a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Good Time Was Had By One Too Many People

SUMMARY: CPE weekend out of town.

I really don't like getting up at 4 a.m. and driving two hours before I can compete in agility. I debated driving up to Santa Rosa Friday evening and staying in the same motel I was planning on staying in on Saturday night, but that meant leaving around 8:30 to avoid traffic and getting there pretty late in the evening, plus my budget is always a little tight and I didn't want to spend the extra $60-ish. Instead, I came up with the great idea of imposing on my gracious cousin and her spouse, who live only a few minutes off of my route and about halfway to Santa Rosa.

Got into the car Friday evening around 8:30, and the key wouldn't turn in the ignition. A few minutes of experimentation and growing panic before it occurred to me to find my spare key and try that. It worked. But I should probably take the car & the key in for a check-up and at least a replacement. That won't be cheap, probably.

I drove uneventfully up to Richmond, hauled my suitcase and computer and camera bag and purse and dogs all into the cousin's house, visited a bit, went to bed, and didn't get up until 5:15, which seems almost reasonable. Hauled everything back out to MUTT MVR, where I was puzzled to notice that the cover on my cooler was ajar. When I walked around to the driver's side, my heart sank as I saw that my door was partly open. Sure enough, someone had been in my car and had gone through the glove compartment and the "junk box" between the seats. That's where I keep my first aid kit, work gloves, cough drops, things like that--oh, yeah, and my old Olympus point and shoot that didn't work the last time I tried it, and my nearly new $500 Canon S95 subcompact, neither of which were there any longer. &%#@*%*!

Also apparently they had used the flashlight from my glove compartment, because it was lying on the floor, turned on, with the batteries almost completely discharged. Why on earth would the sight of a cooler make someone want to break into the car? I don't know what they were hoping for, but I take pleasure in knowing that all I had were cans of diet soda and bottles of water, and apparently those didn't interest them (although they sure dug around in the ice to be sure). And they didn't think to open the ashtray, where I had several dollars worth of change. So, hah!

I *think* that's all they got. I don't really remember what all was in my junk box or glove compartment. And apparently they didn't bother trying to dig around in the fully loaded pile of dog gear in the back.

But now I'm back to no point-and-shoot again. :-(

Still, I was surprisingly calm and undevastated by the whole thing. Maybe because it seems so minor compared to the major theft and insurance disaster of 2 and a half years ago. They didn't even break a window. Really, they slim-jimmed a car to get into the cooler for a beer?! Jerks.

Drove uneventfully up to Santa Rosa (hah, they also didn't steal my FastTrak toll gizmo, I noted as I went across the bridge), unloaded everyone and set up the Cabana Crates and all. About an hour into the trial, someone came to tell me that Boost had ripped open the side of her crate and was lunging out at dogs as they came by.

I don't know whether I can repair this. Might be a duct tape job. We'll have to experiment.

Boost made up a little bit of it by winning two bags of Zukes in the raffle--that'll save me $8 or 10, woohoo.

Saturday ran VERY long, mostly due to a new judge being supervised with long discussions and no nested courses, requiring significant course buils and more discussions each time. Still, I had a good time. I love agility people--and CPE trials. We had a costume contest in the evening with some really great costumes (I'll post photos later), then pizza dinner for about a dozen of us, just sitting and talking there at the show site.

The Motel 6 was comfy and I slept fairly well.

Sunday was a little more efficient. At the end of the day, we announced the winners of the Kevin Gast Memorial Award, which goes to the highest-scoring novice dog (defined as level 1, 2, or 3, who is not in a higher level in any other organization, either). Kevin was a fun guy who died suddenly and too young in 2008. Here's my photo of a blown-up photo they displayed of him and his shelties.

There's now a plaque for the winner and a perpetual plaque with each winner's name on it.

After we packed up, we ran the dogs ragged in the field by the agility ring, then a few of us went out to dinner (Denny's, and actually most of us had breakfast), then I headed home. Had to pull over about halfway home & sleep for an hour in a shopping-center parking lot. Home around midnight.


Tika picked up 8 of 10 Qs (knocked a bar in jumpers, drat, and another oddball gamble where I think she was heading for the correct obstacle and then pulled off--something she never used to do but seems to do more often now. Particularly odd since Boost, the sticky dog, did get it.) Boost picked up 7 out of 10, including that final pesky Colors Q to finish her CL4 title! Whew!

Boost missed BOTH Snookers, and one Standard where I misjudged a handling situation so she jumped a jump in the wrong direction, but she also finished her level 5 fun title, and Tika got her first EX title, EXSt (Standard--that's 30 Level C Qs--in the range of a USDAA Gold title).


  • Snooker: Well, Boost took herself out of the Perfect Weekend running first thing in the morning--a mess, really, and I think I bobble it so badly that I also confused the judge. Anyway, I just didn't really pick a good course for her, although Tika ran the same sequence successfully but messily as I was late or in the wrong place on my cues. Only a 2nd place for Tika.
  • Standard: Boost and Tika both had nice runs, although Boost left the teeter early & I made her down, so wasted some time. Still, both 1st places & Qs.
  • Standard #2: Just Boost. I underestimated how far she'd carry out in a certain sequence and so she backjumped a jump instead of coming inside it, but otherwise really nice. And she still came in 2nd of 4 dogs.
  • Jumpers: Just Tika.  Nice fast run, fastest of all 50-ish level 4/5/C dogs.
  • Gamblers (Jackpot): Tika had highest opening points of all dogs at the trial, but then pulled away from the gamble that I thought was right in front of her, for an NQ. Odd, because Boost--although we had some issues in the opening keeping us from quite as many points--actually got the gamble. So a win for Boost, and still a 2nd out of 4 for Tika despite the NQ.
  • Wildcard: Both dogs ran nicely, and fast, too--only 3 dogs of all 70-ish 3/4/5/C dogs broke 20 seconds, and they were the fastest two of those three: 19.32 for Tika and 19.07 for Boost--ALMOST breaking 19!
  • Snooker,  again a mess with Boost, interrupted by the judge blowing the whistle when she shouldn't have, confusing me no end; she let us rerun but we were worse the 2nd time. Tika got through it nicely, doing 3 7s in the opening for a total of 51 and taking 1st in her class of 6.  Lots and lots of dogs got the 51 points, which made it even more embarrassing for not being able to get through it with Boost.
  • Gamblers: This was nontraditional, and Tika did everything I asked her to except that in doing the 2nd (easier!) gamble, I lost my balance and stepped over the line before she exited the tunnel (another one of those dark tunnels where she seemed to be in there forever, the thing that made me wonder about her vision), so instead of having 70 points which would've been 5 more than anyone else in the whole trial, we ended with 55, and there were 8 dogs with more points than us. Boost also did both gambles, but we had some bobbles here and there, so ended up with only 56 as well. Still--first place in each of their classes, and Qs.
  • Colors: Woohoo, Boost finally finished her last Level 4 Q! With a really nice run, 15.07 seconds. Not quite the fastest of all dogs in 3/4/5/C--that was an aussie at 14.78, wow. Tika's run seemed smooth to me, but she came in a lot slower at 16.87--but still, these were the only 3 dogs out of everyone in 3/4/5/C to break 17 seconds.
  • Standard: Both dogs I thought had very nice runs. Tika felt only marginally slower by this time, and in fact she came in only 2nd in her group of 6. Boost I did a stupid handling maneuver and had to actually stop in the middle and line her up again. Even so--she was only 1.5 seconds slower than Tika and got a 1st.
  • Jumpers: Both dogs had a bar down in the same general area of the course, but not sure if it was exactly the same bar. Nothing wrong with either dog's speed; Tika was 2 seconds slower than Boost although I think Tika had tighter turns. Boost had the 2nd fastest time of all 60 3/4/5/C dogs (.1 slower than on other dog in her exact same class, figures)--one of only 3 dogs to get below 23 seconds, at 5.85 yards per second--and Tika's 2 seconds extra made her only the 10th fastest. Yeh, think she's slowing down a bit.

Tika: Knocked one bar in one Jumpers course. Only one dogwalk and did that fine, one iffy Aframe departure, one turn-away in the gamble. Nothing really identifiable to work on.

Boost: Quite a few weaves this weekend, mostly 6-pole, but did them all great, even the 12-pole that headed into the fence while I moved away in the opposite direction.  Contacts: Leaving most of them early w/out a release; must must must fix this again. Bars: Knocked one in Saturday's snooker, one in our 2nd attempt at Sunday's snooker, knocked one in Sunday jumpers. 3 bars for the weekend isn't bad for her.  Runouts and refusals--just one run-by of a jump in gamblers, one turn-back on a series of obstacles where I got behind--I think mostly it was pretty smooth and she mostly kept moving and taking obstacles. I was pretty happy with her this weekend.

Start-line stays: Both dogs just lovely.


So, for Boost to get her C-ATCH (Agility Trial Championship)
  • 6 standard
  • 5 colors
  • 2 wildcard
  • 3 snooker (can't believe we didn't Q on EITHER one this weekend. Doh! Our Snooker "curse" continues even into CPE!)
  • (She already has all she needs of Full House, Jackpot, and Jumpers, go figure--but really that's because you can Q at level 5 in Jumpers with a bar down, which she did this weekend)
For Tika to get her C-ATE (Agility Team Extraordinaire):
She has 4035 points, so needs 965  more. I estimate an average of 21 pts per run based on the distribution of points per class, so realistically, 46 Qs. At an average Q rate of about 80%, that's about 60 runs that we have to sign up for. Am signed up for 15 at WAG thanksgiving. Bay Team March I think will have 9 runs, not sure yet about Bay Team July, either 8 or 10 I'd guess. So that still leaves another 27 runs to sign up for--so another 3 or 4 trials beyond those three.

Sigh. That's still a lot of extra agility weekends.

Gratuitous photo, too cute for words:

Meanwhile, I noticed an odd pattern--so to speak--in people's clothing on sunday.

Friday, October 28, 2011

One Can Never Have Too Many Legs

SUMMARY: Off to a CPE weekend.
We're outa here. Two days of Bay Team CPE agility up in Santa Rosa. Going to spend the night with my cousin & her husb and dog, so I can sleep in until 5:15 tomorrow and drive only an hour to the site, instead of 4:15 & 2 hours.

Five runs a day for each dog. There are several possible titles for each Merle Girl. We just wanna have fun, get some Qs, maybe some blue ribbons, hang out with friends. Weather should be amazingly lovely.

See ya'll in a couple of days.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Colorado, or Bust?

SUMMARY: Big decision #2, what to do?
The USDAA 2012 nationals (aka Cynosports World Games) will be held in Denver, Colorado next October.

I love Colorado. For several years, my goal was to graduate from college and then move to Colorado. Somehow I never made it.

And actually, aside from living there for a year and a half when I was in 2nd grade, I've only been there about 4 other times: A two-week vacation back in mumble let's say before I was married, mostly in the Denver/Colorado Springs general vicinity and one night backpacking in Estes Park area, one business trip where mostly I remember a bunch of us driving up into the mountains one afternoon to look at the snow, another business trip where I actually visited a couple of friends briefly in, um, maybe Boulder for dinner, and barely over the border at Mesa Verde back while I was still in college.

So, I love colorado anyway. To visit. Too much snow during the winter for living. I think.

It's farther away than Scottsdale was, though. All those years of driving to and from Scottsdale--tiring. At least I could do it in about 12 hours (including stops). Denver would be longer. More time off work. Lots of California people talking about going, though.

But I don't expect to have dogs who are nationally competitive. Tika was so far behind everyone at the regionals, and getting slower all the time.

And Boost, well, unless something changes a LOT in the next few months, forget that.

BUT, well, I could just go as a spectator. I kinda like going and hanging out with agility folks and taking photos and watching the finals of everything. Maybe make a vacation without the dogs and go hiking and take a whole truckload of photos. I was thinking maybe Aspens In Bright Autumn Colorage but that apparently happens in the really beautiful higher country at least a couple of weeks before the nationals, and I don't think I really want to take 3 weeks. (I love Days of Speed's photos every autumn and wish I were there.) But, hmm, maybe. Been wanting to do the AIBAC thing for years and years and years.

On the opposite side, there's the whole thing about Colorado being a breed-specific killing state. If your dog is some kind of bully breed, or maybe looks like a bully breed, or maybe someone thought that one of their ancestors might have been a bully breed, that dog's life is pretty much forfeit. Sure, a show can get an exception--as long as the dog is on leash at all times and never leaves the show grounds except maybe with a leash AND a muzzle. Pity about that. I wondered briefly whether I should boycott the state, but on the other hand, I don't think its' going to stop much of anyone from competing, any more than did Norway prohibiting dogs with docked tails or ears from competing at the FCI world championships a couple of years back (thereby shutting out, for example, Ash and Luka, this year's world champions).

Except my stated goal a few years back was to go to a different country every year, and I'm a little behind on that. I'm not sure that Colorado really qualifies, even with those sad, sad breed-specific laws.

But, I do love Colorado.

Thinkingggg... maybe. It's a definite maybe. Fortunately, I don't have to decide for a very long time yet.