a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: August 2002

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Tika does weaves.

We hardly practiced anything for a week; Thursday I mostly spent packing for our L.A. trip and finishing up some work stuff; Friday we traveled; Sat and Sun we were in City of Industry for the agility trial; Mon I was pretty much wiped out from my cold and in bed. Tuesday when I tried sending Tika through the weaves, she did them without skipping any!

So I did a couple with the tab lead (she seems more confident and faster with light pressure against her collar), then more on her own. Between Tue evening and Wed morning, she did about 9 for 10 all correct all by herself. What a difference from a week ago! Maybe she just needed a rest.

Today in class Rachel showed us how to use a clicker and 2 angled weave poles to teach the dog to go over a jump and make the weave entries. Tika did great; progressed up to 4 straight-on weaves, and Rachel used us as the demo team to show how & when to click and treat.

Today's lesson was Click for the action; Reward for position. So click when the dog hits the weave entry, then give the treat further along the weave path, not in front of you or out to the side, so the dog continues the motion you want.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Remington Feeling Better/Addisons Negative/Tika's First Run Ever

Doctor called a little while ago; Remington definitely does not have Addison's disease. That's good. But we still have to figure out why he's anemic and/or monitor it to see whether it's a transient thing or getting worse.

From a friend: Hope you (and Rem) are feeling better today!

We both are, some. I had the energy to try a little agility with the kids before dinner today. Remington had been hanging around looking bored for several hours, instead of simply curled up sleeping like he did all weekend & all day yesterday. (Actually I did, mostly, too.) So we did a couple of Aframes (which he went down very slowly and gingerly, so I'm not sure what's going on there) and ran a couple of jumps, which he looked good on. He's anemic, though, and we don't know why. So now we're in a monitoring stage, and we'll retest his blood next week unless he gets worse again in the meantime.

Still, with the cough and all, he's not going to class tomorrow night, which will probably make him absolutely nuts if he *is* feeling better.

Tika's run: BTW, I forgot to say THANKS so much for taping Tika's run! You're right, it looks pretty darned good. Actually it goes by so fast that it's done almost before it's started! I liked your comments on the tape, especially about how calm i looked. (Didn't feel it! Probably like you felt with Bump on your novice courses--)

So what's wrong with Remington?

Blood tests show low red-cell count, low sodium (although vet says that could've come with his dehydration), one liver-enzyme test that's out of the normal range but a corresponding one that says he's OK so he's not worried about that, and a high-normal potassium (I think normal is 36-56 and Rem is 52). Lots of things could cause any of these. But apparently anemia, low sodium, and high potassium are signs of Addison's disease, which can be ugly and can crash a dog pretty hard & abruptly. So I took him back in this morning to get another test (yikes--these $ are adding up quickly) to try to rule that out. Apparently also some dogs with Addison's also have the upset stomach and diarrhea and dehydration, so that would also account for those symptoms, although I get the impression that the latter usually comes before the former, which didn't seem to be the case here.

Fret fret fret. Guess I just have to wait to hear from the vet this evening. I already called Power Paws to let them know that Rem wouldn't be in class tomorrow night, either because he's got bronchitis or is sick in some other way or both or whatever.

You know, he was slower in class last Wednesday than he had been for a while. Not horribly slow, but not the wild puppy abandon that he's been showing recently in class. So maybe he's been developing whatever it is for several days.

Actually it's odd, because Wed. night was also the night I left class early because my throat felt weird and I was having trouble catching my breath even after using the inhaler, and I was SO tired. Then the next day I woke up with a scratchy throat, which was sore by Thursday night. I wonder whether we both have the same thing at the same time? Not sure how that could happen. I wonder whether I should go get tested to see whether my red-cell count is down again, too, like it was last year when my back was so bad?

Monday, August 26, 2002

After West Valley--Me Sick/Remington Sick

Backfill: 11/10/02 Well, I'm glad I'm not trying to compete today, because my nose runneth over and my head appendages are so stuffed they're likely to explode. Bleah. Definitely the next stage of this cold that's been going thru stages all weekend.

Just got back from the Vet. Karey, you said you thought Rem was acting like he had a cold; Debbie, you noticed the horking like Rem was choking on something. Horking is a bit worse today. Vet says the coughing/horking sounds like bronchitis. Also, Rem is a bit dehydrated (I know he was drinking over the weekend, but not sure about most of today), and he did refuse dinner last night and had diarrhea this morning, so not sure whether that's consistent with bronchitis.

But no temperature, nothing seems sore, nothing else wrong that the vet can tell. Doing blood tests, though, which we'll have back tomorrow a.m. Vet said the same thing that Karey did, which is that he doesn't look sore, he just looks like he feels absolutely miserable.

If it is viral bronchitis, it's probably been contagious the last couple of days and odds are good that one of my other dogs--or dogs sharing hotel room, drinking water, and car--might come down with it in the next 2-3 weeks.

SOOOO I'll be so depressed if our fun weekend ends up with me getting you sick & Rem getting your dog sick! Ar--

And I have to keep my fingers crossed, too; our next trial isn't for 3 weeks, but if either of my other dogs starts making that nasty horking coughing sound, vet says I better keep them home.

Tika's First Competition Ever/Rem Sick

She did it! She did it!

By the time we were driving to L.A. friday night, I had guessed that Tika would probably do all of the following during her run:

  • Not stay at the start line (e.g., get interested in other dogs or smells & getup & wander away)
  • Come in towards me instead of going over jumps
  • Jump up and grab at me (which she's done a few times during tight runs)
  • Stop & sniff the ground
  • See the dog in the ring next door, separated only by orange construction fencing, and go chasing after it
  • Check out the judge
  • Get bored or confused because I don't think we've ever done a sequence of more than about 8 obstacles ever--maybe one at Power Paws, but not very successfully.
  • Fail to carry out over the last couple of jumps because she's not very good at carrying out unless I've got a toy in my hand, and then only sometimes.
  • At the end, run out of the ring to explore other dogs & people instead of coming to me, like she did at Power Paws when I was sneaking her runs in during the lunch hour at the Greg Darrett seminar.

I think my list was longer--consisting of all the things she's kinda done while we've been practicing--because I was trying to steel myself to the possibility of being completely embarrassing.

I kept remembering you saying that "Tika will do great this weekend. She will probably surprise you." and hoping that it would be true, but I really was tyring to keep my expectations low.

Indeed, as we were waiting to go into the ring, I was having trouble keeping her focused. I tried ot play tug-of-war with her on her leash, and she'd do it briefly and then want to go sniffing or looking at other dogs. I tried tug-of-war & keep-away with the tug-n-treat, with the same results. I finally just got out bits of food & teased her with it & had her do some basic commands like Down and Side (sit at my left side) for rewards, and THEN she paid attention. I was thinking, "I'm ruining her by using food already! I wanted her to be an all-toy dog!" But at least then she was focused on me instead of everything else.

We walked out to the start line, and I told her, "Side." She sat very nicely.

I slipped off her leash and stepped forward & she stayed right there. I led out 2 jumps and turned to look, and she was sitting as pretty as anything, watching me intently. First success! I praised her and raised my arm and then said "OK," and she came bounding over the first 2 jumps.

I did a lead-out pivot, which I think we haven't practiced enough, because she turned really well but crashed through the jump after the pivot.

But she kept right with me as I pulled her around to the next jump and then pulled her into the first tunnel, and we were on our way! Gina, she was awesome! I felt panicked the whole way, but I had walked it pretty carefully even though it was just a novice course, and she came right with me every turn and jump! Her attention was always there, and even at the end with a sequence of jumps that I knew I couldn't keep up with her for, I managed to push her out over the last jump, and when I called her after the finish, she came right to me.

She actually seemed a little baffled when I started yelling about how good she was & jumping around with her & hugging her. She stayed right with me while I got her leash & we headed out to get her some goodies.

She was in Performance I, 22", with 10 other dogs. Gina, she was 2.75 seconds faster than the first place dog, so she managed to take 2nd even with the one crashed jump! (The Championship 22" and 26" dogs hadn't run yet before we left, so I couldn't see how she'd have compared in that group.)

And me with such a nasty cold, which hit me really bad Saturday, so I actually slept saturday afternoon instead of running my dogs.

What a girl! Wahoo! Now I'm psyched up--

But I'm also thinking we've got a ways to go on jumping comfort before she gets to 26". She measured in at 22.75", so I don't think she's even close to the 21" she'd have to be to jump 22". I was hoping she'd measure closer, but I didn't really expect it.

Now--on to weaves & contacts. :-)

Rem, however, was in a bad way all weekend, and I had to pull him from his runs. I can't figure out whether he's sick or injured--he's just pretty broke somehow. I have to go call the vet now & take him in. It's always something, isn't it.

[Note added later: It isn't til Nov 4 that we discover he's got a cancer tumor on his heart.]

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Tika's First Competition Prejitters

Backfill: 11/10/02 Well, Tika'll presumably be in her first USDAA Jumpers competition this weekend. It's scary. I don't think we're ready. I snuck in some medium jumpers layouts up at power paws last night between classes, and wow, do we suck, and wow, is she fast. I think I finally figured out in the yard today that I have to be giving her directions for obstacles 2 obstacles in advance, or she goes blasting by so fast that there's nothing I can do with her. Of course, that's what they've been telling us forever anyway, but now I really see it...

She's doing good at start-line stay. She's doing good at sending out to a tunnel... but not as good if I don't have a toy in my hand. She's periodically crashing bars. We've been doing some teaching-dog-how-to-jump exercises in Rachel's class, and she looks pretty awkward a lot of the time. How any dog can take shrubs & random other obstacles at top speed but then doen'st really have a good idea of where its body is is amazing... So we have a lonnnnng way to go before we're really ready for jumpers, I think. I was a bit optimistic last month when signing up for trials. But I guess I'll keep doing it.

Also, I don't think we've yet done *any* course of more than about 8 obstacles, so I don't know whether she'll even have a clue about sticking with it for 15 or so!

Anyway, it'll be an adventure. I'm taking my camera & hoping I'll find someone to tape us. Argh.

Did I mention that Jake got his Superior Elite Gambler's title 2 weekends ago up in Carson City? Both boys got both gambles!

Monday, August 12, 2002

Carson City NADAC/Titles Updates

Backfill: 11/10/02 Dogs had another pretty good weekend this weekend. Both dogs got both gambles (although I must say I thought they were pretty easy compared to many we've been seeing).

Jake missed high in trial by one popped dogwalk, argh. But he now has his S-EGC.

Last time I said how close we were to his O-NATCh, I was actually looking at the points needed for the S-Elite titles. But now that I've got the numbers right--Jake needs only 1 gamble & 5 standard legs for his O-NATCh. Garsh, it's sooo hard to believe! If I had entered him in more standard runs this winter & spring, he'd probably be right in there. :-)

Remington ran fast 5.5 out of 6 runs, despite 98-degree heat in Carson City. Even Qed AND PLACED in both *NADAC* jumpers runs. What a boy! The .5 run was the 3rd run of the day and pretty danged hot--he started out really fast but I screwed up a cross & had to call him off a tunnel he was headed full speed for--he stopped & came back but then just trotted the rest of the course. I guess I don't blame him.

Not only did Rem get both gambles, but he finished 1st and 2nd! (Jake got 1st in both gambles, but I'm starting to expect that of him in NADAC, she says with a wink. )

Have I really improved that much suddenly, or relaxed that much, or have I just hit a flukey run of courses that match my skill level? I guess I just need another 0-qualifier USDAA weekend to bring me back to earth. ...Going to west valley in 2 weeks, so we'll see.

...Hmm, now it occurs to me that Jake must be getting close to his ASCA championship!? I haven't tracked which events were ASCA sanctioned. Hmmmmm..... Something else to plug into the database... We just got so many legs, at least Rem did, before everyone was ASCA sanctioning things, that we're a bit behind the NADAC pace.

Tika Sleeps...or not/Musings on Titles

Backfill: 11/10/02 We've hardly practiced agility stuff since class on Wednsday. Work has been nuts, plus then packing for another out-of-town show, driving most of the day friday, at the show sat & sun--seems like we'll *never* get our training in!

Tika is such a sweetie sometimes. After hearing about other people's problems with how badly their dogs travel, I guess I'm very lucky to have a dog that lies down & goes to sleep the entire trip, no matter how long, as has been tested on our trips to Eureka and Carson City.

Of course the flip side to that coin is that she's rarin' to go when we stop, and I'm rarin' to go to bed. She never did get to play much this weekend. Since it was a small trial, that meant that they were doing something almost constantly on Saturday, but then afterwards I didn't even think about it--kinda lay down to take a rest and then went out to dinner with the local crew & Eric & Wendy.

Jake missed high in trial by one popped dogwalk. Dang. Now Rem has been 2nd high once and Jake has been 2nd high once. It's kind of fun, having something to compete for after the NATCh.

Actually just discovered that Jake is only one gambler's leg & 5 std legs from his O-NATCh! Jeez, how can the 2nd one have gone by so quickly?! I guess because I wasn't really paying attention. Had I even thought about it, I'd have entered him in a few more standard rounds this winter/spring (entered him in tunnelers etc. instead a couple of times, for the variety).

I still almost can't believe I've gotten this far with these guys. I remember counting down Remington's novice titles one leg at a time and displaying them that way (2/3 NAC, 1/2 NJC, etc..), 'cause I was so proud of the legs & so sure that we'd probably barely ever get beyond Open, if we even made it that far! Those were the days--

Monday, August 05, 2002

Remington Gets His NATCH

After 6 and a half years, Remington finally got the last Gamblers qualifying score that he needed for his NATCh! (NADAC agility championship for nonagility types... This is somewhat akin to earning a chess master title--accruing points over a period of time at the top level of agility competition.)

[Jake took only 3 years to earn his--so I've been fretting about Rem's, especially since Rem turned 9 on July 1. But he's running better than ever!]

Our first qualifying score ever in agility was a NADAC gambler's leg in January, 1996, so I guess it's somehow fitting that the last leg for the NATCH was also a gambler's leg.

There were 2 chances to get it this weekend. We got saturday's gamble, almost first thing in the morning, which made the rest of the weekend absolutely fun and soooo relaxed! Actually saturday's gamble I thought was pretty easy--both my dogs and at least 1/3 of all Elite dogs got it; sunday's was so hard that only 2 8" dogs got it. Only 2 other dogs made it past the first obstacle on sunday, and Remington was one of those 2--made it thru 3 obst's but missed the last one. So he done good but didn't quite get a "CYA" gamble the 2nd day. Still, I'm proud of getting that far. Even Ron Etherton's World-Famous Infallible Gambling Dogs didn't get that far (! sorry, Ron, but it *never* happens :-) ).

To top it off--
- Out of 8 runs, Jake earned Q's in 6, got 4 1st places & 3 2nd places! (Out of about 9 dogs in his class).
- Out of 6 runs, Rem earned 5 Q's and got a 2nd, a 3rd, and two 4th (he doesn't often place, but he was running fast & happy & paying attention) out of about 12 dogs in his class.

See photo of dogs and awards.

We had to drive allll the way to Eureka for the competition, but it was *perfect* agility weather, and Jackie Drucker got all of our runs on video, and it was a great group of people up there who celebrated our NATCH at the general briefing on Sunday and made a big fuss about it, so it was a lot of fun.

Thanks to everyone who's helped & supported us through all of this! All those encouraging words, plus suggestions & advice on doing gambling, & those folks who took special gambler's lessons with us, and especially Jim Basic who's a great gamblers coach and Nancy & Rachel who've helped Remington and me in sooooo many ways over the last 7 years. :-)