Wednesday, August 31, 2011

At Safari West

SUMMARY: Mostly wordless Wednesday.


Cape Buffalo
(This animal kills more people in Africa every year than any other animal except one; I knew which one, do you?)


Demoiselle Crane


Mother and child


Cheetah



Flamingo


Flamingo with a throat tickle


Cape Thick Knee
(Also possibly Cape Grumpy Face)


Immature Scarlet Ibis


Blue-Crowned Pigeon


Dama Gazella


Giraffes


Greater Kudu


Giraffe


Watusi Cattle...with an itch


Damara Zebra


Ellipsis Waterbuck


House Sparrow

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another View of the Weekend

SUMMARY: From Team Small Dog.
Which includes a photo of me and Boost, too. http://blog.teamsmalldog.com/2011/08/2-whole-days-of-usdaa-with-team-small.html

Enough With Data and Statistics

SUMMARY: There were, gasp, other super people and dogs at the trial, too!
Here are some of the smart people, Wings' and Team Small Dogs' persons; I'm sure they're strategizing their super Steeplechase runs:

The person belonging to Kidd and Boss, listening carefully at the briefing in case anyone wants to buy super fund-raising salmon treats.

The Turlockians, aka VASTards, also my super teammates for next weekend's Team event at the regionals (Brenn, Quik, and Quas ("kass")). They always smile when they see my camera, which is too cool.

Gustavo of Team Small Dog gets ready to keep his brain together for a really fast run where his tail flies out behind him and he looks like he's having the most super time of his life. Also Belle the super tiny min pin sneaks her person into the photo, too.

Jeepers, "Me run *now*! Me super run now!"

Our secretary-of-all-trials goddess and super secretary-at-this-trial share secret incantations about computerized scoring.

Sparkle's person and Gwynyth's [not actually shown] person are having a super time.

Heath and Beadle's person has some of the most super tie-dye shirts in the known universe.

At the score table, there are some other super things that are almost as colorful.

Super vendors supply a vibrant array of dog gear.

Honey thinks it's super that someone might have treats.

Tika thinks it's not so super that no one is offering to let her do frisbee or even eat at this particular moment.

Someone is super hungry.

Stetson's super elevated humanoid transport device gives him the best view of everything.

We had best be super careful around this visitor.

Boost's mom, Tala, is Tika's age (10 and a half) and yet had some super runs at 22" championship, winning and placing left and right.

Boost's Uncle Greg has done a super job of training and handling Tala.

Denny has a super difficult time holding still long enough for the camera to focus, but finally manages it.

And here is Clark Kent the rescue Pom and his human.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stats From The Weekend

SUMMARY: An assortment of numbers and points.
This might not be very useful because I hardly ever do it, but it is worthwhile to me because it shows how very few issues Boost had this weekend.

Boost

Qty DoneIssues/ NumbersNotes
Weaves101oddball pop in the very middle
Dogwalk60Still 2o/2o over side instead of end, though
Aframe90
Teeter53Came off middle 2x, left w/out going to bottom 1
Start-line stay110
Barslots3Pairs, gamble opening, Std--double on bad front X
Runout/ refusal- 92 in Sat jumpers, 2 in Sun jumpers not "legal" ref's so didn't count, 1 relay so still Qed, 1 snooker closing, 1 gmbl closing, 2 GP
Other faults1Offcourse in Sat's jumpers after already 2 runouts, handler issue
Tables21elbowwwwwws
Q-able Runs10 (out of 11)4 QsPairs, Std, Jump, Stplchase
Steeplechase Rd 26th seed$182nd place!
Top Ten placements9 possible2Stplch 2nd, jumpers 3rd
Titles1 possible0

Tika

Qty DoneIssues/ NumbersNotes
Weaves80
Dogwalk60
Aframe80
Teeter51Inexplicable abandon in gmbl
Start-line stay110
Barslots 1Snooker 1st red
Runout/ refusal - 0
Tables20
Other faults1backjumped snooker red#2
Q-able Runs108 Qsmissed snooker, one gamblers
Steeplechase Rd 23rd seed$92nd place
Top Ten placements9 possible7Stplch 2nd, GP 1st, Std 2nd & 3rd, jumpers 2nd & 2nd, gamblers 2nd, (also pairs 3rd)
Titles2 possible1PF Jumpers Ch Silver

Prednisone

  • Stops itching: Check
  • Drinks more: Check
  • Pees more: Check
  • More restless: Check
  • Stops dropping bars and starts going ahead to jumps instead of turning back: ...huh?! (She'll still be on pred for this coming weekend's 3-day Regional. Will be interesting to see how that looks. And then will be interesting to see what happens when it's all done with.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

USDAA SMART Day 2

SUMMARY: Another day of wonders.
Tika was back to her normal self, Qing in all four Qable classes, plus 2nd in Steeplechase Round 2.

Otherwise continued her not-quite-1st-place runs:
  • 2nd in Steeplechase, even though she ran pretty fast first thing in the morning, to a really nice run by Kidd
  • 2nd in Gamblers by several points to Chaps.
  • Oh, wait, we did win Grand Prix! For the 4th time this year, after never doing so pre-2011.
  • 2nd in Jumpers by less than a second to Kash.
  • Then, last run of the day, slowed way down in Standard and took 3rd, wayyy behind Chaps and just a smidge behind Mike.
Here's Tika's money run in Steeplechase (although you can't see the tunnel in one corner where the dog has to take the opposite side from the one they're running straight at):


As for her Top Ten points, picked up 0 for snooker, 3 in Gamblers, 4 in standard, and 6 in Jumpers.

Boost amazed me again by mostly keeping up her bars, finished 2nd (!!!!!!) in Steeplechase Round 2 with a really nice run on a really fast course--here for your viewing pleasure (from a different angle from Tika's run, but you STILL can't see that tunnel):


And she actually earned a Jumpers Q! Third masters jumpers Q ever!  Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah, and other crowd-going-wild noises. Furthermore, it was 3rd place in 22"! Our run wasn't exactly "clean"--a bit sort of smudged around the edges and I thought we came off the field with a couple of refusals, but noooooo, plus also only 5 out of the 30 dogs in her class ran clean,  so there we go, now only 2 Jumpers and 2 Super-Qs away from the ADCH.

Yet another video, how about that? (The whistle you hear on the first messy spot is in the other ring...oh, and now you can see a tunnel that the dog has to take the opposite side.)


Standard was an "almost"--she crashed a double after I made a very awkward front cross and might have been flailing my arms, legs, and other body parts. Gamblers opening was nice but I mishandled the entry to a [sigh] very doable gamble. And in grand prix, two runouts on jumps, then she came off the teeter from the side when I rear crossed, for the 3rd time this weekend, so I told her uh-uh, took her off the field, and put her away. 

Time to get the teeter-totter out in the yard again.

But mostly I was very happy with many parts of all of her runs. But here's this little nagging thing: Keeping the bars up--doing courses--steeplechases and jumpers--compliments in class last week and a ton of perfect runs in class this week--I have admitted not practicing anything or working on anything--so WHY?

I find it hard to believe that, at six and a half, she's abruptly matured or figured things out.

I did make the sudden connection today that this has all been since she started the prednisone for her itching. Could there be something going on there? Don't know what.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

USDAA SMART Day 1

SUMMARY: The good, the bad, the inexplicable, and the--erm--Musings upon Top Ten.
Well, another day, another 12 runs--rackin' up that experience, I'm telling ya! Remained foggish and overcasty most of the day, which kept it cool and pleasant.

The Good

Boost had two amazing lovely clean runs today!
  • Standard: Well, she did come off the teeter without even going all the way to the end, but it was legal. I made her stop for a few seconds anyway, and we continued, and Qed. This wasn't one of those ugly Qs, either, where you're constantly recovering from this or that almost-error. Nope, a really solid run. 8 seconds slower than the winning dog, but I'll bet 4 of them were that Post Teetermatic Syndrome.
  • Steeplechase: I had resigned myself to a disaster, but Lo! It was not! Qed and even placed 6th of 32 22" dogs. Three seconds behind the winner, but there were two Aframes and I held her on both in her nice 2o/2o position and told her "Good dog!"
  • Bars: Knocked only 2 in 6 runs, which is pretty darned good for her. 
  • Start line-stay: Didn't break once in 6 runs, yeah!

Tika sometimes amazes me for a ten-and-a-half-yr-old:
  • Ran very fast, almost over the top with excitement, the first two runs of the day (while the fog was still in). Slowed down a bit when the sun came out, but picked up as it cooled off in the afternoon. So, who knows why she was so slow those couple of trials in june/july. Maybe she just can't run through the heat like she used to.
  • Standard: Had a perfectly nice  run, Qed, and placed 2nd, less than a second behind the winner.
  • Jumpers: Had a perfectly nice  run, Qed and placed 2nd, although I was late on two consecutive front crosses that slowed her down visibly, and we were only 0.13 seconds behind the first-place dog.
  • Steeplechase: Had a perfectly nice run, placing 3rd (just 0.6 behind the 2nd place dog) and Qing. 
  • Pairs Relay: Very fast, overran the teeter but didn't get called for jumping on the side, and with our partner's nice, clean run, Qed and placed 3rd, even with my long lead-out as the 2nd dog.
  • I don't believe she missed a contact all day, and it wasn't because she was slowing down to get them, so maybe the contact work is paying off a bit. Some were actually really nice running contacts (yes, no, we were not *practicing* running contacts).

Me:
  • Knees and hips haven't been this pain-free in I don't know HOW long. I don't know why the change. I am grateful. First time at a trial since I can remember in months or maybe a year or two when trotting, jogging, or running didn't make me alter my stride to try to ease the stress.  (That's not to say that I'm a super runner or didn't get tired, but I felt good out there.) Big win!

    The Bad

    Tika:
    •  Snooker. Knocked the first red, backjumped the second. What can I say? Off the course in about 10 seconds with 1 point.
    Boost:
    • Relay: Knocked a bar, ran past a jump. All in 11 obstacles. Bad way to start the day, but fortunately our [also] very fast partner was clean and so we eked out a Q even with those 10 fault points and my long lead-out as the 2nd dog.
    • Gamble: Well, good and bad: Had a really nice smooth opening. Knocked one bar that we took twice, so that's 2 points that we didn't get, but still was the 4th highest opening points of all 40 22" dogs. Even sent out to a couple of jumps, no refusals or runouts.  The gamble? I swung her around, sent her over the first jump, and she just looped back and looked at me. Even when I finally ran out into the gamble zone and put her on the teeter directly, she hopped off the middle of it.
    •  Jumpers: Gah. Don't want to talk about it. Good thing she's cute.


    The Inexplicable

    Boost:
    • Snooker: Well, good and bad again. The first 3 reds and follow-on obstacles were fast and smooth and working at a distance and just perfect, all the bars up. Red, jump-jump, red, Aframe, red, weaves, red, weaves... and in that second set of weaves, she popped out in the middle! I can't figure out why--I wasn't going to veer away or anything, and it was the same weaves she'd just done, in the same direction, with me on the same side. Not even popped at the end, which is her usual thing if she's going to pop. Then took 3 tries to get her back in, for which I was going to get no points anyway, and by then it was all over for a Super-Q and I may have let up a little and over-pulled her off a jump in the closing.
    Tika:
    • Gamblers: Perfect opening. Actually did everything that Boost did (this was an early run and she was running very fast, even thru the contacts), was in perfect position for the gamble, turned and lined up straight and went right onto the teeter and the rest was a piece of gambling cake--except that she jumped off the teeter's side and came straight over to me!  Of course I forgot my camera and there were no videographers there today, so I have no idea what that might have been. SOOOO atypical of Tika in a gamble.  Sigh.

    Day Summary

    Both dogs will be in Steeplechase Round 2 first thing tomorrow morning--that doesn't happen often.

    Can't complain about many very nice things that Boost did today, with Qs in Pairs, Standard, and Steeplechase--although, really, I wanted a Q in Jumpers and a Snooker Super-Q. :-( Trying not to be greedy, but 3 jumpers and 2 Super-Qs are all that continue to stand between us and our championship.

    Tika didn't win all day, but mostly got beaten by different dogs, so it's not like she's getting beaten up by anyone in particular. And it was great to see her really excited and running through her contacts in the morning.


    Musings Upon Top Ten Standings

    Through continuing inexplicable Snooker happenings with Tika, we remain unable to even buy Top Ten points and continue to not show up even on the Top 25 list.  So much for being #4 in the country last year.

    Some comparisons:
    Our points this year before todayOur points at this time last yearOur current placementPlacemt last yr at this timeEnded year at
    Gamblers41263rd11th46 pts/ 6th
    Jumpers33382nd4th63 pts/ 4th
    Snooker1130below 25th5th42 pts/ 4th
    Standard192713th12th48 pts/ 5th

    I'm not sure what it all means. I don't know why Tika seems to be racking up the 0- and 1-point Snooker runs this year. I don't believe that (mostly) I'm doing anything weird or stupid. In the last two years, it has taken 30-31 points to be in the Top Ten, and I'm only planning on 3 more USDAAs this year--if entries run about what they've been running, and even if we won all 3 (unlikely), we'd have maybe 15 more points and still be way out of the running. Funny.

    In Gamblers this year, so far we're doing much better, also for no apparent reason (oh, well, until today). Last two years, it has taken 30 or 37 pts to be in the top ten--I'm guessing we're probably safely in there for this year even if we don't get any more gambles, although that would be embarrassing.

    In Jumpers, it has taken fewer than 30 points to be in the Top Ten in the last 2 years, so when you add our current 33 to today's 3 more, I'm guessing that we're also probably safely in there as well.

    For Standard, funny that our points are very different from last year but our placement's about the same. It has taken 34-36 points in the last 2 years to be in the Top Ten, and we are still a long way away from that--although last year at this time the #10 dog had 28 points, and this year the #10 dog has only 20. So maybe the numbers required will be lower this year.

    It's USDAA Time Again, Boys and Girls

    SUMMARY: Another weekend of fun in the sun.
    I am feeling more optimistic about the weekend than I have in a long time. A mere two weeks of Boost running nicely in class has probably raised my hopes beyond what I can rationally expect, but at least I'm not dreading our time in the ring like I so often do lately on Friday evenings.

    Other than working on nose-touches to targets, the only other thing I've done with Boost this week is to run her full speed in a circle, sending her ahead of me. Just two curved tunnels at either end of the yard, with two jumps on one side of the yard and two on the other--not in direct straight lines, and not perfectly straight, but enough so that it's possible to just keep going comfortably in a loop...tunnel jump jump tunnel jump jump and la la la like that.

    Did that four days this week with her, twice each day, each about 2 to 4 times around the loop, fast as we can go. She'd been turning back at the one difficult tunnel entry several times, but fewer and fewer with each repetition. And today she didn't knock any bars, either!

    Sooooo, welllllll, we'lll seeeeeeee...

    It should be a quick weekend-- the usual 6 classes on Saturday (in 2 rings), but only 4 on Sunday (plus Steeplechase Round 2). They're expecting to be done by 1:00 or so. Wouldn't that be nice, to be home and still have the afternoon free?! Oh, I hope I hope I hope! I *so* did not enter the extra fun match run that they added for Sunday afternoon.

    Possible titles:
    • Boost needs 2 Standards for her Standard Ch Bronze (15 total)--same 2 she's needed for ages. Two chances this weekend. How'd we get 13 and can't get any further? .....
      ...Oh, I can tell you how. Looking backwards, in reverse chronological order: 6 NQs, 2 Qs, 9 NQs, 1 Q, 11 NQs, 1 Q,  17 NQs, 1 Q...[stops there]   Hmm, that's painful, but could it be that we're getting better?
    • Tika needs 1 Snooker for her Snooker Ch Silver (25 total). Only one chance this weekend. We haven't been doing as well in Snooker this year--IN 2010, Qed 15 of 25 (60%), 8 (32%) of which were SuperQs; 9 of 16 (56%) this year, but only 3 (19%) were SuperQs.
    • Tika needs 1 Jumpers for her Jumpers Ch Silver (25). Two chances.
    Hope you're all having a lovely saturday, sleeping in, enjoying the 90+ degree heat or hurricane [choose your favorite weather extremity], and lounging with your furbeasts, while I'm out at 5 in the morning, alongside the cool coast, running my dogs and through the magic of Blogger posting this while I'm miles and hours away from my computer.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Rainbows on the Ground

    SUMMARY: August photo challenge: Rainbow of summer colors.
    I've been watching Dawn King's photos in the assorted photo challenges she's done, have enjoyed the results, and this month I liked the theme and decided to give it a try in my own back yard. Dawn's photos are awesome and have more variety, but mine were done at the very last minute before the deadline. Here's the original challenge.

    And forthwith, here's my backyard rainbow: