the end of the day. Here she is talking to interested parties, while interested Jersey puzzles me out.

I vowed to take a photo of the whole group of us and our dogs together for posterity, but... it got busy, I got tired, I just forgot.

We started setting up at 8 because they wanted us done by 11 for the parade to arrive at 11:30, and there were only 2 of us, so it took a while. When the parade arrived, so did a bunch of interesting vehicles. Like the Sharks fire engine.
And these vehicles. Holy Achilles Tendon, look at how skinny those ankles are! How do they hold up those huge beasts? (I mean the horses of course.)

The fair included the main "stage" (canopies over part of the pavement), one burger stand with a huuuuuuge line, one drink stand, a few crafts stands, half a dozen games booths, and a central volunteers booth at which to buy tickets for food and games.

Looked like there might have been a thousand people there (I'm not convinced...maybe 500? A lot, anyway.

They had a long program of sequential entertainments. Frankly, everyone came, ate, checked out the games, and left. We were supposed to be after the high school jazz band and by the time the band played, the crowd was down to maybe 50 people scattered around. Then they stuck in the Tae Kwon Do exhibition. Quite a few people stopped by from time to time to ask when we were going to do our demo, and some said they couldn't wait and sorry.

So--the parade arrived at 11:30, the main Memorial Day ceremonies and parade awards took less than an hour, and within an hour after that, pretty much everyone was gone.

We were finally on around 2:30, and the 30 or 40 people who were left came over and were a very good audience. Nothing like the hundreds we'd been expecting.

If we do this event again, we won't do it under those circumstances. It had gotten quite warm by then, and three of our dogs didn't want to be out in the heat doing agility. And while I understand that they have a program and everyone wants their turn to do their stage bit, they'd be much better off running parallel programs, which would give everyone their turn but also allow the audience choices of things to do AND maybe therefore get them to stay around longer to WATCH the things. And I can assure you that, if I'd thought the audience would be only 30 people, I wouldn't have volunteered to show up.

But, even given all that, it's always a blast to get to run your dogs on a fun course, away from home, not in class, not in competition, and for free! (Except for the time involved.) Everyone did a bit of practicing here and there while waiting our turn. We also talked to a lot of people who had come over and were hanging around waiting for the official demo to start, and we talked to them about our dogs, demonstrated some tricks and some training methods, showed some individual obstacle performances, and like that. Then maybe 15-20 minutes of demo, including explaining the equipment and then running a course. Then, after the demo was over and everyone had run, the audience vanished from the site POOF! and we all ran it again and did little sequences and things with our dogs.

Boost is SO FAST! Man, she hauls! Got tremendous OOoohs from the audience when she slammed into the weave entry and continued correctly at her lightning speed... but then, dang, popped out at #8. More than once. And she was knocking bars. But her contacts were excellent, we didn't have any runouts or refusals, although we did have a little confusion and I just couldn't keep up with her! She loved it! Tika was her usual fast-enough consistent self and enjoyed schmoozing with the audience and getting treats for tricks (backing up to "beep beep beep" like trucks do was a crowd pleaser).

I met a couple of new agility people and got to see a couple of folks whose dogs have retired from agility so I don't see them at trials any more, but they were willing to come out and do this and jump at a nice easy low height. And for sure I burned a tremendous number of calories! I should sleep well tonight! Bring on the ibuprofen!

And I learned this valuable lesson: When you clear EVERYTHING out of the van to try to fit in all the agility equipment, don't remove the bag with the sun lotion!

Looking in the mirror after a long hard sunny day.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Exercise Them Mini Dawgs

SUMMARY: An interesting invention for smaller dogs.

If your dog is no taller than 14" at the shoulder (Chihuahuas, Pekingese, like that--even most Shelties and Beagles are taller than that), if you can't keep that dog exercised by tossing a tennis ball across the living room, and if you always admired that hamster lifestyle, this is for you.

Now they need one for them big dawgs who can cover the whole living room in a single bound.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Build an Agility Jump--or Win One

SUMMARY: Need jumps in your yard? Here are a couple of ways to do it. (AKA: Entropy 2: Jumps don't last forever.)

Once upon a time, after I had taken agility classes for a few weeks or months, I decided to build my own jumps. I can do PVC stuff, so I adopted some plans that I got off the web somewhere and built 3 jumps. They looked like this (except less broken):

I made them from thin-walled ("Schedule 120") 3/4" PVC, then drilled holes through the uprights and inserted bolts, which I laid the jump bars across.

Well, funny dang thing happens over time: PVC becomes brittle. Especially the narrower, thin-walled kind. So then, hitting them with the Favorite Jolly Ball Toy, or bumping into them too hard, or any other little accident just snaps them apart--as you can see from all the small and leaning pieces in the top photo.

So it's clear that it's time to build more jumps. The bolt-style jump cups were never ideal, and nowadays you can buy jump cups from all kinds of people online (couldn't back in 1996 when I built mine), so yesterday I bought several 1" snap-on cups from a local vendor at the trial, Miller's Agility Jumps & Weaves. (Huh--I don't see a web site for them; phone is 707-542-2923. They sell complete PVC jumps as well as the cups separately for either 3/4" or 1" PVC.)

On the way home, I stopped at the local OSH (nice hardware store) that sells precut PVC pieces or will cut them to size for you at no charge. For each jump, I bought 1" PVC connectors and 1" thick-walled ("schedule 40") PVC in the following lengths:
  • Two 4-foot
  • Two 3-foot
  • One 18" (although what I wanted was two 9" or so--this was the smallest precut they had, and I can cut my own at home)
  • One 18" to cut into smaller pieces
  • Two T slip-slip-slip connectors
  • Two elbow slip-slip connectors
Throw in two of the precut jump cups that I bought, and these are the materials:

I cut one of the 18" into 2 pieces using my PVC cutter. You can do it with a hacksaw, too.

Out of the second 18" piece, I cut two 2-inch pieces. Then I lined up the connectors with these smaller pieces like this to make the sides of the base:

I dry fit (no glue) the pieces together so they looked like this, including one Favorite Jolly Ball Toy that kept getting dropped into my working area by some furry beasts who thought that this project looked dull:

Then I put one four-foot length between the sides of the base to serve as the ground bar, put two three-footers in the upright-facing connectors, snapped on my purchased jump cups, and laid the other four-foot section on the cups, so my assembled jump looks like:

When your jump is fully assembled, move the jump cups up or down until the top of the bar is at your favorite height; this one is at 22". Then mark on the upright where the cup has to attach for the bar to be there. IMPORTANT: If you're going to glue your bases together, do that BEFORE marking the measurements, as the pieces will fit more tightly with the lubrication of the glue.

Gluing: You don't have to glue things, but dry-fit PVC will come loose fairly easily, so I recommend gluing the parts in the sides of the base and the uprights, NOT the long ground bar, because it's nice to be able to disassemble and store them or move them. You can buy a small jar of PVC cement for not very much. Do it this way to make sure that all the angles are correct:
  1. Disassemble all pieces
  2. Glue one 9" piece into one side of one of the Ts; glue the other 9" piece into one side of the other T (see photo above as a reminder).
  3. Glue ONE end of one of the 2" pieces into ONE of the Ts.
  4. Glue one end of the 3' upright into the TOP of the OTHER T.
  5. Put one end of the groundbar UNGLUED into the "stem" of the T with the 2" piece. Now you've got this:
  6. Glue ONE end of the other 2" piece into ONE of the elbows.
  7. Glue the other 3' upright into one end of the OTHER elbow.
  8. Put the other end of the ground bar UNGLUED into the elbow that has the 2" piece glued in one end. Now you've got this:

  9. Working quickly, put plenty of glue on the inside of the open end of the elbow and the end of the 2" piece so they'll slide really well. Holding the 3' upright in an upright position, slip it onto the 2" piece all the way, and quickly adjust it so that it is standing straight up at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Let it sit for a minute or two to set a bit.
  10. Do the same on the other end: lots of glue on the open end of the T and the end of the 2" piece, hold upright upright, slip together quickly and twist the upright as needed so that it's perfectly straight up and down. Double-check the other end to be sure you haven't changed its alignment.
  11. Let dry completely before doing anything else, preferably a few hours.

Here's another way to get jumps, although it's not as reliable. Enter a cool workers raffle and win one. I've been tossing a ticket or two into the jump and tunnel raffles for many years. Back in 1996 or 1997, I actually won one, of the type with PVC that slips through the bases of the uprights for ground support, like this:

Well, funny dang thing happens over time: Metal rusts. Especially if you leave it out on the lawn 24/7/365 for 12 or 13 years, until there's nothing left to hold the PVC in place, and then your uprights start being downright un-up:

So then you can get lucky again, as I did Saturday evening, when they pull your name out of the box to win a lovely new purple jump! Woohoo!


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Sunday, September 14, 2008


SUMMARY: Lots of good stuff this weekend. But handler needs more training.

Biggest news

Started Saturday by Qing in Standard with both dogs, on a course where a full third of the dogs Eed and another third had faults. Tika placed 4th of 14, and Boost's run was beautiful! No refusals, runouts, hesitations, or knocked bars! Just the irritating elbows-up-on-the-table issue, causing a really long table count, and also it becoming apparent that I have broken Boost's previously rock-solid contacts (hit bottom and wait for a release...she's self-releasing now) by releasing too aggressively too often. Always something to work on! (Tomorrow I'll post a video.)

Then Tika Qed the next two classes, also, very neatly completing her LAA-Bronze. WooHOO! I am mighitily pleased. She is running so very well.

And Boost did all of her weaves perfectly again.

Tika's Weekend

Over all, Tika Qed 4 out of 5 Saturday (Standard, Pairs Relay, Gamblers, and Snooker). The only failure was in Steeplechase, where I tried an aggressive lateral front cross after the A-frame, meaning that I had no leverage on her contact, so she popped the Aframe and then knocked the immediately following jump. As usual, our time was 3 seconds under the cut-off, but with faults, we couldn't Q.

Sunday was only 2 for 5, but two of them were blatantly my fault. Snooker consisted entirely of a sort of double circle of jumps, almost every obstacle made up of multiple jumps and some jumps serving as multiple obstacles--and approaching the closing I very carefully threadled her past a difficult jump ONE DANG JUMP EARLY (needed to threadle past the NEXT one and TAKE this one), so we were off course. But she did everything I asked her to very smoothly and with no bars down (that was about 15 physical obstacles before I messed up).

Gamblers was SUCH a doable gamble, but for some reason when I sent her out to the tunnel, I pointed my body at the center of the tunnel instead of directly at the tunnel entrance, so she ran towards the center, veered off to one side, turned back to me, and finally took the correct entrance, but it was called as a refusal so although she did it, she didn't get credit for it. DEEEP sigh.

The only other non-Q was Standard, where she knocked the first bar (lots of dogs knocked that one, including Boost), so I took the opportunity to make her wait or down on her contacts to hopefully get a little more control back.

Boost's weekend

Once again, the Booster started off really nicely after another week of intense practice, but slowly deteriorated through the weekend. Still, we're making progress--we in fact earned *3* Masters Qs this weekend, which is wayyy more than we've ever earned in a weekend before, and several runs or parts of runs went much better than they would have been a month ago.

She Qed in Saturday's Standard and Snooker (knocked a red in the opening so didn't get full points but got all the way through the closing), and also in Sunday's Gamble, where I corrected the mistake that I made with Tika and she did it beautifully.

DANG TIRE: Boost did this tire perfectly in Saturday morning's Standard run. In Gamblers, she ran under it 4 times before I got her to go through it, and then I figured the problem was fixed. But no. Ran under it in Sunday's Standard. Ran under it in Grand Prix, and I brought her back and tried again to get her to do it and again she ran under it, so I just walked her off the course. I avoided it in the Gambler's opening because it wasn't going to be used in Snooker or Jumpers. Then, at the end of the day, I took her over, set her up in front of it--and she did it perfectly. Twice. Dang weird border collie.

My theory is that (a) the orange is hard to see against the green grass, (b) the paint on the tire was very faded so the stripes weren't obvious, (c) the tire was narrow and the frame was wide and they were basically the same color, so the distinction wasn't great, and (d) orange is supposedly very difficult to see against green (the grass). But who knows--then why did she get it first thing saturday morning?

CONTACTS: I used the rest of her Gamble opening and also her non-Qing Sunday Standard, after she knocked the first bar, to work on HER contacts, too. They're not as broken as Tika's, since she's still hitting the bottom and pausing, but she's sure not waiting for my release. I hope that fixes them again.

TABLE: Before her standard run on Sunday, I worked on just a down stay while waiting to go into the ring, with lots of excitement and testing, and got her to break or start to come up about 3 times and could say "Oh my goodness!" and put her back into position. Can't do that at home, class, or fun matches, but i didn't think before to work on it just on the ground at the events RIGHT BEFORE going into the ring. Result: Her table down was perfect! Will have to do more of that at events.

LEAD OUTS: I've been working on remedial lateral leadouts and lead-out pivots and she's doing very well, but in Sunday's Snooker I needed to set her about 20 feet away from the first red and lead out wayyy across the field. Even though I could see her over the top of the red jump, she came around it to get to me when I released her. So now we have to work on weird Snooker lead-outs.

GAMBLES: Saturday's gamble required running parallel to me from the teeter over the last jump, about 20' lateral from me. It was pretty much a gimmee gamble for people whose dogs did the teeter at a distance, which she had no problem with. But then she came in to me instead of going out. So her SENDS are much better than her lateral "out"s.

JUMPING ISSUES ASSORTED: We just need to keep working. Progress is happening, and she is SUCH a blast to run now that she's doing her weaves all the time, and when she's looking ahead to do obstacles instead of looking back at me constantly.

Oh, one of the runs where we fell apart a bit (after another dumb handler move early in the run) was steeplechase, so we definitely won't be running in Steeplechase at Nationals.


This weekend's Steeplechases were the weirdest I've ever seen. The courses were somewhat challenging, but not really awful--and a couple of dogs were very fast but not that many of them-- but what was weird was that so many 22" and 26" dogs failed to have non-Eliminating (offcourse) runs, that they had to combine the two heights to determine qualification! Only 6 of 13 26" dogs avoided Eing, and only 6 out of 29 22" dogs qualified! That is sooooo weird, at least around here. (We often have to combine 12" and 16", and both performance groups also--all of which we also had to do--but I've never seen so many 26 and 22" dogs crap out.)

So Round 2 was filled out with dogs who hadn't qualified (Steeplechase rules send a certain minimum number to Rd 2 in each height), but we didn't even have enough non-Eing dogs in some heights to fill out the minimum numbers!

And then in Round 2, it got even weirder--never seen a steeplechase Rd 2 where most placements were taken by dogs who merely survived--large number of dogs Eed and a good portion of the remaining had faults.

For those who care about the details, in Performance, only ONE dog in each of 8", 12", and 16" ended up taking home a check (and there were supposed to be 3 each); only the four 22" dogs survived.

And at the Championship level, the 16" and 26" each had only TWO dogs to survive for the money payout, and only 4 22"s. So the club kept a whole lot of extra award money (per the rules).

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Number 9... Number 9...

SUMMARY: In which our agility sequence is rudely interrupted.

Apparently we're no longer doing number 9 in agility sequences in our back yard. Too much Beatles? Too much love potion? Who's to say what occurs in Border Collie minds?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Caffeine, Chemicals, and Coneage

SUMMARY: Musings upon the effects of assorted chemicals on human and canine consumers; plus coneage.


OK, here's a life lesson (file under "Duh!"): If you find that drinking even a couple of cans of caffeinated Coke in one day (34 mg caffeine each) makes you twitchy, sleepless, and prone to heart palpitations, beware dark chocolate. Oh, yes, it might LOOK like "candy" (AKA "sugar"), but in fact it's 20 big fat mg of caffeine PER OUNCE, so if you were, say, to eat perhaps 10 ounces in one day, even if (let's say hypothetically) it's chocolate-covered cranberries, hence fruit, hence healthy and nutritious (am I right?), then that would be like drinking six cans of Coke, and perhaps might make you lie awake, wide-eyed, until 4 in the morning, heart bouncing around like a superball.

Note to self: Take nap this afternoon. Leave. The chocolate. Alone.


Note to self #2: Don't let the dogs at it, either. Theobromine kills. (Notes from my email in the Fall of 2000:
"I nearly killed now in recovery [at the emergency clinic]--but I spent 24 hours not knowing what he had gotten into & thinking it was something in one of the piles of junk that the landlord still has here (having found a chewed-up pesticide box but that contained apparently sealed bottles, & pesticide symptoms didn't match but I was convinced it was something in the yard [ and called poison control 2 or 3 times before and after taking him to the emergency clinic]). What a nightmare...

"He got into a Costco-sized bag of semisweet chocolate morsels that I didn't even know I had, let alone was anywhere near where he could get at it. It was one of the scariest nights of my life. [I was at home, crying, while he was at the emergency vet's, and finally just decided to start unpacking the boxes in the kitchen, and finally found the bag, in a box that had been untaped but wasn't open; he must have been sticking his head in under the flap and munching. I was so relieved to finally know what the problem was.]

" highly toxic to dogs and, [in Jake, ]caused a racing heartbeat [that was so fast that I couldn't count it--tell me that isn't terrifying--], vomiting, horrific diarrhea, and hallucinations. [The only dire symptoms that he escaped--and we were just damned lucky, I think--were] seizures and death."


But that's not really why I called you all here.

Sitting awake at my kitchen table in the wee hours inspired me to talk about coneage. Yes, that's coneage, like as in signage:

Main Entry: signˇage
Pronunciation: \?s?-nij\
Function: noun
: signs (as of identification, warning, or direction) or a system of such signs

This word is not my coinage; I blame it on my Punmeister Instructor who sometimes deviates from puns into other wordplay.

Main Entry: coneˇage
Pronunciation: \?k?n-nij\
Function: noun
: cones (as of numberage for a collection of agility equipage) or a system of such cones

So, I was inspired because I just bought at the flea market, ta-da, finally! my own coneage for my own numbered courses! Six orange cones (sadly, not purple) for only $3! Much better than I could get anywhere else! Now, it is true that I had to number them myself, but hey, I needed practice counting from 1 to 6! Plus now Boost and Tika can decide whether bowling is on their agenda:

And anyway I already warmed up by numbering my previous very own coneage, although it might not be very cone-shaped, had the big advantage of being FREE because I already had them:

However, their main disadvantages were (a) they moved around the course randomly in a stiff breeze (b) they moved around the course randomly when Boost discovered that they make really fun noises when chomped on and (c) they don't stack very easily.

Now, I have graduated to another, more conelike, better stacking, variety of coneage for the numbers beyond 6, also free (if you disregard the $2 each for the plants that came in them). I had to number these myself, too, which is rude considering that I paid $2 each for them:

And why would anyone need numbered cones in their very own back yard, when no one is laying out courses except your very self? Because I am very good at remembering courses that go in a straight line and go "jump jump tunnel jump jump tunnel" but very bad at remembering clever courses that actually teach me and my actual agility dogs some actual useful moves. Like all those nifty courses that use identical equipage but different numberage in Clean Run's "Backyard Dogs," which I can't even remember more than 3 or 4 numbers on the first course, let alone up to 10 on a dozen different yet same courses. Like this:

And now, before I leave you, I'll give you one additional nifty tip about coneage in addition to those various clever ways to have FREE although breezable coneages of your own:
You must always stack cones with the lowest number on TOP. This is so that the next person laying out the cones can easily see that the correct number is next and can easily lift the next cone from the top of the pile. Like this:

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Alternative Construction Materials

SUMMARY: How about dog agility USING snow?

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Agility Equipment: NADAC vs the Universe

SUMMARY: If you go to a NADAC agility trial to practice agility, what are you really practicing? (updated Nov 19, 9 a.m.)

NADACEveryone else1
Hoops yes no
Table no yes2
Spread jumps (doubles, triples) no yes
Chute no yes
Broad jump no yes
Teeter no yes
A-frame Low, no slats, padded High, slats4, unpadded
Dogwalk No slats Slats4
Tire Special 2-part displaceable doohickey Tire
Single jumps Yes; do they still allow wings? Winged or nonwinged
Weaves Yes, unstaked5 Yes, staked5
Tunnel yes yes

1USDAA, CPE, ASCA, FCI, AAC, AKC, CKC, TDAA3, probably others but I didn't check. Individual specs may vary, such as the length of the chute (collapsed tunnel) or of the contact zone.
2Table used sparingly in many org's.
3No triple or broad jump in teacup (TDAA) agility
4Slats are optional in several org's.
5 Just recently heard from someone else that a NADAC judge said that weaves are supposed to be UNstaked because the dog is supposed to be "weaving", not "pushing through the poles". I don't know whether this is a NADAC thing or just that one NADAC judge. Staking isn't actually called out in most rules one way or another. Usually says "rigid" poles; usually, rigidity is achieved by staking.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Really Truly Getting There

SUMMARY: Knee is happy. Dogs need practice.

Last weekend I walked through Oakridge mall from my favorite parking out back all the way through to the front, slowly, using crutches as extra support. Today, I strolled cheerfully although not quite full normal speed through the same mall without a crutch in site. My knee stiffened up during the movie--maybe from just sitting still for over 2 hours, maybe from that long walk, maybe both, so I had to slow down some and I felt a bit of pain along the sides. But I wasn't visibly crippled. Yay!

So I came home, iced the knee, and went out back to practice doing some actual sequences with the dogs. This meant maybe 4 or 5 obstacles with me moving a few brisk walking steps, but that's more than I've done since before the surgery. I haven't been doing jumps with them because their training issues with jumps involve me moving, so today I set up a jump and discovered that Tika still knocks bars and Boost is so used to NOT doing jumps after 3 weeks that she just completely ignored it. So we worked on both of those as well.

Then I dared to move some equipment around. I never move my dogwalk--just can't be done in my yard (other than that there's only one place I can put it anyway. And the A-frame almost never moves--again, it takes up so much real estate and it's very hard to move. And the teeter doesn't tend to move far. Unlike Jim Basic, I can't just grab it around its middle, lift, spin, and drop it again.

But it's been so long since I've moved anything for fear of aggravating my knee--other than adjusting the angle of the weave poles and realigning the tunnel ends after the blasting dogs pull them out of alignment--that I moved 2 of the 3 tunnels AND the teeter AND the weaves (now perpendicular to the direction they've been most of the last couple of months) AND the one jump I have up. Knee didn't bother me while I was doing it, either, but I need to be careful that I don't do in my back while trying to save my knee.

It sucks, getting older and fragiler! But it's exciting to have a different set-up to try for a few days, and to feel that I can once again drag 20-foot double-walled competition tunnels around on my own. Small victories every day.

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