Sunday, July 1, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

Just prior to our first World Team practice in Washington, one of the new team members asked me what the purpose of practice was.  After thinking for a moment I went into a long and elaborate (and probably annoying) speech that the purpose is to go out on each course and run it like you are at Worlds.  Your aim is to go clean, and if that is not possible.  Just. Don't. E.  At the end of the weekend you'll be able to look back on the courses and see what your weaknesses are.  And then it is expected that you go home and spend the next 6 weeks training those weaknesses before the next practice and before Worlds.

And I guess I wasn't wrong, that IS one of the goals.  But you don't have to fly to Washington to find out what your weaknesses are.  So then what is the primary goal?


Coming together is a beginning. 
Keeping together is progress. 
Working together is success. 

- Henry Ford 

And what a great team we have!
(photo be Dee Anna Gamel)

The Large Dogs! (not the best quality photo, sorry!  Photo definitely NOT by Dee Anna)

But enough of the serious part of practice.  Here are the fun photos!  Tori and Daisy were happy on Sunday morning!  I'm sure they were talking course strategy.  Or maybe they were talking shoes... 


Icon helped Nancy and Kathie give an overview of what to expect in Liberec since he was there for EO in 2010.  I'm sure his advice was most helpful.


Rev and Icon demo'd their mad core strength skillz.  Rush is, like, "Whatever...  Border Collies are weird."


Icon worked HARD and he was exhausted by the end of the weekend!  He had to get some Starbucks to wake him up.


But Icon wasn't the only exhausted dog.  Everyone worked hard!  Kelsi was out cold on the trip to the airport.


I was a bit worried when I saw my ride home.  I have never been on a prop plane before!


But we had a smooth ride, clear skies and a gorgeous view of Mt Shasta on the trip home. I won't mention how the entire trip I couldn't stop thinking how if one of the propellers came off it would probably cut me in half.  Thankfully that didn't happen.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I am so thankful

For the last week or so I have been wallowing in self pity.  Rampage has been on the injured reserve list since Memorial Day due to some mysterious injury that no one can find.  He doesn't want to walk up stairs but I don't really think he's limping.  However others have seen him limp on his front right.  Some have said he favors the right rear.  Some say maybe the spine by the tail.  The ortho vet's diagnosis was some sort of soft tissue injury, probably groin strain.  He has been on a rest since then.  Who knows, it's still a mystery.

Then I take Icon on a 15 mile hike and he tears up his pads after only 7 miles.  This is the same Ohlone Trail that he hiked 30 miles on last December.  Why would he tear up his pads after only 7?  Thankfully I had some booties for him to wear but it was a case of too little to late.  It took at almost a week for his pads to heal.

Around the same time I start having pretty bad headaches and achy muscles and have to start loading up on advil to get through the day.  I get a cold sore (one of nature's ugliest creations) and after I live through that I find what I think is a beginning cold sore just below my armpit (is that even possible?)!  To spare some boring details around disease progression it turns out that totally separate from the cold sore (but due to the same weak immune system) I have shingles.  This means that after lurking in my nerve cells since I first beat them at 6 years old,  Chicken Pox finally came back for its revenge!  And trust me, it had the upper hand for a few days before I went to urgent care to get medications to control the horrible pain that comes with them.  At some times during the day Chicken Pox still wins a battle but the pain gets better every day so I'm hoping I'll win the war.

So yeah, for those reasons I have been wallowing in self pity and coming up with excuses not to even take the dogs on their nightly walk.

But over the last two days I've realized how immature and selfish I have been.  Aside from a little "flea on the dog" I am in good health and all of my dogs are in good health.  I am so thankful for this.

I am so thankful because there has been such heart-wrenching news lately.  My friend and Rampage's "auntie" broke her arm just as she was getting ready to start taking her handsome red boy Riff back to agility trials after a prolonged back injury.  What cruel twist of fate would let this happen?  She is one of the most caring, expressive and empathic women I know.  She doesn't deserve this.

Paulette, owner and trainer of agility sheltie extraordinaire, Rush, has been fighting cancer for longer than anyone should need to and she's back fighting in a hospice.  I got to know her in 2009 when she and Rush welcomed us with open arms our first time on the World Team.  One of the reasons that Paulette and I got along well is Paulette loves to talk and I love to listen; a perfect pair.  I think of her daily and I SO want her to be well enough to come to the Czech Republic to watch Rush run at the World Championships again.  

And of course there's Elicia Calhoun, who has just lived through the worst nightmare that all dog-lovers fear most.  A horrible accident.  One dog dead on the scene.  Two missing dogs.  A long search to find them and only one recovered.  I'm so happy that they were able to find Tobie alive, but how heart breaking to lose Nika.  She was an amazing Aussie even before she lost her eye, but after?  Wow, what they have accomplished together shows what the relationship between a dog and handler can overcome.  I can't even imagine what that loss must feel like to Elicia.

Excuse my gushing, I'm still on very high doses of medications for my stupid shingles.  That's my only excuse.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hello World!

It's been a long time, I've been busy!  Let's see if I can catch you up with the Cliff Notes version.

My friend's lab had puppies!  I love puppies!  Especially THESE puppies, they're awesome!

I went to an offsite a work with the theme "Building Tomorrow" around lego blocks, it was cool.

Hiking, yay!

Heading to World Team Tryouts.

No agility photos from Minnesota, but we did find a fun place to walk the dogs that had a doggy water park!

I have very similar photos of Icon from Tryouts last year, but thankfully this year he was just tired and not sick!

Oh, look!  A photo of Carrie, Anne and Marq.  I don't remember taking this one :)

I guess I accidentally took a photo of my iphone screen when reading my friend's text on Sunday.  Apparently Dim Sum is more important than watching agility!

More walking in Minnesota!

Everyone is happy we're home!

I got a new washer/dryer.  SO exciting!!!

Icon and Pook have to re-establish the hierarchy.  Sorry Icon, Pook is still the boss.

Casa de Fruta trial.  Apollo says, "let me out!  I'm not really a boxer!"

I'm not sure why I take photos of my iphone screen when I read texts.  I guess I have clumsy fingers.  But I was a bit late for work on May 14th.

Yummy pasture raised Marin Sun Farms standing rib pork roast from my work cafeteria.  I haven't had pork in AGES.  It was delicious.

Facebook goes public.  Not the best photo of the chaos at FB, but I was a bit late getting my phone ready.  I pass Facebook every day on my way to work.  Sorry if you bought Facebook stock, my only advice it to stick with it, it can't get much worse.


I did a triathlon relay with 2 agility friends.  We finished 2nd for women's relay!

Annular solar eclipse.... cooooool.



TRACS AKC trial.  Probably my favorite local trial of the year.  It's also my birthday weekend!  I'm 26.  Yes, 26.  Ahem.

And Apollo got his PACH!

A hike in the Ohlone Wilderness.  Poor Icon tore up his pads.  Good thing we're on an agility break anyway.


And today's Venus transit.  I can't take credit for the photo, a friend from work took it.  I don't even have permission to post it, I hope he won't mind.


And now you're are current with my life.  Hopefully this means I'll start blogging again!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Despite all of the fears of bad weather trying to get to Reno and worries about circus smells distracting dogs the venue was awesome.  The surface, while not perfect, was definitely acceptable and a significant improvement over last year.  And speaking of improvements over last year, the venue itself was 5000x better.  Parking was awesome, there was parking around 3 sides of the buildings so no one had to park TOO far away.  RVing was great, I was able to 'crate' from my RV, and I didn't even get there until thursday afternoon.  I guess the only negative was the 4th ring, aka 'the dungeon' or 'the closet under the stairs' but that wasn't so bad either.  It certainly was a huge step up from rings 3&4 last year, which was a healthy walk from the main arena and had no seating for spectators (and crappy dirt, but the main arena had crappy dirt too).  But maybe I'm just still bitter because last year 26" dogs were stuck in the boonies of ring 3&4 for 4 out of 5 runs.

But onto this year!  I have videos from Fri/Sat but am waiting for Sunday's runs. I will post separately.


I never, in a thousand years, would have thought that Cassidy and I could have 3 clean runs to make it to the finals.  My plan was to go out and win T2B because both Diana and I thought that would be the best chance on making challengers and then possibly finals.  But after the rather disastrous warm-up round I was too cautious on the contacts so we ended up third, which actually would have been good enough for a bye to the challengers round, but we didn't need it!  It's amazing how Cassidy stepped it up last weekend.  She knew it was a big event and she 'brought it'.  I regret our off-course in the finals, but there are so many things to celebrate before the finals that it's hard to regret it too much.


Apollo did great!  He finished 2nd behind Blink the border collie for all three rounds.  He was a bit slower than normal, I think he was a bit stressed out by the environment but he still went out and showed people what boxers can do.  Apollo's finals is my big regret of the weekend.  Apollo NEVER gets called on the teeter!  But of course this was totally my fault.  I'm always ahead of him when he's on the teeter and he runs right off of it, he didn't know what to do with me stopping right beside him.  If I had taken one step forward he would have been fine... and he would have won!  Won it all!  Doh!


Icon was also awesome this weekend.  I thought his jumping was mostly good.  When we were in 'the dungeon' he stuttered a bit on the triple and the last jump but I didn't notice anything otherwise.  After Saturday I think we were in 8th place after 2 clean rounds, so our times weren't the fastest.  Icon was moving nice for they hybrid round until he went off course, but I doubt we would have made finals  even with a clean round.  The 26" class was very competitive this year!  There were a lot of really nice dogs who had three clean rounds but didn't make finals just because the competition was so tight.  I was  hoping that we would get into the challengers round but not really expecting it.  Since we were the first to run in challengers I guess we must have just squeaked in; I'm not complaining!  It was pretty stressful running first and then watching the dogs after us run and pretty exciting when none of them beat us.  The times were very close in the challengers round and I think a lot of the dogs lost it on the turn after the dogwalk.  Finals was a lot of fun and we gave it all we had.  It was just enough for 2nd, which is more than I had expected coming into nationals this year.  This is our third time finishing 2nd place at AKC nationals.  A 1st would have been nice but barring that, I'll take three 2nds :).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Next stop, Reno!

Next stop, Reno!  Okay, there is a stop for work in there first but I will hopefully survive that.  I haven't had so much fun packing my RV for a trip in a long time.  I'm quite sure packed enough food for 2 weeks so if anyone at nationals gets hungry or thirsty I can help with that.

We had our last lesson today.  It was lots of fun!  Nancy and Laura were there as usual but we had some ghosts from the past, Rob and Wings.  They have been out of commission for the last 5 months or so because Wings was busy having and raising new puppy agility stars.  You wouldn't know it though, they looked great today and I'm sure they'll do great at nationals.  We also had special guest stars Tori and Rev visiting, which was lots of fun.  Rev is so teeny!  I think Cassidy and Wings were both a bit self conscious about Rev's runway model weight.

I ran both Icon and Cassidy and was reminded why I never run both Icon and Cassidy in the same lesson, it was a bit hectic (and I had to rely on other people to keep Cassidy quiet when I was running Icon).  Icon and I could barely get get through 12 obstacles without an issue.  I really hope that at nationals there isn't a course with a tunnel under the dogwalk at the end where they're NOT supposed to turn away into the tunnel because I could 't get Icon NOT to take the tunnel.  But bad dress rehearsal, good show... right?  Cassidy was actually really good aside from a few bars here and there.  Cassidy says, "Bars?  I'm not supposed to touch them??  Honey badger don't care."

I really hope I do well with all the dogs at nationals, all for different reasons:

For Cassidy it's because she's been living with me since the end of November just so we can prepare to run at nationals.  Her mom will be there watching (which is pretty stressful!) so that's another reason I hope we do well.

For Apollo I'm sure this will be his last big event (yeah, I said that at 2010 invitationals as well too, but this time I'm pretty sure) so I really want to do the best we can do.  I know he'll give me his best, he always does!  Love my Polly!

For Icon this is his last nationals at 26" and how we do here will decide whether or not I go to Tryouts this year.  I'd really like to, but we'll see...  Icon has been showing classic ETS signs lately, well for quite a while now but it's only the last few months that I've acknowledged it.  It's your typical stuttering before spreads, after tunnels, when there are large spaces between jumps, etc.  It's very dependent on environment (surface, lighting, course design...) as well but it's definitely there when the conditions are right (or wrong, depending how you look at it).  After a particularly bad USDAA trial in January I tried to move Icon down to 20" for nationals but it was just past the closing date.  So nationals will likely be our swan song at 26".  So yeah, I'd like to do well. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy National Puppy Day!

I can't think of any day I'd rather celebrate than National Puppy Day!  It fills me with peace and joy and joyness.

This is pretty much my only puppy picture I have of Foster.  When we got him he was around 4 months old and I don't think I had a camera at that time.  Poor Foster, he always gets the short end of the stick.  But he knows I love him.

Ah, puppy Icon.   It's hard to believe that Mr Serious was ever an actual cute puppy!


And Rampage was painfully, adorably cute.

Even the professional photographers couldn't stay away from him.

But the most, THE MOST adorable puppy ever born was Apollo.


He was even adorable peeing.

He won Foster over immediately.



Holy crap, I want a puppy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I'm done with agility trials!

at least until AKC nationals.  I'm already starting to feel unprepared though.  Maybe my handling will become rusty over the next few weeks... maybe I won't get to train again before nationals... my lesson today was cancelled due to high winds and I'm out of town next week.  I really love pre-nationals anxiety :).  This will be my first year running multiple dogs at AKC natioanls.  I hope I am able to give each dog the attention and focus they deserve. 

The trial was good on Saturday, the arena is really wonderful, the dirt is a sand/felt mixture that is great for the dogs (and people).  And there is really nice natural lighting.  We had a wonderful audience along the back side of the arena behind the rolled-up walls.  Horses in their stalls watched with great interest as the dogs ran around the agility course.  They could have applauded more, though.  I only wish the arena was a bit closer to home so I could drive back and forth (it's 2hrs away) or the RVing was more convenient and less expensive, it's 50/night for an RV and 1/2 mile from the arena.  I'd be better off staying in a hotel, but a hotel with 5 dogs?  I don't think so...

All the dogs got a QQ except for Rampage, and I'm kicking myself for that one.  I got lost on the JWW course and forgot to put in a front cross (it was my 4th time running the course, you'd think I'd have remembered by then!) and he dropped a bar when I added an emergency serpentine.

Cassidy got a bonus run this weekend because we tied for first in JWW, so we got to have a runoff.  Cassidy loves bonus runs!

The front cross before the triple got us a much tighter turn than the rear cross we did in the first run.

I'm still struggling with Rampage's contacts. There was a point when I thought we had it solved but we have regressed. "But they're perfect at home!" Yeah, yeah, I know. There is a fine line with Rampage between enforcing behaviors and keeping agility fun. And I haven't found it yet. But on the bright side, it's the behaviors that are missing, not the funness. :)  Rampage isn't entered at AKC nationals.  He was a QQ (or maybe 2) short from qualifying.  But I don't think I would have taken him even if he was, we're not quite "there" yet.

Cassidy got a QQ despite dropping the middle bar of the triple in standard. It dropped late and the bars make nary a sound on that surface so the judge didn't see it.  I'm not complaining :).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Soooo busy

This Saturday I will finish my marathon of agility trials; my next trial after that will be AKC nationals.  I went to trials most weekends in January and February and I had fun but I am ready to be done.  I feel like I haven't had a moment to breathe in forever.  My goal was to get the dogs on dirt as much as possible before nationals because they don't get to run on dirt very much in general.  I was pretty successful in that.  I'm so sick of dirt.

I was hoping I could cut back on my work hours after we had a rollout last weekend, but it seems to be getting crazier rather than quieter.  Oy.  Something's got to give there and I hope it's not me.

In the last two trials I met Icon's co-breeder's sister and niece (got that?)  They were both very nice.  They have a cattledog that they do agility with.   The niece was there taking photos and she offered to send me some, and how could I say no?? :)

Rampage is always so happy


Serious Icon

Cassidy, aka The Honey Badger.  There's a story behind that nickname and maybe I'll find some time to share it in an appropriately amusing way.  At least it's very amusing in my head, I just need some TIME to write it down.


Friday, February 17, 2012

I wish my life were more exciting...

and I had things to write about.   Then I would update my blog more often.

Anyway, here is a cool overlay comparison of Icon and Cassidy from a USDAA trial last weekend that Silvina from Agility in Motion put together.

Icon-Cassidy Overlay Comparison GPX Feb 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Apollo rocks!

We went to a 2 day AKC trial last weekend and Apollo went 4/4.  He was 4/4 at the trial previous and 2/2 before that.  I don't remember what our trial before that was but I can pretty much guarantee he went 4/4. Like fine wine, Polly just gets better with age.

Other than Perfect Polly, my weekend was split by an OK Saturday (not many Q's but lots of good stuff) and a perfect Sunday.  I ran 4 dogs at this trial and on Sunday we got four QQ's!

I only got Cassidy's runs on video because I know her mom would really like to see them, but I did buy a couple from  I just haven't gotten them yet because I ordered late.  You will have to picture the other dog's runs in your mind.  I have added comments with each video to help with your imagination.

Cassidy Saturday Standard.  A nice run but a bar when I tried to collect her too much on the 180.  Imagine Icon and Apollo having perfect runs and Rampage being carried off after not stopping on the dogwalk ;)

Cassidy Saturday JWW.  A nice run but at one point I thought I had her head and apparently I didn't, so she took the triple instead (like many, many, many other dogs so I should have known...).  Imagine perfect run for Apollo, a refusal before the jump before the weaves for Rampage and Tammy would probably want us to forget what happened on Icon's run (but she would probably also point out that we had NQ'd before the tossed leash incident anyway :)

Cassidy Sunday Standard.  Imagine a perfect run by all!  (Rampage decided to target a piece of rolling dirt on the teeter though, it was kind of funny)

Cassidy Sunday JWW.  Imagine perfect runs by all!

Friday, February 3, 2012

More hiking with crappy photos

Oops, just realized that I wrote this blog earlier in the week but never posted it.  It's not all that exciting, but I may as well post it.

Tammy and I went hiking again on Sunday morning at Mt Madonna, we did around 8 miles.  The weather is too beautiful not to take advantage of it while we can (but we need rain!)  I took my 'real' camera so I could get some good photos, but they all turned out crappy.  Really, really crappy.  Mt Madonna on a sunny day is not an easy place to photograph 8 moving dogs!

Happy Quirk!
Group shot!
Photobucket Icon and Coty practiced their time travel. Photobucket
 Coty tried to convince Icon and Cassidy to dive in, but they aren't crazy! Photobucket Yeah, a photo where you can actually see dogs and stuff! Photobucket