a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Exercise and preparation

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Exercise and preparation

SUMMARY: How the dogs and I are preparing for our long agility weekend.

Updated July 6 2009: Added course map for yard layout.

Seems to me that Tika tires out faster than she used to. OK, sure, she's 8 and a half now, but it also occurs to me that, since I'm now combining 2 dogs into one class and mostly focusing on Boost, she hardly ever gets a lot of long agility sequences to do. In the yard, we tend to focus on maybe 3 or 4 or 5 obstacles for some particular thing we're focusing on.

I've been getting better again about getting out for a mile-or-more brisk walk with the dogs nearly every day, but that's not the same as running.

It was just wayyy too hot over the weekend to want to do anything--here's my indoor/outdoor temps midafternoon on Saturday; I missed the 105 and 106 showings Sat and Sun!-- but on Monday I set up a sort of course in my little crowded yard that allows us to do 16 or more obstacles over & over to get into shape. Discovered some interesting handling & performance issues with both dogs, so we got to do some actual practice on stuff as well as doing 16-obst courses several times each day.

Here's what one layout looks like, showing the challenges of laying out a big course in my yard. Notice how very tight the spacing is on the path between some of the obstacles. The "tr" circles are tree trunks.

I'll probably do once around today with each dog, plus bar-knocking drills, because we're coming up on a 3-day USDAA trial starting bright and early tomorrow morning. Fortunately the heat has dropped way back, and so last night I got my Wednesday hike in with the Sierra Club for my own physical conditioning (it's still not running, jogging, or wind sprints, but it gets my heart & lungs & legs working for sure).
Hike started at about 2300' above sea level (long drive up from the valley), dropped to below 2000', and peaked at 2572, so we got some good ups and downs.

As is typical on hot summer days, it's hazy looking out across the coastal range.

And as the sun sets, we had this intriguing view of the top of Mount Diablo, 100 miles away, floating disembodied above the (cough cough) haze that hides all the mountains between us and it, with just a bit of gleam of the san francisco bay upper center (you'll want to click to see the larger image on this one for sure).
Parts of the trail that were fire roads, and well-traveled by vehicles and bikes, were incredibly dusty, with that superfine dust with texture finer than talcum powder, so no matter how gently you set down your foot, a puff of dust rose. And we were hiking in a large group. Stayed well back from the people ahead!

OK, so this weekend: Team on Friday. Tika's first Performance team, and we're teaming with our ofttimes partner Brenn (from our one appearance in the finals at Scottsdale). How can these dogs be old enough to be in Performance? Gah. Brenn has arthritis in her feet, Tika in her neck. Me in my knees. Pfooey.

Saturday and Sunday is everything else plus Steeplechase and Grand Prix. You know that I'm getting my expectations set high for Tika in those in Performance--her first two times out, she won 1st round steeplechase (and 2nd round, too, the one time we stayed for it) and came in 2nd in grand prix. I'm going to try not to expect too much, but it's hard to avoid.

Mind you, there's a difference between expectations and goals. My goal is to win. But if I *expect* to do well and don't, I have trouble letting that go.

Tika still needs a Standard and 3 Jumpers at 26" for her ADCH-Silver. We've been practicing the last 2 weeks at 24" and 26", so hopefully she can keep her bars up, although mixed with the 22" classes all day friday and some the other days--dunno. We'll see.

Boost still needs one--just one, dangit!--Jumpers leg for her MAD... funny to see that she also just needs one pairs leg for her Relay Bronze! Of course, that's the only course where knocked bars and refusals don't wipe you out. I won't even go into looking for the ADCH--Snooker Super-Qs and Jumpers legs evade us at every turn.

But the weather should be nice, the friends should be nice, and we'll just see what happens.


  1. Yay! Cooler weather for Agility! OK, cooler than 100F.

  2. Yay is right! Sometimes in summer it's actually cold & foggy in Prunedale.