Saturday, December 17, 2011

The day we saw Sherlock Holmes

Date night was a visit to the movie theater to see Sherlock Holmes.  Totally Rocked!

Fun stuff, action, and a good story. 

Recommend it. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It is catchup time!

It has been awhile.  The dogs and I have been up to loads of mischief.

I have a big project that I'm working on.  Cleaning out my attic and bonus room.  Between work, working dogs, and getting rid of the "unique and wonderful items that may have been stored for over 12 years" aka "crap" outta my life, I haven't had time for such pleasures as writing a blog.

Today, I can say, "Every box from the attic has been opened and gone through."  Yippiee!!!!  I have a pile of stuff for the dumps.  I have been taking stuff to goodwill.  I have a few valuables that I don't know what to do with.

Now that the attic is done, I will clean out the bonus room.  My husband wants a man cave and I want an exercise room for me and the dogs.  I think we'll be able to accommodate both in that big bonus room.  I feel like a huge load is lifting from my shoulders.  I hardly recognize myself!

This past weekend was the annual chill fest.  Where we in northern California have a trial in Santa Rosa that has the reputation for being serious cold.  You've got to be tough to get through this trial and once again it didn't disappoint. 

I know, I know.  You people in the other parts of the country are trialing in snow.  Oh, I get it.  But you must understand that when that temp gets close to 30 here, only the true "crazies" do agility. I honestly don't know how anyone runs in all these cloths.  I had to take stuff off to run, and then put it all back on.  Just going to the restroom for a quick break becomes a huge deal with having to peel all the layers to get to the point you can actually use the facilities.  Yikes it is cold.

December is our annual team event.  First team event to qualify for USDAA nationals.  Our team "EAT MONKEY FISH" did great.  SpaceMonkey teamed up with two shelties (Fin and "world team member Manja Kajava").  Our best event was the Standard where we placed 3rd among some top teams!  Snooker and Gamble...not so much.  Our relay was like a clown skit, but we got through without E'ing.

A nice big Nationals Q for the three of us.  Seriously, I think Monkey really liked teaming with the munchkins.  There were some wooo wooo'ing going on this weekend.

Team Standard was a fun course.  I was a little late in places, but Fin and held it together for a 3rd place behind our team mate Manja and Mr. Big.

After the team event, we had two more days of agility.  My favorite run of the entire weekend was not one I Q'd in.  It was jumpers, late at night on Sat.  Fin does go into the wrong end of the tunnel, but I just kept going and it was blazing fast.  If I had only decelled just a tad at the end she would have gotten that jump...but I was just moving and didn't stop, so she went around it.  I still just loved the run.

Steeplechase round one was fun.  We got our Q and the beginning was really fast and wonderful.  I got a little behind after the second A frame that caused a bit of a miscue but we were clean and now are qualified for Nationals in Steeplechase as well as Team.

What still alludes me is that silly Grand Prix.  I'll get it next year.

Fin and I are done competing for 2011.  We will start up again in 2012.  We'll be working on our contacts and taking the jump that is in front of you over the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some Ups and downs

Went to a USDAA this weekend. 
Saturday started sorta weird.  I had a feeling that Fin didn't feel well.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but just a gut feeling.  Decided to skip classes in the middle of the day when my friend said she just didn't look herself (not me seeing something that wasn't there).  Let her sleep for a couple hours and then took her for a walk.  She seemed better to me.  Ran her around and went ahead and ran her in Steeplechase.  A great run with a off course tunnel entrance. 
And then a jumpers with of all things, an off course double. 

Today I only ran 3 runs, Jumpers, Standard, and GP.  Nice stuff in all, but going around stuff still is Fins Achilles heel.  Our Grand Prix was beautiful and she choose to go around a double off the A frame. I was then pushing the envelope trying for some distance in the weaves and just stretched it a bit too far and got a pop out of the weaves, miss cue to the 180, but I do like the ending.  I felt very brave with my front cross :)
Overall, I was a little sad that we didn't Q more.  But I was so happy to have my girl back on Sunday and I was also very grateful for health and well being.

Most of all, I'm so very sad I didn't video tape my friends most fantastic run with SpaceMonkey.  I'm a freak and I know it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's a girl to do....

Work is a bit slow right now.  Hours are limited for my project.  So guess what we get to do in the middle of the day!?!  Off we went for a nice walk.

Tazz N Fin found some nice road apples of which they are sharing.  Gross in my mind, but they love it and who am I to judge what anybody wants to eat.

We had a lovely 1.5 hour walk back and forth.  Then a 10 minute romp in the creek before heading back to the car. 

The one stretch that is difficult is the part I have to share with the bikes.  Darn my dogs are not good with bikes.  I'm working on it, but hard with the two.  Fin is so good by herself...add Tazz and I have two whirling dervishes...lord what people must think.

My thoughts.  Even bad dogs need exercise.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The UKI Nationals are in my backyard and I'm not there :(

This weekend is the UKI Nationals.  I signed up, but didn't go.  Fin was so incredibly tired after powerpaws camp, I just felt she needed a weekend at home.  Nothing could make me more depressed then if she injured herself because I did too much stuff over too many weekends.

Instead I stayed home to wrangle up all the dust bunnies, take a couple hikes, visit my sisters house she has made an offer on, and hang out with my husband for a change. 
I keep hearing about the different dogs and how they are doing.  The courses look so much fun.   Hopefully it won't be too far away next year.  Totally something I'd like to do.
Tomorrow, more work on setting up the computer and if I'm really lucky, the computer will actually communicate with the printer.

Ahhh the newness of it all...

Got a new computer.  The old one seriously sucked.  But at least it had all my "stuff" on it.

Setting up a new computer should not be this hard.  I used the easy connect to transfer data and that corrupted files.  So back to the old fashioned way of just doing it all by hand.

Dogs are sitting at my feet wondering why the heck I don't leave the darn computer.  I guess it is time for a walk!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A couple of runs

These are from a couple weeks ago.  AKC Standard and AKC Jumpers...not on the same day, but good runs and loads of fun.

In the standard I got a little behind at the end, but we pulled it out.

For the jumpers, a really nice run.  Fin did go around the triple after the weaves, but I thought the rest was well handled and actually a better run then the one we Q'd on the next day..

Seriously outta control!

Who knew that Shelties breed dust bunnies.  Yikes.  They are taking over my house.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fun times at camp

PowerPaws camp was fun.  I might even say I learned a few things.  We had 3 full days with 6 instructors.  Two instructors each day, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.  Hanging out with my good buddies was one of the best parts.

 Camp life is what you'd expect.  Canopies everywhere.  The days started out cool and mid day were a tad bit hot.  We kept ourselves and the dogs hydrated and put sunscreen on frequently.
 Our canopy seems to be one of the taller ones.  We camped with our good buddies all around us and as usual had all the elements of a good agility camp.
 Lectures were minimal.  Mostly we were on our feet walking, analyzing, and then running some really creative courses that tested our techniques.  Every single instructor gave me feedback that I can use to improve my skills with my dogs.
 Some instructors used white boards to help explain the techniques, but the focus was on practice and I loved it.
 Each instructor spent time with each individual.  We all learned from what was said.
 Although the days did start a little chilly, sweat shirts were replaced with light T shirts by 11am and we really didn't need anything until late in the evenings.
 Rewards were stressed.  Don't forget those startline stays!
 We all had questions.
 Even the dogs.
 Fin wanted to show the people pottie area. 
 And where the people got lunch.
Every day Fin got a massage by Linda.  She is starting to really love her massages.  I tried laying down next to Fin to see if I could get a massage.  Linda didn't fall for it, and I did not get my massage.

 Monkey had loads of fun and enjoyed practicing her contacts.
 Fireball got to play too. 
 Monkey showing off her mad tugging the Frisbee skills.
Fin showing what she did best after 3 days of hard work.

Over all, the instruction was amazing, food was good, people were tremendous, and in the evenings sharing a meal and wine with good friends was priceless!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And we are off...

We are off for three fun days filled with information, friends, dogs, dirt, sun, and fun.  Perhaps a glass of wine or two might be on the agenda as well.  Last year I thought my head would explode by the end.  I expect the same for this year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some things worked, some things didn't, some things I can't remember

The startline stays that Fin had this weekend, rocked the house.  For the most part, her weaves were great, but her weave entrances were amazing.  She hit some weave entrances that more seasoned dogs had trouble with. 

 Contacts rocked.  Sometimes flying over the apex of the frame caused momentum that pushed her off the end of the A, but she stopped on every single one.  Teeter was fantastic, even with a teeter that sucked.

Rear crosses were nice, even when I was so late, the train left without me!  I did no serpentines, but her threadles off the tunnels were great.

What didn't go so right:

Crashing the triple.  Gosh how I hate when she does that.  Weak areas continue to be jumps after weaves (crashed and go arounds). 

Aframe/tunnel discrimination.  Why does this make me shake in my boots!  I will get better, I will be better, I will have confidence.....

Overall, couldn't have a more fun time then I'm having right now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Theme: Run hard, run fast, run the course you walked, take some chances!

The weekend was a great success.  One Standard and one jumpers to show for it, and fun, fun, fun!

The goal was to run the courses I walked and let Fin take care of her parts.  Out of all the runs, there really was only one that I felt I let Fin down.  Every other run I felt I kept my eye on my dog and worked hard to be were I needed to be. 

There were a few go arounds, a couple dropped bars, and one popped weave.  For contacts, Fin was perfect.  We even got some nice downs on the table.

Every day, Fin was on fire and only came out of the weaves the one time to try to nip my heel.  I believe she was saying, "Mama, you do not need to be so close to the weaves, get some distance girl and show me where I'm going."  All I saw was her popping the weaves, mouth open, teeth showing, and tongue hanging out coming for me so I stopped and had her sit as quick as I could to save my nice jogging pants.

Overall, I am not disappointed.  Fin and I are a team.  We might still need more work on all the details, but from a big picture Life is Good!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

USDAA Summary

This weekend we have a weekend off.  Well sorta. I am dog sitting for my buddy while she is off enjoying life without a dog. 

Last weekend did a quick USDAA with Fin and Tazz.  Tazz did everything right...just at Tazzie power which doesn't seem to be part of the USDAA program.  Some runs we were as much as 6 seconds over, but in others, .10 seconds over. 

Overall the courses were tough and it seemed that the times were tight.  I actually really enjoyed the challenges.  Fin was amazing but only one Q for the weekend.  I really felt that we connected well this weekend.  Minor little things here and there is all. 

As we head into November, we are looking at a lighter and lighter schedule.  I'm going to take a real break from agility over Christmas.  We'll train only once or twice a week and we'll have 5-6 weeks free of competition.  I have a bunch of friends going to the AKC over New Years, but I doubt I'll go.  I think instead we'll spend our time hiking, playing fetch, and learning new tricks. 

Maddie and Rocky will be thrilled to have their mom home on the weekends!

Thanks to Lisa Williams for the great photo of Fin! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Foot work is incredibly important.  Think about walking down the hall in the morning. If you do not put one foot in front of the other, point your feet in the direction you want to go, and keep a consistent pace towards your destination you many never get to the kitchen for that all important cup of Java (or hair of the dog...just saying).

I find that footwork is really important when I go to dinner with my friends.  Just getting to the bathroom and back can be an adventure and all I have to worry about is myself.  If I take a little detour, no one needs to be the wiser.

However, when walking, running, skipping, or otherwise moving with my dog, where I place my feet is the difference in where she ends up.  Lead out pivot and face my feet towards the tunnel (even if I want her to go to the Aframe), I'll get the tunnel 100%.  But, if my feet face the Aframe, I have at least a chance that she'll take the Aframe over the tunnel (albeit a small chance given Fins tunnel love).

You may think me silly, but I practice footwork all the time without my dog.  She sits on the sidelines with the other dogs in the household (I'm sure they are making fun of me) while I get out there and practice my front crosses, serps, threadles, and rear crosses. I practice on dirt, in short grass, in tall grass, in sand, around gopher holes...whatever surface I might face.

It is like dancing.  You practice, practice, practice and each time feel like a uncoordinated fool.  Then one day, it all comes together and you feel amazing.  The sun comes down and radiates on you, little blue birds are singing, and your dog knows exactly where to go.  It is an amazing feeling.

Then the next day, you loose your mojo, and back to practicing you go.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So much more happens in my backyard than just agility....

... last night I set up one of those fancy night vision cameras.  It is amazing what I was able to see.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning my letters...

If you are an agility enthusiast, immediately, before breakfast, before work, before you take your shower, order this book.  Alphabet Drills by Nancy Gyes, is jam packed full of fun and education.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get out in my field and I ask myself, what am I going to work on today?  I generally have a list of things that I need to practice:
  • Wraps
  • Rear Cross
  • The dreaded Threadle
  • Timing of my front cross
  • Lead outs
  • Send to the backside
  • etc.
Before I got Nancy's book, I would use my old clean runs to get ideas for practicing these handling moves or fumble with setting something up.  It is time consuming and takes away from my training time.

Now, I just look through the book.  There is a letter for everything.  Many of these letters only require a few jumps so you can set it up anywhere.  On page 181 there is a very handy grid that lists a number of handling challenges and the letters that help work that challenge.  Now I decide what I'm going to work on, find an appropriate letter, set it up, and I'm ready to go.

Go now and get this book!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Backyard Drama

The story ends well with a chicken sitting down on the ground and giving up.  Two shelties crouched with noses 4 inches from said chicken waiting for it to move.  And, finally, me getting to the chicken, picking it up off the ground, and launching it over the fence.

PS: in the real life images above, imagine me running behind the shelties yelling, "Lie down!  Lie down!"  One of the shelties is excuse for the other.

For a weekend I was home doing nothing...I sure got a lot of driving in...

Guess what I did this weekend?  Imagine my amazement when the trial secretary told me that I could still get into the show?  Off Laura and I went to Leon Equestrian Center in South East Sacramento area.  What a wonderful facility.  The footing was like running on clouds.  Now I know how an expensive hunter jumper horse feels like.  Oh and those horses are beautiful!!!  They are growing them bigger then ever.  Just amazing to watching the riders jumping these beasts.   Very beautiful.

So how'd we do?  Well no Q's, but I felt my handling was top notch.  I decided going in that my focus was on running the best courses that I could run. Here were my criteria:
  • Run the course I walk - check
  • Run with confidence - check
  • Get to position and FC as much as possible - check
  • Don't loose it when mistakes happen - check
  • Have fun - check check check
Despite Fin popping her weaves, I felt that my jumpers runs were brilliant.  My standards were so very close.  So very.  Day two was perfection except for that long sprint to the tunnel and me being too far behind to send her to the weaves so she did the tunnel twice. But Day one, I'll just say two words.  Running contacts.  So we got a few refusals because I was not letting her get away with that naughty action.

I really had a heck of a good time.  This week we are doing a few weave drills, hiking, and heading up for some USDAA action on the weekend.  A surprize performance from little Tazzie this weekend.  He'll be trying out some Standard and Gambler courses.  Most of all, he'll be trying out walking around and not acting like an idiot!

Hope you are having as much fun with your dogs as I am with mine.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Much time in the car allows for reflection...

Had much fun this weekend at the AKC.  Some friends got the last double Q's needed for AKC nationals and it was very exciting cheering them on.

Fin and I ran hard and fast.  Unfortunately, my nerves got the best of me on some of the runs and Fin was popping out of her weaves when I tried my distance stuff, between the two of us no Q's.  But gosh almighty, Fin ran fast!  So much fun.  A few times she was barking at me telling me to get a move on and get outta her way :)

Sunday ended with a clean run in Standard.  I knew it was one that we could do.  Learned a lesson by almost pushing her off the teeter, "Do what you plan! Don't chicken out."  

Coming home from this trial, I ask myself why I do so much better at USDAA than AKC.  The only thing I can come up with is that I put pressure on myself to get the Q's for the Nationals in Reno.  At this point, it is too little too late.  So I am going to Reno and be the best Fan I can be.  Can't say I'm a little disappointed in myself, but never in Fin.  She is a shining star and life is too short to worry about silly little things like Q's. 

Coming up for us is an entire weekend at home.  I'm not quite sure what I'll do with myself.  Maybe, perhaps, clean my house?  Imagine that. 

Thanks Laurie for hanging out with me and videoing all my runs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Hair of the Dog

Monday morning.  Fin runs into my office.  I hear her coming down the hall and turn my chair towards her and she takes a flying leap into my lap and starts shaking her head violently.  I rub her head, scratch to see if I can take her mind off of it.  Still head shaking.  Ahh well.  Call the vet and get an appointment for 3:40.

During the day, lots of shaking going on. Much looking like there is a knife sticking out of her skull.

3pm rolls around.  Not much head shaking.  A little ear bent to the side...but off to the vet we go.  Vet finds nothing. Back home.  Back to work in my office.

About 7pm I get Fin standing with her feet on my desk whining.  One ear up, one ear totally crooked with a slight head tilt looking pitiful.  Oh goodness.  Can you tell I'm working a lot this week.  Very much over whelmed with work.  No time for shaking heads.

Next morning after a night of much head shaking, sneezing, and less sleep than needed, I take her to my backyard to see if I could take her mind off of it and jump her over a few jumps.  She falls over turning to the right.  Seriously.  Are you kidding me!

Head back to the vet.  Leave her there (I HATE doing this).

Vet calls not 90 minutes later.  She found something.  "Hurrah! what was it?" I say.  Vet says, "She had a small hare in her ear canal."  I'm like, "What, like a small rodent?"  She laughed, "No a small hair, like an eye lash."

I'm speechless.  I ask, "Does one normally get dogs falling over with a hair in their canal?"  "Oh, no, but she might just be sensitive."  I guess so.  Home from the vet now 24 hour later.  Not a sign of a head shake, a sore ear, nothing.  Jumps like normal.  Goes in to my folder of the weird and unusual.

I guess we are on for an AKC this weekend.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Seems only the hard ones are the easy ones for me and my team....

Did a couple days of USDAA this weekend.  Didn't run in everything.  Did Q in Jumpers.  Another jumpers where people were E'ing like crazy. 

Had to babysit 3-4 which put me in a bad place for 5-6.  A miracle occurred and Fin called off the tunnel.  The rest was just me catching up.

Now that Fin and I are Q'ing more consistently, I am looking for how to save time.  How to cut out the fat, remove the extra, get lean and mean. 

Often I get compliments on how Fin checks in with me.  Every time Fin looks at me, it is tells me two things:
1.  I'm outta position and she doesn't know where she is going.
2.  We are wasting time.

When I have to call her off of things, multiple seconds tick by.

I can not tell you the joy I feel that I'm focusing on how to get to my position and shave off seconds rather than, why is Fin avoiding jumps.  Yippiee for us!

Now back to my treadmill.  I think that is about 3/4's of our problem.

PS: Did ya notice what a nice turn I got between 1,2, and 3 :) we've been working on that and it was so much fun to put it into practice and see my little girl turn so nice and tight.  Now for those rear crosses, lots more work there...

Monday, August 29, 2011

ADCH Himark's Holy Mackerel!

How many hours of work go in to making an agility dog champion?  It is different for each team.  So many people I spoke with this weekend told me they only needed one Super Q, or 4 jumpers, or 2 standard.

Me and Fin, we needed 2 Gamble and 1 jumpers.  With two days of gamble and jumpers, being at my favorite park, and competing with my club, I was thrilled that I got those last three Q's to allow me and my dog Fin to stand up there with the other Champions of the world.

The first gamble on Saturday was thrilling.  First off, Fin and I suck at gamble.  But on paper, the gamble looked like something we could do.  Then I started watching the dogs curl off of the last jumps.  I figured, all I could do is try.  And we did it!

Later that day we walked the jumpers.  Yikes it was a hard course, but looked fun.  It was not to be.  Going home Saturday, I knew I had the opportunity on Sunday to Q in both Gamble and Jumpers, but realized that I also had the trial on Labor day.  I promised myself that I would enjoy my moments rather than focus on my faults.  Not worry about the Q's but worry about doing a good job.

Well, Sundays Gamble was a tunnel A frame discrimination with a push to the jump.  Despite having her fail to do the A frame in the opening when asked, she did the A frame in the closing AND pushed out to that jump!  OMG!  I was so excited.  Then my stomach started to hurt.  All I needed was one jumpers.

The jumpers course was eating dogs alive.  But somehow, someway, despite nearly falling down, at one point forgetting the course and sending her to the right instead of the left, feeling the anxiety of my friends standing around watching, Fin and I got through it and we got our stick!!!!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  You know who you are, I thank you.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kippiee Kedar Comes to Whizland

Kippiee the Pug.  Found at a shelter, provided a home by my sister, and loved by my sister and her wife.  A very lucky little dog.

 A fine upstanding citizen, whom my dogs seem to like.
 Who wouldn't like that sad little face!  Oh did I mention she snores.  Really loud!
 Kippie had no trouble with standing guard with Maddie while the boyz rested.  Fin doesn't stand guard, her talents lie elsewhere.
 She hung out by the pool and learned really quick to go around it rather than through it.
 She's got that look of, "Is it dinner time yet" down pack.  Just want to give her hugs upon hugs.
 Was trying to capture behavior earlier in the day.  All I did here was capture it with the camera.  But I'd love to get this little number on cue.
Tazzies little shadow.  And weirdly enough, Tazz doesn't seem to mind her at all.

A wonderful visit that isn't over yet.  Hope she gets to visit often.  She is a doll.