a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Is Jake Retiring or Not? And Jump Heights--

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Is Jake Retiring or Not? And Jump Heights--

Jake and jump height comparisons: Jake stands 17.75 inches at the withers (top of shoulder blades). For comparison, the top of the purple-banded bar is at 16" (just about 2" shorter than Jake's shoulders). The top bar is 24", the height Jake jumped for at least the first couple of years in USDAA until they lowered it to 22" (the next bar down). In CPE, he's currently jumping 12" (the lower cow-print bar) but could drop to 8" in CPE "Specialist" class (the lowest checkered bar).

I had decided (again) that the week after Thanksgiving would be Jake's last week in class and then he'd be retired from classes, if not entirely from competing, although I'm pretty sure I'll not jump him 16" in USDAA any more. Jumping veterans 12" in CPE should be plenty fine, though. And we can always still drop to 8" in CPE "Specialist" if we want to! (Quite a difference for a dog who earned his ADCH at 24"...)

Except last week in class he ran like a champ, at 12" anyway. We had quite a discussion about how one decides to retire a dog. One comment was that one waits for the dog to let you know he's ready to retire (and after LAST Thanksgiving's official retirement from agility, we already know that Jake let me know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't ready to retire yet--). Another comment was that if we all quit agility when we had aches and pains and arthritis and injury, we'd all be spending evenings and weekends at home instead of doing agility.

So then the class decided that Jake should at least keep coming to class until the end of the year. (So--OK--that's only this week and next week--) You know I love having other people make my decisions for me.

Yesterday afternoon he did not want to come outside and play ball while I had Tika and Boost out. It's always hard to tell whether that's because (a) he's feeling stiff and achey, (b) he's hoping the housemate will give him some sandwich meat, (c) there's a rawhide bone that he's been guarding (not chewing) for 2 days and he doesn't want to leave it alone in the house for fear some stranger will sneak in and abscond with it. Yesterday I suspected (c) but you never can tell.

Up at Power Paws Agility, there's a dog-potty area that is on a slope of about--I'm guessing--30%. It's hard to walk on; this is the kind of terrain that requires sheep with longer legs on the left side than on the right so they can stand upright to graze instead of falling over sideways. Last night I took Jake out there, and he trotted around, tail wagging, looking for Just The Right Spot--but every time he turned to go in a different direction, his rear legs started falling out from under him. It just didn't look like a good healthy rear propulsion system.

It started drizzling as class began. Most (not all, but most) dogs seem to enjoy cooler, slightly damper weather. Energizes them for agility. Remington used to love it; I got some of his best runs in such weather. Last night, it seemed to be the same for Jake. Not only was he excited, but I believe he started out running even faster than he did the previous week. And he ran very nicely, too; we ran like a championship team and he even made some difficult weave entries!

How DOES one decide when it's time to retire a dog? Apparently being 14 and arthritic isn't sufficient.

We decided to retire for the evening when, about half an hour before the end of class, it started to rain in earnest. Jake was not enthused about that much water. I tried to convince him to duck under one of the plastic lawn chairs, but he thought it was some kind of trick and did his best to avoid it. Fortunately I carry a fold-uppable (foldable-up? foldable-uppable?) poncho in my car for myself--still got quite wet, though. Then the lights on the field went out. Only a single light remained lit, barely enough for us to help the instructor clear the equipment from the field because they were heading out of town for four days to Winter Camp. Then sopping me and sopping Jake headed home to our warm, dry bed.


  1. Ray is considering retirement too. He's just 8 but has had arthritis for a long time in his spine and elbow. But he still wants to play, has no trouble clearing 22 inches in PIII and seems no worse for the wear most of the time. Lots of chiropractic adjustments.

    Are you going to Happy Dog this weekend?

    Flirt's agility partner

  2. No agility until the first weekend after New Year's. I can do so much agility within 2 hours of home that I don't feel a real strong urge to go much farther afield. Even so I did over 20 weekends of agility in 2005 (and didn't do *all* the CPE and USDAA within 2 hours, either), and that's just getting to be too much.

    I moved Jake from 22" in Championship down to P3 16" when he started occasionally going around the 22" jumps. He hasn't done that with the 16" jumps yet, but some days he looks like he's laboring to get over them. (Not last night, though!)

    He first showed arthritis pain when he was 8, and now it's 6 years later, and he's still going, but he's only a 33-lb, 17.75" dog, so it's probably easier than for a bigger guy.