Friday, July 31, 2009

What's that smell?

This morning we had a nose work session.
After an initial confusion as to whether the pool was available before nosework, SpaceMonkey figured out the game and was happy to play.

Our favorite Rotti had no problems with the added distraction of crap piled up all over and an open garage door.
For this session, we met at an undisclosed home with a garage that had at least one car lane vacated of "stuff". We will not say who's garage this was. Although of all of us, this person was the only one that actually had room to park a car in the garage, the undisclosed individual was still embarrassed by the clutter.
For this nosework session, we upped the difficulty level by not only having alot of clutter in the garage, but we also left the garage door open. We started out by making it simple and having a line of boxes, but soon all the dogs were searching a wide area and having successes.

SpaceMonkey is searching a line here. She had no problem finding her toy.
Once found, we help in getting the toy out and playing with her at the box.
She seems happy to be playing this game. Maybe missing the pool a little....
But finding her search object without a problem.
Tazzie was very efficient at finding his food pouch. Just a little hesitant in pulling the food pouch out of the box. He is happy to play and was sad when it wasn't his turn.
Rocky played too. He LOVES this game and had a great time finding his ball. He also is somewhat hesitant to pull his toy out of the box. Something I will work on.

Is it in here?
After a few successes at the row of boxes, we made the searches more complex. Grabbing clutter and adding that to the mix. SpaceMonkey looks happy to be looking for her toy.
Brazen played as well and she absolutely loves this game.
I'm not sure, but I think Tricky enjoys the game too.
Sometimes after Tricky-woo searches, we have to rebuild the boxes. He is very enthusiastic about nosework.

We had a great morning. All in all we noticed that when things on the road caused distractions, it took a while to re-focus. Other than that, all of the dogs did a great job in this new environment. I guess someone else in our group is going to have to clean out their garage so we can having another session!

We took some video. If you are bored and want to watch some of the action, click here.

For more info on the sport of K9 Nosework, click here.

Decision Made for Now


After much deliberation, contemplation, speculation, etc. Fin will stay with what she knows. I'm not going to change things up at this time.

Will I always keep this criteria....don't know. I want to work with what works right now and not try to change it up.

Today we will practice nose work in the morning and this evening go to Lauras for agility practice. The weekend will be about cleaning house and family visits. No dog agility until August.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

To run or not to run

I've been doing agility for a long time, but I've never had to face the level of decisions that I have with Fin. I feel a heavy weight of responsibility. She is really a great dog and I don't want to screw her up because of my lack of experience.

Right now I am pondering my options on Fin's A frame. Fin's A frame is a 2o2o. I made the decision to go this direction as I just felt I didn't have a grasp on how to teach a running A frame and doubt about my ability to handling all that speed.

Fin fly's over the A with such velocity that her momentum often carries her off the end of the frame. These are spectacular A frames and I don't want her to loose this wonderful performance. I've been in a quandary. Do I tell her no (after a most excellent performance), do I continue and slip down a slope I don't want to go, do I quietly down her...then go on. These are questions I have been struggling with.

So the questions arises. Should I reconsider the running A frame? Can I really get consistent performance from a running A. Can I get to where I need to be? Is this better for her body or just the fact that I'm teaching the running, will I do it more which is harder on her?

Right now I'm going to sleep on it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A few of my facebook friends are writing about why they do agility. I thought I'd give it a try. For me, the question is more, why do I keep doing agility when I've had not much "traditional success."

My first two agility dogs were Rocky and Maddie. Rocks and Mads are now 10 and don't usually accompany me to trials... they hang out at home with dad or auntie Trish.

Maddie's big achievement is she actually got one leg toward her novice agility title. One leg. Maddie would walk into an agility ring and stop at the first obstacle and wag her tail. Many times I would drive home wondering whether I should just give up.

Rocky and Maddie were trained together. Although I suspect I had it in me at the time, I wasn't a real consistent trainer. Rocky has issues with other dogs. I was so worried about his issues, it was hard for me to focus on the trial. The first trial I ever took him to, he ran out of the ring, to my camp area and hid in his crate. For two years I tried unsuccessfully to trial with Rocks. He did get a few titles, but his conformation and attitude and my lack of understanding stood in the way of traditional success.

I ask myself many times, what kept me going. I think a sense of hope, excitement, and my friends.

Next I found Tazz. He was such a cute sweet puppy. He ran around the yard and was fast He cuddles like no other dog I have. Unfortunately it is a fatal attraction. Tazz actually is trained and can do agility. He just doesn't LOVE it. He'll run around the obstacles cause I ask and he has some really good moments. He is more interested in whether the dogs around him have something that should be "his" and sometimes doesn't focus on the task at hand.

He is a beautiful dog that if you asked him what he'd like to do, he'd probably say either herding, swimming, or sitting in my lap while I feed him food.

Why do I keep going with Tazz. Every time I walk on to an agility field, I feel a sense of wonder, excitement, and joy. It is like Disneyland to me. Even though I have not had the successes that some might consider true success, I've had moments and being with my pups is for me, a great joy. Now I am lucky enough to have Fin. I'm ready for her now (at least I hope I am). If you ask her what she'd like to do, agility would be one of those things.

Do I do agility because I have a wonderful dog in Fin? It certainly makes for more exciting runs, but nope, I do agility because it is a sport that helps me focus on fitness, allows me to hang out with some super great people, gives me a sense of excitement, and mostly cause it is something to do with my dogs.

European Open

This past weekend, very quietly, the European Open was held in the Netherlands.

Held every summer a number of countries come together and test their skills. Unlike the FCI world team competition, the EO was held on grass, out doors. The weather looks perfect. Also different, it looks like all the dogs ran the same courses (at FCI worlds, they have different courses for size of dog).

I've been watching videos of the runs and what I can say is whoa! lots of turns, tight turns, threadles, figure eights, and turn and burn. Not my forte.

To see the videos go to and subscribe to the EO. You can just do the finals for a cheaper option. I got the whole thing knowing that I'll never watch all of it, but I like to see the courses and how people handle them.

This week I'm setting up some stuff that I can try to work all those turns and threadles. I can't set up the entire course as I don't have the room. However, I absolutely need to practice tight turns.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Contact Point had a litter of puppies last night.

I watched a number of them be born on the web cam.

Enjoy, BW and Black Tri. 11 of them!

Quail Lodge Agility Trial Part 2

For the agility trial last weekend, we stayed at the beautiful Quail Lodge Hotel in Carmel. Bottom line, if you can afford it, I recommend it. I felt that with the agility on the green discount, it was wonderful staying close to the agility site and in the lap of luxury. From someone used to staying at whatever is close to have a room with comfortable beds, soft inviting pillows topped with a feather comforter was heaven.

I WILL save my pennies and stay there next year (if they will have us back!).

We had a room with two beds and a view to die for. The shower was WONDERFUL! Large and with great water pressure. The beds were inviting and lived up to their image, comfortable with soft pillows and down comforters.

Friday night I arrived and when I saw the beautiful room and view, I called Kel (who was on his way) and said, "we are not going out to eat, we are getting room service...the room is really nice!"

We ordered in and sat on our private deck overlooking the 14th green. There were still a couple golfers out but it was wonderful. Fin had her own bed and food dishes provided by the hotel and she settled in like it was home. I really felt like I was on vacation. The restaurant did have a "doggy" menu, but we did not partake. Fin had take away from home.

After dinner we took Fin for a walk all over the golf course. We walked down and checked out the restaurant that we would have eaten at, walked down to the agility field so Kel would know where I would be in the morning, then walked back to the room for a lovely night. I really enjoyed walking the grounds.

The rest of the weekend was all about agility. Got back to the room late and got up early. Nice to have a clean, comfortable, luxurious place to lay my head at the end of a long day.

This place rocks. Would I stay here again, YES I would.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quail Lodge Agility Trial

It was a long weekend of agility. Runs on Sat and Sun but Setup Friday and tear down Sunday with crew chief duties in between was exhausting.

This agility trial is pretty nice. Carmel Valley is known for dog friendly beaches, quality food and high priced shopping. Our trial site was the Quail Lodge Golf and Tennis club. Very ritzy type place.

I was worried what they would think when the mobile tent city that is an agility trial showed up, but they seemed to take it in stride. The Quail Lodge manager gave a speech the first day that bordered on the obsessed (the obsessed dog owner that is). She noted that Quail was genuinely happy that we were there and all the workers were thrilled about the dogs and agility.

Driving in on Sat morning, there was a huge field of perfect grass, immaculate white traffic cones, fancy marked signs indicating parking, and no less than SIX parking attendants.

What there wasn't was gophers. The staple of an agility competition. None, no, nadda. The grass was so thick you just wanted to lay on it and weep for joy at the smoothness and softness of it all. I believe many runs were screwed up this weekend due to the perfection. We just aren't at the top of our game when we don't have to dodge gophers and swamps.

The motor homes and tents were laid out in a grid pattern that rivaled many RV lots I've seen. The porta potties had multiple hand washing stations (with paper towels!). Vendors showed up giving gifts. All in all it felt very much like a much bigger trial than it was.

I worked as crew with my friend Laura. Not a bad job, but a consistent one. The hardest part was coordinating to get the dogs walked, courses walked, and dogs ready to run. Saturday for me was difficult to focus, we had some really close runs but only Q'd in pairs. Sunday 3 runs all close, no Q's.

I hope we are able to use the site again. Very cool place and SMART should be very grateful to Ernie for setting us up with Quail.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the hotel!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I have recovered from my loss of work computer yesterday.
Only took 15 hours, but got a new computer up and running. Old computer dead an gone.

Data, however, was recovered.

I will be a good girl and upload all my files to the sharepoint each and every day to ensure that I save them. In addition, I'm going to get a hard drive to store archived stuff on.

No more data loss, More doggy fun stuff.
Trial this weekend. USDAA, just Fin as I'm crew chiefing a ring and only want to run one dog (if even that). Should be alot of fun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

LIfe is like a box of chocolates


I work at home. I use a computer from my client. My client sent me a new computer and said, "Your old one is old and could break at any moment, set up this new one." Did I listen? Did I save my data? Am I stupid? Do I feel like an idiot?

If you answered No, No, Yes,'d be right.

Now I'm scrambling. Lost the last few days of work. Old computer won't turn on. New computer not set up. YIKES.

Client no longer "supports" old computer.

Can you say, "Panic."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Sleep is a wonderful thing. When I get enough, it really isn't something I think about. When I don't get enough, well, its practically all I think about.

Last few nights haven't been all that productive in the sleeping department. What is interesting is what I notice when I'm not sleeping.

Walking around the house, I see all the dogs in their places:
  • Rocky under the bed
  • Maddie on the floor under the open window
  • Fin in the old green chair that I refuse to toss because she loves it so
  • Tazz on the end of the bed
  • Kel sleeping soundly making little snoring sounds

The moon shines in through my skylight and the light in the room is quite pretty. Not one dog lifts a head as I plod around in the dark but I see sets of eyes watching me. I guess they are used to it.

I wonder if I get the camera and take pictures if that would bother anyone. I decide not to. I imagine that the flash might wake Kel up. Instead I think about sleep.

When the alarm wakes me up I think about sleep some more. I guess I get a few more hours tonight. Why is it that right this minute I know I could sleep for hours.....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Somethings Smelly

Situation: I absolutely had to clean my carpets in the living and dining room. Ten years and 4 puppies later, no excuses, must clean.
Opportunity: No furniture! Let's practice nosework!
Husband response: Are you nuts?!?

After cleaning the carpets, letting it dry, took the opportunity of an empty room and I had a couple friends over and we practiced our nose work with eight dogs.

None of the eight had been to the seminar. So we started with just a line of boxes (of course I didn't get any photos of that...too busy making boxes line up and hiding toys/food pouches).
By the 3rd session, all the dogs were getting the game and we brought in a few things for distractions. Unfortunately, the dustpan I brought in had a bunch of crap in it and when I put it on the carpet upside down, we had to "take a moment" so I could vacuum up the mess. Then we got back to bizness.

Each pup caught on quickly.

We are still in the box stage, and the indoor stage. But it sure is fun.

All the pups seemed really happy to be working.
Notice how clean my carpet looks!
Nope, the toy is not there!

Each dog got three sessions with 3-4 hides each session. Took a little over 2 hours and we all had a good time.
Next step is to do this somewhere else. Anyone else cleaning carpets? We'll come over and move furniture for you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Robot names

Thanks Tai Mutt Hall for the cool procrastination thingy:

Get Your Cyborg Name

Versatile Immediate Calculation Individual

Mine: Vituous Intense Compulsive Insomniac

Transforming Artificial Zoology Zombie

Mine: Tenuous Asset Zestful Zealot

Forbidden Infiltration Neohuman

Funtastical Iconic Neuron

Mechanical Artificial Device Designed for Immediate Exploration

Mine: Musical Addiction Desired Destiny In Earnest

Robotic Operational Construct Keen on Yelling

Mine: Rumbly Orator Concerned Klepto Yipper

Killing and Exploration Lifeform

Kaleidoscope Electric Lore

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Agile Adjustment

Many of us take our dogs in for adjustment. Fewer of us take ourselves in for adjustment. I think more of us should go for a "mind" adjustment. A tweak here, a crack there, and everything seems to be a bit more colorful and bright.
I love agility more than just about anything, but it is more than just doing "sumptin" with my dog. I can do lots of fun things with my dogs, walking, hiking, clicker, sheep, ball, visiting friends... With agility, there is excitement, friendship, hardship, nature, companionship, competition, improvement, strategy, coordination, fitness, relaxation, all wrapped up into one thing.
I think alot about motivation when I think about agility. For many years I have run a dog that really doesn't get all that excited about agility. Sheep he gets excited about. Agility, not so much. How come I keep going?

I think because there is more to this sport than qualifying. I enjoy the learning process, the destination is out there, but the getting there is fun. I also believe that good friends have made a huge difference in my motivation for the sport. Even though my team might not be the fastest, I hang out with folks that are really cool and we support each other. I am hopeful that as a team Tazz and I will get better, and now that Fin is part of my team, no question about motivation.
But as I travel my road with Fin, I don't want to loose site of what has kept me here. I don't want to take any of this for granted.

I still get excited every time another premium is posted. Each time more information about the trial is posted I greedily go and read all about what is going on. I look at the trial statistics, the running orders, who I'm paired with. Location maps. I plan where I'll set up and where my car will be parked. I review the workers schedule to ensure I have enough time to not only run my dogs, but to watch my friends run theirs.

I can't wait to get course maps when I arrive so I can sit with my friends and plan our attack for the day (of course much of it changes when you walk the course, the planning is half the fun).
When the moment arrives, I'm still a little nervous. Walk up to that start line and WHAM! it is over pretty quickly.

Then the memories of the run. Was I where I wanted to be? Did I give my dog the best path? Where could I have shaved off time? Lots of things to talk about with friends.
At the end of the day, we clean up the field, pack up the equipment and head home. Results are posted and statistics managed. Sometimes this is the point I am low, just a moment of regret, the trial is over, questions persist, could I have done better? But another trial is on the horizon. I look forward with optimism and know that "I'll do it next time!"

Team Small Dog raised a question today. Is agility better than pie? It is close, pie is pretty high up there...but I would have to say, "Yes, agility is better than pie" However, I must state the obvious and say that "pie" can help with the mental adjustment.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fiction, Fantasy, or Reality

So my memories from this weekend are actually quite good. I was walking around thinking, "I'm almost there, Fin and I are doing really well." I remember doing AMAZING things with my dogs. Yes, the reality is that we didn't Q except for one course, but as I remember, it was only minor little things that prevented us from Q'ing. I love my memories. I smile when I think of the weekend. I tell my husband, "You should have been there! It was great!"

Reality Sucks.

The videos arrived today. My memory is not quite accurate. In many of Fins runs my handling is horrible. Tazzies runs are actually not bad. My handling has improved drastically for him. Fin, another story. I have to ask myself, "WHAT WAS I THINKING?"

Let's take the one class we Q'd in, Snooker. I remember that being fast and furious. Furious was right. I sent her often in the wrong direction. Sure I was able to bring her back and get the Q, but for goodness sake, my handling is NOT helping her.

Then there is her Masters Standard on Sunday, actually a nice run but..... It is my fault we didn't Q as I let her go early off the table. For goodness sake, I need my head examined. So not only did we not Q, but I let her break her start line stay... oh boy...

Although she placed 2nd in both her team standard and team gamble, when I watch the runs, I'm not real happy. I'm glad she and I have a light schedule coming into August. Lots of opportunities for practice.

Here is team standard. Ok, we didn't E and did get 2nd place, but geeze there are times I'm not sure where "I" was sending her due to late crosses, how is she supposed to know where to go.

Yes, yes, I know. She is speedy. Give myself a break.... well the hard truth is I have high goals and I will need to improve to get those. There are moments that I can see myself doing well, but I need to move and I'm standing still too much.

Am I totally depressed? No, not totally. I'll get there eventually. Sometimes being an optimist is good. Sometimes not video taping your runs and living in a fantasy is better.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Where has the time gone?

This week has just flown by (and a busy week in my future). Here are the cliff notes version of life and times:

- Back on the fitness wagon. Fell off but with help from a few good people and a "god helps those who help themselves" attitude, climbed back in the wagon and riding along nicely. Lost 2 pounds last Thurs.
- Wed had an incredibly good practice at our PowerPaws class. Fin was excellent. I was darn good. Fin had another adjustment and is doing better, but her narrow front is concerning and I need to do more conditioning. is so precious.
- Thurs worked in the morning and off to Prunedale to set up for the weekend.
- Friday FIVE runs for team. Fin was amazing. The first two runs of the day she took 2nd place! She took a 3rd in Snooker and a 4th in jumpers. Unfortunately, an off course in our relay did not help our team. Our team had too many "E's" and although we had a GREAT time, we didn't Q. Thanks to my team mates Laurie with Bling and Terry with Archer. I had a fabulous time with 3 Good Bi's. A pleasure to run with the big dogs!
- Saturday, a day of almosts. Ran Fin and Tazz. They were back to back runs the first two classes of the day so I asked Laura to run Fin in Standard but I did all the rest. Nine runs total. All really nice runs with minor little things and no Q's heading into the last run of the day - Snooker. I love Snooker. Made a plan with flow, didn't go for the top numbers, kept it simple. Fin took 3rd and Tazz took 4th. Both Q's. Fins first "Masters" Q. I'm proud and a nice way to end day 2.
- Sunday. Am I getting up again at 5:30 to go do agility? Why yes. I only stayed for the first two classes. Gamble and Standard. The standard run was a thing of beauty if you don't look at Fin self releasing at the start line and her handler (who could that be?) letting her go on. I felt great throughout the run and finished thinking we had a Q in the bag. However, no Q for me. Judge called early leaving of the table, said Fin anticipated leaving the table and left before she said the last "o" in go. Darn it. A fun run. Gamble...well, only 6 dogs got the gamble and we weren't one of them.

Today, work, work, more work. I have some pork cooking in the slow cooker with ginger, garlic, and basil. Four dogs at my feet, and thoughts of getting my spreadsheet done so I can do something other than enter data in little cells dancing in my head.