a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: September 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Why Even Pro Golfers Have Trouble Getting Their Last Agility Super-Q

SUMMARY: You got all the gambles you need for your agility championship except one, and now for reasons beyond sanity, demons prevent you from getting that last one!

Tika and one of her SuperQ ribbons. 
That 3rd one was our bugaboo.

I'm reading the book Why We Make Mistakes.

Gosh darned innate human response to stress when the outcome matters more than average, apparently. The book describes a study in which the PGA (Pro Golf Association) measured the success rates of only 6-foot putts in 15 pro golf tournaments one year without the golfers being aware of the study. 

One finding--and the most precious to our story, little darlings--was that golfers successfully made the putt if were only for a par score more often than if it were for making a birdie (one under par). Apparently because making par is just “average”, but making a birdie is a highly desirable outcome. And one stroke could make a huge difference in your final position among finishers and your take-home winnings. 

And yet--very shot you make is like that over the whole course, right? Where you might be earning a total score of 265-285 shots.  But somehow labeling the last shot on a hole as a “birdie” vs “par”decreased their ability to make the shot.

It’s like desperately trying to get hat last gamblers leg. That last super-Q in Snooker. That last anything to complete your agility championship. Or any other big title (more advanced championships, or lifetime achievement award, and so on), or cruising through the entire season being highly successful, cruising through the regionals and earning byes for the nationals, cruising through all the early rounds of the national or international championships and getting to the final round, And suddenly… 

BUT WAIT A MINUTE-- How many people get that last gamblers or that last superQ after struggling week after week or month after month (or year after year) and suddenly get the next four in a row?! What happened-- did the next ones just not matter any more?

Given my experience with four dogs, that doesn’t change even after getting those championships with multiple dogs. I’m sure that not everyone succumbs to this sort of self pressure. But it seems to be common, even among excellent teams. Ammiright?

The Jakemeister

So: Jake's ADCH, 2001

Super-Qs were no prob, but Gamblers?! I even started traveling up and down the state for hundreds of miles (which I didn't before and haven't since) trying to get that last confounded Gamblers Q. Then, one weekend in my own backyard (so to speak), my own club's USDAA event... Jake had been on enforced rest for a sore back for weeks and we had barely started trying to run full courses again. He was getting older. I really wanted that Q. I entered him in only that Gamblers class for the whole 4-day weekend... 

...and I was so busy in doing my jobs for the trial that I missed the obscene-colorful-adjective walkthrough and people were already running.  A friend told me from the sidelines what his plan was. The gamble looked nearly impossible to me. I was so sure, given those two handicaps, that I wouldn't get it that I didn't even ask anyone to videotape it. Annnnnnnnnd...

...of course we got the Q and the championship.  I had taken away my own stress level and relaxed because now it was clearly just going to have to be for fun, not for an actual Q.

Jake's ADCH gamblers course

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Dogs Just Want To Have Fruit ... Tomatoes or Pears or...

SUMMARY: Tomatoes, or plums or pears or apples or whatever.

Yes, these days tomatoes are referred to as vegetables. But, technically, they're a fruit.

Dawn and Katie posted about tomato-eating dogs this morning, and I of course had a response.

I’ve grown tomatoes only once, and only inadvertently: A tomato bush volunteered in one of my planters. Fifteen to twenty years ago. That might go back to Remington and Jake, but answer is hazy; try again later.

It grew and grew and covered itself with little green cherry tomatoes that then started turning red and I checked eagerly daily for ripe ones. Got a couple–really good–and then, shortly thereafter, I looked out my kitchen window and espied one of the dogs plucking the ripe-ish ones off the bush. Grrr!

I didn’t try setting up a fence and I never got more tomatoes for myself. 

Other fruit--

If pears really looked like this, maybe the dogs 
wouldn't eat so many

Tika used to stand on her hind legs and even jump from that position to get low-hanging pears or plums or apples off the trees. Jake loved oranges. All of my dogs would get fat on plums that drop constantly during their ripe season, and now I know that that happens for pears, too--Zorro has added 4 pounds in the last month or so, which a 31-lb dog should never do if he wants to keep his boyish figure (and do agility and jump on and off beds safely).

Zorro chewing a bit of pear while protecting the rest.

Zorro doesn't eat the stems from pears; they now litter the back yard and deck and the house (although I pick those up as soon as I see them.  

Boost also didn't eat the stems--but made sure that every speck of pear belonged to her.

Tika enjoyed pears, too--nibbling off a bit, licking her lips, and continuing.

But I get all of that, because pears and plums and apples are sweet. I wouldn’t necessarily guess that dogs would like the slight tartness of tomatoes. Shrug. What do I  really know about dogs, anyway?

Do your pups steal your tomatoes?