a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: June 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Things They Don't Tell You #57: Cold Flashes

SUMMARY: Menopause mysteries

And now another digression from dogs per se.

I know that I've been having hot flashes lately (or "warming trends" or "torsal warming" or other euphemisms). On the other hand--the weather has been warming up and, with temps often into the 80s, it's sometimes hard to say whether I'm indeed having a hot flash or have merely exerted myself just enough, somehow, to break into a sweat and start tearing clothing off left, right, up, and down. But sometimes it's very obvious that it's a hot flash.

I've heard about hot flashes for many years. I've expected them.

But, now, here are some anomalies:
  • We've been out hiking on a warm day and my metabolism (of recent years with more activity, anyway) generally keeps my body temperature at a reasonable level. We go into a restaurant for lunch. I am suddenly so cold that I think the air conditioning must be on full blast, and I go back out to the car to get my fleece sweater, put it on (it's still hot outside), and return to the table. Within minutes, I'm no longer cold, I remove the sweater, and I'm good for the rest of the meal's hour.
  • I'm in agility class. We're running (literally) around in our Hawaiian shirts, it's so warm, plus it's Jimmy Buffet night. It's warm. I gradually realize that I'm so cold that my fingers have become numb enough that I can't really handle small dog treats comfortably. I complain about it cooling off, and they look at me like I'm nuts. I hold up my fingers for a friend to feel, and she's floored at how cold they are. Five minutes later, I'm fine and comfortable in shirt sleeves like the rest of them.
  • At night, I'm lying comfortably in bed. Then it becomes very, very cold. I've got the down comforter pulled up around me and I still can't get warm. Twenty minutes later, I'm fine again.
  • Many assorted episodes like this, and I jokingly comment that I'm not really experiencing hot flashes--I'm xperiencing cold flashes and the rest of the time just FEELS like hot flashes in comparison.
  • So here it is, a pretty warm day. I've been pretty active off and on all day, often in the sun. Sometimes I'm really hot for no apparent reason--then just merely warm (that would be a hot flash). But about 20 minutes ago, I started feeling so cold that I went upstairs to put on my sweater, thinking, "good, it's cooling down this evening." I walk past a thermometer: It's 80 degrees in my house. Five minutes later, I peel off the sweater.

SOOOO it occurs to me to google "cold flashes". Sure enough! The web is filled with people saying, "thank the gods, it's not just me, I'd never heard of cold flashes before, but now I see that other people are experiencing it, too!"

So there ya go, ladies (and interested gentlemen): it could be cold flashes along with the hot. What joy! What entertainment! Maybe I just never listened to friends and relatives when they told me they were having cold flashes? Dunno. Anyway--there you have it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


SUMMARY: Cheap URLs. (Like cheap thrills, only more acronymic.)

I finally did it--registered the tajmutthall.org domain name.

You can continue to point to finchester.org/dogs/dog_diary/, as that's where it'll probably stay forever, but now you don't have to remember that when you're out on the road and desperate for your Taj MuttHall fix! Just go to tajmutthall.org, and Bingo, there you are.

Monday, June 25, 2007


SUMMARY: Browsing among thoughts, experiences, activities, and...um...whatever.

  • It has become clear that my electric hedge trimmer is no longer sharp enough. My hedges post-trimming look ravaged rather than ravishing. I've called around a bit. People suggest replacing the entire device, which would run me $70-80. A new blade assembly would be around $40. Haven't found a place that would sharpen, but I'll bet it's expensive. This would be like my manual mower, which I replaced earlier this year. It would've cost half the price of a new one to have it sharpened (yet again), and it was over a quarter of a century old, so it was time. But what a sorry statement about trying to keep things out of our landfill.
  • How did I ever become old enough to have a lawnmower that was over a quarter of a century old? (I know, Dad, I know, don't say it...)
  • My last pair of glasses became so badly scratched in barely a year that I had trouble seeing through them, although I did manage to survive in them for nearly 2. My new lenses I have been SOOOO careful with, you wouldn't believe it--and they've become so badly scratched in the spots where I look through them that I have to raise my chin and look out the bottom to see my computer, or drop my chin and look out to top to drive. Ah, ergonmonics! How does this happen? And why right where I look through them? Am I wearing out that spot by looking at things too much?
  • And it's a good thing I bought a warranty, which I almost never do. WITH the warranty, 2 replacement lenses cost me $140, and that's after I said, no, leave off the self-darkening feature for the replacements, it's too expensive. But if I were to get simple ground glass (rather than high-tech, high-impact, super-thin plastic of whatever type this is, graduated for different focal points), I'd be wearing your proverbial coke-bottle-bottom glasses. Argh.
  • Boost loves to fly in the air, grab, and shake vegetation as I trim it and toss it to the ground. I'm using the opportunity to try to teach her "mint" and "branch."
  • A friend just discovered she has cancer and has had a few organs of little use removed. Things look good. (Well, the stapled belly doesn't look all that good, but you know what I mean.) But--why don't we have a cure for cancer yet? We don't even understand cancer yet. Cuz I'm thinking it would be better to keep the organs and dump the cancer, but we don't know how to do that, either.
  • The weather has been absolutely lovely lately. Sunny, fairly clear (not too smoggy), not too hot, but much cooler at night, which feels so nice as the cold night air flows through the newly opened windows and chases out the day's accumulation of excessive warmth. Why would I ever want to live anywhere else?
  • People all around me are turning 18 and becoming adults who have no recollections at all to share in response to many standard sorts of questions based on my own experiences from merely 1989, which was practically yesterday: What were you doing during the Loma Prieta quake? Can you believe that the Berlin Wall actually came down? I wonder what the world will be like with Hirohito no longer emporer? (I guess I'm in a "how did I get to be this age and not notice?" mood--) (Read more about what happened in 1989.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Self-Portrait With Dogs

SUMMARY: This was a hard assignment!

For a photo story of the story behind this photo, go here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Trialee, No Workee

SUMMARY: Ellen's taking the summer off, apparently.

With no agility competitions looming, I'm finding that my motivation for working on specific training issues has taken a summer vacation. I could be working on fixing Tika's dogwalk up contact (which, remember, I vowed I'd work on during winter breaks--but noooo--), or Boost's serpentines, or Tika's bar knocking, or Boost's rear crosses, or nuthin'.

Well--I do keep practicing weave entries and exits because they're so easy to work on. And a little bit on keeping on driving into fast 2-on/2-off contacts. And just running 'em through tunnels, practicing an assortment of pushes, pulls, crosses, and so on, because it gives them exercise. And it's easy.

While world-class competitors are taking their time off to hone their skills, I'm picking up thousands of plums plummeting suicidally from my tree, watering my potted flowers, doing photography, giving agility training a rest.

Feels kind of nice, actually.

Although I wonder whether, when the next trial rolls around, I'll be kicking myself for simple things that I *coulda* *shoulda* been working on!

Meanwhile, here's some of what I did this last weekend:

Hunky men in skirts throwing heavy objects around a big grassy field. At the 27th annual Campbell Scottish Games.
Waiiiiit-- big grassy field-- Competition-- Ring roped off-- Easy-ups set up around the outside for the competitors-- Judges on the field watching the current competitor-- Uh-oh, having agility flashbacks...
Over the river and through the woods--starting out at the Sunol Regional Wilderness.
My sister & her spouse set the pace through California's golden hills and scrub oak. And poison oak. And all that.
Me (in teal) and sister contemplating our next move.
The scenery from the Canyon View trail. Wayyy in the distance you can see the end of the parking lot whence we came. It was supposedly only a mile and a third to our outward destination, but it sure looks like more than that! And my pedometer said almost 5 miles when we got back.
Some of the "canyon views" were awfully close to straight down off the trail. My sister said, "did I mention that I'm afraid of heights?" But we did fine. We met no one at all on the hiking trail that we took on the outward trip, all 2 (?) miles of it, maybe an hour and a half out with lots of stops on the steepish uphill parts.
"Little Yosemite". A small rocky canyon with small waterfalls and pools. Dogs are allowed off-leash in the entire Regional Wilderness. I didn't take mine because I didn't want them chasing cattle and deer and running up to strange dogs in an overly enthused way all day, plus the following hours of combing out foxtails and ticks. But there were plenty of dogs on the main fire-road trail, like this one swimming in the creek.

(View the rest of my Sunol hike photos.)

AKC Mixed-Breed Survey Results

SUMMARY: Results from the survey done by AKC a few months back have been released.

I couldn't find them on the AKC site, but their press release is quoted in full on this blog.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Photo Caption Contest

SUMMARY: Name that photo!

This photo is from my Cheesburgers in Paradise series. It's crying out for a clever caption but I didn't have one at the time I posted it. One of my classmates decided that it's a contest. I have no prize to offer--we'll do something for our in-class winner--but I thought you-all might like to participate anyway, just for the glory of it. Just add a comment to this blog with your suggested caption.

Some suggested so far (and, lest you take offense--many of these are in-class in-jokes in which the photoees participate):

1. Jen and Lisa play musical cups. (JB)

2. Jen to Lisa: "Have you seen my cup anywhere?"
Lisa to Jen: "Nope. I haven't seen it at all." (JB)

3. The Powerpaws agility program: learn all the skills you need to excel in agility. (AD)

4. Jen "It's late...."
Lisa "Did Jim say shut the gate when we leave?" (AD)

5. Jim "[pick up the] Cones !!!"
Jen "I never was very good at picking up cones"
Lisa " Me neither" (AD)

6. (addition to #5):
Jen:"Being a bar slut suits me much better".
Lisa: "Me too". (JB)

7. Did he say Sit or Down on the table? (BN)

8. My group's back! (RL (nonclass))

9. (thought balloon over Jenn's head) "Confidence breeds conference... no... competence breeds confluence... no..."
(thought balloon over Lisa's head) "I wonder where I left my beer?" (EF)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cheesburgers in Paradise Photos

SUMMARY: Photos are up!

It was "J" night Wednesday night--Jimmy Buffet night (hence, "Margaritaville" and "Cheesburgers in Paradise"), and Juicy fruit of various sorts, too, and Just about anything else we felt like bringing.

Photos are up on my smugmug site in this album.

Manchester-Derrett Seminar

SUMMARY: Boost and Ellen learn some things in the oppressive heat.

Laura Manchester-Derrett discussing the no-go zone.

Greg Derrett has been coming out from England to teach seminars at Power Paws Agility for several years. I've taken his seminar(s) with a couple of my dogs, plus I've been in his sessions at Power Paws Camp in years past, PLUS Power Paws incorporates his ideas into their training. Not to mention that a lot of what they teach is also taught by others to whom I'm been exposed, and I'm not even sure where all of the ideas come from originally. So I'm reasonably familiar with their material.

basic no-go zoneI basically understand the "no-go-zone" or the "blind cross zone" or various other names for it--essentially, if you draw a line extending out through your shoulders to either side of you, the dog should never go into the zone behind that; they should be driving at all times to get into the zone directly in front of you, loosely defined by the same line but more specifically directly in front of you in the direction you're going.

This is illustrated with a simple situation: Set the dog in front of three jumps in a row. Walk out and stand just beyond jump 2 but about 10 feet to the right, facing he same direction the dog is facing. Release the dog but don't otherwise move. (That's a lateral leadout.) The dog should drive forward over the two jumps and then curve in and stop in front of you.

basic front crossIn theory, this is why front crosses work--you direct your body forward until the dog is committed to the obstacle ("committed" meaning there is nothing you can do to pull them off that obstacle), then turn your body, so dog wants to drive out of no-go zone and drive to get in front of you again.

teaching dog to drive into no-go zone
That also shows what happens when you turn too early--before the dog is committed: The dog ceases her forward motion and strives to get out of the no-go zone and back in front of you. I had been basically aware of this concept relating to why Boost has so many refusals on course. (Keep in mind that you don't really teach the dog not to go into the no-go zone--you reward them for driving in to your side and for driving in front of you; the lines and the zones just make it easier to understand why some things are happening.)

However, I hadn't managed to make the connection, until Laura pointed it out in yesterday's seminar, why Boost has started making the occasional blind cross--which I've *never* taught and done everything to avoid--at the same time that she's getting fewer refusals. Which is that, in my rush to not be too late on my turns, which is a perennial problem for me with both dogs, and to "turn and get the heck out of there," which is also a perennial problem for me to do, I have started turning TOO EARLY (before the dog is committed to the jump, and yet still trying to insist that she still go over the jump (because I said "hup!") rather than responding to my body position. teaching your dog a blind cross

So, basically, if you HAVE to make a mistake, it's better to cross late (which could give a wide turn or, ok, possibly an off-course if you can't correct for it) than to cross early (which teaches a handling pattern that can affect you for a long time to come).

There was, of course, a lot more in this seminar, but for me, this was the most revealing insight.
Walking a double-box course on Power Paws' small lawn.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cheeseburgers in Paradise Night

SUMMARY: It's "J" Night in the Wednesday 8:15 Class. Already decided a couple of weeks ago: "J" for Jimmy Buffett. But what does that mean that we're bringing, besides Margaritas and Cheeseburgers?

(Email exchange published w/out seeking permission...but too good to skip.)

Ken, 3:00: Jimmy Buffet says it's "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" night at Power Paws. Another night for island attire??? Anyone want a regular hamburger rather than cheeseburger???

Jim (instructor), 3:02: Cheeburger is fine with me. I have been busy getting ready for Derrett, so have not given the night much thought. I think we should go island though.

Ellen, 3:16: regular, please. I hadn't specified anything that I'd bring for J night; any suggestions on what might be needed? I think it'll be a good evening for hawaiian shirts. [Editor's note: temperature today nearing 100 in my back yard.]

Ashley (with Luka, ADCH MACH, winner of assorted national championships), 3:17: Is someone already bringing margarita's?? I too need a J suggestion of something to bring. I'm celebrating Luka's Novice B FAST title!!!!

Ellen, 4:24: We all knew that someday...despite everything...yes, someday the two of you would earn a title or two!

Lisa, 5:05: Carson and Steamer are celebrating a couple of titles, too. I think alcohol is definitely in order. Hawaiian themes reminds me of fruit. I'll do something fruity.

Jim, 5:06: And I am celebrating dragging a dead cow with my tractor!

Ashley, 5:35: Is that what you meant earlier by "I have been busy getting ready for Derrett"??? Greg requires a sacrifical cow before giving seminars??

Freestyle - Canine and Equine Versions

SUMMARY: For a break from agility, watch some inspired--and inspiring--"dancing" with your favorite species:

Carolyn Scott & Rookie the Golden Retriever (this one has been circulating for a couple of years so you might have already seen it).

Andreas Helgstrand and Mattie Mae(?), Dressage (thanks, Cedarfield, for the link).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Once More With Feeling

(Read more about heterochromia and see a more detailed view of her right eye: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterochromia.)

Another Photo Experiment

SUMMARY: Boost photo

I was trying to get Boost to look intently into the distance. What I did was: Put her in a Sit. Get Tika a little excited, then put Tika in a Down about 20 feet to my left. Boost loves watching Tika to see what she's up to. Then, just before snapping the shutter, I tossed my keys in the air so they landed on the ground near Tika. Worked pretty good, but now I have to figure out how to get her gaze aimed a little more upwards. So many things, so little time...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Merle Girls

SUMMARY: Photo for today

I signed up for a 4-week online class "photographing your dog with an SLR camera." (It's not too late to join! I think tomorrow's probably the last day, though. Not really cheap but what the heck less than an agility trial and I'm not doing agility for a month and a half.) I thought I knew something about taking photos, but I'm having a heck of a time getting the effects that I want. Still, here's today's best attempt with both dogs, for your viewing pleasure.

BBQ Party in an Agility Yard

SUMMARY: Party here Sunday without any agility. Well--mostly.

Yes, in her excitement over life and rodents, Tika dug a big hole in my lawn right while I was trying to groom everything for a BBQ on Sunday. I was beginning to wonder whether I'd have a yard left! It didn't seem to be connected to a gopher, and it was in fact in a big bare spot already, and I managed to rake and scrape most of the dirt out of the surrounding lawn and back into the hole, so I doubt that anyone noticed the hole.

The BBQ was nice. Mostly nondog people, although one friend whose young corgi just made her debut (at a trial I didn't attend) came and we chatted briefly about young dogs, and another friend who lost her German Shepherd a couple of years back has been on the edge of getting a new dog, so there were some doggie discussions there. And I have a couple of friends who have had dogs in the past, so most people had dog experienes to share.

A boy named Remington attended (I had to show him my Remington's NATCH plaque). I think he's in the 8-to-10-year-old range, and Boost wasn't sure about him at first, but her love of playing overcame most of her worries, and she did a few tunnels for him and then played fetch off and on all afternoon. But she still wanted to play after everyone went home! Dang border collies.

Then, when he asked questions about how to get the dogs to do the agility equipment, I had to show him a few things and also get The Booster revved up a bit to show him how it looks when done by an expert. Of course, being a kid, he was thereafter perfectly spot on in doing it himself (mostly tunnels, which she loves), although Boost slowed way down and was a little stressed out about it. She was much happier eventually just playing fetch.

He tried to get Tika to play, too, but she is considerably more food-motivated than toy-motivated, and as there was a sea of people milling around with snacks in their hands, she was too busy monitoring for crumb drop to want to go chase moving things. Although by early evening, when most folks were gone and no one was eating any more, she did put on quite the ferocious display of squirrel chasing, verbal abuse thereof, and throwing herself against the fence trying to knock them off.

Having a party here is rough, in two ways. (1) It takes a while to move enough agility equipment out of the way that you can actually see all the nice flowers and lawn and get a feeling of spaciousness. (2) I *like* it like that and don't want to put it back to an agility yard afterwards! It looks so nice and pleasant out there without tunnels and jumps and weaves and tables every 10 feet and across the patio.

Anyway, the BBQ was nice, friends were pleasant, food was good (if I do say so myself)--my homemade banana bread is one of my favorites, and my homegrown/homemade blackberry sorbet was the bees knees! And there is even some left over for snacks this week! Although as usual the deviled eggs and potato chips seemed to go the fastest.

And so busy, I forgot to take any photos, even though I left my camera out!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Canis Tika vs Rodentia

SUMMARY: Tika removes many rodents from this world. And is making a fine mess, too.

Tika has declared a personal jihad against rodents of all sizes and shapes. She has always been an avid verbal abuser of squirrels (and occasionally has sent one to the great walnut in the sky), but now--perhaps it's because they plowed the 200 acres of grassy field recently--we have an infestation of small skittering things. Mostly mice, but I've noticed an influx of lizards, too. I think the lizards are too subtle for tika--or, at least, I've not found any little ex-lizards.

On Monday, I picked up three late mice and a very very late rat. On Tuesday, Boost went into her "alert! danger!" mode out back, which she usually reserves for when I've done something dire such as, say, move a chair from one side of the yard to another. I went out to see what was up. As usual, she takes my company as good backup and proceeds farther into the yard towards whatever it is, at which point I can walk up to whatever it is and calmly pat it while she creeps forward and stretches out her nose to sniff, while yet ready to run away with all due haste if it makes a sudden move, say, back to its original side of the yard.

However, in this case, I didn't see anything out of place where she was barking, and it became apparent that her focus was on the shrubbery along the rear fence. Sure enough, as I came near, there was a rustling of old dead shrubbery leaves. I approached cautiously, with images of the rattler that came in from somewhere 3 or 4 years back, when suddenly a blur of gray shot past me from behind (no, not Boost) and plunged into the shrubbery. While I yelled futilely, there was a tremendous to-do among the foliage, then brief stillness, then Tika emerged cheerily, shook herself off, and trotted away in search of mice.

I peered cautiously under the bush and found a freshly dispatched gopher.

Now, it's all very well and good that she's after these critters. However, she's digging holes under and into my compost piles, strewing uncomposted whatnot around the yard; she's dug holes in my lawn (why that has anything to do with rodents, I don't know--they don't look like gopher-chasing holes); she's trompled entire flats of (expensive) unplanted 6-packs of flowers, she's toppled and broken flowerpots and dumped planted flowers out onto the ground; today she ripped apart the (probably expensive) covering holding the insulation in place around the pipes and wires that run between my hot tub and its pump/heater. I managed to block that off (I hope), but I don't know where next she'll strike.

I *was* happy to see the rodents go, but the price is getting a little steep--

Monday, June 04, 2007

Team Jumpers Videos

SUMMARY: Bette, Boost, and Tika videos

Here's videos of Boost's sister dog (Bette), then me running Boost, then Tika, in Team Jumpers (about 2.6 MB).

Silver Dog Part 1 and Those Dang Obstacles

SUMMARY: In which Tika completes her Tournament Master Silver title and Boost still isn't convinced that taking obstacles is the best course.

This weekend we had one each of the five regular classes, plus Grand Prix and Steeplechase, and on Sunday the five events of the Dog Agility Masters team tournament.

Net for the weekend: Tika 3 Qs out of 7 chances and a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; Boost 1 out of 8 with a 1st.

Tika regular classes

In regular classes, Tika did very well in Gamblers but I messed up big-time in the opening TWICE (so much for being more awake friday evening) and we didn't finish our weave poles before the whistle blew, dropping us from 3rd place to 6th. But it was still a Q. And once again she did well in Jumpers. Thought we'd do better--the first 8 dogs in our height class failed to run clean, and then Tika did it, but apparently we set the pace because ended up only 3rd of 18 dogs.

Standard started with 3 obstacles in a row with the dog running straight into bright lights (9:00 at night) with a huge shadow made of the Aframe and the dark tunnel next to it. More dogs than usual knocked the first bar or ran past the tunnel entrance; Tika managed both. Still, so many dogs messed up so much that we ended at 4th of th dogs who stayed late enough to finish the class. I believe only one of the 10 dog Qed in our height.

In Snooker they actually had a dogwalk at #5 and Tika got called for the up contact in the closing; and in Relay I overcrossed on a front cross and pushed her right into the wrong obstacle. But she was fast and happy ALL weekend despite hot (I'm guessing around 90), somewhat humid weather.

Tika GP & Steeplechase

I felt less and less competent as the weekend went on; Tika running beautifully and me doing stupid things. I called her in very bad places on the Steeplechase for two knocked bars AND making her land in the middle of the spread jump, and finally at the end, I planned an aggressive front cross to keep her off a wrong obstacle, but decided halfway there that I wasn't going to make it and stopped and she just sailed over the wrong obstacle while I yelled futilely.

Tika Team

We were teammates with Brenn and Savanna, both Border Collies, and since Tika's listed as Aussie, we used the team name Borderin' on K-Aus (thanks, Gwen!). And that's the way I ran...

Tika managed 2nd in Team Snooker of 21 dogs and 3rd in Team Gamblers. However, in the Standard on a place where I knew there was an off-course possibility, I yelled "Come!" and when she wasn't coming, I yelled "Come!" louder and she still went off course. I know better than that! Especially after telling my teammates during the walk-through to use their dogs' names!

So then, in the Jumpers course, where I knew there was an off-course possibility, I yelled "Come" really loudly and then when she didn't, I yelled "Come!" even louder and she still went off course.

Just stupid stupid stupid. And we don't do off-courses all that often, really.

Still, Brenn was consistently very good (won Team Standard) and Savanna had only one E and otherwise did well, so we managed to squeak by with a team Q for Tika's Tournament Silver title, which is her first category to reach Silver. The rest are a lonnnng way away.

Boost Standard Classes

The Advanced courses were all very hard. At least one of the five had no qualifiers at all. Boost got her only Q of the weekend and a first place with the bare minimum 37 points in Snooker and she was one of only a couple of dogs of any height who finished the Snooker. We had offcourses; can't do lateral lead-outs again (dang! something else that was fixed and is now broken again); and she still isn't getting the idea of doing obstacles in front of her.

In gamblers, we bobbled both back-to-back contacts that I tried (something else to go back & practice again) so didn't end up with that many opening points, and I thought we were going to get the gamble--jump to weaves to jump--when she made her weave entry perfectly and started blasting through them, but at about pole #8 she realized that I was 20 feet away and exited straight towards me to see what I was up to. Dang. Something ELSE to practice. It's hard to get 20 feet away in my yard, but we certainly do 10 often.

BUT--ta-da--by the end of the weekend, she was doing most of her weaves perfectly the first time. So there's something to feel good about. (Didn't start that way--in Standard, we tried 4 times and never did get them. But after that it gradually improved.)

Boost GP and Steeplechase

Grand Prix was actually pretty darned good, but we had an off-course on a very tight, tough turn to a tunnel/dogwalk discrimination. But it was probably our smoothest full run of the weekend.

In Steeplechase, we had about 3 refusals before jumps before we even got to the weaves and she ran past them, then skipped some poles. So the 2nd time through the weaves, when she entered & did them perfectly, I made a big Hurrah fuss and exited fast & happy straight out over the nearest jumps.

Boost Team

Boost entered with sister Bette and Australian Kelpie Maiya (which is the Klingon wod for "friend") as "Two Sisters on a Star Trek." All fast, young dogs.

Boost Eed on both std & jumpers and were near the bottom in snooker and gamblers due to the not-taking-obst's problem. Bette did GREAT, though! Still, between Boost & Maiya, we managed to place next to last, only because I believe the last-place team gave up and went home before the last couple of runs. Sigh.

BUT in that jumpers--she was beautiful except that on a fast front cross where I took my eyes off her she went past a jump and I didn't realize it. It was really a lovely jumpers run anyway and I felt very good about it. No refusals or bobbles anywhere except that. Have it on tape and will try to upload here eventually.

And her portion of the Team Relay was spot on, while our partners both went off course, so felt much better about Boost after her last 2 runs.

Bette, though--wow! Out of 33 dogs in our height class, Bette placed 8th, 12th, 6th, and 4th in the individual DAM events! For a 2-year-old baby dog with a handler miserable on Saturday about how bad a time she's having in competition with Bette, it was very impressive. And they all looked beautiful, too. I suggested to her that she was ready to move on to a team with more consistent dogs and handlers and that I wouldn't be bothered by it; I love seeing her success. Of course I love the idea of teaming with a sister dog, but oh well, I'll just have to keep practicing.

Didn't leave Turlock until nearly 8 p.m. For some reason they had only one judge who could judge the Team events, so the other judge just sat there all day Sunday. I thought she was going to be judging some of it, but apparently not. So each class had to wait for the other ring to finish before the judge was available, and it made for a lonnnng day.

Trip to Turlock

SUMMARY: Thoughts and photos from a Friday afternoon drive.

Leaving at 2:30 on a Friday afternoon is quite different from leaving at 4:00 on a Saturday morning. For one thing, I'm awake. For another, traffic is already getting heavy. My drive to Turlock took me two and a quarter hours instead of one and a half. But the best thing is that I can see things and enjoy the ride a bit more.

(As usual, photos taken while not taking eyes off of traffic are of bad quality. Fixed what I could in photoshop.)

It was a windy day. Going over the Altamont Pass, the thousands of bright white windmills lining the golden hill ridges spun at top speed. The gentle curves of the hills, the muted gold, the muted sky, all made a lovely picture. This photo can't begin to capture it. But it was something to look at while traffic stopped and goed.
A common sight in the golden California hills, since all that gold is made from dried grasses, which burns with great delight. Every summer, the blackened earth spreads across different places.
Turning off I-5 onto 132, the highway turns into a two-laner and starts out winding along the Merced River, which you can catch glimpses of from moment to moment.

At the outskirts of Modesto along 132, the St. Stanislaus parish is building a huge new domed cathedral (no photo, will have to think about it next trip there in September). I didn't even know there was a St. Stanislaus; I always knew Stanislaus as an Indian name, among all the Yosemites and Miwuks and similar western Sierra place names. In fact, there are apparently TWO St. Stanislauses--neither of them Miwok--Stanislaus of Szczepanów (1030–1079) and Stanislaus Kostka (1550–1568). However, the Miwok Indian Stanislaus is apparently more commonly known as Estanislao and, at least according to Wikipedia, "many Californians believe that Estanislao was the real Zorro." (One of my lifelong heros--Zorro, that is. And one of Boost's new half sisters has a Zorro mask. I have video but no photo from this weekend.)
As I arrived at the outskirts of Modesto, this double-trailer hay truck pulled out in front of me. Didn't go too fast after that. How about that lean to the load? I've heard of people getting crushed when one of these things overturned.
I read such signs wistfully. For most of my life when traveling, I'd go track down this historic sight (or site) and check it out. For agility, I bypass all such tempting tidbits and go straight to the agility trial or straight home. Sigh.
Amazing how many signs our brains can process and weed through for the relevant info without even thinking about it.
Blooming oleanders make a beautiful median along Highway 99 in Modesto. They used to line 280 up the peninsula, too, and many other stretches of Bay Area freeway, but they've all gone away due to lane additions or maintenance issues.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Weekends Past and More USDAA

SUMMARY: What I did during my spring vacation. Plus this coming weekend.

It's been nice, having 3 weekends in a row off from agility--but I used them up so quickly! Some of the things I did:
  • Went to the Berryessa Art and Wine event, looked at the vendors' wares, snacked on strawberry shortcake and many other tasty treats.
  • Picked up trash for 3 hours as part of the Great American Cleanup.
  • Saw Spidey 3.
  • Saw Shrek the 3rd.
  • Did a lot of hedge trimming and flower planting in my yard. (Still lots to do, but it's a start.)
  • Went to a celebration for a tech writer friend's big award. Talked to one of the other guests about dogs.
  • Had my whole family over for a Mother's Day BBQ.
  • Omigosh my hot flashes are back. Dang.

This weekend, starting Friday evening, it'll be USDAAA in Turlock. Nationals Qualifying events, all 3: Steeplechase, Grand Prix, and Team. I just noticed that I apparently decided not to bother entering Tika in Grand Prix, since we already have a bunch of Qs and we don't seem to be on target to actually WINNING one because we always have 5 faults. Usually that doesn't stop me from TRYING to win one.

Tika needs one Steeplechase Q to be completely qualified for Nationals in Scottsdale in November. However, one more Team Q will be her Silver Tournament title.

Boost needs everything (two GPs, two Steeplechases, and one Team consisting of cumulative scores for 3 dogs over 5 events, bleah).

Boost also needs one Gamblers to move up to Masters in Gamblers. Or one standard plus one pairs relay to move up to Masters in *everything*, and now THAT's scary.

The weather is shaping up to be nicely mild for the Central Valley, maybe only low 80s. I'll be heading out around 2:00 this afternoon in the hopes of missing outbound weekend traffic and getting there in plenty of time to setup before check-in, briefings, and walkthroughs starting at 5/5:30.