a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Don't Try This At Home

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Don't Try This At Home

SUMMARY: Ouch. And Ouch again.

The Setup

First. It's been miserably hot and humid here. Upper 90s, which isn't a killer, but it's been much muggier than we're used to. In fact, I have been perspiring (or is that "glowing"?) so much that I have resorted to actually wearing shorts at home the last 2 days. Last time I remember doing that? Not since I moved to this house 5 years ago, at least, and probably longer. In fact, while edging the lawn earlier in the afternoon, I almost went into the house to switch back to my usual jeans, but didn't.

Second. I've been working the Booster on weave poles--over and over and over (that's what it takes to get consistent and comfortable and to work on different angles of entry and to get used to me working ahead, behind, crossing, and other weird stuff).

For two or three weeks, I've had two sets of 6 poles more-or-less lined up with each other but at gradually decreasing distances apart. This was a training suggestion because she was doing worse at 12 poles after starting out so well ("the weaving honeymoon's over", Nancy said, or words to that effect). The idea is that, if she's doing 6 well, you just move them closer and closer until eventually you reconnect them into one set of 12. It's been working pretty good, I think.

A week or so ago, I offset one weave from the other a little bit, which meant that the angle of approach from the first to the second is no longer a straight line. So we get to practice both doing 12 poles and taking two different entries with each set of 12. Tricky, huh? She's been getting better and better. We must've done hundreds of these double sets, I'm guessing.

The Punchline

This evening, after practicing some teeters (I'm up to the 3rd hole on the adjustable teeter and she's doing *great*! Just in a week, she seems to have gotten the concept), we did a few more sets of back & forth on the weaves. Then I decided to make it just a little more challenging. So I angled the first set of weaves rather than having them in a parallel direction (see diagrams). It should be a little more challenging, but not too much, because now she just KNOWS to go to the 2nd set of poles--in fact, at times, when I've tried to get her to do just one set, she's already in the 2nd set before I can change it. It SHOULD be a cakewalk. Right? right?

Now, what I did was to send her to the entrance of the weaves in the lower left from where I could run on the right parallel to the second set of weaves--or, from a different perspective, converging on the end of the first set of weaves. Now, she's getting very fast in the weaves, plus that first set has wobbly poles, which makes it much easier for the dogs to blast through them. I mean, if I'm hauling butt, I have trouble keeping ahead of her in the set of 6.

The first time, I didn't manage to stay ahead of her, so when I kept moving forward towards the second set of poles (with left hand pointing and left foot forward and giving the "weave" command), she shot right in front of me and into the tunnel to my right. Well, OK, I laughed; I could see how that could happen, so I just had to make sure that I got there first so that the instant her nose is coming out of the first set of weaves, I'm already pushing in to the second set of weaves.

So I send her out and haul a** and I'm right in the perfect position and I step and gesture and give the command--and she blasts through my right leg and into the tunnel, tripping me full face forward (remember I'm running fast forward) down onto the wood chips with my ankle, badly torqued, shooting pain. If I had had a little yellow flag handy and my wits about me, I'd have signalled for clipping and given her a 10-yard penalty. But no--

I just lie there, face down, elbows embedded in the woodchips, sucking air through my teeth and yelling "ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!" when I exhale because it feels good to do so. Boost is hovering anxiously. It doesn't take long for the intial major pain to subside and I decide that the ankle isn't broken. I push myself into a sitting position and look at the ankle. No visible sign of damage. This is good. But it still hurts.

The Denouement

Woodchip collateral
I do have crappy ankles. I've been doing strengthening exercises a couple of minutes a day (while I brush my teeth--it's a handy time for this sort of thing), but still I have crappy ankles. This is why I carry Ace slip-on ankle wraps in my purse. It's not uncommon for me to yank something in an ankle while walking the dogs around pottying them. But pretty much never while running--go figure. But I haven't done one that hurts this much in a long time, several years.

After the first RICEing, I took a nice shower to wash off all of my "glow" and all of the dirt and sawdust covering my front, toe to shoulder. The hot water stung my *other* leg. Why why why? Because that's the leg that was forward when I took my dive into the wood chips. Wood chips are not the friendliest surface into which to plow.

So this is my evening: RICEing my ankle and cursing and fuming and wondering whether I'm going to be out of competition this weekend--now that I've sent email to all my local friends and family telling them to come watch us run! Guess I'll have to see how it shapes up over the next 24 hours.

Crap crap crap.

The real problem is that I forget that I have a dog who is still learning how to take direction from Mom rather than to drive-drive-drive to the next thing in sight. I need to remember this.


  1. I feel your pain! I twisted my ankle while running my BC a couple of years ago and it was the weekend before I was due to attend the USDAA Spring Festival in Myrtle Beach, SC.

    The ankle immediatley swelled up and turned an ugly purple color and later it became streaked with yellow and red. It was truly spectacular and I wish I'd taken pictures of it.

    I stayed home from work all week with my foot up and iced it and then wrapped it and took lots of ibuprophen to get me through the weekend. Luckily we were running on the most beautifully groomed turf so it didn't seem to do much extra damage but it did take about a year to really heal. It might not have taken so long if I'd done a session or two of physical therapy to learn some strengthening exercises.
    Since then I only wear soccer shoes or turf shoes when I run and I've managed to stay upright snce then :-)
    Hope you heal quickly!

  2. It's a weird sprain, strain, hyperextension, or whatever. I feel no pain at all when walking or running. No spectacular discolorations or major swelling. It's just that it remains puffy and, when I'm walking casually (not running, mind you) and I hit something wrong and it gives way again (3 times now since the original), it hurts like the bejeezus for awhile and then subsides again. I DO have on my list to call my doctor but since it's mostly not affecting me much, it's not been a high priority.