Saturday, October 27, 2007

Can You Say Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

I spent way more time packing today than I should have. I found myslef obsessing over the most ridiculous details. This is partly why I hate traveling. Did I take an entire day to pack last year? I can't remember and last year was more complicated because we went to the Grand Canyon and needed warmer clothes plus had more complicated travel arrangements. Why did I sign up for this? What a hassle. I know I'll have fun once I'm there but I truly hate traveling-the packing, driving, hotels, etc. I loved traveling when I was younger and lived in a place that I hated but now that I live in a place I love I've lost all my wanderlust. I could easily fill a week doing things within a 2 hour radius of Boulder. Whine whine, moan moan, poor me going on a nice trip to Scottsdale to compete with my dogs. Yeah, I know how it sounds.

A hyperactive border collie 'helping' with the packing and a caffeine and sugar laden mocha at lunchtime did not help my nerves today. Strummy kept unpacking things and enticing Lola into crazy out of control wrestling matches that literally involved bouncing off the walls. It seems I spent half the day breaking them up and repacking things that Strummer unpacked. Let's not even get into the barking. I think Strum & Lo were probably wound up because I was wound up and the packing was upsetting their routine. And yeah, they had plenty of exercise this morning, both of them were overtired if anything. Or maybe it's the full moon.

By 4:30 I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown (apparently it doesn't take much). I was planning on one more practice at Biscuit Eaters but decided I was too fried and that a run would be much better. My running goal for the fall is to complete the Hogback trail which is a loop that branches off one of the trails near my house. In all it's around 8 miles or so round trip from my house and previous to today I was up to about 5 1/4-5 1/2 miles, or about 5 minutes up the trail. Well, I was having such a good run and grooving out to the mp3 player and most importantly was not home packing so I got in into my head to do the whole loop. This was incredibly stupid for any number of reasons but somehow I couldn't stop myself. It's been a good 10 years or so since I've done the Hogback so I couldn't exactly remember what the whole loop was like other than that there were some steep steps down that backside on the return. Well, the trail climbs gently for a while then climbs very steeply to the top of the hill. Once on top, the trail gets very rocky, so much so that I decided to walk so I wouldn't twist an ankle or fall. Even more importantly the trail goes through prime mountain lion territory with big stacks of rocks right next to the trail. I turned off my mp3 player though I don't know why. Do I really want to hear the lion rushing towards me so I can experience a brief moment of pure abject terror right before he rips my head off? Wouldn't I be better off enjoying some nice music and not knowing what hit me? It was so stupid for me to be up there so close to dusk on my own. I picked my way along with my heart in my mouth for a while then I heard a snort. I froze in my tracks but thankfully it was another runner who appeared coming from the other direction before I needed a new pair of shorts. I figured if no lions had gone for him I was probably o.k. Nonetheless a few minutes later out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a large, tan animal moving through the tall grass. I had a moment of panic then realized it was a deer.

Finally the trail smoothed out a bit and headed back down away from the rocks. Once I made it past the big steps I was able to run again. I passed a few large bucks lying in the grass right off the trail but they seemed uninterested in me. A minute or two later I came upon their harem, a big group of females and babies who were on either side of and on the trail. I slowed to a walk and they gave me some curious glances but didn't run away. Some were right next to the trail, so close that if they sneezed I would have been covered in deer snot. Very cool.

The rest of the run was uneventful, I took a little shortcut home but it only cut off maybe 1/4 mile. It was downhill so it went quickly. My legs and knees are sore, it was a stupid thing to do from a training perspective. And do I really need to risk injuring myself right before Nationals? But sometimes you just gotta run. Oh yeah, and I guess I need a new running goal.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nationals Schedule

Here's my schedule for Nationals this year. I'm posting it more for myself so I can reference it later if I lose my hard copies but maybe someone somewhere is interested in what a typical day looks like.


12:30 pm Walk – Ring #2, Grand Prix Classic

3:46 p.m. Run (P12, 12, P16, 16, P22, 22, 26) (85 dogs)


7:00-7:10 a.m. Walk – Ring #4, Team Snooker
7:28-7:38 a.m. Walk – Ring #6, Team Jumpers
8:10-8:20 a.m. Walk – Ring #2, Grand Prix Quarterfinals

9:00-10:20 a.m. Run – Ring #4, Team Snooker (P22, P16, P12, C12, C26) (78 dogs)
11:00-12:30 a.m. Run – Ring #6, Team Jumpers (C26, P12, C12, P16, P22) (78 dogs)
12:35-2:15 p.m. Run – Ring #2, Grand Prix Quarterfinals (P8, P12, P16, P22) (42 dogs)


7:28-7:38 a.m. Walk – Ring #6, Speed Jumping Semifinals
**7:56-8:06 a.m. Walk – Ring #2 (verify) Grand Prix Semifinals
8:10-8:20 a.m. Walk – Ring #3, Team Standard

**11:05-11:55 a.m. Run – Ring #2 (verify), Grand Prix Semifinals (P8, P22, 22)
2:00-3:25 p.m. Run – Ring #3, Team Standard (P16, P12, C12, P22, 26) (78 dogs)
3:30-4:10 p.m. Run – Ring #6, Speed Jumping Semifinals (C22, P8, P22) (30 dogs)


8:38-8:48 a.m. Walk – Ring #5, Team Gamblers

2:55-? p.m. Run – Ring #5, Team Gamblers (P22, P16, C16) (71 dogs)


7:30-7:40 a.m. Walk - Ring #2, Steeplechase Classic

9:15-11:30 a.m. Run – Ring #2, Steeplechase Classic (P12, 12, P22, 22, P8) (65 dogs)

**if we qualify

Kennel Space #K12

The gibberish in parenthesis is the run order for the heights (mine is P22). I'm in rotation C with a lot of other Colorado folks which is nice. One of my teammates is in my rotation but the other is a different height and in a different rotation. It will be hard to watch my teammate's runs though because I'm running 2 dogs in the same height in team and it's a looooooong way back to the kenneling tents plus I really need to be totally focused on whatever dog I'm about to run, esp. in that highly charged atmosphere, so nobody shuts down on me.

This may be my last chance to post for a while, I'm squeezing in one last agility practice tomorrow morning then a bike ride with the girls plus packing, packing and more packing. I'm going to try to post during Nationals, hopefully some video and photos but I can't promise how good I'll be about it. Last year I started out o.k. but after a day or two found it difficult to come home and post after watching the finals events at night. I was too tired and wanted to go to get some good sleep for the next morning. I'm planning on watching the Perf. Grand Prix on Thursday night and Speed Jumping/Steeplechase Finals Friday night but I'm not hanging around on Sunday for the Champ. Grand Prix Finals. I really didn't enjoy it all that much last year and I'd rather hit the road for home as early as possible.

We're planning on spending a couple of days hiking in Sedona before Nationals and hopefully a little detour to Petrified National Forest on the drive in so it feels more like a vacation. I'll have my bike this time so I should be able to get around a lot easier and won't get so tired. The kennel space will be nice too, I'm one space away from a fellow Coloradoan and Lola's teammate that helped us qualify this year. She wanted to be on a team together for Nationals which would have been very cool but she asked me after I'd already committed to other teammates.

My teams are 'Cody Sees Stars' (Cody and a BC called Star) and 'Lola Blasts Off' (Lola and a Golden Retriever called Blast). My teammates came up with the names, my options were pretty bad. My favorite team name was 'Lo's Not The Moss Of Me' (Lola & Moss) from last year's Nationals. Don't ask me how I ever thought of that one and I thought my teammate came up with better options but she liked that one and I didn't care. I never met Cody's teammate from last year which was kind of a bummer. We tried to get together but kept playing cell phone tag and never managed to meet up. I know both my teammate's this year but not well. In fact I don't know very many people who are going to Nationals this year. Only one person from Biscuit Eaters is going that I know of. Oh well, it'll be fun anyway.

Good luck to everyone who's going! And if you see a short, blondish, harried looking woman with a crazy brindle mutt or enormous, long legged red & white BC say hello by all means.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hobbes, Sept. 1990-Oct. 24, 2007

I had to say goodbye to my cat Hobbes last night. He was 17 and was having major health problems. His kidneys were starting to go though that was still treatable but his heart and breathing were in bad shape and he'd completely stopped eating. We could have gone through lots of expensive diagnostic tests (cardiologist, x-rays) but even with a best case scenario he'd need to be on daily medications which the vet warned could be difficult to administer and Hobbes was difficult when it came to pills. But I felt that chances were high we'd go through all the tests only to learn that yep our 17 year old cat was on his way out. He was barely eating more than a few bites a day last week and stopped eating entirely a few days ago so we decided it would be best to have him put down since I didn't want him starving to death. He had a good long life and was seemingly healthy up until the past couple of weeks but still it's always a tough decision to make. Why can't they ever go peacefully in their sleep?

I can't remember the exact date we got him but it's probably within a week or so (if not to the day) that we got him from the shelter, sort of. It was bedlam in the shelter and we'd been waiting in line forever for someone to arrange a meeting with some kittens we were interested in when a woman came in with a box of 3 kittens she wanted to surrender. We told her we'd happily take 2 of them off her hands. The shelter staff weren't thrilled but we saved ourselves some red tape and cash and the kittens never had to spend a night in the shelter. I've since donated plenty to the shelter so I don't feel at all bad about it.
Hobbes was good natured for a cat, he never tried to bite or scratch anyone even the vet, except when I tried to force feed him drugs. He was also a little bastard, destroying untold number of screens, blinds, knick knacks and our sofa. He loved to wake me up at unspeakable hours in the night by screaming in my ear and head butting me.

In his younger days he loved climbing trees but he wasn't so great at climbing down and I'd sometimes find a group of neighbors gathered by a tree and laughing their asses off as he tried to get down by shimmying himself down butt first and crying his little head off the whole time. I don't recall ever having to rescue him but I could be remembering that wrong.

He was great with all the dogs, putting up with Lola's puppy shenanigans and Strummer's crazy herding behaviors. I think his favorite was our old Akita Roscoe whom he'd often curl up next to. When we'd take him walking through the park behind our house both cats would follow along, also earning laughs from the neighbors. He was a terrible mouser, I don't think he ever killed anything in his life. He brought a live baby mouse into the house and set it free and we also caught him catching a live mouse and lying on top of it (the mouse eventually got free unharmed). We locked him in a room once where we knew there was a mouse and he cried incessantly to be let out then ran to his food bowl and scarfed up his dinner.

In the past few years we felt like the dogs had overshadowed him as he'd slowed down quite a bit and spent most of his time perched on the back of the sofa swatting at us to be petted or catting around the yard & lying in the sun. So we were surprised by how empty the house felt when we came home last night and at bedtime when he didn't come up to me for his bedtime scritches. 17 years is the longest I've ever had any pet and for such a wee felly he's sure left a pretty big hole.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fun Matches Galore

Normally I can't find a fun match to save my life but this weekend there were not one but two within 50 minutes drive. Saturday was outdoors on grass up at Powerpups. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect practice conditions for Nationals. The course was the first round of the Grand Prix from the Texas Regionals. It had some challenging bits, including a tough weave pole entry which was great to practice. Both dogs got the entry on both their runs which gives me a good bit of confidence that their weave skills are improving with the drills I'm doing. The main thing I wanted to work on though was contacts. Cody started off running through the A-frame down contact but not stopping. He collected himself like he's supposed to but released himself at the bottom. If I could trust him not to start launching I'd love this to be his contact behavior because it's so much easier on his shoulders than coming to a full stop bu t I know from experience that he'll soon be launching if I allow this to continue. So everytime he ran through his contacts I had him redo the obstacle until he stopped then he got a big high value reward. It didn't take too long for him to figure it out and by his second run he was having a pretty high success rate. Lola's contacts were slow & creepy but she hit every one which I suppose is something. She had some nice dogwalks toward the end though despite falling off during her second run.

Overall Cody's runs were wonderful. He was fast, focus, motivated. His first run was clean and his second run was nearly so but for a handling bobble on my part. Lola on the other hand had an o.k. first run then shut down at the start line for her second run. Near as I can tell the reason was that I was yelling at Cody to shut his piehole because he was barking incessantly. He pitches a fit when I leave him behind to run Lola and normally I just ignore him because yelling at him only reinforces the barking. But Powerpups is in a residential neighborhood and I didn't want to get the place in trouble with the neighbors so I was doing what I could to shut him up. Lola was cringing every time I yelled at him since yelling is not something I normally do, esp. right before an agility run. I could tell from her body language on the start line that she wasn't happy and when I released her to start the run she immediately started stress sniffing and refused to start. The last time I remember her doing anything like this was at Nationals last year during the Grand Prix Semifinals where I think the tension of all the other handlers & dogs really got to her. It's probably just as well she's not entered in it this year. Anyway I put my feet right under her nose, got her attention back on me and ran with her off the start line right into the first jump. Literally. I managed to bring the whole jump to the ground, luckily before Lola tried to jump it. She was o.k. once I got her going until we got to the dogwalk toward the end and she got her feet tangled up in themselves and fell off. I put her right back on and she nearly fell off again but managed a couple more reps without incident. It's likely she was trying to keep up with me as I raced her to the end and she lost track of her feet. In any case this had me really worried. Was she stressing because her injury was resurfacing? That was my big worry. On the other hand she's stressed like that at this location before though it's been over a year since that's happened. Also it was getting hot and the sun was beating down with no cloud cover, something else that sometimes shuts her down. I had her signed up for a fun match the next day and decided to try her on one run to see if it would happen again and pull her from her second run no matter what happened.

Sunday's match was inside on dirt and the weather was horrible-cold, windy, snow coming down sideways, boy was that drive to Golden in the slushy snow not fun. I brought some of Lola's favorite treats and spent plenty of time warming her up and keeping her happy before her run. And she was fine. In fact she was the best she's been since her injury. Her contacts weren't as fast as I'd like but everything else went great. If she runs like that at Nationals I'll be thrilled. My plan is to run with her right off the start line at Nationals if I notice her stressing the least bit, something I haven't had to do for quite some time but I'll revert to it if I need to to keep her comfortable. I kept my word and pulled her from her second run figuring it was best to quit while we're ahead. Later I noticed her licking her foot and discovered her dew claw pad was healing from being a bit torn. It's been so dry, her pads often crack in the fall/winter so it's possible her pad was torn on Sat. and that's why she didn't want to run. I usually put Vitamin E on all the dogs' paws in the winter but I'd forgotten all about it during the summer.

Cody's runs were beautiful, I think he held every contact, may have run through one though can't quite remember. If he runs like that at Nationals I'll be ecstatic. I'm planning on resting Lola this week, maybe she'll have a quickie practice on Sat. and Cody's having a lesson with Joy tomorrow then he's off until maybe Sat. as well.

I'm supposed to be laying off my own tri training this week so I don't run myself ragged before Nationals but yeah that's not working out so well so far. Had a fantastic long trail run (1 hour) on Sat. then ran yesterday and this morning then master's swim practice tonight after a grueling massage at the chiropractor's. It's going to be in the 70's tomorrow, how can I not go for a lunch time bike ride? Oh well, plenty of time to rest during the 13 1/2 hour drive to Scottsdale.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Team Player?

Since Cody & Lola both qualifed for 2008 nationals in Team at their last trial I figured that would be it for entering them in team for the rest of the year. I'm not even sure where nationals will be in 2008 or if I even want to go anyway. Three days of 5-6 runs a day is a lot to ask of my dogs, esp. since Cody is 9 and has to jump above his shoulder height and Lola's such a big girl. It's also a lot to ask of me since I have to take a vacation day on Friday and then go to work on Monday and be coherent after 3 long, tiring days with very little down time. I mainly entered the team event a couple of weeks ago to practice for nationals this year and because I liked the judge's courses from a previous trial.

I also hate the pressure of having to do well for teammates. Even if my teammates say they don't care and I advertise for 'fun' teams, I still feel bad when we E which is unfortunately the main mistake we make when we make mistakes. I end up feeling bad about runs that have just one little mistake that I would normally have felt great about but because it's an E for the team I feel terrible about it. In a way maybe this is good because I think I'm way too laid back about the whole competition thing. If I cared more maybe I'd focus a little better. I seem to do better under a bit of pressure whether I like it or not. Also, maybe it would be good for me to learn not to worry so much about disappointing other people. It's a normal part of life in general, I should learn how to buck up and deal with it.

But the next local USDAA trial has added a team event and worse has spread the regular masters & tournament events over the 3 days. So if I want to do Speed Jumping and masters standard on Friday I have to take a day off work, get up at 5 am, drive through Boulder & Denver in rush hour traffic all for only 2 classes. But if I enter Team then it's a whopping 5 classes on Friday and 5, maybe 6 if we make Speed Jumping finals on Sat. Then only 3 classes on Sunday no matter what. On top of all that one of my all time favorite judges, Scott Chamberlain, is judging. I just ran one of his courses from the Bay Team's Regional Grand Prix final on Monday night and was thinking how much I like his challenging courses and was hoping he'd come back here to judge sometime soon. And there are no trials between the first week of Jan. and the first week of April unless I want to do NADAC (um, not really) or drive 8 hours to Kansas in Feb. (um, not really). So maybe a little agility overdose in Jan. would hold me over until April. Poor dogs though, are they going to enjoy all that? Should I 'save' them for the non-team runs that I care more about? Regionals will likely be in the Denver area this year just 40-45 mintues from my house so I'd like to pick up those qualifiers so we can go. Also, it will be stressful trying to volunteer and run all those classes, if I'm not in team I can work those classes and relax for the ones I care about. I'm thinking of entering as a draw so that I could scratch some classes if I wanted to but maybe I can't do that if there's an even number of dogs and someone else needs a partner. Plus, I'll get agility fever and want to do all my runs once the trial comes around, who am I kidding? I may not have a super competitive nature but I'm as much of an addict as the next crazy dog person.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Evil Jumpers Course, Part 2

If you thought that course posted below was evil, try running it with the number 14 jump taken from the opposite side of what's shown on the map. That's how it was set up at Biscuit Eaters and I never looked at the map before running it so I had no idea it was set up wrong. You end up having 2 threadles instead of a nice serpentine. With that course layout the section from #9 to #16 is the most challenging part. I had Lola on my left when she came out of the #9 tunnel, rear crossed then did a front cross on the take-off side of #12. I stayed on the take-off side of #12, more or less between 12 and 13 and facing forward and brought her around in a 180 degree arc with my off arm (right) then had her wrap the #13 jump to her right and sent her over #14 on my right, crossed behind her and picked her up on my left side to finish up the threadle. Whew! That was Joy's suggestion for the shortest, quickest path. My original idea which I also tried and which also worked nicely but with more yardage was to stay on the landing side of 12 after the front cross, send her over 13 on my right and have her wrap #13 the her left, pick her up on my left and do the threadles all on the same side, with her on my left. And actually, thinking about it, I think I still put in that front cross on the take-off side of 12 and still somehow managed to have her wrap 13 to her right. The risk with that is the #3 off course jump.

The other interesting spot was #5 weaves to #7 tunnel. Initially I ran it with a straight path to jump #6 with Lo on my right then I flipped her into the tunnel. This was awkward and wasted at least a second or two. Joy suggested setting line to the tunnel after the weaves and before jump #6 which worked a lot better. Can't believe I didn't spot that myself but I was rushed and not thinking when I walked the course.

Believe it or not I also had a problem at the #3 jump as Lo pulled off the jump when I ran to get in place for a front cross between #4 and the weaves. Lo's committment point is so late, she pulled off at the very last moment. Joy suggested a lateral leadout so that I could run with her almost right up to the jump but at a good lateral distance away so I could be be close enough to #4 to pull of the front cross. Of course this only works with a dog who works at a lateral distance, no problem for Miss Lola.

I seldom make that many mistakes on a course so it was a good one for learning. Joy's lessons are a lot of fun for me, way better than training on my own all the time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Evil Jumpers Course

This course from the Cattle Dog Nationals was set up for run throughs at Biscuit Eaters this week and it was evil. I had a lesson with Joy on this course and when I get more time I'll go into an analysis but for now you can plot your own strategies.

Monday, October 08, 2007

MAD Dog In The Mid-day Sun

Well we had a pretty fantabulous weekend, esp. Cody, and those don't happen all that often, esp. for Cody. He finished up his Perf. MAD title with a beautiful Standard run on a very tricky course and he got first place in a fairly competitive field. For those unfamiliar with agility this is the masters versatility title, meanining you need 3 perfect runs on a standard agility course and one qualifying score in each of the four games at the masters level. It's a lot harder than it sounds, believe me, esp. for your first dog.

But wait, there's more...Cody also got second place and qualified in the Perf. Grand Prix on another tricky course with some tough competition. Stacy Peardot had 2 dogs in the class and we came second to one of them, can't feel bad about that, esp. since he had a nice clean run. But wait, there's even more...his PVP Team came in third place and qualified for 2008 Nationals. I have to be honest though, this was mainly due to our awesome teammates Lucy & Diane. In fact, I think they could have come in 3rd even if we hadn't shown up they were doing so well. Gamblers had a regular gamble in it and it was so hard that only 4 dogs in the whole trial got it and Lucy was one of them. Pretty awesome for an 11 1/2 year old dog.

Lola's PVP Team also qualified for Nationals next year and took 5th place. Only 6 or 7 of the 11 teams qualified so we just made it. She also finished up her master Jumpers title, her first masters title. We picked up another pairs leg and Snooker leg (no Super Q though, off by a second or 2).

The one heartbreaking moment of the weekend was Cody's Snooker run. It was a nice run, some wide turns but we made it through to the end in time. I remembered to sprint for the finish line but I forgot to make sure my dog came with me. Cody took a U shaped tunnel that shot him away from the finish line on the way out and I had to call him to me from across the field to finish. We tied the 2nd place dog for points but were .01 second behind and thus missed the Super Q. Can you say 'Argh!!!'? Oh well, that'll learn me. Cody also picked up another Jumpers leg and he needs only one more for his masters Jumpers title.

Overall, I really liked the courses. We had the same judge last month so I knew what to expect. They were very challenging but fun with places for the dog to open up and run as well as some tricky handling challenges. Some of the courses gave advantage to those with distance skills (or running your ass off skills, whichever you preferred). It was great practice for Nationals and there were lots of people from out of town who came for that reason.

Weave pole performance for both dogs was much improved, Cody missed only 2 entries and Lola missed/popped out on only one that I can remember. Lola had some weird run bys on obvious jumps in Team Standard and the Grand Prix, I forget sometimes that I need to work every jump with her. It's a training issue too I think. Lo seemed slower than normal though this could have been due to the sort of warm temps. It was in the high 70's/low 80's but windy with cloud cover here and there so it wasn't horrible but it was enough to slow her down. On Sunday the temps. dropped into the 50's and she perked up a bit but still seemed slower than normal. I'll be keeping an eye on that, I'm hoping she's not still injured. She seemed plenty sound but she could be hiding something.

Lola hit all her contacts except one up dogwalk. That rarely happens so I'm not going to get too excited about it. She was slow though, stopping on the A-frame, creeping down the dogwalk-ugh. She's been doing well in practice, I think the judge was freaking her out. She had a nice table on Sat. but outright refused to lay down on Sunday. I'm almost certain it was because of the judge's position and before we even ran I thought it might be a problem when I saw where she was standing. Something else to proof for. Cody missed only one contact (dogwalk) but didn't do a single proper 2 on/2 off either. He's so perfect in practice and I do all kinds of stuff to proof it. His tables were both beautiful. We had an off course in Sunday's Std. run so I took him out at the table and gave him a huge reward because he went down so fast. He was excited about that, hopefully his nice tables will continue. We have a fun match before Nationals and also a different place to practice run throughs so we can work on these things, hopefully it will help a bit.

I think lessons with Joy have made a huge difference, esp. in my confidence with my handling and course analysis. I'm going to keep them up until Nationals, they're worth every penny.

Oh yeah, there are photos:
You have to hit the 'continue' button but the pics should come up right after that. There are so many good ones, I may have to order some.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

USDAA This Weekend

I'm off to a 3 day USDAA trial in Fountain (1 hour, 50 minutes away) this weekend. I love agility but I hate travelling/hotels and I'm already dreading my 4 am wake up call. Normally I don't sign up for the Team event for this trial but I thought it would be good practice for Nationals. I've been wanting a teammate called Lucy now for ages so I could pair her up with Lola and have a team called 'Lolapaloosy' so I was thrilled when the only dog named Lucy that I know of that does USDAA answered my post requesting a teammate. Thrilled that is until I realized Lola had a teammate already and it was Cody needing the pairing. Oh well, our team name might not be as good-LC BC-but Lucy is an awesome dog and to be honest I was both flattered and surprised that she wanted to pair with us. Lucy has got a zillion NATCH's and USDAA champ. titles and I think she took 2nd at NADAC Champs this year in the vet division. She's amazingly fast for a dog in her double digits (she's 11 or so) and very solid. Thankfully she's only entering for fun. Lola's teamed with a black Standard Poodle called Moola so we are team 'Moo Lo La!' Lola & Moola are pretty much the same speed and consistency so it's a good matching I think.

The main thing I want to work on at this trial is keeping focused with my handling. I'm tired of having beautiful runs with just one stupid handling glitch. I want to do well for my teammates and also gain some confidence at my last trial before Nationals. I'm going to be concentrating on my timing and making sure I keep moving and no stopping and moving backwards for those wraps. I'm going to call the dogs' names when I need them to come into me rather than 'here here HERE'. We'll see how the weave pole training pays off. I don't think we're far enough along in the program to see huge improvement but both dogs did get a really tough entry at practice on the 'World' Team Medium Dog Agility finals course. That weave entry from the chute was tough, esp. since I don't have Medium dogs. Lola's contacts have been improving and Cody's have been perfect, we'll see how that holds up in competition. I need to remember to let Cody get into position and release him while I'm at a stop, otherwise he'll start blowing every contact. Releasing him early and while I'm still moving is probably the main reason I have no contacts in the ring.

It's supposed to be 82 degrees (blech) on Friday, 77 (not much better) on Saturday and 51 with 40 percent chance of showers on Sunday so I've packed up my whole closet. I could probably have a garage sale out of my car on Sunday but I hate being cold & wet or too hot so I've got all sorts of layers and Gore Tex and even waterproof socks. Now if only there was some way to lighten the blow of that 4 am wake up call and ensuing grumpiness tomorrow.