Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anyone watch 'Life on Mars' last week?

I know, I know, I'll get back to the dog stuff, I'm busy with work and training the dogs and having ongoing panic attacks about Strummer's upcoming USDAA debut this weekend. We're so ready. We're so not ready. NO, we're ready dammit! Oh woe is me, we're so not ready. That sort of thing.

Anyway, I usually fall asleep watching 'Life on Mars' and miss the ending which is not usually a big deal since I only see the first 10-20 minutes before conking about. But last Weds. I made it 40 minutes and got into the plot enough to be irritated when I woke up just in time to miss the ending. Anybody watch it? I fell asleep just after whatsherface got picked up by the FBI and Sam and the cop with the big mustache/sideburns roughed up the bartender at the party at the toy factory. Who framed Sam? Who really killed the gangster? What happened to the hippie neighbor-abducted by aliens or maybe the FBI or a figment of Sam's imagination all along? Is there a website somewhere that recaps tv shows for middle aged dog agility ladies who can't seem to stay awake past 9:30 p.m.?

Friday, March 27, 2009

How not to skijor

I'm no expert here but I'm pretty sure the dog is supposed to be facing the other way

And running as opposed to trying to bite your skis

When do we get to the part where you pull me?

At least I didn't get hurt, much to Jonny's relief. Next time I'll take Lola. Or maybe a tennis ball.

Be careful what you wish for

That stuff about the scary fire danger? Uh, never mind. Driving home from work in a full on blizzard was super fun.

I measured 17" of snow on that table, there's about 16" in my yard. I think a trip to the mountains for some cross country skiing is in order tomorrow and maybe even skijoring in a neighborhood park if the nordic club grooms a trail which I don't know why they wouldn't with all this fresh powder unless it melts too quickly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pillsbury Doughboy on wheels

Stuff this guy in some lycra bike shorts and send him down some trails on a mountain bike and that's about how I felt this weekend. I'm so ridiculously out of shape it's not even funny. But I had a good time on some new trails south of Boulder. I think they've been open for a few months now but it was my first time on them and they were amazing. There are so few nice trails close to town, bikes are banned on almost all city open space so being able to ride these beautiful single track trails was a treat and only a 15-20 minute drive away.

It was hot too, sunny and in the 70's, crazy weather. We've had only a trace amount of snow for Feb. and March which is usually our snowiest month. Temps. in the 60's and 70's a lot of the time in the past few 2 months-it's a bit worrying actually. Do you see the peak to the far right in the photo? That's Long's Peak, the local 14er (mountain higher than 14,000 feet) and at this time of year it should be solid white. The way it looks in the photo is more like what it should look like in May or maybe even June, it hardly has any snow on it. Gonna be a scary fire season if we don't get some moisture and quick. (View from the Greenbelt Plateau trail).

View from the Flatirons Vista trail I think:

Also another view from Flatirons Vista, I think (or Springbrook):

Maybe this Doughgirl should sign up for a race or two this summer to provide some motivation for staying out of the new and improved coffee shop downstairs.

I had the dogs at another fun match this weekend too and I had an interesting practice session with Strummer yesterday and then there's Cody's eye surgery (he's fine) but I'll have to write about that later.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Working Dog

I've got Lola here with me at work today. Tell me now, is she working hard?

Or hardly working?

We did get outside for a bit to play in the sunshine.

But then we had to come back in. Now Lola, that's not very professional.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Aftermath

Sardine dog farts, they're not just for breakfast anymore. Phew, maybe we should all go buy stock in room air fresheners in addition to the sardines.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I squish dead fish between my toes

It was so nice to have a quiet weekend at home with no obligations other than a fun match on Sunday and that was fun, not an obligation at all. I took Lola and Strummer up to Powerpups again for another little fun match. I'm starting to think I like fun matches up there more than trials. It's only $5 a run, I can have all the do-overs I want, a full 90 seconds in the ring, Lola can stuff her face with treats on the table, I don't have to wait in line all day for my runs, and if I don't like the course I can make up my own.

I decided to try sardines for treats for the first time and the good news/bad news is that they were a big hit. Good news because I got some spectacular tables from Lola and great recalls and attention from Strummer at the practice jump while the other dogs were running the course. Bad news because, ugh, have you ever handled sardines? And the smell! It was all I could do to keep the contents of my stomach where they belonged while I was removing them from the tin. Somehow I was picturing tiny individual fish that I could grab by the tail and dole out one whole fish at a time. Instead what I got was big fish parts that needed to be de-boned and fell apart into slimy disgusting bits in my fingers and became even more special with the addition of dog slobber. We have Susan Garrett to thank for this mess. The sardines were a suggestion from her email newsletter which I was just on the verge of canceling because with all I had going on last week I got behind on my email and my inbox was getting overrun and most of the suggestions I'd already read seemed to be geared at beginners and please, no more crate games, the woman does love her crate games, but I have other ways of dealing with impulse control issues that are more practical for me and I grow weary of hearing about games and crates and woe to my poor neglected inbox. But the sardines turned out to be a good tip and unfortunately I think I may have to buy some more for special occasions and how did I ever come to this?

As for the fun match, Strum's dogwalks were good in that he didn't miss any but when I run with him he adds an extra stride and slows a bit on the flat plank as opposed to when I stand still and send him to his treat gizmo so we'll need to work on that. Next week I'll also start adding obstacles on either side of the walk. His first A-frame was perfect, I was incredulous. The second one was less so, a bit of a leap over the apex which I'm trying to get away from since that tends to lead to some spectacular acrobatics including sometimes leaping over the apex and completely missing the A-frame on the way back down. My heart can't take much more of that. More work with the frame is in order but I think he'll be good enough by his debut in standard in 3 weeks. Teeter and weaves were great, he went flying off the table in one rep so we'll have to work on that but otherwise his tables were great (mmm, sardines). He was running a bit amok as far as following the course went and most of this was due to my handling going right out the window. This was mostly because I kept stopping to reward the obstacles and getting off track when I started back up again.

Lola went flying down on the table first time and that was before she knew about the sardines so of course I broke them out right away and let her munch away. Her table training away from the ring has been going so well lately, maybe there's hope. I alternated rewarding her and no reward as well as the amount of time I held her on the table. I got in 3 reps per run and rewarded 2/3. The second rep of the second run was the only time she hesitated and went off stress sniffing but I quickly got her on. I didn't reward her for the first table and when she realizes she's not getting rewards for every rep she starts to balk but this is exactly what we need to train for and why I need to keep taking her to matches. She did everything else no problemo, such a sweet happy girl. I'm so tempted to retire her from USDAA and we'll stick to DOCNA but her table has been an interesting training challenge and we'll see if my crazy made-up training scheme will work in the end. In the meantime I need to see if I can find a less slimy brand of sardine or maybe some other kind of small fish that is an actual whole fish and not fish parts. Or maybe I need to seriously reconsider how I'm spending my free time.

In other news poor Cody has to go in for surgery tomorrow to have a skin flap removed from his eyelid. It didn't seem to be bothering him and I was hoping it would fall off on its own somehow but it got bigger and his eye started oozing green stuff then red stuff so I decided it had to go. I'm not worried about the surgery itself but I am worried about anesthesia on a 10 1/2 year old dog. Poor guy, I'll have to spoil him next week to make up for it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Funk to Funky

I’m finally home from my trip to Chicago and it feels SO good. I held up o.k. until yesterday morning when I had a complete meltdown on Skokie Blvd. with the aggressive driving piled on top of the stress of my crazy family. No, I’m not going to write much about my crazy family. I know, everybody thinks their family is crazy but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. I will say that true to form the gathering in honor of my grandfather had a fair bit of drama with incredible apocalyptic thunderstorms bringing more rain in a few hours than I typically see in a year. My grandparents’ subdivision is built on a swamp and there was at least 3”-4” of rain forming lakes in the low lying areas of the backyard so of course the basement started flooding while we had a houseful of guests. And my uncle with bad heart problems started having bad heart problems and had forgotten his medication and had to leave in a hurry to try to get back to his home far away in the city on the flooding streets with the psycho aggressive drivers. Then there was my aunt who stresses high and had a dose of the zoomies from at least 8 am until well into the evening. I wonder if there’s a Relaxation Protocol for humans?

On a completely unrelated note, Ashes to Ashes, the sequel to the BBC’s excellent series Life on Mars, started on Saturday night. The sequel is set in the 80’s and features a female detective/psychological profiler this time around. Obviously it’s early days but so far the story line itself doesn’t seem nearly as good, probably because the premise is good enough for one series and then gets old but also because the woman’s character is annoying and screams a lot. The 80’s soundtrack is way better though-the Clash, Ultravox, the Stranglers, etc. and next week promises even more good music. Jonny and I had an 80’s stravaganza last night looking up those old bands on You Tube. The stress and boredom of the suburbs drives you to partake in strange activities that’s for sure.

I also finally had a chance to see Slumdog Millionaire. The Wilmette Theater is one of those old time vintage theaters that’s happily been preserved but sadly been chopped up into teensy weensy theaters. Oddly enough they were advertising live cabaret and comedy acts on various nights during the week. I’m not sure exactly who the target audience is meant to be but it was good to see somebody trying to bring some sort of interesting entertainment and it was nice to have an alternative to the sterile mega-plex just 10 minutes away. And it was only $4 for the matinee, woo hoo.

I’m wondering though if I’m the only person who thought the movie was kind of meh. I kept waiting for some great plot twist that never came. You could see where the entire film was going right from the start and after an hour I was bored and antsy and by the end I thought, ugh, so Hollywood and hokey. What was all the hype about? Haven’t we all seen this movie a million times over? Rags to riches, betrayal and redemption, boy gets girl, fate over free will, can they possibly fit any more cheesy Hollywood cliches into one flick? Even the little kid crawling through the latrine-that was straight out of Schindler’s List which was probably straight out of something else. And if we have to endure 2 hours of boy gets girl can’t the girl at least be interesting and have some kind of depth to her? It was interesting to a point and better than 90% of the crap in the theaters but still I couldn’t see what the fuss was about and I was expecting so much more from Danny Boyle-I LOVED Trainspotting. The only part I really enjoyed was the dancing at the end during the credits.

Sorry, not much dogs or triathlon here. Back to all that blah blah blah once things get back to normal here at home.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Saying Goodbye

My grandfather passed away Wednesday morning, he was 91. I'm not going to write a whole lot about him here, partly because I'm trying to get ready to take off for Chicago and partly because this is a family thing, not a blog thing. But I did want to give him a little bit of a cyberspace tribute. The photo was not my first choice either but it was the best I could find in a pinch.

I lived with my grandparents starting at age 6 or so and he was the nearest thing I had to a father growing up so losing him is much more than losing a grandfather to me. At the heart of it he was a good man and towards the latter years of his life his family was the most important thing to him. He seemed most happy and relaxed when he was on vacation with the family. His work was important to him to and he carried on well into his 80's until the Alzheimer's made it impossible for him. He was also played racquetball well into his 80's and often beat guys in their 60's.

His loss will be devastating for my grandmother. I had to lobby very hard for the family to have some sort of gathering for him beyond dinner with the immediate family because they felt she couldn't handle it. But I think it’s important and necessary to the grieving process to have a day where people can come to the house and pay their respects and that if she doesn’t have it she’ll come to regret it. Doesn’t have to be at the temple since no one in the family is terribly religious and I can see not wanting to shell out a bunch of money to a funeral home but I felt they needed to do something and I’m not a fan of ceremonies in general (we barely had a wedding). I was talking to a friend who’s family also decided not to do anything when her grandmother died and she said it was terrible for her not having that sense of closure. So I’m glad I put up a fight about it and hopefully my grandmother will make it through the day and be thankful for it in the end.

Monday, March 02, 2009


No Q's for Strum on Sunday but he had some nice runs and once again was a very good boy at the trial site and in the ring. His only naughtiness was lungeing at the dog still running the Jumpers course while we were entering the ring. The judge wanted us in the ring while the other dog was only halfway through the course and this was tough for Strum. He didn't bark though and the other dog never noticed him but he was a bit rattled on the start line at first and I took an extra moment to let him settle before I left him for my lead out. I want to condition him to relax when I put my hand on his side for just this sort of situation. We're working on it but he's not quite there yet. In any case he was fine in the end, held his stay and had a beautiful run with the only fault being a knocked bar. Well, knocked jump standard actually. I'm not sure how he managed to take the whole thing down but that's my Strum. It's not clear from the video what went wrong but my thought is that I moved too quickly when I cued the turn and the harsh cue caused him to misjudge the turn. I thought about putting a front cross in at that turn then a rear at the 180 then another front when we came around the turn again. I only saw one person do this in Open (nearly identical course) and she had the fastest run with a BC who's fast like Strum. Most everybody else handled that turn as I did. The course was not terribly exciting which is my big beef with NADAC these days. I handled the whole thing without a single side change. I almost put those extra crosses in just to make it more interesting but in the end decided to handle it the way I thought was best and it did expose a weakness so it was just as well.

No Q in Tunnelers either but it was another nice run. I was almost through the course and I got too far ahead of him and he wasn't clear on which end of the next tunnel I wanted and just my luck he guessed the wrong end. Don't ask me how I managed to get ahead of him on a blazing fast Tunnelers course. At that moment someone yelled 'Go Elayne' (they were cheering everyone on at the end) and I was distracted and went forward too quickly when I should have hung back a bit. Normally I don't notice the crowd at all, not sure why I was distracted but I'll have to remember to stay focused on the task at hand next time. Still I was pleased with his run, a huge improvement over his first Tunnelers run back in December where he ran by half the tunnels. The big lessons of this run were that I need to be more patient and I'm woefully out of shape.

NADAC always seems to have some weird new thing going on and this time for me it was hoops on the Weavers course and 24" spaced weave poles. I wasn't overly worried about either mostly because we were there for practice. The first hoop was the first obstacle on course so I didn't want to lead out since I wasn't sure if Strum would try to run around it. He ran through it no problem but this put me further behind than I would have liked and lead to some less than desireable handling. The other hoop was in the flow of the course and I ran him in a path straight for it and he went through it no problem. The 24" poles were no problem either. He had a nice run, the only mistake being a run-by on a set of weaves. I called him back to me and reset him in the poles and still with all that wasted time he managed a Q and 3rd place out of 14 dogs.

His Jumpers run on Saturday was nice but with a wide turn and a refusal at the last jump. I was far behind on a straight run of jumps and he stopped right in front of the last jump. I caught up and sent him over and despite the wasted time he still managed a Q and his first 1st place out of 12 dogs. I was surprised by that because in NADAC you usually have to be tight to get a good placement especially in Novice because the courses are so easy and few people fault.

Of course I don't have his clean runs on video but oh well. There's some bonus footage at the very end of Teddy, one of my favorite dogs and our Trigility teammate from DOCNA Champs. The person filming me happened to catch some footage of him walking to the line. I hope his owner doesn't mind but Teddy is the coolest, I couldn't bear to cut him out.