Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I've been juggling 3 deadlines at work and had to work through the weekend (of course it was in the mid to upper 50's) so I haven't had much time to worry about this until now. To add to the fun I started having back pain on Saturday and yesterday my back went into a full blown spasm right before lunch. I couldn't stand up straight and could barely walk. Took some Ibuprofin, applied some heat, and did some stretching until finally I could walk, sort of kind of, well enough to take Strummer out to the field across the street from work for some exercise and jumping practice. I love that portable all in one jump, it's so light I can carry it even when my back is messed up and it sets up in seconds. Spent last night on the couch on a heating pad and after more Vitamin I and heat today at work my back is finally feeling a bit better. Hopefully after one more night on the couch I'll be able to walk the dogs tomorrow morning. I think working at home and for so many days in a row is what set off my back. I'll need to make some adjustments to my home computer setup if I'm going to work at home for a month. Right now I'm working on a laptop on my dining room table and something about that setup is painful.
I managed to sneak in a run on Sat. and an agility practice and bike ride on Sunday. It was a bit too hot for the dogs, they're acclimated to 30 degrees, not 58 but I think they had fun anyway. We practiced some distance stuff. Wow, I 'm not sure when or how it happened but Lola is not happy working distance at all. She used to be so good at it too. There was barking and confusion which of course let to more barking. She got it after a while though but we're going to have to work on that more. Cody is my distance boy, he loved the exercise. No rear leg shaking from him but I had him out at lunch today practising some jumping and I noticed a bit of shaking but it went away after a bit. I was working on his hind end strength last week but everything got pushed aside because of work and then my back.
Lucky dogs get to go to the chiropractor tomorrow. If I'm not better tomorrow I'll call mine and see if they can sneak me in. If all else fails there are the heavy duty pharmaceuticals left over from all my various injuries, fractures and surgery. I've got a really good muscle relaxer but the trouble is I can't do anything while I'm on it. Well, except for hallucinating and talking gibberish but unfortunately I'm not a rock star or politician so those activities aren't terribly helpful at work.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I meet with the doctor in person next week to look at the x-rays and discuss timing but they've scheduled me for surgery Feb. 25th just in case I decide to go through with it then. Ugh, I'm off to mope.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
In other news it appears I don't have enough fat on the bottom of my feet. I went to see a podiatrist yesterday and he informed me that I'm in the bottom 20th percentile for the amount of padding I have on the bottom of my feet. He also told me the pain I'm suffering is common in dancers. I pleaded that I have no sense of balance, coordination or rhythm so he must be mistaken but alas it appears that such things are irrelevant. He confiscated my orthotics to make some modifications and took some x-rays. Worst case scenario is that the bunion has pushed my sesmoid bones, which have already suffered and healed from some fracture I was unaware of in the past, out of their groove and the grinding of those misaligned bones is what's causing my pain. Surgery is really the only option in that case. Hopefully the x-rays will have better news and I can get away with the orthotics modifications for now. I really really really really do not want to deal with another orthopedic surgery and rehab. The only good thing that could come of it is that maybe while they're in there grinding away at my bones they could take some of the fat off my ass and put in on the bottom of my feet.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Anyway, I realized today might be a bit more challenging with all the extra handler stress in the air, plus it seemed crowded to the point of claustrophobia. I had brought a couple types of really great treats as well as regular kibble to switch off between and I decided to start off with the good stuff right away. Strummer started losing his mind right away but I was able to get him under control quickly and he soon settled into a sit and eventually a down. I used the good treats at a high reinforcement rate and rewarded him for looking at the dogs in the ring and not reacting. He had a couple more lunges when I became distracted talking to somebody but again quickly managed to control himself. I worked on some of his tricks to keep his mind off the ring and he liked that but ultimately I'd like him to be able to relax on his own without so much interaction from me. We're a long long way from there though and at this point I'll take whatever behavior I can get that doesn't involved screaming & lunging. One 'trick' he really likes is to lie down and put his chin on the ground between his front paws. He kept offering that so I rewarded like crazy. It's something I shaped during his pet obedience classes and for some reason he likes to do it and it's a perfect imcompatible with lunging behavior (plus it looks very cute).
After about 1/2 an hour Jonny took him outside for a break then I worked with him once more for about 15 minutes. He was near perfect, started to lunge once then thought better of it and stopped himself, what a good boy. He played at his head betweeen paws trick some more, so much so that it was hard to get many reps of him looking at the ring but that's fine. It would be ideal if in the end he doesn't look at the ring at all. I'm starting to have some confidence that he will indeed be calm enough to compete but again I need to see him behaving at a lot more trials before I'll be convinced. I'm going to try crating him at the DOCNA trial next month. It's only 20 minutes from home and I'm only entered for the first 3-4 events I think so it should be a shorter day for him. He can start getting measured as well so I have some sort of idea what height to use for his USDAA application. Unfortunately I think he's right on the border of 21". I tried getting him used to the wicket at the AKC trial but it was a bit much to ask since the wicket was right next to the ring. He kept squirming and crouching down away from the wicket when I lowered it on his back. On the one hand maybe that means he'll get a lower measurement, on the other maybe a judge won't accept that and try to force him to stand up. We'll see how it goes with a real judge next month.
His weaves and jumping are coming along nicely though I looked ahead at the jumping program and wow I don't know when we're going to have time to work through all that. Seriously, he will be a vet dog if I try to perfect every exercise, never mind all the other stuff he has to learn and the limitations I have with the weather and having to train outside. I think you have to not work and have your own equipment and training arena anymore to keep up with the latest training methods. Still, I like what I'm seeing so far as far as his jumping goes so we'll keep at it.
I found an article in Clean Run about training a dog not to jump up in the chute but it requires me buying a chute ($219 is the cheapest I've found so far) and doing 50 reps a day. Yikes. I may try shortcutting the method and see what happens. I know that's not ideal but maybe it's better than doing nothing and the full blown method is not practical unless I pony up for a chute. I wouldn't even bother but I hate seeing Lola struggle when she gets stuck and it's a safety issue. I had her do about half a dozen chutes out at Biscuit Eaters this weekend and she jumped up right at the end every time so it is a consistent problem. Oy, it's always something.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Yeah, I know, how can you watch that and not go 'Ouch my knees' about 50 million times. But there is something oddly appealing about it. Not the leaping tall building in a single bound part or the jumping off of high objects part and well I guess I couldn't even explain which part but something about a toned down version of it seems like it might be fun. I went so far as to look up Parkour classes in Boulder and wouldn't you know there's a place downtown that does them on Saturdays and they have beginner classes. They're reasonably priced too, I can trash my knees, put my back out and get a concussion for the low low price of just $15 for drop in or $100 for 10 classes. But my god people, look at how young the instructors are. 20 and 23? Do they know the first thing about 43 year old old lady knees? Frankly I think it's pure madness. Yet somehow I'm still entertaining the idea. I think if you combined a toned down version of this with an amped up version of canine freestyle you could have some serious fun. Or break your legs. Either way.
Realistically, I think Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders' hilarious send up of Parkour is about the best I could hope for for myself:
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I've been working Strum's weave poles in the backyard and he was solid today with the solid white poles at 4" apart. I keep forgetting to bring out the striped poles but he seems to be managing with the solid ones. The jump from 5" to 4" has taken the longest so far. I had to go to 4 1/2" then 4" and for a couple of days I'd have to start out the session by standing in the poles and calling him through just 3 poles then working my way back to the end. He would get so excited he'd blow right past the poles and run to me if I started off at the very end. I'll work him for another few days at 4" until I'm sure he has it before closing them to 3".
His board work is going really well, it didn't take long to shape the head facing forward. He's so freakin' smart, if only I had more time for him. He should be competing and through novice by now. Oh well, he's stuck with me in the land of not enough time.
I want to start thinking about races for the spring and summer but I'm waiting to see what the podiatrist sez next week. I haven't had any shooting pain since a week ago Friday which has been nice but I can tell my foot's not quite right. I know if I cancel the appointment the pain will come back and I'll have to wait another month.
I only have 2 links so far under health & fitness and if anybody has any suggestions please pass them on. It's so hard to find good health info. on the internet. There are so many opinions and crackpots out there, it's hard to know who or what to believe. I've been reading Mark's Daily Apple for some time now and so far I like it. It seems reasonable and brings to light a lot of current research. Cranky Fitness has some good articles as well and they make me laugh. How can you not like someone who signs their posts 'Crabby McSlacker'. And I'm pretty cranky so I can relate. I'm always looking for good sites though so any suggestions are appreciated.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Today was masters pairs, Grand Prix, Speed Jumping Finals and masters Snooker. Pairs went really well, both my dogs ran clean. Lola's partner had 5 faults but we still Q'ed, Cody's had 10 faults so we didn't Q. I had the easier half of the course for both runs though, that other half was tough.
Cody had a beautiful Grand Prix run though I had a handling bobble and caused a 5 fault refusal. Still we were fast enough to Q so that's Cody qualified for Nationals in Perf. Grand Prix and Perf. Team. Just one more Speed Jumping Q and he's fully qualified. I have no plans to go at the moment and unless they change their policy on fault limits I surely won't go but it's fun to be qualified anyway. Lola missed the up contact on the dogwalk again. It was the same exact setup with the tunnel to dogwalk as it was in Friday's Std. course. I knew it was going to happen and was fairly helpless to stop it. I wish USDAA would give the big dogs a break, maybe a longer contact area. It's ridiculous to have to break her stride so severely. I didn't want to risk demotivating her by putting too much pressure on her so I let it go. Then she missed the down contact, I think she was stressed out by that point. I think she had run by a jump earlier in the run and I'd asked her to come back and fix it, something I try not to do with her in general because she gets stressed for the rest of the run. Then later she ran by a jump again and I let her go so no Q for her. I was hoping she'd get the Q more so than Cody because she still needs one to qualify for Regionals. Oh well, plenty more chances before July.
Lola had a nice clean run in Speed Jumping Finals but she had a couple of wide turns that put us well out of the money. Cody's run was a comedy routine. Somehow I either do really well at Speed Jumping or it's an utter disaster, there doesn't seem to be an in between. The good news about it was that I was super early with a cue and Cody actually listened to me so I pulled him off a jump and sent him off course. I was using the off arm to precue him and pulled him off the jump too soon. If I'm going to use that type of handling I need to practice it more.
Snooker was the best of all and I was particularly pleased with doing well because it was the end of the day and I was tired as I'd gotten up early and come in to work the first class since I knew they were short of workers. It's one of my favorite classes and I was hoping for a Super Q for Cody. Both dogs have all their regular Snooker Q's so there's no point playing it safe. The course was such that you had to go for all 3 sevens. There was plenty of time to do this so it was a matter of doing it fastest though really it was more about efficient lines and tight turns than it was about speed. I watched the masters class and noticed lots of fast dogs turning wide on a serpentine and wasting precious seconds so I did a v-set and got a nice tight turn in that section. I managed to do the 3 sevens with both dogs well under time. Lola ended up in 2nd place for the Super Q and Cody was 3rd but no Super Q but he missed it by a very small margin so I know he can do it. That was Lola's 3rd so she finished up her Snooker title and has all that she needs for her champ title. Now I just need those 3 for Cody. I suppose Lola will be sandbagging from now on though somehow that doesn't feel right. I can't imagine running her with the intention of not doing her best.
Today was Gamblers, Standard and Jumpers. Despite the oversleeping and rushing about I was plenty relaxed by the time I was ready to run. Both dogs ran really nicely in the opening, hitting all contacts, some nice tight turns, others could have been better. I had timed it perfectly for the whistle too but neither dog got the gamble. Not sure why, it looked quite doable and lots of dogs got it but oh well. I’ve not been practicing distance much at all, even when I was practicing. Still, Cody’s such a natural I thought he’d nail it. Oh well, another day, I was so pleased with the opening that I couldn’t feel too bad about it.
I had some problems with Lo’s standard run. Another run by a jump and I let her go off course rather than calling her back. She did a beautiful fast happy down on the table and held it for the count so I left the course to reward her. I made a huge happy deal out of it and she looked pretty pleased with herself so I think it was the right choice. Still I missed the opportunity to see how the rest of the course ran for Cody. Nonetheless, Cody had a beautiful run but missed that darn up contact. Argh! Such a stoopid rule. He must have barely missed it too. Somebody should force the rule makers at USDAA to run a long legged, big strided dog to make them see how difficult and unnatural it is for the big guys to hit that contact. Cody was in perfect control on that dogwalk entry, nothing unsafe about it. Oh well, it was still a lovely run and Cody was so happy at the end of it.
I think all of us were fried by the time Jumpers came along even though it was only noon. Three days was a long time for my guys and for me as well, esp. knowing I had to go back to work tomorrow. Lo had a clean run and a Q but it wasn’t very nice, lots of very wide turns, miscommunication and frustration barking. At one point she was down to a trot for a few steps, presumably because she was so confused about where to go. By far the worst run of the weekend even though it was a Q. Cody’s run was even more disastrous. He had some stress at the startline and broke his stay while I was on the wrong side and behind him so he was off course by the fourth jump. I tried to keep going but he was in unfocused mode and took yet another off course. It was all I could to make it to the exit gate. Not sure if the problems were because we were all tired or because I somehow couldn’t get my head around that particular course. Sometimes we can pull off nice runs even when we’re tired so it’s hard to say.
Overall I had a great weekend. Dogs and I were having fun and running well. Cody didn’t miss a single weave pole entry and didn’t pop out once. Lola missed one or two entries but didn’t pop out either. Both dogs hit all their A-frame contacts and Cody had beautiful down contacts on the dogwalk, stopping for nearly every one and waiting for his verbal release-woo hoo! Never thought I’d see that day. Lo missed only one down on the dogwalk and of course the two ups. Beautiful tables for both dogs both days. I need to work on Lola’s tendency to run past jumps. Joy gave me a great exercise for this, I just need to be able to practice. I had some timing issues with my handling but I felt like I had some improvements too. Lola got hung up in the chute, an ongoing problem. I’m not sure how to fix that, may have to go back to the start with holding the chute open for her. She has a habit of either holding her head too high or raising it before she gets out of the chute. I think I called her while she was in the chute which didn’t help matters but it’s an ongoing problem.
I had Cody at the chiropractor for the first time the day before the trial and the chiropractor said his back esp. toward the rear had great range of motion for a dog his age and there was some tightness but he was able to adjust it. There was also some tightness in the shoulder he had surgery on but he was hopeful that the adjustment would give him a little more range of motion and help him use the muscles he’s supposed to rather than other ones he was using to compensate. It’s possible his 100% success rate with the poles (vs his almost 100% non-success rate with them at Nationals) had to do with the adjustments. However the second day I noticed his rear legs, esp. his left, shaking when he sat. He could barely sit up on his haunches which is part of his warm-up routine. I’m thinking his jumping muscles were tired because he hasn’t been using them. I’ve been keeping him in shape with running, leash walks and some off leash running but perhaps those activities don’t use certain muscles that he needs for jumping. Could also have been something to do with the chiropractic adjustment. Or perhaps it’s the start of some new problem. In any case I’m going to rest him for a few days. If the shaking stops I won’t bother with the vet and I’ll start him on some strength training exercises for those rear legs. Maybe some hill running if the snow ever melts.
Ah, at least I get to sleep in tomorrow even if I do have to go to work.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Lola was up first in Standard and of course she knew nothing of the cues I'd worked on at Stacy's because I'd taken Cody & left her home but they rely so much on the dog's natural response to body language that she picked it up right away and had a really nice run despite loads of tricky traps. She missed her dogwalk up contact, something I did see coming because the dogwalk was after the tunnel with very little space in between for the dog to collect. I hung back at the tunnel entrance and tried to get her to slow & break her stride a bit but she's simply too huge and the striding would have been so unnatural for her so I couldn't be too upset about that. She also missed a weave entry and I let it go, the ring is not the place to work on that esp. with a soft dog. She had no off courses though and a the biggest victory of all? A perfect, fast, happy, tail wagging down on the table near the end of the course. If I'd had my head together I would have left right there to reward her but as it was there were only a few obstacles left anyway so I carried on to the end.
The Speed Jumping course was a speed course with not much handling to speak of so I knew there would be many clean runs and I'd have to push for speed if I wanted a Q. There were 2 sets of weaves which isn't a great scenario for either dog. They have decent speed in the weaves but there's too much potential for missed entries or popping out and the only bit of tricky handling involved the weave entrance. Lo did miss the entry but didn't go too far and I popped her back in fairly quickly. The rest of the run was wonderful though and she did get the second set of poles no problem. She ended up in 6th place with a Q and we get to run in the finals tomorrow. Lo now has all the tournament Q's she needs for her champ. title and she's qualified for Regionals in Speed Jumping. All she needs now for Regionals is a Grand Prix Q and we'll give it a try tomorrow.
Cody's Standard run went less well on my part. I was late with a cue right off the bat causing a poor angle to the teeter and a missed up contact on the teeter. I don't think I've ever had that call with either dog. Later in the course I botched a front cross and caused an off course. The good news though is that Cody did awesome-hit all his contacts and weaves, beautiful down on the table, fast, focused & happy in general. I'm afraid I'm the one that's suffered the most from lack of practice.
Speed Jumping was awesome, I couldn't have asked for any more from him. I wish I had it on video so I could see if we had any wide turns but it didn't feel like any of them were too bad and the run felt really good. He ended up in 2nd place and also got a Q and a spot in the finals. He's now got all the Q's he needs for Regionals, phew. Not bad for a 9 1/2 year old. I'm trying to savor every run I have with him these days because you never know with an old dog. One day they're running around full tilt and the next, well, who knows. This may very well be his last year but we'll see. As long as he's fit & healthy we'll keep running.
I was finished with my runs by 11:30 so I decided to go into work, partly so I wouldn't waste a full vacation day and partly because I have a couple tight deadlines coming up. On the one hand it was good that I went in because I got some stuff done that will make next week not so crazy but on the other hand I found out I need to go to Winter Park for an all day site visit next week which will put me behind schedule again and also not be very fun because it's so cold & snowy up in the mountains just now. I can't even take advantage of the skiing unless I want to drive home in the dark and it's not worth it. I could have lived without finding this out today and enjoyed the weekend in blissful ignorance but it was good I got some work done.
My foot's been o.k. for the past few days because I've been laying off it but today the walking around was too much, even for just half a day, and it was throbbing in pain on the drive home. Of course it's my right foot so every push on the accelerator sent pain shooting through. I have an appointment with the podiatrist in a few weeks and I'm hoping he'll have some conservative treatment options that don't involve surgery but I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime I'm hoping lots of Vitamin I and ice will get me through the weekend. I signed up to work the scoretable but somehow I've ended up with Jump Setting assignments which is better than leash running but not as good as sitting on my ass the whole time type jobs. Must remember to use the ice pack after my runs. I brought it today and forgot all about it until the pain hit, doh.