a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Randomness Rules

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Randomness Rules

The old sad chair she ain't what she used to be.

Merle Girls are Trouble: When Boost and Tika wrestle and play wildly together in the house, they both start pulling and yanking and tearing at the dog beds. Tika never did that on her own; never. I finally hauled Jim's old (old old) comfy chair out to the to-be-trashed waiting area because Boost was rapidly reducing it to nothing more than a frame. Not only was it annoying to come home every day and have to pick up scattered bits of upholstery and padding, but it was all held together with staples, which I also had to pick up or remove pointy ends from the frame with pliers. It's a miracle that Boost never got badly jabbed. Or maybe she did and I don't know it. Maybe she has a collection of staples in her stomach and will never be able to get through an airport metal detector. The last straw, though, was the exposed metal supports in the chair back that I was afraid Boost or someone would catch her foot in and break it or worse. Now I worry whether she'll start tearing apart the regular dog beds, since her favorite destructo toy has been removed.
Dog beds as they should be, neatly arrayed.Post-merle-girl fracas.

Jake's Getting Old--Maybe: He used to fly down the stairs at breakneck speed, sort of half falling or skiiing down the last few steps in his excitement. For a couple of years now, he's been going down more and more cautiously. Lately, though, he's started doing it again--but after descending cautiously the first half of the stairway, then almost literally falling the rest of the way down, somehow controlling himself and staying upright and looking quite pleased at the bottom of the stairs. This is in comparison to when he starts up the stairs, looses control of his back feet, starts to slide, and nearly panics. Then he doesn't want to try again unless I put a supporting hand in his collar. So is he deliberately falling down the end of the stairs?

Fast Is As Fast Does: Last weekend's Jumpers course was one of the fastest I've seen in a while. Particularly true for dogs who will send out over a couple of jumps to a tunnel full speed because then they drive under their own power to the tunnel, and then you could get ahead of them and they'd drive forward from the tunnel to catch you. Tika hit one of her fastest-ever yards-per-second times, 6.54 yps. The real way to tell how well you're doing, though, is in comparison to other dogs, because some courses just aren't laid out to be super-fast. Tika was only a second behind the first-place dog, whose run I watched and who looked super-fast. This is also the dog who won the super-fast Steeplechase nationals last year, so that *is* super-fast. Sometimes I think that Tika doesn't look that fast because her stride is more efficient than other dogs. But maybe I'm making that up. Here's the thing, though--on that course, that one-second difference pushed the other dog up to 6.9 yps. That's more than an extra foot per second, if you think about it. At that Nationals these days, that's a lot of difference. So on a 23-second course, that could be viewed as the other dog finishing 23 feet ahead of Tika. Yikes. (Photo of Tika doing dogwalk contact from this weekend; coming out of chute.)

Jake the Old Guy: I keep trying to figure out whether Jake is slowing down. He used to occasionally get over 5 yps on Jumpers courses, but hasn't in a while. He actually did 4.92 on the same course, but I'm sure he used to be faster. For example, nowadays he slows to a trot in curved tunnels. Here's why: If you've ever watched agility on TV, they often put a tunnel cam inside one of the curved tunnels so you can see the dogs go through it. Picture a marble rolling through a curved tube at a high speed, or a bobsled taking a fast curve: they don't stick to the floor of the tunnel, they actually run almost horizontally along the back of the tunnel. I think that Jake's legs don't support him that well any more. He slipped a couple of times a year or so ago and he never wanted to take curved tunnels quickly any more. ANYway, is he slowing down or not? This run felt like a good, solid, fast-for-Jake-these days run. But compare his 4.92 to the fastest dog in his height and class at 6.43 yps. Now take a run from 5 years ago, where he hit 4.62 yps. Interesting--the fastest dog in his class was 6.44. So he was actually faster in comparison this time! So what would he have done if he had been running full speed all the way through. It's a puzzle. (Photo of Jake doing weave poles from this weekend.)

Dry House: There have been no Boostie accidents in the house since that one day a couple of weeks ago. She's even starting to take herself outside, at least when I get home, to go pee, not waiting for me to tell her. But I'm also still being very cautious in my bedroom, keeping her in her crate when I can't watch her every move.

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