a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: ankle, alternate handler, boost contacts, first trial, last trial

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

ankle, alternate handler, boost contacts, first trial, last trial

SUMMARY: Lots to catch up on

might have a photo here later

No dogs

Had a good time this last weekend without the dogs. Hiked Saturday morning with a friend at the Long Ridge Open Space Preserve and Saturday evening made the very long drive with friends up to Mt. Hamilton for Lick Observatory's summer program. Went out for a nice breakfast Sunday morning with another friend. I love my dogs, but it's nice sometimes to pretend to be a normal human.


I wrapped my ankle firmly on Saturday for the hike. There was one steep upward grade and I felt it a bit in my ankle so thought I wouldn't be able to manage the hike, but most of it was level or a gentle grade and I was very comfortable. I had said "let's just do a mile or so," but it ended up being 5 miles according to my pedometer after I kept saying "let's do a little more." On one straight, level area, I stepped on something badly and torqued the ankle again, but it was OK to walk on within seconds and any lingering pain had vanished within minutes. Looked good when I got home, too, although I did ice it and elevate it a bunch more that afternoon.

Feeling confident Sunday, I did some agility practice with the dogs in the yard that involved me moving, and I felt fine. So I did more yesterday and even more today. Looking good. That little puffiness is still there, but not so much, and I am keeping it wrapped most of the time, so I'm also doing exercises when it's unwrapped to be sure I'm not losing flexibility or strength.

SOOOOO I assume I'll do full class this week with both tika and Boost and will compete in the CPE trial this weekend in Elk Grove.

Alternative Handler for Tika

Last week in class, because I didn't want to run and put stress on my ankle, and because I think it would be good for Tika to know how to run with other people in case the need arises (like--a twisted ankle--), I solicited volunteers and got an eager offer from Jennifer, who runs Kye, who's an Aussie much like Tika in conformation and handling. She's not super experienced, but she has great body language; I wish I were as smooth and clear with my movements as she is. I hope she didn't regret the offer; she ran Tika most of the evening except for a few sections of courses that I could manage because they were loopy and also involved contacts, meaning that I could run them somewhat like gambles at a distance and catch up on the contacts.

Tika was very slow to begin with, probably a bit stressed and confused, but was very interested in Jenn's food. Tried to get Tika to play with Jenn, but she was iffy on that--no surprise, as it's taken a lot of work to get her to do it with me in agility situations. But Tika got more confident and faster as the evening wore on, so there's hope.

In Boost's class, I was going to ask Mary (who has Boost's sister, Bette) to run Boost once or twice, but instead I broke the courses down into really small pieces that I could handle without running and did those, and they were still pretty challenging pieces! But Boost looked great!

Boost Contacts

We didn't do contacts in class, but about a week and a half ago, Boost suddenly seemed to grasp the concept of running to the bottom of the contact, 2-on, 2-off, and at least dipping her head. Wahoo! Today, the A-frame is at about 5 feet, 8 inches; the teeter is about 2/3 height, and she's doing fast teeters, fast dogwalks (note I didn't say VERY fast on either), and somewhat cautious A-frames. It's looking nice! I'll probably take grief for not enforcing really excellent nose touches--I do take the targets out with me and make her do them some, but it's hard work, and the contacts are looking so nice otherwise.

She's not quite grasped the "climb" command yet--if moving fast and not in a straight line, she's bound to come in past it or shoot out beyond it to another obstacle, but we're getting there, a few more successes each day.

Boost's First Trial

OK, gang, it looks good for Boost to be in the Bay Team's Labor Day trial! I'm feelin' good! I've got four and a half weeks to go, and we've made so much progress recently that I think we can make a go of it. I filled out her entry form today. Just one class per day was all I intended: Jumpers, Snooker, Gamblers, where I can pick and choose what to do and keep it simple. But then--argh--I just want to TRY the Steeplechase! Her weaves are looking really nice, and if we can do Jumpers and an A-frame, we can certainly give the Steeplechase a go! What the heck--it's only entry fees. At least, I hope that's all it is. I shouldn't do it because I'm already thinking "hey, maybe she *could* qualify for the Nationals this year!" but that's bad, she's too green, even if we somehow lucked out (seems VERY unlikely in the Regional crowd that'll be competing)... Oh, I dunno, what WOULD be the down side? Stressing her out by working too hard at it myself, I guess.

Jake's last trial

Well, this weekend could be it for Jake. I have to work harder and harder to get him to play with me. I still think that a lot of it is that he doesn't want the other dogs around, and if I work at getting them out of the way and then work at insisting on him playing, then eventually he perks up and starts playing, tail wagging, but his stamina is getting really low, I'm thinking mostly because I'm successful only once or twice a week, and then only briefly. Which comes first--doesnt' play because no stamina, or no stamina because doesn't play? Yesterday I put him over a low (5-foot) A-frame for the first time in a while, and he wasn't going very fast, and his hind legs got away from him and he slipped sideways over the edge and that had to have hurt. He wouldn't try it again.

I'm not planning on any more CPE this year until maybe Thanksgiving, so it's possible that this weekend really could be his last trial ever. I'll have to see how he reacts to having a chance to run this weekend.


  1. Since you seem to be active in both CPE and USDAA I'm curious why you'd choose USDAA for your puppy's first trial? Is it just because there are no CPE trials around the time you want her to debut?

    CPE seems like a more laid-back venue for a dog to debut in.

  2. There are in fact quite a few CPEs coming up, but I'm not going to any of them. At the moment, I want to focus on USDAA both to try to finish Tika's ADCH and to feel like I'm really preparing her and myself for the Nationals the first week in November. This gives me 6 weekends of USDAA in the remaining 11 weeks (after this weekend's CPE), and that's way more than enough agility weekends for me.

    Before the closing date for this weekend's CPE, I wasn't sure we'd be ready (although now I think we're pretty close), and even now I know we could really use the additional 4 weeks of work. And the Bay Team USDAA trial is local, so it seemed like a nice place to debut.

    Ideally, yes, I might have picked a CPE at which to debut. But I don't think we need to wait until Thanksgiving to start giving her a couple of runs in a weekend to get the feel for competing.

    Still, the thought keeps creeping in that I could maybe sign up for just one day of one of the upcoming 3 CPE weekends... although I hate making that 2-hour drive and all that setup for just 1 day. And I DO really want at least a couple of weekends at home. So many choices!