a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What's The Point

SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday
From several years of archives--know I have more but don't want to spend all weekend looking.

Why do I have a zillion of Dave G, Sarah J, Karey, and Martin pointing? Do they really point more than everyone else?

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. <<

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Boost Jumps In Some Other Direction


Well, this is some of the sort of thing that goes on when we are competing. Am I not being clear that I'm heading to the right, Boost? I'm even clapping my hands. Because all the really good dog trainers clap their hands on course when they're not using the pointy finger.

Although pointy fingers sometimes work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mosaic History

SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday

For a fun view of Taj MuttHall's blog over the last few years, featuring photos, click:

Taj MuttHall mosaic.

(Might take a moment to load.

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. <<

Friday, October 19, 2012

Many Many Many Photos from Taj MuttHall

SUMMARY: Fun with Google advanced search for images.

This is cool--using Google's advanced search, I can find all the photos* on Taj MuttHall of a specific thing. For example:

This is too much fun! Must stop now.

*Wellll... it's not perfect. For keyword searches, it seems to rely on the text content, so for example if "shirt" is mentioned in a post, it displays all the photos in that post, even if they're not actually of a shirt. Still, pretty cool!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another Boost! *Two* Boosts!

SUMMARY: Unusual dog name.

In all the years I've done agility, I've never encountered another dog named Boost.

Just found out that there are two others dogs named Boost who do agility. Is that cool or what?

Here's the other Border Collie Boost, owned and photos by Tanya Lee.

This Boost is a year younger than my Boost but, OK, here's the really spooky thing--her Boost is *exactly* a year younger because they have the exact same birthday!

She told me that there's another Boost, a young Sheltie owned by Linda Robertson. I don't have photos. Nor do I know the birthday.

I feel a sudden kinship based solely on the name but doubly on the birthday. We're a very exclusive club, we owners of Boosts.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oh, What Is the Matter With Poor Tika-tik?

SUMMARY: summarytext


Oh, what is the matter with poor Puggy-wug
Pet him and kiss him and give him a hug.
Run and fetch him a suitable drug,
Wrap him up tenderly all in a rug,
That is the way to cure Puggy-wug. 
- Winston Churchill, about his daughter's ill Pug

I'm a little concerned about Tika.

She was fine all day Friday. All day Saturday. All day Sunday.

This morning, she didn't want to get up. We went to bed at 9 last night and she wouldn't come downstairs until 10:30 when I offered breakfast.  Didn't want to ferociously shake her doggie blanket while I dressed. Tucked tail (what there is of it) and went further into the house when I invited her out to the yard. Doing an awful lot of the sort of cough-gag smack smack smack with mouth and tongue like she's trying to clear an uncomfortable taste from her mouth. She's been doing that off and on for a while now, but a lot more today.

She did come out to the yard in the middle of the day while I was having a fun loud game of fetch and agility with Boost, looking halfway perky, and chased the toy about half of her normal speed a couple of times, but didn't actually pick it up or want to play with it. Then went back into the house.

No whining this time, no obvious soreness. She's just been lying there all day except when food has been involved, when she gladly gets up to participate, then goes right back to lying there doing nothing.

I do know that she has a bit of a heart murmur. Last visit, doctor said to let him know if she started doing any coughing. I told him about that cough-gag thing and he seemed unconcerned, but now I wonder.  And, of course, after my experience with Remington's cancer, I wonder about something like that, too.

Maybe time for another vet visit (but she becomes so stressed unless she's on tranqs, either way not a good way to judge her condition) and maybe an ultrasound of her innards.  It's just--jeez--$640 in vet bills and meds in the last 2 months already. Sure, that pales compared to what I spent fighting remington's cancer, but still.

I've been petting her and kissing her and giving her a hug (all of which she seems to like quite well, thank you), and she's been getting a suitable drug (I hope so, anyway--rimadyl through the weekend), and it's too warm to wrap her up tenderly all in a rug.

Doesn't feel hot to me; gums look fine.

Hmm, well, there was just a loud noise in the distance and she charged out into the yard and is now making warning whorfing sounds.  ...Oh, back inside and on her bed.

Will see how she's feeling in the morning and how I'm feeling about how she's feeling. But it still remains--I'm a little concerned about poor Tika-tik.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Interesting Weekend

SUMMARY: In which Boost *almost* got more Qs than Tika.

Of course we all know by now that what I really want for Boost is Snooker Super-Qs and Jumpers Qs.

What I really want for Tika is just Qs any way I can get them.

On Saturday, our long-time friend/competitor/teammate Chaps showed up just for one day to try to complete their (I think) Silver PDCH (championship redone 5 times over!) and all they needed was one Pairs Relay Q, and Chaps teamed with Tika.

So what I needed Saturday was Boost to win (or place high) in Snooker and a Jumpers Q, and what I needed for Tika was a Pairs Q and as many other Qs as I could get, even just plain old Snooker Qs.

What I *got* on Saturday was Tika won Snooker and got a Jumpers Q (2nd place) and *Boost* got a Pairs Q and a plain old Snooker Q. Completely the reverse of what I needed.

Sunday, Boost finally got her 15th Gamblers Q (last one was back in February), completing her Gamblers Champion Bronze, and placing 3rd! of about 30 dogs as we finally managed to put together her high-point openings with a completed gamble.

Both dogs Qed in Grand Prix, yay; Tika placed 2nd (of a whole 5 this weekend) and Boost was 11th out of 30--those folks who are really competitive don't hold their dogs on their contacts and stop to say "good dog!" I have no reason to blow off her contacts, so we did that, which is why only 11th.

Tika also Qed in Standard (2nd place) and Snooker (2nd place) again.

So--only 5 out of 11 for Tika this weekend, and actually 4 out of 11 for Boost!

Boost and I again had a few really nice runs or partial runs; I think I learned a couple of things about what I'm doing that doesn't help her; dogs stayed healthy and happy, even Tika.

Boost did knock a few bars this weekend, but not a lot. Not too many refusals or runouts but enough to make me crazy a couple of times. Tika had weave pole issues in an odd way and we didn't seem to be communicating all that well on course. But overall, I'm fairly satisfied with the way things went.

Except it got so hot today! Whew! (Actually only 79 F (26 C) but it sure was hotter than we'd expected.) And I think humid as well, as my clothing was soaked through with sweat by the end of the day. Quite draining. But we survived.

And that's a quick update from the Taj MuttHall newsroom.

Goodnight, Chet.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Transient failures

SUMMARY: Pondering the frustrations and annoyances.

You know about transient failures, right? A brief malfunction that happens at unpredictable intervals. Like when you can't post a comment on Facebook, and then, moments later, you can.


Remember back on September 16/17, when, after showing no signs or issues, Tika became suddenly so much in pain that she could barely stand? And then, after 26 hours, abruptly with no apparent cause, she turned right back into her usual bouncy, running, cheerful self?

Yesterday morning, we were out in the yard. I threw the toy for the dogs a couple of times, then left them to their own devices while I wandered around picking up a day's worth of dog poo. Suddenly behind me, a sharp, high-pitched yelp! When I turned around, Tika was on three legs and beating it for the house (she always goes inside when she's in pain, and sometimes even up to my bed).

I looked at and felt her pads, her toes, her toenails, her whole front left leg, and got no reaction. But, every time she tried to stand, a little whimper and back on 3 legs.

Human Mom is cursing the luck--we have a USDAA trial this weekend that it's too late to ask for my money back from. And class Thursday night, to boot. But I'm not going to fall for the trick of taking her to the vet again, since the last time was an expensive way of learning nothing.

So. Fast forward a few hours, until about 2 hours before class, I walk into the front hall where the leashes live--and Tika appears with a huge bouncy sproing, then leaps several times straight up in the air with all four feet off the ground. (She LOVES going for walks.) And no hint of any kind of soreness.

I ran her tentatively in class, then full out, and she ran just fine, didn't look uncomfortable at all. She's still fine this morning.

Transient failures of Tika's body. Hope it doesn't happen again any time soon.

Last night, as on most nights recently, I herded Boost out the back yard before bedtime to try to get a little pee out of her so I wouldn't have to get up in the night. There are 5 steps down from my porch to the yard. I've gone down those steps a zillion times, day and night, light and dark. And the back light was on.

And yet, somehow, I hit the last step wrong just WALKING calmly down the steps. My ankle twisted under me and I hit the pavement hard. For about 30 seconds, I thought maybe I had broken my ankle, it hurt so bad. Thank goodness, the pain died away quickly and allowed me to concentrate on emitting profanity about my hand, knees, arm, and shoulder.

The short story is that I lived to tell the tale. I have skin scraped from one knee (apparently onto the inside of my jeans, which were unharmed in the making of this film). The other knee is bruised feels a bit twisted (dang, and it felt SO GOOD in class last night). The ankle is a bit sore, although only slightly puffy in one spot this morning. The wrist only hurts when I laugh--no, actually when I play tug with the dogs or try to open a prescription pill bottle or reach suddenly for the computer mouse or, like, bend it. My back and shoulders just feel out of sorts in one way or another.

What happened to my brain/feet/instincts last night? Dunno. Transient failure. Hope it doesn't transiently fail again.

... because we're off to try to pick up a few more of them thar Qs in Dixon. Glad that both Tika and I can still run.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Agility Olio

SUMMARY: Friends and families and foods and fun.

Yessss, agility trials are about the agility--

Like switching out of one's mild-mannered, everyday persona shoes into your secret identity as Super Duper Fleet-Footed Agility Handler Extraordinare shoes.

Like basking in the glory from previous agility incarnations, such as our 2000 USDAA Nationals Grand Prix semifinalist shirt from Jake and I ran in Del Mar.

Like seeing both dogs looking eagerly out at you--can we run NOW, huh can we?

Like seeing both dogs actually really there in the final round of Steeplechase.

And seeing that Tika is guaranteed some Steeplechase actual cash moolah if we don't go off course. Thanks to everyone else who Ed in the first round or scratched from the second round! Bonus! Boost was seeded 10th going into this round, but ended up placing 6th mostly because we didn't go off course.

And like taking home some cash when both dogs did well enough in that Steeplechase round.

But it's also about toys! Tika really loves to tug on these. So do lots of other dogs. There is a lot of tugging in agility. And so there are billions of these lying around everywhere you go with agility people now, and people always seem to pick them up thinking that they're theirs, so about once a year I need to buy another five Udder Tuggers.

And it's about food!

And of course it's all about friends AND all about clothing!

This is Arlene who, when she's not Super Duper Agility Corgi and Sparkle Handler wearing agility Corgi tie dye, goes to movies with me most nonagility weekends.

This is Kathy and little Millie. Millie wasn't too sure whether she liked agility for a long time, but she has apparently decided that she does, because she had some really nice fast runs this weekend. Millie is five. Most people in agility except me wear shorts when the weather is nice.

This is Mike and Trane. Trane, like many agility dogs, loves to tug, and the leash makes a convenient toy. Mike has many pieces of clothing and baseball caps that say "Trane" or "Nothing Stops A Trane." Mike and his wife raise sheep. His wife spins and dyes yarn (and sells it), weaves and knits and all kinds of clever things like that (and sells the results). Mike is a good spouse and demonstrates the very entertaining hat that his wife made, even though it is quite sweaty under there on a warm day. He thinks maybe November would be a better time to demonstrate it. Maybe his wife should knit one that says "Trane". 

And then, of course, agility is all about family!

This is Boost's littermate Bette and "Auntie Mary," who calls Boost "Boostie." Bette is very fast and very accurate. Mary also teaches agility classes and is fast and accurate, too. Bette is her third agility dog--her first was a Golden Retriever who was not too fast but did good anyway. Her second was the super-reliable Skeeter, an Australian Cattle Dog, who was one of Tika's teammates the year that we made it to the USDAA Nationals Team Finals. We were all very excited.

This is Boost's littermate Beck. She is not blue merle like so many of their relatives are. But she loves to do agility and to get up close to see that silly human who is making silly noises at her.

This is Donna with Boost's younger half sister Quas. Quas is the sweetest, gentlest, most loving dog you could imagine. And unlike most border collies, she actually brings any toy that you throw ALL the way back to you instead of dropping it ten feet out and assuming that since you've got two legs, you're capable of walking to it. Donna is a score table wonk like me and also show secretary extraordinaire. There's a lot of extraordinaireness in agility. There is also a lot of tugging on leashes.

This is Boost's half brother and Quas' littermate, Rowdy. Rowdy jumps 26", while Boost and most of Boost's relatives jump 22". Rowdy had an amazing weekend this weekend--he won 9 out of the 11 classes and, alas, placed only 2nd in another one. His person, Cheri, was understandably pretty happy.

There is also leash tugging among dogs who place first in 9 out of 11 classes.

This is Roulette, who is sister/littermate to Quas and Rowdy. She's also a fabulous little agility girl, and blue merle, and has that half blue, half brown eye similar to Boost's. She certainly has Boost's ears, AND she wears exactly the same style of blue-leopard-print slip lead that Boost does when going to the start line to run agility. Because it's just perfect for a spotty blue merle dog.

I somehow never got a photo of Quas' and Rowdy's and Roulette's littermate Quik, who is Boost's half brother and who was also there and who is also pretty darned fast and talented. His handler is the one who was Mary's and my third teammate, with Brenn, when we were in the Team Finals.

This is Kiwi, who is Boost's older half sister. Kiwi is one of those blazingly fast dogs whose run you'll miss if you glance away for even a second. Kiwi's handler is the wife of Beck's handler.  Lots of family there. Kiwi is also black and white and has those special pointy ears. And she has a red tug toy that if stupid human would pay more attention would understand that toy want tugging NOW! Because agility is all about tugging! (And Carol in the background has amusement.)

This is Ruthie, who is the daughter of Smarty Joanz who is, OK, older half-sister to Boost and littermate to Kiwi. So I guess she's a half-niece? Ruthie is very young, just starting agility, but like so many of Boost's relatives, is a blue merle with heterochromic eyes. She wishes that stupid camera would get out of her way so she can see where her Human Dad is out there on the agility course. She runs with the same man who runs Beck and who is married to the woman who runs Kiwi. Yes, LOTS of family here this weekend.

There were also some other people there with dogs who were not related to Boost in some way. At least, I think so.