Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quick Monterey Jaunt

SUMMARY: Photos photos photos

My sister called this morning and said, "We've decided to be spontaneous today!" and I said, "Cool, does that mean you're going to Monterey?"

She laaaaaughed, because of course they were going to Monterey. She asked how I knew. I said that's because that's what you always do when you're feeling spontaneous.

I grabbed my camera (she and her spouse are very patient with me) and we headed out. Scenery was beautiful, clouds were gorgeous, Monterey is always fun. Took a lot of photos, many related to dogs of course, and they're posted on my usual photo site with commentary.

To see them in a slide show, click the Slideshow button in the upper right when you go here:

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Competitive Dog Sports -- Another Pass-Around Thang

SUMMARY: About me & my dog sports.
Found on Facebook. I'm posting here because I've answered many of these questions before and I'm just going to link to 'em. If you want to do this note on facebook and tag your dog-sport pals, copy & paste these instructions as well as the rest of the content:
Copy and paste the content below, then erase the other person's answers and put in your own. Tag as many Dog Nuts as you can think of, including the person who sent it to you as "first tag." Don't be shy to make your answers long, if need be.

NOTE: This will be a very long read if you also read the links in which I answer some questions at length. Don't you have something better to do with your time?

List the dog sports in which you compete. If you have a particular favorite please tell us, and tell us why!

Is there anyone you'd like to thank or BLAME for getting you into competitive dog activities?
My obedience instructor started taking agility classes and recommended it to me. For my active, eager dog. Who is also clearly to blame.

Please tell the story of how you got started in dog sports. Where/when (year please, don't be shy!)/why/etc.
Remember, you asked. (First competition: January 1996.)

What is your FAVORITE thing about dog sports, and what is your LEAST FAVORITE?
One answer, from June 2009, on "why agility?"
What I hate about agility? Disappointing myself, sometimes; the expense; the amount of time it takes away from everything else in my life.

What breeds or mixes thereof do you/have you owned? Please list their name, their breed (or mix thereof) and then their BEST quality as a sport dog and their WORST quality as a sport dog.
Whoa, can you believe I've never done a post on this? (At least not that I'm finding.) This would make a good future blog post. Summary:
  • Remington, Squirrelhund (Lab/Shepherd probably). Almost never dropped a bar. Loved to learn. Could be pretty fast. Extremely sensitive to my moods and shut down a lot.
  • Jake, Semidachshund (sheltie mix probably, maybe beagle?). Took forever to learn anything new. But once he got it, very reliable.
  • Tika, Craussie (Aussie cross, maybe Husky?). Pretty darned fast, loves doing agility, easily distracted, fights the "rules" every step of the way. 
  • Boost, Border Collie. Extremely fast and driven. Loves to learn. Very focused. Wants to do agility. Light on the concepts of keeping bars up and doing weaves from beginning to end.

How many dog beds do you currently own and what did you pay for the most expensive one?
  • Double-thick bathmats once were primary dog beds. (3 or 4, bought on clearance for about $15 each in the early '90s. Tucked away now or used at trials when sleeping in the van.)
  • Official dog mats, thick pile fleece with blue border. (3, one in kitchen, one in crate in bedroom, one for trials. About $15 each at pet stores through the years.)
  • Raised PVC bed frames with rip-stop "hammock". (3, one in office, two in kitchen. Bought one at giant February AKC dog show at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds. Two bought at USDAA Nationals in Scottsdale. $55 each in 2001. )
  • Big thick dog bed cushion with zippered cover. (2, both in office, one on a PVC bed frame--which the dogs take turns using--one from Costco about $20, one won in agility trial raffle.)
  • Down-filled bed with stuff bag. (1, stored in closet, won in raffle.)
  • Giant fleece/fabric sturdy throw used as dog bed in my bedroom. (1, won in raffle.)
  • Smaller fleece rectangle with raised sides in my bedroom. (1, won in raffle.)
  • Spiffy actual nice plush dog bed, bought for Jake with a Christmas gift certificate to PetSmart (so it was either free or $79.99, depending on your viewpoint, which could make it the most expensive). (Jake died only a month later, but he loved it while he had it. Tucked in the corner of my office, Boost uses it all the time. Tika sometimes uses it.)
(Short post in which this photo originally appeared.)

What is the most you ever paid for a large bag of dog food? Probably $55. Same thing sells at a discount at nearby Pet Club for $35.

What is the most you have ever paid for a dog toy, and what was it?
No clue. Probably in the $20 range from time to time.

List the vehicles you have bought specifically for traveling to and from dog competitions.
MUTT MVR! Read my 2005 post about it in the Quintessential agility car.

What is the furthest you have ever traveled in order to attend a dog event?
Scottsdale, Arizona (USDAA Nationals 2004,05,06,07,08).
Second furthest: Either San Diego, CA (USDAA Nationals, 2000 and 2001), or Eureka, CA (2002, chasing the last gambler's let for Remington's NATCH).

How many dog-related pieces of clothing do you currently own?
As of March 2007.

How many dog toys do you own? Don't forget to include the ones in the car and in various closets and at your in-laws' house.
As of November 2008. (Remember that you can click on a photo to see a larger version of it to make out more details.)

(Read the original post that goes with the photo.)

How many dog-related books do you own?

Remember that you can always click on a photo here to see a larger version of it if you want to browse bowser titles yourself. (Read the post that goes with the photo.) Here's the list of the books as of 2006. (Read the short post that goes with the list.)

Have you ever been bitten by a dog? If so what were the circumstances?
Accidentally when Jake and Remington got into a fight between me, the couch, and the coffee table.

Has your dog ever peed/pooped/barfed someplace that they really shouldn't have? If so, tell us what happened!
Are you kidding? I own dogs! Duh!

Has your dog ever stolen a major item of human food? Tell us!
Not that I recall.

When competing in dog sports, did you ever admire someone else's dog from afar so much that you will always remember that dog? If so, please tell us all about it.
So many dogs! Several Border Collies stood out, including one who would eventually become Boost's mom. Several mixed-breed dogs! I love their distinctive looks and how well they do even against Border Collies.

Of all your friend's dogs, which dog would you like to take home and keep if you had the chance? You can list three, just to be fair...or just one if you're ruthless!
I've had such a wide variety of my own, I now know that there is no perfect dog. Any one will have its issues and its successes. I don't covet others's dogs.

What has been your most embarrassing moment thus far while competing in dog sports?
Probably a tie between:
  • Me and Jake running a beautiful first half of a Pairs Relay course, to have our partner cry, "Where's the baton?!" as I came racing in, empty handed. (That's an automatic disqualification.)
  • Running into the teeter totter. Read about it here.

What has been your most shining moment thus far while competing in dog sports?

Oh, so very many! Jake's MAD (the first I ever earned). Remington's NATCH (my first dog's championship, FINALLY). Winning Full House with zillions of points over and over in CPE trials with Tika and Boost. Boost doing the weave poles correctly! Winning a ribbon at USDAA Nationals with Tika in an individual event. Making Team finals at the USDAA Nationals with Tika. Finally getting Jake's 5th Gamblers Q for his ADCH. Finally qualifying for Grand Prix semifinals with Tika with a smooth and beautiful and aggressive run. Having a Perfect Weekend with Tika. Earning a trophy at CPE Nationals with Tika--one Q away from a perfect 3-day Nationals with 1sts or 2nds in everything (and I mean of everyone competing, not just her class). Remington getting excited about agility again and running like when he first started. Jake jumping into my arms at the end of a run. I dunno--I could go on and on. 220 trials over 14 years--lots going on in there!

What are your goals for the future with your dogs?

Not sure any more. Once upon a time it was to win More First Places and Make It To the Nationals Finals. But now, I dunno, I'm thinking "retire and do a lot of hiking."

If the Dog Fairy could grant you one wish (sky is the limit), what would it be?

I love my dog family the way it is now. Love the dogs, love how they get along together, love how they've come along in their training. Don't want to have to start over again. Keep them around and healthy and active for many many years.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yessirree I Have Agility Dogs

SUMMARY: Another fine weekend, all in all.

The drive back down to Carmel started the day nicely with entertainment from Mother Nature. The sunrise took various forms and colors and I captured only some of them.

It's interesting, driving through a sunny morning and yet being able to see that you're about to drive into a fog bank in the next low-lying area.

Then, suddenly, you're in the fog. And fog is seldom more entrancing than when it's wrapping around some of the distinctive Monterey trees.

Several of us volunteered to wear leis to be the "ambassadors" who could answer anyone's questions, whether Starters folks trying to understand Snooker or Members Of The Public with questions. I got one to match my tie-dye.

We started the day with Snooker with a deceptively devious course. I thought that I could easily get Tika through a six and two fives, but this course required precision handling every step of the way and not many of us were up to it; not a lot qualified, and considering that there were 4 reds, only maybe 3 or 4 out of 120 dogs got more than 50 points. We made it through 6 and 5--barely--and then Tika took a bonus red at the wrong time and we were out.

Boost I had figured on 3 sevens; acutally I liked the flow better than Tika's course, but it covered a lot more ground and I didn't believe that Tika had the speed for it, whereas Boost does. We in fact got through the three 7s in the opening very nicely, with just a couple of occurrences of "this jump?" dancing around, which cost us time. But then I managed to NOT handle the #2 in the closing the way I had walked it, got in Boost's way, and she knocked the bar, and we were done. We *might* have had enough time left to finish the closing after our opening bobbles, but it would've been close.

So no Snooker Qs again.

Tika qualified in Performance Grand Prix *again* and *again* took 2nd place, not the lovely 1st that would earn us a bye into round 2 at the regionals in september. Explain me this, that tika can continually win steeplechase against the same dogs that she can't beat in Grand Prix? Argh. I shouldn't be complaining about Qing OR about placing 2nd in GP, but still...

And Tika had a lovely Standard run, getting enough toes into the contact zones to convince the judge that they were legal, although I miscued something and she turned in completely the wrong direction, losing several seconds to get her back on track. Don't know whether the correct execution would have gotten us the win; she Qed and came in 2nd there, too (to the same dog who beat her in Grand Prix) by a big gap of 3 and a half seconds.

Boost's Grand Prix was SO close to being lovely, but an ominous thing happened--instead of doing the "refusal dance" at 2 jumps ("this one? this one? really?"), she did the dread Border Collie full-speed spin! Ack! Not a good sign; don't want her to start spinning--it's a terrible habit for the dog to get into. But it's a sign of not getting the right info fast enough. Still--it really was SO close to being lovely! And we got called for only 1 refusal, so it was SO close to being an actual Q!

Boost's Standard run was scheduled near the very end of the 120-or-so masters dogs, and that class was still getting going while *everything* else, including my score table job, finished and the courses cleared away and packed. I really didn't want to wait for an hour or more for Boost's run and have it be another mess or something that would reinforce those ugly spins.

But... well, I waited. And I'm so glad I did, because Boost ran PERFECTLY! Stayed at the start line, went over jumps in front of her, hit all her contacts, made her weave entry and stayed in to the end--oh, it was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, like a run with a fast dog like her SHOULD be!

I could tell in a couple of places that she slowed slightly, not showing a CONFIDENT drive forward, but still DID go forward, even responded correctly to TWO rear crosses AND a serpentine... I mean, really, it was beautiful, and I have no complaints whatsoever; it's quite a breakthrough for her, and I don't expect her to be as confident and driven through a difficult course (only 8 of 38 dogs in her group Qed) as some other dogs, so for her at this time it was a spot-on, flawless run.

I am still floating.

Furthermore, she was fast enough to place 3rd of those 38 dogs! She's never earned Top Ten points before, ever, and this weekend she did it in TWO classes (Gamblers yesterday and Standard today). Wooty woot!

Now, it's not like she was really super-fast--just fast enough. Her time was 39.96, only about 4 yards per second. The 1st place time was 38.73, which makes her look pretty good--until you realize that dogs like Sweep [Basic] had a time of 36-something (although with a contact called), and Boost's sister Gina had an absolutely drop-dead astounding time of 34-something (although slammed through two jump bars).

So we can just keep doing what we've been doing, I guess, and her confidence will build, and so will her speed, and then I can also start releasing her very quickly on her contacts (if I want to go for placements)--note that Gina has glorious full-out running contacts and Boost stops at the bottom of each one. That alone makes quite a difference.

On the way home, traffic came to almost a complete stop much sooner than it had yesterday evening. Grumble grumble.

Gave me a chance to roll down the window and admire strawberry fields forever.

After taking 20 minutes to go half a mile, I looked at the map and saw an alternate route that took me a few miles out of my way, but at least I drove at the speed limit the whole way. Back on the main highway 101, traffic was at only about half speed through Prunedale and beyond, but finally picked up to near speed limit.

Today, my 1 hr/15 minute morning drive turned into a 2-hour evening drive home. Gahhhh.

But here we are, I'm happy, dogs did quite well again.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

All the News That's Fit To Blog--Plus Clothing

SUMMARY: Boost jumps and dogwalk and weaves, Tika jumps, flying your dogs, Disneyland, Sylvia Trkman, facebook, insurance--whew! Anything else? Oh, yeah, it's all about the clothing!

  • In class last night, Boost hit bars like a new 21-year-old on amphetamines. Argh. I was jumping her at 24", not the 22" that we usually do in class (although often use 24 or 26 at home). Will be doing a private with our instructor this weekend to work on bars.
  • Also: Contacts! Last week in class Boost left her dogwalk contact early once and I punished her severely ("Oh! My! What happened!" (lean over and grab her as if to pick her up, and in a low voice:) "You have to stick those contacts! Don't be leaving early!") and all of a sudden she wouldn't blast to the end into 2on/2off but instead stopped halfway into the yellow. I immediately put her back on 2 or 3 times until she got the 2o/2o and rewarded lavishly. This week, first dogwalk, stopped halfway into the yellow. OMG have I broken her perfect dogwalk at age 4 and a half?! Dang sensitive dogs! We repeated the down-ramp part 2 or 3 times until she got it, then rewarded lavishly.
  • On the other hand, Boost's weaves were perfect all evening! Even the hard ones!
  • Jumped Tika at 24". Have been jumping her at 22" lately, too. She knocked several bars. I have to remember before a USDAA trial where she'll be jumping 26" in a couple of runs to get her back up to 26" probably at least a couple of weeks before the trial with plenty of bar-knocking drills at that height. It's always something!
  • Southwest airlines is now accepting small pets in the cabin on a trial basis.
  • I'm going to Disneyland! Nov 7-8. Staying with my sister & husby at their favorite place, the Candy Cane Inn, which has a convenient shuttle that I almost never use. Which means I won't be doing my club's (Bay Team's) November CPE. Instead I'll do either the Turlock USDAA right before it or the Turlock CPE a couple of weeks later. Nice to have choices! Disneyland, yayyyyy!
  • Sylvia Trkman is coming to the Bay Area to do 4 days of seminars! I can't afford all of them, but signed up for a one-day Masters Handling with Boost and two evenings of tricks as an auditor.
  • I'm going to try to get onto the FaceBook brand-new choose-your-username-URL land grab at 9:01 this evening to get my choice! I think I'll go for Ellen.Finch if I can get it; if not, maybe TajMuttHall. What do you think? (You have until 8:30 PDT today to tell me what you think. ;-)) The thing is, I'm mostly taking as friends only people that I really already know in one way or another--e.g., local agility folks, relatives, people I've communicated with in blogland--not the world at large. So my own name might be more appropriate. We'll see...
  • Still waiting for the final insurance paperwork to arrive for me to sign and send back to finish the settlement on my auto break-in. They said it went into the mail "late last week or early this week." I haven't gotten it yet. Hm. Starting to look into what camera & lens I can really afford on that settlement. And haven't even started looking for a replacement for my Perfect-For-Everything Coat.

A Few Adventures of The Perfect-For-Everything-Coat

Finding the right replacement coat is crucial because--after all--agility [and everything else] is all about the clothing!

Photo junket at Almaden Quicksilver Park Winter 2009Touristing at Cannery Row Dec 2008Hiking at Big Basin Redwoods Park summer seminar at Monterey Bay Aquarium Oct 2008
Flying home from Montreal Sept 2008 (reflected in seat-back TV)

Hiked up Black Mountain Spring 2008
Hunkering down at Grand Canyon May 2008

With Tika, hiking at Truckee March 2008
With Boost at Power Paws Camp 2007 (on back of chair)
With Jake and Top Turkey Team, Nov 2005
Tika's C-ATCH Nov 2005

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Throw the Book At That Dog

SUMMARY: Compare and contrast: Powell's City of Books vs Taj MuttHall's unincorporated village of books.

One thing I did while in Portland--which is required if you ever go to Portland, you have sign an affidavit before you leave town that you've done it--is go to Powell's City of Books. This is bookstore paradise (you could lose yourself blissfully for hours just browsing) and bookstore hell (why do I always suddenly own 42 more books than I did just a couple of hours ago?). It is amazing beyond amazing words. It is the largest new/used bookstore in the known civilized universe, Jupiter included. It has sucked up an entire city block--and more than one floor of it, too. Without remodeling, either, so you kind of go up and down and around and in and out through holes in what used to be the walls; no redecorating, either, except by the application of bookshelves to everything that vaguely resembles a vertical surface, and all of the space in between.

And everything is SO organized and SO neat--all the book spines are pulled neatly even with each other so that you can browse easily while adding to your stack of 42 books. And there's an extrahumanly helpful person at the helpful person booth in every room. PLus they have little tags dangling from all the shelves that tell you their personal opinions about books, or useful facts, or helpful lists of all the books in a series so that you don't go home with Episode 3 missing from the middle.

You can get an online tour to get you in the mood, and you can even take a real tour when you get there, and pick up a map at any Helpful Person Info desk so you don't get too lost. For those who want to remember their day in paradise/hell, you can even buy souvenirs.

Some of us walked over there our last afternoon in town so's we'd be able to sign our Powell's affidavit, and I thought I'd just kinda look around for old times sake, but it turns out that (a) if you don't want to carry your books on the plane, the cashier is all set up to cheerfully mail your books for you anywhere you want them mailed. In a jiffy or even a trice. Even 42 of them. And (b) we got to Powell's around 2:00, a 10-minute stroll from the hotel, and I had to be back by 5:15 to meet my sister-out-law for dinner, and I almost missed the whole thing. A little looking around, my astronomical unit.

Here is what they have in the way of dog books (and we're not even talking favorite fiction like Jim Kjelgaard or Albert Peyson Terhune): not merely one monolithic bookcase, 4 feet wide by 8 feet tall so that I can barely reach the books on the upper shelf. Not two. Not three, but six and a half of those sections.

I'm not sure how long I spent browsing the books. Maybe 5 minutes. Maybe 95. So many books. New and used side by side so you can save money without any extra effort. Sitting on the floor (which was invitingly clean) half the time.

One fun thing was to note that, on every shelf, there were at least 2 or 3 books that I already owned. So perhaps it's not surprising that, after all that woofer-book browsing, I did not buy a single book from that section.

Because I have my own little burgeoning mini-Powell's woofer-book section. Not only does it have several shelves of woofer books, but it has little ceramic plaques with clever dog-related sayings (e.g., "DOG") on them, and a couple of very nice cedar boxes containing the only earthly remains of former Taj MuttHallers Jake and Remington, plus my childhood favorite china statuettes of a German Shepherd and a Collie, plus various awards and mementos--although I don't have any big dog agility trophies like the Power Paws overflowing awards display or other similar talented agility friends, still, it's a collection of randomness that's starting to fill up a shelf all by itself.

So, remember that you can always click on a photo here to see a larger version of it if you want to browse bowser titles yourself. In preparation for your own trip to the world-famous Powell's City of Books.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Here and There in Portland

SUMMARY: From the river to the hills.

How can I possibly miss my dogs when they have cleverly attached large portions of themselves to my clean black pants?

Walked about six blocks down to the river, then along the river for a ways. Happened upon Mill Ends Park, billed as the world's smallest park.

I couldn't even get in, just sat around outside the park and admired the landscaping.

After returning to the Hilton for lunch and a rest, I walked about 2 miles (and 500 or more feet uphill?) in the opposite direction to the Rose Garden in Washington Park specifically to get nice views like this of Mount Hood. (BTW, yesterday's volcanoes were Mount Saint Helens all blown away on one side and Mount Adams).

I have many other photos, but this slow computer defeats me. Will try to get them up when I'm home again.

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From My Hotel Window

SUMMARY: So much to see, from just one rectangular glass-filled hole in the wall 20 stories up.

It's now 9:20 SUnday morning; it's 37.4 F out there (3.1 C). I'm bundled up and ready to go for a long brisk walk if these photos would ever finish uploading.

Shots from my window:
Saturday afternoon, a couple hundred loudly chanting marchers declare "Stop Funding Israel Apartheit."

Night falls:

The sun rises slowly:

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Long Portland Walk in the Poo Capital

SUMMARY: Hybrids everywhere. Of course that's what I meant.

Here's my friend and her dogs, Beppé the Maltipoo (Maltese/Poodle) and Rio the Standard Poo(dle).

They actually have a little off-leash grassy area, right near downtown! How non-Californian is that! Rio seemed pleased.

We walked for a lovely 3 miles--and then back again--along the Willamette.

We saw a lot of dogs on our walk. Didn't identify all of them--a Boxer, a probably Shepherd mix, maybe a MinPin. But there seemed to be an inordinate number of nonshedding type Poo dogs--besides Rio the PooDle and Beppe the Maltipoo, we met this GoldenDoodle:

And a Labradoodle (whom I did not photograph) and saw half a dozen other dogs of various sizes who might have been Poo(Dles) or FillInYourFavoriteBreedPoo mixes. I don't think I see this many Poodles or hybrids in our area. Portland seems to be a hotbed. At least along the riverfront on a crisp, cold, sunny winter day.

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In Portland

SUMMARY: Just arrived and going for a walk.

Just flew in here to Portland, Oregon, this morning. In about half an hour, I'm going to go walk the Riverwalk with a local friend and her dogs. A good way to keep my dog fix going. Realized this morning as we got our morning canine snuggle in that I would, as usual, miss the furry beasts and yet be glad to have some time away from my obligations with them. They'll be nutso when I get home again, though.

My old laptop is SOOO slow, and I've been shooting photos in RAW format lately, so I might not be posting many photos until I get home.

The trip was completely uneventful. No terrorists, no flocks of birds flying into the engines, no landings in the nearby river. It's cold, though! From 70s (F) in San Jose to 40ish here. But sunny, woohoo!

Not the best day for photos-from-planes, though; everything a bit hazy. Still, got some identifiable shots (heh--doesn't that sound like quite a positive review!). We could clearly see Moffet Field's controversial giant blimp hangar, that preservationists want to keep for historical purposes, and the Navy just wants to tear down because of the asbestos and such. For now, they're just going to tear down the cover and leave the frame. And alongside, the wetlands that were once salt flats that were, before that, wetlands.

In Portland--the volcanoes! So stunning, every time I see them.

There is a 4-day AKC trial going on locally at the Expo Center, and there are even folks I know competing, but I think I'll take a pass on going over. AKC, you know. Plus I'll be doing USDAA agility for the next 2 weekends down home.

Now it's off to play tourista!


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Did Tika Think This Was CPE?

SUMMARY: Tika had a good weekend. Boost is a work in progress. Still.

Wow--Tika Qed in 8 of 9 classes at the USDAA trial this weekend, only one bar in Jumpers on Saturday standing between us and a "perfect weekend". This is her highest USDAA Qing percentage for a weekend ever, in all 68 USDAAs in which she's fully competed. Can't explain it; a couple of excellent dog/handler teams commented that this was one of their worst USDAA weekends ever.

She did go 7 of 9 once in 2004, when she was still mostly in Starters. And she's gone 6 of 8 three times, in August 2004 (still in Advanced), August 2006, and April 2007.

Tika brought home ribbons as follows (Saturday against 15 other dogs, Sunday against 9 others):
  • Sat Standard: Q/3rd (only 3 Qed)
  • Sat Grand Prix: Q/4th (only 4 Qed)
  • Sat Pairs: Q/1st (of 20 Open pairs)
  • Sat Steeplechase: Q/5th (only 5 Qed--actually no one ever gives ribbons for Steeplechase, just checks. Am I supposed to go out and buy my own ribbon? Sheesh.)
  • Sat Gamblers: Q/2nd (of 2 dogs w/highest points)
  • Sat Jumpers: --
  • Sun Jumpers: Q/4th (only 4 Qed)
  • Sun Snooker: Q (6th of 6 dogs who got 51 pts)
  • Sun Standard: Q/2nd (only 2 Qed)
  • AND I put her name into the raffle and she won a free day's entry at a future trial! This was just her weekend.

Boost had 3 runs that were almost beautiful--Saturday's Standard, Saturday's Jumpers, and today's Standard--a generally successful Gamblers (Q/4th of 30 dogs) although still greatly flawed, and a whole lot of demonstrations of how much work we still need to do.

Oh, yeah, they did retape the tire that started Boost on her running-under-the-tire jag, but none-the-less she ran under it again in Gamblers, turning a 1st-place run into a 4th place. (Shown here at much lower than her jump height, in case you wondered how she could run under it...)

The trip home provided some interesting photo ops. When I talk about Boost crashing and burning on course, it's never as bad as this poor guy:

Out in the middle of miles of fields in the Central Valley, this guy was just cruising along parallel to the freeway.

This is what we look like while sitting at a complete standstill in traffic on the way home after a long weekend because of a big accident. Even Tika wants to know what's going on. (I've got my cell-phone ear phone on in case someone were to call me about my Mom. They didn't, but I had called them before leaving Turlock and she was home and doing OK.)

And here's my view from the stoplight on the exit ramp--almost home!

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Random Thoughts from Scottsdale Trip

SUMMARY: All kinds of experiences, thoughts, and rumors.

  • Videos: I got absolutely no videos of any of my dogs' runs. Forgot to take the camera out of the car, or forgot to take it ringside, or forgot to ask someone to videotape... I blame it on my head being stuffed to the gills with fluid which flowed constantly out of my nose and eyes. One friend videotaped at least a couple of our runs on her camera, so maybe I'll get something eventually.
  • More on the tire blow-out: The back side of my right front tire blew out. I don't know why. Dogg thinks we hit something, because something made a really loud odd flapping then ricocheting noise under the car, which I think might have been the first piece of the tire coming apart, but which could also possibly have been whatever caused it to come apart. We pulled over at the very convenient next exit to examine the tires, found nothing, and 2 miles down the freeway the tire really blew out. It was not at all difficult to handle the car and get over to the side. Normally I'd have changed it myself, but we were too close to traffic for me to be comfortable without a large truck between it and me. It took less than half an hour for the Tire Guy to show up, and not long at all to replace the tire. Just a small nuisance, really; we were very lucky there. Here are the very odd things about this experience:
  • Coincidence? Karma? For about the previous 15 minutes, we had been talking about flat tire experiences.
  • While we were waiting, I noticed that the tie-downs for the four-foot-long table on my car-top carrier had come loose, and if we had driven much longer, it would have probably flown off onto the highway behind us, causing maybe a major disaster.
  • We passed some friends on the freeway just before this, who kind of waved and we waved back but eventually we separated. They told us later that they were trying to tell us that our table was coming loose, but we didn't get that message. They apparently also had a blowout an hour or so later.
  • Where I spent an hour Wednesday morning:
  • Sudden losses: At the PNS finals, they had an official moment of silence in memory of Wishy the Writer's husband's dog Mesa, who had earned a bye into that final round. So hard to lose a dog; particularly hard when it's sudden and unexpected; even more so on your way to the national championships where you have a good chance of winning. Hug your dogs. Appreciate them.
  • Walking: For Thursday through Sunday, my pedometer measured 40.25 miles. And it was attached to me the whole time. So presumably it measured what I walked. That's a huge site!
  • Crating error: When I got to Westworld, I discovered that, instead of packing Tika's and Boost's crates, I had packed Boost's and Jake's. (I remember thinking how well they seemed to fit into the car--but I was packing things differently because there were two of us and I wasn't taking a lot of things that I usually take.) Thank goodness for agility friends who pack extra stuff; one of my dogs would've been very cramped otherwise.
  • Long legs: If you calculated the average height of the Steeplechase finalist humans, would it be wayyy above the average height of Americans? Above the average height of agility competitors at Scottsdale? Above the average agility competitor in general? Think Ashley Deacon, Stacy Peardot-Goudy, Terry Smorch, Sandy Rogers, Robert Yi, Channon Fosty, and so many others--
  • Crating with friends and walking and talking: We reserved 25 crating spaces in a row for Bay Teamers. I think that was only about two-thirds of the club members who actually attended; the others presumably crated out of their RVs. It was very nice to leave one's dogs and belongings surrounded by familiar people; as Dogg noted, even if everyone wasn't there all the time, usually there was someone there most of the time. Also, four of us shared the same channel on our walkie talkies so we could keep in touch about what we were doing, who needed what, and when we'd be meeting up again. It was fun.
  • My USDAA news posts: I wrote up course analyses for three of the courses for posting on the USDAA news site, which USDAA's Brenna Fender jam packed with stories, results, and course maps. Now that was a full-time job! My articles:
  • European Standard
  • Team Snooker
  • Team Gamblers
  • Tired? Sick? Recovering? Man, I was way wiped out yesterday! Mostly unloaded the car, tried to catch up with all my email and photos but failed to get through half of each before crawling into bed and sleeping for about 10 hours. I've been up for 2 hours now and am mostly through my email and newspapers and snail mail, still trying to load all the photos onto the computer, and I'm drooping and about ready to go back to bed to sleep as long as my body wants.
  • Future nationals: Oh, what fun are rumors if you don't spread them and cause some angst? Ken said at Wednesday night's dinner that they're evaluating other sites and would love to hold it elsewhere if they can find an appropriate location. Later in the weekend, I spoke to someone who said they had spoken to someone who said they had spoken to Ken who said that the event would be at Westworld for the next 3 years. This seems silly to me, since there's a huge contingent of competitors who are being left out, but on the other hand(s), (a) someone from Westworld (?) got the microphone during one of the final rounds and said something about looking forward to having this event there in the future (could be just wishful thinking?) and (b) the finals were filled with people from around the country, so the top competitiors seem to get there no matter what. But it sure would be nice for some of them to have shorter trips and not have to fly their dogs, and for me not to be tempted into spending more than a week of vacation every year on the Cynosports event.
  • The Smoothies, as before, were wonderful tasty fruity treats in the heat. You could get peach (mix), mango (mix), strawberry (mix), or banana (fresh), and they were all wonderful, especially if you mixed two flavors. Mmm! Even my dogs loved the tastes they got.
  • I took another 800ish photos. Still haven't finished Montreal's photos! I'm thinking that a lot of this weekend's will be junk, though, as I shot a lot of photos of people and dogs while they were moving around.
  • RV onsite: Having the trailer onsite was very handy for Dogg and her dog, who got plenty of air conditioned rest between runs. With two dogs in different rings, I didn't have time to go alllll the way out to the far lot between runs. But it was very nice to have it so close when getting up early for walkthroughs and at the end of the day if we wanted a change of clothes or anything else. Nice to have a refrigerator onsite. Funky small shower, and you're really living in close proximity to someone else so that getting up in the night to visit the Little Agility Handler's Room is a notable disturbance, but I'd be willing to do it again. Just really missed the onsite web connection. Home away from home:
  • Who's your daddy?

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