a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: May 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Goodbye, David

SUMMARY: A good friend is gone.
I just got the news that the brain tumor that has been fighting with my friend David has finally taken the upper hand and removed him from this world. He was a smart, funny, talented, successful, and generous man, who came into my friend Sue's life when they were in their 40s. He made her very happy, which is about the best epitaph I can give him. I am grieved that the world didn't choose to give them more than a dozen years together.

I wish I had better words to rebuild him here and now, but there are no sufficient words.

Goodbye, David.

Go east, young woman.

SUMMARY: East, to Arizona.
See you when I get back. If I can disentangle myself from the dogs upon my return. Thank goodness there's someone living here who handles the house and dogs for me while I'm gone.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

USDAA Breaks Free

SUMMARY: New logo

No more confusing it with the AKC logo.

Yes, it's here and being phased in.

Notice that it no longer fits nicely on the round parts of rosettes? What WILL we do?

House of Hair

SUMMARY: Furniture and dogs: Defensive maneuvers.
When we were kids, the family dog slept downstairs in the laundry room. That's just the way it was. The dog also wasn't allowed on the furniture, even in the car (dogs on floor, you know). Being as how we were kids and the dog was a dog, we occasionally sneakily let her onto our beds at bedtime, and repeatedly tried the plaintive, "But she's LONEly down there!" and "Just ONE night? PLEEEEEZZZZZZE?" But, no, dog did not sleep with people and did not get onto the furniture.

My mom was also a good housekeeper. She'd probably beg to differ, but I always thought her house was (and still is) pretty darned clean. We never had to worry about there being huge clumps of dog hair in the corner that would scuttle across the room every time the furnace came on, or trying to find a clean seat when visitors dropped by in their black wool skirts.

When I was in Junior High School, I got this crazy idea to go offer my services at a local dog breeder's house so that I could play with other dogs. They had thousands of dogs! Well--compared to our one--I don't think I even knew anyone who had more than one dog the whole time I was growing up--it seemed like thousands. Probably half a dozen borzois, a couple Salukis, some beagles, and a couple litters of puppies.

I went into their house, and it was a nice, comfortable, welcoming place to be, except that there was dog. hair. EVERY. where. There were throws on the furniture in the living room, and THOSE were covered with dog hair. I didn't say anything, but I made a vow right then that my house would not look like that when I grew up and had thousands of dogs of my own.

So now I have a mere two dogs (at times seems like thousands) and there is dog. hair. every. where. EXCEPT not on the furniture. Well, except for the bed, where I sleep among dogs and their associated hairs every night despite rollers and sponges and sticky sheets and vacuums. My living room has a baby gate across the entrance to keep the dogs out [except when I'm in there with them and can monitor furniture encroachments] because, damnit, when visitors drop by in their black wool skirts, they WILL have a place to sit that is free from dog hair.

(That is, if they can get past the frenzy of dogs in the front hallway unscathed, and assuming that no wafting dog hairs have settled on the furniture since the last time I vacuumed the cushions, in, oh, I'm sure it's been since 2005.)

Which brings us to an agiliter's* facebook status this morning: "My papasan chair has become a dog bed."

Now, I happen to have a papasan chair, and I know that it is perfectly shaped like a dog bed with a better, elevated view of the surrounding neighborhood, and it happens to be right in the middle of my office where dogs have free access and have been known to eye it lasciviously and even to place tentative paws upon it. BUT.

I refuse to let my papasan chair become a dog bed. To protect it, it now is permanent home to two computers, an old green recycling bin, a couple of useful magazine issues, two space heaters, a pink-flowered crocheted afghan, some shopping bags from disneyland, and a large dragon in a box that I got as a gift many months ago and haven't made a space for yet. Let's see them get any dog hairs past THAT.

* I made this up on the spot. "Person who does agility." Tired of saying the whole thing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

For dog gadget lovers

SUMMARY: A friend begins a series of "Essential Tools for Dog Lovers" on her blog.

An agility friend says "Hi, my name is Holly and I’m a dog-loving gadget-freak."

Read her intro to her gadget blog series here.

Read her first post in the series, which is on pooper-scoopers here. I had no idea that her favorite even existed!

(The comments may have useful info in them from other folks--like TMH myself!)

Friday, May 21, 2010


SUMMARY: Yes, some of us like to take vacations FROM our dogs.
My handsome young cousin is getting married in Chandler, Arizona, soon, to a beautiful young lady, and my camera and I are going to drive there and then take a leisurely week coming back.

I don't know where I'm goin',
Will only know where I've been.

Looking forward to it immensely. So many errands to run first! And packing and at least a little planning to do!

Luckily someone's here all the time to care for the Merle Girls. They won't get walkies (caretaker isn't a walkies person) or a lot of playing, just some. Til their tongues are hanging out probably once a day. They'll be nutso when I get back--but, then, they also are when I go out to the front yard to deadhead roses for 20 minutes and then come back inside. I think they can handle it for a week; they have done fine before in the same situation.

But how can I resist attending the wedding of such lovely dogs people?
Photo from their web site

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And Speaking of Entropic Tunnels

SUMMARY: An exploration of the thermodynamic decay of cynological paraphernalia.
My first agility equipment purchase EVER was a couple of small blue fabric spring-loaded children's play tunnels, something like this:
(Get one here!). They were great for teaching newbie agility dogs to go straight, but they didn't bend worth beans. They didn't last long, either.

My first *real* agility equipment purchase was a 10-foot yellow tunnel; several of us in class ordered them through our instructor. Those were the days. Hard to believe that I've been doing agility enough now to have bought 5 real tunnels. That first one died a few years back, too much sun and activity. One--my expensive competition-quality double-walled 20-footer, bought new--is now held together with clips. One--a basic yellow 15-footer--I also bought new and is slowly decaying but isn't dead yet.

One--also a basic yellow 15-footer--I bought used from an instructor. Sure, it might have flaws that one wouldn't want in a class situation with liability and dozens of dogs pounding it night after night, but it's fine in a private yard with just a couple of dogs sometimes using it. Still, it is out in the sun and rain and wind and sleet and snow (although not so much the last 2 in san jose) 24/7/365. Plus it is used as a launching pad for squirrel patrol and has trouble staying roundish.

And, so, it has come to the end of its life as something resembling an agility tunnel.

Poor Mr. Tunnel:

The wires on about half the tunnel have separated from the actual tunnel, so the middle section sort of sloughs into a sorry lump.

Isn't it fun, boys and girls, seeing what's underneath the yellow fiberglass-reinforced (or whatever it is holds it together) vinyl?

If you leave one side of a bright yellow tunnel always up, it becomes not so bright yellow any more and you can see the individual strands of the reinforcing stuff, so fragile that glancing at it wrong causes handfuls to disintegrate on sight.

Plus numerous spots in which doggie paws can--or already have--gone right through.

So this week I bought my fifth tunnel ever--used--again my timing was good, picked up a battered one from an instructor, but it's a sturdy, high-quality tunnel with probably a couple of years life left to it when used in Taj MuttHall fashion.  So Taj MuttHall will return to having three functional tunnels, at least for a while.

Testing a post by email

Move along, nothing to see here.

Monday, May 17, 2010


SUMMARY: Socks, shoes, tunnel kludge, digging, ribbons, movies, calories, scary footing.

  • Socks: The best-dressed agility handler always wears socks that matches her shirt. (I made that part up to justify my lifestyle.) The best-dressed agility handler wants to know why stores have decided that you must buy *their* selection of colors in packages of 3, 4, or 5 pairs at a time? If I want a green pair, I also have to buy navy and light blue? What's the deal here? And where can I buy one-up solid color women's socks? (I've tried half a dozen or more stores.)
  • Shoes: Agility has also transformed my life in subtle ways. It always used to be tennis shoes and flip-flops. Now I wear these casual slip-on shoes, whose existence and utility I originally became aware of because many agility people wear them when they're around agility areas but not doing actual agility. I love 'em! Comfortable, convenient. I wear them to the bone. Here are the pairs I just tossed; bought two more exactly the same, and they follow many others exactly the same.
  • Better than duct tape in some situations: Remember a month or so ago when my tunnel started to unravel--er, hmm, was that during the winter sometime? Maybe the end of last year? Holy rollover, batdog, it was a full frigging YEAR ago! Time flies. Anyway, this weekend I suddenly thought of a solution, raced off to the hardware store, and voila!
  • Saw Robin Hood this weekend. "None shall pass!"?!? Give. Me. A. BREAK! Is this a medieval action/adventure film or is it a Monty Python pastiche? But neato-cool-out for the scene in which Russell Crowe snuggles with the Irish Wolfhound.
  • Tika isn't usually a digging dog. Now, at 9, she's apparently become a dog with a mission. She has started working furiously digging out the soil from behind the compost bins. Doesn't appear to be any rodent-like thing, not that kind of intensity, but more like she just wants to make the biggest hole in the universe. When it started to show from around the left side of the square bin, I walked over and looked at it and asked what she was doing. She came out from behind, walked around the bin, looked at it critically, grabbed two branches on the overhanging shrub , one after the other, twisted them until they came off, threw them to the ground, went back around behind the bin, and continued digging. (Note pile of discarded diggings to the right of the square bin.)

  • OK, you bag of peppermint salt water taffy, let that be a lesson to you! You too, you mint swirl fudge from Miles Kimball made with fresh cream and butter! Tempt me and you get EATEN!
  • Friday, walked with  a friend around a nicely landscaped percolation pond on Water District property. There was a little pier-like thing going out of the water, so there we went. You could see water between a couple of the boards. Boost went into her Evil Scary Footing mode, even though the boards weren't at all slippery or loose. Not sure whether it was simply because it was a wood floor or because it was surrounded by water a couple of feet below. (Note stretched-out body, bent elbows, rear feet splayed to the sides and straight out behind her, tail down. Bonzo dog)

  • Judging by Tika's collection of ribbons so far this year (11 days of trialing), she's having a spectacular opening season.

  • Judging by Boost's collection of ribbons so far, hmm, well, maybe not so much.

USDAA Nationals 2009

SUMMARY: Crap, they're "local" again.

[WEIRDNESS: This showed up in my list of blogs as unposted from March 2009. Did I never really post it? Well--here it is now-- May 17, 2010.]

For those who haven't seen it already, for sure still in scottsdale, on a different November weekend this year (thanks, Johann, for pointing it out).


I don't think I want to go (again), although both dogs are already qualified in team this year, which was the toughie last year. I think that Tika is qualified in Grand Prix. Sure, we've got lots of trials still to go, but-- really-- we're not nationals finalist material, I don't believe.

Ah, well.

Ghost Handlers in the Sky

SUMMARY: From K-TMH, only the best in hijacked lyrics.
OK, this is May 17 in San Jose; why am I back in my long underwear? It's too cold and dreary to practice those contacts, really it is; I was too busy last week, it'll be too hot next week. Besides, what's a missed contact or two among friends?

OK, sure, thanks for asking, I *will* make up new lyrics for the occasion.

Old Taj MuttHall went to the yard one dark and windy day.
Upon the porch she rested as she headed out to play.
When all at once a red-eyed pack of Border Collies came,
A-plowin' through a ragged chute and up a rotting Frame.

Their tongues were all a-slobber and their toenails made of steel;
Their noses black and shiny and their dog-breath she could feel.
A bolt of fear went through her as they thundered through the course,
For she saw their handlers running hard, their voices raw and hoarse:

"Get it, go touch!
Hit it I say!"
Ghost handlers in the sky.

Their faces gaunt, their skin sunburned, their t-shirts soaked with sweat,
They're running hard to work the zone, but they ain't got it yet.
'Cause they've got to run forever on that course up in the sky
With dogs that fly off contacts; as they run on, hear their cry.

"Get it, go touch!
Hit it I say!"
Ghost handlers in the sky.

As the handlers loped on by her, she heard one call her name:
"If you want to save your soul from Hell a-runnin' in this game,
Then handler, change your ways today or with us you will run
Trying to Q the Devil's dogs, and never having fun!"

"Get it, go touch!
Hit it I say!"
Ghost handlers in the sky.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Disneyland Now and Then

SUMMARY: Photos from last November--and 1959ish. (No dogs or agility in this whole post.)

I finally posted alllllll the photos from my November 2009 trip to Disneyland. (Well--I pared out more than half and posted the better ones.) If you'd like to see what I found interesting and photo-worthy, you can view them here, conveniently divided into days or portions of days so that you don't have to look at them all at once. BUT WAIT--there's more! (Or less:)

Here's the running theme: It occurred to me last autumn that I had some old Viewmaster slide sets of Disneyland from when I was a kid, so I dug them out before our trip, snapped [very fuzzy] photos of all 63 images, printed thumnails of them all, and then tried to recreate the photos from the exact spot in 2009.

The actual dates of the Viewmaster photos isn't clear; one of the three packets (Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Frontierland) says copyright 1955. However, the monorail and the Matterhorn feature prominently throughout, and those weren't open until 1958 or 1959. We went to Disneyland in 1960 or 1961, and I believe got the viewmaster sets at about that time. So I'm guessing 1959, for a convenient 40-year difference.

I have finally posted both the 1959 viewmaster and 2009 photos, with commentary, here. I think you might enjoy the differences and similarities, especially if you're a Disneyland fan. For example:

Beaver dam and lodge, 1959:

Beaver dam and lodge, 2009--yuck! Looks nothing like the real thing. Sigh.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mom's Day, Mom

SUMMARY: Thanks for making me me.
I come from a long line of moms. Here's my mom's mom's mom, my mom's mom (and dad), and my mom, with the family cat and collies. Oh, yeah, did I mention that they had collies while she was growing up? We all learned to appreciate and to care for animals from my parents.
My beautiful mom married my handsome dad, then followed his dreams and jobs from her home in New York state, from an area where her family could identify the homes they'd lived in for several generations, across the country to California, then Colorado, then back to new York, then back to California, and she always seemed happy no matter where we went.
My mom gave me the best gift: Me. If it weren't for that, you wouldn't be here reading Taj MuttHall. So you can thank my parents. (Or not, depending on how long-winded I am on any particular day.)

My mom stayed home with me and my sisters, read to us every day, sang us to sleep at night, cooked for us, taught us manners, took care of the house, became my girl scout troop leader for a year or two, baked us birthday cakes every year.
My mom is now in her 80s, still beautiful (she's never gone gray--how come I am??), still has her husband, all her daughters, assorted sons-in-law, and six grandchildren, and she's still there for us if we need someone to talk to.
I'm definitely one of those "you never call, you never write" sort of children, but for some reason she goes on loving me anyway. And I love you, too, mom.

Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Agility Photo Album

SUMMARY: Photos from last weekend, and the thoughts that go with them.
A friend loves dogs (doesn't have one of her own at the moment), loves to take photos of them, and will go out of her way on occasion to take zillions of photos of dogs at agility trials and then upload them to my photo site so all my agility friends can get copies for no fee. How cool is that? Probably annoys the pro photographers who can take gorgeous photos and spend hours sorting and color correcting them and then charge $19 for a 4x6 print (!), but very many of hers are lovely, too.

You'd think from this that Tika has a super-fast dogwalk. Well--she does, in class, but in competition, she slows to a lope (?) on the down ramp, then to a walk, then LEAPS off the end and I just hope she's in the yellow zone when she does so.

People talk about tunnels being dog missile launchers. Never doubt it for a minute!
Tika runs onto the teeter, waits just before the yellow zone for it to get past the horizontal point, then runs off the end just as it hits the ground. It's not super-fast, but pretty fast. That's not how I trained it, but that's how it ended up working. I haven't used two-on/two-off or any other kind of hold for her on the teeter for years, and she never gets called for flyoffs. I can leave her there and run far afield, because she's developed her method and it's very consistent and I can rely on her completing it properly while I get into position for the next bit.
Boost is one of those toy-focused beasties who will tug on almost anything almost forever. Our competition ritual has her on the Purple Riot Tug until the dog before us runs, then I set that aside and we switch to tugging on the leashie. That excites her even more, having learned the ritual. When I tell her that's all for the leashie, she releases it and starts scoping out the field--she knows we're going into the ring and she gets to RUN RUN RUN! Just before that, I'm scoping out the field to be sure I remember the course.
Boost has an excellent start-line stay in a sit. Once in a while she can't bear it and takes off early, but not nearly as often as Tika did or still does. But I may have worked harder at it with Boost--in class and at home, I still try to remember at least once a session, maybe more, to reward her by returning to her and playing at the start line, or by tossing the toy behind her and releasing her to go get it there. But it's also true that, in all things, Boost's impulse control is much stronger than Tika's. (Note that I'm wearing my semifinalist polo from the Grand Prix national championships in 2000 or 2001, a memory with Jake.)
Boost does NOT slow down on the dogwalk until the very end. The only reason I'm even with her here at the beginning of the down ramp is because I was able to get a huge lead-out ahead of her.
Boost's teeter varies from darned fast to astonishing. The latter is when she runs to the end full tilt so it smashes to the ground and her front feet hit the ground right about the same time it does. She tends to be a little more cautious as time goes on, though; that kind of performance must be pretty jarring although it is also tremendously exciting to watch. I've had people tell me that they want a dog who does teeters like Boost does. That's usually after one of those spectacular teeter displays. But I CANNOT leave her while I run off to do something else; she may well fly off to catch up to me. We have worked on this. Sometimes life is just too exciting to want to come to a stop, however briefly.
Smaller dogs might be able to run or bounce through the weaves, but bigger dogs really do weave their bodies through there. Every organization in the agility universe that I know of has gone to 24"-spaced weaves (instead of the 20"/21" that USDAA still uses), and you can see why it's better to give the dogs' bodies more space, so they're not wrapped quite so tightly. I'll bet USDAA will go to 24" soon despite everything--the only possible reason any more to stick with the narrower spacing is sheer stubbornness. Oh--and just had a discussion on another blog that NADAC doesn't stake their weaves because they want to prove that the dog is actually weaving, not pushing the poles aside. I have many things to say about the safety issue of that, but you can see clearly that, with these staked poles, this large, fast dog definitely cannot push the poles aside.
(Preceding photos by Sarah Hitzeman.)
At the end of every run, Tika burns off the last of her adrenaline by letting out a growl-bark and dive-bombing my foot; she grabs the shoe and tugs and shakes furiously, growling intensely until I manage to gimp out of the ring and detach the dogmouth. I've told the story before of how she had never done it before until the middle of competition during her first year, and it took forever to extinguish it during the run. I tried for a while to redirect that energy to a toy or leash, but since the only place it happens is real trials, that's the only place I can work on it, and I've just given up. As long as we're past the finish line, we seem to be legal.
(Preceding photo by Richard Todd; very low-rez, partial photo screen capture. Will have to buy this photo, I guess, even at $19, because it's such an iconic Tika thing and it's really a nice photo of it.)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Brag Treats!

SUMMARY: Class ritual: Brags.
At the beginning of class, we get to share our successes from competition (or training or whatever seems momentous enough). If the brag is important enough to us, we'll sometimes bring treats.

Last night, Carson's Human Mom and I shared bringing treats. Carson just got his MX (something important in AKC agility that takes a lot of work). He is such a large, darling dog, it's sometimes astonishing to see what a jet-pack of a Border Collie he is on course. So Carson's Human Mom brought a pizza sampler assortment and a bottle of wine.

(Photo by Taj MuttHall, stylizing by K. Normoyle)

I have never that I can ever remember had such a collection of braggable events in one three-week span. Yeah, sometimes a title. Sometimes a first place. Sometimes a good showing in the tournament events. But this time, I indulged myself and made a list from my database and tried to keep it brief but, jeez, I'm so thrilled with how our weekends went.

Actually, although it was three weekends, technically it was 4 trials (Haute Dawgs had Thursday/Friday, TRACS had Saturday/Sunday [or vice-versa], then SMART, then Bay Team).

So here's what I said: [this will be a rehash of my recent posts, but much more terse for those of us who like summaries]

Trial #1:

Tika Qed 5 out of 12 runs, won the Performance DAM tournament with her partner; won Snooker and Team Snooker, 2nd in Standard and Team Gamblers, 3rd in Gamblers and Team Standard.

Trial #2:

Tika Qed 10 out of 10 runs, won both rounds of Steeplechase, won Gamblers, won both Jumpers, Standard, Snooker; 2nd in Gamblers and Standard, and 3rd in Snooker and Pairs Relay. [There were more than one of most classes, hence duplication.] AND she completed her [all Performance] MAD, Tournament bronze, Jumpers Master, Relay Champion, and Snooker champion titles.

Trial #3:

Tika Qed 9 out of 11 runs, won Snooker, 2nd in Grand Prix, steeplechase, and Pairs Relay, 3rd in both Standards, and Jumpers; plus completed her [all Performance] Gamblers Champion, Championship (APD), and LAA-Silver titles.

Trial #4:

Not quite as much: Tika Qed only 3 of 10, won round 2 of Steeplechase, 2nd in Gamblers, California Cup, and Jumpers, and 3rd in Standard. AND I believe consolidated her place in the Top Ten Performance Jumpers for the year 2010. And it's only May!

BUT AFTER ALL THAT, here's what made me scream & jump up and down and cry with elation: On her 40th attempt at a Masters Jumpers Q, Boost finally got one and completed her MAD.

I shared a bunch of snacks: Olives, a cheesecake sampler, a veggie tray, a bottle of sparkling cider, and chocolate-dipped strawberries that I dipped myself. Which you may now all share vicariously.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Tika Top Ten Updated Update

SUMMARY: I take it all back.
USDAA responded immediately with info on Tika's Snooker Top Ten points for last year, and I was then able to get to the two ERBs on the club sites (THANK YOU, Bay Team and SMART, for posting those and keeping them available! They have been so helpful to me on many occasions) and discover that, yes, Taj MuttHall's database was incorrect in 2 places, and I could also identify how I made the error (e.g., copying the 16" number of dogs rather than the 22").

So, thanks, USDAA, and here's my corrected table:

So this shows:
  • How many points we've got and trials entered so far this year, plus how many more trials I plan to enter this year
  • How many points and trials in each class last year (at P3)
  • How many points it took in 2009 to make Top Ten in that class.

so far
to be top 10
Gamblers 5 7 20 7 29 30
Jumpers 5 7 28 1 3 28
Snooker 5 7 21 9 29 30
Standard 5 7 21 5 11 36

Tika Top Ten Update

SUMMARY: We've got 2 months to our next USDAA trial, so this is the last you'll have to hear about it for a while.

This morning is the first time that I've counted (per my database) how many points I got last year in how many trials (because I moved Tika gradually into Performance Level 3 as she completed 25 Masters Qs in each class).

So this shows:
  • How many points we've got and trials entered so far this year, plus how many more trials I plan to enter this year
  • How many points and trials in each class last year (at P3)
  • How many points it took in 2009 to make Top Ten in that class.

so far
to be top 10
Gamblers 5 7 20 7 29 30
Jumpers 5 7 28 1 3 28
Snooker 5 7 21 9 32 30
Standard 5 7 21 5 11 36
Well--holy contact zone and crap, my database shows Tika with enough Snooker Top Ten points to be in the 2009 Top Ten, but I've been relying on the USDAA Top Ten page for their count! What a dork for not looking sooner. I've just now sent them an email but it might be way too late to correct (assuming that my records are correct).

No, I don't pay to subscribe to their whole web site--$30/year just to look at my dogs' Q records to catch their errors (and a couple of times when I've looked, I have in fact caught one or two)? Or $12 to get a one-time print-out mailed to me? Yikes. Shouldn't they be paying me for proofreading their data entry?

Correction posted: Later the same day here.

I think we're doing well so far, and pending anything that keeps us out of any remaining trials, we might actually make Top Ten in something this year. See you USDAA fans again in July!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

There is Some Joy in Muttville

SUMMARY: Sunday at the Bay Team trial.
I love driving in the early dawn, as the shape of the world is gradually revealed in the growing light, as the wisps of clouds in the sky change through ranges of pastel colors, and as tendrils of tule fog loiter in the fields and hills. It piques my wanderlust, makes me want to keep on driving to newer horizons.

But nooo--I take the exit for the agility trial and once again find myself surrounded by the same canopies, dogs, people, and agility paraphernalia.

Like these typical agility judges. (Karen, Rich, Lisa.)

Like this typical gorgeous tie-dye agility bra that a friend made for me because she could. It will match my assorted purple-and-blue tie dye shirts! Thanks, Wendy Wear!

The day started with Steeplechase Round 2. Tika didn't Q yesterday, but she made it in as 4th-seeded wildcard entry (thanks, Ashley's finger) because they always take a minimum of 4 if there are viable candidates.

We pushed it as hard as we could, and Lo, Tika won. Our time was 31.57 and 2nd place Chaps the Wonder Aussie was 31.93, so we didn't win by much. And Trinity the amazing German Shepherd had a brilliant run--a time of 30.98--but popped the Aframe on the next to last obstacle. So we won. No ribbons, dang, but a check that paid for some of our entry into Steeplechase.

A bit startled to find out that the 3rd place 12" champion dog, whose class was less than half the size of ours (in Round 1 anyway) got the same amount of $ as we did, winning our larger class.

The rest of the morning followed Saturday's pattern, and I was becoming kind of numb to it all.

Grand Prix: Tika had another gorgeous run but had it in mind that the Aframe was inconsequential and had a pretty major fly-off, so no Q, and placing 6th out of 8 dogs. Boost had a really amazingly lovely run--time was slow because she didn't stick her teeter, so I had to figure out how to get around her for a front cross--and we were in great danger of actually earning a Q until she knocked the next to the last bar.

Gamblers: Thought I had a pretty good opening course, and thought that the Gamble was a gimmee for Tika. But I ran out of opening obstacles for Tika before the whistle blew, so I was improvising when it blew, and suddenly found myself blasting forward with my toes EXACTLY at the gamble line, so when I needed to give her one little push out, instead I was flailing my arms trying not to fall forward on my face past the gamble line, and bleah she did not get the gamble. And there were plenty of others who did, so we were 4th place but no Q, no top 10 points again.

So I planned for more obstacles for Boost, who then did NOT send out to ANY of the obstacles that Tika did manage to take, and again no gamble. Her opening points would've been good for 4th place of 51 dogs had she managed it. But no.

Then, after the morning sessions, Tika ruined our perfect non-Q weekend by Qing in the last 3 classes of the weekend: Jumpers (very nice but could manage only 2nd place for I think 3 top ten points, .6 seconds behind 1st place), Standard (another one where I don't know how I could have gotten any faster time but still managed only 3rd for 1 mere Top Ten point), and Pairs, where she knocked her first bar so took our 2nd fastest time and turned it into a 4th place.

Boost's Jumpers run was also truly beautiful, except where I assumed she'd take a jump and raced ahead of her, so she raced *with* me. Her Standard run--

Oh, man, what a heartbreaker on this one! (I don't know how many times my heart cracked this weekend.) The first half was flawless. She even went down immediately on the table. At the end of the table count, I released her, she started to move, I looked forward at the next jump, and I heard a really weird noise and no Boost coming my way. Turned back, and she's standing next to the table, one foot slightly up, looking dazed. I think the judge is asking if she's OK. I'm looking just at her; ;I have no idea what happened. She walked slowly over to me where I was standing by the next jump while I asked her if she was OK (you always have to ask your dog, as if she'd answer), and then she started focusing on the jump like she wanted to take it. So I went ahead and told her to HUP, but of course she was too close to it and ran by it for a runout fault. And then the rest of the course was absolutely flawless!

Crap crap crap! Not clear how it happened exactly, but turns out that she somehow lost her footing leaving the table and whacked the side of her head against it as she took off. She has seemed fine since then; I found a vet competitor who said she'd look at Boost, but then I was so busy the rest of the day that I never followed through.  Looks OK to me--

In Pairs Relay, she missed her weave entry for the first time this weekend (I think), for a fault, but in this class, it's time plus faults, and she and her partner were plenty fast enough to Q, ruining her perfect non-Q weekend with the last run of the whole weekend.

Tika also ran in the California Cup. The top 30% in each height who competed in Grand Prix both last weekend and this weekend got to run in it. It was just for fun plus for really nice ribbons and a trophy for 1st place. Like another Grand Prix run, but no Qs involved. Once again, really pushed it, and we were clean, but came in 2nd (33.88 time, just behind Chaps' 33.27-- the dog we beat in the Steeplechase by less than half a second). So we got a really lovely ribbon and posed with our arch nemesis Chaps.

Also, for simply being eligible for California Cup competition (entering Grand Prix both weekends), we got these cool collapsible travel water bowls.

Most of the courses this weekend were really nice--flowing and yet still challenging. It was a real shame to miss Qing because of stupid handler tricks or simple knocked bars (or danged Aframes). Both dogs mostly ran very well. I'm very lucky to have the two of them, for all the frustration they sometimes give me.

For the second weekend in a row, I was able to set up in the shade of the big trees, so didn't have to wrestle with that huge and heavy canopy, which made setup and teardown SO much easier on my poor aching shoulders. I just set up a screen to prevent Boost from being able to see the running dogs to prevent massive crate thrashing.
 For some reason, people think I like purple
And now, maybe a couple of months off of weekend agility again? I think I'm really looking forward to that. I can't take many weekends like this one, no matter how many I have like the preceding 2.  3 Qs of 10 runs for Tika, 1 Q of 10 runs for Boost.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

There Is No Joy in MuttVille

SUMMARY: Everyone struck out.
Apparently eating 3 or 4 days worth of dogfood at once gives Boost diarrhea. Before bed (clean up long hairs on backside and tail), in the middle of the night (at least she asked to go out, then clean up long hairs etc.), in the morning when trying to get ready to go (clean up etc.). Then at the trial. Made sure she got out of her crate often. There are tons of vet-medical personnel at agility trials and she got some antidiarrheal med and it stopped.

When the alarm went off at 5 a.m., unlike my normal wont I lay there, eyes closed, thinking hard about not going to the trial. I was so tired, I was so liking lying there, I was so realizing (again) that 3 weekends in a row is on the edge of too much for me. But--I've skipped trials I'd registered for only twice: Once when Remington was very ill, I loaded everything and me and the dogs into MUTT MVR, drove to the freeway entrance, turned around, and went home and back to bed. And the second time was the morning after he died. But the following day I *did* go to the 2nd day of the trial.

The point being, I finally got up and got dressed, dealt with Boost, spent 15 minutes (really) sitting in MUTT MVR trying to figure out how to get back to the spot in the murder mystery tape in my tape player that I had left it at (what is it with the tape player--eject it and reinsert it and it starts playing way before or way after that spot?), never figured it out, headed out anyway.

Luckily still got a good parking spot and good set-up spot.

And here's how the day went:

Tika: 0 Qs for 5
Boost: 0 Qs for 5.

It was very hard for me. Like a punch in the gut with each one, making it worse and worse.

Jumpers: Tika, beautiful fast run, fastest of her whole class. But knocked a bar. No idea why this time, she just did. Boost, wow, a very nice beautiful fast run, but knocked a bar. They were nice runs, but no Qs and no Top Ten points.

Snooker: Boost knocked the 3rd of 4 reds (all 4 needed for a Super-Q), then doh! in the closing I took my eyes off her completely and she ran past a key jump, so not even a Q. Embarrassing that I had to ask the judge what she did to cause it (turned wrong way out of a tunnel). Dumb handler, just dumb. So no Q.

And Tika--SUCH a Tika course! Beautiful high-point opening, and then at the beginning of the closing I didn't do a crucial front cross--I did it with boost, for why didn't I do it wiht Tika? i don't know, and multiplied that by yelling "come!" instead of "tika!' which I *know* doesn't work, and push her right into an offcourse, so no Super-Q, no Q, no top 10 points. And we had plenty of time, too. Just stupid.

Gamblers: It was a hard gamble. No Championship 16" or 12" got it, only 1 26" ch, and only 8 of 50 22". In performance, only one 22", no 12 or 8". Boost did not get it, maybe because I bobbled the beginning of the gamble and ended up on the line with no room to push her out. But she had something like 9th highest of 50 dogs opening points, very nicely executed. But no Q.

Tika was not the 22" who got the gamble. I lost control of her in the opening so we didn't end up with high points (again whistle blew on 5-point teeter so we didn't get it), and then, sheesh, i pushed SO hard that she went out BEYOND the gamble obstacle that no one else was even able to push out TO. We're the only ones out of 100 or so dogs to do THAT. So no Q. Oddly enough, 3 top ten points for 2nd place. But disappointing not to get it.

Standard: Tunnel wrap onto dogwalk--oops, nope, back into tunnel for off course. Otherwise mostly nice. Tika--what a real heartbreaker--I worked SO HARD to pull her off the jump after the chute, and she ALMOST took it but I succeeded in pulling her off--and realized afterwards that she was SUPPOSED to take it. Don't ask me, I ran the same course with Boost not 15 minutes before that. I sat and cried over that one, after everything before it today, and it was such a beautiful run otherwise. What a dork. It's just a game.

Steeplechase: Boost knocked a bar and then when I sent her to a tunnel, she pulled off it, twice. Most of it was very nice but in this crowd can't waste time especially after knocking a bar, so no Q.

Tika had the fastest time of all 6 22" dogs, but once again knocked a bar, don't know why, and because there were only 6 of us, they combined our scores with the 16" mostly border collie class and they pulled the average down so that Tika missed a Q by just under a second. She still gets to run in the money round tomorrow, but no Q.

With each run I started feeling less and less competent, less and less happy to be there, more and more like I really should have stayed in bed. I debated packing everything else and not going tomorrow but, no, I left my stuff there so I have to go back tomorrow.

It is so demoralizing. I mean, knocked bars sometimes happen, they just do, but when I do such totally dumb things, just dumb, and then the things that just happen happen also, miserable miserable me.

I tried to enjoy being around all those people I like. We're lucky to have such a great collection of people and so many of them are so very nice. And we saw some awesome successes today: Two Bay Teamers finished their Lifetime Platinums today (500 masters/p3 Qs), and we got cake for that, which was scrumptious. And before I left the site, I sat with my car's instruction manual and figured out how the tape player worked, so I could find the right spot in the books-on-tape.

But I am beaten up emotionally. Maybe more sleep tonight will help and maybe tomorrow I'll survive the day. And tomorrow morning on the way there I can listen to the denouement of the murder mystery--if anyone there survives, too.

Tika's Championship Journey

SUMMARY: How many runs does it take to earn Tika a championship?
Hooray, boys and girls, more database fun!

To earn a championship in USDAA (ADCH in Masters or APD in Performance), it takes:
  • 5 Gamblers Qs
  • 5 Jumpers Qs
  • 5 Relay Qs (with 5 different partners)
  • 5 Snooker Qs (3 of which must be Super-Qs)
  • 5 Standard Qs
  • 5 Tournament Qs (at least one in each of Steeplechase, Grand Prix, and DAM)

Tika earned the required Qs for her ADCH with this many runs:
  • Gamblers: 27
  • Jumpers: 27
  • Relay: 16
  • Snooker: 36 (dang Super-Qs!)
  • Standard: 39 (dang contacts/etc.!)
  • Tournament: She came by these well before the other Qs.

In contrast, the experienced elder Tika earned the required Qs for her APD after this many runs:
  • Gamblers: 12
  • Jumpers: 8
  • Relay: 7
  • Snooker: 7 (4 of the required 5 Qs were Super-Qs!)
  • Standard: 18!! (dang contacts/etc!)
  • Tournament: Whipped those out!