31 December 2008

Meteorological Fallacies

Our weatherpeople must be smoking something. Yesterday the weather said today would be rain/snow showers all day. I'm looking out the window of the warehouse here and I see Sunshine, thanks. So weather.com now says this about today: "Windy. Snow flurries and a few snow showers throughout the day. High 36F"
Not exactly doom and gloom.
Tomorrow is sunny but only 29F. Thinking I may just head back to the park today if I'm feeling up to it. I enjoyed my walk yesterday, but as usual walking for long periods doesn't really tire me out. I can walk all day and the only thing that happens is that my FEET feel a little tired, the rest of me is fine. And the dogs were actually looking stronger and happier by the end of the walk then at the beginning (at the beginning Drifter kept trying to pull in his halter and I would growl at him and then Kiba would cower and lag behind cuz she hates yelling, but once Drifter finally paced himself to my walk and I stopped growling Kiba was fine). It's odd walking Drifter and Kiba together. Kiba, right now, is my only buckle-collar-only-needed walker. She pulls a little, I gently pop the leash and say "Kiba" and magically she is pacing me perfectly for quite a while. But she's soft. Drifter's not. I can walk him alone on his buckle collar because I don't mind smacking him (gently) on the side with the leash now and then and growling at him every once in a while, but with Kiba there she just doesn't enjoy herself if I'm doing that, and really I shouldn't have to, so Drifter wears his head halter most of the time. I keep it fairly loose around his muzzle so he's free to pant or whine or bark or drink or whatever. He's worn it enough in his lifetime that he leaves it alone. Anyway. Kiba is a little thing. She's fairly square, 18" tall at the shoulder, 18" from neck to rear. When I walk (I have what is probably best described as a brisk or business-like walk, like I'm going somewhere), she trots. Drifter, on the other hand, despite being only 2" taller and not extraordinarily long for a BC, will not trot when I walk. He walks. And looks annoyed by it. He wants to trot. But for him to trot I would have to jog. The entire time. So I compromise by letting him off leash when we are in the woods more than Kiba so he can move a little more freely. But I am paranoid. I don't like him more than 50 feet or so ahead of me. We have too many weirdos and hunters and hikers around. So he needs to learn his invisible boundary. He was starting to get the hang of it yesterday - when he got too far ahead I just stopped with Kiba (still on leash). And waited. When he came close to me I started again. Growled a bit if he tried to take off running. He's a bright boy, he picked it up. Soon he was stopping and waiting now and then, or turning slightly off the path to sniff some trees or whatever instead of running ahead. He can be bull-headed but he's a good kid.
Yesterday we walked about an hour and a half. about a mile of which was over the paved pathway on the causeway over the reservoir. Very pretty views! Maybe I'll take pictures today. I'd like a snow shower. I like those:-)

So far I'm doing well in my committment to keep the dogs fitter this year. It's becoming easier to hit the park and play silly exercises at home.

Calendar Update

I went back through the AKC events calendar for the spring (through the end of May anyway) and updated my Google calendar with possible trials. Keeping January clear up till the Keystone USDAA mid-February, it seems like every single weekend after that there is either a local AKC (meaning within an hour and a half drive) or a "local" (3 hour drive or less) USDAA. Obviously I can't afford to attend a trial every weekend, but I filled in the calendar for now so I can look back through and pick and choose what I want. I do want to squeeze some AKC in here and there to get Seri up out of Novice and keep chipping away at my MACH's, and if we do well in USDAA in the spring then maybe I'll even make a stab at Q'ing for AKC Nationals again in the summer/fall. Depends on whether I still need Tournament legs or not. So far the new zero-fault Grand Prix rule is not working out so well for me. I've already got a total of 4 Grand Prix runs with 5 faults each between 2 dogs. And only one clean. For some reason that is the way GP seems to go for me, most of the time. Kiba and Seri are qualified to go to Regionals at least, with one of each Tournament already, but who knows when I will get the 2nd GP leg. And Drifter has none. So far it's been one bar and a contact for Drifter and one of each contact for Kiba - aframe and dogwalk. Usually my dogs don't miss contacts, it just seems like when they do, it's in GP. Well having the building to train in 2x a week should help that tremendously.

I just have to try to find the balance between running enough Grand Prix's to garner the required clean runs, and figuring out if my dogs can qualify in AKC with a much more limited schedule than last year. Teaching two classes a week plus a few privates here and there will help tremendously to pay for my trials, but I want to pay down my credit cards as much as possible this year, while also trialing a 3rd dog. Aren't finances fun? One thing I can be very glad for is that we bought the van last winter, before the credit freeze. DJ and my credit shouldn't be "bad" but since then we've both run up our cards a bit and at this point with the economy people like us just aren't getting good loans anymore! So I'm glad I have a roomy comfortable vehicle that so far is reliable. Although the poor thing's gone from 26,500 miles at the end of February to 49,500 right now. That's 23,000 miles in 10 months. Yikes! It won't put many on in January though, at least. And 6,000 of that was AZ trip, but still. Crazy driving!

30 December 2008

Only ended up with 5 runs on video from last weekend. I thought I had one more but I must have accidentally deleted it instead of the 3 second clip my videographer accidentally took when I got stuck waiting at the start in one run.

Link's on the right, first one in my list. I'm not going to embed all of them here. Watch them in
HD if you want better quality, that's what I always do. And watch the volume when you watch Seri's run, she is LOUD!

Plans for the day

Today's plans (after work)
Go home and eat lunch. Take Drifter and Kiba to the park for a good long hike, mostly on-leash. With them my immediate goal is to keep them strong and basically work the kinks out from a hard summer and fall of trialing. I may let them run off-lead a bit, but a good 2-hour walk/trot session over uneven ground will be a great thing for them too.
After that I will try to get the video from this weekend uploaded. Probably won't be till about 5pm or so, but it depends on how long I'm out walking. Sometimes in this particular park I have trouble finding trails that don't just loop around on themselves in which case I get bored and head back home.
Tomorrow they are predicting more rain/snow or something wet, so the dogs may end up doing nothing again. I have been working on getting them to stand up on their back feet (like little furry people) and they are pretty good at that (well, everybody except Seri who wants to JUMP instead), so i can work on the sit up/beg position, and I am going to add going backwards up the stairs a few times for cookies as well. All core strengthening type stuff. I did one session with one of those air cushion/pillow things, but the truth is that I just don't do enough pure operant behavior-offering sessions with random items, so my dogs were all pretty confused by that. I may try again tomorrow if I get bored.

Decision

I think the main reason I've talked so often about keeping Drifter at 22 this year is because I wanted to convince myself it was right. Yes, it is probably easier on his body. Then again, 22 is easier on ALL dogs' bodies. And if he has to jump 26 to try for a world team spot, then I feel like I should try it. If I'm not happy with the way he jumps it after a few weekends of trialing, I will put him back down to 22.
So I will spend the next 3 weeks fitting him up, stretching him regularly, taking walks and generally strengthening the two world team potentials (Drifter and Kiba). Seri will come along some of the time, depending on what I plan on doing, but Seri is not officially "off" from agility right now, so she will also be getting agility work which I will be avoiding with the other 2 for a bit. Then the weekend of Jan 17th, after a good break to let them heal up and get fit, I will begin working on jumping skills for a week or two, with a day of contacts thrown in here and there. Kiba has been hitting the occasional bar at 22 so she needs a bit of work too. She has the potential to get on the IFCS team but she needs to clean up her bars and contacts a bit first. Not that she hits many or misses a ton of contacts, but the faults are there and we need to work them out. Her handling is generally good but she does need to tighten up her front crosses a bit. She isn't reading my deceleration properly if I'm ahead of her at trials - she's just too excited and too busy racing to catch up to me. She does it well at home so it's just an excitement level issue that will have to be worked out at trials.

Seri will remain at 26 because I firmly believe I will try for world team in the future with her and she will need a bit of time (a year or two:-) to adjust to 26 without knocking bars. It's not a difficult height at all for her, she just gets excited and forgets to look where she's going now and then and hits the bar. She'll learn. Tentative plan with her is to spend 2009 working on her ring skills, get her out of Starters and Novice and up into Excellent in AKC. Then either in 2010 or 2011 depending on when she's ready, we'll try to get qualified for FCI tryouts the following spring. I'm thinking probably 2011 (meaning tryouts May 2012). We'll see. She may be ready to Q in 2010, but maybe not. Considering they really want you to attend Nationals first that means she'd need to be able to double Q somewhat consistently.

Anyway, my decision is based on what I feel is right. The more I think about it, the more I believe that day at the field where he wasn't jumping 26 well was due mostly to my harsh corrections for bar knocking in addition to the fact that I hadn't done much work at 26 at the field at that point (mostly 24).

29 December 2008

Some more bitching about USDAA results, and more wishy-washy-ness about jump heights.

You know, I really like USDAA agility. I prefer the style of courses, the scoring, the atmosphere. I like the Tournament structure and the competitiveness. I like the Nationals/Cynosport games. I like the way they pick the IFCS team (although I'd prefer the placement points to be biased based on how many dogs were in the class, not the same for every regional). I far prefer USDAA over AKC any day of the week. But. If I pay $30 to get access to their online services for a year, I expect them to make sure the scoring is posted correctly. Last summer, they could not get the Steeplechase from Keystone's Regional correct. I emailed them when I first saw it was wrong - they had too many dogs listed as qualifying. Well they "fixed" it so that it was still wrong. And this was the 2nd round. At a Regional. So it MATTERED. In fact it's still wrong. I believe they have the right number of Q's/byes at 22" (a whopping SIX out of the huge number entered!), but they have the 2nd place dog's time way wrong. Originally they had the 1st place dog's time wrong. Frustrating? It is to me.

Then the fiasco with Seri's Advanced Gamble leg. I don't know if that was a scribe error or what, but I'd swear to you I checked at the trial and I had Q'ed. USDAA tells me they checked my scribe sheet and "there was nothing unusual about it". WTF does that mean? Does it say Joker - Yes? then I Q'ed! That's not unusual! It's unusual that I qualified and didn't get a leg! Hello!

Anyway at that same trial I finished my Starters Snooker title so I figued I'd double check my other Q's and make sure they were all correct. Well yes, they are, BUT. . . In Seri's Snooker class there is a dog listed in 4th place with 32 points and the Q column says "Y". Uhhh, last time I checked you needed 37 points to qualify. So no, of course USDAA never makes an error transcribing to the online database. Never.

ETA: Oh, and at Kinetic Dog at Fair Hill, Seri tied for 5th place in the Grand Prix. We flipped a coin. I won. Meaning I was 5th, she was 6th. But somehow the other dog got the 1 Tournament Top Ten Point at stake and I ended up 6th place online.

So why are they resisting online submission when crap like this keeps happening? Keystone usually uses a computer for scoring; wouldn't it just eliminate all this CRAP if they could submit it in pretty easy-to-read typed format?

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other thoughts: I need to work on contacts when I bring Drifter and Kiba back from their time off. Kiba missed a couple dogwalks at TNT 2 weeks ago and now another one. And even though she was hitting them consistently all fall, it was consistently by about an inch. I've tried getting her to understand running down the ramp but she's just not that type of dog, so with her I will go back and re-emphasize the foot target. She knows where it is, she just doesn't want to put that extra stride on to get to it. Brat. She is driving up and over and down the dogwalk MUCH faster than she was a year ago now, so I think it's time to get back after her for that target behavior. Her aframe could use some polish too but I will need some time to figure out what to do with it. She doesn't really have a behavior there. I've toyed with a few different things with her.

Drifter's dogwalk should just need some practice. He gave me one really fantastic low down in the yellow hit on Saturday in standard, then a just above the edge hit on Sunday. I didn't do any in Gamblers. So I think some reps a couple times a week, and start reminding him that he needs to adjust at the beginning of the downramp again. Usually that gets him back into place. His frames have been great.

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ETA - I'm wordy today, too much NOT posting over the weekend. Maybe eventually I'll start bringing the laptop with me and doing it:-)
Anyway. Drifter was really great this weekend. 2 faults over 6 runs - 1 bar, and 1 dogwalk. Everything else was great. Zero handling mistakes. Held every stay (as much as he does), managed to not get called on a flyoff, even though they were close. Nailed hard weaves, handled like a pro. Is consistently the fastest dog in the class among classes of very fast dogs. Do you know how difficult it is to NOT try out for the World Team with a dog like this? So yes, I am thinking about 26 again. I've decided to give them off till January 17th, which is a Saturday, at which point I will begin a strong jumping and contact regimen. Because I plan to continue walking them and letting them run and play while they're "off", they shouldn't really get out of shape. And I know I sound like the most wishy-washy person in the world here, but I may bring Drifter back up to 26 and try for IFCS with him. I did 26 on the warm-up jump a few times on the soccer turf and he looked great. So shoot me. I have a great dog, I'm a great handler, and I want to try for World Team. I'm even getting good at Snooker with him, which is something I've traditionally cared little about and therefore never trained. (well I still never train it but we're getting better anyway).

Ideally I'd like to qualify him at both heights, and do what I did in 2007 - if he doesn't get enough points at Regionals then I'd drop him back to 22 for Nationals. So to that goal, he already has a Team Q at 22. He has nothing else yet, so it's really a blank page as far as that goes. He has a great team for Regionals so I don't doubt he'd qualify for Team at 26 at one of those if I should choose to do so. His iliopsoas is stretching out great still, and I've been trying hard to strengthen it by doing standing/begging exercises several times a week.

So I'll take from now till Keystone's February trial closes to think about it. 22 or 26? Aren't I annoying!?

MADness recap

Friday I drove down to the hotel for MADness. I ended up with Schiz, Seri, Drifter, and Kiba; my mother watched Drake for me since I had Schiz, and 4 dogs is plenty. Schiz was pretty funny in the hotel Friday night, sort of pouting and looking sad and lost with no dogs she knew very well. My guys know her well enough to get along, but she definitely looked lonely.

This trial was Team and Grand Prix only, indoors on soccer turf, one ring. A total of 37 teams entered in Championship and another 20 or so in Performance. Saturday started with Team Jumpers. It was a pretty tough course, with lots of E's in every height.
Results, Team Jumpers:
Schiz (16") - did really well till she slid coming into jump 15, missed my rear cross cue, turned the wrong way then back-jumped. E. Both her team-mates also E'd.
Drifter (22") - beautiful clean run. Fastest time of anybody, low 26's. 1st place.
Kiba (22") - beautiful run but knocked 2nd bar when I indicated for her to slow down.
Seri (26") - I didn't expect too much but she ran beautifully, with the 2nd fastest time overall (behind Drifter), hit the double near the end so had 5 faults added to her time. Would have won if not for that, ended up 5th.

Team Gamblers was next. Set up like a regular gamble but with a choice of obstacles for different points in the closing.
Results:
Schiz - had a gorgeous run, most points of any dog in the entire class. 1st place.
Drifter - really good run BUT he lost the chance at a few points because he ran off the see-saw and ran in a big loop before coming back to me and when I got him back the buzzer blew. 1st place anyway.
Kiba - Nice opening but knocked the first bar in the gamble.
Seri - missed a weave entry in the opening but otherwise did great. Got a gift on her 2nd aframe in the opening. 2nd place.

Team Standard was last class on Saturday. Another pretty tough course with plenty of E's all around. Results:
Schiz - pretty nice run, had one refusal on a weird push-out line. Again both her team-mates E'd.
Drifter - absolutely beautiful run. Fastest time of all dogs by 2 seconds BUT he knocked one bar in the serpentine.
Kiba - like Schiz, a nice run but had a refusal on the weird push-out line.
Seri - Seri's brain esploded in this run. She knocked the first bar, the 3rd bar, then went off course after number 6. I walked her off. She did both sets of weaves beautifully at least!

Dogs were tired and so was I that night. Although Kiba did some obsessive whining in the hotel room for the first time ever. She was staring at the door instead of the ceiling as she does at home. Sigh. I have every expectation that little dog will end up on anti-anxiety meds when she gets older.

Sunday started with Team Snooker. All 3 reds at one end of the ring, the 7 at the other. Of course. And a weird rule about doing the same tunnel after every color in the opening. I didn't get any video of Sunday. My usual friends/parent who would video weren't around and I hate to ask favors of others.
Results:
Schiz: Oh my. She mis-read my wrap cue, flipped the wrong way, then back-jumped the red. 6 points.
Drifter: I couldn't do all 7's because it was a see-saw and he's been pushing those (almost flying off). So I did all 6's (weaves) showing off his amazing weave entries, and finished for 48 points and 3rd place. Had 5 seconds left.
Kiba: Used my extra 5 seconds from Drifter's plan to kick out and take one see-saw in the opening for a total of 49 points. 1st place.
Seri: Fresh off her brain esplosion the day before, I made a nice plan of all tunnel combos (for 4 points each) in the opening. she got through that OK, then proceeded to knock 2 in the closing. oh well. 15 points.

Team Relay. Because this trial was really over the limit of runs for a one-ring tournament trial in the time they had the place rented, the club exercised the option to run the top 75% of the teams (to be honest, the bottom 25% had very little chance of Q'ing anyway with all those E's!)
Result:
(Schiz's team was in the bottom 25%!)
Drifter: great relay - 2nd place. Team ended up 1st overall for a Q.
Kiba: our small dog had a substitute handler because her handler fractured her foot on Saturday morning. The dog had had enough of her sub handler and left the ring for about a minute. I had to go 3rd after she came back and Kiba was clean. With our E and our loooong time, we still managed to scrape together a Q, at 20th out of 21 teams that qualified.
Seri: Had to go 2nd in relay because she was the "odd" dog. Surprisingly, she handled it well (despite her screaming) and got around with only a knocked bar. Team Q, somewhere around 15th place I think.

Grand Prix. A faster course than many of the weekend had been. My lack of ability to train on full equipment bit me on the ass in this one.
Schiz: I sent her out on a pinwheel and when I pulled to bring her back to the see-saw she missed and got a refusal.
Drifter: Fantabulous run except he missed his dogwalk contact. 2nd one since July. Fastest time by over a second.
Kiba: Again, fantabulous run except she missed the dogwalk contact too. Pattern? Yeah, haven't been able to train contacts! She had the 2nd fastest time.
Seri. Well. Seri handled the course nicely but knocked a few bars at the beginning. I let her run her dogwalk for the first time at a trial and she did well. I left her in the weaves and went out laterally and she handled that well too.

So I came home with 3 Team Q's but disappointingly no Grand Prix's. I really wish the zero-fault rule wasn't in place. That's going to force me to spend quite a bit more money, I'm thinking. Sigh. Anyway, the current plan is to give Drifter and Kiba a full three weeks off from agility and hard work in general. They will still get romps in the indoor and walks in the park and runs in the yard, but I want to give them some time to heal up any minor muscle issues they may have developed over the year.

I will get the video from Saturday online today or tomorrow.

25 December 2008

Day off

What I like most about holidays is the chance to stay home and relax and play with the dogs and see them looking happy and relaxed too. most days they are really only loose with me in the house from about 1pm to 7pm, not a ton of happy family time. From 7pm to 3am we're usually in bed, and because it's not a giant bed or a giant bedroom, I've started letting only Seri into the bedroom to sleep. She's "floppy" and doesn't jump on and off the bed constantly like Drifter does (he doesn't like to be touched by feet in bed. go figure). Kiba has been sleeping in the crate. Her neurotic behavior of staring at the ceiling and whining has been getting worse lately and I think it's a good thing to confine her physically so she can't do that all the time. Plus it wakes me up when she does that, and since I've started crating her she's been quieter. Drake sleeps in the crate because my basement is messy with lots of stuff to get into for young chewey dogs, and Drifter sleeps on the couch. then when I go to work Drake is crated still, and lately I've gone back to crating Seri and Kiba because lately i've been coming home to what looks like the remnants of a wild party. Seri likes to destroy small plastic things (often that we need) or credit card statements (definitely need) and chapstick (not needed but much appreciated!). And Kiba, once again I'm thinking perhaps it's better to limit her neuroticness. When I'm home I call her off when she starts to obsess (she runs into the kitchen, stares at the ceiling, and strange squealing noises emanate from her when someone walks around upstairs). Usually I can distract her before she gets too bad.

Anyway, the dogs made out well this Christmas, my mother gave them antlers and plenty of fun toys to play with, so they're enjoying their day. There's still a lot of mud outside so I'm not sure what I'll do about exercising them. maybe a slog through the park in the morning.

My dad got on the transplant list now so my mom needs to stay close to home - so I'm taking Schiz to run this weekend and she's keeping Drake to watch. Which will be fun since Trig is in heat now and Drake's just old enough to be interested in such things, so they will have to be separated. Luckily her back deck stairs feeds down to my side yard so she can let him out to potty there Trig-pee-free.

So I'll have a tiring but fun weekend, running one 16" dog, two 22" dogs, and one 26" dog in DAM and Grand Prix. 12 runs per day. I've probably done worse, but we're all a little out of shape with this horrible pain-in-the-ass weather. And my right knee/thigh/ankle have been feeling a little tired/out of whack this week for some reason. maybe the snow hiking last weekend did it. I don't know.

24 December 2008

Worst. Ice. EVER.

If you live in my general area (southeastern PA, northern MD/DE, western NJ) BE REALLY CAREFUL THIS MORNING! As of 5am there is a TON of black ice all over the roads. I thought it would just be the backroads but it is everywhere. It took me an hour and 20 minutes to drive 26 miles and it wasn't because of traffic. Most spots if I went over 20 my van started slipping and the traction control warning came on. It took me 2 tries to get up the one hill because the car in front of me stopped/lost it and I had to stop, then started sliding down and had to turn into my slide and go back down the hill again. In 6 and 1/2 years of wee hours driving to work, often before the roads have been salted, I have NEVER driven on ice like this for such a long stretch of road. The entire way was ice. About half the staff here of part-timers couldn't make it in. One of our trucks is sitting in the corporate park about a quarter mile down the road because he can't get up the hill. WILD.

So be careful out there! I'd highly advise you to stay in this morning and let the rush hour and the salt trucks and the rain melt the roads. I am certainly going to take my time leaving work today, that's for sure!

One pileup already

23 December 2008

BLECH

USDAA's next response to my inquiry. I'm glad at least that they checked, but this is just really really confusing and aggravating to me. I'm not one to hover around the accumulators or ribbon tables, but in all my years of agility I've NEVER EVER been wrong about a Q after the trial.

"I looked at the scribe sheet and there wasn't anything unusual about it and
it was not listed as a Q on the accumulator either so I don't see any reason
to assume it wasn't listed correctly."

No one is recession proof

This was announced last Thursday. Lucky for me (I guess) is that I am not a "salaried exempt" employee. I am a non-exempt full-time, technically "hourly" although I really am here "weekly" meaning I'm pretty much guaranteed my 40 hours if I want them - they can't chase me home early to save cash. From an in-company memo from the president (Fred Smith):

"We believe the fairest way to move forward and minimize job loss where we can, is to share the impact of this economic crisis among team members. As a result, we are taking the following steps:
Effective January 1, 2009, all salaried-exempt FedEx employees in the U.S. will take a permanent reduction in pay, across the board. My salary will be reduced by 20 percent; the Strategic Management Committee members by 10 percent; and executive vice presidents at core operating companies by 7.5 percent. All other U.S. salaried-exempt FedEx employees will take a 5-percent reduction. These pay actions do not affect hourly employees or contractors.
There will be no merit increases for U.S. salaried exempt personnel for the calendar year 2009. Also, there will be no FY2009 bonus payments paid. Variable compensation for Sales will not be affected.
Beginning February 1, 2009, we will suspend U.S.-based 401k company matches for a minimum of one year. We hope to reinstate the match in 2010, depending upon business and global economic conditions.
In addition, we are redoubling our efforts to save costs elsewhere. Among other things, we are simplifying our IT and other Services operations, and centralizing the buying process to further reduce purchase costs, from paper to tires."
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So while that is sad news for all my manager friends here at work, I have to admit I think they are paid plenty in general, and taking a 5% cut isn't really going to hurt them drastically. (if someone makes 50K that is reducing them down to 47.5K, not really a huge hit). And this is a much better solution - cut the salaries of all execs by a tiny margin - than firing a bunch of people. Now FedEx is going to be cutting some jobs at Kinko's (now "FedEx Office") and at FedEx Freight. But the major companies (Express and Ground) will keep the workers they have.

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So how sucky is it that I will have a video that shows me qualifying, but USDAA won't recognize my Q? Not that Adv Gamblers is tough for my dog, but at the same time, I shouldn't have to waste more of my hard-earned money to re-earn the title I already have. Grrrrrr. I will scrutinize the video when it gets here, and if it does indeed show me Q'ing, and i can see the judge nodding or giving a thumbs up, and I didn't step over the line, and there were no slow bars, then I will be royally pissed off and send the video to USDAA with a politically written note that says "WTF!?". And for now I will continue to claim Seri has her AG even though I will have to re-enter her in the damn class.

22 December 2008

Grrrrrr

Just heard back from the USDAA office, and they are saying that Seri did NOT qualify in Advanced Gamblers at Keystone! They say only one dog Q'd. VERY STRANGE. I've NEVER been wrong about a Q before in 15+ years of showing. And I swear I checked my score before leaving that trial. I did NOT get my ribbon (after that many years of showing I only pick up the "big" ribbons, like Nationals, Regionals, etc).

So I will check the video when the post office finally decides to deliver it to me. Perhaps i stepped on the line or something. Or maybe I did Q and it was a transcription error somewhere. Who knows.

Let's talk about jumping. . .


There are a couple different methods or systems out there that teach dogs to jump better. I don't follow any of them. I think are advantages and disadvantages to each system. I will say up front that I do not believe dogs under a year should be jumping over elbow height regularly at all. Right now my almost-21" tall 11-month old jumps 16". It is high enough that he has to jump over it, but low enough that the 10 reps once a week that he gets worked will not injure him. I don't jump youngsters more than once a week, sometimes once every 2 weeks. I do not follow any "big name" person's program. I have been doing jump chutes and jump training education for many years (since the mid-90's) and have developed my own set of ideas.

A dog's structure is tied to his ability to jump. It is tied to his ability to stay sound while making repeated jumping efforts several times a week over his lifetime. That said, a poorly structured dog, or one with a minor flaw, should not be ignored or automatically considered a bad jumper. The reverse can be said for a well-structured dog not necessarily being a good jumper! Jumping is a mechanical motion that is generally the same for every dog and every jumping effort. The difference in form is simply a matter of speed and trajectory. These things should change depending on the situation. For example, a dog running down a straight, well-spaced line of jumps SHOULD be jumping flat and look rather bullet-like. He should be extending his rear legs full out if he is structured well, and he should be maintaining high speed in the air. A dog who is preparing to turn should slow down, get closer to the jump, shift his weight to his rear, and jump in a more upright, lofting, rounded form. He should almost appear to turn in the air if the corner is very tight. Of course there are a myriad of speeds and forms in between. But basically there is no single "right" style of jumping for dogs. The "rounded" form is necessary for a tight corner, and a flatter form propels a dog quickly on a straightaway.

I will post later on other matters relating to jumping, and I would like to do a picture study of structure and how it relates to jumping (in particular how a good neck and shoulder allows a dog to make a last-minute adjustment in weight shift in an "emergency" situation, which is where Drifter has problems due to his short/low-set neck). But today I just wanted to mention one ability that is tied to structure and attitude that I haven't really heard discussed before. It is what I have come to call "Loft". Some dogs have the ability, when their striding is off (meaning they haven't planned ahead well enough to have a perfect takeoff spot), to simply take off early and float through the air and over the jump without touching it or losing much speed. I have noticed that dogs who have this ability tend to hit less bars and do better at jumping higher heights.

The Loft that I am speaking of should not be confused with a dog who stutter-steps or takes off early and arcs too soon. These dogs have a jumping problem that is difficult to deal with and should not in any way be viewed as an advantage. I'm speaking of dogs who USUALLY jump very normally, but in a bad spot they can simply use their physical power to take off early and fly over the jump. Seri has this ability. I've seen a few other dogs do this too. Bad striding? Just take off now and go for it! A dog with the proper ability to Loft over the jump won't even look bad doing it. You sort of think "did that dog really just take off there and clear the jump?! The arc should be aligned almost properly, with the highest point of the dog's jump being at least near the jump itself.

Drifter does not have this ability. And while he's a very bright dog who has gotten incredibly good at both flattened out straightaways at high speed, and tight rounded corners at low speed, I have noticed that even at high speed he must be judging constantly to take off properly, and if he does take off early he arcs early too - no sailing through the air for half a mile to get the jump. Whereas Seri can simply launch and voila! she's over it like nothing. Is Drifter a bad jumper? No, of course not. I think he jumps as well as or better than most dogs. He doesn't hit many bars at 22" at all, and he's just about 20" tall so he's not a monster for that height. Is Seri an incredibly good jumper? Well, no, not really. She's still young and learning, and needs more educatio nto be truly incredible. But she certainly has a TON of talent, and I already feel pretty confident of her jumping at 26", knowing that if she gets in a bad spot, whoosh, off she goes through space to clear the jump. The only time she hits a bar is if she wasn't paying attention and gets too close, but even then she doesn't usually do as many handstand-ass-over-teakettles things as Drifter used to do. Because she has a long, higher-set neck that helps her shift her weight quickly.

Also

We still have a lot of room in our classes that start the first full week of January.
http://www.getrevd.com/
If you're interested please sign up now! We will end up cancelling at least one of them if not enough people sign up!
I don't teach very much so if you're wondering what I do, this is a good chance!


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I'm very excited about this week coming up. NOT because it's Christmas - after all I've already gotten my best gift (camcorder!). But because good things are happening.
1. Christmas means the end of hectic rushing crazy things at work and the beginning of slow relaxing easy times for a month or so
2. The holiday is on Thurs and we are not working Friday. I'm mad that I have to burn a vacation day, but at the same time it will be REALLY NICE to have a 3-day week and Thurs/Fri home.
3. MADness next weekend! So I get 2 days off at home AND a 2-day trial! Rare!

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Working at FedEx, once in a while we see packages for famous people, mostly sports players. A couple years back we had a package for Aaron Rowand, at the time playing outfield for the Phillies (he's now in CA). Today we have one for Matt Schaub, currently quarterback for the Houston Texans. He grew up in West Chester and apparently either he still lives there or he visits.

I am the Wine Nazi.

I've mentioned before that Pennsylvania has pretty strict rules regarding alcohol shipments. Well since I last mentioned it, our terminal manager (big boss of our building) has spoken to Legal in Pittsburgh, and they've confirmed that ALL shipments from out of state that are coming into PA MUST be shipped to a PLCB (liquor control board) store or they must be sent back to the shipper. No out-of-state direct-to-residence shipments are allowed. I feel justified in my feelings, since that was my interpretation of the rules (and the law) anyway. I certainly am not happy that more people are not getting their gifts now, but I was upset because these packages were violating our rules, PA's laws, and certain managers in our terminal were allowing it. I can't abide that sort of thing. I'm a stickler for certain rules (not all of them - I speed rather gleefully on the highway!). Anyway, since I'm the one that got the ball rolling on following these rules, it's fallen to me to report the violations to Legal. So I am now, in essence, the Wine Nazi of West Chester Terminal. I've already got 2 shipments this morning that I've had to submit forms on and send back to their shippers. The silly part is that one of them is an in-state shipment, meaning it would have been legal, except they didn't mark it as an "Adult Signature Required" and "contains alcohol", both of which are necessary to ship alcohol. D'oh!

It is currently 14 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and "feels like -3" according to weather.com. Very bitter cold. I am pondering going back to the park today for a longer/slower sort of doggy exercise, but I'm worried that the crusty icey surface will hurt their feet.

21 December 2008

Nothing

This morning I woke up to more falling freezing wet stuff. It was frozen enough that I managed to let the dogs into the bigger part of the backyard for a couple 10-minutes sessions, but I didn't feel like going out myself (and didn't really want them fetching/skidding on the ice anyway) so they just sort of puttered around, tugged with each other, then wound down into looking lost pretty quickly. Oh well, still a good chance to stretch i guess. They looked more tired than I expected yesterday after their ice-crusted field slogging session. Monday or Tuesday we are planning to move some of our equipment to the indoor, so if nothing else they can get some more exercise there. Weather is questionable for at least one day this week. Hopefully we won't get too rusty handling-wise for the Team trial next weekend, as Kiba is the only one that actually has a 2009 Team Q so far. In fact, since Drifter was out with his iliopsoas pull last October, this will only be his 2nd time running in ANY 2009 Tournament! And his first at 22 - the GP I ran with him the first weekend of october was at 26, before I decided to keep him down. I'm still lamenting that decision a bit, especially after he ran so great at TNT. I just have to keep thinking "he ran great at 22, but if that had been 26 he probably would have hit a bar". When I think about handling a course for him at 26 I realize that I have to handle more carefully, because he is more prone to hitting bars at that height. So he really is better off at 22. Doesn't mean I can't bemoan the loss of a chance at World Team with him though. Poor guy. Poor me :-(
Anyhow, Kiba needs to be a smidge more consistent, and overall she's got a pretty good shot at making IFCS if they keep the qualification process the same or similar. And I'm still tentatively planning to take Drifter to FCI/AKC Tryouts in May. I think he can handle a month or two of work at 26 in order to go. That just sounds like a very exciting environment, and maybe a good road trip - wouldn't need the minivan for just one dog, he's OK with riding in the back seat (with a seat-belt or a crate, doesn't matter which).

Today I am not doing much. It has stopped the freezing percipitation but its still icky and wet and frozen outside.

20 December 2008

resolutions can be wet and cold

I made a resolution to try really hard to keep my dogs in the best shape that I can all year. Starting 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately I live in a residential area, with a backyard that is about 50x90 or so total area, that stays quite wet when it rain/snows/sleets or whatever. Now if it would just stay as snow I would be fine with playing in that, the dogs love it. Unfortunately the last 2 weeks it has been a mix of rain/sleet/snow/freezing rain and anything else cold and wet. So the yard is shot. They can go out in the small side yard to potty and that's it. I'd love to get them swimming, but with the truth about that crazy GSD breeder out there, I'm not interested in supporting her.

So this morning after the sun came up I packed Seri, Drifter, and Kiba into their doggy coats, loaded them in the car, scraped the icy mixture off the windshield and headed to the local reservoir park. i left around 7:30am so i wouldn't meet any hikers (although who would be out in 26 degree weather the day after an ice storm, I don't know). I took their blankets off to walk, and kept them on leash until I got out of sight of the parking area and road (stupid leash laws!). Then I let them go. unfortunately it was a pretty icy/nasty mixture on the ground, and it was covering some very wet areas. I managed to keep my feet dry till I was almost back the car, but their off-leash time was spent sort of trotting/cantering/crunching through the muck. Seri is disgusting. i swear she was deliberately going through the wettest areas. Anyway we walked around one good sized field off leash before I decided that was probably enough and started to head back. Once we got within sight of the road I put the leashes back on. Total was probably 15 minutes leash walking to the field, 15 minutes running/mucking about in the field, then 15 minutes back to the car. Adequate but not great. Only good thing is that the unusual movements of going up and down hills and around tall grass and puddles in the icy/snow should help to wear them out and maybe even make them a little sore (not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's not a strain). So right now they are crated and hopefully most of hte muck will dry up and fall off on its own. Hopefully. Anyway, it's supposed to rain/sleet some more tomorrow morning, then again on Wednesday. ick. I'm hoping I can maybe head down to the new indoor Monday or tuesday, but if not i may be begging to use our friend's again.

Today will be spent resting, enjoying the day off (work was pretty hectic this week!!!), and then cleaning some.

19 December 2008

article on coat color genetics

I am always looking for interesting articles about coat color genetics in dogs. This is a pretty good article. It was written about Pomeranians originally, but the color genes are the same over most breeds. I have read in several sources that the merle gene increases the chances of deafness or eye problems even in heterozygous merles (meaning a 'regular' merle with one merle parent and one solid parent). I've also read that more white on a dog can lead to more problems, but I'm still looking for the science on that one.

So for the long term in my own dogs and rare breeding efforts, i will probably be avoiding merle altogether. i can certainly agree and admit that I find certain merles to be very attractive dogs, but very few merle pedigrees attract me, and the odds do seem a bit higher of health problems. All else considered, I'd prefer a black dog. It would have to be a very amazing merle with a really strong pedigree as far as health goes that would entice me to breed it.

What's in a title

So my subscriber services at USDAA had expired about a month ago. I just renewed them over the weekend and today I went to look at my newly earned titles, and Wow! Kiba earned her Tournament Master Gold back in October and I totally didn't realize it. She also finished her Gamblers Master and Standard Agility Master on the same weekend (Keystone Oct 11-12).

Drifter finished his Standard Champion back in September which I already knew because I got the certificate in the mail a week or so ago.

And very strangely, it appears that Seri did NOT qualify in Advanced Gamblers at Keystone. Even though she is way within time and I thought for sure she had Q'd. In fact only one dog is listed as qualifying in that class (a 16"!). I emailed USDAA to ask if this is a mistake because I could have sworn I checked it at the trial and she had Q'ed. If she did not then I should not have run her in Masters Gamblers last weekend! (not that she Q'd, so it doesn't matter really)

Also I find that Drifter already has 151 legs towards his LAA Bronze, but is so skewed towards Tournaments (total Tournaments is 68 of 151 legs, and Gamblers is another 36!)
So for his LAA Bronze, he needs 4 Standards, 4 Jumpers, and 8 Pairs legs. Good thing I'm resolving to enter more Pairs this year! I'm not too worried about the Std and Jumpers, he should finish those this spring. All that AKC has made him a good deal more consistent.

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ETA: I spoke to someone who taped my advanced gambler run with Seri at Keystone, and she said that I did indeed Q. And i was pretty damned sure I had checked the accumulator sheet. so I think it must have been an error when USDAA put it online, and I didn't notice till now because my subscriber services had expired. Hopefully they will fix it. Last time I noticed an error in results they did reply pretty quickly, but this is a Friday with holidays coming up. ..

Pink and Blue are the new Red and Green?

Warning: another co-worker rant follows!

for a little while in the fall our annoying opposite shift co-worker had been doing an "OK" job. (why? because she was up for her yearly review of course). But as the holidays and shipping peak season have come upon us, she has once again gone downhill. But the latest thing getting under my skin is really not a performance thing at all (although the mess we have to clean up in the morning annoys me, it is nothing new and fails to get my blood boiling most days). We have a calendar hanging in our work area. A FedEx calendar. We use it to double-check the date, since we write things that include the date quite often. Well this month our night-time idiot (we work 4am-12pm, she works 3pm-11pm) has been marking off the days with pink and blue sharpie markers. Why? Well I had no idea. So I started marking off the days with black when I noticed she had missed them. Then I looked at our ugly (in my eyes) mixed blue/pink/black hash-marked calendar, and I decided it would look more uniform (and Professional!) if I went back over the colored ones with black. Which, I might add, takes all of 10 seconds to do (it was about 15 days into Dec.) Well the next day I get a nasty note left for me (she is known for nasty notes!). Apparently the pink and blue day-marking was "festive" and now I am ruining the "holiday spirit" by "wasting my time" going back over them in black. Ok. This is the same girl who didn't listen to the messages on the machine DURING CHRISTMAS TIME for 10 days straight until i talked to our boss. Gosh, I guess pretty colors are EVER so much more important than actually delivering people's Christmas gifts. Who wants those stupid things anyway? (the messages are on an answering machine - we give the number out on postcards that we send to an address on a package when all other methods of finding the person have failed, so the messages are regarding packages we are holding because we couldn't find the recipient).

Anyway, I tore up the note and tossed it out and proceeded to mark right over her next pink hash-mark because frankly I find the notion of multi-colored day-marking on a work calendar to be preposterous. Well today I look up over the desk and what do I see? (no not Santa) The last 2 days on the calendar now have pink and blue squiggles and confetti drawn all over them. And there's a holly leaf and berries in the upper left hand box. OHMYGOD. Never has "festive" inspired such rage. So I took the calendar down. I'll give it to our boss and tell him no way am I hanging that ridiculous thing in my work area any more. If she can't mark a calendar off like an adult instead of like first grade then I'm not having it in my area.

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Work rant aside, yesterday I got to go practice in a friend's indoor. She has a rubber flooring that is a little bit deep (it's small bits of rubber, recycled from making medical equipment or something), but it's still better than mud or frozen ground. We ran 2 sequences (there were 4 of us), then I let my pack out to run around and wear themselves out for a bit. They had a blast. Which is great, since it's predicted to rain/sleet/freeze again today. Tomorrow might be ok for a trip to the park in the morning, no more rain and it should be frozen.

Also we may have hit a slight snag in our indoor process. The other person renting it with us had 33 students interesting in coming to her there. But she was undercharging ($25 for a private!?), so she had to raise her prices (to a whopping $35!) and suddenly only 9 people were left. How ridiculous is that? People weren't willing to pay an extra $10 to work with her in an indoor! Lame students! If she can't do it my mother and I might still rent it for Tues/Wed, as we really have nowhere else to go and we charge enough to cover costs.

17 December 2008

Swimming and Shepherds. Morals or Exercise?

The Vice President-elect recently purchased a German Shepherd puppy. Coincidentally enough, it was from the very place that has the indoor pool that we've used on and off for the last few years. As I've mentioned, it's clearly not the nicest place on earth, and I've been sad to see GSD's kept outside in kennel runs 24/7. But I had no idea quite exactly what was going on there if everything in this blog post is true (and i have no reason to doubt it, it sounds sincere).

Being very interested in various border collie breeders, including "keeping tabs" on various high-volume ones and their behavior, I am sickened to find that the same thing is happening so close to me in another breed. I had no idea this lady had that many dogs and facilities. I could tell it wasn't the best place on earth, but I had hoped she wasn't the worst class of breeder either. So morally, I don't think I can support her in any way, even by paying to use her pool. Which is sad, because it's GREAT exercise, indoors, with little to no impact on the dogs. But oh well. At least I know I will have access to an indoor arean twice a week for the rest of the winter months.

16 December 2008

Woohoo!

I have an indoor!!!

I will be teaching 2 classes starting in January, both handling classes, mostly geared towards Masters/Excellent but I will be including skills exercises. One will be Tuesday evening at 6pm and the other on Wednesday afternoon at 4pm. My mom will be teaching one Wednesday evening at 6:30pm. Details aren't set yet but if you're interested email my mom for info (or check out www.getrevd.com).

I will also be available for privates on Tuesday afternoons before class. If you're interested email me or my mom.

The indoor is in Thorndale area of Chester County, PA. I don't have the address yet. It's an 80 x 200 indoor, on sand/dirt. It's a bit loose but the footing seems OK, not too horribly deep. We'll have a full set of equipment. It will be set up Mondays by the person sharing our rental, and put away by the Wednesday evening class my mom is teaching. (yay, I don't have to help! :-)

I'm so happy!

Snow and Grand Prix Hunting

It's snowing right now. Yesterday's news said it wouldn't freeze till later afternoon but sure enough it's frozen already. Pretty big flakes are falling out. So much for 66 degrees.

I had been planning to skip the Ohio trial in January to give my dogs some time off and save some dough. However. I just looked at the premium for Teamworks in February which was planned to be my next USDAA trial after MADness, and Teamworks has the Grand Prix planned for LAST ON SUNDAY. And this is a trial infamous for starting late on Sunday when they already have it scheduled for 9am. Which means GP probably would not be done till 5-6pm. Then I'd have an approximately 7 hour drive home. (adds up to midnightish), then I have to get up at 3:30am for work Monday. Sound likely? No... it's not.

So.... I'm not sure if I will go now. The OH trial is only an hour farther, and while I'd have to pay for a hotel rather than stay at a friend's house, with the OH trial I would be able to run both Steeplechase and GP on Saturday, then head for home early on Sunday (if I run anything at all on Sunday, maybe the first class or two). So I have to figure it out. Maybe I'll just give Kiba/Drifter 2 weeks off instead of the tentative 3 or so. Or maybe I'd just wait till after that trial and give them 3 weeks off from Jan 18 to the first week of February. Keystone's Feb trial isn't till 4 weeks after the OH one.

More to think on.

Records

Philadelphia set a record high yesterday at 66 degrees. It was BALMY and warm. I think my area (I'm about 40 miles from Philly proper) was up at about 63. I took the dogs down to Julie's to train and run, since the weathermen are saying we aren't going to be dry again till at least Saturday, and of course then the ground will still be wet for a week or so following. Ick. It's winter. I'd be much happier if it just SNOWED because then the dog can run around and play. And it's prettier. Mud is ugly.

Today it is supposed to start raining, then slowly as the afternoon goes by it is predicted to slowly freeze and turn from rain to sleet to snow and make the night a mess. Traveling to work tomorrow morning (3:30am) might be an interesting time. Since I ran 2 full courses with the dogs then let all 4 of them run and play and hang out for a good half hour yesterday, I'm not too worried about them today. I can play tug/fetch inside for a bit to at least stimulate them mentally, then I will take them swimming tomorrow if there's no let-up in the rain. If it gets to Friday and still nothing I may email an acquaintance and see if she'll let me borrow her indoor for an hour.

15 December 2008

A Note About my YouTube Videos

I am now embedding them on the blog and forcing HD. They are not *really* HD but the quality is close enough and it looks 10x better than youtube's "standard def". The best way to avoid the snagging/choppy play is to hit the "play" button, then when it starts to load, hit "pause" (same button), and just let it load while you finish reading my blog. Once its loaded all the way (the lighter red line will go all the way across the bottom) then you can play it snag-free. Works for me, anyway. If you have a super-ultra-triasic period connection (dial-up), you can just go to my Youtube channel (link is on the side of the blog) and watch them in low quality there.

2nd note - I'm sticking with a "stretch" layout for Blogger. This allows me to use my entire screen rather than a column down the center, and also allows my widescreen videos to play properly instead of chopping the edge off. If your monitor isn't showing the page correctly, try right-clicking the background, click on Properties, then Settings, and Screen Resolution. It should be set on at least 1024 x 768 to display most modern websites.

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On a totally unrelated note, I measured Drake again over the weekend and got 20 and 3/4ish! He's offically my tallest dog, even though he doesn't really look it. He and Seri and Drifter are all very similar in size, although Seri is loooonger than the other 2. They're all in the 20-20.75" range. Then there's Smidget Kiba dog.

Cutting back but paying more...

So in the last week I got two separate notices in the mail regarding my credit cards' interest rates. Apparently they are going to set a minimum rate. Cuz, you know, the dropping interest rates that are dropping in order to help people like me pay off their debts - well they're dropping too low and the credit card companies don't want to allow those of us with decent but not extraordinarily good credit to be paying low interest rates. I'm already paying a good bit more than I should be on one of them because I was a day or two late once or twice (at least I assume that's why, I missed the notice telling me why) but at the same time one of my cards is down to 7.9% interest and I thought i had a late payment on one of those too. Well. This year I'm determined to not use them anyway and keep paying them down bit by bit. Obviously the higher interest before the lower. I had thought about maybe doing more local AKC than originally planned and seeing if I Q'd for Nationals, but looking at the economy right now and the way the credit card companies are handling it, I'm thinking maybe not. I need to pay down my debt, not create more of it. Luckily one of the notices I got was from Chase, who I believe my only association with is a Circuit City card, which I only got because they had a special 0% interest rate for HD TV's when I got mine almost 2 years ago, and which I paid off in 11 months and haven't used since then. So that doesn't really matter. But I know the other notice was for a card I had been using. Blech. Stupid credit card companies. See which card I use from now on. I'm debating whether to send in the "I don't accept your terms" notice which means I will keep my current terms for payment but won't be able to charge any more on it. Only thing is, if they close my account I won't have as much "available credit" to help my credit rating creep back up. So I'll probably just leave it and once it's finally paid off not use it anymore.

Starting this afternoon, they are predicting rain. All week. Monday straight through to Friday. Looks like I may be going to the pool a few more times, and maybe asking to borrow someone's indoor for training once or twice if I can't get outside. Ick.

14 December 2008

TNT Canines Recap

This was my first USDAA trial since Nationals. I went mainly to get Seri out in the ring again since she hasn't shown since early October. There were no Tournaments and it's a pretty good drive for a commute, so I only entered Saturday. Unfortunately I didn't get most of my runs taped, only got the 2 Masters dogs in the first run of the day - Jumpers.

Drifter was entered in Jumpers and Standard, and he was perfect in both, won both with Q's. His time in Standard was 35.85, the next closest dog in any height was 39-something. He definitely pushed his see-saw, might have been a flyoff in AKC, but he handled just great, nice dogwalk contact (into a wall), great weave entry, everything.
Here's Jumpers:


Kiba's Jumpers run was a LITTLE wild. She knocked the first bar, over-ran my front cross (ignored my nice early cue), and then knocked another bar after running wide on a front cross. I yelled at her a bit (I said "HEY") after the 2nd bar and what does she do? STOPS right in front of my feet to suddenly turn into the soft little dog again instead of the wild animal. Sigh.
Kiba's Snooker went OK except she didn't see the first 7 I was sending to in the opening so we wasted time looping back around, didn't make it through the 7 in the closing. 44 points for a regular Q. Gamblers was very difficult but she decided that instead of messing up the gamble, instead she'd just miss half her contacts. She jumped off 2 dogwalks in a row, then missed the aframe in the gamble. Whoooops!
Here's her crazy jumpers run:



Seri was screaming full bore the whole day. She's never run in deep dirt before so she did knock a few bars in the first few classes. Starters Jumpers was first, she did very well considering how tight some of the corners were (had to be barely 12-14 feet on a 90-degree turn!), she hit one bar. Advanced Snooker she hit 2 bars and ended up with 35 points. Adv pairs she hit one bar but her partner was clean so we did get a Q in that. Masters Gamblers she was amazing in the opening, missed one dogwalk (too much running work at home, she's getting a little too excited when I tell her to slow down and turn), didn't get the gamble but it was tough so I wasn't worried about that. Starters standard again missed the dogwalk. Barely. Other than that was perfect - no bars in the last 2 classes, and ran standard in 29 seconds!! Woohooo! Anyway, she handled perfectly the whole day, held all her stays and nailed her weaves. I'm sad I didn't get any video of her, but oh well. Maybe at MADness.

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Camera: got rave reviews at the trial. Sharon wants one.
I spent the better part of this morning trying to figure out why I wasn't getting widescreen when I transferred the file to my editing software. Did some research. Found out that Panasonic and JVC hard drive camcorders record and transfer files as .mod or .moi, which is basically just a modified .mpeg file. . but. . . for some reason when it is converted into an .mpeg (which is a normal type of movie file that can be read by my editing software), it doesn't encode the widescreen format. So I found a little program online that I downloaded that can take the file straight off the camcorder hard-drive and convert it to a .mpeg file WITH the widescreen intact. YAY. then I use my software to add title or whatever, and convert to .wmv (windows media) file. These upload to YouTube much faster than .mpegs do, although conversion from .mpeg to .wmv takes like 10 minutes. Quality on my computer is quite good, although watching it after uploading to youtube it looks pretty crappy. Sorry. Any tips on getting better quality on youtube?

12 December 2008

Tired. Not Cranky Yet but Maybe Later. . .

So I got to bed nice and early last night (just to make you laugh, I'll tell you that was 7pm). And I got to sleep relatively quickly for me - within half an hour or so. Then at 8:30 I heard a bark. It was a Drake bark. It was a Drake-needs-to-go-out bark. Sigh. So I got up and let him out. In the pouring rain. Dried him and went back to bed. 10:15 - Bark again. Jeesh. Drake had the "poopies" as I affectionately call it. Gave him some immodium and went back to bed. 12:45 - Bark again. It was REALLY pouring down rain too, poor guy, so I know he wasn't faking it just to go out. He's not so dumb he'd WANT to go outside in 37 degree pouring down rain weather. So I had a very interrupted night of sleep last night. I'll be trying to get to bed early tonight, since I know I have to get up early to make the 1hour-45minute drive out to the trial in the morning. I'm happy to be showing again, even if it'll be cold and dirty (it's in a sorta-kinda-heated horse arena).

Seri is VERY soft after drying from the pool yesterday. She is still kinda fluffy which is a new look for her. I did enjoy taking them and will try to get there every time the weather is bad from now on. And I have to decide where I want to start taking them to hike. The state park that's about 18-20 miles, but is large and easier to get away from people, or the reservoir park that's about 8-10 miles but is smaller and harder to get away from people. It's not that bad in the winter, usually, especially during weekday afternoons. But people in this area can be REAL bitchy about seeing dogs off-leash. Bitches. Anyway, for the winter I will definitely try to get them to a park of some sort at least once a week to get some longer walks in so they can stretch their muscles and build some endurance, and move on uneven ground, hills, etc. (good for me too). Once it warms up in the spring I will have to start being more careful as the ticks will come out full-force and I have one of the few 6-year old dogs in this area who still tested negative for Lyme last time I checked him (need to do it again but he certainly shows no symptoms). People who don't live in a Lyme-infested area don't seem to understand how serious it is. Lyme is a serious neurological disease that can cause all sort of nasty long-term effects, and once your dog has it, it's never "cured". You can beat it back, mostly, but your dog is never really free of it again. And tons of dogs in my area have had it. That and now we're getting other, even worse tick diseases too. So that adds to my caution in park walking. We'll see. If I can find a relatively brush-free trail or a mowed field. . . . Maybe in the summer I'll just walk up down Julie's 1/2 mile driveway a few times:-)

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ETA: I looked up some info on the closer of the parks available, and it turns out it is actually twice the size of the farther one in total acreage, however, there just don't seem to be many good trails that run through it. Most parking areas go to one or two adjacent trails that eventually just dead end or loop around back to the same spot relatively quickly. Another problem with this park is that all the acreage is a big strip of acreage around the outside of the lakes and reservoir, so there's no one big huge chunk that you can walk into and not come out for hours. You're constantly along the waterline or the road. And people are always driving by or fishing or whatever. I do know one section I think I will start to frequent. It's not a real long trail, in fact it loops around a couple times and is basically a little section set up in the woods for horse people, but because of its dead end nature there are rarely people walking there. It won't be a very interesting walk for me, but it has a good cleared out path between the trees that's 20 feet wide, has a few cross country horse jumps to play with (not high, don't worry), and some good hills. It gets muddy but then again, that's another reason I'd be alone up there. I can probably at least figure out a windy loopy path that takes an hour or so to walk/run with my dogs. I'd still need leashes, as to get to this spot I have to park in a parking area, cross a road, and walk up a steep narrow trail that overlooks the road before turning into the trees. Sigh. That's life.

11 December 2008

Wet but happy

Sometimes in life, I make a decision, and come hell or high water I will stick to it and get it done. Sometimes in life, I just have a hell of a time making a decision.

I went to the van with 3 dogs, 3 leashes, a raincoat, and towel with the intention of driving down to the state park (about 18 miles) to have a romp in the mud. As I left my mom asked if I was going to the pool (she was coming home from training). And I said "No I think I'll go to a park". But as I put gas in the car at the local station (down to $1.74), I thought "you know. . . all that mud really doesn't sound like fun - and it's getting cold". So I ran to the bank for cash (which I often don't carry) and went to the pool. I haven't been there in over a year, but its still exactly the same. It's at a german shepherd breeder's place; I have to drive past a training building, dog kennels and runs, the house, some cars, the furnace, and then get to the pool building. Not a long drive but a bit of an odd one. It's not the fanciest place in the world. The pool building ceiling is getting moldy and a couple "tiles" have fallen down. But - it's not booked ahead of time, the atmosphere is relaxed, you can just show up and pay whenever (there's a cash box inside). And the pool itself is quite nice. Concrete in the floor but its not real slick. Heated to a good temperature (steams in the winter, like today). They swam for about 12 minutes straight - lots of tennis ball fetching, which is good because it keeps Drifter from inhaling half the pool water. And probably just about right for dogs who haven't swam since last JUNE. i was going to go a whole 15 minutes but someone else showed up and I figured 12 probably plenty for my guys. They are now home, wet, and pathetic. Seri and Drifter are in crates. Seri is completely puffy looking, which is funny since her coat is not really that puffy to begin with, so she looks fat and silly. I put Kiba's warm coat on her because she gets chilly sometimes just from being outside, let alone being outside and soaking wet. She's curled up on the dog bed on the floor looking warm and happy.

Tomorrow they are saying that the rain/snow may end by mid-day. Which would be nice so I could actually put Drake's crate back in the car. . . I did plan to bring him along to socialize and maybe get measured again (for info only, obviously he's not old enough) at the trial Saturday.

bleh

I'm feeling very unmotivated today. Not feeling the "load up the dogs and take them to the pool" vibe. Instead I'll probably wait for a break in the rain and take them out one by one and play fetch in the lower corner of the yard that doesn't get too muddy. Then towel them off. Work is definitely getting crazy.

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Now that I'm home, I'm feeling a little more energetic. And Seri chewed the recliner handle while we were at work today, so they could definitely use some exercise. . .

Trying to decide between swimming and going to a park. I haven't taken 3 to a park yet, but I think with head halter use I could get them out of sight of park rangers without too much trouble. They'll be muddy messes of course. Ick. But I can wipe/brush them off when I get back.

Fitness

I am making a comittment to keep my dogs fit this year. I am not a fan of taking 3-hour runs in the woods (LYME disease, plus our "woods" are all parks with non-dog people walking in them). But I am going to make an attempt to go to a state park at least once a week and let the (adult) dogs really kick up their heels and run. I don't like them to pound on their joints like that very often, but our little 40x90 yard is not enough room to fit them up properly. Then my 2nd commitment is going to be swimming. There is a German Shepherd breeder about 13 miles away who has a heated indoor swimming pool that she allows people to use at $10 per dog. Because I have 3 dogs, the cost of swimming them 2 or 3 times a week would start getting excessive really quick (like $240+ a month), so I'm going to keep it to once a week or twice if the weather is bad. Today may be my first day down there - the rain is hanging around, and it's colder to boot. Yesterday was rainy and 58, today is rainy and 42. Tomorrow is going to be rainy/snowy and 38. Tomorrow if the snow overpowers the rain I may be able to run them in the yard, but not if the ground doesn't freeze. It's too wet. I had reservations about swimming them for the first time a day before a trial, however, this trial has no tournaments and I'm really going to get Seri some experience more than anything else, so it's no big deal if someone's slightly sore somewhere (muscular only, from swimming). They'll get through.

So my winter commitment for world class agility dog fitness is going to end up being this - Run at the park once a week (I will run too - I'm not world class fit either:-), swim once a week, agility training at building or field once a week, and agility training at home once a week weather-permitting. I like to have a plan. Oh, and one day off or for travel. It will probably usually end up going like this on a trial weekend:
Sat/Sun trial
Mon swim
Tues train in yard
Wed train in class/building/field
Thurs run in park
Fri travel or day off
Non-trial weekends I will probably train at the field or run one day, and work in the yard the other. The swimming pool is too crowded on weekends. And of course if its wet all week like now I will be swimming them more.
After the New Years MADness trial I will probably give Drifter and Kiba 2 full weeks of just running and swimming, with no agility. But I am determined to have fit dogs who are totally ready for World Team aspirations this year. And Seri's getting dragged along for the ride. Who knows - she may settle down right away and try for IFCS this year. MAYBE!? (I doubt it, but it's fun to dream right?)

Work is finally starting to pick up and get crazy. We are starting to take in some of the overflow Home Delivery division boxes (FedEx Ground and Home Delivery are linked, using some of the same hubs and trucks, but we don't operate out of the same terminal buildings). Lots of boxes with bad addresses and no phone numbers. Here's a hint folks, when you order a box, put your phone number on it! You wouldn't believe how many shippers and/or recipients get their addresses wrong, and this year there are a LOT of those with NO contact information on them, and also unlisted phone numbers online and in the books. This delays your package's delivery! We WILL try to call you to get your package delivered! Yes, personal service in this day and age, I know it's hard to believe. And also unbelievable - we are actually UPSET when we can't deliver something!

10 December 2008

Warm but wet

It's quite warm outside for mid-December. A lovely mid-50's in temperature, it might even be almost 60. I have the door open so some fresh air can come in through the screen (as you can imagine, the ventilation in a basement apartment is pretty pathetic). However. It's raining, of course. And added to that hydration is the now-melted frozen snow and ice and just dirt that was leftover from the weekend. So the yard is now a swamp. I'm very glad I went and trained yesterday. I may go down again tomorrow but if its too wet in the agility field I'll just let my dogs run around and play instead.


My mother has a lead on an indoor arena she may rent with an acquaintance and sometime-student of hers who also teaches. they'd be renting it Monday-Wednesday when the horse people aren't using it. Which is OK, not so bad if one set of people has to set up the equipment, then another set breaks down 2 days later. I just can't stand setting everything up and taking it all down all in one session. But I may have a place I can train once a week over the winter. I'm also considering doing a seminar or two on handling. I'd like to do one detailing how I teach front and rear crosses and how I then decide which one to use. And lead-out positioning. I can NOT believe how many people are always leading out to the wrong spot and just can't figure out what they're doing wrong. Gah!


Here's a pic for today. It's a totally uncropped photo my dad took of Drake from the deck (above yard level) last July (I guess he was about 6 months). Just because I like to post pics and I don't have many transferred to this laptop yet.

Cults and Gangs

I think its sort of sad that much of agility and its competitors are divided up into gangs or clicks, and even cults with devoted followers. There are a few main cults in agility right now. Here's the last 2 definitions of cult definied by the dictionary:

5. a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
b. The object of such devotion.
6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.

There have been several such faddish devotions to various "ways" of doing agility in the past 5-10 years. One was popular for a while, now it is mostly another. I am speaking more of handling than of training. And don't get me wrong; if a handling system is THAT popular, it certainly has merit. I do study each fad as it appears and take away bits and pieces and concepts that I find useful and integrate them into my own handling system. I did that back in 2002 with the first cult, and I've done it now with the newest one. What I don't understand is how people can go from one handling system to a completely different, even contradicting one, in a matter of a few years. This must confuse the dog, right? And does that mean the handler is admitting the last handling system was wrong? I don't think any of them are wrong, really, its just a matter of how well and easily they work and how quickly they communicate to a dog. Another thing I don't understand is how people get so locked up in "it must be done according to XYZ method" - bend the rules. Every dog is different. And every trainer/handler is different too. I can run faster than some people but I'm slower than others. I have one dog that races me and gets excited and that's a bad thing, one dog that likes to race me for the same reason and that's a good thing. So they don't always handle the same way.

Because I have been basically training myself for the last 12 years or so, I tend to be fairly objective about new handling systems and cults that pop up. The current one strikes me as slightly amusing because it has some very fanatical followers, but at the same time I think the person at the center of it is a pretty reasonable person who does, herself, bend the rules from time to time and is constantly adjusting the system to make it better. This is how it should be. But some people are afraid to do this on their own. Fear of failure? Maybe. Perhaps its just a lack of ability to apply practical concepts to something fairly abstract like running a dog at 7yps around the course. I'm not sure. I do know that personally I very much enjoy working things out on my own. It causes me some stress now and then but in general I've not seen a sequence I couldn't handle once I've applied some thought to it (including difficult dogwalk handling!). I am not typical in that way - I like to work things out on my own. I don't like to be told how to do it.

Gangs. This is the sadder part of agility, to me. Gangs and clicks. Every area has them. They can be led by an instructor or just a loud extrovert who enjoys gangleading. They tend to sit in a group together and can be heard giggling loudly while glancing furtively about. Sometimes they will bash a judge, sometimes a competitor. Sometimes they aren't bashing anyone at all but they look like they are! I guess this probably happens in every large gathering of people at a sport or hobby, but I still find it to be a disgusting sort of thing. When I go to a trial I sit with a few friends and we talk about our own dogs or what's going on in the ring. Any teasing is usually good natured and any gossip that isn't good-natured is spoken of in a small group (2-4 people) of close friends, and not shared among a gang...

Another thing, while I'm speaking of gangs and clicks and cults. Why isn't there a central Dog Agility handling/obstacle training discussion site online? There's forums for Awesome Paws, there's forums for other instructors or other training camps or breeders or AKC or whatnot. But is there a central site where people can go on and intelligently debate the advantages or disadvantages of a front cross before the dogwalk in Team Standard at USDAA Nationals?

09 December 2008

Last video from yesterday



That's the last video from the yard yesterday. Seri was a wild thing, but did very well on a very acute weave entry - I did it 3 times and each time she needed less help to find it. The first dogwalk she hits it but down low in the contact, not preferred. the 2nd and 4th are very nice, natural running hits, and the 3rd was a big fat miss - she just totally did not adjust her stride before the ramp, then got halfway down it and gave up:-o

drove down to the field to train today after work. Tomorrow is supposed to be warm but rainy, and Thurs/Friday might be bitter cold again, so today (mid-40's) was my best shot. The dogs did very well overall, even Seri ran great. I was pleased.

Contact Progression. Obsession?

15 years ago in agility, we used the "pure luck" or the "fake out" method of contact training. My first dog, a high-drive retriever, was basically taught to just run over it. In training I would point to the yellow and say "Look!" and then give a cookie down there. Then the idea was that at the trial, I would say "Look!" and she'd slow down and look for a cookie and hit the yellow. You can guess how well that worked. I have always had relatively smart dogs who know almost immediately that "in the ring" is not the same as "at training" at ALL. When that dog was around 4 or so I trained her to do a 2-on 2-off behavior (we didn't have nose targets yet, 2o2o was Cutting Edge), but it never really transferred into the ring. She was great in practice though, and eventually she got consistent in the ring - always putting one foot about 4" into the yellow, enough that judges didn't call it and I was happy.

My next good dog was Freeze, who was trained with nose targets but was a bit of a creepy/stalker type of border collie. She would go step-step-step going down to the target, no matter HOW hard I worked on motivation and training. I didn't want that again (on a side note, I believe that there are motivated dogs who, no matter how well trained, will still go slow to a target).

So on to running contacts. Drifter was a huge experiment for me. I took a lot of time to think through what I would do with him. I spent some time just running him on ramps and lowered aframes with pretty much zero consistent results when he was young. So I worked out a detailed foot target method that actually worked pretty well. I found though, that to keep a behavior like that needs just as much training as a stopped target, and a really good eye. And it is faster than a stop, but not as fast as full-out. So I transitioned Drifter again. First I got rid of his aframe target (he was figuring out the 3-stride thing anyway), then earlier this year I got rid of the dogwalk target. That is definitely the harder one to lose. He wasn't happy doing it anyway, and now he's happy, but the dogwalk is still my biggest focal point for handling and obstacle stress when I walk a course. He doesn't miss many (I think GP Finals was the only one he's missed since July) so it's overall a good behavior, but it's definitely not easy to maintain.

Not so surprisingly, the entire nation of dog agility addicts are beginning to try running contacts. I think so far Sylvia Trkman's method is becoming the most popular. So far from my personal observations, it seems to work for the most part, but it takes a LOT of repetitions, and most people are starting quite young which is off-putting for me. I do not like to do lots of reps on any obstacles till they're over 14 months, and with many of these people showing their dogs at 15 months, but taking 5-6 months to train the obstacle. . . well it's not math I'm interested in. The main problem with this method as I see it is that there is no good way to teach turns off the dogwalk. Dogs are taught to run full-out for the entire board, then turn after they get off. And believe me, those extra 3-8 strides at the end CAN and WILL make a difference. If a running dogwalk takes 1.4, and a good stopped one takes 1.8, but there's a tight turn off the end, guess what? Stopped dogwalk will beat the running one in that situation unless the running one has a great turning behavior trained. No border collies with running contacts won GP or Steeplechase this year. They had quick-release stop contacts. Does this happen every year? Of course not. But stopped contacts will continue to be competitive, if they are FAST.

So what I've begun to do is teach two behaviors on the dogwalk. (I think a running aframe is ALWAYS an advantage because it's not that hard to teach turns off of it if you have good timing). The first behavior they learn is a stop. I don't use targets anymore. I don't use clickers anymore. But I take a plank (one end on a 24" table, one end on the ground) and teach the dog to lie down on the end, with front feet touching the ground but most of their body over the plank. Once they are driving to this spot I back chain up the dogwalk and start the usual sequencing and such. When they are really driving over it (Seri overshoots a lot and ends up on the ground, such is the momentum she carries), then I begin the process of teaching them a release command at up or top ramp. When they crest the first ramp and start across the flat one on top, I say "OK go tunnel" or whatever is next, and run like bloody hell towards that obstacle. So far it's worked wonders. A running dog is not a jumping dog. Are they 100% consistent all the time in the yellow? No. But they do seem to improve the more I practice it. And I have yet to see a running dogwalk that is 100% consistent. Drifter's is probably 95% or more, which in my mind is pretty damn good. Better than many. Seri hasn't really been allowed to run yet at trials.

But even now, I am sitting here thinking about contacts. What I will probably do is keep transitioning Seri from "stop with a run" to "run with a hesitation for turns' which is similar to what Drifter has. Drake may take the same path, but another reason I want a stop with him is because he has two VERY fast parents, one of whom has had some pretty wild moments in her agility career, and I'd like to make sure I have a few control points on the course. And since I do running aframes exclusively, I want to start with a dogwalk being a pause for him.

About my aframes. Kiba is the only one I run who doesn't have a natural running frame now. And she doesn't exactly stop. If I wasn't right next to her it'd look like a running frame. . .
Seri's is gorgeous. Much like Drifter's. I'm hoping to get the same from Drake (won't start working it till probably March/April though - I start up around 5' so no baby work).

Anyway, just a rambling post about contacts. I just find it fascinating how so many people in the last few years are finally deciding to try running contacts, and how suddenly new methods are appearing. The Everyman's Running Contact Method is here! Will it work? I have my doubts. . .

08 December 2008

ARGH!

I am finding the process of uploading and editing the videos from my camera to be very problematic and frustrating. The camera works great, quality is fine for the price range, everything is good. But. the software the came with it constantly has an error and closes. I can upload the videos with Windows Media Center, but can't edit with it (that I've figured out). I can edit with Movie Edit Pro, but that process is very frustrating. I've figured out adding titles and clipping beginnings and ends off, but I am having a hell of a time with changing the aspect ratio back to widescreen (Windows Media is downloading it as 4:3, which it is not, leading to vertical squishiness). And forget splitting the video and inserting slow motion in, or using it to get a precise time on obstacles. I'd die if I tried to do that right now. So for now just be glad you're getting squishy real-time videos. I did some work in the yard today as the high was 28 and the ground was hard so I didn't want to do a whole lot. The 2 videos of Drifter are all that he did (plus warm-up). I didn't film Kiba. I did film some dogwalks with Seri but haven't converted the video to .wmv yet. I will try to get that up tomorrow or thursday so you can laugh at her crazy running dogwalks (she misses one or two, but is just a hilarious thing - she doesn't miss cuz she jumps, she just sort of forgets to put her feet down). When she does hit its like "oh yeah, gotta put feet down or I will FALL).

rather than embed every single video I'll point you to the link at the right to my youtube page. The 3 from today are up now. With Drake I am starting out teaching him to down with his front feet touching the ground. i want most of his body on the board at first. This is exactly how I taught Seri and even when I stop her, she has a SLIDING dogwalk ramp. (you'd think it would hurt, but damn it's fast! and she doesn't complain - or bleed!).

Advert!

My room-mate for AKC Nationals sadly failed to qualify, so I have a double room at a Hampton (the one she said was good!). I am looking for a room-mate for AKC Nationals weekend. I plan to arrive Thursday mid-day, and leave after the trial Sunday, so I have the room booked Thursday night through Saturday night. It is $89 per night, usually includes a continental breakfast. I will have 2 dogs with me, both are quiet. I am willing to leash/crate one or both if they are annoying (Kiba can stalk other dogs and likes to wake Sharon up in the middle of the night, and Drifter can be a horn-dog with certain girls but is otherwise usually fine). Both my dogs are quiet. I am quiet. I usually fall asleep by 9-10pm. I DO wake up early some mornings.

Anyway, I'm looking for a room-mate to split the bill, half and half, after taxes. It'll probably come out to about 150 per person for the 3 nights, give or take. Leave a comment or email me if you're interested.

made me laugh


I saw this on a car at an AKC trial a couple weeks ago. Made me laugh in surprise. Which was good, cuz it was at one of the trials where Drifter was NQ'ing in the morning.

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completely unrelated, but AKC Nationals premium list is out. Also, there's a crating space reservation form, so make sure you fill that out and send it, separately - it doesn't go with your entry. Crating appears to be 1 space per dog, free. Spaces are only 3x5 so I think I'll go ahead and get 2, jamming both dogs into a 3x5 space would be pretty damn tight if I also put, say, a BAG in there with them.

I've never qualified for AKC Nationals before, so I was surprised to see that you don't have to put your 2Q or points dates on the entry form. Is this normal? Do they just track it on their own and kick you out if you didn't qualify? Surely somebody counted wrong at some point?

Freezing Monday

It was 19 degrees when I got up for work this morning. Ick. I need to get that pet-safe de-icer/salt for my back porch (concrete slab), because it's iced a bit and when I let the dogs out they have to turn right to go to their potty area (which is fenced off with 2 old x-pens and some various mesh-wire and bits. It's very ghetto-fabulous. But it works. They have a smaller potty area (which also doesn't get very muddy, so its good for rain) that is separated from the larger backyard (the larger bit is seen in yesterday's video). Anyway. I need to de-ice it so they don't slip and hurt themselves.

I may or may not go down to the field today and train. The high is supposed to be a balmy 31, but the next 2 days it may rain/snow on and off so today may be the only dry day till Thursday, and with a trial next Saturday I should at least practice once or twice. I'm still sniffling and coughing a bit, but it seems to be getting better slowly. My plan today is to bring the 3 adult dogs and the camcorder, and film a few sequences and my contacts. Then I'll see how long it takes me to get my software to clip the videos and use slow motion and such. Hopefully not 3 days.

If you haven't figured it out yet, my YouTube account is called DKSAgility. When I first created it I only used it for a couple short videos of Seri when she first learned to jump and weave, so I used a fairly anonymous name. But I've already got it set up, so I'll leave it as is. You can still see the silly little clips of Seri at about 17-18 months doing jump-jump-weave. Hard to believe that was a whole year ago! Better get that dog out of Starters!
The DKS was for "Drifter, Kiba, Seri".

07 December 2008

Video

Spent Saturday relaxing and messing with the camcorder. DJ and I took turns having coughing fits. I had some trouble with the software that came with the camcorder. It was hanging up and closing with an error, and when it did work, it wouldn't just let me save the files as a regular .wmv or .mpeg or some such. So today we were feeling a little less coughey and congested so we ventured forth and went to lunch, Best Buy, and then saw Quantom of Solace (awesome). So I got some good movie editing software from Best Buy. And I toyed around with the laptop (on it now) until I found a Windows Media Center program that was able to download the files off the camera and save them in a more normal format. Took me a while to get everything set up, but I think I've got it now. Here's a sample clip. Just a lame video of my goofy dogs playing in the snow Saturday morning before the sun was all the way up.

05 December 2008

one last note on a day I won't shut up. . .

Ria suggested that it might be a good idea to give the dogs at least 2 weeks off from agility in a row. I have almost always done this at some point during the year, but with AKC this year my summer was booked, and now with Drifter missing the first couple shots at Tournament Q's for 2009 I was feeling pressure to get out there and work on it. . . but. . . I think I may take January off after all, and skip the Buckeye trial in Ohio that I had thought about attending. That way after MADness (weekend after Christmas), I can just give them 3 weeks free. I'm not one to give up agility for long, so I can't do more than 3-4 weeks total. Even then I find it hard - what I will probably do is give Drifter and Kiba the time completely off from training to let them heal up any minor sore spots, but still work Seri a couple times a week and get Drake's training into gear. He'll be 1 year old on January 20th so he'll be getting to an age where I can start some more obstacles. I always say I'm not going to rush a pup into the ring, and I won't show them till such-and-such. . .but then I have this puppy who's growing up and I can't just NOT train them, so they always get trained on time anyway. I certainly won't be trialing him seriously till 2010, but odds are good that he'll be out in Starters at least a couple times in the fall (he's 18 months in July). I just can't help myself.

The Name's Changed but the Blog's the Same

So everybody else has cool blog titles, and I have none. So I changed it. Dauntless was a name I had considered as a kennel name if I ever bred a dog, and still may use in the future. I like the concept of it - dogs that fearlessly do what they are asked, always trying to be better. Also the word describes how I am about agility training - relentless, fearless to try new things, and always working to be the best. Plus it matches my Yahoo account (dauntlessbc). Drake's name is a nod to this, he is Darkfire's Dauntless Pursuit. Which is both a reference to my pursuit of perfection in agility and to the "privateer" Sir Francis Drake, known for chasing down the Spaniards and earning the nickname "dragon" in Spanish.

I decided to keep the web address the same (it matches my gmail address, if you're jonesing to email me) because I know there are at least a few people who read this and might have it bookmarked.

Anyway. Over the winter I will be trying to include some videos of training sessions, demonstrating some of my personal methods that some of you may not have seen before. I had originally intended this blog to be about agility, but I enjoy using it as a journal and probably won't stop doing such, so if you hate to hear me blathering on about how I had a crappy day at work, then too bad. That's the bathwater. Deal with it.

PT and 4

Yesteday afternoon I drove over to NJ (and back through Rutgers football game traffic, yick) to see my PT (Advanced Canine Rehab). I took Drifter, Kiba, and Seri. We started with Kiba, and as has become normal with her, she had just a few minor kinks and knots. I'm starting to see a pattern of slight tightness in her mid-lower back, so that's something I will start to stretch more diligently and keep an eye on. She's little so jumping "big" 22-inch jumps can be enough to throw her out of whack, I'd guess, although the hard ground in AZ followed by the muddy ground of PA can't have helped. We worked on Seri next, only the 2nd time she's ever been looked at. She's young yet, and flexible, and sound, so I wasn't too worried about her. She had a minor spot in her mid-back that was a little sore but not bad at all. And that was it for her. She enjoyed visiting though. Then we got Drifter out. He had jammed a front toe and that shoulder was a little bit sore; she said it was most likely that the jammed toe had caused the sore shoulder through compensation. And the shoulder was mild, nothing bad. He had a slight kink in his neck, again nothing serious (all 3 were in pretty darned good shape overall). And his rear end, including pelvis and psoas region - all fantastic. Not a sore spot in sight.

That said, through talking with both of them and thinking it through, I think I really am going to leave him at 22 in USDAA and not worry about IFCS. I have Kiba to work towards that goal. And Drifter really just is natural at 22. I think that's where he'll stay. However. . . . I am not going to rule out a trip to AKC/FCI Tryouts in May. That's only 6 months away, so I wouldn't need to work an entire 18 months of 26" like I would for USDAA/IFCS. And he's already qualified. So I can stick to 22/24 in training most of the time, with occasional 26, until I make up my mind about Tryouts. If I decide to go then what I'll probably do is work at 26 from AKC Nationals till Tryouts - about 5-6 weeks time. And he'll be coming off March working at 24, so it shouldn't be too much of a shock to him. As I thought out this plan (22 for USDAA, 24 for AKC, and a possible trip to Tryouts just this once at 26), I think I am pretty comfortable with that idea. I would really like to attend Tryouts once, but I'm not really comfortable with the idea of jumping him 26 for another year and a half (IFCS). Now, if he made the FCI/AKC Team, then sure I'd keep him up there for the competition, obviously, but even that's only till September, and with the right coaching and physical therapy and muscle building, we could make it through. As I've said, it's not like he's BAD at 26. I just don't think he's AS GOOD as he is at 22.

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I re-read my post about Kiba, and I can't believe she's 4 already. For some reason I have in my mind that a 3-year old dog is young, while a 4-year old dog is an adult. I don't expect them to magically grow up or anything, but 4 just sounds more mature. It does change how I perceive my household now. I feel like now I have 2 "adult" dogs and 2 "youngsters" - a much better position than 1 "adult" dog and 3 "youngsters"!
So now my dogs are 6, 4, 2, and 10 months old! Drake will be a year in January! Coming so fast!

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DJ bought my christmas gift yesterday:-)
I'm 99% sure it's my camcorder. He said I can have it now, or wait. Well. . . . I think I'll wait till I finish switching over to the laptop since it will be faster than my regular home PC, but as soon as that's set up I don't think I'll be able to resist! I'll also give him his birthday present so I don't feel bad - it can still be a gift exchange (his birthday is 12/9 so it's next Tues anyway).