Thursday, March 29, 2007

Calm Before the Storm Before the REAL Calm--

SUMMARY: My agility life for the next 4 months

This weekendNo agility!
Next weekend:4-hour weave seminar with Boost (no competition)
Three weeks out:4-day Haute TRACS USDAA
Four weeks:4-day Power Paws agility camp
Five weeks:My alternate club (SMART)'s USDAA trial
Six weeks:My main club (Bay Team)'s USDAA trial
7/8/9 weeks:No competitions (although there is a USDAA and two CPEs--I'd really like to recover from all those preceding agility weekends)
10 weeks:Last USDAA of the spring season
The next 6(!) weekends in a row:No agility! Not even any available if I wanted to! Aughhhh!

Boost's Weaves


And, BTW, I gave Boost 2 days break from doing weaves, and yesterday both morning and evening she didn't miss a single entrance or skip a single pole no matter what I did. Where was that skill set this last weekend?! We'll see whether it translates to class this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Superheroes--

SUMMARY: I always thought I was the batman type--

Your results:
You are Superman
Superman
55%
Hulk
55%
Spider-Man
50%
Supergirl
47%
Green Lantern
45%
The Flash
40%
Robin
39%
Wonder Woman
37%
Batman
35%
Iron Man
35%
Catwoman
30%
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test


But more to the point, my favorite kinds of superheroes: What Breed of Dog Are You?


Test 1: long questions but not many of them:

What Common Breed of Dog Are You?





Test 2: Many short questions and I had to refresh the pages often to get them to redraw correctly:

Border Collie
You scored 80% Loyal and 66% Independant!
You are most like these breeds:

Border Collie:

Originated in Scotland/England
border areas, this breed is intelligent, determined and brave, this dog
forms a close bond with its family and is also eager to work. If not
given work to do, the Border Collie will become badly behaved. It needs
ample exercise, and its origin as a sheepdog and cattle-herder means
that it is only happy when given specific tasks on a regular basis.
They can't sit still and they want you to be right out there doing
their task with them. They are the leaders and motivators of the dog
world.

Alaskan Malamute:

Originated in
Alaska, USA, this breed is friendly, affectionate, and loyal, but can
have a mind of its own. The malamute is built to work well within a
team, and its friendliness makes it unsuitable for a watchdog, but
brave enough to pull 110% of the load. Once set in a direction these
dogs will continue in that track until someone with a firm hand and
kind heart sets them onto a new destination. They are loving, but a
workhorse that grows restless with too little to do.


My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Loyalty
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Independence

Link: The What Breed Of Dog Are You Test written by JubileeHannah on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test



Test 3: Funky questions, answers, and spelling (on the test site, what appear to be black lines here actually show my percentage match to each of the indicated breeds, but for some reason Blogger's formatting cancels that out. Maybe I'll come back & try to figure it out later so that you can see I'm about 66% "dachound", 60% "mix breed", 40% lab, 30% "jackrussle", and 15% GermanShepherd--I'm massively entertained that the last one is spelled correctly and the others not, because "Sheperd" or "shepard" is by far the most commonly misspelled breed name even among fanciers):
What Breed Of Dog Are You?!
Your Result: dachound

You are a dauchound.You are very loyal and friendly.You make friends very easy and are pretty popular.You may be small but that does not bother you at all.You always whant to be outside but tend to be a little lazy sometimes.

Mix breed
Lab
jackrussle
GermanShepherd
What Breed Of Dog Are You?!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Photos, Weather, and Jump Bar Miracle

SUMMARY: Photos from previous weekend, weather variations, and Tika might have achieved a first--

Every day brings new doggie data. And weather, too, apparently.

Weather

Amazing San Jose weather. This past weekend was idyllic agility weather. On Saturday it might have made it to the low 70s; probably only high 60s on Saturday, with a slight cool breeze in the morning that got fairly chilly but not killingly so in the late afternoon. Sun was out most of the time, with just a few light clouds and morning overcast on Sunday.

Thank goodness for that--yesterday it rained most of the day here, and today it is cold COLD COLD!!! An icy wind all day that just won't quit, and it's supposed to be back down around freezing overnight.

Photos

Tika's standard jumping form. Every jump photo I have of her shows her tucked like this, I'm pretty sure. She gets around at a good speed, but her whole body has that upright Aussie thing going.
All three photos by topflightphotography.com
Boost's jumping form? Everything is directed forward for speed--head is lowered, neck stretched, legs straight out behind. I don't know whether this is typical; don't have that many photos yet and she moves too fast for me to see with my naked eyes.
Boost riding the teeter to the ground at full speed. I've seen photos of other dogs riding it with this kind of skidding-to-a-halt right at the very tippy end of the board, so if she always does it here, she's missing a fraction of the momentum that they'll have. But she's got super teeters, much better than any of my other dogs have ever had. Sometimes even skids to the end/bottom. Exciting.

And Then A Miracle Occurred

OK, here's one for you--and you'd think I'd have noticed before driving home this evening for once at the speed limit most of the way: I don't think that Tika knocked any bars this weekend. I know for sure that she didn't in 9 of her 10 classes, but the last one was the chaotic Jackpot round where she was grabbing my feet and I was panicking about getting her around the ring and it's POSSIBLE that a bar came down, but I didn't see it or notice it if it did. If so--(drum roll please)--I believe that this would be the first time in history that Tika made it through a weekend without knocking a bar. That would be absolutely FABULOUS, no other word for it!

Of course, she jumps 24" in CPE, and 26" in USDAA, where she knocked plenty of bars the previous weekend, thank you very much. I've debating before whether I should jump her regularly in practice at 28", but most jumps nowadays stop at 26"; we're so far beyond the days when USDAA's top height was 30" and not a few jumps went up in 2" increments.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Photos from this Weekend

SUMMARY: A friend, Sarah, took a ton of photos from this weekend. Here are some of us.



Tika weaving.
Boost ready to run

The three of us.
More later...
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CPE Hang-The-Handler Rule

SUMMARY: You must tell the judge what course you're running or be penalized.

Here's a new CPE rule for 2007, one that seems to go counter to CPE's professed goal of making agility fun and encouraging Qs.

Background: The Colors class consists of two intertwined courses, of maybe 9-12 obstacles each. You pick one, state which one you're doing, and do it. The judge can design them so that they start either on the same obstacle or on different obstacles. Used to be, if they started on the same obstacle, judge or scribe or someone would ask if you forgot to say which one you were intending to do.

New rule: If you do not tell the judge which color you're doing, you get a 5-point fault. This is particularly painful if you're at Level C, where you're not allowed any faults: you could have a perfect run but NQ because you forgot to say it and no one prompted you. This weekend it was even more painful because the two courses started on completely opposite sides of the field, so there was no chance whatsoever for misunderstanding which you were intending to do.

I don't think there's anything in the rules prohibiting the judge or scribe or someone from asking what color you're intending to do, but based on how many faults were given for not stating your color, it seems to me that people are thinking that they don't dare say anything because it would be outside help. At our next trial, I'll try to remember to make sure that the ring crews for the Colors courses are prompted to help the competitors remember.

OK, have I been burned by this? Twice! I remembered for Boost this weekend, but although it was in my head when I walked out with Tika, then someone yelled something behind me and I turned around to see what it was, then Tika got distracted by a dog in the field outside the ring, then when I put her in a sit she kept standing up, and so then when I finally looked up for my first obstacle, the thought had escaped. After 11 years of agility (that's 2,366 runs, only 50 of which have been Colors, and most preceding this rule), my instincts have been trained to focus on my dog, the timer's "go when ready," and my course. It's going to take a lot of unlearning to remember to do this thing.

I did notice that the Level 1 and 2 dogs, and even at times the Level 3, were much better at remembering CPE's nonstandard rules like this and like the "go to the table to stop the clock" rules after you've already completed a Snooker course or a Jackpot gamble. And we talked about how it's because those are the only rules they've ever known; unlike the more experienced handlers, they don't have years of experience telling them how to do things--which go counter to CPE rules.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

CPE Day 2

SUMMARY: Tika Qed 8 of 10; Boost 4 of 10; some interesting results.

I'd love to have, just once, a perfect weekend or high in trial! We've come so close so many times with all my assorted dogs. Oddly enough for Tika, this weekend we completely muffed Saturday's Snooker and Sunday's Jackpot but managed to keep all our bars up for TWO Qualifying runs in Jumpers and also Colors and Wildcard, which we often have problems with because of the bars. Why I can't get it all together in the same weekend just once--

Boost surprised me this morning in her first run of the day, a Standard course, by entering and completing the weave poles at full speed with no hesitation or bobbles. Surprised me enough that I let her drift off course on the next obstacle and had to bring her back around for the correct one. Fortunately at CPE Level 3 that's still a Qualifying score, just not a placement. Shame, because even with that, she was the fastest of all 27 Level 3 dogs. She's a fast girlie.

Which brings us back to trying to compare Tika's and Boost's speeds. At different levels, they seldom have the same course, and even when they do, they don't always run equally well. Take today's Jumper's, for example, where they ran the same course: Boost made two huge, wide turns, wasting considerable time for the carryout, slow down, and swing back in to me. Then on a serpentine, which we're weak on, she turned the wrong way before the last jump, for a big spin, before finally taking it correctly. She ended up clean for a Q.

Tika's run, by comparison, was professional, smooth, without any major flaws. She turned exactly on cue, kept her bars up, flowed around the course. She was clean with a time of 23.72, using electronic timing so we know the times are accurate and equitable, which was beaten by only five of 100 dogs on the same course...one of whom, of all things, was Boost, at 23.64 even with all those wide runouts and spins! So maybe Boost IS the faster dog. This astonished me. If only we can get our stuff together--

And speaking of getting our stuff together, as in weaving--Boost never came close to doing a correct set of weaves the rest of the day, and our handling and teamwork left much to be desired, although we did somehow squeak out a sloppy Jumpers Q with one bar down.

Overall, 7 of Tika's 8 Qs put her in the top 3-6 of 70 to 100 (or more) dogs on the same course; always a nice thing although would've been nice to be THE #1 dog once out of all those. But I'm not complaining (much); they were all firsts in her own division.

And Boost managed enough Qs so that she'll now be in Level 4 in five of the seven CPE classes, which means the same courses as Tika so I'll have fewer separate walkthroughs and conflicts in the future. This is good.

My knee is even less happy today than yesterday, but the pain at least has moved from where it was before surgery, and it's still not swollen, so SOMETHING has changed. It's been iced and antiinflammatoried and hot tubbed and now it's going to be taken to bed. 'Night.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

CPE Day One

SUMMARY: As usual, plunging from top to bottom and back up again.

Since it's a local trial, I'm here at my computer this evening. Icing my knee. It's not feeling good. Not swollen that I can tell, but stiff and getting painful. Sigh.

I crapped out entirely with both dogs in Snooker, usually one of our CPE strong points. Stupid handler tricks both times.

Boost can't do weaves. They are broken. Competely. I mean, as if she'd barely ever seen weaves before in her life. Broken broken broken.

Tika had a lovely Jumpers run going until my front cross was in the wrong place and she crashed into me and she yiped and I fell and then we both told each other how exciting the whole thing was and got up and finished the run. Of course we kept all our bars up and had no offcourses or runouts, but because I was fondling my dog while sitting on the ground, that's an NQ.

Boost's Jumpers was just a mishmash of runnning past jumps, turning back to me, blah blah. After last weekend and today I feel like I shouldn't be trialing her at all. (Heaves deep sigh.) Her standard round was absolutely beautiful except that we couldn't complete the weaves.

On the up side at various times during the day, both dogs completed their Gambles on courses where very few dogs Qed. Tika had the second highest points of any dogs in all levels 3/4/5/C (about 80 dogs I think))--and she'd have gotten that extra darned point to tie the highest if she hadn't stopped before a back-to-back tunnel to snarf at my feet about how exciting things were. Boost was 2nd of 10 dogs in her group but because we weren't doing weaves, we missed out on 20 points that Tika got during her run. And her gamble wasn't perfect--came inside one jump that I had to spin her around to make a 2nd approach on, but at least she did a lovely Out the 2nd time.

And then there's Full House. OK, it's sort of a silly game for many people--I think of it as an automatic Q because it's basically design-your-own-course and just meet the minimum obstacle requirements. But after working score table today, I realize that the Level 1 dogs at least have a VERY difficult time getting a Q in Full House. (Reinforces my feeling that Level 1 is for pre-Novice dogs and/or handlers.) I had a lovely flowing course that I thought both my dogs could run nicely and rack up the points.

Two small, fast dogs with 5 seconds more than us for point accumulation earned 44 points. My course I hoped would get us at least 44 points. I keep hoping for a class where both dogs run well and I can compare and see who's really faster.

Boost was right in tune with me. Required a lot of running and maybe I could've gotten a couple of ighter turns if I could've gotten there, but really she was fast and lovely and the whistle blew while we were in our last tunnel, so we ended with 41 points (the 3-point tunnel didn't score), which aside from those 2 small-fast dogs, was the highest of any of the dogs competing at any height, any level. So I got Tika good and revved up, so much so that she didn't stick her Aframe either time so carried out a bit further than I'd have liked for a really tight course, but mostly did a very nice job and--the whistle blew whie we were in our last tunnel, so we also ended with 41 points, and their times were within a tenth of a second of each other. So I still don't know who's really going to be the faster dog.

Some wise voices joshed with me about "what is it that the dogs have in common that their times are so close on the same course?" I of course pointed out that they're both blue merles, so that must be it. Of course the limiting factor might indeed be the handler, but the places where they weren't as tight were different for the 2 dogs, so it's not just entirely how fast I can move around the course (and this did require a lot of running).

Anyway, THAT was fun. But I wish I hadn't broken boost's weaves so entirely. Tomorrow I think I'll go ahead and try them but just keep going if she blows out because I think I've been pulling her away from them so often as she makes more and more mistakes that I'm patterning her to make mistakes, as Nancy suggested in class this week. (Heaves similar deep sigh.)

OK, I haven't quite made 20 minutes on the knee icing yet. Then shower and bed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

CPE Trial This Weekend

SUMMARY: Local CPE trial in Sunnyvale.

Both dogs are in 5 runs each both days at Twin Creeks in Sunnyvale. The nice thing is that it's only 20 minutes from home. The other side to that is that it's my club's trial (The Bay Team) and I'm the über score table czar. Revised all our score-table cheat sheets for the newest scoring rules, stuffed the score-table binders with the latest rulebooks, schedules for this trial, judges' SCT calculation worksheets, handicapped handler timing instructions, and so on.

Normally I'd be setting up on Friday afternoon, but the site has just raised its prices so much that we can't afford Friday afternoon any more and they're charging us $800 or something like that to allow us access after 8 p.m. after a soccer game finishes to start setting up. It's outrageous and we won't be able to afford this site except for our September super-regional any more. Our May USDAA has already moved elsewhere. Anyway, I'm also working away from home this week and have more things to print (printer was jamming last night), so with all that, I think I'll probably just have to plan on getting there at 6 a.m. and setting up then, bagging any assistance with site set-up this evening.

Any my knee has been bothering me this week. It should be interesting. But the weather should be lovely. Supposed to be sunny to partly cloudy, temps in the low 70s. There's usually at least a breeze (sometimes quite a wind, which can be bad) up that close to the Bay, which helps keep the temperature down, too. They're currently saying a possibility of showers Sunday night, but with any luck it really will wait until night.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CPE Rule Changes

SUMMARY: Continuing from last year's April 1 newsletter--

The newsletter reported:
Levels: Because so many people have earned their C-ATCHs in the last year, CPE is adding 3 more levels (Level 6 through Level 8) between Level 5 and Level C. Dogs will need to complete 24 Standard Qs and 12 of each of the games at each level before proceeding to the Championship level.

In fact, as of July of this year, CPE has changed the number of legs required to earn a C-ATCH (from Level 1 through Level 5) from 91 to 120. So there ya have it--I should stop being a tech writer and start selling my services as an agility prognosticator.

NADAC Rule Changes

SUMMARY: Don't tempt fate with subtle humor.

Just a year ago, we published an April 1 agility news spoof that included, for NADAC, safety improvements including a teeter-totter whose center elevation would be only 6 inches and jumps spray-painted on the grass.

Just received this info from a friend (thanks, Debbie):

NADAC announced a couple of days ago that it has removed the teeter from its courses until they can come up with a more standardized version (and one that minimizes impact concussion and board whip).

According to her email on the list, Sharon [Nelson] is now starting to come to the conclusion that there is no way to make the teeter consistent, since there are too many variables, and even minor changes have big impacts.

She and Becky are currently looking at introducing another obstacle, a 16" wide, 12' long, 12" high (at the center) "balance board" to replace the teeter.

They have also now made "hoopers" a titling class. Hoopers is a jumpers course, where the dogs go through "ground obstacles" (aka essentially hula hoops with the bottom on the ground) instead of over jumps.


Well, NADAC might certainly end up a safer sport, but it won't be anything like the dog agility that other organizations perform.

And watch out for those April Fools Day pranks--we know that Sharon saw the April 1 newsletter because she had to tell at least one irate NADACer that it was just a joke. But did she take the suggestions to heart? Let's hope that AKC, USDAA, and CPE don't follow suit.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another Title for Tika

SUMMARY: The Gamblin' Dog

Oh, and by the way, that was Tika's Gamblers Champion title (10 Masters Gamblers Qualifying scores). Jake, whom I felt was a pretty good gambling dog, only ever earned 5 Gamblers Qs in Masters and 7 in P3.

But Jake earned a total of 29 Masters/P3 Jumpers Qs in his career, and 31 Standards, things that Tika has a very long way to go to match.

Only one more Snooker leg for Tika's Snooker bronze (15 Masters Qs), two Relays for the Relay Bronze, and one Standard for her Standard Championship.

Coming Home from the Trial

SUMMARY: Random thoughts and notes from the trip home. Demonstrating the "point snapshot camera out the window with one hand without looking at it because your eyes are on the road" technique of photography.

Driving along 152 westward from 99, across I-5, and then through Pacheco Pass alongside the gigantic San Luis Reservoir to 101 at the south end of the Santa Clara Valley, for some reason I noted a lot of the cultural and agricultural aspects. First, my van hit 100,000 miles just 10 miles out of the trial site on 99 north, right before this rural roadside stand (I did pull over for these momentous photos):


It's so flat in the central valley; drive for an hour west on 152 with the mountains in the background but the land as flat as a steamrolled pancake. Plowed or planted fields mile after mile, with older rural houses, buildings, and enclaves scattered everywhere. Interspersed with "New single family homes!" "New homes starting at $126, 000!" "Coming soon: New homes!" We've already covered all the lovely fertile soil in Santa Clara county with houses, pavement, and shopping centers, and now we're working on the central valley, one of the most fertile stretches of land on earth--

From signs along the road advertising "Cutting horses" or "farm animals for sale" to a sudden behemoth of a shopping center slashed into the landscape. From a field with long-horned cattle (!) to double MacDonalds in Los Banos, a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere just a decade or so ago, now starting to sprawl enthusiastically outward, consuming the middle of nowhere until someday there will no longer be any nowhere--

I was interested to note fairly new signs for the "SJ Valley National Cemetery" (for "San Juaquin Valley"--the lower half of the central valley) and "Korean War Memorial" along the stretch of 152 below the San Luis Reservoir. I don't recall seeing those signs before. Wonder whether these are really new? Oh--yup, pretty new (follow the link).

I'm always a little awed by the San Luis Dam. It's not the engineering marvel of Boulder Dam, but it's a dark imposing monolithic earthen structure that speads across your entire visual foreground as you approach it from the east, rising well over 300 feet from the valley floor.

And off to the right is the O'Neal Forebay and recreational area.


This whole shebang is interesting. This dam, rather than containing a creek and backing up its water, is instead a holding area for water pumped from other areas of the state via the California Aqueduct, splooshed into the forebay at ground level and then pumped again up into the reservoir for use during the summer months. It is the "largest offstream reservoir in the united states", covering roughly 45 square miles.

Just before 152 hits 101, they've cleverly built two gigantonormous shopping centers, one on either side of the road, and put a stop light in. So what used to be not such a horrid intersection is now a disaster. And there are no current plans for a replacement highway out of the Bay Area over the hills. The stoplight was letting about 6 cars through per green, and even I--usually calm in my car--was starting to squeeze indentations in my steering wheel. So I was intrigued to notice the license plate of the car that merged in ahead of me (shot through my VERY dusty/windshield-wiped windshield--which was clean on Friday night--):

So I tried to chill, but by the time I was back on the freeway, the ordeal had been such that I just had to pull off briefly at the next exit for my favorite rest stop:


When I got home, my copy of the January/February issue of Dog Sport magazine had arrived, with a photo of mine that they bought of an agility acquaintance at Scottsdale. Photo is here, but you'll have to buy the magazine to read the article (wink/grin).

Notes from This USDAA Weekend

SUMMARY: Tika Qed 4 of 8; Boost 1 of 8. No Steeplechase for you. Focus areas for both dogs. Really long post today--writing it all up after a nice soak in the hot tub Sunday night. Plus there's a supplemental post about the trip home, with photos.


Tika's successes: We're breaking new ground every weekend this year. From this weekend (talking only about USDAA trials):
  • Standard Qs: Tika has averaged only one Masters Standard qualifying score (Q) every 6 months since her first masters run in May 2004. (A more useful number: An average of 1 out of every 8 Standard runs.) She got two--TWO!--Standard Qs this weekend. Never before got two the same weekend. That makes three--THREE!--over two consecutive weekends.
  • Placements: This was a very small trial--only 10 to 20 dogs in the 26" masters class. Still, I'll take my top-4 placements: Tika earned a 3rd in Gamblers and 4th in both Standards, which means that in the last 3 consecutive trials, she has doubled her top-4 placements from the preceding almost 3 years of Masters.
  • Top Ten points: Because of the small trial size, that's a mere 3 Top Ten points for gamblers and only 1 for Standard--but, hey, what the heck. She now has 12 Gamblers Top Ten points for this year and it's only March. She equaled this once before with 12 in Standard for all of 2005. Next highest? 7 for one round of Snooker in 2004. And otherwise just little piddly bits here and there.
  • Weaves: My, she has lovely weave entries and execution! We did some tough ones this weekend without a flinch.


Tika's "rooms for improvement":
  • Dogwalk: WHERE did she learn to slow to a walk on the dogwalk and get slower and slower and then stop halfway into the yellow zone? We never, ever trained anything like that. We backchained with rapid drives to the end, 2on/2off. We always run full speed to the end in training, and if she's too slow, she gets a "good" but no big reward and we do it over, driving her harder. WHERE did she learn that? I hate self-teaching dogs. I believe that alone cost us 2nd or 3rd places in both our standards, although she did 3 seconds better today when I really drove her screaming & yelling instead of just assuming she'd drive herself.
  • Damn bars. Kept them up in Standard but not in Gamblers opening or Jumpers. And she was the 5th fastest of 21 dogs in the Steeplchase, plenty fast enough to have qualified easily with one bar down. But, yes, we had *two* bars down. I despair of ever earning two Steeplechases this year.
  • Bars, dogwalk, tires. In Gamblers, I tried a back-to-back tire, which I haven't done in ages. She ran under it on the reverse, costing us 2nd place. (That plus the bar she knocked plus the jump I pulled her past cost us first place... OR the sloooowwwwwwwwww danged dogwalk... either combo would have put us in 1st, as we were only 5 points out and her gamble time was excellent.)

Boost's successes:
  • Contacts: Fast and lovely 2 on/2 off and sticks them until released.
  • Start line: Beautiful start-line stay and waits until released.
  • Speed: She's just fast! Woohooo!
  • Gamblers: Took 2nd and Qed of 16 Advanced 22" dogs. Would have been first by a mile if she hadn't blown past her weave entry so that we had to go back for it (in the opening--we "had to" go back for it because I don't want her thinking it's OK to blow past the weaves). But the rest of the course was lovely and her teeter gamble done like a pro.


Boost's areas for improvement:
  • Weaves weaves weaves: Gosh, she hardly made any entries correctly the first time this weekend, although we always got in on the 2nd attempt. And now she's decided to pop out at #10 (of 12). Over. And over. And over. And over. Argh! Even when I'm pretending that there's nothing else on course except the weaves like we practice at home, pop! Dang, I hate self-teaching dogs! Of course I don't have it on video, so I don't know what I'm really doing. But I'll just keep working on her exercises for staying in even if the earth moves and a volcano explodes from the earth alongside. We want Tika-solid weaves! I wonder whether practicing with 14 poles would help, or cause some other weird problem?

  • Blind crosses on front crosses: Another thing that has suddenly appeared--for the first time in class this week, and then on at least 4 occasions this weekend: I do a front cross and she slips *behind* me. We've never done blind crosses and, according to the current fashion, I've not even taught her any tricks that take her around behind me, ever. Really--I had my video camera *right there* to remind me to find someone to tape, but I'm not thinking about that when I'm getting my dog out and ready.
  • Table problems: She has had a beautiful table and down forever. Again this started in in class this week, where she somehow hit the table on the way up. Looked like she was trying to Down simultaneously with jumping up. Then she refused several times in class, and refused a couple of times this weekend, too, although she finally did them. And THEN she wouldn't stay down when I started to move! Carnfoundit, I've *always* moved when she was on the table and it's been at least a year since I remember her ever moving until the release. WHERE do they LEARN these things?!
  • Bars: Bars bars bars. Not another bar-knocking dog! Arghhhhhhhh...
  • General confusion on course about taking obstacles in front of her. This is now only 1 Q in advanced out of two full trials. Maybe I should pull her again and not compete? Except that I'll be there anyway with Tika, and I *think* I can go back to concentrating on treating the rings as training exercises and not necessarily on attempting the posted courses. I have to remember my friend Nancy D's snooker experience from this weekend. Everyone trying for SuperQs (which is usually pretty much everyone) was wiping out. She just wanted a very simple, very flowing course without any attempt to do 4 reds or high obstacles because her dog needed practice on left-hand entries to the weaves so that's all she cared about. As a result, she got a super-Q.


Random notes from the weekend:
  • Judges: Had an oddly controlling judge. Courses were interesting and he seemed pleasant enough in general and no complaints about his judging that I heard, but he just barged in and did everything--made course builders listen to his instructions for really basic stuff and had to tweak *everything* no matter how it was set; took scribe sheets out of scribe's hands to figure out the running order himself; moved and set the timers himself; told the score table what to write and where; just lots of things like that that added up to teeth-gnashing from lots of experienced people.
  • Jake: Last weekend was much worse for me thinking "dang, I've not pottied Jake all morning--" and then suddenly remembering why. This weekend I was managing to mostly start setting him in the past instead of the present, until the very end as we were packing up and someone I hadn't seen in a while asked, "And how's Jake?" That question put the ton of bricks back in my stomach where it hadn't been all weekend, and after I managed an explanation and brief conversation, I went off and actually cried. That and right after picking up his ashes on Friday have been the most I've cried so far. I haven't cried a lot about him, just feeling oddly hit. Maybe I'm getting to where it can come out. Dunno.
  • More t-shirts: Back in January I asked my friend Wendy, of WendyWear tie dye, to do my Scottsdale shirt. It was white. I hate white t-shirts. She accosted me this weekend and said, well, I did it but I hate it. So I'm making you another tie dye shirt to make up for it. Ellen groaned inwardly--oh, yeah, I forgot about that t-shirt: another dog-related one! But Wendy handed it over and the colors are exactly what I wanted and the pattern's good. The logo's a little more hidden under the dark colors than ideal, but it shows up better on the back. It's a fine tie-dye for me, as I knew it would be.


  • I've been watching my van's odometer. 99,990 as I prepared to leave the Madera trial site where the club was just packing up the Steeplechase ring.


Friday, March 16, 2007

USDAA This Weekend

SUMMARY: Off to Madera; the omens are mixed.

This weekend is a fairly small trial, for this area. Steeplechase. Double Snooker.

Tika and I had a wonderful class Wednesday. The weather was so balmy--cool enough that with intense exercise we were comfortable, yet could still sit briefly during "intermission" and not freeze. And everyone was in an exceptionally good mood. I haven't laughed this much in weeks. Nothing in particular that I could point out; just a lot of contextual humor and good-natured ribbing, but also lots of enthusiastic cheering for when classmates did an exercise well. And I felt that I was running better than I have in a long time--that sense of heaviness that has been dogging me (so to speak) seems to be gradually leaving, so I'm sure that my daily efforts are paying off.

And Tika ran very well, too; I think we had only one exercise all evening where we made a mistake, which is rare for us. It's the exercises that push our limits that really teach us stuff, but I felt alert and energetic and Tika was eager to go, too. A nice way to end the day.

The next day, in Boost's class, we couldn't complete a sequence worth a rat's toenail. Couldn't even get weave entries, let alone complete them. Contacts were still good, although a pull to a contact still gave us immense trouble. (Instructor said "there's that herding dog behavior", I guess it's an outrun?) Then she refused the table several times in a row; never seen that before. Gave her a rest, hosed her down, did some small things for rewards. Then she started crashing bars, so that was it for her. I've never seen her tired before, but I was making a lot of mistakes and we were redoing things so she was doing rather a lot of running.

This will be her second Advanced trial; would be n ice if we could Q in *something* this time.

Soooooo we shall see.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Boost's Weaves

SUMMARY: Notes on success rate from last weekend before I forget.

The whole weekend, all weaves were sets of 6. Boost attempted 16 sets at full speed and succeeded with 11. Twice she skipped/popped out early. Three times she missed her entrance, but one of those required a huge pull off a tunnel trap and I neglected that little detail--she skidded hard to get into the 2nd pole, so I'm not counting that one against her, really.

More work, more more more. Moe Strenfel is doing a couple of different half-day workshops on weaving here, and I think I'll sign up for one--the other is sadly the same weekend as our club's CPE trial.

Shirts

SUMMARY: What does one really DO with this many dog-related shirts?

I've been telling people, don't give me any more t-shirts! I've got 150 of 'em already! Surely I exaggerate? No, I don't, and stop calling me Shirley.

However, I will share with you only my 43 dog-related shirts (33 Ts and 10 polos). Most of them are specific to agility. And I don't still have all the ones I used to; have given away duplicates or ones that I seldom wear.

So what does one do with this many dog-related shirts? If I compete 20 weekends a year, that provides at least 40 opportunities for shirts, maybe even as many as 60 (if I change shirts to, say, go out to dinner to avoid offending the judges with more than just my attitude or my handling). Then there are classes twice a week on different days, perhaps 45 weeks a year. Power Paws camp gives another few days.

But, subtracting, there are many cold days during the winter and evening classes when I do not wear short-sleeved shirts. And then there are the nationals where, what with one thing and another, I am coerced into wearing my same team shirt three days running (in all senses of the word). Phew!

Overall, my theory is that each shirt gets worn on average twice a year. The reality is that I have favorites and nonfavorites and also some that have specific reasons for existence that affect their wearingness.


Agility Shirts part 1: All t-shirts. Two years of CPE Nationals. Three years of USDAA Nationals. Five from Power Paws camps, including my "Flying Rearendas" group shirt. Two from volunteering at large trials. And a couple of free shirts from back when clubs still sometimes gave Thanks For Coming gifts.
Agility shirts part 2: Ten of them are polos, not Ts. Seven from my agility club (The Bay Team). One from CPE Nationals representing California. Three team shirts from assorted USDAA Nationals and two USDAA shirts from same. Two from where I train (Power Paws). Three general agility shirts with drawings of dogs doing equipment.
Other dog-related t-shirts. I included the two wolf shirts because I don't think I'd have received those if I weren't a "dog person". Or maybe it was from owning a husky all those years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mid-March in San Jose

SUMMARY: Weather's lovely.

Ah! This is the life! It's sunny and warm (set new record for the date yesterday, by 4 degrees, yet!). There's almost no smog and they say that the pollen count is way down. My allergies aren't bothering me. Not a cloud in the sky. Accuweather says it's 81 in San Jose; my yard thermometer says 82.

I mowed my lawn for the first 2 times in the last week. Daffodils and grape hyacinths are pretty much done blooming except for a few in the deep shade. All the frost-bitten plants are shooting out new leaves from apparently dead stems.

The plum tree is almost finished blooming; the apple trees are just starting to bloom. My sole bleeding heart is peeping out from the soil and the leaves look healthy. No sign of the hosta yet, but I expect any day now.

Boost played enthusiastically with cold sprays of water from the hose and then rolled her wet coat joyously on the lawn, while Tika hid in the shade and watched the proceedings. Dontcha love winter in California?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunday's Nontraditional Jackpot and Friendly Competition

SUMMARY: It's more fun when placements are for fun, so you can challenge each other. Sunday's Jackpot COULD have been that kind of run--


Friendly Competition in CPE and Motivation


One of several reasons why I enjoy CPE is that placements are irrelevant--unlike in USDAA, where they count for Top Ten points, so--although people are usually still willing to discuss their handling and strategies with their friends--those placements are important to many people.

Sometimes in CPE we actually go out of our way to ensure that our friendly, fast-dog friends have the same best course so that we can compare speed and execution rather than it being a test of our planning skills.

Not all my favorite CPE competitors were there Sunday, but we still always end up in height/level classes with dogs who can potentially beat us. Which is odd, because at the simplest veneer in CPE, there are 36 height/level classes: six levels and six heights in each level. It's not surprising that out of 125 dogs entered, only four dogs earned the highest-possible 51 points in Sunday's Snooker (as I told my housemate: "And two of them are in the kitchen with you.") But it's just strange odds that two of them (Tika and Brenn) are in exactly the same height/level class, and the other two (Boost and sister Bette) are in their own same height/level class. So we can't all take 1st places--one of us will beat the other.

OK, it's fun anyway, we tend to split the glory, and we still like to challenge each other. I find it motivational to handle cleaner and find smoother courses and to train my dog to better understand her job so that we can push our limits even further. Which will (in theory) help me to do better in USDAA, too, where we are almost never in the top tier. It's much more motivational to me in CPE to try to be at a point where I can earn 1st rather than 2nds, whereas in USDAA it's less motivational for me to try to move up to, say, 8th instead of 9th.

Tika's Sore Snooker


However, that 51-point Snooker barely happened for Tika. It was our second class of the day, after her lovely 1st-place Standard. She came out of her crate hunched over, wouldn't play with her toy. OK, fans, she did this once last summer right before a Steeplechase, and I ended up scratching her from the rest of that weekend; the on-site vet looked at her an hour later that time and confirmed soreness in lower back on one side. And then after packing up that day, when I opened her crate to let her hobble for a last potty, she flew out of the crate and blasted across the field full speed after gophers. I was so annoyed. It must've been a cramp or gas pains or something, and I wasn't going to let her do that to me again this time.

So I walked her around a bit. I massaged her a bit. I let her potty. I asked the gate steward to move us to the end of the order (which gave us 3 more dogs). I had her do some flat-work tricks and moves for treats. She was slow, but gradually warming up. At first, she wouldn't stretch out for me, but gradually, she stretched more and more, so I put her over a low jump. She want past it twice, then took it enthusiastically, then started bouncing and looking for her toy as usual.

I went ahead and put her in her sit-stay for Snooker. She wasn't wanting to wait, which is a good sign of enthusiasm. Boost had already done her 51-point run and I wanted to finally get both of them on a successful identical course so I could get some real idea of their relative speed. I suspect that Boost will be faster than Tika, but I can't yet prove it (there's so much more than flat-straight ground speed).

But when I released Tika, she hopped rather than blasted over the first jump, ran to but then barely more than trotted through the first tunnel, and I waited to see what she'd do in the first set of weaves, which she did cautiously (for Tika--still probably faster than, say, Remington or Jake ever did them). I was ready to pull her right then, but she had other ideas because she suddenly turned on the jet fuel coming out of the last pole and we had a beautiful, smooth, lovely snooker run--2 seconds slower than Boost, not surprising given the slow start. Not a fair comparison.

We went through the same routine for the third run of the day, Colors (basically half a standard course--we did no contacts). On coming out of the crate: Ooooh, mom, I'm sore... After the goodies came out: oh, no I'm not!

So on to the Jackpot story.

The Killer Jackpot Plan


Do you ever have a Jackpot (Gamblers) course where you suddenly realize that you have the killer plan and no one else is walking the same course? That happens to us more often in CPE than in USDAA, mostly because of the level of experience in CPE.

Sunday's nontraditional Jackpot was such an animal. I found a flow that I felt that both Boost and Tika could do easily. With a quick mental estimate, I that it was worth 80+ points. Here's the course layout for you to ponder:



We had 50 seconds in which to accrue points. That's an eternity for a fast dog! I walked my course three or four times with a couple of variations, and came up with one variant of 42 seconds and one of about 49--a little risky, but maybe...

I looked around for my favorite competitors so that I could say, hey, wait, I've got a wonderful course!--but Bette's mom was already gone, and although Brenn's mom was still there, the judge picked that moment to tell us to clear the course. So I couldn't share it with anyone.

Here's my plan. As labeled (when i finally counted it last night), it's 89 points. My option was, after the 20/21 jump sequence, to serpentine onto the teeter for another 5 points before going out to the 23/24 tunnel. But I was probably going to bag the teeter, because if you didn't get to the table before your 50 seconds were up, you wouldn't Q even if you had twice as many points as everyone else. So 89 points was just fine.



Boost's run and a moral and strategic dilemma


I ran first with Boost. She dropped the first bar going into the 25-point gamble, but much to my surprise the judge called out "25" as we completed the tunnel. So I continued on my plan, with my brain trying to process what to do even as I was trying to manage my green dog:

OK, do I say right now that we knocked the bar? But then what would I do after distracting myself and/or the judge? Ask for another run? That would be dumb? OK, I'll wait til I'm done and then mention it--but then in that case I should'nt do THREE Aframe-tunnel combos, because the last 2 wouldn't count because I blew the gamble so the first two counted for points not the gamble... But if she gave it to us anyway because it was her mistake and I DIDn't do my course then I'd be struggling towards the end to figure out what to do on course having skipped things I othewise would have done--

Oh, I don't know, let's just do my plan and deal with it afterwards.

But I was definitely flustered, and I did something odd after the first gamble--I think I was just not paying attention--so on Boost's first or second set of weaves she skipped the 4th pole. I walked her calmly back next to me, calmly lined her up at my side, and put her back into the weaves. But then on the 2nd gamble, she went in the left side of the "B" tunnel--legal but not the right line for me--and I managed to pull her past the "C" jump. So I walked her calmly back next to me, calmly lined her up at my side, and put her over the "C" jump to earn that gamble.

Because of all that wasted time, we can't do my whole plan. So I cut out the 18/19 and 23 tunnels and one 5-point combo and we ended up with 75 points. And that's WITH the gamble that the judge gave us erroneously. As soon as Boost hit the table, I said to the judge, "We knocked the first bar on that 25-point gamble," and pointed to it, and even though the bar was still on the ground, she said that, well, she hadn't seen it, and since she had given it to us while running, because of the type of gamble, she felt that she had to give us credit for it. So although there were some things about the judge that I wasn't happy with, that particular case was in our favor. Don't know how the other competitors felt about it--

So with Boost's high points even with those bobbles, I confirmed that my timing was absolutely right on and I should have no problem at all with Tika getting through my plan (assuming that she didn't knock any of the bars in the gambles or the 5-point combo). I was really looking forward to it, in fact.

But this time, when I opened her crate, she wouldn't even stand up (the dog who is usually pounding at the door to get out). She whined just a fraction of a second when she finally stood. She wouldn't turn or twist at first; same tiny whine when she did. She started to loosen up a little with some goodies and flat-work again, but her back wasn't curving at all--she was keeping it straight and using her feet to turn herself. And she whined again at some misstep, and I scratched her from the Jackpot and one other remaining round for the day.

In conclusion


So Brenn ended up with 83 points using her own course plan--which, I might point out, was 8 points higher than any of the other 82 dogs competing on that course. Which REALLY drives me nuts that I never got a chance to do my full 89-point plan. And simultaneously I feel weird about being annoyed about not running it when my dog is obviously sore. And simultaneously I'm worried about my dog. And simultaneously I'm not wanting to spend a lot of time on diagnosis & vets & chiropractors and such because she's only 6 and because I *did* let her play a lot more and a lot harder the previous evening and that morning than usual. And of course maybe we'd have knocked a bar or maybe even 2 and not beaten Brenn's points anyway. But isn't it mean of me to be downplaying Brenn's excellent accomplishment with a run I never even did?? And I feel a little in limbo about Tika. But she's fine this morning.

And why am I incapable of making a SHORT post?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Aframe Height Differences


SUMMARY: Reloaded photo with lines.

Here's the photo of Tika on the 5' 11' Aframe again, with lines connecting her joints. The red shows her alignment in this photo; the yellow shows the alignment in the 6'3" Aframe.

I probably should've done it at 5' 9", too; we're all assuming that everyone will use the 5' 9" unless, for some reason, they can't set it at that height.

CPE Trial This Weekend

SUMMARY: First without Jake. Haven't been practicing hard. Will be working hard.

It's another 2-ring CPE trial, in Turlock this weekend. I've signed up as co-crew chief for one ring, so I'll be busy all the time I'm not working my dogs, making sure workers are in place and know what they're doing and have gotten their raffle and lunch tickets. It's so much easier with two people per ring. The first time I ever did this job (10 years ago this month), we were still working under the model that you needed only one crew chief, and it so ruined my weekend (with only 2 rings, too) that I vowed never to do it again.

Except that I got talked into it again November of the following year (ah, how quickly time dulls the memory of the horror! the horror!) with a co-crew chief. We still had only two rings, but we were still tearing our hairs out by the end of the weekend, trying to keep track of two rings and our own dogs and all.

I don't know whether it's when we went to 3 rings that we finally realized that we needed to divide up the work by ring, and then somewhere along the line some crew chiefs just put their feet down (which makes it hard to run a dog) and said they wouldn't do it alone. So now most clubs in this area assign two per ring.

It works well, especially if the two have dogs in different heights and/or different levels, so one is usually available even if the other is busy. Still, you really don't get much time to yourself. Which is probably good for me this weekend. (And not that I usually have time to myself--I'm one of those people whom we joke about not needing to bring chairs to a trial because we're always up and about, helping, working, hobnobbing, filming, whatever.)

I've been working on Boost's weaves a little bit. And on Tika's! Tike the wonder weaver who has pulled out of weaves on 3 occasions so far already this year! After 4 years of totally reliable weaves no matter what else we've had trouble with. Sighhhhh-- it's always something.

Otherwise, the last couple of weeks I've been quite desultory about training. Which is too bad, because the merle girls are much better behaved and happier in general when their brains as well as their bodies get workouts. Well--should be an interesting weekend. Weather's supposed to be lovely.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sad about Remington

SUMMARY: Remington the Squirrelhund -
July 1, 1993 - March 8, 2003

Sad About Jake

SUMMARY: Fair warning, this is a being-sad-about-Jake post.

I've said that I have no regrets with Jake, that I did a lot with him and we had a good time. But it turns out, of course, that I do have regrets. Most are really very small.

  • Last time I was at the pet store, I bought 3 lovely big bones for the dogs to gnaw on. But was waiting for a special occasion to give them to them.
  • I've been spending all this time learning how to do better dog photography and taking posed photos of all kinds of other people's dogs but short of the adequate photo (shown in the sidebar to the right), I have no really beautiful photos of him.
  • I wish I had played in the living room with him more when he refused to play outside, even though I still had to talk him into it lately.
  • I should have taken him for a walk that last Sunday; it's what we've been doing for together-time without the young dogs lately. But at least I did so Saturday before I knew.
  • If only I had gotten him his special bed for next to my desk sooner. I'd been thinking about it for almost two years, and only bought it a month and a half ago.
  • I wish I had hugged and snuggled him more on Saturday.


Aside from regrets, there's simply the dismantling of my three-dog life. Every piece I change or tuck away adds a stone to the weight I've swallowed.

  • Jake always gets fed first. Bowl is now washed and put away. At mealtime, need to stop coming to a stop where I always set his food bowl down. As I walk through that spot, I feel as if I'm trying to walk through a wall.
  • Jake was my walking companion when I couldn't deal with Tika and/or the puppy. Which was often. Now it's walk by myself or deal.
  • Take down, clean, and edit the Emergency signs in the windows to say that there are 2 dogs in the house. Not 3.
  • The dog waking up next to me in bed isn't Jake, but I keep thinking it is when I first become conscious. It's still jarring.
  • Absolutely no water splortches on the floor around the water bowl. Jake had a graduate degree in splortching everywhere after every drink. I cursed it for years, but now how lonely that clean, dry floor feels.
  • In the car, no dog in the seat behind me. Put away the seatbelt harness and special mat.
  • In fact, I don't even need to have that seat there any more. Will be much more convenient and spacious when I'm sleeping out in my van, as I will be for the next two weekends. And how many boulders grew in my stomach with every step of dismantling.
  • No need for the old-dog steps going up to the passenger side of my bed. Don't know where I'm going to store them.
  • Put away the 3rd leash and bags-on-board dispenser. I just bought those in November after his last leash disappeared on the way home from scottsdale.
  • No need at the trial for 3 crates, 3 mats, 3 water buckets, three bags of food, three bowls, Jake's special toy, Jake's jacket for cold mornings for the little old guy. Guess I'm glad I didn't spend the money to fix that zipper on Jake's crate. I wonder if I could go back to just one x-pen for the merle girls?
  • Jake was so much fun to play fetch with. He always chased it, he always brought it back, he always dropped it at your feet and looked up at you with the most delighted tail wag, and would pick it up and drop it repeatedly with the same wag and cheerful look if you didn't figure it out the first time. Tika doesn't always bring it back. She certainly doesn't let go of it without convincing. And even when she wants you to throw it, it's not the same cheeriness. Boost brings it back if she thinks Tika won't, but she doesn't always bring it right to you. And she stares at the toy or at Tika, not at you. No tail wag. It's an obsession, not a game.
  • And I could exercise all three dogs by exercising Jake, because he'd run and run and run and the other dogs would go out and back with him, over and over.
  • The bathmat is now always empty when I step out of the shower, no little red dog curled up asleep waiting for his mom.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

GOOD Things That Take You By Surprise

SUMMARY: USDAA Top Ten browsing

So I was looking for some old info on Jake. Couldn't find it but did start browsing through last year's and this year's USDAA top ten standings looking for names in my agility club (of which there are many). I understand that this year is only posted through mid-February so far, and things can and will change dramatically, but my jaw just about dropped through my keyboard when I saw this:

PointsOwnerDogBreed
19 Chandler, CarleneBrennBorder Collie
15 Pinder, JenniferSodaBorder Collie
14 Mah, StuartQwikBorder Collie
13 Eizember, Joleen A.ScorchBorder Collie
11 Chadwick, TaniaKiddBorder Collie
10 Hofner, GinaRileyBelgian Tervuren
Brown, GerrySterlingBorder Collie
Armstrong, ElizabethRiggsBorder Collie
Finch, Ellen LevyTikaAll-Breed
Garrett, SusanEncoreBorder Collie
Mayo, MartinFletchBorder Collie
Stover, DerrellEnvyBorder Collie
Topham, KathyCatcherBorder Collie
Hynes, KenDjangoBorder Collie
Elkins, LauraKeeganBorder Collie
Yang, FrankThe FlashBorder Collie
Croft, AnnTriggerBorder Collie
Lytle, MindySwitchBorder Collie
Whittenberg, CherieDetourBorder Collie
Richards, PamelaCappuccinoAustralian Shepherd
Marshall, KathyRylieBorder Collie
Cone, TinaTobyBorder Collie
Gersman, AlanMr. WrigglesBorder Collie
Faulkner, JodyTwistAustralian Shepherd
Michalski, RobertHobbesBorder Collie


Tika's tied for 7th place! OMG! I am saving this page for sure, as we'll never see this again! But this sure gave me a much-needed boost. Well, we got lucky on some gambles recently. And I don't think I'll be competing in enough competitions to catch up to 1st place, currently held by...ta da...our partner from Scottsdale last year and again for Team this year, Carlene and Brenn. At least we know that our team should have Gamblers wrapped up. :-)

Other club members are Tania and Kidd, Pam and Cap, Rob and Hobbes; others whom we often see competing locally are Ken Hynes and Ann Croft.

But, you know, in some ways I wish I hadn't seen this--just think about how my brain has left me completely time after time when I was trying to get that much-needed Super-Q. Now if I start thinking "I could be in the top ten!", I'm doomed! I need some antimemory drugs now--

But meanwhile, what fun!

(Oh, yeah, and look at that "all-breed" amongst all those BCs! Yeah!)


OK, I looked it up in my database--those 9 points are all from ONE gamblers run, the one where we took 1st place last month. So, yeah, our standings can change dramatically as other dogs start warming up in competition this year. Last year's #1 26" dog had 101 points!

Monday, March 05, 2007

USDAA rules changes

SUMMARY: Lowered Aframe--at last!

I've just received this notice from a club member about USDAA rules changes
(Here's the article--ah ha, discovered that the link I was sent was for subscribers; this is now the nonsubscriber link):

The big news is about the AFrame!!

Ch Open: no less than 5'9", no more than 5'11"

Ch Mini/Pf: no less than 5'3", no more than 5'5"

Effective 4/1/2007!

Tika on the 6'3" aframe.
Note how scrunched up her back legs are.
Tika on the 5'11" aframe.
Note how comfortably straight her rear legs are. (I also notice a huge difference in the angle of her back--but maybe it's just me. )
Interesting, noting the position of her feet. She placed herself both times. Guess she's pretty consistent--

Dog-related Medical/ Bereavement Web Sites

SUMMARY: Assorted useful dog-related URLs.

These are the URLs that I found in a magazine in the waiting room the first night that Jake was in the emergency room.
  • Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
  • Ani-Med.org: The magazine said that this is the ASPCA's pet medical care site, but I don't see "ASPCA" on the site anywhere. Still, looks like lots of useful info on care and health. The only bad thing is that I don't see a search function (at least not in Netscape on the Mac).
  • Dog Age calculator; apparently you have to register to use the calculator, which I haven't done.
  • Petco.com care info: This site seems to have a lot of helpful articles on care and medical issues.

Random Jakey Notes

SUMMARY: Lots of emails from and to friends, known and otherwise.


Words fail me time and again this week--including trying to express how important all the emails and blog comments and phone calls have been, even if I didn't want to talk about it. I know that I am not, by far, the only one to go through this, and yet everyone digs deep to give me support and memories. Thank you again. Here are bits from just some of the emails I've received.

  • To a friend: I'm finding myself short on words. I wanted to write an eloquent and simple summary of his life but found that it was too hard, all I could do was to say what happened.
  • From an agility friend: It sounds like Jake picked his own time and way to leave this crazy world. What a great little dog and competitor he was.
  • From an agility friend: He was always fun to watch...
  • From an agility friend: I have wonderful memories of watching Jake at trials.
  • From an agility friend: He was our ideal mixed-breed idol, and we could only dream of achieving just a portion of all the wonderful things the two of you have accomplished. I always loved watching the two of you on and off the field - it was like watching a really well-written, albeit funny, dance symphony; the two of you old partners knowing how to read each other's subtle (or not-so-subtle ) cues.
  • From an agility friend: I was so excited to see him running on Saturday and thought how amazing it was that he was there, still beating the young whipper snappers. It is terrible from the human stand point, but from the doggy view, I guess what could be better than running agility and gorging illicitly on gourmet doggy treats until the very end.
  • To a friend: He was a good boy right to the end. Well, if I discount the goodies in the car on Saturday. Which, actually, I did. I was annoyed but didn't scold him and kept telling myself, well, he's old, he deserves some slack. (In retrospect, I'm so glad about that.)
  • From an agility friend: He was such a wonderful little dog. I saw him run this weekend and marveled at how well he was doing for a little old guy! How wonderful his last two runs at his last show were Q's! Just shows he was a champion to the end.
  • To club member whose dog also succumbed to brain tumor/seizures recently: It's so hard to watch them go through it. This is my second dog whose last day was consumed with seizures. In a way I'm glad that they came all at once--I don't know how I could have lived week after week, watching and waiting and dreading the next one. His seizures were so long and so bad and he was so terrible for so many hours after each one, I don't know that I could have put him through more anyway. My first dog's seizures were short and recovery very quick, but came so fast after each other on top of known fatal cancer, so it was quite different.
  • From an agility friend:I remember when he got his C-ATCH a couple years ago and you made a short speech telling us about him. i'll never forget it ... (And I "retired" him from agility right after that; little did I know he'd still be doing some runs...)
  • From an agility friend: He was simply the greatest. I will never forget when we first joined the club, you hurt your back and you had different people running him. He was so happy to be playin' the game he was runnin' fast and winning ribbons like a champ.
  • To a friend: I sure was lucky with him. Of course one always wants more, but at least at 15 I knew full well that time was running out.
  • From an agility friend: It was such a pleasure to be able to watch him run again this weekend. He sure was having his fun!
  • From an agility friend: I loved Jake. I loved the breed name you gave him (Semidachshund). I loved watching you grow together and then just enjoy each others' company.
  • From a previous housemate: All in all he was a good boy. But, then again, all your dogs have been good. Must be a good mommy! If it really was a brain tumor that did him in it makes all our jests about Jake and his one brain cell seem so inappropriate! (We always used to joke that he had only one brain cell, because when he was focused on something, there was no room for anything else. E.g., focus on treats: No room for listening to mom. Focus on squeaky: No room for food.)
  • My response: The tests ruled out almost all causes other than a nodule or tumor on the brain, and his post-seizure behavior--pacing constantly in a one-direction circle--are also symptomatic of such a brain problem. I kept thinking about the one brain cell thing, too, the whole time. Poor old guy. Morbid humor, I know, but it did seem to prove the case--the only thing that got him to stop hours of pacing was bringing out the goodies. I had wanted to call you and say that if you wanted one last chance to say goodbye, it might be Monday, but he really was never himself again and it seemed pointless to offer. He was only marginally aware or reacting to any of us. I'm still a bit stunned and numb and having a little trouble focusing, but at least I got some sleep.
  • From a previous housemate: Jake was always my favorite, as you know, and I just adored him.
  • From an agility friend: I have pictured Jake several times this week running courses...his black tipped, red ears flying in the wind...so amazingly agile and athletic running 22".
  • From an agility friend: He was always such fun to watch! What a cute little dog he was!
  • From an agility friend: Jake always gave the impression that as long as there were goodies to be had that he'd live forever. You were and are the best home that a multi-rehomed dog could ask for. He knew it and stuck around as long as he could.
  • From another club member: Even thought I started agility with a sheltie I have always had and prefer mixed breeds and Jake was one of my heros, proving that you don't need a fancy pedigree to be an awesome agility dog! I will tell my baby mutt Sherman that he's following some big footsteps.
  • From my trainer, who fostered Jake until I got him: What a great life you gave him, I thank you so much for that. I am thankful that he was his true self right until the end
  • From my other trainer, also fostering: He was certainly a one-of-a-kind dog and companion.
  • From an agility friend: He was an awesome dog, taking everything life threw at him in stride, and always having fun and enjoying life. I'll always remember him out there speeding around the courses. He had a great time, even as age started to slow him down. He truly seemed to be one of those dogs who were born to do agility.
  • From an agility friend: He was such an inspiring and fun guy to watch! I always enjoyed his exhuberance & enthusiasm.
  • From an agility friend: Jake was one of the first dogs I met trialing.
  • From an agility friend: He's been around agility for as long as I can remember; it's been 10 years and I seem to remember always seeing his happy smiling face. He was joy to watch.
  • From an agility friend: At our very first agility trial - a NADAC/ASCA trail inside the race track grounds at Laguna Seca - you came up and asked me to hold onto Jake while you went away to do some thing or other. Jake warmed up right away and was completely content to hang out with me while you were gone. He relaxed my novice jitters and told me to be calm, everything would be OK. I felt honored to be taken under the wing of that wily veteran.
  • From an agility friend: I remember the first time I saw Jake run - it was a Bay Team trial in Sunnyvale about 4 and 1/2 years ago that I had volunteered to work full time (I was agility dog less at the time). I watched you run Jake, smiling at the breed reference on the line sheet of SemiDachshund. I was inspired by the openess, and even enthusiasm, that folks had for mixed breed dogs, and signed up to join Bay Team shortly thereafter. Who knows who else he inspired, but I'm sure there were many.
  • From a friend: Being a champion, having crushed the opposition, laying there being fed treats from the hand of a beautiful woman who loves you, what more could a hero want of his passing moment?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Milestones

For at least two millennia before the advent of the modern highway sign, civilizations posted stones at various intervals along roads both ancient and new, each stone showing how far you had come and how far you had left to go. In general, reaching a milestone meant both that you had completed a sizeable leg of your journey and that you were, indeed, upon the right path. However, there were also zero milestones--those that marked the beginning of your journey, from which all distances were measured--or, if you were traveling towards the zero stone, it marked the end of your travels.

Today, we use the phrase milestone less often to refer to actual physical distances and more often to represent a key item in a project or a noteworthy event--minor or major--in our lives. Each represents a place in the forward hurtle of time when we can pause for a moment, resting in the shade from the heat of our lives burning like candles behind us, take a drink, and reflect on where we are, whence we have come, and what lies before us.

Life milestones don't often come in spurts; they are usually spaced with months or even years between them. Major life milestones can be so stressful on our system, whether sad or glad, that many coming together at once can break down our mental and physical defenses. Even lesser ones, stacked, give the sensation of a major moment.

I ramble slightly, but towards a point: I am overwhelmed by milestones, dotting my mind with their varying significances. On January 28, Boost achieved her first-ever agility title. The following week, she and I celebrated our shared birthday, mine proving that yes, indeed, I am indeed still in my 50s and have not moved back to my 30s, and I made the final payment to the breeder for my little girl, making her all mine beyond any doubt. The following weekend, Tika earned her ADCH with a Snooker Super-Q, both things that I had been aching for for a very long time. Later that week, a good friend encountered a terrible setback that affected me and others around us, ending a long-standing relationship, and I felt in the middle of it although there was little enough that I could do. A few days later, Tika's birthday, her sixth, which says that she's got only another year before--by some definitions--she's a "veteran" dog. Last weekend, Jake competed in his first trial in 6 months (I had forgotten it had been so long--but with my knee, I had cancelled out of or not entered the intervening CPE trials) and earned two qualifying scores out of two runs, even placing against a large group of younger dogs, proving that 15-year-olds still have it. And then, that same agility weekend, out of the dismaying blue, he suffered severe seizures in the night and his journey came to its end.

I had already been awaiting with dull anticipation the fourth anniversary of Remington's death, following severe seizures in the night of an agility trial weekend--four years ago March 8.

Please, whatever gods you may be, let me sit and rest and recover from this blur of milestones.