30 October 2009

Busy and tired

Went to an AKC trial last weekend, our last trial before departing for Arizona for USDAA Nationals (aka World Cynosport Games, whatever). I had Drifter and Seri both at 26", and Kiba at 20". Kiba has been looking pretty sound since last Tuesday so even though I kept her quiet the rest of the week except for leash walking, I decided to go ahead and try running her. She ran fine, except she hit a bar or two in every run. Probably just a result of not practicing all week. She was certainly running FAST and except for cocking her foot a little funny on the table Saturday, which may or may not have meant anything, she looked completely fine. She was running like hell was on her heels on Sunday. Really pushing. Drifter ran pretty well, didn't knock a single bar all weekend, even at 26" in funky 18-feet-but-looks-like-14-feet spacing. However we had a couple other dorky issues that I feel like were just goofy or I got sloppy. We were clean JWW Saturday morning, then in STandard he did his typical border collie vulture sit on the table, but the judge wouldn't count. His chest and elbows were at least 6" up from the table surface, and his ass was down, so I'm not sure what position that is, but every other judge who's judged us has called that a "sit" and just counted. So I was a little bewildered and so was he. He is sticky on the table as it is, and when I tried to shift him to get him to get up and sit down again he jumped off. So that was the end of our double Q. When he got back up he sat in what looked like exactly the same position and she counted... I think that frustrated him a bit because one obstacle later he flew off the see-saw so I carried him off (yes i carry my dogs off on occasion, especially for blatant disregard of "rules"). I wasn't all that mad though. Just can't have him thinking early see-saws are OK - he will take that inch of wiggle room and run a mile with it - meaning he won't even THINK about waiting next time. Seri was pretty good, she Q'ed in both STD and JWW on Saturday, really good for her on wet grass. She's only in Exc A so it's not a double Q but I was very pleased. The courses were nice but certainly got "gimme's".

This is Drifter's idea of "waiting" on the see-saw.

Sunday I left Drifter out in a loop on JWW and didn't support him enough and he came in around a jump. On reflection I think that I've worked so hard on shoulder turns and such all year that if I don't obviously support something like that at a distance, he assumes I don't want him to take it, so that's OK. I restarted him and finished the course and he again didnt' hit any bars. Standard had a very straight sequence in it that was table - chute - jump, but there was another jump to the left of the proper one after the chute. I didn't even think about it, straight line, didn't worry about pushing to it. But I wasn't thinking about how I have to stand and lean over his table, which means when he goes through the chute I get left behind, so he came out and went over the wrong jump. Seri went between the jumps, and Kiba did it because I can lead out from her table. My fault, I guess, although I still felt like they were crossing in over my line of motion which is a no-no in my system. Then again, better to have them come in after a chute than run off and not pay attention.

Monday I did some bounce work on jumps, and when I went to cool Drifter off, he pulled up lame. On his left rear, which is NOT the side the iliopsoas injury of old occurred on. I let him rest a bit, worked the girls, and got him back up. Even worse. He was awful. He hunched his lower back, swung his back leg, just looked like a pathetic old dog. I immediately got a hold of Ria, our PT, and she said I could bring him out at night for an emergency visit. I was pretty damn sure he had not torn his ACL because I wasn't feeling any movement in his joint, and there wasn't much in the way of swelling either. Anyway I drove out to her place at 8:30 at night (my bedtime is 7pm), she worked him all over and he was a wreck. He must have tripped in a hole, landed funny off a jump, or maybe rolled a leg on a walnut or something, because he was truly a mess and he did NOT do anything obvious while I worked him. Here is what was wrong: Neck was tight, back was like a rock, pelvis was out on the left side (usually out on right if he's out at all), left knee "tweaked" but no serious damage, left shoulder a little tight. ouch! So all week I gave him aspirin 2x a day, Traumeel 2x a day, he's worn his Back on Track coat a lot, and I've iced his knee and then 2 hours later lasered it and lasered his back/neck. I went back out to see Ria on a regular appointment for all 3 dogs yesterday, and he is much improved. She called it 80-90% better than Monday. He is walking about 95% sound now. His back still looked tight yesterday but seems better today after being worked on again. His pelvis was still in. So he's off aspirin, no more ice. And today I took him for a 15-minute on-leash walking-only walk around the neighborhood. I figure the pavement is a good surface to avoid tripping or uneven footing.

I'm glad he's done no serious damage, but I'm a little frustrated that I can't do any jump work before I leave. Doing some bounce grids a few times a week really seems to build up his mental and physical fortitude for 26" jumps, and he knocks less bars. Hopefully the work we've done up to now will hold!

19 October 2009

Hmmm

Last week was pretty normal, taught classes, then on Thursday it started raining. And Friday it kept raining, and it kept on raining till Sunday morning. I am SO GLAD I decided NOT to go to Fair Hill this year. I had a weekend home! I didn't stay completely dry because I'm trying really hard to get my dogs as fit as possible, so we stayed in Thursday for an "easy" day and did our core workout (ball, beg, etc). Friday we went hiking with my mom and her BC's, an easy 1 hour on-leash hike (except Drifter, who's almost always off leash). Saturday we went to check out an indoor arena, which looks really promising for classes over the winter. SO happy to find one so easily, and the owner used to do a bit of agility herself so knows what's involved! After that we stopped at a different park and did a 20-30 minutes off-lead romp around several large fields. After I got back I braved the wet yard and did a bit of one-jump work in a non-muddy bit with all 3 dogs.

That evening Kiba got up from a nap and was lame. Uh-oh. On flexing it seems to be her left wrist. She is on rest, alternating ice and laser, and on the advice of our PT, mild traction (pulling it gently for 10 seconds) a few times a day. She is definitely weight-bearing 2 days later but still off. ARGH! Why do they always do this before a big event? Last year Drifter pulled his iliopsoas. This year it's Kiba's wrist.

Sunday I took just me and Drifter down to the park and went for a great 2-hour exploratory hike. This park is one I just started exploring a couple weeks ago. I have a rough trail map in my head but it's fun to see new places. Drifter is looking fabulous, nice muscle and he is moving great, nice and easy and energetic the whole time we're out.

Today I took Seri and Drifter and did about an hour's hike, but I tried to walk really briskly. Then when we got back we did a bit of bounce work on jumps in the yard. 4 jumps, set 6', 7', and 8' apart. We worked them both extending and collecting. Drifter was wonderful, didn't touch a bar (all at 26"). Seri hit one or two but got the idea pretty well.

Off to do some traction and then laser Kiba! Then feed, potty, and go to bed and watch the beginning of the Phils playoff game.

13 October 2009

Videos

All are also posted on my youtube account, link to the side of the page.

Drifter's Masters Snooker, nice opening, not so nice bar-knocking.




Kiba's winning Masters Snooker run in 22".



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And now we are working hard on Drifter actually powering forward and up over the jumps. He didn't hit any tight corners or 180 degree turn bars, but he did hit a few on longer distance straight aways, and I'd also like to increase his speed and confidence. I was a little disappointed that we didn't win Steeplechase despite me pushing hard on Sunday, and I suspect it's the strides Drifter adds in to keep his bars up.

Today's jump grid: distances are approximately 8 and 1/2 feet, 9 and 1/2 feet, and a little over 10 feet, all at 26", starting basically right in front of the first jump:


Kiba's grid, first distance is 8 feet, then 9 and 1/2, just over 10. Notice that they have different striding and jumping styles. Kiba has more front end, Drifter has more rear.
Kiba at 22":

12 October 2009

Keystone USDAA Recap

OK, first USDAA for me since Chicago Regional in early August, first USDAA for Kiba since Keystone Regional back in mid-June.

I'm going to just go chronologically as that is how I remember it.

Saturday started out with Drifter in Masters Jumpers, it was a tough course. He handled very well, tight spacing lots of crosses, but just rolled the 2nd to last bar on a serpentine.

In the other ring I had Seri's Advanced Standard course. She was, um, excited. We've had 2 weekends off but she seemed to think it had been longer. She started out by crashing the 2nd jump, which earned her a "pause" correction (that's my "hey, pay ATTENTION" behavior), followed by a dogwalk where she ran off the end, another pause, 2 jumps to a see-saw flyoff, another pause, then the table. After the table - she was great, including a nice aframe. So half a goofy course, half a great course. OK. I can take it for a 1st run.

Next up was Masters Gamblers. The older dogs have tons of these so just Seri in this one. She was a smidge wild in the opening, broke her stay and got a pause for that, but DID both dogwalks really nicely. Missed 1 out of 2 aframes. Then got the gamble, her first Masters leg.

After that was Masters Standard, Drifter first. This course was YET ANOTHER dogwalk-into-empty-space course. I am seeing these courses all the time lately. Damn good thing I worked on that over the winter before Tryouts. It's getting really aggravating, because the more I see it, the more Drifter wants to come off early towards the next obstacle. Anyways this was a good dogwalk hit but his slightly slow table and wide corner after the DW earned him I think 3rd place. Kiba ran very well, jumping a little flat (hadn't competed at 22" in FOUR months!), hit one bar but got a high but solid 3-stride aframe hit.

Next up was Steeplechase in the other ring. Pretty nice course, no horrible issues. 2 weave poles, and the local viaduct jump was out. Drifter was up first, ran clean. I didn't push and he ended up 3rd, although he was only .2 seconds behind the dog in first. Seri ran next and was fabulous, hit one bar towards the end, had a lovely aframe, and beat Drifter's time by .07! Kiba was last, since they went down from 26", and she was nice and clean too, seeded in 3rd or 4th.

Last was Masters pairs, which only Kiba was entered in. Coming into this trial she needed only 2 Pairs legs and a Super Q for her ADCH, so I figured I'd actually enter those 2 classes. And she and her partner both ran clean and won the class, yay! Nice thing about Kiba is that she just sort of does what I want, all the time. I can push, or not, and she just does it.

So recap for Day 1: Drifter Std and Steeplechase Q, Kiba pairs and Steeplechase, Seri Gamblers and Steeplechase.

Sunday was COLD in the morning, 39 degrees! The grass was wet and didn't dry off very quickly. Which sucked.

First run, Advanced Standard for Seri. I led out doing my usual-for-Seri calming "lie down, liiiiieeeee doooowwwwn" voice, and guess what? Didn't work. Near jump #2 she just got up and ran up to me. She's young. I gave her a 2nd chance, said LIE DOWN in my serious voice and proceeded to continue my lead out. She jumped the 2nd jump. I scooped her up, said my polite "thank you" to the judge, and walked her out. She can't be allowed to do that. At least she doesn't creep, it's WAY easier to be black and white with a dog who stays or goes than with one who creeps.

Next was Masters Standard with Drifter. Remember that wet grass? Well again we had a dogwalk-into-space followed by tight turn to a jump in-your-face. So that requires me to a)run like hell down the dogwalk followed by b) slam on the brakes and pivot for the jump. Well I got a) just fine and when I tried b) I slipped and fell. HARD. At the time I felt fine, popped back up, growled at Drifter because he was sort of shopping obstacles instead of coming back to me, then continued on. His brain was fried though, he came off the table before I released him, didn't "understand" a back-tunnel signal, and came off the seesaw early too. Not a flyoff but not a wait. No bars at least!

Masters Snooker was next, Drifter and Kiba both in this. The 7 was THREE STRAIGHT TUNNELS "stacked" parallel to each other. Fun? maybe. Time-consuming? Definitely. I planned two 7's and a 5 (which was quick single jump). Drifter did my clever opening very, very well, then knocked the 2 at the beginning of the close. Annoying bar but I didn't get too mad.

At this point I to go run Seri in Advanced Snooker in the other ring. I planned a fairly easy, wide open course. It did require a start line stay as I had to lead out a good bit. She stayed like a freakin' rock:) And Q'ed. Lovely run, good weaves, good frame, no bars for a Q.

Back to Masters Snooker with Kiba. Checked the score table, highest scores were still 47-48, nobody had done 3 7's in time (a tight 46 seconds). Stuck with my plan. She was beautiful, rattled a few bars but none came down, she was tight and lovely and got her 49 points in 39.6 seconds, won the class for her last darned Super Q! Yay! Even though I had 6 extra seconds, retrospectively I'm still not sure that would've been enough to go down and hit that 7 one more time. A squiggle of 3 straight tunnels and then weed past them to the 2? Probably more than 6 seconds.

Steeplechase round 2! Somewhat twisty course, some funky spacing beginning and end with a big wide open jump-triple-aframe in the middle. Kiba up first, she was BLASTING and yet still SUPER duper tight on the wraps and front crosses. Won the class! Seri up next, did the opening great after another wonderful stay, then on the wide open section picked up too much "yahoo" and completely smashed her face and front end on the upside of the aframe. Finished the course with just a bar, but I think she hyperextended her right wrist. She is on rest, aspirin, and ice for a few days. She also got paint and a bit of "road rash" on her chin but no bleeding. She is functionally sound. Dork! Drifter ran 2 dogs later (I was breathing hard by now, running 3 dogs in the space of about 5 minutes), and he was good. I pushed hard but still only got 2nd by almost a whole second. Darned younger dog with a bigger jump. Still, for me to be able to push him hard, and he took it well, and left his bars up, that was good. So Kiba 1st in 22", Drifter 2nd in 26", and Seri 5th in 26" for a total of $77. Considering there were 92 dogs entered in Championship steeplechase I was a little disappointed. I think prize money has gone down over the last couple years.

Last class was Masters Jumpers again for Drifter. He knocked #4 when I took off running. I growled at him for it, then pushed him verbally for the rest of the run and got some 1-stride distances from him that made me happy, but overall 3 bars is a bit much for 7 classes, so a little disappointed in that, considering how fit he is getting. I have decided that because of the bar argument that never ends, I am not going back to Tryouts with him. If he doesn't make IFCS team he'll just do 20/22 from now on. I know I waffle about this all the time, and it's still really hard for me to do, but I don't like being mad at him for stupid crap. When he's at the lower height I can PUSH, he is FAST, and we can both come off the course happy all the time. Seri will have to be my FCI dog.

And no, Kiba won't be doing 26". On video I see a slight hesitation now and then at 22", which would only get worse at 26". She looked great though this weekend, once again proving a smidget is just as fast as a normal-sized BC!

ETA: And now today I woke up with an aching swollen right knee, sore right triceps and left forearm from landing on the hard ground. Good news is that we're not trialing next weekend. I do have video of my 2 Masters Snooker runs so the 3-straight-tunnels course will be viewable, probably tomorrow afternoon I'll get it online.

09 October 2009

trial this weekend

Finally back to USDAA this weekend. My last USDAA trial was the North Central Regional, back in early August. Little Kiba hasn't done USDAA since the Keystone Northeast Regional in mid-June! She's been jumping 16", first to get her AKC Nationals Q's (which she did quickly) and then because I didn't want to overwork her while she was on antibiotics. Well she's off them now, has been for over 3 weeks. The dogs have been working especially hard and I feel decently ready for this weekend. First test of Seri's reworked aframe. I expect the first run I'll get a big fat miss on a 2-stride wild thing, which I will pause and correct, and hopefully after that she'll remember to control herself. It's Drifter's first trial back up at 26" since August, however I never really stopped working him at that height so I'm not really that concerned. And our first run is Jumpers so he will have to get used to it quickly.

We also get to see our PT who we last saw at the start of our "work super hard to build muscle" period, so it'll be interesting to see how they held up. Also 2 days after I saw her, Drifter fell off the dogwalk at home. And they've started wearing their Sooper Speshul Ceramic mesh sheets (not really coats, don't make them warm) at night. Anyways, I'm interested to see how they are doing. Drifter's pelvis has not been out of alignment since practice day at Tryouts last May, and he still looks in to me (I can usually see it in his movement).

Overall I think it'll be fun to be back in USDAA. We have a 2010 Steeplechase, but I'm really not too bothered about getting Q's for 2010 until I hear for sure that the Cynosports will be moving. If they don't move, I won't bother spending money qualifying. My dogs all have way more Tournament Q's than titling Q's anyway, so that's not something I need for any titles, and they are expensive. Usually $22-25 per class, double that of a regular class.

Yesterday I went with Sharon on a hike I had planned to be about 1.5 to 2 hours. Well we ended up out for 3 full hours. It was fun but tiring. Which was OK, since the dogs didn't actually do much of anything Wednesday - I had tickets to the Phillies NLDS Playoff game. Which they won. So I was happy to let the dogs get tired out. I don't let them run like wild things when I hike. I hike specifically to build endurance and core and leg muscles, NOT to work on aerobics. So to that end the 2 girls are usually on leash and Drifter is loose, as he simply trots along a little bit in front of us.

Today it's been raining on and off so I will try to work them briefly later this afternoon if it's not too wet. I don't want to do core strength the day before a trial in case they get sore.

06 October 2009

these are a few of my least favorite things. . .

I see a lot of things regarding breeding dogs that bother me. Here's a short list!! I'm presenting this fairly light-heartedly, make of it what you will. I have a very, very strict set of criteria for breeding dogs.

Things that drive me crazy!

1. Breeding very young dogs. No, that OFA Prelim on your 16-month old stud dog does NOT mean you should breed him now!

2. Choosing for colors. The breed ring dogs are almost all black, but for some reason sports people want merles or reds or sables or whatever. Stop it!

3. Pretending health problems don't exist and either choosing to live in ignorance or lying about it.

4. Doing the health test, then breeding anyway with a bad result (especially applies to Pennhip)

5. Claiming all your dogs have perfect structure, but none of them look the same! They can't all be perfect. . .

6. Crazy contracts.

7. Crazy prices!!!! $2000??? Does it drive me to work and give me a massage? For that price it should pick up its own shit!

8. Pretending to be something they're not. If the dog has a HIT or went in a round pen once, you are not breeding working dogs. If your dog's 2nd cousin got its NA with a couple blue ribbons, you are not breeding agility dogs.

9. Using flyball times as the single most important criteria for breeding.

10. Did I mention breeding too young? Because average age of onset for epilepsy is 2.9 years. So. . . do the math. I like a dog over 4, preferably.

11. Anyone whose sole "career" is selling puppies? No thank you.

Oh, and just FYI OFA Prelim reports at 12 months only bear approximately a 39% consistency rate with the final reports at 24 months.



Here's an example of what I DO like to see; honesty. Tell the buyers if the dam's cousin seizes. Explain how close or far genetically it is, and how you chose the stud based on his family's history of NOT throwing epilepsy. Tell the buyers if your dog's pennhip score is mediocre, and then you damn well better show them an OFA report telling them that despite the laxity, the dog does not have dysplasia. And if your dogs have played around on sheep but mostly do agility, don't call yourself a working breeder. Agility is a SPORT. Say the pups may do well in "hobby herding" if you like. And so on.

Min-rant for the day! Off to teach agility this evening, then off to the Phillies/Rockies playoff game on Wednesday afternoon!

04 October 2009

exercise, exercise, and more exercise

That's what my dogs have been doing lately. Now that it's cool enough to hike again, we've been getting to the park 3-5 times a week, and either doing a 40 minutes off leash trot/canter on the wider grassy hilly trails, or a 60-90 minute girls-on-leash walk/trot on the really hilly, full of roots and rocks and streams trail. We also work on our Theraball 3x a week, we've increased our "beg" work to 10-15 seconds, 3-5 reps, 3-5 times a week, PLUS Seri can FINALLY stand up on her back legs from that position without falling over sideways! Progress! We've also been working short jumping sequences or bouncework in the yard a few times a week, aframes for the girls (Seri's getting a lot better, Kiba is still questionable) a few times a week, and courses at the field Tuesdays and sometimes Sat or Sunday. Yes, that IS a lot of stuff! And I can see it paying off! Muscles are growing. They've been increasing exercise pretty strongly since mid-September. That in addition to a good organic probiotic/vitamin supplement, and Glycoflex, and oil, and the ceramic blankets to help their muscles heal quickly. . . well they should be MACHINES by the time Arizona rolls around!

In other news, Drifter continues to have a weird mental block about doing the dogwalk in the backyard. It feels to me like maybe we've just done so many weird training things on that dogwalk, that he's never sure exactly what the hell to do, and it makes him suck back a little bit. That added to his dopey fall off it a couple weeks ago, and the fact that it's a 10" wide board (12" wide is standard in all organizations now), has led to me to just shelf that obstacle at home for now. I took the end ramps off and set up all my jumps and weaves and the frame instead. Gives me a lot more space to work with. Because while mentally I get caught up in "ohmygodmydogwalksbroken", realistically, most of our faults are "a bar". The dogwalk is now a "run in courses at the field only" obstacle for Drifter.

My lower back has been really, really tight and sore the last 10 days or so. I don't think I did anything to it, and it's never a shooting pain like a disc or something, but regardless, it is not fun to wake up and feel like you can't bend over. Last night I took the fluffy matteress pad off the bed and flipped the mattress over. I do feel a bit better this morning, still a bit sore but not quite as locked-up stiff, so we'll see if maybe the pad bunching up and moving around was the problem. Instead, today my neck is locked up. I am a wreck for 27 years old! At least my shoulder tendonitis has been behaving lately!

The final 4-star event was this weekend. Point totals aren't up but I know at least one other dog passed me. It was a dog i knew would pass me, so no surprise there. I'm hoping the other dog I thought might pass me at least didn't get tons of points ahead. Either way, I've got work to do at Nationals.

And if we don't make that team, I've got some work to do in AKC over the winter! I have been doing short sequences at 26" with Kiba in the yard and she's doing alright. She even powers over sometimes, and I don't see any stuttering. When I ran a course at 26" at the field Tuesday she stuttered a bit, but I hadn't done a lot at that height yet so I will continue to work it at home, then maybe do courses at 24" this week, and then the following week try 26" and see if I still get the "holy crap that jump looks big!" behavior from her. While I would not LOVE the idea of jumping her 26", if she can do it without hurting herself, I would maybe at least try to get her Tryouts this year (2010). And I'd only do 26" until she was qualified. We'll see. If she can't do it without stuttering or getting sore, I won't try at all. it's just that she's SO easy to handle and steer, she listens really well, and she tries HARD to avoid knocking bars down (unlike certain DRIFTERs I know). Anyhow, like I said, I'm on a "we'll see how it goes" page for that idea. Seri certainly isn't ready yet. I'm happy she got to Excellent A for now!