Sunday, August 30, 2009

Grumble grumble sighhhh

SUMMARY: not the best weekend

Well, what I can say is that the dogs love doing agility, and they love doing it with me, and they're happy, and they're healthy, and the weather was great.

I'm trying very hard to remind myself of all that to try to yank myself out of feeling miserable about how our runs went. So--good night.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two New Dogs, Two Old Dogs

SUMMARY: And by that I mean--I have two brand new dogs, AND I have two dogs who are doing the same old things.

USDAA trial report: Five classes today.

Tika. Well.

I've been reporting how gloriously well she's been doing in Performance at 22". Including consistently placing 1st/2nd in Performance Steeplechase (and Grand Prix). And getting lots of Qs. And not knocking bars. And hitting her contacts one way or another.

Pairs Relay: She missed her up AND down on the dogwalk--didn't even TRY to hit the down. Fortunately she was fast enough and partner clean enought that we still qualified.

Standard: Knocked the first two bars. FLEW off the dogwalk. Didn't even try for the Aframe contact, so although she got a toe in, she launched beyond me and the resulting confusion earned a refusal at the next jump. How often does Tika get 20 faults in a single run any more? I mean, really!?!

Steeplechase: Ticked the broad jump very thoroughly, knocked the next bar, two obstacles later launched off the A-frame so thoroughly that she did NOT get a toenail in. 15 faults! And then--it was so bloody hot today--she was slower than I expected, I got ahead of her on an intended push and so had to step aside in front of her, pulling her off course. I mean, really!?! (But her time was spectacular even given the slowness and the additional offcourse. Dang.)

So this is my NEW tika--worse than she was back in Championship 26", where her Q rate had held steady at about 50% with only minor faults (like one in a class) keeping us from Qing?

And then the old Tika returned for a while.

Gamblers: Out of 17 Performance dogs, she placed third--an excellent opening, in which she got 2 Aframes just fine, kept her bars up, got lots of points, and then just missed a gamble that stymied almost everyone. Only 2 dogs in her class Qed, and I believe they both had fewer opening points than she did.

Snooker: One of those 3-red 7-point-weave speed courses where everyone does exactly the same thing and there were so many people competing that a goodly number were getting the maximum 51 points. So, to guarantee being in Super-Q range, we'd have to go for the 51, although it was a real stretch for us on time and, with the heat, Tika had been slower than normal. However, by the time we ran, it had started to cool, with a bit of a breeze, and she ran absolutely like a champ, completing the 51 points with a second or two to spare. Turns out only 2 of the 15 or so dogs in her height got 51--she was a bit slower, so 2nd place. But that's my old reliable Snooker dog returning!

OK, so Boost.

I've been reporting how, in class the last 2 weeks, she has suddenly turned into a dog who can do agility! Bars stay up, no refusals or runouts, doing weaves like a true pro, and so on.

Pairs Relay: Absolutely gorgeous! Her partner knocked 2 bars, but between them, they were plenty fast enough to Q and even place in the middle of the Qing pack! Only issue was that she hit bottom on the Aframe and immediately popped off.

Standard: Oh, this one was so close it hurt! She had a just gorgeous run, did everything right, except then I overran her on an intended rear cross, and I could've SWORN she was committed to the jump when I started moving, and she stopped, and I literally almost tripped over her and she spun to see what I was doing--anyway, that was a refusal, and the only thing wrong (except that, ahem, she hit bottom on the Aframe and immediately popped off. I made her Down--her front end went down but her rear never did).

Gamblers: The New Improved Boost was still in attendance. Did GREAT in the opening, just everything I asked her to, and was SO close on the gamble--a couple of friends said that I didn't keep the pressure up, and if I had, they thought she'd have gotten it. Such a good girl. Did 2 Aframes--the first one she stuck the 2o2o, the second one she hit bottom and came off immediately, in front of where I was trying to run, so we had some discombobulation to get back on plan. So, OK, I can handle having a nonsticky Aframe issue given everything else we've worked through

And then.

Snooker. She missed her first weave entrance. Knocked the third red bar, putting me out of position for the closing. She went over the #2 in the closing sort of sideways looking at me, hit the bar but didn't knock it, and then we had a complete refusal-what-this-jump insanity at #3 and then she crashed it. Just like the old Boost.

Then, in Steeplechase, the new Boost returned briefly--long enough for me to completely forget where I was going, send her off course twice--but she did everything I asked her to perfectly, kept her bars up, etc.


Sooo... all is not lost.

Too bad neither dog Qed in Steeplechase. Boost's sisters Bette and Gina and her mom Tala all placed well and will be in the money run tomorrow. I don't remember whether sister Beck and brother Derby made it, though. Fun sometimes to have the whole family around and see how they do. Gina is doing SO well. Won Gamblers by a bunch. Won Standard by a bunch. Was I think 4th in Steeplechase. A good day for them. Finally--they had a lot of consistency problems earlier on. Maybe both sisters are "getting it" at four and a half?

I just hope that it is 20 degrees cooler tomorrow. I am not a fond of excessive heat, and I am ashamed to admit that I did not do well today. Didn't feel great. Too droopy. Every time I ate something, I felt bleahhh. All heat related, methinks. But at least my knee is still doing well, and my dogs look like they're having fun. So I guess we'll go back tomorrow anyway. It got only to 87 today (sure felt hotter than that), and tomorrow's high is predicted at 72, which is much more Prunedale-like, so I have high hopes for a lovely day.

And I hope that these tail ends of Tropical Storm Ignacio get outa town soon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Olio Again Because That's What Life is Like

SUMMARY: Dog hair, jump knocking, class, agility trial, heat, titles, clouds, sunset, deer.

So dog hair IS useful for something.

(OK, blogger has uploaded 2 of my photos and now claims it can't finish any more. What the--??)

We are getting the remnants of tropical storm Ignacio here. Therefore, hot. Therefore, wonderful clouds. On the way to class last night, couldn't stop stopping for photos.



Both dogs did great in class. Boost is still running like an actual agility dog. I am trying not to get my hopes up too much. Boost got some tough gamble things. Tika, I discovered, no longer remembers how to do a "left" (away from me) off the aframe into a tunnel. Crap. Didn't practice that today.

(Still says waiting to complete the next 2 photos. I really don't want to have to do my own HTML for these--I have a bunch--)
The sky just got better and better up at class--



Jump knocking: We did some bar-knocking drills in the yard today for a few minutes, because we haven't in a while. It was 90F (32C) at 6 p.m. so none of us wanted to do much. Both dogs did great at various heights. Tika knocked one bar, Boost didn't.

Because it was just HOT. Hottest I saw on my back porch was 106.9 (41.6C); couldn't get camera there fast enough. It is now 9 p.m and 85 outside AND inside. It will be hard to sleep.

Which [not sleeping; hot] is bad because there's a USDAA trial this weekend. Have to get up at 5:00 or so. Glad it's not in San Jose; Prunedale usually has coastal fog & moderate temps. Heard it's supposed to be 90 there tomorrow, though. Gahhhhh.

(Load the d#*(@* photos, fer crying out loud!)

There are about 60 dogs in Masters 22" (Boost's division). About 20 in Performance 3 22" (Tika's division). Will be long day. Placements for either dog would be exciting but not sure it's too likely. ...Actually, just Qs would be nice.

Boost needs a Grand Prix qualifier to be able to compete at next weekend's Regional. She hasn't gotten one ALL YEAR sheesh.

Last run of hte day Sunday is Jumpers. Boost needs one to complete her MAD. Tika needs one to complete her ADCH-Silver. Hope hope hope.

(Arrrrrghhhhh I'll have to do my own html crap.)

To keep the dogs busy while I tried to work today, gave them giant rawhides. Tika dropped hers and would have nothing more to do with it.

Boost held onto hers briefly, then slunk into the back yard and buried it somewhere. End of my attempted diversion.


Two down sides to being out in the hills are the deer running into the road and the lack of cell phone connections. I try to be careful and so far haven't hit any deer, although I've had to stop suddenly more than once. Once saw a deer who was standing still suddenly run INTO a car ahead of me that was almost at a standstill. Don't know what the deer was thinking. Ran off. Hopefully OK.

Leaving class last night, at the end of the road, I came across a deer in the road struggling and struggling to stand. I stopped, put on my blinkers, and tried to phone for help. Cell phone said it had a signal, would sit there for a minute, then say call couldn't be completed. Tried and tried. Got out of the car and walked around trying for a better signal. Deer struggling and struggling to stand, over and over. Looked like one foreleg, maybe shoulder, badly damaged.

Stood there for about 10 minutes (including phone time) trying to decide what to do. It was dark--didn't want someone else to hit the deer (both in concern that it wouldn't be killed outright but in even more distress, and that the car or people would be damaged).

Finally got up the courage to approach a house nearby. It's dark and rural out there; I'd be worried about someone unexpectedly knocking at my door at night. I saw a guy working on a computer, and knocked, and he answered.

I told him what was up adn that I couldn't get a signal and could he call someone. He said no one was interested. I said the deer oculd be there for hours or days in pain and someone would do something if we called them. He said there was no one to call. I said how about 911 and ask them? Or the police? Or the highway patrol? I had no idea who was responsible for rural roads thataway. He said lots of deer get hit all the time. I said, yes, but this one is struggling and struggling and could be there for a long time; something should be done. He said no one cares.

I said, are you going to call someone? He said he wouldn't know who to call. I said 911, or the humane society, or SOMEONE. He said, yeah, sure, he'd call someone. And stood there obviously waiting for me to leave. I could tell he had no intention of calling anyone. I walked back out to the street and watched; sure enough, he returned and sat down at his computer and continued doing whatever he was doing.

I decided to go back to Power Paws, but what to do about the deer on this very dark road? I discovered that I had no idea how to light a flare and the instructions on the flares were illegible. Something to work on later. While I tried to figure that out, and tried the cell phone again, the guy came out with a flashlight.

I said, so who did you call? He said, I didn't call anyone, no one cares, someone shot my dog with an archery arrow once and no one came out. I said if you call the right people, someone will come. He said there must be 3 deer a night that get hit out here.

Saying nothing more, I got into MUTT MVR and headed back to Power Paws, several minutes back up the road. Probably scared the heck out of them coming in at night. But when they came out and I said, "There's a deer--" JB said they had already called the sheriff and someone was on the way. I looked a little confused; turns out that the student who left a couple of minutes before me DID have a phone signal and had called Power Paws about the deer.

I explained about the other guy saying no one would come, and PP were disgusted. Even more disgusted that apparently whoever hit the deer didn't call anyone, either.

The short story is that the sheriff arrived shortly after I left--PP and some other people were there by that time, waiting (having also called the sheriff)--and put the deer out of its misery. That's about an hour after I first saw it on the road. It was still struggling to get up.

On my way down the hill, I had to swerve as a skunk ran (well--kind of hurriedly waddled) out of the shrubs and into the road. Missed him, whew. So that's my sad deer story.

To end with a little better image, here's what San Jose looks like from class (click on this smaller image to see a larger one for better effect):

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yosemite point of view

SUMMARY: Fellow hiker's posts.

My companion on the Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point hike talks a little about the set-up for the hike, cameras, wild animals, wild people, and so on:

* http://www.frap.org/Blog/2009/08/yosemite-glacier-point-prequel.html

* http://www.frap.org/Blog/2009/08/yosemite-4-mile-trail-to-glacer-point.html

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Olio a la Canine

SUMMARY: Dog Day, rats, computers, lawns, cameras, ballet, agility, and anything else I remember to stick in here.

Ballet: Canine freestyle keeps advancing in wonderful ways. Plus this is a blue merle working border collie. Let's see your jumping horses do this.

National Dog Day: Who knew? Check it out.

Rats: Returned to my attic shortly after we thought that they were eradicated and sealed out. Apparently gnawed a new hole. Didn't I vow live traps after my last trauma? There's a reason why you wire the traps to something large or immobile when you set them: Yesterday, a young rat caught just his rear leg. Dragged the trap as far as the wire let him. Tika is an avid rodent hunter and slayer, so I figured, take it out to the yard, release it, and Tika will make quick work of it. Boost was intrigued, especially at the squeaky-toy squeaking. Tika? Turned tail and ran into the house. Came out when I insisted but wouldn't come within 5 feet of the rat and backed off as quickly as possible. Boost, who apparently has a soft mouth, thought it was a great toy--picking it up, carrying it around, tossing it in the air. This was a cruel way to treat the poor injured thing, and when neither dog showed any interest in completing the task that I really didn't want to do, I got a shovel and dispatched it with one quick slice. Sorry. It was traumatic for me, too. I am definitely in the market for a live-capture trap. I have no idea how effective they are. Dang dogs. Dang rats.

Camera: Still haven't decided for sure what to get. But it might be postponed even longer. Because--

Computer: Have been putting off buying a new Mac for as long as possible. Bought this one in January 2001. Invested in an upgrade processor a year ago, plus new internal disk drives. The processor died back in April, but it cost me a goodly sum of service dollars to get to the root of the problem. Went through 2 replacements under warranty until we got a 3rd one that finally worked. This week--all the symptoms are starting to reappear. I am close to not having a working Mac anyway. Jeez, I hate computers. I would really LIKE to get a new one, but it's all about the $. However, I'm starting to get into a negative time & $ flow on the existing one. Sort of like having an old car--when you start paying more on repairs than you'd pay monthly for a new car, it's time to switch. Sighhhhhhhhh--

Lawns: Mine. Infested by grubs. Last year they killed a small section of grass before I figured it out. This year lots being killed, but I kept checking and didn't find any grubs until last week, when suddenly all very visible. Applied grub poison yesterday. Labeling is very scary. Kept dogs off lawn all day yesterday until it had been watered in twice & dried (label says once/dried is enough). But can't afford to keep resodding lawn, either. Maybe too late. Much dead grass.

Agility practice for this weekend: Ha.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mission Accomplished

SUMMARY: Glacier Point hike done!

The Plan

My estimated schedule was this:
* 5:45 a.m. Leave home.
* 6:30 a.m. Meet at Fremont BART station and carpool to Yosemite.
* 10:30 a.m. Arrive at trailhead for Four-Mile Trail and head out.
* 2:30 Arrive at Glacier Point.
* 3:30 Leave Glacier Point.
* 5:30 Arrive back at car.
* 9:30 Arrive back at Fremont.
* 10:15 p.m. Arrive home.

Welllll you know how it goes. I really wanted to check out Bridalveil Falls on the way by to see how much water there was, The Other Ellen (my adventurous coconspirator) was interested in the rock textures for her artwork, we needed new maps, we needed to visit the (really pee-yew!) biffies... then I wasn't quite as ready for the hike (physically) as I thought I might be...

Dang muscles

I knew that 3200 feet of straight up would be hard on my muscles and that back down would be hard on my knees, but I thought I had allowed sufficient time; 6 hours is about an average round trip, and we're both in reasonable hiking condition.

But nuuuuuuu, by halfway up my up-going muscles were shaky enough that I had to stop frequently as I got to where I could barely lift my feet off the ground. The rest of me felt fine, though. We stopped often anyway for photo ops, but I added more stops than that. The Other Ellen's GPS claimed that we spend only 2:38 actually moving on the way up, but I find that hard to believe--it took us 5 hours total, which means that we were stopped fully half the time? Dunno...

I was pretty good for about a third of the way down, then my legs began their transmogrification to quivering rubber--the couple of times I stopped to take a photo, they were shaking so badly that I couldn't hold the camera even close to still--and then they just started hurting. Not the knees so much (although they weren't happy), but more the thighs and calves because it was so steep and slippery that I operated in a knees-bent mode most of the way down, no normal striding at all. By the last mile or two, I had to stop every few minutes to rest as my legs were on the verge of collapsing under me.

I made it to the car, but if it had been another mile, it's unlikely I'd have managed it--I was already swinging my legs into position each step rather than lifting, using my trekking pole to drag myself. Sounds lovely, eh? Needed more conditioning-- On the other hand, I was a good distance ahead of The Other Ellen (TOE) and she didn't seem to be itching to go faster, either.

But the rest of me still felt great!

The Reality

So here's what it really was:
* 5:45 a.m. Leave home.
* 6:30 a.m. Meet at Fremont BART station.
* 6:45 Head to Yosemite.
* 10:20 Stop at Bridalveil Falls.
* 11:20 a.m. Arrive at trailhead for Four-Mile Trail.
* 11:45 Head out. Why did it take us so long there? Broken bootlace, couple of photos, I dunno, just took a while to get it together.
* 4:45 Arrive at Glacier Point.
* 6:00 Leave Glacier Point.
* 8:30 Arrive back at car. Divest hiking gear, find snacks, etc.; drop off found hiker at her car, etc.
* 1:17 a.m. Arrive back at Fremont.
* 1:50 a.m. Arrive home.

General trip notes

It's always fun traveling with someone with whom you can chat the whole trip away. Although TOE and I have known each other for years, have been in the same agility class off and on, read each other's blogs, and email quite a bit, still, this was a great chance to get to know more about each other.

And we didn't talk about dogs or agility nearly as much as one might have expected!

We seemed to travel and hike well together. Note to self: Worth doing more.

It had been 99F in Yosemite Valley on Thursday, 90 on Friday, so I was hoping it wouldn't be too bad for us. Turned out to be a lovely temperature--I never felt the need to don my fleece until we got back to the car.

The problem was that the air was therefore extremely hazy. Add to that a high, bright overcast, and there was so much glare looking out across the valley that I knew that all my scenic photos would be iffy. Only so much I can do in photoshop.

I did remember to put on sun lotion despite the overcast, so had no burn at all.

It sprinkled on us a couple of times, but never enough to get us or anything else wet.

It was disappointing that there was NO water, absolutely none, coming over Yosemite Falls, and this trail has the best views of those Falls from anywhere in the park. Guess that means I'll have to do it again. On the other hand, it was fascinating in a morbid way to keep seeing those dry, naked cliffs sans cascade.

We had vowed to have ice cream at the snack shack at the top. Man, my ice cream bar tasted better than just about anything! I didn't really feel hungry most of the day--got stomach pangs once so we stopped so I could eat half my sandwich; my stomach knew better than my brain.

We were absolutely the last ones to leave Glacier Point to head back down, and a German medical student leaving at about the same time slowed down to hike with us, for companionship both for the mere emptiness of the trail at this time of the evening and the fact that she didn't have a flashlight with her. If she had just passed us, though, she might have made it down before complete dark on her own.

Although she was wearing tennis shoes rather than hiking boots; this was a problem on this trial. In the old days, Yosemite paved *everything* to make it easier for people to get places. Not too many decades ago, they realized that paving difficult and dangerous routes to make it easier for every numbskull in the world to get himself into trouble wasn't a good idea, so they've been allowing the asphalt to gradually break down and go away.

The problem on this trail is that it was steep, so the sand and gravel on the unbroken stretches of asphalt made every step like walking on marbles or slick ice. We slipped even with our hiking boots and trekking poles; her shoes had a much tougher time of it going down. TOE had two poles and lent her one.

It was fun to have a third person to chat with. She was smart and funny and we talked about vocabulary and languages and medical training in Germany vs. in U.S. and travel and all kinds of things. We exchanged email addresses--best of friends after two and a half hours together on the trail! Amazing how that works. A year from now we'll probably have no recollection at all of the people we just met.

Not my beautiful dogs


This hike surely would have tuckered out the dogs, but in addition to them being prohibited, there were many reasons for them not to be there:
* Small wild lifes of which I got some snapshots
* Rattlesnake
* Sheer cliffs

Fan mail Q&A

My dad sent me some questions. Here ya go:
How was your companion? (See above.)

Did you have bear problems? Bare problems? Beer problems? We never saw bears. We were careful not to leave anything resembling food in the car. We did not encounter the guy who likes to hike in the nude. And no beer involved; in fact, TOE and the German hiker talked about wines!

Did you suffer from mountain lassitude? (Private joke.) I think if anything it was Drought Lassitude.

You mention ice cream - No champagne because Binder wasn't there? (Continuing the private joke. If you haven't read The Ascent of Rum Doodle, do so--family favorite.)

Did you get sun-burned? Nope. (See above.)

Run short of breath? Only once--on the drive in, we stopped & I jogged down the road for a photo shot. Realized I was a little short on breath. Took a hit from the albuterol and was fine the rest of the time.

Get cramps? Nope.

Many people going up? Down? Did you see any going both directions as you did? Or the other way - starting from the top for the round trip? As we were going up, people passed us all day going in both directions. We must've been the slowest ones on the trail. I'd guess we saw at least three dozen people on the trail. One couple passing us going up asked whether most people started at the bottom; they had started at the top, gone down, and were heading up again. They still passed us briskly.

If you did it again, would you take the bus one way - which way? Hmm, hard question. If I were to do it again--which is starting to be a given, now realizing what great Yosemite-Falls-with-water shots I couldn't get this time--I'd still start out going up. If I were to take the bus, it would be going back down. But that seems so much like cheating (or at least wimping out) at that point!

I've been trying to load a few sample photos to go with this post, PLUS photos of dogs that WERE there, at the top of Glacier Point, but Blogger has been giving me (and others) grief for the last 2 or 3 weeks about finishing its uploads, and I don't have time for hacking by hand, so you'll just have to go to our photo sites for ALL the photos:
* Mine: Glacier Point Hike photos with brief narrative. If you have the bandwidth for it, using the Slideshow button in the upper right is probably the way to go (you'll still see most of my text, but the links I've embedded don't show up in the slideshow, if you care).
* TOE's: Hike photos with sparse comments; lots of boulders because she's interested in the shapes and textures, but also plenty of lovely view shots. And lots of me for a change.
* TOE's brief blog post about the prequel to this trip.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On Our Way

SUMMARY: On to Glacier Point!

In theory (there's a lot of that going on here) I'll be on the road when this is posted. Planning on leaving home about 5:45 a.m.

Dogs are staying home; too bad for them, but can't take them on this trail.

Temps are supposed to be in upper 80s in the valley! Maybe mid-60s atop Glacier Point, or maybe not. Plus the chance of scattered thundershowers. Not sure I really want to be going across the face of a cliff in a thunderstorm. We'll have to keep our eyes open at all times. (Actually I was planning on doing that anyway.)

I have my rental camera in hand with a spare battery and 8GB of memory. If only there were actually water in the waterfalls! Can't have everything. Here are all the SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras that I have in my house right at the moment. You'd think that I wouldn't be having any camera issues!
Borrowed Nikon works fine except that I've used up both batteries, don't have a charger, and have to return it next week. Three Canons but only one lens that fits any of them (and it's borrowed). One is film. One is borrowed and came with no battery or card. One of them is rented for the weekend, along with 2 batteries, card, and charger. So, really, I have one functional Canon at any time. Funny, huh?

Oh, yeah, what did she take the photo with? That danged point-and-shoot.

Found this site that has cool charts that graph your elevation based on how far you've hiked, your elevation based on how long you've hiked, and your miles traveled over time. We statistics wonks love this stuff. Look here!

That site claims it takes 5 hours round trip. I have my doubts. I'm guessing 6, with a an additional rest period at the top for lunch, ice cream, photo taking, and other touristy stuff.

Here's a similar map, showing that all 5 miles of Four-Mile Trail go pretty much up up up; no level parts or dips. (Elevation in feet on the left; miles traveled on the bottom.) And, for your comparison convenience in how high we're climbing, I've slapped on outlines of the world's tallest buildings (Empire State Building on the right) with their bases at our starting elevation, 4,000 feet. We'll be going up about 3,200 feet (975 m) according to plan. That's like climbing to the top floor of the Empire State Building almost 3 times. Something I would never do in my wildest dreams. Actually hiking the trail will be much easier than climbing stairs would be.

And here's a cool tracing of the trail showing the terrain and topography. I recommend clicking the "Terrain" button at the top of the map for the most useful view.


Meanwhile, you can:
* Find out about current Yosemite conditions.
* See how many bear break-ins into cars in parking lots there have been in the last week.
* Check out weather conditions in the valley with the live Yosemite webcams (Ahwahnee Meadows is in the valley looking towards Half Dome; View from Turtleback Dome looks over the valley towards Half Dome. Glacier Point is offcamera to the right in both those views.)

Graph I used is from http://www.mtbguru.com/trip/show_static/7957-yosemite-valley-to-happy-isles-via-glacier-point-and-panorama-trail; diagram of buildings is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skyscrapercompare.svg

Friday, August 21, 2009

Weave Experiments

SUMMARY: Timing 20" vs 24" and Boost is GREAT!

In class tonight, we timed our dogs going through 20-inch-spaced weaves and 24-inch-spaced weaves. Our trainers have both sets of weaves always set up, so all the dogs have experience using the different spacing. I don't recall that my dogs ever noticed the difference in the spacing; I didn't at first, either, except that I noticed that Boost seemed to be moving faster (because I had to move faster to keep up with her) and figured out why.

Spacing and expectations

Consider that a 12-pole set of 24-inch spacing will be nearly 4 feet longer--about 25% longer--than a 20-inch set! One way to measure the dog's performance is by the time it takes to do the poles; another way is to calculate yards per second to get their actual ground speed.

I had expected Boost to come in closer to 2-second weaves. I had expected Tika to be faster in the 24" spaced poles because it would be easier on her sometimes-sore neck and back. Well--let's say that surprises sometimes happen. Not big surprises, though.

Timing results

Each dog ran each set 4 times.
BoostTika
20"2.443.27
2.493.28
2.453.31
2.473.26
---------------
24"2.513.45
2.563.30
2.543.32
2.483.21


Variations in times

My clever dogs are amazingly consistent. I used extra revving up before each pass, trying to get more speed. Nope--apparently they're both going as fast as they go. More consistent in the 20" poles--both dogs' runs clustered within .05 of a second.

In the 24" poles, Boost's variation became .08 of a second, but that's not surprising for an additional 4 feet of movement. Tika's spread, however, went to .24, a full quarter of a second variance. As those of you who pay attention to winning times know, a quarter of a second these days can be the difference between, say, 1st and 4th places. Or more, if you're competing at the Regional or National level.

Times overlap between short and long

Boost's fastest time on the wider spacing was faster than her slowest narrow-spaced time, which means she's covering the 4 extra feet in almost the same amount of time, barely marginally slower (about .1 second).

Tika's fastest 24" time was faster than ALL of her narrow-spaced times including the extra 4 feet, which was what I was expecting, but the others were all slightly slower. I have no idea what that means. She did seem to get faster in each set of wide-spaced poles.

General timing observations

In yards per second, Boost sped up from 2.48 yps to 2.89 yps. So, sure, takes about the same amount of time to do the weaves, but is covering the ground much faster. No wonder I noticed that she was speeding up!

Intriguingly, this means that poles that are 4 feet longer than current ones won't have any appreciable effect on total course time (at least, not based on my dogs)--they're 25% longer, but Boost, for example, executed only .0004% slower!

Compare all this [if you want to] with Kathy Keat's comments about excellent weave pole speed and my timing for each dog based on videos in this previous post, where Kathy says that weave speeds of less than 2.5 seconds are excellent. This is presumably using USDAA's 20-21" weave spacing.

Boost's excellent speed

I guess I should be happy that (a) instructor JB predicted ahead of time that Boost could be one of the fastest weavers of all the students--and he was right, and (b) the only dog with faster times than Boost was the fabulous Ace Gyes, and he was apparently less than a tenth of a second faster in his fastest time. I feel pretty good about that.

And that's the end of the obsessive timing stuff--for the moment. Time for bed.

Boost is Great!

Update: Same day, 3 hours later:
DRAT! My summary "boost is great" was NOT about the weave poles--it was that she ran in class like a real agility dog--all evening, every run! Almost no bars down! No runouts or refusals! Blasting straight ahead to next obstacle instead of always waiting for me! We almost did the World Team Championship Jumpers course from a couple years back PERFECTLY if only I hadn't forgotten where I was going 2 obstacles from the end! Woot!

She turns four and a half and suddenly she can do agility?! Hope it holds up through next weekend's SMART USDAA and Labor Day weekend's Southwest Regionals. I am JAZZED!

Conditioning

P.S. Did NO hiking or walking today at all, just class in the evening. I feel wimpier already...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Special Dog on a Sunset Hike

SUMMARY: Skyline Ridge Sierra Club hike and Rhubarb.

Most of the trails that we hike don't allow dogs, even on leash. However, assistance dogs are allowed. Rhubarb ("Rhu") hasn't been along for a while, but he and his avid hiker Human Dad joined us last night. I love the fact that he's a mixed breed.

For a dozen photos or so about our hike-- with brief comments--visit my photo page.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are We Ready Yet?

SUMMARY: Conditioning hikes...wellllll... plus Tika's butt and agility training...wellll...and about that camera.

I am swamped this week. THREE projects for work simultaneously. I can handle it, really I can--

But no energy to call the insurance company and ask to rescind my claim. NEXT week maybe.

Camera: It occurred to me that I must be able to RENT one of the cameras that I'm thinking of buying. Looked online, sho nuff, lots of places. So I reserved a camera (plus battery plus memory card--extra fees of course) and hopefully can pick it up Friday before heading for Yosemite. I have a borrowed lens that'll fit--18 to 200mm, which isn't quite as nice as a 300, but I didn't want the additional rental fee--not surprisingly, most lenses cost more to rent than the camera body.

So what kind of conditioning are we up to this week for the grueling 3000-plus-foot trek up to Glacier Point on Saturday--T minus 3 days and counting? Monday, a mile and a half on the flat with the beasts. Typical brisk walk. Yesterday, a mile and a quarter on the flat with the beasts. Another typical brisk walk. PLUS i went up and down my 3/4 story stairs 25 times! I added that up--that's about 150 feet elevation gain! omG I'm nowhere close to 3000 feet.

This evening planning on joining the sierra club group for a 5 mile, 500 feet brisk hike from Skyline Ridge to Russian Ridge (love those names). Then, to make up the additional 2500 feet of conditioning, I'll come home and climb up and down my stairs 416 times.

Or not.

Tika's anal gland is looking somewhat better. Monday she definitely drooped; yesterday her usual perky over-the-top self returned in full force. We're using hot damp compress plus antibiotic ointment twice a day. It's still bleeding a bit but not nearly as badly. I'm almost out of ointment, crud. Plus I doubt the renter's going to want to do that on Saturday.

And we're a week and a half from the SMART USDAA warm-up for the Western Regionals the following weekend, and what have we been working on? Noooooothing! Plus missed last week's class; it was rescheduled for earlier in the day because of World Team practice, and I couldn't make it. NEXT week I'll get serious again.

I mean, we do do a few drills every day, but just kind of general things: A little contact work, a little weave pole work, a little running and jumping. And now--on to Projects A, S, and P!

Things are looking up. Or, at least, I am.

Monday, August 17, 2009

24" Weave poles

SUMMARY: Should USDAA change weave pole spacing?

I've had 4 dogs in agility. Two (so far) have had a bit of arthritis in their necks and/or backs. Don't know that it's caused by agility--two previous dogs who didn't do agility also had arthritis. But I know that 24-inch spacing on the poles is much easier on dogs' spines than the current USDAA 20-21". One of our own club members did some overhead videotaping--unfortunatly don't think it's online. But there are other videos available if you search.

International competition (FCI) now uses 24" spacing. The Canadian associate of USDAA, AAC, is going to 24" weaves next year. AKC and the Canadian equivalent, CKC, now use 24". CPE is probably in the same arena--the current rules stae "21" to 23" from center to center with no more than a 1" variance"--which means that 24" (if they're no more than that) are OK.

USDAA has recently reviewed the topic and decided not to change, and has said that the issue is closed to any further discussion. I have no idea why. Sure, weave poles aren't cheap and not every club can afford to replace them (or every competitor--I'd want to replace my own, and they're just not cheap). But still, I'm a strong advocate for the wider spacing and for consistency (so dogs aren't going from, say, 20" to 24" from weekend to weekend or ring to ring), but I can deal with a phase-in period of maybe a couple of years.

It also presents a different course-building challenge--if you add 3-4" of spacing between all poles, the weaves are now 3 to 4 feet longer than before! But we can learn to live with that, I'm sure.

Susan Garrett has posted about the topic.

and there is now a 3-question survey on whether USDAA should allow 24" weaves. Please take the survey. Please go and vote for the increased space. Even if your dogs seem happy with the current spacing, please consider other dogs whose lot might be improved by the change.

Thanks.

Monday Recap and What's Next

SUMMARY: Who's anal, who ate too much of the wrong things, who needs a camera, who's doing some real hikey-climbey thing.

Who ate too much of the wrong things (at Vicon)

Spent Friday through Sunday at the 25th annual Vicon (VIsalia CONvention, although it's not a convention and this year wasn't even in Visalia, so some people are calling it Sarcon because it was in Saratoga this year). It's a giant 3-day sleepover party for a bunch of college friends who have somehow turned into programmers, tech writers, parents of teenagers, VPs of engineering, PHDs in psychology, executive administrators, retired Captains, and other sorts of things that you wouldn't expect to see at a sleepover party.

Except this year, because it was closer to home, most of the weenies showed up only for Saturday afternoon and evening. Only half a dozen of us slept over, even though it was only 20 minutes from our assorted houses. It's the spirit of the thing, really. Felt kinda lonely Saturday and Sunday morning from the usual 20 people for breakfast. But it was still fun and something like 34 people (including half a dozen small children) made an appearance at least briefly sometime during the weekend, so it was pretty successful anyway. I woke up to a stunning swath of bougainvillea both mornings. What could be better? (I slept on a lawn chair; one guy slept in a tent.)


No dogs at all--TMH Merle Girls stayed home with Renter--but coming out of the kitchen on Saturday, trying to negotiate the small children's toyfield, I almost tripped over this:

The hard part was eating healthy. We had robust healthy breakfasts.

Vegetarian lunches.

Hamburgers and thickly mayoed potato salad for dinners. Plus handy snacks.

And dessert. The cakes arrived with no phrasing, so I was volunteered to add appropriate messages.

Cameras

After a weekend spent mostly trying to take photos in difficult lighting situations of mostly moving objects with a basic point-and-shoot that doesn't like difficult lighting or moving objects, I really really miss having a real camera. Took my borrowed one for a few photos, but battery is getting low. The difference in photos was obvious in most cases. Sighhhh. So what to do about... [ominous fwahhhh]...the Glacier Point hike?

Hiking

It's T minus 5 days. Less. In 5 days at this time I should be on the trail going up. To some AWE. SOME. VIEWS. Need camera. Will figure out something.

This weekend, to prepare for the hike, in addition to my healthy diet regimen, I walked for 2.5 miles around the neighborhood--no hills, but inclined streets--on Saturday, another 1.5 on Sunday, and hauled tons and tons of heavy gear from my house to my car (kinda like dog agility, only not as furry) and in to the party site and helped set up and rearrange and so on all weekend, for a total of about 6 miles worth of steps saturday and not sure how much Sunday, since my pedometer somehow reset itself.

The neighborhood is fancier than my neighborhood. Neo-plantation homes, fancy shrubberies, huge lawns, like that.

This 3-bedroom, 2-bath house is for sale. How much do you think they want?Did you guess $1.7 million? (Details here.) THIS is a depressed housing market? Sure, because it says that average listing price is $2.2M! Life's rough.

Here is some cool information about the trail to Glacier Point, with some photos and a link (at beginning of article) to a topo map of the trail and more photos; thanks, Dad, for the link.

That anal thing

Got home yesterday evening. Middle of the night, Tika starts licking her under-tail vicinities vehemently. Crap--could it be anal gland again? Have been trying to keep an eye on it. Will have to wait till after sleep and breakfast. By then, however, Tika had popped it open by dragging the afflicted vicinity across the hard soil. Very muddy. Bloody. Gross, actually. So I cleaned it up, applied warm compresses, applied ointment. Will repeat 2-3 times daily for a week. Plus MORE PRUNES!

OK, fans, that's all the excitement I can handle for today. And I am just not in the mood for rotating those photos because Blogger's upload is not behaving itself and I just don't have the time or patience. Turn your head sideways. I'm sure they'll work just fine that way.

I have many many photos to post for the weekend; will do later. Maybe much later.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Just Another Day

SUMMARY: A little sore, a little agility, no conditioning hikes whatsoever.

Work deadlines. Trying to take a 3-day weekend; not going to make it. No walkies at all.

After yesterday's hike, my hip muscles are sore, of all things. Legs and knee are fine. No recurrence of toe blister from last weekend.

Today they cancelled our usual evening class in lieu of world team coaching & practice. Invited us to an earlier class, but I was too determined to try to get this document update done before bed, so didn't want to go early.

Did a little bit of agility in the yard: A little bit of "out"/gamble work with Boost, and stopping FORWARD on the teeter instead of slued around to face me. Both dogs--blasting in a huge oval between 2 tunnels & trying not to knock the jump in between. Man, it's only at 20" and both dogs are bringing it down! Lead-out pivots, start-line stays, send-and-runs, sharp angles over jumps... Sounds like a lot, but did only a little of each with each dog. Plus the usual weave games.

Might or might not be on the web this weekend. Annual 3-day party! Dogs will go stir crazy here without me. Renter plays with them a bit, but not much. And I still need to get out every morning on my own & get in a couple of miles.

Live, love, laugh.

Sleep seems like a better plan at the moment.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dogs Get To Use Their Four-Wheel Drive

SUMMARY: Hiking up Coyote Peak.

Today's conditioning hike, T minus 10 days and counting to our Glacier Point hike, is 4 miles round trip and 950 feet elevation gain.

I decide not to drive 45-50 minutes to join the Sierra Clubbers for a mere 450 feet elevation gain; we have bigger game in mind! And that is Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa County Park, just 15-20 minutes from home. Less poison oak, too, from what I remember of Pulgas Ridge, which is important because the Taj MuttHall Merle Girls are coming along on this one. I'll miss the companionship of the Wednesday Night group, but will probably catch up with them again next time as they come closer to my part of the world.

There's Coyote Peak. Our goal: the radio towers.

The trail goes pretty much steeply up the whole way. Dogs don't care. LET'S GO HUMAN MOM!

Ah, the joys of hiking with dogs and no trash cans anywhere. Plus expired camera batteries.

Hey--we made it! Just over an hour, just under 2 miles, and 950 feet up up up. Stopped for breathers several times and once for a nice big drink. Who cares if the temps are maybe just now dipping below 80? We are studly hikers!

We catch some sunsetty clouds on the way back down.

View all 40 photos, plus a marked-up map, with comments about our adventure.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Insurance Thing is NOT Finished After All

SUMMARY: Insurance companies are not your friends.

I finally received my final check from the insurance company a week or so ago and started looking more seriously at cameras and lenses. But wait--my annual renewal notice just arrived--

I'm trying hard not to be brokenhearted, but really-- Travelers Insurance pays me $1400 for a $2500 loss and now my premium goes up by $350/year for the next 5 years? This = $1750! How can this be right? Thought I could maybe afford a replacement camera but guess I can't. Have to save the insurance money to pay insurance premiums.

The lady on the phone was sympathetic but explained, "We're insuring you for a total loss of your home, not smaller losses." She said that (a) I lose the no-loss discount AND (b) I get a penalty for making a claim! Isn't that double jeopardy?

I haven't made any kind of claim in maybe 25 years. And this was someone ELSE breaking into my car, committing a crime against me! And *I'm* paying a penalty?

It is true that my policy says that I get a discount, but it doesn't in fact say how much, nor does it spell out a penalty for making a claim. So I had NO CLUE that it would cost me that much--and in fact it never occurred to me to ask (doh! you'd think at my age I should think of these things with insurance companies)--but it bothers me immensely that the insurance person with whom I dealt never even hinted that it would cost me more in the long run than I would ever get out of the claim.

Here's the catch--now no one else (so far with a couple of samples) wants to insure me except at about twice that much because--ka-ching!--I made a claim! For an amount less than 2 years of premiums!

Today I feel more violated than when the original break-in occurred. Then, I cried a bit here and there. Sometimes these random acts of evil fall on your doorstep and what can you do. Today, I bawled my heart out. Then threw up. Then found that I couldn't do anything for about an hour and a half after the [long] conversation with the insurance company. Couldn't read. Couldn't work. Couldn't think. Couldn't blog. Nothing. Shaking. Betrayed. Stunned. Angry. Shocked. Hopes for a new camera dashed. This is not a random act of evil; this is a systematic, institutionalized screwing of customers.

The other thing that really hurts is--I spent SO many hours getting the claim processed, for which I will never be reimbursed. And now I have to spend more hours checking with other insurance companies and/or trying to get this claim removed from the record, if that's at all possible. Hours for which I will also not be reimbursed.

And no camera. I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm sure I'll think of something eventually.

THANK YOU SO MUCH TRAVELERS INSURANCE. Funny that just last night I was commenting to my renter that Consumer Reports rated them the lowest in customer satisfaction for homeowners insurance, and I said I wasn't sure why, mostly I was satisfied with how they handled my claim. Today--well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keep Moving Those Legs

SUMMARY: Dogs might not be climbing Glacier Point, but dangit if I'm moving my butt, they are, too!

We are all ensuring that we're in excellent shape for the 9-mile (14.5 km) round trip, 3000-feet (914 m) elevation gain Glacier Point Trail hike--11 days (11 d) to go! Even if the dogs aren't going, you KNOW that they want to support my effort in every way possible.

Yesterday's conditioning hike: Tried to get to Postal Annex--a mile away--and back again in under half an hour. The mission: Mail my Bay Team USDAA Regional entry, with check. The reasons: (a) Not supposed to leave envelopes with checks in your own personal mailbox (hence to PA). (b) Need to keep putting those daily miles in for GP**. (c) Sister & Bro-in-law coming to take me away for dinner (hence, half hour).

**For you other USDAA-heads: NOT Grand Prix; Glacier Point!

Uphill? Suurrre! The condos near the shopping center have rolling 4-foot lawn berms, at least half a dozen. So we got at least cumulative 48 feet (15m) elevation gain! We rock!

Photos? None! Were you paying attention? Hurrying!

Discovery: With dogs, even jogging across all the streets and not letting them check every newsworthy tree, cannot do it in under half an hour. Hard to believe. I mean, we hustled! Closer to 40 minutes.

Today's conditioning hike: Dogs came with. 1.5-mile circuit around Oakridge Mall because I needed to get my monthly supply of healthy, nutritious Diet Coke at the famed French department store, Target (pron: tar-ZHAY). (One prior such urban hike, with map, here.)

Uphill? You betcha! 77 steps up the parking garage at the Sears end (and back down); 79 steps up the parking garage at the Tarzhay end (and back down). Must be at least 100 feet cumulative elevation gain!

Photos? None! Camera safely ensconced on my desk! Where it can't accidentally be used to, say, take photos!

Discovery: Squirrels who live in holes in perimeter berms make an incredible shriek-ping racket when dangerous canine types come into view.

Tonight it's dinner with other chunks of the family. Tomorrow night the Wed. Night Sierra Club group is off to Pulgas Ridge, which not only allows dogs, but has an actual (smallish) off-leashey hikey area! It's just...it's about a 50-minute drive there. Or should I just hit Santa Teresa Park again on my own, on-leash? (Dogs, I mean.)

Tune in next time for the exciting next episode of TMH, in which we are probably STILL not taking advantage of our 6 weeks off from competition to hone our keen agility knife [note to self: metaphor falls apart here] and instead are doing other undoubtedly worthwhile things.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hiking Among Other People's Dogs

SUMMARY: Blurry photos of the day, with exercise.

Here's the plan for Aug 22:
* Meet friend in Hayward (40 minutes, elevation ~10 feet) at 6:30 a.m.
* Drive to Yosemite Valley (4 hours, elevation 4000 feet).
* Hike up the trail to Glacier Point (4 and a half miles, elevation 7000 feet). (It's called "four mile trail" but it's longer than that.)
* Hike back down.
* Drive home.

That's dang ambitious for moi, up 3000 feet and back down in one day. I was tricked into agreeing to it by another dog agility person whose name we wouldn't mention if it didn't happen to also be Ellen. The dogs will stay at home.

You want to know what 3000 feet straight up a granite cliff looks like? Here's a photo from Glacier Point looking down into the valley where the trail starts. That's a lonnnnng way.

With this in mind, on Friday evening I walked a brisk 4 miles around the neighborhood with the dogs--no uphill/downhill, though. Then yesterday hiked at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (hopefully not one that will be closed due to budget crisis) in the Santa Cruz Mountains with 2 other friends. About 6-7 miles round trip, cumulative elevation gain about 1000 feet (and back down again). It was a perfect day for a hike among the redwoods, but unfortunately, dogs weren't welcome on the trails we wanted to do. Fortunately, they were welcome on some trails, so I got in a few shots of dogs.

With my crappy point and shoot, which doesn't do well in low light (can you say redwood forest?) and particularly not with motion (can you say dogs?). But here ya go anyhoo.

Borzois. Turns out my friend's son was once a student of the borzoi owner. Small world.


Labrador. They zoomed past, playing tug, to distract the lab from the borzois.

Cattle dog. Following along with a group of people on horseback. Didn't matter whether it was trail or water; faithful doggie.

And finally, an eager Siberian Husky who had better things to do than posing, or even slowing down.

Then there's me at the obligatory redwood forest cutaway with historic dates. Left hand, birth of Christ. Right hand, 1066 and the Norman Invasion. Didn't have another limb that would reach out to the early 20th century.

The full photo essay (about 40 photos, with captions, crawdads, snakes, and more trees), here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Weave pole fakeout

SUMMARY: Who's doing the weaves well is not whom I expected.

Tika is a pretty good weave pole dog; has been since she started competing. Finds the entry. Stays in all the way through. Recently she's missed some entries and has popped out some.

Boost, of course, if you've been riding along with TMH, has had an ongoing weave pole disaster. Misses entries. Pops out. Not so bad lately (again--hope it stays fixed) but still not as reliable as Tika.

So we've been doing weave entry and pop-out drills. Guess whom I can't get to pop out for nuthin'? Boost! Most I got was when I ran alongside her, turned abruptly in the opposite direction, and threw the toy next to her. She slowed wayyyy down but stayed in the poles to the end! So how come she pops in competition?! And guess who *is* popping out in several cases? Tika! Dang! What's with that?

OK, so who's been making even difficult weave entries from the right over a jump aimed in various directions alongside the poles? Boost again! While Tika shleps into the nearest pole the FIRST time in a drill and then does her usual good work the SECOND time.

Bah. Will never figure out dogs.

Some things I'm doing to try pop-outs:
*Drop toy next to dog
*Throw toy ahead
*Wiggle toy next to dog invitingly
*Run with dog then dart off to side.
*Run with dog then stop suddenly.
* " then drift slowly to side
* " then slowly come to halt
* " then do a pirouette and keep going
* " then turn in opposite direction
* Put dog into weaves then run to far side of yard.
* " then run to far side of a jump, tunnel, etc.
* Stop suddenly and say "Yayyy! Good dog!"
* Anything else I can think of.
* Here are more ideas I posted last year, also read in the comments.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fair is Fair

SUMMARY: TMH takes a break from the TMH dogs and visits the county fair.

Have cameras, will travel. To the really really scaled-down urban Santa Clara County Fair. A mere shadow of what it was 20 years ago, barely hanging on by its fingernails. County supervisors want to sell off the land for housing and/or business. We seem to be the only county in california that can't put on a successful Fair. This year, parking and admission were free, and STILL almost no one showed up. Sighhh--

Apparently dogs were allowed onsite, as we saw several on leash. But the chaos with Tika and the livestock would have been--uh--distracting. So they stayed home. But plenty of doggishness going on anyway!

We arrived at 11:30, to discover that "dog demos" occurred from 10-11:00. I had spent 20 minutes trying to find anything at all of use on their web site. They told me that (a) there is a fair, and the dates, and (b) the concert times. NOTHING else, NO...THING. I wonder why no one comes to the fair?? Had I known about the dog demos... well... So onward.

Most of the goats and sheepies looked like dogs in their x-pens: Snugged up against the side, keeled over, snoozing their little heads off. But this goat couldn't get enough attention. He liked his face and throat scritched exactly the same way that Tika does! And wouldn't let me go for hours! The beast!

It was kind of like agility--people walking around with handfuls of ribbons. Except in their pockets.

At the midway, dogs of diverse breeds hung around everywhere!




And there was dog food aplenty, too.



Whoaaaaaa! Now here's a probably non-dog-related unexpected dead celebrity encounter! Do you think that this helped them attract more kiddie customers?

In the building containing all the various student's submissions in zillions of categories, I particularly liked this prize-winning container garden:

And here we see that my sisters with their Very Large Dogs(tm) as reported in an earlier post do not in fact have a monopoly on riding in style.

Finally, last thing before we left, we met this gorgeous critter who, it turns out, is NOT in fact Boost. His mother was [something like] an Aussie/Border Collie mix and his father was [something like] a Kelpie/Cattle Dog mix. This would have been my PERFECT next dog, absolutely perfect!

Blue merle. Mixed breed. Smallish (a bit smaller than Boost). Short hair. Apparently extremely energetic and driven, based on how he was described (although here he just wanted to keel over and snooze his little head off, probably after worrying about all those unherded goats and cows and sheepies all day). What are the odds I'd find something like that if/when I'm ready for the next one?? But this gives me hope that he/she might be there--someday--

Meanwhile, if you'd like to peruse ALL the County Fair photos, including piggies and fun with photoshop, with captions, go here.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Don't Get Me Wrong, I Love the Game

SUMMARY: --but sometimes--

I've been trying hard this year not to spend time bemoaning my failures in agility and instead celebrating the successes and forming plans to overcome our weaknesses. Boost and Tika are so much fun to run. I love their speed and their drive and the way their eyes light up and their ears perk and their tails rise when we're out running in the ring. (Compared to my first dog, Remington, who loved it--as long as we didn't do too much of it or as long as I wasn't too stressed about it; I never knew whether I'd have the happy fast dog or the slow distracted dog--.)

But, OK, sometimes this overwhelms me: Tika has run 624 runs in USDAA at the masters level (including P3 and tournament); she has earned a blue First Place ribbon a paltry 11 times, 5 of those since moving into P3 this spring. If we were a major league pitcher, we'd be SO outta there.

And so, sometimes, I feel like this (click image for larger size):


[Source: http://comics.com/peanuts (Aug 2, 2009; originally printed Jul 29, 1962)]

I'm sure that I don't work as hard at it as those who do win. Probably not as hard as Charlie Brown practices. So I probably shouldn't ever feel like this--but sometimes I do. There ya go.