Saturday, March 26, 2011


Not the dog disease, the iPhone app.  It's pretty neat.

This is my first time playing with it.  I think I should have stood in the middle of the arena instead of at the end.

The 'indoor arena' was indeed a tent but what an awesome tent it was!  Outdoors there were gale force winds that blew over horse jumps but indoors you just saw the tarp flap occasionally.  Outdoors there was a torrential downpour but indoors you heard a gentle pattering that soothed your soul.

And the dirt.  The DIRT!  It was the same loamy sand felt mixture we had at the Thanksgiving trial.  This wonderful surface isn't just amazing for agility, it's amazing for parking also!  We were able to park in the outdoor arena closeby that had the exact same surface.  After 14+ days of straight rain cars would have been spinning their wheels on any other surface but not on this wonderful  stuff.

The boys did well.  Icon got a double Q, Apollo qualified in both and is now in Exc B P Std.  He went from Nov to Exc B without an NQ!  We still need one more JWW Q for Exc B P, we had a little issue in one of our JWW runs :).  Rampage qualified in Std, but we missed JWW due to a dropped bar and popped weaves.

I'm still not sure if I'll go back tomorrow but I'm tempted to get that last JWW for Apollo :).  It's a long drive though...

Friday, March 25, 2011


I'm not so happy how my resolution of not entering trials with rubber contacts is going. I'm not going to break it, I still think rubber is best for our dogs, but I'm not going to assume that rubberizing contacts is a panacea anymore.

The weather has been really crappy here lately. The park that I take the dogs to is usually so greedy that you never get standing water there, but when I took the dogs there today I was glad I wore my rubber boots.

The trial that was supposed to be outdoors this weekend was moved indoors on dirt!  It's 2 hours away from me as opposed to the 1 hour that it would have been but I think the change is worth the extra drive.  Apparently the RVs won't be close to the arena so I think I'll just drive back and forth.  I'm not sure I'll go both days, I'll play it by ear.  The thought of 8hrs in the car over the weekend doesn't thrill me.

My other resolution of only eating humanely raised and slaughtered meat is going well but it means I hardly eat any meat.  In the last 3 weeks I have only eaten meat once, a ribeye steak.  And oh, how wonderful it tasted!   (I won't tell you how much I paid for it, though...  Ouch!)   A vegetarian friend told me that there is a term for what I am doing, "Flexitarian". I thought she was just making fun of me when she told me but it turns out the term does exist.. and it fits.

A side effect of my "Flexitarianism" is that I'm cooking more than normal.  I'm not sure how long this will last because I'm pretty notorious for going through cooking spurts that die out after a month or so.    :)

I had a very tasty meatless dinner tonight, I made quinoa and black beans for dinner and teamed it with some young asparagus and baby spinach.  Yummy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stupid Rubber Contacts cont'd...

Here is Icon pretending the a-frame and dogwalks are a slip'n'slide. Nice slide into the 2o/2o of the dogwalk, but that shouldn't be possible on rubber!

And Rammy didn't Q in JWW after all! He dropped a bar and I didn't notice. I hate it when that happens! :P

Sunday, March 20, 2011


We were supposed to be at an agility trial today but it was cancelled due to inclement weather so we went hiking instead.  But even so, I felt like a kid who took advantage of a 'snow day' playing out in the snow.

We probably hiked aroud 7miles with an elevation change of at least 50,000 ft. Ok, it was probably more like 1200 ft or so, but it sure felt like 50,000 (as an aside I have a friend at work that runs ultra-marathons and he did a 50mile run that actually HAD a 50k ft elevation change. It boggles the mind!)

The majority of the hike was onleash but most of my photos are from the off-leash portion because it's not easy to take photos while holding leashes :)

Also, the photo quality isn't so great but I was using my iPhone so beggars can't be choosers.

Icon gets the flexi lead because he's special (read: well-behaved). Watching Tammy with her 6 dogs made me happy I only had 3 (Foster stays at home when we hike because his rear end can't keep up now that he's getting older :( ) but she handles her 6 better than I handle my 3 (or 2 to be honest, Icon is easy to handle)!

There were many waterfalls for us to traverse on our way up the mountain. It was actually quite beautiful. I'm not sure why some people refues to hike in the rain *cough* KAY *cough*.

This is top secret but Icon got to be off-leash during most of it. That's because he's just so cute (read: well-behaved)

But eventually we came to the portion where we could let the dogs FREE!

And they could swim in the wonderful clean mountain streams. Or something llike that.

But they had lots of fun.

I was a bit freaked out when Icon went into this pool. I kept having visions of him being washed downstream into oblivion but he jumped out whole and unharmed.

Did I mention it was beautiful?

And then it was time to go home! If you look closely at Icon and squint you'll see the three ticks I picked off him as I was driving home. Ick. Those were the only three I've found on any of the dogs despite hours of looking once I got home. Ticks are so gross.

Rammy says, "Lets do it again!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stupid rubber contacts

I'm a bit disillusioned about the whole 'rubber contacts are awesome' thing.  This weekend my boys and I had our first trial in over a month.  I was looking forward to it, but mother nature decided that she didn't approve, we had some pretty gross weather today.  It didn't look so bad when I left home, but about half way there it started pouring and didn't stop until I about an hour after I arrived.  The ground didn't LOOK bad.  When you took a step you thought your foot would land in dewey grass, but it actually landed almost ankle deep in water. 

We had standard first and I felt the contacts as I was walking the course.  They were rubber, but they felt a bit slick to me.  But they're rubber so they're awesome, right??  Apollo went first, getting his 2nd Exc A Standard leg in preferred.  No problems with the contacts.  Then Rammy went next and did well aside from a tunnel refusal (which I turned into an off-course).  No problem with the contacts.  But when Icon went he had a wipe-out on the downside of the aframe and then almost fell off the dogwalk but saved himself. 

So why the hell am I boycotting trials without rubber contacts?  Are rubber contacts any safer?  Today I felt that a good sanded wood contact would have had significantly more traction for in this weather.  Argh.

All three boys qualified in JWW so while it was a miserable day weather-wise it was a good day Q-wise missing only Rammy's Std for Q's. 

The trial for tomorrow is cancelled due to weather and next weekend is in doubt too because the weathermen are forcasting rain for eternity. I would like to get some ring time in before nationals if possible but if not... c'est la vie!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Icon's seminar*

Hi, I'm Icon. Last weekend I presented my first ever seminar at the beautiful Power Paws agility field! Apparently I'm really famous because I had lots of interest with people coming from as far away as Washington and Colorado.

The first thing I wanted to focus on in my seminar was 'play'. A lot of dogs don't teach their handler how to play and I feel it's very important to keep their motivation and  attention on course. Don't you hate it when you have to cheer-lead your handler the whole way?

So we spent some time having the participants engage their handlers with the toys.

You'll notice in this photo the participant is engaging with his handler physically, but the handler's full attention isn't on him.

Here is a more appropriate way to engage your handler with a toy. The participant has his handler's full attention.

Some participants tried to throw the toy to their handler, but it is much more effective if you are both grabbing it at the same time.  Most handlers are very needy and require that closeness to feel motivated.

It's a good idea to bring multiple toys with you to a seminar because some handlers are picky and won't play with just any toy.  I recommend that all dogs train their handler to play with anything; leashes, empty bottles, empty poop bags, etc.  And of course all normal toys.  It's easiest to train your handler when you're a puppy because they are distracted by your fluffy cuteness and they are infinitely more trainable.

Another major focus of my seminar was start-lines. It's very important that you train your handler to leave the startline in a consistent manner.  Sometimes you have to encourage this by having your own routine at the startline.

This participant had a hard time knowing when to start because her handler didn't leave the startline consistenly.  But we just had to have the participant implement a simple routine of jumping up on her hind feet before going into a sit and the handler's performance improved greatly.

The participant knew exactly where she was going after that.

We also spent time troubleshooting inappropriate behavior. One participant had a handler that was overly affectionate on the start line. This is a tough issue to address because you don't want to discourage affection overall, just ensure that your handler uses it at appropriate times.

My first seminar was a resounding success.  But I have new appreciation for seminar presenters, it is exhausting work!

*Note:  Everything Icon says in this post is fictitious, the seminar was actually presented by a qualified, well-known agility instructor. Not Icon :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I've been absent from my blog lately, but for no particular reason.  I was out of town a couple weeks ago for work and I haven't been trialing so I guess there hasn't been much to blog about.  

I'm so happy that it's March and spring is starting to peek out and say hello.  My nectarine tree is in full bloom and the leaves are coming out, the wisteria is starting to bloom and my pomegranate tree that I just planted last fall is getting some new leaves. 

Nectarine blossoms
Wisteria blossom

Either I or my orange tree is a bit confused.  This is the first year it has produced fruit for me and they are looking a lot more like a grapefruit than an orange.  They don't taste like either fruit.  My friend suggested it might be a pomelo tree. 

Finally, something that makes my hands look small.

The fruit have mega rind.  This happened the first year my lemon tree produced too so I'm hoping the next season will have nicer fruit, whatever it is.

This time of year I always overseed my lawn to keep it looking thick and luscious (at least for a few weeks until the rain stops and the dog pee kills it all again) .  Apollo and Rampage like to 'help'.  Apollo is definitely the worst with the grass seed spreader.

Icon keeps those boys in line though!

Apollo will have grass growing from his muzzle soon.