Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recycled computers and gimpy dogs all in one fell swoop

Ever regret those spur of the moment decisions?  I got an email on Thursday from an agility friend and Lola's former physical therapist that the vet office she works next to is having a big 'Recycle your hard to recycle crap and get your gimpy dog evaluated and some barbecue for free' party on Saturday.  The vet is keen on promoting green veterinary practices so he's throwing a party for the community to promote recycling.  Or something.  I've got a computer and an ancient air conditioner thingy (belonged to the previous home owner and I don't think we ever used it) and some other crap that will otherwise cost me money to recycle and Lola was hitching her rear leg up while running hard at the Rez the other week so this opportunity is too good to be true.  Somebody also noticed her lifting her rear legs slightly while walking on Sunday morning of the USDAA trial a few weeks ago.  So subtle that a normal person wouldn't notice it but she's had her share of orthopedic issues with her own big dog so she has a keen eye for the slightest of gait issues.  I've been burying my head in the sand about this, fearing a cruciate tear and not wanting to drive an  hour to Loveland to have my wallet emptied to be told to take 2 Rhymadil and rest my dog and, oh yeah, she needs surgery.  But she has 3 trials scheduled next month, a heavy schedule for her on a good day and a lot of money for me so I'm thinking that a 20 minute drive for a free evaluation by someone who knows her and did an awesome job treating her for a different injury is too good to pass up.  I'm fairly certain there's nothing seriously wrong but I'll feel terrible running her and finding out the hard way if she's truly injured.

So I go and take Strummer along as well.  He also hitches his rear leg up when he runs but he's always done that.  Probably a kneecap tracking issue but who knows, maybe I can get him evaluated too.  Plus I get to get rid of the last bit of expensive to dispose of clutter in my house for free.

Antke takes a look at Lola's gait then does a physical manipulation exam and determines that Lola has pain in her knees when she tries to extend her rear legs.  Good probability that it's a cruciate tear.  She'll need rest.  And oh, maybe surgery.  She gets the fancy pants orthopedic vet to do an exam and he comes to the same conclusion except he's even more gung ho for surgery.  I'm thinking maybe next time I need to recycle a computer I'll fork over the money to the recycling center.

I pulled Lola from the trials of course.  One of them is closed but she was only entered for 2 runs and I paid a portion in worker's coupons so I'm not out very much money.  I'm not signing her up for surgery any time soon.  She's 9 years old, I really really really don't want to do that to her.  My plan is to restrict her activity per Antke's suggestions for 2 months, do some x-rays soon to see if she does indeed have a tear then again after the 2 months to see if she's getting better or worse.  I'm only going to opt for surgery if I feel the injury is causing that knee joint to degrade to the point where she'll be in pain doing normal dog things.  The feeling is that if there is a tear it's probably small so it's good I caught it early. 

Lola can't do any off leash running so the bad news is no trips to the Rez which is about her favorite thing in the world but the good news is that she can go running on leash with me so I can at least keep her fit and she enjoys it so she won't be completely miserable.  It could be nothing of course but I'm not thinking that's likely.  The x-rays will confirm things but I'm going to wait a couple of weeks because I'm so busy with this work project and I need to work every last hour that I can.  This is hardly an emergency so it can wait and treatment is the same either way.  Even if it's not a tear I'm not going to put her in a trial if her knees are sore and I'm going to restrict her activity. 

And then there's maggot ball!  I knew maggot ball came into my life for a reason.  Antke said maggot ball would be good for her and gave me some exercise suggestions and tips.  Actually Antke was grossed out that I was calling it maggot ball but I've been saying it so much it doesn't feel right calling it anything else.  I'll also be having a physical therapy session with her when Lola goes back for her x-rays and she can check to make sure I'm doing the exercises properly and give me some more.  I found 2 issues of Clean Run that had exercises so we'll work our way through those.  I'll try to get some video up for those who might be interested in exercise ideas but it may take a couple of weeks.

After all that excitement poor Strummer never got his turn.  This is probably the best for my mental state anyway.  Perhaps we live in blissful ignorance of whatever special injuries he might be harboring for a little while longer.

At least you could have gotten me some barbecue.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How far will I go for 24" weave poles?

Did somebody say 'weave poles'?

I went to my first ever agility club meeting last night because I wanted to propose that the club get a set of 24" weave poles for their upcoming DOCNA shows.  I am on a mission from dog, 24" weave poles baby.  It's great that DOCNA allows 24" poles but they don't mandate it so it's up to those with a big enough bug up their butt to try to get the clubs to use them.  So despite better judgement and an extreme dislike of meetings I went to one last night.  For the sake of big dogs everywhere slamming their shoulders against those cramped little poles.  Like my big pony girl.

Thanks but if you have to go on a mission I'd prefer 'More tennis balls' or 'Kill all squirrels'

Most of my meetings in real life involve negotiations along the lines of, 'Can you please move this wall 6" so it stacks on the wall below?  Trust me, everybody will love you for it.'  Or, 'Pretty please can I put another column somewhere?  If not you will have a 40' long beam weighing over 100 lbs per foot and trust me nobody will love you for that'.  Aside from one unfortunate client with serious anger management and competency issues I've never had a meeting degenerate into shouting in my 15 years on the job.  But there was some shouting last night.  Apparently the issue of dry erase boards vs big printed out sheets from Kinko's for the worker's schedule was controversial, at least for one guy.  He had some passionate viewpoints on the subject.  Or maybe he just yells a lot in real life anyway, some people yell and speak in harsh tones and don't even realize it or mean anything by it.  Then we had the part of the meeting where somebody tried to create a controversy where one did not exist and we spent about 10 minutes vehemently agreeing with each other.  Then we came to the really horrifying part of the meeting where I somehow might have ended up in charge of the club's seminar for next year.  Somehow I went from making some suggestions for seminar presenters via an email discussion to being in charge  for next year and don't ask me how that happened.  I did this sort of thing back in another life organizing punk rock concerts and when I gave it up I swore never again.  And after last night I'm thinking that punk rock gigs are easy compared to crazy dog agility world.  I'm hoping everybody else's middle aged memory is as bad as mine and they'll forget all about me by next year or preferably next week.

And after all that, turns out the club was planning on getting 24" poles anyway.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Friday-Finally

This is how I feel after spending 7 1/2 hours in meetings today.

So busy this week, I lost track of the days.  No time to go to the practice field, hopefully I can sneak in a practice this weekend.  We've been having weave pole bootcamp in the backyard though.  Not sure if I'm helping or hurting the training, poor Strum has regressed again to popping out at pole 8 and missing those onside entries.  Argh, I feel like I'm bashing my head against the wall so I'm going to try something different next week.  Part of the problem is that my yard is too small but maybe I'll find a way to work around.  Also I think I'll try to take my weave poles out to the Rez sometime next week to try training somewhere new.  Not sure if I can fit the whole set in the car but I'm sure I can get at least 6 and a practice jump.

Maggot ball was a huge hit, all 3 dogs went nuts.  I'm sure it was the treats they got for getting on maggot ball and not the ball itself but after a few minutes there was much insane barking and fighting for who gets to get on maggot ball next and I had to institute the ever popular Sit Down and Shut Your Piehole Protocol for the dogs not on the ball or risk an 'incident' and the premature loss of my hearing.  I'll have to get Jonny to assist to get video or photos because there's no way I can play photojournalist and doggy physical therapist at the same time.  I'll also have to pull out some old Clean Runs and get ideas for exercises because right now all I've got is 'Climb up on the ball and lie down', hopefully without simultaneously barking your head off.

I'm mentally exhausted after those marathon meetings so I'll leave you for now with some soothing Scottish ukele Ramones music.  Perfect for whatever ails you.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Trouble Twins Take Loveland

Or, 'How to lose 10 pounds and take 10 years off your life in one weekend'.

(Photos are by the most awesome Ken Gee)

Despite keeping Lola's entry to 1-2 classes each day I still ended up running back and forth between the rings like a crazy person for most of the day.  The highlight of the madness was when during my run with Strummer in one ring the lady organizing the volunteers starts yelling at me in a not so nice voice over the loudspeaker for not showing up to work my job in the other ring even though I had informed someone of the conflict and been told it was no problem.  I'm working hard on my handling skills but I don't think I'm up to the level yet of being able to run Mister Speedy McCrazypants in one ring while setting jumps in another.  Maybe there are some NADAC distance handlers that are close to being able to pull that one off but so far my distance handling skills are not up to that level.  It all worked out in the end though and I didn't end up having to hold up any rings this year or miss any walk-thrus.  But I'm sure that between all the running around and then getting roped into leash running for Steeplechase at the end of the day that I must have worked off at least 10 lbs.  Well, maybe 1 lb anyway.  All I know for sure is that I could barely move Saturday night and was considering an ice bath which I only consider when the situation is dire.  I'm not sure how the people with zillions of dogs in all 3 levels manage it.

Lola started off the day with a nice opening in Gamblers but just as the horn blew she took the dogwalk going the wrong way and when I called her to me thinking she'd turn around and come back down the walk like she normally does she jumped off the walk from the middle of the flat top plank and took about 10 years off my life.  If you think I gave a rat's ass about the gamble after that you'd be sorely mistaken.  Once I assured myself I would not be needing a defibrillator I did attempt the gamble and though it was easy I wasn't positioned quite right and didn't have my heart in it so she didn't pull it off.  It was a shame too because it was such an easy gamble for her.

Her Standard run was nice but fell victim to a knocked bar which shook me up a bit because she rarely knocks bars and I was worried she'd hurt herself during her dogwalk fiasco but looking at the video she was moving pretty fast and nothing looked off so I think it was a fluke.  Joy was taping for me and afterwards she said she couldn't see why the bar came down either and she's good at spotting that sort of thing.  I think I pulled away from her laterally and maybe it distracted her a bit.  Also I was behind her at that point and maybe she wasn't sure where to go so she looked at me and took her attention off her jumping.

She got on the table no problem, all happy face and waggy tail but during the table count she lost it and sat up and started barking.  Maybe nervous about the judge, maybe nervous in general and wanted to get going, who knows.  I didn't argue the point because she's already got enough issues and she did get on the table happily enough.  I haven't been working enough duration during our table training so that's my fault, not hers.  This has been on purpose but now I think it's time to add it in.

I thought Sunday's run was a Q but the scribe sheet said otherwise and as I said before I suspect it was the up contact on the dogwalk.  It was the only time during the run that I took my eye off of her.  She got on the table no problem then hesitated a bit before laying down but she did lay down and hold it for the count so I was pleased with that.  Of course I don't have that run on tape.

Strum had a good trial, was mostly calm-for-him and focused with the exception of waiting his turn for his Snooker run.  I'm not sure what was setting him off but of all the classes to lose your head.  It was the only A-frame he missed all weekend and after missing the A-frame he sort of took off on his own taking an obstacle after a red that was the opposite direction of where we needed to go but I was able to call him to me and save the run somehow for a Q.  Gamblers had an easy gamble and he picked up a Q there. Did you know you can Q in Starters Pairs with an off course?  We had an off course but our partner was clean and we still Q'ed with 10 seconds to spare somehow.  Strum kept his head waiting his turn and I was able to get his leash of while my partner brought me the baton.

Jumpers was funny because during the walk-through this woman was freaking that she was going to get lost and I told her don't be ridiculous, once you're through the opening/tunnel/front cross it's just a big loop, no way you'll get lost and if you think you will then for sure you will so get that idea out of your head right now.  Then of course I proceed to come out of the front cross, see a sea of jumps ahead of me and forget which one starts the loop.  But refusals don't count in Starters so I regrouped and got us through no problem for a Q and 1st place even with the bobble.

Both Standard runs saw problems with the weaves, still need to put in some work on those.  He'd had no problem at class on Thursday with an unfamiliar set of poles and picked up some impressive entries, did the full set no problem.  I guess it's a matter of more practice.  Other than the weaves I think between his 2 runs he had one knocked bar, one missed dogwalk and a hop off the table but he got back on and held his stay.  Again, I've not been working on stay/duration with the table so need to practice more of that.  His nicer run was on Sunday but of course that's the one I don't have a tape of.  The person taping thought she'd turned the camera on but in fact she'd turned it off.  There's something funny with the camera because I've had that problem myself several times now at practice.  I'll have to play around with it and see what's up.  So I only have Saturday's run which was the first run of the trial for him and probably his worst run other than that crazy Snooker run.

Standard Runs for Strummer & Lola
USDAA-STRUMMER & LOLA-STANDARD RUNS from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Strummer's Pairs run

USDAA-APRIL 2010- STRUMMER, PAIRS from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Overall it was a fun trial.  The Border Collie rescue group that I do some volunteer work for was there and I got to chat with a few of the people that I usually only 'talk' to via email.  The last thing the dogs need is more dog toys but the rescue was selling those stupid squeaky rubber balls with the feet at a price way cheaper than what the store sells them for and Strummer loves those stupid things when he finds them at the training field so I thought I'd get him one and give some support to the rescue.  The one on display was a regular round ball with feet but the woman selling them told me I could have a different color so I asked for red.  I didn't notice right away but after playing with it with the dogs for a bit I noticed it had devil horns unlike the one on display.

I'm not sure if it had the horns when she gave it to me and she knew Strummer was a devil boy so that was the toy for him or if the thing sprouted horns after realizing it was going to be Strummy's toy.  And even though I bought it with Strummer in mind it turns out Lola is even more crazy for the stupid thing.  I think it's something about the texture of the rubber and the squeaking sound that sounds like small animals being tortured.

The other weird souvenir  that I cane home with came from the worker's raffle.  The woman running the raffle came up to me at some point during the day and said, 'Elayne, I don't think you heard your name called but you won a peanut', in a voice like I should be excited about this so I'm guessing it's not an actual peanut but I can't get my brain around what this could possibly mean.  Finally the fog clears a bit and I remember seeing some vendors selling those giant inflatable workout balls but they're for dogs and you could maybe say they kind of look like a peanut but really mine looks more like a maggot.  Sure enough this is what I've won and apparently these things are worth $79.

I'm not sure what is more disturbing, the fact that my husband came home from his bike ride on Sunday to find me in the garage using a 'plug in the cigarette lighter' air pump to blow up a giant inflatable maggot or the fact that he didn't even so much as bat an eyelash at me.  Here is something you need to know about these maggot balls if you decide to buy one-they take a freaking huge amount of air, especially if you have the gigantic jumbo size for your big pony dog.  Actually this thing is so big it probably could hold a pony.  Or it could if I could blow it up to its proper size but the thing is so huge it burned out the motor in the air pump.  They gave me a little hand pump for blowing up soccer balls in the bag with my maggot ball and this has got to be the most hilarious joke ever.  I took maggot ball to the chiropractor in the hopes that they'd have a proper air compressor since they have a bunch of the fit balls for people but it turns out they blow theirs up with a hand pump so they were no help and now I'm driving around town with a giant yellow rubber maggot in the back of my car in hopes of finding someone with a lot of hot air and I'm not at all sure how my life has come to this or what I'm going to do with said rubber maggot once I do get it properly inflated or perhaps most importantly of all where this monstrous thing is going to live in my little house.  Riddle me that Batman.

What, you mean you don't all drive around town with a giant rubber maggot in the back of your car?
What kind of crazy dog person are you?

Guess I'm not going to the Rez for awhile

Due to it being closed off by all the festive yellow 'Do Not Cross' police tape because of the University crew coach finding a dead body 4' off the shore where I normally play with the dogs.  Ick ick ick.  It so easily could have been me or the dogs that found the body.  Luckily it was snowing this morning and I had an 8:00 meeting so I didn't go.  Was planning to go tomorrow but I guess I'll have to find somewhere else for the dogs to run out their monkeys.  Weird thing is they said the guy was wearing 'clothing appropriate for going into the water'.  I would like to know exactly what kind of clothing that would be.  The Rez only recently melted, water temps. are in the low 40's and I can't imagine a regular wetsuit being sufficient.  I know some pretty crazy hardcore triathletes but nobody crazy enough to brave the Rez in those temps.  I didn't even let Strummer swim in there the other day.

It was freaky watching the news reports and seeing the investigators combing over our beloved stomping ground.  Not sure when we'll be allowed back in.

Oh, you wanted to hear about the agility trial?  I'll get there, really I will, but I'm crazy busy with the contract work I'm doing, been in a big long meeting for the past 3 days and finally got to come up for air today and priority goes to my poor neglected pups.  I have a little video and some photos but will probably be a few days until I can get it all together.  In short, Strum was 4/6 getting Q's in Jumpers and all the games, trouble with weaves in Standard, 6/7 on his A-frame, 1/2 on his dogwalk, only one run where I felt he was getting the crazies waiting his turn, survived his pairs run (just). 

Lola was 0/3, I thought she'd Q'ed one of her Standard runs but there was a Standard fault on her scribe sheet.  I can't imagine what it was so I'm guessing it was likely the stupid dogwalk up contact, that's the only contact I didn't see, which is aNOTHer thing that irks me about USDAA.  I refuse to slow her down and jack with her stride so we takes what we gets on the upside.  I've tried to train this, believe me, it's simply not worth it, I'd rather just do DOCNA.  USDAA is not a very 'big dog friendly' venue that's for sure.  It's a great place to compete if you have an 18"-20 7/8" Border Collie (or whatever kind of dog) but for the rest of us, well, I guess it's Festivus for the rest of us, or DOCNA or something.  Nonetheless I had a good time at the trial and won an interesting prize in the worker's raffle.  I'll write more when I get a chance.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

USDAA trial this weekend

I smirk to that

I can't believe I have a trial this weekend.  I can't even remember the last time I trialed, maybe DOCNA in mid-February.  On the one hand I was hoping Strum's weave poles would be further along but on the other hand they're looking pretty fabulous so maybe I'm worrying over nothing.  Multiple snow storms this past month put a damper on our training but still we got to the point of one jump rotating around the clock and 6 poles.  We've done this exercise ad nauseum, with sends, recalls, me on both sides, rear crosses previously but Strummer would sometimes struggle with the more difficult entries, especially onside entries, and after starting out o.k. at trials for some reason had a complete meltdown with them in January/February.  So I've been retraining using Mary Ellen Barry's twist on the 2x2 method and so far it's worked great.  Strum now seems to have an understanding of entries that he didn't have before and couldn't quite get with the regular 2x2 method.  Apparently something about those rotated poles was blowing his brain because he breezed through the training with the straight poles.  I was hoping to be further along in the proofing process before this April trial but Mother Nature had other ideas.

We ran a few dogwalks and A-frames this past week and he was great, I'm not too worried about that.  Again would like to have done some more dogwalk proofing but can't worry about it now.

He's running a full slate of classes in P1 (no tournaments though).  I even entered Pairs.  I harassed this poor woman with a nice calm Aussie all the way back in January to team up with Strum.  He knows the dog from classes and practice so I'm hoping he'll behave.  This will probably be his last USDAA trial for a while.  I'm irritated with USDAA for a slew of reasons, the main one being the whole hassle they've put me through over measuring.  I wanted to go down to Pueblo last May to run Lola and have Strum measured by the CMJ on Sunday but they won't let an unentered dog be measured and I couldn't enter him because of the 2 rings/no barriers issue.  Despite 3 measurements under 21", the CMJ in August measured him at 21 1/4" so now I need 2 more CMJ's to measure him under.  So far this year there are no CMJ's scheduled, next possible one is in August again.  And who knows if they'll have one.  So I've had to wait a minimum of a year for another measurement, who knows how long for the second if the first measures him under.  What a pain, this could have been settled in either May or August of last year but now who knows how long it'll drag on and all for a stupid rule.  USDAA sure doesn't like to make it easy for their customers.  So I can spend the year hoping he measures into CH 22" (and what happens if he doesn't?) on a per trial basis or put him in Performance and start from scratch in Championship if he ever gets the lower measurements.  Jumping him at 26" is out of the question, I refuse to do it, USDAA can bite me on that one.  If he ends up in Performance then there's no vet program for him.  I guess I  can bite USDAA on that one.  I'm also having issues with them dragging their feet on equipment/safety issues (24" poles, displaceable tire).  Given my limited funds these days I've decided we'll be focusing on DOCNA.  I'll enter Lola in Gamblers and Standard at the local (40-50 minutes away) trials to try to finish up her championship but I'm not traveling for USDAA this year and I'm probably not going to spend the money entering Strummer at all.

Lola is only entered in 3 classes at this trial.  I don't want to deal with conflicts again between the 2 rings.  I may have at least one on Saturday but none for sure on Sunday.  I've been practicing her table in the backyard but little else.  She's come up limping at least once in the past 6 weeks for no apparent reason so I've been resting her and then building her up again with walking/off leash running but no equipment.  I'm sure she'll be fine for 3 runs over 2 days.

There will be sardines?

Yes my dear, there will be sardines for good little girls who lay down on the table all smiles and grins and waggy tails and stay there until instructed otherwise.

Would be great to pick up those 2 Standard legs for her Perf. MAD but no big deal if we don't.  For now we enjoy every run we have left.