Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Git Along Little Doggies

I love Laramie, Wyoming, it's the perfect combination of cowboy and hippie. Lola and I got our picture in the local paper, the Laramie Boomerang, when we did this trial a couple of years ago, too funny. Other than a quick cruise through the historic downtown area in search of food I didn't have too much time for sight seeing this past weekend though since we were up for a USDAA agility trial. This was Cody's last chance to qualify for Nationals so there was a bit of pressure. I tried no to let it get to me because I didn't want to be nervous in the ring but it was hard to put the thought completely aside. It would make the trip to AZ a lot more worthwhile if I could run both dogs and this is the last year you can qualify for all the events just by qualifying in the Grand Prix. Next year you have to qualify in each event individually and the standards for qualification are being tightened a bit.

Standard runs were first and Cody's was wild. This was our first indoor trial in a while and it was cloudy and cool outside so he was having none of the motivation issues we had at the hot, sun beating down outdoor trials this summer. Then I had the brilliant idea of winding him up while we were waiting our turn. He was so excited he was barking at me as we waited to go into the ring. I thought, this is great, he's going to be flying. Well, he was and I wasn't prepared and he quickly lost focus taking off into an off course tunnel, popping out of the weaves because he was overexcited and leaping over the contact zone on the A-frame. Just about whatever could go wrong did. This did not bode well for the Grand Prix and his chances at qualifying for Nationals.

I can't quite remember where Lo's run went wrong but it did somewhere and we had an off course. She did her down on the table though and I think she got all her contacts with not so much creeping/stalling so that was something to be happy about. Those masters standard courses are tough.

Lo was up first in the Grand Prix which meant I could see how the course ran and adjust for Cody if need be. It wasn't a great course for Cody, lots of traps and an awkward jump sequence towards the end with traps on either side just begging for an off course. I'd resigned myself to the fact that Cody likely wouldn't qualify, never mind the confidence rattling run from the first class. But I managed to get Lola through clean for yet another Q and I think that completes her Grand Prix requirements for her championship title (lots of Q's left in all the other classes though).

So I went to the start line with Cody with a wee bit more confidence but not too much. He's such a freaky dog, there's no telling what he'll do at any given moment. But he was in a happy, focused mood and we had a beautiful, smooth, flawless run. My friends watching in the stands erupted in cheers and I just about burst into tears as he cleared the final jump. The thought of my crazy, mixed up Cody who could barely stay in the ring when we started out several years ago (never mind the year off for shoulder surgery) actually qualifying for Nationals was pretty amazing and all the more so with the added drama of it being our last chance. Lots of people from my training field came up afterwards to congratulate us on our run so it must have looked really nice. I'm going to order the video of it so I can see for myself. His run was good enough for 3rd place and a big fancy ribbon. Lo came in fractions of a second behind him in fourth.

I could have gone home happy right then but I still had Snooker to contend with and a whole day of runs on Sunday so I had to keep my head together.

I decided to go for a nice, smooth course for Snooker and not worry about winning/Super Q's. It was a great set up for flow with reds in all 4 corners of the course. At the 3rd obstacle of Lola's run I somehow got my legs all tangled up as I attemped some weird wrap/front cross and I managed to fall on my ass/right hip. Hard. I was o.k. but then tweaked my knee as I tried to stand up and get going again. Yowch. I got up and finished the run making it all the way to 6 (second to last obstacle) in the closing which was freaky enough but we somehow had enough points for first place and another Super Q. Cody's run didn't go as well, he was running pretty wild again and my handling was crap but he was happy so that was good enough for me.

No Q's in standard or jumpers for Lola on Sunday due to my crappy handling. I just couldn't get my head around this judge's standard courses this weekend. No Q for Cody in standard but he had a lovely jumpers run on a really fun course earning his first Q in master jumpers and second place.

All in all a great end to our 2006 USDAA season.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

To Hell U Ride

I really really needed a little break so we took Lola & Cody to Telluride for a long weekend of hiking and sitting on our asses. Saturday we hiked in the Lizard Head Wilderness area and made it up to the Lizard Head rock formation right when the skies started to look evil so we turned around after a mere hour and a half. However, it was crazy steep most of the way so by the time we got back to the car it felt like plenty and the thunderstorms started so we didn't have much choice. That area is above treeline at over 12,000 feet and very exposed so getting stuck in lightning up there is no joke. The pictures are of Lizard Head and the San Miguel mountains.

Sunday we hiked just outside the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness Area on a trail that looked fairly level on the map but ended up having some terribly steep parts as well. It was mostly wooded and at a much lower elevation (8000-9000 feet or so) but was still a challenging 3 hour hike and I was gimping a bit by the end of it but I didn't care. The Ouray/Telluride area is one of my favorite places and I'm just happy to be out hiking in it. Too bad houses in Telluride start at over a million dollars, it's in such a beautiful area.

The dogs had a blast running off leash in the woods but Lola started getting a little out of hand so we had to leash her up after a while. She runs around like a maniac with little regard to her own safety and gets a crazy, wild look in her eye as her prey drive takes over and her brain goes into overload. We left Strummer at home with a friend who's starting a dog/house sitting service and he had so much fun we got no greeting at all when we came home and he was up on his hind legs staring out the window at her all sad when she left. She took him up to her house in the mountains with her cattle dog and her brother's cattle dog and they all had a blast swimming, hiking and playing with each other. He was flat out exhausted when we got home. What a spoiled pup.

Back to reality for me but Boulder is hardly a terrible place to come home to.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Well, that's a new one

Agility class last night with Cody was going great, especially the weave poles which we've been working on. We'd had some success with some difficult manuevers earlier in class so when we returned to the poles at the end of class I was surprised to see him come to a grinding halt halfway through the poles then trot off in a state of excitement, bouncing his front paws off the ground. I soon realized he was in hot pursuit of a slow moving toad who'd had the misfortune to wander onto the agility field. Cody thought the poor guy was just about the best toy he'd ever seen but he didn't know what to do with it so he followed it around mimicking its hopping with his front paws. Where's the video camera when you need it? And how the heck do I proof for that?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Master of Puppies

Had a USDAA trial outdoors in Brighton this weekend-beautiful site, lots of grass for the dogs to run off lead and a huge lake with trails around it and little 'beach' areas for swimming. Also, some mercifully decent weather on Saturday, maybe 80's but on and off cloud cover and breeze. Sunday was hot, humid (not Chicago humid but uncomfortable nonetheless) & no breeze for most of the day. Glad I left Cody at home. Lo was slower than normal but ran well.

Cody had no Q's but some really nice runs. I was hoping for a Q in the Grand Prix so he could go to Nationals and we almost made it through a really tough course, made it through most of the tricky parts and with just a few obstacles to go I screwed up and pulled him off a tunnel and onto the off course A-frame. It all happened in the blink of an eye and nothing I could do about it. But he ran beautifully and at the end he was jumping around all happy because he knew he'd done a great job so that made me happy. His Masters Standard run was another case of me pulling him off a jump at the last minute and causing a refusal and eventually an off course as I tried to correct his path. He had beautiful weaves, table and I think dog walk but bailed really badly from high up on the A-frame causing him to make an 'oomph' sound when he landed. I was not pleased, I don't want him hurting himself, never mind the Q. Gamblers was great, he listened to me perfectly in the opening but didn't get the gamble which surprised me since it seemed perfect for him. He's starting to watch me and respond more quickly to my cues which is great but I need to adjust my handling and not assume he'll just take whatever's in front of him anymore. I only ran him on Saturday so he got to stay home and sleep in with Jonny & Strummer on Sunday.

Miss Lola had her debut in Master Gamblers and Masters Snooker this weekend so I didn't have too many expectations. It usually takes us a trial or 2 (or 3 or 4) to get used to the new challenges when we move up a level. However the little rockstar Q'ed in 5 out 6 of her events this weekend, getting a Master Gamblers Q, her last advanced standard Q for her standard and versatility title (she's on all Masters now!), her second Masters Jumpers Q, a first place and Q in the Grand Prix (and another voucher for a bye into the finals of a Regional), AND a much coveted Super Q in Snooker. Typically the last Q's a person earns for their championship title are the Master Gamblers and Snooker Q's, in particular the Snooker Super Q of which you need 3. Super Q's are given to a top percentage of the class and it's a very small number. In my class only one was given out. There's a lot of strategy involved in Snooker and I seldom employ any of it. I go out there only to Q and to try to find the least jerky/most flowing way around the course but that won't do if I want a championship title and need to actually beat other people. Nonetheless, I had no visions of Super Q's dancing in my head for Lola's debut in Masters and though I picked the opening that had the max number of points I didn't have time to finish the closing. But I had a nice, relatively flowing course for Lola and happened to get lucky. There were several people who had the same number of points as us but we were fastest across the finish line so we got lucky. In the future I'll have to start thinking strategy a little more and actually time my courses to make sure I have enough time for the closing.

Lots of dogs crashed and burned in the Grand Prix. There were only 2 dogs in my class that weren't eliminated for off courses and Lola was the only one who Q'ed. She had a 5 fault refusal for popping out of the weaves but I had her redo them and we still finished under the allowed course time. Other than that she had a beautiful run, nice contacts and turns. Somehow it didn't feel right getting first place with a run with faults (you can qualify in the Grand Prix with up to 7 faults, next year that goes down to 5) but the only Regional left is in California over Labor Day weekend and I won't be going so the bye will go to waste anyway. If it wasn't for NADAC Championships a few weeks later I would really consider going but I committed to a team and there's no way I'd leave them high and dry at this point. But if I'd thought it through better ahead of time I'd rather go to the San Francisco Bay area (Sunnyvale) for a USDAA Regional than to Gillette (armpit), WY for NADAC Nationals. Oh well, something to think about for next year.

I was tired from being out in the sun all weekend but when I got home Sunday I squeezed in a run, a whopping 1.7 miles. Farthest I've gone so far and it was on tired legs. It felt like I'd gotten off the bike in a triathlon. Not the most enjoyable run but no serious aches or pains afterwards to speak of. Next week I'll have some steep hiking so I can see if my knee is ready for that trail race.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Note To Self

No blogging after 9 pm when brain typically logs off. Did I really ramble on that incoherently for that long?

In any case, knee was fine this morning, go figure. Maybe the race is feasible. The more I think about it the more fun it sounds.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Got an email today for an interesting trail race up in Estes Park in Sept.: Sombrero Ranch It's only 4.5 miles but I'm only up to 1.2 miles so on the one hand it's not particularly feasible with my rehab schedule. And how can I not enter a race that goes up 'Piss Hill'? On the other hand it sounds steep and technical which means I would probably be hiking most of it anyway, even if I could run properly. They also let you take your dogs if you start at the back of the pack and the cutoff time allows for 27 minute miles if people want to walk/hike so it might be pretty fun if I could take Lola and do a hike/run thing. Heck, she'd pull me up the hills no problem. Problem is she'd pull me down as well. It would be nice to have some little goal, maybe it would force me to do my stupid strengthening exercises. I've completely given them up and I really should do them, they do seem to help.

Oh and I was completely unable to run this am due to new and interesting pain in my bad knee. I'm putting it down to that bad girly hormone time of the month which often causes me bizarre aches, pains and stiffness anyway. Hopefully that's all it is, the knee was feeling fine up until this am and it's fine as long as I don't run for more than a half block. So this is a perfect time to consider doing a race. I doubt it will fill so I think I have plenty of time to think about it. I'll see how I'm doing in a couple of weeks.

USDAA agility trial this weekend, hopefully it won't be too too hot. There's no hose/running water but there's a pond the dogs can swim in as long as it isn't too full of algae. I signed Cody up for only one day because I think 2 days outdoors in the heat is too much for him. Also, there's another trial up in Wyoming in 3 weeks and I don't want to burn him out. There's a NADAC trial just 35 minutes away next week but I didn't enter because it's outdoors again and 3 trials in a row is too much, esp. in summer when I'd rather be playing in the mountains.

Practice has been going great these days, lovely fast contacts and tables-we'll see how it holds up in the ring this weekend.

Started Lola's contact retraining tonight. At this stage she can still trial because we're working with a board laying flat on the ground, once we move to the actual agility equipment I'll have to stop trialing her in classes with contact equipment. For now I'm shaping her having her back two feet on the board and her front two feet on the ground with her nose to the ground. She's already got a fair idea of this position so it was easy to shape since she practically did it right away. She's got the idea of her release word pretty well too, I've been keeping up with that training, so I was able to verbally release her off the board no problem. She started out great getting in lots of correct reps then she must have started to get confused or something because she started offering other behavior-sits, downs, etc. and she wouldn't stop staring at me which isn't what I want. Once I got a few more correct reps I stopped for the night and broke out her ball to let her play.

I offered to teach a friend's obedience clicker training class next week since she'll be out of town at an agility seminar. It's funny, she's just gotten into running this year and hated it at the start, she was just trying to get in good enough shape to do agility and now she's totally obsessed and given up agility trials so she can train for the Boulder Backroads 1/2 marathon. She's making noises about the Las Vegas marathon too even though a few months ago she swore she would never want to do one. I on the other hand, who was always the runner, have given up most of my training to go to agility trials.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More Video

Yet another video clip from Regionals. No music this time as I'm too busy to mess with it and I had to speed it up from 1/2 time to regular time to get the file small enough. This one is Round 1 of the USDAA Regionals Grand Prix with Lola. It was a nice clean run, good enough for 3rd place. The first few jumps and the weave pole entry were the trickiest parts even though it doesn't look it. Overall it was a nice flowing, fun, fast course.

Double click the arrow to start the video:

Monday, August 07, 2006

I Don't Know Why

but this story cracks me up: Teddy Mauler

Stupid rich people.

'Long' run on Sat.-a whopping 1.2 miles straight with no knee pain and only a little niggling from the accident pains. This was also the first time I'd run 3 days in a row. Slowly but surely I'm getting there.

Last week's bike ride in Winter Park was fabulous. I made it up the challenging Tipperary Creek trail and was able to ride loads of places on the other trails that I'd had to get off and walk last June. Still had to get off and walk up some steep parts of a trail called Chainsaw but I'm sure by fall I'll be able to ride that too. This Sunday I went for a ride on the 'easy' trails in Boulder Valley ranch area. Nothing too dramatic but I didn't feel like driving anywhere and I know the next 3 weekends will be busy and hectic so I wanted to stay close to home and relax some.

Had private agility lesson with Steve Frick a week ago Friday and enjoyed it so much I signed up for a working spot at his seminar on Sunday. Learned a lot about front & rear crosses and timing and he gave me some good drills to work on weave pole entrances. He was big on not using too many verbal directionals on course because he feels it teaches the dog to stop watching you for direction. I practiced some of the exercises from the seminar over the weekend and think they'll help a lot, esp. with my timing. I'll scan the maps for them and post later if/when I ever get any time.

I'm currently scanning my old punk rock photos for someone from Chicago who's writing a book and keeps a website of her own photos. She's got the ones I've sent her posted already: photos Hopefully I'll get some more scanned this week. Phew, what a trip down memory lane those photos are.