Saturday, January 27, 2007

Train in Vain Indeed

First off, I know I said I would quit bitching about the weather but for the 7th weekend in a row it's cold (21 degrees feels like 11) and there's white stuff falling from the sky. A lot of it. That's all I'm sayin'.

Warning: I'm going to discuss Jon Katz' latest book, 'A Good Dog' which is a continuation of the story of Orson/Devon for those familiar with his earlier books. If anyone is planning on reading it and doesn't want it spoiled you'd best stop reading right here.

I'm not exactly a fan of Jon Katz. I believe I've used the words 'pompous ass' to describe him on more than one occasion. I'll confess that I enjoyed his first book, 'A Dog Year', though many parts of it made me cringe. His experimental 'training' methods ranged from the appalling to the bizarre and I always considered him a train wreck when it came to his ideas on training and dog behavior. However by the end of the first book Devon, later renamed Orson, seemed to be doing well so I figured who am I to judge.

I can't remember much of the second book, 'The Dogs of Bedlam Farm' in regards to Orson's behavioral issues but I certainly don't remember them being a huge concern. I got the book from the library so I don't have it to refer to and I had found it a snoozer and quickly put it out of my mind.

So it was somewhat of a surprise to see Orson being described as demented, psycho, and even aggressive at the start of 'A Good Dog'. I gave away my copy of 'A Dog Year' so I can't check but I certainly don't remember the 'A' word being used. There are plenty of articles by and interviews with Katz where he's gassing on about what a success he made of Orson-earning a herding title, going on book signings, even doing therapy work. Here's a link to one such interview: Katz interview Dogs that do therapy work have to have rock solid temperaments, who in their right mind would do therapy work with a dog with aggression issues? Why is this dog suddenly being portrayed as seriuosly troubled? The answer of course is that it's all a set up leading to the end of the book when Jon puts him down after he bites 3 people.

My first reaction to this book was anger and frustration. However I wasn't altogether comfortable passing judgement on this man. I know people who've had to put down dogs for severe aggression and what a painful decision it is. I also know it's problematic to make judgements about a situation like this without having all the facts and there seem to be some big gaps in that department. So I decided to do a little research. Surely this man can't be as clueless as he portrays himself. He claims that he spent years working with trainers on this dog but none of his books seem to reflect any knowledge of how to rehab and manage an aggressive/reactive dog.

Any sympathy I may have had quickly vanished after doing a little reading. Here's a wiki that's pretty revealing, esp. the 'Controversy' section: Katz wiki This quote sums it up, 'As with his earlier rejection by the geek subculture, Katz's writings on dogs have met with a largely hostile reception within the border collie community, where he has been faulted for a fundamental lack of understanding of the dogs and their work, and for offering misguided training advice while professing an expertise that he in fact lacks'. The links to the border collie forums are also interesting. In addition here's a link to the readers' reviews of his book on Amazon: Amazon reviews The most disturbing part of the reviews were the comments Katz himself made in response to the negative reviews. He was defensive, obnoxious and outright nasty in some of his responses where he could have taken the high road.

The biggest problem I've had with his books over the years is his stubbornness when it comes to taking advice from trainers. He seems proud of his rejection of their advice and all too willing to offer plenty of his own even though he has no experience, credentials, knowledge or science behind his spewings. Here's an example from one of his articles for Slate: Train in Vain The troubling issue here is that he often portrays himself as an expert on call in radio shows and during interviews. He's even published a dog training book called 'Katz on Dogs, A Commonsense Guide to Training and Living With Dogs'. Yet throughout 'A Good Dog' he plays for our sympathy claiming that he's not an expert on dogs, just a plain old Joe who took in this crazy psycho dog and did the best he could.

Which leads to my final beef-did this man really do all he could? Clearly he did a lot but was it for him or the dog? Did he buy the farm for the troubled dog, who clearly had no interest in or aptitude for sheep herding, or for himself to give himself something to write about and help with his mid-life crisis? There's plenty of mention of half assed sheep herding as therapy for this dog but little mention or evidence of systematic desensitization, classical conditioning or the kind of strict management that's necessary for an aggressive dog. He claims he trained the dog every day but gives no specific details of what he did or how often he did it. Was he using proven training techniques in a clear, systemic and consistent manner or his own half baked ideas? Most troubling of all was his complete refusal to go to a vet behaviorist and have even the most basic tests done. He claims these tests would have cost $5000-$6000 but he could have started out with a basic battery of tests costing in the hundreds then moved on (or not) to the more expensive tests if the first round turned up nothing. Furthermore, while $6000 sounds like a lot of money to a regular person is it really that much to a rich guy like Katz? Seems he can afford to pay for all those expensive herding lessons and doesn't blink twice at $400 for an animal communicator let alone the elaborate renovations to his farmhouse or the cost of the farm itself. Let's not even get into the money Katz spent on the dogs he bought from breeders after he put Orson down. How much of that money came from royalties earned off of Orson's stories and how much money is he yet to earn from the movie coming out about Orson's life? Surely Orson deserved to have some of that cash spent on potentially saving his life. The excuse Katz uses for not spending the money-his neighbors are living in terrible poverty and it doesn't seem right to spend that kind of money on a dog. If Katz is so concerned about social issues surely he could find a more altruistic way to spend his ample amount of free time and money. Is spending his time and money on sheep herding and house renovations somehow easing the suffering of his neighbors? Did he spend that $6000 on food or health care programs for his neighbors?

Katz has spent many years going on and on about how much Orson has done for him and how much he's learned from Orson but in the end it seems to me he's learned very little at all.

For a good book on how to rehab an aggressive dog check out Pam Dennsion's 'Bringing Light to Shadow' and for a great book on city slickers moving to the country check out 'Urban Dreams, Rural Realities' by Daniel Butler and Bel Crewe.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Training For The Week

I'm going to try to start posting my training for the week since it's starting to feel like actual training and not just rehab. Swimming is going along great but I need to build up a base in running and cycling and the snow, ice & single digit temps. aren't helping (o.k., I'll quit bitching about it but it did snow some more today thank you very much). I set up a nice log in Excel but I can't figure out how to post it here so I'll retype the bare details when I have time. For this week:

Mon.: Walk-2 miles
Tues.: Swim-2800 yds.
Walk-2 miles
Weds.: Walk-2 miles
Thurs.: Walk-2 miles
Fri.: Walk-2 miles
Run (Snowshoe)-1.00 miles, approx. (15 mins. non-stop)
Sat.: Walk-4.5 miles
Bike-10.6 miles (trainer, intervals)
Sun.: Walk-5.5 miles
Run-1.5 miles (20 mins. non-stop)

Totals for the week:

Walk: 20 miles/6 hours
Run: 2.5 miles/35 minutes
Bike: 10.6 miles/50 mins.
Swim: 2800 yards/1.25 hours
Strength/Core: 40 mins.


Walk: 37.4 miles/11 hours
Run: 7.17 miles/1.58 hours
Bike: 10.6 miles/50 mins.
Swim: 10,650 yards/4.5 hours
X-Country Ski: 1.0 hours
Strength/Core: 1.33 hours

Not too impressive but I need to be patient with the running. I need to get on the trainer more after work but I already have something going on every night after work except Friday and it's hard to get on the trainer at 7-8:00 at night after a full day. Serious cycling may have to wait for spring.

I have a few races in mind, one being an off road tri in June. They offer all distances so I'd probably go for the sprint since off road riding is so much harder than on the road. There's even an Aqua Bike (no run) event if my running's still not going well by then. There's an Oly at the end of July and maybe another off road sprint in August. Most races still don't have any 2007 info. posted so I'll have to wait and see what's offered. I'm keeping my eye's peeled for the smaller, quirkier looking races and off road if I can find them. I'm not into riding on the road at all these days for training but I'm not fond of racing off road unless it's not a crowded race so I'm going to be pretty picky about what I enter. I've tried training off road then racing on road and I end up getting smoked, mountain biking is so different from road riding.

Then there's the office bike race. It's the only race I ever get competitive about but the jackass in my office that I always had to beat is no longer there so I don't have much incentive other than the $100 prize for first place. The guy who normally wins just had a kid and he's looking mighty tired these days so maybe I'll have a chance if only I could be disciplined enough to get on that stupid trainer. His time this year was several minutes slower than my best time but of course I'm several years older and who knows how many minutes slower. Then there's the new guy who's already started training. He was slow-ish this year but he could be a contender by summer. I'll have to bring lots of baked goods into the office the month prior to the race, those guys will eat anything. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't be blabbing my strategy in a public place.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sofa King Cold

Who ordered all this cold? And the snow and ice that won't go away, who's bright idea was that? I'm a native Chicagoan so you'd think I could cope but still, there's a reason I moved away from that frozen tundra lo the many years ago. I'm used to mild winters-40's and 50's with occasional snow that looks pretty then melts in a day or two. I can't remember the last time I saw black snow. I keep thinking that things are back to normal and going outside without enough clothes on or opening the door to let a dog out at night to be greeted by an unexpected blast of arctic air. I took Lola for a 20 minute walk on my lunch hour last Thurs. intending to drop her off then go back out for a quick 15 minute snowshoe run but it was so cold even at lunch time with the sun blaring that my face hurt and I didn't have enough warm clothes on. Once I got back to the office I couldn't bear the thought of going back outside so I poured another cup of hot tea, put on another fleece jacket and said to hey with it. It finally went up to 25 degrees on Friday and it felt like a heat wave. Of course I went out to snowshoe way overdressed but I didn't care, I wanted to feel the rivers of sweat running down my back, even it was for only 15 minutes.

Since the weather's been so bad and I can't do much outside I figured this was as good a time as any to make an appointment for the chiropractor who I haven't seen since the car crash almost 2 years ago. For those with chronic back problems, and that would be me, a good chiropractor is worth his weight in gold so I was at a loss when I found out that mine had retired and was off in the wild somewhere hunting moose. Thanks to the magic of the internet I quickly got a recommendation from a rather accomplished ultra runner and got set up for a back cracking on Monday. I'm very leery of chiropractors in general but the previous one did a great job of keeping my various issues under control where nothing else worked. This new guy went through a very thorough exam, explaining everything in detail about the sources of my back pain and how he intended to deal with it. Next thing I knew I was lying on my stomach on a 'traction' table with my ankles strapped down and a ginormous bag of ice on my back. He turned some cranks and pulled my ankles straight back, joking that it was just like being on a rack. Oh but it's not over yet folks. Then he rotated the lower half of the table so that my legs were rotated about 50-60 degrees from my waist. Then he left me there. Then 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' came piping into the room. That song is so very wrong on so many levels but the whole situation was so completely absurd what else could I do but laugh? After 15 minutes or so of that he came back in the room and commenced with the back and neck cracking. It was not pretty. I can't ever remember the adjustments sounding so loud or feeling so extreme but it had been 2 years and one fractured pelvis so I suppose it wasn't too surprising. In fact I went back on Friday for a follow up and the adjustments felt very subtle by comparison. Thing is I feel a lot better and I can turn my head all the way to the right without any pain. He gave me some core strengthening exercises that are supposed to help specifically with my running, we'll see if I can keep up with those. He did say my core strength was above average which I found shocking since I haven't done any core work in months and I have abs of Pillsbury doughboy on a good day.

The only agility practice we had all week was an indoor lesson with Cody on Monday. Silly boy was running wild again, must be the cold, but he hit all his weave entries and didn't pop out at all. He looked so solid in those poles that I could have set a bomb off and he would have stayed in. If only my yard would defrost so we could get some practice at those entries. The main challenge for the night was teaching a tight 270 degree post turn/wrap around a jump, something that proved quite challenging for Cody's big strided jumping style. I don't think it's a move I would try in a trial but it was good practice for getting him to watch me and collect himself. By the end of class he was wrapping nicely.

I signed up for a Julie Daniel's seminar in a few weeks. There were only working spots left in the intermediate session but maybe that's for the best. In fact there will probably be an opening in the advanced session but I would have to take a day off work for it. Also, they're focusing on finding the fastest way through a course using video/Dartfish software to compare different handling moves on the same course. The intermediate session is focusing more on communication with the dog which will probably be a lot more helpful to me. I wish it was only 1/2 a day, 8 hours is way too long for Cody and even for me for that matter. I may leave early or opt to audit toward the end if his brains start to fry. We have a NADAC trial the day before but I didn't enter everything and I can always leave early. It was only $8 a run and I'm going for practice and somewhat out of desperation since there isn't another non-AKC trial until April and we need all the ring experience we can get. I'm tempted to make up my own course if the one they offer isn't challenging enough since I don't much care about Q's in NADAC anymore. I wonder if that's too much of an abuse of training in the ring. Certainly I've had runs where Cody has inadvertently made up his own course and the judge didn't whistle us off. If he can make up his own course why can't I? With all the practice we're not getting in he may very well make up some interesting courses anyway. Maybe I'll try to dig my way into Biscuit Eaters tomorrow but shhh, don't tell my chiropractor.

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.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cody Baloney

Tell me, and be honest now, is it unprofessional to walk into a meeting at a client's office 5 minutes late then spill a baggie of dog kibble all over the floor when you reach into your pocket for your business card? At least I wasn't covered in (too much) dog hair.

Cody was running wild at the USDAA trial this past weekend. Only one Q (with a first place in Master Pairs) out of 8 runs, not our best showing ever. There were some really nice courses too so no excuses there. Don't know what Cody's problem was. He seemed fine at the start line of all his runs except Master Jumpers which was the last run of the trial so I'm not convinced it was stress. Sometimes he seems so solid and composed, other times who knows what goes through his fuzzy brain. All of the courses were well within our skills range except for maybe Gamblers. We should have nailed that Jumpers course and the Grand Prix too. I don't mind missing Q's for little things here and there but I don't like it when Cody's being outright flaky, But such is the life and trials of Cody Baloney so hopefully we'll do better next time. Inexplicably, I still had fun at the trial. As much of a goof as he is, I still love running with him and it's such a great feeling when it does come together. He certainly had some nice moments this weekend and he saved my butt on that Pairs run. Somehow I got flummoxed by the baton and lost my timing but he pulled it off. Snooker was also my fault. It's cruel to have such a complicated class first thing in the morning, esp. for us non-morning people. I walked one course then decided on another then combined them both during my run and repeated one of the reds. The judge was whistling and whistling but I was sure it was from the other ring so I kept right on going until the end. She had to explain to me where I went wrong and I still didn't understand right away. What an idiot. It would have been a Q too so I can't blame Cody for that, though his turns were incredibly wide.

I missed having Lola there. Maybe Cody is this flaky all the time and I don't notice it because I have Lola to run. Poor girl is out until May, at least.

The sidewalks and paths have been too iffy for running. I tried on Monday but it was a mess and I gave up. I managed 10 minutes straight though with walking for warm-up and cool down. I was disappointed with having to stop and felt raring to go for the first time in ages. I've lost one of my Yak Traks so I'll have to get a new pair soon since we're due for yet another snow storm this weekend, this time with single digit temperatures for 3 days straight. I can hardly wait.

Oh yeah, along those lines it was a good thing I didn't plan on going to the skijoring clinic. There was a 15 foot deep, 200-300 foot wide avalance that closed the road to Winter Park. Somehow only 2 cars got caught in it and everyone survived. They had some survivors on the news and they barely had a scratch on them. Amazing.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Or Maybe I Should Get One Of These

At least I could keep up with my biking. Sure looks like more fun than the trainer.

Maybe I Should Enter the Iditarod

Yesterday it seemed like the snow was finally melted down to a halfway reasonable level then I woke up this morning to 4-5" on my driveway and another 4-5" predicted to fall throughout the day. In the 16 years I've lived in Boulder I've never seen anything like this. More back-breaking shovelling before work to make sure I'm able to get into the garage tonight and back out for the trial tomorrow morning. I need to figure out a way to hook up a plow to Strummer and let him do the work. All that wonderful energy and it was wasted chasing a watering can around the yard this morning. The snow makes the dogs exponentially more hyper than they normally are and walking all 3 of them at the same time in the snow/ice is proving to be draining. Lola is still on leash walks and it's too hard to do double shifts first thing in the morning.

The start of the trial is being delayed by an hour so I'll have some extra time to make the 1 1/4 hour drive to Castle Rock tomorrow morning. It's mostly on major highways so I'm hoping by early tomorrow they'll be plowed but who knows. Driving through Denver is not going to be fun I imagine. Maybe I should forget the whole thing and go with my friend to the skijoring clinic near Winter Park.

Lola's therapy swimming went well, sort of. She did great in the tank as far as the swimming went but her eyes were as big as saucers and I could tell she was pretty freaked out. She was breathing very hard but it's hard to say how much of that was due to stress vs exertion. Antke took her out after 7 minutes and the poor dog looked trashed. I'm going to take her once a week and try to increase the length of time she swims. Hopefully her fear will decrease the more she does it. Maybe by Feb. she'll be ready to join me at masters.

I made it to Biscuit Eaters with Cody yesterday and the area we had shoveled was soggy with puddles in places but o.k. for the most part, just a little muddy. Cody was popping out at that 10th pole if I was a certain lateral distance away from him. If I stayed behind and close in laterally he was fine. We need to work on this but it's hard with such an old dog that's had shoulder surgery. I can't do the necessary number of repetitions to proof the behavior without putting too much stress on his shoulder. Contacts were better but still not good enough. He was stopping but still releasing himself sometimes. Again, I can't drill him too much because of his shoulder so at this point I'll have to take what I can get. I wish I'd know what I was doing when I started out with him and trained it right the first time when he was young and could handle the physical stress better.

It's out into the white stuff again for me for Lola's mid-day walk. After that I'm spending the rest of my lunch hour pricing dog sleds. Or maybe condos in Hawaii.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Holy Resolutions Batman

The parking lot for the Rec Center was mobbed last night. I'm a little slow so it took me a bit to realize that it was people with their New Years resolutions. This happens every year, the Rec. Center is packed for the first 2 weeks in Jan. then magically it's back to normal. I'm all for self-improvement and encouraging people on to better fitness but it always amazes me how fast people give up their goals. I don't like the Rec. Centers being so crowded and I hate these 2 weeks of knocking elbows in the locker rooms but there's something discouraging about so many people giving up after a mere 2 weeks.

The regular crowds are returning to masters though we had only 3 in our lane last night. The Boulder Rec. Centers have raised the fees for masters yet again and many people are opting to go to a fancy private health club that has a masters program of it's own. The price is nearly the same and the facilities are nicer. The City of Boulder is losing money on the Rec. Centers so in their infinite wisdom they raise the fees of the successful, money making programs thus driving people away and killing what few cash cows they have. I've signed on for another year because the workout schedule is more convenient for me than the other place but next year I'll be rethinking things.

3100 yards in the pool on very sore arms. Too much skiing and shoveling so my ass was dragging but I finished the workout in one piece. Tonight its Lola's turn to swim as she has an appointment for some therapy swimming. Better not forget her swim cap & goggles.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Can You Dig It?

I got a phone call last night from someone who trains at Biscuit Eaters wanting to know if I would be interested in helping dig the field out so we could practice a bit before the trial next weekend. A normal response to this query would be 'Are you crazy?' My response was 'Hey, that's a great idea, I'll see you there tomorrow'. So I spent my precious day off shovelling snow around a field so I can play with my dogs. We thought we'd be able to clear a small area so we could set up a mini course or some training exercises but there was so much snow (a foot at least, probably more like 16") left that all we managed was a path between some of the obstacles and a small area in the middle just big enough for 4 jumps very close together. We did manage to dig out the A-frame, dogwalk, teeter and weave poles and arrange them in a circle with the jumps in the center. The only problem was that we didn't shovel a path for ourselves so it turned out to be a good distance handling exercise. I found out that Cody needs a lot of help finding his weave pole entry, even with his path to the entry defined by the shoveled path. He refused to do the poles without me going along to show him the way. Once in he worked ahead of me no problem as long as I didn't lag too far behind. On the positive side he didn't pop out at pole 10 so maybe I need to start handling from behind him a bit. He can easily see me and he's not so tempted to pop out if I'm behind.

Contacts were a nightmare. He was hitting them o.k. but he started self-releasing when he realized I couldn't get to the bottom to reward him (due to huge mounds of snow in the way). Just like at NADAC trials, he's decided that if I'm at a distance he doesn't need to hold his position. And I let him get away with it, bad me. Mainly I didn't want to demotivate him since he was a little freaked out with the weird practice area and it was too hard to get to the contacts to remind him what to do.

One good thing about the area being so small was that I was getting some really nice tight, collected turns. Cody was paying close attention to my body language, no small victory.

I ended up spending an hour shovelling and about 15 minutes practising. At least I can go back during the week for a few more sessions before the trial. Maybe someone else will come and clear some more. The woman who owns the land came out, amazed at what we were doing. I guess it must have looked insane. We explained there was a trial this weekend but still.

As far as my own training, I spent an hour Sat. cross country skiing at North Boulder Park. It was a nightmare, way too crowded. Sunday Jonny & I went up to Eldora and it was so much nicer. Perfect snow and hardly any people on the trails we chose. Most of the traffic is on the novice trails which turn into a race track for the off season road bikers/triathletes turned skate skiers, adrenaline pumping and heart rate monitors beeping away. There's a beautiful trail called Zarlengo that requires a tricky descent of a very steep, twisty hill (and of course ascent of same hill on the return) but it's worth it and there's no skating allowed so it's usually fairly quiet and more of a peaceful, wilderness type experience. There were signs up about moose being spotted on this trail as well as on Buckeye Basin, the one we did last week. Unfortunately we didn't see any but a friend who'd gone up earlier on Sat. saw a moose with 2 babies right off the Buckeye Basin trail. Maybe next time. We made the mistake of going up a new trail, Antelope Creek, which was a loop off of Zarlengo. It turned out to be a long, steep climb then a too fast, scary descent on a trail that didn't leave enough room to snowplow to break your speed. Jonny went down a couple of times and I wrenched my hip trying (unsuccessfully) to snowplow. Eventually I gave up and went flying down with my skis in the tracks and my heart in my mouth. I somehow managed to get to the bottom without crashing, hitting a moose or needing a new pair of pants (just). It was a bit much for the physical issues I'm dealing with and I was a bit sore this morning.

Of course that didn't stop me from taking Cody out for a short trail run this morning on the Open Space near my house. I felt stupid driving to go for a run even though it was only 5 minutes but I wanted to go somewhere different for a change and also somewhere where Cody was allowed off leash. The trail was packed powder, no problem at all with the Yax Trax. Cody was SO happy, running like a loon in the snow. I decided to move from 4 minutes run/1 minute walk to 5 minutes run/1 1/2 minute walk and I managed 20 minutes total running with no problem. That is, until I stopped and realized how sore I was from yesterday. Those weird groin area muscles that plagued me for so long after the crash and that haven't bothered me for months were acting up. The shovelling this afternoon didn't help matters. Tomorrow I go to masters so my legs will get a rest.