Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween People

I love Halloween. Probably because I don't live in Chicago anymore. Halloween in Chicago, at least in my old neighborhood, not so much fun. But in Boulder it's pretty harmless and kind of fun as far as holidays go. My neighbors put up funny, creepy displays and the kids are entertaining and well mannered. I love passing out candy and the kids with the grossest, creepiest costumes get extras at my house. Sorry to the princesses, ballerinas, cowboys and Spidermans but Halloween is for the freaks, or at least it should be.

I've missed out on Halloween for the last 2 years because I've been at USDAA Nationals so this year I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately for like the first time ever I tore into the candy before Halloween and now I have to buy more on my way home. I only ever get Reeses peanut butter cups on Halloween and I guess since I missed the last 2 years I was a bit overeager. Plus I think I'm losing all my impulse control in my old age.

With temps. in the 70's and Halloween falling on a Friday night and no school for the kids today I'm expecting a larger crowd than normal. Maybe I'll even get pranked again this year. We got pranked a few years ago and I had a good laugh. Here's the story below. It's a rerun for those readers from the old Training Peaks boards but I'm not sure how many if any are left so I'll post it anyway.


I have to confess I got pranked pretty good last night. We usually don’t get many trick or treaters, anywhere from half a dozen to none if the weather is bad, so I usually make a bit of a fuss over the few we do get. The weather was terrible last night, rain that turned to a heavy wet snow. The dogs loudly announced our first guest at 7:45 pm and it took a little time to usher them out of the room so I could open the door without terrifying anybody. I finally opened the door to a kid wearing a creepy costume that looked like a cross between a ghost and a scarecrow. The freaky thing about it was that there were no holes cut for the eyes, nose, mouth, the sheet went to the ground so you couldn’t see any feet, and the kid was wearing sunglasses. I was a bit taken aback but started apologizing for the delay and the dogs and making a fuss over the costume. The kid just stood there, absolutely no response. This started freaking me out a little so I threw some candy in his bag and shut the door, figuring some kids are just shy.

I settled back into the Vincent Price movie I had been watching and soon noticed that the freaky kid was still standing at the door. I tried to get my husband to do something about it but he just waved me off, telling me to ignore him & he’ll go away. Except he didn’t. I was really unnerved and finally got my husband to go to the door. Being Scottish his natural response was to hurl all kinds of sarcastic remarks at the kid. This had no effect so his next response was to steal the candy out of the kid’s bag. Still no response so he started to pretend to strangle the kid which knocked him over and revealed a suitcase and other props underneath. A bunch of teenagers emerged, laughing their asses off at us. I have to admit, it was a pretty good, creative prank, had me freaked out but was ultimately harmless. The teenagers had some pretty creative costumes too so I gave them a bunch of candy and they went on their way. I even felt bad that my husband had disheveled their dummy a bit. Gotta love those wacky Boulderites.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Video from DOCNA Champs, Day 1

Finally some more video from DOCNA Champs. Here's Day 1 Standard and Jumpers for both dogs and Gamblers for Cody. His Gamblers run wasn't all that stellar and for the gamble when I tried sending him back out to the jump he retook the tunnel instead and then did the gamble perfectly. I only included the video because he looked so happy and pleased with himself at the end of his run.

Cody had a nice Jumpers run. Lola stopped to sniff somewhere along the way and initially I thought it was because I'd stressed her out with an ill-timed rear cross. However when I transferred the video onto video tape and watched it on t.v. on a bigger screen I realized there was a dog running in the warm-up area right near where she stopped. I also realized that the following day when she didn't want to leave the start line for her Jumpers run there was also a dog running in the warm-up area right next to the start line. I'd initially thought she was tired and had had enough since her run was around 6:00 p.m. For some reason that warm-up area and having to run while other dogs were running in it freaked her out. She's fine at the practice field with other loose dogs running courses on other parts of the field but I guess this was way different for her somehow. She's such a sensitive little girl considering what a bossy loud mouth she is at home.

The tricky part of the Standard course for me was the opening. Lola had a bad tire crash at a USDAA show some years ago and I can't lead out on the tire or she runs past it so I had to run with her and front cross. Most people did some kind of lead out. Cody broke his stay so I couldn't even get the front cross in for him. I had to run with him and do a rear cross which worked out fine. I've been experimenting with front crosses at a serpentine instead of staying on one side for a proper serp and I'm not sure I liked that option for this course. Lola had some wide turns but maybe this is a timing issue with my handling (was late with the front crosses). This is a handling system thing, not sure I agree with it for the older dogs who have no trouble with serps but we'll see how it goes with Strummer. Nothing like experimenting with handling at Champs, like wearing a brand new pair of running shoes on marathon race day.

Course maps are posted here or just scroll down a wee bit too see them, I'm too tired to repost them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vote Early and Often

I did the early voting thing this morning. Did the same thing last presidential election and was very glad because the lines in Colorado were hours long on election day and many didn't even get to vote. This year 57% have opted for mail-in ballots so hopefully things will go a bit smoother on election day. I don't trust the mail-in ballots and sure enough there was a guy at the polling place this morning who claimed he never got his. They were going to do something for him so he could vote but it sounded like it was going to be a big hassle. The polling place was busy but I didn't have to wait and aside from the nuisance of having to fill in every little box with a pen that didn't work so well it was no problem. I miss the old voting machines where you punch a card. I know, hanging chad and all that but still it was so much easier and quicker. I read all the ammendments and filled out the cheat sheet they give you beforehand otherwise it would have taken forever. Still it took about 15 minutes to fill in all the boxes by hand. There was a computer option but I don't trust those either. Supposedly last presidential election there was a big problem with them and I don't trust that they've fixed it. Old school pain in the ass paper ballot in person for me.

My grandmother is big on voting, I turned 18 about a week or so before I left for college and she nagged me incessantly to register to vote and get an absentee ballot before I left. It was a pain in the ass with all else I had to do to get ready to go but I did it and was probably the only person on my dorm floor to vote in that election. You know those little old ladies that give you your ballot on election day? She was one of them. She can't do it anymore but she did it way past when she probably should have. It's a long and exhausting day for those little old ladies and they are volunteers so be extra nice to them when they give you your ballot.

Being the voting fanatic that she is she's trying to get my grandfather out to the polls this year to vote. Trouble is he's pushing 91 and has Alzheimer's. He has no idea who Obama and McCain are and even if you were game enough to explain it to him it would fly right out of head just moments after it went in. I'm not even sure he's capable of filling out a ballot. Some states will not allow you to vote if you've been declared mentally incompetent by a judge. Other states don't care. Not sure about the one he lives in and anyway who in the family is going to go to the bother to have him declared mentally incompetent never mind how badly this would upset my grandmother? I have to wonder how many people out there are 'voting' and have no idea who for or why never mind all the old folks in nursing homes and mental facilities who's caregivers are voting for them by mail. I suppose no system is perfect and we have to do the best with the one we've got. Better to let a few votes slip through the cracks than to be too strict and take voting rights away from people who might really be competent or are borderline. Too much grey area there I guess. Though I suppose it goes a long way towards explaining the last 8 years if the problem is more rampant than I think.

Happy voting people.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Strummer's got class

Well I survived Strummy's first group class, just. It started out a bit crazy because I didn't realize they would be running dogs in a ring right next to our class. I knew they would start about 45 minutes into class with run throughs with the general public but I didn't know the club members would be running right at the start of class. While I walked the course for class I had tied Strum up with a full view of the other ring and first he started barking his head off because he didn't like being tied up then he completely lost it when a dog started running in the other ring. Poor guy. I moved him away from the other ring but he kept barking and a couple of people in the class expressed their displeasure (geez, do you know how many classes and seminars I've sat through with barking dogs? You'd think they could cut me a little slack and he shut up pretty quickly when I ignored him. Sheesh, it's a baby dog class.). After that I walked the course with him on leash next to me and he was fine. I'd bring a crate for him but I think he'd pitch a fit in it. He's o.k. in a crate at a trial but not with the types of distractions at class, we need to work up to that.

Anyway, the class is all handling with just jumps, tunnels and a set of 6 weaves. We handle a sequence first one way then another to see what works best. For me though the main point of the class is to get Strummer to be able to work around other dogs. His first run was crazy, he held his stay but had huge wide turns and then caught sight of a dog running in the other ring and ran over. I called him back though and the first 2 times he was so good, came right back but the 3rd time he made it onto the other course and I was very lucky that the other dog didn't care. Strum didn't cause any trouble and came when I called then never ran off again for the rest of the class. So a rocky start but some good success in the end as far as his focus while running. He held all his start lines and aside from that very first crazy run he handled like a dream. He got his weaves more than he missed them and had only one bar down the whole night I think and that one was right at the start during that first crazy run.

It took a little troubleshooting to work out how to handle his crazy lunging at the dog that was working. He would be o.k. for a bit then lose it. I settled on keeping him in the equipment trailer which divided the run-through ring from our class ring. That way he could hear all the commotion and hopefully get used to the chaos without having to watch. I gave him treats while dogs were running but nothing when they weren't unless I sensed him getting ready to lose it then I asked for something like attention or a down first. He never truly relaxed but he didn't bark or lunge while in the trailer and I let him look now and then when I felt he was calm enough to handle it. Another dog and handler were sitting next to us and he was fine with it. He got much better as the evening wore on and his last runs were really nice.

Overall it was a lot of work to keep him from losing it but I was encouraged that he improved as the night wore on. Gives me hope that with time he'll be able to handle himself. By the end of class I even caught him starting to lunge then controlling himself without me asking and that was really encouraging. Got to start somewhere. Gonna be a long road to haul. Geez, why can't I ever have a normal dog?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ah, the 70's

BBC America broadcasted a great show last year called 'Life on Mars' about a police detective who falls unconscious after an accident and wakes up in the 70's where he solves crimes and tries to figure out how to get back to the present day. Last night I was comatose on the couch after surviving a full masters swim workout and found that there's an American version of the show out just now. It was on one of the major networks running at the same time as ER. It's hard to watch the American version of shows after watching a full season of the British version (took me forever to get into the American version of 'The Office') because the characters seem all wrong and not as interesting somehow but it was still good, better than 90% of the drek on t.v. (how wrong can you go with Harvey Keitel as a crazy hard boiled 70's police detective?) though admittedly I fell asleep somewhere in the middle of it.

ANYway, they played the old 70's song 'Get Down' and I thought wow, that would be great background music for an agility video showing a bunch of downs on the table then Lola standing on the table and barking at me for the 'you're a bad dog baby' part of the lyric. But, uh, yeah, I've got time to put that together, I'll get right on it and in the end it would have been oh so hokey. Then I found this video on You Tube and realized I was 35 years too late. So here's a little Friday amusement for you. It's both funny and disturbing, just like the 70's. My favorite part is the dog at the beginning that says, 'Screw you guys, I'm outta here. I'll go sit in the corner for a few years and wait for the Ramones to invent punk rock'.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I've not written about the wee Strum man for ages. We've been taking private lessons with Joy all summer, just handling stuff on jumps and tunnels and a little bit of work on weave entries. These lessons are mostly for me, I need a lot of help with my handling. I think my main problem these days is that I get all in a panic while I'm running Strummer since he's so freaking fast, I forget to think about where I'm running or how fast I'm approaching an obstacle and where exactly the crazy rocket dog zoomed off to on course. Joy had to put a bar on the ground last week to keep me from running to close to a jump. I'm getting better about keeping my arm up all the time and the flailing is getting better but I still revert back to the old habits now and then. So much to think about all at once while running and trying to keep an eye on a black and white poof of smoke. He's like those cartoons where one moment there's a dog there and the next just a puff of smoke in the shape of a dog.

I set my sights on a Feb. DOCNA trial for his first trial just so I have a goal to shoot for, otherwise I'll mosey along forever with his training. Then I thought what the hey, let's embrace the madness and enter him in a NADAC trial in December. Just Jumpers and Tunnelers. Just to see what will happen. I know, I'm nauseous about it already. Both trials are one ring at an indoor arena less than 20 minutes from home. Also, they have drop-in courses set up once a week so I can practice there well before the trials. Also I'm seeing about getting him in his first group class there but we'll see. I sent an email to the instructor that basically said 'hi, my dog doesn't know all the obstacles and is a bit crazy, can we be in your class?' How could he refuse? Actually I know the guy and he knows Strummer so we'll see what he says. These classes are at the same place as the drop-ins and trials so it will also be great practice for him. We were splitting some of our lessons with Joy with one other dog and that went great so I'm hoping he's finally ready for a class. Got to start somewhere.

Weaves are oh so close. He's still having problems collecting when he's excited and he either misses the entry or gets the entry but skips the second pole. I finally got him up to weaving 12 straight poles but he has to be in a sit right in front of them with me standing at the very end of them facing him.

His contacts are doing great, we're up to a 16" table at Biscuit Eaters and a 12" table at home. The plank at B.E. is a proper sturdy dogwalk plank with slats and the one I have at home is just a 1x12 with no slats and it's not nearly as sturdy. I'm going to see about reinforcing it a bit this weekend and maybe making another plank so he can run up and over the table then down the second plank like a mini-dogwalk. I don't have room in my yard for a full size and probably only barely have room for what I'm proposing. Maybe the up ramp will have to be short. He's at 80-90% accuracy so it's time to move up the heights. Sylvia Trkman recommends moving up at 2"-4" intervals and I discovered that 4" so too much of a jump so I'll need to cut some more table legs this weekend. I was reading a training journal where the person was increasing in 1/2" increments but that's too much sawing for me I'm afraid. She was using a different sort of setup too so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison. We'll see how it goes at 2", hopefully I won't have to go to 1". I'm hoping to start him on a low dogwalk in 4-6 weeks depending on how things go. His teeter needs some work too. He does it no problem but he's not stopping at the bottom. He's not flying off either but I'd like a stop so I'm working with him on a very low teeter for now. He won't focus forward and I think I may experiment with using the treat gizmo.

So much to learn for a crazy little border collie. I'm giving Team Old School a bit of a break from agility to focus on the Strum man. Hopefully I can finally get him up and running.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Things that keep us from our sleep

Last night I dreamt that I ran into Jonny Depp on a stairway in an otherwise empty creepy old hotel. You know where this is going right? Yeah, I wish, maybe if I was a normal person but the best my subconscious could come up with was that we were going to collaborate on making a movie. He was quite excited by the idea and we were on a roll with planning everything when Lola rolled over onto me and woke me up. I spent the next 2 hours trying to decide if it was old age or a case of terminal geekiness that had led me to this sad point in life. Maybe tonight I can dream about taking a pottery class with David Duchovny.

Apparently I Still Know How to Swim

I went back to masters last night and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Last time I went was the beginning of June when I decided I was taking the summer off from the pool and swam laps around the Boulder Reservoir with the Tues./Thurs. morning masters group. Because they'd switched the already early times to even earlier (6:15-7:30 a.m.) than last year I had many workout where I didn't get much yardage in, maybe 1 lap/900-1000 yards or so then had to get out. Then it got too cold for me and I don't think I swam at all the entire month of Sept. then got sick and had our vacation for Oct. and only last night finally felt up to going back to my regular workouts. I was dreading it all day and almost chickened out because once you get out of shape with the swimming it's so hard to claw your way back. It's painful and you can't keep up with the lane and the coach will yell at you for missing so many workouts and wah wah wah. But it turned out there were some newbies there who were even slower than me so the intervals were doable for me and it turns out I haven't lost nearly as much as I thought I did. We'll see how Thursday's workout goes, I've still got a ways to go before I'll feel good in the pool again but it wasn't nearly that bad and today it feels good to feel a little fatigue in my arms and shoulders. Maybe at some point I'll even have some upper body strength again. In the end I swam 45 minutes, 2250 yards. Thursday I'll gut out the whole workout.

Monday, October 13, 2008

DOCNA CHAMPS 2008 Course Maps

Here are some course maps from Champs. I'll have video and discussion about them later but thought I'd put them up all in one place for easy reference. You can click on them to make them bigger, I don't know how to make blogger post them bigger in the first place.

North American Challenge

Standard Day 1

Jumpers Day 1

Standard Day 2

Jumpers Day 2

Standard Finals (Day 3)

Jumpers Finals (Day 3)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

DOCNA Championships, Day 3

Day 3 was Trigility (3 dog relay) and the Standard and Jumpers Finals. What can I say, another perfect day for little miss Lola. She had beautiful fast clean runs in the Standard and Jumpers Finals and in Trigility. She took first (once again, only dog) in Standard & Jumpers and her Trigility team took 3rd in the 24" height class, not too bad considering we were a draw team made up of a vet (Lola) and a grand vet. This was the first time I'd run Trigility and it was interesting. There are 3 courses-Jumpers, Standard and Gamblers-and each dog runs one of the courses. You can see the courses before you decide who runs what so you can strategize a bit. The Standard course was nice and looked like good practice for Finals so I lobbied to run that part with both my dogs and my teammates were all o.k. with it. There is no baton to pass which is nice, seems a lot safer. As soon as one dog finishes their course the next dog starts their course with only one dog running a course at a time. It’s a lot less chaotic than pairs/team relay in USDAA. I liked it more than I thought I would.

Cody had an off course in his Standard run but was running so well otherwise that I couldn’t feel bad about it. I’ll post course maps later and explain where it was but in short he took an off course tunnel trap. But he was so fast and happy and otherwise accurate and focused (got all his contacts and weave poles) that I couldn’t feel bad about it. He was so happy and jumping around at the end of his run, he seemed so sure he’d won the whole thing he just made me laugh. In DOCNA an off course in Standard is only 10 faults, not an E so he still got 2nd place. He ran clean in Trigility, sort of. He missed his weave entry and I fixed it right away, not a fault just wasted time. His teammates all ran clean but the team didn’t place which was no big deal to me. I had awesome teammates on all my teams and everyone had nice clean runs, can’t ask for any more than that.

Overall I had such a great time. The trial was really well run and everybody there was so nice. Judge Ann McQuillen was awesome. Her judging was fair and consistent and she had a big smile on her face the whole weekend. Courses were fun and challenging though a bit heavy on the serpentines and flips (even more of them in the finals rounds). Would have been good to see a wider range of challenges but still overall the courses were fun and more challenging than what I’ve seen on a normal weekend which is a good thing since it’s Champs and all. I will most certainly be back though probably not next year since Cody likely will be too old and Strummer likely will not be ready yet for something like that.

Couldn’t be more pleased with how well the dogs ran. Lola was nearly perfect for 4 straight days! Her only bad run was Traditional Gamblers and there was something up with a tunnel which I think caused most of our problems there. The only ribbon she didn’t get was for the Time Gamble and she’d had a gorgeous run, I simply didn’t send her out of the ring soon enough. So she was .37 seconds and one gamble away from being perfect at a Nationals! I’m still a bit shocked at that since consistency is not typically our strong point. Cody had some typical crazy moments but overall ran so nicely. Seriously at this point I’m happy enough that he’s able to go out there and run fast and happy. He had some good competition in his class and I was thrilled that he was able to pull off 2 clean Standard runs to make it into the Finals. He was so close in Jumpers too but for a stupid handling glitch on my part.

After 2 days of driving I’m tired, I get the rest of the week off right? Uh, I guess not. Took the dogs to the Rez this morning for some well needed and deserved off leash running and swimming. They all looked happy to be home and I am too.

WARNING: Gratuitous cliche braggy self-indulgent doggy ribbon photos posted below. But c'mon, it's Nationals.

Little Miss Perfect showing off her ribbons and medals

Cody Baloney, totally humoring me

I initially found him posing like this when I came out of the house with the camera. What a goof.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

DOCNA Championships Day 2, Holy Serpentines & Flips Batman

Today was a long day and I'm very tired so no time to deal with the video.

In short, another great day especially for Lola. She ran clean in Standard, Jumpers and the NAC (North American Challenge, DOCNA's version of USDAA's Grand Prix). I held her up on purpose in the Time Gamble thinking we'd be leaving the ring too early but instead I went .37 over time (should have headed straight out, oh well), otherwise she would have had a perfect day. She took first place in all the other events since she's the only dog in her height and she'll go through to the Standard and Jumpers finals tomorrow. She was also first in the combined east/west rankings for the NAC but it's possible there were no dogs in her height in the east. It's boring having no competition but at least she ran clean in all her runs so I feel like we somewhat deserve all the blue ribbons.

Cody took first in Time Gamble and had a clean run in Standard (by DOCNA's standards, he popped out of the weaves but I fixed it, not a fault just wasted time). His Standard run was good enough for 2nd place so he'll also go through to the finals. I'm really pleased about that, he had some good competition. He was having a beautiful Jumpers run and had a good chance to go through to the finals but I screwed up a front cross on a serpentine and sent him off course for 10 faults. His class was full of dogs who were mostly running clean and times were tight between them so I doubt he'll go through with 10 faults and the wasted time to fix the off course added to his score. I was too tired to wait for results, I'll find out for sure tomorrow but I'm not holding my breath.

Another fun day but too long for Lola. She ran her final Jumpers run at around 6:00 pm and by that time she'd had enough. I almost couldn't get her off the start line but she eventually put on her gameface and got it done but I didn't feel like she was enjoying it. Surprisingly Cody held up o.k. and did better as the day wore on. He was in crazy mode for Time Gamblers (1st run) and blew 2 dogwalk contacts in his enthusiasm and his NAC run was beyond a comedy of errors but by the time Standard rolled around he was much more focused. Too bad I screwed up his Jumpers run, he was doing so well.

Lots and lots of serpentines and 180 degree flips from contact to tunnel, I don't think I've ever seen so many. I'm not complaining but it was weird. The NAC course was the most technical DOCNA course I've ever seen and Standard today was tricky as well as they should be since this is Champs after all. Some fun challenges and good runs but I'm oh so seepy, off to bed for now. Trigility (3 dog relay) and finals tomorrow.

Friday, October 03, 2008

DOCNA Champs Day 1

As an aside, I fixed the embedded video player in the 'Warm-Ups' post below. I had somehow embedded a player that cycled through all of my videos rather than playing just the one. Of course I didn't notice it until a full day later.

Today was probably the most fun I've had at an agility trial in a very long while. Both dogs had clean runs in Standard and Jumpers. It turns out Lola is the only dog in her class (20" veteran) so I've been trying hard for nice runs with her so I can feel somewhat good about all those first place ribbons. I'm pretty sure this means she'll be in the finals no matter what unless there is some rule about a minimum number of dogs. In any case I want to feel like we earned our place there if we get to go. There are 5 dogs in Cody's class (16" veteran) so he has to earn his spot. 2 dogs get to go through and so far he's got 2nd place in both Standard and Jumpers. They'll combine his scores with tomorrow's runs so we need to keep it up with those clean runs.

Overall Cody had a fabulous day. His Jumpers run was beautiful, fast and focused and holy smokes even his turns were tight. We can thank Marco Mouwen and his seminar showing us the crazy mad opposite arm/pre-cue handling skilz. His Standard run was nice as well, just a bobble on a 180 degree turn off the dogwalk into a tunnel. He blew a dogwalk contact in Gamblers, otherwise he would have gotten 2nd place. Nobody in our class got the gamble.

Lola ran off for a sniffing fit at the start of her Jumpers run but I got her back and she finished up nicely. I stressed her out with a rear cross and I think that's what shut her down. Her standard run was nice, just a bobble at a 180 degree jump sequence but refusals aren't charged in DOCNA. Gamblers was a mess, I'll spare you the gory details.

The standard course had an interesting opening with the tire for the first obstacle then a right turn to a jump followed by a left turn to a jump. Lola has a tendency to run past the tire if I lead out and the rear cross thing wasn't a good plan for her so I had to front cross between the tire and #2 jump. Cody broke his start line so I didn't have time to front cross and was forced into a rear cross between the #2 and #3 jumps (sorry, I have no scanner here obviously so you'll have to follow the video). I was probably the only person to handle the opening in these 2 ways, most people did lead out pivots or lead out facing the #2 jump (which is what I would have liked to have done). John McCain my ass, I'm the original maverick. Yes, that's it, I'm an agility maverick, not the victim of training holes. We don't need no stinkin' lead out.

So far the trial has been incredibly well organized. I was done with my 3 runs at 12:30 pm. I scratched from Snakes & Ladders which is a course with only tunnels, contacts and weaves. I figured 3 runs was enough and it would be better to let the dogs rest up for tomorrow. I hung around until 2:30 to volunteer but still got back to the motel plenty early to relax. It felt great not to be exhausted and Jonny got to squeeze in some biking.

Weather has been remarkably cool, high of 71 degrees today with plenty of cloud cover and predicted highs of 67 for Sat. and Sun. Great temps. for dogs & humans.

Ugh, I can't get my video to upload using the hotel wifi. Maybe I can get it to work tomorrow.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

DOCNA Champs Warm-Up Trial

Another disappointing hike in Prescott National Forest at Lynx Lake this morning, just 1 1/2 miles because Cody launched a protest right at the start. I felt like he needed some kind of minimal exercise and the other dogs certainly needed something but I fretted over whether he was injured or would be too tired for his agility run later in the day or whether his pads were sore from walking on the rocks or or or. . . Yes, I know, I'm neurotic, worry worry worry.

Today was a warm-up trial for DOCNA Championships. It was a real trial, not a fun match type thing, and the Q's counted towards titles. I only entered the dogs in standard so they could get a feel for the ring and equipment but not fry themselves out with 4 days of agility in a row. The course had a few challenge areas, both of them coming out of the straight yellow tunnel under the A-frame. I handled Lola with a blind cross after the first pass through the tunnel and that didn't work so great. I botched the cross and got in her way but she pulled it off, just. I suppose if I'm going to do blind crosses in trials I should actually practice them now and again. I did a rear cross for Cody and it worked nicely. I'm not sure it would have worked so well for Lola, I've been having problems with them in situations like that and we need some practice. The second pass through the tunnel was a horse race if you couldn't do a turn off the A-frame into the tunnel without some distance which I can't with Cody. We practiced this very thing before Champs because I knew it would come up but there's only so much I can do with a 10 year old dog. It was a struggle to get him in the tunnel and when I finally did I realized how far behind I'd be when he came out and swore to myself under my breath-right in front of the judge. Doh. I hoped she wouldn't call it, I was quiet and swearing at myself, not the dog who was in the tunnel at the time but still you never know how a judge will react. After his run I saw her consulting with the woman running the trial and I thought 'oh great' but as it turned out they were talking about something else and she didn't call me on it. Phew. Let's see if I can keep my potty mouth under control for the rest of the trial though. That would be a good plan. Both dogs ended up with fast, clean runs and first places though Lola was the only dog in her class (20" vet) and Cody had only 4 dogs or so in his class (16" vet). I was really happy with how they were running, especially Lola who was 20 seconds under course time. If they run like that for the rest of Champs I'll be thrilled. Tomorrow is a full day, better get some rest.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

More Jerome and Prescott

It turns out the hotel we were staying in, like much of Jerome, is supposedly haunted. Luckily it was right before we checked out when I read some specific accounts of weird ghosty things that had happened there and not before we arrived because some weird things did happen in our room and despite being sensible and for the most part not believing in that kind of thing I think my imagination would have gotten the better of me. The weirdest things were the digital clock which kept changing time (ie running fast by different amounts of time throughout the night) and Strummy who had strange barking fits at who knows what (he's usually pretty good in hotel rooms). One of the alleged ghosts is a dog that growls in one of the rooms though of course Strummy could have been barking at any number of things that we couldn't hear.

The woman who checked us in was the strangest of all and though she was very nice to us (she took 10% off the bill just for the heck of it as she put it) there was something odd about her. Funniest thing was when I asked her if the hotel had wifi she said, 'What's that?' When we explained it was computers and the internet she did the spirit hands thing and said 'Oh, the wifi's are there loose in the room. It's scary stuff I tell you.' We only saw her the day we checked in, a man was there the next day and a different younger woman was there the day we checked out. In retrospect I'm glad I never mentioned the first older woman to the other 2 clerks because I'm afraid they would have told me that she's been dead for 10 years or something.
Good thing they have a bordello along with their walk-in mine.

Jerome is full of a lot of this kind of thing, playing up the old naughty reputation of the town for the tourists.

There was a lot of this sort of thing too, bizarre unrelated objects in store fronts.

Granite Basin Recreational Area, Prescott National Forest

Lola attempting to give what for to a bee.

Sometimes it's tough coming from Colorado and trying to appreciate other areas. I'm incredibly spoiled with the trails I have within an hour's drive from home. I have to confess that I found the trail a bit disappointing. It was nice and there were some cool looking plants that we don't get back home and certainly it was better to be out hiking than to be home sitting at a desk at work but I couldn't shake the feeling that I have trails as nice and maybe even nicer that are 10-15 minutes away from my house. Maybe there are nicer areas but the woman at the Forest Service office specifically recommended this area. Tomorrow we were planning on going to another area that she recommended (Lynx Lake) but we'll see how it goes. Cody was dragging and looked really tired. It's possible it's because it got hot, we were only hiking for 1 1/2 hours or so with a break for lunch in there and back home he gets 1-1 1/2 hours of walking a day so I don't think we've been pushing him beyond his normal activity level. Hopefully it's just mental fatigue/heat because the traveling does wear him out. Tomorrow is a warm-up trial for Champs and he has only one run of standard but maybe I'll give him a rest day which means everyone gets a rest day because it's way too hot to leave him behind in the car. Or maybe we'll go early enough and go a very short easy walk when it's cooler and see how he goes. It's always a balancing act trying to give him enough exercise to keep him fit but not to overdo it. I suppose I have the same problem with myself as well.