Sunday, June 25, 2006

Senility Now

Getting old is fun, I get to blame all my idiot moments on my age induced memory disability. And the knock on the head from the car crash isn't helping matters either. Tonight I left a fancy organic ice cream bar sitting out for a bit cuz I like 'em melty. After a while I had to use the facilities and food in the bathroom grosses me out so I placed it somewhere up high so it wouldn't be hijacked by one of the fuzzy beasts (yes Lola, I'm talking about you). By the time I came out, I'd forgotten where I'd stashed it. I checked all possible options, which aren't many because my house is pretty small but no dice. I check them all again, then again once more and after much frustration decide to swallow my pride and enlist my husband in the search because I can't just leave it to melt. I call to him from the other room, 'I need your help in a matter of some importance'. And he emerges all buggle eyed from watching the world cup in his mole hole-holding an ice cream bar. 'Is that yours?' I ask, because it's quite a coincidence...'No', he tells me, 'it's yours, I'm just playing with you. Now what did you want?'. Let's just say he's lucky he's not on a cattle boat back to Scotland. I'm still flummoxed as to how he managed to tear himself away from the green screen long enough to play that little joke on me.

Lots going on this weekend. Friday night we met up for a fun dinner with Ariel & Dave who were in town for Ride the Rockies. Much unfortunate weirdness for them with Ride the Rockies but hopefully there were some bright spots too.

Big deal for me on the bike as I rode the entire employee bike race course for the first time in over a year. I wasn't planning on riding the whole thing but when I reached Lee Hill where I'd planned to walk I couldn't manage to bring myself to do it. Not that I found any shame in walking, I was in a rhythm with the bike and the hill and didn't want to stop. It was a bit foolish but I seem to be fine so far. I was the slowest I've ever been-1:25 or so compared to 1:15 previous slowest practice ride and 56-57 mins. for my best race time. The race isn't going to be pretty but at least I know I can finish the course.

On Saturday I ended up going to the agility fun match at the same place where Regionals will be. However, it didn't go as well as I'd hoped. The dogs were flaky and stressy and I'm not sure why. I was very relaxed and I was able to bring treats in the ring to reward them. There was a tricky weave pole entry and Cody kept missing it and I kept having him redo it until he got it right because that's the whole point of a fun match. Lola refused to even get on the table, let alone lie down. Even after I rewarded her on the first run when she finally did it, she was still reluctant on the 2nd run. There were some good things though, nice dogwalk contacts, though Lo was way slow. She blew the A-frame and I had her redo it. All it took was once and she was perfect, even came down a bit faster than expected.

Part of the problem on her second run was the woman running the fun match. I had only one dog running between my 2 so I had to run back to the crates, switch out the dogs, run back to the startline, and somehow catch my breath. I was still at the crates when the other dog finished and she yelled at me to hurry up. Sheesh lady, this is a freakin' fun match and I've paid way more money than any normal match would cost. Secondly, there's hardly anybody there so what's the hurry? Thirdly, if anyone ever tried to rush this woman to the startline like that she'd blow a gasket. I've had judges at busy trials who were more understanding, telling me to wait until I catch my breath, etc. So Lo didn't get any warm up to speak of and was probably stressed a bit due to me being out of breath and stressed. Her whole run was flaky and we never even made it to the A-frame to see if she'd stick it a second time, one of the main things we need to work on! They had the nerve to whistle me off the course at 75 seconds even though I was nearly done with the course (most fun matches allow 90 seconds and cost half what they were charging). If I was thinking straight I'd have ignored the whistle and just kept going, what could they have done anyway? But it's that darn senility thing, wasn't thinking straight.

Anyway, it wasn't the vibe I wanted the dogs to have just a week before Regionals. However, today was another day and we went down to Penrose (2 1/4 hours drive, just outside Canon City) for the NADAC trial. This one was inside and it was deliciously cool in the morning. Why oh why couldn't Regionals have been this weekend? Cloudy & cool(er) yesterday and today for much of the day. I just know next weekend will be a Betty Crocker bake fest. O.k., let's not worry about that now.

The dogs didn't twitch so much as a whisker when the alarm went off at 4 am and normally they're up right away hoping for some breakfast as soon as one of us gets up. When it was time to leave at 4:30 Cody just stood in the hallway with a blank look on his face-'You want me to go where now? Uh, no thanks, I'll hang out with Jonny this a.m. if it's all the same to you'. Of course he eventually obliged me after I went behind him and shooed him down the hallway. Not a peep from them in the car the whole way down but by the time we got to the trial they were full of themselves and ready for action. The threat of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere 10 miles from the trial site had gotten my adrenaline going (made it with at least 1 1/2 gallons to spare, stupid gas gage/low fuel light).

I decided that one of my mistakes at the fun match was not using toys more to rile them up and as a reward. Lola lives for tennis balls, why didn't I take one in the ring when I had the chance? I've done it before at lots of matches. Senility now. So before their first run I pulled out a fleecy/squeeky tug toy and teased Cody with it until he was tugging & growling. Then we proceeded with our regular warm up of tricks, warm up jump, and attention exercises with treats for rewards. This routine worked great, I had his attention on me the whole time and no stressiness at the start line. He had a beautiful clean run but had a wide turn and missed qualifying by .26 seconds. Those stupid Elite jumpers times are really tight for the big dogs. No matter, I was thrilled. I did the same w/ Lola and though her run was a comedy routine due to some miscommunication at the start, she was focused & happy which is all I was really hoping for. Afterwards I took them outside for a grand game of chase the tennis ball until tongues were hanging out and big doggy grins ensued.

And so it went for all our runs. I didn't have a single stressed, unfocused moment all day with the exception of Lola's creeping down the dogwalk but we still have lots to work on there. Cody had beautiful standard runs but popped out of the darn weave poles both times. I think he hit the entry wrong and couldn't get his rhythm so had to pop out. He redid them perfectly each time and had otherwise fast, clean runs with beautiful contacts. Lola's 1st standard run was wonderful (though a bit pokey for her) but she blew that stupid dogwalk contact, 2nd to last obstacle too. The gamble line was at the dogwalk so I was too far away from her which causes her to leap. I should have said screw the Q and crossed the line to support her but I was sure she'd do it properly and I was also curious to see if the distance training we've been doing has been effective. That would be a no.

Her final standard run was perfect though slow on the A-frame and dogwalk again but she hit those contacts. She ended up with a Q and first place. Perfect way to end the trial and head into Regionals.

The 'Chances' or gamblers runs were nq's for both dogs as it was a tough gamble but they were fast and happy and today that's all that mattered.

Next week we have a private lesson with Elicia Calhoun and whatever else I decided to throw at them. I think we're going to work only on little things-weave entries in the backyard for Cody and A-frame/dogwalk/table for Lola. I don't want to overdo it and burn them out this week. Hopefully they won't get taper madness. I make no guarantees about myself.

postscript: A link to an article in the Denver Post about a local agility dog and a blurb about Regionals at the end:

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