a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: November 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tika Had a Busy 2007

SUMMARY: Ribbons and awards.

In 2007, Tika participated in 19 trials:
  • 13 USDAA (including the nationals at Scottsdale)
  • 5 CPE
  • 1 ASCA
  • 182 runs, 161 of which were Q-able (e.g., steeplechase round 2 isn't Qable, none of the runs at nationals are Qable)

That includes 92 Qs, consisting of:
  • Colors: 5
  • Full House: 5
  • Gamblers/Jackpot: 14**
  • Grand Prix: 6
  • Jumpers: 15**
  • Pairs Relay: 6
  • Snooker: 10** plus 5 Super-Qs
  • DAM: 3
  • Steeplechase: 1 (!)
  • Standard: 17** (clubs typically offer one Standard/day, but might not offer more than one of other classes)
  • Wildcard: 5
  [**Offered in both CPE and USDAA]

Her Q rates were:
  • ASCA: 60%
  • CPE: 84% (got one Perfect Weekend award--10 out of 10)
  • USDAA: 45%

The placement breakdowns:
  • 1st: 46 (2 in ASCA, 4 in USDAA, the rest in CPE) (OK, for 19 of those, Tika was the only dog competing, but those were also all Qs and in about 15 of them she was the highest-scoring or fastest (or very close to it) of all dogs entered at the trial; she does well at CPE!)
  • 2nd: 9 (2 in CPE, the rest in USDAA)
  • 3rd: 11 (1 in ASCA, 1 in CPE, the rest in USDAA)
  • 4th: 10  (1 in ASCA, the rest in USDAA)
Titles earned: 11, in chronological order:
  • Snooker Master
  • Snooker Champion
  • ADCH
  • Gamblers Champion
  • Standard Champion
  • Snooker Bronze
  • Relay Bronze
  • Jumpers Champion
  • Tournament Master Silver
  • Elite Gamblers Outstanding (ASCA)
  • Standard (Regular) Elite (ASCA)
  • Jumpers Novice (ASCA, hee hee)
  • Standard Bronze
  • Top Turkey at WAG ;-)

OK, what other nerdy details could I possibly extract from the database?

I've been meaning to do these awards photos for many many years. Finally getting a little bit organized about it. 2007 has been pretty much set up in my living room for a couple of months while I tried to figure out how to get good lighting and depth of field. I've given up on getting the perfect photo and moving it is too much effort, so this is what I've got.

Next time, I'll have to set it up somewhere with better lighting options, so will have to get it all done in one day (this time I took my time getting things sorted and arranged).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dog Agility in Today's Sunday Comics

SUMMARY: From Get Fuzzy, observations about dog agility plus free advice on how to come home with a blue ribbon!

Get Fuzzy

[Note: If the comic doesn't appear, click here.]


SUMMARY: [insert your favorite sad frowny face here]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanks Again

SUMMARY: Feast, Family, Friends, and finally--Friday.
Thursday afternoon we had the traditional gathering of family and random friends for the purposes of consuming mass quantities and being thankful.
 Not everyone in the family could make it this year; my next-to-youngest sister and her family went to her in-laws for the weekend; my youngest sister and her kids were in Nevada and Louisiana, respectively. But with my parents, three of us sisters and a cousin, three spouses, two offspring, and three friends of the family, we were plenty. I'm thankful that I have so much family so close by.
I ate rationally: Small portions of everything, never enough to feel stuffed, just satisfied. I'm thankful for all the excellent food--and for Weight Watchers, who has taught me so much about ways to eat healthfully.

My sister and her husby hosted. I'm thankful that they were willing to do all the set-up and organization and the biggest part of the cooking and prep.

I'm thankful for the mahhhvelous array of desserts--and for Weight Watchers, who taught me how to plan for extenuating circumstances such as this.

Afterwards, some of us washed and dried those huge piles of dirty dishes (broken dishwasher). I'm thankful for the cousin and her friend who took over the washing after I discovered that I had a sore finger, and very thankful that my own dishwasher works fine.  I dried all the silverware, and then when I went to the plates, the first one I dried I somehow fumble-fingered it and shattered it. I'm thankful for my sister saying calmly that it was no big deal as they had lots and made me feel a smidgen less guilty. I left the rest of the dishes for others to dry.

The following morning--Black Friday (not in mourning, but in black numbers indicating profits galore)--I avoided stores completely. Except that I had to walk past here:

and admire the mall Christmas decorations in front of the abandoned storefront:

to get here for my weekly motivation session:
There weren't many of us there on the morning after Thanksgiving. We got kudos for showing up. I'm always thankful for kudos!

(If you want to browse the remaining couple dozen Thanksgiving photos, I posted them here with brief commentary. I particularly like the cranberry sauce and ice cream photos!)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Best-Laid Plans

SUMMARY: So far the schedule has turned out pretty different. Plus walking with the dogs.
Original plans for exercise to make up for all the food versus reality--so far--

Thursday morning: Plan:
3-ish mile stroll with dogs and friend #1. Actual: Friend pulled groin muscle and can barely walk. Sat and talked instead and had homemade pumpkin muffins. (I did restrain myself to 1/2 muffin.) Dogs stayed home.

Friday morning: Plan: 3-4-ish mile strolled with dogs and friend #2. Actual: Friend is having problem in the ribs--could be cancer or medication-related.  Can barely walk or drive, so she stayed home. If you've ever cracked a rib, you probably know what she's feeling. Dogs and I went to a park a little way away that has a tiny hill; they got a ton of frisbee so I got only about a mile and a half of walking what with all the stopping and throwing the frisbee (oh, yeah, and taking photos--see below).

Saturday: Plan: Practice judging and run dogs at fun match. Actual: Forecast is for rain rain rain, so fun match is canceled. TBD what we shall do instead.

Meanwhile, it's been c-c-c-cold; record-setting (or nearly so) lows for the date both yesterday and today. But otherwise beautiful out.

Here's our walkies from this morning.

The park has a huge grassy field that's excellent for dog frisbeeing--this is one side of it. There can be several people with their dogs on different parts of the field and never come close to one another.  It's 9:15 in the morning. Note the frost on the grass in the shade.

Boost would really like me to throw the frisbee. Doesn't seem to mind lying in the frost.
Frost limns grass and leaves so perfectly!
Looking out across the huge grassy field as Tika picks up the frisbee. That little greenish-brown hill on the right, behind the trees, is the hill we'll go up shortly.
In the sun, the frost has melted on this leaf but not yet evaporated.
No matter who gets to the frisbee first, it's almost always Boost who brings it back through the autumn leaves. Tika likes having an auto-ball-return device, aka Boost.
Getting closer to the little hill. It's not very high, but quite steep.
Now we're halfway up the hill. While I follow the path that goes straight up, the dogs explore off to the side under the pine trees.
Looking back down on the school yard next to the park. We do have some autumn color, depending on what trees have been planted. The coastal range is in the far distance.
Wow, good smells among the old dried vegetation, with the winter grasses just starting to come up underneath.
Going down the far side of the hill, Tika likes to lead the way.
Then we turn around and go back up. Now looking down across that huuuuuge green field, which doesn't look quite as big from up here. If you look verrrrry closely (click the photo for a larger version) at the row of nearly identical green trees lining the far side of the park, MUTT MVR is parked behind the 6th trunk from the left.
Gophers or ground squirrels live all through this hill. Tika is looking for them. Can you find Tika? What amazing natural camouflage!
There she is!
Back down to the grassy field for some more frisbee.
Half an hour after we first arrive, these tiny weeds in the shade still sport their delicate frost edging.
Merle Girls On Grass.
Such a Border Collie pose! Staring at the frisbee, willing it to be thrown.
With the inevitably flipped-over ear.
Just some of the crap I picked up along the west side of the park.
Are they tired yet? Can I go home now?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Busy! And Cold!

SUMMARY: What's going on.
Class was canceled tonight due to freezing temperatures. Exposed on the top of the hill like that with a bit of a wind--Brrrr! Very, very glad they canceled. Dogs of course aren't glad, but then they've got super-thick built-in fur coats.

Having 2 months of weekends off doesn't do me much good for getting things done at home when I fill them up with activities! But it should be a fun four-day Thanksgiving weekend, anyway. So far, tentatively:

  • Wednesday evening, get together with a friend from out of town whom I've seen only once in about 20 years (we reconnected on facebook a couple of years ago and so last year we got together, too).
  • Thursday morning, long walk or short hike with a friend of many many years. (With Merle Girls probably.)
  • Thursday afternoon, The Meal with family (not the whole clan, but a goodly portion anyway).
  • Friday morning, usual Friday walkies with Friday Walkies friend and Merle Girls (I assume--haven't confirmed yet).
  • Friday midday, usual weight watchers meeting (this seems like a good week for a visit).
  • Saturday, practice judging at an agility fun match in Hollister, about an hour from here (probably take the dogs, too). This is all on my own time, but I thought it would be a good idea to get some ring time in.
  • Sunday, movie. Maybe movies. Need to see Harry Potter and at least one other this weekend because there are so many I want to see!
So--still open--
  • Thursday evening
  • Friday afternoon & evening
  • Saturday evening (and probably late afternoon). Of course, if it's raining, no fun match, so would be free all day.
  • Sunday after the movie
BUT--fitting in two movies, they'll both take up a good chunk of time, not just early Sunday.

And, dagnabbit, don't I have something committed for Sunday evening? Gah, why am I not writing these things down?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

She Flies Through the Air--

SUMMARY: Tika, Steeplechase Round 2, Nov 14.

(Thanks for the photo, Erika.)

Evil Floors and Working Dogs

SUMMARY: Boost copes and National Geo show.
Last night, in the pouring rain, the Merle Girls and I drove an hour up to Alameda to watch the National Geographic Video And Man Created Dog with friends.

The Other Ellen and her wife live in an interesting one-story Victorian ("the second story burned, so they just knocked off the charred remains and added a roof to what was left"). This means, naturally, that the floors are all naked wood.

Boost stepped through the door and froze: Evil Floor Hell! She managed to somehow leap from the entry all the way onto the back of their couch, scrabbled her way to the seat, and tried tried tried to figure out how to leap from there to where I was standing without ever actually touching the Evil Floor.

She summoned the courage to leave the couch and started the first defensive method for traversing Evil Floors, which is half crouched, toes splayed, and hugging the walls and furniture as closely as she can (because apparently they make it safer somehow, like maybe if the Evil Floor begins to consume her, she can just climb up the wall).

Then The Other Ellen got out some string cheese and started feeding Boost every time she was brave enough to come into the middle of the floor. Boost started with the second defensive maneuver, which is to keep her back feet stretched out wayyy behind her to remain in contact with--uh--somewhere behind her (no longer has an edge of a carpet to hang onto, for example--it's just something that she apparently picked up from hanging onto the edges of carpets in past experiences with Evil Floors and determined that it must be a good safety device). She'd take the cheese and quickly back up to the wall again.

But within a few minutes, she had completely relaxed and was walking around the house like a normal dog. Huh. Maybe I'll have to take string cheese with me wherever we go in case there are Evil Floors.

She even found a tennis ball and started dropping it incessantly for me to throw. One thing about old houses is that sometimes the floors tilt, and this appeared to be slightly the case here, so I got some reprieve in that every time Boost dropped the ball, it rolled away from her into the room, so she had to go get it and bring it back. When I continued refusing to throw it, she went into her usual PAY ATTENTION TO ME mode by noisily dumping the entire box of tennis balls. (In other words, this was all completely normal.)

I discovered that i could just hold the tennis ball in my open palm and she'd stand there staring at it for several minutes, and that was a good distraction for a while.

We had a tasty dinner and snacks and dessert and watched the video. It mixed perhaps unintentionally amusing moments with intriguing dog facts. (This segment [sorry--have to wait through a 30-second ad first], talking about flock guardian dogs, had us almost in hysterics with the bad guy at the beginning, but then goes into modern flock guardians and it's pretty interesting, especially if you didn't already know how they work.)

It's a 90-minute show and worth a watch if you haven't seen it. Lots of Border Collies in it, and none, that I could see, having problems with Evil Floors. Maybe Boost just needs a real, outdoors, floor-free job involving sheep. Or maybe I could just hold one in the palm of my hand for several hours. Whatever works.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can You Still See Me?

SUMMARY: New glasses after 2 weeks.
[Dang--This was supposed to have posted on the 18th. I just noticed that it never posted. Not sure why. Here it is now (Nov 26 midnight).]
I thought I was obsessive about keeping my glasses from getting scratched after the first pair, then the 2nd pair, became horrifically scratched after something over a year. Now after the 3rd pair, I am working hard on developing an obsessive-compulsive behavior towards having nothing in the known universe, including gluons and other subatomic particles if I can possibly help it, touch the lenses except water or official drying media (e.g., cotton towels, microfiber lens cloth).

I've discovered that the bows stretch out very quickly, so they don't latch behind my ears, so they slide down my nose, so I keep shoving them back. Wasn't aware of how much I had been doing that. I've rebent the bows twice already in two weeks.

Coincidentally, just after I got this pair, Consumer Reports came out with an article on eyeglasses and noted that the material in my glasses scratches "very easily" and that the antiscratch coating (which I dispensed with) helps only marginally.

This morning I carefully washed and dried them. Sure enough, two tiny scratches on the left, one on the right, both about half an inch long. You have to have the right light to see them--they really are minuscule--but even with my obsession, the scratching has already begun on their way to this. Curses.

Sooooo What's Next?

SUMMARY: Two-month vacation from agility.
That's it! No more agility until January 23. That's 8 weekends plus four or five holidays (two at Thanksgiving, Christmas, one or two for New Year's, not sure yet). Of course a couple of those are taken up with family fun.

So, what should I be doing with my time? I'm excited! Or overwhelmed. Pick one or both.
  • Walked gently for a mile yesterday and my knee was fine. Would like to do some hiking, with or without the dogs. Take it easy for another week or so, though, to be sure.
  • Trim the back hedge! It's getting to be Sleeping Beauty Castle around here, waiting for the prince of hedge trimmers to break through. Hmm, maybe sleeping for 100 years would be good, too.
  • Work on Boost's runout/refusals/bars/whatever issues.  [Hah. Like I always say I will. Two months! I can put it off for a little whillllllle...]
  • Get the house organized! All those stacks of things that I've accrued in the "get rid of" piles are making things around here look worse, not better.
  • Make sure all my financial notes are in order for tax time.
  • Get up to date on sorting, labeling, posting, & distributing my backlog of photos. [Argh. The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.]
  • Finish the agility ribbon photo project that's currently taking up my entire living room, which is supposed to be the one nice, uncluttered place in the house.
  • Hey, maybe visit with some nonagility friends! I think I still have some around here somewhere. And even family!
  • Go do things that aren't agility and are out of the ordinary. Maybe it's time for that Jelly Belly Factory Tour in Vacaville.
  • (Oh--wait--and lose 20 pounds.  Down 8 so far. Keep the momentum!)
Oh, here's one thing I'll probably do: Go to a fun match the Saturday after Thanksgiving to practice being a judge on the field. Considering that the only time in my life I've actually done so was at the clinic in September.

Oh, which reminds me, the host offered to let me try my hand at a course design if I wanted to. Yikes! A course-design deadline already and I'm not even officially judging yet!  Better get on it pronto!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Knee, Bars, Class

SUMMARY: Knee's much better; others ran dogs last night.
Because my dogs go stir crazy, I didn't want to skip last night's class, so I begged ahead of time for classmates willing to run the Merle Girls for me, and actually got volunteers who would run mine in addition to theirs.

I figured it was good practice in case something ever happened during a trial--like what if my knee had gone south Saturday night instead of Sunday night, and I had stayed at the trial anyway?

I tried another handler briefly with Tika four years ago before my knee surgery. Ashley ran Tika in class for 2 weeks and she was fine when he had food in his hands, if a little distracted from actual agility, but at the trial the following weekend, she'd have nothing to do with it.

Last night both dogs actually ran for other people. I got to watch Team Small Dog's Captain and WV each work with both dogs to get their attention and connection, and it's fun to see how talented dog people can work with unfamiliar dogs and pretty quickly start to build some interest.

And it was also interesting to see how the verbals made no difference when the physical handling was spot on. The first couple of runs, I carefully explained their obstacle cues (e.g., "thru", not "tunnel"), but of course when you're running a course, the commands you use normally just come out anyway, and the dogs had no trouble at all figuring out what to do.

I got a lot of teasing because Boost didn't knock One. Single. Bar. all evening with her substitute handlers. And only one push off a rear cross (same problem I have), but mostly good. And for the last run of the evening, Tika made her substitute feel right at home in my shoes by lying there at the start line snuffling around in the grass for dropped treats rather than running, and then by doing the same while in her perfect 2o2o contact (which are things she way too often does with me in class). So I guess she was getting comfortable!

Boost was a little stressy before the runs ("this is different! different is maybe evil!"), but once she was in her sit-stay at the start line and then running on course, she was fine. A bit cautious in places, but blasting along as usual in others.

In short, they were very good girls and I was impressed with what my guest handlers managed with them with only 2-3 runs each.

My knee was much better indeed by yesterday afternoon; I could navigate stairs both up and down pretty normally. I walked pretty carefully, though, trying not to put any twist or torque on the knee, which I kept in an elastic brace all day except when icing. The swelling is pretty much gone. Time to get back to those thigh-strengthening exercises. Sure. Any day now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


SUMMARY: Sorry, Apollo and Apollo's handler.
I dissed Apollo in my detailed post about last weekend, and I should not have done so. It was thoughtless of me, and I have been soundly excoriated for it in Apollo's blog and in the responses to it. I apologize for offending and I will try to do better in the future. I've always tried to remain unoffensive, but this stepped over the line and I don't know why I went there.

My response was:

OK, I'm guilty! I overstepped reasonable bounds. I know that Apollo doesn't compete that much in USDAA and yet does well enough that he could be in Top Ten range anyway, so he's no slacker, and I know that, too! I apologize, Apollo, and I note that you also are a way cute dog, and I'm sorry, Channan. I am now multiply chided by multiple people and I apologize to all of you, too.

Update Nov 19: BTW, she accepted my apologies and also apologized for going public instead of just sending me email. So we're all good now.

Here's Proof

SUMMARY: Judging letter arrives.
Just arrived from USDAA via snailmail: A letter congratulating me, a certificate showing that I can judge at the Starters or Advanced level with supervision (signed and dated Sept 27, BTW), and a W-9 form.
Meanwhile, Boost wonders why Human Mom is doing stupid things with the stupid flashy blinding device again instead of taking her and her ball out to the yard to play.

Thanks, USDAA! The clinic and test were a blast!

Here Comes The...Waffle

SUMMARY: Accepted as a USDAA judge.
In case you missed it buried in yesterday's post, I found out over the weekend that I'm now on USDAA's judges list. But wait--before you all rush out to sign me up to work (supervised) at your trials: I have no information of any kind about what I do and how and when. And I'm not ready yet to say yes.

It was a bit of a surprise. I was expecting a phone call or a letter, but noooo, it was just a friend who saw me on the list and figured that I didn't know.

I hadn't intended to become a judge (or I'd have followed through on this YEARS ago). Course design never interested me, which might be kind of odd for someone with a mathematical bent. *Running* courses interested me. I did discover, with the course design/judging clinic, that it was actually fun. I thought that I knew nothing at all about course design, but apparently I've picked up a lot just from having run so dang many courses through the yearsnote 1.

I'm not a person who thrives on meeting new folks in a big party atmosphere, but I do like meeting people in a calm environment where everyone basically knows what they're doing. Which, yes, really does describe dog agility. I've just never found there to be a lot of drama in agility. There might be some here and there, but for the most part, not.

I'm pretty comfortable with the rules and the environment. It's an atmosphere in which I feel confident of what I'm doing (except when running Boost, say).

But it remains that the main reason I do agility is for something to do with my dogs, not because I needed something else to do.

And it also remains that I've been gradually cutting way back on agilitynote 2 so that I could have more weekends to do all those other things that I used to like doing or that I need to do.

So how much do I really want to be a judge? I'm waffling. Have to really decide before I call USDAA to say, um, could I get, like, some actual information? And before some club contacts me to see whether I'd be willing to come judge for them.

I think I'd like doing it, but really, maybe only a couple of times a year. (I'll bet lots of judges are laughing now.) But will that make me a competent or useful judge?

Yet, in the back of my mind is the philosophical question: Will my lifetime agility experience ever be truly complete if I don't do at least some judging? Hmmm.

note 1How many courses, exactly? The database wonk gets all excited--I think I could figure out a report in my database that would calculate that for me, but it would be complicated. So I'm going with an educated guess. I have run 3644 runs in my competition career (all venues). But of course many are duplicates (running 2 dogs). Let's say maybe 2000 different courses?

note 2From a high of 23 trials in 2003 gradually down to 13 this year. I'm proud of myself!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Details of the Weekend

SUMMARY: All those runs, some awards and plaques, USDAA surprise, and the sky.

Some advice for beginning writers is: Never start your story (or article) with the weather. (Been done to death, apparently.) However: This weekend's weather was perfect for agility. On Saturday, in the low 40s overnight (4.4C), warming up to where I took off my fleece for about half an hour in the early afternoon. Sunday was somewhat warmer; had my fleece off most of the time for early afternoon. Dogs like that kind of weather, for sure. And it sure beats doing anything in the rain and mud! We truly lucked out for this mid-November trial.


The usual rise-at-4-a.m. bit. Dogs cooperated in the back yard by doing all their business immediately, and we hit the road, in the dark. The new glasses meant that there wasn't as much haloing effect of the oncoming headlights--yay!

The drive was uneventful, except for the last quarter mile around sunrise, when I had to make a u-turn to check out this stunning new building, out there in rural Turlock. Wasn't there last time I came through!

The competition generally didn't go well for me, and I realized sometime in the early afternoon that I was NOT enjoying myself. Chiding myself for not having practiced enough, for doing dumb things on course, the usual. I simple do not have much fun when neither dog is Qing, no matter whether 95% of their runs are beautiful and it's just one error that kills us. I was almost ready to pack up and go home, except, dangitall, I'd paid for 2 days, the weather was lovely, the dogs have been going nuts lately at home, [fill in other reasons for staying].

As I commented last night, I felt as though I bought Boost's Jumper's Q with the price of Tika's run fails. It wasn't a complete disaster, really, but it felt like it. Out of 6 runs, Tika Qed in only 2, Pairs (yawn) and Steeplechase, but even the Steeplechase had a bar down.

And Boost got only the Jumpers Q out of 6 runs. But I was, indeed, happy about that Q!


Holly B brought back Tika's Silver Lifetime Achievement (LAA) plaque from Louisville, and that was a wonderful surprise.

Partway through the day, Leslie B dropped by with another surprise: To let me know that I'm now on the USDAA judges list. Surprise! No phone call, no confirmation that I actually wanted to be there, no information of any kind. I guess they assume that, if you're nuts enough to take the test at the end of the workshop, you must really want to be a judge. I'm honored, for sure, but conflicted. I'll have to post about that later.

And the day ended with a nice-enough sunset and a decent meal at Applebys. (Tilapia wasn't the best fish I'd ever had but most of the dish was good, and healthy, too.)


Steeplechase Round 2 started half an hour earlier than the other classes, so we were up and at'em again. Alarms didn't go off at 6 as planned (both Ellens in the room set them), but my dogs insisted at 6:10 that it was time to wake up, go figure how they knew. Must've heard us talking about it before bed--thank goodness there was a digital clock, as they're not good at reading analog hands.

Outside, the sun wasn't quite up but that golden light and the little tendrils of field fog were lovely. (MUTT MVR and THE CORGmobile at the hotel.)

On the way to the site, the golden glow on the temple's onion domes required another stop.

Tika had a better day, winning Steeplechase, Gamblers, and Snooker, and 2nd place in Jumpers by only .1 second. Also Qed in Grand Prix. So 4 out of 5 Qs in Q-able classes plus a small check for the Steeplechase win.

There were over 500 runs each day for the Masters ring. That meant that we finished under the lights both nights. But Sunday's spectacular sunset (completely outbeautifying Saturday's) made up for it, for anyone who bothered to turn around and look at it instead of at the agility ring. (Do click on it for a larger version.)

We finished around 5:30, I believe, then it was packing up, letting the dogs do a ton of frisbee although not nearly as much as they had wanted, and leaving the site about 6:30. The 2-hour drive home was completely uneventful, thank goodness.

Tika's details

  • Pairs: Our scheduled partner (human) broke her foot last week, so we scrounged an accommodating dog, Willie, who ran beautifully. Tika's teeter was iffy (I was sure we'd be called on a flyoff, rare for her, but we were OK), and I was late on a front cross and she saved my butt with no small effort, really torquing around to get over a jump at an impossible angle without knocking the bar. We came in 3rd--a fraction of a second behind Willie's other team, so I'm sure she was sandbagging on our run to save her placement.  [not]
  • Standard: A killer course for all levels and classes--there were NO Qs out of Tika's group of 8, and we managed a 3rd place (and even 1 Top Ten point) with major flyoffs on both the Aframe and dogwalk AND a knocked bar. At least we didn't E, which many, many dogs did.
  • Gamblers: As usual, we had a lovely opening and earned 2nd highest points in our group of 8, were right where we wanted to be at the whistle, Tika made the difficult turn to the Aframe--but then ran past it, and I'm not at all sure why. Lots of folks didn't get this, but two in our group did (although not Brenn, who was the one with more points), so we ended in 4th. This and Snooker were the classes where I really wanted to add a few more Top Ten points for security, so disappointing.
  • Snooker: Tika executed the four-red opening with no problem, but knocked #3 in the closing. See, the gamble & this are the sorts of things that made me feel I'd sold Tika's Qs to pay for Boost's Jumpers Q.
  • Steeplechase: Tika lit up for this run. It had two Aframes, and she executed the most amazing running Aframes I think I've ever seen her do: Two perfect strides down, one of them solidly in the middle of the yellow, and then go. (Versus usual slight hesitation then taking off just above the yellow zone.) She knocked a bar and she pulled away from a difficult entry to the weaves for wasted time, so I figured that, in our crowd of dogs, that would be fatal for a Q. But we were well under the cutoff as our time was less than a second slower than the fastest. Sadly don't have this on video, as my camera battery turned out to be completely drained.
  • Jumpers: This is Tika's specialty class, apparently (based on our Top Ten points), and this one was fast and perfectly executed up to the 3rd to the last jump, where I assumed she'd follow me on a slight curve but didn't, so I had to call her off an offcourse, which put her past the correct jump for a 5-point fault, and I got her back over that, but that put her on the wrong line to the tunnel and I had to call her off the wrong entrance. We got through without Eing and STILL had the 2nd-fastest time of all 10 dogs even after that brouhaha, but of course the faults prevented a Q.
  • Steeplechase: There are excellent dogs in Performance 22". When I bobbled a front cross and forgot to do a rear cross on the weaves and did it by zooming back around, really slowing Tika down, I thought we'd blown it. But the timer malfunctioned, so we ran again, and I didn't make those mistakes. Maybe our luck was turning up, as we ended up winning. (Although we were only 2nd fastest--Kidd had us by .35 seconds but a 5-fault penalty left us in 1st.) So another huge check... well... almost $17.
  • Jumpers: We had a nice run, but Apollo the boxer beat us by .13.
  • Snooker:  I had a pretty good course and we excuted it fairly well, except where I couldn't get in the front cross I had planned on that pesky #7--twice--and Tika managed another supercanine move to accommodate my incompetence. 52 points, when most folks were going for 51, got us the win an Super-Q and a nice safe 5 Top Ten points. Thank goodness no one else went for the 52, because instead of using electronic timing for the last jump, they had a finish line that was 20 feet beyond the last jump, which I forgot about and Tika grabbed my feet and so we had a NT, which would've lost to any timed run with the same points. Got lucky on that one.
  • Standard: A lovely run all the way through until nearly the end, when she turned the wrong way after a jump, and I had been moving away for a front cross at the next obstacle so wasn't there to save her from backjumping when she realized where I was. Got all her contacts this time, too, dang it. Hate wasting good contacts on an off-course run!
  • Grand Prix: Built on the same course as the Standard, so parts were very similar, including where we backjumped--which I got right the second time through, AND got the contacts, but it was a challenging course that I didn't feel that I handled well. We Qed but took only 4th, continuing our unbroken streak of never winning a Grand Prix.  (5 (!) seconds behind the winner, Kidd, 2 seconds behind Brenn, and less than a second behind Apollo. Tough crowd. But I'll tell ya, if Kidd is now in Performance, we're going to be having a tougher time than ever picking up wins in anything.)
  • Gamblers: Last class of the weekend, last chance for us to put a few security Top Ten points on our chart, and the gamble *looked* like it would be tough. (Gah--I was going to scan some course maps and include them, but this is taking longer than I'd expected to write up, so not now.) I picked an aggressive opening, figuring that if everyone crapped out on the gamble, I could maybe get a placement on those points. In fact, she ran it perfectly and I wimped out on trying an additional 2 jumps, which meant that I actually ran out of obstacles and was about to bobble her around when the buzzer sounded. It took a bit to get her turned around, and then some froofra on the tough turn at the beginning of the gamble, but she finally figured out what I meant and did the whole thing like a champ. I was afraid we were over time, but nahhh--plenty of time left. So we had plenty of points and the gamble for a win (although the Sunday Night It's Too Late To Stay crowd whittled it down to 6). Whew!

Boost Saturday

  • Pairs: Boost ran past a tunnel for a refusal (doesn't she LOVE tunnels? what's with that?) and partner had 2 more faults, which pushed us past the Qing level despite both being really fast.
  • Standard: She didn't stick her start line and went flying by me--I was so startled that I started running instead  of pulling her off immediately, but was wayyyyy out of position and off course before #5, at which point we left.
  • Gamblers: A decent opening, although she knocked the first bar. In good position for the gamble I thought, but she ran past the first two jumps instead of taking them.
  • Snooker: I could NOT come up with a course that I liked. I walked several combinations, settled on one that didn't suck as badly as the others, and then watched other people's runs. Savanna had a really nice, flowing, high-point course that combined parts of everything I had tried, and so I changed my plan and ran her course without ever having walked it. The result was that I did the wrong thing for my 4th red in the opening and suddenly found myself in the wrong place. I was puzzled, but there was no whistle, so kept going, although that wrong place meant that we weren't going to get the high points needed for a SuperQ. Boost was perfect! Fast, no refusals, no runouts, no bars down, and we got all the way through. It was while I was walking off the course that I realized that I had taken the same red twice, and while I stood there slightly stunned talking to people who congratulated us on a nice run, I said, "I took the same red twice," and THEY looked stunned, and I turned around to say something to the judge and she was already coming towards me. As she said later, when people do things with such confidence, you start second-guessing yourself. So not even a Q, but a really beautiful Booster run. Sighhhhhhh.
  • Jumpers: Still too much checking in with me, but we both seemed to do everything right and Qed! (!!! for more excitement)  Didn't place in the ribbons or top ten range, but 8th of 28 dogs isn't bad at all. And only 2.4 seconds behind the winner, so I'm pretty happy with that.
  • Steeplechase:  Knocked the 2nd bar (Tika knocked the 1st--what's up with that, you guys? Simple straight lead-out!), entered the weaves at the 2nd pole (same entry Tika pulled away from). And I think some bobbles. With the 5-point fault, no Q, but we were still only 4 seconds over the cutoff.

Boost Sunday

  • Jumpers:  One bar, one push off a jump on a rear cross (I'm trying SO hard to get my timing right. If only she'd just GO OVER JUMPS), and a bobble, but parts of the course flowed nicely. Sometimes it feels like she's starting to get it.  But of course it's felt like that off and on for several years now.
  • Snooker: Bobbles bobbles everywhere, knocked a bar on the #5 in the opening which automatically took us out of SuperQ range, and then didn't go into a tunnel that I thought was right in front of her in the closing (I THOUGHT SHE LIKED TUNNELS!) and we were done.
  • Standard: Wow! A Q! Good table down/stay, good contacts (which I held her on briefly), nice weaves, pushing to jumps, rear crosses, the whole works. But this is where I feel that she's slowing down a lot to figure out what to do, and that's what I've been fearing. However, we lucked out--this course ate up dogs left and right, and we ended up in 5th of 29, and only 4.5 seconds behind the eventual winner (although that wasn't the fastest time recorded). Only one little bobble in the same place where Tika backjumped, which probably cost us a second or two. But again, happy with the run.
  • Grand Prix: Melt down. Finally just left.
  • Gamblers: Last class of the weekend. I was 90% certain that she wouldn't get the gamble, and I wanted to have some fun, so I picked a really aggressive course. Much more aggressive than Tika's, because Boost *is* faster and has great speed in the weaves (which I avoided with Tika--on a 25-second opening, her weaves are just not that fast and I can get more points doing tunnels and other contacts, even though the weaves were the one high-point obstacle). So here's what I planned for 25 seconds: jump/teeter/chute/weaves/weaves/aframe/tunnel /aframe/tunnel /jump/teeter.  The buzzer sounded as she hit that last teeter so we didn't get those points, but everything else was spot on and SO much fun to run! We were in good position for the gamble, and as expected she was completely baffled by what i asked her to do, so no Q. But out of all 90ish dogs who did the course, only she and the Amazing Heath got 28 opening points; a small handful got 25, so I'd say we did pretty good. And we both had fun, so it was a nice way to end the weekend. 


This morning, the knee is still swollen, although it's above the kneecap and not around it. It almost feels and acts as if I did something to a muscle or tendon there instead of in the knee itself. Guess I'll be taking it easy for a couple of days. (Says here. Yeh.)

And in conclusion

If you actually read all that, thanks for listening. This really goes back to my original plan for the blog, which was to document, for myself, my progress and achievements. And *that* is why I sometimes go on and on.

      Sunday, November 14, 2010

      Weekend Results with the Devil to Pay

      SUMMARY: Some Qs and good stuff and some  not as good.
      I am SO tired. Home at 8:35 p.m., ready for bed, except--must ice my problem knee for a bit first, so here I am blogging. Don't know why this weekend was different. Knee was a little sore but nothing that I noticed more than usual. Ran just fine in the last class of the day, packed up, drove home--which means sitting still in MUTT MVR for two hours.

      Now it's so painful that I can barely walk, and it's all swolled up. Hasn't done this since the surgery. Which, interestingly, was four years minus two weeks ago. Did I have a four-year warranty on that knee clean-up, perhaps?

      As for the rest of the weekend: Beautiful weather, good friends, laughs. Great sunsets. Enjoyed sleeping in a hotel for a change (the Ellens shared a room).

      Boost got her 2nd-ever Jumpers Q Saturday! Big excitement! But apparently that deal I made with that Luci-something guy last week for that success required that Tika crap out all day Saturday.

      Sunday was a bit better--I can safely say that I'm now no longer even a little concerned about Tika being in the Top Ten in all four classes.

      Took a few photos.

      But really too tired to do anything else here tonight. TTFN

      Friday, November 12, 2010

      Walkies and This Weekend

      SUMMARY: Guadalupe River walk and USDAA trial.
      For this week's Friday walkies, we strolled (fairly briskly) 2 miles along the Guadalupe River Trail from the percolation pond under Highway 87--

      --alllll the way to Almaden Lake Park, where the view with Mount Umunhum (with its well-known radar station) in the background caught my eye.

      The section between the two is level, paved, and mostly very very straight:

      Just a few touches of fall color here and there. Oh, and Tika and Boost.

      Here's walkies friend's "I've had plenty of periodic cancer scans, thenk yew very much" t-shirt for this week:

      This weekend won't be nearly so laid-back. Nunes Athletic Field's last USDAA trial of the year is also our last of the year--not because there aren't trials, but because I really am cutting back and the idea of two months off appeals greatly to me now (although the dogs get antsier by the day). Six runs (per dog) on Saturday, five on Sunday (or six, if we Q in Steeplechase).

      Training we've done? Pretty much NO. THING. Weekly class, of course, where actually Boost is doing better at running and less at inserting refusals or runouts, but still knocking bars. Tika looks great; as usual, her contacts are fast and perfect at home and in class. What will they look like this weekend? Prediction: Slow and accurate or fast and fly-off, as usual.

      Sooooo, what titles could we get this weekend?
      • Tika needs 1 Standard Q for her Performance Standard Bronze (15 Qs). We have 2 chances. Prediction: We'll get it. She's Qed 8 of the last 11 at the last 6 trials.
      • Tika needs 2 Jumpers Qs for her Performance Jumpers Bronze. We have 2 chances. Prediction: 50-50. She's Qed 12 of the last 16 at our last 9 trials, so she'll probably get one of those Qs.
      • Those two would complete her Performance Championship Bronze! In just over a year! She likes Performance.
      • Boost: Pleeeeeeeeze could we get jumpers Qs and SuperQs? two chances at each. But still need a bunch of both before we approach titles.
      So now, as the sun sinks slowly in the west, I bid you all farewell until Sunday night or Monday. Hope you all have as wonderful a weekend among friends and furry companions as I plan on having!