Thursday, July 31, 2008

Running Dogwalk Practice

I was curious to see how the behavior would hold up after nearly a week of no practice. I had a session with the plank off the ground right before I left for Chicago and Strummer was brilliant, at least 80% and maybe 90% with solid hits. Lola was maybe 90-100%, can't quite remember (yes, I know, BAD, I should write that stuff down). Cody, well, we won't go into Cody.

It was hot last night, even at 8:00 pm when I started the session and the dogs seemed to tire easily plus they've been sitting on their butts for the past 5 days.

Cody had the most interesting session of the 3. Even though he's near retirement I still can't help myself with wanting to train him. It's good for his brain too, I don't want to start neglecting him just because he won't be competing. He's proving to be the most challenging with this behavior because he's such a bouncy dog and has a natural tendency to leap for the pure joy of it. I thought I would start troubleshooting the leaping by placing the treat gizmo close to the end of the board and also by standing close to the end of the board and facing him hoping that all these collection cues would give him the right idea. Well, Cody has had a lifetime of defying all logic when it comes to training and after 3 reps. it became clear that wasn't going to work. So I thought I'd switch to walking next to the plank with hopes that my motion would cue him to run or trot instead of taking those huge flying leaps. This worked much better in that he did stop leaping but he's putting in an extra stride which makes it awkward and slow for him to hit the end of the plank. My main goal for the training session was to get rid of the leaping so I did reward the awkward striding. At this point I'm not at all concerned with speed, I mainly want him to perform the dogwalk without leaping off the end and hurting himself. Hopefully he'll get the idea and get rid of the extra stride. Will be interesting to see what future training sessions bring. With Cody you never know.

Lola had the least amount of hits and I think it's because she was a bit wound up and focusing more on the treat gizmo than her feet. Strummer also had trouble at the start because he was over the top wound up. I ran him last and he'd worked himself up into quite the state by the time it was his turn. But after a few reps he calmed down a bit and had some nice hits.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dog Beach Photos

I got some better photos the next day at the dog beach thanks to a better variety of dogs. The Evanston dog beach is the place to be mid-morning on a nice summer Sunday.

This one is my favorite. This cute little Aussie showed up just as we were starting to think about leaving so of course I had to stay a bit longer. Something about the herding breeds, they're so expressive.

Throw the ball dammit!

Not a great photo but look at that sweet smile on Annie's face.

Annie's friend Lily. This photo is going to go in a calendar for canine epilepsy. My friend asked Lily's owner about photo credits for me and she said no, they don't do photo credits in the calendar. When he told me he had asked her I just laughed and laughed. Photo credits for what? I was messing around with my camera and happened to get lucky and this is hardly a professional grade photo anyway. It seems that so much of photography is the equipment and having the spare time to wait around forever for just the right moment.

Wee Body was too cute for words.

This Afghan had such a sweet face.

Home Sweet Home

I'm finally home and it feels so good. I find travelling annoying and exhausting though it was good to see friends & family. Both plane trips had delays, the worst being on the return where it was an hour late taking off then when we go to the gate they wouldn't let us off the plane because they had lost power to the exit ramp, or some such nonsense. I had a 3:00 pm physical therapy appointment that shouldn't have been a problem to make but I screeched in with just 2-3 minutes to spare. The sad thing is that noone was even upset by this, these delays must be so routine that everyone expects them. We had a mid-morning flight, there was no bad weather anywhere, there was no excuse and American Airlines barely apologized for it. I'm done with planes until I go back again next year, phew. Jonny's going to Scotland to visit his family but I'll be staying home. It's way too expensive for us both to go and I'm quite happy to stay home. Plus what it does to your global footprint, yikes. I hate listening to my fellow Boulderites going on about their 'green' lifestyles then yammering on about all the air travel they do. I'm sorry, you can buy all the local produce you want and parade around town in your Prius and ride your bike to yoga class but as soon as you step on that airplane you've blown your global footprint right out of the water. So yeah that's my excuse for avoiding the planes, global warming. If only my family would buy that.

Chicago has major transportation issues as well. Basically, it takes forever to go anywhere. Jonny & I went to the Art Institute on a weekday and decided to take the train to avoid the hassle of driving. One of the major highways is down to 1 or 2 lanes due to construction and the drive is enough of a nightmare when there isn't construction. It took 2 hours door to door on that #$%@ train. According to mapquest the Art Institute is 18.27 miles from where we were staying and it should have taken 27 minutes by car. Maybe if we left at 4 am on a Sunday. I can drive downtown in 20 minutes at 4 am on a Sunday but unless you're running the Chicago marathon there's little reason to be down there at that hour. You cannot drive anywhere in Chicago in 27 minutes at 9:30 am on a weekday, trust me on this one. We would have been faster on bikes. Maybe this is why my friend has taken to kayaking on the river. I am so very glad that I no longer have to transport myself around that gridlocked city. It's one of the main reasons I moved away.

The dogs were exhausted when we picked them up at the vet. I'm supposing they were too nervous to sleep much in the kennel. I felt bad about it but what else could I do. I think Lola in particular was happy to be home and sleeping on a nice tempurpedic mattress instead of a hard concrete floor. She doesn't sleep on the bed too often in the summer because it's too hot for her but this morning I woke up all squished and contorted with Lola sprawled out over half the bed and all felt right in the world. Now to get back to training.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hairdresser On Fire

I'm in Chicago at the moment, trying to maintain my sanity but also having fun in between bouts of family craziness. I also managed not to have a nervous breakdown at Denver International Airport, hurrah. I even got some cool photos of a rainbow and funky clouds from the plane.

One of the things I like to do when I'm in Chicago is to treat myself to a haircut and some highlights/lowlights. It's an indulgence but I only do it once a year and it helps take away some of the stress of the trip. The 'salon' is a run down, dumpy place run by a gangstery looking guy and frequented by little nine million year old Jewish ladies. I'm not kidding, you have to dodge the walkers in that place to get from the hair washing sink to the hair cutting chair. It's a cultural experience to be sure. Plus, I feel so young for once. But my man Robert is a genius with the hair coloring and he's one of the only hairdressers who's ever succeeded in sending me home happy and not in tears. Plus he does it all for a super price, way less than what it would cost me at the foo foo places. He inherited a boatload of money and doesn't have to work but works 2 days a week anyway because he likes it. He is an artiste. He's also a really nice guy and a bit of a character. For a while he was going to my aunt's house and doing her hair in the comfort of her own home for a fraction of his already reasonable rates but she had to put a stop to it because he would come to do her hair and then not leave for like 7 hours. He's also a bit high strung and is always in a tizzy about something. This year the trauma was a double booking, namely me and some other woman also wanting a dye job. For some reason the salon is trying to drive him out and so double booking him all the time to make him look bad. I'm not sure why they want rid of him but my aunt confirmed his story. I'm not sure why he doesn't leave, I'm sure he could work somewhere nicer.

On top of the stress of a double booking he's limping around in a leg brace with his leg swollen up to 4 times its normal size. He's got a torn ligament plus put a nail through his leg doing some home remodelling project, was in the hospital with an infection in the leg and fell down the stairs there injuring it further. He's not supposed to be on his leg at all let alone running back and forth across the salon between 2 customers. I tell him a million times that I'm in no hurry don't worry about it, but he's worked himself up into a state.

In the meantime the woman sitting next to me decides I'm her new best friend and starts chatting and chatting and chatting. Usually people like that drive me crazy but I'm sitting there with a head full of bleach & tinfoil looking superfreaky and what else do I have to do so I chat with her, or rather I listen to her chatting. She was diagnosed with diabetes 3 months ago and learning to cope with her new dietary restrictions. She's also given up smoking, lost 9 pounds and taken up exercising. To keep her exercise regime interesting she's signed up for some program that sounds like a combination bootcamp/exercise/self-defense with the Israeli commandos. She says that on the bright side she'll be able to defend herself if anyone attacks her. 'Don't mess with a woman who can't have ice cream anymore' is her new motto on life.

For some reason the highlight dye is taking forever to develop so he has to keep coming over to check on me, puts me under the dryers, checks a bunch more times, and I'm feeling terrible about his leg and guilty about all my whining and self pity about my own knee. Finally he finishes the cutting and blow drying and somehow manages to tame my rats nest into something respectable looking. Total elapsed time: 2 hours. But wait, he's not satisfied with the highlights. There's not enough light tones and even though I tell him I think it's fine he's not happy with it and decides I need more. So he puts more dye & tinfoil on my head and sends me back under the dryers. Do you know what it's like sitting under a hot hairdryer with tinfoil on your head looking like you're waiting for the UFO's to come? If you are a boy, probably not. Then we have to go through the washing, conditioning, drying and styling again. But by the time he's done my hair looks fabulous and I'm good for another year.

The other thing I like to do while in Chicago is go to the Evanston dog beach with my friend and his dog Annie.

When my friend told me she was a border collie mix I was skeptical from just seeing photos of her but after seeing her in person I'm convinced she's part BC maybe mixed with Golden Retriever. Whatever she is, she's an absolute sweetie. Lovely temperament, greets you like you're her best friend when you come to the door but doesn't bark, isn't at all destructive, doesn't eat your pockets out of your pants or eat every unattended plastic bag or steal food off the counter or or... We've been threatening to swap her out for Strummer but my friend is having none of it.

I was playing around with my new camera lens but didn't have a whole lot of luck. Seems like all they had at the park were tan dogs blending into sand or black dogs who are challenging enough if you know what you're doing but downright vexing if you spent the plane trip doing Sudoku puzzles instead of reading instruction manuals like you were supposed to. These guys were having a good time though and I couldn't help taking a few photos.

Maybe I'll have some better luck tomorrow. Walking in the sand feels like fabulous therapy for my foot, an added bonus of the dog beach.

I managed to convince my other friend to go to my favorite Mexican restaurant instead of a kayak trip on the Chicago river. We did see his fancypants new condo that backs onto the river and it is really nice. He's a ways above the river so you get to enjoy the nice view of it without having to worry about getting any of it on you. I'll admit though it looked so nice I was almost tempted but then his wife admitted to falling out of the boat into the river and feeling absolutely disgusting covered in the mucky water. Plus we would have had to climb down a rope ladder for nearly 2 stories to get down to the river and there's no WAY Jonny was going to do that. I wasn't thrilled about the idea either what with the prospect of a misstep sending you tumbling into the river. We stuffed ourselves with burritos instead.

Now to see if I can last 2 more days without having a nervous breakdown.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Running Dogwalk Practice

I finally got some running dogwalk practice on video. It took forever and a day to upload the video and edit the clips so I don't think I can post video on a regular basis but I'll try to do it when I have a chance.

This is the first or second session using the Manners Minder or Treat Gizmo as I like to call it. It's out of view of the camera but you get the idea. I bought the stupid thing about 6-7 weeks ago but they sent me a bum one and it took forever to get a new one and finally get around to playing with it. Previous to this I was putting the dog in a sit stay at one end of the plank and calling them to me from the other, treating them if they did it right. My criteria is one front paw in the lower 2/3 of the yellow and no leaping (cough, Cody, cough). Since the dogs weren't used to me sending or running to the gizmo for rewards I started out at the far end of the plank and worked my way back.

For those unfamiliar with my dogs Strummer is 3 and hasn't started competing, Lola is 7 1/2 and has been competing for 4 1/2 years, Cody just turned 10 and has been competing for 7 years. I'm not fully intent on re-training Cody but he loves to train so I didn't want to leave him out but really it's just for fun. He's close to retiring and is cutting back on competition. He was trained with lovely 2 on/2 off but often leaps his contacts in trials. Oddly enough it's very difficult to get him to leap contacts in practice but he obviously he has no problem with leaping off the plank as you can see in the video. In fact he gets worse and worse as the session goes on. The leaping carried on into today's session (video is from yesterday) and I dealt with it by facing him at the end of the board and moving closer to the end of the board, crouching down and releasing him with a very calm, subdued 'O.k.' And even then he wanted to leap.

Lola was also trained with 2 on/2 off but her contacts have degenerated into lots of creeping on the dogwalk then sometimes she leaps, sometimes she hits it. The A-frame is iffy as well. She has shoulder and neck issues so I've decided to see if I can retrain running contacts so she doesn't further injure herself. Since the contact behavior I have in the ring is bad anyway it's not like I have much to lose.

Strummer is learning running contacts from the start. I did start off teaching him 2 on/2 off with a down using a plank but I didn't like what I saw when I started to transfer it to the dogwalk (he was barreling full speed down the down side of the dogwalk and screeching to a halt to throw himself into a down) and the A-frame was even worse so I abandoned that before he ever learned it on the equipment.

These sessions are typical for Strummer and Lola with the board on the ground, I have no idea where Cody's head was at, usually he's much better. I had started them on a slightly elevated board working on recalls only and the success rate plummeted to about 30% for both dogs. I put the board flat again so I could work on sends. Once they're 80% with the sends I'll raise the board again.

I realize the lighting is bad and the dogs kind of fade into the shadows but I have a small yard and there isn't much I can do about it. I had to train at that time of day for various reasons. I also apologize for the bright fuchsia top, one of my bargain bin finds but it's so comfortable in hot weather and I didn't realize how distracting it was until I saw the video. I did do you all the favor of changing out of the purple shorts I was wearing.

I wasn't using a clicker to mark the correct behavior and I had the beep turned off on the treat gizmo. There's a delay from when you push the remote for the gizmo and when the beep sounds. Instead I was using a verbal marker. I started out using a clicker lo the many weeks ago but changed my mind after attending the Susan Garrett seminar. My timing with the clicker was terrible and I was doubtful the dogs could hear it anyway since their paws thundering down the board drowned it out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drag The River

I'm trying to get myself excited about my impending annual trip to Chicago to visit friends & family. I hate to travel, hateit hateit hateit, plus I hate leaving the dogs, not because I worry about them in the kennel but because I'll miss them. I love our morning walks and training sessions. What's the point of vacation time if I can't spend it with the dogs? But it's important for me to see my family so I suck it up and go.

One of my Chicago friends called the other night to make plans for my visit and much to my horror he's intent on taking me kayaking. On the Chicago River. Yes folks, the Chicago River. The very first thought to leap into my head is 'he's got to be joking' and the second thought is 'the smell, the smell'. He's got a fancy new downtown condo that backs right on to the river, we can hop in right off his deck. Oh joy! There was a time not too long ago where this would not be a selling point for a fancy new condo but somehow the realtors have worked their voodoo and turned river access into an amenity.

Those unfamiliar with the Chicago River are probably thinking 'Well, that sounds fabulous, a tour of downtown by kayak sounds like a lovely opportunity, quityerwhining'. Those who are familiar with the Chicago River are thinking 'Good luck with that one, just don't come anywhere near me when you're done Typhoid Mary'. In fact the thought of being close enough to the river to get even a tiny drop of it on me makes my skin crawl. I've already jolted awake once in the middle of the night from the horror of it. Here is how the average Chicagoan enjoys the Chicago River. They walk over one of the many bridges downtown, look down at the river and think, 'ah, the Chicago River, I'm glad it's all the way down there and I'm all the way up here'. They do not think, 'hmmm, let's go for a paddle! It's a lovely day for a case of cholera.'

Normally I would tell my friend, ummm, can't we please do something else. The art museum, my favorite Mexican restaurant, Thai food, anything but the problem is that Jonny wants to go. He is not a native Chicagoan and he doesn't understand. I've tried explaining but he thinks I'm exaggerating. In a last ditch effort I'm going to try to tell him it's like when he tries to explain the midgies in Scotland to other people. Midges bite and give you itchy bumps like mosquitoes but they are tiny so that you can't swat them. They can get through the seam of a tent (I'm speaking from experience here. And no I will never ever ever ever go camping in Scotland ever again. Ever.) Here's a good post about them, click on the video, trust me you still won't understand. Don't tell me your mosquito horror stories, I've been camping in Wisconsin, Oregon, etc., I know all about it, trust me, you still don't understand. And maybe this is how it is with the Chicago River, hard to make others understand.

Since it seems I'm outvoted I decided to do a little research. Maybe there's been some massive clean-up effort and it's now possible to paddle in the river without the threat of getting poop splashed in your eye. The good news is that it seems they've had no cholera or typhoid outbreaks since the late 1800's when the river was at it's worst. There is still a branch called 'Bubbly Creek' from back in the slaughterhouse days that supposedly still has festering cow remnants. The bad news is that the 'revitalization' of the river seems to be more a case of commercial development along the river rather than an actual cleaning of the water. My favorite quotes from the article: ''The river hadn't been much to look at for a long time, and now, it doesn't even smell bad anymore,'' said Gene Arbetter, a lifelong Chicagoan who rents out his river bikes from the serene dock he shares with Old World Gondoliers..
Here's another good one:
But selling the river to Chicago residents, many of whom still see it as less than pristine, might still be tough. ''It's still an unhealthy green color,'' said Jason Ur, a graduate student in archaeology at the University of Chicago. ''You can see quite a bit of garbage floating in it.' Somewhere else I found a statistic that 1 out of every 1000 rivers users becomes sickened by it. I'm not sure if this makes me feel better or not. On the one hand I would have thought it would be higher, on the other hand I'm not sure why I should take the risk at all.

I'll try working on Jonny some more. Maybe I'll make him read Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'. If all else fails I wonder if my friend will be offended if I show up for our kayak outing in a hazmat suit.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

I was supposed to spend the weekend building agility equipment and catching up on chores but I went here instead.

This was taken at around 12,500 ' at a scenic overlook off of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Soon after taking the photo I ran into a teenage girl who was whining, ‘Awww oooohhh, I can’t get any service up here’ while she waved her phone in the air, oblivious to the amazing scenery around her. I came very close to grabbing the phone out of her hand, throwing it over the cliff and saying, ‘Can you hear me now?’

She missed the show put on by a pair of frisky marmots.

Marmot Smackdown!

We took a hike on the Ute trail which ambled along the mountain tundra at around 12,500’. The wildflowers were spectacular and we had a beautiful sunny day with no threat of storms.

Tundra flowers

Silly marmot. Some loud mouthed dorky guy was bellowing about making him into a hat and I was so hoping the marmot would bite him. Instead the marmot opted to chase his girlfriend who went fleeing down the trail squealing in fear. Actually he wasn't chasing her so much as he was hoping for a handout but I didn't tell her that, it was too funny. Usually marmots are surly and can act aggressively to people but this one had obviously been fed before and when he realized the girl wasn't giving him any grub he went over to a couple who were having a snack on a rock and started rifling through their backpacks. In fact it was Jonny opening up a chocolate bar that had brought the critter out of hiding in the first place but he must have realized that a Scotsman and his chocolate aren't easily parted and he left us in peace.

Not sure what these flowers were but there were tons of them. Took a close-up so I could look up what they were then got too lazy. Maybe a clever reader knows.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Snooker and Pairs Runs, Regionals 2008

Here's a course map and video of Cody's Snooker run. You can ignore the part where I pull him off the second red then go back to redo it (forgot where I was going for a moment). It was a nice run other than that. It had clouded up and cooled down considerably so Cody was running nicely. In retrospect I regret going back to pick up that red. Stupid Super Q's.

Normally I wouldn't get too excited by Team Relay but this one was tricky for both sides. I was happy with what I did with Lola. I happened to see Susan Garrett's run and she ran the second side as well but she started with her dog on her left and rear crossed to the teeter. I think she had a problem with that strategy but I can't quite remember what happened. Her teammate did the same thing and definitely had a problem, can't remember how it went down but I'm pretty sure he ended up with an off course, maybe into the tunnel. Not to pick on them, it was interesting to see a different handling strategy and not many people tried that. Lots of people had trouble on the first half of the course between the A-frame and weaves. Lots of refusals at the weaves.

Master Pairs was also tricky, the second half at least. One handler fell twice, at the #3 tunnel entry and the #10 tunnel exit. I handled Cody nicely and he had a nice smooth run but I mishandled Lola, didn't quite get in the front cross I had planned at the #3 and #10 tunnel entry even though I had plenty of time and then had trouble sending her ahead for a rear cross. In retrospect I should have put a front cross in between #4 and #5 since I ended up waiting around for her to get out of the tunnel.

Some handlers chose to stay on the left of the tunnel/A-frame for the #10 tunnel and push their dog to the #11 tunnel. This was not a great choice for a fast dog and that was where the one handler tripped over her dog and fell. She did pull it off nicely though with her second dog by hanging back a bit and letting the dog shoot forward before directing him to the #11 tunnel. Still, in general those who handled from the left of the tunnel/A-frame had tighter turns and smoother runs at that point. I didn't pay attention to the first half of the course so can't comment on that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sorry Wrong Number

I got the best message left on my answering machine yesterday. Some crack reporter called Alexa from ABC's Good Morning America in New York left a message on my machine for Alex Hunter, former DA in the Jon Benet Ramsey murder investigation, to call her about the latest developments in the case. I wanted Jonny to call her back so badly, imagine the prank possibilities! I figured if she was too slow to figure out that the thick Scottish accent on the machine wasn't Alex then surely he could get away with calling her back. Cooler heads prevailed which is probably a good thing since the rich and powerful typically don't like it when you interfere in their affairs.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Regionals, It's The New Nationals

Or at least is was supposed to be for me. But I found it hard to muster any extra excitement for the event, even with Cody having earned a bye into the Grand Prix finals. In a word it was draining, partly because it was my 3rd week in a row of dog activities monopoizing my entire weekend and partly because the novelty has long worn off. Instead of being excited about being able to watch a bunch of top handlers from out of town I was annoyed at how long I had to wait for some of my runs. Give me asmall local one ring trial over a 3 ring circus any day. Yeah yeah, I know, whine whine, complain complain. Most people would be thrilled to have Regionals just 40 minutes away. It's not so much that I wasn't happy to be at a trial as it was that I wasn't as excited about it as I was hoping to be.

Friday was hot (mid 90's or so) with no cloud cover and not much breeze and the dogs, especially Lola, were hot & unmotivated. It took a lot of mental energy on my part to get them 'up' for their runs. I remembered having to go through this with Lola at Nationals which was also hot and was ever more happy in my decision not to go this year. She eventually stopped the distraction sniffing outside the ring, engaged with me and did her runs but I felt she was going through the motions rather than full on enjoying herself. Cody was also not so thrilled to be running in the heat but he handles it better than Lola as he's a smaller, more lightly built dog and he goes crazy in the hose before his runs so I can cool him down in the water and get him amped at the same time. Sat. and Sun. were better with relatively cooler temps. and cloud cover/wind during the afternoons so we had better runs on those days.

In general Lola was way slower than normal for most of the weekend but she had very few missteps. She missed a few contacts (missed A-frame probably cost her a spot in Speed Jumping finals) and the woesome table was again a problem but otherwise had some nice runs. The highlight was her Team Jumpers run which she ran while it was thundering. She's scared of thunder, not to the point of being phobic but she didn't want to come out of crate and somehow I managed to not only coax her out but get her engaged with me enough to go in the ring and do her thing. She was slow (it was still a bit hot for her) but she stayed focused on me and had a nice clean run. I was so proud of her for working through her fears. She also had a nice run in Round 1 of the GP, qualifying her for finals.

Cody wasn't entered in team so he had only 2-3 runs per day which worked out perfectly for him. I loved not having to race back to the crates for every run and he seemed to have more energy and focus. Yeah he was pissed when Lola got to run and he didn't but he dealt with it. Highlight was his Snooker run and Super Q. It was cool & cloudy and he was so happy & focused.

Other highlights, Lola had perfect weaves and missed only a few contacts (1 dogwalk, 2 A-frame that I remember). Cody missed only one weave entry (a very simple one, don't know why) but had otherwise perfect weaves. I don't think he missed any A-frame contacts, missed at least one dogwalk. Had a beautiful dogwalk with a stop in Standard.

Biggest low point was the table for both dogs. How embarrassing to have 2 dogs with table issues. Why me? I don't freak out on them in the ring or yell at them or get stressed about it. I think it's a heat/stress thing. Cody had an otherwise beautiful standard run heading into the table then refused to lie down. I think he may have even jumped off then on again. I finally got him to lie down and we left the ring for big treats. Lola had even worse problems as she didn't even want to get on but after what felt like an eternity I got her on and into a down for 3 seconds then she popped into a sit before I released her. Still I ran her out of the ring for lotsa treats. Susan Garrett probably would have my guts for garters for reinforcing her for breaking her down but I was so thrilled to have her down on the table at all that I was o.k. with it. I have some ideas for dealing with this in training but I need to build a table for my yard first. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can get to that.

Unfortunately the Grand Prix Finals did not turn out to be as much fun as I'd hoped. For some inexplicable reason the judges had overlapping walk throughs for Perf. Grand Prix and Perf. Snooker. I had barely figured out where I was going on the technical GP course when they called for Snooker walk throughs. That ring took precedence since it had Master Snooker and Master Pairs while the GP ring had only the GP to run. The GP judge was supposed to hold his ring for Snooker conflicts so I figured surely he'd give us Perf. people a little more time to walk after the Snooker walk through. I thought wrong. As soon as I stepped out of the Snooker ring they were calling my name to run in the GP ring since I was first dog. I ran over there and explained and begged for a little time to walk. He said I could have a few seconds while he messed with the timer but it was only enough to get through the first third of the course plus everyone else was waiting with their dogs to run and I felt stupid being out there. They moved me down a few dogs so I could get Cody but that only meant I had less time to go get Lola when Cody was done. I arrived at the ring a bit hot & frazzled. Now let's be honest here, Cody would have taken that off course at the #10 tunnel even if I'd walked until the cows came home but still I got lost at the end of the course and it wasn't quite the fun experience I was hoping for. Lola's run went a little better but the ending from the dogwalk on out went badly and I wished I'd had more time to puzzle that part out. I couldn't believe more Perf. people weren't annoyed by this but it turned out that there were very few of us (maybe 2 in the 22" class which ran first) who were in both Snooker & GP so those few of us slipped through the cracks. Stupid thing was the GP ring finished an hour or so before the other ring, if he'd only held the GP ring up 15 minutes all would have been good and he'd still have been done plenty early (the whole trial was done by around 2:45) but there weren't enough of us to complain and everyone else was ringside chomping at the bit to go. Sometimes that's just the way it goes at these big trials though I suppose if this would have happened to some top handler in the GP finals somebody somewhere would have heard about it. Since I'm not going to Nationals and didn't care about a semi's bye I didn't care enough about it to make a big deal.

Anyway, here's the course map for GP finals and embarrassing video of me. Not my finest moments to be sure but a good lesson in how not to handle this course if you choose to set it up and try it. The #10 tunnel felt like it was set up closer to the #9 chute and with the off course end more inviting but maybe that's only because I had a problem there. I tried to do a front cross between #9 and #10 but this turned out to be a poor choice. Cody went barrelling out of the chute and into the tunnel without giving me so much as a glance (yes I called his name, about a billion times) and for Lola it turned into a call off which I hate. You really needed to have independent weaves so that you could leave the dog in the weaves and run laterally away from the chute to cue the turn before the dog even got in the chute. Funny thing is just a few days before Joy was working with Cody and me on getting Cody to pay attention to me when he's running fast over a line of jumps then needs to turn rather than go into a tunnel that's straight ahead. He went barrelling into that tunnel about 4 times and we had to keep making it simpler for him until he got it. Something to work on.

The other tricky part was from the dogwalk to the finish. My thought was to front cross between #16 and #17 then again between #18 and #19 but this didn't work out so fabulous. Joy was standing ringside and giving advice to a friend on how to run it and it didn't involve those front crosses but I can't remember exactly what she suggested. I'm thinking maybe a rear between #16 and #17 then send to #18 and turn to run for #19. Something to set up and try.

#4 to #5 was also a challenge, the dogwalk was a huge draw and the #16 jump was right in your way for cueing the turn.

I felt bad about making Cody fix the mistake after the dog walk. Normally I don't do that kind of thing, especially with Cody, but that was where I got lost and I wanted to get it straight in my head for Lola's run so this was one area of the course where the lack of a walk through had an adverse effect. It looks so ugly on tape though, ugh, I'm regretting that.

Lola's 2 refusals were a result of her going too slowly in the heat and me not cueing a strong enough send for a rear cross. Again, I shouldn't have fixed those, normally I wouldn't but it was GP finals which is a really lame reason. Hopefully Lo will forgive me. Anyway, Joy worked on sending with me in class last night and thinking about it Stacy worked on this with me in a different context at her workshop so it's something I'll be working on with Lola. That was one good thing about that course, it exposed several training holes and thanks to Joy I have some ideas on how to fix them.

I have more video and course maps to come.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Results from Colorado Regionals 2008

Someone on the Colorado agility list posted the final results so if anyone's interested here they are:

Performance Speed Jumping
1 Able Stacy Peardot-Goudy 33.61
2 Gracie A. Melera 37.90
3 Pilot Jim Gregory 39.66
4 Ring Susan Anderson 40.45

1 Reilly Chris Dyer 32.76
2 Mesa Jonathan Hanridge 38.44
3 Summit Kim Terill 42.70
4 Racquette Wendy Hultsman 44.76

1 Rocky Steve Moon 35.77
2 Hoosier Kelly Misegedis 35.84
3 Cody J. Ault 41.67
4 Kurz'n Billie Rosen 42.46

1 taboo M. Henning 32.56
2 Teddy P. Leisle 48.32

1 Pickle A Nicholas 36.53
2 Voucher J. Blake 50.83

1 Steeple Kim Terrill 29.81
2 Sybil Mark Bowerman 30.18
3 Rage Stephanie Spyr 30.94
4 Stinger D. Snelleman 31.40
5 Juice Marcus Topps 32.43
6 Story Linda Kipp 34.02
7 Pepper Krea Sledge 35.21
8 Tar'n Shar henry 35.41
9 Ojos Charles Huber 36.12
10 Jus Val Henry 37.09

1 Skye Lori Michaels 31.74
2 Jayci M. Henning 33.85
3 Icy D. Crary 34.92
4 Rock-It Barb Davis 39.34
5 Bode Lori Michaels 40.98
6 Tika K. Sittner 43.90
7 Dooley Teri Moyers 59.53

1 Shout l. bredahl 35.34
2 Letti s. Permann 35.76
3 Jone Kathy Holland 46.95

Performance Grand Prix
1 Able Stacy Peardot-Goudy 36.84
2 Gracie A. Melara 45.97
3 Luke S. Santa Cruz 50.30
4 Lola E. Fletcher 60.83
5 Miller M. Coleman 57.29

1 Meg'n Norm Lende 45.41
2 Racquette W. Hultsman 53.93
3 P16035 Sweep S. Dow 38.63
4 P16034 Reilly C. Dyer 38.97

1 Hoosier Kelly Misegadis 38.47
2 Kruz'n B. Rosen 47.48
3 Jenny S. Anderson 40.63
4 Rocky S. Moon 42.85
5 P12016 Corky J. Rossi 44.77

No placements in the 8" division

Grand Prix
1 Maze Stacy Peardot-Goudy 35.10
2 Voucher J. Blake 32.89


1 Juice M. Topps 32.32
2 Mist C. Schiefer 33.05
3 Jaxon S. Maas 35.20
4 Jus V. Henry 35.97
5 Rita D. Jacques 36.30
6 Story L. Kipp 38.85
7 Ojos C. Huber 40.71
8 Jane J. Martin 45.21
9 Steeple K. Terrill 33.71
10 Pistol Pete R. Bardenett 34.71

1 Bode L. Michaels 35.36
2 Skye L. Michaels 35.64
3 Rock-It B. Davis 37.27
4 Hemi E. Evans 37.99
5 Jayci M. Henning 38.04
6 Tika K. Sittner 38.20
7 Monica J. Brazell 38.99


1 Letti S. Permann 37.61

These scores don't show the faults, just placement and final time so that's why some people with faster times have lower placements. These are not official results from USDAA, just scores posted by a competitor.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

So Sleepy

If you're looking for results from Regionals this is the wrong place to come. I know Stacy Peardot and Able won the 22" Perf. Grand Prix and that's all I know. I didn't watch Steeplechase finals or very much of the GP finals partly due to ring conflicts, partly due to being tired and leaving before Steeplechase ran. I never bothered to even look at the results, I was so wrapped up in my own little world.

In short Lola's team got a Q and Lo did really well in 4/5 of her team events. Both dogs Q'ed in Round 1 of the Perf. Grand Prix and were in the finals. Finals was a tricky course, lots of carnage from what little I saw of it. Lola ended up in 4th with lotsa faults, even time faults and we never have time faults. Half the 22" perf. class e'd, including dear sweet Cody. He came flying out of the chute and flat out refused to listen to me, taking the wrong end of a tunnel. Cody Baloney. He did pick up a much coveted Super Q in Snooker and had a beautiful pairs run for another Q. Only one more pairs leg and we can forget about that stupid class, yeeha.

I'll write more later when my energy levels return, too tired right now. I fell asleep at around 7:45 last night, going to try to make it until at least 8 pm tonight.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Medicine Bow National Forest, WY

Clouds above Medicine Bow Peak

Some photos from our trip to Medicine Bow National Forest. These were taken mostly at an elevation of around 10,600 ft or so and there was still way too much snow on the trails to do any hiking in the high country. Maybe if we'd brought our snowshoes though I'm not sure my knee would have been happy about that. Medicine Bow Peak is over 12,000 ft I think.

We took a just under 2 hour hike with the dogs at a much lower elevation and it was hot. Was nice to get out and stretch our legs though.

My knee has not been fabulous and I finally went to the doctor last week. He agreed that something was probably wrong but he couldn't tell what. He gave me 3 options:

1. Physical therapy
2. MRI
3. Amputation

Oddly enough #3 was Jonny's suggestion before I even went to the doc. I opted for the MRI. I had it done yesterday but unfortunately the doc is out for over 2 weeks so I'm stuck staring at the graphic scans of my knee and wondering if any of the dark spots are the return of a cyst. He told me that once you get a cyst there's a 50% chance that you can get another one. He also said they don't like to open up the knee a second time which is more than fine by me but he refused to tell me what my other options are if it is a cyst. He said let's not worry about the worst case scenario right now. I suppose there are worse things than 2 more weeks of denial.

I've also realized that Regionals has crept up on me. They start on Friday which is a day and a half away. I lost track because of the seminar over the weekend. I wish I was more excited about it. Running Cody in Grand Prix finals will be fun, I'm looking forward to that for sure but the rest of it, meh, whatever. I feel like we've been there, done that. I entered Lola in Team, I don't know why, she's already qualified for the year and I'm not planning on going to Nationals anyway but I thought it would be fun. She's teamed with Moola, a big black poodle who was her teammate when we qualified last Oct. so there is no pressure at all. Plus her owner is nice and realizes the importance of having fun and not taking things too seriously so she's a perfect match for us. 'Team Moo Lo La!' reunited for some fun. Cody is not doing team, he's so inconsistent and it's too many runs for him. It will be nice not having to charge back to the crating area to get dog #2. He'll be pissed at not getting to run but oh well. Hopefully I'll be a lot more rested and focused than I was 2 weeks ago since Regionals is only 45 minutes away and I get to sleep in my own bed.