Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to make an agility trial work

There is a ton of work that goes into the successful running of an agility trial.   It isn't about making money for the individuals that organize the trial.  It is about having a great time with friends enjoying the same thing.  That said, clubs or individuals that sponsor trials need your help. 

Clubs try to set entry fees low but still cover the cost of a trial.  But lots of things have to be paid for out of those entry fees: site, equipment upkeep, trailers, gas, judges, $$ to the sponsoring organization, etc.  You will not see clubs getting rich running trials.

There are many different types of jobs, some you can do on your own time, and some need to be done day of. 

Some of the jobs get you closer to the action. 
If you pole set for a group that jumps a different height than you, you get to see the competition up close and personal!  You get to sit for most of the runs, just getting up when a pole comes down.  I can't tell you how many times I've pole set where I'm so excited and enjoying the run that I forget what I'm doing.  Often at a trial you will hear, "VICI! Get that pole!!!"  Ah well.

Another fun job is a runner.  Leash or scribe runner.  You get to watch some great agility and get to know the dogs and handlers better.  This is a good job if you feel like you need to keep moving.  Some of us are getting a little stiff as we get older.  Sitting for long hours waiting for the run only increases the stiffness.  Walking back and forth will keep your joints warmed up and have you ready to run when it is your turn.
 Other jobs require more focus
...but you might learn more about agility

When I first started I was scared to do jobs like scoring or timing.  I was lucky enough to have someone encourage me (ok she basically said go sit in that chair and I'll tell you what to do) to try scribing.  What I found was by scribing, I actually learned so much about agility.  I learned more in that one afternoon than I had taking multiple classes.  I'll never forget and am forever thankful.  Scribing and timing can be intense.  There is much responsibility as you are the key to keeping the trial moving as well as documenting scores.  But these jobs are two of the jobs you will learn the most.

Some jobs you do on your own time
There are jobs at every trial that don't require you to loose focus during the day.  These jobs include set-up and tear down of rings, grounds management (garbage), hospitality, workers raffle, ribbons, etc.  All can be done when it is convenient for you and perfect for the competitor that needs to focus or has multiple dogs running.

The big jobs
The final group of jobs are the jobs that get the trial up and running.  Trial chair or secretary.  These are jobs that require work before and after the trial.  During the trial there are trouble shooting duties, dealing with complaints or problems, or just making little decisions...but most of the work is done before the trial starts. 

None of the jobs I've listed are paid.  Clubs differ in compensation, but must clubs will give free entries to individuals who do jobs like trial chair, score table, course builders, etc.  The jobs that require you to be available when it might not be convenient for you. 

Some clubs (SMART and Bayteam) actually will pay full time workers (if you are not running a dog and work the entire day.  Full time working is a great way to pay for future entries.
Whatever you do, sitting in the canopy resting is always a good thing, but helping out when you can will help you feel more part of the trial and who knows, you might make a new friend or two.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tuesdays' Blog is going to be a good one....

Agility Nerd is trying something new.  Taj Mutt Hall posted this on her blog and I am repeating here.  I'm passionate about this topic, so tomorrow will be posting something.

From an email from Agility Nerd:

I've been contacting dog agility bloggers in an effort to organize a "Blog Action Day" where we all post to our blogs on the same subject. There have been a lot of of email list discussions about volunteering at dog agility trials in the last few weeks and I thought this might be a good subject on which we can open up a discussion with our readers. I'm certain we all have different, and possibly conflicting, views on the subject that will make for good reading!
After discussion with some other bloggers we chose Tuesday June 28th as the day we'll post an article discussing the subject.
Some ideas you might consider for your blog post:

- why/when/how you choose to volunteer
- when/why you choose not to volunteer
- the impact of volunteers
- how can clubs make it easy/fun/rewarding for people to volunteer
- how not to alienate those who don't want to volunteer
- jobs you like to do
- what has dis/encouraged you to volunteer
I hope you will join us on June 28th! When you post your article please send me a link so I can put it on my blog. Monica at Clean Run will also host a list of all the articles - I'll forward your link to her for you.
I scoured the internet for dog agility blogs and tried to find their owner's email addresses. If you aren't a dog agility blogger I'm sorry for bothering you!
Please forward this email to every dog agility blogger and occasional agility blogger you know, I'd like to get everyone involved!
Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.
Best Regards,



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ok, I admit it. It was Hot today

Driving home at 4, the temp outside was 98.  No wonder I was sweating while I was walking my courses this afternoon.

First run was at 8:30.  Fin and I Q'd in Fast.  She did pop her weaves in the opening which was a theme for the rest of the day.  My next run was at 2:30.  For Standard Fin decided that she could jump the double from 7 feet away.  That didn't work out so well.  Then she popped the weaves on our way out.  Other than that, she was a good dog and tried hard.

Last run was JWW.  Oh dear.  I think maybe there was too much waiting around in the heat for Fin.  She was naughty.  I couldn't help but laugh.

Lots to train this week.  I guess the most surprising was her weaves.  She has been rock solid in weaves and I've been really proud of them.  To miss 3 sets means we'll be working these all week.

The drive home was uneventful, but as I got closer and closer to home, the temps kept going down.  A nice 75 here in Morgan Hill.

Am I really going back to Dixon in two weeks?  I'll really have to evaluate the weather.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sat AKC Dixon

I have four goals every time I step to the line with my dog:

  1. Relax and enjoy
  2. Handle with confidence
  3. Don't sweat the mistakes
  4. Make Fin feel like she is a superstar
I did achieve my goals today. The Q's weren't there, but they will come.

In standard I was very worried about the 4 jump sequence after the weaves.  She had two tunnel off courses that, for her, were very attractive.  I was also worried about the weave pole entry as there was a big fat tunnel staring her in the face there as well.  My worry was my failure.  In trying to get to my FC position, I pulled her off the jump after the table...the rest of the run was wonderful.  She did the 4 jump sequence with little regard to the tunnel (my handling plan worked) and our only mistake was me pulling her off a jump.  My bad.

In jumpers.  I thought it was a good course.  Fin felt she needed to go around the triple after the weaves (a consistent handling challenge for me and Fin).  That's ok.  she is still my little superstar and I am so glad I made the drive up to Dixon.

Going back tomorrow for another try.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Leave it to the half-wit...

Sweet little Maddie sometimes gets lost in her own house.  She is almost deaf and will fall asleep and sleep through pretty much anything.  She was diagnosed last year with dementia and sometimes is 100%, but most the time is a little confused. But her nose seems to be in fine working order.  She gets the scent and it is difficult to get her attention (especially for those mystical squirrels).

I call the dogs in, much like every day, and clap for Maddie (she seems to hear clapping most of the time).  However, this morning she has her head and most of her body in the vinca bushes in the planters next to the pool.  All you can see of her is her wagging tail.  I tell my husband who at this point is calling, "Maddie" and laughing at her, that she'll never come.  I go out there and give her tail a tug and she somehow backs out of the tangles of the vinca and drops something at my feet.  "Oh," I say, "Maddie found a skull."

My husband, who is never surprised by Maddies finds of old poo, mushrooms, owl dropping, dead things, dirt clods, and the like, goes, "huh."  Then I say, "Kel, Maddie found a SKULL!!!"  That interests him.

So, not sure what died (some kind of a rodent), nor what cleaned it up so well, but a skull is the prize of the day. 

I'm not sure what we'll do when Maddie goes to the great beyond, life will certainly be much less exciting...that is for sure.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Now I've gone and done it!

Doubt is like green algae on a pond.  It takes over if you don't get rid of it.  I struggle with doubt all the time.  Today I overcame my doubt, hit the trail and did the entire loop.  Wasn't so hard once I got going.  It is a little less than 4 miles.  I have friends that do it all the time.  I've done it once before.  But today I did it and actually enjoyed it. 

There was one point in the first 30 minutes where I asked myself what was I thinking that I could go up the mountain today.  I think it was at the point that Tazz was straining to go up and Fin was dragging me down (she is not the best hiker).  But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, told Fin to get moving, and at the top...just kept going.  We made the first summit (where I usually turn around) in 8 minutes less than last time (well it was 90 degrees last time I hiked up)!

My buddy asked me last week.  Why don't you just do it Vici?  It was a valid question.  I guess I was worried that I would fail.  Today I decided just keep going.  How can you fail.  it is a frigg'n circle. 

I had three "people" encounters, runners (damn them), one bicycle, and on the way down three horses.  Other than that, it was me, Fin, Tazz, and nature...and of course, my mind.

Got home, tossed the dogs in the pool, washed up and went back to work.  What a great day!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The longest day of the year

For my favorite day of the year, I will swing in my swing, toss the ball for the dogs, take a walk, and perhaps swim in the pool. 

A wonderful gift that nature gives.  Sun shine all day long, green grass, and a warm day.

I love spring and June 21st is one day I look forward to all year long.

I know it will now be hot.  I know that in a few months these long days will be a sweet memory.  But today, today I'll just enjoy it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Almost does not equal MACH points Fin.

Fin and I had a wonderful day in Scotts Valley watching friends run.  My husband even came up to watch us run.  The standard seemed very doable.  What I didn't see was the possibility of a wide turn for Fin on the finish.  She just went wide and missed the 2nd to last jump.  Otherwise a beautiful run. 

She is keeping me humble...that's for sure. :)

Jumpers was only rememberable from a training perspective.  We only got 3 obstacles before I made a huge mistake and sent her past a jump into the wrong side of the tunnel.  That's ok.  She did it with gusto (like she does everything) and her confidence is growing by leaps and bounds.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sat Scotts Valley AKC

Headed out for AKC fun today with Laura.  Fin and I had much joy and focus today.  A missed opportunity in our Exc B jumpers, but 3rd place in Exc B standard and 18 MACH points.  only 682 to go...oh and then there are those double q's. 

Jumpers was doable I thought, but after the weaves she drifted wide and chose to go around a single and take the triple.  It is interesting as I worry about spreads with her, and she chose to take the spread... ah well, there will be other jumpers runs to be sure. :) 

The weather was chilly in the morning but the Sun came out for our second run (the jumpers).  I really do enjoy the site at it has some really nice walks.  However, today found a number of people there to enjoy the park, and annoy our dogs.  We had to keep a pretty close watch on the canopy to prevent unwanted hands from reaching into the xpen. 

Played with Stat for a long time.  He is getting to be a nice teenager.  Very pretty boy.  Laura has done a fabulous job with him.

Some great runs by some fabulous people today.  I enjoyed it so much today, I think I'll go back tomorrow and do it all over again!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hiking and Fitness

I really do enjoy getting out in nature.  Don't really enjoy neighborhood walking all that much.  I do it because it is necessary.  What I really enjoy is trees, woods, meadows, rocks, and ponds.

I sorta fell out of the habit of hiking with all the rains.  It is muddy work.  Then there were the cows at Harvey bear, sorta scary.  So I decided to skip the cows and go hike Mt. Madonna.

I will step back a moment and say that I live in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains...it's not like the Rockies, but the elevation change can be quite dramatic.  I don't like going up hill.  It is difficult and at my current fitness level a challenge.  However, getting to the top of a 1200 foot elevation change in less than a mile makes me smile. 

So my challenge to myself continues this week.  Hike this hike and each day go further than the last in the same amount of time.

Monday I hiked up to the tree with the poison oak all over it.  I had no idea how close to the top I was, but was dripping wet, it had been 45 minutes of up hill, and I turned around and headed back to the car.

Tues I got to that tree and walked right past it huffing and puffing the whole way.  Another 200 feet and we were at the top.  Wow.  So beautiful.  I walked out to vista point then turned around and walked back down.

Today hiked to the top, enjoyed the views of the fog coming in over the hills, and came back down.  Made it to the top 4 minutes faster than Tues.  I will say that my legs were quite sore, a good sore, a sore that means what I'm doing is working. 

Tomorrow, I'm doing the entire loop. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Adrift on a Sea of Fun

A busy but fun weekend.  Sat was a delightful party at my sisters.  Her son is getting married!  His fiance is wonderful and her family is very nice.  My sister gave her a wedding shower and what fun we had!  We played the create a wedding dress with blue table cloths and paper streamers.  My team went the western route and the other team went for the eastern traditional Sari... so ok, theirs was better...but we did have a mighty nice outfit.

The food was good and we headed south to Morgan Hill afterwards where we attended closing night of Kel's play "Curtains."  Kel is really hysterical

Sunday I woke up and after getting my mom on the road, left for Palo Alto and did one day of the AKC.  The weather was wonderful (in the 80's) and I camped with my bud Laura who had set up the day before.  In the ring around 9:30 and and a nice jumpers run.  a little late on my first FC.  Purposly late on my second, tradgically late on my third.  But would have Q'd if she didn't pop out at 10 on her weavies.

Standard was a fun course.  Despite not staying on the teeter we were clean through 12.  She needed to stay on the A until I could get by her to serp to the tunnel, but she came off on my motion and ended up going off course so I just ran it out.

This week I will work on proofing those weaves, holding those contacts, and oh, forgot to mention that startline!  Next week another local trial (I'm so blessed).  Of to lovely Scotts Valley for a fun 2 day AKC.   I like this venue as they have a wonderful little walking area around the neighborhood.  A good place to hang out with friends and enjoy the wonderful weather.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lunch at Whizland USA

I guess I need a second job to pay for my poor shelties humpback.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What can I learn from a 5 of 6 weekend?

Step one to Nationals: Get into Exc B. DONE.

As many of us know, AKC Nationals will be in Reno, NV this year. Just a hop, skip, and a good poker hand away from Fin and I's abode. I am going whether I qualify or not. Too close not to go. I already have rooms booked. It will be Agility all day, every day, for three days.

My hope, and the hopes of many of my friends, is that we qualify to actually participate. Wouldn't that be a kick?

To that end, all of a sudden AKC has become somewhat popular and I am enjoying the experience. Sometimes it is a long day to run twice, but hanging out with friends is fun.
Step two: Get fit. Working on it.
Step three: Six double Q's

I am going to as many AKC as I can between weddings, parties for weddings, work, and other obligations. Hopefully I will be able to tick these double Q's off before the cut off in November.

A few things I learned this weekend:
  • Weave to triple/spread issue.  Not sure if it was because I was excellerating and she was herding me, or she truly avoided the spread. But this week on my list is weaves to spreads.
  • Startline.  I have a fabulous startline.  She is so pretty sitting there.  Until I don't.  She sat 5 of 6.  Going to reinforce startline this week.
  • Contacts.  Perhaps contacts will be a lifetime thing. Fins contacts are fast and fabulous...but sometimes she is not sticking them.  This week, get out there and proof.
  • Jumping.  I can not find fault with her jumping.  She is taking things with confidence and good form.  However, she checks in with me alot (due to me being behind her!) and I want her looking ahead more...our times will get better.  This week, work some go ons and reward before the head check.
Love me some little Fin agility!