Monday, April 27, 2009

Icon and I rented PP this weekend to do some coursework before tryouts. Kay came with us to help out and she got to run Apollo a few times since I have him entered in a USDAA trial next weekend. Kay will run him one day and Debbie the next. I really enjoyed watching him work with Kay. I always forget what a stunning dog Apollo is, I guess when he's right beside me I just don't notice. I also have a hard time believing he'll be 7 years old in less than 2 months. He still looks (and often acts) like a 2 year old! :)

We just did jumpers courses because I didn't want to bother moving contacts with just two of us there. And luckily Nancy already had a course set up so we just needed to set one by ourselves. The courses we did were fairly easy, which was nice because it gave me a much more comfortable feeling going into next weekend.

Kay took video of our practice for me, which I really appreciate. It's not all that exciting to watch (but you get an idea of the gorgeous view they have at PP). In the first run he turned the wrong way on the jump after the weaves, I was going for a wrap but he read it as a rear cross. On the 2nd course I had a hard time getting him into the the first tunnel. I need to make sure I support him until he's totally committed.

Icon's practice from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

For a more fun video (in my opinion) we did the opening (1-4) of the first course a couple of ways.

Madrid Jp (2009-03-14).jpg

The first time I did it, I didn't bring him through the center as the path is drawn, instead I double front crossed and sent him around the outside of 3. This is how I would do it in competition to take away the risk of the tunnel draw (which could result in an off-course, but more likely just add time to the turn). I timed the sequence based on video from when he took the first jump to when his nose entered the tunnel. The first time around he was 4.03 seconds.

After that I tried the opening 2 other different ways, a pull with a front cross (that was actually a mistake on my part, the course wasn't set up so you'd want to handle that way) and then a full pull through the center. I thought he turned quite nicely on both of these. The time for both was 4.12 second.

When I was calculating times at that point I was surprised that the first way, which appears longer on paper, was actually the fastest. Luckily I had done it the first way once more and after calculating the time on that... it was 4.12 seconds! So it is not necessarily the faster way to go, but I think the most important fact here is that it's also not the SLOWEST way to go. You have to run to your strengths and front crosses are definitely stronger for us. Icon will jump longer on pulls and not accelerate out of them as well. Anyway, it was an interesting exercise.

Which way is faster? from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

I had a heart attack at the end of practice, when Icon started limping a bit on his front left leg. We had just finished our practice and were walking to the other end of the field when he went through a tunnel and was limping when he came out. I checked his foot in case he got something stuck in his pad, and I moved all his joints but I couldn't see anything wrong. After that he seemed fine. When we got home he ran around the back yard on his own and we went to the park this morning and he showed no signs of discomfort. Kay said that the tunnel holder chain was in front of the opening so he might have just smacked his foot on it and it stung for a bit. Very scary though.

I've decided that I'm not doing anything else with him until I get to MN. I packed up all of my agility equipment in the back yard so I wouldn't be tempted (ok, I left the teeter out, but a little bit of contact work won't hurt).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The group shot

I tried to get a group shot of the dogs yesterday. Icon was the petulant child of the group. Someone ALWAYS has to be a smart-ass in the group photos.

And poor Foster was int he shadows for a few.

I guess this is the best one. Icon looks like he doesn't belong though!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rampage doing stuff

While Icon has been getting the Big Branch of Training lately, Rampage has gotten the short end of the stick (but he's luckier than Foster and Apollo who have been getting bupkis). I'm not too worried about it because I do spend a bit of time each day working with him, but it's not as much as I would like. After tryouts is over I'm sure he'll get more attention from me. The main thing he is currently missing and I would like him to learn is a retrieve to hand. When I throw a toy I want him to bring it back for a game of tug, but right now he'll run for it and run back in my general area, but not offer it to me. I have to go to him to get it. Thankfully he lets me grab it from him though. I can't stand it when dogs play keep away.

Anyway, here's a little video of Rampage and I playing with the teeter, a cone and the bosu ball. I have no clue why the border collies love the bosu ball so much, but they really do.

When we're playing with the cones he will knock it over going around more often than he leaves it up. I'm not sure if this should concern me or not. I'm not doing anything about it at this point though.

I'm not sure why the quality of the video is so bad. I think my conversion settings got messed up in pinnacle. I may or may not redo the video (more likely not).

Rampage doing stuff from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ears, ears, ears

I wish Rampage's ears would just STAY STILL.

Once again they have been totally prick for a few weeks and then yesterday when we got home they were prick when we got out of the car, but as soon as we went in the house, the right one fell again. It was only down for a minute and I got it up again just by holding it for a second or two, but it was very distressing.

And then I woke up at around 4am this morning to get a drink and the ear was down again. And THEN I woke up for reals and both ears were so prick they looked like they wouldn't even DREAM of falling over.

So I'm definitely putting the moleskin back in, but just in the right ear because through it all the left hasn't budged. I want to have the moleskin in when I go to tryouts in case his ear falls when I'm away like it did when I was at nationals.

Why do ears have to be so important to me??

But on the bright side, in an effort to become "Bigger Than A Beauceron" Rampage has learned how to levitate! That should prove a useful trick, especially if he can learn how to levitate his ear.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ramping down

Icon and I have been doing a lot of preparing for tryouts over the last couple of weeks. Last week was our busiest week with 2 sessions of course work along with a class and a shared private. I generally don't like to work him that much, especially since the course work sessions go 3-5 hours, but the opportunities were too good to miss.

So with all of that practice you'd think I feel ready for tryouts, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Especially because for the course work on Sunday Icon and I couldn't get through anything without numerous issues. It was over 90 degrees so my official excuse is that it was just too hot for me and I was moving slow but Icon wasn't bothered so he was moving normal speed and therefore we weren't in sync. However, it certainly doesn't give me a comfortable feeling.

But even so, I'm ramping down the work Icon and I are doing to give him a bit of a break before tryouts. Instead of working on full courses we will be brushing up our foundation skills like rear crosses (ick), threadles, serps, wraps (ickick) and also our ridiculous weakness of turning out of tunnels. I also plan on some fun with the broadjump and of course practicing contacts, but most of this stuff will be a few minutes in the evening before dinner.

I had signed up for a USDAA trial this weekend but scratched at the last minute. USDAA courses tend to be so fast and open... So NOT European... Icon and I have enough trouble with collection when we don't practice going all out like we do at USDAA (and it's SO FUN to do!) so I figure I'm better off just doing a bit of practice instead of the trial. I am trying to rent PP one afternoon on the weekend to set up one last course to run (or maybe two). And besides, scratching 2 dogs from the 2 day USDAA trial saves me enough money to cover my flight to Minnesota and some of my rental car. A scary thought.

paella night vent

There is a commercial on right now that really really irks me to watch. It's a commercial for Verizon Wireless Hub where mom is excited about cooking paella for dinner and uses her spiffy new phone to send out a notice to her family.

Her son responds with, "Mom. I don't know what Pa-Ella is but I'm not eating it. Ever."

And mom orders pizza for him.

I know it's just a commercial but this epitomizes what's wrong with so many kids today. I want to smack both the kid AND the mom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Haute Tracs USDAA

I had so much fun a the 4 day USDAA Haute Tracs trial. But I really think 4 day USDAA trials are too long. The weather was great (I even didn't mind Thursday with a bit of rain) and the friends even better. But nothing could beat my wonderful dogs!

When I first found out where our rvs were parked I was a bit disappointed. They were in the back field and I was hoping they would be ringside so I could sit in my 'yard' and watch agility. But it turned out that our spot was just perfect. If we had been ringside I expect Icon would have spent his entire weekend in an over-stimulated state, which causes him to go all "weird border collie" on me. Icon needs his beauty sleep.

I was so happy that Kay came to this trial. She worked full time on Thursday, went to visit boxer breeders at the boxer specialty on Friday and was a "group A groupie" on Saturday and Sunday so she followed our groups rotation and we got to hang out.

We had bbq at the RVs on Thursday night in the rain (ok, it was more like drizzle but we are in California so most people consider that a downpour) and another on Saturday night. Lots of good friends and laughs.

Apollo had a perfect 4-day weekend and even ended up 2nd in PSJ finals and won me $30! He didn't make even one mistake all weekend (aside from a missed weave entry in PSJ Rd 1 and that was probably my mistake). He wasn't his fastest ever but we still had a blast doing agility together. He got his standard silver title (whatever 25 PIII std legs is) and a couple bronze titles. He just needs 3 more pairs legs for his APD bronze. For the team event we were teamed with our best lab friend Shadow. And the amazing team of "Shadow Boxing" finished 3rd overall. It was really nice that they had medals for team placements!

Icon was also perfect this weekend, although I made a few mistakes. Our team of Icon/Kep/Quill, Two Pods and a Pea, qualified in (I think) 9th place. We won the relay and got relay batons as prizes (so fun!). Our team also won overall Team Jumpers and got a certificate for a free jumpers entry. Individually Icon won team jumpers and had nice snooker and gamblers runs (but I don't know how he ended up). In Team Standard he slipped off the teeter :(. It was a bit wet out and I should have collected him more for the approach. On Friday he won GP, Standard, Jumpers and Snooker and he and Heath were 2nd in relay. Saturday we were a bit out of sync and I pulled him off a jump in SC Rd 1 as well as in jumpers and we didn't get the gamble (not surprised, it was a pretty tough one) but we won Std and Snooker. On our final day Sunday, he won SC finals for $64, won Standard (and was a very good boy to stop on his contacts after I was pushing him the rest of the weekend), got a gamble Q and he and heath placed 2nd again in relay!

So overall it was an awesome long weekend! Woot! Now we're all exhausted aside from Rampage who is wondering why no one else is moving.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My cat's face exploded


On Tuesday evening I noticed that the right side of Pook's face looked like he had turned into a chipmunk and tucked a mouse into his cheek for a midnight snack. I had to look closely at his jaws to make sure there wasn't a tail peeking out.

We adopted Pook from the humane society 7 years ago when he was around 8 years old and even then he had bad teeth. He was even missing one of his upper canines. So after seeing his swollen cheek and ensuring that it was NOT, in fact, a mouse I figured he had an abscessed tooth that would need to be removed. So I called the vet and made an appointment for the next evening after work.

I will admit that I was surprised when Pook acted like his normal self while I had my steak dinner that night, begging more aggressively and effectively than the dogs. I gave him lots of little steak pieces, which he chewed in his normal manner, not even favoring his right side. I thought, "Man, that cat is Street! Not even an abscessed tooth can keep him down!"

The next morning he was still very swollen but seemed in good spirits, teasing Icon by getting up on the bed to stretch right in front of him and meowing at me to let him outside and see what Chia and Litter (who don't prefer to be indoors) were up to overnight. Always the alpha pig, Pook shoved the other cats aside as I dumped that cat kibble into the bowl and started munching. Again I was struck by how tough he was to eat kibble with an abscessed tooth.

Well, all the signs were there for me to see but sometimes I come to a conclusion and nothing can make me change my mind. Pook didn't have an abscessed tooth after all. He had an abscessed wound. I came home from work to find him sitting on the cat tree with a decidedly UNswollen cheek. Instead there was a open red sore with pale red puss oozing out of it. The fur surrounding it was stiff with dried puss and radiated away from the sore as though incredible force was involved when the abscess exploded.

Pook got his wound cleaned and is looking much better now, but I'm afraid it will be a long time before I can look at him without imagining his cheek exploding. My skin is tingling just thinking about it. Creepy.

Here is a photo of Pook from 4 or 5 years ago. I will not horrify with a current photo.