a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: May 2004

Friday, May 28, 2004

Not That Things Have Been Quiet--

Just way too busy. We're off for 3 days of agility for the Memorial Day weekend. Then 2 days next weekend. Then the CPE Nationals for 3 days the following weekend. That's 8 days in 3 weekends! If that doesn't satisfy the dawgs, nuthing will! Then I think I actually will be taking 4-5 weekends off. Hard to imagine--but I *am* trying to do stuff other than agility.

Think I'll drop in to London for a few days.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Nationals Competitions, just a thought or two

If Tika qualifies one more time in a Grand Prix before the end of September, she'd be qualified for the USDAA Nationals in AZ in November. This would be Tika's first time at the USDAA Nationals. Jake and Remington both went 2 years in a row when it was in San Diego. (My first year my goal was to go. The 2nd time the goal was not to be eliminated in the first round. Met both goals.) They qualified to go in other years but I've been in no mood to go to TX when there's been no chance in heck for us to make it to the finals. But I'll go to AZ with the same chance.

Actually Jake & Tika both qualified for the CPE nationals this year and that's in June near Sacramento this year, so that'll really be Tika's first Nationals competition ever.

What Are People Thinking, Follow-up

When I picked up those 2 little strays the other day, one of the people I talked to in the neighborhood said that they looked something like the 2 dogs who belonged to one of the Asian families nearby and who had gotten out once before, but he was pretty sure the Asian family had moved.

When I dropped them off at the SPCA, they gave me their case #s so that I could call and see whether they'd been claimed. When I called 2 days later, the person I talked to said that a note had been entered (she wasn't permitted to tell me where the info came from) that the owners of the dogs had moved. I wonder whether the folks I talked to over here called the pound to check on them, too, and told them the same thing?

Anyway, I called again today and they're still unclaimed, so now they're going through the process of being up for adoption. The woman told me that they had passed their medical exams and tomorrow they'd do behavioral testing and then, if they passed, they'd be available.

Interesting how it works. When I dropped them off, I could have put a deposit of $60 each to reserve adoption rights if no one else claimed them. I didn't really want to do that.

It turns out that you can also put down a $50 deposit for a chance at specific breeds of dogs if they come in. And since we listed one of them as a sheltie mix, and shelties are a commonly requested breed, there would be people in line behind me if I went up and said I wanted to adopt one of them.

Where are the owners? Why would they get a dog spayed and then not be looking for it?

The little blond sheltie mix was very cute, agile, strong.

Nononono I don't need another dog right now.

Why I Never Do Anything But Agility

A friend asked about plans for November. I said, "Here's what I'm doing in agility in Nov--"
She said, "I thought I was planning so far ahead that no one would have plans yet!!! Yeesh!!! :-)"

So here's the thing about agility in California. Most of the agility clubs have standard weekends on which they hold their events. For example, our club (The Bay Team) always has a trial on the last weekend of March and of July, the 1st weekend of May, and Labor Day weekend. Multiply by a couple or 3 dozen clubs in (reasonable) driving distance-- I just got a 4-year planning calendar showing exactly which dates things will probably fall on.

Challenge is that not everything stays put--most of the various national finals (there's the AKC nationals, the USDAA nationals, the NADAC nationals, the CPE nationals. First 2 are the big ones) move around. Which really screws up everyone else's schedules. Then sometimes new clubs start up and they claim various weekends. Then sometimes various venues become unavailable so events have to change dates to accomodate new venues. Or e.g., our club used to do 1st weekend in November but it rained too often so we switched to July.

But mostly I can predict what I'll be doing 4 years from next weekend...argh.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

What Are People Thinking?

I took 2 stray dogs to the humane society this morning. Cute little things, very friendly, quite overweight, one a sheltie mix, one a spaniel mix. Both terribly overweight. One recently spayed, still has stitches.

One was wearing a collar but had no tags. The other one had no collar. They almost got run over twice--once by me backing out of my driveway and once when they ran across the street to say hi to a man walking by, who checked them for tags and then turned them loose again. Someone else thought they recognized them and suggested some houses to try; I drove them there but no one recognized them. I walked them all around the neighborhood (a mile and a half), talking to people, hoping they'd be recognized or would take me to their home, but no such luck. Drove them to the local vet to get them scanned for microchips, but no such luck.

Dropped them off at the humane society in Santa Clara this morning. They hold them for 5 days for the owners and then put them up for adoption if there are no health or personality problems and they haven't been claimed.

Why don't people ID their dogs? I think I've ranted about this before. Yet another friend told me once when the dog got out of the yard that the dog never wore tags when unsupervised in the yard because they were afraid the dog would catch the collar on something and strangle to death. Let's see, how many dozens of stray dogs with no IDs have I taken to the pound? (OK, probably only about a dozen, really.) How many people do I know or have met whose dogs have been strangled in the yard while wearing a collar? None. I'm sure it happens. I've heard that that kind of accident is more common with slip collars, which I never would leave on my dog unsupervised.

And why do people let their dogs get so overweight? OK, now I know better... Amber and Sheba both put on weight when they got to be 8 or 9 or so, and it crept on so that I hardly noticed it, then realized one day, "gee! My dog is getting fat!" and then had to put them on a diet to get the weight off again.

It's not like I had 2 available hours to do this this weekend. Thanks, idiots whose dogs don't have IDs!

Friday, May 14, 2004

Thought for the Day

Being woken up at 2 in the morning by a wrong number isn't the worst thing in the world. It could be the right number.
(Courtesy Uncle John's Bathroom Readers)

Friday, May 07, 2004

Toenails that Make You Weep

I don't remember ever having to trim Amber's or Sheba's toenails. Remington's I trimmed occasionally as he got older--also after we moved away from The Old Big Yard, where we had a 150-foot asphalt driveway on which we played every day, his nails all grew faster than he could wear them away. Jake's never seemed to need trimming, even after we left the driveway trimmer behind.

I hated using nail clippers, even the guillotine type that had a guard that prevented them from going very far at one chop. Sooner or later I always ended up cutting into the quick, which I just absolutely hated. The books suggested always having Styptic (?) powder on hand so you could quickly stop the bleeding when you cut the quick, which tells me that everyone has this problem, but I still don't like it. I bought some of that stuff a few years back and it seemed to do the job but it didn't solve the problem of torturing my poor dogs.

About 3 years ago, some friends at a show were trimming their dogs' nails by filing down with a Dremel tool. It seemed very cool. I tried it on Remington and he didn't object nearly as much as he did with the cutters, and I could stop anywhere I wanted much more easily.

So I went out and bought a Dremel tool specifically for trimming my dogs' nails; how extravagant is *that*?

Jake's nails still virtually never need trimming, *except* that the dew claw on his right front foot gets longer and sharper and longer and sharper--go figure. What's his left foot doing that his right foot isn't?

Most of Tika's nails keep themselves well filed down, including her dew claws--but the two middle toes on both front feet keep getting longer and sharper and sharper and longer... How can that be? I wonder if any of this tells me anything about their gait and stride--?

I can tell I've waited too long between Dremellings when Tika's claws leave little indents or fine-lined scratches on my skin. And Jake has ripped off that dew nail once before when I didn't keep an eye on it. Talk about ouches.

Stories that Make You Weep

The only problem with hanging around with lots of people with lots of dogs is that you hear the worst stories as well as the best. One of the shelties in our club was a regular in the USDAA top-10 16"-agility list. Owner came home one day and found him pretty much paralyzed. Apparently suffered a stroke in the spine. Is walking now, but stiffly. Agility days are gone.

Another friend works at a vet clinic. She said someone came in on Wednesday with a dog he thought was dying and didn't know why. Came home and found him sprawled and struggling in the yard under a tree. Broke his spine. Best guess is he was jumping up after squirrels and came down wrong. Had to be put to sleep.

I watch Jake's legs, knowing he's got arthritis in the lower spine. He seems to sort of stumble over his back legs or lose his equilibrium briefly there, but always corrects within a step or two and keeps going. Last night in agility class, while we were practicing aggressive Snooker moves, he turned into SuperJake, which I haven't entirely seen in quite a while on the agility field. Then once in a while I hear him drag his back toenails as he walks, but then he stops doing it as soon as I pay attention.

Amber had such arthritis as she got older, with the dragging back feet and sometimes she couldn't stand up to go to the bathroom. And Sheba of course had horrid times standing the last couple of months, dragging those back toenails again all the time, although it's not clear whether it was arthritis or something else going on in her spine. But she was about 17 (and we knew it because she lived with us for all but the first 6 months or so), so that's not unexpected. But that was why we finally had to put her to sleep--couldn't stand up on her own. Nothing wrong with her mind or her will to keep going.

Things That You Can Do Nothing About But That Can Hurt You In The Middle Of The Night Just Thinking About Them.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Stiff Knee

Stiff knees are so much more annoying than stiff upper lips. Unless you're trying to sip soup.

Noticed on Monday afternoon, while sitting and talking to an engineer on my new project, that my right knee stiffened up considerably between each move. Had to hobble a bit when first standing up again until it worked itself loose. Finally checked yesterday, and yes indeed it is somewhat swollen.

OK, who snuck around Sunday night injecting stiffeners and swolleners into my knee? I have no idea what the deal is. I didn't fall all weekend doing agility; I hardly even went near any heavy equipment so I'm pretty sure I didn't whack it with anything. I didn't twist anything while running OR walking (the latter of which has always proven more dangerous to me).

Pondering this for two days, I do recall that there was a Snooker run with Tika on Saturday in which I was thinking we were going east south east and she thought we were going northwest and our paths intersected probably on my right leg, but I don't recall it being a particularly hard crash--in fact at the time I remember thinking loudly to myself "Incidental contact!" (to prevent the judge from thinking that I was actually trying to change Tika's direction by crashing into her, which believe me would not be my first choice of methodology).

It's still a bit stiff and slightly puffy today. Very weird. It doesn't hurt much except when I'm first working the stiffness out when I stand up.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Another Decent USDAA Weekend

Backfill: May 7
This USDAA weekend was between the two previous; Tika got three Qs again and so did Jake.

Tika in Masters: This was her first weekend in any masters class: Standard. On Saturday, she took an offcourse in a difficult obstacle discrimination that caught about half the dogs, and otherwise she was a fine example of a Masters dog. On Sunday, she knocked the first bar (oh, well, at least the pressure was off early!) and otherwise ran a course that would've been qualifying. Except she was over time by a second and a half! However, that's because I relaxed and took a long time on the contacts, two of which she left before I said "OK", so I did my usual "standing time out," which is simply me standing there until she comes back to me and has to hang out for a moment instead of continuing. And she also was slow into her Down on the table (as in "Down? How about a Sit instead?" which I haven't encountered with her before). Not something I'm concerned about!

Tika in Advanced Jumpers: This was her first weekend in Advanced Jumpers, in which we knocked a couple of bars and had an offcourse. This was a deadly course for fast dogs with long strides. Other handlers with more skill than me crashed and burned on this course, too. But she made some nice moves, too.
Tika in Advanced Snooker: Also her first weekend in Advanced Snooker, and she had two oppportunities to earn a Q. On Saturday, she did a lovely job but knocked both bars in the two-obstacle #5 in the closing, so we didn't have enough points for the Q. On Sunday, the course required us to do four reds in the opening. We did three 6s and a 7 along with the reds, but she knocked a bar on one of the 6s so we didn't get the points. In the closing, we got all the way through 6 and then she backjumped on her way to #7. Still plenty of points on a tough course for a Q and 2nd place. (She didn't knock ANY of the reds this time! That's progress!)

Tika Advanced Gamblers: Her second weekend in Advanced Gamblers. We rocked! What a good girl! Got more points than *any* other Advanced dog of any height, for a first place and a Q.

Tika Advanced Pairs: Second weekend in this, too, and her second Q. So summarize: She now has at least one Q in all Advanced games except Jumpers, so if we can get a Jumpers Q, she can move to Masters in everything! I hope it doesn't take us as long to get the Advanced jumpers Q as it took to get our Novice--

Relaxing after a good run

Jake the Snookerman: I don't know why Jake has turned out to be such an excellent Snooker dog. He gets more excited for this than for any other game. I don't know whether it's because every scrap of handling has to be tight and focused, or whether my tension (not stress) is higher, or because we shoot through long distances without doing obstacles, or what it is. He has a great lead-out for snooker: I can lead out all the way across the field, turn, and call him, and he comes straight to me, ignoring all obstacles on either side. This allows me to do more aggressive and interesting opening sequences. When he can hear me, he turns on a dime, allowing more of the same. And he sends out ahead of me beautifully, allowing me to throw him out, say, to a Red in one corner of the field and then beat feet to something in an entirely different direction.

It has gotten harder lately because the "when he can hear me" part makes it challenging to get him *back* from a long send-out or to make tight or challenging turns.

Still, this weekend he did good. (Oh, sorry--he done well.) Two Snookers. I picked opening courses that allowed me to stay with him or in front of him so I didn't have to rely on calling him. In the regular Snooker competition, these would've been very good qualifying scores but probably not Super-Qs (top 15% of those competing). However, in Performance, with only 12 dogs competing, he managed to be the highest-scoring dog both days, for two Super-Qs. This also earned him his Accomplished Snooker Dog title (10 P3-level snooker legs; the equivalent of the Snooker Champion in regular competition). I'm pretty pleased with that.

Jake the Jumper: And, once again, for the last run of the weekend, he took first and Qed in his jumpers class.

Jake the noncontactman: Both of his standard runs were very nice EXCEPT he flew off his contacts again while I was standing still waiting for him to stop. He usually gets a paw into the yellow on the Aframe, but lands so far ahead of me towards the next obstacle, and then can't hear me when I yell, that he takes an offcourse. And he usually does NOT get a paw into the yellow on the dogwalk. He is SO perfect in class! How can he NOT do it in competition? I said within Kathie Leggett's hearing that I ought to pull him off the course when he does that, because otherwise how else will he figure out that it's not OK to do that? She said WHY? --He's 12 and a half, he's earned several championships, why not just let him run and have fun? I said it's because I want more Qs for him to make it into the Top 200 Lifetime Earners before he retires, so it's all about ME, not about HIM. Harrumph.

I'm thinking about it.

Ol' Fuzzheado (Sprayed down after a hot run on a hot day)

Jake other stuff: Gambling--Lost Jake on the gamble approach--he got ahead of me and took his own course. I think that he does hear me sometimes, but with the background noise and the wide-open spaces, I think that he cannot hear me well and probably my voice gets higher again. Pairs Relay--there's no official Performance pairs relay, but in the just-for-fun one, Jake ran fast and clean and they took 2nd among 11 pairs.

Steeplechase: Tika did OK but had a funny offcourse into a tunnel when I crossed behind the Aframe. Didn't enter Jake. This makes 16 attempts at Steeplechase Qs in my career, with 3 different dogs, over 8 years. One Q with Rem, one with Jake, and that's it. Sighhhh--

Saturday, May 01, 2004

I am so far behind! As usual--

I have so much to say, and not enough time to say it. Just been busy, having a good time, playing with the dogs and doing agility and, um, probably some other stuff. So I'm going to try to backfill the last two weeks, using the notation: Backfill: BACKFILLDATE to indicate the date on which I backfilled that particular entry.

If you're confused by this--OK, you're in about my mental state now!