Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kind of funny

Rammy almost got his first Masters Jumpers leg on Friday at HT (his first time in Masters jumpers!) If only I hadn't run THROUGH jump number 4...

He did get his first Masters jumpers leg on Saturday though (and his first master gamblers)!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting in some serious training

Hi! I'm Icon! Last weekend I gave my 2nd seminar up at beautiful Power Paws agility field!

I didn't have as many participants as last time, but this was a more focused session.

To start off the day we did some fun trick training for the handlers.

This handler was taught to place numbered cones by a jump. It's a pretty easy trick to teach your handler, but it's impressive how much distance the participant was able to get from the handler. He was at least 40 ft away and the handler put the numbers 1-20 down in the correct sequence!

The next trick is a fun one for teaching your handler to pick up their toys and put them away. It's a very complex trick, especially with TWO handlers! But this participant did a great job with his training.  The handlers are even having fun doing this trick! (The participant seems a bit bored though, I didn't notice that during the seminar.)

The 'replace a bar on a jump' trick is an oldie but a goodie. You jump over a bar, but at the last minute you push the bar out of the jump cups with your foot. Then your handler has to pick it up from the ground and put it back in the cup. Handlers get so excited when you train this trick! Their voices get louder and higher pitched each time you kick a bar onto the ground and they sometimes even jump up and down.  I've even seen some handler's face turn bright red. It's fun to see handlers so engaged in their training!

Something that dogs often overlook before starting agility is the warmup. You must stretch and get your muscles ready for the activity ahead. Agility is a demanding sport!

Recently there has been a rash of dog injuries related to agility. Canine masseuses, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons all believe this can be directly linked to dogs not warming up prior to working with their handlers. Here my brother Rampage shows a good example of a pre-agility stretch. Notice that even while stretching it's good to involve your handler so they feel as though they are helping you. I encourage Rampage to seek out and engage with any available handler so I can have my handler all to myself again (I'm willing to share with Apollo and Foster because they were here before me but that Rampage is a free-loader).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday Hike!

We went for a hike on Sunday at Mission Peak.  It's only 15 minutes from my house but this was the first time I've been there.   And HOLY COW, it's crowded!  I drove to the main parking lot and it was full.  I drove around looking for street parking and nada.  I would have had to park over a mile from the trailhead to enter there.  So instead I drove to Ohlone College to an alternate trailhead.

Don't let this photo fool you, most of the hike was under open skies and grassy hillsides. On the lee side of the hill we did get some shade though.

We soon came back out into the grass.

We climbed and climbed and climbed.

And holy crap, we climbed.

At one point of the climb we ran into a herd of cows. Thankfully I had the dogs on leash! Both Apollo and Rampage wanted to go say hi to them pretty bad.  The cows in the bay area are well known for charging at unsuspecting hikers and their dogs.  Luckily these bovines just eyed us warily.

We climbed into the clouds! If you look way far down you can see the path that we came from.

I shouldn't have been surprised at the number of people I saw on the trail and at the summit based on the number of cars in the main parking lot, but I was. There were TONS of people. And apparently the dogs and I are power hikers because we passed at least 50 people on our way up.  But one thing that made me feel warm inside each time we passed someone was that seeing the dogs made them smile.  I happily interrupted our power hiking multiple times to let them pet Apollo.  People also showed interest in the border collies, but Icon was uninterested and Rampage was wary.  But I was very impressed with how Rampage handled himself around all the strange people!

We made it to the summit and stopped for a water break before heading back down.  Apollo really struggled going downhill :(.  He seemed in pain walking, going slower and slower... and slower...... but normal when he trotted downhill.  I eventually just let him off-leash so he could make his way down at his own pace.  That worked really well for us.

We're starting to get close! If you ignore the overexposure you can see the SF bay and civilization between the two hills.

The home stretch! Our car is in the parking lot right in front of the pool.

Mission Peak is a really fun hike. It was 6.8 miles and 2064ft elevation gain. I recommend it for the adventurous. I'm not sure if I'll take Apollo next time though :(.

Friday, April 15, 2011

AKC Nationals!

Ok, I'm a bit behind.

We went to AKC nationals a few weeks ago and had lots of fun!  We didn't make it to finals or even the challengers round.  Aside from the numerous, "What happened?????" questions I've had since coming home I don't feel all that bad about it.  Icon struggled with the dry, loose surface the whole time he was there and watching the dogs in challengers and finals I think he would struggled there just as much or even more.

As for the "What happened?????" questions I have received since coming home I take it in a positive way (except for Greg.  I mean, Tammy, get control of your man!  Tell him to at least say hello to me first!)  If Icon and I shocked so many people by NOT being in the finals we must have a pretty good reputation!  :)

But the GOOD from AKC nationals is that we did win the ISTT combined for 26" on Friday.  I know for most competitors this is considered a warm-up day, but for people interested in AKC/USA World Team it's important! (winning NAC is more important, but we take what we can get!)

I thought there were some super competitors in the 26" class this year, Tori and Rev definitely stood out by winning the whole shabang (even before leaving for nationals I predicted they'd do well), I was so happy that my good friend Laura and Kep qualified for the finals; I cheered for them the entire way!  I loved seeing Terry and Presto make finals and have a clean round.  Since he's so nice you may think he's Canadian, but really he's from Minnesota.  They're close enough to Canada that our niceness wears off of them.  Jef looked super with both Voucher and his young dog Klepto, I think there is a lot in his future with both of those great dogs.  And Kelsey and Ace had a super run in the Challengers round with the fastest time of all dogs (but an unfortunate bar kept them out of the finals.)

And a special shout out for Ashley and Luka winning NAC 16" for the second time!  Not only is Ashley a great competitor but he is probably one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet (he's British, they taught Canadians about politeness.)  And he's taller than me, so he gets bonus points!

I'm looking forward to tryouts in May, there's going to be some tough competition this year!!!

All of the videos I have from nationals (more dogs than just Icon!) can be seen here: