a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Weaves, Pushing the Envelope, and Getting Old

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Weaves, Pushing the Envelope, and Getting Old

SUMMARY: Boost's weaves--huh? Tika and me--how far can we go? Getting old: Me and Jake.

Boost's Weaves

At our last 2 weekends of trials, Boost got all of her weave entries (except once where she didn't see them at all and went past the whole thing), and stayed in all of them except twice when I tried to get ahead & she popped out at last pole. At home, I've been working on fixing that last issue by getting farther ahead, racing her to the end, doing distractions, etc. And have been working on weave entrances with a short set of poles from various tough angles, sometimes just across the lawn but more often from a tunnel or over a jump.

Today in class she couldn't do weaves worth beans. She hit the first pole entry every time but then just started skipping randomly, often the 2nd pole but just as often staying in for a few poles & then skipping here and there. Jeez! I'd even just load her in manually to the first pole and still she'd skip. I wasn't racing her or anything. Finally towards the end on one troubled attempt, Nancy had us just go to the other end and weave back towards where we came from, and she did it fine. Then she was OK going the right way if I loaded her in carefully.

Then, after class was all over and Nancy "left the building," telling us all to do the exercise one more time, Boost not only made a difficult entry in flow, full speed, but stayed in the weaves all the way through very nicely, thank you very much.

So I blame it all on Nancy.

But seriously--what a frustrating experience! Hope it doesn't remanifest itself at a trial.

Tika Pushing the Envelope

I've said before how much I like my current class. In particular, Ken with Apache the Terv and Jenn with Kye the Aussie, all of us jumping 26", and Ash with Luka at 16", and all of us pushing the limits of our handling skills. Of course, Ashley and Luka are rapidly working their way into being in the top teams in the entire country in both USDAA and AKC, and I just can't compete with his vast stores of energy and long legs, but I can feed off of that drive to succeed. We talk about "The Cool Factor" in class a lot. That's one of Jim's seminar jokes--why would you choose one handling option over another? The Cool Factor! Because everyone will think you're totally cool if you can pull it off! What it really is, is stretching what we think we're capable of. All one of us has to say is, "I'm going to try it!" and the others of us are right in there, not wanting to be uncool. :-)

I'm finding that it's hard for me to pull up a lot of energy or to move my legs and arms really fast, though. Some of it, I'm sure, is just being out of shape from the months of knee issues and post-surgery. And I'm not doing much about it, either. Like--hmmm--I could've been doing the exercycle instead of typing this blog entry. But what fun is that? (Not.)

Getting older

And some of it is just getting older. Things just don't work the way they used to. Things come up sore that not only didn't used to be sore but that I didn't even know existed. How can I be feeling the effects of aging when I don't THINK I'm getting older? It's just not right!

My knee isn't perfectly better yet. After I've been sitting for a while--say, driving to/from class or at the computer--when I first stand up, if I try to take a good step immediately, the knee half the time collapses under me with a small bit of pain. I have to stand for a moment and let the knee loosen. I'm hoping that this is a transitory phase in its healing.

The original Border Terrorist (Terrier), Bobbi, who was quite the competitor when I started agility but who has been retired for quite a while now, celebrated her 15th birthday just last November, same time as Jake. We just got word now that she's passed away. It's always too soon! And Jake's been doing pretty well, just the usual complaints from me that sometimes he just won't come out in the yard and play fetch. (But annoying me immensely because if I take it into the living room, he'll run forever as I bounce his toys off collectibles, priceless heirlooms, glass cabinets, and windows.) So sometimes I just insist. Yesterday afternoon, of 2 days of him looking at me eagerly but then trotting back into the house, I wouldn't let him go past me, and of course then he turned around, got his toy, and plunged full-heartedly into an enthused, tail-wagging all-out game of fetch. And then suddenly, after not really all that much running, he dropped his toy in the middle of the lawn (*never* does that) and just came over and stood next to me, panting and wagging his tail. Usually he wanders off with his toy to take a dunk in the pond or wander through the shady shrubs or something. It struck me as a little odd.

Then he trotted up the stairs to the porch, turned around, and just about fell right back down the steps. He started after Boost, blaming her, I guess, but when I came over, his back legs kept falling out from under him. Still, he managed to go back up the steps, but as I stroked his back, he started staggering, then would stand OK, then stagger off to the side again like he was losing his balance. Almost fell into the water bowl the couple of times he started to take a drink. But didn't want to lie down. So I just balanced him against my leg, stroking him gently, and in a minute or so he was fine again.

But it was scary; thought I'd be spending the evening at the emergency room. He's been fine ever since. People in class last night, who've had old dogs, said it sounded like a ministroke and that there could be more. So I guess at some point I'll take him in and talk to the vet about it. Argh. I'm just not ready for this.


  1. I had the same issues with my knee as it was healing after surgery. I also know a runner who had surgery for a meniscus tear who went through the same thing.

    Hope Jake is o.k. Getting old sucks.

  2. OK, thanks, that's good to know about the knee.

    Jake's been fine since the described episode. Just have to keep an eye on him, I guess.