a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: July 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Good Weekend But No C-ATCH

I'll have a cool photo of Tika to post later.

Tika ran beautifully this weekend. She had only 2 bars down in 10 runs. One of them still allowed us to earn a Qualifying score; the other, unfortunately, didn't, and it was one of the 4 we needed for our CPE championship. We also had two offcourses, which is unusual for us, and they were both painfully clearly handling errors, one where I briefly forgot what I wanted to do and then got caught moving in the wrong direction at the wrong time, and the other where I just chose the wrong place to put myself. And, also unfortunately, one of those was another of those 4 necessary Qs.

So we Qed 7 out of 10 times for, I believe, 6 first places and two 2nds. The classes were a little larger this weekend for us than they sometimes are in CPE--instead of it being either just us or just us and one other dog, we were usually competing against at least two other dogs and often as many as 6 or 7 others.

But, as usual, I can compare Tika's scores against all other dogs, all heights, all levels, who ran the same course. It varied by class, but in general this meant about 50 other dogs.

There are two basic categories of classes: Those judged primarily by time and faults, and those judged primarily by point accumulation. In some ways they're similar, because a fast dog can generally earn more points. But the point-accumulation ones also tend to rely more on a handler's design and strategy for choosing obstacles to maximize points and make best use of the dogs' skills. Of course a dog with a wider range of solid skills has more options on how to run a course to accrue points.

I don't have my score sheet next to me at the moment, but in almost all the classes, Tika was among the top three fastest or highest among those 50 dogs. In CPE, that's not hard for us to do, but the top dogs are also some of the top dogs in USDAA, where the competition is fierce. It's nice to see that I'm in there with them. It's also scary to see when they beat us, because they probably speak for a couple dozen of top-caliber local USDAA dogs who do not compete in CPE.

JakeyMeister did very well this weekend. I entered him in two runs each day again, and he performed like an experienced champ. He qualified in all four runs and placed first or 2nd each time. Of course, he was competing against only one other dog in most cases. :-)

In an interesting comparison, Tika and Jake ran the same Jumpers course on Sunday. Tika went past me like a rocket, ran past the tire that she was supposed to take and blazed across the next jump 20 feet beyond that, eventually managed to swing around before taking the *next* jump another 15 feet further, came all the way back to me, and swung around to take the correct tire and then continue around the course smoothly to the end.

Jake had no bobbles at all of any kind on that course.

Tika still finished almost a second faster than Jake.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Just Dinking Around...

Changing the colors a bit so it's not so dark. And added a search bar that's supposed to search only through all of my blog pages by default—but apparently not until Google has indexed my site, which I have to request, and even then there's no guarantee that they'll ever do it— That's all...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

*#%$*@ Puppies!

Boost is mostly a very good girl.

I've been patching my lawn with pieces of cut up sod, laboriously, one small piece at a time, plus some larger bits. Lots of hard work. I've also been planting pots full of flowers and (finally after almost 4 years) a single annual border on the far side of the back yard.

To top it off, this week I worked 3 days up in San Mateo all day, which meant that the puppy was loose and unsupervised for several hours each day with little or no exercise or attention before I raced out the door to get to the client site. This morning I did take them shopping with me--mostly involved staying in the car, but I took them out individually for some training and visiting the pet store (2nd pet store in which Boost has been freaked out by--what, a magazine rack? a wastebasket? she is so spooky about so many things, which worries me more and more, having been around a lot of other nonspooky 5-month-olds recently). But that was it, while I slaved away putting down more sod and digging more dirt out of an old planter in preparation for laying down bricks, and so on, and THEN I left them again for about 4 hours while I went to a meeting up in Mountain View.

Boost is usually very good. And although I've held my breath and girded my loins (yes! I've finally figured out how to do this! for only $10 you too can learn the secret by purchasing my personal how-to manual) every time I've walked through the door upon coming home, the lawn has been intact, the flowers have been intact, the house has been intact (with no apparent accidents in the house, either), the assorted tools and supplies sitting in various places in the yard and on the deck have been untouched, and so on.

About 9:00 this evening I got a phone call from a friend and started chatting. Realized that Boost was digging in the lawn around the edge of my new large sodded area, where I've so carefully been building up the soil height to match! I chased her away from there and filled in the hole as best I could while still chatting and went back up onto the deck. (It's such a nice evening out, couldn't ask for a more pleasant evening, but it's dark so I can't see much in the yard.)

While talking, I noticed that there seemed to be one section of lawn that looked a little lumpy near where Boost was currently cavorting--sure enough, apparently while I was filling in the hole, she had gone behind me and uplifted a roughly foot-square bit of sod (but irregularly shaped to fit a specific bare patch) and had dragged it around the yard. So I chased her away from there and put on my gloves (still chatting) and again painstakingly eased it into place, lifted the grass around it, staked it down, and so on. Took off the gloves, washed my hands, went back out on the deck.

There were unidentifiable noises coming from the other side of the hot tub. So I strolled over there (wireless phones are a great invention) and, sure enough, she was in the process of digging up a large area of my flower bed, which has just been in long enough to start to look established instead of freshly planted. I chased her away from there and tried to restore a bit of stuff in the dark, one-handed, and as I turned, Boost raced by me dragging something large and dark that in no way resembled a dog toy.

I followed her across the yard (in the dark hoping not to step in any dog deposits) and got just close enough to see that it was a roll of landscape fabric--has been sitting there for a couple of weeks, at least, while I gradually take pieces out of it--and tried to approach her in a nonthreatening manner to prevent her from running, but apparently this was her time to be full of piss & vineger, because she dropped it, but immediately grabbed *one end* of the fabric and took off across the yard at a full run, unrolling thirty or forty feet of landscape fabric joyously behind her before I was able to get into a position to stomp on the fabric and bring her to a halt.

Still chatting, I returned to the deck and slowly and carefully rerolled all the fabric--

I think she was taking those five minutes to make up for all the long hours in which she's been SO good on her own. Carnfounded dog.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Weekend

Note about photos: All scanned in, and I apparently did a crappy job of it. Will have to redo eventually. Not tonight. Sorry. They're blurry & not all that great-looking.

One: It was danged hot.

Tika ran very fast despite the heat, but it slowed her a bit eventually. She never did stop panting.
Probably in the high 90s each day, and progressively more humid each of the three days. Ah, agility in the Central Valley in July! I suspect the humidity might have had a lot to do with the neighbors flood-irrigating their huge, huge fields. The owner of the agility site says that that also has a lot to do with the clouds of mosquitos that we encountered at certain times of the day or night.

So we're busily emptying our flowerpot drip pans, and meanwhile there are gigantic fields of stagnant water all over the central valley--

But I digress from the heat. Even I, who usually perspires not a drop, had thouroughly soaked through my jeans and polo shirt by midday Monday.

Two: Toenails Too Long

Tika allows me to do her nails, but she always looks away or hides her head. I don't know why--noise? Smell? Can't bear to see whether Mom'll hit the quick?
Everyone got his or her toenails dremeled this weekend. Jake's toenails are mostly black, so I can't tell where the quick is, really. Boost's are white/clear and I've been trimming them fairly often and she's still fairly young so they haven't become overly long. Yet. Tika's are also clear and I can see the quick and it's much further down the toenails than one would ideally like. If only I had the get-up-and-go to just touch them with the Dremel every couple of days, I might chase the nails back to a reasonable length.

Three: The old guy

Jake, who's cool no matter the circumstances.
Jake ran in only 5 classes this weekend—three Jumpers, one Snooker, and one Jackpot (Gamblers). He was very smooth in all of them, but did not get the Gamble. Qed in four of five, what a good guy. Placed from first to third out of about 4 dogs, all considerably younger than himself. And he seemed pretty happy, although I've seen him run faster...for example, last night in class! Maybe it was the heat.

Four: The baby dog

Boost at five months.
Everyone tells me how cute Boost is. Of course I think so, and maybe they're just under the spell of puppydom, but it's nice to hear. She got to play with one of her sisters for a while, although Beck (your basic black & white BC) wanted to lie in the shade more than she wanted to run around like a crazy dog. It barely got Booster panting, although she did do quite a bit of running. I tried to remember to put her into a crate rather than the x-pen whenever I took one of the dogs out for an event or took both for a walk, but I forgot a couple of times, and one of those times she apparently climbed out of the pen, was caught by a neighbor, and plunked back into the pen. She didn't try again in the few opportunities she received.

Five: Tika's Championship Chase

Tika weaving, with both eyes open in the photo for once.
Tika Qed only 8 out of 15 this weekend, but there were some that were plenty my fault and not at all hers--
  • I ran the wrong course in Snooker
  • I forgot where I was going in one Jumpers and one Standard
  • She had *two* chances at two different gambles in one Jackpot and missed both--thereby proving that I'm not training & practicing gamble-type operations nearly enough with her, as they were both fairly straight-forward (although only 3 dogs out of about 50 got either gamble--and those got BOTH gambles. So either you can gamble or you can't.)
However, she was running really nicely. Stayed at the start line, lying down only once. Left a couple of contacts early at the first opportunity on Saturday and I made her lie down after each (earning an elimination for training in the ring--there went another Q), and then she was good for the rest of the weekend. Hardly grabbed at my feet at all at the end of the run, although once she leaped in the air and grabbed my shirt, which could be a bad thing. Did her dangedest to do everything I asked her to, and very quickly. What a lovely girl!

Still, back to knocking bars again. Knocked a bar in probably half of the 15 runs. Better than sometimes, but not as good as the previous CPE weekend, with NONE down. So--back to practicing jumping drills regularly. Sighhhh--

We DID get another Jackpot that only a few dogs got. AND we got two Jumpers and two Colors legs (out of 3 and 2, respectively), towards our C-ATCH. So we could still finish at the Bay Team trial on the 23/24 if we get both Jumpers and both Colors. A long shot, but it could happen...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Tika's Championship Chase

OK, we'll probably get our CPE championship (C-ATCH) before we get our USDAA MAD—which is a long way from the USDAA championship (ADCH).

One thing is that, on the way to a C-ATCH, one can have simple, single faults in many classes and earn a qualifying score. So—knocked bar?—that's OK; if the rest of the run is flawless, you're OK. In USDAA, all runs must be flawless no matter what level you're competing at.

So Tika has earned her way all the way up from Level 1 through Level 5 and has met all of her C-ATCH requirements in 5 of the 7 classes in CPE. She needs 4 Colors legs (not coincidentally, that being one class that does NOT allow a knocked bar) and 4 Jumpers legs.

We're off to a 3-day CPE weekend in which there will be 3 Jumpers and 2 Colors runs. In two more weeks, my Bay Team's CPE trial is in Sunnyvale, and that's offering 2 Jumpers and 2 Colors. And then, 2 weeks later, there's another CPE trial with one Jumpers and 2 Colors. So, over the next slightly more than a month, we have 6 chances each for the 4 legs each that we need.

It could happen...

But after that, it's pretty much all USDAA until November. (There are CPE trials, but sometimes the same weekend as USDAA trials and sometimes inbetween USDAA trials and I really am trying not to do more than a couple of weekends in a row.)

Wish us luck.

But I REALLY want to get that USDAA MAD. All my friends' dogs are already champions! I hate peer pressure...

Jakester Loves Attention

Finally, after months, I've got Tika and Jake in separate classes again so they don't have to share the time (or me).

Jake was absolutely completely delighted this Wednesday evening. He chitchatted with me all evening, wagged his tail a lot, looked just thoroughly vindicated.

Our first exercise was on a challenging 20-obstacle jumpers-with-weaves course, which he absolutely nailed. I was so proud of him! Of course I had run it with Tika the previous morning in class, so I had some experience with handling it, but there's no doubt now that with Jake's deafness I have to handle him differently from Tika. (And his speed is no match for hers, either.)

But here's the thing--I think he's starting to have trouble seeing things a bit, too! Nothing really specific, just lately when I've tossed food goodies his way while other things were going on, he kept looking at me and never even registered that I was tossing goodies. THAT'S a little scary--an old, grouchy, deaf AND blind dog would be very challenging. But that's the only thing I've seen, other than that he sometimes runs right by me when I'm standing or sitting still, not seeing me, obviously looking for me. He didn't used to do that, either.

Soooo--we shall see--

Potty Training--Not So Much Training

Boost is usually peeing outside on her own—I think—although still I try to remind her to go outside as often as I think of it. Yesterday afternoon, while I was furiously working at my computer, she left a puddle in the middle of the kitchen (just around the corner from the doggie door). I didn't notice it until I had tracked little urine-covered footprints all around the kitchen and dining area, fortunately no carpeting, but it still took a lot of wiping and spraying with Nature's Miracle.

Last weekend, the previous housemate (OK, her name is Char) and our little black friend Casey visited for 3 days. During that time, Boost peed on the floor and mat just inside the doggie door twice and just outside the doggie door once. She wasn't very confident about having another dog in the house, and Casey didn't help by snarfing at her the first couple of times she approached him. At least he isn't a major brute like Jake is, but I think that might have had something to do with her hesitation to go all the way out to the yard, since Casey as always liked being out on the deck or on the lawn just beyond the deck.

At least I *assume* that all of these puddles were the Booster; she was seen doing only one of them.

Tuesday night, she went outside to do #1 and #2 around 10:30 or so (somewhat later or earlier than when I usually try to get to bed). Half an hour later, when I headed up to bed, I asked whether she wanted to go outside (rather than insisting), but she turned and headed for upstairs. So I closed up the house and we went up to the bedroom.

She's very good about going right into her crate whenever we go into the bedroom. I straightened out her mat this time (like Jake, she seems happiest when she has majorly rearranged the furniture into a pile on one side of the space) and I left her happily rearranging the mat while I brushed my teeth and all that. When I came out of the bathroom, she was huddled sitting up against the crate door with the most pathetic expression. So I sighed, put on my bathrobe, and took her outside, where she peed AND pooped.

But when we went upstairs again, she wouldn't go into her crate. I looked—sure enough, she had peed quite enthusiastically.

At least we're not having much of an issue with #2. Except for one time that my current housemate found a little gift in his bedroom a month or so ago in a brief unsupervised moment (Boost, not the housemate), and except once early this week when I found a little gift on the deck carpeting, that's always been outside.

So we remain Not Very Good at being housebroken. I have no idea how this compares to a typical 5-month-old puppy. I don't remember much at all about Amber's housebreaking schedule as a puppy (back in early 1980).