Monday, March 08, 2010


SUMMARY: Musings between agilities.

Tika's fur is SO thick that her feet and legs are like sponges, and particularly the thick hairy bits on her behind. I'm thinkin' that makes her Sponge-dog Hairpants. Am I right?

My not-too inspired-photo for week 9 of 52 Weeks for Dogs:

When we go for a walk, and we encounter grassy areas, I play tug of war with Boost and her leash and allow her to run run run a bit with the handle of the leash in her mouth. She runs 20 feet ahead and then comes back for more tug. (She has never ever ever run out into the street, but I'm very careful anyway.) She now gets very excited when we get to grassland! Because we all get to run and play! And so, singing to her as we go, with apologies to Paul Simon:

We're going to grassland
In southern San Jose
We're going to grassland.
Doggies and walkers with leashies
and we are going to grassland!
My walking companion is five years old
She is so bored with simply smells
But soon we'll tug and play
And pretend to run away
in grassland!

(Original lyrics here.)

We've had no class for two weeks; been rained out. Rented the field with a friend and her 3 border collies Saturday afternoon and went up and practiced for a couple of hours. Mostly ran Tika just to run Tika. Tried to set up things with Boost where she's ahead of me or I have to push her out or I have to serp her. Bars were knocked. Speed occurred. Progress might have been made. I think just DOING things like that over and over until we get them right is probably good.

At home, have done some desultory threadles and serps. Today took a different approach: Worked on sending them into gambles where they had to keep going straight ahead of me. Not too bad on just jump jump tunnel, but stick a teeter instead of the 2nd jump and things went all to pot. This was good. Good practice at keeping their focus straight ahead.

Then the skies burst into a sudden downpour, although the sun continued to shine brightly. I retreated to the back porch, but continued to send the dogs down to the lawn area to do obstacles for a thrown reward. Rain didn't bother either of them! And revealed again that Boost doesn't know her left from right except in certain very circumscribed situations. I think this was actually an excellent exercise, because now the dogs do not have my body language (good and/or bad) to guide them, just my commands! So they have to listen! AND pay attention!

Again, I think progress occurred and I think I'll try more of that. That continued until I looked up across my back fence--and had to abandon the dogs to race for my camera:

Meanwhile, I am STILL liking the idea of not doing agility. Of course, after our 4-day mega-event Apr 15-18, in rapid succession there are my own home clubs' USDAA trials April 24-25 and May 1-2. See, this is the problem with trying to spread my agility out over the year: The convenient ones and the highest ROI ones are all glopped exceedingly tightly in just a couple of spots during the year, and the rest of the year is empy (that's empty without the hard-to-pronounce t in the middle).

Sigh. I will be VERY tired after those two and a half weeks are over! And probably ready for no more agility for a very long time.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Hopes for Titles

SUMMARY: This weekend could help--
So, this weekend. Here's what could happen:

  • Tika could earn a Standard leg to complete her PD3 (Performance MAD). 
  • That would then leave Tika with only 2 Standards and 3 Jumpers to her APD (performance ADCH).  We have 2 tries at Standard and 2 tries at Jumpers this weekend, so in the best of all possible worlds, we'd come out of the weekend needing only one Standard for her APD. But--then--these *are* Standard and Jumpers. Not our strongest suits.
  • Boost could earn a Jumpers leg to complete her MAD. (Argh. I don't want to even count. We might be up to 40 tries without a single one.) We have 2 tries. I'm going outside RIGHT NOW to do more jumping drills.
  • Boost could earn a Standard leg, making 10,  for her Standard Championship (SACh). Two tries.
  • Boost could earn a Pairs leg, making 15, for her Relay  Bronze (RCh-Bronze).
  • Boost could earn a Snooker Super-Q. Two tries. Yeah. We're hard on the heels of  jumpers on Super-Q attempts without success. That would leave only 2 more SQs...and 5 Jumpers Qs [insert epithet].... to her ADCH.
All together, this weekend, we have 2 each of Standard, Gamblers, Snooker, and Jumpers; one each of Pairs, Steeplechase, and Grand Prix. That should keep us busy!

Weather should be lovely, cool but sunny-ish. See y'all at the score table as usual!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods to Agility We Go

SUMMARY: To Santa Rosa in near-freezing temps for a USDAA trial.

Tika's not competing this weekend because of her sore toe. The trial is an interesting mix of events: DAM Team and Strategic Pairs on Saturday, then rounding out the Tournament classes, Steeplechase and Grand Prix on Sunday, along with Snooker and Gamblers.

So, no Jumpers. No chance for Boost to finally get that first Masters Jumpers leg to cmoplete her MAD. Ah, well, just as well, gives me a chance to work on bar knocking and stuff again later. Because in gamblers, dropped bars don't matter so much (as long as it's not in the gamble), and in snooker they matter somewhat but it's still possible to Q with a dropped bar. Probably not Super-Q, which is what we need, but still. (And maybe Santa Rosa will break my dry streak of Super-Qs for Boost; worked for Tika a few years back and then she got several in a row. Who knows.)

Grand Prix, dropped bars do prevent you from Qing; Steeplechase a dropped bar might not prevent you from Qing if you're really fast (which Boost is) and don't make any other mistakes, so that's OK.

And in Team, dropped bars for the most part don't count against you very much (except if it causes a really low score in Snooker).

So it's a good weekend for a dog who knocked bars like crazy in class wednesday night and I don't have time to go out and work those exercises today.

Plus it's danged cold. At least overnight in Santa Rosa it's supposed to drop only to mid-40s (4.4 C) instead of mid-30s (-1.1 C) like last night. I am NOT sleeping in my van this time around, as convenient as it may be.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meanwhile Back at the Not-At-The-Nationals Ranch--

SUMMARY: Just sitting here-- well, OK, busy--

It is odd to not be at the Nationals when all the usual crowd is there. It is odd to not be there when Tika not only qualified in everything this year, but qualified in everything in BOTH Championship and Performance. Definitely one of her better years. It's just that random sore-can't-run thing that finally turned me off to making that very long, very tiring, very expensive trip.

Got email from a friend last night who's there, saying "We picked up Tika's ADCH-bronze plaque for you!" Whoaaaa! I had forgotten all about that. First time in a long time there's been anything there for me to pick up, and I wasn't there.

This year, of course (just last month), Tika completed her ADCH-Silver so the bronze was wayyyy back in my memory banks. And, of course as we expected, next year the nationals will not be on the west coast for me to pick up anything.

Caroline Winata posted on Facebook last night: "For those of you not at natl's; Ken just announced that the [USDAA Nationals] will be moving to either Louisville or Philly next year [2010]." There ya go, what can ya do? Anyway, takes the pressure off me to make the decision whether to go.

Thank goodness for facebook--semilive updates on what everyone I know is up to out there in Scottsdale.

Meanwhile--lots going on here, mostly not having to do with the dogs, and they are just insane; still haven't recovered from being mostly alone for 5 days. Doesn't help that we've had no class 3 of the last for weeks (Power Paws Camp, then class, then I was at Dland, now Nationals). Dogs are getting into the trash (never happens!), chewing things up (vacuum cleaner is busy!), barking at things (well, it happens, but this is over the top), hanging out under my desk leaning against my legs. BORED Tika. BOREDER Collie!

Trying to decide what agility to do and when to wrap up the year. I have three options--
* CPE trial in Turlock (2 hrs away) next (not this coming) weekend. I didn't send in my entry and missed the closing date. I have a feeling that they'd welcome more entries because all trials seem to be underattended these days. But I'm liking being at home and getting stuff done.
* CPE trial in Elk Grove (2 hrs away) Thanksgiving weekend, 3 days. I did 2 or 3 days of this for several years, winning the Turkey Trot with one or both of my dogs Friday night. Didn't go the year I had knee surgery, then the following year something else odd happened and I had to pull out, and now I'm out of the habit. But a friend thinks that her dog will C-ATE that Saturday (sort of like an ADCH-gold)--they're pretty reliable Qers in CPE so it's a good bet. Do I want to go all the way out there for one day? Maybe. (If it's still open--just a one-ring trial, I think.) Because--
* Next trial after that is USDAA mid-December. That's a long way for the poor insane agility dogs to wait for some actual agility stuff.


Meanwhile--back to photography.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ack! Is It That Time Already?

SUMMARY: Wasn't it just a couple of days ago that I had a whole month until our next competition?
USDAA trial this very weekend! And I haven't been working on our issues because we had SO MUCH TIME until our next competition.

How does this happen?

I guess I should do some bar-knocking drills this week. Especially for The Booster.

Then the following weekend is DISNEYLAND! woo.

Then the following weekend is USDAA Nationals and I AM NOT GOING THIS YEAR! First time they've been in range of California that I haven't gone. I think I've been 7 times. Made it to team finals once with Tika. Got like an 8th and a 10th place ribbon a couple of times with Tika in various random events. And one semifinalist polo shirt. (Hmm, OK, two, because got one with Jake back in 2001 I think. But it looked different then.) That's a lot of time & money & all that for just taking hundreds of photos that I never get around to sorting through. Ahem. Yes, we won't mention that.

Then the following 2 weekends are CPE; need to decide now whether I want to try entering either of them. I'm kinda liking this staying home thing. Although the dogs aren't, so much. Going dog stir crazy.

I wonder if someone else wants to run them for me so I can stay home? They haven't trained with anyone else, that's the problem. And Tika is a proven Mama's girl when we did try to get her to practice and run with Ashley. He was fine as long as he had treats, but otherwise--back to Human Mom.

OK, will just have to decide.

Then one last USDAA for the year in mid-December.

Then on to 2010! Who'd'a believed it?

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekend's Coming--

SUMMARY: USDAA trial in Turlock, will be hot.
I'm hoping that "will be hot" applies to our skills as agility competitors in addition to this 90-100-degree heat.

Have I been practicing ANYthing useful? No. Vowed I'd do bar-knocking drills with both dogs. But have I? No. Ran Tika at 24" and 26" in class this week and she looked great. No dang excuse for not getting that last Championship Jumpers Q when we have TWO chances!

And Boost is running very nicely, too, but the bars are starting to come down again. Must. Do. Drills. We just want that one Jumpers leg needed for our MAD! Sheesh! She's got twelve--count 'em, TWELVE Masters Standard legs! How come she can't get one *@&% Grand Prix? Or one Jumpers?

She's got four--yes, four--Masters Gamblers legs. How come not. a. single. Super-Q?!

OK, here's the status:
Tika in Performance 3:
  • Standard: 1 (!) Can't get Standard legs, either, apparently, but CAN get a zillion Steeplechase & Grand Prix legs! Go figure.
  • Gamblers: 4. One more for p3 gamb title.
  • Snooker: 3 superQs and 1 regular Q. One more Q any kind for p3 Snooker title.
  • Pairs: 5. So has that p3 title.
  • Jumpers: Can't get any Qs until we finish that dang 25th Ch Q!
  • Grand Prix (pf): 5 (2009 season)
  • Steeplechase(pf): 4 (2009 season)
  • Team (pf): 2 (2009 season) so she has her p3 Tournament Master title.
Boost in Championship:
  • Standard: 8. Needs 2 for her Standard Champion title.
  • Gamblers: 4. Needs 1 for her Master Gamblers. 
  • SNooker: 4 regular Qs. Only! Sheesh! This has got to be the easiest class in the world to get plain boring Qs in, and we cant' even do that. Need 3 SuperQs for her master snooker title.
  • Pairs: 12! OK, folks, see, time plus faults scoring AND only half a course. We can do this!
  • Jumpers: NONE NO EFFING JUMPERS QS. Ahem. Sorry for the yelling.
  • Grand Prix: 3 (none in 2009).
  • Steeplechase: 3 (one in 2009).
  • Team: 2 (one in 2009). So she needs 2 of any tournament for her Tournament Master title.
What's happening this weekend:
  • We're now in the New Year for 2010 Nationals Qualifying in the 3 Tournaments. This weekend, both merle girls have a chance at Grand Prix and Steeplechase. 
  • Two Jumpers
  • Two Standard
  • Pairs
  • Two Gamblers
  • Snooker
Supposed to be a smallish trial and supposed to finish early (3:00 or earlier) both days. I'll believe it when I see it.

Oh, and then there's the Lifetime Achievement Awards status, thanks for asking! The Silver lifetime award is 250 Qs. Tika is at 217. I'm thinkin' we'll make Silver easily within the next year.  But gold at 350? Hm. Not sure on that one. That's a lotta legs.

OK, gotta finish packing and doing those bar-knocking drills.

As if.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

This Weekend--Hopes and Fears

SUMMARY: USDAA Southwest Regional Championship/Qualifier

This weekend my club, The Bay Team, hosts one of the six(?) annual Regional events for USDAA, the oldest and the most interesting and challenging agility venue in the United States.

Until last year, if you took 1st place in Steeplechase or Grand Prix at a regional, you earned a bye into the finals at Nationals. No more; firsts this weekend aren't special. The advantage here is that all qualifiers in Grand Prix or Steeplechase Round 2 earn byes into the semifinals at Nationals.

Of course, first you have to make it to round 2. In Grand Prix, you just have to run clean; in Steeplechase, your time plus faults has to be within 25% of the top 3 dogs' average score. Those Qs count towards titles and send you to the quarterfinals at the nationals (AKA round 1 at the nationals).

However, to get the bye into nationals semis, you have to do well enough in round 2 this weekend in comparison to the other dogs who made it to round 2. In Grand Prix, you have to be in the top 50% (I think, jeez, why isn't that in the premium? That's what it used to be). And in Steeplechase, you have to finish within 15% of the average of the top 3 dogs.

Plus there are all the regular classes.

My fear is--based on last night's performance in class--that I'll be forgetting courses again; I must have forgotten half the courses we ran.

My hope is that the dogs will run as well as they did in class last night. Tika ran two courses at 26" without knocking any bars, for example. Boost is running like a champ.

And once again, I try not to focus on titles too much, but for the record:
* Tika Jumpers Q at 26" completes her silver ADCH (that's like a regular championship 5x over).
* Boost Jumpers Q completes her MAD (master agility dog).
* Tika Performance DAM and either GP or Steeplechase earns her performance tournament master title.
* Boost gamble earns her masters gambler title.
* Tika needs 2 Performance Standards and a performance Jumpers for her performance MAD--of course she can't get the jumpers until she's finished that last one at 26".
* Tika Pairs Relay Q earns her performance masters relay title.
* Boost needs the first-round steeplechase Q to be qualified to run Steeplechase at the nationals. If we go. Which we won't. Unless boost wins round 2 this weekend. (It is to laugh! I laugh, ha ha!)

OK, better go back and get ready for four (groan) days of agility. I won't be online at all (unless I decide to come home one of the 3 nights after all) until Monday evening at the earliest.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Last Weekend, This Week, This Weekend

SUMMARY: Surviving in agility

Last weekend's summary:

1 Q for Boost out of 9 runs (Pairs. Yeah, well, I got a million of 'em. Need some other kinds of Qs, please, thank you very much).

3 Qs for Tika out of 9 runs (Pairs; Gamblers, in which she placed 2nd of 15; Snooker, in which she placed 2nd of 14 for a Super-Q). Also got 3rd of 17 in the other Gamblers--high opening points but only 2 dogs got the gamble.

Human Mom forgot course or blatantly mishandled, resulting in non-Qs:
3 on Saturday of 10 runs:
* Boost's Standard, overran a rear cross for a refusal, our only fault!
* Tika's Steeplechase, got ahead in wrong place and pulled her offcourse--not our only fault, but our only offcourse fault
* Boost's Steeplechase, forgot where I was going & sent her off course. Boost was clean in what I asked her to do.

3 on Sunday of 8 runs:
* Tika's standard: Forgot to do key front cross, so course looked wrong, so pulled her off obstacle for a refusal. Our only fault.
* Boost's Grand Prix: Tried for a tough serpentine and wasn't even close, causing a chain of disasters on that & ensuing 2 jumps; the rest of the course was clean.
* Boost's Jumpers: Tried to front cross in wrong place, therefore sending boost past a jump that she then backjumped.

I have seldom been so frustrated with myself. I'm not always perfect, but this was one disaster after another.

And then there were the Tika issues--the Tika's Evil Twin issues--
* Tika's Pairs: Missed dogwalk up (ok, sometimes happens) and FLEW off dogwalk down. Luckily we still qualified.
* Tika's Saturday Standard: Knocked 2 bars, FLEW off the dogwalk, FLEW off the Aframe, putting her way ahead of me so she turned back to me instead of taking the next obstacle, earning a refusal.
* Tika's Steeplechase Rd. 1: Hit the broad jump, knocked a bar, flew off the Aframe.
* Tika's Grand Prix: I was on her correct side coming down the dogwalk, working hard to get her to hit the contact, which she did, but barely slowed down and zoomed into the wrong side of the next tunnel although I YELLED "Tika! TIKA! TIKA!!" because I know that "COME!" doesn't work for her. Now, apparently, "Tika!" doesn't, either.
* Tika's Jumpers--only class at 26"--the only Q she STILL needs for her ADCH-Silver--. Got her out early. Used a handful of food plus toy to do bar-knocking drills on a 26" jump. All kinds of angles & directions & crosses & everything. She was great. Then in the run, she knocked the 2nd jump. The rest of course was perfect.

I could hardly believe it; she has been running so beautifully at 22" with hardly a fault. How could my weekend come to this?

I am abashed to admit that I finally could hold it back no more and sat in MUTT MVR for about 10 minutes--twice--and sobbed. It's been a long time since I gave in to that impulse, but in fact it got to where I couldn't NOT cry, and I didn't want to be taking it out on my dogs or on other people. It was so hard to be cheerful with my dogs when I felt like such a failure as a handler and a trainer. And I KNOW that I just came off of two or three really great weekends, and Boost actually ran very well this weekend, and I REALIZE that my dogs are happy, healthy, love doing agility, love being with me, and are still relatively young.

I blame it on 4 hours of sleep Friday night, 5 Saturday night. Various reasons for sleeplessness, a good portion of which was the heat. And I'm sticking to that story. Like I was sticking to the sheets.

So this week I'm just not feeling motivated to practice. (OK, I wasn't feeling motivated last week, either.) I did rearrange things to practice some gambling yesterday based on Saturday's gamble that almost no one got (despite this being the 3rd time in about a year that we've seen almost this exact gamble). And of course dogs did everything perfectly almost every time, even as I made it harder. Bah.

I should be doing a billion rear crosses with Boost. I should be doing a zillion contacts with Tika--although she's always perfect here and in class and seldom in competition, it would be good to get a lot of reminders into her head.

I should at least be doing SOMETHING agility-like with the dogs all week.

BECAUSE this weekend is the Southwest Regional! Three and a half days of agility! In which Boost will not be competing for the gorgeous Grand Prix winners cups because we couldn't get a single bloody grand prix leg all year!

Starting Friday night with Pairs, then all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, down in Prunedale again. We're praying it won't be anywhere near as hot as it was last Saturday!

Here's what I've said about Nationals: If Boost wins local GPs and/or Steeplechases, or wins or places at the regionals, I might reconsider going to Nationals. She's been running so much better these last 3 weeks, it seemed like it might be a possibility. But between us, so far no luck. At least she's earned ONE measly mumble mumble Steeplechase Q so far, so can compete in THAT this weekend.

Tika is on a Performance DAM team with our old nationals partner Brenn. They could do well--they have before (won earlier this year; also finals at Nationals a few years back). They could crap out--they have before, and Brenn is coming off of several weeks of rest for an experimental bone marrow transplant (I think) to try to help her recurring arthritis pain. Our team name: "Here We Go Again."

Boost is in a DAM team with new partners Sheila--not super fast but pretty darned reliable black & white Border Collie--and Cayenne--pretty danged fast but (her Human Mom claims) not so reliable--a red and white Aussie. We'll be "Cayenne Boosts a Sheila."

Attendance is down--10% fewer dogs than last year, which had 10% fewer dogs than the year before. Economy? Agility fatigue? Less reason to attend since 1st place no longer earns a bye into the finals at nationals? Dunno.

In 2007: ?529 dogs, 340 humans, 4670 runs, 75 championship DAM teams, 41 PVP DAM teams.

In 2008: 487 dogs, 313 humans, 3939 runs, 64 teams, 26 pvps

This year: 430 dogs, 298 humans, 3598 runs, 59 Teams, 37 PVPs

Not that I'm complaining; should make the weekend not quite so long and exhausting, but still--we're losing a bit of that feeling of the Nationals Warm-Up Event for all the people & dogs who show up who might also be at Scottsdale.

I'll be on score table, as usual. I'll be sleeping over in MUTT MVR instead of driving the hour home every evening.

I'll be trying to recapture the I'm Doing This For Fun feeling. Because, really, why else do it? I have enough stress in my life without VOLUNTEERING for more stress.

See you all there.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

We're Ready

SUMMARY: Friday night thoughts for the weekend.

It was still 88F outside at 7:00 Friday evening. Strawberries & whipped cream for dinner.

Reports from early arrivals at the trial site, Quail Lodge in Carmel, report that the site is gorgeous and the temp was 65 and slighty foggy. Awesome.

Both dogs did some bar-knocking drills and some serpentine drills. Too hot to do much else, or for very long.

Tika seems fine in most respects today, except that certain things make her yelp. :-( Still, she's running full out, jumping cleanly, tugging of war in her most fervent manner. More rimadyl, more massaging.

My showerhead just broke. Aughhh! In a heat wave on a friday night before an agility weekend! Sheesh. I have a hand-held sprayer alternative, but I have just learned that one must be coordinated to avoid continually spraying oneself in the face. Sputttppfff!

Tomorrow: Gamblers, Standard, Jumpers (both dogs need Qs! Really!), Steeplechase round 1 and 2, and Pairs.

Sunday: Snooker, Grand Prix, and Standard. And home early? One can dream.

It's 8 p.m. as I write this, and I need to be in bed *now* for that 4 a.m. arising. It will be to *#&@ hot for me to get to sleep right now. I would be lying there, oozing sweat into my sheets. Eh, sleep is overrated.

Boost's ears occasionally start to stand up, giving her a puppyish charm. Never lasts long. Maybe the heat makes them rise.

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Training Progress

SUMMARY: As usual, some things get better and some get worse.

Yesterday morning, we went for a long walk, played frisbee in the park, and did our usual chase-the-toy games in the yard. More of the same in the late afternoon, with some running/jumping exercises.

Because we're doing USDAA this weekend, and because Tika needs Jumpers legs #24 and #25 at 26" (while everything else she's in is a Performance 22"), she ran last night in class mostly at 26". I warmed her up pretty good, got her pretty excited. We've been doing the same bar-knocking drills as for Boost, and she's been just about perfect. Last night in class, she knocked several bars and seemed slow to me (but maybe that's in comparison to Boost).

We got home, had dinner, relaxed a bit--and when I got out the prunes for their evening treats, she grabbed one, hunched over, and exited rapidly upstairs to the bedroom. Zounds! (a) Tika never leaves the vicinity of food except in dire straits. (b) the sign of not feeling well or being in pain is beelining for the bedroom.

So she got some rimadyl and a nice massage.

As for Boost, who desperately needs Jumpers leg #1 (!!! still !!!), she knocked bars but not so badly (I know, I know, a knocked bar is a knocked bar), BUT (a) instructor said, wow, she's really working to avoid knocking them, and they're mostly because you're talking to her when she's right on top of the obstacle, and she didn't knock any with her hock (which was the main perceived "lazy" problem); and (b) she was really running, not doing runouts and refusals while looking at me the whole time, continuing the trend from last weekend's trial.

Our biggest remaining runout issue is coming in to me on *#&@ serpentines! Back to work on those, too.

This weekend: Should be near 90s in San Jose. Should be near mid-70s at the coast in Carmel, which is where the trial is. Whew! It's a 75-minute drive (per mapquest; I've never been there before), and I'm going to hoof it home overnight rather than spending the night there. So: Up at 4 a.m. or thereabouts once again Saturday morning, an hour later Sunday.

Better pack! And get some real work in! And one final bar-knocking practice!

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Exercise and preparation

SUMMARY: How the dogs and I are preparing for our long agility weekend.

Updated July 6 2009: Added course map for yard layout.

Seems to me that Tika tires out faster than she used to. OK, sure, she's 8 and a half now, but it also occurs to me that, since I'm now combining 2 dogs into one class and mostly focusing on Boost, she hardly ever gets a lot of long agility sequences to do. In the yard, we tend to focus on maybe 3 or 4 or 5 obstacles for some particular thing we're focusing on.

I've been getting better again about getting out for a mile-or-more brisk walk with the dogs nearly every day, but that's not the same as running.

It was just wayyy too hot over the weekend to want to do anything--here's my indoor/outdoor temps midafternoon on Saturday; I missed the 105 and 106 showings Sat and Sun!-- but on Monday I set up a sort of course in my little crowded yard that allows us to do 16 or more obstacles over & over to get into shape. Discovered some interesting handling & performance issues with both dogs, so we got to do some actual practice on stuff as well as doing 16-obst courses several times each day.

Here's what one layout looks like, showing the challenges of laying out a big course in my yard. Notice how very tight the spacing is on the path between some of the obstacles. The "tr" circles are tree trunks.

I'll probably do once around today with each dog, plus bar-knocking drills, because we're coming up on a 3-day USDAA trial starting bright and early tomorrow morning. Fortunately the heat has dropped way back, and so last night I got my Wednesday hike in with the Sierra Club for my own physical conditioning (it's still not running, jogging, or wind sprints, but it gets my heart & lungs & legs working for sure).
Hike started at about 2300' above sea level (long drive up from the valley), dropped to below 2000', and peaked at 2572, so we got some good ups and downs.

As is typical on hot summer days, it's hazy looking out across the coastal range.

And as the sun sets, we had this intriguing view of the top of Mount Diablo, 100 miles away, floating disembodied above the (cough cough) haze that hides all the mountains between us and it, with just a bit of gleam of the san francisco bay upper center (you'll want to click to see the larger image on this one for sure).
Parts of the trail that were fire roads, and well-traveled by vehicles and bikes, were incredibly dusty, with that superfine dust with texture finer than talcum powder, so no matter how gently you set down your foot, a puff of dust rose. And we were hiking in a large group. Stayed well back from the people ahead!

OK, so this weekend: Team on Friday. Tika's first Performance team, and we're teaming with our ofttimes partner Brenn (from our one appearance in the finals at Scottsdale). How can these dogs be old enough to be in Performance? Gah. Brenn has arthritis in her feet, Tika in her neck. Me in my knees. Pfooey.

Saturday and Sunday is everything else plus Steeplechase and Grand Prix. You know that I'm getting my expectations set high for Tika in those in Performance--her first two times out, she won 1st round steeplechase (and 2nd round, too, the one time we stayed for it) and came in 2nd in grand prix. I'm going to try not to expect too much, but it's hard to avoid.

Mind you, there's a difference between expectations and goals. My goal is to win. But if I *expect* to do well and don't, I have trouble letting that go.

Tika still needs a Standard and 3 Jumpers at 26" for her ADCH-Silver. We've been practicing the last 2 weeks at 24" and 26", so hopefully she can keep her bars up, although mixed with the 22" classes all day friday and some the other days--dunno. We'll see.

Boost still needs one--just one, dangit!--Jumpers leg for her MAD... funny to see that she also just needs one pairs leg for her Relay Bronze! Of course, that's the only course where knocked bars and refusals don't wipe you out. I won't even go into looking for the ADCH--Snooker Super-Qs and Jumpers legs evade us at every turn.

But the weather should be nice, the friends should be nice, and we'll just see what happens.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Ooooh Noooo!

SUMMARY: Agility trial angst.

Wait--how is it possible that I'm already almost at this weekend's 3-day USDAA trial in Prunedale? Starting FRIDAY morning! Ack! Have we practiced ANYTHING that we need to practice? No! None! Nothing!

And I just realized that of COURSE we're not having class Thursday night this week because half the class will already be down there camping out and the rest of us will be going to bed very early.

Need to practice Tika jumping at 26"! Need to work on Boost's bar-knocking exercises! Ack! No time! Too hot! Boring! [wait--subtract that last one--one is supposed to MAKE the things that you have to do FUN so that you do them. ... OK, BORING!]

Ack ack ack!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Yes! I'm Going!

SUMMARY: I'm off to Turlock for a day and a bit of agility.

I had enough energy to clean and load the van and not be wiped out by it; nose has stopped running (although still congested), and I think I'm good to go. Plus dogs need to do SOMETHING after 3 days of nothing.

There are 2 classes tonight, 5 tomorrow, and then we're coming home. Sunday is Team and I just wasn't in the mood to sign up for that. That does mean that if either dog Qs in Steeplechase, we'll miss the money run. Ah, well. Tika won last time in Performance and came home with a check for a whole $32 or so.

See you-all readers Sunday or so.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bleahhhhhhh Part 2

SUMMARY: Cold? Flu? Aardvarks? And who is that other person in my bed?

By late yesterday afternoon, I felt a bit like I was floating somewhere behind my body and looking out through my eyes from several feet back. Whole body felt odd, numb but not actually numb, just in an achey, removed way. If one of the dogs shifted position, I'd jump in complete surprise, forgetting there were actually dogs in the house. Trying to work on an interesting project for work and I kept thinking it was something else (not entirely sure what).

Dogs were going nuts all day because I had no energy all day to even throw the toy for them. Neither are good about bringing it back--that's all a long story and i keep meaning to videotape it for everyone's entertainment so you can all think "Ha! At least my dog brings the toy for me to throw!"--and when I finally gave in midday to the incessant pissing and moaning, I ended up yelling at both of them for not doing what I wanted and sort of realized that wasn't normal behavior on my part so gave up even trying.

Dogs really got pissy and annoying as the early evening wore on and my patience was pretty much nonexistent; eventually realized that I hadn't given them dinner. Poor dogs with Human Mom's mind not functioning on all pistons.

Finally occurred to me to take my temperature, and sure enough, running a low-grade fever (not over 100, but my normal is in the 97.6 range). I haven't had a fever in so long I hardly remember what it's like. Don't remember feeling halfway hallucinatory ever, though. My mom says that my dad used to start having hallucinations if his temperature went up by just a degree or two. So I crawled up to bed way early and lay there, sort of wide awake but couldn't concentrate even on reading, and I love reading. Although I was able to do a couple of "difficult" sudokus eventually, in record time, go figure.

I'll tell ya, though, I was very careful every time of the many times I half woke up all night to cough or blow my nose not to disturb my sister who was sleeping on the other side of my bed. I kept hoping I wasn't keeping her awake; it must be miserable sleeping with a sickie, not to mention possibly contagious. When I had to get up to visit the loo, I realized with a shock that I hadn't closed the door even though there was someone else in the room, even though it was dark and she was probably still asleep, and then I couldn't remember whether it was Ann or Linda sleeping there, and then finally I realized that I was still feverish and it was only the dogs on the other side of the bed.

Very very odd experience.

Thermometer said no fever this morning but I still feel almost the same, though not quite so disconnected. Nose still running around like a nutcase. Dogs are very unhappy with me. Apparently I can type and string sentences together at the moment (by late yesterday afternoon that wasn't happening very well).

But I'm thinkin' no agility class tonight.

And I'm wondering about tomorrow--the Turlock USDAA trial starts Friday at 5 p.m. (or 6?) and I'm scheduled for score table and I'd have to load everything into the car in the morning, leave by 1 probably to avoid goshawful traffic-- Not feeling confident about ability to do that at the moment. Certainly couldn't do it today.

I can't remember that I've ever missed an agility trial due to my own illness since I started in 1996--210 trials or so-- And I hate to lose the entry fees or cert's.

OK, feeding the dogs (yay! I'm remembering), crawling back to bleaaaahhhh bed.

P.S. I must point out that not only have I not ever to my recollection slept in the same bed with any of my sisters, I also haven't slept in the same room since 1966 and not even in the same building since 1977 or so, with only occasional shared hotel rooms with significant others (and separate beds). In case you were wondering.

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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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Friday, March 20, 2009

Off To Do Agility

SUMMARY: CPE this weekend in Santa Rosa

It's a 2-hour drive and there are supposed to be thundershowers. Unusual for California. This venue is under cover, so there are only 2 rings.

Boost is still on hiatus; I signed Tika up to jump 20" instead of 24", which means she'll be competing against about 8 dogs directly instead of 0 or 1. We'll have to be on our best form.

And what have we practiced? Nuthin'. Did a few contacts to remind her how to do them well--but she always does them fast with a good 2on/2off here at home. Did a few jumps. Did some odd sorts of sends and remote handling for gambling.

That's pretty much it. Haven't taken her to a Chiro after she was sore 2 weeks ago. Haven't done anything worth mentioning. (So I'm mentioning it.)

Only 4 classes each day. Hopefully we'll be done early both days.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

Boost's Bars

SUMMARY: The bar-knocking expert does it again. We look forward to the weekend--

Two weeks ago in class, I reported that our instructor (Jim B) said "Wow" when Boost careered around a jumpers course knocking half a dozen bars or more. This week we repeated the exercise with our other instructor (Nancy G); when I got to the end of the course--which, incidentally, Boost did without any runouts or refusals--knowing that we had left a trail of at least 6 bars down (one loses count eventually), I glanced over at Nancy and she had sort of a stunned look on her face.

So the new plan--at least in training--is to take her off the course when she knocks or ticks a bar. I'm not sure that I'm ready to do that in competition this weekend, since we've just started that. For my dog, this actually means picking her up and murmuring in her ear that that's too bad, because merely walking her off the course doesn't seem to sink in as a negative reinforcer (bounce bounce bounce "mom this is exciting!").

It's USDAA this weekend. Not a modicum of rain in the forecast, and supposed to be highs around 65 F (18 C) but lows around freezing, and I'm planning on sleeping in my van to stay on site. Taking lots of down.

Recap: Boost needs one Jumpers for her MAD (one opportunity), one Standard for her StCh (two opp's), two Gamblers for her GCh (two opp's), three superQs pleeze pleeze pleeze (two opp's).

Tika needs two gamblers for her GCh-silver (2 opp's) and either the grand prix or the steeplechase to finish her Tournament Master Platinum, as high an award as one can get in the Tournament classes.

And everyone needs to keep her bars up!

See you Monday--

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can We Go Platinum?

SUMMARY: USDAA trial this weekend.

This is it, wrapping up the 2008 agility year this weekend at a USDAA trial in Santa Rosa, under a covered arena. That won't necessarily make it warm, as it's open on two sides and they're predicting snow down to 3000 feet this weekend (we'll be at about 3.4 feet, so it'll just be cold and rainy probably).

Here's what Tika needs for her Tournament Champion Platinum, which is the highest tournament title one can achieve, and which consists of 50 qualifying scores among Grand Prix, Steeplechase, and Dog Agility Masters (DAM) Team, with at least 10 in each:
* 1 DAM
* 1 of anything else

What's offered this weekend:
* 2 of anything else (e.g., Grand Prix AND Steeplechase)

Tika is teamed (as Black and Blue) with two young fast Border Collies with top-of-the-line handlers. This means that we could excel beyond our wildest dreams or every one of us could crash and burn spectacularly. That's the gamble of Team. You have to rely on three whole dog/handler partnerships holding it together for 5 whole classes.

In Grand Prix, as of the 2008 season, you have to run clean. Tika always makes time by a mile (can you measure temporal values using distance analogies?) but only 9 of her 29 Qs were faultless. On the up side, 6 of those have been in the last year. So it could happen.

In Steeplechase, Tika is always under time if we don't flub any handling things (e.g., going past a jump or the weave entry and having to go back for it), but just barely under time. In Steeplechase, in theory, you can qualify with faults because it's time plus faults scoring. But because she's usually barely under time, we usually don't Q with faults.

All of which means: She's got to hit her contacts! And she's got to keep her bars up!

So this week I've been practicing (a little) fast, accurate 2on/2off contacts, and (a little more) bar-knocking drills. We can do it! We can!

Also this weekend: Jumpers, Pairs, and Gamblers. Boost could really use that Jumpers leg to finish her MAD. We've been practicing bar-knocking drills with her, too. We successfully knocked the same jump 10x in a row trying to to a tight front cross on it, and I thought I was making it simpler after 2 or 3 failures to try to get a success. I guess I know a weakness.

Also this weekend: Strategic pairs. This is just-for-fun chaos. Could be interesting. Maybe I'll post an old SP course later this week.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Competition This Weekend

SUMMARY: USDAA trial, and it's going to be warm.

I'll be in Turlock this weekend for a USDAA competition. And it's going to be pretty warm; can you believe these temperatures for mid-November?

Tomorrow is supposed to break a 70-year-old temperature record for this date in San Jose by at least a couple of degrees. What ever happened to "the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow" for Thanksgiving? --Oh, yeah, I'm in California.

I've practiced pretty much nothing with the dogs all week, just running them in wild circles mostly through the 3 tunnels in my yard. If we were still doing NADAC, we'd be all set for the Tunnelers class, except that Boost still doesn't get the idea of a rear cross going into a tunnel. I'm practically tripping over her before she goes in to give the idea that I'm crossing to the other side, and she doesn't seem to get it. I'll think of something to try.

I dragged out a set of 6 weave poles yesterday and set them up against the back of the lot so the only way into them is at a 90 degree angle and we played with that a bit. Both dogs need work, but neither were terrible at it.

I've been worried about my mom's health; I think that some medications weren't appropriate for her. Doctors have changed that, among other things, and hopefully she'll be on an upward curve within a few days. I've been so lucky with my parents that they've been reasonably healthy and active, especially for people approaching 80. Mom's birthday is in 2 weeks. It would be nice if she were back to her normal self for the family Thanksgiving gathering.

And I've been looking at retirement-plus-continued-care places with my Dad. At one of them, saw someone walking a dog, and it suddenly became important to me to find out whether they allowed pets of any kind. My parents don't have pets these days. But I do! What if I wanted to retire at a young and perky age and take my dogs with me? The lady giving our tour doesn't do pets, so she wasn't sure whether there were limitations, but said she knew people there who had multiple cats or small dogs. Small dogs! Hah! These would be 12" agility dogs, or maybe 8". Not like REAL dogs. Present company excepted, I'm sure.

Trial Size

This is sort of a trial-size trial. Only about 60 dogs in all of Masters, about 10 in Advanced, about 8 in Starters. Wow. That's like trials when I first started agility, where Remington would be the only dog in his height in Starters.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Sore Points: 270s and Tika's Neck

SUMMARY: This week's training and Tika's sore, again.

This week in the yard I've been concentrating on 270-degree turns with various angles of approach and departure. Both dogs need more practice at it. Just not something I've concentrated on in a long time.

Wednesday evening, Tika came up sore. Yelping when doing her usual excited-about-food leaping, so didn't even want to leap for that. No practice yesterday during the day and I tried massaging her arms and neck and back. She loves that! So relaxed, eyes half shut. She'd make a good princess.

But she ran around the yard after the toy and random evil squirrels full-speed just fine and played tug-of-war, so it's getting out of the horizontal movement that's hurting. However, last night in class, wouldn't play tug of war at all. Went over a 16" practice jump just fine, and 22", but when I tried to just run her on a course at 22" (4" lower than usual), she went over the first jump and then hunched up and stopped. Crap.

So last night it was a rimadyl and today we'll just try more massage and stretching and a little bit of distance work with tunnels and maybe very low jumps, to keep her warmed up. I don't need this right before a competition weekend! Crap again.

Also for Boost have been practicing just running full-speed down a straight line of jumps. Which, in my yard, is 3 jumps about 15 feet apart, which is nothing--I can keep up with her easily, so I have to deliberately hang back and not run that fast. Which is very different from what we encounter in competition.

And that showed very well last night in class, when there were 4 jumps going all the way across the field and I was about four thousand feet behind her by the second jump and then she's veering right and left and starting to want to spin while she's ahead of me.

So in a few minutes once again we're going up to Power Paws to use their field for an hour to practice long series of jumps in a row, working with various things to have her focus on going rather than waiting.

She did have some very nice runs last night, although rear crosses are also still a bugaboo. Got more advice on working on that from World Team Coach, so there's more for today.

This weekend's pretty light for a weekend of USDAA agility. But, still, if Tika's healthy, she could earn her Silver Pairs Relay title (that's 25 Qs); Boost could earn her Standard Masters title (that's 5 Qs), and if we could get that dang jumpers leg, her MAD (requires 3 Standard legs and one of everything else).

So here I go...

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Bars! Argh! No time! Argh!

SUMMARY: The work never ends.

I haven't done much agility practice with the dogs since Thursday night's class. Who'd'a thunk they'd both have forgotten how to jump since then? Bars going down like crazy in the yard this morning! Auuuuuuuggghhhhhh!

I'm now signed up for being out of town for the next four weekends. Auuuughhhh! That means no time to do anything except work and be gone. Chores and errands will fall even farther behind--
* USDAA trial this weekend, Dixon.
* USDAA trial next weekend, Madera.
* Photography conference and workshop in Monterey the following weekend (no dogs)--whoo!
* Next day, leave for Scottsdale and the USDAA Nationals for a week.

We're almost there already! Argh! And my dogs are knocking bars! Argh argh argh!

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Friday, September 12, 2008

What The Weekend Could Bring

SUMMARY: Titles and successes looming.

We're off to Turlock this weekend for our last USDAA trial for a month. (Oh, there are others going on, but I'm not going.)

Boost's flow around a course was SO lovely last night in class! I've suspected for a while that if I would just make the time and $ to go up to Power Paws and rent the field for an hour a couple of times a week (and also work on some specific smaller focus things), that we could get through this refusal/runout crud. And so far it seems to be having positive effects. One more field rental session in about an hour this morning, then tomorrow a.m. we're off to the VAST trial.

What COULD happen this weekend in terms of specific milestones:
  • Boost's Pairs Relay Master title (one chance).
  • Boost's MAD (needs that one Jumpers leg--one chance).
  • Boost qualify in Steeplechase and then be able to compete in that at Nationals (one chance).
  • Boost's Standard Master title (needs two--two chances).
  • Tika earn three Qs of any kind and finish her Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA) Bronze. (10 chances.)

Of course, there are other things that could happen, too--Boost could continue to do weave poles well. Boost could actually have some smooth runs even if we have small bobbles or knocked bars. Tika could get all her contacts (I've worked on that a little but not a lot lately). Tika could keep her bars up (I've done a few bar-knocking drills this week; often just a little makes a difference). I could have a great time with great friends. W00t!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Is It Nationals or Is It Not?

SUMMARY: Maybe the Regionals will decide for me. Or maybe I'll decide whatever I want to decide.

Why I might go, part 1

My working theory is this: If either of my dogs earn a bye into even the Grand Prix semifinals at the Regionals this weekend, then I'll go just to finally get the danged polo shirt, which I haven't gotten one of since 2001. Or if Boost qualifies in DAM, so she has something to do all week at Scottsdale. Or even Steeplechase, then at least she could do Grand Prix and Steeplechase and then go hang out in the shade while Tika and I try to place 12th in Team Gamblers again. If we decide that we're going to bother with our Aframe contacts again. But I digress.

Why I might go, part 2

On the other hand, I have a friend who wants me to go and travel with her. I'd love to do it. Maybe that'll be my real deciding factor. If I had unlimited time and money, I do enjoy being there and watching all the finals in person and taking pictures and all that, and I know I'd have someone with whom I already know I'd have fun to spend many many hours in the car and hotel and meals and so on with. Because in the year when my foot was broken, she drove me and my dogs to many trials and in fact ran my dogs for me sometimes (because oddly it's hard to run dogs with a broken foot). Remington thought she was wonderful.

Regionals where

So. Regionals this weekend. It's not 20 minutes from my house this year; instead, 50 minutes (at 5 a.m. but maybe 90 minutes sunday afternoon when the flea market at the Big Red Barn is letting out and traffic backs up on 101 most of the way to Baja California).

But the weather tends to be cooler because it's at the coast. Which is good, because today it is very hot here in south San Jose.

Regionals Friday

I signed up for pairs relay, which is the only class Friday evening. Now I wish I hadn't, because that means a lonnnng drive Friday afternoon when everyone else is leaving town for the holiday weekend, then work score table so even if I'm done running my dogs I have to stay, then an hour drive home, crash into bed and get right back up the next morning and go back down. Somehow it seems better to make that drive if I actually stay there for 10 hours and then have my evening to myself when I get home. To fall asleep with my face in my soup, like that.

Tika's DAM Team

Tika's longtime DAM teammate, Brenn, came up limping last weekend and scratched from last Sunday. We have our shirts with Savanna for Borderin' on K-Aus, and this might be the last time we can run together, because Brenn is now in performance in everything except this DAM. We're waiting to hear today what the vet says. Brenn seems fine, not limping even by Tuesday, but of course no one wants her to run if it's a bad idea. It's probably just an arthritis flare-up, which she's been dealing with since she was 3, and it might go into remission for months again. But it does throw Tika's whole likelihood of running in or Qing in team into question. She doesn't need it for this year's nationals. But just 2 more team Qs is 10, enough for eventual Platinum (assuming that we can ever get there with anything else!) and I can stop doing them if I want to.

Title chase

So here's what's on the plate for this weekend:
  • Boost could qualify in Steeplechase for Nationals
  • Boost could qualify in DAM for Nationals
  • Boost could earn her MAD (just one Jumpers! Just that's all! Just because she's missed 14 out of 14 jumpers so far--but somehow we did get a Standard leg last weekend, so who knows!)
  • Boost earn 1 of two legs left for her Relay Master.
  • Tika earn her Bronze Lifetime Achievement Award--9 Qs of ANY kind, and we have 9 opportunities this weekend! That would be a 100% Q rate! That is what we'd need after last weekend to bring our average back up to 50%!
  • You know when I'm starting to talk with my tongue in my cheek! Because of all the !s !

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Coming Right Up: Agility Weekends! Plus Puppies!

SUMMARY: Four USDAA trials in the next 5 weeks.

Starting this weekend, then next weekend, then a break, then two more weekends. Whew! Busy!

I might go to only three of the four, which include Boost's last 3 chances to earn her last Steeplechase Qualifier for Nationals, and her one last chance to earn her DAM Qualifier.

I am starting to waffle about Nationals. I do have fun when I go. It's just--well--all this. OK, I'm thinking about it again with a little prodding from friends. Arrrghhhh, tough choices! Why can't everything in life be easy?

Boost is still knocking bars, still refusing jumps that I think are obvious. Instructor has lots of good suggestions on things to work on, and I do some of them, but sometimes I just can't get it right even when I think I am! Takes someone else to watch me and tell me again where I'm going astray.

So--what we could accomplish in these next few weeks:
  • Boost qualify in Steeplechase for Nationals
  • Boost qualify in DAM for Nationals
  • Boost earn her MAD (just one Standard--out of at least 4 chances! And one Jumpers--out of at least 3 chances! Just that's all!) (Just because she's missed 13 out of 13 jumpers so far, and 12 out of the last 12 did we ever get 2 standards out of her first 4 in masters?! Seems like someone else's life in some other universe.)
  • Boost earn her Relay Master (two Qs out of 3 chances)
  • Tika earn her Bronze Lifetime Achievement Award--10 Qs of ANY kind out of at least 27 chances

But, all that aside, here's a bonus puppy picture: Boost's mom with her new litter of full siblings. (Not my photo.) More agility blue merles, coming right up!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Practice Makes--What?

SUMMARY: Lack of classes, lack of practice, but Tika's fine.

As of this week, we've had no class for 3 of the last 4 weeks. Yikes. And that's after I cut down to one class a week, so I'm sort of sharing Boost's class time with Tika, so it's not superly sufficient anyway.

And just not motivated to work on jumping drills in the yard. Bor. Ing. Would be more interesting if I had enough space for the dogs to open up and actually practice something, but now I can set up two jumps 20' apart--and then we're out of room. Makes it hard to trick them into thinking we're doing something else.

So we have a CPE trial in Petaluma this weekend, and who knows what's going to happen.

Tika's anal gland, meanwhile, looks just fabulous, to my inexpert eye. She's had oral antibiotics for 10 days, plus twice-daily cleanouts of the gland with antibacterial ointment and hot compresses and massages. She wasn't thrilled with the process, but we came to a working agreement. Went much better than any kind of work at the vet's would have gone, I think.

Gave her painkillers for about the first 3 days, rimadyl as an antiinflammatory for about the next 5 or 6, and she is just absolutely frisky and happy the last few days. So she should run fine this weekend (says here), if she can keep her bars up. It helps that, in CPE, she jumps 24" instead of 26"

And I entered Boost at 20" instead of 24" this time (she's actually eligible for 16", but since she has to do 22" in USDAA, I prefer to stay in that range), which might or might not help with her bar knocking.

And we'll just concentrate on making sure we do weaves correctly, and contacts correctly, and I hope have just a grand old time.

If only this smoke would go away. It's been weeks, now. California's just burning up. I guess I'd rather deal with mere smoke than with a fire creeping up on my house. Oddly, my allergies and asthma seem to be far more subdued than usual, although my throat's a wee bit scratchier. Anyway, it's mostly just ugly stuff.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Really Really Bored Dogs and Agility Schedule

SUMMARY: Pesterful dogs and agility coming right up.

The Bay Team is hosting a 3-day USDAA trial locally in Sunnyvale this weekend with regular classes and all the tournaments, and I didn't sign Tika up for team because I kick myself so hard when I mess up, plus she's Qed twice in team already this year. And who needs to spend the extra $50.

But I've been working away from home a lot the last few weeks, and we've had no trials, and of course only Boost's agility classes (in which Tika gets just a couple of runs) and I'm just not getting out and walking them every day and she's going stir crazy and driving me nuts--following me everywhere, leaning on me, hugging up close to me, staring at me, and she looks SO MISERABLY CRUSHED when I stop playing in the yard and go inside--so now I regret not entering her after all. That means that Boost has 5 runs on Friday and Tika has none.

Oh, well, maybe someone will have to pull their dog at the last minute and we can sneak in. Otherwise I'll just have to make a point of spending time playing with her when I'm not running Boost and remember not to just dash back to the score table--which, as usual, I've signed up as Chief Czar for. And which can suck up all my time shwooooooooofff just like that. And try very hard not to kick myself repeatedly if I make a mistake, which can ruin my weekend in Team.

It feels as if it has been ages since I've done any agility. And, in terms of my "traditional" agility life, it has been! Five weeks since our last trail! Then it'll be two weeks to our next one, then another 4 weeks after that. THEN it gets nuts: 6 USDAA 2-day trials in 9 weeks (oh, one of those is really a 3 1/2 day Regional at Labor Day), which should make the dogs happy, but I'm not sure I really want to--or can afford to--do that much.

Then it's probably nothing until January (since I'm skipping Nationals), unless I go to Elk Grove on Thanksgiving weekend for my usual fun CPE trial. Maybe just a day this time instead of 2 days. And Bay Team is hosting yet ANOTHER damn Team tournament in December, which I skipped last year and I just can't see getting excited about at that time of year, out of town.

The dogs will REALLY go nuts with months of no agility!

And what do I really want to achieve this weekend? Team Q for Boost! (Why, if I'm not going to Nationals?? Well, eventually it'll be useful for her ADCH. I hope.) Steeplechase Q for Boost! Ditto for Tika! Because I want to win it all and bring home big checks! (Oh-oh, there goes the idea of doing agility BECAUSE IT'S FUN! fffffoooooop, right out the door like that!)

And of course SOME day it would be nice for Boost to get a Standard Q and a Jumpers Q and actually earn her MAD.

But I am also feeling, like Days of Speed and others have posted in recent months, feeling still amazingly Been There Done That at the moment. It'll be fun while I'm there. Mostly probably. And it's always nice seeing my friends

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Little Bit of Everything

SUMMARY: Busy busy busy.

OK, 1500 photos is too many. I knew that. Really I did. But it's taking forever and my brain is frying from choosing which of the many mediocre photos of Havasu Falls "The Most Photographed Waterfall in the World" are worth saving or even posting. And like that.

I am very tired. I am either still very tired or again very tired. On the trip I never had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep except one night in the canyon when my knee throbbing and jabbing in pain woke me up and kept me awake for a while both from the pain and the worry about being 8 miles from my van with a 20-lb. pack and a disgruntled knee. But eventually I went back to sleep and so did my knee. Which otherwise mostly behaved. But I was so tired that the morning we were supposed to leave the lodge at 4:30 a.m. I apparently slept through 4 alarms of two alarm clocks and my Hiking Friend had to wake me up. Today, I am tired like that, without a good excuse.

Last night I did the Wednesday evening hike with the Sierra Club group and this time instead of snapping photos, I was determined to keep up with everyone and just keep moving moving moving. I did OK. I stopped only when the leaders stopped at trail junctions or the like. But those folks can really haul! Even concentrating on just moving moving moving, a good portion of that crew would gradually pull way far ahead of me. I sweated a lot, although it was a bit chilly and I don't usually sweat much, I'm that kind of dry person.

We hiked Monte Bello Open Space Preserve to Black Mountain again--a few hundred feet elevation change over 4-5 miles. The air was pretty clear for the South Bay Area.

Nice views from the top of the mountain, where we all had time to share snacks that we brought. I took a bag of dried apricots and they seemed pretty popular. There were 18 of us on this hike, or maybe 17 if you don't count the interesting guy who never really hung out with the group but instead jogged back and forth and up and down around us the whole time, never really coming closer than about 50 feet. I was challenged just walking briskly.

Then we hiked out just as fast and made it out around sunset.

So maybe I am tired from that. Last night I was so tired that I dreamed about being so tired that I went to sleep on saturday and didn't wake up until Wednesday. Then I woke up and it was Thursday. Except I went to sleep on Wednesday. But it was 8:30 in the morning, which is late for me.

And maybe it was from the really brisk sweaty hike or maybe it was from dealing with a brand new laser printer setup and a brand new disk drive setup and a start-up disk that's too full to be functional and stuff like that. I'm not quite dead in the water but almost. I hate that.

So I woke up, tired, after dreaming about being tired, and I'm tired.

The dogs are bored with me doing photos and upgrading my computer equipment. I'm trying to get them ready for this weekend, which is a 2.5-day USDAA trial, by running them around the yard like crazy dogs, like into a tunnel on one side of the yard, over a jump in themiddle of the yard, into the tunnel on the far side of the yard, over the jump, etc. I figure that if my dogs can run really really fast through tunnels then I don't have to practice fast contacts (or actually reliable contacts), or not knocking bars, or distance handling for gamblers, or challenging weave pole entries or exits, or running past obstacles for snooker. Yes, really really fast tunnels will fix everything.

But I am too tired to think about any of that other stuff. I will hate myself this weekend when I drive out to the central valley and sleep in my van and end up not getting any Qs because I didn't practice anything that I needed to practice and why on earth did I enter DAM Team with both dogs again?

But at least this year the temperature should be only in the 70s or maybe 80s in Turlock; a couple of years ago at this trial it was 100 or so.

And then Saturday morning I pulled both dogs from Gamblers because it's first thing in the morning and my First Nephew is graduating starting at 8 a.m. from Stanislaus State, which is only about 8 minutes from the agility site, so I'm going to try to see him graduate and get back in time for Pairs Relay.

Then that evening maybe I'll try to join his family for celebrating. Why am I tired already thinking about it? At least I mostly unpacked everything from the Havasu/Grand Canyon trip, but I still have to pack for this weekend.

And my blackberries are ripening like crazy now; I could spend half an hour a day picking the ripe ones which is physically tiring, but they taste soooooo good for breakfast.

And really I'd like to have my annual blackberry ice cream (or sorbet) party in my back yard, which would have to be the weekend after this, and no time to finish planting all those flowers I bought, let alone actually planning and inviting anyone.

I am really tired, did I mention that? Naptime.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

One Dog, Two Dog, No Dog, Three Dog

SUMMARY: Title chase this weekend, plus: What's the right number of dogs?

If all works well, this post will post itself while I am off having the time of my life making perfect weave entrances at the SMART USDAA trial in Prunedale. And working the score table. And maybe participating in:
  • Boost getting a Jumpers and a Standard leg to finish her MAD.
  • Tika getting a Steeplechase Q to finish her Tournament Master Gold.
  • Boost getting a Steeplechase Q, too, which will put them both halfway to qualifying for Nationals in the Big S.
  • Tika getting a Grand Prix Q, too, which will put her halfway to qualifying for Nationals in the Big GP.
  • Tika getting a Snooker Q to complete her Snooker Silver.

No, I don't really have anything I want to accomplish this weekend; why do you ask?

So, in case none of my dogs achieve anything this weekend and I need to replace them with something more qualifiable, let's talk about What's The Right Number of Dogs?

An agility friend is seriously in the midst of probably most likely adopting a third dog, first time she's done that (two was a leap, I believe), so wanted my opinion, me being an absolute wealth of useless, ambiguous opinions, and I agreeably rambled on about it. Here's my updated response, with photos.

One dog, December 1978 through August 1981

Amber joined me as a puppy. We were happy together. I took her many places with me. It's easy to travel with one dog. It's easy to play with one dog. One dog fits well into small spaces. It's easy to do training with one dog. And when all the Mystic Mints disappear from the box or there is poop on the carpet you know whom to talk to about it. And Amber was generally a Good Dog who generally came when called and stuff like that. Plus she'd hold a biscuit on her nose.

Two dogs, August 1981-July 1992

So I got married and figured that two people needed two dogs. Well, the new dog was very sweet but did NOT come when called and did NOT play and did NOT have any interest in doing training and could not hold a biscuit on her nose even if stapled it there (editor's note: Stapling is just a metaphor, no actual staples were used). At least Sheba and Amber got along--once in a while they'd chase each other around the yard, and they'd take turns eating from the same bowl even though we conveniently provided them with two independent bowls with actual food in both.

Sheba was not much fun to travel with and she always had to be on leash, always, or she would end up in Sheboygan. So we didn't go places with the dogs much. But at home one or the other was usually doing something entertaining, or being cute, so when one was slacking off and just hanging out, the other would gamely amuse us somehow. But if the carpet was torn to shreds, we couldn't ever be certain who was responsible, although we had a 99% probability guess on that one, SHEEEba!

One dog July 1992-May 1994

When Amber died, it just about broke my heart. This is one disadvantage of having dogs. They die. They break your heart. If you have one dog, they don't do it as often as if you have two or more dogs. The number of dogs dying seems to be proportional to the number of dogs in the family. I realized now that dogs die and furthermore, Amber died, and I would never be able to have another dog like her again and so why bother. Plus there was always dog hair everywhere and dust and dirt from the dogs everywhere and I was just tired of it, and Sheba was 11 anyway so if we just waited for her to die, which would undoubtedly be soon, then I could have a clean house again and no carpet ripped up and no spots on the lawn all the time and no worrying about dogsitters when we went places without the dogs, which was often.

Two dogs, May 1994-January 2002

When Sheba had rambled on to 13 and showed no signs of slowing down for or even being within a hundred miles of the exit from the highway of life (more metaphors, are you impressed?), it suddenly struck me that my own life would be very, very, very empty indeed if there were no dog in it, plus since Sheba did NOT play and did NOT hold a biscuit on her nose, she often bored me to tears, and wanted a dog who would be more doglike in those particular ways rather than just shedding everywhere and occasionally escaping and trying to thumb a ride to Sheboygan. And within a month, Remington came home.

Sheba was not happy about it. It was no longer easy to snuggle with both dogs, because one would be pissy about it. They did not share food bowls. Remington was generally a Good Dog but if we left him at home and took Sheba for a slow elderly walk, he shrieked, and if we left Sheba at home and took Rem for a brisk youngster walk, she'd be gone when we got back.

But, oddly enough, Sheba took one look at the young whippersnapper doing tricks for treats, and she wanted to, too! So the dog I had failed to teach even to sit when she was 3 learned, at 14, to sit and lie down on command, to shake, and to hold a biscuit on her nose! I loved it! And for the first time I really appreciated how dogs can affect each other in ways that are good for me. So maybe having more than one dog was a Good Thing.

Then I discovered dog agility. Rem went many places with me and learned many things. But Sheba was too old for that sort of stuff and her health was starting to fail. Meanwhile, "All my FRIENDS have two agility dogs, can I please please please, really, I'll take care of them!" The spouse wasn't smitten with the idea of three dogs (two dogs, two people, remember?), but meanwhile Jake became available and I really really wanted him to come home with me.

When Sheba died at 17, Jake was in our yard within a week. And we started doing agility.

So I discovered--duh--it's blatantly twice as expensive to have two dogs when you're competing in agility. It's not just twice the food and twice the basic vet bills and so on--it's twice the weekly lessons (money and time), twice the training in the yard (time), twice the entry fees (money), twice the work at a trial (pottying, warming up, cooling down, planning different handling strategies or courses because they run differently and have different strengths and weaknesses).

On the other hand, if one was injured, the other was still running. If one was having zero-qualifying weekends, the other was doing SOMETHING right so I wouldn't sink into a self-pitying pit of rancid despair (not quite worked into a blatant metaphor but close enough). So there were definitely advantages.

And, for two Basically Good Dogs, walking two dogs wasn't too hard, snuggling two dogs wasn't too hard, training two dogs wasn't too hard because one would wait when told.

But these two dogs despised each other. Fights were too common. It was extremely unpleasant. Plus they were boy dogs, so instead of making dead patches on my lawn, they peed all over the sides of things. And, once one did it, the other had to, too.

Three dogs, January 2002-March 2003

Both dogs were getting older. Jake had arthritis in his back. I figured that neither of them had more than a couple of good agility years left. I wanted to bring a third dog on board so that I wouldn't be left without an agility dog. After a divorce (really only very little to do with the dogs), and the purchase of a new Agility House, Tika came home with me.

Jake was grumpy about it, but Tika knew how to keep out of his way. It was a lot of fun having a new dog to teach from scratch to avoid making all the training mistakes I had made with the first two. I really enjoyed getting started with her, although, boy, training classes for THREE dogs was quite a wallet-unloader.

I used to go for nice peaceful mile-long walks every day with Jake and Remington, but Tika was a tremendous handful. I did it anyway because the other two dogs were manageable, but it became a bit stressful trying to walk her, too.

Tika entered her first trial with one run the same weekend that Remington first showed obvious-enough signs that something was wrong with him, so I never did have complete entry fees for three full dogs at a single trial, but my two "elderly dogs" up to that point (Rem 9, Jake 11) were still competing just fine so it could have gotten quite pricey--and REALLY busy--at trials.

But now I could take one dog for a walk at a time and not feel guilty because there'd be two dogs at home together. This didn't stop them from complaining about it, but I always felt much better that they were together. This way, I could work on Tika's leash-training by herself, could walk an ill Remington by himself, could walk Good Dog Jake for just a nice relaxing peaceful walk by ourselves. There were advantages to three dogs.

Plus, the things that Jake and Remington both did well at (not running out the front door, for example), Tika seemed to notice and learn from. (She was not so good at it later after Rem died, so actually having TWO other experienced dogs in the house was a very good thing for a rambunctious youngster.)

But three dogs on the bed was a real mess, especially with the two boys being picky about their personal space. I tried to train Tika to sleep in a crate off the bed, but my training failed--on me. So I had to manipulate myself all the time to sleep around 3 dogs on a king sized bed who didn't want to be within 3 feet of each other.

Two dogs, March 2003-2004ish

So, after Remington died, I discovered again how much I liked having two dogs. One on either end of the bed. One on either side of me for snuggling. One per hand when out walking. Two at a competition was plenty.

Three dogs, 2004ish-2005ish

And then I got a renter housemate who had a dog, too.

This actually worked out well, because I could play with and even dabble in agility with the third dog, but then turn him over to his mom for vet bills and feeding and walking and grooming and all that stuff.

Jake, whom I thought would have retired from agility years ago, kept going and going, but I knew that at his age (13ish), it couldn't last forever, and then I'd be down to only one agility dog again, and that's a terrible thing (what if one is injured? Then I'd have NO agility dogs!). I had thought that I might make little black Casey my 3rd, but then they moved out.

Two dogs briefly in 2005

When Casey left, Tika was already 4, and I figured it was time to bring in a 3rd dog again. It was a hard choice from a living perspective, though, because I REALLY liked having just 2 dogs everywhere except for competing at agility trials. But, still, Boost joined us shortly thereafter.

Three dogs April 2005-Feb 2007

Once again, I delighted in teaching my young new dog all kinds of wonderful new things. A puppy is a challenge, but also a joy in seeing her catch onto ideas.

But three dogs are harder. Harder to line up for photos. Harder to snuggle with--you just cannot do 3 simultaneously. More gear to carry and more space taken up at agility trials. One dog you can tuck in almost anywhere. Even with two dogs, you can get by without your own canopy if you're clever. But with three dogs, you gotta have the whole shebang (not to be confused with Sheboygan).

Harder to sleep with and manage in hotel rooms and vehicles. Two crates fit neatly across the back of the minivan, but not 3.

Two dogs Feb 2007-present

Abruptly, I found myself again with only two dogs. Sure, I missed Jake, but I don't miss having the three dogs. Except when I want to walk one dog at a time, or take one dog somewhere, I don't feel comfortable leaving the other dog home alone, so I am doomed to always have two dogs with me wherever I go. Don't like that part.

General discussion about how many dogs

First, I think that if you have found a dog that seems right to you and you have the time and energy for another dog, you should take him/her home. I've looked at so many dogs and thought "welllll allllmost but not quite," that I value it when I have a take-home response to a dog.

Second, I find two dogs much easier than three. I can walk 2 dogs at a time, pet 2 dogs at a time. Three dogs--depends on the dogs--gets to be a challenge, because now you're using one hand to manage two dogs. Some people just never do that--I've talked to folks who always just walk one dog at a time, whether "out for a walk" or just pottying at a trial. Tika is a tremendous chore to walk with. I managed it with Jake and Remington because they were pretty good on leash, but I find that her bad habits on leash tend to drift over to Boost and the thought of adding a 3rd dog to this mess deters me. So some of that really does depend on the dogs.

However, I also have the question lingering all the time about what happens when my current dogs get older, from an agility perspective. One answer would be to drop out of agility for a while. Sometimes I feel like I'm ready to do that. Sometimes I don't. Assuming that I'm still in an agility frame of mind, in 3 years, Boost will be 6 and Tika will be 10 and I'd want to start thinking about a puppy or young dog that year. I'm guessing that Tika won't be competing when she's 11 or 12. But I've been fooled before (witness Jake at 15). If I *don't* get a 3rd dog, and if these guys live good long healthy lives, let's say Tika dies at 15, boost will be 11 and might not be competing, either. That could be a long dry spell w/out competition.

On the other hand, having only one dog competing would be considerably less expensive. :-)

Somehow I've managed to keep 2 dogs competing most of the time. Tika had just attended her first couple of trials when Remington got sick and died, so I had 3 dogs entered in maybe 2 or 3 trials. Boost had just attended her first couple of trials when Jake suddenly went. At trials where I've had only one dog to run, it has been both relaxing and boring. And one or the other of them usually does *something* well, whereas back when I was one-dog with Remington and he didn't do well (which was often), it really bummed me.

Jake and Remington fought. I hated it. I don't miss that part, but that was the same whether I had just them or added Tika. But I wonder how I'd have felt if, say, I'd already had Rem and Tika and then added Jake. Dunno.

Adding Boost to the Tika/Jake combination was both good and bad. Jake was a grouch but there was something about the way Tika handled his snarfs that made them cautious partners. Tika's the only dog that Jake would play fetch around, and she'd run in and scoop up his toy or ricochet off him half the time and he usually let her get away with it (after a 2 or 3 month adjustment period, at least). And he'd imitate what she did and follow her around, and she'd pay attention to things he did to earn rewards. They were never friends, though. Tika loved Boost. They play with each other regularly. Jake hated Boost and she really felt the brunt of it, being a puppy. I tried to keep them apart but sometimes I just slipped up and he'd be all over her. And I don't know how much of it was because she was a puppy, because she was new, because she didn't know how to deal with him like Tika did, because he was jealous in his own weird way at her taking time from Tika, or because he could.

I am one of those sort of ambiguous dog people. I love having my dogs around. I am so tired of the dirt and the hair and the overhead. I would really miss not having a dog around. I might actually enjoy living without dogs (but it's been so long since I've really done so that I'm not sure about that). The thought of losing them both for some reason sometimes terrifies me. It happens to people, losing two dogs in a short period of time. Three dogs seems less likely that you'd ever suddenly find yourself dogless, sort of an insurance policy of unconditional love or something.

And I don't think that 3 dogs makes it any more complicated in feeding--I just use dry kibble--or keeping the house and yard cleaned. If I'm going to sweep the floor, it doesn't matter how many dogs have shed on it. If I'm wandering around the yard picking up poop twice a day, it doesn't matter how many individual poops there are.

But expenses definitely go up with a 3rd dog. Half again as much food. Half again as many medical bills. If for some reason you need to board them or otherwise cared for (I seldom do, but sometimes), the expenses are per dog. Same if you have them groomed (I seldom do because of the cost, but would if I could afford it). If you have all of them in classes of some kind, it's per dog.

Overall, I prefer being a 2-dog person. And the odds are good that someday I'll find myself with 3 dogs again. But here's the other thing: Several people have told me that 4 dogs are easier than 3, because you can do everything 2 dogs at a time without one dog feeling left out and making a fuss or being resentful. Huh. Dunno. But just in case you find TWO dogs you really like--well--you can give it a try and let me know.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Haute TRACS Is Almost Here

SUMMARY: Scribe sheets are done. Running orders are posted. Leaving early Thursday morning.

The scribe-sheet "party" went well Sunday evening. Three of us worked for about 3 hours, with a short break for dinner, and stuck all those stickers. Although--wait--but no! The relays were not done! So secretary has to do those herself! She said, it's a pointless exercise to do them any earlier than mere hours before leaving for the show site, because people drop out and weird stuff happens and everything has to be rearranged. I think she's had to deal with dozens of team changes before and after closing. I'm so glad she's good at this and likes doing it.

Meanwhile, have I been working on Tika's up contact drills? No! Her running Aframe contact drills? No! Bar-knocking drills for both dogs? No! Distance work for both dogs and especially Boost for that desperately needed gamble for her MAD? No way! Rear crosses for Boost to avoid refusals? Nuh-uh! Tika's "come" directly through a field of obstacles for Snooker? Nopey dopey! Proofing Boost's weaves which have gone south? Non non non!

Have I been trying to plant flowers and resod my lawn instead? Oui oui oui! Do I have photos and no time in which to post them? You betcha! Maybe tonight! Maybe tomorrow! Maybe never! It's good to have a plan! And here is a tasty preview photo morsel of my ugly ugly lawnage and the first bit of soddage laid in to fill the bare spottages.

Meanwhile, I still have to empty & vacuum the van (will be sleeping in it this weekend, so ew ew ew don't want to sleep among transported sod debris) and pack everything up for 3 or maybe 4 days. If neither dog makes Round 2 in Steeplechase, I'll be coming home Saturday evening (right after the Bay Team meeting). If either of them makes it--jeez, it would be so tempting to stay through an ENTIRE day just for one round 2 run--I qualify in Steeplechase so seldom! We shall see--have I ever qualified in Steeplechase with any dog at Haute TRACS? No no no! Damned bars!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

I've Got the Weave Pole Blue(Merle)s/Mountains

SUMMARY: Boost's weaves are broken again!

Doesn't anything ever stay fixed? After last weekend, I expected (for some inane reason) that they'd be good in class again. We warmed up while she was really fresh and excited, doing several angles of approach. She bounced off pole #3 a couple of times making the turn, but held on and finished them.

In class, however, she bounced off that pole a couple more times and then stopped bothering to make the turn between 2 and 3 and just went from 1/2 to 3/4. Or the alternative was to go in at 2/3 and weave correctly from there. Creative problem-solving, I guess, although why she was comfortable doing exactly the same weave pattern but one pole further in remains a dog-brainulous mystery to me. I had her down to starting about 5 feet straight into the poles and she still was skipping.

After class, we practiced some really slow easy entries and she must have missed another 3 in a row. Just where I was vowing that, one more, I'd take all except the 1st 3 poles out, she started getting them.

But today in the yard, wham, she's bouncing off pole #3 and then starting to skip again. I wonder what she has changed in her approach or her stride that all of a sudden she's not correctly making that adjustment to comfortable slide through the weaves?

Back to basics. Thank goodness we've got almost 2 weeks before the Giant Haute TRACS 4-day 4-ring all-tournaments all-classes mondo trial. Maybe I can fix them. And fix the not-going-on problem. And...

Meanwhile, I AM VERY excited; we're going up to the mountains (Truckee area) with agility friends to their cabin this weekend. A fun weekend with dogs off leash and no agility! Maybe even snow! None of my dogs, despite my vows to the contrary, have ever been in snow. I'm taking my camera--hope to get lots of photos.

Until next week: Happy dogginess!

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