a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: April 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013


SUMMARY: Well, that's over.

We had a rare zero-percent Qualifying weekend-- 0 of 12 for Boost, 0 of 2 for Tika, which has historically been rare for her in Jumpers. I try to focus on "dogs are happy, friends are good, weather is beautiful, exercise is healthy," and so on, but still especially with the aches and pains I felt old and incompetent by the end of the day Sunday.

With Tika's Jumpers today, she ran well--too well, and I didn't get in a front cross that I had planned, and while I hesitated because the course looks different when you're standing in an unexpected place, she took an off-course jump. She still exhibited joy, lunging in and grabbing my foot. Wish she'd waited until AFTER the last jump, not before it, though!

And it's not that Boost and I didn't have some nice bits, and I LOVE running a fast dog, I really do! The adrenaline, the split-second timing, the speed--

But still.

Jumpers: A very nice, smooth run with a decent time of 24 seconds (the three or four fastest dogs in the entire event were just under 20 secs). Even did a rear cross nicely and a couple of push-outs to jumps farther away from me beautifully, no refusals or spins or wrong turns. Time would've been faster if I hadn't missed that same dang front cross with her as with Tika and our last four obstacles were run in a VERY unconventional and time-wasting way. But a bar came down on the double jump in the middle of the run. Happy with her run but sad about no Q.

Snooker: We had a glorious awesome opening involving crazy running and pull-throughs and things. Kept her bars up, did her contacts perfectly, sent out to jumps--and then when we got to the easy part--the last obstacle of the opening she refused the tire and then crashed it, and then knocked the first bar of the closing, so we were out. LOVED the part that we did well, it felt so good, but really, refusing a tire RIGHT IN FRONT of her? I had the sudden revelation that maybe she does her best when I'm acting like every obstacle is difficult and challenging and if it's too easy, she thinks there must be something wrong! SOOOOO--

--oooo--- in Gamblers--picked a fairly challenging opening that required ME to do a lot of hard work, and I worked every obstacle as if it were challenging, and we nailed it, every bit of it, including the "jump right in front of her" that I thought was easy but instead I worked it like crazy and although she hesitated a moment, she got it, and she kept all her bars up, and she stuck all her contacts even though I released her early repeatedly, and we were in EXACTLY the right place when the whistle blew, and she flew over the first jump in the gamble without knocking it and into the tunnel and I was in the right place to call her to the weaves and she changed direction and ran right to the weave entry, slowed like she was collecting-- and ran PAST it! Not just the first pole, but the first half dozen! Then wove around one pole and popped out to come to me. I mean, really? Ran past them???? Argh.

I loved our opening, felt so great to get through it without any flaws--once again, we had the highest opening points of all 69 dogs entered in the class with 35 (tied with Fireball, who lives up to his name; 3 dogs had 34, 3 had 33... so, yeah, we had an awesome opening). But still, that final aggravation. Pff.

Standard was 90% beautiful. Great contacts, nice start-line stay, AWESOME table-down for a dog who's had problems with slowly rising during the count--I put her into a down and moved quickly about 25 feet away to get in a front cross after the following obstacle, and it worked beautifully. Beautiful lead-out to a back-side front cross. Somewhere int he middle, Knocked a bar. But sadly it was an E because she missed the weave entry and then popped out... or soemthing--I actually don't remember, just know that we didn't complete the weaves and I didn't want to go back and muck with them since we already weren't Qing. So, another run that had some brilliant bits through most of it, but still no Q.

And the other gamble of the day--knocked a bar in the opening, did a "what, this jump?" dance wasting time getting to the area of the gamble, so that was 2 points that we didn't get. Therefore had an opening total of 33 rather than 35, which was not bad. But then pulled off the first gamble obstacle for a refusal, so no Q. (For comparison--I love looking at gamblers point totals because it's both strategy and speed and I thrive on seeing what's humanly--or caninely--possible: One dog out of all 86 entered had 38 opening points! (Wings, aptly named) Two dogs had 36 (Dash, also aptly named, and Rowdy, a Boost half-sibling); 5 had 35. So, yes, we did pretty good, except dang the bar and the refusals.)

So, in all, a day of 85 to 90% brilliance and yet no Qs. Couldn't we have, like two runs of 100% brilliance and then I'd be glad to just have 50% brilliance in the other classes?

But, yes, loved the sunshine and mild temperatures and good friends and I really do enjoy seeing other people and their dogs and all that they can do and all the distances they've come in training themselves and their dogs. And I love the agility community--this weekend, on a couple of very challenging courses, everyone cheered when anyone got past the rough parts without faulting, even in snooker where most people are hoping for super-Qs which depends on you doing better than other dogs. All the people who asked for suggestions on the courses and got them, or who were noticed to be walking the course wrong and someone quickly pointed it out to them. I love that sense of community and mutual support.

I would surely miss that if I stopped agility.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

And Here's How Saturday Went

SUMMARY: Beautiful day but not so much in the agility ring.

Alarm didn't go off. Actually figured it out this evening--alarm did go off but somehow the volume had been turned to zero.

Barely made it in time for briefing and walkthroughs, thank goodness, but took most of the first class to haul all my stuff and set it up. Didn't get a morning frisbee session in with the Merle Girls.

Jumpers: Boost knocked the first bar, so it was all over for Qing. Ran past 2 other jumps in various places but I kept going and she had actually a really nice time and the rest felt good.

Jumpers still: Tika's only run of the day. Ran PAST the first jump--what was it about the first jump? And it was all over for Qing. Had some other bobbles, but she was very happy, grabbed my foot with great enthusiasm and growling but BEFORE the last jump instead of after it. OK, she was happy.

Steeplechase: Tried to have Boost run with friend Karey whom she knows fairly well. Actually got four trotting jumps out of her before she beelined back to me.

Snooker: Almost everyone crapped out. *Almost* everyone who even Qed got a SuperQ; one superQ in 26" was left unclaimed. We couldn't even do 1-5-1-5-1-5 to the closing successfully -- knocked one of the reds, knocked a bar on one of the 5s, refusal on #2 in the closing so whistled off, oh and several refusals during the opening, too, just wasting a lot of time. We were not alone. Actually anyone who even GOT to the closing was often cheered.

Grand Prix: Wheels fell off. I'm not sure that we  successfully did even half the obstacles.

Standard: A really gorgeous run on an tough course where fewer than 20% qualified... until the very last jump, where the leash runner had dropped Boost's leash off to the side, and she drove forward to the leash, PAST the last jump. The rest of it was just about perfect, dad rat it.

Gamblers: Decent opening although one jump she repeatedly wouldn't go over both times we got to it, so wasted a lot of time and hence points weren't super high. Wouldn't send out to the gamble jump on a wrap around me.

Pairs: Ran UNDER the tire, what the hey?, and hit the dogwalk before I could bring her back, so an E for that, too.

0 for 8 Qs for the day. OK, the weather cooperated beautifully--sunny and shirt sleeves but not too warm. Friends all fun to hang with. Lots of successes among the competitors. But, really, sigh, 0 for 8.

Knee and foot held up OK although I did walk carefully and not too fast most of the day. It didn't *feel* as though running aggravated them. After being home for almost 3 hours and sitting at the computer, they don't seem any worse, not like Thursday night after much less activity.

Soooooooo on we'll go, tomorrow morning, for another full day.

One of our members makes these amazing photo backdrops, a different one for every trial! Here's this weekend's, with you know whozzz. Thanks, Erika, for taking the shot.

Friday, April 26, 2013

If It's Not One Thing, It's Two...or Three...

SUMMARY: Where's that youthful body I had JUST the other day, I'm sure it's around here somewhere.

A few weeks ago, I started having an occasional twinge in my left foot. I'd stop immediately, because that was about how I remember my 1997 stress fracture starting, but then it wouldn't reappear, so I kept going. Before Haute Dawgs (April 5-7), it made itself known more frequently. Seemed OK over the weekend, but Monday morning, walking around the house--quite tender. So, in gradual progression:

  • Saw a GP; diagnosis "foot hurts."
  • Got x-rays.
  • Discussed x-rays, which showed nothing interesting, with my regular GP.  Diagnosis: "foot hurts." Ice, wear stiffer shoes.
  • Saw podiatrist yesterday.
Diagnosis is capsulitis of the second metatarsal/phalangeal joint

Short description--there's a membrane (capsule) surrounding the joint between two  bones ( in my case, the metatarsal and phalange (and no, I didn't have to look up either one to know how to spell it) of the 2nd toe). This capsule can become inflamed from overuse or abuse. That's capsulitis.

There's actually an entire article titled Capsulitis of the Second Toe because it's so common.  (The article makes it sound much more dire than the podiatrist did.)

Who knew.

Cure? Six weeks of no use. Practical solution? (Per podiatrist, what my GP said plus more) Stiffer shoes. Better padding (gave me specific recommendation-- Spenco gel something Crosstrainers--and, wow, they do make a difference). Avoid hard or rough surfaces and twisting of foot if possible. Try to reduce activity. NSAID (already taking one--wonder if I'd have noticed it sooner if I hadn't been). Ice.

I mention this because I'm planning on two weekends of USDAA dog agility in a row here, and I'm uninclined to withdraw and lose my entry fees, plus I'm on a team with Boost next weekend so don't want to leave them in the lurch. Plus I'm not too bright sometimes and will run my Human in worse condition than I'd ever run one of my dogs. (But I have a choice and they don't really.)

Before the diagnosis Thursday morning, I went hiking with the Sierra Club Wednesday evening. Didn't bother me much on the uphill, but definitely noticed it on the downhill.

Woke up Thursday morning with one of those sore necks where you can't turn your head to the left without it hurting like crazy. Throb throb throb. Didn't mention that to the podiatrist when I saw him that morning, although it would've been interesting to see what a foot doc had to say about a neck.

To celebrate the capsulitis diagnosis, Thursday evening I went to agility class. Boost and I did mostly OK--I was late as usual on various crosses, more because I'm not moving soon enough. Boost knocked a few bars, refused a couple of incoming jumps on serpentines, missed one weave entry on her *good* side. But the rest felt lovely and fast and pretty smooth.

Knee bothered me a little, foot bothered me a little, but not enough to make it uncomfortable to walk or run as fast as I could manage.

Drove home, sat at the computer for half an hour, stood up, and WHAM both my right knee and my left foot hurt so badly that I could barely move.  Hobbled miserably to bed; so painful I couldn't get comfortable, and the pain in my neck really was...a pain in the neck. Couldn't sleep. Iced all three of them again. Hunted desperately through my cabinets for maybe some Bengay--used to have some around forever that I never used, hmmm, must've gotten rid of it.  Finally fell asleep from exhaustion about 2 a.m.

This morning--remnants of soreness in all three places, but much better than last night.

Do I really want to do this this weekend? Hey, I *am* cutting back on my activity--running only one dog (plus one a day for Tika) instead of 2 dogs.  Guess I won't plan on doing any pole setting or leash running...  and I am scheduled for the score table both weekends, so that involves lots of sitting down, which will be good.

See you all on the other side of Weekend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Short Hike Involving Excessive Sweating

SUMMARY: Pulgas Ridge Open Space with dogs and Sierra Club.

(Already posted photos on Facebook.)

Haven't been able to hike with the Sierra Singles Wednesday evening group in a while.  Managed to make it to this one, Pulgas Ridge. OK, it's a 40-minute drive (w/out traffic), and it's 500 feet elevation gain, but it's only a 4-mile hike and the uphill isn't really steep.

Turns out traffic was a mess on the peninsula, both on 101 (several miles north, paralleling I-280) and on I-280, where I was. Usuallygoing north at this time of day, a piece of cake. Except everything was jammed up. Southbound at a standstill, northbound seldom getting over 35MPH and usually less. Drat.

Looks sunny, but look at that fog bank pouring over the coastal range.

Turns out that I was NOT ready to get back to a hike like this with avid hikers--I lagged the whole way and they spent more time than they probably liked, waiting for me. Even the dogs were faster and more energetic than I was. Downhill for the return to parking not so bad, but that steady 2 miles of up starting out took all my energy. Gah. Must do more.

A hiking friend offered to use my camera to take our photo at the top of the ridge. She said she'd been sick for a while and was completely out of condition. Still, she managed her usual dashing back and forth and up and down taking photos everywhere and not even breathing heavily. She was NOT lagging at the back of the pack, and I most definitely was.

But everyone was nice--it's a good group--at least they didn't complain where I could hear them, and lots of people asked nice questions about the Merle Girls. One fellow who also has a border collie (actually got her as a rescue via Jim Basic, my agility instructor) has to leave her at home these days as she's too old for vigorous hikes, offered to take Boost's leash and did for a while. It was good training for mama's dog Boost, trying to get her to be a little independent of me and go ahead on the trail with someone else. She wanted repeatedly to come back to see me, but with encouragement from both of us at the right times, she went for longer and longer stretches and greater distances between insatiable needs to go back and touch Human Mom. She liked it most when he ran a bit.

I mostly didn't want to stop to take snapshots, but had to hesitate for a moment to snap the view from near the ridgetop. Southish, looking across at the Edgewood Open Space park.

Saw quite a few wildflowers scattered here and there--lupine, sticky monkey flowers, blue dicks, white ones whose name I don't know, and a few others. Interesting red California bee plant, another native, which showed up long after it was too dark under the forest canopy and in the shade of hte hill to be able to take a photo, but I did again hesitate in my rush downhill trying to catch up, to snap a blurry shot of these really nice globe lilies, yet another native.

Watched hte nearly full moon rise in front of us among the trees in the home stretch; i could go faster downhill but so could everyone else, so no photos of that, either, but I assure you it was lovely.

Wore out the dogs, which is good. Wore out me, which might be good, too. Every mountain is a step back in the direction of being able to keep up with these folks again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Checking In On Tika

SUMMARY: She's doing fine, but what about that eye?
Can you believe that it has already been just about six months since Tika's heart problem surfaced?

We visited our vet today for these reasons:
  • Time for a check-up on how she's doing from the vet's perspective.
  • Why is she now eating her meals very slowly?--used to finish in half the time that Boost did, now takes twice as long.
  • What's the deal with the red lump on her 3rd eyelid?
You can hardly notice the lump at a quick glance, but up close it looks yucky.

I first noticed it sometime the week before the Haute Dawgs trial--so about 3 weeks ago. I don't think it has changed any since then. First question every vet tech asked was, has she had any trauma to the eye? Same from the vet. None that I know of. So, we're going to watch again for a few weeks. Doc says looks like a benign hemangioma (means it's a bloody lump, basically).

Eating--her teeth look great, no sign of pain in her gums. No loss of appetite--still eats everything and is interested in food. Could be any number of things, but without other signs or portents, yet another thing to keep an eye on. Could be her meds, but vet doesn't think that any one of them is more likely than the others.

How's she doing over all? Vet says GREAT! Heart doesn't sound any worse, heartbeat is still strong and slow (despite her frantic terror of being at the vet's) like an athlete's. He said, considering her diagnosis, she's doing very well indeed 6 months later. We'll do a follow-up blood test on general principles in a couple of months.

After that, we bipped across the freeway to Los Gatos Creek Park for a tiny stroll in the sunlight among the Canada Geese and their omnipresent poop. Not too long a walk because Tika was on a sedative, although I gave her only half a tablet this time 90 minutes before the vet.

What a lovely day and what a lucky Human Mom I am.

So many good smells before we even get around the fence to the percolation ponds.

The water fountain has a height just for dogs. Although both Merle Girls thought it was fascinating that water ran into it while they watched, they didn't drink from it.

The gorgeous day called many other people out with their dogs. The one nice thing about a little sedative on the Craussie is no on-leash frenzy about other dogs.

Plus--we have THE best poop bags in the universe. How could the day be any better?

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Oldest Dog

SUMMARY: Twelve.
It has finally happened. The statistics are out for the SMART USDAA trial coming a week from now. One hundred and eighty-one dogs are entered. When counted by age, the oldest age group is 12 years old. There's only one dog in that group.

Oh, Tika. Sigh.

Oh, and there's only one Craussie, too. Tika sure is unique.

(Key for those not familiar with dog-breed abbreviations: BC/Border Collie. JRT/Jack Russell Terrier. Terv/Belgian Tervuren. Aussie/Australian Shepherd. Sheltie/Shetland Sheepdog. ADC/Australian Cattle Dog. Beardie/Bearded Collie. Pyr Shep/Pyrenean Shepherd. DSFarmdog/Danish-Swedish Farmdog (yes it's a real breed).  GSD: German Shepherd Dog. PWD: Pembroke Welsh Corgi.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hold Me Back! I'm Gonna Kill Him!

SUMMARY: Fences don't always make good neighbors.

Let me say first off that this isn't a horror story about some psychopathic neighbor. It's not even a horror story. But I remembered it just now, so am plugging it into this hole that my blog has become lately.

Twenty years ago I lived in a different house, big old half acre, a very long and narrow lot. The north side had an old wooden fence backing up against about 4 different houses. They all had dogs--one had a beagle (who howled all day while his family was gone). One had a big German Shepherd--like, tour bus sized. Big. The next one over had a huge Rottweiler. Maybe I've known only female Rotties up close, because this boy I swear loomed twice their size.

Here's how Remington was about little dogs: Loved them. Wanted to play with them. Kept getting his nose bitten because he'd stick his big face right up to them. He never retaliated or fought back.

Here's how Remington was about big dogs: Had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Would stiff-leg up to them with hackles up and tail stiff. Got into a tussle a time or two, when I wasn't paying attention, with random dogs (no blood shed, just noise). (He and Jake also fought way too often, but the only time blood was shed was once when I tried to interfere.)

Anyway, Rem and those big neighboring dogs used to fence fight all the time. You've never seen so much righteous anger and hurled invectives and screaming as those huge bodies (Rem's 55 pounds was nothing in comparison) slammed against that old crumbling fence. This went on for a couple of years. My original obedience instructor thought that this was one of the reasons why Rem became more dog aggressive over time and suggested that I put a stop to it. Well, I didn't confine him and I wasn't there most of the day, so that didn't happen.

Anyhoo, one day, came home from work to discover that a huge section of the old fence between my house and the other two yards had finally given in to termites and rot and had collapsed--and Remington was nowhere to be seen. My heart rammed itself into my throat as I ran around into the back quarter acre--

--where Rem and the two ginormous dogs were just hanging out together, wandering around the yard in a little group, acting like the oldest BFFs ever. They all looked up at me as one, and when Rem casually said "Hi, Mom," (you know how kids always act more subdued with their parents when friends are around), the other two also give a little hello wiggle and they all went back to investigating random weed patches.

You think maybe *all* of us would be better friends and neighbors if we didn't wall ourselves up the way we do?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

It's Back To USDAA Time

SUMMARY: Trial this weekend.
This weekend is the mongo 4-day Haute Dawgs trial in Dixon. Four days is too much for me, so going only friday through Sunday. Entered Tika in one run a day--silly me, I didn't think about it, it's the last run each day. Should've picked something earlier in the day to get it out of her system.

Boost and I have practiced just a wee bit on jumps and on weave entries. A very wee bit. A couple of days. So I suppose I shouldn't expect anything different this weekend than we get on any other weekend.

It'll be an odd weekend--running only one dog and not working a full-time job. What will I do with all that spare time?

That's about all I have to say. Tired. Going to bed.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.