a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: September 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A No-Q Day

SUMMARY: Some highlights and lowlights.

I drove 4 hours today for about 2 minutes of ring time. Pretty crazy, huh? My general rule is that I have to stay at the destination for at least as long as my round-trip time to make it worthwhile going, and we were actually there for right about 8 hours. For 3 runs.

Got there in time to work the first class (not entered in Masters Challenge Standard) to earn a free lunch and raffle tickets.

Gamblers--opening started well and then she pulled off a dogwalk right in front of her, not sure why, then I couldn't get her into a replacement tunnel, but we ended up even so about where I wanted to be when the whistle blew, with her on the A-frame--but she came off the A-frame without being releasd and I had trouble getting her lined up and we in no way came close to getting the actual gamble. Still, she had two awesome sets of weaves.

After that, I got Tika out and we hung out in the shade watching the runs.

The Woodside site is known for being hot. Wasn't as hot as some times when I've been there and the paint is peeling off the roads (well--maybe not, but it should have been). But still, by the time I had finished lunch, it was hot enough an late enough (11:30 already) that I decided that I for sure wasn't going to stick around another couple of hours after Snooker to try a Jumpers run (last class of the day), so scratched Boost from that.

Standard--beautiful run, felt good; she came off the teeter without being released and I made her down for a moment as a reminder (then her dogwalk and Aframe were good and I held them a bit). And, dang, she missed her weave entry. After doing so well on them in gamblers.

Hung out with Tika again, getting hot even in the shade.

Snooker--well, crud, on the 3rd jump, I said "go hup" and she started towards it and I moved to get into front cross position and she pulled off it, then I got frustrated, like really WHAT does it take to get you to go over a jump, really???? and finally she did it but knocked the bar and it was all over.

At least it was a good reason to hop in the car and come home. Took about 20 minutes longer to get home through heavy Sunday-afternoon traffic heading back into the Bay Area than it took to go out thataway between 5:30 and 7:30 in the morning, go figure. Glad I left a couple of hours early; got home after 5:00 as it was.

So, back to the drawing board, or try to find more specific things to focus on. Yes, I should be videotaping everything. Guess I should get out the new/used camera and figure out again how it works.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Agility Titles

SUMMARY: Regrouping for Boost.

(Repost with corrected numbers.)

Do I compete in agility to have fun with my dogs? Yes. Do I compete because it's a good physical and mental workout for me and for them? Yes. Do I compete because I like being outdoors and hanging out with many good friends? Yes. Because I love seeing dogs and handlers working together like clockwork and demonstrating the best that they can offer? Yes.

But I also do it for ribbons and titles. Just sayin'.

Somewhere up there in the fog is the Power Paws agility field.
Plus some mountains and similar large objects.

Now that Tika is out of the picture and will never get her Platinum Lifetime, drat it all, my current next best bet for ribbons or titles is Boost, but we have not done that well as a team most of the time.

Now that I have my energy and enthusiasm back for training a bit, we'll see what happens. Because, for me, competing and repeatedly failing to Q is not fun. Handle it better with a young dog with whom I see progress. But not an 8 1/2 year old dog when we should both know better.

So, again this morning I rented the agility field--getting up there by 8 a.m., groan! --to practice having Boost run on ahead of me. We'll see how that goes in our one day of competition tomorrow.

Looking back down through the fog towards where I took the first photo.
Last Saturday at 8 a.m., it was scorching. I'm not complainin' about the fog!

Anyway, just a quick regroup on titles that Boost and I *could* earn in the Championship program if our Q rate vastly improves:

Title CategoryCurrent levelNext LevelHave QsMore Qs needed
Masters Standard SAM-Bronze Silver 21 4
Masters Relay RM-Gold Platinum 39 11
Masters Gamblers GM-Bronze Silver 16 9
Masters Jumpers JM Champion 7 3
Masters Snooker - Champion, Bronze, and Silver 26, incl. 2 SuperQs 1 SuperQ
ADCH (championship) - ADCH Everything but... 1 SuperQ
ADCH - Bronze (triple ADCH) Everything but... 1 SuperQ and 8 Jumpers Qs
Tournament Silver Gold 31 4 (any mix of Steeplechase, Grand Prix, and DAM Team)

There are hills beyond those trees? Really?

So, the point is, if I want to satisfy my own cravings, I must concentrate and keep up the energy and enthusiasm and hope that my aging body lets me keep going. Boost is quite willing to keep at it.

See y'all on the other side of tomorrow.

The sun hides in the fog, but wait--
I see a tiny round speck that is the sun, perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tika the Picky Eater

SUMMARY: Failures and solutions.

In the months since we discovered Tika's heart condition and started her on various medications, her once-insatiable appetite waned. Instead of vacuuming down her kibble at twice Boost's speed, she now ate at half Boost's speed. And she'd stop to look at me accusingly between bites.

After we added the digoxin in late July, it started being much more challenging to get her to eat her meals. I sometimes added a little peanut butter, sometimes a little canned dog food. Usually she'd eat, but sometimes I had to feed it to her a handful at a time because she wouldn't eat it out of her bowl.

When she spent the 4-day weekend at my friend's house, she apparently refused her normal kibble entirely, even when hand-feeding or moistening, but eagerly gulped down the kibble that the friend had been using for treats. So I bought a big bag of that.

That worked for maybe 2 weeks, and then that became anathema, too. I could still sometimes get her to eat it by offering her handfuls, or by strewing it on the floor, or by handing it to her one piece at a time, but mostly that stopped working, too.

I bought some chicken stock (no sodium) and poured it over the kibble, which worked for a couple of days and then she wouldn't do that, either. For a week or a bit more, if i let thekibble sit in the stock until soft, I could convince her to eat it by either spooning it onto the floor (tell me why it's OK to eat it off the floor but not out of the bowl?) or by handing her small handfuls.

But even that stopped working very well.

Kibble with chicken stock. Yawwwwwwwn.

Spooned onto the floor. Ho hum; surely  there's something more interesting out in the hallway.

Fed by personal humanservant, one piece at a time. PuhLEEZ stop bothering me with that stuff.

Boost -- Are you KIDDING me? *I* will eat it! *I* am a good dog! Why you not let me eat it???
OK, one damp piece at a time placed on the floor directly in front of her--yes, that is tasty, thank you.
You know how many pieces of kibble there are in one meal???

So, anyway, that wasn't working for me. A few days ago, I came up with this idea: Went out and bought several small bags of different kinds of kibble, and am rotating through them, a different one every meal. Now she is quite happy to eat an entire bowl of kibble at each meal, directly from her bowl. We'll see how long that lasts, but so far so good.

Dogs are so weird sometimes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Working on that Snooker Super-Q

SUMMARY: Steps I'm taking.

So, for the first time in many, many months, I've had the energy and enthusiasm to focus on improving Boost's agility performance in hopes of getting that danged last Super-Q.

I've actually been working on bar-knocking in the yard.

I actually rented the big field last saturday morning and again this coming saturday morning to practice just having Boost drive ahead over jumps. Basically I dropped toys in various places around the field where I could drive her over 2, 3, 4, or more jumps to get a toy. I felt that Saturday went well--she's very happy to drive ahead when she thinks there might be a toy out there. I noticed that she knocked bars when she wasn't sure where the toys were going to be, hmm, something to think about.

It was pretty warm, even at 8 a.m., so we rested quite a bit between runs.

Tika wanted to bark while I was running Boost--this is a no-no, don't want to disturb the neighbors, but if I ran her through 5 or 6 obstacles and then gave her treats, she'd be quiet for a while. Not sure what I'm going to do this weekend--have been instructed "NO barking," so we'll see whether it's cool enough that I can leave her in the car.

Anyway, will work on more of the same this Saturday morning--I decided to sign up ONLY for Sunday of this weekend's 3-day USDAA trial in Woodland, because that's the only day with a Snooker, and I just don't want to be out in the heat in the central valley for 2-3 days.

Tonight in class, there were only 2 of us! I asked whether JB would be willing to do some private lessons/evaluations on snooker, and then we agreed to spend most of class trying to do various snooker-like runs. Boost didn't knock a single bar! And she got all her weave entries! I made a few handling errors, but got no refusals, either. I hope this carries over to Sunday's competition; would sure be nice.

My back is still a mess, but my core muscles are getting stronger as I do my exercises (not as often as ideal, but enough that I notice a difference) and I've been doing some exercycling in lieu of hiking to try to let my foot continue to rest but still work my legs and cardiovascular system. I felt pretty good in class tonight, but with only two of us, I turned into a pumpkin before the full class session and came on home.

But, in other words, the enthusiasm that I've had in the past but not for a long while is back. Trying to hold onto it and keep on going.