a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Semiretirement

Monday, April 30, 2012


SUMMARY: Time to scale Tika back. Dunno about Boost.
This was another weekend where Tika didn't look like she was having a lot of fun in agility. After the previous competition where she was back to grabbing my feet at the end of her runs, this weekend she did it only twice, and only half-heartedly (token grab and release). She wasn't fast. She didn't want to play before the runs and I couldn't jolly her into it. She stretched out fine, so no obvious signs of soreness.

And, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, her ears came up and her eyes sparkled and she ran full-tilt after the frisbee on saturday morning, saturday evening, sunday morning, sunday midday, and sunday at the end of the trial on the lawn where the rings had been.

I'd already decided after that last DAM team tournament that we're not doing team any more (with one exception to team with our long-time teammate Brenn who's also briefly coming out of team retirement), because the last couple of teams she's not been getting the individual Qs, and I don't really want to have to do 5 runs with her to get one team Q. And we don't need team Qs for *any* reason except Lifetime Achievement Awards (LAA)--and even that is iffy whether we'll finish the 58 more that we need for Platinum. It might be doable, but I guess I'm going to do it more gradually.

And, in fact, way more gradually. Since I don't know whether it's some soreness that doesn't show up in general stretching and play, or been-there-done-thatness, or thyroid, or what, I'm going to gradually do fewer classes with her and see how that goes.

Bay Team's May USDAA is this coming weekend, so here's how I've adjusted our entries as of last night, and why:
  • Standard: 2 runs, doing those. She needs 3 more in my quest for her PDCH-Gold. When she gets those, I might stop doing standard, since the escalating battle for her to go down on the table could make it very hard for us to get Qs and obviously she just doesn't want to, for whatever odd reason, after 10 years of doing tables. The awesome Hobbes Michalski also went into greater and greater table refusal mode as he got older, and this weekend the awesome Heath LeClair's human dad said that he's considering ceasing Standards with him since he also no longer wants to go down on the table. As someone who no longer wants to sit down on the floor because it's so hard to get up, I might understand.
  • Gamblers: 2 runs, canceled both. She used to be my Jedi Gambler girl--Gamblers was the first thing she reached Perf Gold in-- but between my miscues and her hearing, since she got that 35th Q, we've gotten only 1 out of the following 8 (12% Q rate). (Took her 58 tries for those 35, so 60% Q rate.)
  • Jumpers: 2 runs, doing those. She always liked jumpers--no pesky weaves or contacts; yesterday's jumpers is one of the only two classes where she grabbed my foot this weekend; she still Qs pretty regularly.
  • Snooker: 1 run, doing that. She needs 5 more in my quest for her PDCH-Gold. They don't have to be super-Qs, and I'm trying to pick easy, flowing courses now where I used to always pick fun, challenging ones because my excitement would get her excited, too.
  • Pairs: Canceled that. Actually worked out well because our dog partner Chaps is feeling a little wonky and his human mom already scratched him from everything except pairs for this weekend, so we talked and we're now both scratching pairs. I feel less comfortable doing pairs now because I'm now feeling like Tika and I are an unreliable pairs partner, after several years of feeling pretty reliable.
  • Steeplechase: Doing that. Well, she's not fast, but so far she's mostly still Qing and mostly still bringing home a small pittance of $. Or everyone else could crap out or scratch, like this weekend, and we win by default. [grin]
  • Grand Prix: Canceled that. Her Q rate is actually pretty high still in GP, but I just don't want to run that many runs right now. Probably if/when I stop doing Standard with her, I'll put her back into GP. So glad they did away with the table in GP (about 10 years ago).
Boost: Dunno. After my angst after Sunday's steeplechase round 2, I asked why I keep doing this to myself. And the answer was: HER excitement, bright eyes, and speed--and the thrill of the half courses in which everything clicks and she's flying around the course and I'm living at the edge being her guiding teammate.  Curses on the other halves of those courses where it all goes to pieces.

I've been so close to shutting down her number of runs, too, but then her amazing gambler's opening on Saturday, her jumpers Q on Sunday, her oh-so-nearly-perfect snooker on sunday, things like that-- those random rewards that keep telling me, hey we CAN do this sport and someday she WILL get that 5th jumpers leg and two more super-Qs!

Jumpers Qs came for us in April 2010, November 2010, August 2011, and April 2012. An average of one every 8 months. So it could even happen this year. [sighs again]

Well, we'll see how this coming weekend goes and gradually shape our strategy.

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