a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Follow-Ups

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


SUMMARY: Plastic wrap:Yum! and amazing ADCH and PF vs Ch.

Plastic wrap

One thing you need to know about Tika: When I toss the toy for the dogs, Tika likes to scoop it up and keep on going in a straight line until something possibly interesting or possibly inconvenient (e.g., a fence) appears before her. Then she drops the toy. Then Boost brings it back. If the object was interesting, Tika might not follow Boost back immediately, but does so usually before I can throw the toy again.

The other thing you need to know about Tika is that she is a chow hound beyond belief. Off leash, she seems happiest when sniffing around in the grass, or around other people's canopies, for lost molecules of food. She has veered off in the middle of agility runs to go out to the edge of the ring to scoop up a morsel that no human could have detected.

So, Sunday morning, there's this huge beautiful lawn where we can warm up our dogs. I toss the frisbee, Tika scoops it up and runs till she gets to a row of canopies (no one there yet, it's early), drops the frisbee, and starts sniffing.

I call her name once (I try not to say "Come" unless I know I can enforce it) and don't worry too much about it when she doesn't respond. Sniff sniff sniff, while Boost brings me the frisbee.

Then suddenly, Tika dives under the lowered canopy, grabs something large, and starts chomping. I yell various useless things, tell Boost to "down", and run as fast as I can in Tika's direction. It's a big field. As I get closer, I can see that she has one of the huge sandwiches that Quail Lodge provided us for lunch--huge!--and still mostly wrapped in plastic wrap! Crap!

I yell other things, like NO! and DROP IT! (neither of which Tika understands, I can guarantee that) and COME! (which she knows what it's supposed to mean but doesn't care enough), but she understands my rapid approach and tone of voice, so flees just far enough away from me so that she can stop and swallow the whoooole thing, and I see the dangling plastic wrap disappear inside my dog.

That's a lot of plastic wrap.

An agility competitor who's also a vet makes a casual comment about Tika not needing dinner today. I confirm with her that I can probably not worry about the plastic, since Tika's a large dog and her system can probably deal with it, but just to be aware if she's not producing poop, starts vomiting, or stops eating. So I don't worry about it. Tika shows no ill signs all day.

Monday, no sign of plastic wrap, and everything else seems to be working normally.

This morning, when I went out for our morning play session, there was the plastic wrap. Whew!

So I probably should have signed up for Susan Garrett's brand new online course, "The Five Minute Formula for a Perfect Recall". I've listened to her video about the course, and it sounds great, but that wasn't in my budget and I have various susan garrett (and other) games related to recalls already that I only pay attention to once in a while (and when I do, the recall improves). So maybe later. And hope that meanwhile Tika doesn't kill herself in some way where a reliable recall would really have helped. Plus I'm sure registration is closed by now. But it's the budget that's the biggest issue at the moment.

Amazing ADCH

Friend Cheri and her Border Collie Jeepers earned their ADCH this weekend. I can still remember so clearly when they had their first trial coming up, and Cheri was so worried that she'd embarrass herself with her new dog and all her training mistakes.

...No wonder I can remember it clearly, because that was JUST 10 MONTHS AGO! They've been in Masters for exactly 3 months.

Even Tika's performance ADCH, which she got very quickly as an experienced and speedy dog, took 6 months after her last class moved from Championship to Performance. There were probably fewer days of trials in those 6 months than there have been in the last 3, but still--C&J are a Qing machine!

Congratulations to an awesome team!

Championship vs Performance for Tika's scores

Sometimes I feel odd about Tika being in Performance when she was still doing reasonably well in Championship. But then I remind myself that I did it because of her recurring soreness and arthritis, and anyway, now she *is* 9 and a half. Dog participation in our USDAA trials drops off noticeably at 7 years and again pretty sharply at about 10 years. So she's getting up there.

It is so much fun for me to be winning classes and top ten points; we'd have never been in the Top Ten in the Championship program and we almost never won classes there.

And then I get put in my place by a dog like the super-accelerated Daz who whupped our butts in several classes this last weekend. I don't know how old Daz is or why he's in performance, but we've got our work cut out for us if we see much of him/her.

Anyway, I thought I'd compare Tika's wins from this weekend with the Championship 26" dogs to see how she'd have placed (assuming she'd have had the same speed at 26" rather than 22" AND kept her bars up, either of which I dunno).
  • Saturday jumpers: Won P3 22". In champion 26", would've been 3rd of 20 or so.
  • Saturday Snooker: Won P3 22" and SuperQ. In Ch 26", would've been 4th of 20ish, but there were only 3 SuperQs (we did that a lot, one out of SuperQ position).
  • Saturday Gamblers: Won P3 22". In Ch 26", would've been 2nd place.
  • Sunday Standard: Won P3 22". In Ch 26", would've been merely 5th.
  • Sunday Jumpers: Won P3 22" (with a faceplant and really wide turns). In Ch 26", would've been a lowly 10th of 20 dogs.
  • Saturday Steeplechase Round 1: Placed 3rd (behind Daz and Chaps). In Ch 26"--here's one of the weird disconnects--she'd have placed 2nd!  Round 2: Placed 3rd (same dogs). In Ch 26"--she'd have placed 2nd also!
So, anyway, we're still doing well in comparison. Mojo score!


  1. Strum eats plastic all the time, drives me crazy because think about the task of 'plastic proofing' your house. It's so common and it's hard to remember that an empty plastic ziploc bag is a tasty treat to him. He's never had a problem and it seems like I see a fair amount of it come out the other end but I hate to think what the inside of his gut looks like.

    I think with recall training the important thing is practice in lots of different places. You don't need an expensive course, I'm sure you know what to do, the hard part is making the time to do it.

    Don't know why you'd feel weird about putting your vet dog in Performance. Sounds like the perfect place for her and you guys are doing awesome. I feel stupid putting Strummer in Performance but I flat out don't want him jumping 26" and if he doesn't end up getting the measurements he needs to go to 22" that's where he'll stay. I'm not having him jump 5" over his shoulder height, it's especially hard on the bigger dogs. I feel stupid competing him against vet dogs but until USDAA does something about their jump heights it's my only option.

  2. It's weird that we feel weird about it. USDAA tried hard to keep Performance dogs as 2nd-class citizens, but that has been changing gradually. Those of us who have been doing it for a long time I think will just feel weird about having a healthy and/or young dog in Performance, no matter what. But there are a lot of top competitors who try to shape our thinking about it: One repeat national finalist always leaps on us if we say we moved the dog "down" to performance rather than "over" to performance. :-)

  3. Is it possible that Tika and Lucy are long-lost cousins? That Tika-and-the-plastic-sandwich episode sounded exactly like something Lucy would do. Your description was quite amusing (only because it "ended" fine, of course). I especially related to the yelling of "various useless things" -- haven't we all been there, eh... Anyway, thanks for the good laugh.

  4. Some people I know have dogs that never stop eating weird things. Like they're missing the wire in their head that says "not actually nourishing." At least Tika swallowed the plastic only because it was inextricably wrapped around a sandwich, not because it just had juice on it or merely looked interesting.