Sunday, January 14, 2007

Shake Your Bootie

3 degrees, feels like -9. That's what the weather site said when I took Strummer out for his mid-day walk on Friday. Saturday was much the same. The dogs get about 2 blocks and start limping from the cold snow in their paws. Cody is the worst drama queen for this so I bought him some booties. I'm sure most people, even those without dogs, have seen the hilarity of a dog trying on booties for the first time. They walk around like Scooby Doo, taking big exaggerated steps and shaking their feet in the air. Not Cody. He freezes in one place and whines his head off. Oh he takes those big Scooby Doo steps if you can get him moving but good luck. It took me 10 minutes to coax him about 15 yards the first time I had him out several weeks ago. Today I decided to put booties on his back feet only reasoning that if he could feel his front feet the back feet would follow. I tried in the house, going from one end to the other and calling him to me, giving him some kibble when he arrived. He's on reduced rations due to the poor weather/less exercise thing we've had going on the past few weeks so it only took a few reps. before he was racing back and forth through the house. I put some Musher's Secret on his front paws (and all the other dogs too) and tried outside. He gave me some guff at first but a few times of rewarding with kibble and he was trotting along quite happily. He soon forgot about kibble and booties. The Musher's Secret helped a lot with everybody's paws and we were able to make it for 15 minutes or so. What a production though for a 15 minute walk what with booties, jackets and slimy wax all over my fingers never mind the zillion layers I needed for myself. But I couldn't have 3 BC/mixes getting cabin fever all weekend, not that a 15 minute walk is much for them but better than nothing.

Biscuit Eaters was snowed under again even before this latest round of snow. High winds caused a huge drift at the entry gate and covered over the paths we shoveled at New Year's. I've been working on weave entries with just 2 poles with Strummer indoors as well as his 2 on/2 off training on the flat plank. The Buja board is lots of fun too. Other than that all agility training is on hold.

I rarely run on treadmills, maybe 1-2 times a year if that and I hate going to the gym but 3 degrees is ridiculous so I went to the Rec. Center on Saturday. As did every other person in Boulder. The leisure pool was so crowded that they had to start a waiting list to let people in as others left. 30 minutes on the treadmill (two 10 minute sessions of running at a snail's pace of 12 minutes per mile with 2 min's. rest in between plus warm up/cool down) and about 40 minutes on the weight machines, all SO boring, even with my mp3 player. How bad is 3 degrees compared to running on a machine like a hamster in a hot crowded gym? O.k. it hurt to breathe outside but still, I don't know. So today I was determined to do my thing outside and the temp's. went up to a balmy 14 degrees (feels like -3 but let's ignore that for now). Aside from two 15 minute walks with the dogs I ended up skiing at North Boulder Park. It was snowing again today but that meant a nice layer of fresh snow on top of the icy snowpacked stuff left over from the various freeze/thaw cycles we've been having. The trail was wonderful and the park wasn't crowded at all. Most of the people there were the hardcore athletes who do the skate ski thing so I had the classic tracks nearly to myself. It took 2 laps to warm up and my mp3 player conked out probably because of the cold but after 6 laps and 57 minutes I was plenty sweaty, tired and happy. Sure beats the gym rat thing.

I also got some snowshoeing in this week. The track by my work had deep snow with a frozen crust on it despite all the warm weather but noone had been on it so I had a nice smooth trail to run on, perfect for snowshoe running. I let Cody run his monkeys out off leash while I snowshoed around the track. Again, two 10 minute session with 2 minutes walking in between plus warm up/cool down. Next week I'm going to try 15 minutes straight. The walk/run thing is a nuisance to keep track of and I think I'm ready to try straight running. Snowshoeing was a blast and I'm sure there will be plenty of white stuff hanging around for a while so I think I'll stick with it for a while since the trails & sidewalks are such a mess. Also, I've lost one of my Yax Trax and the entire city of Boulder seems to be sold out of them so navigating the icy sidewalks is even more out of the question. Of all the stupid things to lose, why my Yax Trax and why during the worst round of snowstorms I've seen here in the last 16 years?

I finally uploaded my video from last week's trial. Here's Cody's Grand Prix run which was probably one of his best runs of the weekend. Our only mistake was those darn weave poles again, the same problems we had at Nationals in the Semifinals, ie missing the entry then popping out at the end. That should have been an easy entry for Cody, not sure why he missed it. I think he's becoming increasingly uneasy about me handling the poles from such a distance. My location from him laterally was the same location that was seemingly causing him to pop out early at practice last week. I should have moved in once he got the entry. Long term I need to work on proofing those poles best I can with a small number of rep's. Otherwise it was a nice focused run with a pretty rear cross after the teeter. Notice the use of the broad jump in the Grand Prix. It's a requirement now for Steeplechase but this is the first I've ever seen it in the Grand Prix and it was also in Master Standard as the first obstacle (Master Standard was roughly the Grand Prix in reverse). Cody had no problem with it but some really acomplished Masters dogs had trouble with it, stepping over it rather than jumping. Something to practice for sure as I would never think to practice the broad jump as the first obstacle.


  1. You had a great run despite the wp thing (very maddening, isn't it?), Cody looked like he was moving very fast.

    Do you think his missing the entry had anything to do with the way the poles were going into a corner? Is that something you've practiced much?

    My BC was missing entries and popping out (I probably shouldn't say "was" just yet) so I did a bunch of sets of only 4 weave poles interspersed with sets of 6 and 12. The short sets allowed me to get the reinforcement to him much closer to the action I wanted to reward (the entry) and the longer sets allowed me to reward him for performing all the poles.

    It's got to be tough not being able to get your dogs out for a run every day. But I don't feel too sorry for you since we can't get out in the summer here without risking heatstroke. Hope it melts soon.

  2. Popping out at the end looks like it might have been the way the poles are going into the side. Last week I had my poles going straight into a corner in the yard so my young dog could practice blasting through full speed without popping out and relying on me giving her instructions (front cross call out of the end) to know that she wouldn't have to run head-first into the wall. It took a bit of practice for her to not want to pop out of the last 2 poles (like Cody, she popped out on the opposite side, closest to the corner, which seems counterintuitive to me but I'm no border collie) and to get the confidence to go all the way to the end, fast. Your sequence leading up to the poles looked good and your closing was nice.


  3. Yeah, we've had problems in practice with weaving into a 'wall'. I did notice this when I walked the course and it's the main reason I didn't push the point and make him redo the poles when he popped out at the end. It's not fair to expect him to do something in a trial that he can't do solidly in practice. However, what's not obvious from the video is that he missed the first entry and that should have been a piece of cake for him, we've practiced much more difficult rear cross to the poles entries than that and the wall was far enough away that it shouldn't have been a problem (at least it's never been in practice for the entry). I think he just shut down a bit mentally at that point because I was so far away laterally and he wasn't sure exactly what to do. That's what it felt like during the run anyway.

    The weave poles are a challenge to train because Cody's 8 1/2 and he's had shoulder surgery so I don't like to work too many reps. Also he has motivation issues and hates to be drilled so it's hard to proof them properly. He's my first dog and he started lessons at the local humane society where they teach the poles by luring the dog on lead through poles w/ weave wires. I've been experimenting with Susan Garrett's 2x2 weave pole method with my young dog and if I like it I may try retraining Cody with it, at least for the entries.

  4. I didn't realize that broad jump is now required in steeplechase--I'll have to remember to do more practice with it ... once I can run on my ankle again!

    Bummer on the temperatures there--it was 72 degrees here today. People are riding around in open convertibles.