a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: May 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Operating in an Entirely Different Frame of Reference

SUMMARY: Just try to get Boost doing agility.

This was one of those weekends where it felt like I was back at square two, and mostly it was OK to be there if only my back/leg didn't hurt so much.

Here's how it went:
  • Masters Standard (22" Championship): Knocked a bar early on. Ran past a jump midcourse. Wouldn't do the weaves. Just couldn't get her into them until after we'd been VERY eliminated on refusals. Then she did only a few and popped out, so we just left the ring. I tried very hard to be hearty and cheerful. But it hurt when I walked.
  • Masters Gamblers (16" Performance): Got lucky with the opening-- a big straight curve with nuthin' but contacts and tunnels, so we went out and back. And luckily the tunnels were at the outer corners, because I could barely hobble my way through part of the course, and I was able to send her to the tunnels, which gave her momentum to do the contacts in just a lovely way.  Didn't expect to get the gamble and didn't, although our timing was good and we were right where I wanted to be when the buzzer went to start the gamble.
  • Masters Snooker (22" Ch): Enlisted a friend with whom we do quite a bit of hiking (Carson's & Hiker's Human Mom) to try running Boost. She ran her in class a few weeks back and Boost looked pretty good then. Today, The Booster was having none of it. Sort of trotted alongside, staring up at her. No actual running from the dog. Trotted past the first jump, then took it. Trotted past the Aframe, then took it. Took the next jump, trotted past the Aframe, then took it. Repeat a 3rd time. So in 50 seconds she did 3 jumps and 3 Aframes. But at least she didn't try to leave the ring. (I hid beforehand so she didn't know where I was.)
  • Masters Jumpers (22" Ch): Enlisted another friend with whom we've done a lot and who even dogsat Boost (Human Mom of Bump, Dig, and Styx). Last time she tried, Boost did a few jumps and then raced out to find me. Today the friend worked hard at getting Boost riled up and irritated with generous treats (because Boost wouldn't play with either friend at all), and Boost actually ran half the course--not full-speed, but running rather than trotting. Ran past one jump in there, but continued. Still, as soon as the course turned back towards the starting gate, she ran off and came looking for me.
  • Steeplechase (16" Pf): 2nd friend also tried running Boost here, with about the same results as in Jumpers. It's progress, but still she won't do a whole course with someone else outside of class.
  • Masters Pairs (16" Perf): I scoped out the easy half of the course and decided that I could get Boost through it even if I were hobbling, and my Pairs partner (who was also limping from a gimpy knee) was game to let me try. We ran second and other than turning the wrong way a couple of times, Boost did great, even did the weaves perfectly. Our partner Eed on refusals on the harder half of the course, but no worries--allowed me to relax on my second half, and it's not like we need Pairs Qs really. But at least we had one decent run. 
But I hurt.

I did take Chip out a couple of times for maybe 15-20 minutes each time and worked on having him look at me when I said his name, trying a little bit of circle work with limited success, worked on getting him to play tug with me and stay on the toy, with fairly decent success.  His nose touch to a target is improving fairly rapidly now that I've been working on it almost daily at least a little.  We worked on his revamped Down (going front-first down rather than sit first), and he's pretty good but I do have to signal it clearly, so we need to wean off that. Practiced the down-stay and the sit-stay with fairly decent results (still not taking my eyes off of him, not getting farther away than I can catch him if he starts to get up). Let him hang out under the score table with me for a while (getting treats for paying attention and also scritches and affection) and he behaved very well.

I even risked putting him in the low x-pen with Boost for the last hour or so of the day (since he was starting to make a mess of Tika's soft crate, and it's the only good one that I have left plus the only teal/purple one left in the world) and he actually stayed in, even when Boost and Tika were away! (I hadn't really thought that he would.)

Tika got to come out with me a couple of times, too. Did some tricks, some exercises to strengthen her back legs, back, and core muscles, and then just hung around the score table getting treats and scritchies. Her cough wasn't too bad today but did show up from time to time. She did sort of perk up and trotted briefly after a frisbee a couple of times, but no actual running. Sigh. Old dogs.

If I hadn't been in pain most of the time, it wouldn't have seemed like too bad a day. Weather was sunnyish, downright balmy with a cooling breeze. Grass surface was lovely. Friends were sympathetic and helpful. Score table work went well. 

I took no photos, perhaps needless to say, as I just didn't want to move around that much.

Will try again tomorrow. Playing it by ear--or by back, I guess.

Friday, May 30, 2014

We're Still Here

SUMMARY: So little time--

... And then Boost was sick for a few days, and then I was sick for more than a week, and then my back went out and then I had a big deadline at work and was putting in quite a few more hours than usual...

And here we are, looking at a weekend of USDAA agility in Palo Alto, and neither Boost nor I have done anything worth mentioning in a month. And my back is still a mess.

A friend who has run her in class might try running her this weekend if I think that I can't.

Chip is basically a good boy but loves to bark back at the neighbor's dog who throws himself at the fence and barks off an on most of the day. I tolerated that, mostly, although it got tedious, before Chip came along. Now I have to close him in the house when I'm here so that I can say that I'm at least making an attempt to keep him away.

His nose touch to a target is slowly getting better, about as fast as I'm working on it.  Have done just a little tiny bit of trying to get him to back up or to stretch on command or to Shake.

Working on "come" a bit. Not enough. Sit and down stays are longer but I don't work on those enough, either.

Have bailed on my regular Thursday night class with Boost because I've been making it only about once a month for one reason or another. Might try to get into some basic foundation/groundwork/whatever class with Chip to motivate me a little more.

Tika's back legs are getting pretty weak, and *that's* really where I regret not doing more all the time. We should be walking and doing her exercises every day, but often I just can't. Or I'm not here.

Not much to say, really, which is why I haven't said it.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


SUMMARY: Memorial, beach, friends.

(Reposted with a bit more stuff than earlier. 8:45pm PDT)

My random notes about today.


A good day. Memorial for Lisa Pomerance on the Carmel beach with dogs and friends. She was so involved with so many animal communities. Much purple was worn. My dogs ran on the beach before and after, and walked around Carmel with friends afterwards. And I took no photos. Not one. It was a wonderful day.

Me, in my purple (after getting home), windblown, with purple beads from the memorial


In Carmel today, one random person asked what kind of animal Chip was. My friend answered, "dog". He seemed disbelieving. Another said that Tika was clearly not all dog. I said that she was an Aussie mix, probably with Husky. He said, "Oh," and looked at her critically. Not sure he was convinced, either.

"What kind of animal?" I'm still floored by that one.


The memorial was nice. Quite a few people wore purple and quite a few brought their dogs. People just got up and talked about how they'd met her, the fun times they had, the things she was involved in, and so on.

I took all 3 dogs and they got quite a bit of off-leash beach time. I wasn't sure what would happen with Chip with no recall, and he did tend to go farther away then either of the other dogs would, but he'd eventually come running back, so I guess he's attached enough to us now.

I got there with 2 cameras and realized that (a) I wasn't in the mood for taking photos and (b) it would be too hard trying to keep track of 3 dogs with a wide range of interests as well as concentrate on photos. So I took not a single shot. Fortunately I went with 2 friends with cameras so I'm hoping for lots of beach shots, maybe even with me in some for a change.


The memorial--people brought their own chairs--was on the beach in the indentation where, in this Google Maps shot, there's a volleyball net (above-left of the letter B). The wind was fierce and became fiercer; it whipped away many of the words that people spoke; by late afternoon, the wind had blown away all but a few hardy souls from the normally crowded beach despite the sunshine.

Fitbit says I walked:

Doesn't this mean that the dogs walked/ran about twice that while off leash?


Shouldn't they all be sacked out after that? *I'm* sure tired.

BUT when I tried to take Boost's sacked-out photo, she jumped up, figuring that if I'm not at my computer, it's time to play. Now she and Chip are chewing on bones, playing with toys, and generally not being exhausted. That's the problem with having a  90-minute drive home afterwards: They can sleep all the way, but I can't sleep more than occasionally while actually driving.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Tika animated

SUMMARY: Fun with animated GIFs

I've been wanting to do this with these photos for a year and a half. It's not as smooth as I had envisioned, but still kinda cool.

Now that I know how easy this is, I'll have to work at taking more sequences with animated gifs specifically in mind.

Animated GIF

SUMMARY: testing

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Hot May Day

SUMMARY: Some dogs like the hose.

Who's all wet?

OK, we done water. Now we do ball? Dat ball right dere?
(Never take photos of your dogs with their faces really close to the lens unless you want them to look all misproportioned. Sorry, Boost!)

Ewwwww, me all wet!